Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vote Early, Vote Often

Everyone knows that election time for any issue always means signs. Signs everywhere. Absolutely EVERYWHERE! The little bandit signs, some bigger plastic signs on wooden stakes, some others are big wooden ones on 4x4 pieces of lumber. So many signs, so worthless. And the worst part is that they have no commercial or entertainment value. It’s true; campaign signs are nowhere near the fun they were when I was in high school.

You may ask, “What made the signs so much fun in the 1970s?” To be more clear, the signs were not inherently fun. The fun came in the form of a large fellow we’ll call “Falcon” and a large Dodge in the form of a gold Polara.

My sister and I rode around with Falcon and his sister, in his 66 Falcon, in his dad’s ’69 GMC truck, and in the family 4-door Polara. Usually with him in the driver’s seat, me at shotgun, and my sister and his sister in the back barking instructions on which 8-track tape to insert next and which track to put it on. That was the arrangement in all of the vehicles, except for the truck. That was typically all of us crammed in the cab, with the one next to the driver ever vigilant of the driver’s elbow in motion shifting gears (3 on the tree).

Sometimes, it was just Falcon and me, flying down the road just behind the roaring Mopar powerplant, with his foot planted firmly on the accelerator. One night on the way to our house from one of our forays into the heart of Texas City, he took the exit to 25th Avenue where you can go right to 6th Street or left to our house on 25th. The intersection is “Y” shaped and a small gas station sat there in the center of the “Y”. On either side of the road, coming to a point, there was a small forest of cardboard signs on slender wooden stakes. They were about three feet apart and there were tons of them.

Falcon was inspired, I guess. He veered to the right just off the shell shoulder and started whacking the placards with the big, shiny chrome bumper of the Polara. The image of the signs appearing in the headlights, then instantly disappearing only to be replaced by fifteen others was hypnotic. The rhythm of those evenly spaced posters thumping on the car and the idea of what was happening to those eyesores was just so dang funny to us. He was laughing hysterically and I was looking backward through misty tears of uncontrollable mirth at the short stubs of pine.

This went on the entire election season, until it was unnecessary to replace the signs. They just kept springing up next the roads, and Falcon kept plowing them down, in an insane but hilarious cycle. Democracy and free speech in action.

In the area of election reform, Falcon has my vote.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Put a Lid On It

The old saw about socks getting lost in the dryer seems to elicit universal laughs and nods of assent. Not from me, though.

Socks and dryers pose no problem for me, personally. I take precautions; I wash my own socks, thankyouverymuch. I know how many I put in, I take the same number out, and match them up as they exit the dryer. I don’t believe in the mythical “sixth dimension” that takes a sock from a pair into a parallel universe. Hokum and hogwash.

The problem I have found around our house is the one with storage containers, specifically the kind that we used to refer to as “Tupperware”. Of course, back in this geezer’s formative years, the procedure for the aforementioned socks: use it, wash it, store it, was the enforced standard for plastic storage containers. Tupperware was expensive stuff, and not to be treated casually; someone in the house had to go to a Tupperware Party and endure silly games and sales pitches to procure the gear. It wasn’t something you’d take to the back yard to wash the dog or dig a hole. Nope. The product was so good, so effective and so “everywhere”, the name has become synonymous with “resealable plastic containers”. Like Kleenex, Formica and Coke.

Which brings us to the present day. Now Glad and Ziploc, Rubbermaid and worthless knockoffs have three for three dollars in a pack, in just about any size you want. We have tons of them. Making salsa, dragging it to work, bringing extra food back from holiday feasts. Buying them specifically because we always need more. Heck, we also have the yogurt tubs, sour cream containers and sherbet receptacles.

And why would we need more? When nearly every lunchmeat package purchased has a free container around it? Of course, there is the inevitable explanation (that would never fly with real Tupperware) of leaving it at work after a successful lunch or two. Or that it just disappears somewhere. I have seen them with paint in them, out in the backyard with dirt in them, under beds in the girls’ rooms, and used as emergency travel food dishes for the puffy dogs.

Yet every time one of us ventures into the chamber of horrors that is the “tupperware” cabinet, there is a disparity between the number of containers and the number of lids. There are several brands and sizes, none of which are interchangeable. There are two brands, however, that are similar in size, and the lid from one can be forced upon the container of the other. Don’t try this at home, kids. The seal is unreliable at best, and dangerously flawed when bringing tortilla soup to a remote location. Chances are, the soup will end up on the floorboard of your car. I just know this stuff. Names and soups have been changed to protect the innocent.

No matter how many we have, the lid/box ratio is always unequal. When it is time to put the leftovers away, the unlucky person, usually me, gets to drop to their (my) knees, stand on their (my) head, and go through the process of dredging, matching and testing various vessels and lids for the magic combination. Usually the frustration and pain in their (my) knees drives them (me) to their (my) feet for another solution.

Fortunately, there is always a lid to be found for the resourceful. The ubiquitous roll of aluminum foil is the go-to hero of the food putter-upper. I like it because of the way you can roll it up really tight under the lip of the carton for a pretty good seal. And if you crimp it really tight, you can even stack them in the fridge. And when the enclosed food turns to fur, you can form the foil into interesting animal shapes to sell at garage sales.

Short of the old chain-the-pen-to-the-desk approach of attaching the lid to the container, I can only count on the classic “use, wash, store” line of attack to keep the equipment intact. But there are three other people in the house. And nobody has the commitment that the old Tupperware inspired for a geezer-in-training.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Love/Hate With the Shoes

OK, I have on some shoes that are sock-eaters. I like the shoes, but the fact that they are drawing my socks down into their depths bothers me. New Balance 644. There, I said it. And most likely totally ruined any ad or endorsement deals for their otherwise fine footwear.

I have had New Balance shoes before, so this twist is new for the brand in my experience. It is by no means a new experience for me, who has been wearing shoes off and on for 50 years. There have been dress shoes (the blue ones)(so what, it was 1974, OK?), and some Converse knock offs, also from the 70s. There have been cowboy boots; I gave them to a Swiss guy over here as an exchange student, he was proud to have them. I had some motorcycle-type boots that were fine for a long time, but after a protracted time saturated with water, they developed and appetite. I theorize that the long term wetness and subsequent drying next to the water heater caused a mutation. I guess like boot-zombies. Come to think of it, that pair of moccasins that I wore outside in the rain turned hungry as well.

Top-siders get that way, too. While designed to be worn wet and sockless, my guess is that they have latent tendencies when pressed into duty as anything else.

The only thing more annoying, foot-wise, is the proverbial pebble in the shoe. After a short time walking, the sock is worked down toward the toe box of said shoe and balls up under the arch. The elastic is working down around the heel, stretching beyond what sock elastic was born to endure. Long enough exposure will reduce the socks to mere sacks that you put your feet in. Now these will pass on the curse to even your most well-behaved footwear. They head for the ball of your food without hesitation.


But I like these shoes, so I suppose I will either endure or resort to stapling my socks to my ankles. Cuz you know I'm too cheap to get new shoes.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

First Geezer Act of 2010

Since the beginning of this blog, I have been becoming aware of my geezer behaviors. Sometimes I can feel them coming on, sometimes they spring up from nowhere.

Yesterday, being the second day of the new year, I was eyewitness to my first official geezer activity of this 365 day period.

I was in K-Roger scamming the free wi-fi (in true geezer form, free wi-fi is the BEST), seated at one of the tiny bistro tables. There were about three other sets of surfers in the long, narrow venue, tending to their internet-based tasks. I noticed a group of three junior high-aged kids seated at the first table by the Starbuck’s storage cabinets. After I had logged in and well on my way to a good surf, I heard the unmistakable drumming of a pre-teen on the table to my left, the same kids by the cabinets, about ten feet away. Suppressing a strong urge to send a scowl their way, I calmed myself with the thought that perhaps he would tire of the drumming, as they usually do. Not so. The sound was pretty loud, too, I thought, loud enough to make me take my scowl off of “safety”. I was determined to wait the little nerd out.

The drumming continued with short respites in between which I began to pray for the short attention span to set in. He then began scraping his wooden chair backward on the terrazzo floor; “Skroooaawwwk, skroooaawwwk, skrawwk, skrawk…”, back toward the cabinets. Which he then began to drum upon. Same intensity as the table, except producing a different sound, which the astute young man noticed, “Hey it sounds different!” Genius. I was sure he was intentionally being annoying.

All this transpired with my eyes locked on to G-mail, my mind trying not to scream at my hands to throw a table at him. I happened a glance his way, because I could feel something about to happen; the drumming had ceased for a moment. I saw him open the cabinet and take a quick peek inside. The other little knotheads asked what was in there. “Raspberry flavoring, a lot of it!”, he said, grinning that goofy junior high I-just-found-something-interesting grin. He made a couple of quick looks back in and kinda laughed, “Ghyulk!”.

At this point, I had stopped pretending to work on the computer and just watched the little hammerhead. He proceeded.

“Hey, a bunch of little straws…” he snorked, pulling out a whole brick of the little stirring straws, thankfully wrapped in plastic. Putting them back, he found another doo-dad of interest. It was a little item, wrapped in a small plastic bag, and it was about the size of a key fob for your car remote. I have no idea what it was. He held it up with that same stupid grin, glancing back and forth between the thing and his little nerd buddies. Then he slipped it into the pocket of his hoodie.

At that moment, I ran through a couple of scenarios in my head. One involved me jumping up and grabbing his hoodie hood and dragging him to the Starbuck’s manager. My fear was that the manager would not back me up, to avoid trouble. Nix that one. The next one involved my boot on his little sunken chest with me screaming in his face about the dangers of shoplifting. Instantly dismissed that one, too. You can tell cuz this isn’t being posted from jail.

The third one is the one I used. I pointed right at the kid twelve-and-a-half feet from me and said in a loud, firm voice, “PUT THAT BACK.” The little noodlehead looked like he’d been taserd. Everyone in the area looked at me, then at the kid I was pointing at. He sheepishly put the item back in the cabinet and closed it. He then sat there, three feet from his table with a blank look on his face.

I went back to the computer, aware that he and his little goofball friends were looking at me. After a while, I noted that he was still sitting where he was, next to the cabinet. I stared him down and told him, “You need to move your chair back to your table, that would be best.

He “skrooked” his chair back into its original position, and sat there with his little buddies, all giving furtive glances back at me every few seconds. I occasionally looked back at them, unflinching and direct.

My first official act as a geezer this year was very fulfilling; I got to call out a rotten little shoplifter, and hopefully he will remember the feeling for a long time. Who knows, I may have saved a kid from a life of petty crime, or worse. He may have been on the road to become a politician.