Sunday, February 24, 2008

Paint Your Wagon . . . and your fence, and your picnic table, and your porch, and every other surface

Tom just came upstairs and I asked him if he had a good subject for this. With no hesitation, he said, "Paint."

The issue is specifically oil-based paints, varnishes, and stains. It used to be that you could keep these around for years. If you opened a partial can, even years later, you could skim off the top and the rest was still viable. No more. Within the last six months to a year, a entire can "gels" and becomes unusable within a couple of months. So, once you open a can, you'd better be prepared to use the entire thing (hence, the title of this entry).

So, you say, why don't you just buy what you need? Well, that's a whole 'nother issue. Have you ever price-compared a quart vs. a gallon? It would cost three times as much! And what if you need slightly more than a quart? You buy two quarts, and it costs more than a gallon. So you buy the gallon, and well over half of it goes bad before you have a chance to use it up.

Tom just came back up and told me to add joint compound and vinyl spackle to the list. They used to keep forever, but now mold in short order. Apparently, the manufacturers have ceased to include some sort of mildew-preventing agent.

The leftovers of these products are considered "hazardous waste," and Lincoln doesn't make it very easy to get rid of them (only at certain places, and only on certain dates), so it's not just the pocketbook that gets hurt, but the environment. Did the manufacturers of these products decide there were too many people like Tom?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Nation of Wimps (or at least a state)

Well, my first post here in nearly a year. I sort of started out great guns, but lost my inspiration. I'll try to do better.

This entry isn't so much about consumerism as it is about my disgust with the wimpiness of my fellow Nebraskans. It started this morning when I heard on the radio that Omaha Public Schools were closed today because it was ........ wait for it ........ COLD. -4 degrees, with a windchill factor. Come on, people -- it's February and this is Nebraska! What the hell do you expect?

Now, when I came up through the public school system (in Grand Island), the policy was that school was always open for whoever could make it. If you couldn't get there, your parents called the school, and the absence was excused. My parents would never let me stay home. Granted, I didn't have to walk 2 miles uphill both ways (more like 4 blocks), but I definitely remember some pretty brutally cold days. And that was back in the days when it actually snowed - a LOT.

Here in Lincoln, every time it snows an inch or two, the "letters to the editor" are filled up by people complaining that the streets aren't perfectly clear and dry. Common sense would suggest that a person should listen to the weather forecast the night before, and if snow is in the offing, that person should perhaps set the alarm a little earlier so the car and driveway can be cleared, and allow a little extra drive time. But no, that would inconvenience them.

I could rant on about the wimpiness we're instilling in our children. Many of the newer safety items are terrific (bike helmets, safety seats, etc.), but playgrounds have been made so "safe" that they're no longer any fun. My worst childhood injury was on a merry-go-round in the neighborhood park, and I lived to tell about it -- and no, my parents didn't even think about suing the city. If it had happened in recent years, my family would be set up for life! We had so much fun in that park!