Category Archives: Humor

Nose Strips

Have you ever used nose strips?  They’re cushioned pieces of thin plastic that are encased in a band-aid-like adhesive strip.  You open them just like a band-aid and place them across the bridge of your nose just above the nostrils.  They look like this:

My wife and I use them off and on and they seem to work pretty good.  They certainly open the nasal passages and help to keep snoring at a minimum.

Not too long ago, we woke up one morning and were talking about them.  We were both laying on our sides, looking at each other and talking about how we had slept the night before.  Things were said like, “It’s wonderful after fifteen years of being married to each other that we are more in love now than we were then!”  “How did you sleep last night?”  “These strips work pretty good!”  It was then that we both noticed how mine had started to come off on one end. That started a conversation about how good the adhesive is.  And then about what the best way to take them off is.

I was still talking about how the edge of my nose strip had worked loose when she said, “I usually take mine off fast.  Like this.”  And she immediately reached over and peeled mine off my nose so fast that I hardly knew what had just happened.  Until the burning pain set in like fire across my nose and tears flooded my eyes like torrents of rain and I screamed out in agony….

Ok, it wasn’t that bad.  But it did burn like fire.  Probably almost as bad as child birth, but I won’t bring that up.  At least I wasn’t laughing hysterically when she was giving birth to our children.  Unlike the outcome of her brutal actions that morning.

It’s a good thing I love her like I do.

A Load of Crap

Bathrooms can be unpleasant to deal with.  Especially when you’re getting new flooring put in and need to take the toilet up.  Definitely a load of crap.

I haven’t had to pull a toilet up in years (thankfully).  When I did, it was in our old house which sat on a concrete slab–all one level.  I had a horrible time getting that toilet to sit correctly on the new wax ring–another load of crap.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, toilets sit on a big wax ring which creates a seal between the toilet and the sewer pipe.)  Here’s a picture of what I mean:

 

The typical problem that occurs with this potentially nasty and disgusting task is having the bolts that the toilet sits on move around on you as you try to set the toilet down on top of the new wax ring.  They look like this:

These bolts slide down into the top of the flange (the top of the sewer pipe) and sit loosely so that you can place the wax ring on top of the flange and in-between the bolts.  This sounds simple enough but quickly becomes a rather large load of crap when the bolts start moving around as you place the toilet on the wax ring.

Now in some circles, the wax ring is supposed to be pushed onto the bottom of the toilet before attempting to set it down on top of the flange.  This effort can be met with equal frustration and a few choice words since the wax ring can have a tendency to pop off the bottom of the toilet.  This results in a circle of wax on your floor as the wax ring plops down in a heap of smashed-in edges and flattened sides.  To add to the predicament, attempting to install the toilet this way also means that you can’t see how the new wax ring sets itself into the flange.  This provides for an even bigger load of crap as it means that you are sure to have water leaking out of the bottom of the toilet from a poorly set wax ring.

So what to do??  Well, a good friend of mine helped me with a couple of rotted sub-floor issues I encountered when getting new flooring in the house recently.  One of them was around the upstairs toilet that I needed to pull.  His Dad was a plumber and I found out something that you may find very helpful the next time you need to pull and reinstall a toilet.

Here is all you need to do in order to get a toilet seated correctly on a new wax ring:  Instead of setting the floor bolts loosely into the top of the flange, find an extra washer and nut that will fit the floor bolts.  Set the floor bolts in place and put a washer and a nut on top of each bolt. TIghten them down so that the bolts don’t move.  Then set the new wax ring in its correct position, centered on the top of the flange between the bolts.  Bring the toilet down onto the wax ring, keeping the bolts centered in the bolt holes on the base of the toilet.  Gently rock the toilet slightly from side to side as you press down on the toilet bowl.  Then sit down on top of the toilet, slightly moving your weight from side to side.  Secure the toilet to the floor with the original washers and nuts and you’re all set.

Hopefully this little bit of news will help make removing and reinstalling a toilet the lightest load of crap it can be for you!

Summer Memories

We’ve all got summer memories, right?  Memories of bike riding, games played outside, romps in the woods, and on and on it goes.  A rather disturbing thought is us older folk probably have more of those kinds of memories than our kids do today.

What would those kids that were us back then have to say to the kids of today?  (“You wear what? On where? Why??”)  What about the parents?  (“You let your kid wear that? On where? Why??”)  Especially when it comes to riding in a car! I have memories of moving all around our family van as my Dad cruised down the highway. Nowadays, you just about get arrested for that. At the very least, the video someone has taken on their phone in the car behind you of your kid moving all over your van gets posted on CNBC, Fox News and any other T.V. show that will have panel after panel of so-called “experts” deliberating and arguing back and forth about the merits and pitfalls of such actions in today’s society.

So what would they say about “Yard Darts”?

Remember those? Two colored plastic circular tubes the diameter of a pencil.  These made up two big rings that were the targets (the boring part); then, four darts–two sets of two different colored 12-inch long, plastic-finned, 3-sided tops with heavy metal bases that came to a point–completed the ensemble (the exciting part). Ours were in a cardboard box with those happy 1970’s family posers throwing the darts at the other team’s target. Nothing but good safe family fun, right?

What did kids do with this family-fun game when the parents weren’t around? What every kid did! Throw those sharp pieces of kid-dom fun straight up into the air as high as possible and try to calculate trajectories to see if they’ve gotta run like a banshee to avoid being pinned to the ground. We had a big side yard to do it in, too! As I recall, sometimes my brother and I would spread out on the side yard and lob them into the air to see how close we could come to the other brother without him actually having to move.

Yep….not smart. But it sure was fun. And very memorable. Mostly due to the fact that neither one of us ever got hurt playing with those things (God was certainly true to my mother’s prayers for our protection growing up). So what’s available now? Maybe a Nerf version of what used to be a thrill ride for a kid–something “safe” and non-threatening. That’s like giving a kid a chocolate cake without the frosting. No thanks. Give me the real thing. We’ve become too “safe-sensitive” in today’s culture–not that I want to go out and buy a real Yard Darts game for my kids. But I do recognize a tendency in myself and my parenting to be over-protective and unwilling to just let my boys be the kids that they are…kids that want to do things that in my adult mind seem unsafe and unwise. Yet what did I do as a kid? Some of the exact same things I catch them wanting to do.

Us adults need to remember what some of the joys of being a kid are. And when you stop and think about it, those childhood experiences really all come down to this:  Sometimes the best teacher for a kid is the freedom to experience something for himself.

A Quick Thought

Just a quick thought for today.
Why is it that I can go to the store for one thing and find that I inevitably need to get something sweet to eat? One thing and one thing only turns into six (actually seven with my wife needing me to pick up buns).
You may remember from earlier conversations that I love sweets! Especially homemade things. But within the past few days, I have had a hankerin’ for those cheap powered sugar donuts that come in a bag. So I went to Kroger and got some. But then I thought I’d just swing by the ice cream (it is extremely hot outside, you know) and see if anything was on sale. Low and behold, it was!
Pints that normally cost $3 were on sale for $1. Well, I just had to take advantage of a sale like that! The maximum number to get was five, so that’s what I got (generously providing one for my mother-in-law, who was over to the house visiting).
We’ve all got our issues. I guess this one is mine. In the Big Picture of things, that’s not so bad.
Catch you next time, my friend.

The Flies of GTI

Flies are disgusting.  Is there anything beneficial to their existence?  Nothing comes to mind.  Kind of like mosquitos.  A result of “The Fall” and evil personified.  A slight exaggeration (but only slight).

I work at a local factory (called GTI) that makes plastic parts for certain Honda vehicles.  I never thought I would have a factory job, but it’s really been a good experience working there.  There are three departments on the production floor:  Injection, Paint and Assembly.  They all have their own section of the plant, but they all share the same building space.  As a result, the air moves freely from one section to the other.

And so do the flies.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the normal behavior of flies.  They’re usually skittish and very hard to sneak up on.  And when they land, they move around like they’ve got a permanent sugar rush going on.  Have you noticed that flies seem to have a “sixth sense” about them?  I noticed one flying around the kitchen the other day.  My eye was tracking the fly in the air the whole time I was moving for the fly swatter.  Even as I began to grab the handle of it, though, I watched the fly’s behavior change before my eyes.  It was like it immediately knew what I had just put in my hand.  I could almost hear its communication link in my head:  “Bandit 1 to Tower, Bandit 1 to Tower.  I’ve got a bogey at five o’clock and he’s coming fast.  Taking evasive action.”  That fly promptly went into camouflage mode and disappeared before my eyes.  I hate flies.

The flies on the production floor at GTI seem to always be the shiny green ones.  Like this:

The behavior of these flies is odd, to say the least.  Sometimes the fumes from the paint lines waft their way out to where we are in Injection.  And when that happens, it’s pretty noticeable.  So I can’t help but wonder if it’s these paint fumes that alter the behavior of these green flies (for that matter, maybe it’s the paint line that makes them all green, too).  It’s odd, but when these flies approach, it’s like you can hear them coming.  A drone in the air that gets louder with a sudden “plop” as it lands in front of you or on your shoulder.

I had a conversation with one once.  I was on the line, checking parts as they came down the belt.  Suddenly I heard the low, droning sound of something heavy flying through the air and saw a big green fly plop down on my shoulder.  I looked down at it.  It was looking up at me.

“Hey,” I said.

“Whassup.”

“Why are you staring at me?”

“Know where I can get some?”

“Get some what?”

“You know.  The Stuff.  Everyone around here is talking about it.  I hear it’s pretty good.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Get off me.”

“Awww, come on, man, hook me up.  I gotta have some.  I came a long way for this.”

“I shouldn’t be talking to you.  You’re causing a scene, Freak.  There’s nothing to see here.  Move on.”

“Yer bringin’ me down, man.  I’ll make it worth your while.”

“You’ve got nothing to offer me.  I’ll swat you if you don’t get your shiny green butt off my white shirt.”

“The hospitality around here stinks.  Fine.  By the way, dude, your deodorant is giving out.  I like that.  Catch ya on the flip side.”

A day in the life of a factory worker.  Can’t say it’s boring….

Facing A Fear

Facing a fear.  It’s something we all hate to do because it’s so uncomfortable.  And yet, when we do face fear head-on, it brings an incredible sense of achievement, right?  Well, my brother and I faced one together many years ago that you may find interesting.

You might remember that I grew up with many a family card game of Progressive Rummy happening at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house.  My Grandma had a sister who everyone called “Aunt Shorty”.  For good reason, too, since she was all of about 4 feet 8 inches tall.  But her side of the family loved Progressive Rummy just as much as ours did.

My Dad had a cousin (Aunt Shorty’s son) named Bud.  Yup…..Bud.  He was a pretty laid back guy who took everything in stride.  He and his wife, Barb, lived a couple of hours away from us, so we occasionally drove over and visited.  When we did, the evening inevitably ended with the four adults playing cards late into the evening.  Since Bud and Barb didn’t have any kids, my bother and I were left to fend for ourselves for entertainment.

We were young enough at the time that we usually had pajamas with us to change into.  We eventually were laid down to sleep while the adults played on.  One night, however, after we already had our PJs on, we got bored while the adults were bantering back and forth.  We hadn’t brought anything of any real interest to keep our attention, so we looked around for something that qualified.

Then one of us saw the basement door.  We had been down in the basement earlier that evening for some reason (can’t possibly remember what that was at this point).  It was a big basement, mostly finished, with plenty of space to walk around.  I got this crazy notion that we should take turns going into the basement without the light on.

The goal was to walk (not run) the complete circle around the perimeter of the basement and back up the stairs without getting scared.  We decided we would keep the light on at the top of the stairs.  That way, with the door cracked about six inches, enough light shown down into the basement that we could just make out where we were going.

Because of two factors–me being the older brother and that this stupid idea originated with the same–I went first.  Once I got to the bottom of the basement stairs, I could hardly see a thing.  No sounds could be heard.  Just my own quick gasps for air as I fought the urge to hyper-ventilate while skirting the edges of the basement perimeter.  Shadows lurked here and there, some possibly moving in my peripheral vision, but I was determined to set the example for all to follow.  As I made my way back around to the bottom of the stairs, the desire to leap three stairs at a time was overwhelming.  I fought it back, though, and “calmly” climbed the stairs to light and the safety of my parents.

Then my brother went down.  He came back rather quickly, in my opinion, but stated for the record that he didn’t run and wasn’t scared.  So I went down again and tried to go even slower this time.  The thought of something lunging from behind to drag me back into the shadowy depths of the basement was there the whole time I climbed the stairs to victory.  But I did it!  We went back and forth with that journey into darkness for quite a while.  At least we did until the adults realized what we were doing and Uncle Bud put a kibosh on the whole thing.

So what’s your fear?  Can you take steps to face it?  Even baby steps? It’s worth the exhilaration you feel when you’ve taken steps to kick it in the teeth.  Try it!  You’ll like it.

Sitting Around The Campfire

Sitting around the campfire has to be the highlight of any camping experience.   We’re camping this weekend and this time with friends has been no exception.

At the campfire last night, the subject of a certain memory came up.  I shared this memory a couple of years ago, but it seems appropriate to reminisce about it now.  Enjoy!

I would have to say that my fondest memory of camping with our friends took place about three years ago.  We typically camp with three other families.  Although it has nothing to do with a campfire, one of the wives of these families had a rather interesting experience when she went to take a shower at the campground.  (For the sake of everyone involved and to protect the identity of innocent parties, we’ll just call her “Patty”.)

It was around 7:30 in the morning and Patty decided she was going to the shower.  As she approached the building, she couldn’t remember which side of the building the showers were on.  But since she noticed men were going to and from the right side of the building, she headed to the left side, saw a door marked “Showers” and walked right in.  She thought it odd that the undressing/dressing area would be completely open like it was with the showers being off to the side in separate stalls, but didn’t think much of it.  She was the only one in the whole shower room, so she took advantage of it by taking her time undressing, showering, towelling off and getting fresh clothes on for the day.

As she started heading for the door, a man walked in, saw her and they both stopped in their tracks.  She gave him a compassionate, knowing laugh and said, “I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He, still looking at her like a deer in the headlights, said, “No, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  She, now feeling a little perturbed at him, said, “Nooo, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He then said, as he backed up and checked the shower sign, “Nooo, you definitely walked into the wrong shower.”  And she said, “Nooooo!” in complete shock, embarrassment and amazement as she walked to the door–a door that clearly said “MEN” under the word “SHOWERS”.  She took all that time to do all that she did in there without one man entering that shower room!

God is merciful…

A Mother’s Day Irony

Mother’s Day is an American holiday that is now celebrated in other parts of the world.  But it is also a holiday with a rather ironic historical point to its origin.

Ann Jarvis was a peace activist who took care of the wounded on both sides of the Civil War.  Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, wanted to commemorate Ann’s death when she died in 1905.  Anna’s viewpoint about mothers–especially her own–was  that mothers “have done more for you than any other person in the world”.

By 1908,  Anna was well on her way to campaigning for the national holiday of “Mother’s Day” by holding a memorial for her mother that year.  By 1911, many states observed the holiday and in 1914, President Wilson made it official.

Anna wanted to honor her mother by continuing her mother’s work.  As she progressed with getting this special day to her (and all mothers) recognized, however, she saw a gradually disturbing truth.  She saw that as Mother’s Day gained more attention, it also became more commercialized.  The focus turned from sentiment to profit, and it disturbed her greatly.  She began to protest at various companies  associated with the commercialization she was witnessing.  She targeted companies that made greeting cards, chocolates and other sweets.  And here’s the ironic point to this story:  She was eventually arrested for disturbing the peace!

If you wanted to carry on the work of a peace activist who helped people in need, isn’t disturbing the peace a move in the opposite direction of your goal?  Ah, well, regardless, she accomplished what she set out to do.  Anna Jarvis, in memory of Ann Jarvis, established a day that honors all mothers and what they do for us.

Happy Mother’s Day!

White Pine Trees and Moms

What do White Pine Trees and Moms have to do with each other?  In honor of Mother’s Day coming up, I’d like to share a story I wrote a couple of years ago that will answer that question.

White Pines are beautiful trees! These aren’t Austrian Pines that you usually find along highways and everywhere in-between. While White Pines are also common, they are much more pleasing to the eye than Austrian Pines are. White Pines are used for construction, cabinetry, natural medicinal purposes and even Christmas trees.

So I got this White Pine sapling in kindergarten–my very own tree. I found myself looking forward to many years of watching it grow in front of my eyes. As I said before, it even went with us when we moved. Shortly after the tree was replanted, however, something peculiar began to occur. This took a while to notice, but the White Pine began to take on an odd growth pattern.

Enter Major.

Apparently, once settled upon our new property, Major felt it was his duty, his mission–nay, his life’s purpose bequeathed to him by God Himself–to hike his leg and pee on the north side of that tree. He was committed. He was focused. He wasn’t letting anyone or anything detract him from what he was called to do with his life in this new place. And he saw it through to his dying day.

As a result, we noticed as the tree grew that the north side of it was developing a significant stunting in its growth. I really thought during those first few years that I was going to have my very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. As it matured, though, it really began to fill out. Except for the north side of it.

To this day, you can drive by the old house in Bath and see a beautiful twenty-five foot White Pine tree in the front yard.  Still with a significantly stunted upper portion on its north side, the permanent marks of a dedicated and unrelenting Flat-Coated Retriever. I think Major wanted to leave a mark, something that would endure long after he was gone. And he did just that–literally.

Keep in mind that this is the same dog who bullied a couple of young kids in the winter and gave them ball-less head gear to wear. He would take his beloved “Babe” (the female) on romantic romps in the gravel pit next door and bring her back absolutely exhausted.  (Black fur on hot days in a gravel pit…..nice.)  He even took her on a nature walk, with us in tow, and frolicked on ahead of us with his sweetheart.  They no sooner disappeared and he brought her back absolutely covered with ground bees. All I remember at that point is Mom yelling at us to turn around and run the other way. Good advice, except that dogs run faster than humans do.

So my brother and I are beatin’ feet down the trail back to the car. We look behind us only to see a dog with yellow dots all over it trotting along behind us. I don’t remember if it was Major or Babe, but the distinct memory of seeing a black dog with a smile on its face–it’s tail almost wagging as it trots along after us–has never left me (seeing that smile….it had to be Major). Thing is, I don’t remember any dogs covered with bees catching up to my brother and I. Which means that Mom probably did what moms are known to do: She put herself in the line of fire for her kids. I do seem to remember that she had been stung a few times. Thanks, Mom.

But, regardless, he was a good dog (for the most part). And his “mark” on his life spent with us lives on….

Point of No Return

“The point of no return” is often used to describe the moment in time when, upon reaching it, there is absolutely no way to stop or reverse what has been done.  Here is a true story that illustrates the importance of that moment.  It came from a seminar that I attended and involves the speaker’s dog…..

The person speaking had a family dog that totally and in every way loved its freedom to run outdoors.  They had a fenced-in back yard in a semi-rural suburb, but this dog always seemed to find a way over a certain part of the fence to its freedom beyond.  It always waited until the family left in their car and no one was around.  It would wander around the neighborhood, saying hi to all the other dogs and lesser life forms (also known as cats) and eventually come back around to its own house again.

This family realized that they had to do something to try to keep this dog within the limits of the back yard (which was a rather large one at that).  So they decided to get an invisible fence.  This is an electric fence that’s buried just below the surface of the yard.  The dog wears a special collar that picks up a signal the fence emits from below the ground.  This signal transfers into an electric shock that the dog feels around its neck.  The closer the dog gets to the fence, the stronger the signal that is received in the collar.

This might sound cruel at first, but there’s something important to understand about this.   When the dog’s collar first picks up the signal, the shock is light enough to just warn the dog that it’s getting too close to a boundary.  If the dog continues to walk closer to the fence, though, the shock becomes stronger until it’s just too much for the dog to take.  (Certainly not a point of no return, but probably in the ball park.)  This produces a nice brown streak across the yard as the dog suddenly repents of its actions and runs back from whence it came (besides the brown streak, you also see the dog).

Once the invisible fence was in and the dog had been trained on it for a while,  the family decided they would try leaving again and see what would happen.  They did so and came home to find their dog greeting them at the front of the house!  This happened quite a few times and became the unanswerable question.  Eventually, they came up with an idea to see how this dog was getting out of the back yard.

They made it very evident to the dog that they were leaving for a while.  Once they had driven out of sight of the house, however, they quickly circled back around and parked where the dog couldn’t see them, but they could see the dog in the back yard.  They were just in time to see the incredible actions of their family pet.

The dog was facing its favorite spot where it used to jump over the fence.  It backed up as far as it could and gave every indication that it was psyching itself up for something.  But what?  Suddenly, the dog started running towards the invisible fence!  As it got within shocking range, it started to yelp at the shocks it was getting on its neck.  But, incredibly, the dog ran even faster towards the fence!  It had reached the point of no return!  As the shocks became more intense, the yelps coming from the dog grew in volume to match.  But within seconds, the dog had crossed the buried fence and was free once again!

What can be learned from this dog’s actions?  Well, the dog wanted something bad enough that it was willing to endure whatever it had to to get it.  So what about you?  Is there something you want bad enough that you’re willing to cross the point of no return and endure whatever you need to to get it?  Your Big Dream?  A risk you might be scared to take?  A promotion at work and the unknowns of new territory that would bring?

If a dog is willing to cross the point of no return for its freedom to run around, what’s holding you back from what you really want to do?  Endure the pain, the discomfort and anything else that may arise.  It’ll be worth it in the end!

One more thing, in case you were wondering.  If memory serves me correctly, that family decided to put the old fence back up and may have used both as a deterrent to the dog’s escapades.