Learning the Hard Way

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

It is always interesting, after the fact, to remember the decisions you made that caused some bad thing to happen. Looking back, you can see the errors. But at the time, you were doing things that made sense.

One of the staple foods I have in my kitchen cabinets is honey. I grew up eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches. In the poverty of my first year of graduate school, I sometimes had peanut butter and honey sandwiches three times a day. I couldn’t afford anything else.

But honey has a nasty habit of crystallizing. The honey gets dull and solid until it will no longer come out of a squeeze dispenser. That just happened to me. But I had an inspiration for melting the crystallized goo back into liquid honey. I popped my honey dispenser in the microwave and nuked it for just 20 seconds. The photo shows what happened. The dispenser will never be the same, and I had to mop up honey from all over the microwave.

That’s one dumb stunt I’ll never do again, for I learned that lesson the hard way.

In the summer of 1970 my erstwife (let’s call her Carol in this story) and I lived along the Saint Croix River. We discovered a wonderful fishing hole north of us, just upstream of Osceola, Wisconsin. Night after night we’d go upriver to our fishing spot at the foot of an island and—quite literally—catch fish until our arms got tired.

Then Carol got busy, and I began fishing alone. The canoe wasn’t stable without a person in the front end, so I found a large boulder that I called “Carol.” I put the rock in the front of the canoe to keep everything steady while I fished. The rock worked so well that I safely walked around the canoe standing up, which is not something the experts recommend.

One afternoon in September I enjoyed what I knew would be my last evening of fishing for that season. Grad school and work were about to start up, so I’d not fish there again until next year. I canoed back downstream to the Osceola bridge where my car was parked. I realized I no longer needed my boulder. With the canoe close to shore, I walked to the front of the canoe, grabbed “Carol” (the rock) and chucked her overboard.

In cartoons when Wile E. Coyote has just made a fatal error there is a terrifying pause. Time stops as he processes what he has done and what is going to happen to him. The cartoon is absolutely true to life. On the river I had my Wile E. Coyote moment. For several seconds I contemplated the fact that I was standing upright in an unstabilized canoe. Then the thing spun like a birling log under a lumberjack. I went sailing, my fishing rod flew even further, and soon we were both in the river. I survived. The fishing rod was never seen again.

And I never walked upright in a canoe again. Well, you don’t forget a lesson you learn the hard way.

What have you learned the hard way?

How Come I’m Getting This?

We are finally getting a new refrigerator. Turns out Excel Energy has a rebate for getting a new one, and will come and pick up our old one as long as it’s still operational. (We’ll see if it’s quieter than the one that I yell at.)

So in making our decision, I first went online to gauge how many cubic feet our Frigidaire is (18). The next day I noticed a refrigerator ad when I got on the internet. I don’t ordinarily pay ANY mind to what ads are there, but the fridge ones caught me, and I’ve started paying attention. Here are some examples of what shows up:

  • solar panels
  • Lincoln Continental
  • Hulu
  • John Deere
  • Walgreens Rewards
  • Build.com (refrig)
  • Sears (refrig)

and ironically enough, a box that says:

  • Click Here to Start Blocking Ads

And then of course there are the Suggested Posts on Facebook…

  • Viking River Cruises
  • a home safety equipment place with Grippers for bathtub
  • Toyota USA
  • nakedwines.com
  • etee (apparently an alternative to plastic wrap)

to name a few.

For some of them, I can imagine how they came to be part of my internet experience, but Lincoln Continental? Do any of you bloggers know the ins and outs of this?

What kind of ads show up on YOUR computer threads?

Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

At 74, I’ve been experiencing increasing physical weakness. A year ago, my three kids did a one-by-one intervention on me to get me to move and gain some physical strength for my upcoming trip to Africa. I still can’t believe that my first trip away from Minnesota was to Africa! It’d been years since I’d even walk to my mailbox. I’d pick it up when I drove past it a couple of times a week. They were very adamant that my excursion to Africa would deplete me because I was so physically weak. Finally, I took them seriously.

I agreed with them even though they’d tried for years to get me to do something – anything- to gain physical strength. Finally, between them and my upcoming Africa trip, I joined a gym and began working out five days a week. I started doing what’s called “TRX”, a class of around a dozen or more mostly older people which involves using long straps with handles. Each day, we work out every muscle group for about 45 minutes. We talk the whole time which makes it a guaranteed daily social experience. Going to a gym solo would never work for me. Hell, I won’t go to a restaurant or a movie by myself! For me, everything has to be a social experience. What fun would it be to go to a movie without someone with whom to share it afterwards? Or go to a restaurant without chatting while eating?
I am stronger now and have some sinewy muscles. One day, I took a picture to text to my kids, but the pictures showed sagging skin beneath my new biceps so I deleted them. Still, I can’t deny that I have more strength and stamina now than I have in years. This class has people from 20 to 96 and is so doable. Most of all, I enjoy the camaraderie of people I’ve come to know.
These daily classes also get me out of the cottage and away from my obsessive opinion posting. Truth be told, until this daily routine, my lifestyle would be perfect for a nursing home resident (a thought I’ve had many times). I still go when I don’t feel like it after a whole year. My kids are very pleased. And, in a small way, I’m proud of myself.
Describe your favorite fantasy fitness regimen!

Don’t Cry Over Spilt…..

Photo credit: Associated Press

The news out of Poland last week included an item about a tanker truck that crashed and dumped its contents all over the highway. Its contents?  Liquid chocolate.

Luckily it happened pretty early in the morning and no one was injured in the accident. But that wasn’t really the end of the story.  The fire brigade sent to clean it up needed to bring in hot water because the chocolate was solidifying too fast to be able to scrap it up easily.  And then the story went viral, hitting so many news feeds that people began to think it was a hoax.  It’s even listed (and verified) on Snopes.com.

What unusual thing have you spilled?

Defeated Efforts

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

I made a big mistake. I decided to paint plastic stackable lawn chairs to match my flower boxes, shutters, and screen doors. I spent three days painting them. They looked great and I loved having everything match. The first time I stacked them, most of the paint peeled off. I was disheartened after all of that work.

Not to be defeated, I googled “How to paint plastic chairs”. Off to True Value to buy a special cleaner, primer, sandpaper, a scraper, and a quart of paint closer to the color I wanted. Then, I set upon laboriously scraping paint off one chair. The first one took 1.5 hours. I decided that since these chairs only cost $5 each, I’d just order six more. $5 dollars aren’t worth 1.5 hours per chair!

In the background are 70 bags of cypress mulch. I’m still trying to find some guys to spread them. My age is catching up to me, and after 15 years of doing this myself, I really do need help! Spring on the lake is labor-intensive and I can’t keep on top of it anymore, hard as I try. I’ve learned to ask for help. This winter, I couldn’t find my cell phone in the house. My neighbors are all in Florida for the winter, so I walked out to the county road and flagged down a car. I asked the man to please call my number. I lost my car in a parking ramp, walked to the door and asked the first person out, “Are you in a hurry to be somewhere?”. She kindly drove me around until I found it. I guess that with age comes with people who feel good helping me?

Now, I’m looking for someone to shovel up a dead, maggot-filled raccoon on my yard.

Do you ask for help?

Not a Good Fit

Many years ago I had a 3-week job in May planting trees in Superior National Forest. This year I am in the midst of a 4 ½ week job scoring standardized tests. Can you guess which job is a better fit for my personality?

The current job is basically sitting and staring at the computer. All the time. Besides breaks and lunch, there is absolutely no need to get up and move or look at something besides a screen unless you want to stretch or go to the restroom. I keep thinking about the tree-planting job and wishing I could do something like that instead of what I’m doing now (although my body would probably have a harder time planting trees all day for three weeks than it did when I was 18). I told a co-worker about the tree-planting job and she said something about not having to think very hard at that job. And I thought to myself: you may think it wasn’t that stimulating mentally, but my thoughts were free because I could think anything I wanted instead of focusing only on 3rd grade English essays – and what can be better than all that fresh air and exercise? This current job is slow torture for someone like me.

What things do you do that are not a good fit for your personality? Or that are a good fit?


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