The Radio AM My Friend

Such a dinosaur I am; and very happy to be that way. I’m something of an oddball regarding technology. Although my job in computer support takes me on lots of journeys with new devices and gadgets; my love for simplicity keeps me grounded in an “antique” world. My job can get rather stressful at times; so in an effort to take care of myself I’ll often seize the opportunity to take some quiet time. Meditation if you will. I keep it simple, I just step away from all the gadgets and reflect on what I’m grateful for; and then ask The Great Committee In The Sky for guidance.

Then of course there are other times when I’ll turn to technology for a diversion. Maybe I’ll play a CD… or a record! That’s right folks, I actually said I listen to records!!! And some youngsters actually think records are way cool!! Oh God Oh God… So yes I’m a dinosaur and I’m not afraid to admit it.

So there, nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!

I’m one of those weirdos who thinks paying for satellite or cable TV is a waste of money. There’s lots of stuff still available for free… for example, we actually use a TV antenna for most of our viewing pleasure. I say most, because we do have access to the interwebs and get TV stuff from our Roku. But no cable or dish. Nope.

I also love a very archaic device called the radio. My TV antenna looks like a giant fish skeleton on a pole, and not only does it work well for television, it also does a great job of grabbing lots of FM stations. Much of my FM listening revolves either around NPR or music. NPR is great for staying informed, but when I hear all the reports about war and suffering and cockamamie government shutdown stuff with climate change mixed in for good measure, I get a really heavy heart. So when I’d rather hide on the harsh realities of the world I seek out some good old rock ‘n roll. Unfortunately most commercial radio stations seem to have their music selections stuck on AC/DC, Bob Seeger, and Lynard Skynard. WAY too much repetition. WAY too much repetition. WAY too much… well you get the idea. That’s when I’ll look for those oddball “community radio” stations.

On the other hand, you have AM radio. Say what??? Anyone besides me remember AM radio? May sound like a silly question, but with all this “subscription addiction” (satellite radio, cable TV, etc.) lots and lots of people are amazed to “discover” AM radio.  AM is short for “amplitude modulation,” which is the oldest method of adding audio to a radio signal so it can be broadcast. The technology dates back to 1906, which is why many radio hobbyists refer to it as “ancient modulation.” For more info click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AM_broadcasting

AM radio was pretty much all we had available for music when I was a kid. So for me, it’s like an old friend; and I’m very thankful that it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. We live in an area where Chicago stations come in all day long, and I still find myself clinging to ancient stations with only 3 call letters. WGN (720 on your AM dial) is one of my favorites… those kids seem to have a great time being on the radio and they make me laugh. And now, West Michigan has its very own Public Radio Oldies Station!! Say wha??? YES!! Commercial free oldies, 24/7!! And what’s even more awesome is they stream it to the whole planet here: http://www.wgvu.org/realoldies/

Now that it’s winter outside, I leave for work when it’s dark. And of course, it’s pretty much getting dark again when I get home. Something magic happens to the AM radio band after the daylight goes bye bye: SKIP. Skip is a very old radio term that describes when radio waves are sent from the earth and into the sky, then bounce back down again. If you could watch skip happening, it would look somewhat similar to when a well tossed stone skips across water. Skip is especially prevalent on the AM band between dusk and dawn. Sure, the AM radio is plagued by noise and fading, but there are many high powered stations that provide reliable listening over a very wide geographical area.

In my professional opinion, this boils down to just plain fun. So when I’m driving around in the dark, especially during a long drive, I really enjoy frolicking about on the AM radio band. For example: I recently tuned to 540 AM on the way to work and was listening to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) out of Regina, Saskatchewan. A mere 1000 miles away!! Never bothered to check down on that part of the dial before.

Another time: on our way down to Florida to celebrate my Father-In-Law’s 85th birthday, it was getting late outside and we were really ready to be done driving. Just a few miles from the Florida border, we heard on one of the local FM stations that the Chicago Bears were playing against the Philadelphia Eagles, and that they might actually have a shot at the playoffs. Well normally we don’t really give a golly gosh darn about football. But the Bears haven’t been in the Superbowl for a loooonnnnggg time… so we thought we’d try to catch the game. Tuned around FM… nothing. Then I tried one of my presets: 780 on my AM dial, and lo and behold, WBBM was coming in clear as a bell out of Chicago!! So we got to listen to the game, live from Soldier Field. Cool, huh??

So my friends, I invite you to give this very old medium a whirl. You just might accidentally have some fun! There are lots of listings on the internet for AM radio stations if you care to check out other areas of the country and / or the world. If you find one you like, you might also be able to stream it from the webbernet if the snap crackle and pop starts to bug you. As far as broadcasters, I found nice listing here: http://www.northpine.com/broadcast/50kwam.html

I leave you with a very short list of stations that are pretty easy to pick up between dusk and dawn, especially if you are here in the Midwest:

650 WSM Nashville, Tennessee (Check out the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday Nights!)

700 WLW Cincinnati, Ohio

720 WGN Chicago, Illinois (Home of the Chicago Cubs! Lots of other entertaining stuff too.)

740 CFZM “Zoomer Radio” in Toronto, Canada (Wonderful music variety, excellent sound quality.)

750 WSB Atlanta, Georgia

760 WJR Detroit, Michigan

770 WABC New York City (This was a big rock ‘n roll station when I was a kid growing up on Long Island, NY. Mostly talk now… ah well).

780 WBBM Chicago, Illinois (All news all the time.)(I use this station for an “alarm clock” when I take a nap at lunch)

830 WCCO Minneapolis, Minnesota

840 WHAS Louisville, Kentucky

880 WCBS New York City (News Radio.)

890 WLS Chicago, Illinois

990 CBW Winnipeg, Manitoba (CBC Radio)

1020 KDKA Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (One of the oldest stations on the dial.)

1030 WBZ Boston, Massachussetts

1040 WHO Des Moines, Iowa

1060 KYW Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1140 WRVA Richmond, Virginia

Take care and Happy Listening!

My Meatball Muffins Moved My Mustard

As the title of this story may or may not indicate, our grandsons are visiting this weekend; and my duty of making up a very silly story is being fulfilled with large buckets of animal crackers lightly seasoned with crayon shavings and Captain Kaboom Dust Flavored Saxophone Sauce, rolled into a run-on sentence that of course invites all the truly masculine garbage cans to disguise themselves as tiny triangular toaster tables that shimmer in the darkness of our new Radio Ranch Wiggle Worms.

Yes.

Perhaps none of you have often been asked, “what do you think the most delicious color of the alphabet sounds like??” I never have been asked that either, so of course my very first answer I never supplied was, “Snurch Lip Surprise!!” After saying that out loud for the 347th time, nobody will ever again ask me what time the Peanut M&Ms will be flying in from Antarctica. After all, while Penguin Pete and Silvia Seal drive their go carts to the laundromat, we all will be learning new recipes for Shrimp On The Half Shell and maybe even Chopped Cat Food Surprise.

Mmmm Chopped Half Shrimp Shell Cat Surprise!! Remember the good old days when we stored that in the basement for 23 weeks? Oh my, the smell was bigger than a bag of toast that’s been sleeping in the sewer with all the other fizzy, candy coated ice cream handle bar polishing brushes. I never realized just how much shampoo would be wasted on such a gigantic pile of paper when it explodes out of the sock drawer!! My socks cried for days after powdered sawdust was added to the salad dressing. I was finally able to receive their radio lunches in a less than dignified way… all I had to do was tilt my head back and watch the moths sharpen their antlers on the ceiling fan.

These days, life is much more gribbly, and what I mean by that is we all have to put pudding in a friend’s shoes before they leave on a long trip. This will allow them to squint while they walk, and each step will be a squishy adventure. Who would have ever discovered that lawn ornaments could learn to play hockey with soup ladles? It just proves that we can always use a nice refreshing cup of shoelace extract to help us make friends with all those crazy grasshoppers that hang around at Walmart. Why else would those happy railroad clowns hide their flashlights? Everybody knows that green toilet paper makes the very best substitute for parsley flakes when nobody’s looking. Yes, those removable elbow shields you sold me came in very handy during my last trial run in the “Slide Until You Stink Competition.”

In closing, I’d very much like to make an important announcement.

But not right now.But not right now.

“Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation”

I have a small complaint I’d like to register at this time. It seems that just a couple weeks ago, I was listening to The Who singing “My Generation” on the AM radio thing; and now I’m a few years older and I think it’s been 50 years or so (I Googled it…54 years!!) since that song was first released and I can’t figure out where all the time went so quickly and how could this happen to both me and my Beautiful Girlfriend when we were just 17 years old when we first met and now we are saying things like “Medicare” and “Social Security” and this causes me to write run-on sentences because I mean really, how does this happen to gentle people likeUS??

How??

One day at a time I guess.

So there we were, minding our own business, driving down to Florida to celebrate Grampa Hilliard’s 85th birthday, and all of a sudden an “economic summit” erupted. We took the opportunity to discuss retirement finances; and because we were in a car that was set to cruise at 70 mph (OK, maybe a smidge more), it was not really a good idea for either of us to stand up and walk out of the room when we came to a challenging part of the discussion. That would just make ouch and bad road rolling. Even after 45 years of wedded blisters, money discussions can cause very bad juju if not handled delicately and with mutual respect. Thankfully, there was no weeping or gnashing of teeth; and we came to the agreement that neither of us need to sell our bodies on the streets in exchange for cans of tuna fish and expired loaves of bread.

Hey kids, this is kinda scary stuff!! In a little over a year, I’ll be retiring from a good paying job. I’ll go from “Highly Trained Monkey What Knows Computer Stuff” to “Highly Motivated Penny Pinching Garden Grower Person.” I’m very grateful I’ve acquired the skills to keep a good job, and I’m also very grateful that I know how to grow food, because I have a feeling we’re gonna want some. We like to eat, you see.

When it comes right down to it, though, my Honey Pie and I are blessed beyond belief. If things keep going the way they are now, we’ll be able to retire with no debt; and we may even have a little extra socked away for emergencies and maybe even some fun stuff. And yes, I’ll be growing food, and selling it to anyone who comes to visit us. I’ll be practicing my sales pitch… “Ummm hi!! Thanks for coming over! Long time no see!! Did you know we now have a ‘visiting tax?’ Yes!! You pay us money and we give you food items from the garden. Whaddya mean you don’t like eggplant!!??!!”

Well OK maybe not.

As I mentioned before, we are blessed beyond belief. And the good thing is, getting old doesn’t mean we can’t keep having fun. We were fortunate enough to attend a Who concert last year, and those old farts are still rockin’ out.

And we intend to do the same.

We Had No ID Who Was Calling

In our home, dinosaurs still roam. I’m not afraid to admit it: we still use a landline. We like the reliability, and the cool fact that it almost never drops a call. And yes, we have an answering machine too. When I’m not looking for a job (which is pretty much all the time), our answering machine greeting is recreation for my inner child.

For example, if you call, you might hear something like: “I HAVE PICKLES IN MY NOSTRILS FOR YOUUUUU!!” This one, of course is sung loudly to the tune of “I have pickles in my nostrils for you.”

Another might be a rather forceful announcement like: “This machine is for singing!! Please begin singing after the tone!!”

And I change the greeting regularly.

Anyway, those who know us will leave a message. Those who don’t, well we don’t care! For many moons, we used the answering machine to screen our calls. Seems like telemarketing calls are becoming more and more numerous; and we just don’t like being bothered. Rather than get annoyed at the poor person who calls (they are just trying to earn a living), we just got to a point where we quit answering until the answering machine kicks in. If we recognize the caller, we quick pick up and say hi.

We finally got some caller ID compatible phones a couple years ago. However, when I went to activate this on our landline, the nice phone company person told me there would be a charge for it. That was completely unacceptable… I mean sheesh!! We pay enough for unlimited long distance and all that. Mind you, I do technology stuff for a living; and I knew full well that caller ID was already present in the landline techno-universe. So, I passed.

Enter the 2016 elections. Holy MOLY we got bombarded with calls!! Since I hadn’t thought much about caller ID for a few years, I thought I’d call the phone company again and see what was up. Lo and behold, there was no longer a fee for caller ID!! So fiddle dee dee, we have caller ID!! And this pleases me!!

Those marketer kids are naughty… they have software that will fake your area code so it looks like the call is coming from somewhere nearby. And for some reason, the calls always get dropped before the answering machine turns on!! That’s just fine with us.

Every once in awhile though, I get to feeling a bit playful. I’ll answer the call and be completely silly, which of course drives the caller a bit nuts.

“Hello Sir, I’m calling to warn you that your Microsoft certificate is about to expire.”

“Oh my!! What do I do??”

“Well sir, are you near your computer?? And is it turned on?“

“Yes, yes I am!1” I tell them, but of course I’m not near and it isn’t on.

“OK Sir, I want you to press the following keys so I may troubleshoot…”

I don’t give them the chance to finish and I blurt out, “OH NO!! Do you see my screen?? WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? I DON’T THINK I LIKE THIS!!”

**CLICK** Oh darn, they hung up.

Another caller fell victim to my silliness recently…

“Hello sir, I’m doing a customer service survey and I’d like to ask you…”

I interrupt: “Pizza??”

“No no sir, this is a customer service survey. I’m not trying to sell you any food or other…”

“Well I’m pretty hungry, I’m hoping for some pizza!!”

“Sir!! Is there anyone in your home 18 or older I can speak to??”

“Oh yes, my cat!! I’ll go get him for you!!”

**CLICK** Oh darn, another hang up.

Anyway, we really like caller ID. Come to find out, there’s a telecommunications expert who is providing a service to intercept telemarketers before they even get to your phone!! And they record the call, which can be very amusing.

Please enjoy the video that explains…

My Important New Year Reciprocities For 2019

Hello Dearest Snapping Turtle Ticklers,

I know this time of year brings out the unique extraterrestrial sandwich making abilities of all the people I’ve never met. After all, another year is coming to a close, and that of course means that a new year will soon be shoving itself under the doorjamb with increasing intensity during the Artificial Aurora Activation, building great suspense as to what the new year may hold in store for us while the cat dashes to the refrigerator for another tall, refreshing glass of Onion Powder Surprise (“…wow!! This tastes like onion powder!! What a surprise!!) and yet another run-on yet very silly sentence makes it way to the interwebs for unsuspecting Chocolate Clickers to read while sipping Bark Noodle Tea.

Yes, I think so.

As the Holidays wind down to a dull roar, this is the time for the often customary promises to be uttered aloud, but sometimes not uttered at all; and these are heavily intensified in order to cajole our brains into thinking that we can actually improve ourselves somehow by creating lofty goals to which we can aspire and hopefully make something better either inside or outside of us.

Huh??

You know, New Year’s Resolutions.

Yes, have some.

OK, I will. Here are some of the revulsions I may or may not be interested in spraying on my Jinkle Toast during the coming year. I must warn the reader in advance: some of these New Year’s Resonations may cause involuntary snorking and / or ha ha crinkling. In other words, I hope they give you a smile.

Therefore and with Great Fanfare, I Hereby Unnecessarily Capitalize The Announcement of My New Year’s Resuscitations For 2019:

R) I hereby promise to try to attempt to take a whack at an effort to strive for an undertaking; and maybe even 7 of those. Attempts. Tries. Maybe.

4) My body fat index has reached 947% !!! OH MY!!! Maybe I need to enjoy fewer Lard Licking Contests!! What do you mean you’re not supposed to eat the bacon grease?? And… no!!! No more Olive Oil Milkshakes made with 100% heavy whipping cream?? Good Gravy!!! How will I survive??? Oh yeah… fruits and vegetables. Oh yes, and lean proteins. More from plants than animals. Yes. Thank you.

G!) As I sit here typing, I realize that I could combine this finger flinging activity with something more aerobic like perhaps hang gliding or bungee cord plunking. I often try with little success to perform bungee cord concerts, but the notes all seem to come out the same. Perhaps the hang gliding bungee cord concerts will give me a new perspective on what it really means to be more like my favorite super hero, Eggplant Man. Um… never mind. Erase this one. Besides, I can’t find my flashlight.

#X) It seems that every year, all I really want to improve is my view of the TV. Please move a little more to the east while we’re binge-watching Vikings or other any of those other outer space adventure series.

U*) After much consideration, I’ve decided to finally come to terms with my new illness: Serial Compulsive Recreational Insect Preparatory Tasting (S.C.R.I.P.T.) Disorder. Yes, Preparatory Tasting… all I wanted to do was find out what an insect tastes like before I decide whether to harvest them for our next social gathering. I’ve learned the hard way that most bugs simply are not delicious, and many object to being tasted. For example, stinkbugs secrete a very nasty bad smell ocka pitoo when being being touched by my tasting tongue. And bees and wasps… well, forget about it!! I’m seeking treatment; but each time I visit the S.C.R.I.P.T doctor I have to wait for 12 minutes for her to stop laughing.

And finally…

1!) My real New Year’s Revolution is always pretty much the same: try to do better. Lord knows I still have much to learn, and I truly hope I can remain teachable in this fascinating journey of uncertainty we call Life.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish you all a Very Happy New Year, and may all your nostrils be free of obstructions; especially when you’re sniffing the delicious lasagna I’ll be making on New Year’s Day.

Peace, Love, and Hugs to You All,

Kenny

Holiday Hanky Panky

Holiday hanky panky… that’s what I’ll call it. It’s a play on words you see… the phrase could be taken as a search for naughty bits during the Holidays, which for me would mean that I’m hoping to get fribbly with my Beautiful Girlfriend; who is also my wife, but I’m not gonna go down that whistle honkler hoochie coochie surprise because I really would like to enjoy some Ho-Ho-Ho-Hanky-Panky with her but that ain’t none of your beeswax and if go into detail of what that might mean and then post it on the interwebs for all the world to see it would greatly lessen the likelihood of any Marital Monkey Business so just never you mind, you won’t be reading about any of that there stuff in this run-on sentence so thank you very much.

Indeed.

OK. So what I really mean is: OK it’s like this you see… yes… um… don’t tell my Beautiful Wife Lady, but I’ve been buying stuff for her for a while now and she doesn’t know it. Ha ha, I laugh of this in a bigly manner! Just call me Sneaky Pete, but I probably won’t answer to that because my name is Ken, but those near and dear to me call me Kenny, so if you call me Sneaky Pete I might smirk at the sound of it but I might also stare off in the distance because I probably will be completely oblivious of the fact that you are referring to me even after I just told to call me that in the beginning of yet another run-on sentence.

Yes.

It’s kind of fun though. I do some of my shopping online, and stuff often gets dropped off on our steps near the driveway. We don’t use the side door, so even though the UPS man comes and leaves surprises, she rarely notices. That gives me the opportunity to stash things in the garage. She often goes to sleep before me, so I can sneak off to smuggle the goodies up to my office and hide them in the closet. Other smuggling missions involve “accidentally” leaving stuff in the car after coming home a smidge late from work, or perhaps concealing small items in my jacket pockets until the coast is clear.

Am I a rascal or what??

Of course, some of this covert activity is in the interest of resource preservation. Say what?? Well you see it’s like this: we both really like sweet things. We especially love homemade goodies that our friends give us during the holiday season. However, my Glamorous Honey Pie’s sweet tooth has a much stronger craving radar than mine does. If we get something yummy from a friend that we’re supposed to share, if I don’t hide it, there will be a mysterious depletion that occurs when I’m not around. When I forget (or choose not) to hide something, her sweet tooth zeroes in and attacks. Upon noticing the reduction in quantity I make a scientific observation, and I’ll announce my findings thusly: “I think mice have been eating the fudge!!”

Thankfully, I’m pretty much done with my hanky panky gift getting and hiding. And I’m even a tiny bit ahead of schedule!! Here it’s only the Solstice… usually I’m out chasing last minute surprises on Christmas Eve. And yes, I’m hoping to chase the Lovely Love Of My Life Lady around a bit during the Holidays; with the full intention of engaging in that married-people-hanky-panky I alluded to before. But that ain’t none of your beeswax so just never you mind!!

Please, all of you, Have a Happy Merry and a Joyful Wonderful. This time of year always gives me pause to reflect; and there’s one particular movie that makes me gush with emotion. The 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” has always been very powerful for me; especially the last few scenes. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I spent much of my early life “with no eyes to see, no ears to hear.” Some rather stark life lessons have ushered me out of darkness; and these days I just try to remain teachable. This week’s video is the scene that makes me gush tears of gratitude and happiness. So without further ado…

The Joys (?) Of Airline Travel

My friend Jeff and I were recently invited to attend a department Holiday Party at the corporate office in Pennsylvania. Weeks before the party we brainstormed and thought we agreed on a relatively sane travel plan. After expressing my aversion to getting out of bed before the birds, we decided to take an afternoon flight from Grand Rapids (Michigan) to Detroit; then Detroit to Allentown, PA which involved a layover of a few hours. No problem, we thought, we’d have time to enjoy some dinner and hop back on the plane. Arrived in Pennsylvania late, but on time (10 PM), then got to the hotel by 10:30.

No big deal.

The “fun” began on the return trip, however. We spent the night after the party; to be rested and fresh for the flight home. Slept in a bit and had breakfast, but shortly afterward we got a notification from Delta that our 12:30 PM flight from Allentown, PA back to Detroit would be delayed. Awesome. No big deal, we hung around in the hotel right up till checkout; then headed toward the airport. Returned the rental car, went through security, already had boarding passes on our phones. This gave us time to have a leisurely lunch.

After eating, we sat near the gate; and got another delay notification. Goody!! Now we are leaving at 2:10 PM. Went to the nice lady at the ticket counter to see what was happening. “Oh looks like a maintenance issue, the plane will be repaired and should be here shortly afterward.” OK… Then here comes yet another delay notification. Nice!!! Back to the ticket lady. “Is the plane still coming?” “Oh yes, sorry but it is still going to come.”

Then here comes an announcement that the plane couldn’t be fixed, so a “rescue” plane was being dispatched to cover the flight. Yay!!!! Meanwhile, time is clicking along, and the delayed flight’s arrival time is fast approaching the departure time of the 5:15 flight. Oh wait, here comes the plane now!! Cool!!! Everybody gets on the plane, and of course all of us are worried about our connecting flights. Jeff and I had visited the nice ticket lady several times to see if we needed to change anything, but she said no. Well that was no longer true of course, but much to our amazement she came into the plane after we sat down. She handed each of us a “seat request” ticket for the late flight out of Detroit so we could get back to Grand Rapids.

OK!! We’re in the plane!! Ready to go!! Wait… what?? The Captain made an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, I truly apologize but we cannot take off because our coffee pot is not secure.” Huh?? “We really do apologize… a maintenance man has been dispatched and is on the way.” Oh boy. We sit. We sit. For about 30 minutes. One of the passengers asks the flight attendant for an update. The Captain comes out again, “I’m sorry folks, but the maintenance man is stuck in traffic but is doing his best to get here.”

So what… the dude lives in New Jersey? Or is “stuck in traffic” actually code for “I just sat down to dinner, then I’ll need a nap” or something?? The young man in front of me (maybe 6 or 7) speaks up for all of us: “just pull the broken coffee pot out for heavens sakes!!” And yes, I’m pretty much quoting him verbatim. Then he goes back to his portable game thing which is beeping and blooping rather audibly.

My legs are getting a bit stiff after the first hour of waiting, so I started bouncing my knees up and down to keep the circulation going. The lady behind me gently taps my shoulder and says, “sir? Are you alright??” “Yes,” I said, “why do you ask?” “We thought you were having a seizure!!” she replied. Then I mentioned why I was bouncing my legs. “Oh, OK!!” she said with relief. After a couple minutes, she tells me, “tell that kid to turn his Gameboy down!!” Well, the boy’s parents sat right next to him. I replied, “ummm, no, I don’t wanna get in the middle of that, thank you!!” ‘

After almost 2 hours, the maintenance man finally entered the plane and was greeted by enthusiastic applause. He had some trouble getting the coffee pot to stay put; and it looked like he managed to finally win; but not without “red tagging” the coffee pot so nobody would use it.

Off we go to Detroit, and when we land, it’s after 9 PM. The gate in which we entered the airport had monitors of course, and the only reference to a flight to Grand Rapids showed that flight had already taken off. I asked the nice Delta Lady, “are there any more flights to Grand Rapids?” “There are none,” she said. “None??” I pleaded. “None,” she replied. Then I looked at our seat request tickets. Flight says it leaves for Grand Rapids at 10:40. I looked at the other set of monitors on the far wall. Yep, there’s a flight for 10:40 PM, and we can make it.

**Whew!!**

Little did we know, there was yet one more helping of “fun” in store for us. We go to the gate, ask the nice lady for a seat, and she says, “these are standby tickets. I can’t release the seats until 30 minutes before departure.” I wanted to roll on the floor and foam at the mouth, but instead I said calmly, “does it look like we’ll get on??” “Slim chance, but yes, right now it looks OK.”

Not very reassuring.

Hungry, downtrodden, and frustrated, we had about 40 minutes to kill so we went to Chik-Fil-A (the only place open) for something to eat. The young lady behind the counter looked as tired as we were. “We only have 1 and 6,” she blurted out before we could order. Huh?? Oh… OK, I look at the menu and the choices were, 1) a chicken sandwich or 6) nugget things. We both took Door #1.

Now the pre-boarding begins, so after a few lucky souls got on the plane, we hovered in front of the ticket desk again. “May I help you?” the nice lady asked. “Just hoping for standby seats,” I replied. “Oh yes… I got you.” “We need two,” I interjected. “Yes,” she said, “I got you.”  She handed us each a boarding pass and I’m pretty sure she was unaware that I wanted to give her a big giant hug at that moment.

I know that in each phase of our “interesting” journey, the staff all did their best with what was in front of them. However, for some strange reason, I’m not really eager to fly any time soon. On our way out to our cars, Jeff turned to me and said, “which do you think will be more memorable, the party or the flight??”

Thank you Jeff, I needed that.

Could’ve been worse… we could have had gremlins!!

A Matter Of Great Urgency: My Holiday Requirements For 2018

Dearly Beloved Humans,

Here we are again with another Holiday Season already!! Seems like it was just here like a year ago!! And of course, on this silly blog thing, it’s time for me to remind all of you that this is a time of giving; and in this world filled with material madness that seems to place way too much importance on money, toys, and other possessions like candy and even dog toys and treats, I would like to beseech you all to read carefully as I lay down my annual listing of things that I demand from all of you; and I’d like for you to make sure you have enough resources to get me what I want because, after all, if I have to write this silly run-on sentence (or something closely resembling this one) every stinking year to get my point across then hey, as the farmer said to the toaster salesman, “I reckon that’s just the way the crumbs will crumble.”

Yes.

So without further delay, here is the listing of Holiday Requirements for this year:

A) I’m pretty sure you can all pass around a yogurt container or something and have everyone put an ounce or two of pure 24 Karat gold in it. When it’s full just send it to me either yesterday or the day before. I only want about 490 ounces for starts. This will enable me to buy ice cream pretty much whenever I want; and as we all know that’s very important.

9) OH MY GOD!! Arrrggghhh… could you… could you please scratch the middle of my back?? No… down a little bit… now up…. mmmm yesss!! Thank you!! I was hoping the flea powder would work more quickly but oh well. Thanks again!!

T) I’m often hungry during the wee hours of the night. Therefore, please install the snack conveyor near my bedside as soon as the delivery truck crashes into our firewood pile. Of course, after installation you’ll need to ensure the snacks move along the conveyor and into my waiting mouth place. Make sure you pay close attention to the snack traffic while I’m sleeping, if you don’t mind please. Last time we never did this I had my head stuck in the snackpile for nearly half an hour; and I awoke with many food things sticking to my face. My friends giggled often and called me “Mr. Snacksnarfen” for weeks after that terrible event.

72) One thing I’ve always never wanted is a 10 year service contract with the American Poop Flingers Company (APFC). They do a great job of scooping the kitty litter box every evening. The best part about their service is that huge catapult they use to toss the kitty crap to God Knows Where (GKW). I do remember once though, when I thought I heard the neighbors yelling after a litter box cleaning session. Not sure what they were saying exactly but it was something like, “what the??!!?? Where the HECK is all this cat poop coming from??!!”

And finally…

9G) I need some volunteers to go to work for me each day so I can stay home and enjoy important things like: drinking fizzy liquids and burping, eating in bed while watching TV (the snack conveyor will be very useful for this), and shuffling around in my pajamas all day. You’ll only have to do this for about 14 more months until I retire. I’ll walk you through all the tasks when you get there. Just please don’t call me very often, that would be rather annoying.

But seriously folks…

What I really want for the Holidays is the same old silly saying we hear every year all over the place: “Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Women And Men.” That’s all I really want. Peace on Earth. And I really want people to love and respect each other. We don’t necessarily have to like each other; but we really do need to treat everyone we meet with love and respect. This even goes for those who seem hopelessly terrible inside and out.

One of my favorite descriptions of humanity is: “God doesn’t make junk.” So I take that to mean that God (whoever they are) has presented all of us with a beautiful universe; and we are all a part of it. Therefore, we all deserve to love and to be loved. But what about those “hopelessly terrible” ones? Well a dear friend of mine used to say that “people who are the most unlovable need lovin’ the most.” Quite a challenge, wouldn’t you say?

So that’s all I really want. Peace and kindness. Oh, and of course we need to get better at taking care of Mother Nature.

May I have those please?

Thank You.

For this week’s video… um… well it gave me a chuckle.  Poor Santa…

Christmas Boogers and Spider Milk

Well I suppose it had to happen, probably sooner rather than later. When I asked our grandsons, “hey, what should I right about tonight?” They both replied, pretty much in unison, “boogers!! CHRISTMAS BOOGERS!!” And I confess I have never heard of Christmas Boogers before. Never really even thought too much about boogers during Christmas. But we’re talking about young men here, and they are finding humor in various bodily functions. And boogers, apparently, are high on the list. So to our fine young men, I hereby dedicate this very short poem about

Christmas Boogers

by Ken Hansen

Christmas time is almost here.

A very happy time of year.

My dreams are filled with yummy treats.

Egg nog, cookies, and other sweets.

They’re made with yummy stuff and sugars.

Much tastier than Christmas Boogers.

OK… that’s enough about boogers, thank you!

If you can fathom how surprised I was to hear about Christmas Boogers, imagine how amazed I was to learn about spider milk! Yes, that’s right boys and girls, there really is such a thing as spider milk!! And yes, if you click on spider milk, you can read about this newly discovered aspect of spider parenting. A study recently published in Science magazine describes the discovery that a jumping spider in southeastern Asia actually produces a liquid to feed its young.

Although the “milk” doesn’t contain lactose, which is found in milk produced by mammals, scientists are calling the nutritious liquid “milk.” I find this kind of thing rather mind boggling; but it also verifies what I’ve believed for many years: there is so much in this world about which we have very little understanding. I also strongly believe that we humans need to become much more conscious of all the life forms on this planet we call home. Studies like this reinforce the my strong conviction that animals of all types love and care for their babies.

However, there’s no way I’m going to finish this Happy Friday!!! installment without having a little bit of fun with the idea of spider milk. My hope is that no silly humans start any jumping spider farms. You’d need a very small stool to milk a spider. And you might squish them in the process of milking. Also, I’m not too sure how many people are interested in spider cheese, spider yogurt, or spider half & half for coffee. But I envision a silly conversation between me and the grandsons…

Grandsons: “What’s for dessert tonight, Papa??”

Me: “Well, I’m not sure. I’ve been watching to see if you are enjoying any Christmas Boogers; but haven’t seen any nose mining today.”

Grandsons: “Ha ha!! You just didn’t catch us!! How about some pie??”

Me: “OK, but we’re all out of spider whipping cream, so it will have to be Redi-Whip.”

Grandsons (sounding disappointed): “Oh alright…”

Well it’s that time of year, so let’s see what happened with Pluto’s Christmas tree.

Sexagenarianism, Mastication, and The Underwear Test

Upon first glance, the title of this week’s blog entry might seem a bit naughty. Well please allow me to reassure you: words like sexagenarianism and mastication are just as natural as a deep fried cabbage omelette hovering over a frolicking herd of buffalo wings.

For example, at work last week we had a pot luck; and one nice man said he was bringing “a cabbage salad.” Although there is probably no such thing as a vegetable will not eat, I took the smart alec approach and blurted out, “I can’t eat that, I’m a sexagenarian!!” I went on to explain that my Beautiful Girlfriend and I did a stint as vegetarians (we excluded meats but ate dairy and eggs). We’ve eaten pretty much every vegetable you can think of, and I’ve also grown quite a few. At first, Mr. Cabbage Salad gave a confused grin, then he said, “wait a minute… isn’t that a person who’s in their sixties??”

Yes, by golly that’s right. A sexagenarian is a person whose age is from 60 to 69 years old. Ha ha on you if you thought otherwise!! See how naughty I am?? Maybe I fooled you!! And maybe I didn’t!! And if I didn’t, ha ha on me!! And also, I’m using way too many exclamation points again!! Ha ha!!!

So I got a nice helping of his cabbage salad, then I sat there and masticated right in front of God and everybody!! Again with the exclamation points!! And again I am using words that are in no way naughty, but kinda sound like they might be!! I mean, if I’m masticating in front of God and everybody, doesn’t that make me a public masticator?? Oh Holy Mackerel and pickled foghorns!! That guy is masticating!! In front of God and everybody!! Wait, what?? To masticate means to chew? As in chewing food?? So a public masticator is a person who chews his or her food in front of God and everybody??

Yes. Please don’t clunk me for being so almost naughty with you.

So… I didn’t forget; there’s still this business about the underwear test. Well I read about it in the Old Farmers Almanac today. I’m sure all of you have heard of soiled underwear; and maybe you’ve even soiled a pair or two of undies in your lifetime.   One thing I was never aware of: according to one gardener who wrote in to the Almanac, you can actually test your garden soil with a pair of white cotton undies!!

Yes!! All you need to do is bury the briefs 6 or 8 inches in the soil; then dig them back up again a couple months later. Supposedly, if the underwear decompose (with the exception of the elastic), then your soil is rich with microorganisms and such. In other words, your soil is healthy.

Ummm… well that’s all well and good, but I don’t think I’ll be burying my undies any time soon. With my luck (and partly because I’m a sexagenarian), I’ll forget where they were buried. Then I’ll plant potatoes on top of them and have a very interesting masticastion experience when some of the elastic gets lodged inside one of my potatoes.

No thanks. I’ll keep the undies out of the soil, thank you very much.

Well this week’s video has nothing to do with the story, but since I’m a sexagenarian I had the privilege of growing up watching some of the masters of comedy.  And this, in my professional opinion, is one of their funniest short films.  Without any further ado…