Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Duck Tape is Really Just Another Tool

There have been many jokes and stories of how Duct Tape is the savior of the universe (I often refer to it as the Silver Savior.)  Though I'm not here to dispute that (duck tape is too much a part of my life!) there is something about Duck tape that a lot of people don't understand.

Usually jokes about Duck tape fall into two categories. A) Duck Tape doing something it was not meant to do, like tape together a crack in the asphalt or B) Duck tape being used to make something like a prom dress.  These two simple suggestions not withstanding, Duck tape is mostly used to stuck two things together. Duck tape is so much more than that.

There is an axiom that if it doesn't move and it's supposed to, use WD-40; and if it moves and it's not supposed to move, use Duck Tape.  What a lot of people fail to see is the utilitarian mode of Duck Tape: Duck tape as a tool in itself.  So much so, in fact, that we should really call it Tool Tape  or maybe Duck Tool Tape or Duck Tape Tool (I'm digressing, aren't I? Sorry bout that...)

I know I carry around a roll of Duck Tape (yes, always capitalized.  Always!) and I keep a big roll of it in every tool box and near every work area.  Not to tape things up permanently, but as a tool in getting things done.  This is the quintessential use of Duck Tape.  As a temporary bond while you work, an extra pair of hands or just a grip when you need it.

I've used Duck tape in the following 'Duck Tool' ways.
  • You can open a stuck jar with Duck Tape by sticking one end along the edge of the lid and pulling on the other end.  
  • Duck Tape, by its fabric nature and linear tensile strength makes a great temporary carrying handle.  Wrap it around the item to be carried and leave enough to fold together for a handle.
  • And of course, I've used Duck Tape to keep my knee pads in place while I crawl around under the house. 
  • Most recently, I used Duck Tape wrapped around my fingers to keep metal filings from being embedded under my skin while installing drywall screws.  
  • And of course, you can use it for baby sitting, as the above picture demonstrates.  (No, not me, I wouldn't do that to a stuffed Duck!) 
You can still make that new suit out of Duck Tape, and you can still use it to repair some old broken window or decorate your living room with it. That's your decision.  But if you're like me, you strive to the Southern Ideal of the best uses of Duck Tape.

Put some in your tool chest and rely on it often.  Tell everyone that Southern Guy, Marv, explained it all to you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ugly Is as Ugly Does

It's cold out and for some unknown reason, total strangers make odd comments to each other as they get on the bus.  Today a guy sat down next to me and we engaged in the usual "Ooo Wee, ain't it COLD!" before getting out our reading material: His was his phone, mine was my Electronic Reader.

After a few minutes, this guy nudges me as some other guy gets on and he mutters the phrase "Who ever said Ugly goes all the way to the bone was sure right there, amirightbuddy?"  And I glanced up to see a guy I've seen on the bus many times.  He's short, round and very much resembles Danny Divito in his days on 'Taxi.'  He wears a dirty baseball cap and carries a dirty grey canvas zippered bag.  Dirty scuffed work books barely stay on his feet due to the laces being shorter than needed and the tops of the boots open and flapping about.  But with all his dirty hat, bag and even his jeans look well used, he is self effacing, polite and doesn't even smell bad.  

I was struck by the comment made by my unnamed fellow passenger as rather subjective and decide that his comment needs no extra input on my part.  But the more I thought on it, the more it sort of got to me.  Who is HE to be commenting on the looks of anyone, let alone this hard working sole on the bus.

Been a while since I've done a flashback and doing it while some stranger stares me down may seem odd, but let's do it anyway.

Many years ago I worked as a salesman for mobile homes. Not just any  homes, but the Cadillac of Mobile Homes. Very well made, very pricey! On one particular rainy afternoon, we salesmen watched out the front window of our office as a worn out station wagon stopped and jerked its way into the parking lot.  We could make out the dirty face of the driver, the dirty face of the wife and the dirty faces of 3 - no wait, is that 5? kids bouncing around in the back seat.  It was obvious to us that these were people just looking for a way to get out of the house  and let the kids run a bit to wear them out.

We did what any salesman would do: we stood stock still.  

The boss came out of his office and asked pointedly who was going to help the family and we all just sort of shrugged.  He grabbed a handful of umbrellas out of the closet and ran out into the rain throwing epithets of laziness back at us.  We watched as he handed out umbrellas and escorted the family into the most expensive home on the lot.  

In a short while, he returned escorting the family into his office where he made a sale. CASH. He later explained that the father owned a construction company which had just got the bid on a new high school in a small town about an hour away.  He hated to be away from his family so he was buying a mobile home for them to live in during the construction.  The wife home schooled their 5 children and didn't mind the move.  The car was borrowed as his new Mercedes as in the shop for a tune up and her BMW was across town where they would pick it up on the way home. Commission lost, Lesson Learned: never judge a book by its cover, or a person by their worn clothes, boots or dirty canvas bag.  

Coming back to the present, I note that the guy next to me was no real beauty.  He had a big red drinker's nose, a bad comb over and a beard that was more fantasy than reality.  Though he wore a suit, he smelled badly of cigarettes and I'm guessing he hadn't brushed his teeth in a decade. 

I realized he was looking at me expecting some sort of comment about the Divito Look-A-Like who now sat in the back of the bus.  All in all, I just didn't agree with his assessment, but couldn't really say that in so many words. I also didn't want to blatantly insult the guy with a comment on the drinker's nose, comb over etc.  My endeavors to be a true southern gentleman would not allow it.

In my efforts to be the Southern Gentleman, I came up with the best line I could think of.  I put my eyes back on my reader and said rather matter of fact, "We're all ugly to someone, Bubba."  We rode the rest of the way in silence.

Southern Detente, my friends, Southern Detente. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Civil War Reenactments - The Subculture

One cannot live in the South without hearing the almost daily reference to The Great War of Northern Aggression - called the Civil War by Historians and Northerners.  Now, I don't wish to get into a long discussion of the aggression of the north, the way in which it has always been depicted or the color of the uniforms.  (Grey? Seriously?  All the colors of the rainbow and they chose GREY?) 

This week, I'd like to take a few minutes and share with you information about a subculture of individuals (of both north and south) and their love of the war. Well, not really the war, I mean how can someone 'love' a war?  What they love, what they live for is the reenactment of the major (and even some minor) battles of the war itself.  

This is not a bad thing, and I wish to clarify that anything that allows us to learn from history is always a good thing.  The part that amazes me is how these people (women included) go out into the hot, humid and sometimes cold weather and stand around for hours just to reenact one battle which may only take a few minutes to complete.  If it were me? I'd be in an RV watching the entire thing on closed circuit cameras mounted on the roof along with the requisite mosquito cannons pointed in all directions.  (Hate them skeeters, I duz!)  

In addition, I must admit that there are groups of enactors across the country, in the north, and even as far west as Oregon.  Not only THAT, but within the subculture of  "Re-enactors" you have factions or subcategories of enthusiasts, according to their dedication and accuracy in the performance of their roles.   

There are basically three:  
  • Hardcore: This is the true passionate re-enactor who goes out of his way to buy period manufactured hardware or period accurate clothing.  They wear the same clothes, carry what a soldier of that time may have carried and even cut their hair with a rusty sabre while sitting in an old barn. They are careful not to use any modern fabrics or comforts.    It should go without saying that they look with hard 1800's disdain on anyone who is not in this category. 
  • Farbs:  Farbs are, to the best that I can tell, the direct opposite of the Harcore ReEnactor. They try to be authentic, but get outfits made by costume shops, or buy props rather than official period pieces.  They enjoy the hobby but don't get too wrapped up in its authenticity.  (And before you ask, no one really knows where the term FARB originated.) 
  • Mainstream:   Right in the middle are what both sides call 'mainstreamers'.  These are the people who don't fall exactly into either camp.  They may buy authentic clothing, but still keep their prescription lenses, and comfy underwear.  Its sort of based on what is important - to them.  Comfort, and their own level of need trump what is authentic.  
Of course, none of these categories mentions anything about an RV, cameras or mosquito cannons. I don't think anyone is going to let me set my own category, so I guess I will fall into the one category not part of the re-enactment: Spectators.

Yes, make your own category in life. That's the true southern way.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Potato Two Potato

I've stated it time and time again, I love the South.  Yes, capitalized all formal like.  There is no real one reason why I love the south, but just the other day I came upon something that not only surprised me and delighted me but again cemented that thought that the South is the place to be.  

There I was walking to work in the early light when I came up on the most interesting display you see above.  I took a picture. Like it was an art installation of some sort. I marveled at its simplicity.  

Take a closer look.  In fact, here, let me blow it up for you.  
Yep, that's right.  Two medium sized baking potatoes laying right there on the sidewalk in downtown NashVegas.  I looked around for the requisite butter and sour cream (without Sour Cream it's hardly Kosher) but, alas, none to be found.  No ketchup for fries, no pan for hash browns - nothing.  Just a couple of Idaho Spuds hanging out in the Art District of Music City.  It was enough to make you smile, and a smile first thing in the morning on the way to work is the best way to start the day.  

Now, I hear what you're thinking.  I'm spooky that way.  How does a couple of spuds falling out of a shopper's shopping bag mean the South is so wonderful.  It's not the great potates, nor the location, but the fact that someone took the time to carefully lay these off to the side where they a) wouldn't be underfoot and thus destroyed by people headed to the day's toiling, and b) possibly be found by the owner who might come looking for them.  

Now, you begin to see why I love the South?  
Is any more proof needed?  I think not.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Didn't See You There - Dinnertime Edition

As much as this falls into that area of Suthun Camouflage, I'd love to make a little joke about how if I put my blackened chicken sandwich (with requisite fries) on it to eat; that I might lose it because, well, it's camouflaged.  But this time, this is less of a camo design than an homage to camo design.  (Did I use that work right, bubba?)

This is not the typical leaves on the ground camo design we usually find when out and about.  (Saw a guy the other day with two types of camo on at the same time!  I hear ya: If he was camouflaged, how did I see him. Stop that, you're making me digress!) This design is a combination of both leaves & sticks, but also the side of a log cabin.  It's more picturesque than really 'camo.'  Made of high impact polystyrene, they're designed for use at picnics, barbecues or other outdoor events where plastic dinnerware would be required.

I'd really like to have some of these dishes and may actually find them in my house one day but for the moment, I will just enjoy them in the store.  Just another reason to love things found in the south.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shopping the Roadside

One of the things I enjoy about the south is the way that Southerners dispose of unwanted but usable items. (Though I'm not entirely sure that this is a Southern thing; but let's get past that and enjoy my amazing writing skills, shall we?)

Every so often I'll be driving down the street and see things sitting by the roadside.  TVs, shelves, even exercise equipment just sitting there.  Sometimes they will have a hand written sign saying "FREE" or "TAKE ME" and always I slow down to see what it might be. The objects in the picture above turned out to be a bin of silk flowers.  I'd like to have kept the bin, but didn't want the flowers.  I'll pass.
A couple of days later, on the same road, here's a line up of three TVs and a couple of mattresses. I can tell by the design that these are older style 'non-digital' TVs and as I don't really need any more TVs; again - I'll pass.  

In all this passing up of roadside shopping, the thing to note is that these things DO disappear. People pick them up, take them home and fix them, clean them and end up with some usable item for their home.  

In fact, I've done it myself!  In my work area right now are two chairs we 'rescued' from the side of the road, which my wife and I will refinish when the living room is done.  (Oh there I go again, mentioning that dang living room project and I said I wasn't going to go there.  But at least I'm digressing again which is always a good sign.)  

I also once picked up a nice Gun Cabinet. (Yes, Bubba, capitalized.) Now, every southerner with a gun has a special place to put them and a gun cabinet seemed the ideal solution to my storage needs.  Load it up and take it home!  The front glass door was cracked but I planned on covering that for more security.  To make a long story short, my projects (read: living room) never included the cabinet, and it ended up by the side of the road in front of my house along with an old mirror, an old vacuum cleaner and a TV (I guess there must always be a TV).  They were gone in no time.  

When I'm considering getting rid of things I no longer want or need, it's amazing to me that there is someone else that would overlook the mouse droppings in the bottom or the spider webs on the back and (hopefully) get some use out of it.  If not, they are probably like me, and will place it back on the side of the road.  

Now I'm wondering how many times that gun cabinet has been passed along by the road side.  Life here in the south sure can be thought provoking.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pretty as a Pitcher

Not too long ago I put up a very popular post about mason jars as drinking glasses.  Ever since that time I keep my eye out for those handled mugs and I even update the post from time to time.  Today, I surprised myself. What you see above is the pitcher to go with those mugs.

Made by Alladin and not Mason, this big two-quart pitcher is made of thick polystyrene and is light as a feather! (Ok, so maybe slightly heavier than a feather, but much lighter than glass would be in the same size!  Am! I! using! enough! exclamation! points?)  Made to resemble a big canning jar, it has both the Aladdin and Mason names formed into its side.  I'm figuring it for about a two quart pitcher (just right for Kool Aid!) and I wonder at the nifty effect of putting black cherry Kool Aid into that Blue Pitcher.

I looked around for the matching mugs to go with this pitcher, but all I found were cups with caps and straws. It would seem to me that this should be a set: 1 handled pitcher and 4 matching handled glasses.   Must I think of Everything?  A stylish way to drink your favorite beverage and the plastic won't break easily.

Maybe I just need to look around a bit more.  The South Hides Things Very Well!