Felix the Mouse

8 07 2017

My employer leases the entire second floor of our building. According to the building management’s janitorial staff, our downstairs neighbors are slobs who have so much food lying around the office it looks like the aftermath of a dormitory food fight. So, it was just a matter of time before we began to see signs of mice infestation.

 

Way back on March 29th, while working at my desk, I had a sudden hankering for something sweet-a piece of chocolate would be perfect. So, I walked to the kitchen at my office to see what was in the community snack basket. Only the day before, it had been filled with miniature Kit Kats, miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Tootsie Rolls. To my dismay, I looked inside and saw all the way to the bottom. But, I was in luck-there were two miniature peanut butter cups left. But then, I noticed the peanut butter cups weren’t the only prizes inside the basket. Whoa! There were more mouse droppings than peanut butter cups down there. I suddenly lost my craving for sugar and decided to take a pass on the peanut butter cups.

 

The very next day, I came into the office, opened my desk drawer and saw the unmistakable evidence of a mouse. I had a pack of Toasty crackers with peanut butter in my desk and the little varmint had chewed into the package and eaten half a cracker. He had also pulled about half the tissues out of a new box of Kleenex. There was also about a half-pound of mouse poop inside my desk drawer-he must have been eating someone else’s crackers, too. And he hadn’t been in only the one drawer; he had been in every drawer-he left a trail of black “rice” in every drawer. There was enough poop to fertilize a corn field. How on earth can something so small put out so much crap?

 

So, they called the exterminator, who came in and left several traps scattered around the building-6 in my office alone. But in spite of all the traps, he continued to frequent my office. He would come in, crap on top of the traps and make the rounds. And although mine isn’t the only office he would visit, it did seem to be his favorite.

 

This cat and mouse game-no pun intended-went on for several weeks so I finally decided to give him a name.

Such a neat-nik

At first, I named him Jerome (Jerry for short), but after considerable thought and studying one of the pictures, I decided Felix (of Odd Couple fame) would be more appropriate. In one picture, he had opened and eaten half a chocolate chip cookie. I noticed he moved all the wrappings to one side, away from where he was chowing down.

 

Well, I got tired of coming into the office only to find empty traps. I especially got tired of having to dump my desk drawers so I could wipe everything down with Clorox wipes. I decided to take matters in my own hands.

 

I took one of the traps set out by the exterminator, baited it with crackers and Chips Ahoy cookies and then placed it in his favorite drawer. The first morning after setting the trap- nothing. But the cookies were too much for him to resist. On day three, I came into my office, opened the drawer and tally ho! I got the little critter!

 

So, they called the exterminator to come and get their trap along with its contents. Thank goodness for the long holiday weekend. It’s given me time to adjust to life without Felix. The adventure ends.

Got ’em!!

 

He’s much larger when I tell the story

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Boys: Precious Little Demons

2 07 2017

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That’s what little boys are made of!”

 

Many people have tried, over the years, to explain the meaning of the opening lines of this nursery rhyme. After all, what the heck is a snip? Well, suffice it to say, without any attempt at detailed explanations, it simply refers to the rambunctious nature of the typical little boy. He’s always into something. If not climbing on top of the stove, he’s putting butter on the dog. If not filling his pockets with worms and rocks to take home, he’s flushing toys down the toilet. He’s positively lovable but far from sugar and spice.

 

Now, that said, let me introduce you to my grandson, Cody. Cody just turned two this week so, of course, he’s going through the terrible twos. No, he isn’t just going through the terrible twos; he got a jump on the terrible twos and has been practicing for 6 months now. I think it’s fair to say, he has perfected the terrible twos.

 

But, Cody is the quintessential little boy. He is the kind of child whom you cannot, in fact, you had better not, turn your back on because he spends each waking moment practicing his craft of being a boy.

 

So, when Cody began making routine, unescorted trips up the stairs, my son and daughter-in-law put a child gate across the opening to the stairs. The other day, my son heard Cody call out for him. So, he went to see what mischief Cody had gotten into. It seems Cody was having a hard time negotiating the stair landing from outside the rails. As for me, granddaddy expected no less.

 

God called David a man after His own heart. Well, Cody, like all three of my sons, is my David.

So, pops, how much did you pay for that gate?





Char-Broil: The Bonnie and Clyde of Grilldom

28 06 2017

Okay. You’re shopping for a new grill and after an hour of checking out what’s available, you have it narrowed down to two. Then you notice a huge sticker glued to the top of one of your two finalists.

“MANUFACTUR’S WARRANTY:

Ø  99 YEARS-STAINLESS STEEL PARTS REPLACEMENT

Ø  FREE BURNER REPLACEMENT FOR AS LONG AS YOU OWN YOUR GRILL

Ø  10 YEARS-ELECTRONIC IGNITION

Ø  2 YEARS-ALL REMAINING COMPONENTS

MODEL 463242304”

I don’t know about you, but I interpret that to mean if I buy this grill, Char-Broil will replace stainless steel parts for 99 years and burners for as long as I own the grill. Now, that’s a great warranty. In fact, it was the warranty that made the choice an easy one.

 

Now, you get your new grill home, get out your tools and remove everything from its huge cardboard

Char-Broil Customer Support

container, including the manual which is still sealed inside a plastic bag. Finally, having completed the assembly of your new toy, you can relax and read the warranty. No. Of course you don’t read the warranty. Heck, you barely read the assembly instructions. Besides, why read the warranty? You already read it. What more could it say that wasn’t plastered all over the grill top on that sticker?

 

That was back in 2003. Every two or three years since, as my burners and stainless steel flame tamers needed replacing, I contacted Char-Broil, told them what I needed and paid them for shipping.

 

Recently, I called Char-Broil Customer Support to order replacement burners and flame tamers. I was told they would not be covered under warranty because I had exceeded the original price of the grill in free replacement parts. Well, that’s the first I’ve heard of that. After a brief, but calm protest, I was directed to the warranty printed inside the owner’s manual, which I still have…you know, the one that was sealed up inside the plastic bag and hiding inside the grill neatly packed in the large cardboard box that took two men and a Towmotor to get to the deck.

 

Char-Broil Director of Marketing

I took my protest to a higher level and spoke with a supervisor. He told me to send pictures of the grill, both inside and out, the burners and flame tamers and the sticker with the fake warranty. A few days later, I got their response. Char-Broil had denied my request but would offer me a discount on the parts. Well, I don’t see that happening because I’ll spend a thousand dollars on a new grill before I’ll spend another dime at Char-Broil.

 

The marketing gurus and legal team at Char-Broil know that few people will read the warranty, especially after they have plastered fake warranty information on a 12 by 17 inch sticker on the top of the display model. I believe there’s a name for that. It’s called bait and switch and I believe that’s illegal.  At best, it’s deceptive advertising. No, let me rephrase that…it’s lying. Of course, they blamed me for not reading the warranty inside the manual which was not available to me when I made the purchase. But any way you cut it, Char-Broil lied.

 

So, what’s the point of this minor diatribe? Just to warn anyone who reads it to be very careful when considering a made-in-China Char-Broil product. You may not get what you think.

 

 





Count Your Blessings

22 01 2017

Psalm 40:5

“Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.”

 

In Deuteronomy 29, a chapter in the lives of the Israelites was about to come to an end. Before sending the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Moses wanted to be sure everyone realized what they had just experienced because they had so much for which to be thankful.

 

This is the way I hear Moses’ address to the crowd.

 

You people have been following me around this desert now for 40 years. Have you not realized that you’re still wearing the same clothes you wore on the night God delivered us from Egyptian bondage 40 years ago? Yet, your clothes are not worn and tattered. They look as if you just walked out of a Sears catalog.

 

Have you never stopped to think about where your food and water, here in the desert, have come from for the past 40 years? True, mana and water isn’t meatloaf and Merlot, but by the grace of God, you’ve managed to survive and survive well.

 

Everything you have needed, God has provided. And now, He’s about to give you land, a great land, where you can settle down and raise your families.

 

Stop for a minute, people, and think about the past 40 years and how we have survived. God has blessed us every day with innumerable blessings.

 

In many respects, we are much like the children of Israel. We go through each day of our lives and it never occurs to us just how many times God has blessed us. Our blessings, like those of the Israelites, are too many to count. Every possession, every gift and ability, our children, our friends, our very lives we owe to God. We work hard to build the lives we have, but it’s our God-given abilities that allow us to achieve; and, sometimes we need a reminder of how good God has been to us.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Take a moment every day to thank God for the things He has done for you.





Following in the Footsteps of My Twin

18 12 2016

Where does this fall on your weird-o-meter? Last week I was doing work for a company in Jackson, Tennessee. Jackson is a small town about halfway between Memphis and Nashville. Because of the distance back to either airport, I planned to complete the work and drive back to a hotel near the airport so I could fly back home the following morning. I chose to fly into Memphis because I knew, from past experience, given the location of the two airports, driving back to the Memphis airport would be much easier.

 

On Tuesday night, my second night in town, I went to what turned out to be a diamond in the rough. It was an Italian restaurant named Baudo’s. Baudo’s isn’t much to look at from the outside, but the food was really good. Anyway, the hostess seated me at a small table off to the side of the dining room. Only seconds after being seated, a perky, young waitress came bebopping out of the kitchen toward me like she had just gotten to work. Actually, she had. I was her first customer. That’s one of the advantages of getting old. You get out to eat early, before the server has been worn down by demanding customers and 500 trips back and forth into the kitchen.

 

“Welcome back!” she said, cheerfully.

 

I told her this was my first time at Baudo’s.

 

“Well there was a guy here last night who sat in this same seat and looked exactly like you. You have a twin.”

 

Okay, there’s nothing unusual about that. I’ve always had people tell me I look like so and so. When I was younger, it was Dan Rather. Then as I got a little older, people told me I looked like Martin Sheen. So, I wasn’t very surprised at this.

 

Then I ordered my dinner…salad with house dressing and veal piccata with mashed potatoes.

 

“That’s exactly what your twin had last night,” she told me.

 

Now, that seemed a little odd but still not that big a deal.

 

The next day, I completed the work and made the two-hour drive to my hotel near the Memphis airport. It was actually in Southaven, Mississippi, about 8 miles south of the airport.

 

Even though I was surrounded by a plethora of restaurants, I decided, for a number of reasons, to stay in and just eat at the hotel restaurant.

 

The waitress was a generation older than the waitress back at Baudo’s, but no less energetic. I forget what they called it, but I ordered a cheeseburger with roasted red bell peppers and onions. About halfway through the burger, which I highly recommend, the waitress came by to check on me.

 

“Is it as good as last night?” she asked.

 

For a second, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Then I told her I hadn’t been there the night before. In fact, I had never been to that hotel before.

 

“Well there was a man here last night, sat right there where you’re sitting and had the exact same thing.”

 

Now that’s a little on the weird side. I was afraid I was going to return home the next day only to have my wife ask me if I enjoyed the back rub she gave me the night before!!





Fox News

21 06 2016

I get my news from the Fox News Channel (FNC). I’m an early riser and, usually, have all of my showering and shaving done by 4:15, or so. By the time I finish my quiet time, I can catch the end of last night’s Special Report with Brett Baier. After that comes Fox & Friends First, and then at 6:00 is Fox and Friends. Of course, by the time Fox & Friends comes on, I’ve already seen all of the news, but they will have interesting guests from time to time. When I first came up with the idea for this post, it was because I was annoyed at the way FNC will latch on to a major (or minor) story, such as a commercial airliner crash, or more recently, the terrorist shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, and give it relentless coverage for the next two or three days, as if there is nothing else going on in the world.  But when I began writing, all of these other issues came to mind; so, I decided to broaden the scope of the post by including some of my other pet peeves. After all, this is a rant but I’ll bet a lot of FNC viewers will agree with much of what I have written.

 

Smart Folks

First, understand that Fox doesn’t hire just any schmuck and hand them a microphone. For all the flubs and annoyances, Fox reporters, and particularly the on air personalities, are intelligent and well-educated people…especially on the national level. Most come to Fox with extensive experience and loads of talent. That is probably true of all networks.

 

Grammatical Executioners

Experience and talent don’t necessarily equate to quality of delivery, as demonstrated by the daily slaughter of good grammar. Many are not very good grammarians-not even close; and, that includes those who possess English degrees. For example, many don’t seem to understand the rules for using I and me. And some are notorious for slipping a personal pronoun in behind the subject, e.g. “President Obama, he lied to voters about Obamacare.” You already mentioned the subject once so there’s no need to add the superfluous personal pronoun.

 

“You’re not Going to Believe This!”

In one particular episode of Andy Griffith, Andy and Barney have been charged by town council with selling an old, worthless, eyesore of a Civil War era canon. When the first prospective buyer came along, Andy made up a story of the canon being used during the Spanish-American war and how it was Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite. He later felt guilty and admitted that his story was a complete lie. He explained to Opie, who had done the same thing to sweeten a trade with a friend, that he made up a good story to sell the product.

 

As I write this post, I am watching as FNC runs a story about an alligator spotted near a ride at Disney World. This comes less than a week following the tragic alligator-related death of a two-year old boy at the same park. The lead-in by the FNC anchor described it as “disturbing video of a worker fighting off an alligator” to protect park-goers. I envisioned a worker grappling with a 12-foot alligator while park patrons run in terror. The video actually shows an employee calmly reaching down toward a 3-foot, motionless alligator floating on the surface of the water, with a long metal pole to keep him at bay. The caption below the video describes it as “Shocking video.” And to make matters worse, it’s a video shot in 2009! Sorry, Fox. I don’t see disturbing or shocking in this video. I do see a broken down canon charging up San Juan Hill, however. I guess non-sensational stories don’t sell but, how about truth in reporting?

 

Time Misers

It really bugs me how they won’t allow enough time for personal interviews and then will keep interrupting the interviewee until they finally cut them off before any substantive information can be revealed.

 

Tunnel Viewers

I guess the thing that bugs me the most about Fox is when a major event such as the recent shooting in Orlando happens. For the next two or three days, all day long, that’s all you’ll see on Fox. Throughout the day, you’ll see the same video and interviews on Fox BusinessFox Lifetime, Sheepherder Smith Reporting and every other Fox show.

Once you get through Fox & Friends First, you may as well switch over and watch re-runs of Bewitched and Get Smart because for the next 48 to 72 hours, you aren’t likely to see anything new other than the new characters they’ll round up for another Fox Alert interview.

 

This is a Fox News Alert!

Let’s take a fictitious story-say a truck hauling hogs to the slaughter-house turned over on Interstate 64 (For you Californians that would be the 64.) outside Louisville, Kentucky. They’ll open with a Fox News Alert. Then one of the anchors, perhaps Ainsley Hardears, or one of the other curvy couch occupants, will give us the story, including everything known up to that point. Next, they’ll switch to on-the-scene reporter, Leland Dither, who will interview all of the witnesses, including truck drivers, A.C Petty and Burt and Naomi Wideload, both of whom happened to be passing by and stopped to corral runaway pigsAnd, when they run out of witnesses, they’ll start bringing in the experts for interviews. There’s Mr. Eugene Stinchpits. He’s a truck driver who, like Mr. Petty, hauls hogs for a living, but for a different company. He will be one of the subject matter experts. Then there’s Robert C. Washburn, who is president of the American Pork and Hog Breeders Association. He will provide insight on the challenge of wheeling 500 squealing hogs through Louisville at rush hour. Then Dr. Keith Loblow will discuss the psychological toll on drivers taking hogs to their doom and may suggest Mr. Petty’s death was an attempted suicide by motor vehicle.

 

Then they’ll bring in FNC’s up and coming young reporter, Peter “Peter Rabbit” Doozy who will interview Thomas T. Hullscraper of the National Transportation Safety Board who will provide a computer model which will show how the hogs were tossed about during the crash and provide speculation on how so many managed to survive the crash. All these clips will be repeated 15 times every hour in case viewers missed it the first 14 times.

 

The following day, Barack Hussein Obama will address the press in an impromptu press conference and try to find some way to blame President Bush and the GOP for this terrible massacre of innocent animals and at the same time decry a lack of gun control as the blame for all that is bad in America. Later, in a follow-up press conference, Chief Washington Correspondent, James Frozen will ask White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnestless, why the president refuses to say the words pig, pork or swine and instead refers to the truck’s cargo as cargo.

 

Schmucker Carlson will have the assignment of interviewing A.C. Petty. It’ll probably go something like this:

SC: Mr. Petty, you drive a truck hauling hogs for the Dine on Swine Trucking Company, a job that keeps you behind the wheel for up to 8 hours every day with a herd of squealing hogs right behind your head, right?

Petty: Yes, sir.

SC: How does it feel driving hundreds of noisy hogs to their deaths?

Petty: Well, to be honest…

SC: Yes, let’s be honest. Do you go through any emotions while driving hogs down the road?

Petty: Well, I have to say…

SC: I’m sorry, Mr. Petty, we’ve run out of time but thank you, sir for joining us.

 

Still Number One

Don’t get me wrong. In spite of all my criticism, I’ll take FNC over any other network because I like to know what’s going on in the world and in America. I resent the purveyor of news opting not to share a story because they see it as politically incorrect or slanting a story to fit their own ideology. Fox may seem to be conservatively biased, but they bring the story regardless. Unlike ABC, NBC and CBS, they aren’t in the president’s hip pocket. And, while it may not be grammatically, or even politically, correct, you can count on getting the story that liberal America wants to sweep under the rug. I’m willing to tolerate a few pet peeves to get a fair and balanced report that other networks are too cowardly to air.

 





When Did They Stop Teaching English?

13 03 2016

One of my pet peeves is the incorrect use of the personal pronouns, I and me. The misuse of these two words is so commonplace today, it has made me wonder if they have stopped teaching it in school. But, then, if they did, they stopped a long time ago because I hear people as old as I use them incorrectly. And, I’m not talking about uneducated or backwoods people, either. I see it in people from all walks of life. Highly educated public figures, politicians, company executives, television broadcast journalists, PhDs, and co-workers…hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear someone violate the simple rule of I and me.

 

“Professor Whackentoad gave Tammy and I some advice on writing our dissertations.” Nope. That would be wrong, Brainiac. It’s Professor Whackentoad gave Tammy and me some advice on writing our dissertations.”

 

“Andy’s gonna pick Barney and I up to go fishn’.”

 

Sorry, Gomer, but that’s incorrect. It should be “Andy’s gonna pick Barney and me up to go fishn’.”

 

The rule is simple. Drop the other person and say the sentence as you would if you were the sole subject. You wouldn’t say, “Andy’s gonna pick I up to go fishn’.” But you would say, “Andy’s gonna pick me up to go fishn’.”

 

Or, you wouldn’t say “Me am gonna go fishn’ with Andj.” But, to be grammatically correct, you would say, “I am gonna go fishn’ with Andj.” Hence, “Barney and I are gonna go fishn’ with Andj.”

 

I know…I know. The grammatical purist is reading this and saying that in order to be grammatically correct, it should read, “Barney and I are going to go fishing with Andy.” It’s colloquial. I’ve told you before, I’m fluent in Southern. Besides, the lesson isn’t for grammatical purity, it’s for grammatical correctness. Not to be confused with political correctness. Have a good day!