Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not quite this cold this morning.
I usually don't have much trouble rolling out of bed.  I'm often up before the alarm clock chimes.  This is especially true as the days get longer and the morning sun comes earlier and earlier.

But not this morning.

It was just after four bells when I eased open one eye to peek at the clock. It was too early to get up.

Then I realized last night's temperatures were lower than I like.  I was cold.  My feet were cold when I went to bed and before I drifted off to sleep I had gotten up and grabbed another blanket.

It was feeling more like October than the end of May.

When I'm camping, I call a morning like this, "brisk."  When I'm in my home and the thermometer reads 66 degrees, I call it cold.

Can't I just stay here, wrapped up in my nice warm blankets?

Since I haven't yet won the lottery, the answer is no.

Here's to a brink day!  Happy last day of May.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pink Peony

I always enjoy the time of year when the peony plants in my yard open their blooms.  The flowers are huge, fragrant and beautiful.

This one is on the side yard, near my garage.
I snapped these photos right after a brief rain.  I have a larger white peony plant in the back yard, but it hasn't bloomed yet.

Just another living wonder of the Esch Estate in Pigeon, Michigan.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Tally: Comics

Nancy & Sluggo, one of my classic favorites.
The Sunday Funnies was a weekly staple as I was growing up.  I'd grab that colored section and read nearly every comic printed there.  Some were classics back then whiles others have become the classics today.

I still enjoy reading "the funnies." Some of my favorites, from then and now included:
  • Archie (1947– ) originally by Bob Montana (US)
  • Beetle Bailey (1950– ) by Mort Walker (US)
  • Blondie (1930– ) by Dean Young; originally by Chic Young (US)
  • Bloom County (1980–1989) by Berke Breathed (US)
  • Boner's Ark (1968–2000) by Mort Walker and later Frank B. Johnson (US)
  • Bugs Bunny (1944–1990) originally by Leon Schlesinger (US)
  • Dennis the Menace (1951– ) originally by David Law (UK)
  • Dick Tracy (1931– ) originally by Chester Gould (US)
  • Dilbert (1989– ) by Scott Adams (US)
  • The Family Circus (1960– ), first named The Family Circle, by Bil Keane (US)
  • FoxTrot (1988– ) by Bill Amend (US) (NOTE: Sunday-only run since 2007)
  • Frank and Ernest (1972– ) by Bob Thaves (US)
  • H├Ągar the Horrible (1973– ) by Chris Browne; originally by Dik Browne (US)
  • The Lockhorns (1968– ) by Bunny Hoest and John Reiner; originally by Bill Hoest and William Carroll (US)
  • Marmaduke (1954– ) originally by Phil Leeming and Brad Anderson (US)
  • Mutt and Jeff (1907–1982), first titled A. Mutt, originally by Bud Fisher (US)
  • Nancy (1922– ), first titled Fritzi Ritz, originally by Ernie Bushmiller (US)
  • Opus (2003–2008) by Berkeley Breathed (US)
  • Peanuts (1950–2000) by Charles M. Schulz (US)
  • Sad Sack (1946–1958) by George Baker
  • Sally Forth (1968–1974) by Wally Wood (US)
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank You, and God Bless

Today is Memorial Day. I wish I had something profound to say, but I don’t.

I am speechless when I think of the tens of thousands who spilled their blood and lost their lives so that you and I won't have spill ours and still continue to live freely.

There are no words to adequately express my profound gratitude.

All I can say, to the families who now have empty places in their homes and hearts, thank you. I am grateful to the very core of my being for you and those taken from you.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Picnic Sweet Potato Salad

Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the U.S.

I saw this recipe and thought I'd try it for dinner as well as share it with you.  At the very least, it sounds interesting, we'll see how it tastes.

Picnic Sweet Potato Salad Recipe   
 Prep/Total Time: 30 min. /  Yield: 13 Servings

    4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
    3 medium apples, chopped
    6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    2/3 cup canola oil
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    Place sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or just until tender. Drain.
    Transfer to a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add the apples, bacon, onion, parsley, salt and pepper to the potatoes. In a small bowl, whisk oil and vinegar. Pour over salad; toss gently to coat. Chill until serving. Yield: 13 servings (3/4 cup each).

Nutritional Facts 3/4 cup equals 169 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 163 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein.

Personally, I'm going to try using a nice sweet apple, like a Honey Crisp as well as something tart, like a Granny Smith.  I'm thinking a handful or two of raisins or dried currants would add a nice flavor as well.

However you make it, ENJOY it!

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Miles to go before I sleep

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

Yes, miles to go before I sleep.

The last seven days have lacked sleep with plenty of miles behind me.  I wish I was traveling somewhere, but I'm not.  Just a lot of round trips back and forth to hospitals.

Being "on call" for the ambulance can be tiring and tedious.

In the past week I've been to:
Bay City (84 miles roundtrip) twice,
Saginaw (104 miles roundtrip) three times,
Flint (168 miles roundtrip) once,
and a half-dozen local calls (average 20 miles roundtrip).

Somehow I'm working a second weekend in a row, including the holiday.

Miles to go before I sleep! Happy weekend everyone!

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Friday, May 25, 2012


I'm not one of those people who goes to high school commencement exercises just because they're happening.  It seems like the administration, school board and guest speakers are often more interested the pomp and circumstance than the graduates themselves.

This year will be different.  I will be attending the annual event which marks many young people's passage into official adulthood.

Tonight, my high school's gym will be hot and sweltering and packed with family and friends of the graduates.

I'll be there to watch my oldest great-nephew, Nathan Michael Schulz, graduate.

Even thought it was thirty-three years ago, I recall the day I received my high school diploma. While I recall the day, I only remember certain parts. Most of the day was a blur anyway.

It certainly was in another lifetime for me.

It's all part life's journey. A journey of experiences and memories.

Congratulations Nate!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

What I've learned about writing a blog

The Blogger software logo.
As I mentioned yesterday in my whine, er, I mean blog, I'm struggling to be back into a groove of having a posting ready at least a few hours ahead of my self-imposed 6:30 morning deadline. You'd think I was back at a newspaper and the presses were waiting for that last story.

Perhaps it's a flashback to the old days in my previous life of print publications.  When I first started that career, Tuesday was the big day, often creeping late into the night, for a Thursday publication day. It was a routine: paste up on Tuesday, printing and mailing on Wednesday, delivery on Thursday.

Years later, we were under a different deadline, because of scheduled press times. Tuesday was still our big day, but the layouts needed to be out the door by 4 pm for a journey to the pressroom an hour away.

I always said I work best with my head in a vise, but that usually ends poorly with mistakes that tic me off.

What I've learned about writing a blog is this:
  • You gotta enjoy writing, in the style of your blog. Creative, Editorial or Technical styles take your pick. You still need to enjoy what you're doing.
  • You need to possess the ability to write about anything. Thankfully the words often just flow off my fingertips.
  • You should know a little bit about everything. Yes, being a know-it-all such as myself will make your blog much more successful.
  • Have the ability to deal with a deadline, whether real or self induced.
Speaking of deadline, I'm just minutes away from needing this thing published today and I still need finish formatting.

What have I learned about blogging?  It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blog Author Struggle

If you've been following my blog, you can probably see that I'm struggling a little with topics and writings that are at all interesting.

I think it's the weather.  I'm outdoors more, working around the yard, watching little league games and just being away from the keyboard.

I've toyed with the idea of moving to weekly blog schedule, or maybe a when-I-have-something-to-write-about schedule.  But honestly, those options are certain to be the road to death of BareNakeBill.

So, for now, I'll just try to find a minute or three to post something -- anything, to keep up with it.

I promised myself I would do this for a year and see how it goes from there.

Please hang in there with me and see if my world gets a little more interesting.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Tally: Not on the Bucket List

People my age start thinking about making a bucket list. You know, a list of the things you want to do before you kick the bucket.

I'm sure there are a million things I could put on my bucket list, most are absurd and unachievable, but it never hurts to dream.

When I look at bucket list examples, it becomes much easier for me to create a list of items I wouldn't put on my bucket list, including:
  1. Get my collarbones pierced.  Seriously! Get your collarbones pierced.  I didn't even know that was possible.
  2. Dress up like Jesus. As soon as I read that the song, "Just a closer walk with thee," popped into my head.
  3. Eat a fried Tarantula. Fried?  Never! Baked, perhaps.
  4. Learn to play golf. I tried it in college.  I wanted to wrap the clubs around a tree. I continue to ask, "What is the point?"
  5. Travel the world. Okay, there are a few places in the world that I would like to visit. However, I have always said I would like to travel throughout the U.S. first.
Of course there are many other items to include. As I was reading some other bucket lists, I found a lot of things that I have no interest in doing because they're either illegal or immoral.

What was even more interesting as I read these list was finding myself saying, "did that, did that."

Maybe my bucket list would be shorter than I think.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Nap Time

I don't get enough sleep.  At least I often feel like that's the case.

My normal day starts around 5:45 am or before. It's a rare morning when the alarm wakes me up and an even more rare morning when I hit the snooze repeatedly.  Usually those morning follow nights when I've been awakened during the night.

Saturday night/Sunday morning was one of those nights. I got home from an ambulance transfer around 1 am and back up on another call around 4:30 am.

By Sunday afternoon, with temps pushing 90, I was ready for nap.

Ah, napping. One of the most underrated events a human participates in.

Humans represent about 15% of the earthly mammals that are monophasic sleepers, meaning our days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for wakefulness. Yet, young children and elderly persons nap, so sociologist who study this stuff are uncertain which is truly natural.

While a nap doesn't make up for inadequate nighttime sleep, a short 20 or 30 minute nap can improve mood, alertness and performance.

If you're a napper like me, we're in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.

For years I've been able to "power nap" (my term), where I can kick back in my recliner and rest for no more than 30 minutes and be ready to go again.

Yesterday was one of those days where I had a couple repeated 30 minute naps, with about 30-60 minutes in between.

Thankfully those naps didn't effect my ability to sleep the night away.

Here's to being refreshed and ready to face the week!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy Sunday!

It's well into Sunday morning as I write this.  Actually it's 1:10 am and I'm exhausted.

I was up early, around 5:00 am, and was mowing lawn by 6:50 am!  Then I had breakfast with my dad and brother, helped move an antique milk wagon, and by that time I was ready for lunch.

There was a start on garage cleaning as well as packing boxes with "stuff" I doubt I'll ever use and plan to give away.

Oh yeah, a couple ambulance calls in between.

Right now, I'm falling asleep while watching Two Fat Ladies on Cooking Channel.

Sleep is needed.

(4:55 am update)  WHOO HOO!  I'm awake, just back from an ambulance call.  What a beautiful time of day  The sky is bright enough to light the world, the birds are chirping, it's warm enough to want to be outdoors.

Oh how I wish I was CAMPING!  This is a perfect day to wake up in a tent!  Soon.  Real soon.


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Friday, May 18, 2012

Saving seeds

A few days ago I mentioned I want to get my vegetable garden planted by May 31.  Actually, I prefer to get it done by Memorial Day, but the 2012 holiday is just about as early as it can be.  I'll settle for getting it planted during the last week of May.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault entrance.
My plan is to grow some Roma tomatoes -- they make, in my opinion, the best sauces and salsas because they're more meaty then juicy.

I'll also put in some sweet peppers in varieties that include green, red, orange and yellow.  The colorful mix adds to the overall visual appeal of my corn and black bean salsa.

Other than that, I have an inspiration for some herbs, but not sure if I'll get around to planting them.  I have some sweet corn seeds that I found in the garage, left over from a couple years ago. I don't know if it will be any good or not.

Those seeds made me wonder what would happen if everyone was as careless with seeds as I am.  What would happen to the world if all the plant seeds to destroyed?

Thankfully we (meaning the world) has the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, just over 810 miles from the North Pole, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank which preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern.

The seeds are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large-scale regional or global crises.

The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).

Who knew this vault existed? Not me.

Construction of the seed vault, at a cost equal to about $9 million, was funded entirely by the Government of Norway.


Storage of seeds in the seed vault is free-of-charge. Operational costs will be paid by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust with primary funding for the Trust comes from organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and from various governments worldwide.

It's amazing that the seeds I so carelessly handle could have come from the same batch of seeds that are stored away like precious jewels to same day possibly provide food for the world.

Diagram of the Svalbard
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tough questions, no easy answers

I once had a book titled, "The Book of Questions."  It was just pages of questions to start a conversation or provoke some thought.

Your house containing everything you own, catches fire; after saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be?
Wow... I guess it would be photo albums.  Nearly everything else is replaceable.

If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience would you do so? If not, why not?
 Nope... what would be the point if you couldn't remember it later?

Then there are the lesser of two evils type questions:

If you could prevent either an earthquake in Peru that would kill 40,000 people, a crash at your local airport that would kill 200 people, or an automobile accident that would kill an acquaintance of yours, which would you choose?
As Spock from the Star Trek series would say, "the good of the many outweighs the good of the one." I'd have to choose saving 40,000 people from dying in an earthquake.

How about the tough questions, with a tougher addition?

Would you kill someone if there were no repercussions and their death would cure cancer (or some other disease)?  What if the person you had to kill was your mother?  One of your children?
As much as I would want to help society by ridding the world of cancer, I just couldn't bring myself to kill another person.

Tough questions, no easy answer... perhaps no real answers at all.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WTH? Quiet time on the computer

The view from behind my office one evening.  It was approaching sunset.  Perhaps that was the inspiration? Click photo for an enlarged view.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Tally: Stuff to do by May 31

Here it is day 15 of May.  That leaves me 16 days to get this stuff accomplished.  Wish me luck!
  1. Go through my camping gear in preparation for my first weekend of camping, which may or may not be Memorial Day weekend.
  2. Clean the garage so I can get both my car and pickup inside and my trucks won't hate me.
  3. Get rid of some more unnecessary items I've been hanging onto.  Where does this crap come from?
  4. Wax my new(er) car.
  5. Transplant the mums from the garden to another location around the house.
  6. Plant garden: Tomatoes, sweet peppers and some herbs.
  7. Wash the windows -- I hate doing this and that's why my windows are always dirty.
  8. Make reservations for a vacation (or two).
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Historical Society Membership Drive

Tonight the Pigeon Historical Society is hosting a Guest Membership Meet and Greet, aka: A Membership Drive. It's a bit frightening when I, at nearly 51 years old, is one of the youngest members.

History is one of those things I have always loved.  I liked it when I was young and my high school American History teacher, Tim Anthes, made it exciting and interesting.

I think my life in the newspaper world either added to my interest or was enhanced by love of the past. After all, newspapers are a printed record of events.

I'm not sure who is recording history these days.

At any rate, I hope we have 50 or more people show up at our meeting. I'll be happy if five able-bodied individuals join the group.

We need man-power for the growth vision of the Society.  That vision includes a historical "compound" with a Amish-raised barn for display and storage of antique farm equipment, a small church/schoolhouse, as well as other buildings.

There has been talk about a source for train cars -- including a caboose. (Our museum is a 110+ year old train depot.)

If you're local, please come to our meeting tonight.  If you would like to support the Pigeon Historical Society, any donation is gratefully accepted.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motherless Day

Yellow Roses -- My mom's favorite.
Mother's Day is our annual celebration honoring mothers and the motherly bond shared by many.  It's a day when many of us buy cards, candy and flowers for mom.  Perhaps we get her out of the kitchen and take her out for a nice dinner with the family.

It's her day! Celebrate!

For people like me, it's Motherless Day. My mom died going on seven years ago.

Don't get me wrong, I don't wallow in sadness and sorrow over my mother's departure.  But today is a total in-your-face reminder that she isn't here. And it makes me reflect on the coulda/shoulda days when she was here with us -- thinking of things I could have done or should have said.

But then I have to set that aside, or I'll get caught up in the wallowing.  My mom would not approve of unhappiness for her family.

Instead I'll reflect on the good times and happy memories of not just Mother's Days past, but every day holds a special memory.

People will tell you there is always someone worse off than yourself.

That's so true.

There are so many, younger than me, who have lost their mother at a tender age when they needed her most.  Worse yet are those who have a riff with their mom and they don't speak... "She's dead to me," is a saying from the old country.

What about those woman who long to be a mother, but are unable to bear a child?

And the grief and agony of a mother who has lost a child... unimaginable to anyone who hasn't shared that sorrow.

So while Mother's Day is a day filled with reminders of what I lost, I'm thankful that I was blessed with the mother I had.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and motherly people in my life.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Train Day


So it's only fitting that I let you know that today is National Train Day, a holiday started by Amtrak in 2008 to spread information to the general public about the advantages of rail travel and the history of trains in the United States.

It is held each year on the Saturday closest to May 10th.

National Train Day 2012 marks the 143rd anniversary of the creation of the nation's first transcontinental railroad. On May 10, 1869, in Promontory Summit, Utah, the 'golden spike' was driven into the final tie that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, forever transforming the face and character of America.

Amtrak will host major events in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles with free live entertainment and activities for both children and adults: interactive and educational exhibits, model train displays and tours of Amtrak equipment, and notable private railroad cars - just to name a few!

The major events of National Train Day usually consist of equipment displays in the major stations across the Amtrak system. This includes Acela and Keystone sets in the Northeastern cities, and Superliner cars in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Florida that are used on long distance trains in those regions. In addition, many private cars are also put on display.

Smaller events usually consist of a model train layout from a local club or other train-related items on display.

National Train Day celebrates train travel and the ways trains touch the lives of people across America. May 12, 2012, will be the day where train stations and other venues across the country, host activities and exhibits that highlight the past, present and future of trains and travel.

Let your journey begin!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

MC: Dark Shadows

As a kid, I was terrified by Barnabas Collins.  He was the vampire in the TV show Dark Shadows.

Dark Shadows is an American gothic soap opera that aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The story bible does not mention any supernatural elements. It was unprecedented in daytime television when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began.

The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles.

Now, Hollywood has taken the story and made a motion picture.  There's plenty of marketing hype including several midnight showings.

I attended one close to my home THIS morning. <Yawn>

In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (played by Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.

The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better.

A period move to the early seventies, made the show a bit campy, but then, I think Dark Shadows was the original camp-show of its time.

Screened on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at Bad Axe Theater, Bad Axe, MI

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Throw it away!

It's a throwback from days gone by, another time before a world of disposable everything. And it's use is, I believe fading away.  I don't know anyone under 60 who carries one, and I'm thankful for that.

I'm referring to a handkerchief. AKA: snotrag.  PLEASE, use a tissue and those that nasty body secretion into the trash.

By definition, a handkerchief or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, typically a hemmed square of thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse, and which is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose.

Thankfully a handkerchief is also sometimes used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket -- and I have no issues with that use.

Who on earth came up with the idea of a piece of cloth you carry in your pocket, use it from time to time -- TO BLOW YOUR NOSE -- and return it to your pocket.

It seems that honor goes to King Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377 to 1399. It is widely believed that he invented the cloth handkerchief, as surviving documents written by his courtiers describe his use of square pieces of cloth to wipe his nose. Certainly they were in existence by Shakespeare's time, and a handkerchief is an important plot device in his play Othello..

Today, even though I routinely see older people using a handkerchief, it is, by all standards, considered old-fashioned or unhygienic, in some parts of the world, mainly due to the popularization of disposable paper handkerchiefs and the fact that they are stored in a pocket or a purse after being used. However, they are a potentially more environment-conscious choice, as cloth handkerchiefs are reusable.

A handkerchief tucked in the pocket of a man's suit jacket is referred to as a pocket square.  But if you'll pull it out and blow your nose, I'll call it a snot rag....

Just use a tissue and throw it away.

Head out on the highway...

I love my new car.  That 2011 Ford Focus is wonderful, smooth and quiet ride. I especially love her after the first fill up and calculating at 31.5 miles per gallon.

Sadly, my 2003 F150 is feeling old and tired and knows I have another love.  She rebelled tonight when I tossed a trash can of grass clippings in the bed to take for composting.

Turning over fine, but then spitting and sputtering, telling me she was not happy to spend the last three nights outside the garage in the chilly and, sometimes, rainy, nights.

A quick rev of the engine and she was acting more like her old self.  But I did realize that I've grown accustomed to the car, reaching for the center console to shift into gear and needing to push on the brakes a little harder than the Focus.

Oh, don't worry old girl, I have plans to clean out the garage to make room for you to stay warm and dry when I'm not running the roads with you.

You're still my vehicle of choice for camping and hauling.

Even at 15 mpg.

Note: This blog was suppose to be scheduled for Wednesday, May 9.  Sorry, I set it for May 10.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday Tally: Movies I want to see

Most of you know I'm a bit of a movie freak.  I love going to see a show "on the big screen."  It's just not the same on my 36" TV.

That was especially true last Sunday when I saw The Avengers in 3D on the IMAX screen, with Dolby Sound.  The theater shook with the reverberations of the bass.

Here are a few of the movies I plan to see between now and the end of June.  Some haven't opened yet, but they're on the BareNakedBill list of coming attractions.
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
  • Dark Shadows - An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.
  • Safety Not Guaranteed - Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.
  • Bel Ami - A chronicle of a young man's rise to power in Paris via his manipulation of the city's most influential and wealthy women.
  • That's My Boy - While still in his teens, Donny fathered a son, Todd, and raised him as a single parent up until Todd's 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd's world comes crashing down.
  • Woman in the Fifth - A college lecturer flees to Paris after a scandal costs him his job. In the City of Lights, he meets a widow who might be involved in a series of murders.
  • Brave - Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.
All of these movies are on my watch list.  Maybe they should be on yours too?

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers (Movie Critic)

Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who's who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster.

If you grew up reading MAREL comicbooks, like I did, you'll like this movie.  It takes the old-time heros of the colored comic pages onto the big screen.

I enjoyed it on IMAX in 3D -- a spectacular way to view any movie.

Screened on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at AMC Great Lakes Crossing, Auburn Hills

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Car Shopping, Part 2

After much consternation, explaining and dealing, BareNakedBill has a new(er) ride!

Here's the 2011 Ford Fusion SE that has joined the "Fleet" (meaning my old 2003 F150 pick up).

As I'm writing this, I'm trying to get out of the house to go show it off and run the roads at an estimated 30 mpg.  I'll get back to you on that!

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Car Shopping

Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description. The source of the name is based on magicians' illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a distracting burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception.

After a recent trip to Grand Rapids, I decided I need to drive a different vehicle. The 15 MPG on the highway is what got me thinking.  Looking back over my credit card statements at the fuel purchases is what convinced me.

My goal is to find a decent vehicle with better-than-I'm-getting gas mileage.  That would be just about anything.

A few things a no-brainers: a car over a truck for not only the better mileage, but also the ability to haul other passengers; most likely a Ford since my dad has pretty much driven a Ford or Mercury all my life and I have had equal success with the make as well; used instead of new because I want to keep the payments lower.

My nephew Matthew picked up a Ford Fusion not too long ago.  I haven't heard complaints and he says the savings on fuel lover his F250 4x4 Extended Cab Diesel basically pays for the car.

And you don't have to listen to that rumbling diesel engine either.

Early this week I was out for a Sunday drive and stopped by an auto dealership to check out a 2011 Ford Fusion they had listed on their website.

It looked like a decent car, and I was interested, but the price was a bit higher than I was ready to pay.  I'm being a miser about spending my money and adding debt to my life.  By Thursday I decided I should take a test drive.

I wasn't surprised when I quickly caught the eye of one vulture (aka sales weasel) circling the lot.  They're very keen at spotting prey and hope for a one that is old and dumb and won't put up my resistance when they come in for the kill.

After the test drive, I told the sales weasel if he could come down $1500 on the asking price, it would pretty much be a done deal.  After the words left my mouth I realized how stupid that was, but we'd see where it would go.

Then the song and dance followed by a "Have I got a deal for you" smoke and mirrors routine started with the weasel giving me a breakdown of how much my payments would be for 60, 72 and 77 months.  Are you kidding? Finance a car for 77 months? That's nearly six-and-a-half years.

There's no discount in the amount you're suggesting I finance.  Of course not, young sales weasel had to run that offer past the grand sales weasel for counter offer only after showing prey how reasonable the monthly payment will be.

After too much of the smoke and mirrors show with young weasel leaving his desk to confer with grand weasel (who I don't think existed, young weasel was following his predetermined weasel manual), I told young weasel I'll think about it.

As I write this, at just past four in the morning, I'm frustrated that I'm not buying a car because the dealer won't come down another $180; and I'm irritated that the last conversation included all the fees and other charges including the "$24 State of Michigan CVR Fee" and "$190 Doc(ument) Fee."

Total smoke and mirrors! The Computer Vehicle Registration is a convenience to the dealer so they don't need to stand in line at the DMV and fee is allowed -- BUT NOT CHARGED -- by the State of Michigan; while the doc fee is just the dealership's way of saying, "We're charging you this hidden fee to process the paperwork to make money off a car we're selling you.

If the car wasn't such a damn good deal, I think I'd still be asleep right now.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Please Stand By

Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day and I wish I could put out the "Please Stand By" sign for a few hours to catch up.

Today is one of those days, after a week that included an unexpected trip to the University of Michigan Hospital Monday evening.

I didn't have a blog written for today, so this one, an "I don't have time to write a blog" stand-by post has been moved into Today's position.  You know I have to give all three of my follower something to read, regardless of how boring it may be.

So, now, here sit wishing I had more time to write something that at least interesting.  Alas, that's not happening today.

Sorry folks -- Please Stand By!

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

You blew it

Is it a good time to write when you're at the height of irritation?  Seriously, irritated to the point where I can't calm down.

"Why?" you might ask.

So here's what a remember of the text conversation today....

YOU: Hey, you wanna do [insert event here] tonight?

ME: Yeah, I have to rearrange somethings, but it will be cool hang out again.

An hour late, more texts:

YOU: I'm really stoked, I've been looking forward to [insert event here] for months?

ME: It will be a great time. Meet you at XX pm?

You don't reply.

Two hours later, power texting on your part:

YOU: I gotta blah blah blah right after work. What time you get out?
YOU: Wanna grab dinner first?
YOU: You hear from so-and-so?
YOU (when I don't answer in 1.67 milliseconds): HELLO? YOU THERE?

ME: Yeah, I'm here, out at 5:00. Dinner sounds good, where? Haven't heard from her. Pick you up at xx pm?

About an hour before XX pm:

ME: What time you want me to pick you up?
ME: Hello?

(Dialing Phone)... Ring Ring Ring, "Hi this is YOU, I can't take your call right now, leave me a message. BEEP"

ME: Where are you?  CALL ME!

An hour after xx pm:

YOU (texting): Sorry, I fell asleep.


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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

C, L & M

hello... Hello... HELLO! Oh yeah, Hello!

The other night I checked out the new Three Stooges movie.

I had heard it was good, but I was still surprised.  I found myself laughing out-loud at some one the tried and true jokes so typical of Stooges' humor.

Pratfalls, hammers to the head and finger pokes in the eye... lame jokes that took me back 40-plus years of my youth watching the Three Stooges in black and white.

The Farrelly brothers outdid themselves while staying with classic Three Stooges comedy.

I walked out of the theater feeling warm and fuzzy without a care in the world.

Go see it!

Screened on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, Bad Axe Theater, Bad Axe, MI

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Movie Critic: Hunger Games

I'm WAAAY behind on seeing some movies.  Time is always a factor but last weekend I managed to go see Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is actually a young adult novel written by American television writer and novelist Suzanne Collins. First published in September 2008, it is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, holds hegemony over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle until only one person is left.

There are actually three books in the Hunger Games series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.

I think I smell a sequel (or two).

In the movie, The Hunger Games is part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

There are a few twists and turns to the plot and the movie keeps moving right along.

Screened on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Bay City 6, Bay City, MI

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200 channels and nothing to watch

I'm sitting here as I'm writing this, trying to find something that will hold my interest for more than 15 seconds on TV.  I have DirecTV Satellite service with just about every channel known to man and God himself.

And there's nothing worth watching.

I really need to start listening to more music and reading more books and save the money I spend on the satellite for something worthwhile.

When I was growing up, we had three channels: 5, 12 and 25 -- the then NBC, ABC and CBS networks, respectively.  A few years ago channel 25 was purchased by some media giant and somehow managed to take the NBC franchise, forcing channel 5 to take over the CBS affiliate.

Those three channels brought me more entertainment than the 200+ channels I have now.  CLASSIC shows you don't see today.

Oh sure, there are some great shows on now, but they don't compare to the viewership the shows of yesteryear.

Perhaps it's much like a starving man... when you're hungry, you'll eat whatever you can get. I guess I'm not hungry enough to find something good to devour on satellite TV.

Thankfully, I've recently stumbled across The History Channel and The Military Channel, on which I have found some interesting programming.

For now, I'll just keep flipping the channels looking for something to watch.

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