The last of the GE appliances.

Our microwave oven died the other day. It was the last of our GE appliances. It will not be missed.

When we first built our house, we got a deal through the builder for GE appliances, so, that is what we bought. If we had know then what we know now, we would not have purchased GE appliances.

The first item to break was the stove. The oven control quite working and the oven heating element burned up. This happened 30 days after the warranty expired. I called and complained and they sent me the parts for free.

Next, the wiring in our clothes dryer, burned up, literally. I called GE but they told me that the warranty had expired and I was out of luck. I bought some heat resistant wire and rewired it myself.

Then the ice maker on the refrigerator quit working. We discovered that the ice maker did not like getting cold so we would have to warm it up from time to time.

Then the microwave quit working. And while the warranty on parts and labor had expired, there was still a warranty on the magnetron.  I called GE and they said that the magnetron would be free but it would cost us $100 to have it replaced. After some negotiations, they agreed to test the magnetron for $25 but I would have to install the new one. And so, that is what we did.

The final death blow came the other day as I was reheating a cup of coffee. I noticed that there was smoke inside the cooking compartment and the smoke seemed to be coming from one corner.

Upon further examination, I discovered that the plastic coating had bubbled up and that the metal underneath was severely rusted. Since it would only be a matter of time before it rusted through, I declared it to be unsafe.

All of the GE appliances have now been replaced.

As the old saying goes “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

1/6th of a second.

I saw an ad in a car magazine the other day. It touted the fact that its’ LED brake lights turn on a 1/6th of a second faster than conventional brake lights. And, at 60 MPH, that translates into about 100 feet of travel.

I guess the idea is that when the brake lights turn on a 1/6th of a second faster, it gives the car behind you an extra 1/6th of a second to respond. And because the car behind you can respond quicker, it makes driving your car that much safer.

Conceptually, I agree with their line of thought. However, from a real world perspective, I don’t think that it will make that much of a difference.

The assumption is made that the person driving the car behind you is paying attention and not talking on their cell phone. But, the chances are that they are talking on their cell phone and not paying attention to their driving.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that LED lights are a great idea. I just don’t think that the 1/6th of a second is a great selling point.

Perhaps the car manufacturer needs a new ad agency.

The Wood Chuck

One day, as I entered the garage from the kitchen, a wood chuck came running out from under my car. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. After all, when you live in a woods, as we do, you are bound to encounter a certain number of woodland creatures.

But, as time went on, I noticed that the wood chuck seemed to be hanging around underneath the car on a regular basis. And at times, I would hear what sounded like gnawing sounds.

Again, I dismissed the events. After all, what could interest a wood chuck underneath the car? Road salt?

Then one day, as I was coming back from Ann Arbor, my engine started heating up. So, I got off at the closest exit to inspect the engine.

When I raised the hood and peered underneath it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like my radiator had melted. The whole back of it was shredded. But what could possible have happened?

Finally, it dawned on me. The wood chuck. The wood chuck wasn’t after the road salt, he was after the anti-freeze. By scraping the back of the radiator with its paws and teeth, it was able to produce a small leak. And, since anti-freeze is sweet, the wood chuck was helping himself to a summer treat.

After we got the radiator replaced, we made a point of keeping the garage door closed. This seemed like the simplest solution to the problem.

When I related the story to my father-in-law, he found it to be far fetched. After all, that same wood chuck had been underneath his car from time to time when he was visiting us.

It wasn’t until he looked under the hood of his own car that he discovered the reality of what I was saying. There, before his very eyes, was his own radiator, shredded.

The wood chuck eventually died from lead poisoning.

The Ionia Free Fair.

The other night, Kathy and I went to the Ionia Free Fair. It was a typical fair event. We ate food that we would not normally eat, walked around for about two hours and then left.

When I was a kid, we would go to the fair every night after supper. I went my way and my parents went their way and we would always meet at the grand stands for the fire works.

The fair has changed a lot over the years. And while I realize that my perception of the fair has changed with age, I think that it is only a 1/10 of what it used to be.

In the old days, a double ferris wheel greeted you at the entrance. Like a glowing neon sign it said “welcome!” “come on in!” “we are having fun here!” Even if you were just passing by on the road, you knew that something was happening.

And right next to the ferris wheel was farm equipment; tons of farm equipment. Tractors, combines, manure spreaders, you name it, it was on display.

Well, the ferris wheel has been replaced with portable boutiques selling clothing and assorted junk. And the farm equipment has been replaced with hot tubs.

The Merchants building used to be a place that was packed with vendors of all sorts of needed stuff. And there was always a music store selling organs that practically played by themselves. And lets not forget the juice machines that turned vegetables into strawberry milk shakes, yours for $49.95. And the summer sausage and cheese merchant who gave out free samples. The Merchant building now looks more like a flea market.
The Floral Building used to look like a county park, compete with grass and pine trees and a working drinking fountain. And, in keeping with its name, it had floral arrangements on display. But the park look is long gone and what used to be floral arrangements has been replace with a square yard of sod with dolls playing in the grass. And people win ribbons for such displays.

But, there is one thing that remains the same about the fair and that is pregnant woman waddling down the midway.

Every year for as long as I can remember, there have been pregnant women at the fair. And we are not just talking pregnant, we’re talking ready to pop. It is almost like they were on their way to the hospital when they got this craving for a corn dog and an elephant ear.

Out in the hot sun, and due any minute, they can’t be comfortable. Yet, there they are, just a waddling away, and rubbing their belly as they go.

Maybe the father of the child has split and they are out looking for a husband. “Hey, look at me, I’m a package deal. Two for the price of one.” After all, it pays to advertise.

Well, anyway, at least some things stay the same.

Project managers.

One of the big things here in state government for the State of Michigan is project managers. Project managers seem to be the latest fade. Every time you turn around, you run into a project manager.

We have official project managers, who work for the official project management section. Then we have unofficial project managers who work for the unofficial project management section.

The unofficial project managers manage projects that are too small for the official project managers. But, if the project is big enough, you might have an official project manager and 2 unofficial project managers. (the unofficial project managers dream of becoming an official project manager some day)

On a project that I was working on recently we had a project manager for the agency who needed a telephone system, a project manager for the vendor, a project manager for the subcontractor, a project manager for the equipment manufacturer, a project manager for my agency, an official state appointed project manager and the personal project manager for the Director. In short, we had more project managers than we had people actually doing the work.

The project that I am presently working on only has 6 project managers. I guess my project isn’t big enough to warrant more.

Two of the project managers work for the same boss. I guess one of the project managers is a backup in case something happens to the main project manager.

And what do these project managers do? As best as I can tell, the state project managers merely function as a brake to any progress that might take place on the project. They hold pointless, mindless meetings and constantly ask questions that are not at all relevant to the project. But, I guess if they knew what they were doing they wouldn’t be asking questions.


When I was in sem, I got in trouble for using the word ‘gee’ in a sermon. Now, for me the word ‘gee’ is just an idiomatic expression. But for those conservative Dutchmen, the word ‘gee’ was the equivalent to saying God. After all, they both have three letters and start with the letter G.

The CRC has an unwritten set of rules for daily life that are passed on from generation to generation through oral tradition. Since I wasn’t raised CRC, I never got those rules. And thus, did not know the rule about the word ‘gee’ . Oh well, that is one of the reasons why I left sem.

A few years back, I visited a popular Amish community. Near the edge of town, there was an Amish farmer working his fields with a team of horses. I watched in fascination as he controlled his team by yelling ‘gee’ and ‘haw’. After all, both of his hands were needed to hold the plow so he had to rely on voice commands to steer his team.

As he approached the edge of the field next to me, I commented on his team and how well they obeyed his commands. Knowing that the Amish are very religious, I asked him if he was bothered by using the word ‘gee’.

Since he didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, I went on to explain what the word ‘gee’ means to some people. He thanked me for my explanation and then went on to say that for everyone in this community, the word gee is used to steer a team.

Interesting. I wondered what my brethren back in Grand Rapids would think?

I thanked the man for his time and then said ‘Goodbye’ to which he replied ‘and with ye’. Since I was confused by his response, I asked him what he meant by ‘and with ye’? My question surprised the farmer and now we were both confused. Finally he told me that I had said ‘Goodbye’ which is short for ‘God be with ye” and that is why he said ‘and with ye’.

Oh, now I understand. ‘Goodbye’ really means ‘God be with ye’. So, for hundreds of years, all of these good Dutchmen have been taking God’s name in vain. Gee, I wonder if they know that?


The other morning after the ultra sound on my kidneys, I needed to get some breakfast. Noting that there was a Steak and Shake right on my way, I decided to stop there for breakfast.

Unlike Micky Ds whose motto is “open until midnight or later at participating locations”, the Steak and Shake is open 24 hours a day. And, they serve breakfast there. So, I stopped at the Steak and Shake.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I noted that there was only one car there and it was parked in back. I suspected that the car belonged to the cook and that this must be a slow time of day for them.

As I walked through the doors, I noticed that there was no buzzer or bell notifying the staff of my arrival.

The sign at the door asked me to please wait to be seated. So, I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. There was not a soul in sight. No one was cooking. No one was cleaning.

After a while, I concluded that even if the cook did come out of hiding, the service would be rather poor. So, I left and headed to Bob Evans. At least there were people there and I stood a better chance of getting a second cup of coffee.

Too much gas.

I had an ultra sound on my kidneys the other day. I was a different event.
My cardiologist is concerned that my blood pressure is alway high whenever I visit him. So, he wanted to make sure that there was nothing wrong with my kidneys as kidney problems can cause high blood pressure.

I was not allowed to chew gum or eat green leafy vegetables or beans for 24 hours before the examine. Nor was I to eat or drink 6-8 hours before the examine. And, when I did drink, it needed to be out of a glass and not with a straw. Very strange.

When I got into the examination room, I laid down on the ultra sound bed. The nurse spread some warm gel on my stomach and proceeded to run the ultra sound probe over my stomach.

She commented that she could see that I had a lot of intestinal gas. I was surprised by her remark and thought it was just a part of casual conversation though I can’t say I can ever remember my intestinal gas as a part of a casual conversation.

After she finished examining my stomach, she moved on to my kidneys. First one side then the other, each with its own set of instructions.

Finally, she went back to my stomach again. She said that perhaps the gas had moved and that she would be able to get a clear view.

Suddenly, the diet restrictions all made sense. The idea was to avoid anything that might give me gas but the instructions didn’t say that. The instructions only wanted me to avoid green leafy vegetables and beans.

There are other things that give me gas besides green leafy vegetables and beans. My number one offender this time of the year is sweet corn. And I suspect that todays gas was caused by the chips and salsa that I ate last night.

Feeling bad about the gas situation, I told the nurse that I could eliminate some of the gas if she wanted me to. She told me that it wasn’t necessary. I told her that I was quite good at eliminating gas and if she didn’t believe me, she could ask my wife. Again, she declined saying that they were mainly interested in seeing the kidneys.

All and all, the examine lasted about 1 hour. She said that everything looked fine. Of course, I am sure that the doctor will have to look at the results but at least the nurse didn’t see any abnormalities.

Of course, whenever I take my blood pressure it is always normal, 110/70. Maybe if I was allowed to sit and relax for a few minutes before they took my blood pressure in the doctors office, it wouldn’t be high.

Jonathan the Magician.

A church that I used to attend got an idea for community outreach. They would hire a religious magician to perform at a church service. The magician had a magic act that illustrated Bible stories.

Everyone in church was told to invite their friends and neighbors. They thought that if they could get people to attend church for the first time, the people would continue to attend.

I wondered what they would do with someone who actually came to church for the first time. I was thinking that the church should have some sort of a small group orientation/bible study. When I asked the “what if someone comes” question, I was viewed as being negative. Oh well.

And sure enough, on the magician Sunday, as it was called, a family with no church background attended. And guess what? The church didn’t know what to do with them. And since the church did not have any idea what to do with the new family, they decided to sent them all to Sunday school.

Now, Sunday School may have seemed like a safe way to welcome new families, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately, the people of the church had been born and raised in the church and had no idea of how the church was perceived by others outside of the church.

Sunday school, for the visiting children, was not a warm and welcoming place. In fact, it could best be described as one giant clique. The visitors were not welcomed by the other students and were more or less ostracized. Likewise, the teachers did not want the disruption of new students in their classroom.

And the parents didn’t fair much better. They were given a cup of coffee and dumped into the adult Sunday school class.

Adult Sunday school was a cross between the assembly of the Sanhedrin and the Diet of Worms. And again, the family was not really welcomed. At best, they were tolerated and at worst, they were viewed as an annoyance. In an assemble whose sole purpose was to solve all of the theological issues of the world, there was no room for polite conversation.

Needless to say, the family did not return again. Hopefully, they found a nice church to attend.

The church could at least say that they made an effort at Evangelism.

Open until midnight.

When I was at Micky Ds the other day, I noticed that the slogan on the food sack read “Open until midnight or later at participating locations.”

Now, that statement told me absolutely nothing. It is in the same category as a weather forecast which states that tomorrow it will be sunny unless it rains.

Unlike their competitors who announces that all of their drive throughs are open until midnight, you don’t know with Micky Ds. I guess you just have to take your chances.

If they are open, they are open. If not, then they’re closed.  Seems simple enough.