Life, Liberty, and…. Yard work?

Yard work is a sacrifice I make on the altar of a happy marriage.  I get absolutely no thrill from riding endlessly around the yard just to cut grass that will start growing again the minute I pass over it.  For some unexplainable reason, though, it seems to make Connie happy.  Which is why I do yard work.
My objection to yard work is pretty basic.  I don’t like doing a job that, no matter how well you do it, needs to be redone in a week.  The only good thing about it is that I have a riding lawnmower, because otherwise I’d fence in the yard and run sheep.
Another fortunate circumstance that goes along with Connie liking yard work is that she’s pretty easy to please at gift giving time.  One year, in a moment of inspired genius, I gave her a pear tree as a Valentine’s present.  She was ecstatic!  As a project, that tree was less than a total success, because Hazel, our goat, eventually located it and gnawed it down to a nub, but the seed of success, literally and figuratively, had been planted.
Once I found out that Connie was a willing collaborator on the endless procession of yard chores, life got a lot easier.  I keep the grass short and she does everything else that doesn’t require heavy lifting.  She picks out the plants, and I dig the holes.
There’s only one hitch.  Just like duct tape, this little alliance has a bright side and a dark side.
Most people keep certain parts of their personality hidden when they’re dating.  What Connie was hiding from me turned out to be that she is a plant serial killer.  Seriously.
She stalks them.  She buys magazines and cuts out their pictures.  She lays the pictures out on the dinner table and sits and stares, thoughtfully sipping her coffee while she picks out her next potential victim.  She researches them on the internet, downloading information about them which she contemplates at her leisure.  She visits nurseries and other plant outlets so she can confront them face to face and make her decision.
Then she brings it home and kills it.
I do what I can.  The hot summer months find me dragging hoses and setting sprinklers and toting buckets trying to keep them alive.  The ones that thrive are in the most danger, because then Connie wants to get the weed eater and clear the ground around that plant.  It would be easier and more humane if we just sicced the goat on it.
Over the years, though, we have had a moderating effect on one another.  Thankfully.  I still don’t like yard work, but I look at it now as a collaborative effort with one of my best friends.  Connie still sees visions of unlimited opportunity, but that glazed look is gone from her eyes and she has learned that restraint and nurture are the keys to survival in the plant kingdom.
It’s a good thing, too.  Especially since, with our anniversary coming up, I’m going to take five bucks worth of fence wire and some rusted cattle panels and built her a grape arbor.  She’ll love it!

Life, Liberty, and…. Tourism?

When I start talking about South Georgia, I begin to sound like a travel brochure.  We have everything you want, and if we don’t have it, you can be there in just a few hours.  Bam!  What else do you need?
We have the barrier islands and Starbucks and rivers and Starbucks and lakes and Starbucks and golf courses and Starbucks and big cities and Starbucks and small towns and Starbucks.  Which reminds me, I saw in the news a few weeks ago that Starbucks is shaking up their senior executive staff because their franchise growth rate has declined for the first quarter in twelve years.
The Starbucks execs were blaming it on a lack of product innovation.  I laughed so hard that Mountain Dew came out of my nose.
Back to tourism.  A lot of money comes into South Georgia off of I-75, from people above the gnat line trying to get to Florida.  As most chambers of commerce will tell you, “They gotta get gas somewhere, so it might as well be here.”
Some folks, like the Ellis Brothers, have figured out how to get those tourists to spend money on things besides gas and supply all kinds of pecans, ice cream, souvenirs, and peaches to people who managed to travel eight or nine hundred miles without knowing when peaches are in season.
How’d they do that, you might ask?  Simple, by maintaining a cotton patch year round so these same tourists can look at it, pick it, smell it, and take pictures of each other in it without having to park on I-75 and climb a barbed wire fence.  Marketing genius at work, folks.
Believe it or not, I understand how those damn Yankees feel.  Connie and I were in West Virginia some time back.  We were there to go snow skiing in the Canaan Valley.  The temperature never got below 70 degrees the whole time so we wound up seeing the sights for three days instead.
As we were driving around, I started noticing, in the road cuts through the hill tops, that there were little veins of black rock in the granite.  I occurred to me that this was coal and that I could probably dig some of it out with my pocket knife, literally mine coal with my hands.  I was on the point of stopping when a vision of entire families wading through the cotton patch at Ellis Brothers came to mind.  Thankfully.
The only event of note happened the last morning.  The Canaan Valley is not pronounced like ‘Canaan’ in the Bible.  Don’t ask me why.  It’s pronounced “kah-NANE” so that the emphasis is on the second syllable.  I screwed it up every time I said it.

I like to pronounce names properly, and it’s a pet peeve of mine when someone who can do so does not.  After breakfast on the third day, I went up to one of the restaurant staff and said, “Look, I’m from out of town and I’m confused about how to pronounce the name of this place.  Can you, very slowly and distinctly, tell me where we are?”
She got kind of a surprised look on her face, and glanced around.  Apparently she decided I was serious, because she fixed her eyes on mine and slowly said the words, “BUR….GER….KING.”

Life, Liberty, and…. Federal Funds?

I saw on the news recently that medical studies have linked the extra accumulation of belly fat to stress.  And all this time I’ve been thinking it was the beer.
You really don’t have to be Yoda the Jedi Master to make that connection.  “Stress leads to beer.  Beer leads to belly fat.”  Hang on to your light-saber, Luke, we’re about to make the jump to light speed.  Now scientists have discovered a link between belly fat and heart disease.
Oh golly!  Overstressed people that drink and eat too much are at higher risk of heart disease.  Homeland security should raise the heightened state of awareness another notch.  I’m just surprised the far left hasn’t found a way to blame it on the Republicans.
In a way, though, sadly, it is the government’s fault.  Rather, it’s not the government’s fault that we are overstressed and eating and drinking too much, it’s the government’s fault that we found out about it so soon.
What happened was that the government took our money and paid some doctoral candidate to come up with an hypothesis to explain the extra abundance of belly fat.  Then the government paid, again using our money, another bunch of ‘scientists’ to figure out how to test to see if the hypothesis was true.  Next the government used more of our money to put this plan into effect, and finally got the Surgeon General to make sure everything was done just right and that there were no errors in the kickback program.
Russell Yow loves to quote the study, funded by us through our Government, which spent $250K over three years to find out why kids fall off of bicycles.  They did everything just right, from collecting the emergency room data to the analytical work and even printed it all up in a pretty book.
It turns out that there are two reasons why kids fall off of bicycles.  They either lose their balance or run into something.
My personal favorite is the guy that wrote the grant to fund the study to determine ‘the effects of wind and water erosion on granite over a five-year period.’  Hold on a second.  Sure, eventually wind and water will erode granite, but it won’t do it in any measurable quantity in five years.
Maybe, maybe not.  This guy got $500K (that’s a half a million dollars, y’all) to go rock climbing for five years.  The first year he scaled all the major granite faces in the United States, drilled holes at regular intervals to a specified depth, and then every year he went back and measured the holes to see how much the rock had worn away.  The government bought him a van, all the rock climbing gear he needed, and even provided funds for travel expenses.  Not to mention the computers and satellite internet hookup to record his findings.
Basically this guy went on a five-year rock climbing road trip and you and I paid the tab.
I could talk about this all day, but I’m busy writing a grant to study the success ratios in hunting upland game birds, all across the United States of course, using stainless steel shot versus new, eco-friendly, plastic shot make from recycled water bottles.
Do you think two million dollars would be enough?

Life, Liberty, and…. Shooting Sports?

May I have the attention of all those people out there that do not own firearms? I want all of y’all to relax. If the road signs in America ever rise up and try to take over the country, they don’t have a chance.

I probably have the attention of a few gun toters, too, so while I’m at it, let me make another point. Whoever’s shooting the signs needs to quit. It makes the rest of us look stupid and irresponsible.

Furthermore, whoever’s shooting road signs using buckshot is qualified for the Idiot Of The Year award.

Let’s take a moment for y’all to consider my qualifications for presenting the Idiot Of The Year award. Any rebuttal? I thought not.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, shooting road signs.

First of all, if you have a new gun and you haven’t been able to go somewhere safe (and smart) to shoot it, don’t waste good bullets shooting up road signs.

Granted, they make good targets. They don’t move. They’re reflective. They don’t shoot back. Neither do beer cans when you’re using somebody’s pond dam as a back stop.

Road signs, by their very definition, are next to roads. Many of them are extremely close to houses. They also belong to the government. So, when you idiots out there pull your shooting iron out and shoot a road sign, you’ve automatically committed four crimes.

The first is discharging a firearm from a highway. The second is possession of a gun during the commission of a crime. The third is destruction of government property. The fourth is conspiracy to commit a crime. More than likely you’ve also been drinking, but that pretty much goes without saying, doesn’t it?

When you get caught, this is what you have coming.

First of all, they’re going to take your play pretty away. Then you’re going to go to the jailhouse and get processed.

In Dooly County that will include delousing and a strip search. Then the Sheriff’s deputies are going to start getting creative with the charges. You’ll be lucky if the four I mentioned, plus DUI, of course, is all they use.

Then you get to sit in a holding cell at the jail until you sober up and can come up with the bond money.

That would be a cash bond, by the way. Let’s face it, very few of us property owners are riding around drinking and shooting at road signs, are we?

Then, when you get out, you have to go home and face the wife. With some women I know, I believe I personally would rather stay in jail, but that’s the way life goes sometimes.

When the District Attorney gets your case, you can count on a little bit of leniency. They’ll probably offer to drop most of the charges if you’ll plead guilty to DUI and possession of a gun during the commission of a crime.

If you don’t take the deal and go for a trial instead, then they’re going to find you guilty anyway and you’ll wind up serving time. So, please, stop shooting road signs.

Chunk a beer bottle at them instead.