Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Didn't See You There - Pocket Edition

Not too long ago I lamented the fact that I,  a Southern Wanna-Be did not own any camo gear.  For the uninitiated, Camo is short for camouflage.  Much of a good Southern Man's wardrobe can be found to be camo in design.  You'll see hunters sporting the design, but also your everyday Joe can be found in camo on a regular basis - Heck even kids enjoy the design.

For those that don't realize it, there are mainly two kids of camouflage:  Difused Colors and Photo realistic. Diffused colors are the designs you see on Army gear. They are designed to hide equipment and men in any given area using the local colors (like greens and brown for forests, tan and khaki for deserts.)  Photorealistic patterns attempt to mimic actual leaves, grass and trees in the same way as to hide something from the naked eye.  

But it's still difficult to decide on your first Camo Gear. (You think some kids company has put out a My First Camo Gear line?  Sorry, digressing again...) I had thought maybe a pair of lounging pants, or perhaps a tee-shirt maybe just a camo hat; but the decision was taken away from me (thankyouthankyouthankyou!) by a good friend who sent me the item above. 

As you can see, it is a wallet.  It falls into the Photo realistic category of camo designs but for the Wanna-Bee Southern Gentleman myself, this is also nifty as it is made entirely of DUCK TAPE.  Duck Tape recently has begun putting out all sorts of designs and this terrific pattern is just one of them.  Now, to make matters even better, she tells me that this wallet was made by a 14 yr old boy she knows!  When I was 14 I was still trying to figure out how to tie my shoes!  

I love this wallet as it makes me more southern.  I most assuredly won't go into the fact that both the friend who sent it to me and the 14 yr old maker are both from CANADA.  (Yes, Southern Canada!) I'll just be glad they made the choice for me so I didn't end up with something like this:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pocket Knives and Multi Tools

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  In other words, I had to go under the house for a couple of projects this last weekend.  For those new readers who don't  know, I hate going under the house. I'd rather attend a Justin Beiber concert than go under my house! I'd rather have knitting needles run through my eyes than go under my house.  In fact, I'd rather have knitting needles run through my eyes while at a justing Bieber concert than go under my house!  Get the idea?

There is usually some special project that  has accumulated which requires me to do something down in the bowels of my abode but also would cost an arm and a leg to get someone ELSE to crawl under there and well, I'm not about to do that. That means, of course, yours truly gets to do it.  My joy knows no bounds.  

So, in honor of MLK Day, it would seem, I gathered together my tools and materials and ventured into the dark, dank under world of the crawl space under my house.  I had to run a couple of new cables for cable TV and I had also planned a couple of other things - I never go under the house with just one project.  

So, there I was, under the house.  Can you imagine it? With all the pipes in the way, the uneven hard rocks under my knees, and enough dust to do a remake of the Mummy (the one with Brendan Frasier and the sandstorm. Yes, sand and dust are not the same, but just go with it, ok?) There's darkness, very little workspace, and me.  

As I am moving around, laying out cable and spraying foam about to keep mice out, I notice that there is one of those big soft air tubes connecting one of the vents, which is sagging down.  I also note that the aluminum strap which is supposed to hold it up is broken.  I'm always glad to fix things when I find them while under the house, and reach for my big multi-tool to see if I can fix it. Anguish: I left it out in the shed and I'm not about to crawl out just to go get it.  

The Southern Handyman (read: homeowner) must always be prepared, however and that's when I realized that I had my pocket knife.  It's one of those big red Swiss Army Knives by Victorinox and I carry it everywhere, including, it would seem - under the house! All I need to do is pull a screw out of the beam and then put it back, holding the aluminum strap in place.  I even paused to take a picture of the whole thing.  (Yeah, I had my camera phone with me too!) 

The knife made short work of the screw and I was back to crawling all over in the dirt and dust.  The only easy thing about this is that it was cold this weekend and the spiders were hiding.

Small blessings.  Pocket knives and sleeping spiders.  Under the house, in the South.  
Now, I had better go take some more pain killers, I ache all over...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Silver Savior - Not Just Silver Any More

Walking through the craft store the other day, I spied this display from a distance.  I was wandering around while my wife looked at jewelry making supplies.  You can only look at fabric, acrylic paint and crayons for so long.  (Yes, they have a whole aisle devoted just to crayons.  You just can't imagine!) So I found myself attracted to this display off in a corner where they used to else.

At first I wondered what kind of ribbon it might be in big rolls.  As I got closer I was stunned.  It's Duck Tape! See the logo in the top middle of the display there?  This is the real stuff.  There are over 150 different colors and patterns in both rolls and sheets! (Yes, 12 inch by 12 inch Duck Tape SHEETS!) There are colors and stripes and patterns like flowers and frogs and even little cars! It was a veritable Duck-Tape-Palooza!  A Duck Tape Cornucopia! There were more choices than ticks on a hound! 

You can imagine my mouth hanging open and my eyebrows pushing (well, pushing nothing, cuz see, I'm sort of balding up top there, but let's not digress shall we?) as I reached for the camera to document this most auspicious of occasions.  It was all I could do to keep the spittle from running into my shoes while I clicked the shutter. There's not enough room in my shed to hold all these different rolls of tape, let alone in my tool box. I may have to buy a new tool box the size of a pickup truck to hold them all!

All attempts at humor aside, when you mention Duck Tape to a Southerner - well to anyone for that matter - they immediately, think of that Silver Savior, the 2nd most used tool in the Southern Man's toolbox (right behind WD-40).  Shiny Gray in color, waterproof and most assuredly not for DUCTS (check the link, bubba) Duck Tape has been a part of the American landscape since the late 1940's.  But now, there are colors and patterns for anyone and for any use. I hesitate to say it, but there is even a roll of Duck Tape with Justin Bieber's picture on it! (I won't be adding that one to the tool box! Phooey!)

The best part of this display is that I can just stand in front of it and imagine the myriad projects and repairs I can do around my house with this stuff.  I can use the the bright yellow on the fence to keep people from hitting the posts in the night.  I can use the royal blue for repair of that big blue cooler I got out in the shed.  I can use the leopard print for...Ok, let's make our own lists in private and meet up later to compare, shall we?

This Southern Man's tool box just got a lot bigger.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Where The Buses Are Always On Time

I'm sure I've mentioned more than a few times that I take the bus to work. I take an early bus so that it gives me a lot of time to get into work and get settled at my desk. The bus which comes right after mine is full of school kids (noisy lot, that) and gets into downtown at about the time I'm supposed to be at work. The chance that I'd be late on any given day is very high so by taking the earlier bus I'm ensured of being on time. 

Nashville buses, for the most part, run on time. In other cities, this may or may not be so. You hear about 'getting the buses to run on time' as a reason for electing someone to office, but let's face it, buses have myriad reasons for being late. I doubt the mayor or governor could mandate less traffic or fewer idiots clogging up our streets anyway. 

My early bus is rarely late. Oh we get the occasional traffic snarl, bad weather and people who refuse to get their money out until they are actually standing in front of the driver, suddenly fumbling with their wallet or purse trying to pull together a few quarters and a wadded up bill or two - but again, these delays are the exceptions rather than the rule. 

Which brings me to a little annoyance that comes with buses running on time. It's hard to say 'pet peeve' over some thing like this, but annoyance is about right. Y'see, we can be headed down the road, making all the lights and me ready for the workday with a song in my heart (ok, so maybe I'm just dreaming of that first cup of coffee) when all of a sudden, the bus will pull over. 

And.  Stop. 

No bus stop here. No people climbing aboard. We just pull to the curb and stop. The engine idles and maybe a couple of riders will get off and smoke a cigarette (no smoking on the bus - thank you very much!) But a nicotine fit is not the reason we stopped. We stopped because the bus is actually running AHEAD of schedule and in order to keep the buses from missing people, or arriving at the big bus station downtown at the wrong time (read: early,) we pull over and watch the clock for a few minutes. 

For people who are anxious to get to work, pulling over may be more than an irritant. The first time it happened, I thought the bus had broken down. I imagined my extra time to have coffee, browse the Internet or snooze on my keyboard to be evaporating like the mist off the predawn streets. Then the bus driver announced to the grumbling hoard that he was "performing a stop-adjust for time arrival." (Took me a minute but I figured it out...ok, so it took me asking someone else.) Sometimes we will sit for 3-5 minutes, sometimes only a minute or two. And then the bus pulls out and we are off again, arriving at the drop off points within seconds of the posted schedule. 

And each time this happens, I get to work on time (read: early) and ready for work (read: coffee) or snoozing on the keyboard (read: snoozing on the keyboard.) I'm sure at times that this only happens in the South (in Nashville, to be exact) where the mists rise off the streets in the pre-dawn light while the buses run on time more often than not. 

Admit it, you wish you lived here. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Freedoms in the South

In the last few weeks the man above, one Phil Robertson, has come under fire for his views and public statements of said views. It seems Mr. Robertson has his views set firmly in the Middle Ages - maybe even earlier. Phil Robertson is the patriarch of a Southern Clan of Robertsons (duh!) who a) own a manufacturing concern that makes Duck Calls and b) have a scripted/reality television show about their family and business. The show is called Duck Dynasty and it's on A&E Television. The reason I take time to mention all this is that Mr. Robertson, his clan, and his show are all Southern. Mr. Robertson's beliefs and views, however are more religiously rooted than Southern in origin.

Now, after Mr. Robertson made his famous (and now infamous) remarks, A&E immediately suspended him from the filming of the show and some stores even pulled Duck Dynasty promotional products from their shelves. (As of Saturday, December 28, news reports say that the suspension has been lifted.) As you can imagine, people who care lined up on two sides like the Hatfields and the McCoys and all but pointed rifles at one another. Some people believe that Mr Robertson is a terrible person and that his remarks don't fit right with today's modern civilization and others feel that he is just exercising is right to free speech. There is even a petition "Stand With Phil" which is actually garnering signatures to petition A&E to return Phil to the show.

That being said, it's time to set the two sides straight. You see, both sides are absolutely correct! That's right, America, they are BOTH Correct. Mr. Robertson has a full right to speak his mind and he has a right to his beliefs and ideas no matter how outdated or ill advised they may be. He also has a full right to speak about this at anytime to anyone. This, at the core, is what Free Speech is all about.

What Mr. Robertson and his admirers and supporters fail to understand is that the rest of the world has the same set of rights. You can speak all manner of ill will, and outdated ideas or morals or beliefs founded in any arcane tome found on this planet (or elsewhere) to anyone at anytime and they have the exact same full right to react to it as they see fit. (Albeit in a non-violent way.) They have the right to speak against you, revile you both publicly and privately and to remove you from any position over which they have control through a contract which you (rather, HE) has signed. (They call it a "morality" clause of all things.) They have the full right to remove your products from their shelves and hold you fully responsible for your part in all of it.

This, Mr. Robertson (et al) is Freedom. The Freedoms which we live for here in the US. Freedom of speech is one of the most important of these freedoms, too. And Mr. Robertson is making use of this freedom as are the people over at A&E. Heck, even the people signing the petition are exercising their right to free speech.

My last comment on this is that there are many here in the South who do NOT feel as Mr. Robertson feels and I happen to be one of them, even if A&E reverses its suspension and allows things to continue. (I'm of the thought that the damage is done, Duck Dynasty will fall in the ratings, perhaps evinced by the 2 full isles of Duck Dynasty Product sitting on 50% off sale at Walmart this last weekend. Sitting...not selling.  Perhaps they should put it next to the Paula Deen merchandise..just a thought.)

So, please don't judge the rest of the South on one or two semi-public figures with ancient ideals. We're better than that.