The Brown Cow Club, 17 Million Members Strong

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have excellent news.

According to a recent survey by a trade group for the US dairy industry, 7 percent of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

You probably saw this last week, because the news outlets all went nuts over it.

Everyone seemed to be appalled that nearly 17 million grownups don’t know how we get chocolate milk.

I’m not appalled, though. In fact, I feel just the opposite. I think it is fabulous, because this news makes me feel better about myself. It should make us all feel better about ourselves.

We can take heart that we are brighter than at least 17 million people — which is only 2 million shy of the population of New York State.

That is a lot of people. A lot.

Imagine being ranked by intelligence, looking behind you and seeing 17 million people back there. What an ego boost that would be.

I didn’t see the rest of the survey results, but I am curious as to what else these people think.

Maybe milkshakes come from cows in Minnesota in the winter.

Hot chocolate comes from cows in south Georgia.

Heavy cream comes from chubby cows.

Non-dairy creamer comes from fake cows.

White Russians come from cows on their 21st birthday.

Skim milk comes from skinny cows.

Retired cows make Milk of Magnesia in their spare time.

I wonder how long the members of the brown cow club think a cow has to jump on a trampoline in order to make whipping cream?

I also wonder what kind of milk they think those Chick-fil-A cows stuck up on those billboards produce?

“Hey, Myrtle, why does the milk have black spots in it and taste like chicken?”

Coconut milk does come from coconuts, so if that question was on the survey, they might have gotten it right. But I wonder if they think coconut farmers have to get up at 4 a.m., to milk them?

When I was in Future Farmers of America back in high school, I was on the cattle judging team. I had no business being on a cattle judging team, but I studied and tried my best.

To the best of my recollection, the team consisted of four members. We learned about different breeds of cattle, and how their physical features determined their value.

We and similar teams from other schools in the county went to somebody’s farm and observed cows. 

Think of it as a cow beauty contest, minus the questions about world peace.

We didn’t win, but we did better than some of the teams. But even the worst member on the worst team surely didn’t think chocolate milk came from chocolate cows.

I wonder what else these 17 million people believe?

I’ve always thought a few people made it into adulthood still thinking dogs are boys and cats are girls. I’ll bet the brown cow club has a few of these people in its ranks.

The members of the brown cow club walk among us. I think it’s important we identify them.

Here is an easy way to expose them.

The next time you think you may be in the presence of one, tell them you swallowed a watermelon seed last week.

If they automatically manhandle you and begin performing the Heimlich Maneuver on you, they may be trying to dislodge the watermelon that is surely growing in your stomach.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, I really don’t. But, chocolate milk from brown cows?

It’s udderly ridiculous.

The Cat and Dog are Fighting Like…

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comSuddenly, our cat hates our dog.

This should come as no surprise. MacGyver — that’s the cat — hates everything, with one exception.

For some reason, she usually likes me. I don’t understand why she finds me the most tolerable one in the family.

The rest of my family has never been shy about how they really — and I mean really — don’t understand it either.

While MacGyver never befriended Ginger and MaryAnn, she coexisted with the beagles with rarely an incident for more than 13 years. 

MaryAnn passed earlier this year. Ginger, however, is still pretty spry for her age.

This new drama between MacGyver and Ginger started last week. I called Kim on my way home from a meeting, and she was frantic because MacGyver attacked Ginger without provocation. Kim defused the situation from what I understand, and neither the dog nor the cat suffered any wounds.

I figured it was a one-time thing, fueled by some passing primal force we would never understand and quickly forget.

I figured wrong.

The next time they were allowed to come in contact with each other, MacGyver approached Ginger and hissed. That’s when I hit MacGyver between the eyes with water from a squirt bottle. She reluctantly retreated but gave me the same hiss she had given the dog.

The next day, the same thing happened — only this time, I was holding the garden hose.

I’m not saying I enjoyed it, but she had it coming. She’s the aggressor, and the rest of us are the victims.

Naturally, she learned nothing from it.

I have some theories for her change in behavior.

First off, Ginger is going deaf. She really is; that’s not a joke. We started realizing it a couple of months after MaryAnn’s passing. She doesn’t look when we call her, much less come. Yesterday, a half dozen squirrels were square dancing in the tree above her, and she was oblivious the entire time.

We think MacGyver takes offense when Ginger doesn’t respond to being hissed at with the appropriate amount of fear. Maybe MacGyver either is afraid Ginger has become bold, or it irritates her that Ginger no longer shows the respect a feline of her stature deserves.

I’m betting on the irritation theory, for the record.

Here’s another theory. This one isn’t so pleasant.

Beagles will eat anything.

One morning when Ginger was a puppy, we went out to see her convulsing on the ground. It was a horrifying sight. We took her to the vet and received updates all day on the things they were checking her for.

About 4:55 that afternoon, and after $248,994 worth of missed diagnoses, they decided to X-ray her stomach and found 5 pounds of pea gravel.

In the past decade and a half, she has eaten a smorgasbord of inedible things. I won’t go into detail, but you would be astounded.

The other day, I saw her sniffing around the place near the fence where MacGyver goes to do her business.

I have no reason to believe she’s gone past the sniffing stage, but I think MacGyver smells her own scent on Ginger and fears the dog is turning into a cat.

I know it’s a long shot. I tend to over analyze things, and this is no exception.

I don’t know what is going through their minds, but I do know we need to solve this problem in a hurry.

I’ve even thought about trying to find one of those animal therapists — a pet whisperer.

But, of course, Ginger couldn’t hear, and MacGyver would be too stubborn to listen.

Meet the Internet’s Newest Climate Scientist

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comDo you remember the old television commercial where the guy said, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV?”

If you’ll recall, the line took on a life of its own — kind of like “Where’s the beef?” or, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

This line was unique, because people could put their own spin on it by saying, “I’m not a (fill in the blank), but I play one on TV,” before proceeding to give their opinion on something.

I think it’s time we update this expression to fit the internet age, and I know just how to do it.

People could preface their opinions online by saying, “I’m not a (blank), but I play one on the Internet,” before delivering their opinion on a subject they know absolutely nothing about.

Here’s why I say this.

One of my Facebook friends shared a post about climate change written by someone who obviously has educated himself on the matter. It was intelligent. It wasn’t particularly one-sided, and it certainly wasn’t inflammatory.

It was obvious, however, that he agrees with the 68 percent of Americans who believe human activity is causing climate change. This is a new Gallup poll number, and it’s up 13 percent in 2 years, which is astonishing if you ask me.

After I read the post, I clicked to read the comments, because that was a slightly less painful way to pass the next 5 minutes than slamming my fingers in a door.

To my surprise, though, the vast majority were supportive, which gave me a rare glimmer of hope.

The lone name caller bashed the rest of us as “tree huggers,” which is fine but terribly unoriginal.

This morning, though, I got a notification that someone else had now commented on the post.

It caught my eye because it was a kid I grew up with in my hometown. I found this particularly unusual since I have no idea where he lives, and neither he nor I am even Facebook friends with the author. 

But, thanks to the internet, somehow this guy saw the post and gave us all the gift of his two cents worth.

After his all-caps introductory expletive, he went on to explain the ridiculousness of climate change and inserted a made-up statistic to back up his point. I know it was made up, because I spent 10 minutes researching to prove to myself it was made up.

I sat there with my head cocked sideways like a confused dog on a cartoon with my mouth hanging open, wondering how worlds can collide the way they sometimes do.

I haven’t seen him in decades, but I’m pretty doggone sure he isn’t a climate scientist.

But thanks to the internet, he gets to pretend he is.

Hear the good news! I know a Facebook climate scientist!

The fact that this guy disagrees with what real climate scientists say is immaterial. I wouldn’t have expected any less.

What baffles me is the fact that his lie is sitting out there for impressionable minds to see forever — because that’s how long things last on the internet.

And what disturbs me more are the thousands of myths that the internet will foster and grow today alone from people who simply make stuff up to push their agendas.

And worst of all, the more routine it becomes, the more desensitized we become to it.

If we’re not careful, we will start accepting it if we haven’t already. 

I hope you don’t see that merely as another tree hugger point of view.

Who Can Blame Mad Airline Employees?

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comSeventy percent.

That’s the percentage of Americans who hate their jobs, according to several articles I read on the subject.

That’s pretty extraordinary, if you ask me. Can you imagine getting 70 percent of people to agree on anything beyond what day it is?

I think I know why the percentage of disgruntled workers is so high.

It’s skewed by the airline employees.

Around 10 million Americans work in the air travel industry. Every single one of them must be completely miserable, and I understand why.

Last week I flew for the first time in a few years.

The problems started at the ticket counter.

Even though I was first in line, I wasn’t first in the Priority line, which meant lots of people got to cut in front of me.

This included a woman carrying an infant buried under an avalanche of infant accessories — including a stroller the size of a Volkswagen Beetle — who was checking in for a flight which was leaving in 3 minutes. I got to stand there 10 minutes while the ticket person rebooked her on my flight, which left in 2 hours.

It wasn’t a great way to start the day, but I merely said “that’s okay” when the agent finally got around to me, because I’m sure she gets an earful from passengers all day long. I don’t know how she does it.

The security checkpoint line was fairly short, which was nice on the surface. But it doesn’t make up for the pain involved in making it into the terminal area.

I’ve been through the whole post-9/11 security screening thing several times, so I knew to expect the unexpected. The inconsistency from one airport’s security to another will always baffle me. I know it must baffle the TSA agents as well.

Flying out, I was forced to take my laptop out of its bag and put it in its own tub. Then I put the empty laptop bag in another tub, the contents of my pockets in yet another, and finally my shoes in a fourth.

And there went Barry’s little train of tubs under the X-ray machine.

On my return trip, there were no tubs to make a train. When I started taking my laptop out of the bag, the security guy screamed at me to leave it in there, and then he instructed me to empty my pockets and put my belongings into the bag with the laptop.

“But in Chattanooga —“

“Shut up!”

Okay, he didn’t really say shut up, but he had a shut-up look on his face.

Then I started taking off my shoes, and I can’t even describe the look on Agent Dale Carnegie’s face then.

Why can’t whoever heads up the TSA send out a memo standardizing things such as tubs or no tubs, and shoes on or shoes off?

At the gate, it’s always the same thing. Nobody knows what to do because the rigmarole of actually getting on the plane rarely works the same way twice.

I know the gate agents hate it when they call for the women with giant strollers to pre-board and 200 people jump in line like it’s ice cream time at Miss Mary’s Kindergarten.

It’s a wonder the flight attendants ever get the passengers crammed on the plane. And that’s why I have always felt the sorriest for them. 

Can you imagine saying, “Would you like peanuts, pretzels, cookies or a granola bar” 180 times, only to have to do at least another round or two based on the length of the flight?

Or, how would you like to carry a tray full of hot cups of coffee as the pilot slams into mid-air potholes at 600 mph while trying to remember the Yiddish word for Sweet’N Low?

I know they’re thankless jobs. But the thank yous might be a little more common if we at least knew whether or not we were supposed to wear shoes.

I’ll bet we could get 70 percent of passengers to agree on that. 

It’s Up to the Next Generation to Change the World

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have excellent news.

I’m not going to tell you what it is yet, though. I have to tell the story first.

As you may or may not know, Kim and I spent a good part of the week before last as parents attending graduation events at the University of Tennessee. We went to four functions in all, including the commencement ceremony on Saturday for the UT College of Arts and Sciences.

UT is a big place. I think I had forgotten how big. In fact, the university graduated each of its colleges over a series of three days.

The Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony was the largest one. That tidbit is noteworthy only for the fact that it made for quite a long event. It was worth every second, but that didn’t make it any easier on the 10,000 or so backsides in attendance.

During the events leading up to graduation, however, I was fortunate to talk with professors, deans, graduating seniors and other university administrators.

I met and talked at length with new UTK Chancellor Beverly Davenport. This was a highlight for me. She is smart, energetic and passionate. Plus, she is a southerner, which doesn’t hurt anything. The university is in the best of hands with her steering the ship. I assure you of that. I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes.

On Saturday morning, her energizing remarks to the graduating class were nothing short of a locker room speech.

But she was only one of dozens of people I met throughout the week who are among the brightest in their respective fields. Their accomplishments are mind blowing, their potential is infinite, and their appetite to serve their planet seems to be insatiable.

So here’s the excellent news I promised you: Everything is going to be all right.

I have full faith that tomorrow’s generation understands what it will take to fix us. They are inheriting a mess, but the global environment these young people have witnessed growing up seems to have created a sense of urgency within them. They’re driven, they’re bright, and they’re focused.

It’s not just happening in one place either.

UT probably graduated 5,000 seniors last week. Imagine how many graduated from the thousands of schools globally.

I sense they collectively understand that it’s up to them to make the changes that will literally save the world.

I’ve slept on it a couple of nights thinking the intoxication from all the pomp and circumstance would wear off, but it hasn’t.

I was inspired by what I saw and heard, and my hope in mankind has been renewed.

Back when I was in school, people talked about making a difference, but it was the ‘80s. Things were rocking along pretty good for us mainstream kids.

That was then, though. And this is now.

The world has deteriorated since I was their age, there’s no doubt about it. And it’s continuing down the wrong path more and more rapidly every day.

Go back and scan the headlines on the front page of this newspaper you’re holding.

They’re alarming — unbelievable at times.

Today is more ridiculous than yesterday, which was more ridiculous than the day before that.

We’re barely treading water. And I am 100 percent convinced that these young Millennials — as we love to call them — will find new ways to throw us a lifeline instead of another concrete block.

But they can’t do it alone.

We have to help save ourselves. We have to be willing to listen to other peoples’ opinions rather than try to yell over them.

Instead of building another wall, I say we knock down some of the walls that already exist so we can see and learn to appreciate the people on the other side.

They may not look like us, act like us or have our same belief systems.

Oh, wait.

Maybe it’s us who don’t look like them.

Is my generation capable of seeing things that way? If we are, we’ve been hiding it pretty well here lately.

I’m inspired, though, because that’s the way the class of 2017 sees the world. And from my observations, they’re dead set on making it a better place.

I believe they will. I wish them all the success possible. Our future depends on it.

Thankfully, Wombats Don’t Fly

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI’m not sure why nature continues to poke me between the eyes with a stick.

It’s not like I’m some mountain man staving off bears, snaring rabid coyotes and combating a year-round blizzard.

I’m a mild-mannered town dweller.

Still, my run-ins with the animal and plant kingdom seem to be frequent.

While in the garage Saturday morning, I heard a faint fluttering noise coming from some utility shelves I mounted on the wall several years ago.

As I moved closer, it stopped, then started, then stopped again.

I scanned the shelves filled with half-empty oil cans, garden sprayers, stains, paints, and lots of other things I really need to toss.

I edged closer. I could hear it, then not. Then again, and so on.

Remember that scene in “Christmas Vacation” when the squirrel jumped out of the Christmas tree onto Clark?

I could see the headline now. “Tennessee Man Mauled by 60-pound Wombat.”

I didn’t think there was a wombat hiding behind my box of jumper cables, but why take a chance? The door was up, so whatever was in there would surely leave now that it had seen what it was up against.

Besides, I had work to do which involved the chainsaw. If that isn’t enough to scare a 60-pound wombat back to Australia, I don’t know what is.

An hour or so passed. I had been in and out of the garage several times and not heard the noise — but I wasn’t listening real closely for it. No sense borrowing trouble when my to-do list for the day was so long.

Then something caught my eye which simultaneously solved the mystery.

Perched on a bike helmet, which was hanging from the bike, which was hanging from a hook on the wall, sat a sparrow with a beak full of twigs.

I shooed him out, and I put the garage door down.

Then, I made a proclamation, which normally sets the forces of the universe in motion in the other direction.

In this instance, I proclaimed that we would keep the door down as much as possible to keep the sparrows from building a nest in the garage.

Kim already thinks we leave the door up too much anyway when we’re working in the yard, so she received my proclamation with open arms. I do think she considered wearing that bike helmet for protection against the suddenly-awakened forces of the universe, but she resisted.

The door would stay down. I had proclaimed it. This is an important fact to remember.

That afternoon and evening, we took the car in and out a couple of times.

We seemed to be bird free.

I went to bed with the knowledge I had single-handedly stopped a disaster before it started.

The next morning, I got up and went into the kitchen. The amount of light coming in from the garage didn’t look right.

Remember my proclamation? The universe did.

For maybe — maybe — the third time in the nearly 25 years we have lived in this house, we forgot to put the door down when we drove the car in the garage for the night. This never happens.

I opened the door to push the button to put it down.

A bird flew out ahead of it.

Another one grazed my head as it flew into the kitchen.

Now we have a bird in the kitchen.

This, of course, woke the dog who sleeps in a crate near the back door.

Chirpy landed on top of a corner cabinet, which sits near the door, and ironically has a top that looks like a bird house. It even has a wooden sparrow sitting on a perch. I honestly believe the real bird saw the wooden bird, and that’s why it didn’t fly across the room and land on the box of Triscuits. 

I won’t belabor the point. Between me, my broom and a cheering beagle, it didn’t take long for the bird to leave as quickly as it flew in.

I found the start-up nest and got rid of it. Then I put the door down.

And, that’s where it will stay. I have proclaimed it.

The Colorfulness of Southern Expressions

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI love southernisms. I always have.

Our language is as colorful as we are, not just the way we sound but the things we say. I try to refrain from pouring it on too thickly when I’m around someone who doesn’t appreciate it. I mean, just because you drive a truck doesn’t mean it has to stay dirty all the time to prove a point.

I try to speak correctly in front of other people. My family gets to hear me when I let my guard down. I guess everyone is like that to a certain extent.

We learn the language orally long before we see it written. That’s why we talk like our parents or whomever had an influence in our speech development.

Both my parents were educated, and they spoke correctly.

That didn’t mean, however, I was spared from hearing the southernisms they undoubtedly learned as children.

Some of daddy’s expressions had to do with being busy. I can’t write them verbatim because they had to do with body parts and this family newspaper you’re holding wouldn’t print them. 

One began, “I’m busier than a cat in a wheat bin… .”

The other expressed being busy from the point of view of a one-legged paper hanger participating in a contest which I don’t think exists in real life.

Body parts are a big staple in southernisms. So are tools — especially when it comes to talking about someone’s intelligence.

“He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

“He’s dumber than a sack of hammers.”

And, “He’s as dull as a froe,” all come to mind.

Daddy’s go-to in that situation was, “He couldn’t pour (water) out of a boot with directions on the heel.”

Mama had a couple she used from time to time. “If you put his brain in a hummingbird it would fly backwards.” And, “His brain isn’t big enough to fill a hollow tooth.”

She could also poke fun at herself. Anytime she was out of her element, she would call herself, “a lost ball in tall weeds.”

My grandmother used to say “bless pat” when she was exasperated. Other women in my family said (and say) “whoever heard?” to express disbelief. A similar one was “I swanny.”

I never did know where either of them came from.

Here are some more good ones I’ve heard from various people over the years:

Ice was “slicker than owl grease.”

A tantrum was “a hissy fit.”

Someone going about something hurriedly was “running around like a chicken with his head cut off.”

A miser was “tighter than dick’s hatband.”

A new tractor “ran like a scalded dog.”

An annoying person “could make a preacher cuss.”

A loudmouth “could talk the ears off of a donkey.”

An aesthetically-challenged person was either “hit with an ugly stick” or he “had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him.”

After a big meal, my uncle would say he was, “fuller than a seed tick.”

When daddy would get disgusted with me for spending too much time watching cartoons he would ask me if I was going to do anything or just “sit in the corner and stack BBs all day.”

I tried it once. BBs went everywhere.

Corn cobs are also good subjects for southernisms, and again, we won’t be going into detail here about any corn cob sayings.

I guess I’ll draw this one to a close. I’m beginning to feel like I was rode hard and put up wet.

I know I didn’t even dust the surface with these, and I’m sure you’ve heard most of them.

I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, you know.

How a Giraffe Brought us Together for a Little While

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comIf only for a moment, we were all united.

It occurred from the most unlikely of sources: April the giraffe. It was, by far, the second-most-famous stable birth in the history of mankind.

I don’t know how many people saw April give birth on Saturday, but I do know they watched from all corners of the globe and represented all religions, cultures, and political positions.

And as unbelievable as it was, we were all on the same side for a few minutes, pulling for the same thing.

It was a modern-day “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” moment.

I wrote about April a month or so ago, back when the internet furor over her pregnancy first began. I talked about how the miracle of birth can be R rated. If you saw — and heard — the video of April’s delivery, you’ll know I was right.

Today, though, let’s celebrate April’s truly remarkable accomplishment: a glimmer of hope for global unification. 

On Saturday, people all over the world were brought together by a giraffe. A giraffe, of all things.

I am even crediting divine intervention for the mid-morning timing. If she had delivered in the evening local time, most of the world would’ve been asleep and missed it.

As I watched — over breakfast, no less — I marveled at all the languages and cultures where people marveled with me. We all marveled at the same thing. I wondered what they were saying. I did not, however, wonder what the looks on their faces were, because I knew they had the same expression I did.

Ordinarily, a giraffe can’t do too much.

A giraffe cannot make a famous speech to rally people.

A giraffe cannot cure diseases in a laboratory.

And it was pretty much by accident that a giraffe made herself — albeit unwittingly — a hero for men, women and children all over the globe.

If we all can get excited for a giraffe, why on earth can’t a person have the same effect on us?

Where are these people who can pull our planet together? Where are our leaders? 

Where are the great men and women of planet earth who can unite us all to move forward as children of a creator who loves us and wants us to get along with each other and prosper?

As I watched April’s calf crash to the ground, I fought the urge to cry, for some reason. But I wasn’t weeping for the calf or his mother, or even for Oliver the father, who was confined in the next stall.

I wanted to weep because it took a streaming internet feed spying on a mother giraffe in her most vulnerable and intimate moments to make me realize what a vacuum we are in as a people.

We, the people, are desperately searching for something to pull us together. We are yearning for a hero.

I’m not taking a shot at the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., in case you’re wondering. If he hadn’t won, whoever did win would’ve been just as ridiculed as he is, only by different people.

I am sick and tired of hearing, “Yeah, my person is bad, but yours is worse.”

Is that the best we can do?

I want a leader. I want someone we can believe in who will pull the world in a direction we all know it wants to go in.

I know that person is out there, somewhere.

We are ripe for the picking.

A giraffe just proved it.

Plenty of Blame in the United Debacle

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI normally agree with the adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity, but this whole United Airlines story is putting that to the test.

By now, you’ve seen the video of the passenger being dragged off of the plane by airport security from an overbooked United flight.

It’s not a good look for the airline. Plus, it has turned into a viral social media disaster, as so many things do these days. 

I think the blame is pretty widespread in this situation.

Let’s start with the obvious.

The flight was overbooked by four passengers. It doesn’t do me much good to know that a company responsible for flying around a 200-ton chunk of steel is incapable of selling the same number of tickets for which it has seats.

This seems to be a pretty easy fix. If the 16-year-old ticket taker down at the Cinema Eight can figure it out, the third largest airline in the world should be able to do the same.

In my opinion, the next gaffe occurred when the people at the gate failed to realize the number of people waiting to fly outnumbered the seats on the plane. They never should have boarded the plane until they had bumped the extra four.

I’ve been in countless airport terminals where the airline paid people to give up their seat.

In this situation, United offered the passengers $1,000 and a hotel room to fly later. Don’t offer me $1,000 and a night in the pizza capital of the world unless you’re serious about it.

The flight was going to Louisville — Louisville, for heaven’s sake, not Maui. I’m sure Louisville is a fabulous place, but I’ve been not going for years for free. I would gladly not go for $1,000.

Back in March, United came under fire for barring two teenage girls from flying because the leggings they were wearing were determined by the gate agent to be inappropriate.

It seems United needs to fire some of their fashion police officers and replace them with a couple of adolescent ticket takers.

Apparently, when no one volunteered to leave the plane, the airline randomly chose four people. The first three — begrudgingly I’m sure — left. It was the guy who became the star of the show who refused.

Then, the same brainiacs who can’t count called security.

I can hear the flight attendant now.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment, a police officer will board the aircraft and drag this man, kicking and screaming, up the aisle. In anticipation of this event, please take out your mobile devices, enable your camera and press the record button.”

Here’s the deal: if I’m in that situation, I’m taking it as a sign that God is telling me, “Get off the plane, take the money and go grab yourself a Cinnabon, because I’m pretty sure that’s Eddie Van Halen over there in line for one.” 

Since no one is saying this aloud, I will. I truly think the guy should’ve gotten off the plane when his name was called.

When he refused, United should’ve shut down the flight, invited everyone off the plane and tried again tomorrow.

In hindsight, it’s pretty obvious making a hundred people mad would’ve been the better choice.

Oh, wait. The flight was cancelled anyway. I’m not sure why, but it may have had something to do with the fact that the passengers and crew watched a future billionaire get dragged off of the plane.

The incident did serve one purpose, though. Nobody is talking about the Pepsi ad anymore.

Beware the Man With a ‘Rare Breed of Expertise’

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comA brand-new spring means renewed hope, rebirth and a fresh new list of chores.

Even a mild winter plays evil tricks on the yard, as you well know.

This spring, I’m considering hiring someone to help for a day. I don’t know who to call, but I certainly know who I would never approach: myself 20 years ago.

Back then, I wasn’t nearly as proficient as I thought I was. And, I wasn’t even close to the expertly-skilled master I am today.

For instance, years ago we bought a backyard greenhouse which I assembled.

It was starting to show its age pretty badly, so we decided to revive it this year.

This reincarnation started with replacing the dutch door.

Let’s not forget I am a master of such things — not a novice like I was back when I assembled it. So naturally, building a new door would be a snap.

I ripped my new plank down the middle to give me two pieces the width I needed.

Then, I cut the lengths to match the old door.

Because of my rare breed of expertise, I was able to cut precision lap joints on the corners so the door frame would be perfectly flat.

I even cut a groove along the edge of two pieces so the little sliding window could open and close. We woodworking giants call that particular cut a dado, just in case you’re ever on Jeopardy.

Finally, I put the pieces together into perfect 90-degree angles.

I marveled at my door frame. All I had left was to remove the plastic panels from what was left of the old door and nail them on.

I chuckled as I pulled the nails 20-year-ago me hammered in back then. Some of them were crooked and a few more were bent.

Since the nails were a specialty item that came with the greenhouse, I reused them. I spent a fair amount of time straightening the ones that my 1997 self bent as he drove them in, which I’m sure he did hastily.

I’ll tell you the truth, 20th Century me was a raw rookie compared to this expert woodworker.

Before I could install the new door, I had to remove the old hinges from the door facing.

As I started looking at them, I saw where at least half of the rusty heads were stripped to the point where a screwdriver would never work.

Good grief. What kind of a hack put them in and stripped the heads in the process?

As middle-aged me shook my head at young me, I unscrewed the ones I could. Then I twisted out the stripped ones with a pair of locking pliers, which took several unnecessary minutes.

It was time to install the door, which by now you surely are picturing as a work of art. 

I put the top part against the door facing and marked where the hinges should go. Then I attached it while Kim held it. 

The bottom part was a little trickier, since it had to be perfectly in line with the top part. But, as I am sure you have already guessed, I attached it with laser perfection.

I stepped back and marveled at my handiwork as I swelled with pride.

Oh, if there were only more of me to go around.

In order to carry my ego over the threshold, I pulled the handle to open the door.

It came open about 6 inches before the bottom edge kind of hit the brick walkway Kim put in some years ago.

Of course, nothing ever “kind of” hits a brick, since bricks are not known for their flexibility.

Somewhere, good ol’ nail bending, screw stripping, 1997 me is sipping lemonade having a good laugh about now. My beautiful new door won’t open. And, I’m too tired to lower the bricks.

Maybe I’ll stop being so hard on my younger self. He could’ve been worse. 

At least his greenhouse door opened and closed for 20 years. 

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