But Can It Remove One Of The New Facebook Portals?

Instapundit links to a ToiletTree Professional Water Resistant Heavy Duty Steel Nose Trimmer with LED Light, Silver.

Me, I clicked through because it sounded like a high-tech drain auger.

But, no, it’s not steel-nosed. It’s steel for your nose:

  • This high-end cordless battery-operated nose trimmer with bright LED light is made of high quality steel; the light comes in handy when you need to get at those hard-to-reach and hard-to-see hairs
  • The lightweight, but powerful, rotary cutting system allows hairs to enter the trimmer tip from the top and also from the sides, which is very helpful for stray hairs not only in the nose but also on your eyebrows, beard, and ears
  • Right out of the box, you will feel the difference, precision, and quality of this trimmer; it offers a smooth trim with its stainless steel high quality blades and gives you a perfect cut every time; no painful pulled hairs
  • Our best water-resistant design allows you to use this trimming tool in the shower and it makes clean-up afterwards quick and easy; it’s the best trimming and cutting tool you’ll ever experience from a men’s clipper product
  • This nose trimmer operates on just 1 AA battery (not included), which makes it an economically affordable way to take care of the daily trimming needs of your nose, brows, and ears

With all that steel and LED technology, I hope it can take care of those hard-to-reach Facebook Portal tracking devices.

False Dilemma: It Could Be Both

So what has made me more agile, years of martial arts training or years of putting away laundry in my children’s dirty room strewn with clothing, bedding, sleeping bags, toys stacked upon toys, Nerf guns (which the boys take too seriously to lump them in with the toys), a shrieking alarm set purchased from the “book” order at school, and quite likely a cat hiding under the debris that will shriek, bolt, and/or attack if you step on it.

You know what that is like?

No, Catherine Zeta Jones, you are not ready unless you’ve trained for things placed haphazardly on dressers raining upon you when you open or close a drawer, including things like a complicated Lego set with 600 pieces that will shatter upon impact upon your skull, scattering additional shrapnel to avoid on the way out of the room.

Although Entrapment came out before she became a mother. Perhaps she learned.

The Can Is Half Full

In my garage, I have a trash can half full of crushed aluminum cans awaiting a trip to the recycling center.

I bought the trash can when we moved to Nogglestead just over nine years ago. So I expect that it will be full sometime around 2030. Maybe.

When I was younger, taking aluminum cans to the recycling center was a windfall. My parents, when I was young, would collect their empties in giant garbage bags and would take them in periodically, receiving cash in those days when it was hard to come by. Both figuratively and literally–ATMs were not yet a thing, so if you needed money on a Saturday, you needed to know a shop owner that would cash a check for you, but the scrap yard was open on Saturday mornings.

Immediately after college, when I was living with my sainted mother and working two low-paying, an-English-major-can-get-them jobs to keep up with my suddenly due student loans, she would let me take in the aluminum cans for a bit of walking around money, and a couple of bags of cans could net me somewhere around $40, which was quite a windfall in those days.

Out of habit, I still hold onto the aluminum cans I come across to sell to a recycler, but I don’t drink much beer or soda from cans these days. Most of the cans I get are from food trucks that include a can of soda with a meal deal, empty beer cans tossed out of pickups coming down the farm road, or crushed cans that I find in parking lots and toss into the back of my truck. The latter methodology embarrasses my beautiful wife a whole bunch, but you can take the boy out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the boy.

But I suppose I’d better get on it before the contents of the can have to go through probate.

The Morning Routine At Nogglestead

After getting dressed and breaking their fasts, the boys like to go outside for a couple of minutes before leaving for school in the morning to firet all of their Nerf guns at once and to explode into the open space around us.

Which means the last bit of the morning ritual is generally like that of this morning:

Father, 7:27am: “Boys, get ready to load up.”
Father, 7:32am: “Boys, load up.”
Boy, 7:33am: Brings his bike into the garage along with a single Nerf gun.
Father, 7:34am: “Number 2, where are you?” Looks in tree.
Father, 7:36am: “Number 1, go get his bike.” Which father sees in the ditch beside the road.
Father, 7:37am: “Number 2, LOAD UP!”
Boy, 7:37am: Climbs twenty feet down from a different tree. Goes with his brother to retrieve not just a bike, but also a cot, a chair, and half a dozen other Nerf guns from the ditch.
All, 7:41am: Actually leave for school.

How Many Of These Six Items Do You Store In Your Garage?

My insurance company has provided this listicle about What Not To Store in the Garage, and I thought it would be a great chance at a quiz.

The items are:

  • Extra fuel
  • Paint or home improvement chemicals
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Anything fragile or valuable

A quiz for you, I mean. You’ll notice I have not bolded or italicised things that I store in the garage. Because I don’t want my home insurance rates to go up based on my blog response to a listicle composed by a 23-year-old marketing intern from a series of other Internet postings he/she/it found.

Note that storing extra fuel or solvents in your garage might also violate the contract you signed with your mortgage. What, you didn’t read it?

Not depicted, or detypeted as the case may be, on this list, other things that you might consider storing in your garage:

  • Automobiles. These things can emit dangerous gases or, based on our marketing intern’s research in watching action films, might be extremely prone to explosions.
  • Power tools. Which are electrocution dangers at best, death, decapitation, or disfigurement dangers at worst (according to our marketing intern, based on studious research of historical documents 80s slasher films).
  • Anything not valuable. They’re hazardous to your marriage if you just keep random things (or so I’ve heard) and can be a fire hazard.
  • Cigarettes. Because smoking is bad, and if you’re not planning to smoke them, you’re smuggling them, which comes with all the attendant organized crime risks.
  • Toys from the twentieth century. No matter what they are, they are killers of one sort or another. Jarts? Books printed with lead ink? Asbestos-stuffed teddy bears? Chemistry kits with real acids? Just call out the hazmat team or ordinance disposal professionals!
  • 21st Century Nerf Guns. Advances in Nerf technology have made it so you don’t need a BB gun to shoot your eye out. Or, more likely, your brother’s.

I’ll not answer that list, either.

Although if you retitle the article Whatnot to Store in Your Garage, that probably describes the contents of my garage.

The Third Best Thing About Running 5Ks

As I have mentioned, over and over, in an effort to humblebrag my way to your respect, gentle reader, I run a number of 5Ks in the autumn and winter.

This is because my boys are in their middle school cross country program, but since they go to a small school, their cross country events are not actually meets with other schools. Rather, they run 5Ks in their school uniforms, and once they started doing so, I started running as well because physical self-abuse of distance running is easier than making small talk with the other parents or just lingering around the event venue awkwardly without making small talk (my preferred option of the two).

As I’ve entered my third year this season, I’ve come to appreciate the finer points of distance running. To whit:

  1. It feels so good when I stop.
  2. I don’t have to make small talk with the other parents and embarrass myself.
  3. I get to make quips as I’m running.
  4. There are free bananas at the end.

Perhaps the last thing is the best thing. Like, on Saturday, when I crossed the finish line…

…I said, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”

Come on, that’s from Forrest Gump:

I had to explain that to my wife. Come on, the film in only twenty-four years old now, old man. Surely you remember it?

I’ve also used the line noted as number 1 above, which is from an old joke: A doctor asks a man why he keeps hitting himself with a hammer, and the man says it feels so good when he stops.

At any rate, the highlight of the run for me is the things I quip at other runners and volunteers on the route.

I try to keep my breathing such that I can shout out good morning to the volunteers along the route, pointing us in the correct direction, or to people who come out in their front yards to watch us go by. But I like to crack wise as well.

Some of my favorites include:

  • It’s a lovely day for a walk.
  • There must be some mistake. I signed up for the 100 meters.
  • Are you in my age group? Good, I don’t have to pass you.
  • Can you get me an Uber?
  • Are we there yet?

Or whatever fool thing comes to mind. Of which there are plenty, because 5Ks give you a lot of time to think, and they give me a lot of time to think fool things.

The quipping keeps me from thinking of myself as a serious athlete or runner, that I focus on the wisecracks instead of Peak Performance. I could probably shave a minute off of my time by taking it more seriously, but that would be less fun than running already is not.

The cross country coach referred to these events as races which would put a little pressure to, you know, win if I took him seriously.

Instead, I’ll continue to think of them as moving open mic nights.

Wait For It

I’ve got a new pun I can’t wait to ad lib.

It’s calling someone who loves felines a real Catsanova.

Wait, an Internet search indicates that I did not invent the pun.

Ah, well, when I blurt it out as though I just made it up, I’ll assume the person I was speaking to won’t think immediately to search the Internet to see where I found it, or that it was a pre-meditated drop-in pun.

Where did I get it? Well, I was listening to Paulina Rubio…

…and then I encountered a cat, which is easy to do at Nogglestead.

So I came by it honestly, through my own synthetic thought, rather than piggybacking off of someone’s established humor.

Or maybe I saw it somewhere before.

Being “quick-witted” is awfully hard work sometimes.

A Busy Saturday, Not In Pictures

It was a busy Saturday, as so many of them get to be.

We started out before dawn to run the 2017 Habitat for Humanity Home Run 5K at 7 am. Our boys are on their school’s cross country team, but as it is a small school, they do not participate in meets with other schools. Instead, they run in 5K fundraisers every autumn, and the whole family runs in them. It looks like the Springfield News-Leader‘s photographer was on hand to take pictures.

She did not get any of our crew, though, and the official event photographs are not online yet, so I cannot do my traditional Bill the Cat head swap on my picture in the event.

Which I do with all my 5K pictures because I tend to think I look like Bill the Cat in them anyway, as I did with the one from the 2017 Panther Run above.

So we arrived home about 10:30 in the morning, enough time for a spot of rest and a bit of lunch before I took the boys to the Ozark Mini Maker Faire where they were to man the First Lego League booth for a couple of hours starting at 1pm. They’re not just athletes; they are also scholars and participate in the robotics/programming competitive league. Again, it looks like the Springfield News-Leader‘s photographer was on hand to take pictures, but, again, none of us.

Perhaps we should have carpooled.

We got back from the Mini Maker Faire, which was more mini than it was last year, werd, in time to load our truck with some blankets and desserts to take to our martial arts school’s annual picinic (which is how autoyogibearrect spells it) at 5pm. This time, the News-Leader photographer was not on hand to take pictures–that I know of–but we had some pulled pork, chatted with some friends, while the boys played on inflatables.

We got home about 7:30. There were no news photographers to capture our return, which is good.

But I thought it was interesting that the News-Leader‘s photographer was at two events that we attended, and we’re still not on the society pages yet.

It’s only a matter of time, though, I reckon.

Brian J. Learns the Guitar, Update

As I mentioned earlier this year, I bought a guitar with the intention of learning to play it.

I took some lessons for a couple of months, but eventually, it turned into me boring my instructors who wanted to teach me more advanced things than I could process as I was still learning the basic fine motor skills involved in placing my fingers in the proper position on the fret board and striking the right string with the pick.

I suspended the lessons until I could at least do the basics.

How’s that coming?

Well, I can almost, almost change between a third chord in time, which means when I’m strumming or picking an open chord, I can sometimes do it without a noticeable gap in the playing. So it’s improving, but slowly.

I only have a couple minutes to practice most days, so it will take me a while. But that’s all right; one of the things I’ve learned is patience.

It’s different from learning a martial art, though, where you continuously improve from gross motor skills to the fine motor skills. In guitar, though, you have to develop the fine motor skills right off the bat, so I don’t see improvement or even basic competence right away, or even now six months later. Has it only been six? Has it already been six?

It’s looking more and more like I’ll be Inge Ginsberg’s age when I make my debut in my metal band.

The Source Of That Thing Daddy’s Children Have Started To Say

So. My oldest son is twelve, and he’s starting to notice girls, although he will downplay this, but when he’s noticed them, his body language changes to an enforced nonchalance, and he sweeps back his forelock often and with flourish. He did this when putting his contact information into the phone of the Norwegian exchange student last week. He did it when the young cashier at the grocery recognized the band on his shirt.

So yesterday, when both of my boys were engaged with girls of their age at the martial arts school after their classes were over, I reported to my wife,

They both were mackin’ on girls.

Which might just catch on at their small school as the proper slang.

Why on earth would I use that natively for flirt?

Well, remember, gentle reader, I grew up in the projects in the 1970s, when many of the residents wore picks in their afros kind like Questlove does.

But they were earnest and not retro.

Did I try to wear a pick in my hair like my friends did. Yes. It went as well as you might expect, but certainly better than it would today, where my pate is as close to shaven as I can get.

So it’s a product of my youth.

Or perhaps I use it because I listen to a lot of Willie Mack.

Which I like to say is because I spent a lot of time in my youth in the housing projects, where many of the young men walked around with the new portable tape players on their shoulders, playing music just like that. Presumably, while preparing to mack on girls.

Still, I keep using out-of-date slang with my children in hopes that they’ll pick it up and suddenly the whole school will be talking like me.

But it has not happened yet.

I Had The Opposite Problem

Learning to Drive Stick-Shift on a Dodge Viper

Did I say “problem”? I meant “solution.”

I learned to drive late–I was in my last year of college when I got my driver’s license (which is ahead of my sainted mother’s pace–she was, what, 33?). In high school, I didn’t have anyone to teach me to drive–my mother was too anxious, a family friend who took me out once was too afraid to take me out again, driver’s education in school was during summer vacation, and private driving lessons were expensive. So it had to wait until I was off at college, living in my father’s basement in Milwaukee, for me to get regularish tutelage behind the wheel.

When I came back to Missouri, I needed a car to get out of the long valley on the gravel road and to anything resembling a job. I garnered a decent amount of monetary graduation gifts, enough for an old used car, and I was looking for an automatic transmission since I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift–but I would make an exception if I found a sports car I liked.

Well, I found a red sports car with a manual transmission.

A 1986 Nissan Pulsar (the one depicted is not my Pulsar–my Pulsar’s clear coat was peeling off). So I had to learn to drive a stick. A family “friend,” a burgeoning mechanic, gave me a twenty minute lesson and set me loose on the curvy two-lane country highways and four lane state highways that surrounded the valley. He also helpfully fixed the symptoms of a flaw in the electronics of the car that routinely burned out batteries, alternators, and headlights in the car instead of finding and fixing the problem, which finally led me to getting an older old car with its own faults. And a new mechanic. But I digress; I see I’ve already talked about that Nissan just last year. It must be part of my decades-long mid-life crisis to keep hearkening back to it.

But back to my original story: Pretending I didn’t know how to drive a stick because I didn’t want to drive a Viper.

So, a bit of background about Jim, the Viper’s owner. He was a millionaire next door; he’d been a union poo-bah and invested in real estate and had done very well. He dated my aunt for a while, on and off, and he liked to carry $5,000 in cash on him at all times in case he saw something he wanted to buy. He liked to hit the riverboat casinos and gamble past the limit, getting other people in the casino to get him more tokens when he’d filled his limiting punchcard. He owned a Viper, and he brought it to a family reunion one summer.

My brother was on leave from the Marines at the time, and he’d brought a gearhead friend of his with his souped-up 70s GTO. They marvelled over the Viper, and Jim took his keys out of his pocket. “You know how to drive a stick?” he asked them, because he was going to give the keys to his high performance, expensive sports car to a couple of twenty-and-not-much-more males to roar around the county park and presumably south county.

I most certainly not volunteer, and my brother and his friend didn’t know manual transmissions, which is probably how that Viper got back to the garage that afternoon.

Well, that, and the handgun that Jim illegally carried in the console to brandish whenever unsavory types took too much interest in his Viper when he was stopped at red lights in sketchy parts of town. Which was more than once by his telling of it.

(Link via Instapundit; memory probably from my imagination.)

A Real Life Game Show

My beautiful wife and I have never actually been on The Newlywed Game.

However, whenever I’m trying to log into an account that she initially opened, it’s often just like The Newlywed Game as I wrack my brains trying to answer the question often presented to verify her identity.

Dammit, what street did she grow up on?

Crikey, what was the best Christmas gift she ever got?

Et cetera.

I fear Bob Eubanks disapproval with every answer.

GN/BN, Comic Book Shop Edition

Yesterday at the comic book shop, the guy behind the counter gave me a discount because I was always in there buying comics (and by “buying comics,” undoubtedly he meant, “helping him clear the deadwood out by buying the dollar comics that no one else wanted”).

Good news, I got a discount.

Bad news, apparently at almost fifty years old, I’m the type of frequent comic book shop customer that warrants a discount.

I’ve had to start going to the comic book shop without my boys because whenever I take them by as a cover for my own comic book shopping, they’d complain even though I let them pick out something for themselves. “Ugh, not another new comic book, Dad.”

I think about, from time to time, talking about the newer (2014-2016) independent titles I find in the dollar bins from imprints like Dynamity, Boom, Black Juice, and whatnot (I mean, aside from the occasional tidbit, but I’m not sure how my regular readers (that’s you and you) would feel about it. I’m sure John Farrier would be all for it, but it’s been years since he’s been around.

Where Do I See Myself In Twenty Years?

Aside from somehow wasting vast amounts of time culling and curating thirty-five years of MfBJN archives, probably here:

A pair of elderly German men escaped from their nursing home to go to a heavy metal festival, it was reported.

After the home reported them missing, police found the two at 3 a.m. at Wacken Open Air, the world’s biggest heavy metal festival.

Flashback: Brian J. Noggle, Flip-Flopper

Way back in 2003, I pooh-pooh LASIK surgery.

Spoiler alert: A couple years later, I had LASIK surgery.

Perhaps it was when I corrected the misunderstanding:

Pardon me, but my family doesn’t have a generations-long tradition for opening the front of the eyeball like a can of french-cut green beans and firing a computer-guided thing-we-used-to-call-a-“laser” against the retina until it scorched enough of the cones and rods to make things better, as though it was a military expedition to win over the hearts and minds of my optic nerve with napalm. Oh, yeah, and then they close it back up, and it either works or you’re blind, oops.

The laser doesn’t work on the retina after all.

Flashback

In 2004, coincidentally the last time we had a Republican president, we had violence in the streets and one particular party Democrasplaining it:

But the fact is that the reason the Republican Party is feigning righteous indignation is because they don’t want to talk about the 30,000 jobs lost and the 180,000 Oregonians who have lost health care,” said Neel Pender, executive director of the state Democratic Party.

I’m in the process of slowly going through the old posts here and ensuring that all quoted sections have the <blockquote> style and that all posts have categories and post titles (because I was blogging before Blogger had a field for the post title, werd). One thing I’ve discovered (again) is perspective in that all the contemporary news and noise has its roots in the past, and also that we’re still quibbling over the same damn things fifteen years later.

Of course, I first realized this when I caught up on old Wall Street Journal. In 2007. (And also when I caught up again several years later.)

Hashtag: CountryLiving

My boys just placed a small grocery bag containing the mostly decomposed remains of a small animal on my desk in hopes that I could identify it for them. They had disifected it by spraying it liberally with Lysol and apparently washing it before putting it, wet and very clean-smelling, into the bag. The youngest had sandwich bags on his hands and reached into the bag to get the remains out so I could have a better look at them before I demurred in a tone of voice that was not very demure at all.

I have no idea what it was except an occasion to talk to my children about the sanitary handling of dead animals. That is to say: Don’t.

This will not appear in a forthcoming post in the topic of Five Things On My Desk, I assure you.

I’m Not Sure It Made Any Difference

Walking the greenway out of Sequoita Park yesterday, I came upon two paths that diverged in the wood.

To be entirely honest, I’m not sure I could suss out which was the less taken, either. I mean, the asphalt goes to the right, but enough people have traveled the slight shortcut to have worn a path there. Did more take the shortcut than walked on the laid path? Who knows?

But it gave me something to think about as I took one of the two paths.

(You can refresh yourself on Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” here.)

The Myth of the Modern Hard Switch

Ladies and gentlemen, the famed iPod of the How To Tell What Song Just Came On Brian’s iPod At The Gym posts:

I’ve used it with on and off frequency, but always full volume, for a couple of years, but it developed a bit of a glitch. Well, several, actually. It has a single switch on the side that is its power switch and determines whether to shuffle the songs on the playlist or to play them all in alphabetical order by artist.

It started to play the songs in order regardless of the switch’s position.

Then, it started to play if you pressed the play/pause button when the switch was off, which led me to some consternation the last time I was in the gym because it would stop playing after a couple seconds. Further inspection of the switch indicated that it was off, and when I turned it on, it worked better.

This week, I had it out of the gym bag because I went for an ill-advised run outside of the YMCA, and I left it on the dresser in my bedroom (by the Montaigne). And it started playing on its own a couple of times, including once at 5:51 in the morning when I did not want to hear music that early.

I’m so old that when I think of a switch, I think of a mechanical device that starts or stops something by moving actual parts. But in modern devices, especially the really small ones like an iPod, the switch is merely an input to the electronics of something, and often merely an input to software. So if the software decides that off is on, the device will be active when the switch is in the off position.

Give me the good old days when the switches were actual physical things and when volume knobs were potentiometers.

Of course, I could not clip a Pioneer or Kenwood hi-fi to my shirt while I run, but this iPod is breaking down to the point where it’s almost unusable, too, which means I’ll have to investigate and invest in another kind of MP3 player since Apple has decided that the iPod should really be an iPhone without cellular connectivity.