Al's Rantings

A view of the world from a hillbilly perspective.

Location: Virginia

I was born and went to school in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, in southern West Virginia. After graduating from college, I got married, and began working in Bristol, TN. I have have various jobs from Tennessee to up state New York and a few points between. Now I work in West Virginia. Some day, I want to live in Alaska.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why is seven degrees in Alaska colder than seven degrees anywhere else? Joel, Northern Exposure

I'll have to defer to John or Tundra PA for answer to Joel's question. My SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) is that it has something to do with humidity. Example, Phoenix is 120 degrees Farhenheit in the shade. But its not that bad because there is no humidity, its a dry heat.

One the way home from work the other night, I stopped to pick up a couple of $6 pizzas from Pizza Hut. They had an employee standing in the parking lot with a stack of pepperoni pizzas in one of those "keep em hot" bags. No need to even go into the store. As my breakfast partner would say, "Grrrrrreeeaaattt!"

The transaction was pretty simple...2 pizzas at $6 tax to calculate...hand the guy a $20...and get back my $5 and five $1s...Hmmmm, I say, looks like a good deal for me.

I confirmed that the price was $6 per pizza just to be sure. And it was. I counted my change and informed the guy that he owed me $8 not $10. I returned the extra $2.

In his defense, he said something along the lines of "I was confused. No one had given me that combination before..." I don't even know what that means. But now I worry about the future of the United States.

Kids today need a cash register or a calculator to determine the amount of change to give a customer. Gone are the days when the vendor would count your money as he put it in your hand. Plus, now the kids either put the bills in your hand and then place the coins on top, or they hand you your change in one big gob of paper and metal. Either way, I do not like it. I would rather have my coins first followed by the the old days.

Friday, June 23, 2006

One thing leads to another...

These clouds appeared right before sunset. They were a predictor of things to come.

They lead to these around 10 pm.

Dessert Time!

At my house we always have dessert after a meal. Every night after supper, I ask the Wife "What's for dessert?" If there is nothing store bought, then we will make something. Tonight's dessert is pictured above.

We call these things Preacher cookies. I don't know why. But we also call them Marco turds, and I know why.

When I attended Marshall University I always ate in the campus cafeteria. Some nights the meat was unrecognizable. The meat was named Marco turds. Marco was a buffalo and was the mascot of the Marshall University Thundering Herd.

Therefore, these little dessert jewels are akin to moist turds that drop and flatten out. Silly name but good sweets.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Time to mow...

Yessir, at Haney's Farm Mindin' Service, for a nom-yew-nal fee we will move into yer house, eat yer food, drink yer likker, and turn away any unwanted relatives that might show up at yer door. Mr. Haney, Green Acres

That sure is some service Mr. Haney offers. Wonder where I could get a job like that?

This is the mower I use to mow my yard. It looks kind of strange at first. It resembles a street sweeper or a garbage truck or a dump truck. And it sure will not pass for one of those glamorous John Deere mowers. But it does do a good job. Plus, it does not belong to me, my neighbor lets me borrow it.

With no steering wheel, initially it was tricky to drive. I have accumulated plenty of 360s in my yard. The speed is tricky too. Try to start out on a hill too quickly and the wheels spin. Thus tearing up the grass. Even now, there are certain spots in my yard that are as bare as Dixie Chicks songs on a country radio station's play list. I rationalize that in certain places in a yard, having grass is over rated.

Two things were important in learning to operate this equipment on hills. First, don't spin the tires because you loose traction and tear up the yard. And second, under no condition, never, ever let this flip over with me on it! This could cause me to have a very bad day. Luckily, #1 has decrease (not eliminated yet) and #2 has not happened.

This mower has a grass catcher. That is good and bad. Its good because I do not need to rake grass/leaves and the lawn looks nice. This is bad because I have to stop periodically and dump the grass AND I need somewhere to dump it.

My first choice is to use the grass as a mulch around all the trees in my yard. I am about to run out of trees to mulch, so this stuff may end up in a pile over the hill somewhere.

This mower does allow me to mow faster than when I had a Yanmar 155D 4 wheel drive tractor with a 48" pull behind mowing deck . But I don't get the same feeling of pride and power while sitting low in this Exmark as I did while riding high in the saddle in the Yanmar. While on the Yanmar, I considered myself to be just like Oliver Douglas in Green Acres.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Early Father's Day...

This was my early Father's Day present. A 32 cc, Craftsman Weed Wacker. Nothing like getting destructive devices for gifts! Unless it is a .45 semiautomatic, any of various brands will do.

My old weed eater had bitten the dust. I used it a couple of weeks back. Although it was hard to start, after many yanks and some swearing, it fired up. Used it all day. Not long after that, the Wife wanted some weeds cut and I was the man for the job. I gather all the needed supplies: weed eater...check, gloves...check, earplugs...check, work boots...check, safety glasses...check, hat...check, and gas/oil...check. All ready to go.

Except, the blasted weed eater was being contrary. I primed it and pulled the cord. Once, twice, 5 times, 25 times...dang it. If I was in a NASCAR event, I would have to pull behind the wall for repairs.

Ok, time to regroup and try again. This time, make sure the "Stop" switch is set to "Start" (It was by the way). All systems go. Prime and pull and pull and pull. All the thing did was growl a little then become silent. It was beyond me.

Finally, I had the younger boy take it to the shop. Diagnosis - carborator problems. The cure would cost $100 bucks! Plus, I was denied some valuable need to know information from the boy. The shop would charge $15 to tell me what was wrong! Arrrgggg!

Weed eaters have become cheaper to replace than repair. So old faithless made a one way trip to the green boxed (garbage pick up).

Later that week, while talking to the Wife on the phone, I asked about dinner. She said we could go out to eat and stop at Sears to check out the weed eaters. I said "Alright!!!"

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Get 'Er Dun...

...I'm just...I'm a little...I'm homesick. Must be all this clean air, the bright stars. I can't sleep without bus fumes, the din of traffic, the crazy people in the street." Joel Fleischman, Norther Exposure.

Joel was home sick for the hustle and bustle of New York. I have never been there I will have to get the low down about the city from Ms. E.

Wifey and I finished her little project.

It started like this......

And ended like this. Here is Little One standing beside her hand-made, custom-designed, one-of-a-kind, CD and DVD Storage Unit...
Yesterday was a good day for me. First, it was Friday, second, my copy of Alaska Magazine arrived. I cannot wait to get the chance to read it from cover to cover. May see my friend John, because it has an article about Fairbanks.

Also, today, Little One had here first official Tea Party. She got a hat for this special occasion.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Our Goal...

I don't don't like it - I hate it! And I demand to leave! ... Well that is
because you are not the one who is supposed to spend the next 4 years of his
life in this Godforsaken hole in the wall, pigsty with a bunch of dirty,
psychotic rednecks! - Joel Fleischman, Northern Exposure

Joel did not like Alaska. This is what he thought about it. I, on the other hand, would be right at home with a bunch of dirty, psychotic rednecks. Reason 26 to move to Alaska...Rednecks!

The goal of me and Wifey was to make something very specific out ot the gathered material. Wifey had a plan, and idea. In her plan, I was the cheap hired labor.

First, get material. A 3/4" piece of 4'x8' plywood was too thick. So, a second trip was needed to Lowes. This trip resulted in the correct piece of plywood and the return of the wrong piece. Hint to Lowes: please start a plan where we can get a card punched so that after 10 visits we get something, anything!

Second, get the elderly neighbor with lots of woodworking power tools to do the final design and cut the plywood into pieces.

Thirdly., this is where I enter the picture, put this 3-D puzzle it! Building, as I told Wifey, is the hardest part. This allowed her to lower her expectations. Building don't come cheap...I get the big bucks! Using Wifey's keen sense of memory we began to build. Little One was not involved in the building. Her job was to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. By the way, I actually saw this one time. When I was young, Dad bought home some live chickens for eatin'. To kill them, he rang their necks. When the headless chicken was thrown to the ground, the thing ran around for a few minutes before it finally keeled over - dead.

Building consisted of measuring (multiple times before each critical nail placement), applying wood glue, drilling pilot holes, nailing, and swearing. I proved Al's Law of Nailing...nothing is so small that it cannot be screwed up. I did it on the third nail! Said nail had to be removed, parts repositioned, new hole drilled, and nail reinserted. Swearing was added free of charge.

Step 4 is to attach doors and touch up paint.

I wanted to "hillbilly it up" by adding a gun rack, deer head, or rebel flag. Something to give it character. But since it will be Little Ones, Wifey over ruled my ideas. It needs to look a little dainty for Little One.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Got A List?

Looking south, Up the New River near Pembroke.

I will under no condition, NO condition, spend the best years of my life in the worst place on Earth! Joel Flesichman - Northern Exposure.

This quote comes from one of my favorite tv shows...Northern Exposure. It ranks up there with my all-time favorite, The Andy Griffith Show (blalck and white edition) and my current, can't-get-enough show, The Deadliest Catch.

In the quote, the "worst place on Earth" happens to be in Alaska. Joel had to work there in order to repay his medical school loans. It just so happened that he worked in rural Alaska. Working in rural Alaska is something that Tundra PA is doing. She get to see and do things the rest of us only get to thing about. Plus, she gets to experience things we have never, ever thought about. Consider eating jellied moose nose. Yep, read about it...but could not stop thinking about Bullwinkle. Take a look.

Another think I can only read about is cold temperatures. John in Fairbanks talks about -50 F. Now that is pretty cold. I have never felt it but I would like to experience it at least once. John has a humor-filled look at life in the Last Frontier.

Speaking of things I want to do...I have a mental list of things I want to do before I died. The other night, I asked Wifey if she had such a list. She just looked at me and nodded "No" and asked "Why?" And being the good husband that I am I said "Because I wanted to know if I could help you complete any of your goals". (The crowd goes wild as Hubby says the right thing for once.)

The second part of my plan was for her to ask me if I had a "Things I wanted to do before I die list", knowing that she may volunteer to help me complete some of my goals. But, alas, I have to admit she knows what I am thinking and did not ask me. She just looked at me and shook her head. She knew it would involve Alaska.

I felt like Charlie Brown as he goes to kick the football that Lucy is holding. I had my eye on the prize only to be DE-NIED. Rats! But, as they say in the cat-skinning business, "there's more than one way to skin a cat". So I will keep working to get her to my side. Maybe someday I will get to live in Alaska with Tundra PA and John.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Its a Mad World

Consider this, a person is..

scheduled to go to trial on July 10. He had faced a maximum of 46 years in prison if convicted on three aggravated assault charges and one misdemeanor charge stemming from a confrontation last June after his all-terrain vehicles were taken.

Instead he gets a deal...

The deal calls for Taylor to be placed on 18 months' probation, talk about the importance of education at 10 Miami-Dade County schools and contribute $1,000 for scholarships to each of those schools. He must also pay $429 in court costs.

Taylor is a Washington Redskin. He has a 7 year, $18 million deal with the team. And he is by no means a model player.

Taylor has been fined seven times during his professional career for late hits and other infractions, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a January playoff game.

Nice plea from 46 years to 10 months probation!