Archive for the ‘Things Humourous’ Category

Caution: Open your (junk) mail before shredding. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle, like this one:

Shredded Bills


An envelope with a survey came in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and while I usually open those sorts of things, Al put the unopened envelope in the shred pile before I did anything with it. Today while cleaning, Al was busy shredding when I heard him exclaim, “Oh my god, I shredded a dollar bill!”

He pulled out from the shred bucket the tatters of what used to be a form letter intertwined with strips of paper currency, and I found myself trying to determine if there was more than one bill in the mix. Putting the pieces back together was an exciting and challenging puzzle, but in the end since there turned out to be only two bills, it wasn’t actually that difficult. Al felt terrible about shredding the bills, but I found the whole incident rather amusing.

Now I’m not sure what to do with the two bills. I could attempt to tape the slivers together in their proper order, take the heavily bandaged bills to the bank and explain what happened, and ask if they would exchange the Frankenstein bills for wholly intact bills. Or I could mail the slivers to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which replaces mutilated currency, and request new bills. Or I could keep them as an art project. Decisions, decisions.

Oh, and then there’s the matter of the survey, which was the whole reason behind the mailing in the first place. I feel a little guilty about keeping the bills (or what remains of them) without returning the survey. The problem is, I don’t even know which company sent it because I didn’t bother to try to piece together the letter (I was having too much fun figuring out the dollar bills), and Al has already put the shredding in the recycle bin. I suppose I could sift through the bag, but it would be much harder trying to put the letter back together because of all of the other shredded white paper mixed in. So to whichever survey company sent me the mailing and entrusted me to participate, I express my sincere apologies. You wholeheartedly placed your trust in me and I let you down. I promise I’ll do better next time, in case you should decide to keep me on your mailing list.

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Yesterday Al and I took his brother Tom to the grocery store so that Tom could do his weekly grocery shopping. As Tom pushed his cart throughout the store, Al and I followed, waiting patiently as Tom stopped here and there to examine carefully the various items that he likes to purchase before placing them in his cart. When he picked up a carton of four sticks of butter Butter without much of a pause, I was impressed that he knew precisely what he was looking for.

So it was somewhat bewildering a short while later when Tom stopped to examine the round tubs of margarine and other butter substitutes, eventually selecting a container of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter™.I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! I thought to myself, he’s already gotten some actual butter; what’s the point of getting fake butter, too? Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? Don’t they cancel out each other in the same way that, say, when the numbers 4 and -4 are added together, the result is 0?

And that led me to ponder further: If you toast a slice of bread, spread a little butter on the toast, and then spread some I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter™ on the same piece of toast, are you in actuality about to eat a slice of dry toast?

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Viewing A Globe

For my forty-fifth birthday, I bought myself a present: a pair of progressive lens bifocals.

It’s not that I felt the need to get bifocals. Rather, I sort of felt pressured into getting them because I was told that I’m getting older and that they would help me see better.

I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in three years, and it seemed wise to go for a routine checkup. It just happened that the first available appointment was on my birthday. For nearly twenty years, I wore glasses regularly for my distance vision. I’ve never had trouble seeing up close. My eyes weren’t so bad that I needed a very strong prescription; it was more of a situation where I didn’t want to sit in the back of the room because I had trouble seeing the writing on the chalkboard.

Then an odd thing started to happen about seven or eight years ago. I began to notice a subtle “squeezing” sensation in my eyes while staring at the computer screen at my job. I found that the sensation went away when I took off my glasses. It wasn’t a big deal as I’d never needed them for up close vision correction anyway. So a new routine began whereby I wore my glasses only when I wasn’t sitting in front of the computer rather than throughout the entire day.

Eventually, I got into the habit of wearing my glasses less and less, and before long, I wasn’t wearing them at all. I could see well enough to function, even far away, although I continued to wear them when driving. To my surprise, my vision began to improve of its own accord, and it got to the point where I didn’t really need the glasses at all. Although my eyesight wasn’t 20/20, the blur with distance had diminished quite a bit. Now the only time I wear glasses is while driving – and that’s only because if I were to be pulled over, the officer would demand to know why I wasn’t wearing glasses since my driver’s license says I need corrective lenses.

So during my recent eye exam, the doctor started talking to me about bifocals. And I had no idea why because I can see up close. Things aren’t blurry up close like they are slightly blurry in the distance. Because I was puzzled about the doctor bringing up bifocals, I started to ask questions about them and how they would help since I could see up close. That’s when he started getting huffy and annoyed. I like to say we got into an argument about bifocals, but it probably wasn’t so much an argument as it was a misunderstanding. Even so, he seemed to think I was challenging him when I was merely trying to understand why I would need bifocals when I had no trouble seeing up close. His attitude ticked me off, though, and I won’t even get into the “discussion” we had when I asked about getting a monocle.Joseph Chamberlain

I can see perfectly fine up close. In fact, I don’t really understand why I’m legally obligated to wear glasses while driving. I mean, I know where I’m going. I’ve lived in this city for more than 20 years, and I know where things are. If I have occasion to drive somewhere unfamiliar, I’ll print out a nice map courtesy of Google Maps or Mapquest and commit it to memory so that when I arrive in the new environment, I know where I need to go. It’s really not a big deal, and glasses or no, I’m able to drive more than adequately.

But in all seriousness, I’ve also got a sure-fire back-up system to ensure that I drive safely – my trusty beagle, Bumpers. When I need to drive somewhere, Bumpers sits beside me in the front passenger seat, and I follow Bumpers’ guidance. For instance, if he thinks I should turn left, Bumpers places his left front paw on my leg. If I need to turn right, Bumpers stands up and pokes his nose out the passenger door window.

Turn Right!

Turn Right!

If I need to slow down, Bumpers will let out a short bay. If it is safe to pass the car in front of me, Bumpers will give a quick, short bark. And if someone is tailgating me, Bumpers will make a low, continuous growl. I mean, who needs glasses to drive when you’ve got Bumpers?

When I renewed my driver’s license last month, I suggested to the clerk that Bumpers be with me in my photo since he was, after all, my seeing-eye dog. The look of incredulity on the clerk’s face was something to behold. (I could see it because it was up close.) I guess I’m fortunate that they renewed my license that day.

Anyway, the new bifocals arrived and I tried them on. The verdict? They don’t really help. Now, everyone keeps telling me the bifocals will take some time to get used to, and I can accept that. But here’s the thing – they don’t help me see any better. The distance area of the lenses is okay, though it could be bigger. The mid- and close-up areas, well, there isn’t an improvement in my vision by using them. Without them, I can see the computer screen clearly, and I can read things up close just fine. So I’m still unclear as to why I need bifocals. I keep telling everyone that I can see, and why nobody believes me is a mystery.

The day may (and probably will) come when I’ll actually need the bifocals to improve my vision, and I’m okay with that. I’m not so vain or stubborn that I would insist on stumbling through the world in a blur knowing that a simple fix is right in front of my face. But wearing the bifocals now when they don’t help me see better – well, I just don’t see the point.

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If this is the route for ADA access, one can only imagine the obstacle course that non-disabled people must have to take to pass through!



Now that’s an understatement…



Thanks for our union workers!

Iron Workers Local 383

Iron Workers Local 383

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I admire people who like to cook because I don’t particularly enjoy it. For whatever reason, I find cooking to be difficult, and it takes me three times as long to make a dish as the recipe says it should, so I avoid cooking when possible. And yet here I am again writing about it.

To be more accurate, though, this time I’m writing about baking. Baking is something that I do enjoy even though I don’t bake that often. It’s probably a little odd that on the occasion that I do bake something, I tend to eat very little, if any at all, of what I’ve made. The enjoyment for me comes primarily from the creation and not so much from the consumption.

While up at Washington Island this past weekend, Al and I made an apple pie that, in a sense, was a long time in coming. More than eight years ago, we planted four apple trees, three pear trees and two cherry trees. The cherry trees have produced a handful of fruit the last couple of years (maybe eight or ten fruits in all), but sadly one of the trees died last year, so just one cherry tree remains. It was really exciting this year to see that the apple trees produced fruit for the very first time – two trees each had one apple and a third tree had two apples!Apple I was so tickled that I was determined to make a pie with them and came up with my very own recipe that, tongue in cheek, I call “9½-Year Apple Pie.” I’m proud to admit that it was rather delicious, too! Just for fun, here is the recipe. You’ll note that this particular recipe requires a little more patience than most.

1 parcel of land
4 semi-dwarf apple trees, bare-root
hundreds of gallons of water
1 recipe for apple pie Apple Pie Recipe
secret ingredient (optional)

Obtain a parcel of land, preferably in a locale that receives adequate precipitation to support tree growth. The following spring, dig four large holes and plant the bare-root semi-dwarf apple trees, one per hole. Water generously and surround the trees with protective fencing as necessary to prevent deer and other critters from nibbling on the trees. Over the next eight and one-half years, go about living your life while watering the trees regularly and generously, especially during years when rain and snowfall are inadequate. Prune trees occasionally to prevent damage to young branches.

When four small apples appear eight years later, observe them carefully as they develop during the summer. Delight in their simplicity and beauty. At their peak of ripeness in the fall, pick the apples and wash and peel them.Four Apples Core and slice the apples, cutting away and discarding any wormy spots. Prepare the recipe for apple pie as directed, adding the secret ingredient* if needed. When the pie has finished baking, remove it from the oven and set it on a rack to cool. Marvel at the warm, lightly browned aromatic result. Cut and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to an eager audience.

Apple Pie

* secret ingredient – it’s like the joke: “Q. How do you start a fire by rubbing two sticks together? A. Make sure one of the sticks is a match!” So . . . how do you make a luscious nine-inch deep dish apple pie with four apples? Stop at an apple orchard first and buy a few pounds of baking apples. Heehee!

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I am not a chef, and I don’t play one on TV. To be blunt, the kitchen and I don’t get along, so usually we spend as little time together as possible. This past week, however, has necessitated that the two of us share more quality time together. Grudgingly we have done so, and I have to say – and don’t you dare tell anyone this – that it hasn’t been so bad.

When it comes to eating, I’m pretty plain. I’m not big on complicated meals, exotic spices, fancy sauces and such. No butter for my bread, thanks. No gravy on the rice, please. Just a little salt on the French fries, that’s all. So in those rare times when I venture into the kitchen to make something, it’s usually a fairly simple recipe. If the cookbook says it will take ten minutes to prepare, I can plan on half an hour. That’s all right, though. As long as I can understand the instructions and not get stressed out over whatever it is I’m making, I don’t mind taking more time than a capable person should.

I try to follow the recipe to the letter, because disaster usually befalls me if I veer off on my own. Thus, I do not experiment when cooking. But this week, I did just that – experimented with a simple soup recipe. And I have to say that I feel most proud of myself – proud that I experimented, but even more proud that the result actually worked and tasted yummy.

The basic recipe is for carrot soup and goes like this:

1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cans (15 oz each) chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup sour cream, divided

1. Cook and stir the onion in the Italian dressing on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onions are tender.

2. Add carrots, broth and cumin; mix well. Cook 10 minutes or until carrots are tender, stirring frequently. (I let the liquid boil for ten minutes.)

3. Ladle cooked mixture into a blender; cover and blend until pureed. Add 1/4 cup of the sour cream; cover and blend until smooth.

4. Ladle soup evenly into four bowls; top each with 1 tablespoon of remaining sour cream.

The soup is quite delicious. A testament to my plainness – I didn’t add the additional sour cream in step 4, and the soup was just fine.

Now, here is where I became bold with experimentation. We bought a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market last weekend, and I made the soup recipe using half of the cabbage (1 pound) in place of the carrots. (Actually, I added a couple of carrots, but the basic quantity of vegetable matter was one pound.) I was surprised that this worked so well, and it tasted good, too.

The next time, I made the soup again with the other half of the cabbage head, only this time after the mixture was blended, I mixed into it prepared cheddar cheese soup (the directions on the soup can say to add one can of milk; I added just half a can of milk when making the cheddar cheese soup) for a little more protein. This made the soup a little more savory. And it turned out tasty!

This evening, I tried yet another variation on the theme. To make the one pound of vegetables, I combined half a pound of carrots with half a pound of frozen broccoli (thawed). And I still mixed into it the prepared cheddar cheese soup. It looks good – I’m looking forward to trying it.

Carrot, Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup

Bon Appetit!

Emeril* doesn’t have to worry about new competition from me, though. In spite of these, er, recent successes, I still have no desire to become a chef.

* A little humourous aside: In 2001, my partner and I went to Las Vegas to visit a high school classmate. While there, we ventured into Emeril’s restaurant inside the MGM Grand Hotel. As a novelty, we decided to eat lunch there even though it was way pricier than either of us was comfortable with. It was also way fancier and high falutin’ than we were used to. There must have been three plates and two bowls and four glasses and three sets of silverware at each place setting. Well, being cheapskates, er, frugal with our lunch money, we each opted to order just a single entrée – no appetizer, salad, side drink. Holy cow did that insult the waiter. In a theatrically pompous display, he swooped in and removed all of the excess tableware, leaving us with one plate, one glass, and one knife, fork and spoon. Tact was not his strong suit. As I recall, the food was okay, but I wasn’t impressed by the whole experience and wouldn’t do it again.

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I consider myself something of a patient guy. By this I mean that I’m usually capable of waiting for something without getting worked up about it, or that I can wait out difficulties without getting overly stressed about them.

Most of the time. But this business of waiting for some improvement – any improvement – to how my mouth feels has been testing my patience. I had expected that by now, the soreness would have diminished even a little bit and that I’d be able to eat more things without the aid of a blender.


My current favorite kitchen appliance

Alas, I feel about the same as I did on Tuesday. What I’d really like to do is reach up and remove my mouth from my face and leave it on the table overnight so that I could sleep through the night. Something like a ventriloquist’s figure.

Ventriloquist's Dummy

So fortunate to be able to give it a rest

[image courtesy of http://www.puppetsandprops.com/]

So much for priding myself as a patient guy. But there’s humour in here somewhere, I just know it. In fact, I found some of it last night while reading The Far Side at 2:30 in the morning. See, some old guy is lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV, and these doctors (or perhaps scientists; they’re wearing long coats) are pointing and laughing at him. The caption reads, “Testing whether laughter is the best medicine”. The guy in bed doesn’t seem to be buying it, though. Far Side Cartoon

Still, I think laughter is good medicine. It is particularly effective when it temporarily takes one’s mind off of all the grumbling one has been doing while patiently waiting for some sort of improvement. Ahem.

So . . . know any good jokes?

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