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:

An Open Letter to Noodletoss Anklebracelet

An Open Letter to Noodletoss Anklebracelet

All Others May Read But Do Not Sing The Chorus Out Loud.

(It frightens the radish grabbers.)

Dear Noodlestomp,

The Flooper Beetles keep eating the insides of my safety shoes. I’ll need at least 3 brand new, totally used hammers to eradicate them softly while donuts fly south for Spring. If no tapeworm dust is inhaled, apply bologna to both armpits before walking to the bathroom. When you’ve finally come to the conclusion that ice cream cannot be injected into the elbows to increase flexibility, you’ll find it completely obvious that not only does hair find its way into every part of your automatic transmission, it also can insulate the tree beepers; and this of course is only useful when the wind is multicolored with a pleasantly indignant odor that is often found to be not unlike cottage cheese that has been allowed to rest on the top of a night light during Barn Knocking Day in eastern Slooponia.

Perhaps you never heard that I’m collecting $$ for anyone who wants to attend The Great Flatulence Festival. Beans and boiled eggs are served round the clock to all participants; who of course wear the traditional festival garb of off-white Party See Pants. When the Festival commences, all the Party See Pants participants part ways in a most disorderly manner and select their favorite “brooping corner” so they can perform their musical Stink-O-Rama. Their amusing Farty Party ways will delight the crowds into extinction; and the Party See Pants of the participants will have the familiar tan but irregularly elliptical patterns where the noxious fumes exit the stinkulus holysmokeabus apertures. Additional medical terminology is often used to grade the performances; and of course the winner is permitted to leave before someone strikes a match to ignite the celebratory Kaka-Kaboom.

Tickets are $.27 each but nose plugs are $379.17 per unused pair. Used plugs are not for sale but may often be bartered for with enticements of extra Boiled Egg Bean Surprise available at the condescension stand.

In closing I’d like to demand that you remember about all that creamy slinky dust oozing from the back of my phone today. Not sure why today should be any different than the time none of us celebrated Webmiggle Day while wearing oversized raincoats.

Thank you again for not shrieking while I opened that 12 year old can of smoked caterpillar toes. You must admit they were delicious with those deep fried dust crackers!

Eat Well And Cause Mischief,

Milbert R. Wofflenock

Speaking of nonsense, these gentlemen were masters…

No Sense, No Feelin’

Today’s political hoopla gave me deep sadness… I’m still not finding any sense in it all. A womanizing, bullying egomaniac with deep insecurities rose to the highest office in the land; and those who elected him are somehow able to be completely oblivious to his deep-rooted character flaws.

So far, the only cabinet pick I’ve seen who’s anywhere close to being qualified is General Mattis. For someone who claimed to want to “drain the swamp” when coming to Washington, President Trump surely has picked some nasty leeches for the rest of the cabinet. For those of you who don’t know, leeches are blood suckers who stick to your legs when you go wading in the swamp. Unfortunately, too many of Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks are rich people who know little about the office for which they’ve been selected; but they all have an agenda that, if left unchecked, will likely undo a mountain’s worth of progress that’s been made since World War II ended. Don’t let them fool you, they don’t care what we “little people” have to say. Rather, they are all out for personal gain.

I’m beginning to feel numb inside… but I’m not going to allow that to fester. None of this makes sense to me; but then again all of it does. My Mother used to jokingly say “no sense, no feelin’ “ if one of us fell down but didn’t react much from the pain. Well much of the politics these days makes no sense. But for the no feelin’ part… well… as you may have guessed this post is not gonna be a very Happy Friday.

So I’ll make this short and sweet: I believe it’s our duty as free citizens for EVERYONE to please pay close attention to what’s going on and be ready to speak out loudly and repetitively when our values start getting dragged into the swampy muck. We all need to speak up for equality and decency, and speak OUT against hatred and division.

Some of us remember a similar time; and we have songs, many of which are still being sung today, to remind us.

Gonna be a long four years. Long Time Gone…

Let’s work together.

We don’t want to let it slip through our fingers.

We don’t have to be famous to make a difference. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Working With Controlled Substances

I’ve noticed that some every day items that are deemed harmless should probably be listed as dangerous if used incorrectly. Folks who know me well are aware that I have something of an addictive nature; and sometimes resisting certain substances can present a big challenge. Seems like the greatest exposure I get to such things happens at work.

Mind you, I’m not talking about smoking alcoholic beverages, snorting LSD, or shooting up marijuana. There was a time in my life when I was “interested” in things along that line; but I became way too involved in altered states. Somewhere along the line I got help from The People Upstairs, so I no longer have any interest in having my mind bent artificially. Thankfully I haven’t had any intoxicants in my bloodstream for well over 20 years now (thank you God for Everything).

No, I’m talking about something much more insidious: I love to eat!! Well OK I guess most people at least like to eat. It’s kind of important, right? Yes!! But there are times when I like to eat too much. And there are other times when I like to eat “recreational foods.” Those are foods that are not really nutritious, but pretty darned delicious. I believe it’s OK to eat something recreational from time to time.  However, moderation is the key.  What follows is a short list of foods (or food venues)I like a little too much; and I joke to my friends (often seriously) that these should be considered controlled substances.

Pizza. Oh man I love that stuff. We do have it at home sometimes, but much of my pizza consumption happens in the workplace. I admit it, I love the stuff; and find it very difficult to resist. I sometimes cringe when I learn that during a training session or whatever there will be pizza provided. I cringe because I know that my lunch in the fridge would be much more waistline friendly; and also because I know deep down that if left alone I can eat almost a whole pizza. Then, if someone else has a work event and there are leftovers?? Oh yes, I become Kenny The Pizza Vulture.

Had that today as a matter of fact. My friend Dave told me, “hey I bought pizza for everyone today. It’s over in the factory and there should be some left!!” I said aloud, “thanks, but I need that like I need a hole in the head.” He smiled and said, “well there’s probably some left.” So what did I do? I thought up a valid work reason to go over to the other building. And yes, there was pizza. And yes, I had some. And yes, The People Upstairs helped me again, because I went away, did my work thing, came back, and all the pizza had been removed!! I’m sorry… that stuff is addictive. Which brings another controlled substance to mind…

Potato Chips. Sheesh… do I really need to expound? I can eat a whole bag all by myself. We rarely buy them. Sometimes they have them at work with lunches (or leftovers) and I’ll zip open a small bag and basically inhale the stupid things.

Peanut M&Ms. So like at work ya know? They have these little like gumball machines like at the movies where you put in a quarter and if you wiggle wiggle wiggle the handle just right you get lots more than if you fling the little handle around quickly and if you’re really good at it you can get WAY more M&Ms with one, two, or maybe three quarters than you get if you spend a buck from the one-package-at-a-time machine. Holy CARP those things are yummy. Bottom line? I keep my pockets empty of change most of the time.

All You Can Eat Buffets. Alright, this is not a work thing. I’m talking about the ones for which you have to pay. And OK maybe at weddings, etc. too, but especially those that cost me money. When I pay, I talk myself into thinking “I’m gonna get my money’s worth,” then I eat about 719 bazillion calories worth of goodies. I can never control myself at a stinkin’ all you can eat buffet.

I could probably list many more, but you get the idea. Fortunately, my Beautiful Girlfriend talked me out of my desire to get some take-out this evening. Good thing too… I could stand to lose some flab. My best defense at work is to bring a healthy lunch and only eat what I bring with me. When I do that, I’m pretty successful at avoiding these “controlled substances.”

Sometimes.

Well, I was trying to find the cartoon called “Pigs Is Pigs” where Porky Pig stuffs himself; but here’s a Disney cartoon by the same name but completely different.

Grateful While Screaming

Once upon a time we inherited a duplex which was a million percent awesome because our son was down on his luck and needed a place to stay and God Bless The Renters who pay enough for us to be able to afford taxes and insurance on the place but not much else because you see we hate being landlords so we keep the rent low but always seem to find someone who stays for more than 3 days and doesn’t write satanic messages on the walls with dog poop or try to rewire the washing machine to play CDs and even though it’s a bit of a pain at times we would hate to see our son live in some garbage dump somewhere and Holy Moly this one one long sentence which could have been summed up in just 3 words:

We Are Grateful.

So there I was, minding my own business, when I get a text from our tenant, “we have no heat.” Well that meant a call to the Heater Fixers and a nice guy came out and learned that a circuit board was no good and he said “oh hey there’s 2 inches of water down there in the crawlspace… I have to order the circuit board but we need that water removed before we can come out to fix it;” so I cried and rolled on the floor and thrashed about because what the HECK am I supposed to do so we called ServPro to come clean up the mess and then I canceled because I thought “oh jeez, we clean up water in our swamp house almost every spring, this is no big deal;” but then my Beautiful Girlfriend and I went to clean up the mess with our meager floor pump and shop vac and discovered HOLY MOOPFLAYBEN WE DON’T HAVE ANYWHERE NEAR ENOUGH HOSE AND STUFF FOR THIS so I called ServPro back and they said yes they could come and they arrived quickly and it didn’t break the bank (too badly) and this is yet another run-on sentence that could again be summed up in 3 more words:

We Are Fortunate.

OK. The water issue is taken care of so the heater guy doesn’t have to do the Jingle Jangle Dance while working with electricity in a soggy place and I called the Heater Fixers back and and and (3 ands to illustrate exasperation) they said, “oh, it’s too late in the day so we’ll have to send someone first thing in the morning” and then I said thank you and hung up and cried thrashed about and rolled on the floor because HOLY BEEPDOODLE IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE 14 DEGREES TOMORROW CAN’T THEY PLEASE COME OH JEEZ OH GOD OH NO and then I went home and got a box fan and crawled into the crawlspace (it’s for crawling!) to try to dry the floor a little more and then I told the tenant “Well sorry the Heater Fixer Guy won’t be back till tomorrow morning” and then as I started out the driveway here comes the Heater Fixer Guy and I clasped my hands together in a reverent manner and bowed several times and he said “ya, everyone does that till they see the bill” and this is again once more a very VERY long sentence that could also be shortened into 3 words:

We Are Blessed.

Long story longer, we help with the water; and we got the heat fixed. Someone Upstairs was helping us, of this I have no doubt. Even though I screamed and cried and rolled about on the floor, I was able to maintain a small amount of gratitude each time the tides turned a bit. Then of course a huge basket full of gratitude flowed out of my heart after all was said and done. And those, my friends, are four regular sentences that can be expressed in 5 words:

Thank You God (whoever They are) For Everything. Well, OK 8 words if you count the ones in parentheses.

THE END

And now, as Mr. Cleese used to say, for something completely different… kinda.

My New Year’s Revelations For 2017

Can someone please tell me what happened to 2016? Seems like it should still be with us. I mean heck, it was Thanksgiving just a couple weeks ago. Now it’s gonna be a whole New Year!! Lots of people will be making very merry on New Year’s Eve, and many will also make promises in the form of resolutions to (hopefully) do some things a little better. Actually, that’s exactly what my New Year’s resolution has been for many moons now.   I just keep it simple: Try to do better.

Maybe you noticed that the title of this week’s Happy Friday!!! mentions revelations, not resolutions. Well that’s because I like to have fun with this writing stuff; so if you are not interested in such silliness please run to your nearest widescreen TV and watch a few thousand cat food commercials while I plunk the keyboard and write what will likely be my very last run-on sentence for this year; although it will certainly NOT be the very last one I will write, because my friend Dave likes them and also my friend Kathleen and maybe others; and although my punctuation may be questionable I really don’t give a royal SnickerlyDoodle about it.

So there.

OK. Now I am making with the New Year’s Revelations. My intent is to take some time tested sayings and offer shiny and productive ways that you may or may not find useful in your own lives. There are many such sayings that seem to have been with us for eternity, but that can’t be possible because we are still here. Anyway, here are some that come to mind and my reactions to their bronchial indigestion.

1) A stitch in time saves nine.

This makes no sense to me. Maybe it’s because my limited experience with stitching is in the form of an emergency repair on a pair of britches, or perhaps replacing a button. Ever bend over to pick up a penny and hear a nasty rrrRRRIIIPPPPP!! ?? It’s rather embarrassing. Especially if you have to traipse about looking for someone who has a sewing kit. Then once you’ve found that person, you have to be careful how you enter / exit the room so they don’t get frightened that your undies (or God forbid, your hiney!!) are hanging out. No, for me, a stitch in time is merely a stitch in time.

2) A penny saved is a penny earned.

Well that’s a nice thought. Remember that penny I bent over to pick up and my pants ripped open?? There was a cost of more than a penny to find someone with a sewing kit for cryin’ out loud. Well OK, there was no actual cost of money; but there was a price to be paid for the embarrassment of it all. And ya know, when I toss pennies into the change bucket at home, I don’t think I’m really earning anything. I’m just emptying my pockets. Besides, all my wages are direct deposit, so there are no actual pennies when I put stuff in the saving and / or checking account.

L) He who hesitates is lost.

Now there’s one I can relate to!! Remember that one time when we were coming back from Canada and you weren’t even there but I’ll tell you anyway?? Yes! My Beautiful Girlfriend and I had just crossed the border and entered Port Huron. Mind you, on the way to Canada we had no problem. But on the way from Canada, I got a little bit kerfuffled. There I was, minding my own business, watching the signs and forgetting the exact route, and then (uh oh, I can smell another run-on sentence), and thinking to my self, “hey Self, I think you missed your exit,” but my Beautiful Girlfriend and I were chatting and I was wondering and pretty soon we’re on I-75 going south and WHY THE HECK DOES IT SAY WE’RE ON THE WAY TO DETROIT WHEN WE LIVE IN MUSKEGON??

I’ll tell you why, I hesitated!! And then we got lost!! Well, OK not completely lost. I mean, if you’re in Michigan and you go too far south you hit either Ohio or Indiana. Too far north and you hit the Mackinac Bridge. Too far west and you’re on the shores of Lake Michigan. So we weren’t lost, just… ummm… on an adventure. Thankfully I keep some prehistoric road atlases in my car for just such an occasion. Remember road atlases? You know, printed maps? In a book?? Yes, I still have those. And thankfully the car has a compass so we were able to navigate. A big plus: we stumbled upon Crockett’s Country Cafe in Columbus, Michigan (never even knew there was a Columbus in Michigan) and had some very nice bison dinners with more than enough to have leftovers for the following day.

We hesitated, we got lost, we ate well, we went home. Not such a terrible thing.

To finish up, I’ll include one of the most time-honored sayings that may have helped avert conflict between friends and loved ones:

9r) You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

Can’t argue with that!! Another variation of that is: you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t wipe your friends off on the sofa.

I can honestly say I’ve never thought that picking someone else’s nose is a good idea.  And wiping them off on the sofa??  Hey, what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business.  Well, OK I have to retract that statement about not picking someone else’s nose; only because I’ve helped my Lovely Girlfriend to raise two kids. I’m sorry, but my professional opinion is that anyone who has kids but hasn’t dealt with kid boogers has never really been a parent. And of course now we have grandkids, but both of them are getting very adept at nostril maintenance.

Well that’s probably enough for now. Please, all of you who read this, PLEASE have a blessed New Year in 2017. Don’t know about you, but I have much for which to be grateful. If I can keep that foremost in my mind, life goes along pretty well.

Thank you and Happy Friday!!!

Hope you have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s… there’s a party goin’ on at Grampy’s house if you don’t have any prior engagements…

Jingle All Night Long

Santa Claus is coming already! I suppose you folks all have your shopping done, right? Well, not me. I always wait till the last minute. It’s kind of a ritual, I guess. There may come a time when I quit procrastinating, perhaps tomorrow or the next day. But until then, look for me at the all night department store, right into the wee hours of Christmas Eve.

Wonderful rationalizations get cooked up in a part of my brain (which I lovingly refer to as the “lazy cortex”) around this time of year. First of all, I figure the number of other shoppers in the middle of the night is way down; and that’s the way I like it. Therefore, I tell myself, it’s best for me to shop later at night.  Secondly, since I’m always living from paycheck to paycheck anyway, the last check of the year is the logical choice for holiday shopping. Sure, I suppose I could squirrel away a few dollars here and there to prepare for the holiday season. However, that would require something terrible of me: discipline and planning. Those two concepts just scare me to death!

I did do a little shopping for my Beautiful Honey Pie while on a business trip to Pennsylvania last week. Because of a tight schedule and absolutely NO CLUE where to go, I asked Siri The Nice iPhone Lady where the nearest shopping was. She directed me to Promenade Place; which appears to be where all the rich people go. Although I’m blessed in millions of ways, I’m not independently wealthy. But I ventured into a jewelry store with hope of finding a nice pair of earrings for my sweetie. I knew I was in trouble when none of the items in the fancy glass cases had prices on them. Then I found what seemed to be a reasonably priced pair of turquoise earrings. The nice man said, “those are 4-0-5.” And he didn’t mean 4 dollars and 5 cents. I thanked him for his time and hit a two other stores called Francesca’s and Charming Charlie’s. Between the two of those I found about 6 pairs of nice earrings that fell well into my price range.

I had grandiose plans of stashing some of the jewelry for Christmas; but the rule when I travel on business is that I “bring back a surprise.” Even though I was only gone for a couple days I missed my Baby so much that I ended up giving her all the loot in one shot. That, of course, meant I had to go on the hunt again; with Christmas drawing ever nearer.

My wife just shakes her head and laughs at me, bless her soul. And this year, with the economy “in recovery,” the stores are enabling my last minute mania.  Stuff just keeps going down in price!  It’s amazing!!  Of course you have to be willing to wade through hordes of other procrastinators.  And unfortunately, some of them are getting rather ornery.   I was in Meijer the other day (our local everything store, for those of you who don’t know Michigan), and it was a complete madhouse.  People packed and zooming all about.  After I finally arrived at the cashier, I joked with her, “well you must be completely bored today, what with it being so slow and all.”  She smiled and related how nice it was to have the time whiz along.  “So, at least folks are in a good mood,” I added.  “Nooo,” she said in a low tone, “people are nasty.  Getting mad ‘cuz nothing’s in stock, or it costs more than they think it should.”

Like the cashier has any control over such things.  Unfortunately, our wonderfully materialist world has all too many folks convinced that Christmas is all about the presents, instead of the peace on Earth and all that stuff.  Couple that with the pressure of uncertainty in the job market… heck, uncertainty in the world, and people get a bit antsy.  Then add a little “holy cow it’s only 4 days before Christmas and look at all I gotta do,”  and some folks get downright nasty.  All that lovely Christmas spirit gets converted into scowls and hustle-bustle.

I don’t get ornery… I’ve just pretty much accepted the fact that my Santa mode doesn’t kick in very early in the season.  In other words, one thing about my holiday shopping is pretty predictable: I’ll be running through all the stores with my just-before-Christmas-paycheck like a head with my chicken cut off (or something). By the time I reach the last checkout, I’ll be too exhausted even to balk at those crazy tabloid headlines.  Something like, “120 YEAR OLD WOMAN CLAIMS TO BE TRUMP’S TWIN SISTER,” would usually prompt me to snicker or chuckle. By then, it will just be a cold stare, and robotic “hmmm.”

I’ll fumble for the credit card, cram the receipt in my wallet, drag all the stuff to the car, and it’s home again, home again, jiggety-jog. On the way home, I love to tune the AM dial and look for that distant station playing Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.”  Maybe sing some carols while it fades out.

The approach to the homestead involves a little Santa trick. I kill the engine, coast into the driveway, sneak inside with the goodies, and hide somewhere to make lots of crinkly noises with wrapping paper until 4 a.m. Finally, I’ll stash the loot under the tree, and flop into bed; vowing to start at least two days earlier next year.

Or not.

Maybe if I learned a few things from Grampy, all the Christmas presents could be built right at home!!

Thank You Siri; Please Forgive Me!!

So there I was, 36,000 feet in the air, inside a plane, with no parachute, on my way to Allentown, Pennsylvania, traveling for work, and now I’m making a sentence that’s not only way too long but also has too many participles and perhaps even gerunds (gerunds??); and of course I kept maps that I printed from the Googling of Directions, which is probably not really a proper thing but lots of people say it, and although I had all these printed maps with directions they were of little use to me because I didn’t memorize them and so I cried out for Siri.

It was already dark outside when I finally got to the rental car. Even though I had printed directions with maps; it would have been rather difficult at best to follow them without having an accident. I needed help fast, so with blind faith I started talking to Siri.

“Siri,” I said to my iPhone thing, “I need directions to 4100 West Rock Road.” Being the obedient techno-servant that she is, Siri commenced to getting the directions. All I had to do was press the green “Go” button on the phone (while parked of course) (I’m too young to die) and she started telling me where to go. It was the first time I ever tried it, and it only happened because I saw people on the Television Thing talk to their iPhone things in a similar manner. So God bless her, Siri started telling me where to go with step by step instructions. I’m sort of used to having people tell me where to go, so this wasn’t difficult (ha ha, I make joking there).

For the most part, she did a wonderful job!! Although there were three small drawbacks: 1) Siri’s activity was very demanding of my phone’s battery power, L) once she tried to take me to a place that wasn’t there (invisible maybe?), and $) there was one instance where she wanted to drag me where I didn’t want to go. I can understand the drain on the battery; I’m sure a lot is going on in the iPhone Computer Brain Thing so that consumes energy. However, there was one instance in the wee hours of yesterday morning when I was on my way back to the airport. Siri was rattling off directions as I drove through all the serpentine, hilly back roads of the Pennsylvania countryside. We came to an area where she blurted out, “turn left on Penn Avenue.” I saw no Penn Avenue. She said it again, but she didn’t realize I’m not much of a morning person; especially at 3:45 AM. I scolded her thusly: “there’s no Penn Avenue you stupid farblejink!!” Well, OK, I may have really called her a different name using vernacular that refers to a female dog.

Then she wanted me to take a route to the airport that I knew involved a toll road. “No thank you,” I snarled, and I stayed on I-78 a bit longer. In spite of my rudeness she simply adjusted the route and told me where to go again, this time with a route that had no tolls. Such a nice robot lady!!

My professional path has brought me into a job in computer support; so one would think I would have abandoned printed maps long ago. Well although I’m very grateful to Siri for preventing me from getting lost in a strange land, when I travel for fun my navigation is much more primitive. I often use a combination of printed maps, a Rand McNally Road Atlas, and the compass in my car. Sure, Siri makes getting from point A to point B pretty easy… I didn’t really have to think. The only drawback is that I didn’t really learn the lay of the land. I merely learned how to get to places by following orders.

Well speaking of taking orders, I bet Santa is working overtime trying to get HIS orders filled…