Friday, August 14, 2015

Monarch butterfly

“Kay’s new pet” 

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t care to have a pet. Pet owning carries with it responsibility. I don’t like responsibility any more than I like a challenge. Those are two words you toss around at a job interview, not in real life.

Kay would enjoy the challenge and responsibility of owning a pet… say a dog.  And, there is little doubt that she’d be the best dog owner on the planet, next to Bob Barker. Fortunately, Kay honors my wish to own no animals. And, she will honor that up until the moment of my passing. I have every confidence that at my funeral Kay will be carrying a purse with a Yorkie in it. -- And I’m good with that.

However, until that day, I hoped to remain petless. So, you can imagine the shock I had last week when Kay yelled for me to come to the kitchen to see her new pet. She so much wanted to surprise me, knowing that I’m one of 18 people on the planet who do not enjoy surprises. I need time to prepare for stuff. Good? Bad? It doesn’t matter. Just give me a moment. A couple of days, maybe.

I didn’t hurry to the kitchen. I viewed the surprise with as much enthusiasm as I would news that there was a puddle under the fridge. When I saw Kay, she was looking over the sink at a couple of plants she had set on the windowsill. Now my dread was on the wane.

Kay pointed at one of the leaves and told me to lean over and take a look at “him”. All right. Kay had apparently adopted a pot plant for a pet. And it was a male plant. Instantly I recalled the oath I took. -- In sickness and insanity. – Yes, I would play along with her little charade.

“He’s right there on the leaf. See?” Sure enough. There he was. A worm. A little worm. I assured Kay that I was cool with her raising a worm as a pet, as long as it was an outdoor pet. Kay informed me that it wasn’t a worm. It was a caterpillar. An indoor caterpillar.

Okay, I’ll give you the short version. -- The plants in the window were milkweeds. Kay’s friend Shannon had given ‘em to her so she could eventually plant them in the yard to attract monarch butterflies.

Monarch butterflies seem to be in a bad way. The numbers are way down, and Kay wanted to join Shannon in an attempt to increase the population of the critters. Turns out one of the plants Kay brought home already had a tiny caterpillar on it. And there it was eating the milkweed before it could even take root.

That was a week or so back. Now, after eating every last bit of milkweed, the caterpillar is huge. (Two inches is huge in caterpillar length. Same with snakes.) Kay moved the remaining bare plant stems to a table in the dining room and put one of our collapsible, finely-meshed clothes baskets over it. Before you showed up, I noticed that big worm had climbed to the roof of the basket. That’s where you go after eating everything in the house.

The caterpillar will soon make a silk wrote to suspend itself  from its perch. Next stage will be the cocoon or chrysalis. About two weeks from now we should find a butterfly in that basket. And, I’ve just got to tell you, I’m going to be as excited as Kay when it happens. I’m not saying this hasn’t been a challenge. That caterpillar has pooped milkweed droppings all over the place. And, it’s been no easy task replenishing the milkweed.

Do you know who sells milkweed? China. I suppose. Shannon’s got some, but her supply has dwindled considerably. Those bubbas do nothing but eat and defecate. And, if you put ‘em on any other plant but milkweed, they’ll die. They only eat milkweed.

Milkweed? What’s the draw? Pandas live on bamboo and koalas eat only eucalyptus. Do you know why Pandas and Koalas are among the endangered species? They’re picky eaters!  Do you know why there are so many goats in this world? They’ll eat anything. Phonebooks, distributor caps, recyclable plastic bottles… a steering wheel if they can find one.

If Monarch caterpillars would just try something else, we could stop all this milkweed nonsense. Loco weed, rosebushes, ferns, clover, pine cones, oak bark… We wouldn’t have to worry about how few butterflies show up in Mexico this October, if only Monarchs would try eating a variety of food.

Those bubbas have been migrating back and forth from Canada and Mexico living only on milkweed. Don’t get me wrong, the adult butterfly gets stuff out of all kinds of flower blooms, but the female will only lay eggs on milkweed. One egg per plant, so the little baby caterpillar will have plenty to eat when it hatches. Remember the two things they do exclusively? Do you?

So, between now and fall, we need to attract more Monarchs to our yards. By “we” and “our” I’m referring to you. One of you needs to start a Monarch Butterfly Club. I would, but it’s too much of a challenge. However, if you’ll start a club, I’ll make a meeting or two. Just don’t make me responsible for anything.

I will tell you this, as soon as Kay’s project takes off, we’re not going to have indoor caterpillar pets. All the milkweed is going to be in the yard. They can eat and relieve themselves all they want out there. But, in the kitchen over the sink? – Repeat after me – “In sickness and insanity.”
12 days after Chrysalis stage


Gutter saver

Rooftop Near-disaster
We're sitting on the top part. 
ROOFTOP – I realize the attendance up here is a bit less than usual. I imagine some of our fellow roofsitters bailed when they realized we were headed for the highest part of the roof.

We’re normally seated above the one-story part of the house. If the roof were to collapse where we usually sit, we would end up in a pile on the floor of the dining room. Some of you might land in the kitchen.

However, this evening we find ourselves on the roof above the second story part of the house. It’s a smaller area above the study and master bedroom.  Were the roof to collapse right now, some of us would end up in the master bedroom, with one or two of you landing in Kay’s bathtub. If you prefer the bedroom, best move a little more to the left.

Fortunately, the roof is not likely to collapse. We may well fall off this thing, but I doubt we’ll fall through it.  If you’ll look behind you, you’ll see the place where I nearly bought the proverbial farm. None of you were up here at that time, ‘cause nobody wanted to help me clean the gutter. I don’t believe in gutter guards. Don’t trust ‘em.

So, I was using my leaf blower when raindrops started hitting the metal roof. The drops were rather sparse, but each carried about a quart of water. No worry, I’m like a mountain goat… or one of those lizards with suction-cupped feet.

I only had about a foot of gutter to go when it happened. Some of you will recall the incident from an article I wrote called “Keister Krack.” The editor wisely changed it to “Tailbone Trauma.” Something like that.

 Regardless what it was called, my feet slid out from under me, causing me to land really hard on the part of the anatomy that serves as the dispatcher of all pain. It’s got a technical name. I think the Saxons called it “hellbone”, but the Normans changed it to “tailbone.”

My immediate worry had nothing to do with my fractured fanny. That’s because I didn’t remain in the fall-down place long enough to focus. I immediately started sliding past the edge of doom, directly to doom itself. Death would come as a result of me landing on the angled brick lining at the edge of the driveway. I figured my best bet would be to land on my rear, ‘cause it was already critical.

My last thought -- before it happened -- was that Kay was going to be really be ticked off once she came home. I hate to leave without being able to defend myself. During the slide, I had a firm grip on the leaf-blower. It took me forever to get the thing started, so I feared it might stop if I tossed it. Weird the thoughts you have before death.

So, my hands stayed with the leaf blower, while my legs were just going along for the ride ‘cause of all the pain my tailbone was sending them. All of a sudden I stopped sliding. Seems my left foot got trapped in the gutter. The gutter didn’t bend or break. It held on like grim death, and I loved it for it. I was saved by the very gutter I was cleaning. Is that not irony? -- No, I’m asking. Would you call that irony?

The second I realized I wasn’t going to die, every square inch of my body started throbbing. All the pain was radiating from my tailbone. It sent messages to my neck, my lungs, knees. pancreas… It took me about an hour and half to make my way off the roof. With each agonizing step, I thanked God for not letting me experience the one-second dismount.

Isn’t that fascinating?  We’re up here near the very spot where I had my near death experience. Keep in mind, I didn’t see a bright light. I saw Kay being really mad at me.  – So,  are there any questions? – Right. What are we doing up here? Yes, I realize I could’ve easily told this story at ground level.

To tell the truth, we didn’t come up here so I could tell the story. We came up here so I could find the source of a leak that is staining the ceiling in the bedroom. Kay thinks the caulked area around the chimney has a gap in it. I’ve looked, but can’t find one.

I’m getting ready to check the area around the eaves, but before doing so I wanted to share the story with you, because it may well be my last. (I always think the worst, because it’s impossible to get disappointed that way. You knew that.) – So, away with you all. Best you not see this. Or hear it. I’ve been told I scream like a girl. – I’ll give you a few minutes to clear the premises.

Coast is clear. -- Well, Father, it looks like it’s just You and me again. Please, realize that the last time it took my tailbone a year to completely heal. So, if I have to fall, I’d appreciate You letting me fall forward. And, if it’s not too much trouble, please, don’t let me overshoot the hedge. I might could crawl away from a hedge-fall.

Okay, let’s do this thing. -- Next time.  (By the way. The fact that you’re reading this is an indication that I survived to climb again. Life is good… until it’s not. Weird how that works.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mark and Brad

Brad and Me

I got a call from a friend of ours last week. Remember Brad Meyer? Reporter, food critic, magician, photographer— Magician? Oh, yeah, he once made my quarter disappear. After a lot of whining on my part, he returned it. The coin was in my ear all the time. I felt like an idiot.

What’s even weirder than the coin trick is the fact that Brad had called just to see how I was doing. Brad has asked me how I was doing TWICE. Once he did it as a way to inform me I had my shirt buttoned wrong. His exact words were, “How ya doin’, Binky?”

During our phone chat, I suggested Brad do a new headshot for me? He asked what was wrong with the last one he did, and I told him that the picture didn’t look much like me anymore. He said, “Yes?”

See my photo up there? I haven’t looked that good since the day after Brad took the picture. I’ve gained some pounds, and just last week, I shaved my beard, thus unmasking more of my flawed face. You can still recognize me from the picture, but it will require a double take. Makes me feel like a tricker guy.

Brad said he’d be glad to make me look worst than my previous picture. He instructed me to get my buns to his studio Monday morning, and said that he wouldn’t charge me anything for the headshot. Seriously. (By the way, he didn’t use the word “buns.” I was just trying to make him sound nice.)

Well, when I looked in the mirror Monday morning, I immediately got out of the mood for a photo shoot. Figured I’d wait a couple of years until I looked better. I phoned Bradford. He complained that he had just spent 40 minutes readying his studio. What a storyteller!

Instead of a photo shoot, I picked Bradson up and took him for breakfast. He feigned shock. When I tagged along with Brad for his restaurant reviews, the newspaper always paid for my meals, but Brad acted as if it was coming out of his pocket. He’d take the check from the waiter and say something like, “My father, here, has forgotten where he keeps his wallet.” Not once did a waiter ever see it as a joke.

We had breakfast at the 105 Café in Conroe. When the owner, Tom, saw us come in, he said, “Are you guys here on business or just to eat?” He pointed to my review that he had pinned to his bulletin board. -- I mean, “Brad’s” review. I get things mixed up.

People still tell me how much they enjoyed “our” restaurant reviews and videos. I was responsible for the videos, but Brad wrote all the reviews for the newspaper. He just brought me along for comic relief. People complimented me so much on the articles that I tired of correcting them.  They didn’t seem to care one way or the other. Brad cared. It’s always about Brad.

In the Café we rehashed some of the not so old times. Brad and I once had a talk show on Brad never prepared anything. I’d jot down notes about different topics, and make up commercials for sponsors we didn’t have. Brad showed up and said whatever was on his mind. Most of it was pretty interesting, but would definitely not garner him a one-man act at the Crighton. Remember, he calls “buns” by a bad name?

I’ve got to admit that Bradford is so much more interesting than I am. The man has done some really cool things. Did you know that he was once a magician’s assistant? That’s where he learned to pull quarters out of people’s ears. When he was 19, he worked with a guy first and middle name of “The Amazing.”

Brad said that he once helped suspend The Amazing upside down on a plank atop a building in Chicago. The guy was wearing a straight jacket that had been strapped on way too tight by an ex-professional football player who was trying to impress. It’s a fascinating story, the end of which you’ll have to learn from Bradstone. You’ll probably have to buy him breakfast

Some of you may remember that Brad was also a referee of professional boxing matches. And, he’s managed resorts at several exotic places. He has a lot of history that man. And, his stories added much to the fine meal… which I paid for.

Weird thing, Brad e-mailed me that evening to thank me for the breakfast. I was flabbergasted. It was so unbradlike. -- The next morning he called to ask me to go with him to Kingwood to pick up an outdoor fireplace that he had found on Craig’s List. D’oh!

So, I got to spend more time with Brad than is healthy. Brad’s GPS (Angela) finally got us to a mansion in Kingwood, Bradly studied the outdoor fireplace for what seemed like a couple of days. He eventually got the owner down from $500 to $200. At one point the guy almost cried. It wasn’t that he needed the money; he just hated to be out done by Brad. Boy, could I tell him some stories.

Before leaving Brad’s house I asked him to do the disappearing quarter act for me. He told me he was a little rusty, but could probably manage to pull a nickel out of my “buns.” – I thought it an apt way to end the latest story in the saga of “Brad and Me.” – No, seriously, this is the end.


Why change?

“So that’s why?”

Do you ever wonder how stuff gets started? I do. I’m not obsessed about it, you understand; just concerned. This morning I took advantage of an opportunity to voice my concern, and, boy, did I come close to getting in trouble.

The morning started similar to one I wrote about last week. Remember? I was, again, sitting at the table looking at a big Kroger ad. And, yes, that odd behavior of mine is beginning to worry me. I’m focusing entirely too much attention on the price of food.

So, I’m studying the picture of a head of lettuce while Kay is reading an article to me. Kay has started reading to me more and more. Not just a sentence or two. She’ll read an entire article. Some of the stuff is interesting, but after three paragraphs, I’m usually way past caring.

My psychiatrist, Bernie, says I have “an inordinate need for conversational significance.” I don’t know what that means, but it sounds pretty smart. Unfortunately, knowing the name of my problem has yet to rid me of it.

When Kay finished her read, I said, “Sweetpea, tell me again why we don’t buy iceberg lettuce.” -- We don’t, you know? We moved away from head lettuce about 30 years ago. Started getting Romaine. The stuff comes in packs of three to 6 stalks, and each requires a lot more maintenance than iceberg. Romaine is hard to wash, impossible to dry and it has the rotting rate of a banana on a tarred roof.

Begs the question – “Why did we quit getting head lettuce?” -- Kay was a little miffed at the question, seeing how it had nothing to do with the article she had just read me. (Bears in the city of Fairbanks. I think that was it.) Kay said, “Head lettuce has no nutritional value, and it doesn’t taste like anything.”

That’s it? I spent the best part of my life wrestling with Romaine because head lettuce is not nourishing enough and has no taste? “Kay, it’s lettuce! People eat it for the crunch! If you’re looking for taste, eat a corn dog.” I went a bit overboard with that, but that’s pretty much what I do.

Unfortunately, I didn’t stop there. I asked her to quit buying the giant plastic container of cherry tomatoes from Sam’s. I told her that I don’t like the oblong cherry tomatoes. They’re not even shaped like cherries. And, they taste… wrong. Just wrong. And, do you know how many cherry tomatoes you have to slice to put on a sandwich? Kay didn’t. Didn’t even come close.

She did apologize and asked me how long the oblong tomato purchases had been eating at me. She said she would compromise. She’d buy normal tomatoes, but continue with the Romaine lettuce. We would revisit the situation in ten years. She is such a diplomat.

I then told her that jumbo farm-raised shrimp was on sale at Kroger for five dollars a pound. We have never bought farm-raised shrimp, and I wanted to know why. What was the reasoning behind our buying habits?

Kay said that farm-raised shrimp doesn’t taste like shrimp. Of course, I wouldn’t know ‘cause we never get farm-raised shrimp. She informed me that I eat farm-raised at some of the restaurants. When I asked how she knew, she said, “Because - it - doesn’t - taste - like - shrimp. My words are coming out, but they’re apparently not landing anywhere!” I had to laugh at that, ‘cause it sounded like something I would’ve said.

“Is there anything else, O’ love of my life?” she said. – I really hated to push, but didn’t know when I’d ever get another chance. “Yes, there is one other thing, Sugar Plum. Hardly worth mentioning. The, uh, Duke’s Mayonnaise? How did that happen? Three years ago you switched us from Kraft to Hellman’s, and now you’re toying with something called Duke’s. Duke’s is too white and it tastes like Miracle Whip with a hint of raisin vinegar.”

Kay told me she bought it on impulse. Said she saw it advertised and was curious. Didn’t consult with me; just did it. I told her that we can afford to be curious about a new-flavored soft drink or a sea-salted tuna chip, but not mayonnaise. You don’t play around with mayonnaise any more than you do with toilet paper.

Kay went on to say that the Duke’s Mayonnaise tastes different because it was Duke’s Lite. -- What’s this world coming to? Do you have any idea how much Lite Mayonnaise you’d have to eat to lose one pound? It’s like five gallons.

So, you can see that this morning I learned a lot about the origin of stuff. I didn’t like any of the revelations that Kay shared with me, but I needed to know. I wanted to know. I regret coming across like I was griping, ‘cause I wasn’t, you understand? Bernie, says I need to meditate so as not to aggravate. Just makes me want to slap him.


Cow origins

“Where did that come from?”

The last thing I looked at in the newspaper this morning was the six-page Kroger insert. Usually I look at grocery store ads to see if there is a sale on Blue Bell. I don’t do that much anymore.

What attracted me to the Kroger Gazette was the picture on the front page of a grilled steak. A Nolan Ryan ribeye. A Nolan Ryan “All Natural Beef” ribeye.

All natural beef? Does that cost more than Nolan Ryan’s somewhat odd beef? The “all beef” labeling of a steak isn’t needed anymore than a four star hotel needs to advertise “No holes in towels.” I don’t even think there needs to be labeling on wieners. No one wants to know what’s in those things. All you need is a label that reads -- “Meat paste wrapped in something.” Our minds will turn it into something beautiful.

I saw a wiener label last week which read -- “Angus beef.” That’s an apparent attempt to get consumers to believe that knee joints and nostril portions of Angus are a cut above Hereford.

Speaking of meat inspectors, do you have any idea how many inspectors the FDA has? I don’t either. My small group of low-paid analysts have Googled every acronym, synonym, M&M associated with the words “beef, inspectors and FDA.” All they came up with was the starting salary of an inspector. It’s around $44,000.

The Pentagon wants to hide UFO info for fear the American public will change its buying habits. Along those lines, the FDA hides it’s number of inspectors so consumers won’t discover how near impossible it is for the FDA to find bad stuff before it reaches our stomachs. (That’s what one of my research staffers leads me to believe. My research staff is small. No. Smaller than that.)  

And, speaking of a lack of inspectors, let’s visit the soon-to-be-tossed “country-of-origin” food labeling law. It’s not the easiest thing to understand, but that’s so Congressmen can say that they had no idea what they were voting on when the proverbial waste matter hits the fan. I’ve got a fairly loose grip on the law, but that’s never stopped me from forming an opinion?

From what I’ve learned, repeal of the country-of-origin law involves beef, poultry and pork. It doesn’t cover fish, figs or fruit. For now. We still have a rough idea where most other stuff comes from. It’s the cows, pigs and chickens that Congress doesn’t think we should know about. The repeal of the know-where-your-meat-came-from-law is the “insure domestic tranquility” part of the Constitution that Congress swore to support and defend.

Supposedly, the Canadians and Mexicans are responsible for the push to rid us of knowing where meat comes from. American slaughterhouses are supposed to keep tabs on where their cows, pigs and chickens came from. That’s hard to keep up with. Most of the cows don’t even know where they came from. Theoretically, slaughterhouses must have separate pens for Canadian, Peruvian, Indonesian… cows, pigs and chickens. (CPCs) – “And, over here we have our pen for the Philippine shorthorn. Flew in from Manila just last week.”

Since it cost a lot of money to build pens and to keep the straight the birth certificates for CPCs, foreign ranchers are paid less for their livestock in the U.S. This places a stigma on out of country animals. An immigration issue. Apparently the only feasible solution Congress has come up with is to do away with the 2002 country-of-origin law as it involves cows and what all.

That’s all they can come up with? How about keeping the law, while continuing not to do inspections. Do you know how rare it would be for an FDA inspector to come by a slaughterhouse to see which cows are Canadian and which are American? A cow would have more of a chance of winning the lottery than getting its birthplace determined for real. The FDA doesn’t even have the resources to assure that you’re buying Angus beef instead of Australian plow horse. (Keep in mind about my small research staff.)

If the law is completely killed, how long do you think it will take Wal-Mart to start bringing over cheaper Chinese CPCs? I love China and all it stands for, but I don’t trust their inspection techniques any further than I can kick a Volvo. Mark my words, it won’t be long before we see Walmart marketing of a glow-in-the-dark wiener.

There are only two foods, the origin of which means nothing to me. Dried beans and popcorn. I’d prefer everything else be looked over by one of our two FDA inspectors. Those guys do one heck of a job for which they get paid handsomely.

Soon the FDA inspector workload will decrease significantly. No longer will they have to locate the birth certificates of steers, pigs and chickens slaughtered in the U.S. That should make them better able to find out what tilapia really are. My research staff tells me that commercial fishermen don’t even know what they are. Never seen one.

If you scratch this the surface of this thing you’re going to see a Chinese flag appear. And, that comes straight from my research staff. That kid is like a son to me.


Big toe and lawnmower repair

“Bless my heart”

Oh, yeah, like this is gonna work. I’ll be sawin’ on this space-aged titanium piece of -- What? You’re gonna hafta speak… I-- Oh, excuse me. Ear plugs. Let me, uh… There. A guy could go deaf in this kitchen.

No, no. I’m quitting with this. My toe is beginning to throb, so I’ll meet at the dining table. Chunk one of those coffee doohickeys into the new Keurik and brew you a cup. I’m trying to push the French Roast. Tastes like French Burnt, you ask me. But, you’ll like it, I’m sure.

One or two of you may need to get chairs  out of the study. I’d do it, but my toe’s throbbing. Remember? That’s one of the reasons we’re not climbing on the roof this morning. That and the fact that we’d sweat buckets. Maybe do the rooftop thing some night in the next couple of week. Do a lightning bug search. Firefly. Whatever.

No, we’ve got no cookies, donuts or anything good. We do have at least one can of bean dip, though. I kicked the daylights out of it earlier in the week. You wanna see? No? Just as well. I about passed out when I looked at it.

Why? Why what? Oh, why did I kick the can? Reflexes. I’ve got the reflexes of a fly on meth. I was moving stuff around in the cabinet up there looking for a jar of jam. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something jump out of the cabinet. Since I had jam on the brain, I envisioned being a jar of jam.

I was not in the mood to spend the better part of the morning cleaning glass shards of jam from the kitchen floor, so my foot shot out to slow the jar’s decent. I caught the jar with the top of my foot, but my foot didn’t instantly stop until it hit the corner of the bottom of the cabinet.

It felt like someone had blown off my big toe. Most of you know that a stumped toe is the fifth worst agony you can encounter. It’s just under stick-in-the-eye. I hobbled to the side of the refrigerator that didn’t have all the magnets on it, and I beat my head against it. It did nothing to redirect the pain.

What? The bean dip? Oh, right. Turns out it wasn’t a jar of jam that lept out of the cabinet. It was a can of bean dip. Bean dip! Kay bought two cans of bean dip and no Fritoes. Who does that? There’s no way my reflexes would’ve gone to action over a can of bean dip. I was bamboozled. Hornswaggled!

I refused to look at my toe till bedtime. Too scared at what I’d find. Kay would probably want to drag me to the emergency room. When I finally examined the stubby digit, the toenail where it was supposed to be, it just wasn’t connected to the toe. A day later I told Kay about kicking the dip and stumping my toe.

You know what she said? She said, “Well, bless your heart.” Bless my heart? That means nothing anymore. It’s the qualifier you use after gossiping about somebody. You can make up any kind of nonsense and it’s perfectly all right if you bless the guy’s heart either before or after. -- “By the way, did you know that Phil is a chronic bed-wetter? Bless his heart.”

I told Kay it was the worst pain I’ve had since sitting on the hands-in-prayer bookends. Who lays a set of bookends on the couch while dusting and forgets to pick it up? Bless her heart.

The smashed toe was the beginning of one miserable week of bad stuff. Have you ever tried to saw a drill bit in two? Well that was what was making all the noise when you came in on me. I’ve been trying to fix my self-propelled lawnmower, so it’d go back to self-propelling.

I managed to take the thing apart and find the problem. What I needed was a three quarter inch rod that was 11/32 of an inch in diameter. I couldn’t find one on-line so I went to the lawnmower parts place in tow.

I showed the guy the gear that needed the tiny rod in it, and he said, “Ah, you need a key.” I didn’t know I needed a key, but I’d play along. He said, “I don’t think I have one, but if I do, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to find it.” .

That was the coolest thing a parts person has ever said to me. He wasn’t rude at all. He was just matter of fact. He didn’t try to bamboozle or hogswaggle me. -- I don’t think I have it, but if I do, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to find it? That’s gold.

He went on to tell me to find a drill bit with the same diameter and cut the end off. He said it’d be almost impossible to do without the proper saw. He told me the saw I’d need, but I quit listening to him. The man obviously had no idea who he was talking to. “Almost impossible to do?”

And, yes, he was right. I’ve been using my hacksaw on that thing for thirty minutes, and have only managed to scratch it. (And those two prisoners in New York, sawed through inches of steel and concrete and what all with a hacksaw blade? I thought the story of “The Count of Monte Cristo” was far-fetched.)

Well, that’s just part of the week. I’ll have to finish the rest of the story another time. Yeah, maybe when we’re firefly gazing. – Say, before you guys head out, how about one of you taking my mug and brewing me one of those canisters of Newman’s Own. – What? There’s none left? I told you I was pushing the French Roast! Boy, you’re just adding to the misery here. –  No, I’m joking. A little.