Why you didn't hear from me today


Sales.  Not my favorite word.

Selling myself to complete strangers over the telephone; cold calling, the smooth talkers call it.

I cringe at the thought. 

Yet I have a very good product to sell.  (There's that "sell" word again.)  If you're the lifestyle director or activity director for a facility that caters to those 55 and over -- whether it be a retirement home, senior housing community, club or group, or if your organization of any age has an interest in movies  -- I will bring a little levity into the lives of those in your group with my Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff presentation series.

We've had fun and very good success so far with the "Casablanca -- Hollywood's Classic Happy Accident" presentation.  It's a lively hour and a half where I show selected "Casablanca" movie clips and provide behind-the-scenes info that's enjoyable and informative.

I'd love to chat with you about how it will liven up your facility and leave your residents asking for a return engagement.  So call me at 972-599-2150 or shoot me an e-mail ([email protected]) and we'll set up a meeting to discuss a presentation date.  I say that because I should have already contacted you.

Here's why you didn't get that sales call from me today:

  1. I'd almost rather eat a rusty nail (not the drink) than dial up a perfect stranger and ask them to hire me, even though I've enjoyed a 30-year career as a film critic, have traveled much of the world interviewing Hollywood's A-list celebrities and show up at your place ready to go with projector, movie screen, sound system and some darn good quips at a reasonable price.
  2. My coffee cup's near empty.  I better refill it now.
  3. What if I don't make a good impression over the telephone?
  4. Now I have coffee, but we're babysitting the grand-dogs (Jaxson and Scooter) for a couple of weeks and I think they need to go out.
  5. Now I can call you.  Wait, I almost forgot.  We're keeping the dogs because my step-daughter Lisa is off to Europe -- Prague, can you believe it? -- to play in the world final ultimate Frisbee tournament. (Impressive, if I do say so myself.  Her team is seeded 7th in the world.  The world.  Way to go, Lisa!)
  6. Oops, coffee's low again.  Be right back.
  7. I'm dialing your number right n... Who's that, the FedEX guy?  'Scuse me just a minute.
  8. I wonder how many hits my Web site (LarryRatliff.com) is getting today?  This won't take long.
  9. "Hello.  Yeah, how 'bout them Rangers.  What's that?  Sorry, can't do lunch today.  Busy making sales calls."
  10. Where was I?  Oh yes ... Oops, must have more coffee.
  11. "Yes, Jaxson, it's time for a treat.  Are you wearing a watch, fella?  Come on, Scootie, you too."
  12. 972-36... (Hang up quick)  Oh, oh, bathroom break!
  13. Hmmm, wondering if I set the DVR to tape tonight's Rangers game?  Big game tonight.
  14. Wait a second, it's time for my snack.  When you're dieting (Don't get me started) snack time is very important.
  15. "Yes, you're a good boy, Scooter.  Do you need to go outside?  OK, get Jaxson, we'll play ball."
  16. Playing tennis for the first time in, oh, about 30 years this weekend.  Better look up where I can find a practice wall.  Don't want to look like a complete idiot out on the court.
  17. Coffee?  Why, I'd love another cup.  Thank you, me.
  18. "Good afternoon, my name is Larry Ratliff with the Movie Memories presentation series.  May I please speak to Ms. Gilbert, the activity director?  She's already gone for the day?  But it's only ... oh, 6:13."

Man, I just can't catch a break.

I hate sales.

Maybe you better just call me.


A fine how do you doo

Colcar352 Don't ask me why, but I wanted my colonoscopy to be, if not funny, at least a little humorous.

You know, like Ricky Gervais' in the movie "Ghost Town" a couple years back.  Without the dying unexpectedly part, of course.  Nothing funny about that in real life/death, is there?

It didn't begin that way.  My prep nurse -- a very nice lady, really -- made it clear to me that I waited too long for my first colon spelunker adventure. 

"Why did you wait so long? 

"Don't know, really?"  (I did know.  I was scared s%*^#+&%.)

"Colon cancer is the silent killer, you know." 

"Yes, I know," I replied demurely (and you're killing me a little right now with your lecture; Wanna trade places?)

When the male nurse arrived to insert the IV in my arm and wheel me down to the surgery center procedure room, I thought things were going to brighten up substantially.

"Why are you here?"

"Colonoscopy," I said.

Then he (early 30s maybe, 20 years away from undergoing the embarrassing but essential procedure himself) launched into some spirited surgical center comic patter.

"Just for the fun of it?"


"I always ask patients if they're having a colonoscopy for the fun of it.  It catches them off guard and eases the tension," he said.

Later, when the nurse was tapping my wrist to locate the vein for the IV, the dinner show began:

"There's no reason to do this, really.  I just like to beat the patients."  (Good one, buddy.)

Then, after inserting a deadening needle and then the larger IV needle (painlessly, I might add):

"Remember, the state of Texas allows me to do this."

Being an old comedian, and feeling older by the second, I must admit the guy's timing was good and his material, as they say in the biz, was topically on the money.

Trouble was, after not eating anything solid for a day and a-half and losing three pounds in the non-advisable toilet diet the day before, I was in no mood for banter of any kind.

Which brings me to:

Security breaches at the G2 Summit

I won't lie to you.  Colonoscopy prep is not pleasant.  When I think back about the three-hour process of clearing my lower body regions of, let's say, clutter, the image that pops into my head is of landscape-altering tsunamis roaring in opposite directions.

The instructions were simple enough.  Pick up a box of laxative tablets, a 238g bottle of MiraLAX (explosives disguised as laxative powder; Do Not Let Terror Cellists In Your Neighborhood Know About MiraLAX) and a 64 ounce bottle of Gatorade.

You take four laxatives with eight ounces of Gatorade.  Then a couple of hours later, you pour the entire box of MiraLax into the Gatorade.  You shake it up, drink it up (eight ounces every 10 or 15 minutes) and -- before long -- become a human geyser at maximum pressure. 

By the way, have you tried to buy Gatorade lately?  Apparently, it has faded away like the 8-track tape, the DeLorean automobile and, unless something happens fast, Paris Hilton.

Gatorade has morphed into something called G2, the middle part of Gatorade's G Series in the science of thirst quenching.

Oddly enough, G2, the second stage of a three-part process, is titled DURING.

If ever there was truth in advertising, G2 qualifies, especially when mixed with volatile amounts of the MiraLAX explosive.  'Scuse me, laxative.  Give me a couple 64-ounce bottles of this mixture and I could bring down Hoover Dam.

Let's just say it's a good thing we installed a new industrial strength toilet a month or so ago.

Whew, glad it's over.  The colonoscopy process may not be pleasant, but it's much preferred to the alternative (the silent killer).

So if you're 50 or older, I urge you to schedule yours today.  It'll free your mind, your soul and your lower body like you won't believe.

And I get to go through the cleansing process again in three years.

Just for the fun of it.

(Colonoscopy cartoon courtesy:  funnytimes.com)


Gawd, save the queen!

Hi, my name is Samuel Clodhopper Ant MMMMMMMMMMMMMDCLXIII.

You can just call me Scant, though.  Uncle Sting came up with that one 'cause I'm smaller than most of the guys (you call us Carpenter Ants) in the nest.

By the way, that's not me you're looking at above.  That's Mom, the Queen.  Boy did she give me lots of sisters; so many I've lost count.

Maybe that's why my own mother doesn't act like she even knows I'm alive.

But she will today.  I'm heading back through the wall to the colony as fast as I can with a very special treat for her.  But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

If you've been to Larry and Suellen's house the last couple of days, you may have seen me scurrying along the trail from just to the left of the cook-top, past the coffee pot (Boy, that guy can really drink some Joe) and along the sink. 

I probably would have never gotten out of the nest, but good ol' Uncle Sting put in a word to Mom.  So two human days ago, which is, like, forever for me, I joined the trail to bring back food.

My position:  17 ants behind Sting.  That's me just in front of Louie.  "Come on, Louie, move your antennae!"  Too bad there's not an ant fast-food joint along the way;  "587,000 lettuce bits to go, please, and a droplet of water.  Let's go crazy!" 

Wait, maybe there is.  What's that shiny black thing behind the wooden chicken by the sink?  That wasn't there last trip.  It looks like a modern ant sanctuary.  You humans would call it a roadside park, except this whatever it is looks way too clean.

And it smells -- how can I describe it -- sweet!  That's it, sweet.  "See you later, fellas, I'm taking a super-sized helping of this golden nectar back to Mom!"

Just back inside the wall now.  My legs are so tired from hurrying with this heavy load that I can barely go on.  And I'm nervous.  I feel like I have two left feet.  Wait, I do have two left feet.  Three, in fact.

Almost there now.  "Out of my way, girls.  My name is Sam Clodhopper Ant the 8,000 and, oh, whatever, and I've got lunch for the queen!

"Mom, uh Your Majesty, I've only been on the trail for two days.  But I found this sweet-smelling nectar in a shiny black cathedral with surprisingly easy access on every side.  I lugged this special treat all the way back here just for you, Mom.  I didn't even take a bite." 

Queen Ant, eating:  "Oh, Scant.  You don't have to tell me who you are.  I knew you'd take (cough) your rightful (gag) place in (gasping for breath ... more gasping) the nest (huge wheeze) some da........"

(The queen expires; six legs and a huge larvae bag up.  Suddenly it's mayhem in a panicked nest of millions.)

Scant:  What? ... WHAT?

(Photo courtesy:  alexanderwild.com)


What the fork?

Fork200use Like every good citizen of Planet Earth, I get involved in vital issues that concern us all.

Damn the consequences.  When someone must speak out when no one else will, I am there, my friend.

So here goes:

What's going on with all the disappearing forks? 

You know that plastic thing in the kitchen drawer where the silverware goes?  Ours is white.  The color of yours may vary according to taste and/or if you took the cheap route and picked a light gray flimsy one at the Dollar Store, Everything's a Dollar or the 99 Cent Store (which should be running the other two stores out of business, but never seems to).

Here's the deal.  We do the dishes and fill all the little slots in that plastic holder with spoons (two sizes), knives, dinner forks and salad forks.

So far so good.  But the next time I'm in dire need of a good fork, or any fork, really, the pronged silverware slot is mysteriously empty.

We know there are gremlins in the house, despite a costly alarm system (which, come to think of it, might be blocking a gremlin exit at night).

Be that as it may, my theory is that the Sock Gremlins, which have broken up more good pairs than a cheap divorce attorney, have formed an alliance with the Fork Gremlins.

Laughing, they must be, as they make off with forks; perhaps stuffing stolen socks (one, never both from a matching duo) as cushion to silence the movement to a secret storage place behind a wall somewhere.

Why?  Why us?  Or, more specifically, why me?  I didn't do anything to them.  I just want the silverware to be there when I need it.

What the fork?


We should never weigh ourselves naked


Nothing even remotely positive can come out of it.  That's why.

Scale200use I've been dieting lately.  That means no more Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream (right out of the half- gallon container) in front of the TV at night (or in the morning, or, what the heck, around noon).

No more Milk Duds at the movies.  No more yada, yada, yada.  You know the drill.

Now, just when the stretch-marks appear to be going in the right direction (Don't kid yourself, you know what I mean), a new problem pops up.

Weighing yourself naked only leads to despair.

Take my so-called life (Please!) as an example:

Several events occurred in my life in rapid succession that set this diet misery in motion.  Like the split-second difference between a baseball player's foot thud on first base and the pop of the ball arriving in the first baseman's glove.

Or like this:  My blood pressure went up ... I was feeling lousy ... It was necessary to check the weight limit on a ladder before changing the air conditioner filter in the attic ... Shortness of breath ... Longness of ice cream sessions (See Blue Bell mention above) and this:

The B-word, bequeath, was mentioned in my own home.  It was quite innocently uttered.  Since my grandparents are long gone and my parents have moved on to their reward as well, I had no choice other than to realize that the B-word had some kind of connection to me.

I don't have much mind you, so I was flattered that I own something someone else deems important enough to want.  But I don't plan on doing any major bequeathing for a long time.

So, I went to the doctor for my first annual physical in about a dozen years and found out what I already knew.  Lose some weight, buddy, if you want to hang around on the planet for a while.

That first rattle of the doctor's scale weight -- sliding, sliding; add next counterweight, sliding, sliding -- made me mad.  Even then, I couldn't help thinking about my brother's favorite weight scale joke:  "One at a time, please."

That brings us to the never weigh yourself without clothes observation.  Since I was visiting my doctor every couple of weeks for a while, I got serious about my diet.

Bright and early every Sunday morning I weighed myself ... naked.  I was making good progress, too, except for one thing.  Being weighed by the doctor's assistant (scale weight rattle; sliding, sliding ...) presented a problem.

Polite society does not allow weighing in the buff in public.  Not even in the name of science.

It does, however, allow for us to weigh between three and six pounds more when fully clothed.

Bummer.  But at least the view's (somewhat) less disturbing.

My weight goal?

Let's just say it has something to do with seeing my feet.

(Man on scale cartoon courtesy of Clipartof.com)



(Courtesy:  weeklyreader.com)

It's not that Suellen and I have to share our shower with ants that bugs me the most, really.

It's more of a social issue.  The ants, I've concluded, are taking more showers than I am.  That makes me look bad, you little jerks.  (Talking to the ants, not you.)

I don't care if they did evolve from wasp-like ancestors (still talking ants, not you) and have been around somewhere between 110 and 130 million years.  The ants can just take their bathy baths outside somewhere.

OK, full disclosure:  I was pretty freaked out by the cheesy sci-fi/horror movie "Them!" when I was a kid not yet 10 in the mid '50s.   Nuked in early atomic tests, giant mutated ants roamed the New Mexico desert looking not for someplace to shower, oddly enough, but for humans to snack on. 

Almost everything I know, which isn't much, I learned by watching movies.  Case in point:  Don't go anywhere near the ocean ("Jaws"); Don't look in the attic ("Don't Look in the Attic"); Don't try to pet a skunk.

Actually, I learned that one on my own.  That's another (grisly) story.

Obviously, ants have no decency and show no mercy.  After all, early on in "Them!" they did devour gentle old storekeeper Gramps Johnson.

But could we get back to my shower, please?  (Speaking figuratively; still not talking about you personally.)

We can't put ant traps in the shower, where they appear to be coming in, for sanitary reasons.  So we've placed ant traps on the floor just outside the shower door.

Many of them do die.  Actually, it's a clean death.  They tramp through the shower, stop off for a little ant trap snack, "Yum!" and fall over dead.

Perhaps taking a hint from what they're read on a shampoo bottle on the way in, this process takes place, then repeats.  Takes place, then repeats.

About a billion times!

I thought we were gaining on the determined little invaders.  I mean, how many of them can there be?  Now I learn through my usual careful research (I Googled) that ants are attracted to the smell of their own dead. 

Them!  Those sick bas*#[email protected]*!

 Apparently it's some sort of "no ant left behind" military deal.

If they must go military on us, I would much prefer a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

That way maybe I could shower in peace.



R.I.P.: Kim Dawson

Kim Dawson died this week.

The business steam engine who grew the Kim Dawson Agency into a Dallas modeling and talent icon and eventual international presence succumbed at 85 to a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, published reports tell us.

When the news flashed across our TV screen, my wife Suellen heard my audible sigh.  I hadn't seen the model/talent mogul in over a quarter century.  In fact, I had never mentioned her to Suellen.

And today I learned something else about Dawson.  Robert Johnson, my former Weekender editor at the San Antonio Express-News, grew up next door to the Dawson family in Dallas.  (Here's a link to Robert's memories of the Dallas model agency legend.)

Dawson's passing took my breath away a little.  She taught me how to smile, you see, the way good models do it. 

Back in the mid-1970s I had just quit my job as a television news anchorman to become a ... a, well, I wasn't sure exactly.  I was out of money and my closet full of soup I stowed away for my run at show business was dwindling fast.  (All that was left, in fact, was a full shelf of Black Bean.)

My new career as a stand-up comedian was sputtering.  Old borrowed (make that stolen) Woody Allen jokes coming out of my stage-fright quivering lips weren't exactly wowing nightclub audiences.  I even got gonged by a chimp judge (a real chimpanzee) during a live local recreation of "The Gong Show."

I heard that the Kim Dawson Agency managed talent, though, so I set up an appointment.  I was told to bring a portfolio of photos to the meeting.  So I hired a guy and posed for my one-and-only model photo shoot.

I still remember trying to be cool leaning against an oak tree somewhere along Turtle Creek. As the photographer shot away, I looked over and noticed a long line of ants merrily making a trail across my bare arm, which was draped across a limb.

When I got to the meeting, Dawson was cordial but tough and straight to the nitty-gritty.  Flipping through my photos, she quickly informed me that I didn't know how to smile properly.

"The top lip should rest just at the top of the teeth line," I remember her saying.  She was right.  Show too much gum and you look like a geek in the modeling business.

Even though I vowed to practice until I got the smile right, it was obvious I had no future as a male model. 

Dawson tossed me a much-needed bone, however, from the talent agency side of her business.  Soon, and before all the soup had run out, I was handing out perfume samples at Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas (while trying to hide the holes in my shoes).

Two other assignments still rattle around in my brain.  I was assigned a gig to demonstrate a Magic Drawing Board at one of the upscale shopping malls.  Anything beyond stick figures is out of my drawing range, but the company rep taught me to draw a Native American chief head.

I got pretty good at that.  I would sit on a bench in the mall and draw away.  Same thing over and over.  When little kids would wander up and ask what I was doing (those were more innocent times), I was supposed to say something like, "Well, son, I'm having fun with my Magic Drawing Board.  Tell Mommy you want one."

Once a fellow agency guy and I were dressed in authentic British Palace Guard uniforms (you know, the ones with the tall black hat with a chin strap) and told to stand guard at the entrance to a ritzy debutante ball somewhere in Highland Park.

Some bratty rich kids, wrongly assuming that we had taken a religious vow never to speak while on duty, began kidding us.  No, it was more like taunting:

"What's the matter, can't you talk?  Are you too good to say something to us?"

"Not at all," I blurted out right in their faces.  "What do you want to know?"

They were so startled they almost jumped right out of their designer shoes (with no holes in the soles).

Then I smiled.  Without showing any gum.

Thanks Kim.  Rest in peace.



Hi, blood pressure; bye-bye Blue Bell

I went for my annual physical late last week.

Before that, my most recent annual physical took place sometime in the previous century.

(Courtesy:  Vaughns.com)

It's not that I have trouble counting or anything, it's just that anytime a doctor puts on a glove, I get nervous.  I get defensive, and sometimes I get the hell out of there.

Urged on by my wife, my doctor and my wimpy better judgment, however, I assumed the position.

Bottom line (no reference to the aforementioned glove intended), I have borderline high blood pressure.

Not high blood pressure, mind you, but right on the line of demarcation between "high normal" and hypertension (high blood pressure).

I don't mean to nitpick and I'm certainly no doctor, but it seems to me that the words "high" and "normal" don't really go together.

So while I'm waiting for the results of my blood work to come back from the lab, my doctor told me to purchase a home blood-pressure monitor and check my pressure at random times.

The theory is that if we can get the readings down into the "normal" normal range, I probably won't have to take blood pressure medication.

The reality is that all this tweaking and testing is probably adding to the pressure.  It certainly doesn't help any that the chart I've included here has the word "Death" printed in red at the far bottom on the chart.

Also, and here's the really sad part, I've decided to say farewell to my best pal for a while.  That means no more half gallons of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream in the freezer for gluttony-related short visits.

I'm not whining, really.  The whining will come if the blood work turns up other problems.  This is just an attempt to alert nearby stores.  You guys might want to cut back on your Blue Bell orders for a while.  At least until I get my weight down some and I'm out of the "high normal" range on the blood pressure meter.  Otherwise, you'll have a frozen tundra of Blue Bell melting in the aisles.

I'm no stickler for precise proper diet, it's just definitely time to make some healthier choices.

What the health.  It can't hurt.


Toyota, as I recall, and botched dinner plans

(Courtesy:  Toyota.com)

It was my birthday.  We had dinner plans.

Toyota had other plans.

This is not one of those horror tales -- real, imagined or hoaxed -- about runaway Priuses, or stuck gas pedals or Toyotas that appear to run free like unbridled stallions in the spring.  All of that, of course, has resulted in massive recalls; somewhere north of six million.

Nope, this is about getting into a Toyota dealership for regular scheduled maintenance during all the aforementioned mess.  You know, change the oil, rotate the tires, check the brakes, install new windshield wiper blades, a quick outside rinse and back on the freeway.

If you consider yourself lucky because you own a Toyota that's not on the recall list, think again.

My brilliant idea when it was time for maintenance on my wife's RAV4 was to forgo the dealership altogether.

"Your SUV (or is it SVU?  I never can remember since the TV cop show came on) needs routine maintenance.  I'm going to run it down to Jiffy-Iffy," I cheerfully said one recent morning.

Well, that idea got shot down faster than the Obama health care plan in a roomful of Republicans.

In the interest of brevity, let's just say it was suggested to me that her/our/the RAV4 be taken to the dealership ("Where they're trained to work on Toyotas") for maintenance just as we always do.

"But," I countered (and darn well, I thought), "it'll be a madhouse at the dealership.  They're working day and night to repair hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of the recalled cars!"

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed.

So, on my birthday, I headed to the Toyota dealership for routine maintenance.

I was assured, as my wife was on the phone, that the recall would not be a problem and that I'd be out of there, rotated tires, new windshield wipers, fresh oil and sparkling clean car (outside only) in an hour and a half or two at the most.

Here's how my day, my birthday went:

Driving to the dealership, I felt pretty good.  After all, I had a firm 11 a.m. appointment.  I even got to pick out my service "manager" from three or four photos posted on the dealership Web site.

Don't tell the missus this, but it was a madhouse (just as I predicted).  I felt like I had been shrunk down to insect size and tossed into a radically disturbed beehive.

Guys, looking like executives delegated to the service department during the recall crisis, were scurrying around carrying stacks of cardboard boxes containing who knows what; new brake pedals?  metal fixes? letters of complaint?

Not to worry, I have an appointment with a guy

My guy was nowhere to be found.  To tell you the truth, he may not even be employed at my Toyota store anymore.  So I got another guy, who quickly derailed the waiting around idea and told me that someone would run me home and pick me up for the return trip when my SUV/SVU was ready.

"It's a little crazy around here today," I offered, hoping to ease the obvious tension permeating the air.

That's when my new guy looked me dead in the eye and said (semi-robot style):

"Toyota is still the leading auto manufacturer in the world."

I was about to ask him if they've been selling any lately when I realized I was not yet on the van for my ride home.  So I zipped it and waited semi-patiently.

SUVs, a tour of several cities and "Oops, my keys!"

After a half hour or so, about a half-dozen of us were herded into an SUV.  We were just about to depart when another SUV arrived. It was decided that we would be divided up into groups going the same 100-mile radius or so.

Short story long, I was kicked out of my first SUV and told to get in the other one.  "That's OK," I joked to the driver who spoke little English and the other passenger who spoke even less, "It used to happen to me in Little League all the time."

Ten minutes or so away from the dealership, the female customer in the SUV with me notified the driver that she had left her house key back at the dealership.  So, a U-turn and we begin the process all over again. 

When the driver finally deposited the lady at her apartment complex about an hour later, I asked him how often people who dropped off their car keys forgot to keep their house keys with them.

"It happens all the time," he replied with a little shrug.  I was about to ask why they didn't ask everyone who climbs into the SUV for a ride home if they've remembered their house key.  At that point, though, I couldn't stand to hear the robot speech again about how Toyota is the world's leading car manufacturer.

Home at last, now what?

My driver was a pretty cool kid.  He's usually a repair tech, but drastic times call for drastic measures.  He pointed to a name and number (one of two) scribbled on a Toyota card and instructed me to call the number when I was ready for the return trip.

(What would he do, just sit in front of my house and wait?  What about all the other people needing rides?)

"Are you Ruben? (not the real name)," I asked, reading the name next to the number.  "Naw, Ruben's off today.  I'm Manuel (not the real name).

Well, I did call.  I called and called.  Not just the dealership to see how my car maintenance was coming but, when the sun began to set, I also dialed up Manuel (his real name, I think).

"Do you mind if we pick up one more customer on the way back," Manuel asked?  "Not at all," I replied, fully realizing that I wasn't alone in the battle to retrieve a car from a Toyota dealership.

When the clock struck the moment I was to meet my wife and brother for my birthday dinner, Manuel was on his cell phone trying to get directions to the other customer's house.

"She doesn't speak English, so she can't tell me how to get there," he said.

Me:  "Yeah, but you have the address, right?" 

He:  "Uh, I don't have the address, but I know it's around here somewhere."

Did you know that Toyota is still the leading auto manufacturer in the world?


Oh, my aching Olympiad

CSI:  Plano -- That's my shoe print on the right, but what monster made the other print?

These are the Other Winter Olympics.

The object here, in an unusually frosty and snowy North Texas of '09/2010, is not to bring home gold.

My mission, as one of the forced-to-participate Other Winter Olympians, is to just get home by the fire. (Thank God we have a fireplace.)  Call it survival of the fittest?  I think not.

Granted, these Olympic games came upon us suddenly and with little warning.  On Christmas Eve, and on Feb. 12 (when our Canadian neighbors were boo-hooing about an unusually warm winter and not having enough snow to send skiers skidding down a mountain), Old Man Winter took a jog south.

So, with no training, absolutely no equipment and no corporate endorsements, I gamely competed in the following Other Winter Olympic events:

Tracks of Our Fears Cross-Driveway Alpine Stomp

Let the official police report reflect that on the morning of Feb. 12, when my wife and I woke up to about six inches of fluffy snow on the ground, I was merely walking down the driveway when I saw Them.

Them was a row of large one-footed tracks, which remain unidentifiable to this day despite utilizing extensive modern, high-tech investigative techniques (a k a Googling the Internet).

In the picture above, that's the critter print on the left and my Size 10 shoe print on the right.  It's not a rabbit, hawk, possum, dog, cat, duck, squirrel, coyote or wolf, according to our in-house/out-house investigation.

I've decided it's either a blood-sucking chubacabra or Bigfoot.  OK, Mediumfoot, since my comparison shoe is a Size 10.  Whatever it is, we're scared.

Short-Crack Guest Bathroom Light Panel Install

I got extra style points in the one-man bobhead because of my creative footwear.

This event seemed simple enough.  Replace the plastic panels under the lights in the guest bathroom.  It seems easy, just like Curling (but no need for a broom). 

Go to one of those warehouse home stores, though, and you'll discover that you can't just buy the little panels.  You have to buy a sheet of paneling and cut them to fit. 

Easy, just take it to the We Saw It For You section of the store and let a helpful trained employee zip it into shape for you.  Wrong.

They won't cut it for you because "The saw would just tear holes in it."  So they recommend a $10 bright yellow and black "professional" cutting knife that amounts to a handle and a razor blade.  That way you can go home and spend two or three hours tearing chunks out of it yourself.

I couldn't even get the blade to lock into place in the shiny handle with the black grip (and no instructions).  So after much anguish I Googled the problem and discovered this on-line review.  I'm telling the absolute truth:

"Whatever you do, don't buy this product.  The blade won't lock into place." 

I didn't medal in this event.

One-Man Bobheading

The Canadians couldn't even think of adding this event in Vancouver this year because there's not enough snow.  But in Plano, Texas on Feb. 12, the snow was so thick and so heavy that large tree limbs were cracking and falling.  In our back yard, the snow-laden Magnolia tree limbs were drooping near the breaking point.

So I sprang into action in the North Texas One-Man Bobhead competition, shaking the limbs to free them from their heavy burden.  I actually got quite good at it after about six or seven dumps of snow in my face.

I gave myself a silver medal (a quarter) for my valiant effort.  It would have been only bronze, but I got extra style points for my imaginative snow boots (picture above on the right) fashioned by Walmart plastic bags I placed over my size-10 Crocs and laced up with rubber bands.

Gotta go.  More snow's headed our way tonight.  I need to run to Walmart for supplies, a k a plastic bag galoshes.

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