Holding the flashlight

I recently heard a speaker say this, “I hated holding the flashlight for my Dad.”

The speaker continued on with his perspective of this simple little task. He told how as a little boy his Dad always asked him to hold the flashlight while working on various tasks that needed just a little more light.  Fixing a blown fuse, a broken light fixture, switch, or something on the old Plymouth. What he remembers the most was when, (not if) the beam of light drifted from the work area, his Dad would snort which alerted this young man to pull the flashlight back into position. He hated doing this.

I remember these days as well.

As a youngster in the mid-1960s & ’70s, I held the flashlight and did many other simple tasks for my Dad.

I carried and fetched tools, pulled weeds, dug holes, filled holes, used a sickle, swept the shop floor, wire brushed the spots Dad welded, stuck welding rods in the holder (I was always scared I would get shocked), siphoned gasoline, sanded the wood & metal projects, washed the cars, washed engine parts in gasoline, hauled fuel oil for the furnace, scrapped paint, held pieces of metal and wood as my Dad cut them, welded nailed or glued them together, washed his truck, scrubbed the tires, planted potatoes (eyes up) and pulled the electrical wire through conduit. These are just a few of the little tasks that I did with my Dad as a child and young adult. Often as I did these and many other tedious tasks, my Dad stood watching and coaching me on how to do them right.

Back then I was not always happy doing that stuff.

Today, I appreciate that I got to do them for a couple of big reasons:

  1. I learned by watching my Dad. I learned to do electrical work, welding, gardening, plumbing, woodworking, and lots more stuff.  I learned a lot.  Today I can do all of these things myself. Not only has this saved me lots of money as I raised my own family,  I also enjoy doing these things.
  2. I learned patience, attention to detail and doing things right.  Dad was a stickler to doing it right the first time. No cutting corners or doing anything just to get it done. Do it right, or don’t do it is what I learned from my Dad.

When my girls were home I had them hold the flashlight for me. I snorted at them just a little bit when the beam of light fell away from the work area and they pulled the flashlight back into place.  I hope they learned as much from me as I learned from my Dad.

Who is holding your flashlight and are they learning from you?

Happy Fathers Day Dad. I love you and treasure the days of holding the flashlight.

The long arm of the law got me again

Back in August 2013, I got nailed by the North Carolina State police, again.

This time the mini was cruising along at 70+ mph in a 55 mph portion of Rt 220 North of Greensboro.

I thought about downshifting, slamming the throttle open further and trying to outrun the Dodge Charger the cop had, but Bum was with me. All she had to do was give me the eye, and I downshifted and pulled off the side of the road.

The kind officer had a smile and a pleasant voice as he gave me a $30 fine that came with $183 court cost fee for doing 70 mph in a 55mph zone. Crap!

Knowing that admitting to this would crank up my insurance, I vowed to fight this ticket to the very end.

I was going to court.

I got my driving record (downloaded from NC DMV for $12) and waited a few weeks for my court date.

I got up early, worked out, ate a big breakfast and headed off to Wentworth NC in Rockingham County by 7 AM. Bum warned me about speeding, so I left the house early.

I arrived at the Rockingham County Courthouse and you would have thought I was in downtown Atlanta. Big brick building with pillars and what looked like gold lettering on the front of the building.

I knew better than to take my switch-blade and Glock into a courthouse, so I left them in the car with the cell phone. All I had on me was the $213 for the ticket, my driving record, license, and car keys.

When I got to the second floor, there were already 50 people waiting in line. While they escorted us all into the courtroom another 150 people showed up. They seated us as the clerk and judge setup for traffic court.

I got to sit in front of some guy who sounded like the phone call comic Willie Richardson. His voice and the ridiculous stories he was telling about beating up a cop, getting arrested for hitting his old lady and drinking so much beer that he passed out as he blew a .057 on the breathalyzer after wrecking his car, reminded me of Willie’s CDs.

One after another we walked up to the judge with our ticket, license and either our driving record or driving school certificate. The people without their driving record or a driving school certificate were immediately told to go away and come back on October 29 with either their driving record or the driving school certificate. After seeing 15-20 people do this,  I gave up trying to figure out why anyone would show up to court without being prepared.

If the infraction was a driving violation, the judge would say, “I can reduce this to Improper Equipment. Is this what you want?”

With no hesitation, each violator said, “Yes ma’am.” The judge would check a box on the ticket and say, “You are free to go. Pay the clerk of the court outside the courtroom.”

The same thing happened with me, “I can reduce your ticket to improper equipment, is this what you want?”

“Yes, ma’am,” was my response as well.

With my eleven $20 bills in my hand, I went to see the Clerk of the Court. “That will be $263, sir,” she said to me.

My reply must have been a normal response, “I thought the ticket was $213.”

Her reply, somewhat agitated in a manner was, “Sir the ticket is for $30, court costs are $183 and the charge for reducing the penalty is $50. Are you paying the $263 in cash now?”

My response, not having all the money and not just a little more miffed at this entire process was less than polite, “Wow, I knew this process was screwed up, but now it’s clear to me that the logic of this entire civil penalty activity is quite ill. Where is the nearest ATM ma’am?”

“At the sheriff’s office around the corner sir.”

“Thank you so very much for all your assistance ma’am. I will return.”

And I did. When I got back from the ATM machine I handed her 14 crisp $20 bills. She banged on the keyboard a little, hopefully saving me from the insurance points, put my $20 bills in her cash drawer and handed me back $17 and a receipt.

She sort of shooed me away with, “have a good day sir.”

And off I went.

$30 speeding penalty

$183 Court Costs

$50 penalty reduction fee

$263 total penalty for driving the mini cooper a smidgen too fast in Rockingham County North Carolina and not trying to outrun a Dodge Charger.

I’d say I’ve learned my lesson, but my record shows this is hard for me to do.

My Offices

My Offices

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that my offices are every coffee shop and a few local pubs in the Triad area of NC. Here is a map of many of them.

Here are 10 reasons I like to use local coffee shops as my office:

  1. Good coffee – Always freshly brewed
  2. Ice cold “soda” – one or two a week is not a bad thing
  3. Friendly and good people serving me
  4. Free refills – With the Starbucks Gold Card, I get free refills while I am in the office
  5. Good food in the pubs – a man has to eat, right?
  6. Free WIFI – Maybe it’s not perfect, but generally it works and it’s free.
  7. I am visible – often I get to say hello to customers, prospects and new connections who come to see me.
  8. When I get a chance to say hello, often I am asked what I’m up to. I get to spin this too, “How can I help you?”
  9. They are a more enjoyable place to have business meetings. It’s way more friendly
  10. My laptop has an ad on it – It gets seen by dozens of people every day
  11. Fresh pastries every morning
  12. I’ve done the math – $2 per day for a cup of coffee = max of $60 per month. No less expensive rent anywhere.

I know these offices may not be the best for everyone, but they sure do work well for me.

Follow me on FourSquare if you want to know when I’m in the office

Thanks, @FinnegansWake, @NattyGreene, @Starbucks, @TheGreenBean & @Krankies.




Words to noodle on

Thanks to my buddy Rick for sharing this with me. Now, I’ll share it with you.

The nicest thing about the future is . . .
that it always starts tomorrow.

Money will buy a fine dog . . .
but only kindness will make him wag his tail.

If you don’t have a sense of humor . . .
you probably don’t have any sense at all.

Seat belts are not as confining . . .
as wheelchairs.

A good time to keep your mouth shut is . . .
when you’re in deep water.

How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark . .
to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?

Business conventions are important . . .
because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.

Why is it that at class reunions . . .
you feel younger than everyone else looks?

Scratch a cat (or dog) . . .
and you will have a permanent job.

No one has more driving ambition than the teenage boy (or girl) . . .
who wants to buy a car.

There are no new sins . . .
the old ones just get more publicity.

There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 a.m. . .
like, it could be the right number.

No one ever says “It’s only a game” . . .
when their team is winning.

I’ve reached the age where . . .
‘happy hour’ is a nap.

Be careful about reading the fine print . . .
there’s no way you’re going to like it.

The trouble with bucket seats is that . . .
not everybody has the same size bucket.

Do you realize that, in about 40 years . . .
we’ll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos? (And rap music will be the Golden Oldies!)

Money can’t buy happiness . . .
but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Cadillac than in a Yugo.

After 60, if you don’t wake up aching in every joint . . .
you’re probably dead.

Life isn’t tied with a bow . . .
but it’s still a gift.

I hope you enjoyed these statements.

The Whole Secret

The Whole Secret

A friend of mine wrote this in her journal and shared it with us this week.

I liked it so much I asked her for permission to share it with you.

Do you know THE Whole Secret for being happy in life?

Here is how she answered this question:

“I love it when people ask me to tell them my secret for BEING HAPPY because I don’t really have a secret other than:

  1. I don’t think the Universe is out to get me
  2. I don’t listen very long to people who want to convince me that I should be unhappy
  3. I pay attention to things that make me unhappy and I stop doing them as soon as possible

That’s pretty much THE WHOLE SECRET.


Did you know all this?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor.”

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell.

Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.”

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.

They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins was found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive.

So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

Whoever said History was boring

I nearly died driving a Forklift

It was January 1997 when I learned about Forklifts, inclines, and gravity.

I was preparing to move my family to North Carolina and had to dispose of a bunch of stuff out of the house. One of these items was the old water heater. Rather than haul it to the landfill and pay the disposal fee, I decided to take it to one of the warehouses of the company I worked for, Lofts Seed.

I loaded the heater into the back of my little red step-side pickup truck and headed off to the warehouse.

It was bulky and heavy, but I was able to get it up and into the back of the truck by myself.

If was a Sunday and no one would be at the warehouse. I called the warehouse manager to get permission to throw the heater in the dumpster. He said no problem.

When I got to the warehouse I decided to use one of the forklifts to carry the heater out back to the dumpster.

The dumpster I wanted to put the heater into was out back, next to the forklift ramp that led out of the warehouse.

I headed through the warehouse to the back dock door with the heater on top of the forks. As I headed to the ramp I started raising the forks into the air so that they would be above the top edge of the dumpster.

As I headed down the ramp, raising the forks higher and higher into the air, I turned the forklift to the left towards the dumpster.

Can you see it yet, forks about 12 feet in the air, big heavy forklift moving downward, then sideways on an incline?

I’m not a physicist, but I quickly learned about inertia, gravity, incline, weight, motion and instant FEAR!!!

As the forks reached over the top of the dumpster the forklift began to fall over to the right, down the ramp. Fortunately for me, and my desire to continue living, the forks caught on the edge of the dumpster, with me and the forklift sitting at about a 45° angle to the ground.

I managed to hang onto the steering wheel, hook my feet on the clutch and brake pedals so that I did not fall off and possibly under the forklift.

The front drive wheels of the forklift were off the ground, so I did not have to worry about it moving, yet I still reached down and shut off the engine.

I sat there, hanging onto the steering wheel and roll bars as I pondered what to do next. Wisely (where did that come from), I decided to climb up on top (actually left side) of the forklift and jump off, up the ramp. I felt there was less danger than climbing off, under and down the ramp.

I stood there for a few minutes pondering what to do next. More wisdom arose in me, so I called the warehouse manager.

“Hey John, this is Teddy. I screwed up. I accidentally flipped one of your forklifts over down the ramp. I don’t think it’s hurt, but there is no way I can get it back up on its wheels. What should I do?”

There was no laughter in his voice as he told me to, “Go home. Leave it where alone and we’ll fix it on Monday.”

I apologized for the problem that I created and left.

About a week later I came by his warehouse for a meeting. We sat in his office discussing a project we were working on. The forklift story came up briefly. He told me that his guys had to get a tow truck to pull it backup upright. I offered to pay for the tow truck. He told me he’d get the cost out of me somehow. He did ask me to promise that I would never get on any company forklifts. I promised.



My Crab Feast going away party

I eventually got involved in the plumbing, electronic programming, and production line design & build.

After the plant was built, I ended up being the assistant plant manager. It was a cool job because of the dynamics and diversity.

I have lots of stories from working at Neutron Products including Chocolate Cheese. I worked with a lot of good people. We had a good time while making pretty good money for the late 1970’s & early 1980’s.

I left Neutron Products around 1986 to start my career in computers and technology.

My fellow employees got together and planned a picnic as my going away party.

I looked at a Google Maps view of Neutron Products. The Table is still there

Everyone pitched in so we could buy bushels of steamed crabs, hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, and all of the other stuff needed for a summer picnic, going away party.


There was no public drinking of beer at this party. Regardless, we had a blast. Laughing and joking and recalling all the stuff we had done over nearly the past ten years.

  • Playing poker at lunch until it got out of hand and Jack shut us down forever
  • Kozi’s coke machine going berzerk and spewing out all of the soda bottles
  • Learning how to paint from Old man Walt Snyder (no railroad tracks boy!!)
  • Falling in the Cobalt-60 tank and believing I was going to die immediately
  • Nailing myself to a wooden pallet with a nail gun
  • Getting married
  • Learning Computers, Lotus 123 & Dbase I software
  • Buying my first motorcycle
  • Dealing with the belief that Cobalt-60 radiation was contaminating the town
  • Wrecking my first motorcycle
  • Buying my first new car
  • Wrecking my fourth or fifth car
  • Going drinking with Deore, Stump & Joe.
  • Crashing two tractor-trailers into each other
  • Christmas Parties of the pre-1980’s (PARTY!!)
  • Drinking beer alongside the road at 2 pm or 3 pm each afternoon.
  • The Lottery Winning Failure of 1980.

Times were different back then and so was the way we celebrated them. We all laughed and joked as we recalled these and many other stories of working at Neutron Products.

I’ll never forget the Crab Feast party at Neutron Products. It was the best going away party ever.

Halloween Costume Story

Halloween Costume Story

I found this on a Facebook post from a friend.

Funny Halloween Costume Story

A couple was invited to a swanky costume party. The Mrs. got a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone. He being a devoted husband protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed and there was no need for his good time being spoiled by not going.

So he took his costume and away he went. The wife, after sleeping soundly for about an hour, awakened without pain and, as it was still early, decided to go to the party.

Since her husband did not know what her costume was, she thought she would have some fun by watching her husband and see how he acted when she was not with him. She joined the party and soon spotted her husband cavorting around on the dance floor, dancing with every nice woman he could, and copping a little feel here and a little kiss there.

His wife sidled up to him and being a rather seductive babe herself, he left his current partner high and dry and devoted his time to the new babe that had just arrived. She let him go as far as he wished, naturally, since he was her husband.

Finally, he whispered a little proposition in her ear and she agreed. So off they went to one of the cars and had a quickie.

Just before unmasking at midnight, she slipped away, went home, put the costume away and got into bed, wondering what kind of explanation he would make for his behavior.

She was sitting up reading when he came in, and she asked what kind of a time he had. He said: “Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you’re not there.”

She asked him, “did you dance much?”
He replied, “I’ll tell you, I never even danced one dance. When I got there, I met Pete, Bill Brown and some other guys, so we went into the den and played poker all evening. But you’re not going to believe what happened to the guy I loaned my costume to….”

Halloween Costume Story – could this happen to you?

Author unknown

Do you have a Halloween Costume Story?

Man vs. leaves

The battle has begun.

I saw my first squirmish on the north side of Winston-Salem early this week.

Some may say it’s a little late in the year for these battles to begin. Yet, the leaves are still preparing for battle. They are not all quite ready to join in.

The battles are just getting started in every community, city and state across the country.

You can see and often hear the battles going on around you.

At times it appears man is winning the battle, then with no warning, the leaves begin to let go even more and overtake man’s efforts as they collect deeper and wider.

The weapons man uses continue to change, often more sophisticated. Bigger equipment, stronger tools and faster machines. Yet just as often, the weapons can regress back to old school manual tools.

Sometimes man will attack in the early morning or late evening. Sometimes a local battle will go on from sun up to sundown.

Sometimes the leaves let go from their position and unload a massive attack upon man just as the temperature drops and the rains begin.

I’ve seen man retreat, but never for long. Eventually, after a long hard fought battle man will win that battle, but never will man win the war.

The leaves have an advantage. Every year they will return. To start yet another never ending series of battles in a never ending war.