Monday, October 22, 2007

All's Well!

Across from our daughters home is a very nice park called Parker Park and is set up with memorials to all of the veterans from all of the past wars. It is filled with the memorial stones, benches, hedges, trees and a waterfall. It is a wonderful place for children to play. Yesterday I was over at my daughters house doing some work and as I left I noticed a group of children playing in the park. I could tell they were playing by the screams they were making. I leaned across the hood of my truck to watch for a while and figure out what game they were playing. There was a boy leaning against the central flag pole with his eyes closed and was counting out loud. Counting to 50 I believe. There were children darting in all directions looking for the perfect place to hide while the boy counted. Some kept changing spots, darting to another, better spot as the countdown continued. Finally I heard "Ready or not, here I come" and the boy backed away from the flagpole slowly looking around, searching for a tell-tale foot sticking out or a bum being to large for the bush selected, and seeing none he started, slowly moving in my direction. I could see a young man, frozen against a tall bush daring not to move, as the slightest movement would cause the leaves to shake giving away his location. As the central character continued my direction, he walked right past the young man trying to look like a bush, by about 10 feet. He turned and saw his adversary and gave chase both hollering and yelling as they raced towards the flag pole which brought other children out of hiding and they all raced towards the safety of the flagpole. [Atop this pole was a beautiful, huge American flag, waving in the breeze, but I'm sure the irony was lost to the children]. The tagger was trying to touch any of his playmates before they reached the pole but in the confusion he didn't appear successful and a huge argument erupted. "I touched you, no you didn't". Someone hollard "All in free, all in free" and the remainder of kids came to the flagpole from their hiding spots. Soon the excitement of the moment had died and a different boy was back to counting and the others were all scampering off to find the perfect hiding spot again. It was obvious they were playing hide and seek or Oley, oley oxen free, or Tag or it. What was nice for me, as I watched the play, was the knowledge that some things just don't ever change. In this fast paced world we live in, we need a few things like that to keep our feet rooted to the ground. I felt good as I climbed into my truck. Safe in the knowledge that all is well.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Just a bottle of water!

Last night our family went to our favorite purveyor of books, music etc. Barnes and Noble for a recreational evening of reading, sipping coffee and buying a few books. Maybe I might have the opportunity of tearing apart a worthy opponent on a subject such as "who might our next president be?", or learning a few valuable tidbits from some passing Master Carpenter or even a water color painter. It is always a pleasant adventure and a lot of times we buy nothing more than a cup of coffee as we while away the evening hours curled up on one of the many chairs available or just simply enjoying the magazines racks and the new adventures available in the magazines we never have the money or the time, it seems, to explore. Someone always comes by and puts the magazines back for you after your done with them. I found two books I was interested in before I was 25 feet inside the doors. I quickly gathered Joseph Wambaugh's long-awaited return to the LAPD with Hollywood Station, in paperback, and Stephen Colbert's I am America (and so can you!) both of which I could not wait to peruse over a good cup of coffee at the Starbucks Cafe. As I settle in with a hot cup of steaming Joe, I was joined by my favorite Grandson Sam who like his Grandpa, knew what he wanted as walked in the door. Sam said "I am really, really thirsty Papa, can you help me out?" I handed over a fiver and he disappeared for a few moments as I went about trying to figure out just who Stephen Colbert was. Back he came, plopped down the change (without being reminded) and started enjoying his bottle of FUJI water as he become quickly engrossed in his book. A bit later, when I realized I couldn't figure out who Stephen Colbert really was, I glanced at the receipt as I slipped the change into my pocket. "$2.50 for a bottle of water!" I shouted, causing the covers on every laptop in the joint to slam shut. I regained my composure and quietly asked Sam for a taste of his water. He handed it over, quickly, and I savored a small sip. "Tastes just like water?" I asked to no one in particular but I think I was expecting at least sparkling water. Sam just looked at me with a puzzled look trying to figure out what he had done wrong. Still in shock, my shaking hands turned the bottle over, looking for some type of explanation. On the backside I found something. "Untouched by man. Until you drink it." the advertisement bragged. "FUJI water comes from an aquifer deep within the earth on the remote islands of Fiji. Bottled at the source, natural artesian pressure forces the water through a hermetically sealed [italics mine as it reminded me of the old Johnny Carson show] delivery system free of human contact. It is never exposed to the environment. At least until you unscrew the cap." the ad went on. "Hokey, hokey" I uttered as the words popped out at me. I was in financial shock. I returned the bottle to my Grandson and he returned to his book, relatively secure in the knowledge that he probably hadn't done anything wrong and I was just being "Grandpa" again. I could still read the back label of the bottle and I was trying to put it all together as to what the value of the bottle and contents might be to justify $2.50. I am not a connoisseur of bottled water as I rarely purchase it. There is a principal involved here as I feel that most of the water in this country is pretty tasty and is FREE. I picked up my receipt from the table and saw that my "Coffee Tall" had only cost $1.65 so I will bet that it had been brewed with free water and not with FIJI water or it would probably have cost me $4.17. I don't know where to go from here with this problem. Writing this post has really helped but there is still something unfinished inside of me. I would write the FIJI company and protest but I would bet that it will not change anything and to top it all off I realize that this bottle is contributing to global warming however it does have a recycling mark on the bottom.

This is as good as it gets!

Monday, October 08, 2007


You will notice, by the photoon on top, that we have a new addition to the family. This one is a she and her name is Bridget. ½ Yorkshire and ½ Shiatsu and there is absolutely
nothing she can do. Scarred to death of her shadow and every noise that there is. We have her enrolled in “Puppy Kindergarten” and she has been to four classes and can’t do even one trick. Talk about throwing good money after bad. Her one redeeming quality is that she hassles Purrsey, the cat, on a constant basis.
You will notice, by the bottom photo that she has changed a bit in the past 6 1/2 months. Today she can do a few more tricks. She knows "sit" and "stay". It was us that failed out of puppy kindergarten. She still hassles Purrsey, the cat. They now play well together and about every morning they wrestle. We have become very close buddies because I'm the one that feeds her, takes outside, walks her and now she goes with me in my truck.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pay Toilets

I was visiting with a couple of old friends yesterday and we were talking about payphones and how they are disappearing when suddenly it hit me "Where have all the pay toilets gone?". Beats me, they just left for some reason or other. My friends remembered pay toilets, because they were both old but a 30 year old visiting with us didn't even have a clue about what a pay toilet was. Time for some research about where they went.

I don't think they went anywhere, they just changed the doors. It appears that A campaign by the Committee to end pay toilets in America [better known as CEPTIA] resulted in laws against pay toilets being enacted in many cities and states. In 1973 the first American city to enact a ban was Chicago. Lobbying was also based on the discrimination against women. CEPIA was successful in obtaining bans in Ohio, California,New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and Florida. Only in America could people get together and form a committee to ban pay toilets.

In some cities, during the Middle Ages, there were sellers of public toilets who were equipped with a large cloak and a bucket. For a fee, one could use the bucket while hidden by the cloak so you can see that the idea is not necessarily a new one. It just appears that we were the only ones to outlaw them. In the United Kingdom it is technically permitted to charge for use of toilets, but not for the use of urinals. Pay toilets on the streets may provide urinals free of charge to prevent public urination. Pay toilets never left Europe or Asia. They still have pay toilets in Mexica.

A few US cities are trying to get them back and according to American style they cost $250,000 each. Takes a lot of dimes to pay for one. Thats a lot of poop.

In Philadelphia there is one catch -- a 20-minute time limit. Reading "War and Peace" isn't an option. A digital clock with bright red numbers, resembling those used at basketball games, counts down the time remaining. In this arena, there's no overtime. After 20 minutes the door opens to passersby on East Carson, although recorded messages give ample warning that time is running out.

The floor of the APT, made of aluminum and coated with nonslip vinyl, is hinged in sections like a large conveyor belt. After each use, the floor moves on rollers and is sprayed with disinfectant. At the same time, the toilet bowl turns 180 degrees and also is disinfected. The whole interior is dried and 40 seconds later, it's ready for use again. And you were wondering "how could they possible cost 1/4 of a million dollars each"? The mind wanders. What if everything went haywire while you were, well, you know? A rotating floor, spinning toilet, jet sprays.... A Swedish company has one with glass walls you can see through. But it was thought that some users might be intimidated, worrying that if they could see outside then people could see inside.

New York State outlawed pay toilets in 1975 in response to the charge that such facilities discriminated against women. Women always needed a stall, while men could make do without, opponents argued. "Maintenance is not a big issue, vandalism is not a big issue," Szeto, of the New York test project, says. "The complaint is that some of the toilets are being used for illegal activities -- drug use, prostitution, that kind of stuff -- generally in areas where those activities are already a problem." As in Queens, there is also an aversion in individual neighborhoods. "Everyone thought the toilet is a great idea, but put it in someone else's front yard," said Szeto.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


After lunch I was pressed into service to make a beef stew for my daughter, son-in-law, grandson and us. I make the very best beef stew! It was a push to get it all done so it could simmer the proper amount of time as I also had to get on the other side of town to pick up our grave heater from a friend that was sand blasting it. I also had a job about 50% done [hanging a door] and I wanted to finish it today. I had just put the stew on simmer and was already savoring the first bite. I was trying to determine which bread should go with it tonight. The phone rang and it was our boss reminding us of the Historical Society meeting tonight at 6:30. The meeting would consist of a meal [stuffed chicken and not my favorite] and a speaker. We would go to the meeting and take 1/2 of the stew to our daughters family and save the rest for us tomorrow. Talk about blown expectations. I headed for my door job where I was replacing the old cedar, lap, siding around the door with new cedar. I was nailing the siding into old oak lap siding, 100 years old or so, and it wasn't going well at all Almost every nail was bending. I headed to the lumber yard and bought stainless steel nails at $7 per box instead of $3.50 and gave them a try. They worked but I had lost so much time on the bent nails it was time to think of a shower.

I was rushing to get my tools put away, put the materials away [cedar siding] and get to taking a shower as no one needed to smell a sweaty carpenter at the meeting. Reminds me of last night when we were suddenly going out with the kids to Taco Bell as I was informed, by my wife, as I walked into the house. I said "do I need to change my shirt or anything". She said "naw you look OK, unless you smell". I said "unless I what"? She walked up to me and almost put her nose in my armpit, took a sniff, and said "go put on a clean shirt". That really took me back as she has never done that to me before. I told out daughter on her.

Getting back to my story I showered and put on clean clothes. Looked rather spiffy, I might add. All green and mean. While I was taking a pee, I coughed up some flem and spit it out. It was kinda sticky so it hung together. It did a backwards double flip off my bottom lip and landed square in the middle of my, clean, green shirt, right where my belly protrudes out a bit. Quickly I attacked the problem by reaching down grabbed the offending flem chunk with my thumb and 1st finger and flicked it into the toilet. That would have been fine except that's not where it went. It bypassed the toilet rim and landed right, square, in the middle of my right, brand spanking new, shoe. I grabbed a paper towel and cleaned up my shirt to a spotless condition and then I lifted up my right foot to the edge of the toilet and wiped off the offending flem from my shoe. I checked myself out, in the mirror, and looked absolutely breathtaking so off to the Historical Society meeting we went. On the way I had to drop off a urine sample at the hospital and I'll spare you the details on that one. I reported the story to my wife and she felt it was worthy of a chuckle.

To make a long story a wee bit shorter, I jump back to our house after the meeting. I was getting ready for bed when I stood up in front of my wife with my arms wide open and said "how do I look". The reason for that was to have her inspect my shirt, with a discerning eye, and decide whether I could wear the shirt again tomorrow if necessary. My main concern was salad dressing or other food stains that were withheld from my inspection because of my robust shape. With a disinterested and annoyed look she said "Your shirt is OK if you need it tomorrow". Then she shouted "No it isn't, you've got snot all over it, remember, throw it in the dirty clothes hamper". I retorted,"It's not snot"! Get it, "it'snot snot?" God, I'm so clever I just kill myself sometimes.