This Summer

We’ve had a few hot days this year, but overall it’s been a fairly mild summer. But, on those hot ones, just watch out! That’s when the squirrels melt in the trees.


It was seriously hot that day. I love the look on the squirrel’s face too. He looks like, “you’re getting awful close to me, and that might mean my demise, but I don’t have the energy to run in this damned heat.”

Why couldn’t I just be happy with the way things were?

Probably ten years ago, give or take, I bought an RCA tube TV at a garage sale. It’s something like a 27 or 29-inch screen, and it was ten bucks. I thought it would go great in our little bedroom, on top of the dresser, right next to our 30-gallon fish tank. For the first couple of years, we’d watch Adult Swim every once in a great while, but evantually the TV wound up forgotten, simply gathering dust on the dresser. We cancelled the cable, never bothered to get converter boxes when everything went digital, and it was utterly useless at that point. But still, I didn’t want to bother dealing with it at the time.

Fast forward to sometime last year, when I picked up a second Wii. I had the brilliant idea to install Amazon Prime Instant Video on the Wii and plug it into that TV. Between Prime, web browser, and YouTube, that little TV essentially became a smart TV, and earned a new lease on life. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed streaming shows on that set when we want to be a little cozier than the living room. Still, I thought that I’d like to get us something with a little better picture (still standard definition is fine for in there), and the speakers on that RCA are pretty atrocious. I’d go to stream music on the Wii and Jennifer would complain until I quit.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I was at one of the local thrift shops, and they had a very attractive Sony Trinitron XBR. This was a late nineties model, and arguably one of the better standard-def tube TVs ever made. The folks in our retro gaming group are always on the lookout for such things for that reason. I took a phone pic of the beast and posted it to the FaceBook group wall with location and price. I thought for sure someone would jump on that, but a week later, I saw the same set in that store again. Then I started thinking outloud.

“That Trinitron is kind of tempting,” I would muse to Jennifer. “I hope someone gets that TV. That’s a nice set if that’s the format you’re looking for,” I’d say. “If it was a little cheaper, I’d be tempted to get it myself. It would go great in our bedroom.” At this point, I should have decided that the old RCA was good enough, or simply take the drive to the local Best Buy and ask what they had in a 36-inch. But no. I kept thinking about the stupid Trinitron.

Fast forward to yesterday. I wandered into the same thrift shop, and there that stupid TV sat, whispering my name for some stupid reason. Forty bucks. If it wasn’t such a pain in the butt to move big sets or if the price was lower, I might just go for it. Still, I asked the little check out gal if they’d drop the price on a TV if it sat in the store for long enough. Another employee must have heard me from the next room, where she pounced through the doorway to inject herself in the conversation, “you want a TV? We have TVs coming out our ears here. I’ll make you a deal on a TV. Which one are you interested in?” I told her that I might be interested in the Trinitron. “This one here? Twenty bucks and it’s yours today.” I explained that I’d have to come back for it, since my wife had taken the truck to work so I could take the car to the muffler shop. “Thats fine,” she insisted, “we’ll put your name on it and it will be here when you get back.” So, like a moron, I paid my $20, and drove the curiously quiet Tactical Assault Compact Sedan to Jennifer’s office to swap her for the truck.

They were waiting for me at the thrift store. That same woman grabbed a piano dolly and helped me hoist that set into the back of the truck, which responded by dropping about three inches on its springs. Noticing the way that big TV ominously made the truck looked smaller made my heart sink a little bit. Gah. It didn’t look that big in the store. It was heavy too. Probably about two-fifty. That scrawny little lady at the thrift shop didn’t have any problem horking it up into the truck though. She was certainly stronger than she looked. But, surely between my teenage son and I, we could have that thing in place, hooked up, and ready to watch Justified on Amazon by the time Jennifer got home. Right? Right? On the drive home, all I could see in the mirror was that hulking beast. Was it actually getting bigger?

My son has gotten a lot stronger than he used to be. He’s constantly reminding me that he’s taller than I am, and his voice has gotten deep and round. To his credit, he was able to help me get the TV out of the truck and onto the front porch. And, that’s about when he petered out on me. That TV looked even bigger on the porch. It was lunch time, so I figured we’d get some protein in him, and he’d be good to go, like Popeye and spinach. We tried. We really did. I cleared off the top of the dresser and made arrangements for the RCA. A 36-inch really isn’t all that much bigger than a 27-inch, is it? Still, I wanted plenty of space to work with. When it was clear that my son was not quite up to the challenge of moving the big set, I told him that we’d wait until his mom was home, and they could get the one end, and I’d get the other. After all, it’s not like anyone was going to walk away with it. When I moved the RCA out, I set it on the front porch to stage it for when its new owner came to pick it up. Seeing them side by side, that Trinitron absolutely dwarfed the RCA. My heart sank a little more.

Jennifer got home from work, and I told her my plan. Her response was only slightly more polite than, “hahahahhahaahahaa. No.” Now Jennifer, who is an easy to get along with trooper, started brainstorming alternate plans. “We really need a dolly,” she suggested. We tried to think of who we know that might have a piano dolly that we could borrow, which is really ironic, as my dad used to work on pianos, including moving them. But, last time I saw his dolly, it was pretty much worn out, and that’s been so long ago, I’m no longer confident he even still has it. Jennifer thoughtfully broke the silence that had settled, as we scratched our heads over our current, bewildering, and self-made problem, “would your mechanic’s creeper hold that much weight?”

“Well sure,” I answered, “it’s intended to scoot around with the weight of a grown man on it.” And as I thought about it, all the lights came on, “that’s perfect in fact!” I retrieved my creeper from the garage, and tilted the TV so Jennifer could slide it under. It didn’t roll perfectly, but we weren’t going very far. It was all going notably smoothly up until we made it to the threshold of the bedroom, where the carpet began. The creeper was not going to roll into our bedroom. Which was a bit of a moot issue, as there’s no way the set would physically fit between the queen-size waterbed and its surrounding furniture and walls. I knew that Teen Bot had just almost enough steam to manhandle this thing, and I knew that I could handle the other end, and we didn’t have far to go now. Jennifer and I decided that the two of them could take the one end as long as it was only the shot from the hall to the bed. If we got it to the bed, we could kind of walk it around the bed rails to the far side where the dresser waited its arrival.

The three of us were able to get it lifted into the air, and that’s about when kiddo started to give out again. His corner of the set started slowly sinking, with it positioned diagonally, mostly in the hall, in time with his gasping. my bottom left corner lodged against the door trim, his top corner gouged its way into the sheet rock on the other side of the hall, everything broke out in chaos, and the TV hung there, pinned between the walls. And again, the thought occurred to me, that I should have just gone and bought a new flat screen in the first place. Once we managed to extricate the set from where it was jammed (quite comically, I might add) against the walls, it was again clear that this plan need another adjustment.

“Ok,” I said authoritatively, “we need to think. And there’s whiskey in the kitchen.” Whiskey brain storming led to us putting the creeper back under the TV, but with the set hanging off the end. That would buy us a few more inches. We were going to win this thing, one way or another, even if that meant fighting for each baby step of the journey. When the wheels bottomed out against the carpet once again, as Jennifer began to say, “what now?” I grabbed the TV and dragged it off the creeper, sliding it onto the bedroom floor. Now, sitting beside the bed, it once again begged the question, “now what?”

Jennifer got the bright idea that if we tilted it up again, we could cram our Halliburton Zero suitcase underneath it, and when boosted that much, we could probably lift it the final few inches to the bed rail. “If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid,” I said, or something like that anyway. I tilted up the set, Jennifer crammed the Zero under it, and pushed as I rocked the TV back down. It worked like a charm. From there, we were indeed able to boost the TV onto the bed rail. Then, moving some six-inches at a time, we walked the thing around the perimeter of the bed, until it was directly in front of the dresser.

Exhausted, sweating, and panting, we looked at each other over the great expanse of that stupid TV. “I’m not sure I can lift anymore,” Jennifer said, as we steadied the Trinitron, perched on the rail of the water bed. I looked down at the situation. This thing was absolutely massive. What ever made me think that this would go over well? Just look at the sheer size of this stupid TV set! Why, it’s bigger than the expanse between the bed and the dresser! And then, it hit me.

“No, let’s do this the easy way,” I said. “You can be done lifting. Would you please just watch that corner and make sure it stays planted on the bed rail?” I pivoted my side of the TV onto the dresser and then kind of scooted it up onto the dresser from there. I had to kind of hug it across the front to work it in. When I came away, I had to laugh, seeing where the screen was fogged up from my chest. Of course, we had to catch our breath, and have more whiskey.

The rest of the story is that I managed to get the Wii and DVD player hooked up. The picture on this TV is enough better than the RCA that at first we were wondering if our color settings were off. The improvement in sound is night and day. Last night we played music through the Trinitron and probably kept ourselves up too late. I will concede that this was probably not the best way to upgrade our bedroom TV, but we’re both happy with the results. Well, except for the muscle soreness, the damaged sheetrock, and as Jennifer told me in an email earlier, “I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.” Even so, all’s well that ends well.

Dear Random, Shirtless Party Goer…

First off, let me say that the reason I allowed you to continue to flirt with my wife while I was standing right there is that a) I was not in the least threatened by your antics and b) she seemed to have the situation well under control herself. I have my myriad reasons for marrying a capable woman, and this is just one of many examples. Allow me to give you some tips on wooing women in the future, that you may one day have an opportunity to pass on your genetic code, as I already have.

1) If you have to inform someone of how “smooth” and “dead sexy” you are, it’s probably not true. It’s kind of like when a man describes himself as “a good Christian” or when a woman is wearing pants that read “bootylicious” across the seat. If it must be asserted rather than observed, you’ve likely already lost your audience.

2) I won this woman’s heart and made her my wife when you were like nine. Our marriage is old enough to drive. You are closer to our son’s age than you are ours. In case you hadn’t noticed by the way we hung around together, neither of us is exactly “looking,” and we keep each other fairly *ahem* satisfied. It’s obvious to everyone else, even if you didn’t catch it, so be more observant in the future.

3) If you are going to prance around shirtless and announce how “dead sexy” you know you are, you might consider hitting the gym once in a while. If you can’t afford a gym membership, hit up the local GoodWill and pick up a doorway chin-up bar and also do a few crunches. You probably didn’t notice that my abs are clearly visible through my shirt, and I see no need to go without it. It’s okay to not have as much muscular definition, or to have a soft spot here or there, but don’t be in abject denial about it.

4) When you approach a lady and proceed to lay out your “smooth moves,” starting the conversation by describing how you are “working on” another young lady and that you have “stolen” her from your “best friend” is probably a deal-killer straight out of the gate. Your approach was so amusing that we both wanted to see where you were going with this, from the perspective of sheer, morbid curiosity.

5) When you want to win someone’s affection, either platonic or otherwise, it’s best to keep the talk about yourself to a minimum. In fact, you might be better off just letting the other person do the talking and respond when appropriate. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

5) It would not be difficult for me to end you with my bare hands. The next husband you come across might not think your display was so humorous, and may not practice as much patience and restraint. If not for your chances of getting a date, then for your chances of seeing old age, do yourself a favor and leave wives alone.

6) Some people can handle flirting and alcohol. You are clearly not among those. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. If you want to get anywhere in the future, choose either flirting or alcohol. You probably don’t realize this, but booze does not make you more attractive nor charming.

7) At the risk of sounding conceited even if she were closer to your age and single, my wife is way out of your league. She said so to me in those words when we were laughing at your expense later at home. Failing my advice on developing your communication skills, drinking habits, and fitness, it might not be a bad idea for you to lower your standards or find girls with low self esteem.

So, as a man who has been happily married to a loving wife for sixteen* years, I leave you with these seven nuggets of wisdom. May they serve you well as you go out into the world. I wish you peace and prosperity, and great success in your future humility.

*Oops! Edited to correct the years of matrimony. It’s been long enough it’s easy to lose count!

Majel Barrett

After posting a couple of these on FaceBook, it struck me that I do have my own space on the ‘net, and Zuckerberg has plenty of content already.


What a beauty! Nurse Chappel, Lwaxana Troi, and the voice of the Federation computer, indeed without her presence, the Star Trek universe would not have been the same. And, that’s not to mention her many roles in other movies and shows, both in and out of science fiction. Sadly, I am not the “Mike” to whom she wished “Peace & Love” in silver Sharpie, but it’s still a neat piece. The world lost a great one when she passed in 2008.

Happy Birthday Jennifer!

One of Jennifer’s gags for years now is that she wanted to get a personal birthday greeting from “Weird Al” Yankovic, since they share a common birth date. This year, I rolled up my sleeves and reached out to the musician, explaining the situation and asked if he could help me out. What should come in the mail today?



It may be a little late, but it still counts, right? So, what do you want for Christmas, Jennifer? *cracks knuckles* A unicorn? The Hope Diamond? Your own private island?

The Victims of Prejudice and Discrimination…

…at the risk of pissing everyone off.

My friend Erin over at Lurking Rhythmically posted this interesting piece on her blog. She quotes the insight of one of her friends and explores a fascinating discussion concerning alternative sexual orientation and the gun community. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing. I started to comment there but it turned into a rant. Since this little blog is often neglected, I thought I might as well drag my rant over here instead.

One evening, Jenni and I met another man and woman at a bar and began chatting with them. Nice people. It turned out that they were close friends and he was waiting until his ‘husband’ got off work. A little later the four of us convened to his place to meet up with his other half and hang out for drinks and conversation. When he got home, he seemed a little surprised by the crowd, but nevertheless happy and welcoming to the impromptu party. As much fun as we were having swapping stories and all, when I ducked into the kitchen to top up my red Solo cup, our hosts were in there and got a little makey-outey, like slurpy sounds and all. I will not lie. I got a little grossed out. Of course, I didn’t say anything nor show any outward reaction. This was their home, and I was a guest. And, that’s about as much as needs to be said about the situation. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness in their own way, as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights or freedom, even if I personally think it’s gross to witness two dudes making out. And, that’s where I firmly stand.

Additionally, I don’t like the fact that we are all put in little category boxes, and I hate the fact that society as a whole likes to cram us into those boxes. I’ve met plenty of ‘black’ people who are no less European than I am by heritage, but social pressure causes them to feel a divide. Conversely, I have a friend who is a fellow pale ginger who is married to a quite dark-skinned black girl. Their kids are beautiful, BTW. I had a conversation with a different friend who expressed frustration at the LGBT community because she feels shunned by them. She is actively bisexual, in an open-ish long-term relationship with a man and feels like the LGT’s act like she’s ‘not really one of them’ since her primary is a man. I’m a registered Republican so I can vote in the primaries, although I am more of a get-off-my-lawn libertarian. One of my friends from our local gamer group is a self-proclaimed Obama-voting, liberal Democrat whose car sports a “Democrats Care” bumper sticker. When he and I ill-advisedly talk politics, we find that we are really both centrists in about the same flavor, supporting gun rights and all. It is my opinion that divisional categories for people are often more damaging than helpful. Somehow cephalopods make you hot and you like to smear mustard on yourself while wearing a diaper? Yeah, that’s pretty weird, but I fail to see how your proclivities are the business of the public at large. But, you like Star Trek and beer? Hey, me too. Does that make us Trekkie beer fans or does that box oversimplify and cut into the value that makes us individuals? What do you in the diaper/mustard/octopus community call yourselves anyway? How sad is it that cisgender is even an awknowledged term in a society that calls itself accepting for that matter?

As if all of that wasn’t already bad enough, they’re always moving the goal posts on us and coming up with new opportunities for us to offend each other. I can clearly remember when “oriental” was a perfectly appropriate and accepted way to describe a person from The Orient. *gasp* I’m not sure exactly when that became improper and we started using the less accurate term “asian,” which should more appropriately umbrella Russia and a huge freaking chunk of the Middle East, including several -stans and Israel. “Colored people” became offensive so we started saying “black.” And then, they decided that we needed to say “African American” which is stupid, because I’ve known black people that weren’t actually American, and I’ve known many white immigrants from Africa. Now, I see people referring to “people of color” and so it seems that we’ve gone full-circle there. And, if you can’t keep up with the whole stupid game, you are guilty of microagression.

They’ve redefined “racism” so that it can only be perpetrated by white people against “minorities.” If a ‘person of color’ discriminates against white people based on their race, it’s apparently something other than racism. At least they stopped calling Caucasians “Anglos” whether or not they were of Anglo descent. That was pretty racist if you ask me, and family tracing seems to suggest that I don’t have much English ancestry at all.. And if you want to compare minority cards, I’m a freaking blue-eyed ginger! We make up less than 1% of the world’s population and depending on who in history you listen to, we’re either witches, highly libidinous, bad tempered, alien hybrids, or have no soul, or all of the above. You ever have anyone ask what color your pubes are? Because, that’s not at all awkward or anything. I met a native in Spain who was a fellow blue-eyed ginger. So, would he be “white,” or “latino”? Or should we just call such a person a “white latino,” since the media was nice enough to invent that term to vilify the defendant in a well-known self-defense case?

Because you know, it’s the whites that are all bad. Or the queers. Or the gendernormatives. Or the republicans. Or the Obama supporters. Or the truthers. Or the gun nuts. The Christians. The Muslims. The Zionists. The atheists. The patriarchy. The feminists. The mustard/cephalopod/diaper people.

Do you know what I call my black friend? Brother. Do you know what I call my gay friend? Friend. What do I call my Japanese cousin? Cousin. I don’t call my atheist friends “godless heathens” unless I’m making a good-natured joke even if in bad taste. I don’t care if you voted for Obama or the RINO or neither. Take a guess at how many cisgender pride parades I’ve marched in. Guess how many slaves I’ve ever owned. Is it anyone’s business what flavor of freakiness goes on in my bedroom besides Jenni’s? Would you even want to know? There are people who would use all these categorizations and more to divide us against each other. And by and large, we are letting it happen. We are all the victims of prejudice and discrimination when we let them divide us with the petty details, or when we question ourselves because we don’t fit squarely into one of their pre-defined categories. Can I think it’s gross when two men get intimate with each other and still appreciate them as people? You bet! Will I watch cephalopod and mustard porn with you? Probably not, but thanks for asking. There are so very few situations that can ever really be distilled into an us-and-them. So next time you see an us-and-them scenario come up, I’d encourage you to ask yourself why it’s important for the distinctions to be there; and who, if anyone, has something to gain from that kind of division.

Edited to add: I attempted to post a link to this entry in Erin’s comment section, but it appears that now requires a Disqus, FB, Twitter, or G+ account. Since I didn’t want to sign up for Disqus, or post with my account from one of the other three, I did not. I suppose I understand why many bloggers are getting away from name/url commenting, but I still find it a little irritating.