Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Machines at Christmas

Machines know things. I’ve said this before and been disbelieved, but it is a plain fact. They know things about us and use this knowledge to embarrass and frustrate us. Take the last few days for example:

The other night was my last night at work for, as a part of the seasonal team that helps get the company past its peak demand. It was a particularly cold night, and on the way home, I noticed the heater in my little car was not working very well. In fact it was not working at all. This was embarrassing to say the least, because I had a rider with me, and of course wished to provide him a comfortable lift home after a hard night’s work. Well, just as we arrived at his stop, I noticed billows of steam coming from under the hood, and thought to myself, most appropriately,

“uh oh.”

As I pulled into my spot, another cloud of steam poured over the hood, and the engine stalled.

“Uhhh Ohhhh”

I got out of the car, and, as I often do, stared in bewilderment and consternation for probably three minutes. (It couldn’t have been more than that, because it was really cold out there, and physical discomfort always trumps bewildered consternation for me.)

I grabbed my lunch bag and headed inside, fully aware that there were troubled times ahead, but too tired to do anything about it at the moment. But I noticed the smile on the little car’s grill as I headed for the door. What I didn’t notice at the time, but have clearly discerned in retrospect, was the other smile. The one on my big Winnebago’s grill.

(dissonant chord, ominous musical tones)

The fact is, the incident has ties to a deeper, darker reality. Not too long ago, my propane furnace decided to stop blowing warm air. It then proceeded to embarrass me considerably when a kind-hearted and mechanically-inclined neighbor took a look at it. The furnace would function, then not, then function again while we took it apart, put it back together, then scratched our heads. (I reported this incident in some detail in an earlier blog…and at that time took note of the chuckling I could hear in that appliance’s general vicinity.)

It’s now quite obvious that the furnace had had at least a cursory conversation with the 454 Vortec engine that powers our motor home, probably bragging and laughing.

The little car is parked directly in front of the motor home when it’s not being towed behind it. I now am convinced that several conversations took place between it and the Vortec, about the furnace. While appliances by and large enjoy a good joke, like the on again off again ploy, they can let it go at that. Internal combustion engines, on the other hand, have a much darker take on things.

Thus, what started as an inconvenient prank evolved into some very nasty business indeed. The car had blown out its radiator at 4:00 am on the very last day of my employment. Coincidence? I think not.

The furnace could have easily discerned my work schedule, since it was running fairly constantly during the later part of the season. It would have been very easy to mention it to the Vortec, and for the Vortec to have hatched the plot with the little car. See how well it all fits together?

And in case you remain unconvinced, let me just present the last bit of evidence:

It took two days to get the radiator replaced and all in running order again. The little car chugs along smoothly now, and the heater works fine.

(A rustle of anticipatory percussion instruments, during a brief dramatic pause.)

This morning we hooked up the car and started to tow it out of town, to have Christmas with friends a short drive away. Two blocks down the road, and the temperature gauge in the Winnebago is buried in the red zone. Overheated.

Something internal.

Something in the cooling system.

(Dark, ominous chords…probably violas…with kettle drums and maybe an oboe in the background.)

So here we sit, at least through Christmas, until we can get back to the mechanic.

But here’s something the machines don’t know:
Yarntangler and I get to spend Christmas by ourselves this year. For the very first time in our 40 years together, we have each other all to ourselves. Just us.
In my book, that’s a Merry Christmas for sure. Machines might know things, but they don’t know everything.

Blog at ya later,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's the Thought That Counts

I really had the best intentions when I signed up to blog everyday in December. That was before the onset of eleven hour days, five days a week at It was also before the temperatures plummeted and I had to run for propane in the small tanks every couple of days.

I still hope to add a couple more fascinating observations on the season before the month is over but today I decided my biggest wish is for all of my loyal followers. So without further ado:


Clancy, Yarntangler, and Geezerguy
wish a
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Safe Journeys
to our family, and friends, both the ones who expect Santa to come down the chimney and the ones hoping he'll find them on the road.


Blog at you later,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Still Here

Just a little note to let you know I'm still here. Brain's not quite in gear yet, but I am getting close to the Holiday mood: Blog at ya later,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So Long Turkey, Hello Fruit Cake

Well, here we are at the beginning of the Official Christmas season, still digesting the last of the Thanksgiving turkey and the news that we’ve been in a recession since last December. We didn’t know we were in a recession all last year, of course, so we did fine till somebody opened his big mouth, and now look. Boy, you’d think people could just keep some things to themselves.

Anyway, ’tis the Season, and we’ll be hearing the sounds of Christmas at Wal Mart and K Mart and throughout Retail America from now on. We all know the words, and we’ll all be hearing them in our heads consciously or not, all season long.

I know I get a tear in my eye when I hear Yorgi Yorgesson’s timeless I Yust Go Nutz at Christmas, and Bobby “Boris” Picket’s Monster’s Holiday. And who can forget lyrics like:

When Santa got stuck in the chimney, he began to shout
“You girls and boys won’t get any toys,
If you don’t pull me out.
My beard is black, there’s soot in my sack,
My nose is tickling too.”
When Santa got stuck up the chimney-
Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!
(thanks to “jessboo from England for sharing on

Yes, we all get a little sentimental with the classics like Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer and I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. It just seems to get us in the mood for a festive time, doesn’t it?

I know I’ve pretty much decided to look for some off-beat Christmas stuff for this month’s set of blogs, but it just seemed right to start off on a more traditional note.
Blog at ya later,