Garageneering: Time Travel

The retrofit of a decrepit garage was going poorly. The Curmudgeon, being Adaptive and all, realized the solution to this wasn’t in the present. It was with the dipshit that made the mess in the first place. So he retreated to his mad scientist’s laboratory (you mean you don’t have one?) and built a time machine.


Scene:

The 1970’s. A redneck with two teeth and a can of Bud light is working on a garage. It’s new construction. The walls are bare 2″ x 4″ studs.

The man has a net worth of eight dollars, and that includes his car. Orbiting the man are 37 children of all ages. A crooked wheelbarrow is propped against a barrel. There’s a twelve pack of beer in the wheelbarrow. A child is in the corner peeing. An AM radio is playing a speech by President Carter; “This intransigence by Iran will not go unpunished. Also I have lusted in my heart.” As with all things Carter, nobody listens.

The man is happily flailing away with a saw. Then he drops it in the mud and motions toward some kids. “Get me that paneling.”

Seven children charge over to a huge pile of freshly purchased paneling. It was on sale at the lumber yard for a very steep discount. It has been sitting in the rain for a week. The kids drag a floppy panel through the mud to their father. In a swift motion he slaps it against the studs and without the slightest pause tacks it up with 245 tiny nails. On one side it overlaps the stud. On the other side he has nailed it over a kid’s foot. The kid extracts her foot and scampers off.

He holds out his hand for the next panel. This one he hammers up even faster. It’s not quite flush with the other one so he adds more tacks.


Whoosh!

A six foot sphere of plasma expands from a pinpoint and takes form. Children flee, the redneck drops his beer and curses, six dogs and a housecat run for their lives. As suddenly as it forms, the sphere vanishes. In it’s place, fully clothed, carrying a backpack, and holding several items, is your’s truly; The Curmudgeon.

The redneck is terrified. He’d run in fear but first he reaches for his dropped beer can. The Curmudgeon steps beyond the can and plants his booted foot on the redneck’s outstretched hand.

“No!” Commands the Curmudgeon.

“My beer?” Squeaks his victim.

“I am from the future.” Booms The Curmudgeon, “And you have pissed me off!” The Curmudgeon kicks the beer can out of the way, reaches for a device from a hidden pocket, and extracts a cattle prod.

Zap!

“OUCH!”

“Do I have your full attention?”

Rubbing his temple, the man nods.

“Good, from now on I’m going to refer to you by your proper name. You are ‘Dumbass’.”

“Actually I’m Bob…”

Zap!

“…Dumbass is fine.”

“Listen carefully Dumbass. This is for you.” The Curmudgeon hefts a large tool box and drops it on the man’s foot. The man hops back and accidentally crushes his dropped beer can.

“In that tool box you will find several tape measures, squares, small levels, and a big level. A good hammer. New drill bits. That sort of stuff.”

Confused, the man nods.

“Use them!” Orders the Curmudgeon.

Waving with his cattle prod, The Curmudgeon indicates the wall, 2″ by 4″ studs, now with two flimsy sheets of paneling tacked on.

“Are those on 16″ centers.”

“More or less.” Whimpers the man.

The Curmudgeon strides to the wall and pulls a tape measure from his pocket. “It’s 3/4″ off!” He barks.

“Well that’s close enough?”

Zap!

Grasping his electrocuted genitals, Dumbass collapses on the floor. Meanwhile The Curmudgeon is checking the studs with a level.

“I check five studs and three of them are out of level? Now, before you’ve even finished construction? You bastard!” Curmudgeon drops the cattle prod and draws a pistol.

BLAM!

An expertly fired 9 mm round goes through the AM radio. Jimmy Carter’s voice, which had been saying something about ‘negotiate with Iran’ is silenced. Dumbass wets himself.

“Man I hated the ’70s! Fuckin’ Carter.” Curmudgeon growls. Suddenly, as if reminded of another terrible menace The Curmudgeon whirls to check the driveway behind him. He sees a rusted Buick, a broken Chevy, and several parts of a snowmobile.

“Do you own an AMC Gremlin? The Curmudgeon hisses. There’s a dark look in his eye.

“No! No! I swear.” Dumbass begs.

“Good, if I saw a Gremlin I might get upset.”

“What’s with AMC’s?” Dumbass stutters.

As if to answer, The Curmudgeon reaches into his backpack, pulls out a 3′ wrecking bar, and with a single motion, tears a sheet of paneling from the wall. It splits in half at his feet.

“Hey, I just bought that.” Dumbass whines.

Ignoring him, The Curmudgeon reaches into the mess at his feet and tears a tag from the paneling. He begins to read. “5/32 inch Bungalow Paneling... Curmudgeon spits the words out angrily. Precautions: One, Bungalow Paneling is for interior use only… …it may expand or contract with changes in humidity.” He faces Dumbass, “Are you going to heat this garage? Every day? All winter long? Every year?”

“No.” Dumbass is surreptitiously reaching into the wheelbarrow.

BANG!

A bullet hole in the fresh can of Bud Light Dumbass grabbed is spewing crappy beer everywhere. Dumbass instinctively drops it. The Curmudgeon barely looks up from his reading.

“Two, panels must be installed over a solid dry wall... the Curmudgeon leers menacingly at Dumbass and continues, “…Do not install over open stud construction.”

Waving with his pistol he indicates the wall. “Would you say that is open stud construction?”

“Yes.” Dipshit really wishes he had a beer.

“And would you say you’ve installed this crap assed Bungalo shit over open studs? You’ve nailed it up where it doesn’t belong. You’ve built everything in a haphazard manner! Your failure is such that it will piss off future generations.” The Curmudgeon is screaming now. “Some poor bastard in the future is going to have to un-fuck the disaster you’re making right now!

The Curmudgeon pauses, draws a breath, counts to ten, and begins again with no appreciable reduction in rage. Wouldn’t you say that I ought to stop you from your utterly dipshit nature? How can you deny that if I shot you between the eyes… and maybe replaced you with a human being, maybe one who knows how to assemble a proper wall and use a damn tape measurewho could deny that your untimely, bloody, death would make my life, in the future…” The Curmudgeon pauses, trying to manage his emotions, “…better.”

With today’s visit to your time,The Curmudgeon continues, “I’m beginning the process of un-fucking the future.” With that he strides to the pile of new paneling, reaches into his backpack for a handful of flares, ignites several, and dumps them on the paneling… which bursts into flame.

The Curmudgeon still has several unlit flares in his hand. “You sure you don’t have any AMC products nearby?” He asks this as if nothing could be more perfect in the world than a road flare jammed in a Gremlin’s gas tank.

“Sorry, couldn’t afford one.” Dumbass shudders.

“Right then.” The Curmudgeon glances at a chronograph on his wrist. “So I’ll be going. Here’s some cash.” Curmudgeon tosses his heavy backpack on the ground at Dumbasses feet. It’s filled with a mountain of quarters, nickels, and dimes. Dumbass looks at the huge pile of change, opens his mouth to speak, and thinks better of it.

“It wasn’t easy to get 40 year old paper money.” The Curmudgeon shrugs. “There’s about $500 there. Spend it on good materials and decent tools. No more ‘Bungalow Paneling’. Be a man and use plywood or something. Also two words, ‘vapor barrier’. And learn to use a goddamn level you chimp!”

Dumbass is delighted at his newfound wealth.

“One more thing. Buy an ounce of gold. It’s like $150 bucks.” The Curmudgeon pauses and gets a far off wistful look in his eyes. “Stuff the gold in the wall somewhere. I’ll use that to get your stupid historical quarters.”

Dumbass is disappointed to know that some of the mountain of change is not his to spend.

When I get to the futureThe Curmudgeon continues, I’m going to check the garage. If it’s still built like an ignoramus might slap together a mud pie, I’m going to come back and flatten this whole structure… with you in it. But if it’s straight and true and well built, you’ll never see me again. Also…” At this The Curmudgeon speaks slowly, as if to impart a fact of great import, “If the garage is in perfect shape in the future I’m not going to go knocking walls down looking for a stupid gold coin. I’ll just assume the coin is inside it somewhere.” The Curmudgeon winks as he says ‘assume’.

A sphere begins to form around The Curmudgeon and he begins to fade. At the last minute Dumbass realizes what is happening and scrambles to his feet.

“What else can you tell me about the future?” Dumbass pleads.

“Don’t buy Betamax!” Comes the reply… as if from a great distance.


Scene:

The present. An Adaptive Curmudgeon is in his garage trying to fix a carboretor. Mrs. Curmudugeon steps in. “How’s it going?”

“Not bad.He smiles. The workshop is spotless and well appointed. Everything is where it should be. Outlets are plentiful, properly grounded, and evenly spaced. He leans against the solid, well built, workbench and grins at the perfectly smooth and well maintained drywall. He sets the carburetor on one of many, ideally situated shelves.

“Didn’t you say something about ‘retrofitting’ the garage?” Mrs. Curmudgeon asks.

“Nah, why bother? It’s fine just like it is.”

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The Ant Has Been Grasshoppering

Last winter I had just the right amount of firewood. This is a miracle of predictive wisdom in a “just in time” warehousing economy. It’s “working without a net” in the redneck economy. Being righteously freaked out I’ve been meaning to cut a shitload of wood asap. Being a normal guy, I’m too overbooked to keep up with everything. So not only is the lawn only half mowed and the pig fence sagging but there’s less than a cord in the shed.

Today I picked up my chainsaw and headed out to rectify the situation. There’s a nearby dead tree that’s on my mental “kill list”. I hiked 50 yards… Scanned the sky… Damn it was hot… I was sweating my balls off just walking… It was humid. No breeze. I set the saw down and just stood there like an idiot.

Fuck it.

I turned around and headed back to the house. There will be other days to cut firewood.

Ned is right. Also, I'm doomed.

Ned is right. Also, I’m doomed.

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Unreality Rant: Part 2

[This post was composed as I drove from nowhere to nowhere… and was driven batty by NPR.]

A few weeks later I was on the road again. My cell phone rang. (Better service every year.)

“Some dude shot up a church.” Came my personal news source.

“Oh shit. Did they kill the jerk?”

“Yep, but…” there was a pause.

I sighed. The pause was enough to tell me that something about this event was photogenic. Politicians would roll in it. I was trapped in my truck and would be getting yapped at about some new distraction. Stopping the bad guy with the gun before he hurt more people; that interested me. It was reality talk. Now, unreality was about to ensue.

We discussed likely outcomes. Maybe Al Sharpton would dance on the graves and call for his poisonous version of “racial healing”. Maybe Barack Obama would dance on the graves and call for what he thinks of as “reasonable gun control”. If Sharpton opened his yap there’d be a riot in a city or two. Obama could cause a riot but more likely he’d just spike firearm prices. If they both spoke, things could really get rolling. People could get hurt. They’re playing with fire.

I thought the gun thing was unlikely. Gun control is never far from the left’s mind but it’s far from their lips on four year intervals. I’d planned a route through Chicago but if either of the two seemed intent on fomenting mayhem I’d route around it. Paranoid? Maybe. Ask Reginald Denny.

I bet on “race”, my friend bet on “guns”, neither of us bet on “rebel flag”.

For the next few days my truck radio informed me that the rebel flag caused all this. Just like the Benghazi Consulate was burned to the ground by a YouTube video.

Obama sang a song. They say it was very moving. Of course it was.

The other side of the spectrum fumed about history and honor. It made no difference at all.

The obvious response is that a murderous asshole did a reprehensible deed and there’s no easy solution to evil. So of course, nobody mentioned that.

A flag is a distraction. Unreality. Suppose this particular murderous asshole drank a Pepsi. Would that mean Pepsi is evil? In his evil selfie did he sit in a chair? Better ban chairs. Did he use indoor plumbing, watch movies, eat pizza? Better ban all those too.

It seems nearly all murderous assholes post on Facebook but so far only one murderous asshole had a rebel flag. The difference is that NPR likes Facebook. So Facebook is OK.

NPR spent hours badgering me with the official party line. I watched the Dukes of Hazzard as a kid. I associated the rebel flag with nothing more than car jumps and Daisy’s ass. I have not repented. Therefore I suck. I’m the other.

This only applies to me. Hillary Clinton put rebel flags on her memorabilia for presidential candidate in 2008. Bill Clinton did the same as a presidential candidate in 1992. I watched bad TV in the 1970’s. Of the three, I’m to be accused of racism and both Clintons are pure as the driven snow.

NPR has determined, through some method not unlike divination, that I’m a witch and it’s OK to burn me. This is in accordance with logic known only to our State Propaganda arm.

It was an interesting juxtaposition with the kerfluffle of a week earlier. They’d switched from informing me that I’m homophobic because I was uninterested in an aging runner’s crotch to informing me of my racism because a murderer’s Facebook page had the same flag as a bad TV show I watched as a kid. Unreality.

For that matter Boy George was guest player on the Dukes of Hazzard. Was I not embracing sexual ambiguity (as I have been so ordered) by watching that yoyo sing a song in the fictional Boar’s Nest? Can they at least give me that? Throw me a bone folks, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!

——————

We’re supposed to meekly put up with it. That’s the disconnect. The farther you get from city streets the more obvious it becomes. I’ve yet to see the fellows in the combines or the trucker with weak brakes force anything on the population centers. The other side won’t extend the same courtesy. You never know what the purveyors of unreality will do next; an endangered toad, fuel regulations, water restrictions, a tax on something you need, a regulation against something that’s necessary, teaching stupid shit to your kid, banning your memories of Daisy’s ass… when does it end?

Being ordered around is unpleasant. Pretending the abstract is as real as a rainstorm is just plain stupid.

It’s a bad way to do things. I don’t know the solution. I’d like to imagine it could all peter out without undue mayhem. Stranger things have happened. Maybe someday they’ll run out of air from calling me homophobic and racist and stupid. Maybe they’ll encounter their own realities. Just chill out and join the rest of us as we go through life on the actual planet we call Earth. There’s plenty of room. We could have a beer together. I’d invite them fishing and they’d quit bitching at me long enough to catch a trout and discover it’s fun. They might see that sometimes people talk about the weather instead of an asshole’s flag and some aging athlete’s crotch for the very good reason that the weather matters and the other stuff doesn’t.

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Unreality Rant: Part 1

[I apologize for the overly long post. I was trapped in a truck cab and had time to think. You’ve been warned.]

I’ve been on the road a lot. I’ve tried (and probably failed) to capture the spirit of reality you get from distance. Its a feeling that D.C. and it’s ideas might as well be from Mars. There’s an expanding disconnect between those that make our grain and oil and toilet paper and cement and the people who sit in coffee shops and emote about what it all means. It’s palpable. When unreality infects public discourse it can’t be good.


Doubt me? Take a road trip. Once you get beyond the festering hives of inner city and endure the mindless malls of Generica you’re out there. Out there, geographically, is awash with reality.

America is immense yet most Americans cluster like packed sheep in small portions of it. I’m not here to make analogies about sheep. Sheep make wool and that’s a valuable thing. However, it seems to me that all that clustering… all that shoulder to shoulder sweaty mass of humanity getting’ in each other’s faces… well it makes them go mad.

There’s no other word to say it. Mad. Crazy. Fuckin’ bugnuts whackdoodle!

What they pay attention to is not what matters. What matters is what they ignore. I wouldn’t care except they impose it. That imposition is corrosive to kindness and freedom.

Spend enough time in reality and you’ll reject the imposition.

Consider this; I was driving through the middle of nowhere when the radio landed on the Bruce/Katlin Jenner kerfluffle. They hammered it for hours. That’s about as unreal as it gets. Some voices were delighted, “OMG Bruce Jenner is totally a chick and if you don’t support that with all your heart and soul you’re a knuckle dragging monster.” Others were quite the opposite, “There’s a dude in a dress on Vanity Fair and I’m gonna’ puke, it’s the end times!” I was bored. Men have been wearing dresses since the first man and the first dress. For goodness sakes Bugs Bunny did it in the 1940’s. The Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn’t edgy, it was camp. We’re pretty mellow in America when you get to the heart of things. Why am I to concern myself with the cover of Vanity Fair? I’ve never read it. Who does?

My question, as I rolled past antelope and wheat, was “who is this Jenner fellow that of all the many dress wearers it became an event of import?” Why him and not Bugs Bunny? Eventually I dredged up the reference from my memory. He is (or was) the guy on the Wheaties box from a zillion years ago. I think he threw a javelin or something. He must be super old.

Mmmm… Wheaties. I used to like Wheaties. I’d alternate between Wheaties and Honeycomb. It was a more innocent time. Now my breakfast is coffee and I have less hair.

I checked into a hotel who’s name I’ve forgotten and ate a steak at a restaurant across the street. There were cows in the field behind me and steaks on the plate in front of me. The person in the next booth had cowshit on his boots. I get it. Reality.

The next day, on the road again, the only radio I could get was America’s Pravda. NPR is paid for by the government and its the strongest broadcast net in North America. You can’t avoid it. NPR has wattage like Soviet Russia could only dream of. It’s more predictably left leaning than Trotsky. My tax dollars pay for this. I’m informed that reporting about the genitalia of a former Olympic athlete and cereal spokesman is a pressing national broadcast need. Really? NOAA weather stations are a pressing broadcast need. NPR is not.

I was also informed that Americans were Neanderthals about gender. Really? Which Americans in particular are the Neanderthals? Do they issue a badge when you get to be the “decider” on that? I was told anyone insufficiently elated by Mr/Ms Jenner was hopelessly retrograde. Really? I wasn’t elated. I’d been daydreaming about my bicycle as a kid. Remember those cool license plates that you got in a box of Honeycomb? Weren’t they awesome? I’d forgotten about former men in current dresses and certainly don’t like to be ordered by anyone to be elated about anything. Thus, NPR concludes I’m a jerk. Good to know.

I’m pretty sure Jenner was replaced by Sandy Duncan… a sprite sized female skater that positively radiated chirpy energy. I don’t recall switching cereals. I didn’t give a shit. I didn’t care about Duncan any more or less than Jenner. More proof I’m intolerant?

If Duncan had changed her name from Sandy to Brutus would I be ordered to celebrate that as well? What if Bruce Jenner had changed his name to Mohammed and started spouting Koranic verse? Would that be super duper awesome too? Would I be ordered to celebrate it? If Brutus Duncan and Katlyn Jenner got married would NPR have a massive continent wide journalistic orgasm? God forbid someone report about the deficit.

I surveyed the weather. I noticed a couple people standing in a field looking at the clouds. They were surrounded by miniature factories we call combines. Their wheat field reached the horizon. Would they work or would they go home? This would be determined by rain and nothing else. Combines and the people who drive them are what make our Wheaties. The person on the box cover doesn’t mean shit. This is reality.

The guy on the radio, who sounded like the real world analogue to the set of Seinfeld, continued to talk. It was not enough to tolerate Jenner. We should celebrate Jenner’s courage. Courage? What’s courageous about doing something that gets wall to wall adoration in the media? He implied that while he, the announcer, understood courage he had his doubts about those other idiots. Who those idiots were was left hanging. Perhaps the fellows standing by the combines looking at the storm front? NASCAR fans? Me? I probably won’t wear a dress in the foreseeable future but I thought I understood courage as much as anyone. For that matter I used to be a radio announcer. If the NPR announcer is courageous due his deadly dangerous occupation then I should have the same courage too. Should I send him an old paystub to prove it? Would I get a certificate?

You can’t listen to NPR long without hearing a reference to the amorphous other. It seems important there forever remain a vaguely defined group to whom they feel superior.

I wonder who’s on a Wheaties box now? For all I know it’s a rapper or a porn star.

By now I was rolling down a very steep mountain pass. I smelled something; was my engine too hot? Reality again. While Pravda talker was emoting about “false duality of sexuality” I was testing my brakes. I’m not sure what happens if he gets his theories wrong but if I get mine wrong my I’ll plummet to my death.

Fortunately, it was another truck’s brakes. I could smell them. It’s the smell of fear.

At the bottom of the hill I caught up with a fuel tanker blowing brake smoke rather alarmingly. As we reached the bottom of the pass he let the truck wind out; the better to cool things off. Having a 50 ton flying wedge in front of me, I figured any suicidal antelope would be vaporized long before it hit my grill. Happy with that thought I let gravity take over and drafted.

As the speedometer climbed I pondered the 55 MPH speed limit; one of my earliest brushes with unreality. Surely it made sense to the people who would, decades later, emote about fluid sexuality. But what of ranchers in Wyoming? Nobody in Boston has the same travel concerns as someone two hour’s drive from Cheyenne. Why inflict Boston’s lifestyle on Wyoming ranchers? Should Cheyenne ranchers make Bostonians house a few cows in their condo?

Cars are a big hint. NPR made fun of Mitt Romney for stacking cars on an elevator but not Hillary Clinton who doesn’t drive. Why? I’d love to have so many cars I can stack them. Wouldn’t you?

Furthermore I don’t think of people who can’t drive as adults. (Barring physical limitation.) Lack wheels and you’re a childlike imp, ever dependent on someone else to get anywhere farther than a few miles. Got wheels and you’ve got options. Reality again. Hillary doesn’t drive. Therefore she’s not an adult. Age doesn’t make adulthood but self reliance does.

Maybe Hillary could hire Jay Leno to coach her? Imagine that! Driving is how I found work mowing lawns for pocket money when I was too young to legally buy beer, meanwhile a talk show host could school a presidential contender.  How real can that be?

The flying wedge and I zipped past three combines working in tight formation. Amazing machines. Combines make wheat. We can’t all eat kale.

Eventually my flying wedge stopped at a gas station. I stopped too. The driver hopped out and started poking at his brakes.

“Got a braking problem?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’m sure you smelled it.” He grimaced. “I’m just hoping to get to the Flying J. Can’t get it fixed here.”

He had another 80 miles to go. We chatted a bit. He wanted to cool his brakes but had only so much time on his drive clock. A regulation set in stone had him weighing equally bad options. Take a long break and run out of time. Take a short break and risk hot brakes. He was worried about impending rain. His brakes were working barely adequately, wet rain wouldn’t help. His tanker was empty, which paradoxically makes it harder to stop.

Intellectuals can make unreal connections between charging an iPad and melting a glacier. They reject reality based connections; regulations, temperatures, rain, and truck service locations.

The trucker rolled out in a hurry. It started to rain. The combines we’d passed had just gone out of work, the trucker was racing for the Flying J, and nobody on NPR has faced these sorts of trade offs.

The next day I dropped off the media radar again. I went fishing, something killed some of my ducks, I mowed the lawn, etc… When I finally had time to pay attention Jenner had been forgotten.

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Wrong Cat

Our main feline defensive perimeter (outdoor cat) was formerly a bad ass. It beat the shit out of everything cat sized and killed anything small enough to be eaten. It was a bully, a jerk, a monster. Yet I had to admire it’s brazen violence. It kept the yard free of just about any small wild animals and chased off any stray cat that even looked at us from afar.

On spirit alone, it should live forever… or wind up in Valhalla after an epic three on one battle with coyotes after it killed two of ’em and got a good couple hits on the third. Alas we are all mortal and time cannot be denied. Sometime this winter the little cretin stroked out. It didn’t die. No, it’s too ornery for that. It simply kept living at a 40 degree tilt. It also outlasted its peers (whom it beat senseless whenever it could). It’s our sole remaining outdoor cat.

I have a lonely, tilted, brain damaged cat in the yard. It freaks people out when they come to visit. So what? So do I.

Meanwhile it’s experiencing karma. The cat, who was an asshole all it’s life, is lonely and disrespected. Even the duck, which is apparently a chicken, doesn’t pay attention to it. Even worse, the little freak can no longer hunt worth shit.

It tries hard enough but a tilted horizon apparently wreaks havoc on the targeting of small birds. I root for it. Maybe someday I’ll be weird and tilted and brain damaged and desperately trying to catch a deer. I hope my cat roots for me from it’s perch in cat Valhalla.

Today I glanced out my window to see the monster trotting around with a freshly killed chipmunk. Well done.

An hour later I looked out and saw it pounce on a mouse and come up with a fat one… right where I’ve been meaning to mow and haven’t. Awesome.

My cat was having a good day. I smiled. Even evil creatures on the downside get a break once in a while. Then I realized that the victorious cat, which was now stalking another chipmunk…

…wasn’t my cat.

Shit! Without a violent feline musclehead hanging around to keep the homestead to himself we’re getting interlopers. I’m sure if my crooked cat ever focuses enough to see the intruder it’ll attack. Or attack a few feet to the left of it. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

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Valhalla Java Mugs

This is a post from Mrs. Curmudgeon. Yep – I am hijacking this blog. I know a few of you were bummed you couldn’t get a Death Wish Coffee Valhalla Java mug just like A.C.’s… well you still can’t! But – you can get the next best thing – a Valhalla Java Travel Mug. May the Odinforce be with you…

DeathWishCoffeeValhalla

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Tiny House Rant

I once wanted a tiny house. I wanted one desperately! The reason I wanted one was because I needed a place to live. I had none. Big houses were out of my fiscal league. Why not a small one? No house is too small when the alternative is sleeping in your car. (Yes, I slept in my car among other oddball solutions… sometimes it’s nice but usually it sucks.)

Then came the “tiny house” movement. I was delighted! Except it all went wrong. Eager trustafarian pinheads made tiny homes into a “green” thing, a “political” thing, an “it’s not an off grid/straw bale/geodesic/yurt but it’s just as impractical” shining example of snobbery writ small. They managed to push the idea that a tiny house ought to cost a fortune and backed it up with photos of free standing closets that were as utilitarian and attainable as Faberge eggs. All I could think was “what’s the point”? I had a concrete need. They had an ethereal agenda. I never forgave them.

There’s room on this earth for someone who can’t or won’t float a mega-mortgage. Room for someone who doesn’t want fifty windows to wash. Tiny homes killed the most recent iteration of that idea. Killed it with delicately arranged spice racks mounted next to wicker seats beneath stained glass windows where plywood and benches might serve in good stead. All the good intentions in creation stink of bullshit when some hippie turns 180 square feet of “roof over your head” into the Whole Foods organic kale of the housing world.

I never got a tiny house and I never liked the way “a cheap place to sleep” became just another trendy way to signal “specialness”. Now I own a house. It’s huge. I have spare rooms. I have spare closets in the spare rooms. I have spare shelves in the spare closets in the spare rooms. We scarcely use any of it. Some areas I don’t heat. Who cares? It was cheaper than a tiny house! I’m a fat bloated American and my initial tiny home humility was defeated and gave way to a battleship sized atrocity where I repair whatever room I need and merely maintain a roof over the rest. Sometimes the cat gets lost. (That said, the cat’s an idiot.) I’ve got a basement big enough to create a bunker, and a secret lair, and a dungeon, and a mad scientist’s laboratory, or whatever else I could want; if I ever get around to it. My furnace, which I scarcely use, has more square footage in which to live it’s life than a Japanese apartment for a family of four. My house is huge enough to be practically unmanageable but it was cheap.

I also have a house for my truck; I call it a garage. I’ve got another house where I stack firewood; I call it a woodshed. There’s another house where the chickens live; I call it a coop. It all sits on a lawn measured in acres. If I watered it I’d uses more water than Fresno (and it’s my water so California can bite me); but I’m too damn lazy and if the grass dies it’s nobody’s business but mine. I have fields and forest and my own damn property extends as far as I can afford. I’ve got a giant driveway which is a bitch to plow and where where I park my truck (because the garages are filled with shit). I’ve got it all because a small cheap place never worked out and I went to the dark side. Hippies and real estate markets ruined Thoreau’s cabin so I went for a Redneck’s Homestead Empire. Fuck ’em!

I never mentioned my tiny home frustrations because who cares? A bunch of freaks in Seattle nibbling at the edges of zoning laws? Whatever. Plus, unless you’ve really scratched it out in a car or a van or a tent or creaky old RV or experience some other personal solution to the “not a regular house” dilemma, you can’t see the irony. I never heard anyone else call out the tiny home people either. Until now…


A grateful cheer to Joel and Clarie. YOU GO! Thanks for saying it like it is!

First, pure awesome from Claire:

“…c’mon, people. We’re dealing with reality here. Where are the Kleenex boxes, the alarm clocks, the bottles of ibuprofen, the glasses of water, the heaps of books, the midnight snack foods? Where are the bedside pistol or shotgun, the dog’s blankie and toys, the fuzzy slippers, and the laid-out clothes for tomorrow?”

And:

“…when you go spending $50,000 on something the size of a small travel-trailer and thinking you’re doing Great Work for the environment … when you judge the worth of your possessions by whether or not they make your heart sing … you’re living in some dreamland of intellectual and financial privilege. You are not only having first-world problems; you may be a first-world problem.”

Brilliant and true!

Then comes Joel who has the same reaction I’ve had:

“Their precious interiors, architecturally-fashionable boxiness and clearly professional construction did not make me in any way hostile. No – I’m far above that. Bastards.”

And:

“My main problem with all these tiny house articles involves the same question I have about every house or apartment ever featured in any fashion magazine anywhere: What’s with all the throw pillows? Do people really live in that? Because it looks more like it was built to be looked at.”

Joel included a link to a blog called Hipstercrite (awesome name!) that really knocks it out of the park:

“Dear People Who Live in Fancy Tiny Houses,

Do you actually love living in a fancy tiny house*?

You look so freakin’ happy in that Dwell Magazine article or Buzzfeed post, but c’mon, you can’t tell me that you don’t lie awake at night, your face four inches from the ceiling because the only place your bed fits is above the kitchen sink which also acts as your shower, and think, I’ve made a terrible mistake.

And:

“…where do you put your shit? You still have some clothing and shoes and towels and all that jazz, right? Or do you just wear overalls now? Overalls and Birkenstocks and one towel that you share with your entire family. Where do you wash that towel, hmm? Do you have a tiny river that runs behind your tiny house? I bet you do. I bet your whole Goddamn property is whimsical.”

I about died laughing. If you’ve ever lived in a “less than optimally sized dwelling”, or just like to laugh at hipsters, you absolutely must read it all.


Finally one last mention of my misspent youth lifetime of experiences: For many years, when people asked “where do you live?” I’d channel Chris Farley and shout “I live in a van, down by the river!” One of the best performances in our lifetimes.


While I’m at it I’d like to post a photo of the real hero of Tiny Homes; Bubbles!

Join me in my tiny home bed and breakfast. I'll make pancakes!

Join me in my tiny home bed and breakfast. I’ll make pancakes!

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