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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Battery


Battery

No, this is not about being assaulted and hurt, it is about a battery.

I may write too much about Mrs. C, but I can’t help it, she is a pip…for you young people that is a good thing...sort of, in a backhanded way.  Mrs. C does not like to throw anything away.  What I find entertaining is the excuses she has for saving things.

Today she showed me something she got for free because she signed up for something, or answered a survey, whatever.  It is a small flashlight.  It is very bright, and shines in a diffused lamp like fashion, not a direct flashlight way.  It also has a strong magnet so it can be stuck on anything metal for hands free lighting.  I liked it.  It seems very useful.

However.

In order to demonstrate the light to me, she had to first remove a piece of paper that prevents the battery from making a proper connection.  When she was finished with the demonstration, she reinserted the paper protector.

“What is that for?”

“It keeps the battery fresh.”

“What?”

“You know, like if you accidentally turn the switch, the light won’t go on and the battery won’t run down.”

“Oh…but you mean if I want to use the light I have to unscrew the cap, remove the paper thing, save it, and then when I am through with the light unscrew the cap and reinsert the paper thing?”

“Yes.”

“That is a pain in the ass!”

“It will save the battery.”

“But we have skaty-eight other battery operated items and we don’t do that paper thing to any of them.”

“This light comes with one.”

“So, we have to use it?”

“Yes.”

“Let me get this straight.  If I want to use the light, I have to unscrew the cap, take out then paper stop thing, screw the cap back on, make sure not to misplace the paper thing, and then when done, reverse the process, all so the battery won’t run down if I forget to turn off the light?”

“Yes.”

“But I don’t think I have ever used a flashlight and forgot to turn it off when done, the bright light generally serves as a reminder to turn it off.”

“It could get accidentally switched on while in a drawer, you could grab something and flip the switch without knowing.”

“So, in order to save a battery from a weird accidental switch turning I have to go through the stupid paper removing and replacing thing.  You know we have about 187 AAA batteries in the pantry.  Some will go dead before we ever use all of them.”

“Just replace the paper thing after you use the light and stop arguing! JERK!”

This light is really quite nice.  I can think of lots of uses for it, for instance while cooking out at night on my Bbq.

Too bad I will never bother to use it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Cranky Recital

A Cranky Recital

A few years ago, a Mr. C. Chatterbox, upon reading a post on my attempt at learning to play guitar, requested a sample of my chops (That’s what we musicians call playing).  I responded that will happen when pigs fly. 
Most music students have to periodically play in front of a friendly audience.  The dreaded, for most, recital.  The recital gives the student something to practice, and gives him the experience of performing for others.  The Recital usually makes a student a better player or it has them quit playing altogether.
Sixty-five years ago, a young cranky piano student was preparing for The Recital.  This recital was going to be broadcast live over the radio to probably 16 listeners.  The thought of The Recital did not make me a better player, it made me quit piano lessons.  I skipped my lessons and refused to play.  There may have been a spanking involved, but I held my ground.
So now I have decided to not chicken out and I will have my own Recital on this blog.  I was probably no less nervous for this attempt than I was when I backed out 65 years ago.  Sixty-five years ago the performance was to have been the one base chord three finger melody of the classic, “From A Wigwam.”  This song has probably since been renamed, “Native American Song.”
Apparently pigs can fly.
For this recital, I have chosen a blue grass piece, “Under The Double Eagle.”  Most of the pieces I play are basically accompaniment for singing.  I decided to spare any listeners the pain of my voice.  This blue grass piece should be played with a flat pick, but Cranky don’t play with no pick.
This is dedicated to the wonderful Lo of the blog "It's Always Something." Several years ago, at the advanced age of "older than me" Lo allowed us to hear her singing voice.


http://loisstearns.blogspot.com/  
I fear Lo is no longer with us, if she is reading but just not posting anymore, this is for you Lo.
If you dare, sit back, hit play, and lose 58 seconds of your life.
Be nice.




video

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WHAT WAS THAT?

WHAT WAS THAT?
I am a stealth bird watcher.  I’m not an expert, and I don’t go on excursions or keep track of varieties I have seen, but I do keep my eye open.  My mom always loved birds, I learned to appreciate the birds from her.  We always had a backyard feeder and we could identify the usual suspects.  For anything new we relied on a book, actually two books, one was strictly sea birds “Birds of North America.”

If a new bird flew into view, which was not often, we both always got excited and ran to the book.
“How big?  What were the colors? What kind of beak? Topnotch?”
With our collected memory and help of the book we would identify the new avian.  We also kept our eyes peeled for other varieties we knew from the book but had never seen. 
Apparently, I am not the only stealth bird watcher around.  On a fishing trip one year, Frog almost drove off a cliff as Catfish and I were sure we had spotted a scarlet tanager.  We followed that bird around for fifteen minutes.  That’s fifteen minutes of no fishing which is a big sacrifice for Catfish.
Last week during the big winter storm, I peered out the door to see if the walk and driveway had been shoveled yet.  In a tree, not far away, was an unusual brown blob.  If not for the white background I would not have even noticed it.
“What is that?” I asked myself; and then it moved a little.
It was a bird.  A large bird for this suburban area.  Not as big as the red tail hawks I often see around the golf course (all large hawks are red tail hawks to me, just sounds better than “a big hawk”) but way larger than our usual song birds and even bigger than a crow.  I opened the door for a closer look and he took off and did not return.
These days I don’t run to “Birds of North America,” I run to the internet.  I found a small hawk that does reside in New Jersey.  They are about 12  inches tall, about the size of what I saw and the colors could be right. 
I’m calling it a sharped-skin hawk, though it could also have been a Cooper's Hawk.  Apparently, they both hang around suburban areas, often picking off the song birds that are attracted to back yard feeders.
If I still put out a feeder, I would be feeling bad about chumming for sharped-skin hawks with song birds, but I have to say it was one beautiful bird.
It’s been a few days, and I’m still excited.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why I can’t Be Left Alone

Why I can’t Be Left Alone
Mrs. C has been away on business. She is manager of a ballroom dance studio and it is having a big four-day competition in Connecticut, which means she has been away for five days…she left early to avoid a big storm.

I have been a bachelor for all that time.  The first day I lived the bachelor life.  Watched TV, practiced guitar, went to the gym, grilled a steak (it was too cold for a cigar) and had some scotch and even a little wine.  Being a bachelor is nice.  I enjoyed it for a day.  From then on I missed Mrs. C. 
Shhhhh, don’t let her know.
So, now I was all by myself, cooking and eating alone was not such a big deal, getting a little buzz was not all that great, and sleeping alone was weird.  I had no one to tease and have my nipples twisted.  No one to hide deserts under a towel.  No one to explain what was happening on TV, and I had too much time to do stupid stuff.
What stupid stuff? 
Grooming.
Why is grooming stupid? 
Well, I hate having Brezhnev eyebrows.  You know those overgrown bushy things on the 1970’s Russian Premier.  I trim mine from time to time with scissors and a comb. 
Well now I was all alone, and I thought, “Why use scissors, I have a special razor for trimming my beard, why not also use it to trim my eye brows?”
Mrs. C would have said “Don’t do it!”
Mrs. C was not here to say “Don’t do it!”
I did it.
So now one brow is kinda shaved real funny.  It will grow back, but for the next few days I will have to adjust my glasses, and angle my head in just such a way that the shaved eye brow will not be too obvious.
Mrs. C is going to give me the business for this mistake.
I say it is her fault. 
She shouldn’t leave me alone!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

DUDE I CAN DO THAT

DUDE I CAN DO THAT
Thus cranky re-run is from March 2013
There are certain things that every young man thinks he can do and do really well.  Experience should tell most people that if you haven’t tried something or if you only tried something a few times you will probably not be very good at it.   This fact of life is true for all but several areas.  There are some things that for some reason every dude under the age of 28 thinks they can do really well.

There is something manly or macho about these events that young men will never admit they cannot do them well.  All young dudes think they can:

Hold their liquor – You will never hear a twenty year old dude say, “Better water that down a bit, I can’t hold my liquor.” 

The truth is, most young men cannot hold their liquor and they don’t know how to drink.  The average college age kid cannot drink fast enough.  He is in a hurry to get loaded.  The result is they are sober and then the booze all kicks in at once.  These kids go from sober to bombed in a short time. They experience black-outs and are capable of being incredibly stupid. 

Dude save yourself headaches and pain, do yourself a favor and admityou don’t know how to drink!  When it comes to holding your liquor YOU SUCK!

 Shoot pool – This is a phenomenon for which I have no explanation.  Very few people can really shoot a good game of pool.  A real pool player can do things with a cue ball that are astonishing.  For some reason all young dudes think they can play this game, and a good player can act like he stinks and is really just lucky.  This is why pool is the ultimate hustle game for money.  Give the young shark a few drinks which he will not admit he cannot hold, put some money on the table and a real player will take a young buck for all his bucks.

Dude, you may know the rules, you may have won a few games of eightball, but as a real pool player, YOU SUCK!
  This man will take your money

Play poker – Like pool, poker is very complicated and difficult to master, yet is easy to play, can be macho in its nature and is a game that all young men think they are really good at playing. There are lots of people who take advantage of this fact and they never have to work.

Dude, you may think you can play poker, but as soon as real money hits the table you are going to became very unlucky. Actually it is not luck; dude YOU SUCK!
The odds are this guy is going home with your money

Making Love – The young man has not yet been born who will admit that when it comes to sex they do not have a clue. When it comes to sex it is not just young men, all men think they are experts in bed.

Dude, you thought you could hold your liquor and you ended up hugging the toilet bowl. 

Dude, you thought you could shoot pool and you lost your shirt.

Dude, you pushed all-in and you ended up all-out.

You suck at drinking, you suck at pool, you suck at poker; ten guesses at how good you probably are in bed.

That’s right; same as me…Freaking awesome!
 Picture removed ...(it wasn't pretty)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stupid Headlines 031917

Stupid Headlines 031917
It’s time again for
Research also shows that food is a gateway drug for fat people
STUPID HEADLINE SUNDAY
This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 
______________________
Dick's to Cut Unpopular Brands From Stores   Two words that should never appear in the same sentence.  Actually three words, that branding thing is worrisome too.
Amazon Finds the Cause of Its Outage: A Typo – Crap, now I’m worried…I’m type O!
University launches Biden research and policy institute – This is ridiculous!  The guy prided himself on being an everyday working class “Joe”.  How complicated could he be to need a university institute to research him.
California elementary school bans 'tag' after it got too rough – TAG IS TOO ROUGH? We played kick-ball at recess, and if you forgot to wear a cup, THAT was rough!
Florida neighborhood on alert for escaped cobra – It was last seen slithering south on Elm Street.
MUIRFIELD GOLF CLUB VOTES TO ADMIT WOMEN FOR THE 1ST TIME IN ITS HISTORY – They can’t play on the course, but the members did finally admit that there are women.
Substitute allegedly brought boxed wine to school, vomited in class – Perhaps you can’t prove she had boxed wine, but how do you allegedly vomit in class?  There had to be witnesses.
Jared Fogle’s prison attacker regrets nothing – As despicable as that child molesting scumbag is, there is no excuse for attacking him.  That prisoner ought to go to jail.  Oh, wait! 
Saudi woman who faced death threats for removing hijab could get lashed instead – And I thought not allowing kids to play tag was unreasonable.
Woman drives vehicle through jail lobby doors – A good way to get In-car- serrated.
Engineer Creates Sex Robot That Needs To Be Romanced First – Hell, might as well date a real woman!
_____________________________________
And the feel-good story of the week:
McDonald’s Employee Pedro Viloria Jumps Through Drive-Thru Window To Save Police Officer’s Life - Believe it or not, this week’s Feel-good story is from (drum roll) FLORIDA!!
________________________________________________
Come Back Next Week For More
STUPID HEADLINE SUNDAY

Friday, March 17, 2017

Politics and Social Media


Politics and Social Media

A cranky opinion for

CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY

The following is the opinion of a cranky old man based on experience.  Opposing opinions are welcome, but please, no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid-head.

I enjoy talking politics, I really do.  Not just with people who agree with me, I enjoy the exchange of ideas and opinions.  I learn from these discussions.  I don’t often change my opinion, but I learn.  I learn facts, and different issues, but mostly I learn about people who think differently than I.  It is good to get a different perspective on issues.  In general I think I am respectful, I try to be, I try not to name call, I try to listen.  I probably fail from time to time.

I have learned that social media is not the place for these conversations.  Email, blogs, twitter, Facebook and any others, do not allow for voice inflections, facial expressions, tone of voice or body language.  This leads to misunderstanding and that leads to anger.  I have learned this, but I still occasionally get involved.  I am trying to wean myself of all social media politics.

I have stopped blogging on politics, except last week I slipped only slightly and was not happy with the result.  So, no more on this blog.  I will read political blogs from time to time, but I probably will not comment.

I don’t twitter, and learned long ago to be careful what you say on an email, so Facebook is my last area of concern.  I will try to not make political comments, I will try and not respond to political posts, I activate the “Don’t See” on every political source that I hits my page regardless of the affiliation. 

I have also simply unfollowed those whose posts or comments rile me up.  I have unfollowed several friends, and even some relatives including a son.  The unfollow should not be interpreted as not wanting to be friends, it is simply a means of avoiding conflict on subjects without hurting any feelings.  For instance, I want my son to feel free to voice his political opinions without getting into an internet battle with his father.  When we are together, I would enjoy such a discussion, however, social media is not the place.  

Facebook says you can unfollow without un-friending and therefore offending a friend.  Apparently, this is not true.  Recently I unfollowed a friend’s wife as her comments seemed a little personally aggressive to me.  No hard feelings, I just thought it better to avoid such discourse with this person…a very nice person by the way.  It is not the person, it is the medium.  Somehow, they could tell I unfollowed and interpreted it as un-friended (what a complicated world).

My friend was very upset. He told me he was disgusted with my slanted rants and I was called infantile.  This is a person I worked with for years, we bowled together on the same team for years.  Not necessarily a close friend, but a good friend.  I know if we had any disagreement in person it would have never come to name calling, I have too much respect for him and I think it was mutual, however this social media thing is a different animal.  So, it cost me a friend, something I do not take lightly, but it is a lesson learned.

That’s it; no more politics on social media. 

For my blogging and Facebook friends, do not take offense.  I’m sure that face to face we could have very productive discussions even with an Oregon artist or a fish loving Montana doctor.  If I slip up, please feel free to call me on it.

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

TAXES


TAXES
a cranky rant

Begin rant.

I just finished this year’s taxes.  Well, the accountant finished.  I had to pay, but then realized we missed a credit.  We already sent in a check and now have filed an adjustment.  Nothing is easy.  The credit was missed because, well never mind, just let’s say it was not out of carelessness or ignorance or error…it’s complicated.

I only use an accountant because I am lazy, and because I years ago I made an error doing my own taxes.  The relentlessly bitchy ex-wife beat the crap out of me for it every year.  I still don’t believe I really made an error, but the state of New York disagreed and they seem to have the last word.  Anyway, it didn’t really cost me anything (they waved interest and penalty) but because we had to pay two years after the fact, the relentlessly bitchy ex-wife considered it an added expense that was due to my incompetence.

I have recently realized that I no longer have a relentlessly bitchy ex-wife to worry about.  As a matter of fact, Mrs. C is good with numbers, actually enjoys numbers and used to do her own taxes.  Next year, we will work together and do our own taxes to save the accountant fee.

There is no reason for me to be afraid of filing our taxes.  They are more complicated than a short form, but with past filings as a guide and Mrs. C by my side, or vice versa, there is no reason to pay an accountant.

People are too afraid of doing their taxes.  There is so much news about how taxes should be simplified and of the mountains of paper required to file, that too many people these days pay to have their taxes done.  They take their information to H. R. Crock, or that Turbo thing, and then brag about how they get a refund, when they could get the same refund themselves by taking the same 15 minutes that H.R. Crock takes to file for them and they could save the fee.

Ninety percent of the country can file with the short form. 

1.     Put your salary income on line one. (From your W2 form)

2.     Taxable interest earned if over $1500 (zero for most)

3.     Unemployment compensation (zero for most)

4.     Add lines 1,2 and 3 to get your total taxable income for line 4.

5.     Personal exemptions if mom or dad not claiming you (follow instructions, they are very simple.) $10,350 if single, $20,700 if filing joint.

6.    Subtract line 5 from line 4.  If line 5 is larger enter “0”. 

7.    Enter tax withheld (from your W-2 form.)

8.    Lines 8a, 8b, are for tax credits you probably are not entitled to, but check instructions just to be sure.

9.    Line 7 plus 8a…pretty much just line 7 unless you are entitled to earned income credit.  

10.                       Tax owed. Use tax table and the amount on line 6.  If zero just enter zero.

11.                       Heath care, if you have no coverage…see instructions

12.                       Tax owed.  Add line 10 and 11…this is going to be zero for most people.

13.                       If line 9 is larger than 12 enter that amount for you REFUND!!

14.                       If 12 is larger than 9, you must pay that amount.

If line 9 is greater than line 12 (for most people it is, unless you claimed too many exemptions during the year) that is the amount you will get as a rebate because you overpaid during the year.

If you simply fill in line by line this is not as complicated as it seems at first glance.

If your income and deductions are beyond a short form filing, you should be intelligent enough to do you own taxes, however if you want the luxury of having someone do it for you as I have for some years now, I do not judge.

It boggles my mind how so many people pay up to $150 or more (short form filers) to have someone else do a few simple addition and subtractions. 

They teach so much useless stuff in school, art, phys-ed, music, Latin, Shop, trigonometry, Shakespeare, (just kidding these are all worthwhile subjects…except Latin) why can’t they spend one hour explaining how the Income Tax system works, what exemption are, and how to process a short form? They could even spend another hour demonstrating how to file a relatively simple long form.

End of rant.


I have to share this:

My daughter's post about what was a pretty rough time in our family; I would hate reading it because of that, but she writes so well that pride overcomes the sorrow.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Licky-Lips


Licky-Lips

I think everyone has experienced meeting an older relative or neighbor who you haven’t seen since you were about ten-years old. 

“Oh my, you’re so big, I remember when you were only so high.”

Every time that happened I always thought, “No shit Sherlock, what did you think, I wasn’t going to grow?”  One time My Great Aunt who was about 5’ nothing said this to me.  “I remember when you were only this tall” (holding her hand to her waist).

I quickly responded, “Well I remember you when you were this tall” (holding my hand above my head).”

As an old codger, I find myself either saying the same stupid thing or at least thinking it whenever I see one of my son’s old friends on Facebook.

A few years ago, I ran into an old childhood friend of my sons at my bowling league.  I recognized the name on the scoreboard, but would never have recognized the person.  This once kid, now full-grown man, was about 6’2”, his large muscular body was covered with tattoos, he had a shaved head and in general was someone you would not want to insult after dark on a deserted sidewalk.

The name was the same as a friend of my sons who we used to call Licky-Lips (not to his face, what kind of monster do you think I am?).  That derogatory name was due to his nervous habit of licking his lips which were forever chapped as a result.  Licky-Lips lived across the street.  I never met his parents, they were a bit strange and I don’t think Licky-Lips had an easy childhood. 

When he came to our house he snacked like he had not been fed in days.  In the middle of a heavy snowstorm we would see him playing in the garage or outside, and it seemed as if he was not there by choice.  He was, as many children with questionable upbringing usually are, a pain in the ass.  He craved attention.

One day Licky-Lips took my son’s shoe and threw it over a fence.  My son socked him in the mouth, picked up his shoe and came home without saying anything.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the door.  A very large imposing younger man was at the door with Licky-Lips wanting to talk.  It was Licky-Lips’s half-brother, who I believe was a State Trooper.

“Your son punched my brother in the mouth.” Licky-Lips’s lip was punctured by his tooth and with his mouth closed, he was blowing blood through the hole.

“Matt!” My son came to the door.  “Why did you punch Bobby in the face?”

“He threw my shoe over the fence” (and he is a pain in the ass).

“That is no excuse!  Bobby is your friend and you never hit a friend, you say you’re sorry!”

My son apologized and that was the end of that.  Bobby and his brother went home.  When they were gone, I told my son, 

“That kid is pain in the ass, I’m glad you socked him, but don’t do it again.”

Fast forward 25 years, and Licky-Lips came over to me at the bowling alley.  “Are you Matt’s dad? I think I used to live across the street from you.”

“Bobby? Yeah, how are you doing?  I remember you when you were this tall!” (there was no mention of chapped lips or the punch in the mouth.)

Licky-Lips was doing fine.  He had a son.  He was a biker who rode to the bowling alleys on a motorcycle, even in the rain.  I heard he may have had some trouble with the law, but that was in the past.  He was also a damn good bowler. 

Yes, Bobby was all grown up.  I saw him every week that bowling season and talked to him often.  He had survived his difficult childhood and I found him to be a very nice, if a bit scary, guy. 

I don’t think it would have been wise to call him Licky-Lips.