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Thursday, April 27, 2017

My New Little Friend

My New Little Friend

“What’s that?” Mrs. C asked me the other morning.

“What’s what?”  She always hears stuff before me.

“Someone is on our deck.”

“Probably the neighbor.” We have a tiny deck that abuts to our neighbors tiny deck separated by a high fence.”

“Yeah, probably.”

I later went downstairs to make some breakfast.  I pulled up the blinds on our sliding doors to the deck and was greeted by this little fellow.

I watched him for several minutes, sometimes nose to nose.  He did not seem concerned as he hung onto the screen, his tiny claws fit into the equally tiny screen holes like Velcro.  I had to finally slide open the door to shoo him away, and even then he did not feel like moving.   I don’t know why I shooed him away, he wasn’t really hurting anything.

He is just a little guy, probably one of this year’s babies.  Perhaps the nest is under the deck.  Do they sometimes nest on the ground…I’ll have to Google that.  I think he just feels safe on that screen, able to watch without fear of anything sneaking up from behind, even me, and with the ability to quick run under the deck if need be.

Is he on his own?  Did mama and or daddy squirrel leave him alone or did they meet their demise? Can they fend for themselves at this young an age? I hope so, he is a cute little guy.

Funny thing about squirrels, people love them or hate them and sometimes both. 

They are cute and acrobatic. / They are rodents!

I love to watch them run and play. / They are bullies and cheat the birds out of seed!

They seem friendly. / They’ll get in your attic if they can and make a mess!

My mom hated the squirrels because they dominated the bird feeder.  She bought and tried many squirrel defenses, and they always figured a way around them and into the seed.  I shared her dislike for their bird seed thievery, as if the birds wouldn’t do the same if they could, and yet I did enjoy watching them.

After breakfast, I went upstairs for a while before deciding to hit the basement for guitar practice.  On the way to the basement I saw my little friend, again clinging to the screen.  I went over and nose to nose said hello.  This time I did not try and shoo him away.

I think I may have a new friend.  I probably should give him a name.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Who, who, who do the doo?

Who, who, who do the doo?

The last several weeks, whenever we go to our car, it has been pelted with giant bird droppings.  Above the car is a tree, but we never see any bird or nest in the tree, yet below the tree the car and the driveway seems to be carpet bombed in a narrow two-yard strip of bird crap.

These are not song bird poops.  They are large and nasty.  White with brown in the middle.  WTF!

At night I often hear the call of a barn owl.  I know it is a barn owl because I Googled owl sounds and this one is easy to place.  “Who, who, whoop whoop ti doo.”  I think it is a mating call followed several seconds later from another call I assume from a horney owl, as opposed to a Horned owl.

Anyway, I think this must be the culprit.  We see no bird in the daytime, and anything under the tree is carpet bombed by bird goop in the morning so it must be happening at night when owls are active.

One thing for sure, this bird(s) is very well fed.  I just wish he would stay out of our tree.

Pretty sure last night I heard the call "Who, who? I pooped on you."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Many people think dragonflies are fascinating.  Many people like dragonflies as they eat annoying insects, including mosquitoes.  Dragonflies creep me out.  I do not like dragonflies.  They used to scare the beJesus out of me.
Why would I fear a harmless to humans insect?
When I was about five, a vulnerable age, a friend informed me that dragonflies were called darning needles, or even more specifically Devil’s Darning Needles.  At any age, but at five for sure, the moniker “Devil” is always a bit concerning.  Add to that, this friend informed me that darning needles were capable of firing sharp needles from a distance and the tips of these needles were poisonous.  They were painful and they could kill you.
After I received this information I always avoided dragonflies.  When I saw one, which was often, in the summer, I would duck, run or hide.  It always amazed me that no one else ever seemed afraid of these deadly insects.
When I was ten or eleven I ran and ducked from a dragonfly and my brother asked what was wrong.  I informed him about the danger of the Devil’s Darning Needle.  He told me I was full of crap, that in the history of the world, a dragonfly has never hurt a human.
“They don’t sting or bite, and they sure as Hell don’t fire poisonous darts from a distance.”
 Well I knew he was telling the truth.   The only time my brother would lie to me would be to scare the crap out of me for sport, like the time he told me there were wild boars waiting in the bushes to gore people.
on Catalina Island and the goats on the island were man eaters.  If he told me something was actually harmless, then it must be harmless.
So, at the age of eleven I was no longer scared of dragonflies, but they creeped me out and still do, because when an idea is planted in a five-year-old brain, it never completely goes away.
Except for Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, be careful what you teach your children.  Some fears and prejudices never go away completely. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans
 I recently left a comment on a fishducky blog, 
regarding a book and after school detention, that was a bit of a teaser.  She asked that I elaborate.

 Well Ms. Fishducky of the wacky state of California (cue the peanut butter jar label opening to a picture of Fran) “You asked for it!”

It is not much of a story; perhaps I can embellish it a bit.

As an adolescent, I was not a very good student, as a matter of fact that statement would be accurate for me at any age.  In middle school, I was a bit of a cut-up.  I don’t recall being totally obnoxious, generally I interrupted with a pithy comment but not in a too disruptive way.  Sometimes I said nothing but could not stifle a snicker.

“OK Mr. Hagy, what is so funny?” Then I would release my pithy comment.  Sometimes it was very funny…sometimes it was embarrassing.


In the eighth grade, Mr. Franks class, we were studying that American classic by James Fenimore Cooper, “The Last of The Mohicans.”  As I recall this book was awful.  It was, for an eighth grader at least, unreadable.  Plus, I had already seen the movie and did not even like it very much.  I don’t know why they do this to eighth graders. Somehow grown-ups have the opinion that if you are not conversant in the classics, you are uneducated.  The truth is I learned that the book was about Indians in New York State, it was written by James Fenimore Cooper, and stared Randolph Scott in the movie.  That was enough to get me three correct answers over the years while watching “Jeopardy.”

One fateful warm May afternoon we were discussing this horrible piece of literature.  It was one of those perfect spring days where it was stuffy inside the non-air-conditioned classroom, but outside baseball and refreshing spring air were calling.

I was seated next to those huge windows that could only be opened from the top using a long pole with a hook to grab and pull down.  The shades were drawn to hold out the sun (and any fresh air) and block out the distraction of a spring day. The shades were spring loaded things with a long cord to pull down or release (my older readers will know exactly the window and shade I am talking about)

During the discussion, I fashioned a perfect hangman’s noose out of the shade cord, and slipped my copy of “The Last of the Mohicans” into the noose.

When Mr. Frank’s back was turned, the buzzer sounded marking the end of the school day.  I pulled the cord and activated the spring roller.  It made a loud noise, and Mr. Frank and the whole classroom turned to see the book swinging back and forth high off the ground in the pull-cord noose.

“What the Hell?” Asked a startled Mr. Frank.

“No more Mohicans.”  Was my thirteen-year-old response.

The class thought it was very funny.

Mr. Frank was less amused.

And that Ms. Fishducky is how “The Last of the Mohicans” cost me two hours of after school detention.

I’ll bet you’re sorry you asked.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


This re-run is from April 2014
I get it women…men can’t find anything we did not ourselves put away.

Deal with it!

You could stop complaining and just deal with it.  But nooo…you want to torture us don’t you, kind of like ripping the wings off a fly.  Yes you do, admit it.  You know we can’t find the stuff you put away.  You know your directions of where to find stuff that you put away can only be understood by another woman.  Yet you continue to expect us to find things.  It is like expecting a person without legs to dance the jig.

This past weekend, Mrs. C and I were vacationing in Aruba.  It is a beautiful island, and we love lounging in the sun with a constant warm breeze, dunking in the ocean, or bathing in the pool.  It is wonderful, except Mrs. C knows how to stir things up.

I got up from our place in the sun to make a trek to the restroom.  Upon arrival I found I needed a room key to enter.  I walked back to our umbrella (oh the humanity) to get the key.

“What’s up, why back so soon?”

“You need a room key to enter, where is our key?”

“In the beach bag.”

"Could you just get it?”

“Why don’t you get it?”

“Because you could just reach in and grab it, where I will dig around looking, move stuff around and still not find it.”

“Oh please.   Just open the bag, the key is right behind the book.”

“Book?  We have no book.”

“You know, the Tablet, Nook thing.”

“Which is it, the Tablet or the Nook?”



“Yes, one of those.”

“We have both…oh crap let me look…I don’t see it.”

“It is right there.”

“I don’t see it.”

“For crying out loud hand me the bag.”

Mrs. Cranky reaches into the bag that I have been turning inside out and without looking comes out with the room key.

“Here, it was right inside the plastic baggy.”

“But you said it was in the Nook, or the Tablet.”

“Well it was inside the baggy, if you had just looked you would have found it!”

“Well if you had just reached in in the first place like I asked I would have had 180 seconds of my life that is now irrevocably lost.”

“You’re a jerk!”

Aruba is such a beautiful island that I can easily overlook those minor Mrs. Cranky un-pleasantries, besides, without her I would have never found the island. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017


I know that guy!
It’s time again for
This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 
Burglar breaks into home, cooks fried chicken – When caught, the distinguished gentleman with white hair, mustache, goatee in a white suit simply asked, “Where do you keep your buckets?”
Man Pretending to Be Cop Pulls Over Real One – Was this the same guy who last week got pulled over for drunk driving wearing a “Drunk Lives Matter” t-shirt?
Make it a crime to show killing on Facebook – Yes, that will make a deranged murderer think twice before posting on Facebook.
‘Sexual favors’ not accepted to pay taxes in Montana town – They’re not accepted in New Jersey either…at least not with me as the favor.
French presidential candidate wants a 100% tax on the rich – That should boost productivity incentive.
Loud sex interrupts tennis match – Too much racket stops Love match?
Microsoft is trying to make passwords obsolete – This is just so stupid.  If all passwords were “obsolete” hackers would have a field day!
Carmelo Anthony Did Not Get Another Woman Pregnant Before Split from Wife – It is a crazy world we live in when this is a headline. 
Nevada voter fraud probe finds 3 voted illegally in November – Only need to find 2,899,998 more to prove Trump is right.
Japan has plans to drill through the earth's crust and reach the mantle – Drill through the Earth’s crust?  Hello, it’s above the fireplace!
LGBTQ, transgender issues should be taught in nursery school, UK teachers' union says – I think you need to teach them the alphabet first, or they’ll get this confused with the twelfth letter, “Elemeno P.”
Bikers heard marine’s remains were coming home in USPS box, refused to let that happen – These dudes deserve a little recognition.  They also keep those Westboro Baptist Church A-holes away from desecrating veteran’s funerals.
Come back next Sunday for more

Friday, April 21, 2017

Marijuana, Good or Bad?

Marijuana, Good or Bad?
A cranky opinion for


The following is the opinion of a cranky old man with almost no knowledge on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome…they are welcome, but wrong.  As always, no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid-head!

It’s April 20 as I write this, apparently it is some sort of a marijuana special day.  I don’t know why, but it is a good excuse for an opinion piece this Saturday for “Crank Opinion Saturday.”

Unlike former President Clinton, I have inhaled marijuana.  I have inhaled it several times.  In the very early 70’s I had a puff or two so as to not look like a dork when a joint was being passed around at a party.  I got a bigger high from a Marlboro than from that 1970 cannabis.  Still if I was caught with a joint in my hands in those days I might have done some serious jail time.

Years later, while stuck with several co-workers in a hotel during a major NYC snow storm, I took another hit off a joint.  This one knocked me for a loop.  I think, on further reflection, it was laced with something.  It made me very paranoid and I did not like it.

Fast forward a few more years, and I imbibed with a friend whose wife used it to combat the effects of chemotherapy for her brain cancer.  It made me silly, but I quite enjoyed it.  That is my total experience with marijuana.

That is the problem with pot.  One batch does nothing, one batch plays with your head in a very negative way, and one batch is enjoyable.  You do not know what you are getting.

Based on my limited experience, I am not a big fan of pot.  I find it to be  antisocial and I prefer alcohol as my drug of choice. 

Should it be legal? 

How do you seriously keep it illegal? 

Hell, the stuff grows like a weed, because, well…it is a weed.  Throw a few seeds anywhere, and it will grow.  How do you regulate something that grows anywhere?  We had enough trouble with prohibition in the 20’s, and you couldn’t throw a vodka seed in the garden and grow a fifth.

Pot is not going away.  Like it or hate it, and there are many negative things to say about it, it is not going away.  If it is legal, at least it can be regulated for potency and some taxes can be collected to offset some of the negative social issues that go along with the drug.

Pot is not good.  Gambling is not good.  Alcohol is not good.  Tobacco is not good.  Prostitution is not good.  Pornography is not good.  TV is not good.  Soda is not good.  Sugar is not good.  Any current music is not good.  We allow, we enjoy lots of stuff that is not good.  Where do we as a society draw the line?  What do we allow?

If it can kill you or others, I say it has to be illegal.  If it makes you stupid but harms no one else, it should be discouraged.  If it is unproductive, perhaps it should be regulated.  Pot does not seem to kill others, it sometimes does make you stupid, it is not productive, so I say let it be legal and let it be regulated.

The world has lots of problems, I am in favor of eliminating one of them…make pot legal and regulated.  Have a drink, eat a bag of chips, bet your week’s salary on the horses, chug down that caramel colored sugar water, enjoy a good cigar, watch some crappy reality TV.  If it only hurts yourself, it is your life, your choice, have at it.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management, Mrs. Cranky.

Thursday, April 20, 2017



I’m about to offend some readers, so let me start with an apology.  Not one of those lame semi-apologies most people give…you know,

“I’m very sorry IF I may have offended some people, it was never my intention blah, blah, blah.”

My real apology is,

“I am sorry for offending many talented people for my opinions which are the result of not truly understanding your medium.”

Here goes: 

I don’t consider photography to be true art.  I enjoy a good picture, but it does not impress me like an artist with paint, pen or another technique.  To me, photography is to art as podiatry is to medicine, or drumming is to music.  It has its place, but it does not impress me the same way as a brain surgeon impresses me, or a violinist mesmerizes me.

I guess it is because if I had a drum I could beat it and maybe even play in a group and maintain a beat (ok probably not, but I could come close).  I could inspect a foot, maybe even trim some nails, without losing a patient.  

If I had a good camera and took about a billion random pictures, some would be very good.  I could never play violin without getting booed.  I would not be able to even watch a brain surgeon in action.

It just seems to me that everyone can take a picture.  It wasn’t like that in my childhood.   

My pops had an old Kodak collapsible thing.
 Loading the film was tricky. 
Usually my mom loaded the camera when we were driving so dad could take pictures of the scenic country we explored.  This process generally ended up the same as mom reading a map.  Dad pulled over and said,

“Here, let me do that!”

The picture taking required a reading with a light meter,
 an aperture setting based on the meter reading and the film speed chosen.  I was impressed that pops knew all those formulas.  Inside, lighting was also important, and there were flashbulbs.  First, we had individual bulbs, then there was a cube thing that let you take several pictures without reloading.

The exciting thing about pictures in those days was waiting to see what you took.  Often pictures taken in summer were still on a roll dropped off for developing in the Fall.  There were always photos you forgot about; it was like finding treasure.

Picture taking today does not require film loading, light reading is automated, results are instant, and they can be edited and or altered after the fact.  Today anybody can snap a picture.  What is the big deal?  How is that art?  Why do my pictures always suck?

This post was going to be a nostalgia piece about my first camera, an old brownie with a flash and a plastic fake leather case. 
  I got sidetracked insulting photography enthusiasts (see above for apology.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017



When we were kids, we used to play a card game.  It was called “Knuckles”, or just "Knucks," and sometimes “Bloody Knucks.” 

Anyone remember this game?  I’ll bet some do.

I forgot how it was played, but I do remember how it ended.  I Googled it, and for most people it is pretty much the same, they remember the end, but are fuzzy on the rules.  It may have followed “Double Solitaire,” but I also think it may have followed the rules of “Go fish.”

The ending was what counted.  The winner got to rap the other guys knuckles the number of times of the points he won by.  

The manner of the rap was chosen by drawing a card.  Red meant you hit hard, black was soft. 

Then there was the method of the rap which was chosen by the rapee. There was the scrape where you scraped the knuckles with the cards of the deck held lengthwise against the knuckle.  You got one scrape per point.  There was the smack, a blow to the knuckles with the width of the deck.  One smack was worth five points.  Finally, there was the bomb, basically a smack but with a greater and thus harder length of downward stroke allowed.  The bomb was a ten pointer.

There was a strategy.  If you lost but drew soft, you chose a smack or bomb as the rap method because the scrape, even if soft, would loosen up the knuckle and make bleeding easier later.  If you drew hard, the smack or the bomb hurt more, but the scrape was very effective.

The winner was the first to draw blood.  I remember it was kind of a badge of courage to be the loser and have the bloody knuckle.

What did we play after a game of Knucks?

What you only have one knuckle?

I don’t know where this game came from or why it was so popular, but I’ll bet kids from other ages and in other areas of the country all played some variation of the same game.

What did you guys call it?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Asshole and the Conductor

The Asshole and the Conductor
The recent hoo-ha over United Airlines having a passenger thrown off the plane reminded me of a situation commuting on a New Jersey Transit train.

Years ago, New Jersey Transit had a fare schedule where if you bought a round trip ticket off-hours, there was a significant discount.  If you didn’t use the ticket both ways in off-hours, you were then charged the full rate. 
It was very common for people to buy the round trip, go to the city during off-hours and return during peak-hours.  The conductor charged them the difference and they were always surprised and upset because they didn’t understand the rate.  They often complained to and fought with the conductor.  They always lost.
One Friday night, these things always occurred on a Friday night, a passenger on the way home was informed he would have to pay an additional $3.75.  He refused.  The conductor explained the situation one time and warned him that if he did not pay the additional $3.75, he would not be allowed off the train.  He refused.
When the train pulled into the next station, the doors did not open.  We were informed that we would stay in the station until the transit police arrived to take the delinquent passenger away.  We sat for fifteen minutes waiting for the police to arrive, they were about forty minutes away, and everyone started getting a bit peeved.
Other passengers offered to pay the $3.75 just so we could move on.  The conductor refused.  The delinquent passenger started to freak out and was screaming, “I’ll pay, I’ll pay.”  The conductor ignored him.
We waited at the station for forty-five minutes before the Transit Police came and dragged this ass-hole away screaming, “I’ll pay, I’ll pay.” 
The conductor won this battle.  On a train, the conductor has the power to enforce transit rules.  Not obeying a conductor on a train is like attacking a police officer on the street.  They have power, and sometimes it goes to their head.
On this Friday night I was late for a dinner reservation and my (ex) wife was pissed (we had no cell phone in those days).  Her rage was not tempered by my valid excuse…it never was. 
Because this one a-hole did not understand the fare rules and refused to pay $3.75, and because the conductor could think of no other way to handle the situation, our train was delayed forty-five minutes, and every train that left behind us was delayed almost as long.  Almost one thousand people had their Friday night plans disrupted because of an ass-hole passenger and a conductor on a power trip.
I didn’t care about all those one thousand people, I only cared about the new butt hole I was ripped…again.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bumper Cars

Bumper Cars
As a kid, at the Jersey shore, I loved the amusement park.  Just about every large boardwalk on the shore has a small amusement park.   They have ski ball, pinball machines, a merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl and other rides.  The ride I liked the best was bumper cars.

Bumper cars was the most expensive ride at the park I went to.  Fifty cents!  When you consider you could get into a double feature movie for thirty-five cents, or buy a pack of gum for a nickel, fifty cents was a big investment for a three-minute ride.
But for a kid too young to drive a car, it was worth fifty cents to speed around a track and bang into other cars, driven by people you generally didn’t even know.  If there was a cute young lady in another car all the boys would gang up on that car.  Clearly blasting one’s bumper car into another again and again would be the catalyst to an exciting romantic relationship.
Well that never worked out, but it was great fun blasting another car, spinning it around and banging it head on and not allowing it to move.
A few years ago I took my then very young son for a bumper car ride.  While waiting in line for an open car, I read the “Bumper Car Rules.”
My reaction was “Bumper car rules?  There are no rules in bumper cars!”  But oh, yes there are now. 
Some of the rules made sense:
Stay in the car until the ride stops
Keep the bar down at all times
Keep your hands and feet inside the car
Do not hit another car head on
You must be over 43 inches tall…
Bumper cars is all about hitting the other cars, and head on is the best way to hit them.  The name of the ride is BUMPER CAR, and they don’t want you to bump other cars?
Oh, you can tap them, give them a glancing blow, even push them a little, but “DO not hit another car head on!” And they were serious.  While we were waiting, they stopped a ride and warned someone about bumping head on.
My son enjoyed the ride.  He thought avoiding collisions was fun.  Me, I’ll never waste another fifty cents on this ride (five dollars now). 
A bumper car ride where you can’t bump other cars?
What’s next, no tag at school recess?