Friday Frivolity: Ouch

Last week I mentioned that I had a lumbar fracture.  Today, three weeks after the fact, I have regained enough of my senses…not to mention reduced narcotics to enable clear thinking…I will try to relate details of how the facture came about.

Before I begin my tale of woe, I’ll back up to provide some back-ground that may or may not be relevant.  Early in January, I was standing during a conversation with Sue and another person.  I wasn’t dizzy or disoriented, but I did teeter a bit forward before taking a step into the triad of people to catch my balance.  Awkward, but not even close to falling.

Then, just the day before my annual, non-specific, physical check-up, I had another minor tilt which Sue witnessed. And, NO, this is not the “Ouch” mentioned in the title of this Frivolity.

Sue usually accompanies me for Doctor appointments.  She claims I don’t always hear what the doctor says. She is usually quite silent—only observing and listening.  However, with my recent non-alcoholic tipsy tendencies, guess what became a high priority for Sue to discuss with my doctor?

Don’t bother to guess! The result of her anxiety, was NOT a Xanax prescription for HER.  Nor did the doctor suggest No-Doze for me.   Bottom line—to keep me off my bottom… the doctor agreed with Sue that I might benefit from some Physical Therapy.

Therefore, I spent the 2nd & 3rd weeks of January being retrained on “Balance” techniques at a place called “Recovery Project.”  The morning after my 5th session, January 24th, I needed to check on Amara’s car tire.

Amara had mentioned that her tire might be damaged, so I was headed out to check on it.  There had been, and still was a misty rain.  I did grab an umbrella to shelter me.  It was not cold enough to even put on a coat. Clad in T-shirt and sweat pants, I was walking to Amara’s car parked in our driveway when I heard a very loud thud.

It was not Amara’s tire exploding. That reverberating thud was my skull contacting the asphalt shortly after passing my fanny going the other way. What I had perceived as a “wet” …it was clearly raining onto my umbrella.  At least until the umbrella was tossed skyward along with my feet.  “Wet” was water on ice now soaking into my sweats. I managed to crawl across the frozen pond, previously mentioned as driveway.  I was headed to ER.

I’m going to bring suit against “Recovery Project” for failure to meet my expectations.  A lot of good it did for me to practice standing on one foot on large sponge.  They should have known that my driveway is not foam padded.

The ER staff at Sparrow Hospital categorically rejected being co-litigant.  So a few wonderful nurses and one doctor with no sense of humor, accomplished blood tests every hour, plugged in an IV, heart monitors, took CT and x-rays of everything but my big toes.  Then they advised me of an L1 compression fracture, as well as C4 & 5 degradation (that’s Cervical, not the crania degradation often questioned by friends).   Though not visible in any pictures, it was also noted that there was aching spasms of back & neck muscles.  Ah, but only abrasions on my noggin and elbow…no breaks. They did agree some bruising of my ego could surface later.

Because I am on blood thinner, bleeding internally was a concern I shared with everyone in ER.  After my CT, I asked the doctor if my grey matter was blood stained. Did I mention he lost his sense of humor around puberty? He didn’t even smirk, but allayed my fear of inter-cranial bleeding. For that news I was extremely relieved.  I still had a massive headache, but there would be no drilling my skull for a blood-letting.

So, for the past three weeks, I have been in my recliner, lounging UNcomfortably in a cinch that would fit a Clydesdale. Okay, so maybe my back brace would only fit snuggly on a pony, but it is nevertheless miserably cumbersome.  A friend of mine characterized that contraption as scaffolding.  Then, purportedly as encouragement, she advised me to “hang in there.”

The very good news is my plight will likely only last 4-6 weeks.  Sue said I didn’t hear that prognosis correctly.  She claims I am under her unilateral control for 4 MORE weeks—until I get a new CT.  THEN hopefully I’ll get a reprieve from my orthopedic surgeon…, that makes it the 8 weeks she heard.  Ouch! I hate it when she’s right.

Friday Frivolity: Tale of Two Tails

Due to a compression fracture in my lumbar region, I am spending a lot of time watching nature outside my front window.  Particularly entertaining is the squirrel feeder.  It is a platform my daughter and her husband crafted to simulate a cafe table and “rustic” chairs.  The table has a spike to skewer a cob of corn on.

The greatest entertainment value comes when two squirrels come to feed at the same time.  That event is enhanced by my imaginative animation.  Such was the case earlier this week when two squirrels were at the feeder.  Okay, so one was at the feeder and one was shouting every possible password for admittance.

The feeder itself is for a single corn cob, mounted upright on a nail.  A cob a day is usually sufficient. Some of the cobs I bought are very short. They do not have enough kernels for a whole “day” of feed, so Sue shucks those cobs onto the ground.

Anyway, the grey squirrel obviously could not come up with the password the red squirrel required.  Red shouted  discouraging words, “Stop yelling at me.  You’ll never get it.  Down there is your lunch.”

“I’m not eating off the ground,” Grey countered.  “Those are the kernels Sue spreads out for the poor rodents.  I’m not a vagrant.”

“Vagrants? You idiot. They are down there because Sue is vertically challenged.  She can’t reach this high.”

“Yeah, sure. Then explain how she got the preferred cob you are seated on, up here.”

“She jumps…which is more than I can say for you.  Why don’t you just slinky your way down there for lunch!”

“Oh, so your hop like a lame rabbit is smoother than my lope?”

“Lope, hop, bound…whatever. Either eat off the ground or be patient until I get my fill.”

“What? You can’t eat all of that corn yourself.”

“True, but yelling back and forth is delaying my lunch. You come back later.”

The gray squirrel tried the old run around the tree—sneak in the back door tactic.  Red did a marvelous 180 pirouette on the cob to easily counter that maneuver. Sneering at Grey,  “That’s an old trick.  You ain’t foolin’ me.”

“You old fool…I just want my share,” Grey complained from the edge of the platform.

For several moments they bobbed and weaved like sparing partners without gloves. Red would lean precariously from the top of the cob screaming “Be gone you miserable rat.”

Grey would attempt a snatch and grab, whilst yelling a retort for the slur on his heritage.  “You’re nothing but an overweight chipmunk.”

“Well, I’m not so fat that I can’t chase you off this tree,” and proceeded to do just that.

What befuddled me, is that during this 10 minute standoff…which included “explitive deletives” that I did not repeat to you…neither squirrel got even one kernel.  I must conclude that rats, regardless of how glorified their fur coat might be, are far more selfish than birds.  But bird chatter at my feeder is a story for another day.

Friday Frivolity: Plastic Candles

Every year at Christmas we light up our front yard with festive décor.  When we do, my heart pangs for my long gone Christmas Candles.  You know…the 1960’s, 4 foot, lighted, red plastic ones with the vibrant orangish-yellow flame.

I had a pair of them once and I dearly miss them.  Actually I had them for 25 years—right up until the first Christmas after I married Sue.  Then they had to go.  Sold as rummage.  I guess Sue’s allergic to plastic candles.  At least every time we drive by a pair glowing in someone’s yard, she starts to gag and convulse; “Oh, no…gulp…they’ve got…cough, cough… those hideous…choke… PLASTIC CANDLES.”

It’s not the candles, though.  I mean, we’ve got candles everywhere in the house.  And not just at Christmas.  All year long she’s got them on tables, counters, bookshelves, ledges, …anywhere flat.  Even in the fireplace.  We don’t burn logs, she lights candles.

And during Advent, candles go on every window sill.  But NONE outside.  That would require really large candles.  Plastic candles.  Nooooope!  Not gonna happen.  No plastic ornamentation in our yard.  A Wire Snowman is just fine.  Foil wrapped packages, velveteen bows, rubber boots stuffed with tinfoil stars and ever-greenery are all acceptable.  Oh, and don’t forget the bubble-wrap stuffed, Styrofoam headed kids on a sled.  But no plastic candles.

So, now as I stand in our drive…forlorn… Our yard gleams with lighted splendor, but I sure miss my plastic candles.  But wait.  What’s that in our living room window.  The glow of 4 candles.  Not four foot red ones, but faded white, clear bulb lit, PLASTIC candles.  I can’t wait to hear Sue’s justification of this double standard.

She said they were something-something-styrene…not plastic.


Friday Frivolity: Fast Recovery

There was most certainly a blur in my vision, not to mention my mind was a bit foggy.  The ceiling was moving as I heard a voice, “How are you doing Mr. Kaiser?”

Regardless of what may seem to you as me lying on the floor in a drunken stupor, I assure you it was drugs, not liquor.  I was waking up following a colonoscopy. And the voice was the “Recovery Nurse”, Joey.*

My brain began to clear enough for me to easily revert to my senses…especially the sense of humor. “Joey, you say?”

“Yes.  Typically a boy’s name, but you got it right.” She was methodically locking my gurney, shining a laser beam into my eyes and checking my IV.

“Well, Joey, you are aware that you just carted me down the hall from a colonoscopy.  I’m also quite certain you know that clear liquids is all the libation I’ve had for 2 days.  I’ve complied with the directive of no meals, snacks, or early trick-or-treating.  For a guy who eats something every two hours, my stomach is not only growling, it seems to be inverting itself up into my throat looking for anything consumable.  Furthermore, I just finished a session with an internal photographer and you wonder how I’m doing?”

No doubt she had heard retorts like this before—mostly intended as complaint.  However, my voice inflections and facial expressions certainly reflected my intended sarcasm. When she smiled brightly, I knew she gathered as much, so I felt comfortable in saying,
“You definitely do not look like any Australian Joey I’ve seen on the Nature Channel.”

“Well, thank you very much.  I think you are quite awake now.  Would you like something?”

“Steak or Lobster would be nice.”

“Ed, stop harassing her.” That was Sue entering my recovery stall. “I can take him out, but cannot make him behave.”

When Joey hopped back into my stall with a Coke, she advised me that they had pumped quite a bit of CO2 into my system so I probably feel a little bloated.  “Don’t try to hold it in. Just let it out.”  Before you get the impression that all men “just let it out”, I opted to try to force the gas back into my stomach and burp quietly.  Do you realize there is a pyloric valve to prevent that from happening.  Pressure anywhere in the lower digestive track pushes equally on a valve that will not open and the wide open…

Oh, was I happy I had not eaten anything in 24 hours.

The Doctor came in to tell Sue and I what he had found.  He admitted that he had removed a rather large polyp which he did not want “scratched at” by abrasive foods.  “No popcorn or nuts for two weeks.”

As he left, I announce my opinion of that proscription, “I don’t like you right now, Doctor.”

Joey continued the Doctor’s discharge instructions…including reiterating his emphasis of no  popcorn.  “I don’t like you either.” I glibly responded. “You’d better give Sue that no-no list.  She is the one who will be in charge of what I should not eat.”

“That’s the way it is supposed to be…women in charge, right?”  Sue and Joey ‘high-fived’ and I knew I had met a formidable repartee foe.

When she finished all the paperwork, Joey attempted to confirm if I was ready to leave.  “Would you like to get dressed now?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  Is it still raining outside?”

“Why?  Are you afraid you might melt?  Sue interjected for me. “Ed would say, ‘melt’ is heat related. Rain might cause ‘dissolving’, but not melting.  However, I would say it’s too cold for him to melt and his sugar content is obviously debatable.”

That I would totally agree with.  I had not had even an M&M in two days. But now, my fast was over. I got dressed then we headed for anything other than popcorn.

* I told Joey that I would be writing this Frivolity involving her and she gave permission to accurately use her name.  This is a true story.  No names have been changed to protect the guilty parties.

Friday Frivolity: Halloween Loot

Probably because Halloween is my birthday, my brother, aka ‘bama Bob, asked if I ever shared my “birthday loot” with him and little brother, Rick. Not only does his question have a subtle inference of un-brotherly selfishness, it also challenged my recollection of what Trick-or-Treat was like 65 years ago.

Let me set the stage for you. Bob is 5 years younger than me and Rick would probably have been dressed as a toddler with rabbit ears the first time all three of us went out into the neighborhood to Trick-or-Treat. Though I cannot recall for certain, I am quite certain mom went with us on that first brothers-three Halloween evening.

I’m sure you can imagine that adding Little Rickie to the trek around the neighborhood slowed us down. Mom emphatically alerted Bob and me; “No, you two cannot take off. We are going as a family this year.”

“Really, mom?”, I foolishly countered. “Dad’s home watching Douglas Edward’s with the News (and Timex watches taking a lickin’ but keep on tickin’). Besides, a walrus moves faster than Rickie. Can’t you carry him?” I guess you know that ill-timed question was met with an unmistakable glare: Do you want to go home right now?

Fortunately, Rick was far too young to understand the stamina required to get a bountiful harvest of treats. He tired quickly. Besides, his treat-container was a plastic pumpkin. You couldn’t even fit a popcorn ball into it. Bobby’s bag was the recipient of all goodies that would not fit into the pumpkin. New rule of Halloween—Never question mom about family inclusive issues.

When Rickie’s pumpkin overflowed with more sugar than he should ingest before Thanksgiving, Bob and I were released from our brotherhood tethers. Neither he nor I insisted on togetherness for our sprints to the best houses. You see, we each had a separate “Halloween Brotherhood”.

We didn’t go around the neighborhood as gangs of kids. Nevertheless, our separate clans of school chums would loudly shout, in passing, of where the Jackpot houses were. Why waste time on porches to get good-for-you fruits, Safe-T-Pops or sticky popcorn balls. Crackerjacks with a prize inside was a high priority stop for me. Nobody was yelling where you could get Hershey Kisses. Hershey Bars…oh, yeah! Houses giving Chicklets, mini-packs of CandyCorn and Dum-Dums were to be skipped to efficiently scramble across lawns to haul in Double-Bubble, jaw breakers and All-day suckers.

Now, to address my brother’s opening question of candy distribution at home. In the interest of “brotherhood”…and Dad, who now was more interested in treats than the newspaper, we would dump the contents of our rope-handled grocery bags on the floor then kneel to paw through the pickings.

Safety Patrol mom searched diligently for “home-made” stuff and opened packaging. “Yes, mother, I know the box of Good&Plenty is open, but I did it. They were good but not really plenty.” Of course mom would answer, “Then Bob can have that one”, pointing to a second box that obviously came from my bag. We didn’t dare fight over the treats or the entire lot would be confiscated. However, I’m not saying we exactly shared equally.

Lest you have already forgotten, it was MY birthday. So, if I happened to dump out anything with nuts or peanut butter, don’t think for a minute I was buying into my mom’s ‘share and share alike’. Oh, sure, I might agree to “one for one” trading. “Here Bob, you can have my 3 boxes of MilkDuds and 2 big lollipops for those 5 measly little Reese’s cups.” He was old enough to do one-for-one math, but too young to do good negotiations. Besides at his age, sugar is sugar.

I cannot say that every smidgen of sweetness was distributed. I seem to remember a dishpan quite full of all the non-prioritized goodies. For quite some time into November, it sat out for easy pickings. Who got most of the loot out of that pan? Let’s just say my hands were bigger than either Bob’s or Rick’s.


Friday Frivolity: Faulty Fall

Last week my brother, Rick, sent me a very nice piece of prose that he wrote.  Within that story, Rick described the magnificent colors on the trees which he could see from his “Front Porch”.

This week I should invite him to come to my house. I’m hoping he will be able to write another heart-warming story about the view from my “Front Yard”…while he is helping me rake leaves.

Last week he could see the glorious hues of fall.  This week all I see are grungy smudges of brown after the fall.  What do you think?  If Rick can find splendor in the tree’s last week, he ought to be able to write Splendor in the Grass Too, this week.

Actually I am only halfheartedly complaining about the hard work of clearing the lawn. I do appreciate the vibrantly dyed leaves on the trees surrounding my home.  The operative word is “on”. “Off” their limbs the leaves seem stained rather than painted. That’s the half of fall I do not look forward to.

I have chosen to stay in Michigan because I honestly enjoy all four seasons.  Certainly there is visual beauty all year round. Unfortunately, observable magnificence is soon-after mitigated by physical exertion.

Freshly fallen snow with drifted sculpturing is a marvel to see.  Snow blowing, in opposition to blowing snow at negative wind-chill, is a task I do not particularly enjoy.

In the Spring, there is always glorious “new life” of sprouting bulb plants. Of course also sprouting are the grass runners I didn’t get out of the lilies when cutting them back last fall.

Ah, yes…Summer eventually arrives. Progressively warming sunshine, …gradually longer days to increase daylight pleasures, …steadily varying beautiful and fragrant blooms, …more and more of everything—including mosquito bites, weeding and lawn-mowing.

Now it’s fall. Yup, it is nice that the scorching heat of August is falling to a more comfortable level.  I suppose most folks don’t actually mind the steadily shortening days.  Now the sun falls below the horizon while we’re still awake enough to enjoy those God-crafted paintings. And, as I began this bit of Frivolity, Fall is fabulous before the fall.

Yup, fall I did while climbing the unstable compost pile to dump a bag of Toro-scrunched leaves. However, I think that was more my fault that the fault of fall.

Before………………………….and……………..After the fall  [about 4’ high]

Friday Frivolity: Dollhouse Sequel

If you happen to be one of the folks who bought my first book…Laughing at Life…then you would be familiar with the “Dollhouse” story.  Well, 20 years later, here’s a sequel.

Sue has done some improvements to the dollhouse over the past 20 years.  Now she has decided to put a lot more concentrated effort into finish it.  Although I have some doubts as to when any particular point her decorating could be considered “finished”, I do know that she is very intent on sweeping improvements the past several weeks.

Of course, you do know that this is a typically scaled dollhouse.  It is not miniature.  But it’s not exactly a size easy to assemble with 70 year old eyesight either.  Even when she finishes the grandfather clock, I won’t be able to tell the time from more a foot away.

Before I expound on the clock, I want to back up to the bed she assembled last week.  The bed needed a string matrix to rest the mattress on.  Even though it is her project, she does ask for my assistance at times.  Drilling holes for the strings was her request.  From the directions which came with the kit, she advised me of the size of the drill bit along with a template of the hole spacing.

Now, I have a very comprehensive collection of drill bits.  I’ve got some that are large enough for a prehistoric dentist to drill out cavities of a Wooly Mammoth—if such a hook-toothed monster would have complained to a human.  I also have drill bits small enough to hide in dust if I drop it on my work bench.  But I did not have one of the size described in the instructions.

I opted for the smallest that I did have.  I took out my cordless Milwaukee drill and set the bit in the chuck.  With the jaws of the chuck fully clamped, the bit was not.  Yes, I know, most every store selling these furniture kits also sell “Miniature Tools”.  Pllleeeze…80 bucks for a tool box containing a drill that couldn’t cut through anything tougher than balsa?

But wait.  I have a Dremel that should chuck up this tiny bit.  It did.  With success of that aspect of drilling, I am next faced with the challenge of my spastic hands aligning a bit I cannot see with the marks on the template which are larger than the bit size.  Wonderful.  How could I possibly miss on the spacing when there’s a built-in error factor of 25% within the template marks.  Sue was happy enough to ask for my assistance on another miniature-home improvement project.  She’ll surely be happy with the hole if I erase the pencil mark after I almost hit it with the bit.

Yup, she was pleased so, on to the clock I mentioned previously.  And it also involved holes. I’d already put the Dremel away and dropped the bit.  If I had intended it to wedge into the crack on my workbench, I would have failed. But there is was…scale-wise about like a flag pole in the St. Andreas Fault.  I couldn’t get my smallest screwdriver into the crack.  It’s a good thing Sue didn’t need me to drill holes in the clock.

The holes were pre-drilled but she was getting frustrated trying to install the clocks weights into the drive box. Allow me to assist you in getting the picture of this procedure.  First of all, even if I scanned THEIR picture at 200% you would be hard pressed to note the variance between the weight’s “chain link” and the pre-drilled hole.

Have you seen the Tupperware, Child’s toy Ball of shapes and pieces to put in them.  Kids can eventually learn to fit shapes into the appropriate openings. Because their hands are tiny like the clock pieces, I suspect they would proudly announce “It doesn’t fit, Grandma.” Grandma on the other hand…which are noticeably humongous trying to grip minuscule chains, are much slower to recognize that oblong chains do not easily fit into round holes.

Adult get frustrated and mumble things kids should not hear.  Keep in mind the ROUND holes are there…somewhere, and the OBLONG links are not big enough to go over a mosquito’s head—BUT THEY STILL DON’T FIT…and I don’t have any oblong drill bits.

After a half dozen failed attempts to glue them ‘close’ to the holes, Sue finally decided to forget the weights.  After all, you can’t see them unless you open the door.  And the knob on the door is comparable to a pin-head. Guaranteed: If I were to reach into the dollhouse living room to show off the clock-works, I might utter “Fe, Fi, Fo, fumble”.  Nobody’s ever going to see the clock doesn’t work.

Friday Frivolity: In my Opinion

Ouch…oooh, that doesn’t feel good.  I think I’ve pulled an index finger muscle.  Oh, no…maybe I’ve got mouse-click-induced carpal tunnel.  It is not surprising considering I’ve clicked my way through about a dozen on-line surveys this  week.  By golly, one of these days, I’m gonna win a $1000 gift card.  I wonder if it will be redeemable for a wrist brace.

It seems like almost every retailer now has a link to a survey on their receipt.  Some have instant coupons, but most entice you to their survey with a chance to win.  Beats me why I sucker for that 1-in-a-bazillion chance.  But then, there really isn’t any other good reason to do it.

I rarely take the survey to actually help the store improve.  Generally, I only take the survey to be eligible for the sweepstakes.  Did you know that you cannot participate in any of these sweepstakes where they are prohibited by law?  Darn, that takes most of the fun out of it.

Oh, and don’t forget the carte blanche permissiveness of most sweepstakes:  No purchase necessary.  Seriously?   Now you tell me, where can I get postage stamps without purchasing them?  Yup, you can ONLY enter the sweepstakes two ways.  On-line, with a valid “purchase receipt” …or by mail, if you don’t make a purchase at the sweepstake sponsor’s store.  Last I knew, the postman will not deliver an entry which has no purchased postage stamp on the envelope.

In case you have not read any sweepstake rules lately—and most of them are boilerplate—here’s a couple which I believe are extremely important.

You must be 18 years, or older, to enter.  Oh, but wait…if you are, in fact, under 18, and happen to win a sweepstake prize, your mom can sign your “affidavit of eligibility.”   Excuse me?  I’d have to do more research to be sure, but this sounds like it’s bordering on prohibited by law in most jurisdictions of the United States.

Reading the rules further, I find the ultimate, superfluous, caveat.  If for any reason, including but not limited to, misdirected, mutilated, unintelligible, written, telephone, or electronic communication;  hardware or software program failure;  network or computer malfunction …or for that matter…failure or difficulties of any kind; your entry will be declared invalid.  Whoa, hold it there!  Ya mean, if y’all don’t get my entry, cain’t read it, or it mysteriously rockets into cyberspace, it taint no good?

Oh, yeah, and “Any prize notification returned as ‘undeliverable’ may result in forfeiture.”  May result in forfeiture?  Hmmm, summarizing:  A 16-year-old, running from the law with no forwarding address who tosses their entry in the gutter, may not win?

With all of this in mind, you might imagine that I often succumb to filling out the surveys rather flippantly.  In addition to the aforementioned superfluous rules, some of the questions within the survey itself are hardly applicable to most of my shopping experiences.  Here are some thoughts that reverberated in my skull while filling out a particular retailer’s survey.

How would you rate your overall shopping experience?  Hmm, how to answer this rather limited question?  I didn’t go into the store to buy overalls, only a tube of glue.   Even if I did want clothing, what’s with the gradient of choices between 1 and 5?  All they needed were two options…succeeded or failed.  You know what?  If they really wanted a valid survey, they should give out receipts for failed shopping ventures.  Yeah, the greeter could hand out an Exit Interview form saying “good bye” to empty-handed shoppers at departure.   “Sorry you couldn’t find anything to buy, but here’s a dissatisfaction receipt with a chance to win a gift card.”

Was there a sufficient selection for you to choose from?   I obviously bought the item I was shopping for, so apparently the store having one in stock was sufficient.  And again, why five  choices from which to choose—5, being Highly Satisfied…1, Not Satisfied.  I have always done better with true/false tests than multiple choice.  Either I am or am not satisfied.  Furthermore, by virtue of the fact that I’m taking this survey on-line, the question is moot.  I bought something that resulted in me getting the coded receipt to access this survey, so the selection had to be sufficient.

Was the merchandise arranged in a way that made it fun to shop?  Fun?  I went to buy a tube of glue.  Though I use glue in a well ventilated room, I suppose someone who sniffs glue for “fun” would likely rate this question a lot higher than I did if the store would have some bags and glue samples in a private sniffing room.  That’s just not going to happen though.  Even a long-since-teenaged geezer like me has to validate my age before the self-checkout will allow my purchase of glue…and it better not be open.

How would you rate the price-to-value of the item(s) purchased?  A tube of glue?  When was the last time you comparison shopped for glue?  Besides, how could I be sure of its value this soon after purchase?

Considering your checkout experience, was the employee considerate of your time (1, extremely pleased to 5, unsatisfactory)?  Oh, boy, that’s really not so tough to choose between 1 and 5.  I mean, a “5” would probably be they scanned the glue and tossed it to me.  Conversely, I’d surely rate it a “1” if they read the infinitesimally small print, warning label to me.  The best and worst are relatively easy.

But how do you know if it’s a “2,” “3” or a “4” when they ask if I want a bag or not.  There are so many ramifications to accepting a bag.  My contemplation over whales, recycling and ozone alone, can usurp lots of my valuable time. It’s a very quick slide from a “2” to a “4” rating.

But, the most fun for me is the demographic questions at the end of the survey.  I like to skew the marketing profile.  For one of the surveys I submitted this week, I checked that I was single, had 12 children under the age of 18 and an income under $15,000.

Hmmm, now that I think about it, answering like that probably ruined my chances at the $1000 gift card.

Friday Frivolity: Full Disclosure

First Disclosure:  I would like to get just ONE order for one of my “Laughing…” books as a result of my Friday Frivolity blogs.  I’ve been blogging stories for almost 5 years and have not had even one measly order for a book from a blog.  I’m going to discontinue this blog very soon and would like to finally get an order.  I’ll even offer free shipping…just comment to this story with your e-address.

Second Disclosure:  This particular story, “Full Disclosure” is from Laughing While Shopping

Ever read the small print on a package?  It’s getting more distressing for me as the years wear on.  Oh sure, it’s troubling because of my diminishing eyesight, but also from diminished capacity to understand the rationale for much of the small print.   Such was certainly the case when we left a major home improvement store.

It wasn’t that long ago that I’d go buy bolts and nuts out of bins.  Yup, I’m old enough to remember hardware stores on the corner.  Those neighborhood proprietors would stock fasteners in ceiling-to-floor walls of drawers, drop-down wooden bins or stave & hoop barrels.  If you are  too young to remember those barrels, they’re arched slats held together by steel bands—mostly used today as decorative planters spilling dirt and bloom into the yard.  Back in my adolescent years, my grandpa often took me to the hardware store where he’d grab what he needed from a barrel or bin, toss it in a paper sack and proceed to the cashier.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all that long ago and there still are a few hometown hardware stores. However, I think those days of buy only what you need are gone.  Today, such hardware items are in baggies, shrink wrap or blister packs.  Yesterday…not yesteryear…Sue and I bought a pair of brass machine screws and two plastic nuts and washers all neatly packaged in a plastic bag.

I was happy we found exactly what I needed.  Often the marketing of such items is seemingly packaged with the intent of overstocking.  Not their shelves…my storage bins!  Nevertheless, most of my family would testify that overstocking my storage bins is my delight, not my displeasure.

But, I digress from my story.  These were packaged precisely sufficient for my need.

I guess Sue was bored as we drove away.  In itself, that’s quite disparaging as to my ability to entertain her.  Aside from that, she likes to read.  First she read the shocking news that I had not purchased a toy.  Ahhhh, more precisely, the BAG which contained the nuts and bolts was not a toy.

Aw, gee whiz, …and to think I almost bought a dozen bolts just to get enough bags to fill with beans for my bean-bag-toss game.  Oh rats, they went on to nix the thought of refilling the bag in Warning Number 2.  Once I had removed the hardware, I could not refill the bag with anything.  No beans, no rice, no dinner leftovers…nothin’.

Before I could recover from this no recycle for personal use caveat, Sue continued with even more distressing, specifically-stated cautions.  Would you believe we can’t use the empty bag in a baby’s crib?  For what purpose?  You’d have to staple a hundred of them together to make a sheet.  Of course… there was at least some temptation…the packaging was a delightful baby blue.

Oh, but there’s more about this simple little purchase that annoyed me.  I fully realize the diverse ethnicity in the United States has caused lots of things today to be printed in multiple languages.   That fact doesn’t trouble me.  Predictably, the package’s Identifications, Features, and Instructions were in both English and Spanish.  No big deal.

What, then, was so abrasive to me?  The Warnings, which I just highlighted as foolishness, were only in English.   Apparently the packagers figured only Anglo-Saxon descendants would be dumb enough to toss all their scrap plastic bags into a kid’s playpen.

Hold on…, don’t toss this book in the basket just yet.  The worst is yet to come.  As Sue neared the end of her perusal of the bag, she exclaimed:  “Ohhhh… My… Goodness!  Ed, we’ve got to keep this bag.”

You do remember that I mentioned Sue reading thou shalt not keep the bag for any purpose.   I will testify without duress, Sue is not predisposed to disobedience.  Okay …alright …if the truth be known, she does indeed tear off all the “Do Not Remove under penalty of law” tags.  However, such actions are mitigated by trying to satisfy some residual teenage rebellious attitude still swirling in her head.  But, why would she suggest we save a tiny, plastic, perforated, non-zip-lock baggie in flagrant violation of regulations clearly stipulated…in ENGLISH?  The answer lies in the producer:   Keeney Mfg. Co.

For those of you who are not aware of Sue’s heritage, she began life as a Keeney.

See, I told you the implications of small print are often very perplexing to me.

Friday Frivolity – Life’s a gas

This is a story from one of my books.  Each book has 30 such humorous, real life, tales.  If you buy all three by writing to me ( I will not charge shipping.  So, 3 “Laughing…” books, $25.28 (tax incl.)

Life’s a Gas

Last week, a long-time friend of mine was lamenting about growin’ old because her maladies were mounting a considerable assault on her well-being.  Hmmm, my maladies are giving me wonderful opportunities for entertainment and edification.   Each time I see a specialist or go in for some procedure, I marvel at the amazing things modern medicine has to offer.

The other day I had an Esophogram.  What an incredible experience. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly tasty having to drink a concoction with a consistency akin to a Soda Shop Malted (yes I’m THAT old), but the technology of the testing devices was astonishing..

I mean to tell you, this equipment was a lot bigger than Star Trek’s tricorder, but almost as impressive as it peered into my body.  I got a chance to see the monitor as the doctor scanned my swallowing technique.  Yikes!  It looked like a python swallowing one white mouse after the other.

Of course, that thought did have a somewhat detrimental effect.  When it hit me that each gulp I was making coincided with another white mouse heading for my stomach, I had a slight involuntary, convulsive ripple in my stomach.  But, hey, they’ve got people to clean up the little puddle that escaped onto the table.

What did they expect, anyway?  Laying a guy down on his stomach and asking him to imbibe plaster of Paris through a straw is just asking for puddles.  I hope they didn’t let that stuff dry too long.  Late in the afternoon, I was still chiseling remnants of that concoction from my mustache.

But that wasn’t the only stuff I had to drink.  When I first arrived in the examination room, the attendant nurse advised me of what was to come.

“I’m going to mix these crystals in this water and you will need to drink it as quickly as possible.”

“No problem,” I replied.

“I mean you must drink it immediately and completely.  These will act like Alka-Seltzer and put a considerable amount of gas in your stomach and esophagus.  You’ll feel like belching, but please refrain.”

“Wait just a minute.  Hold on there.  You’re going to deprive me of a primal pleasure of Male-dom?  Are you tellin’ me, you’re gonna fill my belly with gas, and I can’t burp?”

“That’s correct.  We need that gas to remain there to expand the stomach and esophagus to enable a clear picture.”

“Well, here’s a little different picture.  You’ve starved me for 18 hours to shrink my stomach.  Now you’re going to induce bloating.  Why didn’t you let me eat a juicy breakfast at my favorite diner?  I could have burped and there’d still be plenty of expansion in there for a clear picture.”

She laughed, but otherwise ignored my plight.  “Then we’ll ask you to slowly, but steadily, swallow the contents of this cup.”

She handed me a large cup containing several pounds of nearly-congealed concrete.

“Are you kidding?  I don’t need to actually swallow this.  My dear, if you pour this into my mouth it WILL go down…swallow or not.”

Again, a chuckle, but no compassion.  “I’m going to raise this table to the upright position and then you can just step up onto the platform, and we can begin.”

Wow, was that slick.  They raised the transporter table to vertical.  I fully expected to see “Bones” McCoy enter the air lock any minute.

Anyway, up on the platform: Lights off, camera on, down with the Alka-Seltzer, and I quickly started sucking on the straw of the other liquid.  Have you ever tried drinking plaster through a straw?  What’s worse is trying to down that triple-thick potion with a belly full of Pop Rocks effervescing more COthan a case of champagne.  Abstinence from belching was the least of my worries.

But, you know what?  That stuff didn’t taste bad at all.  I’m not good at flavors.  It wasn’t exactly pina colada, but kinda fruity.  More like a banana shake.  Hmmm, I think my mind imagined that flavor because it felt like whole bananas slithering down my throat.  But at least the flavoring helped suppress the gag reflex.

All in all, it was a rather exciting morning.  I got a chance to witness some amazing technology, had delightful interactions with some fine people, and came away with a full stomach…. and no aftertaste.

So you see, the maladies associated with growing old aren’t really so bad, providing you have the proper perspective.  Life’s a gas.  …At least that morning it was.