Friday, July 21, 2017

What's a bike rack for?

The things you see that you never expect to see. I suppose, that you’d never possibly imagine you would see.

While sitting in the pleasant hamlet of Hessel, Michigan, reading a Father Brown mystery – I knew I’d like Father Brown after I’d read his first story, where he identified a fraudulent priest because the man had questioned reason – I looked up to see a Jeep Cherokee drive past. It had a bicycle attached to the bike rack on the rear bumper.

Are you with me so far?

Nothing unusual about that of course. What struck me as odd was the walker, fully open, strapped to the car along with the bike. You couldn’t fold it and put it in the back seat? Even if it couldn’t fold, you still couldn’t simply open a door and put there? Surely it was more trouble to attach it to the bike rack than do that.

It doesn’t really matter I suppose. But I do wonder.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Name that arc welder

As many of you know, Grandpa Joe rented arc welders. What you may not know is that each and every one of them, almost 250 at the height of his business, had Joe Cosgriff names. Each was JC 1, JC 2, and so on. As a side note they each had serial numbers from the manufacturer, and Pops knew every serial number by heart. We'd test him often as kids. While dutifully standing beside a machine we'd ask, JC 135? Dad would immediately reply "5CW11276". It worked every time; we witnessed the proof. I've always been impressed by that.

Anyway, many of the welders had what amounted to nicknames. There was Old Number One, Joe's first welder, the one he started the business with. Nokomis was named after Nokomis, Illinois, the town where Joe bought it. He also had MichCon, acquired from the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, and Gray Trailer, purchased from Gray's Rentals. I don't remember where that place was though.

There were two called long underslung, JC 27 and JC 33 respectively. Their carriages were made so that the welding machines themselves sat low into the whole unit. I believe it was an attempt to create a lower center of gravity on four wheeled trailers. Four wheeled welders were notoriously bad to tow. It wasn't unusual for them to veer all over the place behind a vehicle once you hit about 40 miles per hour. A lower center of gravity helped them tow straighter at higher speeds. I can say through personal experience that 27 and 33 towed much better than the average welder.

He had two Lincoln 600 amp electric welders which looked like large bombs. We called them A-bombs of course. 'Where's that A-bomb going Joe?' was a question which likely startled many a passers-by. There was snub nose, a snub nosed Hobart. Imagine that.

There's more but memory escapes me just now. I'll bring everyone up to speed soon though.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Potted meat and liver mush

I do not have what I consider unusual tastes in food. Yet that does not mean that there aren't odd foods which I like.

My wife returned from shopping today with a couple cans of potted meat. I should not like it: meat which spreads like butter doesn't sound appealing on that ground alone. Yet it's good: way too salty, perhaps, but I like salty things. There is one rule to follow, though, with stuff like potted meat. Do not, under any circumstances, read the ingredients. Just eat and enjoy. Nothing that tastes good could actually be bad for you, right?

Now you really, truly do not want to read the ingredients in liver mush. Yes, liver mush. It comes in little grayish one pound cakes and is available all over my other home state, North Carolina. I think it's called scrapple on the east coast. Either way, it's mondo good with onion and mayo on plain old white bread. You simply slice a bit of it off the cake and hey presto, instant culinary delight. Just always remember the rule.

Vienna Sausages are worthwhile too, though I suppose they aren't really all that odd. I think of them as baby food for grown ups, just like the Gerber custard pudding that rocks so well on the palate. But once more, don't read the label on the can. I am eternally curious about what exactly constitutes mechanically separated chicken though.

So anyway, at least every now and then take a chance, set aside health issues, and eat something that's probably not good for you. You'll thank for me it, and I promise to visit you in the ER if there's any unfortunate aftereffects.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Suess was an idiot

I am not a fan of Dr. Seuss. His unusual approach to teaching kids to read, using imaginary creatures and made up words, is widely credited as a good way to reach kids through fantasy. Yet his books really aren't very good for any purpose.

For starters, the best way to learn to read is phonetically. Teaching kids to read by rhyme, and indeed with the use of nonsense words, actually limits vocabulary and the development of reading proficiency.

Then, too, his imagination was not the imagination of a Tolkien or C. S. Lewis. They developed worlds where the interaction of the characters told compelling stories. Seuss just made up things which matched his writing scheme. "What would you do if you met a Jibboo?" or whatever that creature was, cannot really inspire anyone, even a kid. It's nonsense.

But perhaps the way in which his writing was most awful was in the lessons it presumed to teach. Take 'The Cat in the Hat' for example. Basically, this cat half destroys a house while the children's mother is out, miraculously cleans it up, then the tale ends encouraging kids to be dishonest with their parents. That's not a lesson we ought to be teaching our young, especially in this age of moral relativity.

Or The Butter Battle Book, written during the Cold War, which essentially equated the United States and the Soviet Union by demonstrating our relationship as an absurdity: they simply butter their bread on the other side, you see? That's nothing short of simplistic, mindless hogwash.

That Dr. Seuss has had such a profound effect on our reading habits is not a good thing. It is high time to remove his books from our shelves, and give kids better reads. At that, they may actually learn.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Whither Ties?

Why can't we have ties? Why can't a game end with each team having the same score? Why must there be a winner and a loser? And aren't some ties in fact really good games?

The National Hockey League has held for several seasons now 'shootouts' to break ties. Soccer has had championship matches decided in like fashion. If there's a dumber way to break a tie I cannot imagine what it is. Such a process cheapens, indeed I would argue that it mocks, a victory anyhow. Winning on luck is nothing to be proud about.

There is fear, now that the National Football League has cut overtime periods to 10 minutes, there will be more ties in football this coming season. But so what? If teams played to a draw, it's a draw. Let it stand.

Even in championship games, why can't there be co-champions if the result is a tie? They're only games after all; entertainments; diversions. They aren't really that important.

Let ties stand. If it buggers your standings or your ratings, or especially if it buggers your demand that someone must win and someone else lose, I don't think you're particularly sportsmanlike at all.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The blue green ceramic tiger bank

It's about a foot long, 5 inches high and 3 inches deep. The plug is so dry rotted that I hate to remove it. The entire thing is painted blue-green rather than orange with black stripes, so that the stripes don't stand out. Its eyelids are gray, Lord knows why. It holds a red flower in its tail. I've had it for 50 years now. It's a ceramic tiger bank and I have no idea why it caught my seven year old eyes back in 1967.

There was a sale of some kind going on at old St. Dominic's Grade School. Everything available was on display inside a glass case outside the principal's office. I saw that tiger bank and I wanted it. It was two dollars and seventy five cents, a fortune to a little kid back then. For whatever reason, Mom was kind enough to give me the money for it.

It sat on her knick-knack shelf in the living room for years, but I used it as intended. I put my change in it, taking some out from time to time, oh, I don't know, when the ice cream truck was near or something. Soon after I got married it came down the street to my new house. It sat on a bookshelf next to my bed ever since and I'd kind of forgotten about it.

Until this morning. It caught my eye for the first time in ages, and it struck me how long I'd had it. I brought it down, brushed it off, and sat it next to the computer for blog inspiration; he's going right back upstairs when I'm done. I'm not ashamed to admit I have a tear in my eye as I hammer this out.

I guess this is my way of telling my kids, although I hope that they are hoping along with me that that day is a long way off yet, that one of them better take the stupid ceramic tiger bank for safekeeping. Someone needs to protect their Nana's investment.

If it's any extra incentive, there are still a few coins rattling around in it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Discount prices?

Why? Why do new guys, guys I've never seen before, think they can work me down on price?

Can you do that at Meijer? Can you do it at Home Depot or Kroger, or your neighborhood hardware store? Would you expect that, when told your tab was $220 at any of those places, they'd just round it down to $200 for you? You wouldn't even ask, would you?

Then why do you feel like you can ask me?

Yes, I'm in sales. Yes, I've admitted here that I don't mind a bit of negotiation, if there's volume. But for anybody to believe that a $220 dollar sale calls for me just giving you 11% or thereabouts off, what planet are you from?

Okay, I have a chip on my shoulder right this minute. Can you imagine why?