Archive for the ‘I’m Just Saying’ Category

PostHeaderIcon My Tools Are Broken

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A weed eater that refuses to start no matter how many times I pull its cardiac-event-inducing rope. A leaf blower cut from the same cloth. An asthmatic air compressor. Pliers that no longer…ply (is that even a word?). And, well, you get the idea. My tools are broken.

It seems like just yesterday when I could sound the alarm, calling all my tools to be ready at a moment’s notice. And there they’d stand, handle to handle with looks of determination on their gleaming metal surfaces. Together, we could build or fix anything.

Recently, however, when I called my tools to action their response was lackluster at best. Why, it nearly took an act of congress to get them out of their drawers and off the garage shelves.

When I finally managed to assemble my once faithful tools…well, I could hardly believe my eyes. What had happened to my rugged and sturdy friends? The screwdrivers, for example, were nervous and barely able to stop trembling long enough to connect with the slots on the screws needed to secure pictures and other do-dads to our freshly painted walls. Other hand tools were equally as shaky. It was a true puzzle. After all, they were all perfectly fine when I put them away after our last team venture.

Nuts, bolts, nails, and other fasteners were also in on the mysterious rebellion. The boxes of screws that line my workshop shelves quickly stepped forward to mess with me as well. That’s right, sometime between the last project and the new one, my assortment of sneaky drywall screws had reduced the size of the text on their containers. I couldn’t read the labels! I think it’s an attempt to prevent me from using any, keeping their twisted family members together.

There’s more—worn out wrenches, dead drill batteries, and to top it all off, my hammers are heavier than they used to be. What, I wondered, could they have possibly consumed that caused them to add all that extra weight? Was it due to a lack of exercise? Adding insult to injury, some prick glued my sledgehammer to the floor. Can’t budge it.

So, standing in the center of my workshop I slowly examined each item on each of the shelves. I was a visitor to an old-tools retirement home. Then it hit me, and my mind took me back to when I was a kid staying with my grandparents, something I did every summer.

My grandfather was extremely handy. He could build, fix, paint, hammer with the best of them. In fact, he may very well have been the best fixer-upper man on the planet. In my eyes, he was the king of all things hammer and nails. I watched him work and, in turn, I learned his secrets. AND, I recalled that he performed his DIY miracles using…broken tools. Yes, his tools, too, were in a shoddy state—hints of decay, worn pull-ropes, dents, nicks, scratches, and so on.

My fingers in those days, small and stubby, were not of sufficient length to fully close around the handle of my grandfather’s rusty-red pipe wrench. Nor were my young muscles strong enough to heft the blasted thing from its spot in my grandfather’s homemade wooden toolbox, a box filled with damaged goods. While digging through the vast assortment of antiquities, I remember thinking that when I grew up I’d never let my tools get in such a state.

Well, it’s been fifty years since I first dug my paws around in my grandfather’s toolbox. It took me that entire half-century to realize that broken tools are THE sign that someone has reached the threshold that divides the uphill climb of youth to the point where it all goes downhill. And there, my friends, is the place where I am today, in the midst of broken tools. I have become my grandfather.

Now, I could sit around the house and pout and whine about my advancing years and the dismembered and rusty work implements in my garage. But that’s not me. I’m not yet ready to succumb to “broken tool syndrome.”

In fact, I did what all adult men should do at the first sign of the dreaded disease. I drove straight to a local home improvement store where I purchased a new, battery-powered weed eater and a new, battery-powered leaf blower. Why battery power? Because I’m too freakin’ old to pull those ropes! That’s why.

Yes, my tools are broken, but I’m not stupid.

*By the way, the hammer in the top photo once belonged to my grandfather.

PostHeaderIcon Swedish Massage Day For Rabbits…Or, All Lions To The Treadmills

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A funny thing happened on the way here this morning. My day started as usual, with me turning on my computer, checking emails, a quick peek at Facebook, a hurried glance over the day’s headlines, and logging into my site.

Imagine my surprise when, as I reached my log-in page, I bumped into a pimple-faced young man wearing thick, round spectacles, a sky blue button up shirt (pocket filled with an assortment of pens and mechanical pencils), faded jeans, and white sneakers.

The stranger’s pale complexion flushed bright pink when he turned and saw me behind him. Of course, I immediately asked what he was doing at the entrance to my website with his ear tightly smashed against the juice glass he held to the door. Well, let me tell you, that nervous young fellow commenced to stuttering and stammering and banging his tongue and lips together as if they were completely out of synch. And, since his right ear was the color of over-ripe cherries, it was obvious that he’d been listening to our conversations. That’s right, he was listening to you and me as we discussed the latest cop stuff.

On the floor next to the geek’s feet were a dozen or papers, all laying at various angles, like he’d been shuffling through trying to find a particular page. Before the odd man could object, I reached down and grabbed a couple of the lined sheets, and I was startled by what I saw written in bold, blue ink—The Graveyard Shift. Past keywords…guns, ammunition, dead bodies, rigor mortis, police, bad guys, terrorists….

Being the clever detective that I am, I immediately figured out the guy was spying on my website and its readers. Another glance down the page and I discovered my cell number. And then I saw credit card activity, email addresses, passwords, and NSA… Hey, that’s the National Security Agency. The Feds. I had to look away because this was making me ill. Not only was the guy spying on my website, he’d been monitoring my every move, which explained the bump I heard on the front porch last night (he was probably outside our windows, peering in to count the number of blueberries I’d placed on top of my 8pm snack of yogurt and fresh fruit).

I knew I had nothing to hide, but the thought of government computer-geek secret-agents watching me as I go about my daily business is a bit troubling to say the least. I started to think…hard. Were they also monitoring my water usage? Are they counting my flushes? How about watching me in the shower? Do I use too much shampoo for so few hairs? Am I a…a…(gulp), water-waster?

Do the NSA super-secret squirrels know about the piece of chocolate I ate yesterday. I know it’s against doctor’s orders, but it was calling my name. After all, it was that delicious dark chocolate from Trader Joes that I like so much.

You know, I’m all for keeping U.S. citizens safe, and I’m willing to go the extra mile to do so. But we already have TSA agents feeling up old ladies and pawing through our unmentionables. We’ve been forced to become the timid and submissive air traveler who cannot “cluck” too loudly about crappy service out of fear of being booted off a flight or being placed on a no-fly list.

We’re herded through airport security lines like cattle or chickens on the way to slaughter. We stand by silently and passively while our luggage is mutilated, mangled, or tossed into the bottomless black hole that surely exists somewhere in the bowels of all airports. We don’t talk back to the people in the blue shirts when they order us to remove our shoes, display our personal belongings to everyone in the line behind us, and hold our arms up and reach for the sky while “security” officers ogle our “sensitive” areas and blow a puff of air aimed at our armpits, feet, and crotches.

We have cameras at every street corner, on nearly every telephone pole, spy drones that look like hummingbirds, and satellite photography that’s so powerful it can zoom in on the hair on a gnat’s rear end.

We’re told what and how much to eat, and our favorite TV shows are interrupted so someone can tell us this is all for our own good. You know the drill. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good. Milk is bad. Soda is in. Soda is out. Green beans are good. Green beans are contaminated. All meat is poison. Brown rice is good. White rice is bad. No potatoes. No alcohol. And, whatever you do, don’t smoke the mary-j-wanna even if the plant can help cancer patients and people who suffer from chronic pain or epilepsy.

White people are bad. Black people are bad. Cops are bad. Pitbulls are bad. Gas-guzzling cars are bad. Our air is bad. Kids are bad. BAD. BAD. BAD. Everything these days is absolutely and unequivocally B.A.D.

Sure, taxpayer money multiplies freely and quickly, without end (yeah, right). Our dollars are always standing by ready for the plucking, and that’s what the government does best…pluck our hard-earned money directly from our wallets and purses.

So I have an idea. Instead of wasting so much time battling hard-working, honest Americans, how about finding out why it is that we’re forced to pay crazy-high taxes so politicians and the IRS can spend the money on lavish parties, conventions, trips, and gifts for themselves. The government spends our money like there’s a never-ending supply of the stuff (Their philosophy…don’t worry, if we run out of cash we’ll simply raise taxes on the people who make less than we do). Pluck those wallets!

And then there are the dollars spent on worthwhile projects like these chin-scratchers, ones that should cause the average person to pause for a quick, “Hmmm…”

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- $856,000 to teach mountain lions how to walk on treadmills.

- more than $200,000 to a research project that is trying to determine how and why Wikipedia is sexist.

- $30 million spent on catfish inspections by two separate agencies, while Homeland Security spent $66 million to do the same thing on the same catfish. Why not hire a couple of the noodlers we see on TV? Those folks make a weekend out of playing in muddy water, reaching their ham-hock size hands beneath stumps and logs to retrieve catfish the size of small rhino’s. And they do it for free, and I’ll bet they know just as much if not more about catfish than the average guv’ment man or woman.

- $10,000 to monitor the growth rate of saltmarsh grass.

- The military spends more than $1 billion each year on 159 contractors that translate foreign languages. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy assorted copies of Rosetta Stone and distribute them to some of the catfish-counters who might then have a real job?

- a $371,026 study to see if mothers love dogs as much as they love kids.

- $804,254 to develop a smartphone game called “Kiddio: Food Fight” The game was designed to show parents how to convince their children to make new healthier food choices.

- The National Technical Information Service sells reports to other federal agencies, 75% of which can be found online for FREE!

- $387,000 to study the effects of Swedish massages on rabbits.

And, of course, there are the pocket change items, like the $90,000 spent to upgrade security at a spring training camp for professional baseball players.

I have an excellent idea for you U.S. government spy-on-me-folks. How about turning the camera lenses around and let the citizens watch you guys for a change. Then again, I don’t think I want to see what you guys do behind closed doors. It’s already bad enough seeing what’s made public.

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