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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The More You Know

The More You Know
Am I the only one who finds the NBC PSA “The more you know” campaign annoying?  

This is where some NBC TV celebrity gets up in your face all serious and then enlightens us with his/her wisdom that without “Knowing” our life would be ruined.

“Hi, this is Matt Lauer; smoking is a bad thing to do.  Cigarette smoke delivers carcinogens and poisons that will shorten your life.  Don’t smoke…the more you know.

Oh thank you NBC!  Who knew? Smoking is not good for you.  I am so glad I watch your lifesaving network.

I am so appreciative of this campaign I am going to do the same on this blog.  I call it “The Don’t be a Jerk” PSA.

“Hi, this is a cranky old man.  Taking a bath and drying your hair at the same time is not a good idea.  If the hair dryer falls into the tub you will friggin die…don’t be a jerk.

“Hello, cranky old man here, playing Russian roulette may seem like an adrenalin rush, but there is a one in six chance of blowing your brains out…don’t be a jerk.

“Good evening, this is Cranky, do you know that shooting heroin directly into your veins will make you forget your problems.  It will, but eventually you will become addicted and you will steal money and prostitute yourself just to get a fix and feel normal…don’t be a jerk.

This is just a short list of Cranky Old Man PSA’s.  Keep coming back to this blog; you may just get information that will save your life.

The more you know!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Go-Karts and Doodlebugs - a cranky re-run

Go-Karts and Doodlebugs
This re-run from March 2013 was popular with us old folks.  If you are up for a little nostalgia...enjoy!

I watched an episode of “Leave it to Beaver” today that I’d never seen before.  This is my favorite old TV show as it captures life in the 50’s that many people today would not believe existed.  These were times of six year olds roaming around town without parents knowing where they were.  These were days of stickball and touch football in the streets.  These were days of sex education taught by older kids and finding out that girls could get pregnant if you both used the same tooth brush.

In the 50’s mom vacuumed in a dress and had her hair done once a week at the Beauty Parlor.  Dad ate dinner in his suit and tie, and the children ate whatever was put on their plate. 

There was lots of bad stuff in the fifties.  People of color were treated as less than equal and faced fire hoses, dogs, and cattle prods if they tried to change the system.  Women had few opportunities other than teaching or secretarial work if they chose to not be a housewife.  Gay people did not exist…well not in the open anyway.  Instead of gay people there were spinsters and confirmed bachelors.

“Leave it to Beaver" only showed the fun side of the fifties.  It was all about carefree young boys growing up, getting in trouble and learning life lessons through experiences that today’s children learn in a more structured sterile environment.

Today’s episode was “The Beaver” getting in trouble for driving his home- built “Go Kart” in the street.  Farfetched?  My two older brothers built a similar vehicle when they were fourteen and twelve.  Their Go-Kart consisted of an old lawnmower engine, some boards, and wheels from a wagon.  It was steered with your feet turning the front axle.
This “Go Kart” traveled at about 20 mph.  My brothers did not drive it on the sneak; they were proudly watched by my dad who did far crazier things in his youth. 

When we moved back east from California, we did not bring the go kart.  Instead my brothers bought a small motor scooter called a “Doodlebug.”  No helmet, no license, no problem.   They sold it years later to my cousin.
We had lots of vehicles in those days, most were homemade.  A board and some roller-skates made a skateboard.  They did not turn very well, but most of the fun was in the building.


My friends and I once built a “Sail Car.”  It was basically a go kart powered by a sail hung from the mast of an old sail boat.  It worked, but was not very practical on streets which did not want to go in the same direction that the wind would allow the car to travel.

Fort building and tree houses were popular even into the eighties.  My son and his friend Ray built a fort in Ray's back yard from wood scraps and nails they “borrowed” from a construction site.
Today, parents do not allow such foolish activities from their boys.  This is probably a good idea, as there were lots of accidents in the past.  Kids crashed their cars, skateboards and sail cars, and were hurt.  Some tree houses were constructed poorly and children fell out.  A little boy around the block from us was killed playing “chicken” with his brother who was on a moped when he leaped in the same direction as his brother turned.

We did unsafe stupid things as boys back in the day, but we kept busy.  We didn’t do drugs or alcohol, we didn’t shoplift (nothing big anyway); we stayed out of trouble…most times.

What is my point you ask?  I have no point.  I merely got wrapped up in an old “Leave it to Beaver” episode and just had to wax nostalgically.

Does every post have to have a point?

Sunday, March 29, 2015


It is time once again for
And this is why I'm a dog person.

This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments.

One headline may be fake.  Guess the fake and win a mention and a WHOOP-TEE-DOO.  None of the above may be a correct answer.

Comment moderation is on for one day.


Kim K. Says spinach wrap helps plump her butt – She’s plump in the sittish cause she wraps up in spinach she’s Kim K the big can ma’am.

Jennifer Aniston admits she likes having some sweat in her hair – Depending whose sweat it is of course.

New Zealand 'Bachelor' contestant farts in front of suitor – As long as she is on this journey for the right reasons I think he could see himself with this person for the rest of his life; time to clear the air and give her a rose. (The six readers who watch ‘The Bachelor’ will get this)

North Carolina man free to stand naked in home’s doorway, police say – Police also say neighbors are free to point, laugh and call him ‘needle dick.’

Lawmaker wants all students to learn cursive handwriting by the end of third grade – What? Teaching third graders to swear! That is just terrible…huh…that’s not cursing, it’s script or longhand.  Well that’s different, hell; I had to learn Latin, everyone should have to learn a few worthless things in school too…never mind.

Arkansas judge in serious condition after pet zebra attack – Judge claimed he thought the horse was safe because “It was behind bars.”

George Zimmerman blames Obama for racial divide – Well who is more qualified to offer such an opinion than George Zimmerman?  Clearly there were no racial issues in this country before President Obama!

Basketball player can use ‘F-word’ last name – But only when being announced for committing a foul.

Bengals tackle Devon Still announces daughter’s cancer in remission – We interrupt these stupid headlines with a nice story.

Bill prohibiting federal workers from watching porn at work – Sure, now that he is no longer President, he wants this stopped!

Naked Paint Parties Prompt Church's Loss of Tax-Exempt Status – It was just one party after a little too much communion wine.

Dem resolution warns global warming could force women into prostitution – It could also cause men to lose their left nut…well it could!


Last week’s fake was:

Melting snow-statue of “Mt. Rushmore” on Vermont mans front yard now resembles Obama  It is for sale on E-bay, but you have to get your bid in quick.

The winners are:

I wish it was the Israel one, but I'll go for melting snow-statue of “Mt. Rushmore”!!

Akways tough to fool Fran! Say hello @ always funny...she is called fishducky, what do you expect?

Melting Obama is fake.

I peaked in Jr High also when the #1 song was “Wake Up Little Susie” this Susie is wide awake and blogging @ go visit, good stuff!

I had to flip a coin between the melting snow sculpture of Mt Rushmore resembling Obama and the New Mexico man getting arrested for killing a spider.

The coin fell between the cushions on the couch.

Hmmm, do we give partial credit? Hell no! Go tell Uncle Skip “one guess per customer!” you can find him here @

Melting snow-statue of “Mt. Rushmore” on Vermont mans front yard now resembles Obama is my pick, although that spider one has me scratching my head.

Curses I’ll foil her yet! Funny stuff @ comedyplus!

10 ½ people guessed wrong!

Come back next week for more


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ah Wooden it be Loverly

Ah Wooden it be Loverly
No opinion this Saturday, just a question.
Well it is kind of an opinion.

What makes wooden musical instruments so great?
That sent a lot of people away.  I know there are still a few musicians out there to answer this question.

I ask because the new guitar I bought a month or so ago is not all real wood.  The top is solid Sitka spruce, which means nothing to me, the back, sides, and neck are some sort of synthetic.  It looks like wood, feels like wood and sounds pretty good to me.  The synthetic material is one reason this is a relatively inexpensive guitar.  It is also manufactured in Mexico.  Mexican labor surely keeps the price down, but from what I’ve seen of Mexican labor, I don’t think the quality is anything but high level.

Back to my question, what makes natural wood so good and preferred in the finest instruments, particularly guitars and violins?

Golf clubs used to have wooden heads and wooden shafts.  When metal shafts came out purists claimed they will never have the feel of wood.  When purists got their asses handed to them in tournaments, wooden shafts became antiques and metal became the norm.

Skiers all used wood skis.  When fiberglass skis came out, purists said they could never have the same feel and flex as wood.  Purists were racing down the slopes on fiberglass skis in the very next Olympics.  Wood skis are prized as wall ornaments in ski town bars.

Tennis players held on to their wood rackets for several years claiming once again that the new metal and composite rackets could not match the feel and control of their wooden rackets.  They switched to modern materials when they got their asses handed to them by players using metal and composite rackets.  Wooden rackets are now wall ornaments.

Expert musicians will tell you that nothing sounds as pure and clean as natural wood.  The Stradivarius violin owes its beautiful sound to old hard woods that grew through the little ice age and the grain is tighter than the grain on any wood grown before or since.  Makes sense, I can understand that, but why can’t we manufacture a material that matches or even improves the sound of that ancient hard wood?

Music purists will not shift to manmade materials.  In music there is no sports-like competition where purist musicians get their asses beat by new materials.  They will continue to say that nothing can ever improve on the feel and sound of natural wood.

I disagree. 

We have improved on wood for just about every other product other than maybe furniture.

I have heard fly fisherman say the best rods are made of bamboo.  The few friends I have who are avid fly fisherman own antique bamboo rods.  They love them for their craftsmanship and beauty, but they only fish with composite material rods. 

Want to buy a boat?  Wooden boats are beautiful; their craftsmanship is admirable.  Fiberglass boats are better.

Want to fly across country?  The Howard Hughes-built spruce goose was incredible, but I think I’ll fly planes built out of modern composites thank you very much.

Anyway, my new guitar is made of “fake wood” and I think the material is probably just as good as or better than real wood.  Still, my next guitar will be an upgrade to a top of the line real wood Martin. 

If I can afford it, I want the best, even if the best is not as good as a cheaper guitar. 

Isn’t that the American way? 

Friday, March 27, 2015


Any bird lover who attempts to feed his feathered friends will tell you squirrels are very smart.  Squirrels will always find the feed, and they will always find a way into the feeder. 

Bird lovers hang their feeder off tree limbs; squirrels find a way to slide, leap or climb their way into that feeder.  Feeders are set on poles far from a tree.  The squirrels climb the pole with ease.  Bird lovers grease the pole.  Squirrels climb the pole with ease.  Bird lovers put barriers on the poles, squirrels laugh at the barriers.  Bird lovers put barriers that slip, slide or tip when touched by a squirrel.  The squirrels figure it out on the second or third attempt.

Eventually most bird lovers grudgingly become squirrel lovers or at least squirrel appreciators.  Their skills, their tenacity, their acrobatics become part of the bird watching experience.  Every bird watcher will tell you that squirrels are very smart. 

Then why, I ask, can’t squirrels learn to cross a road?

I almost ran over a squirrel today.  He scampered across the road right in front of me.  He waited to cross until I was in his range and then he shot across.  He could have made it too, but just as he was almost clear of my front wheels, he stopped dead waiting to be stopped dead.  I was too quick for him this time.  I have run over squirrels in the past, I was ready for him to stop and disaster was averted.

So the question is, how is it a creature can be so clever, so inventive, and so skillfully able to circumvent every obstacle imaginable to find his way to an easy meal,  yet he is unable to cross a road?

Apparently the squirrels DNA has adapted to finding food over millions of years .  His existence pretty much demands that the squirrel be good at finding food.  The car and roads, are pretty new on the evolutionary scale.  Except for the last one-hundred years or so, the ability to cross a road has not been much of a factor in the survival of the squirrel species.  From the many carcasses I see along the road, squirrels are not particularly fast learners.

Fortunately for the squirrel many of their other natural predators, particularly in rural heavily road traveled areas, have been decimated, so the car is the squirrels main enemy.  Perhaps after a few more decades of the evolutionary process squirrels will learn that the best way to avoid their new enemy is to scamper like hell, not stop squat and freeze.  The stop, squat and freeze helps them hide from their traditional predators.  This tactic puts them in position to dart in a different direction to avoid capture; it is a very bad defense against several thousand pounds of fast moving steel.

Until new instincts are developed through the survival of the fittest process, it is incumbent on squirrel lovers to be prepared to stop short.*

In the mean time, for us bird lovers, at least the buzzards are thriving.

*Val isn't the only one that can slip in a Seinfeld reference. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Soap Dispenser Dish

The Soap Dispenser Dish
I try hard.  I really do, but Mrs. Cranky is a tough cookie.  I try to follow her rules, even when her rules make it clear that the logic train does not stop at her station.  It is not easy.  I have this thing about stuff making sense. 

Mrs. Cranky and I have differing opinions on the meaning of making sense.

I believe I have already posted on Mrs. C’s penchant for not snapping the cap on the dishwasher soap dispenser.  She prefers to leave it open.  I snap it shut out of force of habit and well I just think that if something has a cap, it should probably be used for the purpose I assume it was designed…covering an opening. 

Mrs. C thinks otherwise.

“I don’t see a need to have to unsnap the cover all the time, and I like to use the residue soap that is inside the cap, and well, just don’t close it!”

All aboard!  “Wait, wait for Mrs. Cranky! Damn!”

OK, so I don’t snap the cap anymore.  I know to choose my battles.

But then:

“Why do you always insist on not placing the soap dispenser on the soap dispenser dish?”

“You mean that thing that is slightly curved and the soap dispenser will not stand upright unless you carefully balance it and when it falls over, and it always falls over, soap gets on the counter because the cap is never snapped closed?”

“Yes!  Use the dish, because when you put it on the counter and not the dish, soap residue from the bottom of the dispenser gets on the counter.”

“No it doesn’t, because I wipe the bottom of the dispenser with a paper towel before I put it down.”

“That’s another thing, you use too many paper towels, and it is wasteful.”

“That is what paper towels are for.”

“You should use a sponge!”

“When you use a sponge it gets moldy and stinky.  Paper towels are for using and tossing, and if you keep changing the subject this is going to turn into a whole nother post.

If you’re going to insist on using the soap dispenser dish then we have to snap the cap on the soap dispenser;  one or the other!”

“Oh, I don’t think so, uncap and dish…both…end of discussion!”

“Jeez, and you call me a jerk.”

“I heard that!”

I try hard. I really do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


One thing that is consistent about late March and early April weather in the northeast is its inconsistency.  Snow is common.  It is usually a wet, sloppy, and not a whole lot of fun snow.  It is often gone in a day.  For some reason, in the spring it will snow even when the temperature on the ground is above freezing.

It can also get really warm.

The warmest I remember was Easter Sunday 1972.  It was April 2, and the temperature rose to above 90 degrees, and this was before global warming. 

On this Easter, my wife and our one year old daughter visited my folks in Maryland.  We returned home to a not so wonderful surprise.  It was hot, but the heat was not the problem, well indirectly I guess it was.  Inside, our home  was crawling with little flying bugs.  They were on the ceiling, they were on the walls.  They were trying to get out. 


This was our first house, we had moved in maybe six months earlier.  In the 1970’s termite inspection was not required on the sale of a home.  If it had been, the inspector would have seen hundreds of mud tunnels that came from the outside, ran under the shingles, and were all over and inside the cement crawl space.

We vacuumed the crawling termites up over and over; they kept coming from the crawl space for an hour.  My wife was quite a trooper and though she was upset, she remained relatively calm.  

The scariest thing was in a powder room on the lower level of this split level home.  There was a termite mud tunnel heading straight up in the air.  It was heading for the toilet which had a wooden seat.  I’m sure this was a coincidence, if not it is pretty scary how persistent these critters can be.

We called an exterminator, and the house was treated for about $300, cheap by today’s standards, a monthly mortgage payment at the time.  As we were living paycheck to paycheck it was rather painful.

The bad news was the termites were in the house structure.  The good news was these “Jersey” termites swarm every two years, and two years is not long enough for them to do any serious structural damage.  The other good news was that the $300 treatment would kill them all.

I did learn a lot for my $300.  I learned that there are termites all over New Jersey.  If you drive a wooden stake in the ground anywhere in New Jersey, termites will find it. I learned they require moisture and must have contact with the ground, which is why they build tunnels.  Sunlight will kill termites.  They swarm on the first warm day of spring with the intent to form new colonies.  Almost all will die before they find suitable soil and wood for sustenance.

The best way to keep termites out of the house is to not allow any wood to be in contact with soil.  Then you should periodically check for mud tunnels outside on your concrete or stone foundation.  The termites will build these mud tunnels to reach the wood in a structure.

It is a plus that in New Jersey; you can no longer sell a house without an exterminator certifying the dwelling is clear of termites or carpenter ants. 

The negative I have found is exterminators will ALWAYS find signs of infestation.  If they so much as see a carpenter ant on the property, or a hunk of termite ridden wood in the yard, they will claim infestation and treat the house for a sizable sum.

There is not a yard in New Jersey that does not at least have a carpenter ant or two crawling around.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Saint Patrick’s Day and an Uncle Skip post made me think of soda bread or I guess more specifically Irish soda bread.

Irish cuisine is not among the best in the world.  Don’t get upset all you Mc’s and O’s, the Irish are wonderful people.  They are wonderful entertainers, poets, story tellers, leaders, and public servants.  They may not be the world’s best chefs.   

When it comes to food, you have to do with what you’ve got.  Ireland was not blessed with wonderful herbs and spices like Asia and Italy.  It does not have wonderful cheeses and wines like France.  Ireland had a lot of potatoes. 

The Irish don’t fry much, they don’t broil much, and they don’t BBQ.  The Irish boil.  They boil until the food has no flavor.  That may be why they enjoy a bit of the drink from time to time.

Perhaps this is also why there are few fine dining restaurants serving Irish style food.  Don’t get me wrong they are King of pub grub, and I do enjoy boiled corned beef, cabbage and potatoes…especially with a nice glass of beer. 

The food from Ireland I enjoy the most is soda bread.

My ex-wives both had a wonderful recipe for soda bread.  Dry, but just enough moisture to hold it together, lovely special flavor, texture, and raisins, smothered with butter…Yum friggin um!

I don’t miss my ex-wives; I do miss their soda bread.

Apparently Irish soda bread was a bit of a secret for some time in this country.  I know when I would bring in a fresh baked loaf to work, most everyone had not heard of soda bread.  Everyone did love it.

One year I had to do without my soda bread. 

Apparently the country caught on to this treat, especially for Saint Patrick’s Day; everyone that is, except grocery stores.  My wife ordered me to go to the store for buttermilk, a prime ingredient to Irish soda bread.  She instructed me to go out and buy this buttermilk on March 16.  I had heard of buttermilk, I had never tasted it and until that day I had no idea who the hell ever bought the stuff.  People who make soda bread buy it.  They especially buy it around St. Pat’s day when they cook their traditional soda bread.

I went to five different supermarkets looking for buttermilk.  At every store I was told they had sold out before noon.  Without buttermilk there could be no soda bread.

Grocery stores learn supply and demand pretty fast.  I suspect they now order an extra supply of buttermilk before Saint Patrick’s Day.  Still, if I want soda bread, I will buy the buttermilk early.

Then again, Mrs. Cranky is only half Irish, and that half does not do soda bread.   

Monday, March 23, 2015

BASEBALL CARDS - a cranky re-run


This cranky re-run is from September 2013
This re-run was inspired by a Suldog re-run    You should all read it, it will bring back memories for a lot of you guys and for the ladies it might give you some insight into what goes on in the fertile mind of a nine year old boy, and by fertile I mean full know.

Did you read it?  Good isn't it.  This is my take on the same subject.


Growing up in the fifties, there was one economic law that every young boy knew only too well; the law of supply and demand.  That economic rule was hammered home very clearly to every boy that collected baseball cards.

In the fifties you could not just go to the store and buy a complete set of every baseball card Topps made for the year, you bought your cards in packs of five.  A pack of cards cost five cents.  Each pack had five cards and a flat piece of bubble gum.  Sometimes we actually chewed the gum, but it was not nearly as good as the roll of six pieces of bazooka you got for a nickel.

Opening the pack to see what cards you got was always exciting.  I lived in Long Island, New York.  If you got a card of any player from any of the three New York Teams, it was a big deal.  I’m guessing that if you lived in St. Louis, New York players were a dime a dozen.  In New York they were rare. 

The rarest yet were the big three, center-fielders Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider.  We gambled for baseball cards by flipping them, first heads up wins, or flinging them against a wall, closest wins.  No one ever used one of the NY center-fielders in a flip or wall game.

We used baseball cards in our bikes to simulate a motor sound.  A clothes pin held the card into the spokes, and the resulting snapping sound was considered very cool.  No one used Mickey, Willie or the Duke in their spokes.

We also traded cards in an attempt to get a full set, or at least get all the players from your favorite team.  Unless you somehow had duplicates of  Mickey, Willie, or the Duke, you would never trade them.  If you had duplicates, they would fetch many cards in trade.

Mickey, Willie and the Duke were in very short supply and the demand was unlimited.  Some cards of other players seemed to be in almost every pack and had zero value except for flipping or jamming in your bicycle spokes.

Two players stick out in my mind.  Virgil “Fire” Trucks was a very successful pitcher.  In 1952 he became only the third pitcher to ever pitch two no-hitters in one season…and yet…Virgil seemed to be in almost every pack.  Bobby Shantz was a left handed pitcher who was the National League MVP in 1952 and yet in 1955 his card was a rare as a blade of grass.

One thing about the law of supply and demand, it made it a thrill when-ever you opened a pack and found one of the rare cards.  It made it exciting every time you tore open a nickel pack with the great anticipation of finding a player with an interlocking NY or a Brooklyn B on their cap.

It is little wonder that cards from the fifties and before can be worth thousands of dollars today.  Many were rare, and they had to survive bicycle spokes, flipping, bends, folds, rubber band dents, and mothers who threw them away to make space while you went off to college.

Kids today get all the cards of all the players of all the teams in one big purchase. 

“Happy Birthday son…baseball cards!  Don’t use them, don’t touch them, file them away in plastic covers.  In thirty years they will be worth a fortune!”

No they won’t dad.  Everyone has them.  You just buy them.  

Simple and easy just like lots of stuff today and everyone saves them untouched and pristine so someday they will be valuable.  But they won’t be valuable because they are in easy supply and the demand will be small.

Demand will be small because today’s young boys will have no pleasant memories of playing with those cards.   

They will never have experienced the thrill of getting lucky enough to find in that little nickel pack a Mickey, a Willie, or a Duke.

It is simple Economics 101; it is the Law of Supply and Demand.