Black Friday Shopping? Not on Your Life

Not Shopping Today

It was reported that 37 million shoppers will be out searching for bargains this Thanksgiving weekend.


I won’t be one of them.

You see, I’m not a shopper but a buyer. Most men I would think, fall into the same category.

When my shoes reach the age of a little leaguer, they just might need to be replaced.

I simply go out to the shoe store or a local Fleet Farm and buy a new pair. No more than two stops.

If they aren’t in my price range, I’ll wait a while or ’til next year if need be.

Same with clothes, except that I do experience some “closet shrink” and might need to update my wardrobe more often. For a wedding or something.

Black Friday began as the day that retailers claimed to finally be “in the black” as far as annual profits were concerned. That and the Christmas holiday season provided the impetus to go over the top for most sellers.

I hope they don’t count on me. It ain’t gonna happen.

My slippers have just a small hole in the toe of one while a pair of my most comfortable loafers (chuckle if you must) just wore out and need to be replaced.

That leaves me with two pairs of shoes, both too nice to be worn just around the yard.

The pressure is now on, to buy.

My wife handles the Christmas shopping which is a good thing. Otherwise, the kids might never have gotten any presents over the years. Maybe gift cards or cash.

I get a kick out of the holiday car commercials on television.

Rather than offer a new Lexus or Jaguar(pronounced snobbishly: jag-u-are) for sale, maybe they should advertise a ten-year old pickup truck with a bow on it. That would get my attention.

Diamonds? How on earth did I ever find someone who doesn’t care for jewelry?

Thanks, sweetheart.

I have shirts older than our first-born.

Maybe I exaggerate a little. He’s forty-four.

Socks and underwear? These need to be replaced a little more often, depending on the condition of the elastic.

I created the bacon collared tee-shirt.

A news report told of a practice whereby  online retailers price their products according to the buyer’s location, device used and previous purchases.

Good luck creating an algorithm that reflects the spending habits of a demographic, whose biggest purchase in the last year was a new spinning rod.

I buy through word of mouth advertising. “Hey, I heard that a friend of my brother’s boss has a used lawnmower for sale.”

“New” to me, means “different.”

Cars, the aforementioned truck, a boat, appliances,  tools, a snow blower.

There’s not much I wouldn’t buy “previously owned” except maybe…

Many years ago I did go shopping with my wife and then, teenage daughter.

I couldn’t handle it at all.

While they were browsing the many aisles and items for sale I would pace, and hover, and sigh each time they moved farther from the check-outs.

My daughter finally had enough and declared, “Dad, you just don’t know how to shop.”

Thank you.





Thanksgiving 2016


We have too much.


I went to buy cereal the other day and found two aisles, 76 feet long, 5 rows high with breakfast cereals.

Stopped counting at 600 brands, flavors, sizes, prices.

All I wanted was a box of Wheat Chex.

Like apples?

Something like twelve varieties: McIntosh, Cortland, Gala, Jonathan Gold, Granny Smith, Paula Red, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Fuji, …

Likewise, canned tomatoes for chili. Several types, sizes and flavors to choose from. I always have to read the fine print, otherwise I end up with something like “Petite-Diced-Fire roasted-Italian” something, in my chili.

Bread, chips, frozen food-four aisles wide.

Eggs: cage free, organic, a box of six, a dozen, 1 1/2 dozen, to choose from. Brown, white, medium, large, extra-large.

Milk: 2%, 1%, Skim, plus dozens of varieties of cheese.

Meat, produce, canned goods and a deli.

All are for sale at my local grocery store, one of fifty or so located within ten miles of home. A twenty minute drive, tops.

“Natural, organic, gluten-free, non-GMO.”

Asked how many food items were available, the store manager could only say, “thousands.”

Thousands of items to choose from, everyday, everywhere in our country.

My wife and I budget $20 a day for food.

More than half the world’s population lives on $2.50 or less-Americans spend more on their pets.

Choices are much easier for those living in extreme poverty.

Either find food  or starve.

Children under the age of five have a mortality rate of 6.10 (per thousand of live births) in the U.S. while those in Haiti die at a rate of 72.8. (Newsweek, Save the Children Report, 2015)

Our family of five adults now has, as you might guess, five cell phones, one land line, five laptops, one I-Pad and something called a Kindle.

Collectively, we own three cars, a pickup truck and a boat.

No one lives in the basement.

This Christmas season Amazon has offered just a little over 12 million consumer products, while EBAY claims to have a billion items listed for sale.

In the United States alone consumer retail sales are projected to reach $5 trillion this year.

I can’t decide whether to buy a Segway “miniPro” to cruise the neighborhood or a Samsung 55 inch, 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV, and stay on the couch.

Our three adult children have each graduated from college while over a billion people worldwide remain illiterate.

Two-thirds of them are women.

We live in a country that allows us the freedom to move about as we please, associate with whomever we choose and pursue our dreams as far as hard work and sacrifice will take us.

We have the freedom to worship our God as we see fit, or not at all.

Millions of people worldwide are persecuted and even killed for their beliefs.

We can read thousands of books, magazines and newspapers or watch,  hundreds of television  programs and movies.

Virtually everyone in America has access to the internet with all the information known to man,  at their fingertips.



It’s mind-boggling, the choices we have.

I have the freedom to grouse about having too many choices.

I’ll take it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Getting Heated Up


I get excited over firewood.

No, really.

I know it’s weird but of all the things I do get excited about-making firewood is maybe the strangest.

Yeah, I like fishing, watching the Packers and Brewers. Neither team  is very exciting these days.

But hefting a piece of split, cured hardwood ready to be burned is definitely on my up list.

It could be that so many years have been devoted to simply keeping warm during the long Wisconsin winters.

My Mother Earth days were spent living on an abandoned farmstead with no running water, plumbing or heat-other than that provided by a homemade barrel stove in the living room and a Monarch wood cook stove in the kitchen.

Yup, firewood was important.

But I admit not very exciting at the time. It was a matter of survival.

I always planned on putting up ten cords a year but usually ended up with about six.

It seemed we never had enough to get through the whole winter, so the month of March was a lot longer than thirty-one days.

A ’62 Volkswagen with the rear seat removed was ideal for both getting into the woods and, when the snow was too deep and the woodpile all but gone, was the perfect vehicle for scrounging wood along the back roads.

Spotting a dead tree or branch along the road I would stop, take the chainsaw from the front (trunk) and quickly dispatch the log and throw it into the back seat.

Kept warm for another night or two.

It is said that burning wood warms  twice-once when cutting it and again when it is burned.

I would contend that it warms several times: cutting, splitting, stacking,  burning and occasionally, with a chimney fire.

Today, that would be thought of as an emergency.

Then it was a cozy night’s sleep.

Rather than call the fire department I would simply close all the dampers and watch for any extension from the chimney while basking in warmth.

There are however, several universal truths  regarding wood as a fuel.

  • Hardwoods only. Soft wood like pine, spruce etc are loaded with pitch and even when dried, burn fast and furious, then are gone. Some might be used as kindling or when the pile runs down.
  • Hardwoods must be cured completely, that is the moisture content must be in the 10% range which usually takes 2-3 years.

Tried to burn too much green wood once. Creosote dripping down the walls-not good.

Where I live in Wisconsin, oak and elm are prime. Both put out around 30,000 Btu’s per cord. That’s a big pile (4x4x8feet).


Poplar (Aspen) is OK but doesn’t last long.

Box elder stinks when it burns.

The trees of my dreams were those that have been standing dead, with the bark gone for several years, about four inches in diameter (no splitting needed) with no branches.

Knocking two pieces of dried elm together and hearing that solid, hollow, sound is like music.

It feels warm already.

Today, the farmhouse has indoor plumbing and water with a forced air furnace plus, an add-on wood furnace.

We only cut to help with the cost of LP and for the exercise,using a gas-powered wood splitter.

At home when I want to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fireplace, I simply flip the wall switch and the gas log fires right up.

Thought using a remote was a little over the top.


Bedpan Tales

‘Grin and Bare it’

Men have long been known for their penchant for not asking directions and  trouble expressing their  emotions.

Those come with the territory but  ignoring health concerns, especially those related to our most private anatomy, can be fatal.

Be a man, do the exams. Get it done.

Any procedure ending with the suffix-oscopy, involves inserting a foreign object into a place where nature never intended for it to go.

The first time was encountered after a routine physical on the job. The results:  blood in my urine sample. Terrific, now I had to schedule a follow up appointment with a urologist.

The waiting room was filled with the expected patients-old people and I began to wonder why in the world I was there. Then it dawned on me. My bladder (at that time) was 56 and I qualified.

After being led into an exam room and told to undress, I began to feel empathy for my wife and all women who had to get in the dreaded “stirrups” because that’s exactly where I was headed.

The nurse then promptly and unceremoniously prepped me with a mop and used what looked like, a two-quart syringe to fill my bladder.

She explained that it would feel  “a little like peeing backwards.”

She then abruptly left the room leaving me there, cold, wet and naked, on that steel slab.

After lying there for an eternity, probably all of twenty minutes, the doc finally showed, brandishing what he called his newly purchased cystoscope.



He explained in detail how it would feel and what type of “slight discomfort” to expect. When I asked how he really knew those things, he proudly exclaimed, “I did it to myself.”

One has to wonder, first of all, why? Secondly, how a doctor makes the decision to become a urologist in the first place.

I’m sure there are many specialties more glamorous and rewarding; cardiologist, neurologist, etc.

Maybe it’s the lack of competition.

Maybe it’s just for the stories.

After being assured that there were no tumors or other concerns and that I had, what he described as a “nice looking bladder,” I was allowed to leave without further humiliation.

Not Done Yet.

After reaching the age of 55, it becomes incumbent on a person to schedule an appointment for the-to be avoided at all costs- colonoscopy.

It’s now become a rite of passage, like getting a driver’s license or an AARP card.

At that point in my life, after being poked and prodded countless numbers of times and surviving 20 plus years as a firefighter, I thought, “piece of cake, I can do this.”

The twenty-four hours prior to the actual procedure were spent “cleansing.” I don’t remember what that stuff was but the time from “intake” to “output” was about- five steps.

If ” a clean colon is a happy colon,” mine was delirious.

No solid foods of course and no liquids after midnight. No problem, I was afraid to eat.

After arriving at the hospital and being admitted, the nurse gave me one more dose of “the stuff” and stated that when the output reached the consistency and appearance of chicken broth, we were good to go.  She wasn’t allowed to take my word for it though-she had to see for herself.

Too bad she wasn’t the one from the urologist’s office.

As I was being wheeled down the hallway to the surgery suite, I noticed an older lady with an apprehensive look on her face, apparently going to the same place. When I offered to hold her hand I was told in no uncertain terms that we would “not be going into the same room.”

With a PPO, who knows what they do when the lights go out.

I soon learned that there is a distinct difference between different types of anesthesia. While supposedly “under”  I felt what had to be a broom handle being used.

I asked something to the effect of, “What the hell are you doing?”The last thing I remember was the doc saying, “I’m going around a corner.”

After a few hours of recovery and minus one polyp, I was released to the care of my wife, a long nap and pizza for dinner, just to see if it all still worked.

Next time, we will discuss the intricacies of a procedure called an arthrogram with a 16 penny nail.

Until then, eat right, get regular exercise and don’t forget the chicken soup.




Veteran’s Day





In light of the recent election and the peaceful transition of government that is now taking place, I thought it only fitting to thank those family, friends and others that have served our nation.

Their sacrifice ensures that we continue to enjoy the freedom to chose our political leaders and pursue our unique way of life.


To that end I start by thanking my father, Ellis C. Wilson-US Army,(WWII).

Uncles: Inert Wilson, Hughes Wilson, Basil Wilson, Darrel Wilson, Roy Schaffer, (All US Army, WWII). Robert J. Andler, US Navy, serving aboard the USS West Virginia which sailed into Tokyo Bay to witness the Japanese surrender). Phillip R. Pettit, US Army.


Bill Toledo,USMC,3rd Marine Division,(One of the last living Navajo Code Talkers), Iwo Jima.

Cousins: Kenneth R. Larsen, USAF(Korea), Dean Larsen, USAF(Vietnam), his daughter Beverly Larsen and grand-daughter Melinda Grabner-both USAF, Darrel Wilson, USAF, Mike Wilson, US Army, Calvin Wilson, USMC(Vietnam),Gary Wilson, US Army(Vietnam), Rex Larsen, US Army, Inert Larsen, US Army(Vietnam), Dan Wilson, US Army/Army National Guard, Dallen J. Wilson, US Army, Michael Andler, USAF (Iraq-The First Gulf War).

Barry Roseland, US Army,(Afghanistan, Kuwait), William J. Enders (Korea), Chuck Enders, US Army, Andrew Beerntsen, US Army (Afghanistan), Tom Pettit, US Army(Vietnam),Tony Lison, US Army(Vietnam), Larry Atkinson, USMC, John Rogers, US Army(Vietnam), Kenneth Lasee, USMC (Vietnam).

Since the birth of our Nation over 42 million men and women have served to protect and defend our way of life.

Most never knew of the places they fought in and some had never left home before. Some never owned a pair of boots.

A million of them paid the price of freedom, with their lives.

More than 3400 Congressional Medals of Honor have been awarded-most posthumously.

Over 92 thousand are still missing and unaccounted for.

They served honorably and asked for nothing really, in return. Maybe care for their wounds and a thank you.

Thank You.




How About a Do-over?



detail-of-american-flag-11279635008nzanA do-over, a mulligan, another chance to get it right.

There should be a checkbox on the ballot for “None of the Above“.

If a majority of voters were to choose “None of the Above” then the two major parties would be required to come up with different candidates to offer.

Yeah, that would do it.

The problem of course is that we would have to endure another year or more, of inane speeches, annoying campaign ads and never ending robocalls.

As it stands, one of the two candidates for the highest office in the land is in line to join the ranks of the most unpopular presidents in history.

Names like Grant, Harding and Nixon are among those on the “The 10 Most Hated U.S. Presidents in History” list.

On one side we have a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton who has been involved  in controversy and scandal since she first walked into the White House in 1993.

The record continues, up to and including the private email server that more than likely left confidential documents vulnerable to hacks by just about anyone.

Her attitude has been one of entitlement-hers.

By her own admission she had to ask, “Why am I not 50 points ahead?”

Because, over 60% of Americans don’t trust her.

The rest apparently believe:

That the attack on our embassy in Benghazi was caused by some  meth head in California, posting a YouTube video.

That it is proper for a Secretary of State, while conducting affairs of the nation, to solicit donations from friends and enemies alike, for her own private foundation.

That it was just a coincidence that husband Bill ran into Attorney General Loretta Lynch, on her private jet, just to talk about the grandkids.

That all of her problems stem from the great “right-wing conspiracy” against her.


The right wing, a.k.a. the Republican Party can hardly get out of its own way.

Just look at who they nominated.

“The Donald”.

Like a dysfunctional family fighting over Grandma’s china, the GOP lost focus and allowed Donald Trump to advance to the general election for President of the United States.

The elephant in the room (pun intended) was a campaign of racism, sexism and discrimination unsurpassed by any other in history.

Trump supporters have chosen to ignore the dangers of electing a candidate who has denigrated women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled, and well, just about everyone.

The list of Trump adjectives: narcissist, bully, racist, sexist, abusive, alleged sexual assault suspect, pale in comparison to the video evidence of his behavior on the campaign trail.

With his self control, he could probably be goaded into nuclear war over a critical tweet.

The planets were finally aligned for a third party to emerge as a legitimate force in national politics.

The only platforms offered were a mix of ignoring our role as a world leader while developing a marijuana based economy and peddling into the 19th century.

Yep, a do-over is the only thing that makes sense in this impaired election.

Too bad we don’t get one.


Those Lovable Losers


Finally, real baseball on network TV.

Anyone watching the 2016 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs (Holy Cow, Harry!) got to  see baseball as it was meant to be played.

With precision, passion  and drama.

That kind of play has not been seen in Milwaukee in a long, long, time.

It used to be that all Wisconsin fans needed, was for their teams to beat those from south of the border (the Illinois border that is) to call the season a success.

The Packers have done it, with the exception of, a couple of years back in the 80’s.

It’s comforting to know that those  coming of age after 1985 think a refrigerator is just a place to find a cold beer.

The Bucks, not so much but hey, it’s a new season with a young team and it’s just basketball.

Although the Brewers have only been around for 46 years they have, but lately, held their own against those pesky northsiders from Chicago.

Now those days are gone with no sign of them returning anytime soon.

No more the perennially “poor Cubs.” They now have won their division four times in the Central, twice in the East and own two Wild Card spots.

Oh, and there’s that World Series thing.

They have reached the baseball pinnacle as World Champions, with new owners, a new manager and a bunch of twenty-something phenoms.

As for the Brewers. “Wow, oh my.” How does a team go from first (August 2014) to worst in only twelve months, with six months off-season, in between?

This year at least, they finished ahead of Cincinnati. Enough said.

Going back to 1970, their first season in Milwaukee, the record vs. the Cubs is pretty even (152-156 in favor of Chicago).

Now,  not only the Cubs but the Reds (yeah, the Reds) Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Padres, Giants, Marlins, Cardinals and even the Pirates have the Brewers’ number.

While attending  a game this season before the outcome was a foregone conclusion, I couldn’t help but notice the lone pennant hanging above the left field wall.


From 1982.

Game Seven that year against St. Louis was their last chance to win a World Series. Those halcyon days of Molitor, Yount, Fingers and all the rest of “Harvey’s Wallbangers”.

Thirty-four years ago.

That faded banner hangs there still.

Yeah there are two others, lower down on the wall, like participation trophies.

An NLDS  win in 2011 and a lone Wild Card chance.

Ned Yost was the Brewers coach when they won the Wild Card spot in 2008-except for the last twelve games when he was fired during a late season slump. Whatever happened to him?

The Chicago Cubs are a team at the top and Wrigley Field is getting a much-needed facelift.

Hopefully no more falling concrete or WWII era restrooms.

The Brewers meanwhile have had a new stadium, new ownership, new coach and a new general manager.

Perhaps, one day they’ll have more to show for it than nicer bathrooms.

“Wait ’til some year yet to be determined” has become the  mantra in Milwaukee.

I will keep Watching the Brewers in a World Series Game,  on my bucket list only because it has not yet been mathematically eliminated.

After all, in 34 years I’ll only be 100.