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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Sip, CHEERS!! Christmas

It is Christmas day. I am not a huge Christmas person as my immediate familys' religion (Jehovah’s Witness) does not celebrate holidays. I do not press my beliefs on them and they are respectful of mine. That is my take. It is difficult for me, but I accept it. So I either embrace my wife’s family or I spend the day alone. Alone time is good. But I will have time to be alone at other times. However I do like to celebrate. As I am typing this blog I sip my single malt Glenfiddich, (Sip, CHEERS!!) And say to you all: The holidays are for friends and family. So MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

There have been no phone calls of an emergency nature. It would suck to get the “someone died” or “terrible accident” phone call. So for that I am thankful. A death or an accident is hard enough without attaching it to a major holiday.

The first time I ever dropped the f-bomb around my parents was near the holidays. The neighborhood Christmas party was in full swing. The parents were imbibing in festivity fruit punches and beers. The kids went out to sneak a few squares. I was out walking with my neighbor and the rest of the gang when her dog got hit and killed by a car.

When I related the story to my father, I said “some motherf’er just hit Kim’s dog.” He came unglued. He grabbed me by the lapels, and said “don’t EVER use that word around your mother!” I thought he was going to hit me. That probably would have hurt a bit. But not as much as the poor little pooch. That dog got crushed. It really sucked. I have not thought about that incident for years. It was not my dog. It is not my holiday that is forever marked with a death. That would suck.

I do not like the commerciality. I do not like the expectancy of giving gifts and the question, “Are you done Christmas shopping?” As I get older I realize the Joy of Christmas is in the little things. The time I spend with family is more important. The time I spend with close friends is more important. The phone call or text wishing me Merry Christmas is a great gift. Even a Face Book Merry Christmas is a great gift.

Sharing time with the people I love is more important than all the toys, games, and trinkets. As my family and friends age, I realize that they will not be here forever nor will I. Facing our mortality is not a task that we learn in short order. It takes time. It takes experience. It takes death. This blog is not about death however it is about life. And the celebration of life. Sip, CHEERS!!

Beneath my scruffy exterior, the gruff demeanor, and the curse like a sailor bravado, is a heart at least twenty times the size of the Grinch. I went to spend the day with my wife’s family, My Mom-in-law is always happy to see me. Although I do not show it much I do have a bit of a soft side. Aunt Ferne actually seems to light up when I walk into the room. To me that is a great gift. We all have the gift of life to celebrate. Not just on around the holidays, but everyday.

Gift the little things. Spend some time with the relatives. Yeah, it can be a bit stress having to be here or there, traveling to hell’s half-acre and back. You can freak about the shopping and what so and so needs, etc. The petty grievances and disagreements should be left at the door. Some day you will no longer be able to celebrate life with the ones closest to you, so grab this time now, because too quickly the candle flickers out. It has taken me so many years to come to this, that I feel that I should share it now. Sip, CHEERS!!

My kids are older. The joy of the “best Christmas present ever” is long gone. Except for a brief moment today or maybe longer when I wallowed in the self pity of not spending time with my family, and then became a bit of an ass, I pretty much was on my best behavior. I did not set the tone for the day very well. I course corrected my behavior. I had time for introspection and decided that I needed to embrace the things that are good during this holiday.

Being a member of a blended family, during the holidays our time at with the kids is always a bit of a rollercoaster, and we usually celebrate with them after the 25th. We have very few set traditions. I may have done a disservice to my kids not embracing the holiday, but that is who I am. I could have tried harder, to establish or force a few traditions, but why? I have decided to cherish the living, while they are around, during this time of the year. And you know what? Sip, CHEERS!! Merry Christmas!! The day has gone well.

Just another day in paradise

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

wtf is that blue stuff?

I don’t know what I did in a past life to be stuck working on toilets. It seems that there is never an easy one. Never mind what goes in these instruments of fecal flushing, suffice it to say they are a shitty job. After one more toilet from hell, I must admit that I will rant a bit.

First, you need to know the major components. There is a tank. Inside the tank is a filling mechanism known as the fill valve. Sometimes fill valves are referred to as the guts. There are many different kinds of fill valves. The worst of these is the old ball-cock assembly. If your toilet has one of these, it is time to upgrade. Sometimes the water in the tank is blue. Why? This is also the area that you drop a deuce in if you are giving someone an upperdecker. Follow the link if you do not know what I am talking about

The seating area or throne is also known as the bowl. Some toilets are one piece, some are two. Any more than that, as far as I know is bad for doing business. I know some of you may think the lid is a third piece, but it is part of the tank. The seat is not a part of the bowl, but it is, well, you know, the seat. Or the outer ring of the bull’s-eye, for you out there that cannot quite get the stream or fudge in the open area. The seat is not where you stick gum or used toilet paper under it as a little surprise or snack for later. Stuff on the seat does not flush, Johnny.

The most important part of the whole thing is the flange. It is attached to the waste pipe, which safely and discretely carries your droppings to the water treatment plant, where it is then purified to be dispensed by your kitchen faucet some time early next week. Hopefully it will not be blue. Why is it that we have some many kinds of bottled water? Oh yeah, the aforementioned reason. I digress. Back to the flange.

News flash: the way to secure one of these things is with FLANGE bolts. These are the two bolts that hold the bowl to the floor. The wrong way is a 4 inch screw. The wrong way is a piece of wire wrapped around the flange and through the bolt hole in the bowl. The wrong way is hoping it will stay in place with a doubled up wax ring. The wrong way is holding the bowl down with silicone, or grout, because the flange is busted. There are other wrong ways, I just have yet to find them, and when I do, I will let you know.

What the f…. is that blue shit? Why is it in the tank? It does not belong there. Yeah I know it is supposed to clean the bowl. HEY! Lazy ass! Get a Johnny Mop. They are cheap. You can get them at the dollar store. Squirt some cleaner in the bowl. Scrub and flush. The blue stuff gets EVERYF_INGWHERE, when some poor unfortunate slug has to fix your toilet because you flushed a bunch of stuff that doesn’t belong in there. (See my blog earlier this month)

That blue stuff ruins the phrase “if it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Keep using the blue stuff and we will have to change it to “If it’s green, you’re done peein’.” However brown and peein’ do not RYHME! By the way, that blue stuff. It doesn’t come off your skin or clothes. Well, there is one thing that will take it off your skin, and that, my friends, is time.

Just another day in paradise

Monday, December 21, 2009

multi tasking

I was multi-tasking today. It is not something I am very good at. I can handle the thought process of multi-tasking. I can grasp the concept of what is required. I understand what needs to be done to accomplish this feat. I honestly suck at it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was installing a shower faucet. It requires all my concentration, or I may forget a crucial step. You have to drain the system. It usually takes something like three forever’s to accomplish this step. You have to clean the copper, add the flux, and assemble all the parts. Then you have to make sure that you hit with heat and solder,each joint, or it will be a big, hairy and unpleasant surprise. Oh and I forgot to mention wet. I was focused and proficient. I did not multi task. No leaks and no phone calls, so chalk one up for the good guys.

I cannot count the number of almost disasters I have had when I was plumbing. If the phone rings, or a customer asks me a question, throw the multitask function out the window, and grab some towels because I will probably forget one of the joints. Then it is shower time! And that REALLY sucks because you usually have to drain the entire system.

When I got home I shoveled the driveway. It was still snowing, so the multi-task function ended abruptly. I only focused on the driveway so the shovel would not catch on one of the near ten thousand cracks in the driveway, and shove the handle into my stomach or worse yet my junk. I am not playing hockey right now so I do not have a cup on, and I have yet to pay for that fiasco.

I came in and started to re-heat some of Roxy’s white chicken chili. it is awesome! i feel for anyone behind me tommorrw, but i will feast tonight! I then heated up a pan for a grilled cheese, tomato and horseradish sandwich and logged on to Facebook. Look at me I am multi-tasking! Needless to say, the computer was slow and I lost track of time. VOILA!  Burnt sandwich! Multi-tasking at its finest. I really should just blame the damn ELECTRIC stove. Electric blows, gas is MUCH better!

There is something magical about a burnt grilled cheese sandwich. Black magical. Maybe magical is not the correct word, maybe gross is better. No, putrid is better, but diabolical is probably best. I ate it anyway, because I still remember, from my youth, all those starving kids in India, or was it Kentwood? I really do not remember where they were starving, but they were. If they want I will send them a bunch of burnt grilled cheese. Then they will know that starvation is not the worst thing in the world.

I rectified the situation. I focused on the cooking. I am just about to bite into the second, not burnt, grilled cheese. YUMMY! I am washing it down with a large spoonful of white chicken chili. The phone rings. I am not going to answer it. Some folks may call eating and talking on the phone multi tasking. Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. I just call it rude.

Just another day in paradise

Sunday, December 20, 2009

i could do something

I went out to the bar last light. I am a smoker. I drank a few cocktails. A smoked a few cigarettes. I killed some bad guys. It was loud. It was filled with young people. As a smoker, I noticed there were not many other of my ilk at the bar, but the other smokers that were there seemed to be quite young. I felt old, but not ancient. I enjoyed the evening. Mostly. 

In my not so sober state, I realized that many of these young party animals are going to be deciding my fate as I approach the geriatric era. That could scare me. It does not. I am more concerned about the geriatric ego maniacs that are currently f-ing up the situation that is American Society.

I can sit back and bitch or I can do something. My grass roots effort starts with this blog. We have some choices to make! As my favorite college professor used to say, “Sober up people!” it may take a little hair of the dog, or a bunch of water, but either way it is time.
When Michigan moved the drinking age form 18 to 21 I was not affected immediately. I was too young to drink. (legally) I knew people that were able to affect a change, but thought there was no way that the age would go up, so they did nothing. And then they lost the right to imbibe (legally) for as much as three years. I could do nothing to change the law. I could not vote. I was left at the mercy of the people of voting age and they dropped the ball, kicked it to the corner, and forgot about it. Good or bad, the age went up.
The governor of Michigan just signed into law a ban of smoking in public places. It takes effect in May of 2010. It is hailed as a great measure. It is hailed as a giant step forward. As an American, wishing to keep my personal freedoms, it smacks of Gestapo tactics. For those of you who know me, I really appreciate anyone telling me what to do. It may be great, but who profits from this the most? Definitely not me. (Hint: Insurance Companies)

It is something. I am not sure what it is. In my brief research of this great new measure, I found that it rattled around in various forms for ten years. Did I mention my research was brief? I only read 2 articles. That was enough to learn there is still some ambiguity as to what will happen about open air decks at eateries et al. Imagine that. It is a law. It will be litigated. The smoking contingent is looking into what legal leg they have to stand on. It took TEN years to get it signed. Amazing.

I am not going to debate the issue of second hand smoke, first hand smoke and the smoke and mirrors that is state and federal politics. The truth is that the law passed and it is probably a good thing. Just like the seatbelt law. However, I do not want the government protecting me from myself. Our government rarely figures out the small things and they are surely unable to debate the larger issues. Like it or not, our system is flawed. Special interest and the lobbyists have a much greater stake in the political machine than you and I. Money is still the driving force of the decision makers. Still and all it is the best system I know.

I could rant and rave about the issues and have a bunch of people on both sides telling me how wrong I am. I could do my due diligence and actually come prepared to debate and chose a side. We all need to do the right thing for ourselves. Sometimes it is the right thing for now. Sometimes we will change our minds. Sometimes our beliefs change. It is all about perspective. It is about personal choice and freedom.It is about being able to make your own choice on how you want to live.

Smoking is a small issue in the big picture of abandoning our personal freedoms, in exchange for what is being sold to us as a better quality of life, determined by others that have your best interest in mind. I do not care what side of the issue you are on. I do care that you understand that there are bigger issues at stake than the freedom to smoke. Fear is the motivating factor behind a plethora of agendas. Paying on our fears is a motivating tool. I am not afraid of inhaling toxins. There are many other toxins in the air that are bad for you. The  burning of fossil fuels is contributing to many ecological issues. When will you give up the freedom to drive?

The point is I could do a lot more than I do. We all could. I could set up another blog that just sets out points of contention and waits for the fireworks. I know where I stand on government interference in my daily life. They intrude far more than I would like. I could run for office. I could join a political or grass roots movement. I will probably do nothing. My freedoms will be gone before I know it. When I am 85, wondering why I cannot enjoy my personal freedom, and where all my choices went, I will regret the day I did nothing.
Or I could smoke some cigarettes and kill some bad guys.
Just another day in paradise