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Can Demons Possess a Car?

Yes, I’m finally back. (And those of you who didn’t realize I was missing should not expect any chocolate eggs this year. The Easter Bunny and I are long-time BFFs, and he knows these things.)

I’m concerned about my car. It seems to have developed a bad attitude, at best. And possibly an alternative personality. You may recall that I got my Hyundai Elantra about a year ago. It was wonderful to drive, especially following the car with bad tires and no heat.

The first sign came late last year, after one of the early snows. In our part of Michigan, winter generally starts deceptively gentle with a couple of light snowfalls. After one of these, my car required a little extra effort to get out of its parking place at work. I figured I had just parked the front tires on ice and didn’t worry about it.

The evil side came out a few weeks later. We have a long, wide driveway and a broken snowblower. And lots of ice. One day, I turned into the driveway and stopped. Rather, the car stopped. Right at the entrance to the driveway. (It did have the courtesy to get off the road.)

The usual tricks of rocking back and forth or swearing did nothing. Finally, I asked my son to get it to move. (It must be somewhere in the male gene, because he did it.) While he was working to move it, my daughter came home. She had to wait in the road to be able to get in. (There are advantages to living off the beaten path – she wasn’t an impediment to lots of traffic.)

Her car had been having no trouble in the ice and snow. When she pulled in that day, her car got stuck. I think my car laughed. Not too long after that, the fuel line in my daughter’s car sprung a leak. Coincidence? I think not.

Pulling out one day, my car got stuck on the ice again. My son brought out the kitty litter, and I was good to go. The cats did not appreciate him using the good stuff.

Pretty soon, the kitty litter stopped working. I’m sure the car decided that we’d solved the ice problem.

Next trick was to get a tire caught in the frozen snow at the edge of the driveway. Like much of the country, it’s been really cold here. Unlike much of the country, we really haven’t been drowned in snow. We don’t have the huge snowdrifts that scream out, “Stop! You’d be an idiot to drive here!” So, all of a sudden, I no longer knew how to back out of the driveway. Then we’d shovel, kitty litter, try to move the car, swear, and repeat. A lot. I don’t generally swear, and now I remember why –there aren’t that many words and they’re worthless for fixing the problem.

My husband works in maintenance at a school district. He brought home some incredibly hideous carpet to put under the wheels when the car gets stuck. I’m not sure whether it’s the traction or the car cringing from the pattern, but it works.

It appeared that the car was running out of tricks. I thought maybe we were good to go.

Then apparently it realized that its real enemy wasn’t me, it was my son. He was the one who kept rescuing me. So it started turning into snowbanks when he left his friends’ houses. Nothing serious. Wouldn’t want to harm its good looks. Just enough to require digging out.

The car was designed in Korea and built here. I know it’s been tested in snow and ice.

I think that I have somehow offended the Snow Queen. I wonder if an ice cream cake would be a good peace offering?

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Cars, Humor

 

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The Year of the Sloth

You can thank Barbara over at Silver in the Barn, a wonderful blog about her insights into life (and photography) for the title. She had a post around the beginning of the year about how certain items seemed to be more prevalent some years than others (https://silverinthebarn.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/minotaur-ukulele/). She also asked what we thought our year might be titled. I had been thinking about writing a sloth post, and it seemed like the perfect title.

Wandering around the blogosphere, I was reminded of the interview Kristen Bell did on The Ellen Show about three years ago showing how much she likes sloths (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5jw3T3Jy70).

That may have been the starting point for the love affair some people have developed with sloths. My daughter has certainly joined the fan club. I was amazed that I was able to find a sloth calendar at a major brick-and-mortar bookstore. There it was amongst the overwhelming number of dogs, cats, cars, sports, and spiritual calendars. (Horatio reminds me that there was also one with pictures of hedgehogs.)

If you type in “sloth” on YouTube, you will get a long list of videos about the little guys (average height 23 in/58 cm; weight 8.75 lbs/4 kg). Google says it has over 22 million results for “sloth”. Of course, we all know that Google lies. Those results include doubles, triples, etc. of the same item and any 600-page essay that includes the word. Nevertheless, this may be the year.

So why did we fall in love with an animal named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins? It moves so little and slowly that algae grows in its fur, so it looks like it has been to the salon for a green tint. Any animal that moves that little has a certain appeal to those of us always yearning for a nap. They sleep 15–20 hours/day (which sounds just fine to the cat sleeping next to me). Even awake, they are often motionless. Kind of like football fans in the fall.

Sloths are versatile as well. They come in the two-toed and three-toed variety, but have basically the same traits. They live almost their entire lives in treetops. Those long arms allow quite a bit of freedom in the trees. They have a powerful grip which may not even release in death. Sounds a bit like some people and their money.

Sloths mate and give birth while hanging in trees. I can’t imagine how birthing would work.Who would catch the baby?  Maybe they come out clinging to the mother. That’s how they spend the first nine months of their lives. (How do they know when nine months is up?)

However, I think people are attracted to them because they are almost excessively cute. How can you resist an animal that looks like it’s smiling all the time and gives great hugs? (http://www.slothsanctuary.com/meet-the-sloths/)

Plan ahead. International Sloth Day is October 20. If you want a real sloth at the party, he/she will need to start moving now. It’s a long way from Central America.

Facts courtesy of National Geographic (http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/three-toed-sloth/)

Pictures courtesy of The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica (http://www.slothsanctuary.com/)

 

 

 
8 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Animals, Humor

 

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Critter Capers: Wintertime Blues

Super Snooper (SS): It’s good to finally be back.

Kommando Kitty (KK): Yeah. Mom’s been sick so much this winter that she keeps putting off typing our article. It is nice having her around to sleep with, though.

SS: Particularly when she turns on that bed warmer thing.

KK: It’s really nice when she turns it on and goes away for a few minutes. We can lay on the warmest spot before she gets in bed.

SS: And she finally understands that it’s impossible to move both of us at the same time. The only bad thing is that they shut the door to downstairs down. So we have to find someone to let us up there.

KK: Dad keeps talking about how much it would cost to heat the upstairs as warm as the downstairs. He makes it sound like it’s warm downstairs.

SS: I know. We have to sleep together to keep from freezing. And we have fur!

                   IMG_20150108_010733762

Horatio Hedgehog (HH): What are you two yowling about now?

KK: How cold it is. Mom won’t even open the drapes sometimes. She says the old windows let cold air in. Why don’t they just buy new windows? Why should we have to suffer?

HH: It doesn’t feel very cold to me.

SS: That’s because your cage is heated!

HH: I come out to explore sometimes.

SS: Dad puts you on a heated blanket before you go anywhere!

HH: Maybe he just likes me better.

(low growls)

HH: Well, you know I am more popular. My introduction was the favorite story last year according to that report Mom got. (https://cat9984.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/horatio-hedgehog-intrepid-explorer )

KK: Yeah, we saw it. You were a couple of spots above the one talking about fake cheese (https://cat9984.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/cheez-whiz-love-it-or-hate-it )

HH: You’re just jealous. There is one problem with Mom being sick. Dad forgot to tell her that I was almost out of treats before she stayed home from work. No wax worms for days!

KK and SS: Awwww. Poor hedgie!

HH: Fine. I’ll just go back to my nice warm bed and sleep.

20150111_221420

SS: Let’s go see if there’s any food left in the kitchen.

KK: OK. Then we can go back to sleep.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Humor, Pets

 

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Premio Dardos Award

premio-dardos

A few days ago, I received a comment from Pratyush Dayal Misral of Englishphilia (https://englishphilia.wordpress.com) telling me that he had nominated me for the Premio Dardos Award. Being the savant of WordPress that I am*, I had no idea what the award was about. However I would recommend that you take a look at Englishphilia. I love the last line of his “About” page: “Whatever comes to the brim of my heart, comes to the rim of my blog.” The name of the blog comes from his love of English (which includes some very nice poetry), but the blog also includes a lot of interesting information about life in and around Bangalore.

Once I found out what the award is, I was really honored to be considered:

dardosBesides, it has a really cool logo/image. :)

Enough about me. The blogs I have chosen to nominate are listed below. If you haven’t been to them, you might want to take a look. (Does it surprise you to know I’d find an ethical site about cats?) I’m not sure if any of them live in an award-free zone, but I won’t hold that against them.

Anglo Saxon Celt Creates (https://anglosaxonceltcreates.wordpress.com). Sarah is an amazing artist, and you’ll enjoy looking at all the different stuff she does. But she is also an advocate for various women’s and/or health issues.

Belsbror (https://belsbror.wordpress.com). He writes wonderful short stories and also tells great stories about life in the Philippines. Very vivid images through words.

cancerkillingrecipe (https://cancerkillingrecipe.wordpress.com). Anna has been suffering from cancer and various other ailments. Her attitude toward life is inspiring.

Chotisibaatein (https://chotisibaatein.wordpress.com). The name is actually Hindi “Choti Si Baatein” for “Just Little Things”. To use a cliche, she is showing us how to “Stop and smell the roses.” There is also some great haiku.

Irish Investigations (https://irishinvestigations.wordpress.com). Jim is an extremely compassionate man who tells readers about people who are falling through the cracks in society. It’s very enlightening and humbling.

Katzenworld (katzenworld.co.uk). I can’t get a hyperlink to work, but I know they’re out there. Not only does this site have cool cat pictures, they also do a lot of education for cat owners. Safe products; how to read your cat’s mood; how to travel safely.

Ordinary Handsome (http://ordinaryhandsome.com). Another artist. This one is a photographer. He is also posting excerpts from a novel he is writing that seems to be getting inside the head of one/two of the characters. An interesting look at male/female power dynamics.

Pratheek M Reddy (https://pratheekreddy68.wordpress.com). Interesting view of his India. Personal stories, motivational pieces. Most recently poetry.

Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog (http://5kidswdisabilities.com). She and her husband adopted several kids with serious challenges, both emotional/psychological and physical. The blog is all about keeping things in perspective and the importance of love in any relationship.

Riding the Greatest Rollercoaster – Life (https://lifethegreatrollercoaster.wordpress.com). Stories about life in India. The impressive thing is the perception of the author who is 14 years old (I wouldn’t have guessed it but I looked at his “about” page before I wrote this).

Roshan click’s (https://roshanrajclicks.wordpress.com). He is a Nepali living in Delhi who writes wonderful descriptions of both. His photographs are gorgeous.

Silver in the Barn (https://silverinthebarn.wordpress.com). Beautiful photographs. She has a wonderfully quirky but extremely practical way of looking at things. I really enjoy reading her posts.

The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife (http://siciliangodmother.com). I admit that I first looked at this blog because of the title. But she really understands Sicily (She’s from the UK), and she writes beautifully. She talks about sightseeing, the government, shoes, and all kinds of other stuff.

Through Mirrored Lens (http://pathsonwater.com). Uju is Nigerian and writes about a variety of subjects. I really like her pieces on gender equality and humans being humane to each other. She also has some very nice poetry.

Together (https://mintughoshal.wordpress.com). He writes short stories which usually end up having a moral buried in it. He writes a lot about the everyday interactions of people who (I assume) are similar to people he knows.

I’ve counted several times, and I’m pretty sure that’s 15. Hopefully you’ll enjoy giving one or two of them a look.

*If you’re fairly new to reading my blog, you may not know that I am probably the least technically proficient blogger around. This is actually the third award I’ve been nominated for. The first time I didn’t understand that I could receive it by doing something myself. I thought I was being judged “worthy” by some panel. The second time, I couldn’t get my links to work until it was so far past the original post date that I was embarrassed to do it.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Blogging

 

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Confessions of a Football Junkie

(Warning: If you are not American, this post will probably make very little sense. And almost certainly not be humorous.)

It is true. The pacifist kitten-hugger is also a fan of arguably the most violent mass-marketed sport in the United States. In my defense, I started to like it before field mikes let us hear all the crashing and crunching.

I blame my father – and the University of Michigan.

My father came from the tough male – delicate female mold that was really the only model available when he was growing up. So we didn’t have much in common.

I decided when I was in junior high school (roughly equivalent to middle school these days), that I would listen to football games with him on the radio. Yes, back in those days, there were only three major television stations.

Alas, every football game between every two schools in the nation was not available for public consumption. If it had been, I probably would have been overexposed to it (like Led Zeppelin) and never wanted to watch it again.

Because it was radio-centric, every team had its own dyed-in-the-wool announcer. Dad was a University of Michigan fan, so we had Bob Ufer. Bob Ufer bled maize and blue. They practically shut down Ann Arbor when he died.

When Michigan scored a touchdown, Bob would blow the horn from General Patton’s jeep. What more manly sound could there be?

So it became our Saturday ritual in the fall from that point forward. Bo Schembechler (the Michigan coach) came to my high school to recruit one of our players. Obviously it was a highlight – I still remember it.

Guess what? I went to the University of Michigan. So we didn’t even have to change teams. We could still enjoy Ohio State and Michigan State losing.

One problem. The team was really bad for a few years. During the glory years of “three years and a cloud of dust”, the rest of the country had adopted a new technique. It’s called the forward pass.

And Michigan had recruited quarterbacks who didn’t seem to realize that 1) you had to throw the ball far enough and accurately enough to reach the guy who’s supposed to catch it, and 2) you only throw it to guys wearing the same colors as you are. It was painful, but I was hooked by this time.

Finally Bo recruited a kid named Jim Harbaugh. You may have heard of him. If you watched any sports at all during the weeks around Christmas, you would have seen a never-ending crawl at the bottom of the screen showing the progress the University of Michigan was making in hiring him as the new head coach. (It even annoyed me.)

But long before he (or bottom-line crawls) became ubiquitous on TV, Harbaugh dragged University of Michigan football into the modern age.

It was scary at first. We had learned to (metaphorically) cover our eyes when a Michigan quarterback tried to pass. Luckily Harbaugh’s arrival coincided somewhat with Michigan football being chosen for TV coverage on a fairly regular basis. So the football looked pretty good when it went national.

Harbaugh ushered in a new era of Michigan quarterbacks. The ones that somebody actually wanted to draft into the NFL. You may have heard of one of them: Tom Brady.

Of course, they made Brady back up the brilliant Drew Henson for a while. The reason you haven’t heard of Drew is that he only lasted a few games before the coaches realized he wasn’t very good.

Time goes by. Life is good. I married a man who knew the difference between holding and interference. So we added him to our Saturday afternoon tradition.

Two coaches ago, Michigan decided they needed a change. A non-“Michigan Man”. As far as I can tell, a Michigan Man is a guy who has coached with/played for/been somehow associated with Bo Schembechler. At least that’s what I read in the press.

The first new coach forever antagonized the loyal by not understanding that there is a blood feud between Michigan and Ohio State. Seriously, how can you be a good college coach if you think your fans hate all opponents equally?

So after six or so years of bad coaching, bad recruiting, and bad games; the alumni have spoken. (Always follow the money.) We have a Michigan football hero with college and pro coaching experience. Successful coaching experience. (Except that time he lost to his brother in the Super Bowl.)

Obviously, Jim Harbaugh is going to usher in the new Golden Age of Michigan football. Or at least make it better than Michigan State football. That has been so embarrassing.

(Be grateful. When I started this post, I was going to overwhelm you with my technical knowledge.)

Pro football? I love the Lions. Have been following them for years. Think Stafford, Johnson, Bush, and Tate are pulling things together. But it’s hard to create a story arc around a team whose motto should be, “Wait until next year.”

But they were robbed in the Wild Card game last Sunday.

 

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Humor, Sports

 

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Back to the Forest for New Year’s Eve

Daisy and Daphne are twin does who were born last year. Daphne is the more outgoing of the two and usually speaks for them. They are part of a close-knit herd of deer. They still live with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Buck.

One day at the end of December, they return home very excited.

Daphne: Guess what, Daddy? Stag is having a New Year’s Eve party and we’re invited! May we go? Everyone’s going to be there.

Mr. B: No, you may not.

Daphne: Why not, Daddy? He seemed so nice at the Grizzlies’ party. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

Mr. B: I happen to know that the reason he was so well-behaved was because Mr. G threatened to eat him in the spring is he wasn’t.

Daphne: You don’t really believe that silly rumor, do you Daddy? Please? We’ll be the only young deer who won’t be there. Everyone will laugh at us and call us fawns.

Mr. B: The answer is no, and that’s final.

The girls go to their bedding places in tears.

The next day when all the young does get together, Daphne and Daisy find out that none of the others could go either.

Violet: This is so unfair. They’re treating us like fawns.

The others nod in agreement.

Daisy (timidly): Maybe we could have our own party.

Jasmine: Wow, Daisy. You never say anything. That’s a great idea!

Daphne: No one can object if it’s just us.

Daphne’s right. All the fathers agree it was the perfect solution. Being the most assertive, Daphne plans everything and hands out tasks.

Meanwhile, Stag finds out that the does would be having their own party rather than coming to his. What was the point of a party with no does? He had to find a way around the problem. But what?

New Year’s Eve arrives. The does get to the meadow and set everything up. They have grass and berries to eat. There’s a stream nearby to drink from, and lots of space to run around in.

Violet: This is perfect. I’m glad it’s only us. We don’t have to worry about impressing the boys.

Daphne: But Stag is so handsome! Did you see his antlers?

Jasmine (giggling): You know what they say about the size of a buck’s antlers.

Daisy: Jasmine! How could you say something like that?

Daisy lowers her head in embarrassment. The other does laugh.

Jasmine: Besides, Daisy, you might be the first one of us to find out. You know that Billy likes you. He spends all of his time watching you.

Daisy: Really? I hadn’t noticed

Daphne: She’s probably telling the truth. She doesn’t even know I’m there half the time.

Daisy: That’s not true!

Daphne (laughing): What about the time you were looking all over for me, and I was asleep in bed?

Daisy: I guess I do daydream a lot. Do you really think he likes me?

All the other does laugh.

Violet: Apparently you’re the only one who doesn’t know. (Pauses) I wonder if we can jump over the stream.

Amber: I bet I can.

She takes off running and lands on the other bank. The dirt gives way and she lands in the water. She looks at the others; they shake their heads “no”. Each one takes a turn. The only one who can land on the other side is Daphne. The other does are jumping around and splashing in the water.

Daphne: Shhh! I think I hear something in the bushes.

The others get out of the stream as quietly as possible There is definitely something behind the bushes. Panicked, they try to decide which way to run. As they start to run away from the bushes, they hear a familiar voice.

Stag: Girls! Don’t run away! It’s only us. We got bored by ourselves and decided to come over to see what you’re doing.

He looks very handsome, standing there and tossing his head. There are several young bucks with him. They have food and something to drink. The girls aren’t sure what to do.

Daphne: Stag! You can’t stay here. You know we’re not allowed to be with you.

Stag looks at her with big brown eyes.

Stag (sounding hurt): Are you kicking us out? We won’t hurt you. I promise. And I want you to try my special party mix. I think you’ll like how it makes you feel.

Stag wasn’t really sure what the special ingredient was. He had been in the forest and saw a field with some type of grass he couldn’t identify. He started to eat some of it and a human came out of the woods with a gun. He was waving the gun around and said. “Deer, you eat my weed and I’ll shoot you. Get out of here!” Stag had been very confused. He thought humans didn’t like weeds. In a few minutes he felt so relaxed he fell asleep. The next time he didn’t eat as much and just felt calm. He thought the girls might let them stay if they ate some.

Daphne: I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it. But after that, you have to leave.

 

The elder Bucks were relaxing at home. Suddenly they heard a crashing sound. Startled, they looked up and saw Violet’s father, Tiny. He was called Tiny because he was the largest deer in the forest.

Tiny: Hello, neighbors! I was out getting a snack and thought I’d stop by to see the girls. It’s getting dark, and I thought an escort home might be a good idea.

Mr. B: Excellent idea! I’ll come with you.

With Tiny stopping to graze regularly, it took the bucks a while to get to the meadow. When they arrived, they found the bucks and does sitting in a circle talking.

Mr. B: I thought we said no bucks.

Tiny: Actually we said no Stag. Let’s find out what’s going on. (Steps in.) Hi girls, how’s it going?

Violet (startled): Hi, Daddy. What are you doing here? (Looks at the bucks.) We were just talking.

Billy (stands up): Yes, sir. We heard the girls having fun in the water and came over. I hope we didn’t get anyone in trouble.

Mr. B: I guess there’s no problem. You boys are all part of the herd. (Looks around) Daisy, where’s Daphne?

Daisy (vaguely): She around here somewhere.

Mr. B: WHERE IS SHE?

Daisy points her nose toward the river. Mr. B walks over and finds Daphne and Stag nuzzling by the river.

The other deer can’t make out what is being said, but Stag comes crashing through the meadow into the woods. Daphne and Mr. B join the others.

Mr. B: Tiny, would it be OK for Daisy to walk home with you? I need to speak with Daphne privately.

Tiny nodded and all the other deer left the two of them in the meadow.

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in Animals, Stories

 

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A Mind Run Amok

Random thoughts that may or may not have something to do with being home sick last week.

Food

I’ve been reading about Pizza Hut and all of their new crust/topping/sauce combinations. And then thinking about how food companies tailor their offerings in different countries. Do you think a haggis/head cheese/kidney pizza would sell in Scotland? Or is that more of a Subway sandwich combination?

Back in the dark ages when people made gingerbread houses by hand, you had to make them close to Christmas so they’d still be edible on the holiday. People who were good at them (not me) spent hours making them look good. Now there are kits, so there’s not a lot of skill required. It appears that there isn’t any real time constraint either. The expiration date is months in the future. So is it already hard and dry when you make it?

Santa Claus

As we all know, Santa lives at the North Pole. We also know that the North Pole is only a set of coordinates because there isn’t any land/ice mass at the top of the world. So I’m thinking that his workshop must be on one of those really huge ice floes in the far north.

Since he lives on an ice floe, he’s probably going to be affected by global warming the same as the polar bears. Which brings up a series of questions:

  • Will he need to relocate operations?
  • Where would be remote enough to keep everything secret? Maybe Antarctica?
  • Would he pay relocation costs for the elves?
  • Would he offer any kind of training so they could move into another field?
  • Would he replace them with penguins who probably work more cheaply and don’t require housing?
  • Would he keep anyone at the old workshop or just close it completely down?
  • Are there any hazardous waste issues? Old lead paint?

American Football

Speaking of climate change, some of us in Michigan are wondering if the temperature may be dropping down in the underworld. You may have heard that the Detroit Lions qualified for the post-season with two games remaining. Of course, the next day they almost lost to the Chicago Bears who were playing with a backup quarterback who hadn’t started a game in three years. The same Chicago Bears they tore apart on Thanksgiving Day. Same old Lions.

On the other hand, have we finally seen the end of Bobby Layne’s curse?

You’ve never heard of Bobby Layne’s curse? Or Bobby Layne? He was an outstanding quarterback who led the Lions to several championships in the 1950’s. (Yes, you have to go back that far for the glory days.) In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was not happy. Layne responded to the trade by saying that the Lions would “not win for 50 years.”

For the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. The Lions were 1-10 in postseason appearances. The last year of the supposed curse, 2008, Detroit went 0-16 and thus became the first team to lose every game of a 16-game season.

In the 2009 NFL Draft, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford was an alumnus of Layne’s former school Highland Park High School and also lived in a house on the same street as Layne’s. Coincidence?

So what do you think: bad drafting/coaching/playing for 50 years or a curse? I’m going with the curse.

TV Commercials

Returning to the dark ages when I started watching football on TV, the commercials were mainly about beer and food. Then we moved on to ED. It was a little embarrassing, but probably a mass market.

As we get closer to Christmas, the commercials have turned overwhelmingly to jewelers. I understand that a lot of men propose over the holidays. And a lot of men buy jewelry at Christmas. But were there really that many who are watching the first college bowls this past Saturday who needed reminding that they were going to buy an engagement ring? An expensive engagement ring?

 

 clipart christmas, xmas, holiday, holidays, tree, trees, star, stars

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Humor

 

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