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)


I’m going to share a couple of little miracles we’re enjoying in our family and keep praying for another big miracle that is a much larger and pressing problem, also in our family.

The first miracle is pictured above. Sammy is our five year-old grandson in Phoenix who kicked in three goals today. Not such a big deal except the first three years of Sammy’s life were occupied by emergency room visits, inhalers, medicines and breathing apparatuses.

It seemed every time Michele and I visited Phoenix, Sammy couldn’t breathe. It seemed every time his family came to Washington, he couldn’t breathe. It was scary and seemed to be getting worse. Last year when we arrived at the Phoenix airport late one night, Sammy was once again in the emergency room.

I chalked up a chalk mark in my head giving Sammy pretty low odds of recovering. It didn’t look good from his history. To see the poor kid fight for air was scary.

But guess what? For the past year, he has been able to stay off the air mask and hospital visits. Pursuing activities that used to put him down now seem to make him stronger. I consider it a miracle and a cool development.

The next miracle is pictured below.IMG_3462

This picture is a new idea I’ve developed. I think I’m going to call it a “selfie”. Mark my words, people are going to copy me and it’s going to spread like wildfire.

It also marks Michele and my 39th year of staying married. If you’ve read my book, you’ll understand how hard it has been for me to hang in there and put up with Michele’s antics and shenanigans. We observed this anniversary by working in the temple pictured just behind us. Personally, I’m convinced the temple is one of the big reasons we’re still together.

We kill almost a full day each week working in the temple. It is the highlight of our week. I’m not bragging about any of this, I’m expressing gratitude that my life has turned out like it has. The faith I’m hooked up with answers so many questions that nobody else has the answers for.

Anyway, just like Jack Benny, we are grateful for the 39 years we’ve had.

The day before our anniversary was Valentine’s Day. We celebrated by going for breakfast to Cameo Heights with a couple of my sisters and their husbands.

One of my brother-in-laws has very dry skin. It’s so bad that this fastidious relative quit drying between his toes after he showered. He hoped that the moisture between his little piggies would promote a more normal skin moisture content. I don’t think it did.

So I asked him at our breakfast what his most favorite thing in the whole world was. He held up his little container and said: “My skin moisturizer!”

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Unfortunately, my sister heard him and came stomping over. I thought I better help get Tracy out of hot water so I asked again, “What is your favorite thing in life?”

He did a little better this time around. He said “My skin moisturizer and then my wife.”

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I’ve known Jill longer than I’ve known Tracy. She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer and just seemed happy to be included in the mix of Tracy’s favorites.

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After breakfast, we got the proprietor of Cameo Heights, Alan Fielding to snap a picture of us. My other brother-in-law Todd finished brain radiation a few weeks ago and had his kidney out week before last. So far he is doing great. I’m not sure if his glow is from the radiation or the great spirit he has.

He is the big miracle we’re hoping and praying for. My other brother-in-law Scott in Alaska with pancreatic cancer is also foremost in our thoughts and prayers.

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This is the winners playing ping pong after Todd and Lisa beat Michele and I at the Mansion. The only reason they beat us is because Todd had extra zing on his serves, I think it was solely attributable to the radiation boost.


See those cracks in this grain bin? Every bin makes these cracks every year and it’s a constant fight for the bin operator to keep the rain water from coming off the roof and seeping into the grain inside.

I filed a patent for a new gizmo to fix this problem. Sold my first units to fix the problem this last week and am pretty pumped about the possibilities. Every other week I have a new idea that’s going to fix the world. I wonder when one of them is going to pan out?


We went to the Country Mercantile today to celebrate our 39th. I delivered 20 books there a couple of weeks ago and they were down to three today. After we ate, I dropped off another box.


While we were eating, a guy bought a book and came over to our table and asked me to sign it. I was surprised he recognized me since I had my head in a vertical position while eating lunch.

Maybe I should start going down there everyday for lunch, sit on the stairs, crane my head around the corner and offer advice as to which book they should buy. By doing that, my head would be at a 90 degree angle and more recognizable to book buyers. That chink in the sheet rock would be perfect for me to rest my chin on.

However, I’d probably get thrown out for loitering unless I kept buying more sandwiches. I’m not sure the book sales would keep up with the sandwich purchases.

I guess I’ll never know if I don’t try it. Stay tuned.

Mail or Female?


My wife just turned into a mail.

In case you hadn’t noticed, she’s turning right.

But I better set the table for you. Since she can’t.

As recounted in my book, you may remember the time I took out six mailboxes in one drive by. I spent the entire afternoon replacing all six. Here they are 20 years later. Several have been replaced again since then.


Our box is second from the left. It’s worn out. The lid is operating on just one hinge and is quite a challenge for Michele and our mail female to open and close. I told Michele to order another one.


That’s how she ended up in the mailbox. I decided to try to teach her a lesson. Whenever she buys from Amazon, she buys the biggest item available.

I walked in the other day and saw this huge box on the table. I asked what was in the box and she said it must be mine. I opened it and informed her that it was the mailbox she ordered. She vehemently argued with me until I pulled it out and showed her.

Just the day before she ordered a pencil from Amazon. You can see it behind her in the corner.

The girl is always telling me I’m a pack  rat and I need to minimize. I tell her she needs to come to terms with her inferiority complex and quit trying to impress people with her big things.

I will never send her car shopping by herself again. If I do, I’m afraid I’ll come home from work and find an Abrams tank or a Freightliner in the driveway.

I’m also afraid Michele’s inferiority complex is going to spread to all our neighbors when I put up that monster of a male box. I’m not sure Karen, our mail lady, is going to be able to open it without assistance.

So the other night Michele and I dropped in for a bite to eat after spending the afternoon and evening in the temple. We had seen some old friends, Karl and Kathi, also at the temple earlier. They were already seated but I asked the girl if we could have a table for four. She took us to the table and then I walked over and grabbed K&K and dragged them over.


We had a nice dinner. And then Karl, totally out of character, pulled out a credit card and tried to pay for everyone. He acted like he didn’t know how to use the card so that I would jump in and say “Here, let me pay.”

Kathi kept saying “You usually never have trouble doing that, Karl.”

I just sat back and watched him supposedly struggle with the card reader for 10 or 15 minutes without saying a word. Finally, he got the job done.

Finally, I was able to say “Thanks, Karl.”

I really meant it. And I was so glad I asked for a table for four.




Some people work in fields that they really shouldn’t. Kind of like a one-armed drummer.  Kind of like an Afghan recruit doing jumping jacks.

Kind of like me running a business. Or being a Boy Scout safe-driving merit badge counselor. Or telling friends how they should invest. Or trying to count to ten using my fingertips.

Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

I could go on and on about the many hats I’ve worn, each of them far bigger than my head can fill.

When I was in college, I wasn’t sure what it was I should do so I took a vocational aptitude test. After testing, I was given one job that my test recommended fit me. It was…

A merchant marine. I had no clue what a merchant marine did but I figured it included a lot of bouts with sea sickness so I never enlisted or whatever it is you do to join up. We didn’t have Google back then (1976) so I’ve always been in the dark about the job. You know, the job that I should be doing.

We finally got Google so I looked up the job description of a merchant marine…

The unlicensed deck hands, also known as sailors or seamen, are in charge of loading and unloading the ship’s cargo, keeping the ship clean and performing minor maintenance duties. They also take turns on watch to prevent collisions with other ships or objects.

Here’s a picture of some merchant marines back in the day:

Image result for job duties of a merchant marine

I think I would fit right in.


Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

I wonder if anyone else takes vocational aptitude evaluations? And if of them landed anywhere close to what the quiz predicted they should be?




A Week Packed

The last week has been filled with news, most good. So much stuff I’ll just randomly list.

This is my nephew, Lance Gledhill. Back in the day when he had just gotten out of dental school, didn’t have two nickels to rub together and was open to any way of making a dime, I talked him into making a house call. His operation was a success.


I long for the good old days (like back in 2012) when doctors made house calls.


The other day I got my second crown within a month. This is that same nephew Lance masquerading as a dentist at Gledhill Dental.

Just before his assault on my mouth, his assistant was messing around in my pie hole and said something like “We’ve got to be careful, sometimes people get a gag reflex with this.”

I waited a few seconds and then emitted a very admirable and realistic gag motion with sound effects. I was not aware before this very moment that I was so skilled in this field. I was also amazed at how prolonged a period I was able to stretch it out.

The poor assistant didn’t know me. She thought she was going to have a mess on her hands (and feet). She jumped back with a horrified look on her face. I should have snapped a picture but I was too busy laughing. It made the normally rough dental experience totally worthwhile.

Lance does a great job. I’m going to stick with him until I can get my brother Brent to buy into my dental auction idea. When that happens, I’ll probably put my dental work up for bid and see which of my relatives can bid the lowest.

Speaking of my brother and bidding, here’s a very recent happening. Yesterday, he was at work being a dentist and between patients was bidding on some equipment in Portland. He is also farming and needs a few pieces of iron to get started back up.

He bought a truck, a trailer and an excavator in Portland. Sight unseen. Last night he was starting to worry that they are all junk since he didn’t get to check them out before the buy. It reminded me of some of my purchasing history.

So today he is driving his car to Portland, a good 250 miles away. He’s going to load the excavator and his car on the trailer and then pull the load behind the truck. It’s going to rain all day and has the possibility of turning out like my Columbia Gorge story from my book. Did I mention that he’s very concerned the stuff is junk?

I wished him well. I didn’t offer to accompany him. Last night may be the last time I ever see him.

And speaking of missing brothers, another of my brothers is building a big house. A couple of days ago Brad was on the roof trying to cover it with a tarp. Slip came to slide and down Humpty Dumpty went. It was a great fall just like the nursery rhyme claims.

Just as he got to the 20 foot high eave, he wisely leaped toward a ladder. About halfway down, he hit the ladder and bent it which kind of broke his fall.

He then continued his way expeditiously to the ground. He got scraped up and dislocated and shattered his elbow. He had a guy there helping him who went into shock. Brad said if he hadn’t hit the ladder, he would probably have died. He said there was lots of pain involved. I can relate. He had surgery and they installed a plate and some screws.

He’s not getting any younger. I shattered my elbow 20 years ago (book) and have first-hand knowledge of the recovery period he’s got ahead of him.

Just before I visited Brad yesterday, I talked to my sister Lisa and her husband Todd. They were just coming home from the doctor and were ecstatic. He had just gotten word that his bones were clean and had no cancer.

A couple of weeks ago he found out that one kidney, lymph nodes, both lungs and brain are riddled with cancer. He immediately began radiation on the brain. They are devastated by the news, as we all are, but are determined to put up a good fight. They had been told if it was in the bones, there’s was no hope. Like I said, they were ecstatic.


This is Todd and Lisa after finding out the clean bone news and getting through half of the radiation treatments.

Speaking of brother-in-laws, you may remember my wife’s brother Scott in Alaska battling pancreatic cancer. I love the guy and wish there was something I could do for him besides prayer.

And speaking of brother-in-laws, I invented up a little dealie for my brother-in-law Tracy to use to sell real estate. He’s the guy in the middle. Truly one of the best men I’ve ever known. (He’s among many.) His side kicks aren’t so bad either.


So this little thingy I invented for their business gave them cause to send me a check for $1800. As soon as I get the patent filed, I’ll say more about it. I’m cautiously excited.

And speaking of patents, my son filed an application for me on another invention yesterday. Here it is:


For a hundred years, grain bin owners have fought the problem of water pooling up on the concrete base and leaking under the bin. This problem rots the grain and rusts the bin. My Bin Skirt solves the problem. There are a million grain bins in the U.S.A.

My realistic aim is to retrofit 98% of those bins with my skirt. I thought about calling it the Ben Skirt but my wife vetoed that idea.

I visited some bin owners the other day since I was finally getting the patent filed. They were very upbeat about it. I called a big wheel in the grain bin business last night and he too was positive. This might be the one.

Yesterday I packed in a visit to the Country Mercantile. They were quite cautious when they started selling my book last year but are all in now. They’ve gone through 120 books and have agreed to give it a little more presence in the store. Jay Wood, the owner, has been very helpful in this marketing experiment.


To be clear, the 50% off sign does not apply to my book.

Speaking of the book, I’ve sent applications and correspondence to Costco about the book with no response, even though they promised one. Several times I’ve visited the store and spoke to assistant managers who just kind of passed the buck.

Well, yesterday I must have said the right stuff as I was able to weasel my way in and talk to the store manager. Without my previous travails, it never would have happened.

He was a nice guy and had some wonderful suggestions. However, now I’m starting to second-guess myself, kind of like Brent is doing right now as he drives to Portland. Speaking of Brent, I just spoke with him. The trailer wheels will not turn. I asked why he didn’t call up our baby brother Bryan who lives in Portland to come help him. Brent said he was too embarrassed about the junk he had just bought.

Back to my second guessing. Do I want to make a big sale to Costco? Say they order 40,000 books. I’ll probably make a buck or two at the most on each book. Costco doesn’t pay for your item until they sell it. If they don’t sell books, I get them all back. I wonder where my wife is going to store $200,000 worth of books about an idiot?

And I wonder what the bank will say when the note comes due.

Maybe I should just be content marketing to the Country Mercantile stores. They place their orders in 40 increment lots. I guess there’s not much of a difference. Just three zero’s.

I then stopped in to see Kevin Hague, owner of Hearing Healthcare Associates on Grandridge in Kennewick. I went to high school with Kevin, we played in the stage band together and then I had the great opportunity to be his trainer in the mission field in Pennsylvania. We had a wonderful time together.

As I walked in his office, a large picture, I should say pictures, assaulted my eyes on the wall. Here it is:


It was beautiful and awesome.

There are 3 unique things about it. What are they?

I was so struck that I asked where I could buy one. Kevin’s receptionist’s mom took the picture. I put in my order.

Kevin put my book up for display and sale on his counter.

This next stuff is cool for me but probably won’t mean much to you so you can stop reading now.

Kevin and I talked for a bit. I mentioned the name of a new friend I recently met who’s last name is Biesel. I mentioned his name and Kevin said he knew him from when he lived in Yakima.

I told Kevin that whenever I see this guy and think of his name, I am reminded of a family named Bieley. In 1975, Kevin and I met this family and shared our gospel message with them.

We rode our bikes from Lebanon to Cleona several times a week, on the same road I crashed and banged up my knee on. I might mention that it’s a little embarrassing to be in a suit and tie, riding a bicycle and then taking a header on the same asphalt that numerous cars and trucks are traveling on. Bicycle helmets were a thing of the future at that time.

The father of the Bieley’s played the organ (for pay) in the local Methodist church. However, the Bieley family belonged to a different religion Yesterday as we were talking and I brought up this family, I knew what that religion was but had a brain freeze. Kevin said “Yeah, it was the Bahá’í faith. I was amazed that he still remembered them 43 years later.

Possibly the reason we both remember them is the three very good-looking and kind daughters they had.

Speaking of memories, I’m convinced I’m in late stage Alzheimer’s. I ordered a bunch of packing and shipping supplies from a supplier in Spokane a month and a half ago. I told them to drop them off at Commercial Tire since the location we needed the supplies for is located another eight or so miles out in the boondocks.

The total for this bundle of supplies that I had already paid for was well over a thousand bucks. I immediately forgot about the whole deal.

A week or so ago, I decided to drive around my property (the tire store) and check things out. When I got to the truck slab, I saw this:


“Hmmm, I wonder what that stuff is?” I wondered snoopily as I drove by the truck slab. I stopped and sauntered over to take a look. I saw my name on the packing slip and suddenly the flood of memories came back into sharp focus. I was supposed to pick this stuff up a moon or two ago. It was still there. A little rain had wrinkled the cardboard but no matter.

The stuff was still sitting where the delivery service had dumped it! Nobody had bothered it. I was shocked.

For 24 years I ran the tire store. I was constantly getting ripped off. If we didn’t have everything of value locked up or brought inside, it would be gone by the next morning. If I dropped a nickel as I walked out the door in the evening, by morning the symbolic buzzards would have flown far-away with my five cents in their symbolic beaks. And many times, even locking the stuff up did nothing but encourage them (the buzzards) to break into the store.

I was reminded of another experience I had with Jay Wood back in the day. His backhoe and his back side are featured in the experience I’m thinking of. One of the reasons he is selling my book is I promised him that my book will never do the damage to his store that his backhoe did to my store.




Bye-bye plate glass windows, glass door, computers, inventory, etc.


To finish, last night we went to a Contra dance where Michele played. If you look closely, you can see the love of my life in her John Fogarty-like plaid shirt, making music just like John. If you look even closer at the 20 second mark, you can see my nephew/dentist swinging away on the dance floor. My brother-in-law/realtor Tracy is in the center, far to the back. Their wives Brittany and Jill are trying to keep up.

As for me, I danced a bit, aggravating my bone-on-bone knee. Spent the rest of the night hobbling around waiting for this eternal event to end.


I hate to cut it short but you gotta go. Me? I got no place to go.

Before you leave, cut and paste this post link to your facebook page. Also, pray for Todd and Scott. Thanks!



This morning I got a call from a propane dealer in Tacoma. He and his wife wanted to take a drive to Eastern Washington and rub shoulders with people on this side of the mountains and who he knew could talk common sense. He must be part of the 1% of the West siders who hang their hat on the conservative hat rack. I hear they’re an endangered species.

They also wanted to buy a YankATank. I told him I could ship it to him for a hundred bucks but he said he would rather get away from the morass of liberal nonsense for a few hours. He said spending three or four hundred bucks in time and fuel was far preferred to the alternative.

He and his wife showed up this afternoon. We loaded the YankATank in the back of his pickup and shot the bull for a few minutes. He mentioned that he had put in a 30,000 gallon propane tank at their yard in Tacoma. By the time he finished with all the fees and garbage the city required, they had nailed him for a couple hundred thousand dollars in red tape.

Just one of the things they required:

There was a fire hydrant just across the street at their yard but the geniuses at city hall told him he had to have a hydrant on his side of the street. It cost him $55,000 to put it in. They did it because they can do it. I guess the list just kept getting added on to. Business friendly in most government cubicles is actually spelled Charge ’em through the nose.

I would guess the chance that they’ll ever use that fire hydrant for a propane fire is 1 in 535,000,000,000. About the same chance as winning the Power Ball Lottery. But some municipal official is pretty happy with himself.

So recently, this guy and his company opened another facility but stuck it in an outlying town so they didn’t have to deal with bloated bureaucracy. When they called the town inspector to see what it would take to put the same size tank in their new yard, the official said he’d have to check to see what the requirements were.

They didn’t hear back from him so a week later they crossed their fingers and called the inspector. His response was something like this…”Well, we’ve never had a situation like this before. I guess just come in and pay the $25 fee and that’s all you need to do.”

This small town inspector hadn’t caught the highly contagious Bureaucratic, Power Hungry and Egocentric Flu yet. I do know that once an newby gov’t official catches the vision and the No production allowed, All red tape encouraged bug, amen and bye-bye to the common sense and helpfulness of that particular pencil pusher and/or department.

Since we’re talking propane, let me share something else that just came up.

You’ll probably find a few mistakes in my following commentary as far as correct grammar but it’s really nothing compared to the usual lingo I often see on the silver screen. Ok, let’s road the get on the show.

These days the literacy level of the average person is dramatically lower than it used to be. Every day I see examples. You can blame faulty spell checkers. Blame artificial intelligence. Blame the new-fangled math program even if it has nothing to do with literacy. Blame the stinking phone in everybody’s pocket. Blame the drastically lower attention span of a large segment of the newer generations. Or, just blame Trump since he can take the heat.

The latest literacy (and math) boo-boo occurred when I got on the Lowe’s site to look for a propane torpedo heater. I just can’t take it anymore without letting somebody know of my angst. Me: vent. Heater: non-vented.

Here’s the heater. There’s nothing wrong with the picture or grammar on the heater labels.

Dyna-Glo Delux 150,000 Portable Forced Air Propane Heater

The question below the photo posed to Lowe’s customer service by a potential heater buyer is where I started grinding my teeth. Here’s the question:

“approx how long does a 20 lbs of propane lank last for in a 60,000,000 portable forced air propane”

Take a look at that link, specifically the reviews. The third reviewer gave the heater one star simply because he knows absolutely nothing about the purpose and performance of a torpedo heater. He’s an idiot (It takes one to know one). I gave the fourth review. I offered the third guy $50 for his heater that he claimed was worthless.  They printed my stars but not my comment/offer.

I guess Lowe’s doesn’t want people wheeling and dealing on their review page.

Back to the comment that bugged me. “approx how long does a 20 lbs of propane lank last for in a 60,000,000 portable forced air propane” At first glance, you probably see nothing wrong with the verbage. But I do. So unlike the ventless heater, I will vent.

First of all, approx should be capitalized since it’s the first word of the sentence. Second, approx isn’t a word. And if it really was intended to be abbreviated, why isn’t there a period after it?

Third, it should probably read: “a 20 lb. tank of propane” instead of a 20 lbs of propane lank… Fourth, what in the heck is a lank? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and figure they mean tank. And lastly, where in the heck can you get a sixty million BTU an hour portable propane heater? I know Lowe’s doesn’t carry it.

From my propane days, I remember that a five-gallon propane tank legally holds about 4.7 gallons. That’s about 427,700 BTU’s packed in the little can. They are technically called 20 lb cylinders since that’s the weight of the propane you can get in it before you start flirting with a lawsuit.

If you hooked that 20 lb cylinder up to a 60 million BTU heater (such as this guy is looking for), you would burn through a five gallon tank of propane in about 20 seconds. I don’t think the liquid propane would even vaporize that fast and if it did, it would probably be classified as an uncontrolled explosion. 20 seconds is barely enough time to heat your barbecue up but is also likely to burn your house down IF you CAN get the heater fired up.

Of course, that could only happen if you had a big enough valve, regulator and piping system coming out of the tank. In fact, the valve would need to be about three times as big as the tank to handle the gas passing through. I don’t know if this guy cares about costs but I would guess a valve that size would run a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Of course, this heater line of Lowe’s is for vapor-fired heaters which are little bitty when compared to liquid-fired heaters. But that’s a whole ‘nother story (btw, is ‘nother a word?).

I admit, the whole thing is preposterous. The customer was probably meaning to ask about a 60,000 BTU heater but was probably thinking about that kid from Florida that just won 400 and some million dollars in the lotto. That would explain all his extra zeros.

It would take 665 gallons of propane to fire up the heater this dude is looking for and run for an hour. That would take 142 five gallon tanks, I mean 20 lb cylinders. His garage would be toasty for the rest of the afternoon.

I’d like to find out who this fellow is and go to work for him. Maybe he would get carried away when he was writing my check and throw a few extra zero’s down. But then again, he would probably spell my name Bent.

I think I could set up his heater for him. Just don’t call the inspector because in reality, the only propane training I ever received was from the School of Hard Knox.