Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Wife Spent my Gun Money

Yesterday, The Mrs. woke up angry. That is to say, it was the start to a typical weekend.
Me, CherkyB: "OK, well I'm going outside to put the cap back on the truck."
You see, I take the cap off for the summer cuz that's when I get all my mulch and compost and move all the big stuff around. Autumn comes crashing down quickly here in the foothills, and the leaves on the aspens are beginning to turn already. Plus, if I trade in the truck, I'll want to trade it in with the cap on it, cuz it's a major pain to sell a used cap, especially for a not-ever-all-that-popular truck model.

And, as an added bonus, I can keep my fishing gear in there so's I can sneak off fishing on the days when I need to pick up HannahC at gymnastics at 8:30pm. I've only been fishing three times this year, and the best I've done was a little 5" bluegill.

Now, those of you who know The Mrs. and Me, CherkyB, probably know why I made this announcement on Saturday morning. I've made it a habit of informing The Mrs. of my weekend plans very early on so that, with some luck, she can run out of ideas of ways to keep me from doing what I want to do before I run out of weekend. True to form:
The Mrs.: "Oh. I wouldn't do that yet."

Me, CherkyB: "Why not?"

The Mrs.: "Well, something's been bugging me for a while."

Me, CherkyB: "..."

The Mrs.: "I feel like I'm missing something."

Me, CherkyB: "Your sanity? Your girlish figure? The best years of your life? Your pleasant personality?"

(OK, I didn't actually say that out loud.)

The Mrs.: [waving her arms about in the front entrance way] "You see this wall here. It's sooo ... empty."

The Mrs.: "What it needs is a giant set of shelves. I want some antique shelves. See, now wouldn't it be silly to put the cap on the truck if you're going shopping for something like that? Why, you'd just have to take it right off again. Now why don't you run along and do something else while I make breakfast for everyone but you."
Oh. Dear. God.

I decided to clean the pond filters, as nothing takes your mind off antique shopping faster than does carp crap. Thick, gooey brown carp crap sucked into the skimmer boxes and deposited onto and into the nylon fiber mesh pad filters.

While the back pond was getting topped off by the hose, I called The Mrs. from my cell to launch evasive maneuvers:
Me, CherkyB: "Have you been pricing these things?"

The Mrs.: "No."

Me, CherkyB: "Don't you think we should stop in at American Furniture Warehouse to see what a brand new set of shelves costs so, you know, we don't pay too much?"

The Mrs.: "Yeah. That's a good idea."

Me, CherkyB: "OK. The thing is, American Furniture Warehouse is kinda in the opposite direction from the antique stores. I don't know if we'll have time for both."

The Mrs.: "You know, the furniture there will be cheap crap."

Me, CherkyB: "OK. We can go to Ethan Allen, then. It's just about as far away, but in a different direction."

The Mrs.: "The prices there will be outrageous."

Me, CherkyB: "OK, but then we could see the low price and the high price, and we can bracket what we should be paying."

The Mrs.: "It'll be $1000 at AFW and $5000 at Ethan Allen. I already know what they charge."

Me, CherkyB: "How?"

The Mrs.: "I've wanted one for a long time, so I've been following the prices."

Me, CherkyB: "You said you haven't been pricing them."

The Mrs.: "No, I didn't."

Me, CherkyB: "Yes you did. Just a minute ago. I asked, 'Have...'"

The Mrs.: "No, you didn't. Look, I know what they cost. I just want to go to the antique stores. Why are you attacking me? Why can't you ever do what I want?"
So we went to the antique stores.

Now, never having been to the antique stores before, I knew they were on a strip of road that used to be outside the city limits to keep the sales tax low, but that the city annexed last year in order to generate sales tax revenue, which promptly drove about half the businesses out of business because the sudden combination of double the sales tax as well as double the property tax, plus a higher electric rate and water rate kinda cut into the slim margins a lot of the stores along that strip were barely surviving on.

But, anyways, I stopped at the first place. Now, this place turned out to be more of a flea market than an antique store, and they had no giant sets of shelves for sale. But we did manage to load up on chotchkies - I got a pair of old steel nippers for $4.99.

We kept working our way up the strip one shop at a time, hitting both flea markets and antique stores (plus stopping in the feed store for guinnea pig food), when finally in a consignment* antique store, The Mrs. stumbled across an Amish step-front cabinet from, according to the tag, 1870. It was originally marked at $2500, but the price had been cut in half. The Mrs. talked to the owner of the store, and he said that it had been in the shop a while and the lady who owned it had been cutting the price to try to get rid of it. He thought we could get it for $1000.

* (Let me explain what I mean by consignment antique shop here. It was a big, giant building where various antique dealers each had an area where they exhibited their stuff with their own price tags on it. The shop keeper would call them if you made an offer lower than the price marked to see if they'd take it. So, it wasn't like a bunch of people selling their old stuff. It was all professional sellers, just none of them owned the shop.)

We kept looking, but The Mrs. had fallen in love. I did manage to drag her to Woodley's Furniture, which was across the street, to price new ones, and they had a really nice floor model that was similar for $2100. But, of course, it didn't have the original wavy glass, the hand-cut dovetailing, or the hand-made nails. So we went back to the shop and made an offer of $1000. He called her and left messages on her home and cell, but she didn't answer.

We went home.

The moment we walked in the door, the phone rang with an $1100 counter-offer. Sold.

However, this thing looked big and heavy. I didn't want to pick it up myself, as The Mrs. has a bad back and most of my friends are spindly engineers. So the store owner put us in touch with Leon. Leon and his nephew brought us our furniture this morning and set it up in the entrance way for $75.

The Mrs. cleaned it all up with orange oil, put a table runner over the top, and then put decorative junk on it. The basket of yarn we got at the first flea market for $6 (well, the basket, not the yarn), and we grew the decorative gourds in our garden this year. They were about the only thing to survive the hail storm.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I can't teach you to be a man

Or, Poor CherkyB.

The other day, I was chatting with one of my co-workers. He was trying to convince me to buy from him at a rock-bottom price a Remington R-15 Predator that he accidentally bought with a low-ball bid on GunBroker when he turned out to be the only bidder. But he also won another bid on the same gun in a different auction. So he accidentally had two of them.

I was 'splainin' to him how it was that I would have a hard time spending that kind of money on another gun given that I have still not even gotten a chance to shoot the last gun I bought. And then he was 'splainin' to me about how his wife knows better than to question his gun purchases and how it sounded to him like I, "just need to go home and put your foot down."

I chuckled, saying how he clearly didn't know how things worked in my house. And that's when he threw up his hands, exclaimed, "I can't teach you to be a man," and then stormed off.

So I delicately broached the subject with The Mrs. this weekend. What I got was a 20 minute tirade about how The Childrens have all outgrown their violas, and she doesn't like their bows either, and they're going to need thousands of dollars in new instruments, plus the piano has needed tuning ever since we moved, and how could I possibly spend that kind of money (despite being rock-bottom pricing) on a gun I'd never shoot when the kids needed instruments they'd never play?

Well, honestly, I feel like now I should buy it not just because Obama doesn't want me to own it, but also because The Mrs. doesn't. Before, when it was just Obama that didn't want me to have it, it wasn't quite as compelling a proposition. I mean, how much damage can a one-term president really do?

Maybe, though, I should downgrade to a Lariat from a King Ranch on the new truck. But only the King Ranch gets heated and cooled front seats plus heated rear seats.

Cooled seats. AR-15. Cooled seats. AR-15. Man, it's a hard choice.

I mean, cooled seats. Like, cold air blowing through tiny holes punched in the leather. Just imagine.


I realize it has been a long time since I have blogged. The Mrs. has been a bit under the weather for a while now with some kind of ailment her doctor hasn't been particularly interested in getting to the bottom of, and it has cut into my free time quite substantially. She has a new doctor now (my doctor, in fact), and it looks like it may be trending towards an allergy/chemical sensitivity to something, as she cut a bunch of things out of her diet and improved quite a bit. Possibly sucralose poisoning, which causes a buildup of chlorine in your body that produces a wide range of bizarre, seemingly-unrelated symptoms.

On the pet scene, Hally and Bozo, the giant cockroaches, had babies last week. So we now have like 20 of these things. I'm not as happy about that as I seem.

Also, somehow Trixie, the single crayfish we put in the front pond, has now turned into at least four crayfish. And they nip me every time I try to clean the filter.

I need to get a deep fryer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frances and The Board of Doom

Once upon a time there was a girl named Frances. She was nine years old and was a rather smart girl. But, like many smart girls, she often kept to herself, lost in her own thoughts. This made many of the other kids want to tease her, which Frances did not like at all. And there was one particular thing she did not like most of all - when people made fun of her name.

One fine Wednesday, Frances was on her way to school when two bigger boys turned the corner across the street for her on their way to school - Steve who, well, after the fire ants Steve wasn't so much of an annoyance anymore, and Paulie, who had just moved to town from Brooklyn.

Steve waved.
Steve: "Hi, Frances."

Frances: "Hi, Stevie."

Paulie: [to Steve] "Her name is Frances?"

Steve: "Yes."

Paulie: "Frances? I knew a guy back in the city named Francis. He always made us call him 'Frankie'."

Steve: "Oh. I wouldn't do that. She doesn't like to be called Frankie."

Paulie: "She's a girl, man. You scared of a little girl? What's she gonna do?"

Paulie: [yelling across street] "Yo! Yo! Frankieeee! What choo dooooin'? I ha'n't seen you 'round much, Frankie. You been hiding from your good buddy Paulie?"

Frances: "Please don't call me Frankie. I know you're new here, so maybe you didn't know, but I don't like to be called Frankie. My name is Frances with an 'e'."

Paulie: "OK, Frankie with an 'e'. I'll certainly try to remember that. I hope it won't, you know, slip my mind, Frankie."
Frances looked at Steve, and Steve shrugged his shoulders.

And maybe he smiled. Just a little smile.

Well, all day long, Paulie was bragging about his skills on the skateboard. A regular Z-Boy he was, if you heard him tell it. In fact, at lunch, Frances heard him going on about how he would show all these country bumpkins (Paulie, being from Brooklyn, considered everyone who lived more than 20 miles from there to be a country bumpkin) what a real ripper looks like in action. So they should meet him at the back steps after school to be bathed in awe.

Frances may have smiled. Just a little smile.

Shortly after lunch, Frances asked her science teacher for a hall pass. He said something snarky, "Why? Do you find my class to dull for your big brain?"

"No. I just kind of have some...ummm...female..."

All the color drained from her teacher's face. He quickly tore off a pass and handed it to her.

She chuckled on her way out. Men were so easy. She headed straight out of school to pick up some supplies. Upon returning, she headed to Paulie's locker.

She dug in her backpack and took out an automatic lock pick that, for whatever reason, she had seen at a flea market and decided to buy. In 20 seconds, she had Paulie's locker open (it helped that the school had been built in 1952 and had 1952-vintage locks on the lockers). Her eyes lit up.

She found Paulie's helmet right on top. Digging in her backpack again, she came up with a can of 3M Super 77 and quickly gave a fine coating to the inside of his helmet. Then she was on to her next task in a flash.

She grabbed his skateboard, flipped it over, and removed all the screws holding on the trucks. With a small rat-tail file, she enlarged the holes just enough so that the screws could barely grip. Then, with a little dab of Super 77 on each screw to hold them loosely in place, she re-installed the screws.

Finally, she grabbed his knee pads. "What a big tough gumba. Did your mommy make you bring knee pads?" She took a small pocket knife and cut a slit in the elastic on the bottom. Then, she removed a box of thumbtacks from her backpack. Carefully reaching into the slit, she installed tack after tack into the knee pads, pushing them into the foam pad from the front, but the foam was just thick enough that they did not poke through to the back. She then sealed up the pads with a shot of the Super 77.

She really liked that Super 77. It was something she had stumbled across just by chance. One day, her father had come into the living room with a DVD and had said, "Honey, now that Obama is the president, I think it's time you learned about Illinois Nazis."

Except the movie didn't seem to be about Illinois Nazis. Illinois Nazis seemed to have a small role in a couple of scenes, but mostly the movie has been about a fat guy and a skinny guy who were trying to put a band back together to help someone they called "The Penguin" but who didn't seem to be at all related to The Penguin from Batman.

They had, however, at one point sprayed glue on the accelerator pedal of a pickup truck in order to take out a rival country-western band.

Now that was useful information. She liked her dad, even though he had a strange sense of humor and her mother was mean to him and complained about his drinking. She thought her dad was a genius. And a hell of a nice guy, too.

She closed up the locker and waltzed back to class.

After school, everyone gathered on the lawn outside the back steps. Paulie eventually crashed triumphantly through the door, holding his board above his head like it was the Vince Lombardi Trophy and his last name was Manning. Stevie came walking out behind him with his iPod carrying an iPod Boom Box playing The Beastie Boys "Sabotage".

"Oh, the irony. The delicious irony," smirked Frances.

Paulie blew kisses at the crowd. The he hopped on his board, ollied it into some air for a quick grind down the railing to a picture perfect landing on the concrete sidewalk below.

Or, well, it would have been if his trucks hadn't fallen off, dropping him hard to his knees. Knees that were protected by knee pads that, upon compressing, drove scores of thumbtacks into his kneecaps.

Paulie howled in pain, writhing on the ground. When he recovered a bit, he stood up and tore his helmet off.


Much of his hair went with the helmet, thanks to the Super 77. He saw Steve out of the corner of his eye, and Stevie just shrugged his shoulders.

And maybe he smiled. Just a little smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just how old am I?

And, more to the point, why are my friends so humorless?

So, I was sitting there at Fat Camp sipping a 5 Barrel, like I do every Thursday night. It was regulars Rico, Fletcher, and Me, CherkyB, plus we had The Dudda Crowd, too, for reasons unknown to me. The musical act (a guy named Jesse Turner) did a cover of a Pink Floyd tune. I don't even remember which tune. Probably "Money". Anyways, the bar is packed with college-age kids, and they're drinking their LoneStars and PBRs and dancin' and hollerin' like a bunch of ranch hands who just got paid.

Yeah. They were dancing to a Floyd tune. Really. Never seen anything like it.

Now, being the cranky old bastard that I am, I kinda just stared as I said slowly to myself,
Me, CherkyB: (to self) "Mu&^%r f*&^er, they're dancing to Floyd. Dancing."
Then, with a tone of utter disdain, I turned to my compadres and I muttered,
Me, CherkyB: (with utter disdain) "Look at these kids, dancing to Floyd. They're so young, I bet they don't even know which one's Pink."
And my posse looked at me blankly and blinked a couple times. Then one of them said, "Pink. Yeah," and whipped out his iPhone and started surfing the web.

The depth of my humor is lost on these people.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Frances and the Misty Cloud of Revenge

Once upon a time there was a girl named Frances. She was nine years old and was a rather smart girl. But, like many smart girls, she often kept to herself, lost in her own thoughts. This made many of the other kids want to tease her, which Frances did not like at all. And there was one particular thing she did not like most of all - when people made fun of her name.

One fine Wednesday, Frances was on her way to school when one of the bigger boys, Phil, saw her from across the street. He started to taunt her:
Phil: "Yo, Frankie! How you doin' Frankie?"

Frances: "My name is France-ess, not France-iss! Stop calling me Frankie!" [Perhaps too subtle a distinction to yell across the street...]

Phil: "Whatsa matta Frankie, you don' know your own name?"

Frances: "Stop calling me Frankie!"

Phil: "OK, Frank. Sheesh. Touchy today, aren't we Frank?"
Well, poor Frances had had enough, so she stormed off to school, trying to ignore the continuing stream of babble coming from Phil across the street. By the time she got to school, she was practically in tears. She found she couldn't concentrate in math class even though they were doing geometry - her favorite subject. She asked if she could go see the guidance counselor and was given a hall pass.
Guidance Counselor: "Frances, honey, you look upset. Is there a problem?"

Frances: "Yes. A boy is making fun of me."

GC: "Really? What is he doing?"

Frances: "He's calling me 'Frankie'."

GC: [blank stare]

Frances: "You know, cuz my name is Frances."

GC: [nods, blankly]

Frances: "Cuz, like a boy named Francis would be called Frank or Frankie, but not a girl named Frances."

GC: "Oh! [chuckle] Yes. That's terrible!"

Frances: "Yes. I hate being called a boy's name. I can't get him to stop, and I don't know what to do!"

GC: [Eyes light up - at last a question she's trained to answer!] "You should tell an adult!"

Frances: "Ummm..."

GC: [on a roll now] "Yes. When a bully is teasing you, you should always tell an adult rather than taking matter into your own hands."

Frances: "OK. So what should I do, then?"

GC: [confused, but with conviction] "Tell an adult."

Frances: "Ah. I see. OK, thanks."
Frances returned to class while mentally checking off education major with a minor in sociology from the list of things she might consider studying in college.

But it festered. It festered like an open wound in a pile of week-old ground beef in the hot July sun. But, trying to make the best of things, she resolved to tell an adult.

On the way home, she stopped at Phil's house. She knew he'd still be in detention, so she was hoping to speak to his mother. She rang the doorbell, and a very large woman wearing a Hawaiian print mumu answered.
Frances: "Excuse me. Mrs. Phil's Mom?"

Mrs. Phil's Mom: [in a voice that sounded remarkably like McGruff the Crime Dog, if McGruff had been a 3-pack a day smoker] "Who wants to know?"

Frances: "Well, I go to school with Phil, and he's been making fun of my name. You see, my name is Frances, and he"

MPM: "Frances? OK, pleased to meet ya, Frankie. Now what is this about my little Phil?"

Frances: "Well, that's just it. He's been calling me 'Frankie', and I hate that."

MPM: "Do you now, Frankie? Well, I'd say it's time you grew yourself a set and stopped being such a pussy. Now get the f*&^ off my porch before I sick the dog on you, Frankie."
Well, this whole 'tell an adult' thing was simply not working out as advertised. Frances would need another plan. And she knew just the thing.

That Saturday morning she got up bright and early, stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple cans of sardines, then swung by the hardware store to get a couple humane small animal traps. She then hiked up her favorite trail into the woods to her favorite serenity spot - the one that always smelled faintly like skunk due to the couple of skunks that lived under the old tree stump. It was fall, and Frances knew that this year's litter had grown and moved out already, as she visited her serenity spot a lot, but Maw and Paw skunk would still be hanging around.

She set the two traps on the ground near the stump, then opened each can of sardines and placed it carefully in each trap. Then she sat around for a while thinking serene thoughts in between her meticulous scheming. Finally, she went home for lunch. Revenge is hungry work.

The next day, she returned to her serenity spot with two large tarps. She found a skunk in each trap, and they were kinda not all that happy, excepting that they were also kinda lazing around with their bellies stuffed with sardines (a skunk's favorite food), so they weren't too argumentative when she covered each trap with a tarp and gently carried them home.

She stashed them behind the garage because her hillbilly neighbors always dumped all their dog's poo at the back of their yard, and thus the area behind her own garage always stunk so bad that no one went near it. She thought how the freedom from an HOA always came at some cost. Then she went about her bidness.

At 3am, she got up and silent snuck out - retrieving the skunks as she went. She tossed them some bacon coated with peanut butter (a skunk's second-favorite food) to keep them busy as she hustled off to Phil's house.

She was in luck - Phil's mom had not locked her car for the night. She had noticed that the car was unlocked when she had visited before, and she was very happy not to have to resort to the slim-jim she had gotten on eBay, as she didn't have a lot of practice opening 1976 LeBarons.

Frances eased the skunks into the backseat - enticing them out of the cages with some more peanut butter bacon (skunks, oddly enough, have a diet very similar to Elvis. Fat Elvis.), and then gently closing the door. She then proceeded to the next phase of the plan - she killed the electricity.

This was easy, because the main breaker panel was on the side of the house, and nobody ever locks those. Sure, they come with a little padlock loop, but no one sells a rust-proof padlock that small. So you can lock it and have the padlock rust closed and never be able to open it again, or you can leave it unlocked and hope the neighborhood kids don't play a prank on you.

Wrong choice in this case.

Frances went home and snuck back to bed. She arose a half-hour early, made some excuse about having to look at new stories for the school paper, and headed to school. On the way there, she stopped at a payphone and dialed up Phil's house. She let it ring three times - just enough to wake them up.

Phil: "OMG, Ma! The power is out and the alarm didn't go off. I'm gonna be late!"

MPM: "WTF are you making such a racket for?"

Phil: "Ma, if I'm late one more time, I'll get a week's detention!"

MPM: "Damnit, Phil, your daddy was right. You'da made a better abortion. Git dressed, and I'll drive you to school."
Phil got dressed as fast as he could, and they both ran to the car and jumped in without looking. As his mother started the car, Phil tossed his backpack into the back seat. Then, he looked at his mother and queried, "Do you smell bacon?"

The looked into the back seat and simultaneously let out blood-curdling screams. Screams that were answered with a misty cloud - a misty cloud of revenge.

Needless to say, Phil was late to school.

Monday, August 03, 2009

No, really

A standard air conditioner has two modes of operation. In technical terms, they are called "on" and "off". When an air conditioner is "on", it will remove heat from the air and blow out air that is below the ambient temperature. When an air conditioner is "off", it will not do anything. If the fan is blowing when the air conditioner is "off" (possible in some home a/c setups and in pretty much all automotive applications), the air that is being exhausted will be the same temperature as ambient. An air conditioner that is "off" is indistinguishable from having no air conditioner at all as far as its effect on ambient temperature is concerned.

Now, a thermostat is a device that operates as a fancy on/off switch. You set a temperature (hence the whole "thermo" part of the name, which is derived from a Greek word meaning "heat"), and then the thermostat monitors the ambient temperature, and if it is above that temperature, it turns the air conditioner "on", whereas if it is below that temperature, it turns the air conditioner "off". (Note that for the operation of a heater, "on" and "off" are reversed.) Yes, there are some minor caveats around the above description in that there is general +/-1 or 2 degrees of hysteresis built into the system in order to prevent on/off oscillations that can be damaging to an air conditioner's compressor, but to first order, if it is hotter than the setting, it will turn the air conditioner "on", and it will keep it "on" until is is colder than the setting, at which point it will turn the air conditioner "off".

So, let's say you enter into an environment in which the air conditioner has been off for a while (like a parked car or a house after returning from vacation), and the environment is hotter than you like. You set the thermostat to the temperature you desire and then enable the air conditioner. You notice that it is taking some time to cool off.

Will setting the thermostat lower make an air conditioner cool faster.
I am a man, and thus I know with certainty that the answer is no.
I am a woman, and thus I don't care what the answer is - I'm going to set it all the way down until it's cool enough, and then I'll turn it off.
Free polls from

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A miracle, of sorts

Yes, that's right folks. The hand of God reached out and touched our little house today, rearranging the forces of nature just a bit such that the tiniest window was opened in which the laws of physics could be at least bent, if not outright broken.

Out family room has been cleaned.

I feel like I should say five Hail Marys.