Man or Machine? The Leaves Must Go!

The leaves must go!


Do you know the legend of John Henry? The legend goes something like this. Born a slave, John Henry was freed after the Civil War.  He was a big man (particularly for his time). He worked as a steel driver for the railroads. Many people challenged him, but John Henry was clearly the best at drilling holes.

Then, a machine was invented that could serve as a steel driver.  John Henry competed against the steel driver. It was Man v. Machine. And John won! One for man. However, after the competition was completed the John Henry fell to the ground, exhausted. The giant man was dead. Some say this legend is true.

You know full well how I feel about mowing the lawn and that I would do anything get out of it.  None the less, I am the head landscaper at MMK headquarters. Not only does that mean mowing the lawn but it also entails raking the leaves.

Now I could hire a landscaper to handle the task of raking the leaves and have done so over the years. But this year was different. I decided to do it myself.

Truth be told, I don’t mind raking the leaves. I love watching the pile grow as I gather the leaves together.  I love the rustling sound the leaves make as I rake them from the backyard to the curb. I feel a sense of accomplishment as I see the dried out yellow red and brown pile grow.  As the leaves are removed from the backyard, I imagine that I have reclaimed my land. Yes, raking the leaves makes me feel hearty. By the way, I think I could survive on the prairie.  (Don’t laugh Ms. MMK)

My next door neighbor has a leaf blower. He’s also a friend and generous. So, I asked him to borrow the leaf blower. Yes, I know what I said about raking the leaves. However, there are a number of trees in and around my yard which makes raking the leaves no small chore. So, despite my zest for raking the leaves, it takes hours to get the yard raked and reasonably clear of leaves.

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High Speed Chase

I walked in dejected.  I rummaged through my pockets, emptied my briefcase, and checked my lunch bag.

“What is it? What are you doing,” my wife asked.

“I forgot my phone on the bus.”

My wife called the bus company. With the third announcement of, “All operators are busy. Please stay on the line. We appreciate your patience,” my wife said, “Do you know the bus route?”

“I think so.”

“Why don’t you try and catch it?”

And so began a high speed chase.

Nary a moment passed as I hopped into my car. I would have gone in through the window ala Bo and Luke Duke getting into the The General Lee (I know Dukes was cheesy with Confederate overtones. However, I loved the car chases and seeing Catherine Bach in her Daisy Dukes.  I waited and hoped for a wardrobe malfunction). But, the windows were merely cracked on my 2005 Grey Honda Accord. This slowed me some but, to make up time, I didn’t allow the standard warm-up time for the engine.

Dukes of Hazzard photo courtesy of Google.

Dukes of Hazzard photo courtesy of Google.

Wait, it gets crazier.

I soon was on Saddle River Road (in case you want to plot my journey) but saw no sign of the bus. I cranked up the One Direction – “But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell, You don’t know…” Damn, that song is still catchy (  Of course, I’d rather have been listening to Springsteen.

One Direction - courtesy of Google.

One Direction – courtesy of Google.

This car chase motored into another city, Glen Rock, where the speed limit is a whopping 25 miles per hour. Larry Leadfoot was speeding along Ackerman Avenue at 35 miles per hour.

In the immortal words of Pee Wee Herman: I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

Despite my rebellious bad ass self, my mission was incomplete. Still no bus in sight. I was at a crossroads. I no longer saw bus stop signs and wasn’t certain of the bus route. While I was weighing the option of heading directly to the end of the bus line, I saw not one but two buses drive past perpendicularly. (By the way, I got a D in high school geometry. I hated that class with a passion.) So, I made a right turn on to Maple Avenue and was hot on the trail. I was feeling confident.

But which bus held my phone? I was two car lengths behind when I saw a passenger get off one of the busses. I know this guy. He is an older construction guy.  I’ve eavesdropped on many of his conversations. Actually, he talks so loud that “eavesdropping” is not the proper term. He doesn’t go two sentences without using the f-word (this chase scene is PG-13).  He also is very knowledgeable about his trade.     

A nagging question haunted me: how was I going to get on that bus? Where is Keeanu Reeves when you need him?

Speed Movie Poster courtesy of Google.

Speed Movie Poster courtesy of Google.

I considered parking and running after it. It was hot, and I am tired on Fridays. Next. I thought about trying to get in front of the bus, but we were on a one-lane road which did not allow for passing even when the bus dropped off more passengers. I decided the first thing I needed to do was to get the license plate number – which I did. And then, I forgot it 30 seconds later. I did, however keep the bus in my sights. Then, trouble came in the form of a traffic light. 

The bus made a left on to South Ridgewood Avenue. When I was ready to turn, the traffic light had been yellow for a few seconds. I went for it. And made it. And only checked three times for cops. I’mma crazy – right?

The bus finally reached the end of the line. But wait. The bus driver did not exit the bus. In fact, people were still getting on. I looked for a parking spot and only saw a filled train station lot. Well, I had come too far to stop then. I parked my car in an area that was not designated for parking. I ran out of the car without bothering to roll up the windows and made a run for the bus.

The Eagle has landed. I spoke to the bus driver, who was clearly overwhelmed by my good looks and therefore eager to help. She pulled out a case that was found. Alas, it was not mine. My search of the seat. A good Samaritan had the sense to call my number. The vibration went off and I knew I was good. I took my phone, expressed my gratitude, and walked off the bus.

I drove home at a more careful 25 miles per hour, the adrenaline gone, but my phone safe beside me.

Truly Helpful Inventions

In the last couple of weeks, I have posted about my idea for Kiddie Kennel and the need to wash my hair. If you boil down both posts what it comes down to is that I have been very busy and would like some space. The feedback I received essentially fit into two categories: I’m also busy, and you have to make time. I agree 100%.

Well, I have a thought. We all know we are living in a technological age and that technology is supposed to make our lives more convenient, relaxing and easier. Yet, we are busier than ever with a nagging need (?) to fill each moment. I’d like to blame the technology. Actually, I’d like to suggest some new technology which will truly help make things in my home life more peaceful.

1. Urine Magnet – this handy item ensures that those who don’t shoot straight will still hit the mark. Place the magnet in the toilet and the urine will end up in the toilet. ALWAYS! This will limit bad odors and save you from cleaning yellow rivers.

2. Bed Belts – this wonderful item will help you get that restful night that you so sorely need. You know the child who insists on getting up in the middle of night, getting in your bed, kicking you and stealing the blankets? Well, with the bed belt, you won’t know that child anymore. In addition, those children that are floppers will be safe and you will have peace of mind. Don’t worry there is a button that can be used if it is a true bathroom emergency.

3. Sock Absorbers – this blissful item will bring you bliss. It functions similar to a shock absorber and is perfect for the heavy footed person in your house. No longer will you have to cringe as lead foot pounds the floor mercilessly. Tell me now – isn’t that blissful?

4. Volume Control – this special item will pay for itself quickly as your aspirin bill will fall dramatically. We all know people who seem to have only one voice – OUTSIDE VOICE. Now, we don’t want to diminish the headache inducing individual’s enthusiasm and excitement but just turn it down a notch or three. Well, the human volume control can do that. It’s true.

5. Lego Suction – this is truly a time saver. Who doesn’t have a child that loves Lego? Answer – no one! Now, as we all know Lego these days – unlike when we were children – comes in some ridiculously small pieces. So, even when we parents have our children clean up, they often miss pieces. Stepping on those Legos brings one word to mind – OUCH!!!. The Lego suction works similar to a vacuum but is specifically designed to just pick up Lego. One easy flick of the switch and the Lego is quickly sucked up and can be easily put away. I am enraptured just thinking of this.

So, tell me wouldn’t these types of new inventions help you? Make your life more convenient? I knew they would.

P.S. Any more ideas for truly helpful technology? I’d be happy to hear about them.


Turn it Off

It seems like everywhere you look, people are on their phones (though they are rarely actually speaking to someone) all the time.  They are always on, poised, and ready to go. They hold the phone firmly even when they are not using it – as if they were holding the hand of a small child while walking along a crowded street.  I wonder as I look over shoulders and furtively glance what are they doing?  Do they need to be on their phones all the time?

So when I decided an upgrade to my phone was past due (went from pre G (my term – clever huh – feel free to quote) to 4G), I told myself I would not be obsessive. “It’s just a phone,” I counseled myself. Yes, it will be nice to upgrade and certainly will be more convenient, but that is it. I don’t want to be perpetually on. No thanks – tune me out (teachers are used to that). 

I’m liking the phone – I really am! I’m checking email, going on line, and using the GPS. I love the convenience.  It’s not just me. My son borrows it all the time, particularly when we are in the car. He’s taking videos, snapping pictures, and watching video. He thinks the phone is cool. He thinks I’m cool. While I appreciate that thought, and am glad he is enjoying it, I have a concern. Will I become one of them? Will I also hold the phone and like Smeagol of Lord of the Rings start mumbling precious?  As I learn about more and more of the phones features, there is one which I must not forget to use – the off button. I know I can, I know I can.  Off is a good thing too.