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Friday, October 31, 2014


When I was in the eighth grade, all the boys took a class simply called Shop. 

The girls had Home Ec, where they learned the importance of cooking, cleaning and sprucing up for when Hubby came home from work.

The boys learned how to build stuff with tools.  I don’t know about the Home Ec instructors, but Shop teachers usually had eight and a half fingers, and a criminal record.  My eighth grade instructor Mr. Sanders fit right in with the stereotypical Shop teacher.

My very first class at Shop was spent learning all about the intricacies of the “Shop Wastebasket.”  The Shop wastebasket had a lid.  The lid was lifted with a foot pedal.  The wastebasket had a lid so that flammable materials could be disposed of without risk of starting a fire.  Some materials soaked with common Shop solvents could self-combust if not for the lid which cuts off the oxygen required for fire to take place. 

How Mr. Sanders turned that bit of fascinating material into a full 45 minute lecture pays tribute to his teaching skill.

There was a quiz.

I think I only took shop for one year.  Our grade was determined solely on the success of one construction project;  well 10% was the result of the “Shop Wastebasket” quiz.

For my project I selected a bookshelf.  It consisted of two ends carefully cut with a power jigsaw, a base, and two back supports the top which had an intricate pattern.  All the pieces were nailed together.  The bookshelf took several months to complete including sanding staining and applying varnish. 

Rags used to apply the stain and varnish were safely disposed of in the Shop Wastebasket.  Fortunately enough I knew how to work the wastebasket foot pedal and the school was safe from potential incineration.  

I received a B- on the bookshelf.  I was very proud of my bookshelf.

When I went to college I brought the bookshelf.  When I graduated from college I did not bring  the bookshelf home.  didn't know what happened to my bookshelf.

Thirty years later, I attended the first of what has become an annual college fraternity reunion.  The first host was my old roommate, Stu “Wally” Robinson; “Wally” because he bears a striking resemblance to the old comedic actor, Wally Cox (GIYP.)

Wally who was now a very successful executive for one of the largest construction firms in the country took me on a tour of his home.  As we passed his laundry room, I spied the B- bookshelf which was now apparently a B- laundry product shelf.

“Yo…so that’s what happened to it!”

“Happened to what?”

“My B- bookshelf, I haven’t seen it since college, I figured it just got tossed.”

“What, toss such a beautiful piece of workmanship? (Wally is known for his dry sense of humor) You gave it to me for my apartment after I got married before our last semester.”

“Did I?  Well as long as it serves a useful purpose.”

I didn't want to claim it was stolen (which I think it was) because then Wally might remind me of what an ass I made of myself at his wedding (liquor and a piano were involved), an event that I’m not sure to this day I was even invited to attend. 

The subject was dropped.

The next year the reunion was hosted by Carl “Gawk” Anderson; so named because, well he is just a big Gawk.  When that event ended, Wally presented me with a  neatly gift wrapped present.  It looked strangely like a small book shelf.  Unwrapped, it was indeed the B- bookshelf.

I took it home and it now is proudly hung in my garage where it became a B- nail and screw box holder.

I should probably re-wrap it for the reunion next year and return it to Wally.

Naw…I earned that B- and I'm using that shelf.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TWO SIDES (to a story)


Mrs. Cranky and I bicker a lot, but we seldom have a real argument.  When we do fight, it is usually because Mrs. C overreacts to and or misinterprets some minor action or casual comment on my part.

For example:

Last week, the XY step-crank came to dinner with his girlfriend.  I was grilling hotdogs and hamburgers.  Mrs. C gave me five hotdogs and three hamburgers to grill and told me she only wanted a hotdog.

Mrs. C is generally not very picky about food.  As long as it is not seasoned and it is hot, she is generally happy.  Flavor is not particularly important; temperature is very important.  She is particular about my grilling.  She wants her steaks and chops rare, and her hotdogs well done.  She wants her hotdogs very well done.

I figured she wanted me to grill one dog per person with one extra in case someone wanted two and one hamburger for everyone but her.

As usual I grilled everything to perfection, and left one hotdog on the hot side of the grill to make it well done.  When I presented the well done dog to Mrs. C she was not happy.


“I just grilled it a little extra so it would be how you like it.”


Taken aback at her venomous outburst, I calmly took the overdone dog and casually flipped it outside for the squirrels.


“I’ll just grill the extra dog a bit more for you, it’s not a problem.  I’m so sorry I overcooked it.”

“There is NO EXTRA DOG! There is one for you, one for Tori, and two for Peter!”

“Peter wants two dogs and a hamburger?”


“I’m sorry, here, take my hotdog.”

“No thank you, I’ll just have some soup.  JERK!! I can’t believe you threw one away. YOU ARE SUCH A JERK!!”

“Gee, I’m really sorry.  I didn’t understand.”

Can you believe how Mrs. C overreacted to such a simple…

Not so fast!  Mrs. Cranky here and this is what REALLY happened.

Okay, yes, Peter and Tori were over for hamburgers & hot dogs. Four burgers, one for each and five dogs, Peter wanted two. 

I do like my meat on the rare side, but I also like my dogs well done/shriveled.


Joe brings in the burgers and the dogs.  He went outside to do something with the grill, then he came back in.

I said, (not yelling, because I never yell)

“I like my dogs shriveled dear, not chard.  Sometimes you do tend to burn them?”

He got all huffy and started to rant and rave about my food habits and my strange tastes and he says,


While saying that, he flung my hot dog out the back door twenty yards onto the grass.

I was shocked!!        

“What did you just do??”

“Just eat the damn extra one!”

“There isn't an extra one dear.”

“Yes there is; it’s on the grill!”

“Oh no your mistaken sweetheart, I took out just enough.”

 “Well then damn it, just deal with it!

So I ate my burger and the empty hot dog roll.

He admitted later that he didn't realize there was not an extra hot dog, but he did NOT apologize for violently flinging my hot dog out the door.

Cranky has a habit of over-reacting, and he is very defensive about his grilling.

Don't even ask him about Mother's Day...

OK Mrs. C, you had your say, now I have to ask my readers.  Who are you going to believe, my obviously over-reactive wife, or a wonderful, sweet, harmless, elderly old man?

And I know nothing about Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things On Which Liberals and Conservatives can Agree

Things On Which Liberals and Conservatives can Agree

Elections are upon us, and the airwaves are full of controversy, accusations and hate.  This time of year you may be led to believe that politicians and the electorate are at complete polar opposites on everything.  That is not true.  There are some things where both Liberals and Conservatives can find agreement.  Below are 15 examples, there may be more…probably not.

1.    Grammar or not, this post’s title would 
      just sound better if it read “Things Which Liberals 
      and Conservatives can Agree upon.”

2.    Justin Beiber is an idiot.

3.    Chris Rock is funnier than hell.

4.    The Earth is round.

5.    Ebola is bad.

6.    Sara Palin is hot.

7.    Barack Obama was born somewhere.

8.    Red light cameras are evil.

9.    The Bible does not say Adam and Steve.

10.   The Bible does not say Beevis and Butthead either, 
       what’s your point?

11.   Pollution in your backyard is bad.

12.   Children should not be allowed to bring assault 
       weapons to gym class.

13.   The climate changes almost every day.

14.   OJ Simpson was a great running back.

15.   Clean air is better than smog.

Whatever your political bent, get out and vote, unless you can’t even agree with any of the above, then maybe you should just stay home.