Archive for June, 2004

Man v. Lawn

I am having a bit of a power struggle with my lawn.  Like any new lawn, this one is testing my limits; continually pushing me to see how much it can get away with.  I have been incredibly patient so far, but if the past three weeks are any indication, this lawn won’t give in until I have dialed the first six digits of the paving company’s phone number.  If it is going to avoid being covered with hot tar, my lawn needs to start following the rules.

The first rule is that grass should grow at a rate that requires mowing no more than once a week.  My lawn is growing at a “two mows a week” clip, which is totally unacceptable.  If I waited a whole week before mowing, I would need to buy a machete.

Something must be done.  I’m afraid to cut the grass very short, because the all of the grass would probably die out of spite.  I have tried standing in the backyard and shouting, “YOU ARE NOT A GOLF COURSE!  I DON’T HAVE TIME TO MOW YOU EVERY DAY!” to no avail (although it makes a great impression on my new neighbors).

The second rule is that it can’t keep killing my lawn mowers.  It has killed one so far, and I can only hope that it hasn’t developed a taste for motor oil.  I was halfway through the back yard when my mower sounded its death rattle.  Smoke filled the air as the mower gave a final sputter, then a lurch, before becoming overcome by stillness.

I bought a new mower, and if the lawn kills this one I might invest in a cow.

The third rule is that the lawn can’t keep trying to injure me.  The grass has blatantly tripped me three times while I was trying to mow the small hill next to my house.  Each time, I was pushing the mower up the hill when the grass reached up and pulled my ankle, producing an acrobatic belly flop.  I swear that when I hit the ground I heard the lawn giggling.  My wife, who tends to see the good in all things, insists that I fell because I kept wearing sneakers with worn soles.  Next time I’ll wear my softball cleats.

I think that 14 years of lawn-free apartment living may have left me unprepared for lawn ownership.  It has been a hard realization that the “no chores on Saturday” era has ended.  The reality of the situation hit home recently when I had to tell my friend, “I would love to go to the Sox game with you, but I have to go home and figure out how to use my weed whacker.”

The last time I had to use that excuse was when I was living with my parents.  Mowing my parents’ lawn was quite an adventure.  That lawn did not like to be mowed.  Getting the job done usually involved biting, kicking, snakes, red ants, bees, clouds of oily black smoke, and some seriously R-rated language.

Our next-door neighbors would actually pull chairs over to the property line so that they could sit and watch me do battle with that lawn.  They would sit on their perfectly manicured sod and toast me with their iced tea glasses while I tried to coax our old mower over the hateful blades of grass.

I don’t want to have that sort of relationship with my new lawn.  I’m hoping that this is only a phase.  If my grass will just agree to slow down with the growing, I’m willing to let bygones be bygones and forget about the murder of my mower.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 18 Jun 2004 No Comments

The Battle of the Living Room Couch

I was sitting at home, watching Ken Burns’ Baseball on DVD, when the phone rang.  It was my old friend Rick O’Shea.  Without even saying hello, he launched the conversation:

“You know, I was driving past your house the other day and saw something strange in your yard.”

You should really be looking at the road when you drive.

“I was, but I saw this thing out of the corner of my eye.  It was brown and black, had a really long tongue, and I think it was barking.”

If it was barking, it was probably our new dog, Callie.  She’s a 4-year-old shepherd-collie mix that we adopted from a shelter last week.  She doesn’t bark much, except when the neighbors’ dogs are outside and she feels the need to announce her presence with authority.

“I’ve seen your neighbors’ dogs.  Callie might do well to stay on their good side.”

She would probably be a light lunch for them, yes, but they are nice dogs.

“So, are you knee deep in kibble and dog hair yet?”

No, things are going pretty well, except that we are currently engaged in the Battle of the Living Room Couch.  Callie seems to think that the couch is her own personal lounge space.  I’ve been trying to keep her off of the couch by putting chairs on it before I go to bed.”

“I’m thinking that you are not likely to win The Battle of the Living Room Couch, much like you didn’t win The Battle of the Bird Feeder at your parents’ house.”

The Battle of the Bird Feeder was technically a draw.  Once I stopped putting seed in the bird feeder, the squirrels stayed away.

“That strategy also turned the bird feeder into a large and ineffective wind chime.”

Lawn art.

“Right.”

Anyway, Callie figured out how to push the chairs onto the floor.  It seems that I will have to come up with a new strategy.

“In the end, you will spend 30 minutes setting up a contraption of duct tape and bungee cords, and Callie will still be sleeping on the couch.”

We bought her a doggie bed, but for some reason she doesn’t like it.  It seems nice and comfortable.

“Have you ever slept on it?”

Well, no.

“Exactly.  Dogs are a lot smarter than you think they are.”

If she’s so smart, why does she keep trying to walk through our sliding screen door?

“Have you ever bumped into that screen door?”

Maybe.  I’m also concerned that she seems overly fond of passing vehicles.  If it was a Lexus or a Caddy I could understand, but who gets excited and jumps around about a Vespa scooter?

“It’s a good thing that you have a fence around your yard.  Are you talking like an idiot to her yet?”

What do you mean?

“I saw you with your old dog.  You used to talk to her in this weird, high-pitched voice. ‘You want some FOOODY?’ ‘You wanna go OUTSIIIIIDE?!’  Truly, it was embarrassing to be near you.”

Hey Rick, nice talking to you, but I have to go.  I need to go shopping for some bungee cords.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 18 Jun 2004 No Comments

Hot Flashes

It’s been a while since I posted anything on the old site.  Fret not; I have not forgotten you, my faithful reader.  Work has been a little bananas lately (the grammar checker in Microsoft Word thinks that I should change “bananas” in this sentence to “banana”, but that would be just plain nuts), which is an admittedly poor excuse for why there have not been regular articles posted on this site.  In response to the outcry by the one person in the country who set this site as his homepage, I have decided to post a dot, dot, dot column.  Here goes:

 …First of all, I have never adjusted to the fact that two of the Boston TV stations changed affiliations a bunch of years ago.  In my mind, Channel 7 should have remained as CBS, and Channel 4 should still be NBC, the way they were when I was growing up.  Ever since the swap (Channel 7 is now NBC…or is it Fox?), which happened so long ago that most sane people have accepted it, when I want to tune into NBC, I have to actually think about where it is on the dial.  I would appreciate it if the stations would change back, because this is brain power I would prefer to use for the ongoing “Which remote controls the @#$@#$ volume” problem…

 …RB Update:  I ran over a nail the size of my middle finger last week.  Smiling V (Motto:  “We’re not good, but we’re conveniently located!”) gladly removed it and plugged the tire for the low, low price of $15.  That should buy him a new feedbag for his horse farm…

 …I went to the Wine Expo this past Saturday.  It’s a good time, and for the second straight year I drank wine until I couldn’t taste it anymore (some people taste the wine, then spit it out into buckets provided for this purpose, but what’s the point of that?).   Anyway, while the Megger and I were waiting in a long line for the coat check, a short ugly woman with a rear-end the size of a bean bag chair came over with her mother and asked if we were in the line for the coat check.  We said that we were, and the mother moved to go to the end of the line, but Bean Bag Butt, who did not have any apparent disability other than her lack of consideration for others, grabbed her mother and dragged her to a point far ahead of us in line.  They then merged into the line, using the tactic of standing near the line and looking away until the line moved, then moving into it.

 I wish I could say that the other people in line immediately kicked Bean Bag Butt and her mother out of line and forced them to drink from the spit buckets as penance for their crimes, but unfortunately that did not happen.   

 They didn’t get off without being noticed, however, because a little further down the line, one of the men who had been standing near us in line loudly confronted Bean Bag Butt by asking if she felt that she didn’t have to wait in line.  She actually agreed that lines were beneath her and a whole crowd of people began yelling at her.  Just as things looked like they might get interesting, Bean Bag Butt just shrugged her shoulders and because wine drinkers are apparently peaceful by nature (can you imagine if that happened at a beer expo?), there was no violence (Wine drinkers are sheep).  I was very tempted to find her later and “accidentally” spill wine on her white sweater, but I am more mature than that (or perhaps I didn’t think of it until just now)…

…In other news, I have recently grown a beard.  Every single person who sees me now that I have a beard asks the exact same question:  “What’s with the beard?”

 I usually just reply that the beard helps to keep the winter wind off my face, but I sometimes wonder if these people really want to know, or if they are just making conversation.  So far, I’ve just told them all that it helps to keep the winter wind off of my face, but the next person who asks will get a ten-minute answer involving scientific experiments involving facial hair on people over 30.

 This question will continue until I shave the beard, at which point people will say, “So, shaved the beard?”…

 …I was at a bar recently watching the bartenders work when I noticed that one otherwise attractive bartender used her middle finger to hit the touch pads on the bar’s computer screen.  Ugh.  It reminded me that one of my pet peeves is people who use their middle finger for tasks that the pointer finger was created to accomplish. 

 Anyone who uses their middle finger to point at things (yep, they named it the “pointer” finger for a reason, people), touch computer screens, type (if they are a “search and destroy” typist only), and to run underneath word while they read are not using the proper digit.  In our current age of specialization, people should realize that the middle finger, used alone, has one express purpose for which it is very well designed.  Let’s not think outside the box by breaking paradigms and cross training the middle finger to take on the responsibilities of the multi-talented pointer finger.  

 These rules do not apply if both of a person’s pointer fingers happen to be missing…

 …Speaking of fingers, why do some men give “dead fish” handshakes?  Do they purposely allow their fingers to go limp as they are reaching out to shake your hand, leaving you shaking a cold, dead fish-like hand?  Receiving these types of handshakes generally makes me feel vaguely dirty, and I usually want to wash my hands right afterwards. 

 There must be some explanation for this, because the same people give the same dead fish handshake every time I find myself shaking their hand.  Is it a mental thing, or are they doing it on purpose?  Does anyone know?  Is it that they can’t be bothered to empower their fingers to grip my hand?  I’m sure there must be some kind of explanation for this, and I would really appreciate it if anyone with a theory would get in touch with me (if the theory is good, or funny, I’ll post it on the site). 

 This does not include those times when you shake someone’s hand and they accidentally grab you by the fingers and shake them instead of your whole hand, which is also a fairly unsettling experience.

 I must spend quite a bit of time thinking about handshakes, because this topic reminds me of my theory (probably written here previously) that whenever you find out another man’s name, you are REQUIRED to shake his hand.  This rule applies even if you have already been introduced to a guy, shook his hand, and kept talking to him for 15 minutes before you admit that you have forgotten his name.  When he tells it to you, you will be compelled to shake his hand again…

Ok, that’s all I have time for at the moment.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 11 Jun 2004 No Comments

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