A public thank you!

Dad put up a sign today, thanking the battery charger pilferer for the return of it.

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An update on the battery charger theft/”Shame on You” campaign!

Previous blog post here: https://muckville.com/2013/11/15/my-dad-and-another-thief-thats-rude/

As we were leaving the house late this morning the family and I turned and looked with amazement and saw … the stolen batter charger was returned!

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For the second time my dad’s “Shame on You” campaign worked (for the previous incident see this blog post: https://muckville.com/2013/10/30/my-dad-the-fred-g-sanford-of-the-neighborhood-and-his-onetime-csi-investigation/

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I ran into my father a short time later and excitedly told him.

Dad: “Really? I didn’t see it between 8-9 am this morning when I came back from deer hunting. Someone must have brought it back.”

Me: “I’m sort of surprised.”

Dad: “Me too, I didn’t think it would work again.”

Later, when I took the photos I noticed that the people who took and returned it were even thoughtful enough to bracket the tires with small stones to prevent it from falling.

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I just called my dad and told him about the stones.

Dad: “I saw that … that was nice … you know what, if they identify themselves I will give the battery charger to them for free now.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if my dad throws in a 50 lb bag of onions on top of it … on second thought, I highly doubt that.

My dad and another thief … “that’s rude.”

Readers of my blog recall a post of mine back on October 30, 2013 that was entitled “My dad, the ‘Fred G. Sanford’ of the neighborhood and his onetime CSI investigation.” It was an excerpt from my unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life” and it dealt in part with an apparent theft of an entertainment center he was selling along side the road near my house.

Link: https://muckville.com/2013/10/30/my-dad-the-fred-g-sanford-of-the-neighborhood-and-his-onetime-csi-investigation/

Folks … it has happened again!

Yesterday my dad put up for sale in the same spot an old battery charger that somewhat works. His target price, $50. Now for a couple of weeks he had a pile of crap there of mostly stuff my brother-in-law unloaded before he moved tot he state of Florida. It wasn’t for sale, there was a big sign that said “free” next to it.

But that wasn’t the case with the battery charger. Dad: “I had the “For Sale” sign with my number.

Sometime between 3-5pm, in broad daylight, someone took the battery charger. My Dad: “That’s rude, that’s just rude.”

So my dad in response once again, just like last time, put up a sign pronouncing shame upon the thieves and offering a reward for info on the theft. Me: “What’s your reward?” Dad: “Half of the money if we get the charger back.” The problem, you really couldn’t read the sign.

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Of course the first thing I had to do about this was to Tweet about it:

https://twitter.com/ChrisPawelski/status/401324276403273728

My Tweets get automatically posted to Facebook and in response my intrepid and faithful FB friend and neighbor Claire posted the following information and clues:

Claire: “damn thieves!… if it happened btwn 3 & 4; there was a white, double cab, maybe duel wheelie, blocking 1/2 your barn drive; figured he was on the phone…. from now on I’m going to listen to my gut; now where the heck is my tire iron…….”

Me: “That had to be who took it! What sort of plate? Did you see how many people in the truck?”

Claire: “NY…dark windows…. think it had one of those silly narrow beds with the outrigger fenders…..”

Me: “Hmm … I don’t recall seeing that around too often … do you?”

Claire: “no…. but I’ll start paying closer attention, gonna start keepin my ol’ 3 iron in the car….”

Two facts must be mentioned at this point:

1. You don’t mess with Claire
2. You are very thankful that she is on your side.

All day my dad has been muttering about the theft … “it’s rude … I don’t believe it … it’s rude ….”

I told him that no one could read his sign so he enlisted me to fix it, which I did.

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He then proceeded to walk to the road so as to drill it to the last piece of free furniture that no one wants sitting now for weeks on the side of the road.

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I asked him why he was ruining the piece of furniture by drilling the sign into it and he said “no one wants it, I’m gonna burn it.”

As he stepped away from his sign he pointed to it and said “look, there is the ‘For Sale’ sign on the back. How can you miss that? You can’t. That’s rude.”

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Now the question remains … will he “catch a thief?”

My friends, this is what I experience virtually every day on the farm. 

The McTrip from Hell

The following is another excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.”

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The McTrip from Hell

In late February of 2010 I had a 3 day trip down to Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill. Because of an approaching blizzard I canceled my meetings for the final day and I switched from a 4 p.m. train to the 9 a.m. Acela, so as to maybe beat the snow and get home ahead of the blizzard. So far so good. About halfway home, just outside of Philadelphia we came to an abrupt stop. Yes, we stopped. This was a first for me, after taking the Amtrak train back and forth over the last three years or so.

After 10 minutes we started moving … backwards. The conductor then announced that someone was hit, a “trespasser” was the term she used, on the tracks. Not by us but by a southbound train. So we had to go back to a junction and switch tracks. And then eventually we would go forward again. But first we sat a half hour or so … and it started to snow heavily … tick tock, tick tock.

The conductors on our train were not exactly forthcoming with information so I called Eve on my cell and asked her to find out what the hell was going on. Eve called Amtrak and found out not one but two dummies were hit by the southbound train. Two young girls, 10th  graders or so, who decided to skip out of school and walk on the train tracks to get to wherever they were skipping to. He said to Eve “we can’t travel anywhere near the speed we’d like to because of stuff like this that happens.”

Hmm … one wonders how often “stuff like this” does happen? He told Eve there are now five  or six trains, not sure if he meant all were northbounds, were sitting and waiting until the tracks are cleared by law enforcement. Because now it was a crime scene, thanks to the two young “Darwin Award” winners, though I wasn’t sure at that point if they had died or not. I know that sounds cruel, but why would anyone walk on train tracks for a very active, commuter train line?

After close to an hour we were finally on the move forward. We were on restricted speed for 3 miles then we finally made it to the Philadelphia station. I asked Eve if the two girls had died and she said “what do you think?”

Finally, a couple of hours late, I made it to Penn Station in NYC. I then hopped on a connecting train to the new facility at Secaucus Junction. But, thanks to the delays, I missed all of the early Metro North trains from Secaucus Junction to my stop in Harriman, New York. So I called my parents and told them I would be getting there late, probably close to 6:00pm. My parents agreed earlier to pick me up, because Eve had to stay home and watch the boys. My dad said to me when I called him to tell him when I thought I would get to Harriman, “it’s a blizzard, you know.” I replied, “I know, take my Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer, it’s got 4 wheel drive.”

When my train finally arrived in Harriman it was a full blown blizzard. The roads were heavily covered with snow. I had gotten on a 9:00 a.m. train and now it was 5:30 p.m. and snowing like crazy.

In normal conditions, at least a 30 minute drive from home. But, this wasn’t normal driving conditions. I’m not talking about the snow, I’m talking about my ride with my parents.

My parents were all set on eating at Wendy’s on the way home.  White out conditions, a foot and a half of snow with more falling but we must stop. Well, when we pulled into the Wendy’s in Chester, it was closed. My mom said “how strange.” I replied, “what are you, Nanook of the North? It’s insane to expect them to be open.” My mom said in reply, “I suppose.” But then she stretches her neck and exclaims,  “Hey McDonald’s down the road looks open.” And off to McDonald’s we went.

Did I mention it was a blizzard?

Yes, we must stop and eat at the McDonald’s in Chester. We are the only lunatics there and they are closing once we leave. As we stop at the napkin and condiment island my dad says, in his best conspiratorial voice, “you know these cups for ketchup are smaller here than at Wendy’s” “I did not know that” I replied We sit and eat as quickly as possible, though my dad isn’t eating quick enough for my mom’s liking. “Look at him” she snarls, “eating one French fry at a time. HURRY UP!” she demands. I thought she was going to throw one of her French fries at him. Then she said to me “wait till he starts picking his teeth with his straw.” My dad got the hint from mom and quickened the pace and soon we were crawling on the back roads to home. If I died on the way home at least I would have had one last dining McExperience.

This entire fiasco was chronicled, live, on Facebook. As I posted after we left McDonald’s:

“UPDATE: we are sitting stuck on the Florida-Chester road. I’m stuck with two lunatics. We have no idea why traffic isn’t moving but at least we ate our f*#+ing Happy Meal at McDonalds. You cannot make this sh#t up.”

I then looked at the dash and I saw we had less than a quarter tank of gas. The possibility now loomed we could run out of gas on the way home. I posted on Facebook: “I will be impaling myself with my straw if we don’t start moving soon.”

After about 20 minutes we were finally on the move. But the bad news, my parents started fighting. Or, my mom was fighting and my dad was taking a verbal walloping. I wish I could share it all but it was far too much material for me to chronicle. I literally couldn’t keep up. And it must have been 150 degrees in the truck. I wanted to bail out or be put out of my misery.

Once we were about two to three miles from home I texted Eve to have the bourbon ready.

At about 9:00 p.m. I finally arrived home, 12 hours after I had left Washington, DC. Truly a trip from Hell.

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He sniffs his hat …

The following below is an excerpt from my unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.”

Many years ago, during one of our initial disaster seasons (post 1996) my brother and I noticed our dad started sniffing his hat. Just like that. We’d be in our office, thinking about how bad the crop was due to the weather, and my dad would take his hat off and sniff it. A good, deep sniff, followed by a series of mini sniffs. Just like that. After a few dozen times, when it passed being a tic and was obvious now a codified and repeated habit, my brother and I asked my dad, “why the hell do you keep sniffing your hat?” So he said, “I can smell the stress.” “Huh?” “The stress, the trouble, the pressure, I can tell how bad it is by the smell of that smell.” “What’s it smell like” we asked. “Strong” he replied, it’s a bad year and I can smell it in my hat.” So, only mildly grossed out we said hey, whatever floats your boat dad, but, that’s weird we told him.

A few years later, in 2010, my Facebook friend Mike B. once got a fortune cookie that said:

“Never smell the inside of a hat.” 

I kid you not. He took a picture of it and e-mailed it to me. In 2009 my dad let me chronicle hat sniffing in a series of photos. They are now saved for posterity. And here they are:

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So, my mom must call four five times a day, every day, asking “where’s your father?” She calls the barn, she calls my house, she leaves messages on the answering machine at the barn. I’ve thought about composing a Dr. Seuss like response but instead I’ve come up with a better idea … I’m going to microchip my dad and give my mom the code …

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/pet-travel/pet-microchip1.htm

This comment of mine above, which was originally posted on Facebook, led to my creatively genius of a friend Donald W. to compose a response in the form of Dr. Seuss that touches on my dad’s hat sniffing, my mom’s eternal search for him, my love of 4 Lokos and Neurogasms and of course … onions!

The Dad Who Smells his Hat Comes Back, By Dr. WizSuess

This was no time for play. This was no time for fun. This was no time for games, for the time to harvest the mud grunions had came. Mud grunion harvest time was not a time to disappear like a jerk, mud grunion harvest time was a time for work.

All those grunions stacked in the bulk boxes so high had to have to go, have to go where the hellamumfifsis is that guy?

When our mother went to town for the day, she said, ”Somebody has to keep an eye on that guy, somebody, somebody has to, you see!”

Then she picked two somebodies it was Brian and me.

Well…. There we were. We were working pulling ends on the field just like that when who should appear but Ol Hat Sniffin Cadillac Jack!

”Oh-oh Brian said. ”Dont take you eye off ol Jack, if we lose him again mom’ll give a wack!”

I said ”Oh nooooo Jack not this time you hear, I watch you and watch you like Skin Head watches his beer!”

”Disappear!” laughed ol Jack. ”Oh no, no, no need for alarm, Im jus gonna go check the four lokos back at the farm!” ”You two keep your mind on the mud grunions and the Zong Wokets we hired, Im gotta go check on the pressure in the forklifters 5th & 8th tires!”

Then ol Hat Sniffin Jack grabbed this throat mimicking a person who is so parched they can spit and pronto he was gone just like that lickety split!!!

It was then that Brian and I hatched a plan, a plan to help mom keep track of her man. We’d buy a device a GPS and inject em…well we would inject it right up his….

Solar Plexus…when he was sleeping of course so he’d never suspect us!

So I ran to the barn and was taken aback, for there was ol Jack just a sniffin his hat. Thats when I got mad and screached at my dad…we no time for hat sniffin you disappearing curmudgeon there’s work to be done harvesting grunions!

Now get out of this barn we dont want you about….I’ll take the dammed Four Lokos and dump them all out!

It was then when my mind got a nudge to think like a think like a Hollywood judge! Id get a ankle lock not one but two to be exact and just like Lindsay Lohan I lock his ass in ankletracking Lo Jacks!

Well Brian and Mom and all the Zong Wockets rejoiced and regailed and sang songs of celebrunion…… as we hauled and hauled and gradzooted the mud grunions….for it was no longer a worry to look for Ol Hat Sniffen Cadillac Jack with his disappearing spasms now if only I could thinkafy a way to get Eve to drink the Neurogasms!

Check out my YouTube channel!

So … I have a YouTube channel … ta da:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ChrisPawelski

It has some informative … entertaining and just plain weird stuff on it. Some videos are fairly and not so fairly recent news appearances. Some are very old family movies that are also … just plain weird. Some are recent farming related videos. And some are college related videos. If you are a fan of Professional Wrestler Mick Foley …

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… check some of them out … Mick appears in some of them (he was the teaching assistant for our studio production class at SUNY Cortland). Here is one example:

I have a really funny one that was a parody of the “Just Say No” campaigns but it has me saying some naughty words and Eve won’t let me upload it. One day ….

For an example of news pieces here is one … from WABC TV in NYC when they did a story about my $150,000 bag of onions on eBay (plus a free 5 gallon bucket of genuine dirt):

For funny and weird family movies check out my dad’s home movies from his Army days … this is priceless material:

I was also for 3 summers an instructor at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute or “Cherub” program:

http://www.northwestern.edu/nhsi/

Some of the videos are projects from the students I helped teach. Here is one example:

So, feel free to check it out and even subscribe if you like!

Man vs. Squirrel

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The following is another excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.” It involves one man’s war against squirrels in order to keep his nuts.

Man vs. Squirrel

Where we live is a very rural area, with thousands of acres of wide- open farmland. We have some wooded areas and small mountains nearby, but not within a mile or two from my house and the barns where we pack our onions, which are on the same property as my house. What this translates into is essentially a low squirrel population zone. Squirrels you see in the woods, or in a suburban neighborhood. We simply are not that. But, on occasion, every so often, a squirrel or three will venture out to our area. They must be forward scouts or something. You’ll see them in the trees or running around for a few days. Then eventually you’ll find them on the side of the road, dead, roadkill.

Set within that context allow me to present one example of the eternal battle waged between MAN and NATURE. I proudly present this microcosm of the struggle … Polish walnut lover vs. the squirrels!

My brother lives outside the Village of Montgomery, about 30 minutes from my house and the barns. He has 4 walnut trees in his yard and my dad back in September of 2010 had him collect a bunch of the nuts that had fallen from the tree to bring to him at the barn. Did I mention that my dad loves walnuts? For those of you not familiar with walnuts, Wiki points out:

“Walnuts are rounded, single-seeded stone fruits of the walnut tree. The walnut fruit is enclosed in a green, leathery, fleshy husk. This husk is inedible. After harvest, the removal of the husk reveals the wrinkly walnut shell, which is in two halves.”

My dad early that morning separated most of the walnuts from their green outer shell, which took some time and effort, and then decided to lay them out to dry out on my blacktop in front of my house. It took him about an hour to separate the nut from the outer green goo casing. He so loves these black walnuts. Where he laid them out was clearly visible from the barn where we were working, and since it was warm and dry we had the barn doors open. As I would feed the grader with onions and take away the stacked pallets I would occasionally catch a glance of my dad’s walnuts on the ground.

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He had two distinct piles, those shelled and those still with the green outer casing.

As we were grading, around mid morning, I brought in some boxes of onions from outside into the barn and I noticed a flash of gray. It was a squirrel. It was making a dash for the pile of booty. And then I blinked and there was another one, heading towards the walnuts. As I watched, doubling over in laughter, the two squirrels started taking all of the nuts my dad had separated from the casing this morning. They were in heaven; they had found a veritable walnut goldmine.

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I told my dad and everyone at the grader what was happening. My dad says, “hmm … how they know, they must smell them or something.” I said, “looks like the squirrels are taking all of your nuts.” My dad replies, “I’m going to follow them and take them back.” I replied, “looks like they are winning here.” In response he said, “it’s two against one, that’s not fair.” He chased them to our neighbor Moose’s yard. They went up a tree and also tried to hide some of the nuts in different little spots on Moose’s yard. He gathered what he could, the squirrels watching helpless … for the moment.

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My dad went back to our yard and proceeded to gather all of the nuts he separated from the shell and put them in a bucket and covered the bucket. He had the last laugh … or so he thought …..

About 10 minutes later I look back out towards my house and the squirrels were not so easily deterred. They knocked over the cover to the bucket. So in response my dad took away the ones he already had shelled. But they weren’t so easily deterred.

The squirrels started to shell the unshelled nuts he had left. By the way, they furiously licked those nuts before they scurried away with them, almost as if they knew his counter-plot to steal them back. They then started working on the ones that weren’t shelled. One after another after another they shelled, licked furiously and scampered away with the walnuts. Doubling over with laughter I called my dad, “you better do something quick, or you ain’t gonna have no nuts left.”

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Quickly my dad grabbed some onion bags and started to put the nuts in them. He then hung them in the bag on the clothes line, and went back to the barn. What do you think happened a few minutes later?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in this instance on man versus nature, score one for the squirrels.

I have photographs of all of this, as you can all see.