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Some Reasons I Don’t Have Personalized License Plates


Now that I’ve been driving for over 20 years, it occurred to me recently that I will probably never get vanity license plates for my vehicles. It’s not that the cost is prohibitively expensive; here in Ohio the price is $50 every time you register your car in addition to the normal yearly registration fees- so basically $50 more than normal to have your very own plates to proudly display year after year.

No, my main reservations about getting personalized plates is that they are in fact “too personal.” By that I mean, I don’t know that I want to broadcast specific details of my life to every complete stranger behind the wheel of a car. Do I really want everyone behind me in traffic to know that I’m a Game of Thrones fan or that I really love cookies?

Not only does the state of Ohio give you the option of picking what your plates say, but they also have a whole plethora of logos and other affiliations that you can select as well. Some of my favorites include the Superman logo, Future Farmers of America and The Ohio State Beekeepers Association- and these are some of the more well-known plates I could find.

There are also plates for less known causes or associations that I wasn’t even aware of such as The Eastern Star (which is apparently an offshoot of the Freemasons) and the Fallen Linemen plates which help spread awareness and memorialize electric linemen that have been killed while on the job.

But back to one of my main contentions with vanity plates… basically I don’t want the burden of having to represent a cause with my driving. While I consider myself a pretty safe and defensive driver, there are times when I inadvertently have cut people off or slammed on my brakes or generally driven like an idiot and I don’t think that people would appreciate my bad driving associated with their cause.

I can see it now. I cut someone off in traffic and then he pulls up to me at the next stoplight and starts cussing me out.

“You son of a bitch, go back to bee keeping because you drive like shit!” Or, “Hey jackass, why don’t you ride one of your horses instead since you obviously don’t know how to drive?”

In the same vein, I don’t necessarily want people to easily remember my plates. Not that I’m doing anything criminal but I can foresee a time when I do cut someone off where I would like to afford myself the luxury of quickly blending back into the flow of traffic and giving the offended driver some doubt as to whether I actually was the car that cut him off ten minutes before. That’s pretty hard to do when you have a clearly identifiable plate.

“Oh yeah, there’s that jack-hole again who cut me off yesterday, I would recognize that Ohio Beef plate that says ‘STEAK1’ anywhere. Let’s just give him a taste of his own medicine.”

So yeah, no personalized plates for me. I do encourage you to check out the Ohio License Plate Availability Checker site though as it provided me with some great entertainment as you can actually check to see if your desired personalized plates are available and it provides mock-ups of what they would look like.

“So young man, the reason I pulled you over is because several other drivers reported you driving dangerously and swerving erratically.”

“But officer, how do you know it was me? There are plenty of other silver SUV’s on the road.”

“Um, your plates are pretty unforgettable.”

“Oh. Yeah I forgot about that.”

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Grumpy Old Neighbor #2


So recently I blogged about being the grumpy old neighbor because my neighbor was shooting off fireworks while the rest of America was sleeping. Some of you may have thought that I was simply being unpatriotic. I accept that. But this week I have a legitimate bone to pick. This week while mowing the lawn I stepped in dog shit. The problem is that I don’t own a dog.

It’s not that I particularly like mowing the lawn, but you do feel a certain satisfaction when you’re done mowing as you gaze upon the neatly mowed lines across your yard, but this was overshadowed by the fact that someone had let their dog shit in my yard- and that I stepped in it. And not to be overly sensitive but this was a spot that no dog would have gone accidentally.

Let me describe the scene for you. I live on a cul-de-sac and have neighbors both to the right and left of me. The aforementioned cop lives 2 houses down from me. This time I am pretty sure that the neighbor in question is my neighbor who lives literally right next door to me.

Here I am, sweating my balls off mowing the lawn, when the odoriferous smell of dog shit hits me. I pause my music as I investigate what has transpired. Sure enough, I retraced my steps and there it is. A pile of dog shit. Apparently I must have missed it as I was mowing. But now, it makes its unpleasant presence and aroma clear.

“Who would let their dog shit here?” I asked myself.

You have to understand that the spot in question is nowhere near the road or the sidewalk. Someone must have been walking their dog and decided that this was a fantastic place to let their dog do their business. While I still detest a dog shitting in my yard, I can at least understand the lazy dog owner that lets their dog shit along the sidewalk. This pile of dog poop however, was in no way near the sidewalk. Clearly this was either the neighbor or someone in the neighborhood that clearly doesn’t give a damn.

Here is an image of exactly where the dog shit made its presence known.

Dog-Poop.gif

Needless to say, this is not a dog just a little bit off course. This dog had to travel at least 50 feet from the sidewalk in order to do it’s deed. My question is, where are the fucking owners? I mean, how did the owner of said dog see their dog shit in this area and not think that maybe the homeowner would be upset?

So yeah, I guess I am a grumpy neighbor. For the love of God, please do not let your dog shit in my yard again. There may not be a less enviable task then cleaning out the dog shit from the tread of your lawn mower’s wheels with a piece of mulch. Not to mention having to clean your shoes to boot. So yeah, thanks careless dog owner. Thanks for letting your dog shit just about anywhere. I’m sure that the fifteen seconds that it would have taken you to pick up the poop was really a taxing burden on your busy schedule…

A Little Bit to the Right… Or Left Maybe…


I am getting very close to banning Pinterest in our household. While I admit that there are some pretty neat ideas floating around out there on the interwebs, I am not sure that I want my wife to see them all.

I do find it endearing that she has the confidence in me to think that I can readily tackle any project that someone, somewhere, on Earth has completed before but let’s face reality. My carpentry and craft skills are probably only slightly better than a monkey with a hammer.

Even knowing that my skills are limited, she still believes that I should be able to execute whatever random project she happens to be “obsessed” with this week. Therefore, thanks to Pinterest, this week’s project was framing out our builder grade bathroom mirrors.

The projects almost always start out the same. My wife sees an idea and then mentions it to me like it is the most amazing thing ever. “Hey honey, did you see this? This is exactly what we should do in our bathroom.”

“What? I was sleeping. What are you talking about?” She usually finds her ideas during the week while I am already asleep in bed.

“Framing out our bathroom mirrors. It looks really simple and I’ve been thinking of framing ours since we bought the house. Can we do it this weekend?”

“Um, let me look at it I guess.” This is usually followed by me quickly scanning the article or post about how the person did it and then telling my wife that it is too hard to do.

“Yeah, it looks like it takes a lot of work. I don’t know that I want to spend all weekend messing around with molding.”

“Please honey? I’ll help you and it won’t take as long. Let’s go to Home Depot and Lowe’s tomorrow and then we can get started on Friday so we’ll be done by Saturday afternoon and you can have all of Sunday to rest.”

“Ugh. Okay. Can I go back to sleep now?”

And so it was that I found myself spending most of my weekend priming and painting molding and then caulking and painting it again after it was installed. A wise friend of mine advised me once that projects will always take twice as long to finish as you have planned and cost almost three times as much. And while this project didn’t cost as much as buying new mirrors for the bathroom, it definitely ate up most of my weekend time-wise at least. I hope it was worth it.

So here are some before picture of the mirrors in our master bathroom:

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And here are some pictures after the new molding was installed:

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I guess the mirrors look better this way. And it didn’t take all weekend. At least I still have time to go out to dinner and watch some Game of Thrones. I’ll save teaching my wife the difference between her right and her left for next weekend.

I’m Becoming the Grumpy Old Neighbor…


This past holiday I realized that I am quickly becoming the grumpy old neighbor that I used to despise during my own childhood. For example, I like to go to bed around 9:30 or so most work nights and was recently confronted with a situation that made me question my patriotism and my general nice-guy disposition.

Since the Fourth of July fell on a Tuesday this year, most of America still had to go to work the following Wednesday morning. At least that was my initial thought until my neighbor started lighting fireworks in the road around 10 PM. What job afforded them the opportunity to stay up late, drink beer and shoot off fireworks late into the night? Oh yeah, he is a police officer. Yep, my nuisance neighbor is a cop. I was unprepared to deal with this situation. I can imagine how the conversation would have played out.

Here is me walking out in my shorts, flip-flops and a tee shirt to the middle of the cul-de-sac to confront the noise offender.

“Um sir, I know it’s Independence Day and all but do you know how long you are going to keep shooting off fireworks? I mean I love our country and all but I do need to get up pretty early tomorrow and the noise and light of the fireworks you’re shooting off is keeping my wife and me up.”

“What?” he responds with a stifled belch and a stupefied expression on his face.

“You know, the fireworks that your lighting off in the middle of the street. They’re kind of loud and bright and it’s keeping us up.”

“Oh those. Don’t you want to celebrate the Fourth of July?”

“I mean I do, or rather I did a couple of hours ago, but now I just want to go to sleep.”

“Oh, well I don’t have too many left and my kids really are enjoying the show. How about we knock it off before midnight?”

“Midnight? Yeah I guess that sounds reasonable. I mean it’s not too late I guess.”

And then I would go back inside and grumble to my wife exactly how midnight was not a reasonable hour and the guy should stop shooting off fireworks immediately.

So instead, I did nothing- except close the blinds as far as they would go down and think evil thoughts about my neighbor accidentally catching his roof or garage on fire. I mean, I didn’t really have any other feasible options as I saw it.

Should I have called the cops on their fellow officer and complain about his illegal firework show- on the Fourth no less? I’m sure that would have gone over like a ton of bricks.

“Oh hey man! It’s you.” the police officer says to my neighbor as he pulls up in the cruiser. “We got a complaint from someone in the neighborhood about you shooting off fireworks.”

“On the Fourth of July?” my neighbor asks incredulously. “What kind of unpatriotic shit would complain about shooting off some fireworks on the birthday of America?”

“Apparently one of your neighbors. To be honest we drove out here as a courtesy but we are way too busy with real crime to be concerned about a little display of patriotism. Just do us a favor and try and wrap it up sometime before midnight.”

Pretty much the same outcome but now my neighbor knows that someone was annoyed enough to call the police on him and he will probably figure out who it was pretty quickly. Just what I need, a cop with a grudge against me living a few hundred feet from my house.

So I opted for the least confrontational option and will instead secretly harbor resentment towards my neighbor for months to come. That seems like the true American way. Or at least the Mind of Drunkle way.

Cleansing Your Aura…


Life is seldom boring. Take today for example. It was an average work day until one of my coworkers started passing out little plastic bubble tubes for her “cleansing ritual.”

If anything about that last sentence confuses you, rest assured knowing that I was also as equally confused when it happened. Apparently this employee had some “bad aura” that she felt the need to be cleansed of and the ritual that she decided to use to cleanse herself of this bad juju required her coworkers to at some point blow bubbles towards her.

There wasn’t much else by way of explanation. I guess most of us deemed it impolite to inquire exactly why she felt the need to be cleansed of this bad aura but we were all definitely wondering what this employee had done in order to dictate that a cleansing ritual was needed at all. Was she mixed up in some kind of witch’s hex? Did she play with a Ouija board and inadvertently caught the eye of some malevolent spirit? Or did she simply break a mirror or have a black cat cross her path?

We all had lots of questions. Answers to those questions were less forthcoming. You have to imagine the scene. We work in a typical office setting with rows of cubicles and this woman starts passing out white little vials of bubble solution with hearts on top of the wands to her coworkers in the middle of the work day. The bubbles were obviously intended for a wedding and she tells us they are for her cleansing ritual.

“Here. These are for my cleansing ceremony.” she stated as she passed the bubbles out to each one of us.

“Um, okay.” I didn’t really know how else to respond.

“They’re for later.” she chided another of my other coworkers that had started blowing some bubbles right away.

And so we returned to work with bubble tubes sitting on our desks. Then about an hour or two later, she called us together to tell us it was time. I was unfortunately on a teleconference at the moment so I couldn’t actively participate in the ceremony although I did watch with some amusement as the event played itself out.

Step 1

Get a coworker to hold an egg and then pass it around your head a couple of times while reciting some kind of incantation about negative energy.

Step 2

Have the same lucky employee waive a sage bundle around your body while reciting some other equally esoteric phrases.

Step 3

Invite the rest of your coworkers to form a circle around you and blow their bubbles towards you as you stand in the middle.

Needless to say, I have lots of questions. Here are just some of the things that I would like to get answers to:

  1. Does the color of the egg matter? Does it have to be a white egg or could it be brown? Does it matter if it’s hard-boiled?
  2. Shouldn’t the sage bundle have been smoldering? In every horror movie that I’ve seen that used sage as a cleansing agent, it is always smoldering and emitting some bluish smoke. Does the ceremony still work even though it wasn’t on fire? Would it have been preferable to be smoldering but the building’s fire code prevented that?
  3. Was it actually sage that was used? I was standing a fair distance away, but it kind of looked like she used a stalk of celery instead. Would that have changed the result of the cleansing?
  4. What is the significance of the bubbles and what role do they play in the cleansing?
  5. How the hell do you know that the cleansing worked? Do you have to pop a certain number of bubbles to ensure the ritual was effective?
  6. What possessed this employee to think that her coworkers would be amenable to this type of nonsense?

After some very brief research (meaning one Google search,) it appears that this ritual is actually a thing. Although to be fair, my first result was entitled The Gypsy’s Tricks for Spiritual Cleansing and Protection. After reading this article, I am surprisingly still not convinced that this ritual has any real or measurable effect- other than reinforcing your coworkers belief that you are mentally unhinged.

All that being said, one benefit I did get out of this little ceremony was that I do find it immensely entertaining to think of what trio of components and objects I would include if I were to have a ceremony to cleanse my own aura. So far, my top favorites are a cantaloupe, a pitch pipe and an old pair of shoes. Or maybe a snorkel, a Bavarian pretzel and mosquito repellent. Or a doorknob, a #2 pencil and uncooked wild rice. Because, let’s be honest here, if I am going to enlist my coworkers to help me participate in some nonsensical bullshit ritual, I’m at least going to try and make it more interesting.

The Joys of Gardening


This year I have decided to try my hand at gardening. But just not any type of gardening. No, I decided that if I was going to try and grow some vegetables and spices, I was going to go about it the right way. Enter “Square Foot Gardening.” For the uninitiated, Square Foot Gardening is a method of gardening developed by Mel Bartholomew that promises to “grow more in less space.”

The basic concepts are pretty simple and can easily be summarized in several key points:

  • Plant in raised beds. Basically this means instead of trying to plant your vegetables or flowers in the ground, Mel suggests creating structures above the ground that hold your soil. The simplest structures are really boxes without bottoms constructed out of four boards that form a four by four foot square that has a total area of 16 square feet of growing space and are filled 6 inches deep with “soil.”
  • Use Mel’s Mix. He also advocates that instead of using simple potting soil or your garden’s top soil for planting, you should use a special mix of one-thirds compost, peat-moss and vermiculite as your soil medium. The idea is that this well-balanced “soil” will have all of the nutrients required to grow your plants, be able to retain moisture due to the high peat-moss and vermiculite content and still be friable enough for the plants to take root and flourish.
  • Space your plants according to his recommendations on a square foot grid system. Here is where the method gets it’s name. Mel proposes that to ensure optimal growth and yield, you should follow his carefully researched system of how many plants should be included in each square foot of your garden. For example, larger plants such as broccoli should each have an entire square foot to themselves- so one broccoli plant in the center of a twelve by twelve inch square. Smaller plants such as onions should be planted 16 to a square foot or spaced evenly 3 inches apart.

And that’s pretty much it. Sure, Mel goes into much more detail and provides expert advice about rotating crops, when to harvest and plant specific vegetables, how to create structures for climbing vegetables and a whole host of other useful information but the main ideas are surprisingly simple.

The benefits to this method are that you don’t have to worry about trying to improve your existing soil via fertilizer or tilling, weeding becomes much easier as it is readily apparent which plants are weeds and which are your desirable flowers or vegetables since the plants you are raising are all planted in a nice grid, and you have positioned your plants to produce the most yield without worrying about overcrowding or nutrient competition and it is much less labor-intensive than traditional row style gardening.

For my garden, I adopted his square foot gardening methods but instead of using a four by four grid, I used two waist high planters that are about 1 foot wide by 3 feet long. In this arrangement, I have planted 3 tomato plants, cilantro, rosemary, spearmint, chives, and oregano, as well as multiple varieties of peppers including tabasco, serrano, banana and ghost peppers. As you can tell, I went heavy on the peppers- mostly because I don’t care for many other types of vegetables but mainly because my wife really enjoys spicy food.

So what joys are there in growing your own spices and vegetables? I can count several. There is something inherently satisfying knowing that you can actually grow things that you can eat. It is also pleasurable to see the progress of your vegetables. I check my plants daily and watch over them like a mother hen over her chicks. Any signs of sickness or bugs cause concern whereas watching a pepper growing bigger day after day brings me a sense of accomplishment.

In this day and age of technology and instant gratification, it is nice to be able to slow down the frenetic pace and enjoy the simple pleasures of gardening. I would highly recommend this method to everyone that has an interest in growing their own vegetables.  It really is something that almost anyone anywhere can adopt to their own space limitations, whether you have just a few feet of outdoor space or an entire back yard.

Now all I need to do is water, weed, and wait. The magic of nature and time will do the rest. I’ll also keep you posted as to how it turns out when I secretly introduce a ghost pepper or two into a crock-pot full of my chili. Let’s just see how spicy my wife really likes her food…

“Let’s Refinish the Table” She Says…


I love my wife. I do not love every aspect of my wife however. For example, she always wants to start projects on the weekends that I would rather rest than tackle her latest time consuming scheme. This weekend was no exception.

This weekend she got it in her head that we should refinish the kitchen table- not because it was in bad condition but rather that she had seen some pictures of some refinished tables on Pinterest and thought that we should attempt the same type of refinishing job on our table. So instead of enjoying a relaxing Easter weekend, instead I got roped into helping her with her latest project. The conversation went something like this:

“So I was thinking that we should refinish our table. I saw some really cool looking tables on Pinterest and I think we should do it.”

“Oh really?” I asked in me best non-committal voice. I already had an inkling then how this conversation was going to play out.

“Yeah, just look at these pictures. Doesn’t it look nice? We could do the same farmhouse distressed look to our kitchen table. It doesn’t sound that hard.”

“But we have a perfectly fine kitchen table now. Besides, this weekend is Easter and we really should take the time to reflect upon Jesus’ death and resurrection instead of working on a project.” You can see my subtle use of religion to try and sway her- she was undeterred.

“It won’t take all that long” she opined. “We’ll still have time to go to church on Sunday if that’s what you’re worried about.”

I was not worried about that in the slightest. I was worried that my weekend of slacking off, sleeping in and playing video games was about to get cancelled.

“It’s really not as easy to refinish a table as it looks. You have to sand everything down and then paint and then sand some more to get that distressed look you like. And like I said, our kitchen table is fine the way it is. It goes with our other furniture.”

“But don’t you want it to be better? Just imagine how nice it would look once it’s all done.”

At this point I had reconciled myself to being sucked into this project whether I wanted to be or not. Once my wife has an idea in her head, come hell or high water, she will stick to it.

This sometimes is a great thing, like when she decides to deep clean all the bathrooms or scrub the floors on Saturday. This was not going to be one of those solitary ventures however. Mostly, because I know that she has a sly way of starting a project, realizing that she is in over her head and then “recruiting” me to help her complete it.

I have learned that almost anytime that she asks me a question about a project, the conversation will almost inevitably lead to several trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot to pick up supplies and will certainly escalate from a few hours project into a full-blown weekend-gobbling endeavor. Thanks Honey. Here are the before and after pictures. I will let you decide if it was worth it or not.

Table Before

The Kitchen Table Before…

 

And the kitchen table after…

Table After

The Kitchen Table After…