Things I Know

Happy New Year.

I’m enjoying the special New Year’s Eve programming on Speed Channel: a rerun marathon of last January’s Barrett-Jackson classic car auction.

When I wished Rachel from Card Holder Services would stop calling me, I should have been more specific. Apparently there’s a new woman voicing the robocalls, and what I really meant was I wish nobody from Card Holder Services would ever call me again.

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new, heavily advertised movie opening soon: It’s called “Last Stand.” In it, he plays a sheriff. I can’t be the only person who hopes there’s a British guy somewhere in the movie who keeps calling him governor.

I had a problem with a Sansa Clip Zip. It started acting unpredictably with a micro SD card in it, differently depending on which card. The folks at Sansa were pretty good about taking it back and replacing it.

I’m making a lot of progress: I used to just have trouble going to sleep, but now I also have trouble staying asleep.

Facebook recently suggested I might know Olivia Newton John: I don’t. I understand that some of the recommendations are based on career or mutual friends, but I have no idea where that one came from. Maybe left field.

If you want to keep your sliced lemons and limes from turning brown, try rubbing the cut surfaces of the citrus with the freshly cut surface of an apple.

Christmas Presents

This Christmas, I got a Canon 430 EX II flash to go with my semi-fancy Canon DSLR. I also have two zoom lenses for the camera. The reason all this is just semi-fancy is I have a semi-pro camera body, not a super-duper one. It’s not the best Christmas present I ever got; maybe it’s second though. First, is the joyous reaction I got from my wife on Christmas Eve so long ago she wasn’t my wife and she hadn’t even been canonized as Saint Karen yet (she has to be a saint to put up with me).

I got her an engagement ring and while she was not surprised, she was thrilled. I wasn’t surprise either, when she said, “Yes.” And I don’t know if I was delighted or thrilled; maybe both. The reason I say she was thrilled is we went to midnight mass and she sat in church, holding the ring toward various light sources to see it sparkle. I was thrilled watching her sparkle too.

I don’t really remember being overjoyed at receiving any toy from my childhood, but I do remember two Christmas presents I wanted very much, one of which came as no surprise and the other of which was both great and awful.

No surprise: I wanted barbells for Christmas. I thought, mistakenly as it turned out, that I could and would use them to turn myself into a sleek, muscular specimen. My dad had what we now call COPD, a very bad case of it. He couldn’t do much in the way of physical labor. My mom came home one night and asked me to bring a box from the trunk of her car into our house. The box was no bigger than a foot on a side, but it was the heaviest thing you can imagine in a box that small. What’s that? Weight plates for a barbell set. It’s not easy to gift wrap the bar for a barbell set, but my help wasn’t needed to get that into the house. Still, if you should receive a one-cubic foot box that weighs 100 pounds or so, it’s probably plates for a barbell.

Great and awful: At a time when very few people had home tape recorders, my Uncle George had a nice one, and, he let me use it when I was at his house. But, he lived 60 miles and three tolls from me and I was too young to drive. I wanted one of my own. I told my parents that while Uncle George’s recorder was a good one, newer models of the same brand had a reputation for unreliability. But I was a teenager, so what the heck would I know? My folks bought me a tape recorder, the unreliable model of the same brand Uncle George owned. When I opened the box, the case was cracked. It did work, but the case was cracked. I got the cracked piece replaced, but my machine was at least as unreliable as its reputation. I had it repaired again, and again, and again until I got tired of the effort and became a broadcaster so I wouldn’t have to pay for tape recorders anymore.

I hope you were pleased with whatever you got for Christmas, or at least pleased with the thought behind it. The thought is, after all, what counts. I also hope you have a great New Year celebration. I won’t be in Times Square on New Year’s. When my dad was a cop, he hated that duty so much he passed that distaste on to me and I’ve never had any desire to go.

Things I Know

Click this link and scroll down the page past the wrist watch to see a mechanical worm made in 1820 which sold recently for about $415,000!

You should leave your Christmas lights up until the 12th day of Christmas. No cheating and taking them down this week or on New Years Day.

Some year, I’ll put up my Christmas lights (or at least test them) in time to get replacements for the ones I discover aren’t working well anymore.

One of the reasons I like the movie “Miracle on 34th St.” so much is that as a kid I wanted a fire truck that squirted real water too. I remember looking at one in a toy store, but I don’t remember if I ever got one.

One of the reasons I dislike the colorized version of the movie “Miracle on 34th St.” is that the colors are too warm. Another is that there are places in the movie where the interior shot is in color, but you can see through the window that a black and white world exists outside.

I found out when I plugged in my Christmas lights that both electrical outlets on my front porch were dead. When I went to replace them, I also discovered that the circuit breaker labeled by my electrician as controlling the outside outlets doesn’t control them. I don’t know what that one does, but the one labeled “Living room ceiling fan” does control the outside outlets. It also controls the living room ceiling fan and frankly, that surprised me. So don’t depend on the labels, test the circuit too.

If you are replacing GFCI outlets, you will probably need to reset them after you turn the power back on and before they start working. That bit of information may save you from a panic attack some day.

It would be nice if you could replace a light switch or an outlet using only one screw driver. I needed three different sizes for my GFCI’s.

As long as we’re talking electricity, I had a three-way CFL bulb in the lamp where I usually sit to read. It’s been crackling for a few minutes when I turn it on for months now. Today it stopped doing that when it burned out and tripped my #5 circuit breaker. That breaker also controls the TV in my living room, so I don’t know if Ralphie shot his eye out this year or not.

Those CFL bulbs, by the way, don’t last in my house anywhere near as long as the literature suggests they should.

Patti celebrated her birthday a week ago today. She’s one of two girlfriends I had in my youth whose birthday I recall. Well, I was 19 when I started dating my wife, so one of three. I remember Patti’s because of difficulty. Her birthday is a week to the day before Christmas. When I was 16-years old, I had to come up with two presents for a 15-year-old girl in one week. Difficult!



I don’t do elaborately decorated Christmas cookies. Chocolate chips are fine for me. My recipe for holiday turkey is obviously a joke, but my recipe for chocolate chips isn’t. I start with the recipe on the back of the package of Nestle’s chocolate morsels. The recipe calls for 3/4 cups of white sugar and 3/4 cups of light brown sugar. Instead, I use 1-1/2 cups of dark brown sugar. If I have it in the house, I’ll add a tablespoon of heavy cream to make the end product more chewy.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

In the wake of the horrendous school shooting in Newtown CT., can we please concentrate on the innocent children and the heroic school personnel who lost their lives like Dawn Hochsprung and Victoria Soto? I’d like not to direct any attention or notoriety toward the shooter who probably did what he did at least in part to spread his name all over the world.

When children play with their food, do they keep score? If they do, who wins more often, the kids or the food?

Have you seen the Capital One commercial with the little girl who doesn’t want fifty percent more cash? How did they get any child that age to say yes so many times?

You never got that pony for Christmas and you never will because how can Santa possibly gift-wrap a pony?

I’ve told you some of my Christmas stories over the last several years. Do you have any you’d like to share? Or Hanukkah stories, or Festivus stories, or stories from any other holiday that’s celebrated this time of year?

Are what used to be known as broken families now the norm? Basically all of the made-for-TV Christmas movies I’ve seen this year are about single moms, widows, widowers, orphans, etc., and none of them about what we used to call nuclear family.

Things I Know

On Saturday, December 15, 2012, I watched a TV commercial that informed me there are 12 shopping days left until Christmas.

I hate to disagree with Michael Jordan, but tags on my Hanes underwear never annoyed me.

Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus isn’t a Christmas song, but it’s played a lot around Christmas time. As a teenager, most of my friends were in the high school chorus, so I can’t listen to it without hearing the following three words, “Brillo soap pads.”

Bumper sticker seen on a Cadillac Escalade: “Support your local repo man, miss 2 payments.”

Never one to go out of my way to catch the latest releases, I watched “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (both parts) recently. I saw them on TV, not in a movie theater, but large parts of the movies were so dark that I couldn’t really see what was going on and might as well have listened to them on the radio. I guess I’ll have to read the books if I want to understand what happened.

So, Billy uses his Dell Ultrabook to take a picture of the sky and sends Charlotte the jpeg as a present for the holidays. He also sends a recording of his voice saying, “Happy holidays Charlotte.” First, I know it’s the thought, not the gift that counts, but sending your girlfriend a jpeg as a present is mighty cheap. Second, if you were dating Charlotte, wouldn’t you know whether she celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus?

Alabama did win the SEC football championship (of course), so the Crimson Tide will face the Fighting Irish in the BCS championship game on January 7 and my son was wrong, the Tide’s season didn’t end with the Texas A&M loss. This is a tough one. My grandmother was one of those Irish immigrants who rooted for Notre Dame even though she never went to college and didn’t even know anyone who went to Notre Dame. I do know two Notre Dame graduates, however, my son and one of my nieces are Alabama alumni, so Roll Tide.

The Inflationary Blueberry


If just one blueberry costs $2.79 at my local greengrocer, think how much a whole pie will cost. This kind of pricing makes me glad I have six blueberry bushes in my back yard, but the price of berries will probably go down before my bushes start to bear fruit again next July.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Who is this Fiscal Cliff guy who’s mentioned in every TV newscast these days and why is everyone afraid of him?

What do you want for Christmas? Or since it starts this weekend, what do you want for Hanukkah?

At Christmas time, the airwaves abound with commercials where someone says, “He went to Jared,” when some guy buys some romantic jewelry for his girlfriend. Okay, but wouldn’t, “He went to Tiffany’s,” be even more romantic?

There’s another TV spot for TD Ameritrade, an on-line stock broker. The commercial, apparently designed to appeal to active adults, features a sky diver. It also features a music pad that comes from a TV show from 1955, once again prompting the question: what demographic are they trying to sell to anyway?

While walking along the sidewalk the other day I passed a tanning salon. In the window, they had a big poster of a pretty young woman in a white bikini getting a spray tan. If you wore a white bikini to get a spray tan, wouldn’t it stain the suit? And, if the spray tan doesn’t come off of you in the ocean, would it come out of the bathing suit in the wash?

Why does Bed Bath & Beyond even put expiration date on those 20%-Off-One-Item coupons they distribute everywhere? I used one on Tuesday that expired about 19 months ago.

Did you hear about the terrible crash between a parade float and a freight train in Midland Texas in November? Several people on the float were killed. I don’t know what other contributing factors were involved, but it serves as a reminder that you should never pull on to railroad tracks if you don’t have room on the other side to move off the tracks immediately.

Rutgers has agreed to join the Big 10 athletic conference, becoming its 14th member and raising the question, isn’t it time for the Big 10 to change its name?