Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Self Produced Methane

Ok, let's get to it. I fart. A lot. I'm a man, we all fart. AND if most women would admit it, they also fart (though, admittedly, not near as much.) It's part of being a human being. In an ideal society, (or on some unpublished episode of Star Trek) we'd have found ways of capturing this flammable gas and use it to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. (Spock! More Beans! More Beans, Spock! )

In most of the country farting in public is an insult of the highest order. Just hearing the sound of a fart is enough to get people in a tizzy. AND, strangely enough, if they DON'T hear it and later discover the offending odor, that's even worse. I've tried keeping it in, and trust me no one wants to see me squinting and holding my hind end tightly closed with both hands anymore than they want to hear me tear one off. (And I can really sound off, you-know-what-I'm-sayin?)

When I was a kid, farting was not only a pleasure but the stigma of offense was nonexistent. It released stress and pressure on your insides. "There's more room on the outside than there is on the inside!" we'd always say. And let's face it, kids love farts. I mean, come ON! Your own body creates a flammable gas which comes out your butt? What could be more fun? And top that off with the fact that you really couldn't predict when they showed up. When I was a kid, my older brother would fart and then challenge my younger brother and I to do better. And, yeah, we'd accept that challenge. We'd laugh and mom would shake her head. I'd like to see us all return to that time, when offending sounds and odors were more a basis to a good laugh rather than a reason to chastise someone. It would be the perfect society; a place where anything is possible.

I know a few guys here in the South to whom farting is an art. You know those kids who can burp the alphabet? These guys are like that. Each fart they create is like poetry. They name the different ones, practice them, and perform them on demand (with requisite points dependent on degree of difficulty.) Oddly, the people around them don't seem to mind. Yes, these 'fartistic" endeavors are performed outdoors, and I'm sure the consumption of broccoli and beans is part of the tradition. Oh yeah, and beer...not so much because it makes you fart, but because to the Suthun Man beer goes so well (The use of lighters and matches are for professionals only - remember kids, don't try this without supervision!)

I'm pretty sure that these guys can only be found in the South proving once again, that the South is closer to the perfect society than any other. So enjoy your time here, and feel free to enjoy the air. I'll be right back, I have to open a window...again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Pet Peeve from a Suthunah Wannabee

Suthun Men can do just about anything. They can hunt, they can fish and they repair just about anything given a paper clip and a fresh roll of duct tape. The good Suthunah buys Duck tape not by the roll but by the case.

Suthun men also seem to be able to work on an automobile as if it were an extension of their very selves. There are 3 auto parts stores within a mile of my house giving proof to the Do-it-Yourself attitude of the Suthun Male...And to be sure, I know one couple where SHE is the one under the chassis and HE is the one standing by with the lemonade and sandwiches (and they are really good sandwiches.)

We have a nice 10 year old car with which we have tried to take the utmost care. Regular work, oil changes, the constant care is important as cars age. We aren't in the position to get a new one and this one is our only vehicle. In true DIY style, over the past few years I've personally replaced a fuel pump, brake pads, thermostat and even the battery (oh wait, that was an easy one.)

Ok, so this brings me to my Pet Peeve. Story time: (no need for wavy visual effects or harp glissando...let's just get to it.) The car broke. The key wouldn't turn in the ignition and we were left with no alternative than for me to replace the key switch. Had to wait til Saturday, but that's not what peeves me.

Peeve number 1: Instructions. In preparation for the repair, I researched the steps needed to replace the key switch. (I had never done it before and wanted to be a bit more informed.) They seemed simple enough and with a printed copy handy I prepared for the project. I ordered the parts and picked them up at the Auto Parts store right there in the shopping center where I hop off the bus every day. Again, it's only a 1.12 mile walk to home, so it's not that bad.

Saturday morning. Ok, now we're in it. The instructions say "Remove the 10 screws which hold the dashboard in place. " What the instructions DON'T say is that there are only 5 screws AND there are actually 2 different kinds of screws. The first is, of course, Phillips (ok, easy peasy, I always have a screwdriver handy with both standard flat and phillips heads) but the second is a hex bolt. I had to go through all my sockets until I found that it was a 10mm hex head. (Seriously? METRIC? On an AMERICAN CAR? Who designed this?)

Oh, but wait, it gets worse. The instructions ALSO DON'T say that you have to remove the upper part of the dash, and there is no way for the average Suthunah to know that this thing is just popped into place with a couple of spade fittings. I searched around for screws for several minutes. Ok, so I got that removed.

Finally got down to the insides and found AGAIN that the instructions are WOEFULLY inadequate. "Remove the two screws which hold the unit to the steering column" neglects to say that you will need a special SECURITY bit. A mile walk to the auto parts store to buy the dang thing and then a mile back to get the job done. And that's the way it goes, constantly on instructions of this sort. "Disengage the Actuator Rod" What? How does one 'disengage' the actuator rod? No clue. (Let alone the fact that a guy such as me doesn't even know what an Actuator Rod is, or does!) Finally figured out that once you take the screws out of the ignition switch itself (this is not the key part) you have to press in on a couple of plastic flanges and pull off the ignition switch to remove it. THIS is what disengages the Actuator Rod. (I swear sometimes the way these things are written is just to mess with your head!) The Actuator Rod, for those of you who are wondering, is a rod assembly which connects from the Key Cylinder to the Ignition switch.

BUT we're not done. Here's where Pet Peeve Number 2 comes in. In order to get the key switch out, you have to turn the key to the 'accessory setting.' If the switch is broken and you are unable to turn the key (which is, by the way, the reason I have to replace it in the first place!) HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO GET THIS DONE? I would imagine that this would entail removing the entire steering column, removing the wind-shield and maybe even dropping the engine to get the thing apart. Who's freaking idea was that? (Yeah yeah, I know, is' a 'SECURITY' feature. To me it's a PITA!*) At least I did get it done.

How did I get this done? In true suthun manner. A hammer. In my frustration at not being able to turn the key I smacked the end of the key with a hammer. I heard something sort of 'click' (read: break) inside the unit and suddenly I was able to turn the key. I contemplated simply leaving it ... yeah, for about .01 seconds. All I need is for the lovely wife to be out and about shopping and suddenly the key wouldn't turn while she sat in the Suthun Heat with melting ice cream in the sack next to her. (Oh dear lord, not the ice cream!!)

Once I got the key switch out, the entire process was mostly complete. The new key cylinder slipped in place, all the screws went back in quickly (no problems since I had the 10mm socket AND the Security bit handy) and the car turned over easily. We went out and tested both keys later that day, doing our weekend shopping and I'm happy to report that I have completed yet another repair.

You will also be happy to know that I have NOT put a hit out on any of those people who wrote the instructions.

A true suthun gennelman does not hold a grudge.

*PITA: No, it's not a bread pocket, it's an anagram, and stands for
Pain In The A$$.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Ryman Auditorium

As my 58' limo (regular readers know I take the bus...) makes its way toward work in downtown Nashville, we pass by many venerable locations recognized within the Nashville Music Community. NONE is more sacred to this scene than the Ryman Auditorium. (See Above.)

It's surprising to the Non Suthunah to learn that this is the absolute Epicenter of Country Music in Nashville. It is also surprising to learn that the Ryman started out as a church, built by one Thomas Ryman for the express purpose of spreading the teachings of one Reverend Samual P. Jones. Originally called the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the building to this day resembles a big church.

Throughout its storied history the stage has been rebuilt, performers have performed and preachers have preached; presidents have used the stage for speeches, lectures by notables such as Helen Keller and Charlie Chaplan Nothing in its history is more important, however, than June 5th, 1943 when the Grand Old Opry moved to the Ryman Stage where it will stay for more than 25 years.

Renovated many times, and now a fantastic venue once again for speeches, lectures and performances by Country Artists and Idol Winners, the Ryman continues to be a storied building in the heart of Nashville's downtown.

Now comes the information that only a local suthunah would know. What you see above? Yeah, that's the Ryman....the original front entrance. however it is not the current entrance. Many years back they got the great idea to renovate and add a new entrance, on the back. Here it is:

It's almost like a totally different building. So, when you come to visit, and want to view the place, go look at the front for it's beautiful 17th Century Architecture. Want to see a concert? Go to the back..or is that now the front? It's just one of those little things that makes the South Fun and interesting.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mason Jars as Drinking Glasses

The other night we were watching an episode of a favorite program, when one of the scenes featured a bit of the south which I really love. Mason Jars for drinking.

I'm sure most of you have a nifty set of glasses which you use in your everyday meals, but when it comes to killing a thirst, there is nothing like a quart jar of your favorite beverage to do the trick. You can find them by the dozens in just about any grocery store; most commonly near the end of the summer when gardeners are ready to be 'canning' their garden-gotten-gains. (Yeah, it's a strange notion to be canning with glass jars, but just go with it, ok?)

I first discovered Mason Jars for drinking when we went to a little restaurant in an out of the way place on a trip to the southern coast many years ago. Not only did they put a big quart jar of ice water on the table for each person, but every beverage from sodas to iced tea came in one of these crowd-pleasers. Our table top looked like we were smack in the middle of canning season before they brought out the main course.

Just so's ya know, Mason Jars were invented and patented by John Landis Mason, a Philadelphia tinsmith in 1858. (Whatdayaknow...a nawthener!) They are also called Ball jars, after Ball Corp., a popular and early manufacturer of the jars; 'fruit jars' because they are often used to store fruit; 'jam jars' or generically as glass canning jars. While largely supplanted by other methods for commercial mass-production, they are still commonly used in home canning.

Today, the terms often refer to any of the jars featuring a two-piece cover: an inner, flat, metal or glass lid, covered by a screw-on ring. The ring holds the lid in place during the canning process, which creates a partial vacuum, sealing the lid until opened. Because lids are sold separately, the jars and rings can be reused.

Mason jars are made of soda-lime glass, and come in a variety of sizes including pint, quart, half-gallon, and cup, as well as in wide-mouth and regular-mouth openings. (I prefer the wide mouth quart, myself.) There are also jars ready made for drinking which come with a handle on the side. These are great for the young ones as they are harder to drop (though dropping a mason jar may, indeed, be a mess, they are more easily replaced than those special delicate glasses you got at your wedding from your dear old aunty.)

Perhaps the hardest part of using the jars for drinking is that filling up a few of these jars can empty the biggest of pitchers. It might be a good idea at home to keep your beverage of choice in gallons for your big thirsty family.  (Many people have asked me where you can find these - but with the handle on the side just right for holding that ice cold beverage.  Always wanting to please, I found this: Click Here! and also this: Click Here! AND, this last weekend, November 2013, I found these At Walmart!)

With only the wife and myself, though, it seems rather extraneous to make up so much at one time. Thank God for Google. I found a great recipe for making lemonade or iced tea right in the jars and you can make up several and store them (covered!) in the fridge for when you need them. (In addition, for those who like to take that cold beverage to into the out of doors, there is a nifty doodad called the "Cuppow Lid" - perfect for taking outside to work in the yard, the lids keep the wasps, bugs and cicadas out of your drink while you work or relax!)

The summer is right around the corner, and some Suthun Sweet Tea (with the requisite capital letters) in a mason jar is gonna be one of the highlights this summer! I hope it's one of your highlights, too!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Cicadas are Back

If you are a regular reader, you will already know a bit about the 13 year swarm of the red eyed devils (aka Cicadas). My last encounter with the little buggers has left me emotionally scarred, but at the same time I understand them. We bonded. Me and about a thousand female cicadas

So, with my experiences behind me, it surprised even me as to what happened last Friday.

I was leaving work and there on the floor, crawling about some five floors above ground level was a female cicada. (How did I know it was female? I'd rather not say, OK? Just read on...)

At first I merely shrugged and said "hey, you're in the wrong place there, girlie.." and headed for the elevator. But then I remembered a story I read about a man on a beach.

(Cue story sequence...glissando of harp, wavy visual effects)
So, as the story goes, a man was out after a storm and was walking along the beach and noted a huge number of starfish washed up on the beach from the storm.. He came upon another man who was picking up the starfish one by one and tossing them back into the sea.

"What are you doing?" asked the first man.
"I'm saving starfish." stated the second man.
"What for, you can't possibly save them all, nor can you save enough to make a difference."
The second man paused from the conversation to pick up a starfish and toss it into the sea.
"It makes a difference to this one." he said.
The two men spent the rest of the day throwing starfish into the sea.
(End Story sequence, cue glissando of harp, wavy visual effects, but not too much as they make me seasick...)

Ok, so I remembered the story a lot quicker than it took to tell. I looked over at the pathetic little thing and as the elevator door opened I made up my mind. I walked over and carefully grabbed the cicada by its closed wings. I was careful not to destroy the wings nor hurt her tail. (See? I know cicadas....)

I carried it back over to the elevator (it had waited for me with the doors standing open) and carried it all the way down to the lobby and out onto the plaza in front of our building. The wind was pretty heavy that day so I gently tossed her up into the wind in the direction it was blowing.

The cicada immediately flared her wings (proof I hadn't messed them up) and took to the air, heading right to a big bushy tree in the plaza (where I'm certain that she found some willing male cicadas with which to reside.) If she had stayed in the building, there was a good chance that the cleaning crew would have killed her, and now she at least had a chance to find a mate before the end of its cycle. (They only got about 6 weeks to mate and lay eggs.)

Yeah, my self satisfaction meter was off the charts. So much so that I totally forgot all about the crazy things when I went out to use the big string trimmer on the yard this weekend. Both the Lawn Mower and the trimmer brought out the cicadas in droves.. Droves? No that's too light a word. It was a veritable TORNADO of bugs! A Cacophony of Clicking Cicadas! It was an AIR TSUNAMI of...oh ok, I'll move on now....Oh and I learned something new. Male cicadas don't like some big studly white hatted wanna-be messing around in their space. They do not require a 'wingman.' To let you know this, they will dive bomb you making a horrendous screeching noise. Above is a picture of me covered in female cicadas. (The camera couldn't pick up the swarm as they danced around me, but you can see them on my shirt, pants and even on the edge of my hat!) I only wish I could add in the sound effects.

The best way to describe this is like being in the middle of a crowd of 14 yr old teenagers at a Justin Beiber concert. There's a lot of noise, YOU know what they want, and you also know there's no way anyone is getting it.

I love living in the south, even with all the big bugs.