Saturday, May 26, 2007


I'm at the Apple Store in Baybrook Mall right now. My youngest daughter is here, too. This very post was created just now on the biggest, baddest, fire-breathingest Mac Pro in the room. The monitor is one of those gigantic 30 inch jobs that makes you think you're looking out of the windshield of a giant Kenworth truck.

I am like a blind dog in a meathouse, and I don't know what to look at next. I want to cry. I want a lot of money. I want to walk out of here with this right now.

So, do you think they'd notice? Everybody seems to be kinda preoccupied now...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Species

Not known for frequenting berry patches, this specimen was found in a staff meeting. As you can tell by the ratio of notes to drawn strokes, it was a very productive meeting...for me. Click the image for a closer look. I am accepting Latin taxonomy suggestions in the comments.

If any of you can come up with specifications on this beast, please suggest. Size, habitat, diet, level of education; put it in the comments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


...and you're not off the hook, none of you!

I want to take this opportunity to thank the readers and contributors to the geezer knowledge base. Old Time Simple Pleasures.

But if you think of other examples, please feel free to submit them as well. Who knows, if I publish the compendium, it could end up being required reading for junior high school kids! Or at the very least, hospitals could give them in gift bags to new parents..."Trust us, you'll need this one day...".

Keep reading, writing and remembering. Thanks so much.

Spider Bite

This essay perhaps isn’t what you think it is about. Truth is, I MAY have eaten a spider. Please, dear reader, don’t be too alarmed. And don’t fret for my well-being. This was a little over a week ago, so I have passed the 7 day incubation period for turning into Spiderman.

It happened while picking blackberries at the Soderberg Farm and Chicken Resort. It happened in the midst of liberating the great, near-bursting Brazos Blackberries from amongst the thorns and tangle where they were imprisoned. Had they remained there, they would surely have been pecked by mockingbirds, stung by stinkbugs or webbed up by spiders. I know that there are spiders that frequent the berry vines because of the housing projects that they build.

I was pulling berries in a focused frenzy when one berry in particular appeared to be too close to self-juicing, so I reflexively popped it in my greedy mouth. On it’s way to my gaping maw, I subconsciously noticed a gossamer thread leading from the back side of the berry to somewhere deep within the thicket of tangled thorns and twisted canes. It was too late to stop, even with the alert bells clanging; the inevitable outcome came to culmination. The threshold of teeth was crossed, and even as my right hand tried to catch the spider web that trailed from my mouth, I bit the juicy berry and flooded my mouth with the sweet nectar.

There was another sensation, however, that I noticed in my mouth. I thought that perhaps it could be the suggestion that the spider web was in there trying to rescue the berry. But this had the feeling of being bigger than a single strand of silk. Maybe it was a small wad of it. It was possible, however, that it was the original source of the silk, because it was sticking to the back of my throat. I swallowed the berry, and then made the sound of one trying to dislodge a fish bone from the throat. That didn’t work. I repeated the sound, and that’s when the mental picture came to me.

I imagined a small arachnid clinging to my tonsil, too afraid of the teeth and tongue to even bite. This picture caused me to repeat the “dislodge sequence” followed by a couple of purple expectorations. To no avail.

I decided not to panic, and took a common sense remedy that I felt sure that any old timer would suggest; I ate three or four more berries. Eventually, this tactic must have had the desired effect, because after the last one, I no longer detected any passengers, real, imagined or webbed.

This past Sunday when I picked more of the sweet treasures, I took a second or two longer to give at least a cursory review of the exterior of the berries I ate.

I take solace in the fact that at least the spider wasn’t living in my ear.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When We Were Kids

There was no Nintendo, Internet, iPods, cell phones or any of the myriad other devices that kids need to be entertained these days.

I climbed trees, read books (yes Martha, encyclopedias and dictionaries included) played in the dirt, talked to the dog, looked at clouds and countless other activities that were just as non-productive as our children's tricks. The main difference being that my activities cost nothing and used no electricity or expensive batteries.

I was talking with someone on the way up the stairs to the office today about how we occupied our idle hours. I told him of the sport of slug salting that I engaged in during those damp, early mornings of yesteryear.

His story was from West Texas. He related that they used to pour coal oil down a spider hole, and when the resident tarantula jumped out, they used to try to hit the spider in question with a tennis racket.

If you have simple yet entertaining methods of wasting time that your memory releases to you, please comment and relay them. The creativity of your youth must be chronicled. And where better to do that?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tool Primer

I wish I were clever enough to come up with stuff this funny on my own. Alas, I am not. However, I am smart enough to be able to post it here. A smart alecky friend emailed it to me, so now you get to see it, too. This is really funny.

Tools and Their Uses

1. DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your favorite chilled beverage across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted part you were drying.

2. WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "D'Oh!!!"

3. ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

4 . PLIERS: Used to round off hexagonal bolt heads.

5. HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle: It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

6. VISE GRIP PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

7. OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for setting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside a wheel hub from which you are trying to remove the bearing race.

8. WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2" socket you've been searching for, for the last 15 minutes.

9. HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new disk brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

10. EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 4X4: Used to attempt to lever an automobile upward off a hydraulic jack handle.

11. TWEEZERS: A tool for removing splinters of wood, especially Douglas fir.

12. TELEPHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

13. SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically, useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for removing dog feces from your boots.

14. E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.

15. TWO-TON HYDRAULIC ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of bolts and fuel lines you forgot to disconnect.

16. CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.

17. AVIATION METAL SNIPS: See hacksaw.

18. TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a droplight, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

19. PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and squirt oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off the interiors of Phillips screw heads.

20. AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last tightened 70 years ago by someone at GM, and rounds them off or twists them off.

21. PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

22. HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses exactly one inch too short.

23. HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

23. MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing upholstered items, chrome-plated metal, plastic parts and the other hand not holding the knife.

So there you have it; a complete description of the tools all men need, and occasionally use correctly.