The Ramblin’ Man: March 6, 2014

It occurred to me tonight that I can never lie to my girlfriend about where I have been. It has never occurred to me to lie to her, but it just now occurred that I shouldn’t.

You see, my girlfriend lives way far away from me, so she can’t really check on me too much. She is real, by the way. I didn’t make her up.

My mom thinks I should not write about my girlfriend so much. I’ve written about her once before and mentioned her briefly one other time. That’s apparently too much for Mom. I think maybe she’s afraid I’ll say too much and screw things up.

This one is a keeper, so I do need to be careful. I’ve only had like six girlfriends in my life and half of them I did make up. So, it’s not like I’ve got a lot of street cred when it comes to girlfriends.

Or, maybe Mom knows people don’t want to read stuff like this and you’re supposed to write for your readers. I never have. I’m just having a conversation between you and me and nobody else. And nobody’s forcing you to sit there and read it.

I don’t know that anyone has ever been forced to read my column. Maybe there is a secret military prison out there where terrorists and bad criminals are made to read my stuff each week, and they’re like, “No, please, no. We’ll tell you what you want to know. For the love of Allah, don’t make us read another one!”

Anyway, I noticed that Jennie had “liked” one of my pictures on Facebook. That’s cool. That’s affirmation.

I had been to – shameless plug ahead – the grand opening for the new Huddle House south of Lebanon and had taken pictures of Fredbird. Jennie knew I was going there and the pictures I posted online showed that I had been there although I know she was never concerned about it to begin with.

It just occurred to me that if I said I was going to be somewhere and I didn’t have pictures online, that could raise suspicion. We will have no suspicion-raising in this regard. Or any other regard. I feel like I’m digging a hole here.

Pretty soon, I’ll say something stupid [again] and Jennie will be all like, “I’m outta here.” And then, Mom will have been right. Moms are always right.

But, no, I saw Jennie this weekend and we had a nice chat, the context of which is sealed under penalty of relationship law. All I’ll say is, “Uh-huh. Yep. Mm-hmm.” And then I’ll shrug. Then I’ll change the subject.

Dang, it got cold again, didn’t it? It was like 68 degrees a week or so ago, and tonight, it’s 5 degrees outside.

It’s after 1 a.m. as I write this. Of course, I’m thinking about Jennie and I want to send her a text message, but I know she’s asleep 70 miles away. My phone is on silent so it won’t disturb me if I’m sleeping, but there’s a light indicating I have a new message. And it’s Jennie texting me. Right when I wanted to text her. And that’s how it works.

Yep. Mm-hmm. Uh-huh.

Dave Porter | For The Cairo Citizen

The Ramblin’ Man: Civics Education

Civilization. Being civil. Civic duty. All of those things have a commonality other than the letter sequence “c-i-v-i.” Unfortunately, civility and civic duty aren’t as common as they used to be.
I suppose you can be a good citizen without performing a civic duty. If you don’t steal from others and you pay your taxes, that’s being a good citizen. But civic duty requires more. Voting is the most basic civic duty. Participating in community organizations, showing up for jury duty and standing and taking your hat off during the national anthem are all elements of civic duty. But I think democracy, our American civilization, requires more.
I think we have a duty to educate ourselves and to try to understand civic issues without partisanship. I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to be a Republican or a Democrat or to promote a political agenda, but if your information diet is fed by a single ideology, then you have assigned your personal responsibility to someone else. That begs the question: Who is manipulating you?
Holding a strong, political belief without being able to articulate why you think that way indicates you have weeds growing in the gray garden inside your head. I don’t blame the media for this. I blame you. Letting someone else do your thinking for you is on you.
Conservatives can blame the liberal media and liberals can blame Fox News. Maybe we’ve become so disenchanted with politics that we have just given up on trying to sort it all out, so we vote with our party if we vote at all.
Or, maybe our education system has not prepared us to be discerning consumers of information. Perhaps we lack the tools to sort it all out. After all, Illinois does not have a civics education requirement in our schools. The schools teach U.S. history and social studies, but civics is more than that.
On Feb. 21, a governor’s task force on civic education met for the first time to look at how civics is taught in other states and how it might be taught here. As scary as it may seem to many of you, I was appointed as the media representative on the task force, which includes educators and legislators.
My goal for the task force is to ensure that civic education leads to civic engagement. While we need a broad policy that preserves local discretion for schools, I think we need specific tools that schools can use to boost civic engagement, and we need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of civic education.
This may seem like a ho-hum topic to some folks as there are far more pressing issues for legislators, such as pension reform, spending issues, tax relief and basic services for roads, police and fire protection and job growth. But we are never going to develop the best solutions to our problems if our young people do not become civic-minded and -engaged adults.
Dave Porter | For The Cairo Citizen

Ramblin Man: April 4, 2013

by David Porter
I’m proclaiming Sunday’s snowfall in Springfield, which totaled about 16 inches, to be the best snowfall ever. I have to confess, though, that I like snow. For a lot of people, a winter without snow would be the best ever. Not me. I like all the seasons, and I think spring is appreciated more after a snowy winter.

I will back up a little bit, though, and qualify my liking the snow. I don’t like ice and I don’t want the snow to hang around all winter. That’s partly why Sunday’s snow was so good.

It was a nice, gentle snow without too much wind and without bitter coldness. There was a lot of it, and it was a heavy, wet snow, but the temperature was into the 30s, so it was not bone-numbing cold. Plus, by Monday, it was melting off pretty well.

The best part, though, was using it as an excuse to take a vacation day. I take my computer home on the weekends, so if the office really needs me, I can do everything from home that I can do at work. I didn’t have anything super pressing at work, so I took the day off.

My wife, though, wasn’t so lucky. Not only did she have to go to work, she had to leave the house around 5 a.m. Worse yet, she wanted me to take her. So much for vacation time.

You can read into this all that it entails. A) I had to get up way early; B) I had to have the seemingly mile-long driveway cleared, which I do the old fashioned way with a shovel, an aching back and lots of breaks; and C) I had to get up way early, which deserves a second mention.

Add to that the fact that our street is not on a priority list for snowplows. We did not see a snowplow on our street until after noon on Monday. That made it an interesting trip downtown at 5 o’clock in the morning.

I had shoveled the walk and drive Sunday afternoon and again Sunday evening. The first time had about 6 inches of snow in the drive; the second had another 9 inches. I shoveled again Monday morning with another inch or so on the drive.

Fortunately, a truck had gone down our street leaving its tracks and skimming off the top layer of snow. I had to shovel 25 feet into the street to get to the tracks, and then shovel a wide enough area for the car to make a turn. The snow in the road still scraped the bottom of the car the whole distance down the road.

We live about three quarters of the block from a main road, which had three wide lanes neatly plowed. I wondered why they couldn’t have made a side trip down our street before cleaning off the third lane. I’m sure it has to do with traffic counts, emergency vehicles, loss prevention, saving lives and that sort of the thing. But c’mon, we need to be able to get to the main roads.

Fortunately, at 5 a.m., there’s not a lot of traffic, especially with a foot and a half of snow on the ground, so we pretty much ignored stop signs. If the car is moving, you’re not stuck. A good way to get stuck is to stop moving.

I left the house a little afternoon to go hang at the coffee shop where I’m taking lessons in the fine arts – you know, poker, and, uh, just poker, really. Sometimes I give the lessons. Sometimes I get the lessons.

Anyway, I arrived home late Monday afternoon to find that the plow had gone by and filled most of my driveway back in. Where I had shoveled loose, fluffy snowflakes, there now stood heavy, dense blocks of ice two feet tall. I really appreciate the plow driver taking special care to make sure these boulders were neatly placed in my drive and not, say, in the ample grassy area where the city exercises a right-of-way. This way, I could place those big blocks wherever I think would be best, which is anywhere but inside the threshold of my driveway.

I drove Penny’s car Monday since it’s garage-kept and didn’t need cleaning off. I left mine until Monday evening. By that time, Mother Nature had taken nearly half of it back through compression and melting. I’m thinking that if I stay home tomorrow, I might not have to brush off the car at all; just park it in a sunny spot.

With no little kids at home anymore, I didn’t get to do any sledding or build a snowman, but I did make a couple of delicious batches of snow ice cream. I figured the first few inches of snow cleaned out most of the pollutants in the air. I’m a little leery of eating snow these days what with all the environmental issues. I won’t use blowing snow because it picks up dirt. As long as the snow is fresh and not yellow, we’re good.

By the end of the week, it’s supposed to be into the 50s. The only snow we’ll see will be the mountains pushed together by the snow plows and left to melt in the corner of a grocery store parking lot. Some of those stick around for weeks. Hmm. Maybe I can get in some sledding and snowman building after all.

County closer yet to buyouts

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners heard updates on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) buyouts during its regular meeting March 12.

County Engineer Jeff Denny said the approval process for the County to receive federal and state aid is nearing a close. With that, he nudged the Board to begin considering how they want the buyout process managed.

Denny said there is the option of a temporary, part time hire built in to the grant the County will receive from FEMA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. During discussion, Board Vice Chair Chalen Tatum recommended approaching Southern Five about taking on the tasking of assessing property and managing the distribution of funds. However, no official decision was made.

During the meeting Jerry Smith informed the Board, the County will need to anticipate $75,000 to pay into the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund as well as another $65-75,000 to cover general liability.

Tatum announced at the meeting’s close the County will have an electronics recycling event March 16 at the Alexander County Courthouse in Cairo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

— Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Ramblin Man: March 14, 2013

by David Porter
My granddaughter says she had the best day of her life Saturday. I had little enough to do with it, but I did put her in the right place at the right time, so Pawpaw scores some points.

She’s 10 years old with a precocious interest in politics and government. She’s also very big on family — she enjoys learning about her genealogy and meeting extended family members. So it was a double whammy Saturday when I took her to meet Congressman Bill Enyart, who is her third cousin. She had not met him before but had campaigned for him as she lives in his district; she passed out 23 bumper stickers at her school. She was pretty excited to meet him.

The occasion was Congressman Enyart’s retirement from the military. He served as the head of the Illinois National Guard for the past 10 years and is a 2-star general. We attended the “change of command” ceremony. I kept looking over at Kelsey; I thought she might be getting bored, but she was enthralled. After the ceremony, we waited in the reception line so she could get her picture taken with the congressman and get his autograph. The congressman didn’t disappoint. Already, Kelsey was proclaiming this to be the best day of her life, but there was more to come.

We went to lunch along with some other family that had driven over for the ceremony. We were waiting for our food when the congressman and his wife walked into the restaurant. We weren’t expecting them, but the table next to ours was open, so they joined our party. Now Kelsey had a chance to spend more time with him. He gave her a business card and offered to visit her school. She told him what she had told us earlier: “This is the best day of my life.” He took the comment humbly, pointing out that her life was relatively young and that she will undoubtedly have many more “best days.”

After the meal, she went over to him to show him one of her many bracelets. She was wearing a charm bracelet with a star and a flag. The emblems reminded her of him, she told him. “Well, here,” he said. He pulled the flag patch off his uniform and handed it to her. The little chatterbox was rendered speechless. I think the whole table was speechless. I was a little jealous. Not really jealous, but I didn’t know what to say. I thought maybe, “Hey, General, you’re out of uniform,” but that seemed a bit ungracious. No, this was a serious moment. It was, after all, the best day of Kelsey’s life. I could have bought her a pony and it would have paled in comparison.

I’m sure the congressman saw it as a small thing, but he also knew it was a huge thing for her. Days later, her feet still haven’t touched the ground. For a few days, at least, some boy band out of England called One Dimension was not at the top of her hero list.

After lunch, we had the photo of her with the congressman developed and bought frames to put all of her souvenirs in. She planned to take them to school, so I wanted to make sure they would stay together and secure. She will keep these mementos for the rest of her life.

With her zest for learning, she was on the Internet that afternoon researching why the flag on a uniform is backwards. She wanted to be able to explain it to her classmates. I expect that this kind gesture will continue to pay dividends well into the future. You just never know when a small act will pay off big. Knowing that, maybe we ought to perform more of them. Of course, it helps if you’re a 2-star general and a congressman. That gives you a leg up. But anyone can make the world brighter for someone.

What’s that saying? To the world, you are one person, but to one person, you’re the world. So, if you want to change the world, I guess that means you’d start with yourself? And if you want to be the world to that one person, I reckon you’d need to plan it. Get it? Plan-it. Planet. Inside, you’re laughing right now. I know it.

Ramblin Man: March 7, 2013

by David Porter
In this space, I like to joke around a lot, so I thought, hey, let’s write about the postal service. I apologize in advance to all my friends who work for the postal service; you’re all wonderful exceptions, I’m sure.

The United States Postal Service doesn’t want to deliver mail on Saturdays, anymore. They’d rather design and sell fashion clothing. Who is the Postmaster General these days, anyway? RuPaul?

That’s right. The USPS is launching a fashion clothing line. Nothing says “fashion” like a post office uniform. They don’t want to deliver mail on Saturdays, but they want to look good not doing it.

The new gear is called “Rain Heat & Snow.” That’s a bit misleading, I think. We didn’t have mail delivery in my town one day last week because we got about 3 inches of snow. The USPS says the name of its clothing line is meant to signify resilience. Ha!

The USPS says it lost $15.9 billion last year – more than 3 times the previous year, which saw a loss of $5.1 billion. The same press release from the USPS states that the $15.9 billion figure includes $11.1 billion to prefund its pension plan, which it was unable to do. It states that it defaulted on those payments.

Using a cash accounting system, one can see that the USPS actually lost $4.8 billion last year, which is better than it had done the year before. But, when you’re trying to spin a catastrophic outlook, you want to use an accrual accounting system that treats unpaid bills as a loss. I get that the $11.1 billion in pension payments is an obligation, but that obligation could change legislatively or be paid over a period of time. Plus, the USPS previously overpaid this obligation by some $50 billion. If you’re going to call the $11.1 billion not paid a loss, then you need to count the $50 billion not paid back as profit. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Cutting Saturday deliveries would reportedly save the USPS about $2 billion a year. Which means, if they want to really tackle their debt, they’ll need to cut out delivery on Mondays through Fridays as well.

The postal service said they’d stop most Saturday delivery in August but would continue to deliver packages. They’re apparently more concerned about you receiving your box of postal fashion clothing than they are about your pension check.

I realize that mail is down. Nobody writes letters anymore. People get their checks direct deposited and pay their bills online. Well, not everyone. Who still uses the postal service? Elderly people. Poor people. Disabled people. Rural people without high-speed Internet access. These are the people who would be hurt by the loss of Saturday delivery.

And newspapers. A lot of newspapers deliver store coupons and fliers on Saturday. Come August, those important pieces of mail will be worthless by Monday – or Tuesday if there’s a Monday holiday.

The postal service recently cut a price deal with a large direct mailer to encourage businesses to use direct mail instead of newspapers. Now, the USPS wants to eliminate Saturday delivery, too, which, by the way, they can’t legally do without Congress’ approval; but they say they’re going to do it anyway. Who do these people think they are?

Now, I know some really dedicated, hard-working postal employees. But I know some slackers, too, and I’ve seen some inefficiency. One day, three different USPS trucks pulled up to the back door of our office at different times throughout the day. Maybe they ought to get their heads together and make one trip.

A co-worker pointed out the difference between our USPS delivery guy and the UPS lady. When the UPS lady comes in, she seems to be in a hurry. She is cheerful, but she doesn’t waste any time. The daily postman, on the other hand, pulls up in his jeep and sits outside talking on his cell phone for 20 minutes or more. Then he comes in and engages everyone he sees in conversation, sometimes regaling us with stories of the bargains he found at the antique mall while he was delivering the mail.

The whole time he was talking, I couldn’t help but think, dang man, I want a fashionable uniform like that. Ill-fitting navy shorts with a blue-and-white striped shirt, a boxy hat and my name sewn on a patch over the pocket? That’s stylin’.

The Ramblin’ Man, January 24, 2013

by David Porter
A friend of mine said the other day that he wished he could go back in time so he could beat up the jerk that he used to be.

I’m pretty sure his old self never wanted to go into the future to beat up his current self, so who’s the jerk, really? But I digress.

It got me to thinking, what would I tell my high school self if I could go back 30 years and meet that clueless lump of clay.

Gosh, I can think of so many things I’d tell that kid. Eat less junk food. Smile more. Brush your teeth three times a day or they’ll abandon you later in life. Stay in school. Listen to your mother. Slow down when driving. Quit wasting so much time.

But kids don’t want to hear that stuff. I would not have listened. For all I know, my future self was there telling me those things and I just wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I would have listened more if someone was telling me the kinds of things I really wanted to know. Like how to get girls.

I don’t know about all guys, but I think most teenage guys are pretty well centered on one thing, and that’s how to get girls. Some guys just seemed to know how to do it. Maybe others read up on it or watched and learned. I was too frightened to even open my eyes.

I didn’t feel attractive enough. I had no confidence. I had no courage. I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to look foolish, and I was afraid to disappoint my parents. I was stuck so far in Oz that mental roadblocks coalesced into the inability to take action. Doing nothing was the safest thing I could do.

I knew what confidence was. I was extremely — nay; overly — confident in some areas. Still am. If you don’t think you’re good at what you do, nobody else is going to think so, either. What I needed was for my future self to take that confidence dial and tune me up a little bit.

In my youth, I was a bit of a fast burner. I had a career trajectory in place by the time I was 17. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew the direction to get there. Well, “a” direction, anyway. I was way too busy going places; I didn’t have time for girls, I often told myself convincingly.

In this sense, “girls” is a metaphor. I’m really talking about living. Not breathing in and out living. Not going through the motions living. Real, exhilarating, breathtaking, jump-out-of-an-airplane living.

Oh, I did some neat things as a teen. I achieved some lofty goals. I’m sure the grown-ups in my life were pleased, maybe even impressed. They were complimentary and supportive. But in all that hurry to get where I was going, I forgot to be a kid.

That’s what I would tell my old self if I could. You can venture off the path you’re on and still find your way home.

Take yourself a little less seriously over here and be a bit more aggressive over there. Quit wasting time thinking you aren’t handsome enough or tall enough or likable enough. Here’s a little secret: Across town, right now, there’s a girl your age who thinks she isn’t pretty enough or good enough for you. The two of you ought to get together. Maybe you won’t make eye contact, but you can stare at the floor together.

If you get knocked down, pick yourself back up, buddy; brush off the dust and try again. The worst thing that can happen trying is about the same as the best thing that can happen not trying.

Courage. Confidence. A touch of humility. Persistence. Determination. Self discipline. A sense of humor. And the understanding that there is no man better than you and no woman who is out of your league. These are the characteristics that will help you get the girl. And if it doesn’t work out and you end up spending your evening alone at home? Well, that’s what you were doing anyway.

Ramblin’ Man: December 6, 2012

by David Porter
If you look at a map of downstate Illinois and highlight the highways and railroads, you’ll see there are large sections of land where tiny villages hide from the bright lights and city life.

These are places where kids still pause and look up at the sky when they hear a helicopter overhead because it’s so rare that they get to see one. The piercing scream of an ambulance siren can become the topic of conversation for weeks.

Illinois is full of places where the directions start out: “You can’t get there from here.” Places like Cairo, St. Joe, Sidell and Homer. Places like Cobden and Campbell Hill, Hardin and Oakland. Meredosia, Minonk and Assumption.

If the world is really going to end this year, you want to be in one of these places when it happens because they won’t know it for another 10 years. If you have only a year to live, I’d recommend moving to Newman, Illinois. It will seem much longer. But if you have only 6 months, I suggest Illiopolis. After 6 months in Illiopolis, you’ll be ready to check out.

Of all the towns I’ve listed so far, I’ve been to all of them except Cairo, which is on my list of places I want to visit. I had an invite to go there this month, but that’s like a three-day round trip for me.

These are my kind of towns, though. I’ve lived in a lot of them and have family from some of them. My maternal grandparents lived in Garret when I was young, where the big thing to do was to walk down to the post office to check the mail.

The streets had no names back then; Grandma explained that she lived at the end of Tough Street – the farther you go, the tougher it gets.

My paternal grandparents lived in Homer where Grandpa retired as principal of the grade school. I have the hand-stenciled nameplate he kept on his desk; students had made it for him. Grandma Porter had the distinction of being the longest-serving teacher at the grade school when she retired. I’ll bet some of her former students are reading this right now; her youngest students would have to be in their 40s by now I’m guessing.

I haven’t been back to Homer for a long time. The last time I was there, I drove by the old house and the ancient, red barn, where I used to jump out of the hayloft, was gone. It’s always a little sad to see such an icon of one’s youth disappear from the landscape.

Grandma and Grandpa’s house on South Ellen Street wasn’t real big but there might have been 25 or so people sleeping there over a holiday. Some of us would bunk in the garage where the older cousins convinced us that bats would swoop down in the middle of the night. It didn’t help that the abandoned mansion across the street had to be haunted.

The space between the house and barn was large enough for a football game. If there weren’t enough interested players for football, the barn was a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Grandpa was a bargain hunter and frequented auctions, so the barn and garage were filled with beds, dressers and assorted junk.

Up in the hayloft, there was a hand-hewn beam that stretched across the width of the room effectively partitioning off about a third of the space. The massive beam could be a pirate’s plank, a dining table or an airport runway depending on what game was being played. Those were the days when a kid’s imagination was the cornerstone of entertainment.

My paternal grandparents had 18 grandchildren and most of us have children of our own. We’re spread all over the country with a few overseas. We’re all products of our environment and heredity, so that means there’s at least a little bit of small-town Homer influence spread around the world.

Notable people from Homer include former P.O.W. Paul Lewis (Iranian hostage) and Indiana Gov. Frank Hanly, a presidential candidate during Prohibition. Indians forced to relocate in 1838 camped near Homer as part of the “Trail of Death.”

All of these little towns have their stories about famous residents and events, and it all weaves together as part of the history of the state, the nation and the world.

To think, forty years from now, people who are kids today will be talking about this decade in fond memory of the “good old days” just like the 70s were my good old days and the 50s were my parents’ good old days. We talk about the days before computers; today’s kids will probably recall the days when nobody had a jetpack.

Maybe they’ll jetpack over a sleepy little town like Homer and a kid will look up and say, “Wow.” And another “good old day” memory will be made.

Ramblin’ Man: November 29, 2012

by: David Porter
The weekend started out simple enough. We mixed it up a little by going to lunch at a restaurant we don’t normally frequent. On the drive home, Penny asked, “Do you want to stop at that new consignment store on the way home?”

What I really wanted was a nap, but I sensed that she wanted to go, so I said, “Sure.”

She gave me ample opportunity to back out as she had been in the store before. We both like browsing through other people’s old junk, though, so we went.

Seconds after entering the store, Penny fell in love with an antique, walnut, Victorian bed. Having been in the antiques business, I have a pretty good idea of what such a thing is worth, so I didn’t even look at the price tag. Victorian beds are out of our price range.

Penny was curious, though, so she flipped the card over. In this order, the words were piqued, peeked and peaked. Her curiosity was piqued, she peeked at the card, then her interest was peaked. All within half a minute.

In the meantime, I spied an oak secretary desk with curved glass on the bookcase – like the one my grandmother had. We already had a similar cabinet, but I promised it to our daughter.

Like Penny, I looked at the card and thought, “Wow, that’s a good price.” Then I walked away.

While I was in another room pawing over the merchandise, Penny was in the front asking the clerk whether the prices on the two antiques were negotiable. They were.

We had not planned on making any major purchases, but it got to the point where we couldn’t afford to not buy them. Penny suggested that they could be our Christmas presents to each other. Well, that makes my December simpler, so I agreed.

Now we just had to find a way to get them home. Fortunately, my friend Larry wasn’t busy and he has a truck. We got the pieces home and I went about setting up the bed.

We took out the old bed, swept and mopped the floor and brought in the “new” bed. Before Penny sees this I will point out that by “we” I mean “Penny” when it comes to the sweeping and the mopping.

Anyway, the bed was too short. I had suspected this could be a problem as the old Victorian beds were typically what’s called a three-quarter size. This one was wide enough but was a little too short for the mattress.

There are two other beds in the house and I thought their mattresses might be a little shorter, so I tore them apart to get to the box springs. Each set was tried and each was too long. Houston, we have a problem.

It was getting late, so I slept on the problem. I had to sleep on something; the beds were all torn apart. I came up with an idea to replace the pegs on the sideboards with lag screws and use the bolt heads as pegs. I could tighten the bolt heads against the headboard with nuts and washers.

When I took the hardware off a side rail, I discovered that my plan was not going to work. I also discovered a patent date of 1866.

I had some walnut shelving in the garage, so I quickly cut pieces to extend the side rails. I was able to modify the hardware enough to make everything work. We were back in business, so to speak. By the way, the modifications I made are reversible so I didn’t hurt the integrity of the antique.

In an hour or so, the bed was ready for the box spring. It was still a tight fit with the extra two inches, but it all went together.

That’s when Penny realized the bed was now about seven inches higher than the old bed. Not only was her nightstand too low now but she would also need a ladder to get into bed.

We found another piece of furniture in the house to swap out the nightstand, but it was wider than the previous piece, so now the desk on the right was crowded. We swapped the desk with a dresser from another locale. Pretty soon, we had rearranged the entire room and our weekend was gone.

And it’s all because we decided to stop at the new consignment store. Now Penny says she needs a new bedspread to go with the bed. Sorry. My Christmas shopping is done.

Ramblin Man: November 15, 2012

by: David Porter
I’m having a birthday party and you’re all invited. I’m not sure where or when it will be, but just keep your eyes and ears open and I’m sure you’ll find it.

Back in the day, we’d sometimes have a “come as you are party.” I’m having a “stay where you are” party. Wherever you are on December 19, just shout out “woo hoo” and my celebration will be complete. People around you will look at you like you’re crazy, and that’s OK. Feel free to invite them to the party, too.

I want to have a party this year for two reasons. First, I’m still two years away from 50, and I do not want to acknowledge 50 in any way. It’s pretty well documented that I do not age gracefully. So, if we’re going to party, we need to do it before the half century mark.

Secondly, the world is supposed to end two days after my birthday, so if the Mayan calendar is right, this will be the last opportunity we have to party on my birthday. I haven’t had a party since I was 11, so I think it’s about time.

I told my wife that I want to have my party down at the seegar store. She said, “So, you want to have a party where your wife can’t go.”

Nobody said she couldn’t go to the seegar store. So I’m not seeing the problem here.

Maybe I’ll have two parties. One where everybody can go with no cigar smoking. We’ll call that the “boring” party. And another one where there will be cigar smoking, poker playing and perhaps consumption of adult beverages. We’ll call that one the “actual” party. You can decide for yourself which one is more suitable for your “stay where you are” non-appearance at the party. “Woo-hoo.”

It’s not that I don’t want all of you to physically attend my party. I just don’t know where I’d put you, and, um, I don’t want to pay for it. Although, I’m pretty sure that neither one of those issues would be actual problems. More likely, I’d just be really sad when none of you showed up. And I don’t want to be sad on my birthday. Although, it is my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Cry if I want to. Cry if I want to. You would cry to if it happened to you.

Wow. Somebody should put that to music. That’s golden.

So, here’s the schedule: Nov. 22, we celebrate Thanksgiving and eat lots of turkey. Dec. 7, we remember Pearl Harbor Day. On Dec. 19, we celebrate my birthday (woo-hoo) and then on Dec. 21, the world ends. Find the tallest building you can and get in the elevator and press the “up” button. When there are that many people trying to get into heaven at the same time, you need to give yourself and edge.

And if the world doesn’t end on Dec. 21, then woo-hoo, it’s Christmas on the 25th. That will be so much better than the world ending. It will be an extra special Christmas, as if the birth of Christ wasn’t special enough.

So, in case we don’t make it to the 25th, the big blow-out is the 19th. Deal? Wherever you are, stay there and celebrate. This is going to be great. I’m pretty stoked.