Monday, August 22, 2011

Shopping Insanity

For nearly two months now, ever since the Missus came up lame, I have taken on many new tasks, not the least of which is grocery shopping. Until recently, my typical grocery list was quite simple, a 12 pack of beer, a frozen pizza, maybe some chips and salsa. Done. In an emergency, I sometimes made a run for a bottle of Spicy Hot V-8 juice for a Bloody Mary but that was about it. That has now changed.

Now I’m picking up the whole nine yards of food stuffs; lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, soups to nuts. I could go on but you get the idea. Shopping in the real world is a completely new skill set for me, one that I have yet to master. Rookie errors such as the following were common. Consider:

• A gallon of milk with an expiration date two days away.

• Bananas with dark spots.

• Tomatoes with soft spots.

• A 5 lb. sack of potatoes rather than the more economical ten pounder.

• Wrong kind of lettuce. (Got a big deduct on that one.)

And who knew there were so many varieties of soup? You got your reduced fat, your salt free, your big cans and little cans, not to mention dozens of brands.

Tuna, my list said. Sure wifey, what kind? Tuna in water? Tuna in oil? Tuna in a soft pack or tuna in a tin? Six ounces or twelve?

Butter and cheese? I’m not even going there. It was maddening.

And how do you ladies find this stuff? I walked eleven miles looking for something called dill; the single form of which I thought was a pickle. Nope, it’s a spice. But all you savvy shoppers knew that.

Which brings us to the checkout lines. Suddenly it became crystal clear why the Missus often returns from the grocery with a less than cheerful attitude. The lady in front of me with the tattoos was evidently buying for half the families in her trailer park. As the cashier rang up a dozen or so items, the lady would stop him, dig out an envelope from her purse, sort through the loose money, and settle up. The process was then repeated, more items, another envelope, more money, another transaction taken care of. Why there are not more homicides in grocery stores shall forever be a mystery to me.

At last, it was my turn. The checker was a pimple-faced kid that looked freshly promoted from his last position of retrieving carts from the parking lot.

“Broccoli?” he asked, holding up a strange looking green thing.

“I hope so pal. Ask that woman with the tattoos. That gal knows how to shop.”

Saturday, August 13, 2011


My reluctant role as neighborhood animal serial killer was  in play again this morning. You may recall the rabid—or seemingly so—raccoon in the backyard. Then there was the mortally injured stray cat at the end of the street. Today , while on my morning walk, I happen upon an opossum, also in the middle of the street. It was lying on its side and I naturally assumed it was dead. Not the case. As I approached, it got to its feet but instead of running off, stood there and looked at me. I did a walk around and checked for damage but the only sign of harm was what looked to be bloody saliva around the mouth. A neighbor came out and said the thing had been lying there for at least an hour. Got to be internal injury I think and judging from its near comatose state, probably not survivable. Once again, I felt that a quick death would be the merciful thing to do.

Now I’m not about to pick up an injured wild animal and tote it to the woods; not smart. I return to the humble abode for gloves, a live trap, and the shotgun. Back at the scene, I open the door to the live trap and give the poor critter a gentle nudge toward the opening but he/she is having none of it and gives me a look like, “You touch me one more time and you’ll be working with nine fingers or less.” So there we are, in the middle of the street, at a standoff, each waiting for the other to make a wrong move.

I decide on an action where I slide the trap in as close as possible and in one quick move, give the possum a boost on the butt and tip the trap vertical, allowing the door to slam shut. It worked and all my ten digits were still attached. We take a short drive to the back of a dead end street where several acres of woods begin. I open the trap, expected a hasty retreat. Didn’t happen. I upend the trap with open part down and try to shake it out of there. Nope, not leaving; the wires firmly in the grasp of all four feet and tail. Hmmm. Did it sense where this was going?

I found a small stick and used it as a prod through the wire mesh and eventually the opossum came out. A couple minutes later, the possum hurt no more.

So why do I not feel good about this?

(photo not the actual possum in today's blog)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Saga of the Bunn continued:

Two days had passed since the Bunn coffee maker stopped piddling water across the kitchen counter. This due to my absolutely brilliant ability to not only troubleshoot and find the problem, but repair the leak with a few drops of common household glue. My arm was getting sore from patting myself on the back and so I shared the story with a friend, one who has a background in the medical field.

The friend informed me that he would never drink water or coffee that had been in contact with glue. Can definitely harm your liver he says. Hmmm. Keeping in mind that my liver has taken some major hits over time from the evils of demon rum, something akin to the Joplin tornado, I rethought the situation. Although the only parts listed in the Bunn user manual were things like a spray head and a carafe, I check out the Bunn web site anyway, just in case. I find the customer support pages and on it there’s a form to describe your problem and what part you need. AHA! I had to find something on the unit called a Date Code.  That wasn’t easy. Picture juggling a device with a metal tube filled with scalding hot water and a warming plate that can take your skin off, all the while trying to find a tiny number on the bottom. I completed the form, hit the Submit button, and waited. Now under normal conditions, I’m a pretty patient guy, but waiting on e-mail replies from a major company is not one of my strong suits and after several hours of staring at my “in” box, I reluctantly dial the Bunn 800 number dreading the endless menus that I’m sure await me.

But no, the recording says to hold the line for a representative and within sixty seconds, I hear the voice of a living person. The woman with whom I talked—and I assume it was Mrs. Bunn—confirmed my fears. “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t sell replacement parts located near the electrical connections.” I wanted so badly to tell her of my qualifications, especially my FCC license, but knew it would be useless to buck company policy. Mrs. Bunn then asked if my coffee maker had a date code on the bottom. Thankfully, I had found it earlier.

“Your unit is under warranty” she says. “We’ll mail you a new one. Just use the box to return the defective unit.”

Whoa! What just happened? It couldn’t be that simple. There had to be a catch. Maybe like a $200 shipping and handling fee? Nope, that was it. New unit on the way. Happy days are here again.

Later in the evening, I happen to check my e-mail and right there at the top of the list is a reply from Bunn.

Dear Mr. Williams,

We are sorry you are having a problem with your Bunn coffee maker. A replacement is being shipped to your address. Please return the defective unit using the same box.



Holy Crap. I’ve been double Bunned. Sure, I could be the dishonest sort and keep both but what happens when Mrs. Bunn opens my empty box? Just from the sound of her voice, I knew I did not want that woman standing on my doorstep, angrily throwing coffee grounds in my face. I call Kim to abort the shipment. Too late, Bunn #2 has left the building.

Eventually Kim and I come up with a plan involving labels and forms to resolve the problem and everybody’s happy. Well, except for the UPS man delivering two coffee pots to my door in 113 degree heat. He might be a little pissed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Lime of Another Color

Ever since my bride came up lame a few weeks ago, I’ve been wearing many hats. As well as my usual Lord of the Manor and chief handyman lids, I’ve assumed the role of homemaker, cook, nurse, and of course Keeper of the Cats. So when the coffeemaker sprang a leak, I donned the handyman hat and with my trusty battery-powered mini-screwdriver, took that baby apart. The brand under scrutiny was a Bunn, one of three we have owned over the years. The thing about a Bunn is that it’s the closest thing to instant coffee you’ll ever see. Stick in a filter, a little coffee, pour a pot of water in the top and by the time you walk out to fetch the morning paper, you got 10 cups of java waiting on you. Okay, so it’s not ecological friendly as it keeps a tube full of hot water at all times. Some might say it wastes electricity. I say screw it. I’m old. I deserve some conveniences in life. The Bunn is one.

Problem was, this particular Bunn was losing water all over the countertop. After a detailed study using my razor sharp analytical mind, the trouble was determined to be a leaky gasket between the incoming cold water and the hot water reservoir. Buy another gasket you say? No, no. Doesn’t work like that. No, Mr. Bunn wants you to buy a brand new unit to the tune of $99 and that’s when it’s on sale. What it needed, I figured, was some kind of sealant or maybe caulking of some sort. Rummaging through my handyman supplies, I discovered a tube of something called Stick & Seal. Perfect! I dabbed it around the gasket, let it sit for the required number of minutes, and made a pot of coffee. Was there water on the countertop? NO! Did it make coffee like a new one? Why yes it did, thank you for asking. I took a sip. Whoa. The coffee seemed to have a whang to it. I check the label on the Stick & Seal.

Do not inhale, ingest, or come within twenty feet of this product or you will die a horrible death (or something to that effect). But wait, the water shouldn’t have come in contact with the poison. Something else was wrong. The Missus speaks up, “You should probably delime the pot.”

Now the only lime I’m familiar with is the one that goes in a gin and tonic. What does lime have to do with a coffee maker? But according to the manual and homemakers that deal with these kinds of things on a regular basis, the pot needs to be cleaned periodically because of deposits from impurities in the water. Vinegar, it turns out, is the simple solution. You pour a bunch in, let it sit, swab it out, and there ya go. Who da thunk it?

Now I lie awake at night wondering what other routine household duties I’ve neglected and which one will be the next to bite me on the Bunn …I mean butt.