When I was a kid, this was my favorite time of the year.

All the new car models came out in late September, along with all the new season of TV shows.I think they were timed to coincide and can still hum along to “See the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet.”

Football season started this time of year, followed in a few weeks by the start up of the sugar cane harvest. That always brought Leighton Sugar Mill’s melodious steam whistle. A long, low blast waking us up at 6 a.m. and another calling us home at 6 p.m. every day of the week into the end of the harvest in December.

The Sears Christmas catalog wouldn’t be far off either. It was as thick as the New Orleans phone book, jam-packed with hopes and dreams. I’d read it by flashlight under the covers late into the night.

Fall was in the air and it was exciting.

These days, not so much.

New car models come out with no real rhyme or reason, driven by market studies.

New TV shows come and go. Sure, the new season starts in the fall for some shows. But the shows I really like,  Downton Abbey, Longmire, Big Brother and Under the Dome, debut midseason. Duck Dynasty manages to cram two seasons into a year these days.

The nearest sugar mill is 600 miles away and I haven’t seen a Sears Wishbook in 20 years.

All is not lost, though.

I got the new Harbor Freight Tools sales catalog in the mail today. You can get a welding helmet for under $30, decent sized solar panels for under $50.

I think I’ll grab a flashlight and read it under the covers tonight.

Yeah, though I walk …

This Virginia Tech fan is my new hero …


Virginia Tech wins at Ohio State

This is art:

Howick, South Africa

This ain’t:

Riverside Park, Nashville, Tenn. (proposed)

 It’s a twisted piece of metal that Nashville will pay $350,000 for (the equivalent of the cost to build 7 houses for the homeless).

This is art:

Bank of America Building, Nashville, Tenn.

Chet Atkins. Nuff said.

This ain’t:

Music City Roundabout, Nashville, Tenn.

They’re painted poles stuck randomly in the ground at a cost of $750,000. (That’s equivalent to 15 houses for the homeless).

This is art:

Riverside Village, Nashville, Tenn.

This ain’t:

City Hall, Nashville, Tenn.

 I have no idea what this is, but the city paid $308,000 for it. (There’s a matching piece to this on the other side of the park.) That’s the equivalent of 6 homes for the homeless, which anyone could look at and not ask what they are.

I have a simple rule. If you have to ask, it ain’t art.

So you tell me, art or a rock on bent pipe?

Edmondson Park, Nashville

Remote possibility

Add this one to the old dog, new tricks file.

I dropped my keys for the umpteenth time last week and finally broke the car remote off my key chain. Carrying the remote around separately from the key chain proved to be a major pain, so I went looking for a McGuyver-type solution that involved a flat key chain and Gorilla Glue.

Gorilla Glue is my new duct tape. I use it to fix just about anything, like my phone’s belt clip holder after the clip tore away from the holder two days before my trip to Louisiana last week.

I told the clerk at AutoZone what I was looking for and he said they didn’t have any key rings like I described, but they did stock new shells for old remotes.

I took a certification class in replacing auto remotes when I had a locksmith business 10 years ago. But in the seven years since I closed my business, I haven’t kept up much with new developments, which is when I think the remote shells came into existence.

Alas, AutoZone didn’t have one that would work with my 15-year-old car, but eBay did.

Why not just buy a new remote? A new remote for my car cost $120 and you have to reprogram the car. I bought the new shell for $7 on eBay and no reprogramming was involved.

Of course, while I was waiting for the new shell to come in, I misplaced my remote, so I didn’t have it to use during a recent trip to visit my parents. Luckily, I found it today.

The remote was holding on by a hair for the longest time, but the ring holder finally broke when I dropped my keys last week.

Pry open the old shell using the notch on the opposite end of the ring holder. (Use a screw driver if one’s handy. You could really hurt yourself using a pocket knife if you’re not careful.)

This is what it looks like after you pry the shell open. You can do this if you just need to change the battery, too. If I had a new battery with me this morning, I would have changed it out, too.

Open the new shell and lay it out next to the old so you can keep track of which way the circuit board goes. (Mine also had a helpful “Ring Side” directional aid, too.)

Carefully take the circuit board out of the old one and put it in the new one. It’s probably a good idea to do this with something underneath, like this note pad, so that it doesn’t fall to the floor and break if you drop it.

Snap the two sides together and you’re finished. There’s no need to reprogram because you’re using the same circuit board.

Then, throw the old shell away. You’ve got enough clutter in your life without stockpiling more broken car junk.

All keyed up

As soon as I pulled away from the apartment, I realized my keys weren’t in my pocket.

I have a ritual I do several times a day to make sure I still have everything I need to have to get through the day.

Hand on my right hip at the belt line to make sure my cell phone is still with me. Reach across to the left hip to make sure I have my work ID clipped to my belt. I need that to get off at my floor from the elevator. Hand up to my shirt pocket to make sure my hearing aid remote is there. Then hand down to my right thigh pocket to check on the keys.

Everything was in its place this morning except for the keys.

No keys in my pocket. Shit.

Keys would be important to me, even if I didn’t used to own a locksmith business. I have the key to my apartment, the key to my property, the key to my post office box, the key to the padlock I haven’t been able to find since the move three years ago. There’s the key to the apartment complex mail box that I never check because I use a PO box downtown by my office. Then there’s the garage lock key for my former house that didn’t really lock the garage but does lock and unlock my mom and dad’s storm door on the carport. And my car key and lock fob.

No keys in my pocket. Shit.

How am I going to lock the car when I get to the office, I wonder to myself. I damn sure won’t be able to get anything out of the trunk, like my lock-pick set, which would come in handy right now thankyouverymuch.

Will I even be able to lock the car since I don’t have the keys to unlock it?

The car.

I’m driving the car.

Driving. The. Car. Can’t do that without keys.

Those keys in the ignition right there.


Man, it’s tough growing old.


My kitchen is a mess and I know why. I own too many plates and bowls.

When I moved into my apartment almost 3 years ago (time flies), I built my kitchen from scratch. I had a knife, fork and spoon from my camping kit, an 8-inch fry pan and a 3-quart saucepan that I used to boil water to make iced tea.

One of the first things I bought when I moved in was a set of dishes. But I couldn’t really find anything I liked, so I settled on a set from Big Lots. The plates had a rim that made it hard to cut things on and the bowls were too deep for me to make egg salad the way I’m accustomed.

I made do, always keeping an eye out for something better, like the Blue Willow plates my ex and I collected when we were engaged and newlyweds.

Who knew I was so picky about plates? I couldn’t find anything I liked for almost two years. Then, while visiting the Dirt Cheap store in Picayune, Miss., on my way home from Louisiana one time, I spotted some Blue Willow plates. Aisles of Blue Willow plates actually. Dinner plates, salad plates, cereal bowls, soup bowls, serving dishes. Aisles and aisles of them.

And they really were dirt cheap. I ended up buying service for 8 and it cost me a little more than $30.

I was so proud, I shouted out my new find on Facebook. Life was grand.

I came home from the property tonight and there those Blue Willow plates sit. The sink is full of big plates, salad plates and cereal bowls. (I didn’t buy the soup bowls because I thought it would be kind of pretentious to have two kinds of bowls.)

Why are they sitting there? Because there are still clean plates in the cabinets, silly. No need to wash them right now. I’ll wash them tomorrow.

But as we all know, tomorrow never comes. So the pile gets bigger each day.

What’s a guy to do (other than get off his butt and load the dishwasher?). I’m getting rid of half of my dishes, that’s what. I don’t need them.

Since the spring, I have been working to simplify things. I’ve ripped all my CDs and have them stored on my computer and backed up on a portable hard drive. My favorite songs are on my phone and my MP3 player. I’ve only bought e-books for the past two years and all the magazines I get are digital.

I have more clothes than I need. I have books that I will never read again. I can go a month without washing underwear and never wear the same pair twice.

It’s time. First thing tomorrow.

Plenty of 20s

I bought a flag to hang at the property tonight. It cost $20.

Looking at shovels in hardware stores this week. Know what they cost? $20.

Axe to cut firewood? $20.

Garbage can? $20.

Rakes? $20.

The scythe I bought day before yesterday cost $20 when you added in the new mailbox letters I bought while I was there.

Speaking of the mailbox, you’ll never guess what it cost after taxes — $20.

Padlocks for the door and gate? $20 apiece.

Nail puller/pry bar with a box of roofing nails and a pack of brass screws for the mailbox? $20.

New rain barrel. $40 (That’s $20 x 2).

Lunch today? $20.

So tonight, when I opened the birthday card from my mother, what do I find? A $20 bill.

Thanks mom. Whatever I buy tomorrow is covered.



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