Maybe Lexii Only Come With One Key

Roberta X. bought a used Lexus and:

That was mildly interesting, so I set it to one side. I bought my present Lexus RX-mobile* from their used-car lot, with exactly one key for it; maybe they found the others?

You know, when I traded my old pickup truck for an SUV last year, we ended up with an older Lexus with a then-luxe interior including a cassette deck. It came with two keys; when we got into the car, I gave the key with the fob (lock/unlock/panic buttons) to my beautiful wife, put the key without the buttons on my keyring, put the key in the ignition, turned, and…


I could not start the vehicle, and after a few tries, I started to get angry. I thought about the lemon law, storming in and demanding my old truck back and whatnot, but she (my beautiful wife, not Roberta X.) was really sold on the vehicle. The salesman came out with obviously artificial regret, but this particular vehicle only came with one key that could start the car–one with the integrated chip–and one that could unlock the doors, maybe. We could order another key with an integrated chip for a couple hundred dollars.

Which we did, because she was very taken with the vehicle, and I spoil her.

But I’ve added another thing to check when buying a used vehicle.

Between this and buying houses, I’ll know all the gotchas to look for after I’ve bought my last car or house. Although it’s probable that I’m too optimistic in thinking I can ever know all the tricks.

Somewhere Between Noodling and Bowfishing

Actually, it’s not even on the fishing fishing spectrum: Magnet fishing.

Some folks in southern Wisconsin find themselves facing a magnetic attraction to the region’s hidden heavy metal scene.

They have taken up what’s known as magnet fishing, a hobby that — measured in terms of social media — is all the rage in Europe but is just now becoming a pastime in the American Midwest.

The hobby consists of attaching a powerful magnet to a rope, then tossing the magnet into a waterway. Once the magnet hits bottom, you drag it until it locks onto something metal. Then you haul the item to the surface.

Sometimes the result is treasure, most of the time it’s junk, and sometimes what you haul to the surface is just plain weird.

As you might recall, gentle reader, I read a little about being a “treasure hunter” back in 2011 when I had to get a metal detector to find a part for my garden tiller, but I never really got into the hobby mostly because there are a lot of rules and laws about where you can and cannot use one.

Perhaps I should jump into this hobby and spend the $100 for a magnet and kit before I discover rules that would preclude me from doing it. After all, who owns the middle of the river or a lake? (Someone, and if you find something really good, they’ll want it.)

When Your Run Suggests Its Own Playlist

So I went out for a run last night, which makes it sound like I’m a runner, which I am not. I am not the sort of person who’ll take off from my driveway and go for a little run, mostly because I don’t really like to run and also because I live in the country, and a run from my house is likely to include near-misses by trucks on two-lane highway-speed farm roads and the threat of loose dogs of dangerous size.

I mean, I did do this, once, when I was in college and under the influence of Spenser novels, but I didn’t like running then, either, so I only ran around the neighborhood in northwest Milwaukee once even though I was impressed when my military friends would come back and run to the mall and back because it was only ten miles.

At any rate, my boys’ cross country coach tries to keep his kids in shape by holding voluntary fun runs twice a week in the summer, and I try to take them as often as possible because, for some reason, it seems that every year my exercise goes to hell after the Y Not Tri, and this year is no exception. I end up about a month away from the Republic, Missouri, Tiger Triathlon wondering how I’m going to get into shape enough to endure it.

So when I take my boys to the fun run, I try to get in a little running on my own. Last night, we went to Sequiota Park, which has a pretty straight line trail leading out of it north and south. If you run north out of the park, though, you run across a road where the trail walkers, runners, and bikers have a stop sign.

Lacuna Street

Which probably suggests some Lacuna Coil on the running playlist.

Or it would if I used Spotify or something. I don’t actually own any Lacuna Coil.

But perhaps you’ll see it on one of my musical balance posts forthcoming.

How was the run? you might ask if you’re interested in that sort of thing. 1.8 miles in 18 minutes, keeping with my base pace of about 10 minutes per mile. I’d like to see that go up, but you know what I’d have to do to get better? Run more.

Get It Before Estate Sale Pricing Takes Effect

Overheard at Nogglestead:

“Is that Jordan Binnington?” my twelve-year-old asked.
“It’s a signed limited edition print by an artist I know in a series of 200. How much do you think it’s worth?”
“$1000,” the twelve-year-old said.
“$200,” the eleven-year-old said.

It’s only 20 bucks at his Web site, and you’ll want to get one before they’re gone, because if you wait until my estate sale, the price will have gone up dramatically.

It’s funny; “an artist I know” means “a guy who worked for a guy who sublet from a place where I worked thirteen years ago.” Matt is also second cousin once removed from Al Hirschfeld, the celebrated caricaturist from New York (according to this piece in the New York Times, but Matt’s Web site doesn’t mention the familial relationship).

So I “know” Matt less than I do the comic book artist in St. Louis; I met them both long ago and am friends with them on Facebook, but that’s what I’ve got as the equivalent of knowing everyone on the block like a noir detective since I live in the country and the other houses are far, far away.

The Various Clubs I Have Attended

So I’m watching the video for Herb Alpert’s 1987 hit, “Diamonds”, from his album Keep Your Eye On Me which is the only Herb Alpert album I own on cassette (which is okay, because I have a cassette player in my new-to-me truck and get to listen to the album all the time).

At any rate, the track not only features Janet Jackson, but the story of it is set at a dance club of the 1980s:

So I got to thinking, “How prevalent was the dance club culture, actually?” I mean, if you watch the movies and whatnot, a lot of scenes take place at clubs, but I didn’t go to clubs a whole lot when I was young. I am pretty sure I can count them on one hand:

  • By George in Columbia, Missouri, when I was dating this hot chick in the area who loved to go there and dance.
  • Excalibur in Collinsville, Illinois, where I took said hot chick because it was the only dance club I really knew because they advertised heavily on the radio.
  • Fallout, a gay dance club that a friend (not that kind of friend) took me to in college, perhaps to make me uncomfortable. But I didn’t get hit on; everyone could see by my lack of dancing prowess that I was straight.

I was always more of a music festival kind of guy, being a native son of Milwaukee.

So I really cannot judge based on my experience how prevalent clubs were. In my coffee house days, whenever I hung out late at the Grind coffee shop in the fashionable Central West End, a lot of the people there would decide to go to Velvet, a club down on Washington. I never did though, as it had a dress code, and I attired myself pretty much in dark jeans and sneakers in my pre-going Grant days. But the people hanging around at the Grind included a lot of college students, many of foreign birth, and au pairs. So I don’t know how that segment of the population counts.

It’s just as well; I’m not very good at dancing. Most likely because I’m very self-conscious.

I have, however, been to music clubs, with seating to enjoy music.

Heavy metal clubs include:

  • The Thirsty Whale in Chicago to see Lillian Axe.
  • The Haven in Milwaukee, where I saw Ript.

I’ve also been to a couple jazz clubs:

  • Finale in St. Louis to see Erin Bode.
  • Yoshi’s San Francisco which I went to because it was Yoshi’s, and we saw the Gospel Gators, a local college’s gospel choir.
  • The Blue Note in Columbia, MO, to see one or more folk acts favored by that hot chick who became my beautiful wife even though I cannot dance.

There are probably a couple more if I really plumb the depths of my memory.

Of all of the ones I listed, only the Blue Note and, apparently, Excalibur are still around. Coupled with yesterday’s post about poetry slam in St. Louis, and suddenly I realize how old I’m getting.

It also doesn’t answer a question I often have about how different the depictions of life and youth in culture, even that of the time or the new retro nostalgia costume dramas, vary simply from my life or do they vary from the experience of the majority of my generation? I suppose I could ask someone my age if I get to talking to them.

What I Made Yesterday

Well, first off, after church, I made a trip to Lowe’s. The 18 volt DeWalt cordless drill I have came with two battery packs, but only one of them continues to work, so I hoped to pick up a couple of spares and another drill that fits them. However, a new standard, 20 Volt, has taken over, so the shop did not offer an 18 volt drill. Instead of buying a couple spare 18 volt packs and a new 20 volt cordless drill, I opted for the spare packs and a cheap corded drill.

Because on Saturday, I’d started working on a project, and I spent a lot of time changing between a drill bit and a screwdriver bit, and I wanted to be able to just switch drills instead of bits.

Which worked out all right.

I’ve built a rudimentary set of shelving for my records:

They’re rough and probably high school shop D-level work, but with a paint job and a bunch of records on them, they’ll do. Given that they’re constructed from (inexpensive) two by fours, this shouldn’t happen again. The fact that they all said STUD while I was working on them was very affirming. And they’re modular, so I can move them around and stack them up and add another tier when it becomes necessary (probably after the next Friends of the Springfield-Greene County book sale in the autumn).

They impressed my beautiful wife, anyway, but she’s not the son of a carpenter.

In addition, when we stopped at the grocery store after Lowe’s, I got it in my head to make a chocolate pudding pie. However, my wife does not like chocolate pudding pie. So I got the fixings for a cherry pie as well.

So I’m not sure if I’m operating my masculinity at a deficit here; there are two pies, but does the record shelving count as two or as one? Also, the record shelves are not yet done. I’m going to have to let the Internet judge here.

Also, I did not actually have any pie; my wife prepared pasta for dinner, and I had so much of her delicious Italian cooking that I did not have room for pie. I might make up for it by eating one or the other pie remainders today.

My Lucky Day

Yesterday was the latest in my series of lucky days.

So I packed my bags for a martial arts class, and I hoped to attend one or more while my children did Vacation Bible School (I would have just said VBS, but I’m not sure how well an increasingly secular society would understand just the abbreviation). As we were driving to church, I heard a ticking from my car echoed as we passed other cars. As I changed a directional signal earlier in the day, a strange procedure that had me lying under the truck and groping with one hand into the bowels of the vehicle, I wondered if I’d moved something that was now rhythmically striking something.

I got the kids to VBS and made it to the martial arts school with five minutes to change before the early class. I pulled into a spot with a car on the left and an empty space on the right. I got my bags and went around to the passenger side of the car so I could navigate more easily with the duffel bags.

Wherein I spotted a nail and a bracket in the right front tire with an attendant hissing sound of escaping air.

I ran down the scenario in my head: I could change the tire now, or I could change the tire after class, and get the boys. Of course, this is the newer truck, so I’m not even sure where the jack and doughnut are.

It’s a most inconvenient time to be down a vehicle; my beautiful wife is traveling for work this week, so the family’s second car is sitting in the airport parking lot.

So I got into the bathroom to change into my gi, and it occurred to me that it was 5:45, and the tire shop around the corner was still open. And the tire probably had enough air in it to make it to the tire shop.

So I left the martial arts school and made it to the tire shop ten minutes before their closing. I made arrangements for the boys’ grandmother to pick up the boys if I had to leave the car overnight, but the tire shop accommodated me and replaced the tire after their official closing time.

So it really was my lucky day: if I hadn’t gone around to the passenger side of the car, I wouldn’t have seen the problem, and I might well have tried to drive off with a flat tire and might not have had time to pick the kids up. If I hadn’t discovered it and gotten to the tire shop before it closed, I might be down a vehicle and have had to figure out how to get it to a shop and to chauffeur the kids around until my wife returns.

Whenever I have a car issue that could leave me stranded, and I handle it correctly, I feel delightfully competent as an adult. The feeling doesn’t last–I’m soon back to the general “What am I doing?”

In My Defense, I Pronounced It Correctly

So the martial arts school where I study has replaced a water wall, which really was more of a water on the floor by the wall in the brief period where it was operational, with a fish tank to which they’re slowly adding fish, and I mentioned that I knew a guy who had a saltwater tank and was raising anemone. Sea anemone, that is, not the terrestrial flower after which it is named.

One of the listeners made mock of my pronunciation of the word, which immediately made me self-conscious of my pronunciation.


As you know, gentle reader, I have learned a vast quantity of my vocabulary from books, so I’m especially self-conscious of pronouncing things incorrectly. Recently, I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled over perfidy and have ruled out of using opprobium in conversation.

Which is just as well; the Internet tells me I missed an R in it.

Perhaps I should start making use of that little “Say it” button so I know how to pronounce things. Unfortunately, when I’m about to drop an exotic word in conversation, that button isn’t handy, and looking it up on my phone fails to make me look smart in the moment.

Oh, and back to anemone. The question was whether I was throwing an extra N in it. In my defense, I might have said “an anemone.”

But the problem wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if I’d said sea anemone, which is what I was talking about. But I know aquaria less than I know exotic words and how to use them.

A Downside of Nogglestead

If I still lived in Old Trees, I could walk to two jazz festivals this year.

There’s the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, which I visited a long time ago and saw a set of Erin Bode’s show. She’s not there this year, for some reason, but trumpeter Jim Manley is.

And due to a dispute with the local parks, the U[niversity] City Jazz Festival has moved to Old Orchard this year.

You know, sometimes I wonder if moving to the country really was best.

Pretty Good On This Quiz

Millennial dads have pathetic DIY skills compared to baby boomers:

Are dads’ essential DIY skills in decline? According to new research, millennial dads are less capable than their own dads when it comes to everyday DIY fixes, preferring to rely on professional help instead.

A new poll of 1,000 millennial dads and 1,000 baby boomer dads found that when a DIY task needs to be done at home, more than half of millennials prefer to call a professional.

Tools owned:

  • Cordless drill (although I don’t have enough batteries).
  • Stepladder (One and a convertible step ladder).
  • Set of screwdrivers (a bunch of screwdrivers, not a matched set).
  • Hammer (More than one).


  • Change a car tire on the side of the road (last performed last winter, in the dark, on ice).
  • Unblock a toilet or sink (well, I can do it sometimes; I had trouble with my mother-in-law’s toilet this spring).
  • Reset a tripped circuit breaker (well, it took me a long time to reset the GFCI in my garage because the outlet was behind a pile of things on the built-in shelves, and it took me years to find it.
  • Open a stuck pickle jar with their hands (Come on, I lift weights for a reason).
  • Repair a flat tire on your child’s bike (to be fair, my beautiful wife certainly could as she is a serious cyclist).
  • Restart a stopped furnace (I probably ought to learn it).

I tend to run self-analysis on this front as my father was very toxicly masculine and was steeped in the knowledge of the outdoors (a former Boy Scout and lifelong hunter), car repair (when we lived in the projects, he had a second 1967 Chevy Impala that he kept for parts), and household repair (in Noggle and Son Remodeling, he was the third generation).

I’m not as bad as a millenial dad who answers polls on the Internet, but I’m not near my father or even my brother (or, perhaps, my sainted mother) in basic competence. But I’m getting better about it.

(He said as he was taking bids to replace his gutters).

The actual Alarm blog post presents this in a light more flattering to millenial dads, who are replacing DIY skills with knowing to buy quality tech products like whatever offers. Hey, I can’t knock the blog post too badly. I’m contracted to write blog posts like it from time to time.

A Beach Vacation And More

I mentioned we’re looking to plan a beach vacation next year. We were thinking of Florida, but we might end up in Hawaii if my beautiful wife learns you can have a beach vacation and hundreds of cats:

Some come to Hawaii to swim and frolic in the legendary turquoise surf. Others sprawl in the sun with skin slathered in lotion until they are as crispy, oily, and golden as a potato pancake.

Me? I came to Hawaii for the cats.

There is a magical place — call it heaven, Shangri-la, Xanadu, or Abraham’s bosom — where more than 600 cats roam on a 3-acre sanctuary. For crazy cat ladies and gentlemen such as myself, the Lanai Cat Sanctuary certainly sounds like heaven on earth.

Well, my fellow cat fanciers, I made the pilgrimage, and I’m happy to report that the Lanai Cat Sanctuary does not disappoint.

It beats alligators.


How is mowing the lawn at Nogglestead like playing Mario Kart?

You have to dodge a lot of turtle shells.

I saw this fellow in the grass from a couple of mower widths over and couldn’t figure out what it was until I got right up on him and nudged him with the front wheel. After that, I let him be, and he thought he had his own bug blind in the middle of the yard and was content to hang out there for as long as I could tell.

The Brian J. Strategy to NRA Dream Gun Raffles

Kim du Toit today posts a response to the NRA Dream Gun sweepstakes.

It’s a decent-enough selection of guns, I suppose — but the problem is that I would only want to own a few of them (4/18), namely:

  • Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen (16ga)
  • Remington 870 (20ga)
  • Kimber 1911 Raptor II (.45ACP)
  • Colt King Cobra (.357 Mag)

,,,and I’m kinda iffy about the short barrels on the last two anyway. The rest of the guns are either in the wrong chambering (.224 Valkyrie?), duplicates of stuff I already own (.30x bolties), or a type of firearm I don’t care to own anyway (AR-15 variants) — even for free. (If I were promiscuous when it came to guns, then I could take any of the eighteen, but I’m not That Guy.)

I enter these every time they come along, and frankly, I am That Guy, I suppose. I don’t have a gun budget, and the NRA competition would quickly fill my (new-if-I-win) big gun safe.

When I enter, I make my selection based on common chamberings between guns at the prize level, chamberings I’d be able to get cheap ammo for, and then name (Weatherby over Ruger) just for bragging rights.

But I never send a contribution; there’s a checkbox at the bottom for declining but entering since no purchase is necessary.

As a matter of fact, I’ve got an outgoing entry on my desk that I haven’t mailed as I’ve been out of town. Probably the same sweepstakes that Kim got. I’ll probably mail it tomorrow and forget about it as odds are very low in winning.

Memo for File

Inside a record I bought earlier this month, I found a mimeographed copy of the Licking High School Pep Club Constitution.

In purple, as Ditto intended.

Click for full size

Licking is a small town a little northeast of here. I’ve never been, but I’ve tried on occasion to subscribe to the local paper, The Licking News, from time to time ever since one got misdelivered to me a couple years back. However, I’ve not pursued it to the point of actually subscribing. Just looking on the Web site for an online form to subscribe and pay. Which isn’t there yet.

Technically, this is not a Found Bookmark nor is it as interesting, I suppose, as a record store receipt, but it’s something.

Now that I’ve scanned it, what do I do with it? Pitch it, or try to repatriate it to Licking High School or the Texas County museum (which happens to be in Licking). I mean, it’s a piece of ephemera, but don’t they want it all?

Triple Effect Narrator

So I might have mentioned that the country and western station that I can get on my lawnmowing headphones has gone back to playing older country songs as well as a couple beach or bro country songs, so I just spent an hour and a half marinating in country.

I heard a Kenny Chesney sing “I Go Back”:

and I heard what I thought was a Lee Ann Womack song, but it turns out was Pam Tillis singing “Shake The Sugar Tree“.

But they got me thinking about a post I did just a little while ago about Kenny Chesney’s “Young”, Lee Ann Womack singing “Mendocino County Line” with Willie Nelson, and Eric Church singing “Springsteen”.

Except that little while was almost seven years ago.

As I said then:

The strangest thing about it is the double-effect nature of it (I am Mr. Double Effect Narrator right here). When I first heard it ten years ago, I was a little wistful appropriately for my teenaged years (although briefly and only at a surface level, of course, but that is the will o’ the wist).

Now, of course, I can be both wistful for its content and wistful for the time when the song was new.

I think I have achieved the rare condition of triple effect narrator. Because I’m now nostalgic for the time when I wrote the post, the time when the song came out, and my younger days.

I need an emergency infusion of Toby Keith, stat.

Okay, maybe not that Toby Keith.

More likely I should step away from the YouTube and spend some time with my family.

Question Answered

As my beautiful wife and I were driving back from dinner on Friday night, I noticed numerous old cars headed north on Glenstone.

“I wonder if there’s a car show,” I said. “It’s not the Route 66 Festival.”

There was: The Street Rod Nationals.

I have not been to a car show in a while. Well, except the Royal Run and Rides 5K and car show that I have run the last couple of years, but I count that as a 5K.

Other Repeats in Brian J.’s Life

Yesterday I mentioned films I had seen more than once in the theater, and it got me thinking (but not right before bed) about other things I have seen more than once.


  • Table Manners, one of the three in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests. When I was at the university, the Milwaukee Rep played all three on a rotating basis (Table Manners one night, Round and Round the Garden the next, and Living Together the next, and repeat), so I decided I would go to each of them with a different girl. However, because I misread the schedule, I had to go see Table Manners a second time. I actually saw it a third time when the Chesterfield Community Theatre in St. Louis played it by itself.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I think I’ve seen this a couple of times, but I might be conflating the play with the symphony, both of which I’ve seen.

Musical Acts

  • Richard Marx (twice on the Repeat Offender tour: once in Milwaukee, once in St. Louis).
  • Poison
  • Warrant
  • Dar Williams
  • Ani DiFranco

The last two were under the influence of my beautiful wife, naturally.

The musician I’d like to see most again: Herb Alpert. The play I’d like to see most again: Sight Unseen.

The High-School-Quality Handiwork of Brian J.

I’ve always wanted to be able to build things with wood. It runs in the family. Noggle and Son Remodelers was a going thing for a couple generations of Noggles and their sons, but it folded when I was a mere lad. My parents split before I reached an age where my father could teach me those practical woodworking skills, and all I got from my childhood years was building treehouses with scrap lumber and recycled nails.

But I’ve wanted those skills, but I haven’t spent a lot of time trying to learn them. I mean, I built an outdoor toybox for my boys. But fine furniture was out of my reach.

So I thought I would build a cart for storage in my garage. We have some built-in shelving with space underneath, and we’ve stored sporting equipment and Nerf guns in plastic bins, but I wanted something that would roll in and roll out and fill the space instead of sticking out and leaving some vertical height.

So I measured and bought some lumber. And put it off. Mostly because the lumber was more expensive than the scrap lumber I built treehouses with. Then I built the base of the cart, a floor with some wheels, and it sat in my garage for months like an oversized skateboard that took up space as part of the mess instead of helping alleviate the mess in the garage.

So last weekend, I apparently had forgotten the price of the lumber enough that I was no longer afraid to bollix it up. I got about to framing the cart, and I put the walls on it this weekend.

I worked mostly from plans in my head and with a jigsaw and circular saw for cutting instead of a table saw (I have one, but I don’t actually have a table for it). I over-engineered it a bit and put in more screws than absolutely necessary. And I miscalculated the width of it so that the walls of the sides are inside the framing instead of the outside, and the framing is an inch and a half more shallow than the base.

But the first is done.

And it fits where it’s supposed to fit.

It took four or five hours to finish it up, so probably six hours total. I am going to build another; I bought enough lumber for two. One for sporting equipment and one for Nerf guns. I’m not sure if I will paint them or not as I am going to want to hurry into getting my garage cleaned up.

But the next goal beyond these carts is building some record storage since the collection has far outstripped the overloaded bookshelves that I painted seven years ago.

You know why I haven’t done hat much practicing and acquiring this skill? Because I often don’t feel like I have the hours to dedicate to learning it with all the time I expend getting and spending and laying waste my powers and pretty much maintaining in the day to day. But it looks like I find plenty of time to blog about every little thing I do accomplish. So it’s a time management and prioritization problem.

We will see how long it takes for me to make that second cart.