Thursday, January 29, 2015

Free Stuff Has The Right Price

This last week, I went to the big hardware store to get a bolt for a simple repair job and they had this big pallet of stuff.  I asked the guys working on it "hey, what we got here - stuff to be marked down?" (My heart beat went up a bit.)

"No," he replied, "mostly, this here is trash."  I took in the stack of bent and opened boxes, stuff without boxes and assundried...stuff...

"Oh?" says I, with a gleam in my eye.  "Can I help carry some of these out to the 'trash' for you?" (Yes, I even made 'air quotes' as I said it so the guy knew I was intending to take these to my car and not the dumpster out back.)

The guy looked at me then at the pile of stuff and believe it or not, he actually gave me one of the things. It's the nifty carry case you see at the top of this page. The label indicates that it originally went with some fantastic gadget by Porter Cable, but the case was empty. To the average person, it is nothing special.  But to me, it's like gold. I can carry tools, or rolls of duck tape or nuts and bolts in it. It's slightly smaller than a tool box but larger than a camera case. Can you just imagine the possibilities? And the guy gave it to me Free.  Free.  Gratis.  And at NO Charge. 

In other areas, the amount you spend on something seems to make you somewhat renowned.. The more you spend, the more people look favorably upon you.  This is true of anything from cars, to phones to Christmas lights.  The more you spend the better.  However here in the south, we tend to look more favorably on spending LESS.  Getting something Free puts me at the top of the list.  The only way I could have done better is if the guy had paid me to carry it out!  Nowhere can you expect someone to appreciate that more than in the South.

The South in General.  At My Place in particular. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hardware Made Easy

It seems to me that most Southern Men (yes, Bubba, with the requisite capital letters) must be handymen from birth. But the more I live here in the South, the more I'm inclined to believe it's something in the water or in the air.  When I lived in places like Colorado or even Southern California, repairing something seemed like Rocket Science.  I'd see something which didn't work right, or need repair, but I'd first need to think on it a while.  Maybe I'd expect to have to find a book (at the library), do some studying, examine some diagrams and then, maybe - maybe, I could replace that light bulb.

Something happened when I got to The South.  (Stop it, Bubba, I'll capitalize what I want.) Oh, it didn't happen right away.  It sort of crept up on me. I'd start by replacing the battery in the car, or even doing an oil change.  Yes, I know, people in the nawth do these things, it's true.  But the thing is, I had never WANTED to do any of these repairing things before lived in the South! There is something about living here that creeps into your bloodstream and makes you stumble toward a tool store the way a zombie goes for brains. 

Soon I found myself making trips to the hardware store collecting tools and looking for special nuts and bolts (and learning not to giggle when I said "nuts.") - but more than just owning the tools, I also found ways to use them in repairing things I had never thought to do (or that I COULD do.) Later, I found I could replace just about anything on an automobile engine and even replaced the brakes on my car more than once.  I've replaced the heating elements on our household water heater and even replaced the water heater itself (twice.)  I found myself wandering around the hardware store just looking or stopping by on a weekend just because I had nothing else to do.  

Then, a couple of years ago, as my interest (or is that 'need'?) in repairing things grew, my wife gave me a really nice tool belt.  There is nothing that says 'there's-things-to-fix-and-I'm-ready-to-rumble' like a big professional tool belt (with suspenders!) There is something almost cosmic about the feeling one gets when you put on one of those belts. I began in earnest and nothing stood in my way.  In no time I was replacing roofing, putting in flooring, and even replacing an entire bathroom (toilet, fan, electrical and shower!) 

This last year I had to tear out a 12 x 12 section of my living room. This included the flooring, the floor itself, floor joists, and the bands and sills (that's the parts that the joists sit on - you see how much I know about this?) as well as the walls and even some of the studs.  I even removed the fireplace (with the help of a neighbor) and will, in the coming months, replace it all and then some. 

It's got to be the The South that changed me.  No, I mean it CHANGED. ME.   I think if I looked at my blood under a microscope it would look like 10W40 motor oil.  If you held my DNA up to a strong light it would resemble electrical wiring.  There are times when I want to put all my tools in a big coffin under my house and sleep with them under a full moon....

(crickets) ...

Ok, so maybe I went a bit overboard there.  I am not some creepy hardware vampire. I mean, I like tools and finding uses for them, that's all.  But whatever it is, it's somehow tied to living in the South. 

Wait, is that a loose floorboard over there?  Where's my hammer....Ah yes, it's in my TOOL BELT!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

French Toast Emergency

It's Wednesday, January 14 and we had snow today. It was just a bit of a dusting; just enough to cause us all to scrape the cars off and for the roads to be a bit slick. It didn't stick around long but it did cause what many refer to as a "French Toast Emergency."

As I've many times pointed out, I grew up in Colorado. Snow, to me, is a mere inconvenience. I remember having to leave for school early because it takes longer to walk when the snow is up to your hips; but we dressed warm, we had boots and we headed out. No Big Deal.

Here in the South, there is some unknown factor that makes people go totally out of their mind when snow (any snow, even this light dusting) is announced as being "soon" or "in the forecast." At this point, it seems to become somewhat mandatory to drive to the store (any store, but the bigger the better) and buy all the milk, eggs and bread that they can.

That's right.  Milk.  Bread.  And eggs. 

All the ingredients for French Toast, and hence the term French Toast Emergency. (What, no cinnamon? No Powdered Sugar? And what about maple syrup?) The first time I heard this was only recently, but I plan to use it all winter. Oddly, we never make French Toast. Though when you think about it, light snow is more of a French Pastry or Doughnut Alert than a French Toast Emergency, anyway.

Yes, that's it, we need a new list of foods for our own alert system! Something like this, perhaps?

Now, I can just sit back and wait for the next emergency. Come on Rain and Wind! I got a craving for Nachos!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Construction Catch-Up

It was just a few months ago that I discovered the construction going on over by the river, where the new amphitheater was being built.  It seems things like this are always downtown, which makes better sense, I suppose than putting it next to my house.  

As I've also noted, right across the street (to my right, if you consider the picture above) is a group of really nice condos and lofts.  Made just for the young urban professional (we used to call them Yuppies) and hipsters (we used to call them pretentious,) these condos are only a couple of stories tall and were designed  beautifully to blend with the building designs nearby.  Every time I see this construction site, I wonder at the future of those condos.
Taken from the same bus at the same point. 
Now, either these residents are all music lovers, or they are going to be selling their condos for cheap in the coming year.  And no, I'm not going to be buying one.  And, if I'm going to be totally honest here, and I usually am, these actually are sort of diagonally across the street from the back of the venue.  Directly to the side of these, and directly across the street from the open air part of the amphitheater is a parking lot.
The parking lot, such as it is. 
But the condos are right beside it so my confusion is still valid.  As is my curiosity and my driver's license.  Ok, enough of that.

So, as the construction continues, I will endeavor to bring more of it's growth to this blog and continue to harp on the poor condo owners.  It's what I do.

And in case you hadn't noticed, I'm moving publication of this blog to Thursdays because ...of... I mean, it's, uh.... cuz I want to.