What Kind of Infection?

Hey, long time no see, but I, Dr. Reinhold, am back!  Bruce gave me a call, because he’s had kind of a tough week.  But then what does a person expect when after waiting three weeks for a miracle, it does not occur.  Dr. Reinhold’s rule of thumb is, and in fact it is another “invention” of his (The Three-Week Rule) that if you’ve got something physical going wrong with you, 9 times out of 10 it will go away in three weeks, so don’t waste your time and money running around to doctors/dentists in the meantime; just wait it out.  Now regrettably, that leaves 10% of the cases that by the time you get to dealing with them, they’re going to be pretty nasty.(1)  So it was, that when Bruce finally went to the dentist after hoping against hope that the sore area in his mouth would magically get better, he got some pretty bad news.

The news was so bad that the dentist had to refer Bruce to a “fancy”(2) periodontist.  This was the point at which Bruce called me in for a second opinion.  He was concerned about the written diagnosis on the referral form.  Now Dr. Reinhold has seen just about everything in his long and storied career, but I was not prepared for this.  Take a look at the section I have highlighted.

Acute Bum Infection Ooooeeeee, this guy is really sick!  His mouth is so bad that the infection has reached his arsch.(3)  Then, I thought, no, perhaps this dentist was just indicating that Bruce is a cute bum with an infection.   Or, was she saying his bum is cute and infected?

Aw, doc, go crawl under a rock or something.  Just so you know, in your case, the MD stands damn meddler, and I don’t need you.  I did have some fun with this form at the periodontists office.  After we’d been talking for a while and he decided on a game plan, his assistant set out a set of instruments.  It was then I pointed out to both of them that they were probably going to need some more tools in light of the diagnosis provided by my dentist.  When the two of them read what was actually there, it cracked them up.  When the laughter quieted, the perio guy did his exam and said that at the next appointment (end of the month) he’s going to do gum surgery, but that there was an 85% chance that the surgery would lead to extraction of the tooth.  Needless to say, there was no more laughing, especially from me.  I just hope he doesn’t pull the thing out through my bum!

This next part isn’t funny, but Dr. Reinhold insisted that I pass along this PSA, because of the lesson to be learned.  About a month ago a real doctor suggested that due to my osteoporosis I start taking Fosamax (actually a generic form, but same thing).  You might not believe it, but due to bone loss, the idiotic author is actually shrinking, now standing 1.5 inches shorter than just a year ago.

This drug has been around for years and used by millions of people before me.  I’m guessing some of you take it.  I love a drug like that.  I don’t have to worry that I’m a guinea pig, and the generic form of anything is “cheap.”  I actually gave the the pharmacist some guff about the price, because at just 84 cents for a month’s supply, I didn’t feel justified in using my credit card.

My doctor cautioned that the big thing to watch for with the Fosamax is it’s propensity to give one trouble in the esophagus, kind of an acid reflux sort of thing.  The pharmacist warned me of the same thing.  So after all the warnings, I was careful to follow directions and drink a big glass of water, remain upright, and not eat for an hour.  Everything went fine.  Week one, no problem; week two, no problem; week three…hmmm.  I woke up on Thursday morning with pain in one of my hips.  I didn’t think anything of it, threw down 3 ibuprofen, and did the “morning 40” on the bike.  Usually after I’m on the bike, and especially after the ibuprofen, everything resolves itself and I’m fine.  This day though, the pain in the hip kept bugging me through the entire ride.

I’m not going to drag this out, but just say the pain gradually spread from one hip across my pelvis to the the other hip and got worse and worse as I went into the weekend.  I had two pretty miserable days where I could just barely walk, just shuffled along.  You know, they don’t call me the idiotic author for no reason, hmmm, double negative there, but you know what I’m saying.  On Friday night though, I finally put two and two together and looked at the Fosamax medication guide that came with the drug from the pharmacy.  It was in there that I read that the drug could cause severe bone, joint and muscle pain and in particular to the hip, groin and thigh.  Of course, this didn’t mean that what was going on was related to the drug, but I sure suspected it.

Saturday and Sunday were bad, but Monday things started to improve.  It was Monday too that I finally connected with my doctor on the phone, and he confirmed that my symptoms were classic of the 2% of the population that cannot take Fosamax.  While he goes “back to the drawing board” on what I can take, I continue to improve, and after missing a full week of biking, will get back on the road tomorrow, I think.  My hips still get a bit sore as each day goes along.

So the big lesson is, don’t be like the idiotic author; read the stuff that comes with any new drug you take, so that you know what to be on the look-out for.  Your doctor can’t warn you about everything.(4)

Finally, in Pony News, I’ve made the plunge and ordered the missing side panels that the Pony did not have as I found him in the woods.  If you wonder what a Pony looks like with side panels versus my Pony here are a couple of photos.

I found new, aftermarket panels for just a smidge over $100 through Kuhn’s (see my “Links” page).  Always ask Maggie for the “That Idiotic Tractor Discount,” and after she stops laughing she might knock a few bucks off.  The panels come primed, so I’ll still have to paint them red.

Hey, thanks for reading and for ALWAYS READING YOUR MEDICATION GUIDES.

(1)  “Nasty” in this case could include prognoses up to and including death…just sayin’.
(2)  “Fancy” is a dental term meaning ludicrously expensive.
(3)  Sometimes Dr. Reinhold slips into German, but “arsch” translated, means bum in The Queen’s English.  In The Princess’s English it would simply mean “ass.”
(4)  Dr. Reinhold is saying, of course, that he would have warned me, but I think truly that’s just hinder sight.

It Must Have Been the Loons

Saturday night Garrison Keillor was back on “live” from the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul.  There was a point in the show where he described annual trips to Brainerd in northern Minnesota, for summer vacations.  He cued-up the sound effects guy who did the sound of a loon a couple times during the sequence.  I don’t know, I’m telling you, I’m admitting something, maybe some weakness, but his reference to those trips combined with the very realistic sound of the loon, well, my eyes started to well up.  I was so surprised by the feeling that came over me, that I wondered, what’s the matter with me?

Like the family in his story, mine too had taken those annual summer trips, staying at various resorts on lakes scattered around northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.  And those places, as I think back, jeez for a youngster, they became the entire “world”  for a week or two.  Things that happened on those trips, even though I was just a kid at the time, stick with me to this day.  I know this; I’ve had a distrust of horses, maybe all large animals, ever since that year when I was about 9 when all of us climbed on horses for a little ride on the back roads.  Toward the end of the ride, when my horse sensed it was near the barn and the end of the ride, it took off like a “horse from hell,” me bouncing up and down, hanging on for dear life, nobody able to catch the damn thing and rein him in until he slowed on reaching the barn.  Crying, and sore where it matters most for a little kid, I was so mad and full of distrust after that, well like I said, a lifetime of horse-hate, and a good long time of distrust of my dad for getting me into that fix.  Of course, any dreams of being a cowboy, forget about them.

Naturally, fishing was a big part of these trips.  There was one year when it seemed all the fish in the lake had themselves gone on vacation, the infamous Year of no Fish.  Men sat around in the evening mumbling and disgusted, drank beer and tried to come up with better battle plans for the next day.  Would it be surface bait, or big heavy lures that would hopefully find the fish lounging down in the depths?  Or perhaps it should be those big “chub” minnows, heavy sinkers and a bobber as big as a tennis ball.  Would trolling be better than sitting still?  Sitting still, ha, it was fishing with my dad when I first became aware of one of his abiding personal traits.  That man had no patience.  If he didn’t catch a fish in five minutes, he’d be yanking on that motor’s starter and it was off to the next spot.  That trait is what made him an excellent Manager of Short-term Investments for 3M, but lousy at buying stocks for the long-term in his own portfolio.  But I digress.

Well, the men should not have fretted and instead just have enjoyed their ice cold Hamm’s beer(1) and relaxed, because my little brother would soon show them the way.  The men, the real fisherman, had always headed out just as the sun was rising, and, yes, the last calls of those loons were fading away for the day.  I don’t know what they thought, perhaps the fish might do something stupid before they had thoroughly awakened?

Anyway, on one of those days when the men had come in for the day, my brother Phil and I took a boat out alone.  He couldn’t have been more than 6 0r 7 and that would have made me 10ish.  It was mid-day, sunny and hot, essentially a lousy time for fishing.  We took cane poles, and fished the only way we knew how, with a worm on a hook and a bobber on the surface.  I don’t recall anymore how long we’d been fishing, but at some point I noticed Phil’s bobber was no where in sight.  Phil pulled up on the pole, it bent practically in two and the line tightened as if a log was at the other end of the line.  Phil kept the line tight, lifted the pole as high as he could and a thrashing Northern Pike broke the surface.  Details fall away with the years, but somehow Phil and I got that fish into the boat.

We weren’t that far out in the lake that our frenzied activity went unnoticed, so when we got back to the dock a hero’s welcome awaited us.  Phil was the man that year, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen on anyone, as big a smile as he had on his face that day as he posed for photos and basked in the glory.

There were many years of me at the end of a tow-rope trying to water ski.  I discovered during that time that the human body has a built in self-protection urge to hang on to whatever it is hanging onto, in any situation where catastrophe appears immanent.  And thus, as I tumbled off the skis and plowed into the lake head-first, self-preservation told me to hang onto the stupid rope for dear life while gallons of disgusting lake water rushed into my mouth and nose.   And I despised the more athletic, idiotic brother because on his first attempt he popped right up like a pro, and before the end of the first summer was slalom-skiing.

Then, as if it wasn’t enough to suffer the shame of my failures, in between those summer vacations everyone delighted in watching my ill-fated attempts on my dad’s 8mm movies.  When I found out that during my folks move to Florida the many boxes of movie reels had somehow been lost, there was some relief in knowing that now finally certain things would be forgotten, almost as if the entire family had submitted to a vacation memory lobotomy.  One thing should not be forgotten, however, I believe it was in my third summer of attempts, I did finally get up on those damn skis…big deal.

And of course, with three boys, three years apart, wrapped up with everything else, someone would be “coming of age.”  So it was that one year the idiotic brother started acting even more idiotic (at least to my mind) than usual.  He wasn’t interested in fishing so much anymore, and he’d disappear for long periods, especially after supper, down at the cabin of a family that had a girl about Jim’s age.  Of course, what girl could resist the handsome, water-skiing star?  It was the summer when the Alfred Hitchcock movie, North by Northwest, was in the theaters, and someone drove Jim and his girl to see it on a date.(2)

Three years apart is a lot at that age, so Jim’s new fascination with girls (yuck!) was a mystery to me.  Why would he want to sit there in the dark with a girl, when he could be hanging out with the guys cracking stupid jokes, throwing Jujubes around the theater, and getting warned about it by pimply, teenage movie wardens.  I could tell that our parents were mildly amused by Jim’s new behavior, but they did not condemn him as a traitor like I did.  Behind their knowing smiles (I understand now), they saw themselves.

I was wrong (naturally); not all memories can be erased, nor of course would we want them to be.  And these stories, well not just the stories themselves, but the sudden realization of how far back, so far far back in the mire of time they are, that’s I think why the eyes welled up.  Then again, it could just have been those damn loon calls.

Happy Labor Day everyone, and thanks for reading.

(1)  Years later, when I was in college, my dad arranged for me to meet the advertising guy at a twin cities ad agency that came up with the idea for the Hamm’s beer bear that appeared in all the cute TV commercials of the day that were so popular.
(2)  Wikipedia tells me that the year North by Northwest came out was 1959.

Pony Goes Uptown, Makes New Friends

I have to admit, it was the Idiotic Brother who goaded me into it.  I’d heard there was a guy with the Carrboro Fire Department who has an old Massey Harris 44 and I mentioned it to the IB.  He said, “Well there you go, a natural first road trip for the Pony.”  Today I got up the courage and poured another gallon of gas in the Pony’s tank in preparation for the 4-mile round trip.  As a precaution, I stuck Gary Talbert (my tow truck driver)’s phone number into my wallet and put my phone, wallet and the camera in the Pony’s handy glove box.  I even brought the garage door opener with me and closed the door on my way down the drive.

I’m proud to say that the Pony didn’t let me down.  He cruised over and back with no problems.  And although the guy I was looking for had the day off, the Pony earned some other admirers during his visit.  Here are a couple of photos.

Version 2 Version 2

While there, a guy came over and said he had an old Ford tractor to sell, and since one of the firemen was interested in getting an old tractor, they went off to discuss the matter and trade information.  When the firemen came back he said the guy wanted $1000 and that he was going to go check it out.  Oh man, I’m afraid the Pony and I may have sown some seeds of marital discord today.  Sorry about that.

And now for a Chapter I’ll call:  Stuff I’ve Invented
There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve invented over the years, not because I’m a Thomas Edison, but simply because over a lifetime you stumble on things.  Here are a few examples.

1. One of my best ones was the “A” with no cross-bar.  I came up with that one a couple of years ago.  At some point it dawned on me that I was wasting time and effort, not to mention pencil lead and ink, by including the cross-bar.  If one simply makes an inverted “V” there’s no other letter like that, so one can just assume its an A, but save a stroke.

2.  A couple of weeks ago I was downstairs and noticed that The Princess had a pair of my shorts cued-up for ironing.  Pieces of clothing in the cue I find, can remain there for anywhere from overnight to a few weeks.  So, I thought why not lay the iron on top of the shorts while they’re in the cue.  If the  Princess stalls long enough they may not even need actual ironing.  As it turns out the shorts were in the cue for several weeks what with the NYC trip getting in the way.  When we got back that nasty “fly flap” on the front of the shorts (which always needs ironing) was laying down just as flat as you please.  I’m calling this invention passive ironing.

3.  Of course, who can forget my invention, the butt shave.  Hey, I didn’t say they were all successful.

4. The Brucio, at Starbucks, a four-shot, grande Americano, but filled only to the tall line.  A great “waker-upper” in the morning.

5. And while we’re on the subject of drinks, how about my invention, the Broken ToeSure, I broke my toe in the process of testing it, but it is a great drink, and it was only the one toe.  Recipe:  a generous shot of Beefeaters gin, equal amount of Campari, a slice of orange, and fill the rest of a tall glass with club soda.

6. Moving from drinks to eats, I invented the peach/blueberry pie (PBP).  It’s like a peach pie only the handful of blueberries you put in gives it a little flavor twist and adds some nice color.  I challenge anyone who’s had a piece of my PBP to come up with a tastier one!  (full recipe on request).

7. The balanced meal.  No, not that old balanced meal you were told about as a kid.  I talked about this concept in my nutrition issue http://thatidiotictractor.com/2014/07/11/whose-fault-was-it/.  To be one of my balanced meals all you need to do is keep the good things and the bad things in balance.  For example, an apple (good) and a Snickers bar (bad) is a balanced meal.  Even something like a martini is (by my rules) balanced, because it contains gin (bad), but olives (good).  That’s why when The Princess and I order a martini at a restaurant or bar we ask that they leave out the vermouth, because that would be two bads and just one good.

8.  The tractor diaperSimply a large piece of corrugated cardboard, laid flat underneath the tractor.  The box from a 40″ flat screen TV is perfect for a small tractor, but you’d want to use one from a 60″ for a big boy.  If one of these doesn’t catch about 3-months worth of dripage, then you really screwed-up when you rebuilt that tractor.

9.  Making art from “found objects” isn’t new, but as far as I know, I invented what I’m calling Clam-shell Art.  My new series of pieces is made from the plastic things you get food in at the grocery, which are then filled with shredded paper and cut letters.  Here’s one of my recent pieces.

Version 2

Is this the ultimate result of a guy who’s finished his tractor restoration and has too much time on his hands?  Or, do you think The Bruce Museum might give me a one-man show?  You’re not really meant to answer these…I know the answers.

Have a nice weekend, and thanks for reading.

Bruces, The World is Crawling With Them!

Goodness, where to start.  There’s a Calvin and Hobbs book entitled “The Days are Just Packed,” and that’s how I feel about the last two weeks.  Now as I sit here nursing a “man cold” (like a woman’s only with more whining), it all seems a blur.  Of course, knowing my readers as I do, you’re really only interested in the Pony, the weird and the funny, so I’ll try to stick to those.  First, the Pony.  Son Andy came down with us on the train from NYC to fish, relax, and naturally, spend some quality time with the Pony.  Here’s the proof of the Pony part.

Hey Bill, recognize the t-shirt.  Andy borrowed my commemorative t-shirt marking the 50th anniversary of Bill’s “Detroiter” truck stop.  Perfect for Pony driving!  The Pony is now asking where the “hot rod” driver is.  Andy actually “burned rubber” in the driveway when he “popped” the clutch.  Note to Gene and Lynne:  September is return to Wolf’s Pond month for the Pony.  Is the Pony’s space still free?

Moving on, or I should say moving back, let’s talk about the NYC/Philly trip.  First, what’s happened to the traditional roles of Life Savers candy.  I wanted a role while in New York (I think early stages of my cold had already begun), but neither of the drug stores I tried had them.  They only had bags of loose ones back in the candy isle.  The youngsters at the cash registers looked at me like I was nuts when I asked where the roles of Life Savers were.  I do note that you can buy them at Amazon, so they are still out there.  But you know, changes like this make me feel like the world is leaving me behind, dammit.  Bill, can a person still buy a role at the Detroiter?

Now for the section called “Weird stuff you could only find in NYC.”  The first thing you need to get your mind around is that there 8.5 million people living there.  Add to that let’s say about half a million visitors at any given time.  That’s probably enough people, so that you can set-up just about any kind of retail shop and find a customer base.  Think of it, if one in a thousand people come into your shop, that’s 9000 people.  So, you get things like Potatopia, yup a shop where all you can buy are baked, smashed or fried potatoes.  But wait it gets better, how about Oatmeals, a shop that, you guessed it, only sells prepared oatmeals (32 kinds).  There’s one with shaved Parmesan cheese, another “pomegranite/pistacio,” and how about the “Elvis” which includes peanut butter, banana, bacon, honey and sea salt.  Then one night Andy and I were walking along Spring street and spotted Rice to Riches.  It was after 9:00 pm, the place was crawling with customers, so I had to check it out.  Turns out all they sell there is rice pudding, but in dozens of different ways.  A few of them:  “Sex, drugs and Rocky Road,” “Oreogasm,” and “Almond Shmalmond!”  Of course later, after dinner we went to a specialty shop that wasn’t weird at all and where the customer base goes up considerably, The Little Cupcake Shop.  Fabulous!

Another strange thing we saw during our trip was in Greenwich, CT, not NYC.  Remember that post where I included a photo of my inititials in a big banner over an art museum?  Here’s the photo to refresh your memory.

Version 2

Well, check this out.


A nice fellow took that photo of the “fam” in front of my museum.  No, there are not wax images of guys named Bruce in there.  It’s a small, but classy museum ordinarily dedicated to science and specifically targeted at children.  While we were in town, however, there was an exhibit there of the art of Hans Hofmann.  I’ll just include one photo here of a couple of Hofmann paintings that were among my favorites.

Version 2Photo credit:  Andrew Boehmke, 2015

Note how the artist has appropriately and effectively employed Massey Harris Red and Straw Yellow paint hues in these pieces. (1)    That Hofmann is a genius!  So, my museum (which I could not resist), great art (which we all love) and a train ride to get there (for Andy and me), how could we resist.  It was a perfect day, the museum, followed by lunch in Greenwich, and since we came back into Grand Central Station on the return, we enjoyed happy hour at Cipriani’s, home of the best martini in the world, and as a bonus, a view down on the cavernous station with its hubbub of people rushing to and from their trains.  But if you go, be careful; one of those martinis is great, more than one, suicide!

Next up, another chapter in Guys that look like Bruce.  Remember this one?

Bruce's twin revised

He was spotted by the Idiotic brother in a California Taco Bell.  Some resemblance I’ll admit, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in “camo” shorts.  Now in the last two weeks there have been a couple of more sitings.  First, friend and occasional blog reader, Mary Pat, sent this one.


The image was in a hiking magazine.  I guess there’s a resemblance, but come on MP, that gnome is as old as Methuselah.  Look, for god’s sake, he needs a stick to hold him up!  Do I look that crotchety?  Then cousin Bill was reading some other dude’s blog (pretty disloyal, Bill) and found what he felt was yet another look-alike.  I couldn’t snag the photo off this other site, so you’ll have to click on the link that follows:  LINK

I guess since you’re back with me, you remembered to hit your browser’s back button, congrats!  That guy is the best match for me yet, and that’s probably because he’s half my age and I’m so “well preserved.”  But hoooeee, this fellow is the son of an Israeli goat farmer and cheese maker.  I love goat cheese!  And thanks, Bill, for not saying that I look like his father.

From me (and all the other Bruces), thanks for reading.

(1) All States Ag Parts catalog numbers 108368 and 108372 respectively.

July in North Carolina

If the crepe myrtle is blooming, it’s probably July.  I took this photo with my phone a few weeks ago.

Version 3

How about this guy who color coordinated his bird houses with the crepe myrtle bush?  I first noticed this artwork during a “morning 40.”

So much happens on my bike rides, sometimes I think, man, some day I’m really gonna miss this.  Of course I won’t miss last Thursday’s events when some sort of bee (I never saw him) got inside my bike jersey and stung me 4 times.  Ouch!

Then Thursday, I was shooting down the hill just shy of home when off to my right in the grass a hawk pounced on a squirrel, but due to my startling him he gave up on his intended breakfast.  But do you think that squirrel thanked me?

Then there’s the big yellow dog that sometimes chases me out along Morrow Mill Rd.  But his trick is that I never know when he’s actually going to  chase me.  He’ll chase me once and then sleep late for the next two months.  Then, just when I let down my guard, out he comes like a rocket.  I can just visualize myself as a character in a geometry  problem as some unknown math genius calculates whether the dog’s speed combined with his angle of attack will equal contact with me going in a straight line at 24 mph.  Note to math genius:  The dog is aging at 7 years for every one of mine, and I’ve noticed he’s putting on weight.  Note to Cyndy:  If I don’t return home someday, the math problem took an unexpected turn in the dog’s favor.  Look for me in front of the ranch house with a dog house on the front porch, a half mile west of Millikin Rd.

Moving on, I chuckle every time I think about it, but I was fixing dinner last night, and I’ll admit that I’d had a glass of wine, OK maybe two.  I noted that the recipe called for a lettuce side dish, and said to Cindy, “Do you want a ledge of wettuce?”  After she stopped laughing, she said, “From Elmer Fudd, I don’t think so!”

In Pony news, I’ve been doing a little leak investigation.  By the way, Gene and I call the big piece of cardboard that I keep under the Pony his diaper.  Every now and then, just like with all big babies, we need to change his diaper.  I’d also add that the diaper analogy holds up in another way.  What leaks out of the Pony’s rear end is way nastier than what leaks out of the front!

Anyway, by process of elimination (I drained the hydraulic oil), I determined that the oil dripping onto the diaper toward the Pony’s front end was coming from the hydraulic pump.  The photo below is the hydraulic pump and tank.


So you are properly oriented, the fan screws onto the round thing on the right with all the holes around it.

So, the good news is that the engine is tight, but the bad news is that that pump (which I had totally rebuilt) is leaking.  After consulting with the Idiotic Brother, we’ve decided to try a non-surgical leak remedy.  I’m going to pack the hydraulic tank with grease instead of refilling with oil.  There are several advantages of this fix.  Most obvious, I don’t actually have to do anything.  And second, if this doesn’t work, I get to blame it on the IB.  As a back-up source of advice, I floated this fix by the guys on the tractor discussion board.  I got no “Holy crap, don’t do that” messages, so stay tuned.

The Princess and I are heading up to NYC this week.  There’s a ton of good blog material up there, and I’ll fill you in on my return.  I see now that I titled this post July in North Carolina, and here it is August 1.  Ah well.  Enjoy the dog days everyone.  Thanks for reading.


My friend, Art, who’s a design engineer took offense when he saw this photo of the Pony.


He sent an email (he’s up North this time of year) saying that the white draw string on the Pony’s new seat bothered him.  Picky, picky, picky.  Well, the Pony doesn’t want to offend anyone, and as it turns out I’ve been able to make everyone happy, even Art.  I bought a new pair of athletic shoes recently, and you know how flashy they’ve gotten in the last couple of years.  The pair I got came with two pair of laces, one white and guess what the other color was?  Yeah,  Red!

Of course nothing having to do with the Pony goes smoothly, and even this little job was no exception.  In order to snake the new lace through the hem of the seat cushion, I taped the new lace to the old and started feeding it through.  Uh oh, did my heart sink when about a third of the way around, the two laces separated.  I spent the next 24 hours, off and on, ooching the new lace the rest of the way around about an eighth of an inch at a time.  My poor arthritic fingers were pretty sore by the time I finally got it all the way around.  Then I thought, you know what would really make for a clean look would be to buy one of those little lace-locks that the shoe store sells, so I don’t have an ugly bow in the back.  I just picked-up the lace lock, and so this is how the finished job looks.



A number of major milestones were reached this week.
1.  In a lunch sandwich, I finished the last of our Easter ham.  As I recall, it was a nine-pounder, smallest we could buy and still get “the good deal.”
2.  Thanks to eBay, I finally sold that lousy Allis Chalmers draw bar I bought thinking it would fit the Pony.  So, the Cost-O-Meter is off the hook for that one.
3.  We “maxed-out” our credit card for the first time.  Trouble was, we didn’t make most of the purchases.  But I’ll tell you what, a London Apple store made out big time with almost $10,000 spent there alone. (1)
4.  Hit 3000 mi on the bike today, so champagne at happy hour.  Woo hooo!
5.  Damn, I forgot the fifth thing.

Moving on.  Remember how five years ago I was celebrating the end of the donut famine in Chapel Hill?  A Krispy Kreme shop had opened up in downtown Chapel Hill.  It got to be a nice little habit for me.  First thing in the morning I’d hop on the bus a block from here and at the last stop on campus, get off and walk first to the Starbucks for a Brucio and then down the street for box of donuts.  I’d then hustle back to the bus stop and with luck I’d be back home in about 50 minutes.  It was fun too, since that was a campus express bus, it would usually be just be the driver and me on the way back.  I’d offer a donut, and more often than not I’d be taken up on that.  Well, sad to say, but when I last did the little bus ride into town I got to the donut shop, and there was brown paper covering the windows.  Come on!  I alone had to have been supporting that place.  They must have been making tons of money.  I don’t know, I’m feeling betrayed…lost, and hey, what will I use for a source of vitamin D?

The footnote at the end of the post makes a password suggestion, but that got me to thinking about how absolutely nuts the whole password thing has gotten.  I’ve got so many passwords that I have to keep a typed list of them just to keep track (three, single-spaced, typed pages).  I’m not exaggerating.  Since it’s a list I did on the computer, I’ve had to encrypt it, so it’s got its own unique password.  But in case I forget that password I’ve had to put it on a “Post It” note and hide it somewhere.  And do you think I’ll remember where its hidden if I ever need it?  Hell no.  And where do I keep the hard copy list, so that the next house invader can’t just grab the lap top and the list and have a ball?  Someone I know (who shall remain nameless) had all the passwords in a folder nicely labeled “Passwords.”  Oh, thank you, how sweet!  There are a lot of neat things about the modern computer age, but they come with a price.  Think of me as I go about resetting a bunch of my passwords and informing a slew of creditors of my new credit card information.  But crap, first I have to find that “password list” password!

Let me know how you all relabel those folders, and hey, thanks for reading!

(1)  The credit card company said that someone had called them (somehow making it look like the call came from my phone) and given enough valid information, so that they honored a request to send a new card to an address in Tennessee.  I was told that this would not have been possible if my card had required a password whenever there was a call-in for service on the card.  So, long and short of it is, sorry to say, make sure you have a password requirement on your card.  By the way, the same party then called them a few days later to say that they’d be traveling in the UK, thereby smoothing the way for some happy spending in London.


We were in the middle of a prolonged heat wave, with high temperatures each day ranging between 95 and 102.  In order to beat the heat, I was out the door at a little after 6:00 am that Sunday on one of my thrice weekly, 40-mile bike rides.  Not one car had passed me in over 5 miles, and I was about to crest Collins Mountain, which isn’t really much of a mountain, but being as it’s the highest ground for some miles around they named it that and at some point plunked three gigantic antennae among the loblollies.

Due to the lack of traffic, I was just pumping hard, and not really tuned in to what was going on around me.  So I was startled a bit when out of the corner of my eye I saw a large bird fly up on the right side of the road.  Probably 99 times out of 100 that bird will be a buzzard that’d been scared off of a carcass of some sort, but I could see that this bird wasn’t black as it crossed in front of me and landed on a low branch of a small tree.  After it lit in the tree, I saw that it was quite a large owl, and that there, sitting on other branches were two more owls, probably a family, as owls are fiercely territorial.  Just as sure as I was that I’d never seen three owls in one tree before and never would again, I was equally sure at that moment that what I’d seen was some sort of a “sign.”

Fast forward now a few days.  Again, I’m out early, this time heading in the other direction, north.  I was on Dairyland Road just a quarter mile from the dairy store when I saw something that at first looked like a dead cat in the middle of the road.  As I got closer though the undeniable smell of skunk hit me.  I quickly came up on the body and amazingly, it turned out to be an albino skunk!  Now surely that has to be a sign.

The thing about signs like these is that you don’t know what they portend.  Making it worse you don’t even know the time frame.  So all you’ve really got is a notion that something pretty special (could be bad, could be good) is going to happen sometime, probably sooner (but not necessarily) rather than later.  Essentially, you’ve got nothin’, but still…those were signs.

Actually, I take back part of what I said there.  I do know one thing that will happen for sure because of those signs.  I’m going to lose the three dollars (two more than usual) that I spent on (I mean invested in) lottery tickets this weekend.  Crap!

Speaking of signs, I was walking on campus last week, and as I passed by The Ackland Museum (UNC’s art museum) I saw a big banner plastered across the front of the building.  Here’s a photo.

Version 2

Holy cow, I thought, those are my initials.  Someone there must have read my last post and recognized my prodigious talent as an artist.  Here’s the photo of my art work from the last post.

Version 2

I got pretty excited thinking, my god, they’re mounting an exhibition of my tractor-related art.  Then I read the fine print and saw that their BRB simply means “Be Right Back.”  You know, not in my 68 years have I seen BRB used in that manner.  I’m guessing this new usage was driven by the pervasive need for brevity that today’s social media demands.  So, bottom line, the internet has co-opted my initials, and I don’t get my one-man show.  Double crap.

I guess one good thing has been confirmed.  I’m clairvoyant.  I just confirmed by checking the internet that I accurately predicted my loss of three dollars this weekend.  Woo hooooo!

And to sign off now in addition to thanking you for reading, I’ll add BRB.