Things were a lot different when I was a teenager. Back then, when the phone rang, we answered it. Post haste pronto. In fact, we ran and fought over who was going to answer first. Back then, we were on a party line. If we didn’t answer it, our neighbors would.

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I wonder if there’s a kid in the USA who has any idea what a party line is (or was)?

Sorry, I can’t help myself…

AnsweRING a phone’s ring  was paramount because we didn’t have answerRING machines or Caller ID. The calls were so much more important and almost sacred to the recipient. They were special, especially if the call was made long distance.

And the ring itself? It was an authentic telephone bell being rung without all the fake bells and whistles of today’s world.

A techno but normal speech-impaired teenager in today’s world won’t answer the phone. They simply refuse. I’ve watched this phenomenon in person. Time after time. I have to fight the urge to walk over, snatch the plastic screen out of their hands and answer it myself.

Or, even better, put them over my knee and do a little i-phone-paddling. That too is a lost art form. Especially in the schools where it’s needed most. I know it kept me and my buddies in line, at least a time or two.

Back to the missed call. There is no doubt in my mind that the caller on the other end of the line would be over the age of 40. In fact, I’d be willing to bet 100 shares of AT&T stock on it. If I lose, give me a call to collect. For the first time in my life, I won’t answer.

There is no doubt (at least in my mind) that it is nigh impossible for anyone born after 1985 to stop texting and start talking.

Why? I think it’s because they have never learned the social art of conversation. Their social art is text, text, text. That’s it. And they’re not even that good at it. You might say they’re all thumbs.

Or maybe they can’t hear. Since texting came into play, there is no need for sound. The hearing genes haven’t been utilized for decades now. Pretty quick, these kids are going to start being born without ears.

All a teenager in today’s world has learned is to understand acronyms, send emoji’s, dabble in internet slang and see how fast he can move his thumbs. From morning until night. No talk, all text.

Even my kids who are in their 20’s and 30’s won’t answer their phones. It drives me nuts! I know I didn’t raise them that way.

And what happens if I want to talk to Michael, my youngest man-child? Forget it. The next time I see him in person after trying to call him ten times, he says “What’d you want, Dad?”

Will? NOpe with a capital NO.

Christianne? She’s a little better.

Once in a while she even answers. But then again, she’s got three kids. Most of the rings I send to her probably get lost in the ambient noise pollution of her castle hallways.

But my older kids will pick up on most occasions. The discerning factor is they were born in the early 80’s. Texting and the alphabet hadn’t been invented yet.

They must know I’m calling long distance when they answer. Maybe they have been gone long enough that they are starting to miss the sound of my voice. They might even be thinking that any day now I might fall off a grain bin and quit calling their Apple. At least that’s what I call it.

When I was fifteen I would have had no clue what ringing an Apple I-Phone meant.  My closest guess would have probably been throwing a Red Delicious at the Liberty Bell. And guess what? Nowadays, like the real ring, the Red Delicious is almost obsolete.

If the younger generation doesn’t wake up and start answering the dang phone, the Liberty Bell and everything else we hold dear may disappear too. Just like the telephone ring.

 

Don’t forget to read my previous blog posts telling you how to become eligible for the big $500 giveaway this Saturday!

Today was a great Sundae.

Yesterday was not such a great Saturdae for Christine Jenks. As one of my Facebook friends, her number was drawn but because she wasn’t a Follower of this blog and neglected sharing it on Fb, she missed out collecting $500.

I saw her at church today and tried to make her feel a little better by presenting her with an imaginary cashier’s check, payable to Christine Jenks and signed by me. She seemed pretty happy about that. She’s a good sport.

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Walking down the hall immediately after presenting Christine with her imaginary cashier’s check, I saw Brent Rowley, a guy I can really empathize with…

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I empathize with him because……he’s about to get married.

 

Also, I can empathize with him in a minor sort of way because he did the same smashing and slicing damage to the exact same two digits I once did on the same left hand.  If he was bald and 70 years older, we’d look like twins.

So last week I was at a cousin’s funeral in Cheney. I was reminiscing about her life along with thinking about her parents who passed years ago. There was so much I knew and loved about their lives and yet so much more I wished I knew. I would love autobiographies of their lives but doubt they were written.

Just then I got a text from Steve Anderson, a friend who serves on our church’s stake high council. He asked me to speak with him at a young singles branch in Pasco today. The age group of these young’uns is about 18-30. He said the subject was on Family History which struck me as very interesting as that was the very subject I had been contemplating the moment he texted. I said “Sure”.

I got loaded for bear during the week. I prepared a massive talk and just to get my point across, I took a very large binder titled Ben Casper Family ’79-84 filled with pictures and information that my wife had compiled. She has several more of these monsters from ensuing years but I didn’t have a trailer behind my pickup so there is no way I could have hauled the entire shipment to the meeting. I scaled down my bookmobile idea and grabbed just a few more books.

I took my autobiography titled Recovering IdiotI took my Mom’s hardback history titled Dreams Really Do Come True. I took my Dad’s hardback A Farmer’s Life. Three more hardback copies by Michele about our family were rounded up and thrown into the basket by our front door that used to hold shoes. I threw the shoes out to make room for the books. This little action didn’t not endear me to Michele for the next hour or so.

A Casper Family History-Nauvoo Temple Story completed the abbreviated sample Family History library. The basket was now overfilled and ready for transport and eventual display.

It was a warm summer morning and I worked up a good sweat before I got the library loaded into our van. There would have been a lot less perspiration if I had done the job in my swimming suit with the sprinklers on.

Instead, I wore a white, long-sleeved shirt and tie with a suit jacket. Oh yeah, on this particular Sunday I decided to wear pants since I had some that matched the jacket.

I have to admit that I do a lot of sweating in church. Church keeps things real and focused on things in life that really matter. I’m far from perfect and I guess that’s what kicks the sweat glands into production as soon as I walk in the steepled building. However, it’s a good sweat since I’m working to stay on the path.

We arrived in Pasco. I gave my talk. It was much shorter than expected. Unbeknownst to Steve and I, the mission president, his wife and several other speakers and music numbers were also on the agenda. I transitioned my talk from 5 pages to 3 paragraphs.

The branch president is a friend of mine from way back named Karl Eppich. Karl is a great guy but a little mixed up.  Perhaps psychopathic schizophrenic is a term that might apply although that’s perhaps a little too mild. The Eppich name hails from Germany but Karl is 100% Jew, through and through.

Years ago my wife played a major and great practical joke on me (it’s in my book) and to make it happen, distributed a bunch of my cash at the outset of the prank to my friends including Karl. They were supposed to give it to me when the joke went down. When it came time to make the joke happen, Karl refused to give my cash back. It took much coaxing and prodding from the other 25 people in the room for Karl to unclench his fist from around my wad of cash.

So this morning, Karl was presiding at the meeting. As I spoke about my wife and family, I started tearing up a little. I looked around the pulpit for some Kleenex’s but saw none. Someone went out to get some.

As I continued speaking, I felt a movement on my side. I was startled but finally noticed that kind President Eppich had slipped his handkerchief past my side on to the pulpit in front of me in case the tears started flowing.

I couldn’t help myself. Because it had slightly interrupted my train of thought, I said “Oh, I thought Karl was trying to get my wallet but I guess he was just giving me a hankie.”

I guess everyone there must know Karl quite well because they all responded with understanding laughter.

We headed home after the meeting. After traveling a few miles, I noticed my wallet was gone. That darn Karl.

As we approached Basin City, Michele said she had to go back to the church to teach a lesson for the third hour of church. I figured I had already done enough church stuff for the day and told her to drop me off at our house. She said that was fine but if I was going home, I would have to fix dinner.

I decided to head back to church. It turned out I was glad I did.

The last half of second hour was happening. I walked into the Sunday school class and guess who was teaching it?

Christine Jenks. The girl who had missed out on the cash the day before. She was talking about how hard it was when they lost their baby a few years ago. She just couldn’t get over the pain and loss. I remember how devastated she and her husband were.

Later on, she talked to Bishop Nielson about her ongoing struggle. He asked her if she had turned it over to Christ. It took her a bit to relate to what he was conveying as he had to repeat the question. The realization began to settle on her soul that this was the only way she was going to be able to deal with it.

I’ve had and ongoing situation in my life is not nearly as serious as the one Christine and Kameron have endured but still has been something that has really bothered me. I realized while listening to Christine that that’s what I had to do.

No other fix available in this world will heal and bring peace like the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He has descended below us all and paid the price for all sins, losses and pain.

But it is only available for those who humble themselves, believe in and learn of Him, and seek to live His Gospel.

I know this is true but once again I had to be reminded by His Spirit (and Christine) to make it happen in my mind, heart and life. Thanks, Christine.

Now I really feel bad that she didn’t win the money.

So we came home for lunch. Michele fixed it. My wallet was still missing. That darn Karl. We ate and then I had to rush out the door to Home Teach a couple of families since it is getting close to the end of the month.

As I jumped into the 120 degree summertime cook-off van and drove up to the hill country where our families live, my nose started bleeding. I don’t know if traveling to the higher altitude (it’s at least 300 feet higher than the bottom lands of Basin City where I reside) or if it was just the hot weather, but I was in a pickle. The heat was not allowing the blood to clot and it was all I could do to keep my white Sunday shirt from turning polka-dotted red.

I picked Mel up (we are home teaching companions probably because we each are missing fingers) and we made our way to Phyliss and Merlin’s home. The nose was still dumping blood. Phyliss got me an ice bag and after a few minutes of the cold compress, the bleed went away and everything was fine. I greatly appreciated the help. As always, we had a nice visit.

We then visited our other family, the Hawkins. I’ve been home teaching them for 4 or 5 years now. Home teachers are supposed to bring goodies and do nice things for their families. Today, Mel and I walked out of their home, each carrying a bag of peaches. Every month, we arrive without gifts and leave with vegetables, fruit, apple cider or whatever is in season at the time.

I love the Home Teaching program. I love the families we visit. Salt of the earth people.

Speaking of salt, I guess I did take a gift to the Hawkins at least one time. I had a Bug-A-Salt gun which after a few pumps, sprays a few grains of salt out the end of the plastic barrel and obliterates the fly. After a previous visit to their home (which is somewhat close to a dairy), on the next visit I gave them the gun. We don’t live close to a dairy. They do.

I haven’t noticed any flies in the Hawkins ointment since the A-Salt weapon placement.

The topping on this Sundae came from Tyler as we left the Hawkins home. He informed me that he had started to reread my book for the second time. That made my day since it is 523 pages. His generation usually can’t stay focused on anything longer than a tweet.

My vote is for Tyler to win the 500 bucks. I get more comments and compliments from him concerning the book and blog than anyone else. It’s just too bad I’m not the one picking the winning names. I should say that many people have been throwing out compliments and I thank you all for that.

Today was a very productive day. It was one I would not have experienced if I was a scoffer and a doubter. Nor would I have experienced it had I been working at the shop, recreating on a lake or enjoying God’s great outdoors. I get to do that 6 days a week. (I’m not talking about the scoffing and doubting.)

Instead, I got to experience God’s great indoors, take the sacrament and give Him the day a week He has always asked us for. Living in this realm allows me great comfort when loved ones pass on or when life gets hard. When I contemplate the love I have for my family or when I really mess up, His undeniable Spirit is there to insure against loss and help me carry on.

I know that building a relationship with the Savior is just like building a business. The more we put into it, the bigger it gets and the more we get out of it.

Tomorrow I’m going to throw the books out and put the shoes back in the basket. Michele will be happy. Then I’m going down to Karl’s and look for my wallet.

 

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The excitement is just  like Christmas morning except I get to experience it every Saturday.  I woke up at 5:00 and rushed to my computer to see who was going to be the lucky number and corresponding person. Here it is…

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So I spent a while counting friends and ended up twice at Christine Jenks, so she is the declared selectee in today’s drawing!

I was so excited! I knew this family had fallen on hard times lately and I was so glad I could help them get back on their feet. And then the hammer dropped.

I didn’t see any RecoveringIdiot.com shares on her Fb page. I have to assume she’s not a follower on the blog site either. Christine, let me know if your records are any different.

It’s really a shame that I can’t give her the money. I called her husband Kameron and told him about the missed opportunity. The poor guy started crying. He coaxed and pleaded.

“We’ve been living off income from my dad’s record sales. To tell you the truth, we haven’t seen much come in lately.” I found that hard to believe but Kameron said he would send me a picture that the recording company took. Here’s what he sent me…

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I told Kameron I had no idea his dad was a musician. Why, the last time I sat by him in church, he couldn’t carry a tune. His dad’s name is Vard and he is a great guy. So to hear that Vard and Kameron are relying on Vard’s music income leaves more questions than answers.

I know a couple of years ago Vard was inducted into the Washington State Wrestling Hall of Fame. Maybe he should quit the fiddle and get on the World Wrestling tour.

Remember when I talked about sitting by monotone Vard in church? Look at the picture closely and you’ll notice just how low Vard’s sock budget is.

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Kameron was so disappointed to hear that they missed out on the money by not following and sharing my blog. “We really could use the cash. We’ve been having a lot of bad luck lately. Come on, Ben. I won’t tell anybody. You can fudge the rules just a little. Whadda say?”

I told him that maybe he should change the spelling of his last name to Jinx. That made him cry even harder.

I told him if word got out that I gave money to an ineligible blog non-follower, I’d probably get hit with a class action lawsuit from my other blog-following Fb friends.

“But you don’t know how desperate we are for the money. I’m broke and out of work. Pleeease…” I told him I was sorry.

“Well, could you at least spare me a five?” I said “Sure”.

So I put the money in an envelope and ran it out to the mailbox. He’ll get it first thing Monday morning. I even put in a little extra to help him quit crying. I’m glad to help whenever I can.

But I really have no idea how a nickel is going to help him out. And I’m pretty sure the extra two cents I threw in won’t make much difference either.

My advice to the Jinx’s and everyone else. Make yourself eligible or you might be the next loser.

(Permission was received from the Jenks before this was posted. Every thing in this post is true except their income and Vard’s virtuosity as a violinist. The hole in the sock was not photo-shopped in.)

 


 

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I got a note today from a national trade mag called BPN that they are going to publish one of my recent posts. I have been patting myself on the back all day because of my excellent writing skills. I came home and told my wife Michele the exciting news.

Immediately she kicked in her Keep Ben in His Place posture and brought me back to reality.

“Isn’t this the outfit that we pay eight hundred bucks a month to for advertising?” she asked. “Sure they’ll publish it. Why wouldn’t they throw your little article in the back of their rag just to keep you throwing money at them?”

I didn’t have an answer. I never do when she starts throwing her darts to see how many of my  bubbles she can pop in one sitting.

Perhaps if I showed her my article, she would change her tune. For the first time in almost 80 years, or so it seems, just maybe she would change her tune.

Michele loves to read. She’s been in at least 6 book clubs since we’ve been married. I’m not kidding! She was the impetus that got the library started in Basin City. I’m not kidding! So wouldn’t you think she’d enjoy reading my doodling from time to time? The short answer is no. The long answer is no way.

So ya’ll have probably gathered by now that I like to write. And my dear wife likes to read. But mating up her reading with my writing is like trying to be Noah when he gathered up the animals before the flood. By the time it started raining he had only been able to get one bull rhino and one female poly wog on the ark.

All the other animals told Noah they’d hop on the big cruise ship as soon as the rain let up. I often feel like Noah.

Our situation just doesn’t breed a lot of reader/writer synergy. Noah would be more likely to have a rhino wog after 40 days and nights than me make Michele have a normal person’s belly laugh while reading my work.

After a little pleading and a lot of begging, Michele sat down and started scanning my masterpiece. When she reads my stuff, I have to watch and listen very closely.

Once in a while, I try to incorporate a little humor in my ramblings. When I write something funny, I laugh and laugh. Sometimes I roll on the floor. Often my sides hurt and my head feels like it’s going to explode. This is why I write. And once in a while I hear from others that they have the same experience.

And so, a conundrum. The most important person in my life becomes a zombie when appraising my material. If I didn’t know better I would think she didn’t love me anymore. Her eyeballs scarcely flicker and even that only happens when she goes to the next paragraph. Almost never do I hear a sound or notice any facial movements.

A couple of times when she was reading my stuff, I frantically picked up the phone and dialed 911.  The girl was comatose. It looked to me like the breath of life was gone in my dear reading companion. For far too long there had been no movement on her part. I thought she was dead.

Her eyes were still open and glassy but that didn’t mean she was alive. I’ve seen plenty of cowboy movies where dead guys still had their eyes open. And glassy too, just like Michele.

One of those times I tried to close her eyes with my fingers but that didn’t turn out so well. It’s lucky that I had already called 911 because when the ambulance got to our house, the EMT’s ended up reviving me. I had a swollen black eye and a major headache.

The EMT’s asked me if this was a domestic dispute but I had no idea. The last thing I could remember was trying to close Michele’s eyes. Speaking of eyes, my eye was throbbing to beat the band. I was slightly grateful that Michele hadn’t died like all those cowboys.

When Michele reads my stuff, I can tell when something is really funny. I mean knock-down, drop-dead hilarious. When that occurs, on very rare occasions I might add, I have learned to pick up some subtle changes in her demeanor.

She emits what I call a “snail snort”. This is her guffaw.

Her face doesn’t change. No laughter or audible expressions are present. However, I can hear a very subtle and brief exhalation of air from at least one of her nostrils. After decades of marriage, I have learned to recognize that her guffaw or “snail snort” is her raucous laughter.

I call it a snail snort even though it is less detectable in decibels than when a snail snorts. Also, snails are somewhat slow to respond and…there you have it. Michele’s response to my ramblings.

Back to the present. I was able to talk her into sitting down and reading the article that BPN is going to kick out in August. It’s their safety edition. They decided that my experience from a week or two back where I almost bled out on top of a grain bin would fit right in to their topic of the month.

When I talked to the editor, she said something about they were sure their readers would all be more committed to safety and retrain their employees to not be totally stupid and idiotic like…then her voice trailed off.

So Michele sat down and read my article. This is the really fantastic part. I am sure I heard three very loud laughs, four giggles and one large guffaw. All toned down to Michele’s style of expression. Remember, I and only I can detect these flat-line-to- everyone-else responses.

From this little reading session and vast marital experience, I have very high hopes concerning BPN’s readers approval.

If you like these posts, share on Facebook and become a Follower at the top of this page. If you don’t, you might miss the next post as well as not being eligible to win $500 Saturday.

If you don’t like these posts, maybe you should join my wife’s book club.

 

If you’ve got the book, make points by sending some copies to your friends.

If you don’t have it, now’s your chance to fix that omission.

Click on the book to see what you’re missing out on.

Thanks to all who are becoming followers, readers and leaving comments!

Recommend this blog to your Facebook friends. Here’s the link…recoveringidiot.com

 

 

A bit of the carnage…

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Today was unique because I quit. Just like last week was unique too. Two weeks in a row of quitting. Usually I don’t quit. I just keep mindlessly plugging away.

I laid an corn-storage idea egg seven years ago. I sat on it for a few days and then set to work. I have constantly been hatching, setting it up on the wall, watching it crash, gluing it back together and rehatching it for the entire seven years span. Just like Humpty Dumpty, except it goes on and on.

It has been full of interesting, tedious,  finger clipping (not fingernail clipping), exhilarating, risky and high-wire acts pretty much daily. I’ve made a little money on the enterprise but have invested and shed far more cash, time, blood, sweat and tears throughout the ordeal.

 

Many advisers (wife, family, friends) have tried mightily each of those seven drought-infested years to get me to stop the madness. But I’m not a quitter. I may be an idiot but I’m not a quitter.

Just a few snapshots of my seven-year Biblical drought, efforts and carnage…

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No grain bins on earth have experienced the gyrations these bins have endured. Lucky for me, Behlen are well-built.

Precarious is the only word I know that can describe the work. On my second generation modification, I spent over a year reinforcing, ductifying and cutting more than 600 holes in  7 bins. Most of them were high in the air.

It worked but didn’t. I spent another year plus uninstalling ducting and uncutting holes.

At one point, through some very unique circumstances, I was forced to divvy out $200,000 for 5 minutes worth of help on another generation of this new-fangled technology. It’s a crazy story but happens to be true. In fact, the latest baby I’m throwing out with the bathwater on this present day is now 4 years old and was conceived during the aforementioned 5 minutes.

I get in some of the darndest situations.

But at this point, corn harvest is just around the corner and I’m tired of the grind. Months and more months of rebooting lie ahead of me with no boot laces left. I finally saw the light. This must be the month of the Quit.

I’ve purchased tons of brand spanking new sheet metal and equipment and am now chucking everything that hasn’t already been chucked.

I’m not a Has Been. I’m more of a Has Ben or Has Bin.

And speaking of quitting, last week I gave up on an old friendship that was a golden oldie. However, in the last decade I’ve noticed it turning moldy, far worse than some of the corn I’ve experimented with.

I didn’t throw it out initially since I had hope that things might get rectified. In fact, I’ve made efforts over the last 10 years to initiate dialogue and circumvent this particular quagmire but finally gave up and quit last week. It brought some relief to yell “Uncle” and alleviate the churning.

There has to be give and take in a relationship on both sides. Without pliability, sooner or later it’s adios amigo. In this case, that didn’t happen.

Everyone is different. To some it’s all about the dollar. For others it’s more about the doughnut. I much prefer putting the buck on the back burner and eating a few doughnuts with a frosting of good friends.

I know forgiveness is the key to resolving conflicts like this humdinger. Perhaps with all the quitting I’m doing, I’ll quit experiencing the automatic reactions that pop up whenever I drive by the old buddy’s place. I know it’s a must-do exercise before the peace can set in.

Back to the corn bins. Seven years of thinking the only one way to proceed is to never give up doesn’t change easily. With this project it remained embedded in my head morning, noon and night.

But today I gave it up. But today turned out better than I anticipated.  As the grain bins that always need work heated up, I adjusted to the reality. I felt more and more at ease with this morning’s new viewpoint. And then a few good things happened.

I had a  visitor who has been using a unique item I developed and manufactured. He was very happy with my product and ordered more. Then again, maybe he’s happy with it just because he hasn’t paid me for the three units he’s already taken possession of.

I’m quite sure he’ll pay the bill and we’ll stay buds. Mainly because he’s a great guy, runs a real estate company (Lybbert Fielding Real Estate in Pasco) and is also my brother-in-law.

The possible market potential for this item probably is in the tens of millions. I picked up this talking point as a brand new inventor some 30 years ago and have used it daily ever since.  (My wife complains that I talk this way about every new idea I work on which averages about one a week).

I really do believe everyone is going to be beating a path to my door as soon as I work the bugs out!

I also had a couple of calls today that might change the course of Moveitinc.com in a big way. By the way, I’ve never had one single call similar to both calls I got today. I have no idea if these communications will pan out.

Another great thing happened this afternoon. I got a new sheet metal/grain bin idea so it looks like I’m back in the hunt. The possible market potential for this item probably is in the tens of millions.

I’m sure Tommy Edison experienced these same emotions every time he gave up for good and then changed his mind the next morning. I’m sure his wife had the same dour comments that I also hear on a daily basis.

I’ve got to go. Corn harvest is just around the corner.

Note: I haven’t heard anything from Al Yenney. He’s the guy who was picked last Saturday to receive $500 if he was following and sharing this blog. I thought I would hear a word of thanks from him concerning the complimentary words I scribbled about him after he was drawn.

At the least he could have called me up and complained about missing out on the cash.

I just hope whoever gets drawn this Saturday has followed the easy but necessary steps in order to be eligible for the cash!

 

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Read the reviews.  Paperback or Hard Cover.

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