Two Weeks Off

Dear Friends,

This is to inform you that Happy Friday!!! will not be installed next week or the week after. I’m taking a couple weeks off you see. And no it has nothing to do with Spring Break. I mean, who wants to walk around with a bunch of broken springs? My brand new 2001 Chrysler Town and Country has very creaky springs, but they are not broken. They just make noise. Because of this, I took it to my friendly neighborhood mechanic to have these noises checked out. He told me that for $800 I could have very quiet springs and shocks. He also told me that the old springs were not a safety hazard or anything, they just have the creakies.

They still have the creakies. I see no point in putting $800 into a very old car that will probably have something much more costly go wrong before all is said and done. My friendly neighborhood mechanic did offer two absolutely free solutions: 1) always choose smooth roads and R) turn the volume up on the radio. So I do at least one of those things every day and all is well.

So what does this have to do with the price of ballpoint pen refills? I have no idea. But circling back to the initial premise that there will be no Happy Friday!!! for two weeks, I hope all of you can forgive me but I just need to take a break. Maybe, for example, I’ll take my Beautiful Girlfriend on a road trip. She mentioned that it’s not wise to chronicle your trip with that social media BookFace thing; because “people come and rob your house when they know you’re gone.”

Well let’s put it this way: perhaps, just perhaps, we are going on a road trip. But if you are a thief, please don’t read this, or at least forget you ever saw it. Please do that right now. Also, if you are a thief (or are fixin’ to tell a friend or relative who is a thief) please be aware that I will be employing various security measures while we are gone.

For example, we have our friend Freddy the Freeloader. He is a cat. A VERY BIG cat. I’ve been subliminally conditioning him for months now. Whenever he greets me at the bottom of our deck when I get home from work, which is pretty much every day, I look into his beautiful yellow-green eyes and say, “Fred, remember to use your razor sharp toenails on the strangers at all times.” I figure his razornails are the best weapon, because he lost one of his canine teeth before he came to live with us so he doesn’t have a full compliment of tooth ouchers. Oh but my oh my his claws work very well!! I’m confident he won’t let me down. He’s a black cat, so he can be very stealthy in many Cat Ninja slashy ouchy maneuvers.

Also, I’ve finally perfected my themo-electronic 9 dimensional force field. It surrounds the house and garage, and also the outbuildings. Pretty gruesome… whenever someone tries to pass through the thermo-electronic barrier, they get a severe hankering for Speedway hotdogs. It’s not unusual for someone to slide a finger (or even the tip of their nose) into the force field, then abruptly dash for the nearest Speedway gas station. For some reason, once they walk in the door they are compelled to eat ALL the hotdogs on those greasy little roller thingies. Even the ones that have turned a very dark color and are all wrinkly!! The result of this compulsion is, of course, projectile vomiting. In the store. In front of God and everybody. They they completely forget they were going to rob me.

Thirdly, our son will be watching over the place; and you know what that means, right? Yep, he’s very adept at smearing the outer door handles with fresh Tootsie Rolls that are found in Freddy the Freeloader’s litter box. Very special gloves are required to prevent becoming infected with PooperOhNo; a quickly spreading disease that causes facial features to be almost instantly rearranged. You like having one eye under your chin and your nose sticking out the side of your cheek?? Well by all means, c’mon over and grab a door handle!!

OK, so I’m gonna take a break from Happy Friday!!! for two weeks. Maybe we go away, maybe we don’t… we’re gonna keep you guessing.

So there.

Peace, Love, and Don’t Even Think About It,

Kenny “I’mSoTired” Fluffnozzle

“And now,” as Mr. Cleese used to say, “for something completely different.”

Every Day Is (not) April Fools

So there I was, at the Egg Roll House Wonderful Chinese Restaurant Which Has The Best Chinese In Muskegon Michigan And It’s Been That Way For Many Years, waiting for my take out order (which would have been ready but I asked, “how long to add Shrimp With Vegetable?” and the nice lady said “Five Minutes!!” so I looked at the stack of Time magazines and the copy on top had, in big letters, “Is Truth Dead?” written on it and it made me think of all the total crap that finds its way into the media these days and some people actually believe it and so I thought “what the heck do I write about on the day before April Fools?” and this seemed like a good topic to go with so now it’s time to STOP WITH THE HUGE RUN-ON SENTENCE AWREDDY and tell everyone that I’m going to write about this here:

FAKE NEWS.

Now, I’m old enough to remember when The Beatles came to America on The Mayflower; so I’ve observed a few cultural changes over the years. When I was a kid, if you said something that wasn’t true, it was called a lie. Very simple. Everyone knew what that meant. Then, somewhere along the line, a word by the name of “misinformation” was introduced into our spoken and written language. It still meant that someone was telling a lie, but extenuating circumstances would often surround whatever the “misinformation” might be; and these circumstances were offered to create a smokescreen about the plain reality of it all: it was a stinkin’ lie.

The latest euphemism for a lie is the term “fake news.” Well the use of that term really bugs me. It’s kinda like someone offering me “turkey bacon.” Sorry friends, there is no way you can make bacon from turkey. There are companies who make something that looks like bacon, and maybe sorta kinda tastes like bacon, but it ain’t bacon. Bacon comes from dead pigs. Period. So when someone starts babbling about fake news; they really aren’t talking about news at all. They are calling someone a liar.

So quit with the euphemisms already!! A lie is a lie! Somehow, though, the printed word and the internet seem to give lies a life of their own; to the point that people who would rather not bother with checking facts will believe almost anything they see in print, online, or hear and see on TV and radio. And if a person is very important, and doesn’t like what they see or hear, and call it fake news, well guess what?? Because that person is very important (at least in their own mind), people will believe something that simply isn’t true!

What a world!!

So here I offer you some absolutely true facts that will hopefully help you in your search for the truth. I can vouch for all that follows, because you are reading it on the internet; and everyone knows that whatever is on the internet is absolutely true stuff.

True Fact #1: Russia is e-mailing 45 rpm records to unsuspecting music lovers; and these records contain secret DNA altering messages embedded in the grooves. So when you think you’re listening to an old Chuck Berry tune (God rest his soul); you’re actually absorbing molecular sound waves that will cause your eyebrows to grow completely together (Holy Unibrow, Batman!!).

True Fact #2: A new version of radical Atheism has sprung up in rural Minnesota. Harsh winters have produced fertile ground for these factions to adopt terrorist tactics that involve dumping large quantities of Cracker Jacks in ice fishing shanties. This of course confuses unsuspecting ice fishermen; who upon returning to their shanty, veer away from their faiths and compulsively gorge themselves on the tasty snack food. These fishermen disappoint their families when they come home with no fish but a very sticky face and huge sugar buzz.

True Fact #3: Honeybees are being forced into slave labor by the Air Force. Instead of using normal methods of jet engines for propulsion, bees will be harnessed to fighter jets to lift them off the ground in a very stealthy manner. This method, called “beezooming,” is difficult to detect by even the most sensitive monitoring equipment.

I could produce many more True Facts but I don’t want to bore you all with my amazing knowledge of things I just made up in my mind. You may never have heard of any of the previous 3 True Facts. That’s because although they are all true, those who have this information have been sworn to secrecy. All those “in the know” about these things are very aware that if they don’t keep their mouths shut about all this, I will send trained slime spiders to their homes at unpredictable hours.

Nobody likes slime spiders.

OK… hope you all have a nice April Fools Day. And please, know that just like those X-Files kids used to say, “the truth is out there.” Really it is… you just gotta dig for it sometimes.

Speaking of lies, though, here are a few fun lying thingies…

Invisible Demons: Slurp The Soup and Kill The Bugs

My Beautiful Girlfriend and I were attacked by an invisible demon this week.  I was the first one to be stricken:  sneezing, coughing, then Bad Body Pain With Fever (BBPWF) and Absolutely No Stinkin’ Appetite For Any Food Of Any Sort (ANSAFAFOAS).  In other words, I got the stinkin’ flu. Came on rather quickly… I was coughing a bit last Saturday, but I shrugged it off.  Then came a few sneezes… I figured “oh well.”  Things started really slip-sliding downhill at about 1 PM on Sunday.  After our morning rounds with the gang we both went for our normal afternoon nap, usually about an hour or so.  Well my nap lasted 6 hours.  I got up, had some orange juice, hit the bathroom, and back to bed.  This was no ordinary bug… kicked my hiney from hither to yon well into Wednesday morning.  I ended up missing two days of work; then dragged myself around for the rest of the week hoping the day would pass quickly so I could go back to bed.  And I’m still not 100%. All the while I was at work I warned all my friends who were looking for their normal hug or handshake that I’ve had the flu.  All but one ran for their lives.

Much better now though…

We’ve been getting our flu shots every year for some time now; but of course, there will probably be a few strains that will fly around under the radar.  Then people will bring them to work or other public places and spread them around for all of us to enjoy.  Coughs and sneezes spread diseases ya know.  Are you suffering from a cold?  Do you hab a stubby doze?  Or maybe you feel achy all over and are trying to cough your head off?  Well, if you must come to work, please don’t sneeze on my phone or anything.  While the flu is attacking, please fight back so the rest of us don’t get sick.

In other words, IF YOU ARE SICK, STAY HOME AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!

All the while I was at work I warned all my friends who were looking for their normal hug or handshake that I’ve had the flu.  All but one ran for their lives.   After looking up how contagious this crap really is, I felt it was my duty to let them know.  I really don’t want to make anyone sick.  Not even people I don’t like.

Now, if you are achy and have coughing and stubby doze, you probably  are getting attacked by a virus.  So that means that if you go to the doctor and ask them for an antibiotic, you will get better, right?  Wrong… antibiotics are for bacterial infection.  They just don’t work on the flu.  The onliest thing that will kill the flu is YOU… in other words, your immune system.

So, I resurrected the next part of this here Happy Friday so I could pass gas.  NO!!  That’s not it!!  I wanted to pass along some tactics that have really helped our family fight the “cold wars” over the years.  We’ve learned from grandmothers, friends, and yes, even those “weird alternative medicine magazines.”   One of my favorite weapons against flu bugs is garlic.  Lots of it.  Sure… people say, “ya, kill the cold and those around you!”  Well, I’m married, and my wife has promised not to divorce me over garlic breath.  This is a very good thing, because we both eat lots of garlic even when we don’t have a cold.  One thing many people aren’t aware of, though, is that if garlic is boiled, it loses a lot of its cold killing power.  Also, fresh garlic works best.  “Ok,” you may ask… or not… “how can I use garlic and not boil it??  Anyhow?  You expect me to eat it raw or something you crazy person you??”

Yes.  Eat garlic raw.  Cut a fresh clove in half and swallow both halves.  It actually knocks the snot out of a cold.  Too weird??  Ok, then cook it gently without boiling.  In fact, one of the best cold killing methods we’ve ever found is:

A) Mince 3 or 4 cloves of fresh garlic,

5) Heat one can (or about 20 oz.) of your favorite soup until it just begins to boil

L) Reduce heat and add one teaspoon of ground sage, and also one teaspoon of thyme leaves

9) Simmer while stirring for a couple minutes, and finally

!!) Remove the soup from the heat, add the garlic, stir well, and cover.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Eat the soup all gone just before you go to bed and you will kick the germ bugs in the booty.

Then, after you wake up, make with the vitamin C, the zinc lozenges, and lots and lots of water and stuff.  We’ve also had good luck with the generic equivalent of “Airborne.” which has all kinds of good immune system kaboomenheimers.  Oh, and not to forget the echinacea tea!!  Blecch you say?  Well it isn’t that bad ya know…

On the other hand, you have an ounce of prevention.  You know, eat yogurt several times a week.  Have generous portions of green vegetables and fruit.  And then there’s that nasty “E” word (exercise).

Of course, if you’re sick, you’re sick… but the things I just described often help shorten the duration and severity of the attacking germ booger animals.

Back to this garlic monkey business: call me crazy if you want.  I like garlic.  I eat it even when I’m not sick, because as my Grandma used to say, “it’s good for what ails ya.  If nothing ails ya, it’s good for that too.”   I like yogurt.  I like green vegetables and fruit.  I like… well, ok, sometimes I even…  once in awhile, um…. exercise is good.  I need to do more of that “E” word.  Yes, I am a very sick man.

Come on over some time and we can have a garlic milkshake and some avocado flavored yogurt with a nice salad of lima beans and bananas.  Then we can take turns on our combination treadmill / electric generator and we’ll not only get fit, but you can help us keep the electric bill down.

We try to be hospitable, you know.

And now for something completely different but also the same… this same video was tagged at the bottom of when this Soup Recipe Happy Friday Thing (SRHFT) was first published.  I’ve watched it a few times… still amuses me.  And the message “This Too Shall Pass” gives a sick person hope that maybe someday they won’t need a box of tissues with them 24/7…

Paddy Not Patty

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. I say that to those who love the holiday; but for me it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. That’s because even though I’m a wee bit Irish; I’m ½ Norwegian. And there’s that documentary I saw on PBS awhile back that illustrated the history behind the red hair and freckles with which many Irish folks are born. It’s from those naughty Vikings, you see. It’s possible that my Norwegian (Viking) ancestors raped and pillaged my Irish ancestors; thereby scattering their red haired, freckled, Viking genes hither and yon. The thought of all that has really taken the wind out of any sails I may have unfurled on the Good Ship St. Paddy’s Day.

Ha ha, I almost said “… the red hair and freckles that many Irish folks are born with.” I actually typed it that way initially. I fixed it though, because just like this St. Paddy’s day stuff I’ve been seeing lately, I’ve learned that type of word usage just plain ain’t correct: a preposition is a word you are not supposed to end a sentence with. Ha ha, I did it just now, because I wanted to, and if you don’t like it please take an eraser to your screen and see if you can fix that for me please; be careful you don’t harm your screen though; and you know what… I think this may be the first run-on sentence I’ve written in awhile and yes I’m fully aware that I bend the grammar and punctuation rules when I do it; but I’m also pretty darn SURE it’s the first one I’ve ever written in italics with a sprinkling of bold; but I have yet to write any portion of a run-on sentence in bold, italic, and underlined text; at least until today.

So there I was, 10,000 feet in the air, no plane, no parachute, just floating about and when I came back down I noticed a sign that said, “St. Paddy’s Day…” something or other. Not sure what else it said besides the “St. Paddy’s Day,” but that part stuck in my headbone. So then I took my headbone to the Google Place and plunked in “St. Paddy’s Day.” And you know what I found?? The Irish very much dislike the use of “St. Patty’s Day.”

What… youse don’t believe me? Really!! I’m telling you, it’s supposed to be written “St. Paddy’s Day.” I never knew. So you say you’ve seen “St. Patty’s Day” with your own eyes?? Well, as the great Chico Marx once proclaimed, “who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes??” So like, if youse kids don’t believe me, hopefully you will believe the Irish. They tell us yankees all about it right here:

http://paddynotpatty.com/

So there, nyaa nyaa na boo boo!! OK so like I was saying earlier… I honor the honoring (can you honor someone’s honoring?? I just don’t know) of March 17, which I just read is the traditional date of death of Ireland’s patron saint somewhere around the year 461. From what I’ve read, it started out as a feast with lots of spiritual significance, but these days many folks seem to use it as a great excuse to party. Big business you know. Couple weeks before there are lots of green beads, hats, and all kinds of trinkets to wear or hang on your body. And this year it’s happening on a Friday; so I’m guessing there will be some Holy Mackerel Headaches tomorrow with folks being a little green around the gills without the aid of any Irish green adornments on their bodies.

My Beautiful Girlfriend and I have been “celebrating” with Reuben sandwiches for the last several years. We rarely eat corned beef; which is a very good thing when you consider all the chemicals in that stuff. But once in awhile a Reuben really calls my Honey Pie’s name… so I play along. Not my favorite, to be honest. Today ours came from a local haunt called Mango’s; which we thought we’d try for a change. Usually they are known for pretty good grub. They failed the Reuben test though, and as we were a few bites into our sandwiches both of us found ourselves wishing we had stuck with Arby’s. Is that weird or what?? Never thought I’d prefer a product from a fast food joint over a local joint. Arby’s would have been WAY cheaper too. Oh well. Supported our local economy.

Well enough rambling. Hope all of you had a Happy St. Paddy’s Day; assuming of course you wanted one. We were happy to stay home and chill.

Speaking of Chico Marx… Say huh?? Yes, remember I mentioned “the great Chico Marx” back there? Well here’s one of my favorite Marx Brothers routines from their movie “Duck Soup.” Absolutely nothing to do with St. Paddy’s day, but there’s that totally cool remark:

“Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes??”

And of course what followed was the famous “Mirror Scene.”

Another Day Older

My belly button and I celebrated another birthday recently. I think the rest of my body got older also… Don’t worry, everything still works. In fact, things may even be improving somewhat… at least in some respects. Life is pretty darn good. However, since I’ve been an official member of the AARP for awhile now, I’d like to share a few observations I’ve made about this “getting older” business:

Some down sides:

1) The hair in my ears, nose, and eyebrows grows better than the hair on my head. I figure if I lose too much more of my mop, I’ll just let all the other stuff grow out and comb it over. Anyone for styled eyebrows??

Q) My body stores fat more readily than ever before. I’m beginning to believe that all I really have to do is LOOK at food and I will gain ten pounds. Unless, of course, I’m looking at celery or carrots; they don’t fatten me. But it seems to take 430 days of drinking 34 glasses of water a day and eating nothing but bunny food to effect the loss of 1/2 pound or so. Unless I exercise. If I run 27 miles before I have breakfast, I might be able to lose another 0.001 pound.

9) I am older than many of the people I see at work! This has never happened to me before. They don’t seem to mind, though. Folks just humor me when I reminisce about when the Beatles came over on the Mayflower and stuff like that. “Remember the race riots in ’67? Oh, you weren’t born yet? Ok, you, shut up and go away. Wait… you gonna eat that Twinkie??”

F) The “good old days” consisted of obsolete technology. I’m not talking IBM 8088 computers or “new” calculators that would actually do a square root and only cost $60; either. I’m talking Univac, a huge computer built with vacuum tubes, and watching my favorite TV programs in glorious Black and White, because that’s all there was. Radios and TV sets all had tubes in them, and you had to wait 30 seconds for them to warm up before getting anything. Oh, and not to forget record players. Man, I’m getting ancient here!

But believe it or don’t, there really are some positive things about this aging business:

A) I don’t have the emotional roller coaster I used to ride around on all the time. Man, growing up was the pits!! Well, OK, not all the time. There was quite a bit of fun along the way. However, don’t know about you folks, but this boy sure spent way too much time weeping and gnashing his teeth. These days, I try to be grateful and count my blessings instead of whining and numbering all my troubles. Works most of the time. And I have more patience than I’ve ever had…

Take driving, for example. Used to be a daily thing for me to get totally ticked off at idiot drivers. Someone would cut me off, right? So I’d get an adrenaline rush, and catch up to them to yell something like this: “Hey Chicken Lips! Examine my angry red face while I display one of my more memorable fingers to your eye things! You have no brain! I question your ancestral heritage! I believe you are a bark eater!” All the while, my skin would be crawling with adrenaline goose bumps, and that funny taste would linger in the back of my mouth. I didn’t really like the feeling, but it took quite awhile for me to put it all into perspective. Nowadays, if a stinky-face driving person does me some dirt, I mutter something like, “oh thank you, Flavorhead. See you in the obituaries.” They never get to see me lose my temper, and with any luck, I never see them again, anyway. This is probably a good thing, because you just never know who might have a bazooka or something lying next to them on the driver’s seat.

12) My wife and I still chase each other, and it’s better than ever! Except for that one time she wanted to invite that camel over for pizza and fake wine (maybe that was a dream).

C5) I make more money than I ever have before. Well, ok, I spend more money than I ever have before, too. In fact thanks to Visa Money Bucket Plastic Land, I can spend money I don’t have. But what the heck, my Mom and Dad didn’t leave me anything, so the least I can do is return the favor for my kids.

Perhaps the biggest bonus I’ve acquired along the path of this journey we call life is peace of mind. I’ve learned (albeit sometimes the hard way) to use a few coping skills that have helped me mellow out quite a bit. Like my reaction to change, for example. I’m not really fond of Dennis Miller’s brand of humor, but he said a pretty neat thing awhile ago: “Life is like riding the bus. It requires change.” Lots of stuff changing at work. At home too. And in the news?? Forget about it awreddy!! Stuff that used to make my brain explode now simply seems like an annoying little fly to be swatted out of my face. What’s that expression…? Don’t sweat the petty things. Or is that don’t pet the sweaty things?? You know, those two rules for stress management: 1) don’t sweat the small stuff, and 2) everything is small stuff.

It reminds me of a poem… maybe because I made it up:

Das Bizzyvink

by Me, the Person

The stress tried to kill me, but right now it’s gone.

I mowed all the garbage and dumped out the lawn.

Drove backwards to work, it’s a new way to say,

“Hey all of you ninnies, get out of my way!”

When stress is a color, it’s probably red.

It burns up my innards and blushes my head.

It’s much better just to chill out, you see,

So there’s not too much STRESS and too little of ME.

Ya shoor, in my head there arose such a clatter,

From stressing about things that really don’t matter.

But these days I’m much better, if you don’t mind my saying.

More fun I am having, more games I am playing.

Well, I’m hoping to take stuff less seriously now.

I’ve been here before, so I think I know how.

I’ll try to stay happy and whistle while working.

More “Happy Joy Joy,” and less “You are a Jerk”-ing.

Well, this is me leaving now. Hope all of you had a nice time on my belly button’s birthday. And as I’ve often said, please remember that it’s better to be you than for you to be me, and that although you can count to 8, “eight” is a word.

Hoping to retire in a couple years.  Maybe I’ll take a part time gig with The Old Man Of The Mountain…

Ready, Set… PIZZA!!!

Ahhh Friday… my favorite workday of the week. That is, of course, when I have both Saturday and Sunday off; which is most of the time. This Friday is a little different though, because my Beautiful Girlfriend went off with her Beautiful Friends to a (Beautiful) Women’s Retreat over in Newaygo Town.

“I’m a bachelor this weekend,” I my friends at work. Russ and Breck’s eyes both lit up and they quizzed me: “Really?? What’re you gonna do??” “I’m gonna eat massive amounts of cholesterol!!” I exclaimed with a big grin. Then I described the pizza I was lusting to make for dinner.

I didn’t bore everyone with the details, but I thought I’d put them here for your enjoyment.

Delicious Easy Pizza Method

1 – Boboli pizza crust… before I put it on a pizza pan I sprinkle a little corn meal to coat the pan sparingly but evenly. Keeps the pizza crust from sticking to the pan you see… Then put the crust on the pan and add, in order, the following:

a few sprinkles of coarse garlic powder

a few sprinkles of oregano

1 – 4 oz. jar of Classico pizza sauce (one jar is more than enough… had a little left over)

4 oz. of fresh sliced mushrooms, broken into small hunks

Fresh mild Italian sausage, cooked ahead of time over the wood fire (we have a fireplace)

½ green pepper, diced

1 small yellow onion, diced

4 oz. (or so) of black olives, crumbled (I take whole, pitted olives and smoosh them up with my fingers)

Premium pepperoni yummy slices, diced; sprinkled over the entire pie.

Sprinkle a smidge over 1 oz. shredded parmesan cheese

Sprinkle about 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions on the Boboli crust package say to preheat the oven to 450 but I’m a rebel.  I preheated the oven to 350, then goosed it to 425 when I put the pie in there.  Cooked for about 10 minutes and turned the heat off. After the cheese melted and started to tan; I let it set for a couple more minutes then took it out and sliced it up; at which point I grabbed a hunk and proceeded to stuff my face. Total time from beginning to end was almost an hour, but oh my it was certainly worth it.

Then back in the warm oven it goes with the heat off so the flavors can mingle a little longer. I may accidentally have some more later.

Oh yes my friends, I’m in party mode tonight. Oh and I accidentally snarfed a bag of Cheetos while waiting for the pizza to cook. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the Cherry Coke I discovered at the gas station they let me buy with the Cheetos and the Reese’s crunchy chocolate bar thing and Peanut M&Ms (those are for a friend at work, I promise) (unless I eat them) (I’m not sure).

I’ve been having a grand old time burping loudly and not even saying “excuse me!” Later on, I might even treat myself to a Marx Brothers movie!! And why not, my Beautiful Girlfriend and her Beautiful Friends are about 28 miles away and they can’t stop me!! Nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!

This kind of partying is far superior to the kind I once… um.. enjoyed? I say, “enjoyed?” with a question mark because there were all too many times I was ingesting intoxicants under the premise of having fun, when in fact I was really harming myself. So all that youthful partying began with fun, then fun became mixed with poor choices; which of course produced problems.  The last portion of my journey into mind altered oblivion transformed into even worse choices; so that part of the ride was anything but fun. I truthfully do NOT miss those times. Life is very good these days, so my cholesterol party is more than enough enjoyment for me.

Looks like I have a couple days worth of pizza; and I’m not complaining! Holy Cholesterol, Batman!!

Several rock stars have had a similar partying journey, many are dead. Most of the ones who survived, however, have changed their ways; and one guy by the name of Richard Starkey is a favorite of mine. His stage name is Ringo Starr, and he had some fun with part of his story in a catchy little tune known as “The No No Song.”

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

A horribly beautiful, terrible but remarkable, and yet pretty amazing thing happened last week: our water heater died. One may well ask, “how can the death of a water heater conjure so many adjectives in one sentence?” Of course, one (or even two) may not ask that at all. I mean who really cares, right? Water heaters croak… new ones are only guaranteed for 6 years and are expected to last for maybe 10 to 15 years.

So what’s the big deal? Well, we knew our 80 gallon Hotpoint water heater was old when we bought the house way back in 1982. This was when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people communicated over long distances with tin cans connected with string. What we didn’t know until this past Monday was that our trusty old water heater was built in 1952!!! I mean, this thing was born before us!! Sixty-five years ago!! I told the installer, “hey maybe we should keep it, it’s eligible for Medicare!!” One friend on that BookFace thing on the interwebs said it might be a world record for water heater longevity.

As I watched the poor “kids” (when you’re in your 60s, “kids” are anyone 30 years old or less) haul the disconnected monster out of the basement, I couldn’t help but reflect on the throw-away world we’ve built around us. Too many things have obsolescence built into them; because hey, business depends on sales, and sales don’t happen when things last forever. That may be good for sales but it’s not very good for our planet.

However, I do know from experience that there are a few companies on this planet who make things that last a long time; but in my professional opinion those are few and far between. Toyota is one of those companies. They believe that business should be sustainable; not just growth oriented. Toyota makes some of the longest lasting cars on the road; and that’s what brings customers back. They certainly sold me; the 2003 Corolla I bought brand new has well over 300,000 miles on it. We don’t know how many miles it’s gone exactly, because a factory defect for that model year prevents the speedometer from going any farther than 299,999 miles. The body is still in very good shape, and it runs like brand new.

Lots of folks chase the newest, shiniest toys: cell phones, cars, TVs, etc. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I are happy to live in the Stone Age with our old cars, landline phone, and antenna TV. So basically we are weirdos; and we like it. Our favorite thing about all our stuff is that we own it. We have zero debt. Nada. Zip. Nibbit. Blazoo. Well OK those last two “words” aren’t words, but as I said, we are weirdos. So now if my Honey Pie is reading this I’m gonna get in trouble; so let me clarify: she’s very practical and I’m the weirdo. After all, I’m the one who makes up silly words and flings them out on the interwebs for all to see.

I rather doubt this new water heater will last 65 years. Maybe, just maybe, it will outlive us; but I’m not counting on it. No, they just don’t make ’em like they used to… and sometimes that’s a good thing. They don’t make music like they used to either… and now it’s time for me to share some of my favorite “oldies” with you.

Enjoy!

Don’t Bee A Robot

Ever have a time when you think you’ve heard everything, then another weird announcement buzzes about on the news and the interwebs? A very sad announcement that came out recently was the addition of the rusty-patched bumblebee to the endangered species list. Unfortunately, climate change, the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides, and destruction of habitat does not exactly render this announcement as mysterious.

One of the weirdest follow-ups to the endangered bee story was the proposal to use robotic “bees” to aid in pollination of crops. I’m not kidding about this; there are actual efforts in progress to perfect a robotic bee!! This announcement made me even more sad than the prospective loss of bee populations. While some might find robo-bees to be a fascinating credit to modern science, my strong belief is that such inventions do much more harm than good to our environment as a whole.

Human nature, it seems, is always looking for a magical way out of difficult and complex problems. I’d much rather hear more information about how to save our bees; not replace them with machines. After all, our bees, along with many other species, are endangered because of the poisoning of our planet. All the man-made materials used to make robo-bees and other drone type flying machines are produced at no small cost to the environment.

One report I read speaks about using robo-bees in conjunction with real bees to achieve better coverage of crops needing pollination. Seems to me these “geniuses” are missing something very important: robo-bees have tiny propellers. What happens when they collide with a real bee? I’m guessing the bee loses a leg or two, or three, or an eye, or… well you see what I mean. So, we’re already losing bees to other environmental stressors, and now we have scientists who want to surround them with tiny little helicopters?? Oy yoy yoy.

Thankfully, when people learn that bumblebees are endangered, lots of folks want to know what to do to save them. At least, I sure hope they do. My Beautiful Girlfriend and I have been raising food organically for going over 40 years; so many of the techniques are second nature to us.

Here are some simple things everyone can do to help bees thrive:

  1. Buy organically grown produce whenever possible. This ensures that pesticides and / or herbicides were not part of the farming process. In the past, organic fruits and vegetables were an anomaly at the stores, now they’re very commonplace and price competitive. That’s because normal folk became interested in knowing how their food was grown.
  2. Plant wildflowers and / or flowering trees. Simple, right? Seriously, plant flowers, especially away from where you’re going to mow. Everyone knows that will help the bees. Try to be especially sensitive to the fact that bees need to feed all season long; so different types of flowers can be selected to ensure there is food available during the entire feeding season.
  3. Weeds can be very beneficial. Say what?? That’s right… a lawn full of dandelions or clover is a veritable buffet for bees. Many other, taller growing weeds have flowers that bees depend on (please refer back to item # 2).
  4. Do not use pesticides or herbicides in your garden or lawn. These are poison to many forms of life, of which bees are a small group. Too much of the public has been bombarded with chemical solutions for pest and weed management. Speaking from a gardener’s perspective, I would rather see a crop fail than to use poisons to control pests. However, by learning techniques like companion planting and crop rotation, I’ve been blessed with many beautiful harvests of all sorts of vegetables.
  5. Work to preserve habitats. You know that old hollow tree out back? Should have been cut down years ago, yes? Well maybe not: hollow trees provide shelter for bees and other pollinators. Bumblebees will burrow into the ground, so if there are any mounds or abandoned burrows from rabbits, etc., pay attention; the bees may be nesting there.

Long story longer, if we just take a little more time learning about what Mother Nature needs from us, we can help her stay healthy. And if our Mother Earth is healthy, there will be no need for robo-bees. So please, don’t bee a robot. Don’t assume that pesticides and herbicides are safe. If you don’t grow your own, learn where your food comes from and how it is grown. And by all means, let your representatives know your concerns about keeping our environment clean and healthy for all creatures.

Sorry, science kids, robo-bees are not natural!!

Maybe if all bees could be like the one who stood up to Donald Duck; they’d have a fighting chance…

My Best Friend Is Married

Friendship, in my professional opinion, is one of the most valuable forms of nourishment available. I feel I can be an authority on this topic because of one very important qualification: I’m human! Mind you, I’m not a professional human… but I am a human who has a profession. Anyway, I greatly value all my friends; and have even been blessed with a best friend.

We’ve known each other since we were 17… met by happenstance in high school. In those days I already had a best friend; and he still is to this day and I love him to pieces. But this new best friend person stole my heart you see. We got planted next to each other in study hall way back in January of 1972, and became friends pretty much instantly. This was during the time that the internet was still made of strange things called the U.S. Mail and an obscure device called the telephone that transmitted voice signals through wires strung on poles.

Our school was in the booming metropolis of Rhinelander, Wisconsin; and when I left to serve Uncle Sam we used this U.S. Mail internet snail mail not-so-instant messaging thingy and the landline telephone speaking devices to their fullest. We stayed in touch and each time came home on leave it was obvious our friendship grew stronger and stronger.

As anyone who has a best friend knows, the foundation of such a relationship is comprised primarily of kindness and caring. We grew ever closer over the years, and although times and situations presented great challenges to our friendship, it has nonetheless endured and even flourished to this day.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting: this “new best friend” I acquired in high school just happened to be a young woman!! She captured my heart by switching her wardrobe from jeans and smock tops to dresses and makeup. At the time, I had little clue that a woman as beautiful as this could have any interest in me; but this sudden wardrobe change became the equivalent of Cupid bonking me on the noggin with a giant 2 x 4.

Naturally, our friendship evolved into romance; and we developed some habits early on that have kept us focused on the continual nurturing of each other. Habits included holding hands, hugging, snuggling, smooching and saying “I love you” multiple times a day. We still practice these habits; and they came in pretty handy during The Great Adjustment Period of living together. I think that lasted about… um… 17 years.

What can I say? Sometimes I’m a slow learner!!

We’ve discovered some amazing tools along the way, some of which were imparted to us via professional counselors and others via close friends. Thankfully, both of us wanted our friendship to work much more than we wanted it to fail. Some of these tools came in the form of little mantras we say to ourselves, like:

“How important is it? Or put another way, “is this really worth picking a fight over?”

“Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”

“Say what you mean, and mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.” and…

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

Other important habits were learned very early in life; specifically the practice of respect and just plain good manners. We say “please” and “thank you” often. And although neither of us got much of them when we were kids, we give each other compliments regularly. We both cook so we let each other know when a meal was yummy… and don’t say anything negative when it’s just food. If one of us drops something on the floor and the other finds it, we just take care of it without shaming the pants off the accidental litterbug. In short, we take care of each other; and continue to build more friendship while cementing it together with a few million bushels of love.

I’m a very fortunate man, because my best friend is the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe (all other women are the Second Most Beautiful).

And yes, my best friend is married. To me!!

OK!!!  Time for the mooshy videos!!

I’m Just A GPSter

Many moons ago, before the rock stars died, there lived a Tyrannosaurus Rex that played Jeepster. And they rocked the house many times, and it was pretty darn good. And yes, maybe I’m speaking in code, but those of you who grew up when I did may actually know that all that means.

The T.Rex performances were the 1970s, when technology was a bit different than today.  For example, when people wanted to go somewhere they used a very strange method: they used maps.

Now we have GPS units readily available and pretty inexpensive, too. More and more people are abandoning maps (and lots of other non-electronic things) for computerized toys. I’m beginning to wonder if the ability to read a map is slowly becoming a lost art.

Mind you, I am a self confessed road atlas addict. Ever since I’ve owned a car, I’ve made really sure there was a Rand McNally Road Atlas stashed in it somewhere. I mean hey kids, I don’t really care what language your GPS unit will use to tell you what turn to take. Maps are the cat’s meow in my universe. As I’ve gotten older I even have extended my map collection to a Michigan County Maps atlas. Now that’s livin’ large in my world.

Friends are often surprised to learn that I have absolutely no desire to get a GPS for my car; especially since I commute 56 miles one way to work. They figure such a device could come in handy when the snows or an accident bring traffic to a crawl and I seek an alternate route. And since they know I work in computer support, they are often baffled by my lack of interest in the latest cool electronic doohickey.

Well yes, I work in the computer field, but although technology provides me with a pretty good living; gadgets have ceased to amaze me. Don’t get me wrong, I think toys can be cool. I just don’t need any more junk. I’m guilty of owning plenty of stuff that’s not exactly eco-friendly: televisions, a computer, cell phone, etc. Don’t kid yourselves folks, none of these devices are completely recyclable. Some of it simply cannot be reused. So, my philosophy is to buy the best quality stuff I can so it will last lots of years. Conversely, my philosophy is NOT to buy stuff that will become obsolete quickly.

As far as the GPS stuff goes, my lovely girlfriend and I actually enjoy taking a wrong turn every now and again. Brings a little adventure into our lives; and helps us hone our map reading skills. OK I admit I did ask for a GPS for Christmas one year; but it’s the kind that will never need batteries. It sat on top of the dashboard of my 2003 Toyota Corolla and gave me a general idea which way I was headed. You may have seen one before, here’s a picture of mine:

As you may have guessed, this particular GPS is also called a compass. Some of you may say, “umm… Ken, that’s not a GPS.” Well of course it is; my friend Dave at work told me so. When I was joking about “my new GPS” after Santa brought it to me, he said, “well yeah… it’s a General Pointing System!”

Came in very handy; especially when I got stuck in traffic. If I was on my way home from where I worked in Grand Rapids (Michigan), and ran into some heavy traffic, I’d just zig and zag through the back roads until the car was pointed west. Pretty hard to go too far west here in Michigan unless you have an amphibious car. So even if I’m totally confused; as long as I can get to the Lake Michigan shoreline I can find my way home from there. These days, our son has the Toyota and I drive a brand new 2001 Chrysler Town & Country. It also has a GPS compass thing, but it’s an actual digital readout!! Much easier to read when it’s dark!!

Even though I like to take alternate routes; I stay on the roads; unlike some of my Jeepster owning friends. I don’t really like the practice, but a few of my friends have Jeeps or maybe Toyota Land Cruisers that will go places where my car would never be able to visit. So I’m a Jeepster of a different kind… a GPSter. I’ll still pronounce it “Jeepster” though, because I love the song.  I even sing it to my Beautiful Girlfriend every now and again.

Which song?? Remember that Tyrannosaurus Rex I mentioned at the beginning of this silly story?

This song: