November 29, 2011

Winter Savings Tips

You know, there's nothing worse than going to the mailbox in the afternoon and finding it crammed full of bills.  Boy!  That frosts my ass.

But sometimes ... the envelope has something included in it, along with the bill.  Take my village water, sewer and trash bill for example.  It always has a chatty newsletter in it chock full of information about how the present mayor is making life so good for us.  Why, just last February, right after the most horrendous blizzard this area had encountered in over thirty years, the newsletter contained a personal note from the mayor reminding us to not be "crabby-pants whiners" about how cold it was and how much snow there was on the ground.  Well, I got to thinking about that and figured Mayor Whatsername had a point.  So I remained cheerful about how miserable I was until the ice floes on Mill Creek broke up in June.

Pep talks are nice in your bills, but I really wished the Mayor had talked about how to save money on our water/sewer/trash bill.  Just like the good people at The Upper Great Plains Gas & Electric Cooperative do.

When I received my TUGPG&E bill in early November, I was delighted to see that they had included a pamphlet on how to save on energy bills in your home during the cold winter months to come.  So, instead of throwing it in the trash, I held on to it so I could share these same handy tips with you. Since I just write nonsense most of the time, I'm happy to do something useful for a change ... so here we go:

11 Tips To Help You Save On Gas and Electric Heating Bills

*  Air your house out frequently during cold snaps.  Don't let old, stale, over-warmed air accumulate in your furnace.

*  Turn heat up at night to avoid "peak heating" hours.

*  Save money by reusing old furnace filters.  Leave them in an extra year this winter.

*  Thermostats function most efficiently at 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

*  Use your electric stove to heat the kitchen.

*  Keep windows open.  It helps the house "breathe".

*  Pay your gas and electric bills months in advance to improve household budgeting.

*  Encourage kids to play outdoors.  Running back and forth, in and out of the house all the time will help them keep warm.

*  Put felt or rubber stripping, about an inch wide, around all your indoor plants.

*  Use your air conditioner during winter months when there's less demand for home cooling.

*  Put six inches of TUGPG&E "CollectaHeat" insulation on your basement floor.  Much of your home's heat escapes through basement floors.

November 21, 2011

A Little Help

As so often happens, life serves up a steaming can of whup-ass when you least expect it.  And what suffers?

For one thing ... my blog.  So, over the weekend, I enlisted the help of one of my best, best internet friends to write a post for me.  If you're not familiar with Roscoe "Bic" Lighter, then you should be. "Bic" has written the very successful weblog "The Lighter Side of Junk" for more years than I care to remember, and I enjoy his wry observations of this crazy old world most times.  So please, give it up for "Bic" ...

You know, I often find as I grow older that the mind is a tricky thing.  Like an old engine, say, or a 1934 Packard, it has it's own quirks and you have to allow for them when you're making use of it.  It works at its own speed and it doesn't do to try and hurry it along as I found out to my chagrin the other day when dashing out to a Kiwanis meeting.  I returned home to find the pot roast I had been planning to eat halfway through the spin cycle in the washing machine and a crock pot full of boot socks simmering nicely on the stove.  Well, of course the roast was ruined and I had to get professionals in to clean the sock steam off of the kitchen windows.

People often ask me what I think of today's young humorists.  How do they compare to the humorists of my day?  Well, I told you the mind is a tricky thing and I seem to remember talking about that very matter with Will Rogers in the jump seat of a 1936 Lockheed Electra flying machine several weeks ago. "Will, what do you think of all the so-called humor that's going around now on the TV and the internets?" I said.  Old Will looked over at me and I could see he was of a mind to speak on the matter.

"Bic," he said.  "there's two kinds of humorists; humorists who say there are two kinds of humorists and others who do not.  It's these latter kind that seem so prevalent in your modern times, the most glorious and prosperous times in the world."

"They seem to believe that contempt of government is funny and that flouting laws against marijuana in public is smart.  They forget the fact that their rights are privileges that may be taken away.  You see, Bic, society is like a parent.  It has its little peculiarities.  But it also has a parental type authority; it can 'ground' us in a jail, or it an cut our 'allowance' by putting us on a blacklist so we don't get any work.  This is done for the benefit of the whole social family, though it is sometimes as hard for us as it is for children to realize society is only looking out for our future."

"That's why we shouldn't be smart assed or sarcastic about governments any more than we should about our parents, nor should we go around making cruel fun of our brothers and sisters, or fellow citizens, just because they spend good money on fuzzy toilet seat covers, or something."

"Bic, one of the wonderful things about America is that there is room for all different types of people. People who want to riggedy-rig A-rab elections or go to war against push-over third world nations. Other people, who prefer to be older, stay home and support those overseas.  Some people want to run large multi-national corporations, others prefer to work for these.  Some to make laws, some to obey them.  There is room in our great country for all these types of people."

"In our country now we have some dissidents.  Some are humorists, bitter and lashing out at the world like a drunk in a mirror factory.  Others are like the bumblebee, which science tells us can't fly. They believe the world has got itself into a shit-fizzer of mighty magnitude because they believe it can no longer fly.  We don't need them, Bic, we never did.  In my day, we wouldn't have stood still for it.  'If you think like that,' I recall one small town mayor saying to a rowdy running against him on the local soft-in-the-head ticket, 'why don't you go be a Mexican?'"

"In a lot of ways, it's the fault of your modern magazine publishers, and moving picture producers, who don't go out and look through the newspapers of heartland America to see what the people really want."

Well, Will had his say on the matter and I woke up in my back yard.  There was a bumblebee flying by and I remembered that some people said that was impossible.  Then I woke up again and I was in my bed and it was November.  Something to think about, isn't it, how the mind plays tricks on us?

November 16, 2011

Short Story

Okay, this morning I was down in the basement putting up insulation.  And the door bell rang.

Normally, I don't answer the door bell because it's usually someone trying to sell me shit.  And I figure that if it's a neighbor, they'll ring the door bell twice.  But Jan had told me last night that she had a package coming in via UPS, and if it was them, I wanted to grab the package from the porch before some asshole stole it, which a certain percentage of the population are apt to do nowadays.

Our front door has a side window, so you can't sneak up on it to take a peek at who's outside.  So, when I rounded the corner from the back room, it was too late.  They had seen me.

I opened the door to two middle aged ladies and immediately knew I had probably made a mistake. The mistake was confirmed when one of the ladies reached into her bag and pulled out a copy of ...

Watchtower Magazine ... Shit.  Jehovah's Witnesses.

Remembering Jan chiding me the other day for being rude to people, I was determined to be nice and try to get rid of them as quickly and expediently as possible.

But, Jehovah's Witnesses are IM-possible to get rid of without being brusque.  I tried.  I really did try to be nice, but when the one woman started talking about sex and the Bible ... well, that was just too much.

I shut the door in their faces.

And then I was angry at myself for the next hour.  Not because I was rude, but because got suckered into listening to some stranger try to discuss religion and sex with me.

So ... no more answering the door bell  Even if it rings twice.

November 11, 2011

Shaker Shock

This morning I woke up with about a thousand ideas whizzing around in my head, but with no motivation to act on any of them.  So, after about an hour of my brain doing the slot machine whirl, I focused on one activity that appeared to be attainable.  What to make for dinner tonight.  For some reason, people (including me) focus on Friday and Saturday night dinner.  I suppose we want something out of the ordinary because it's the weekend.

So, I went to Google and typed in "What to eat on Friday night" ... and was disappointed to find that most people are locked into the usual shit.  Tacos, lasagna, spaghetti, shrimp scampi, etc.


I wanted something WAY out of the ordinary, and for some reason, my mind went back to a post I wrote a while back on Mennonite food.  Well, just as I thought then, none of that stuff looked any good, so I did some free association and started wondering about Shakers (United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing) and if they had any good food.

And it turned out that Shakers were pretty interesting.  When I was a kid, my parents had friends who lived in Halltown, Missouri.  Their house was sort of overshadowed by a church across the street. We went to Halltown fairly often and the friend's kid and I would roam the town, but we were always hesitant to get near the church, because it was supposedly a Shaker church and Shaker's had dark powers.

Well, you know how full of shit little kids are.  It turned out that it wasn't a Shaker church, but the parishioners of whatever religious sect it was did worship Satan and eat babies.

Haha ... just kidding.  But they were pretty stern looking.

Anyway, I got into enough trouble when I tried to explain all about the Mennonites in one paragraph, so if you want to know all about Shakers, you'll have to go here.  But I did want to mention one thing. At the apex of Shaker society, there were about six thousand members.  Today, there are only three practicing Shakers in the United States, located in Sabbathday Lake, Maine.  Two gals and one guy.

Here's what the three of them do every day:

  • The day begins at 7:30 a.m.; the Great Bell on Dwelling House rings, calling everyone to breakfast.
  • At 8:00 a.m. morning prayers start. Two Psalms are read, then passages are read from elsewhere in the Bible. Following this is communal prayer and silent prayer, concluded with the singing of a Shaker hymn.
  • Work for the Shakers begins at 8:30.
  • Work stops at 11:30 for midday prayers.
  • Lunch begins at 12:00. This is the main meal for the Shakers.
  • Work continues at 1:00 p.m.
  • At 6:00 it is dinner time, the last meal of the day.
  • On Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m. they hold a prayer meeting which is followed by a Shaker Studies class.

Wow, and I thought my day was monotonous.

After I spent an hour reading about Shakers, I remembered that I had looked them up in the first place in order to find some cool recipes.  And as it turns out, they do have recipes ... and they even look edible.  But it looks like even the Shakers are slaves to typical Friday night fair, given that one of the recipes is named "Brother Arnold's Lasagna with Meat Sauce".  But the other stuff looked good enough to try on some other night besides Friday.

I didn't feel like looking up anymore religious sect's recipes, so I just went to the store this morning and winged it.  I just returned a little while ago, and what did I decide on?

Bratwurst, onion rings and ranchero beans.

Maybe I'll run up to the convenience store before dinner and get a 40 of Malt Liquor to wash it down with.  Bon Apetit!

November 10, 2011

Whoring Out

On the Blogger Dashboard there's a tab labeled "Monetize".  I guess you push this thing and Blogger starts crapping up your weblog with a bunch of condom ads or something.  Well, like most people, I'd like to make money with my blog.  Unfortunately, I don't have the traffic volume to really make the old "Monetize" thing worth while.

So, I spent countless minutes looking for companies that would like to run an ad on Frogs For Lunch. And my overtures were met with a great indifference ... some would say a mocking great indifference.

Except for one outstanding organization.  And so, without ado, I'd like to present my very first advertisement from The Great Fake Book Edges Of The World, LLC!

For People Who Like Books But Don't Like To Read.

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  Not only would such a long period limit an adult with a normal life expectancy to an approximate age span of 15 similar works, a meager sum to be sure; but in addition, the typical individual could encounter difficulty in recalling portions of the book read during the first several years when he or she has progressed to the third or fourth year.  How many times have you asked yourself toward the end of a two hour film event "Was that the gentleman he encountered on the street at the beginning of the picture?"  Now, simply transfer that sort of inquiry to a four year book that consists primarily of two characters extemporizing with one another.
  "Did Socrates conclude that a state can exist without agriculture?" is a question you might be asking yourself in 2015, without so much as a clue as to the point in your previous years of reading where the passage appeared.  Suddenly, factoring the highly probable element of forgotten links in the discourse, the projected total of 15 books dwindles to an oppressively laborious and tragically deficient one or two.  Imagine yourself on your deathbed, flanked by your pair of books.  How sad! Empty walls, empty shelves, and empty space to squarely exhibit an empty, illiterate life.
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And as the chief honcho here at Frogs For Lunch, I hope you will!  And please come back and visit this post often, because the fine folks at The Great Fake Book Edges Of The World, LLC have promised me one-tenth of one cent for every hit I get on it!

November 09, 2011

The Wager

Although I'm not a really smart person, there is something about me that I'm rather proud of.  I notice everything.  I can pick up a physical defect on a person at a hundred yards.  I can tell if something has been moved, even minutely, in the house.  I see changes in my surroundings that no one else does.  I would have made an excellent private detective, except for the fact that I don't like unpleasantness, confrontation, violence and stakeouts.

My wife, on the other hand, notices nothing.  That may be a tad bit harsh, but I'm a cruel evaluator and that's my opinion.  For instance, I once painted the walls going down the stairs to the basement. Up until the point that I had painted them, they had been bare sheetrock and tape.  Although she goes down to the basement almost every day, it was over a week before she noticed it, and then I had to prompt her with "Hey, notice anything different?"

Yes, Jan doesn't notice changes ... except when I fuck something up.

This past Monday I was cleaning the house, and when I got to the kitchen table, I saw that the place mats were getting extremely funky.  We spill a lot of things when we eat.  I've considered buying us his 'n hers table cloths to wrap around our necks (a la Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever) when we sit down to dinner because we're so sloppy.

Anyway, as long as I was cleaning, I decided to throw the place mats in the washing machine. When they were done, I was concentrating on something else and absent-mindedly threw them in the dryer, paying no attention to the tag on the back of the mats that read:

100% Cotton

After an hour of drying, I went back down to the basement and pulled them out.  Yeah, they'd kind of shrunk.  They resembled over-sized table napkins rather than place mats.  But I kind of blew it off, justifying it in my own mind that I thought they had been too goddamn big to begin with.

Later that afternoon, Jan got home from school ... walked into the dining area ... and immediately noticed that the table mats had shrunk.


For the next two hours, I heard crack after crack about me shrinking the table cloths.  Until I blew a fuse and we got into a bit of a fight.

Because that's what marriage is all about.  Fighting over shrunken table cloths.

After a few harsh words, we made peace.  But I knew she was still pissed.  The next morning, I got up and prepared to do some errands.  I kept looking at the shrunken table cloths and felt guilty.  So, I ran over to Kohl's and spent an hour finding the exact type of table dressing ... Sonoma/Mocha Chocolate ... at twice the price we had paid for the first set.  Fortunately, being Kohl's, everything was on sale.  And by "sale" I mean the regular price everyone else would charge since Kohl's "regular" price is approximately180 percent over a manufacturers recommended price.  Don't tell me no one in the United States of America doesn't know that.

When I returned home, I put the new place mats out and relegated the old ones to some dusty corner of the house, out of sight.  But, I thought to myself "I'll bet Jan doesn't even notice."  So, I made myself a bet.  If she didn't say anything in the first 24 hours, I owed myself five dollars.  If 48 hours passed, I owed myself ten dollars ... and if a whole week passed without her saying anything, I'd pay myself thirty dollars.

As of this morning, I'm five dollars ahead.  However, when you think about it, betting yourself money really doesn't make any sense because I already had the money anyway and I don't gain or lose as a result of my left hand giving my right hand money.

Oh well ... a bet's a bet.

November 08, 2011

People Mystify Me

Okay ... as a rule, I don't write about political things.  But I'm going to make an exception today.

Perhaps you've read/watched/heard about all the troubles Republican Herman "Pizza Man" Cain has been having recently with his penchant for the ladies (allegedly).  I've always thought that if you're going into politics at any level, then you'd better take a long, hard look at yourself and make sure you're one clean Marine before you throw your hat in the ring.  Because someone is going to find out ALL about you eventually.  Not withstanding the fact that if his staffers knew about all of this shit ahead of time, and they should have been able to handle it better, this guy is in a lot of trouble, and we'll probably see him heading for the cellar to join Michele Bachmann very soon.

That's just politics.

But my problem today isn't with Cain.  He reaps what he sows.  My problem is with the "4th Woman" who came out yesterday.  She lives just down the road from me in Mundelein, Illinois.

Read this article ... and then this one.  And I'll be back with my short opinion.

All done?  Okay.

If she ISN'T in it for the money, then I'm Godzilla on my 39th birthday.

Oh, and I'd just love to be the blindsided fiancee when he returns to his high level position today, tomorrow ... or ever.

November 04, 2011

The Week In Review

After an unusually horrendous last week of October in my Missouri hometown, I spent this week getting back to my normal routine ... and it was good.

About a year ago, I had what I thought at the time was a great idea to develop my very own website. So, after researching all of the pay-for-play web hosting companies, I chose one and bought my own domain name and site.  And that's about as far as it went.  Of course, I kept this site ... and once in a while I'd half-heartedly work on the other one, more out of guilt that I had actually PAID for it than anything else.  Today, I received a renewal notice from the hosting site, and rather than dump another 90 dollars down a rat hole, I decided to cancel it.  I think I've finally faced the fact that I barely have enough ideas pop into my head to contribute to this blog, let alone a second one.  I guess I'm just not a multi-tasker.

The kid next door has rung the doorbell every afternoon this week soon after he comes home from school.  I don't answer the door because I know what the kid is hawking.  Christmas wreaths.  Every year for the past three, I've plunked down 25 dollars to this kid for a wreath, and every year I've been disappointed by the shitty quality of the product I get in return.  Not this year.  I suppose rather than avoid the doorbell for the next week, I should just man up and tell him no thanks.  After all, what's a few more steely stares from his parents than I already get.

The New Jersey Blogger guy that I made fun of in this post outdid himself the other day.  Seems that the cheese shop in his town where his girlfriend/fiance/whatever assistant manages is going out of business.  So, he took the opportunity to blast his friends, relatives and readers for not patronizing the shop.  Way to alienate your audience asshole.  I should take this guy off my reading list, but sometimes he's so out there that I just can't give him up.

For about the last month, I've been clearing almost a quarter century's worth of clutter out of our basement.  In the mess, there are furniture items that we've replaced that are in good condition, and I hated to set them out by the garbage to be thrown away.  Worse, I learned that most of the the things that I had  been putting out were being snarfed up by my next door neighbor, Hillbilly Ron, and either stuffed into his already trashy garage or along side of it, where I could enjoy looking at them in a new setting.  So, I've been donating a lot of items to charitable organizations.  And I've learned a few things.  Goodwill doesn't pick up.  The Salvation Army doesn't take console sewing machines. The Cancer Federation picks over your donations and leaves what they don't like.  And Habitat For Humanity Centers look like auto junkyards for homebuilding materials.  And in all cases ... NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.  Don't want anyone sniping at me like that asshole who was offended about my comments on Harry Shearer.

I mowed the lawn for the last time in 2011 on November 1st.  Yay!  Today, I need to get the snowblower ready for it's first use, which should be in about 3 weeks.  Boo!

I'm getting really annoyed at taking a walk in the morning in pitch-fucking-blackness.  The other morning I tripped over an uneven part of the sidewalk because I couldn't see where I was going and fell flat on my face.  And besides, even though I'm adult ... I'm still afraid of the dark.  Thank God it changes back to standard time this weekend and I'll be able to go out into some kind of light.

So, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour this weekend, and remember ... you absolutely have to stay up until 2:00 a.m. to do it.  Otherwise it doesn't take.

November 01, 2011

All Hallows Day

Wow ... when I wrote that last post, I didn't realize that I would really be going out of town.  But two days later, I was heading to Missouri for one of those events that nobody likes to be a part of.  But that's a story for another time.

Today is my second favorite faux holiday of the year ... All Hallows Day.  My first favorite is All Hallows Eve, and just in case your wondering, my third favorite is Godzilla's birthday, which falls on February 9.  Yeah, Halloween has always been my holiday, but for the last few years, I've found myself becoming less and less excited about it.  This year, I didn't even put up the lighted pumpkin decoration in the front window, and settled for three or four pumpkins on the porch.  I didn't carve them into jack-o-lanterns, because that way, they are still relevant for Thanksgiving ... if the fucking chipmunk under the porch doesn't start gnawing on them.

Halloween in this neighborhood just isn't exciting anymore.  Twenty-four years ago, when we first moved in the streets were full of teenagers filled with piss and vinegar (odd phrase).  There was abundant egg throwing and flaming rolls of toilet paper being thrown over trees.  An occasional dynamite explosion was heard.  They roamed the street like a menacing mob of pimply ninjas.

But then they grew up.  And subsequent batches of teenagers were less and less unruly.  In fact, they became downright polite ... which sucks.  Everyone is calm and mannered and the adults haul their rusty portable patio fireplaces out to the ends of their driveways, light their fires and drink milk.

Bah.  The only fun I had last night was when my neighbor "Pickle Boy" (his last name is Vlasic ... get it?) purposely hauled his little tow headed monster by my driveway without stopping and I fingered him from the front window.  I don't think he saw it though.

So, it used to be on All Hallows Day, I'd make it a point to take a walk early in the morning to survey what damage had been done the night before.  I hadn't the chance to do that in a couple of years, so I was anxious to get out this morning at sunrise and see the carnage.

But there was nothing.  No toilet paper streaming in the tree limbs.  No eggs splattered against garage doors.  No jack-o-lanterns smashed in the streets.  Not even a single house burned to the ground.

What a wussy fucking neighborhood.  Okay, so there was no destruction, so I went to plan B.  Kids are kids and they drop shit.  Especially when they're all coked up on Halloween night.  There must be some treats laying around on the sidewalks.  So for the first two miles, I scanned the ground in front of me.

Nothing.  Not even a spent candy wrapper.  WTF?  I used to eat half of my candy before I got home. Like I said, every one's too polite and mannerly nowadays.  Just when I was about to give up, I turned the corner on the street immediately above us, and ... BONANZA!  Candy, all over the fucking place.  It was dry last night, with no dew or frost on the ground, so according to the 24 hour wrapped candy rule, this stuff was still A-Okay to eat.  I walked along and stuffed my pockets.  And here's my haul.


Going with tradition, I chewed all the bubble gum before I got home.  M&M's, Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, Three Musketeers, Laffy Taffy, Milky Way, Bottle Caps ... PAYDAY!

And an extra added bonus ... a Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boy and a pack of Winstons with five, count 'em, five cigarettes left in it.  Plus a dime.

Hell, a guy could have a pretty good Saturday night with all that.  Don't you think?