Always Use The Right Tool


I’ve been a bad boy recently when it comes to chores. Today was a day to make up time.

On the list, a trip to Home Depot. We want to replace a few plants. Some aren’t healthy. Others, let’s just say they didn’t make the cut. There were other odds and ends as well. There’s always something you need or want at the Depot.

I headed to the garage and realized Helaine was gone. Her SUV too. That only left my two-seater. There was really no way to put this off.


HD has a self serve packing department. I pulled ten or twelve feet of heavy brown paper from a roll to wrap the front seat. On the floor, a plastic trash bag from home.

Holy crap, it fit! Tall plants. Short plants. Fifty feet of garden hose. Fifty pounds of paver sand. Even a spray bottle of bug stuff.

Nothing spilled!

The plants are home, healthy and I have proof they can survive 50 mph winds.

Cheating My Way To A Garden

IMAG0735-w1200-h1200For the last few weeks our tiny plot has been ablaze with spring color. The calendar says March but our plants say April, maybe May.

Does that mean it’s tomato time? Home Depot’s got plants. Why not try?

I headed to the garden center. My plan was buy a plant, a pot, some soil and get to work.

And then I spied it.

IMAG0736-w1200-h1200I picked up a plant already over a foot tall, with flowers, in a pot with an attached tomato cage!

This is cheating, right?

No planting. No weeding. No getting my hands dirty. It will have to be hand watered. That’s my only real contribution.

If things go according to plan there should be fruit to harvest in a little over two months. I can’t wait.

Will they taste as good without all the grunt work? I’ll let you know.

Is It Dog Friendly?


Last year as we decided where to move, Doppler was a large concern. We wanted a dog friendly place. That’s part of why we chose Orange County.

IMAG0677-w1400-h1400Because of weather, life is lived more outdoors. And most places without roofs welcome dogs. You see dogs at the mall. You see dogs in Home Depot. You see dogs on restaurant outdoor patios.

That’s where we took Doppler tonight.

IMAG0670-w1400-h1400Woodbury Town Center is our local shopping center. It’s got a Ralph’s (supermarket), Home Depot, Staples, Trader Joe, Walgreen’s, banks, medical, dental and vet offices and a bunch of smaller shops. There are about a dozen restaurants clustered together in an outdoor courtyard.

We sat down outside at The Counter. It’s a build-your-own burger place. Doppler supervised quietly from Helaine’s lap.

IMAG0680-w1400-h1400The waitress saw me taking a photo with my cellphone and pointed toward a nearby fountain. She said it was perfect for sunset shots. She was right.

We wouldn’t take Doppler into a store with food, but other than that she goes nearly everywhere. We’re never the only people with a dog.

Amazon And Us

amazon logoMy dad and I were on the phone yesterday. He told me he just ordered corn flakes via Amazon.

A click in the evening brought the flakes 36 hours later.

“How do they do it,” he asked?

My mom and dad, now living comfortably near my sister and her family in frigid Wisconsin, aren’t very mobile. Grocery shopping is tough.

We’re big Amazon users here too. I’m looking around my office at loads of items delivered to me. I’ve ordered on-line when I could have just gone to Home Depot, under five minutes away.

Is this a good thing? Over the short term it’s great. I get what I want with less hassle and for what’s usually the best price.

Amazon figured out how to get things to me fast using a variety of delivery services. It’s a data driven company. There’s a method to their madness, but no two packages come via the same route.

Over the long run I’m much less convinced all of this is a good thing! Staples announced they’re closing 300 stores in the US. Radio Shack is lopping off over a thousand. Retail’s in trouble. Malls are in trouble. Even Walmart is worried. Amazon is trying to hide in the corner, softly whistling.

At the same time, Amazon’s become adept at extracting favorable tax rates and incentives. A Google search for “tax incentive amazon” shows a half dozen states considering or already offering large sums of money to Amazon.

Everything I buy online I don’t buy in a store. Amazon fills the gap with fewer employees earning less money. I’m not paying today. I’m paying tomorrow. The jobless require assistance. It’s not the workers fault.

George Jetson at WorkIf the Jetsons had properly predicted the future, where George comes to work and immediately puts his feet up on his desk, we’d be fine. I grew up with that fantasy. But labor saving hasn’t meant making life easier for labor. The effect has been quite the opposite.

The convenience offered by buying online is huge. It’s only when you see the whole picture, it becomes suspect.

These are complex choices. I’m not rushing to a decision. It’s confusing.

I Am The Plumber

By this point Jim was probably calculating what I’ll be paying a real plumber after I screw this up!

During dinner I took a quick run into Home Depot. Marcus, wearing his signature orange apron, stopped me right away to see if he could help.


It was a no hesitation answer.

“But I’m not sure I can explain what I need.”

That’s probably not the best way to begin solving your bathroom sink problems. He escorted me to Jim, the plumbing expert. I began to explain, but mostly with hand gestures and sign language.

“You know the stopper in the bathroom sink?” I began.

I was looking for the horizontal rod that connects the thing you push down with the thing that pops up. By this point Jim was probably calculating what I’ll be paying a real plumber after I screw this up!

Amazingly enough I was able to explain with enough specificity that Jim reached onto a shelf and pulled out a yellow package labeled “SINK REPAIR.”


Holy crap–he knew.

The end of the old “Ball Rod Assembly” had sheared off after 20+ years on the job. Now it’s my turn to replace it.

I am not what you’d call handy, but I think this is a job I can do. Helaine will be standing by with 9-1 already pre-dialed.