Random Musings

So I was trying to mow the lawn between monsoons today, and the mower wasn’t even up to its usual level of incompetence, so after fixing the first issue and still suffering the slings and arrows of disappointment, I decided I should go to the store and get some parts, and by “parts” I mean “beer.”

Mowing the lawn usually gives me a lot of time for random musings. One of my musings today was the reluctant admission that I have made a bad decision in the relationship department. I did not choose wisely. I’ll call her Gretschen. She was a sleek back beauty I met in Elderly Instruments a year or so ago. She’s from the Synchromatic family. From a long lineage going back to 1883, with links to such esteemed musicians as Chet Atkins, and even British royalty: George Harrison. I thought she was a gem, a peach, a fortuitous find. She was gorgeous and well strung. So I adopted her on the spot. But we were not meant for each other. We could not make beautiful music together.


Alas, I have no musical talent, so I couldn’t bring out the best in her. This despite our local funeral home listing me as “musician” on more than one memorial bulletin. Funeral homes have a dark sense of humor. You would too, if you were in the business. I know. My grandfather was a funeral director. I simply run the A/V system at our church. I do funerals. I am not musical in any way, shape or form. I can’t follow a tune, read music, or even keep a steady beat. No talent whatsoever. (Oh, sure, I can play a mean CD, and even manage to play a tune or two on my old iPod– despite Apple’s random, confounding “updates” to the Windows software version, but I prefer to think I’m just collateral damage in the Forever War between Apple and Microsoft.) But I know I’ve disappointed Gretschen far more than she has disappointed me. Whenever I would express my pain in any way, she would get surly, angry, turn on me and yell, “You’re not my real dad!” Then she’d retreat to her gig bag to sulk. I admit I’ve left her sulking there for far too many months.

I think it’s time to part ways. We’ll see if Elderly Instruments will consent to take her back. On a consignment basis, of course. Unless anyone out there would like to adopt her and give her a good home where she can sing and be happy.

I need to get back to mowing the lawn before the rains start up again. Pretty soon I’ll probably need more “parts.”


First World Problems

After nearly getting my fingers squashed by the trunk lid on my car, I decided I need new lift supports. I’m a DIYer, and I’ve BTDT a few times in the past, so I checked my local preferred auto parts store and found they cost $30. Each. I need two. Ouch. I do prefer to Shop Locally, but really, is Advance Auto or Auto Zone or NAPA, or even our Midwest everything discount department chain store Meijer really “local”? I think not. So I went to everybody’s usual fallback option, Amazon, and found I can buy a pair for less than $25 ($30 with shipping). Good deal. I placed an order on Saturday and started tracking it. Come Wednesday they hadn’t even been shipped yet. Still sitting in the warehouse? What the hey?

The first time I ever ordered anything online was quite literally ages ago. I’m guessing sometime around or even before 1990. This was in the days of dial-up modems and 128kbs connection speeds. The World Wide Web was shiny and new, with pictures and everything. A far cry better than the text-based web surfing I started out doing with a Lynx “browser”. I recall one night sitting at the dining room table when I managed to log into a web server at Trinity College in Cambridge, England, to have a look around, and it blew my mind. My first real graphical Web experience was on the social network Prodigy. Amazon didn’t exist then, but Prodigy had a store. I ordered something, a new modem, I think, and was shocked! shocked, I tell you! to find it sitting on my doorstep the very next day! I was spoiled.

I’m reminded of a couple years ago when my wife ordered some promotional materials for her workplace. They were very slow in arriving, a total no show after a long period of time, so she called the company. “They have to come all the way from California!” the breathless rep explained. To Michigan. Curious. It’s like we were back in the 1950s and the telephone rings and everyone gets excited because it’s a long distance call! From halfway across the state! I ordered a Moto G cell phone from Motorola a couple years ago. I got an email that they’d received my order but there would be a slight delay because demand was so great. Then I got an email that my phone was being built. Next day I got an email that it had been shipped. Two days later I had the phone in my hand. It came from China, halfway around the world… but not as distant as California, apparently.

So realizing that my trunk lifts were apparently not getting out of the warehouse in a timely manner, I cancelled the order and place another with another company. We’ll see how they do. I know, I know, I’m impatient, but in this day and age when sales competition is a dog-eat-dog universe, some dogs do get eaten. That was yesterday morning. My struts shipped last night. How hard is it to put something in a box and stick it in the mail anyway? Not very hard.


Coming Soon, Starting Now

The time is nigh for doing more regular updates to my blog. What follows is some fictionalized non-fiction reminiscences from my past lives. I’ve divided these things into the categories of Rants and Memoir. Most can be both.

Also, check my SHORTS (page) now for entirely new short stories of Tales of Life in Deathe.

Adventures in H.R. (in four parts)


In the early days, Cavendish Junior College was a big, happy family. Everyone was local, friendly, easygoing. Enthusiastic. Your basic Yoopers. At contract negotiation time, the leader of our little maintenance field group would be summoned into the Personnel Director’s office. (Yes, they used to call that department “Personnel” in those unenlightened days. Forgive them, they didn’t know any better. Now, in these more enlightened days, we call it Human Resources, to better distinguish the responsibilities from Energy Resources, Land Resources, Animal Resources, whatever. Apparently “personnel” was a vague word without meaning.)

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Communication Breakdown

So. Many, many years ago, we the field crew of the maintenance department of Cavendish Junior College (not its real name) were promised cell phones. We’d been carrying pagers for many years, which no one liked, so we were all looking forward to carrying cell phones. After all, when a pager goes off twenty times a day and you’re in the middle of five jobs and two calls and all you can do is scream impotently to the heavens, then you have to drop everything and search for a phone so you can call the office back– and by then you might have cooled off and been civil.

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Alleged Road Repairs

We have a strange concept of “road repairs” in Ingham County, Michigan. Or maybe everywhere.

Rather than do something good and worthwhile, SOP here is to lay down a coat of tar, then cover it with a layer of pea-stone gravel. That’s it. Done. Walk away. Go get a beer. In the olden days I think the road crews used to bring out “steam rollers” and roll the gravel out and down into the tar. Not anymore. Now they just go away and subcontract the work to us, the citizens, to tamp down and level out the gravel with our tires. What, so I’m working for the county now? And providing my own equipment? For no pay? Just the risk of a cracked windshield and chipped paint? I’m not even getting the benefit of free undercoating from the tar. I should call National Labor Relations Board.

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