Monday, June 27, 2022

Hey, Good Lookin'

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When I was young and the Earth was still a cooling ball of gas, the height of practical joking (or just being a pain in the rear end) was to put a burning bag of dog poop on someone's doorstep, ring the doorbell, then run like Hell. They open the door, see the flame, stomp it out, and get dog doo on their shoe. Classic!

Anyway, that's more or less what today's post is. I don't really have anything interesting to share so I've dropped this cartoon on your doorstep, rung your doorbell, and - because I'm too old and fat to run like Hell - I'm hiding in your bushes.

See you in the comments section as soon as I get this dog doo off my shoe...

Monday, June 20, 2022

White House Strokesperson

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Another safety tip: don't dress like a banana

The CDC (one of whose "C's" must stand for "Comedy") has issued guidelines to cut down the spread of monkeypox. Specifically, they're telling Americans to keep their clothes on during sex and to masturbate while staying six feet apart. Which, frankly, is going to work wonders for social distancing in the grocery store checkout line even if causes an uptick in "wet cleanup on aisle 9" calls.

The CDC also recommends that potential monkeypox spreaders wash their "sex toys and fetish gear" because God has fallen way behind in turning people into pillars of salt and destroying their cities with sulfur, fire, and (just to be sure) a squirt of Purell.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

If It Stays Up Longer Than Four Hours...

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I'm putting my money where that mouth is.

It’s 10:15 pm on Tuesday night and I’m only just now starting to calm down from an extended battle with my garage door. And in the big scheme of things, a garage door shouldn’t be crazy-making but my reserves of internal strength ain't what they used to be.

The garage door worked fine earlier when I’d been out running some errands. And it worked fine in the late afternoon when I rolled our trash to the alley. Then I saw someone’s Facebook post about putting out saucers with stones and water for thirsty bees fighting the Texas heat (they won't lap up water from a bowl, but they like to collect moisture from a solid surface) and that struck me as a nice thing to do for our hard-working pollinators. 

So I got a plastic saucer (the kind that goes under clay gardening pots outside) then opened the garage door to go fetch some small rocks. Upon returning to the house with my delicious plate of stones, the garage door would only go down a foot or so before stalling then creeping back upward. 

Repeat repeat repeat. 

When that didn’t work, I detached the chain drive and tried to lower the door by hand. No success. I tried multiple times, but it was useless - and increasingly killing in the 100 degree heat. Great - my garage door would be open all night for the thieves to enjoy pillaging.

SOooo I started calling emergency garage door repair places and no one could/would help me until tomorrow (I don't think they understand that whole "emergency" thing) causing my panic level to continue rising. Finally, someone said they’d come out in an hour. 

So rather than sit in my blistering hot garage guarding my stuff, I decided to put a security camera in there. Only I couldn’t find the damn cam and worked myself up further looking for it. Finally, I found it exactly where it shouldn't have been and plugged it in...but it wouldn’t connect to the Internet from the garage. So I moved a repeater/router to different locations around my house until a tenuous connection was made. 

I then decided I should move the cars to give the repairman room to work. There was no problem with my car, but the battery in Kathy’s car was stone dead after not being driven in six months. So in the hot garage, I popped the hood and attached a trickle charger to the battery which, by tomorrow, will either have charged the battery or set the car and house on fire.

The repair guy finally arrived and he was a very nice fellow with a thick Jamaican accent making communication nearly impossible. He showed me places where the metal of the door had crumpled and cracked and said that he could do a temporary fix, but I’d need to replace the door soon. 

But it turned out he COULDN’T fix the door. So he at least helped me close it and, remarkably, only charged me $29 for his services. He’s also sending me an estimate on a replacement door. Although mine was a low-end garage door, replacing it these days would be about $2600 although I can get a crappier one for about $1800. So much for the $1200 I'm saving by cutting my cable TV.

Hoping to find a better deal, I checked out the “Nextdoor Neighbor” website to see who people recommend. One vendor, in particular, seemed popular, so I went to their website and requested a free estimate on a new garage door. The models they offer come with a limited lifetime warranty, which seems ideal for a guy with an increasingly limited lifetime.

But there was something in the back of my mind…the company’s name sounded familiar. Was it possible that they’d installed the broken door some eons ago? 

I knew what I had to do, though it wasn’t easy; one of Kathy’s many virtues was wonderful organization. So I went to her file drawers and started leafing through folders all neatly labeled in her precise handwriting. Nothing under “Outdoor Warranties” or “Misc Warranties" but “Home Improvement” was a winner! There was an aging receipt from the company, dated September 11, 1998, for the installation of the garage door, and it was stapled to a sales sheet showing that the garage door came with a limited lifetime warranty!

Of course, I assume that they’ll balk at honoring the warranty, but that will be a fight for another day. Specifically, Wednesday.

And if the company gives me a hard time, I hope their installers get stung by the bees who are gathered around their nice, new, surprisingly-expensive watering hole.


My garage door drama is in the process of wrapping up exactly the way you would expect: with me bleeding money.

My "limited lifetime" warranty isn't compensating me diddly-squat because it states that it's voided if any other company works on the door. Which the Jamaican guy did last night. D'oh!!! But what the heck. I mean, how much can it cost to replace a garage door? 

$3300, it turns out. Oh, the door itself isn't quite that high, but it requires new rails and a new spring. And although my garage door opener works fine, it's 30 years old and might NOT work with the new door since the techs have no idea how to adjust such a dinosaur and, oh yeah, if my old opener damages the new garage door or spring then it voids the warranty.

The new opener adds over $800 to the whole shebang, but it comes with alleged bells and whistles like photoelectric sensors to prevent cutting toddlers in half ("It's the law"), and a built-in security camera that will connect with my cell phone so I can easily see if my garage has mysteriously become infested with toddlers.

By the way, the tech was a nice young fellow with no sense of humor whatsoever. A case in point:

TECH: If you're in Chicago, you can use your smartphone to see if the door is closed.

ME: Wow, Chicago seems like a long way to go just to check on my garage door.

TECH: You don't have to go to Chicago, sir, that was just an example.

Before anyone busts a gusset (and don't even start me on the poor quality of modern gussets), I know that I'm overpaying and I could probably save considerable money if I shopped around, haggled, threatened legal action, or rolled the dice on mixing old and new parts.

But I just want this done. My ability to cope with this kind of aggravating crap is at an all-time low and sometimes money is cheaper than spending life essence. Moreover, there's a real value to just getting problems solved quickly so I can get back to the important business of day-drinking. (Kidding, mostly)

Monday, June 13, 2022

Green and Bear It

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Click on the picture to see a larger version!

Although the honor was not sought, three months ago I received a field promotion (literally) to Head Gardener at the Jarlsberg Estate. This is a task for which I was entirely unprepared, although I'd done grunt work in the gardens for years under expert supervision.

I've been doing my best to tend to everything and I've been surprised and delighted at the number of bushes, grasses, and flowers that have bloomed and blossomed because Kathy knew to plant things that rather magically come back year after year even if an idiot is left in charge. 

Mind you, I don't know the names of almost any of these colorful visitors but bit by bit I'm learning about them. And while I've never been an enthusiastic gardener, I've always appreciated Kathy's landscaping...and darned if I'm not getting a bit of satisfaction (and sunlight and exercise) by trying to keep everything from going to hell.

So far, so good - and it cheers me every time I look out on all of these colors.


Speaking of colors, we've all been seeing a lot of rainbows in popular media lately in honor of Pride Month. And hopefully to no one's surprise here, I'm fully supportive of the occasion and the folks this month is all about. As the cliche goes, some of my best friends (and best readers) are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and almost all of them have walked a hard road to get to where we are today.

To be clear, I'm not celebrating drag queens in kids' classrooms (although I'm a fan of drag queen / country music artist Trixie Mattel, who says his/her performances are only for the over-18 crowd) nor do I support making a public spectacle of private sexual behavior no matter what team you're playing for. 

But I'm pushing 70 and just lost the love of my life. And I think true commitment to another person, body and soul, is a rare and beautiful thing. So I just want everybody to be who they are, to love who they want, and to treat others with caring and respect. That's something anyone can be proud of during Pride Month.


This week (Wednesday to be exact) sees another big change coming to the Jarlsberg household: I'm cutting the cable. Despite having NO premium channels, my most recent bill came in at $192 (and adding insult to injury, the provider is adding another $2.99/month charge to send your bill on paper).

I'm done watching network or cable news from anyone (I get my news from the Wall Street Journal and the Scott Adams podcast) and I haven't watched a network entertainment show in years. Kathy and I greatly enjoyed "Jeopardy!" because we turned it into a drinking game and exercise in improv comedy, but it would be sad just to watch by myself.

Mind you, I'm not going cold turkey on television - I've got subscriptions to Amazon Prime and Netflix, I've discovered that I get the various networks (and more) live and in high-def using a small indoor TV antenna, and while playing around with my "smart" LG television last night I discovered something called "LG channels" which supplies 179 streaming channels for free (albeit with commercials, like broadcast TV).

My new service package will keep my landline phone (yes, I'm the last holdout), increase my Internet speed by a factor of five, and save me about $120 a month. And if I'm unable to TIVO Democrat kangaroo court proceedings, well, I'll just have to live with it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Word of the Daze

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The cartoon above is funny because it's true, although there's just as great a likelihood that it's not funny because it's true.

All my days are difficult lately, but today was particularly hard. So while I wanted to do a post just to show that I'm still around, I couldn't come up with anything except gloom to share. So I went to a favorite clipart site to find a suitably depressing image and entered the word "hollow," expecting to find images of sad people with no more innards than a milk chocolate Easter bunny.

Instead, I got the image you see on the computer screen which would be more appropriate for a children's book called "A Funny, Sunny Day in Happy Hollow."

And it made me laugh at myself for being self-indulgent and self-pitying. So I decided that sharing the whole silly affair with you would be the most honest and accurate snapshot I can give you of how I'm doing.

And speaking of truth in cartooning...

This was Monday's "Johnny Optimism" cartoon and it was vaguely based on reality. Daughter J is now staying at her nearby apartment more frequently while moving in, and upon arriving with More Stuff on Sunday she discovered an abandoned parakeet in a feces-flecked birdcage sitting under an outdoor staircase.

This being Texas, that's a pretty effective way of making broiled parakeet - so she rescued the bird and took it to her apartment (after checking a variety of nearby doors to make sure no one belonged to the bird). 

Our guess was that a family was moving and had forgotten the bird ("Well I thought he was in your car!") and would be getting in touch with the apartment management. Only the office was closed and wouldn't be open again until Tuesday. So I had to gallop off to Walmart and buy parakeet food, while Daughter J placed an emergency order to Amazon to get a variety of birdy treats and toys ("It will help us build trust," she explained). 

That night, she discovered that her entire apartment was filling with the smell of moldy bird poo and asked if it could be kept in my house instead. I did not find the argument compelling and said "no." But first thing Monday morning, I headed out to a pet store to buy a replacement cage just so Daughter J wouldn't have to deal with stink while doing a good deed.

But before the bird could rent a little U-Haul and make the move, the owners (who had found a note left on their door) turned up full of apologies and promising to take better care of the bird. They were indeed in the process of moving and had put the bird outside while moving things around. And no, that didn't make sense to us either, but the people seemed decent enough so we gave them the bird, so to speak. And there were kids involved who were glad to see their chirpy little charge again.

So when it was time to put together a Johnny cartoon, I had birds on the brain. And while this particular parakeet didn't know the words and choreography of "YMCA," had it stayed in our family long enough we would have taught it.