Category Archives: Uncategorized

That One Magic… Thing

You have seen the ad, I’m sure, for Prevnar, that makes fun of people who might think a single sit-up or a single piece of kale is going to help them to live forever, right? There are a couple running now, here’s one:

But I’ve always been impressed by this kind of thing because there is a magic sit-up. There is a magic piece of salad. There has to be. Think about it for a minute.

Of course if you roll out your mat and do a single sit-up and then roll the mat up and never do another you are not going to get any healthier. But if you roll out your mat and do a hundred sit-ups a day, every day, for ten years, it’s going to have to have some kind of an effect on you, right? Well, somewhere between that first sit-up and that 365,000th one, is the one that’s going to make the difference. Twelve today? Thirty? Seventy? Hey, you’ve still got diabetes. You’ve still got all of the signs of heart trouble. You’ve still got a sixty-inch waist or whatever.

And then somewhere along the line you pass that one individual sit-up that actually does make the difference. If you had quit that morning, at 357, or 1126, or 26417, you would still be a mess. But after? After you finish now you are golden. Your blood pressure is better, your back paid eases, your hair stops falling out or whatever. There really is a magic sit-up.

The Magic Piece of Kale

And it follows that there has to be a magic piece of salad, too. If you are coming off of a life of pizza and super-sized drive-through then having an individual salad isn’t going to make a difference. But if you have fifty-two of them you’ve displaced one meal a week and that’s a real start. If you suddenly find yourself eating three hundred salads a year or more, that’s a big change and you likely will notice that—and others will likely notice the change in you, too! And while the difference between that first salad and the third is not much, and the difference between that two hundred ninety-seventh salad and the three hundredth salad isn’t much, the difference between the first and the last is a Big Deal so somewhere along the line there was the salad that made the difference.

Up and down the block, there’s the cement sidewalk square where I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle, and right next to it is the one where I could. Before this line, heading back up that way, I couldn’t ride a bike. After here, I was and I am a bikist.

Before this hour I knew a few hokey scales and I knew how to handle the instrument. But after that hour of practice, I was a Guitar Player (and then there are several nuanced layers, before this I wasn’t a jazz musician or a blues musician or a rock musician but I was still a guitarist). There is a moment where it changes. Sometimes you can see the moment coming and going and you can celebrate it. Sometimes, it just passes in an instant. You weren’t pregnant half an hour ago…. When that record started playing on the car radio you were still alive.

Here’s to the changes in our lives, huh? May they be positive ones for you and yours in the year ahead.

And if not, may they at least be over in an instant.

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I Loves Me Some John Henry

I loves me some John Henry.

That’s an unusual thing to read, or to write, about your plumber. I know. But they have been a great comfort, pardon the pun, to me and my family through the years.

When Kathie and I first bought Castle Pretentious, five years ago as I write this, we were scared. We had both lived in some kind of rental housing the whole of our adult lives. If anything ever broke, we sent a note to the landlord or called the manager and it got fixed within a day or so.

We went on vacation and found our refrigerator had given up when we walked in the door with our luggage. One phone call and we had a new one—with an ice maker that worked, too!

The semi-convenient laundry facilities would cash-out from time to time and a quick call would bring a trained professional with a box full of tools and ideas to monkey with it for a while and then it would be fixed.

But we had no idea how to do most everything involved in home ownership. How much is a toilet seat, anyway? How much is a really good one? How much is a, pardon me, crappy one? What if we needed a new window, or a new water heater? How much do those kinds of things run, generally? We had no idea.

Only a few weeks after we moved in there was a huge storm. A branch came off of a neighborhood tree and on its way to our driveway took the life out of our chimney. Well, here it comes….

John Henry's in Lincoln
John Henry’s in Lincoln

We called John Henry and they sent out Thad and he climbed up on the roof and fixed the damned thing. It’s been up there ever since. Couldn’t be happier.

Last summer, toward the end, our central air conditioning started to give us trouble. We again had no idea, but we called Thad and he came out and fixed it, too. And he explained that we had probably gotten about all of the value out of our 1989 air conditioner that we were going to get. We should think about getting a new one. It would be quieter, it would cool better, and it would save us a huge fraction of our current electric bill over a very short amount of time.

Sure enough, this spring when the temperature rose up so did the ugly noises coming from the outdoor unit. We had someone out to fiddle with it and it worked again, but they told us the next time would probably be the last. We called John Henry and they sent out Ryan with a book of options. A few checkmarks and a few signatures and we were on the books as owners of a soon to be new central air conditioner. The last thing Ryan said as he started to pull away was “If you have any trouble with this unit, let me know and I’ll send someone out to fix it for you, until the new unit gets here. We’ll fix it for free.”

Well, they gambled. They lost.

Over the last ten days, they’ve been here eight times, coaxing and cajoling our sad little 1989-era unit into chuffing along through another week or so. I’m pretty sure we have used-up whatever profit was in the deal, and they’re still planning to come out and do the installation.

We still don’t know much about home ownership. We can’t do any of that stuff you see on cable-TV over the weekends. We can’t spackle. We can’t frame. We can’t wire and we can’t plumb. But we can join in on the Do You Know A Guy conversations, now. We have a plumber, heating and air conditioning guy.

Ask me about ’em, some time.

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Martin’s New Nails

Photo of Martin Winona Hiatt
“…and his hair was perfect” — Warren Zevon

This is what has been taking up so much of my time, recently. I never really knew that having a dog would be so fun, so rewarding, so much work, or so much comfort. But it is and I am glad for all of that, and more.

About the time that we start to call Martin “Stink Dog!” we start thinking of taking him in for a shower and a pedi-pedi. I clipped a dog’s toenails as a child and hurt the animal and scared myself to death. I clipped my own nails short—right up at the finger. So that must be the way you do a dog’s nails, too, right? Uh, no. So since I am deathly afraid of hurting Martin, we take him to PetSmart and have Alysson or Nathan work him over.  A pedi-pedi is about $10 or $12, I think. For that kind of money, I’d just as soon not have to worry about it. I mean, even when you’re dead broke you have $12, so let a professional do it.

Continue reading Martin’s New Nails

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I Miss Jay Leno

It’s been sixty-some shows now and I am really happy for the success that Jimmy Fallon has had, but as much as I hate to admit it, I miss Jay Leno.

Part of it has to do with longevity. Leno, like Carson before him, was on for years and years and years. It became a part of life, to get through the day and crawl into bed and see who was on The Tonight Show, tonight.

But the thing is, I was never really much of a fan of Leno. Continue reading I Miss Jay Leno

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Back in the Saddle, Again….

I’ve been using this Web space for a great many things for a long time, now. Mostly I use this domain for e-mail, but I have been using the Web space for proof-of-concept kinds of things.

You know, you read about some new technique or technology and you think you’d like to try that out. But you don’t want to put it on your server at work (you don’t want anyone at work to know how little you know!). So, I purchased this domain years ago and have used through the years to noodle around with HTML5, CSS3, JQuery, PHP and MySQL and more.

You’ve heard the old saying that “Cobbler’s kids go barefoot”, right? Well, that’s me. After a long day of slaving away in the Web trenches, I wasn’t too keen on building out a real showcase site for myself—until now. Now, what started out as another proof-of-concept deal has lit a fire under my desire to learn much more about WordPress. So, here goes….

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