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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The First Kill

The First Kill
I am a non-violent person.  I do not like guns, I do not like hunting.  Responsible people can own guns, that is fine with me.  If you are a hunter, it is fine with me.  I do not like guns and I do not care to hunt…you probably do not like golf, as long as you do not hunt golfers, it is fine with me.
Anyway, though I do not like guns and I do not like hunting, I also do not like flies or other in-the-air, in-the-house insects. 
The other day while picking up some medication at the Rite-Aid, I was browsing through the as-seen-on-TV section and I saw something I have not seen on TV.  An electric fly swatter (EFS)!
You read that right, an ELECTRIC FLY SWATTER!
This thing is like a small tennis racket with layers of interlaced wires.  The wires are charged with two AA batteries.  When the in-the-air insect hits the charged wires, the claim is they will meet a quick electrocution demise. 
Why is this better that an old fashion swatter (OFFS)?
It is difficult to nail a fly in the air with an OFFS.  If you do nail one, it only stuns it and you have to find it on the ground and finish him quickly.  When you smash a fly with the OFFS, it leaves a squishy mess where the kill was made.
If it works, the EFS would be more effective and cleaner, not to mention the extra thrill of zapping a pest.  It occurred to me the EFS might be particularly effective on fruit flies which are a nuisance in the fall.  Fruit flies never seem to land and stay still.  They are impossible to smack in the air, kind of like trying to hit a knuckleball with a whiffle-bat.
I bought it…six bucks, and brought it to our shore rental where flies are often a problem.
When my grandson Cole saw it, he had many questions.  I explained how it was supposed to work, but that we would need a fly to test it on.  Eight-year-olds don’t wait for a fly to test an EFS, they test it themselves with their fingers.
EEOWWW! It works!  Sparks flew and the EFS was dropped.   
I explained that you should not touch it when the button is pushed.  I then demonstrated how if the button was not pushed you would not get a shock.
EEOWWW! No sparks flew, but apparently the charge does not disappear as soon as the button is un-pushed.  Of course, an eight-year-old would want to play with this and demonstrate it on his seven-year-old brother.  I had to hide the EFS…up high.
This morning at breakfast we had our first flying intruder.  Out came the swatter.  The fly was then spotted in air.  One quick swipe and ZAP.  It works! 
Sparks flew, fly didn’t, there was no mess,  grandchildren giggled, great success.
I hate flies, but I am kinda hoping to see a few more.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Interesting Observations

Interesting Observations

I seem to be losing interest in this blogging thing, or maybe I’ve just run out of stuff to say.  I refuse to engage in anything political again, so there goes lots of material, and Mrs. C has not called me a Jerk for a while.  

I guess after posting daily for six years you run out of things to say.  It is kind of like marriage.  When Mrs. C and I go out to dinner we often have long periods of silence.  When I start to say something, she already knows what I am going to say. 

Sometimes something will happen and we both just start laughing.

“I know what you were going to say, and I agree, that is funny.”

“I thought you would think so.”

Then we go back to silence.  I think I need more material.

Yesterday I was driving home from dinner with the wife and her sister.  I saw a sight you don’t see every day.

An old dude in a wife-beater tee, was riding a bike and smoking a cigarette while carrying a rather large rocking cow…a rocking horse, except it was a cow.

“There is something I haven’t seen in ages.”

“Was that a rocking cow?”

“I believe it was.  I see old dudes in wife-beater tees riding a bike while smoking a cigarette often, but not sure I’ve ever seen one carrying a large rocking cow!”

“Do you think he stole it?”

“Who would steal a rocking cow?”

“Probably bought it at a garage sale.”

“Someone’s grandchildren are going to be happy…I guess”

All right, that’s it, I may not be posting regularly for a while.  I mean when it gets down to posting about a rocking cow, it might be time for a break…we’ll see.

Just another note.  I no longer see a bazillion hits from Russia and the Ukraine, so apparently that part of the world no longer finds what I have to say to be fascinating.  Recently, however, my email followers have jumped from 50 (which took 6 years to accumulate) to 125.  In 10 days, I have 75 new followers.  All of these new followers have addresses, and most appear to have Hispanic surnames.  Not sure what is happening, but:

Hola mi amigos. 


Monday, June 26, 2017



This cranky re-run is from June 2013 
Last week I was in North Carolina helping my daughter by watching the three NC Crankettes.  I had a good time reacquainting myself with these three.  We made pancakes in the morning, played games, watched “Sponge Bob Squarepants” (my personal favorite) and went to a local pool.

One bonus of any NC visit is I get to see my Editor/Sister-in-law, Judy.  This year the visit included my scientist genius nephew, Jimmy (yes, I still call him Jimmy) his scientist genius wife, Melissa, my PHD niece Alison, 35 first cousins-once-removed and a six month old Yellow Lab “Captain” named in honor of my Brother Jim.
Dinner was beer-can chicken skillfully grilled by my nephew.

The "Three Amigo's"
 We had a great time, solved many of the world’s problems if only anyone would listen to us, and told some old stories.  I love old family stories, and I like to put them on paper, or the internet in hopes they will not be forgotten. 
My niece told this one as an example of youthful exuberance and ambition.  She relates it to her students from time to time when they think her expectations are too high.  I hope I do it justice:
My brother and his family were all skiers, especially when the kids were young.  They were all good skiers.  Good, not great.  My niece, Alison, recalls watching her two brothers, Jimmy and David, at the top of an extremely long steep hill.  The hill was not just steep but was covered with huge moguls (not rich old men, but severe bumps and dips in the hill.)  The hill was very icy which is typical when steep and bumps are involved as the good snow gets pushed off to the side leaving crusty packed icy snow.
Both boys eyed the slope with trepidation when Jimmy suddenly just pushed off and attempted the run.  Heading straight down the icy slope, Jimmy navigated about half of the bumps with skill and dexterity when he caught an edge, flipped to his side, fell and tumbled about 100 yards down the hill ass over teacup until he finally slid to a stop.  Jimmy did not move for what seemed like a minute, and then he slowly pulled himself up, dusted off the snow, and adjusted his hat.  Looking back up the hill, bruised but still intact, Jimmy cupped his hands and yelled to David,
David, of course, followed!

Apparently I got some facts of this story incorrect.  This comment from nephew David sets the record straight.  Please note David’s obvious resentment at being called “good” skiers, they were in fact “Fairly Great” skiers.  Also note I am Joe, not Uncle Joe, I still don’t know what I did to lose my title…anyway still love you guys:
Sorry to miss you Joe. We got there late that night. The quote is correct, though the story is wrong. We were fairly great skiers for that time period (mid-80s), not just good. And it was me, not Jimmy, actually attempting a helicopter (a 360 degree twist) off a particularly large boulder. I landed backwards, which is indeed a bad outcome - though the depth of the powder made it a goggle packing, snow eating wreck rather than a painful one. Despite the absolute muff of the trick, I was convinced it could and should be done (though perhaps not by me). So "It's doable" was born... Alison wasn't there, but my Dad was, and he loved to tell the story, which is likely why she likes to tell the story. She has the details wrong, though not the point.
OK, the facts are now straight, and the saying officially becomes Family Lore.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stupid Headline 062517

Stupid Headline 062517
It’s time again for
This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 
Man gets $870G after doctor removes wrong testicle – A lot of dudes would give their left nut for that much money.
Pennsylvania alarm clock stuck in wall for 13 years goes off every day – Dang, those Pennsylvania clocks have good batteries.
Would-be burglar beaten by resident – Just because the home owner beat the crap out of him does not make him a “would-be burglar,” he is still a burglar, just not a very good one.
We live in a cosmic Void, another study confirms – I know that people in New Jersey drive like they are in a cosmic void.
Colorado teachers are being armed with guns – Just the threat of detention used to be enough when I was a kid.
George Clooney is selling his tequila brand for up to $1 billion – Money, looks, fame, beautiful intelligent wife, twins, and now this!  Can this SOB let go of just a little karma for the rest of us?
Man caught urinating near LA train station found to have cache of weapons – When caught he was mumbling “This is my rifle, this is my gun…”
North Korea calls Trump a 'psychopath,' warns South Korea against following White House – The NoKo leader than spun on the floor in a circle and demanded “Mo, Larry, the cheese!” Nuck, nuck, nuck.
If You’re White and Have Opinions, You’re Now Guilty of ‘Whitesplaining’ – Then I shall keep my opinion of this to my own white self.
Ham Sandwiches Deemed ‘Racist’ By Group, Could Be Banned – In other news, waking up in the morning if you are white is racist.
Porn actress claims Christian school fired her from teaching job because of her sex films – Well…yeah!
This week’s feel-good story:
Miracle Dog Honored for Bringing Owner Out of ComaWhat can I say, I’m a sucker for a good dog story.
Come back again next week for more

Friday, June 23, 2017

Other Way

Other Way

My Dad was a big believer in having his children help out around the house.  We had chores, not many, truth be told, but I did a lot of yard work, and we all always set and cleared the table along with doing an occasional dish.  What I disliked the most was helping Dad when he was working on a project.

“I’m building a cabinet Joe, come help me in the basement.”

Oh I hated hearing that.  I did learn a lot helping pop, but generally helping meant watching him and being at the ready to fetch a tool or hold something steady.  He probably would have let me do more, but I was and am still incompetent with carpentry, plumbing and electrical stuff.

I think my incompetence frustrated him, and his watching me mess up frustrated me.

The thing that stands out to me the most, was my inability to loosen or tighten a screw or nut, or drill a hole.  I think my problem is I am left- handed and have trouble using a right-handed screwdriver or wrench or drill.

“Clockwise to tighten, counter to loosen.”

Yeah, I know but for some reason I have trouble visualizing the clock.  “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.” 

I know, I know, but I still have to stop and think.  Instead of stopping and thinking, it is always faster for me to just turn.

If I turn the wrong way to loosen it is usually immediately apparent and I know to turn the other way…hey, it works for me.  Except that when working with Pop, he would be watching over my shoulder. 

As soon as I turned the screwdriver (almost always the wrong way because of the 50/50/90 rule*) Pop would instruct me,

“Other way!”

When I turned a wrench to tighten a nut,

“Other way!”

Drill a hole, and push the drill button to the right,

“Other way!”

I know this frustrated him as it should be so simple to learn.  What can I tell you, I am mechanically dyslexic.  

Even today, years after Dad has passed, when I turn a screw, work a wrench or drill a hole, I have the same pattern.  Just turn and then adjust if it is not working, and when the screw does not go in, the nut will not loosen, or the drill starts to smoke, I hear a voice in my head.

“Other way!”

*The 50/50/90 rule states that “Any time you need to make a decision where you have a 50/50 chance of making the correct decision, you will be wrong 90% of the time.”

A note on my previous post about a GPS golf gadget that was defective.  I ran the battery to zip, recharged it, and it was an effective reboot.  It now is finding GPS signals again.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Problem With Dicks

My Problem With Dicks

Dick's the sporting goods store that is; I figure the title will get this blog some new visitors.

Last year I purchased a golf GPS gadget.  This gadget tells you how far you are from any hole on any golf course in the country.  It also allows you to measure the distance of any shot.  This information is very helpful when playing a round of golf.

I used it twice, and then somehow, I lost it.  I turned the house upside down but I could not find it.  I reluctantly bought a new one at Dick’s last August.  I bought one in a weird ugly green instead of black so it would be harder to lose. 

It worked fine the few times I played at the end of last year.  In the winter, I found the old GPS gadget.  It was outside, apparently it fell off my golf bag, under a bush.  It had been rained on, snowed on, and endured periods of heat and extreme cold.  It still worked.

Now I have two GPS gadgets, which is fine as sometimes the battery runs down when I need it, so a backup is nice, or I can loan it to another golf buddy.

I used the new GPS gadget last week, it worked fine.  Yesterday it was not working.  It searched for a GPS signal, but would never find it.  Everything else on the gadget worked, but without a GPS signal it was worthless.  I mean it gives me the time and date, but I get that on multiple other sources.

I took the gadget back to Dick’s to see if they would replace it as it was less than a year old and clearly defective.  I’m pretty sure they could send it back to the manufacturer and get their money back.  It is defective, and there is no way for the manufacturer to know when it was sold.  I doubt the manufacturer would argue with Dick’s, one of their biggest retailors.

Dick’s told me that they could not help me unless I had only bought the GPS gadget within six months.  What crap.  I bought it in August, but the only months to play golf in this area (except for some fanatics) would be August, September, October (maybe) April and then May.  I have not had six months use of the gadget. 

It is not that Dick’s could not help me, it is Dick’s won’t help me.  They suggested I contact the manufacturer.  Somehow I think I might have less clout then Dick’s Sporting Store.

Anyway, I still have one toy, I don’t really need a backup.  I’m going to run the battery down on the defective one, maybe it will reset and work again.

I’m not happy, but I’m sure I will get over it and go back to Dick’s again.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Do you like your home?  What is it about homes that your house is never enough?  Your friend’s house is bigger when you are a kid.  Your neighbor’s house is nicer when you are starting out on your own.  When you can afford a bigger house, you always know someone who has a pool, or a second house in the summer. 

Currently we live in a small town-house.  We have no property that is our own.  There are two neighbors attached to our unit and we hear doors closing and music paying often.  It is a nice place, just nothing special.  We do have a pool in the summer, an association community pool, but a pool nonetheless.  We don’t have to cut lawns or trim trees, that is done for us.

You know what? I like this place.  I have lived in much larger houses.  Houses in fancy neighborhoods with big lawns, or a house in the middle of a cute little town, a block from the train and a block from all the stores and restaurants.  I like this house better.  All the units in the development are pretty much the same.  All the yards are the same.  There is no competition to have the largest house or the nicest yard.  The exteriors are all the same.  When every home in your neighborhood is exactly the same, it is easier to be satisfied with your home.

Maybe it is just getting older that makes the difference.  I see a really big house and I think that is very nice, nice place to visit, but too big to live in.  We don’t throw big parties, we have a guest room and an extra bath and a half.  The kitchen is big enough to move around in and we have plenty of room to sit and eat.  Our bedroom is as large as we need and I have a basement cave to escape to.

We could use more space for storage of crap Mrs. C will never use, but cannot toss.  I can keep my Jeep in a garage so I can keep the top down in the summer, but I can’t move it out without having Mrs. C move her car because all the driveways are one lane only.  Otherwise, this place has everything I need.

Home Sweet Home is not spectacular, and at my age I am glad it is not.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Better Stuff?

Better Stuff?

The world today has many fabulous new conveniences and inventions.  We have stuff that we could not even have imagined not that many years ago.  Cell phones, computers, the internet, automatic…Hell, there are just too many things to mention. 

What I will mention, because I am an old dude, is old stuff that has been replaced with new stuff that is not as good as the old stuff…What?

For instance:

Electric mixers.  They are a pain in the ass!  They take up room, are difficult to clean and are heavy and clunky to operate.  I found an old tool that works much better….a whisk!  Imagine; light, mobile, easy to clean and will beat up eggs and mix flour and milk about twice as fast as an electric mixer.

Ice crushers. The ice crusher in my fridge is great, except it sometimes takes too long, and then it spits out crushed ice faster than I want, sometimes making a mess.  I prefer to just wack individual cubes with the back end of a heavy spoon.  Quick, neat, and easy.

TV Remote.  This is a handy item, but it gets lost, the batteries run down and it is hard to read at night.  It is just not as good as having a little brother to stand by the TV to change the channels and adjust the volume with verbal commands.  (Wait, I was the little brother)

Electric carving knife.  These are hard to sharpen and, oh hell they are just stupid; it is easier to use your own carving motion with a good old sharp carving knife.

Electric can opener.  Most containers no longer need a can opener, but if one is needed, the hand operated ones are more convenient and work pretty dang well.

CD recording vs. vinyl records.  I just threw this in because lately purists are claiming a better sound from the old vinyl records.  Personally, I think they are nuts.

Car Headlight Dimmers.   Am I the only one who preferred that dimer button you hit with your foot instead of the lever on the column?

Low flush toilets.  How much water do these things really save, especially when you consider the need to double or even triple flush to properly clear the bowl?

Forced hot air heat.  I guess this heating method is cheaper to install and maintain, but hot water baseboard or even the old radiators provide a much more comfortable heat, unless you prefer a dry nasal passage and sore throat all winter.

Dictionary vs. spell check.  Bad example, the dictionary is a pain in the ass.

That’s it, everything else is terrific!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stupid Headlines 061917

Stupid Headlines 061917
It’s time again for
This week’s stupid headlines and my stupider, sometimes sophomoric comments. 
Jerry Seinfeld explains Kesha snub: 'I'm 63, I don't know every pop star' – I’m 71, I still don’t know who she is, but I sure as hell would have given her a hug, she’s hot!
Bear surprises runners during Colorado race – A new record was set that won’t be broken for a long time.
Hazmat crew called to Disneyland after geese poop on guests – Was the goose poop brown? Sno…white.
Wyoming woman caught shoplifting claims she's studying kleptomania – She’s figured out the stealing part, but she gets an “F” in Getting-away-with-it.
Kansas man who robbed bank to escape wife gets home-confinement sentence – Doesn’t this amount to ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment?
New York City eases severity of laws against public urination, drunkenness – First of all it should only be one crime because 99.9% of public urination is done by drunks.
Skittles Issues All-White Candy for Pride Month and Is Immediately Blasted for Racism – Ah…it is a candy, right? Where are the complaints about Black Jack Gum?
Arizona newborn discovered in Jonas Brothers backpack – Nick is pointing to Joe, Joe is pointing to Kevin, and Kevin claims it is Nick’s.
Florida Woman Steals Nearly $100,000 From City to Help Finance Butt Lift – $100,000…how high can you lift a butt?
China's Great Wall repaired with simple tools – As seen on TV…FLEXSEAL!
Man traded meth for stolen Chrysler – Is that legal?
And the feel-good story of the week:
Former President Jimmy Carter stops to shake every passenger's hand aboard a flight – I don’t care what you may think of him as a President, He is a very nice man, and this is cool!

Sunday, June 18, 2017



Wonderful as he was, Dad had his human side; and now for the rest of the story. 

While he built a wonderful fiberglass boat in our basement, he was caught at the conclusion with a boat that was too big to get up the stairs and out of the house.  We struggled all one morning trying, and then, when Mom announced she was going to the store, a crazed look came into his eye. As soon as she left the house he was at her beautiful oak floors with a rip saw opening a huge hole to the basement.  He fearlessly cut through not only the oak floor, but the supporting beams, and, before the floor collapsed, shored up the beams and framed the cut out section of oak floor to make a trap door.  The boat was then extracted and the trap door fit into place and covered with a rug, all before Mom got back from the store.

But there is more.  After extracting the boat it was towed to Manhasset Bay for its inaugural cruise.  Unfortunately, upon being launched the boat immediately rolled over.  It was top heavy and, while it wouldn’t sink, it wouldn’t stay right side up either.  After a whole year of hard work and the caesarian removal of the boat from the basement you can imagine how distressed Dad was; but not for long.  After a short period of mourning he redesigned the boat, threw out the old molds, built new ones and delivered a new boat by the next racing season.

A cranky aside – Several Years later my brother Jim and I (90% Jim) rebuilt the original boat from dad's design without the extra heavy inner hull.  In our haste the mold was imperfect and we did not have time for a do-over in order to enter the last sailing event of the season.  We fitted out the MOLD with its rough exterior (causing slowing inefficient water flow) and Jim still finished 2nd in a fleet of 45 boats.  That boat was then retired, never to sail again.

 It was that boat, his second effort, which my brother Jim sailed to third in the Internationals and to first in the South Jersey championships and which captured the hearts of all who were longing for fast, safe fiberglass boats and the end of more sanding and varnishing than sailing.

I also remember Dad’s human side as a wonderful, loving father.  He knew that some Friday nights when I was out late while in high school that I had been into some beverages that weren’t appropriate.  But he never said anything----just came into the room early Saturday morning and insisted that I get up and come to the basement to work on those blasted boats.  He would then run the rip saw all day and otherwise make as much noise as possible.  Believe me; you didn’t want a hangover at our house, and a couple Saturday mornings like that were all that were needed to get me to behave a little better on Friday nights.

A Cranky aside – I remember the night outs as being on Saturday and it was on those Sundays that Dad got religion and we went to Church…early.  Either way, the lesson was delivered so well that Mr. Cranky did not have his first hangover until I was in college and far from home.

What I remember most, however, was the night I totaled his new 1959 Ford Galaxy.  It was about 2 months old, and I was in my senior year of high school.  He let me use his new car one night and, while tuning the radio, I looked down and drifted through a stop light into a major thoroughfare and was broadsided.  The car was demolished.  While it was being cleared out of the street a policeman took me to a drug store where, shaking with fear and expecting the wrath of God, I called home.  Dad answered, I told him I had been in an accident and was afraid his new car had been totaled.  He asked was I all right, and when I said yes he said: “Fine, that is all that matters.  I will come pick you up.” 

That is the last thing he said about that accident.

A Cranky aside – The story I remember is that Chris pulled out as soon as the light turned green and got hit by a car running the red light.  Now the truth is out.  I’m guessing Dad had Chris' back and went along with the cover up story.

I hope this gives you some things to remember about Dad as you reminisce about the family later this month.  I miss him, and all the Hagy’s, and wish I could be with you.



Happy Father’s Day to all you great Dads!