Ben…
A Recovering Idiot (who often relapses)
Friend of many (or so he thinks)
Foe of one, two or maybe a few (hundred)
Grandfather of twelve (and not a bad one in the bunch)
Father of six (that he’s been notified of)
Married for 38 long, arduous and worthwhile years (readers of The Book all agree it’s a miracle)
Husband of one (which is fairly unusual for a Mormon)
Jack of no trades (and master of none)
Inventor (who’s not that successful but keeps the bills paid)
Dodged certain death at least 5 (00 times)
Broke 27 bones (and wondering which one will fail next)
Missing only two fingers (and had just one lobotomy up to this point)
Over the hill (and can’t remember if he was ever really on top)
Legal owner of Michele and this blog (his favorite?…depends on the day)

To be specific, last Thursday and Thursnight.

For a week, I’ve been sidelined by my right knee and ankle. Both are swollen and attacking my pain center every time I blink.

I have work to do. Waiting around for the swelling to go down is frustrating, especially this week since the joints continue to swell.

Michele talked me into going to the doctor. My attitude was getting pretty toxic so in order to keep her happy, I grudgingly agreed. I gingerly crawled into our van, laid my crutches on the floor and we headed to the medical center, Tri-City Orthopedic to be exact. I crutched my way into the fancy palace that I was about to start making payments on. I hadn’t been to this establishment for a while but I’ve been to it plenty over the long run.

You see, Tri-City Orthopedic was owned by Dr. Pettee and Dr Fields back in the Sixties. On June 1, 1968, I began doing business with them. All the fingers and toes that you own would not tally up to all the broken bones I threw down on their table after walking through their door. I consider myself to be a legitimate contender to the title of their biggest and best customer.

The girl at the counter handed me a clipboard and said “Since you’re a new patient, could you fill this out?”

Since I felt like I had seniority and was not a new patient, this bugged me. The fact that they wanted me to write a 110+ page novelette concerning my complete medical experience from A to Z bugged me a little more. When I got to the politically correct page, I scribbled in some bogus info that might slow them down for a bit in their quest to mine their patients for more and more information. I told them I’d like to be called Barbara.

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Finally, I got to talk to the doc. He must be a big fan of Dean Martin by all the albums and pictures he had scattered around on the walls.

I think he thought I was packing a few too many pounds around so he cured that by sticking a huge needle in my knee and drawing out 15 or 20 lbs of excess weight.

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When one of my daughter-in-laws saw this picture, she thought the doctor was asking me to cough. Actually, I was chewing one of my fingers so I could forget about the knee.

I was then told to go to get my prescription at Walmart and he would see me next week. He also set up a rough date in January for me to come in and get a new knee.

We headed to Pasco Walmart. It was about 6:00 pm. It wasn’t slick but there were a lot of idiots driving around. We passed at least 5 rear-end collisions on our way to Walmart. Red and blue lights, wreckers, cops, bent-up cars. I remember feeling two emotions as we passed all these wrecks.

  1. I was so glad I wasn’t in one of them. What a downer when you get in a wreck.
  2. I remember feeling superior as we sailed past each accident site. I was very aware that if not for my excellent driving skills, we might have been in one of those wrecks.

It was right about then that Michele said “Ben, watch out!”

I was still a little busy congratulating myself so I wasn’t all that aware of her voice. Then I heard a “BEN!!

It was right about then that I snapped back to reality. In a grandiose sweeping motion, I moved my crutches out of the way of the brake pedal with my good foot and jammed on the brakes with my swollen bad foot, powered by my soon-to-be-replaced knee.

Granted, my bad foot was a little slower and not nearly as aggressive as my good foot would have been but I think I looked less panicky and like I was more in control. Admittedly, it took far too long.

Unfortunately, we didn’t seem to have quite the stopping power I thought we did. We slid into a nice and new Cadillac with our 265,000 mile vab. The rest is kind of a daze. We made it to the Walmart parking lot where I got a ticket for following too close.

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As the cop walked up to talk to me, I realized my crutches were in plain sight and if I didn’t get them moved immediately out of sight, I might also be getting a ticket for impaired driving or driving under the influence of a buggered limb.

But not to worry! Because of my excellent crutch-moving skills, I deftly slid them under the seat and drove away with just one ticket.

I’m feeling pretty lucky that neither car deployed their air bags. It was a fairly bodacious collision!

I’m always hearing people say if you build a better mousetrap, you’ll make a lot of money. After many hours of tinkering around and watching the sparks fly, I think I’ve finally nailed it!

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The green fish-scented pellets are mouse poison. Mice love them! The only problem is they don’t eat the pellets, they carry them off for winter snacks when the snow flies. This leaves me with no bait to bring the next flock in. Maybe I should glue the pellets to the floor.

I stuck the pellets inside the mouse corral just to attract the mice. When the varmints enter or exit, I’m planning on them rubbing against the corral ring and no more mouse. I think 110 volts is enough to ground out the little buggers. Maybe I should install a mouse wash so they can be nice and wet before meeting their maker. That might be an added attraction that would bring even more of them in.

I think the warning sign is a good enough alert I won’t get sued. I guess I probably should check with Underwriter’s Lab and make sure I’ve got enough safeguards built into it.

I know the technical aspects of this device are far too complicated for the average person to comprehend. If you are familiar with electricity, you might just step back and study the picture for an hour or so. You just might catch the vision.

Just take my word for it. It works. One of the things I’ve noticed when I share my ideas with others is they always say “Why didn’t I think of that?!” I have no doubt this little baby will end up in that category.

If it appears by my high-classed and polished non-redneck inventions I’m making money, just remember looks can be deceiving. Over the years, many IRS agents have broke down in tears during audits when they realized I really truly wasn’t making any money.

I keep trying to come up with a break-out idea that will end my pauper’s existence. To tell you the truth, I’ve got two gizmos in the works that have great possibilities.

I won’t share them for the next month or so just to protect against knock-offs. I’m applying for patents on both.

My brother’s break out into guffaws whenever I say I’ve got “The One” just around the corner. Someday, they’ll be sorry.

 

Stay tuned.

 

The other day I stopped in at my brother Brent’s place and noticed Calvin was riding around the kitchen on his 3-wheeler. I kiddingly mentioned he should ride it down the stairs. Marcus suddenly got interested and since he was bigger, carjacked Cal’s wheels from Cal.

When he headed for the stairs, I got concerned. I told them I was kidding. I could tell they weren’t. They were both ready for the ride I suddenly started thinking should be called the Stairway to Heaven.

Calvin started the countdown and got ready to push.

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Suddenly I could see Marcus’s face pancaked on the solid-core door at the bottom of the steep carpeted cliff.

Suddenly I could see Brent and Kashann walking in the door just as the coroner pulled the sheet over Marcus’s flat face.

Suddenly I could see the newspaper headline:

“Old uncle eggs young nephew to commit suicide. Even though younger brother pushed, he will not be charged. However, multiple charges pending against Uncle Ben. Uncle’s bail set at 500 million dollars. Prosecutor Shawn Sant claims Uncle will never see the light of day again. Uncle whimpers ‘But Shawn, I thought we were friends.”

Suddenly I could see the mail lady delivering a certified letter to me from Brent, Kashann and their new lawyer called AC. I think AC stands for ambulance chaser.

I quickly tried shifting into my safety instructor mode. I ground some gears and rammed through a few layers of rust before finally finding the correct mode. It had been a while since I had ratcheted my transmission into that normally dormant and totally unfamiliar position.

“No!!!! Do not do that!!!!” Repeated ten times.

I then spent the next 10 minutes telling the uncomprehending lads why it was not a good idea. Over and over I stressed the danger. Then I went back down to work and stressed out all afternoon.

I knew the chances that they would obey my first command to ride down the stairs were about 90%. I knew the chances that they would obey my second command to NOT ride down the stairs were about 1%.

The other 9% were still up in the air, waiting to come down and crash into the downstairs solid-core door.

After work I went back up to the house. Brent and Kashann had gotten home. Calvin and Marcus were still breathing and Marcus didn’t look like a pancake. There were no coroners or newspaper reporters present. I was especially happy to see Shawn Sant was absent.

Maybe we’re still friends.

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of a Seattle Sonics fan writhing on the ground. Here’s the link if you haven’t read it: A slight discomfort. Must be a hangnail or something.

The thing I remember most about this event was writhing on the concrete. I never went in to have it checked since I’m very familiar with broken bones and know more broken bones than most docs in the biz.

I couldn’t get a shoe on for a few days after the initial crunching because of the swelling. When I went to church the next Sunday, I wore a thong. I must say it gathered quite a bit of attention.

After arriving home from church, I got a call from my good bishop. He politely told me that he had heard I wore a thong to church. He said he would let it pass this time but to never again show up for church again  in a thong. I’m not sure why.

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Lucky for me, since the swelling has gone down, I was able to get my shoe back on for church this week.

So I’m constantly hearing people claim one of two things:

  • They (half the people) think I take on a lot of accidents just so I have something to write about. I deny this absurdity because I DO NOT LOOK FOR PAIN. Period. To be honest, I think pain is constantly looking for me.
  • They (the other half of the people) think I fake accidents just to get people to feel sorry for me. I DO NOT NEED PEOPLE TO FEEL SORRY FOR ME. And taking on a boatload of pain just for sympathy is not my bag.

Actually, I think the reason I have so many accidents is because I get so much more work done when compared to the normal person. Therefore, it only stands to reason that since my work results skyrocket past Joe Average, so should my accident rate. Since I’m cranking out a workload that 50 normal people (or 300 govt’ employees) accomplish in a day, it only stands to reason that my accident rate would be higher than an average person compiles.

That, in a nutshell, is the reason. Super high performance necessarily calls for super high accident rates. And I don’t disappoint.

So today I recorded a replica of the accident I had a couple of weeks ago. Left footless shoe on same concrete, same motor, same force being exerted. Here is the video without any embellishment.

The only thing lacking this time is I didn’t have my foot in the shoe that got smashed. See, I do learn from previous incidents!

Please allow me to repeat the exact verbage…

Ouch! Doggoneit! Son of a revolver! Oh, Momma Mia!

For a more realistic reenactment, repeat phrases many and multiple times in a high-pitched and volume-turned-all-the-way-up voice and roll around on the concrete like you’re on fire.

 

Our daughter Meg and her family visited us this week from Phoenix. She treated us to a couple of days at Suncadia, a resort around Cle Elum.

Grandkids Sammy and Josie asked for a drink of water. I told them to get seated at the table.

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Obedient kids.

Grandpa won’t disappoint them if they are obedient.

They got their water. On the table.

Too bad their arms are so short.

 

 

In September, we changed the design on one of our products. Here’s why:

We make and sell one-ton square bale feeders. It is a hassle to build and paint them and then try to figure out how to ship them to Texas, Oklahoma or California. They take up a lot of room which makes it prohibitively expensive to ship.

So I came up with a plan to tear them apart and ship the parts on a pallet. This complicates the construction but theoretically will make shipping much cheaper and easier.

This is our first palletized bale feeder. It takes a couple of hours for the customer to assemble.

 

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But before we built and sold an actual unit, I figured we better make sure the sectionalized pieces would hold up. So…

We built a guinea pig bale feeder and loaded a bale on it. (Note: “Guinea pig” is a term used for a test unit. However, I guess a guy could feed guinea pigs with it and call it a guinea pig bale feeder. I imagine a one-ton bale flaked off the bale feeder would feed a family of guinea pigs for a good 60 or 70 years.

This is a guinea pig north of the border:

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This is a guinea pig south of the border:

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This is a guinea pig far east of the border:

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This picture reminded me of a trip I took to Hong Kong in the 80’s. The first day our group arrived, we were taken to a Chinese version of Roy’s Chuck Wagon. One of the dishes we were fed seemed little strange. It was kind of like chicken but not exactly.

The rest of the week we noticed there were no loose cats in the city. However, there were a lot of them in cages, especially at the open-air food markets. We realized that we had probably initially feasted on Garfield and Felix.

Back to the feeder…

So I wanted to insure our new version of the shippable bale feeder would hold up in rough conditions. I hooked it up and as usual, didn’t buckle up.

I took off as fast as I could and headed for any gutter or bump I could find. It was a crazy high-speed and bouncy ride. By the time it was over, I was almost regretting my stance on seat belts.

The frame held up admirably. The weak links that I feared might bend, didn’t. However, when I tried to extricate the bale with the forklift, it wouldn’t budge. I discovered hay bales are naturally attracted to bale feeders. Once they mate up, they’re just like a couple of teenagers and very hard to separate.

I lifted and tugged. Finally I lifted too much and over the feeder went with the bale still refusing to let go.

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Once I got the bale and feeder separated and the feeder back on it’s feet, I crawled up on top of a grain bin and started working. But the work soon stopped as an unusual dust storm started gathering up steam just to the south of my location.

I have a wonderful neighbor who I’ll call Aaron. Aaron is a glutton for keeping his farm neat and immaculate. He sprays his ditch banks for weed control countless times each summer, whether they need it or not.

I spray my lot at least once every five or ten years, whether it needs it or not.

He runs a scraper over his ditch roads on a regular basis to keep them in a freeway-type condition. When I looked for bumpy roads to give the bale feeder a wild ride, I didn’t even think about heading in Aaron’s direction.

While working on top the bin, in the distance I heard a strange noise but didn’t look up until it got fairly close. When I did look up, all I could see was a wall of dust. I reached for my phone but didn’t get a picture until the unusual sight rounded the corner and the dust was a little less dense.

 

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My neighbor was going over his road once again. But this time I arrived at the conclusion he had finally gone over the edge. He is so fixated on making his ditch road the smoothest in the nation, he cut down one of the trees in his yard and was using it to sweep up and finish the job. He sacrificed a beautiful tree for a smoother ditch rider’s road.

He’s lucky he doesn’t live in California or Seattle. I think they give guys like Aaron 25 years to life if they cut a tree down.

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If I had my plane back, this road is so smooth I could probably take-off and land on it. Steering around the corners might be a little tricky but I’ve had bigger challenges.

Usually I’m the one at the end of the day looking like Pigpen from Charlie Brown. On this particular day, undoubtedly Aaron won the title.