April 29 '06

                                                    

Volume 517

                   


Cans & Cameras Frugal Or Making Do?

There’s something about the male psyche that requires we males to fix things. Some of us seem to have a greater propensity toward fixing things than others, which may possibly indicate an inherited trait. I like to think of myself as a handyman and believe the desire, though not necessarily the ability, to fix whatever it is that’s broken is strongly imbedded in my DNA.

I don’t consider myself a frugal person with respect to finances, and I’ve spent more of my children’s inheritance than they are likely to see. But, it’s just plain hard for me to throw away anything, if I can find an immediate use for it or even a yet-to-be-realized use for it.

My granddad saved used and bent nails, straightening them on an as-needed basis. I’m the same way. My sister, Sara Sue, may be just as bad as me in holding onto something for a future use. She just recently painted a dresser and hutch that I’d given her almost seven years ago. Both items sat in her carport collecting dust and cobwebs until Felicia got her fired up to turn an unused bedroom into a computer/ reading room. Sarah didn’t get much of a dose of the "fixing gene" and is apt to let minor fix-ups go until they become major ones. Yet, to reinforce my theory for a "fixing gene" for males, I would point out that both my brothers excel in the handyman category.

A year or so ago, my wife purchased a stainless steel trashcan for our kitchen. I’m not sure of the problem we had with the plastic one which had served us for several years, but it became a receptacle for recyclable aluminum cans and is still in use today. The stainless steel can certainly looked better beside the kitchen sink, and I liked the foot-pedal feature that allowed me to pop open the lid of the can without touching the lid. The new trashcan was not made entirely of stainless steel. It sported a removable plastic liner, a plastic bottom, and a piece of plastic was used to secure the lid to the can. The only other piece of plastic, an elbow, connected two metal rods that raised the lid when the foot pedal was depressed.

One day the foot pedal stopped working. It was then that I became intimately acquainted with the trashcan and how it was constructed. I used a generous amount of hot glue to patch the plastic elbow that held the two rods together, which, along with the foot pedal, raised the lid. All went well for several months, until the patch gave way and the mechanism stopped working.

I think it was when it stopped working for the third time that Barbara decided it was time for a new trashcan. She went shopping and returned with an almost identical trashcan, but the new one was an oval-shaped cylinder rather than a round one. Barbara and I unboxed the new one and put a large plastic bag inside the liner. Barbara set the old one in the garage, presumably for me to dispose of it.

Even though we now had a new trashcan, I couldn’t resist the urge to patch the old one, one more time. This time, I tried a new fastening method. In addition to hot glue, I wrapped the elbow with braided fishing line, fashioned an elbow brace from a small metal rod and hot glued the brace onto the elbow, and added another layer of fishing line. I’m pretty confident the latest fix will last for years, or at least until a different part of the trashcan breaks. For the moment, the old trashcan will stay in the garage in a handy location for folks to put empty water bottles, food wrappers, drink container, and other car trash. I still don’t believe I’m frugal; else I’d have fixed the old trashcan before Barbara had a chance to buy a new one.

This past Christmas, my wife surprised me with a digital camera. It’s a Sony with a 4.1 mega pixel rating. It makes great pictures, and until I dropped it on a concrete walkway, it was all I needed in the way of a digital camera.

The last night I was able to spend with the Habitat volunteers from Ft. Wayne, IN, Barbara and I were posing with some of the individuals. In attempting to pass my camera to Kai, a student, it slipped from my hand and hit the concrete. The case popped open, and I feared it was broken, but after snapping it back together, it continued to operate normally.

The camera uses rechargeable AA batteries for power. A day or so after dropping the camera, I discovered I could not open the compartment housing the batteries. I pressed, pushed, and pried with fingers, thumbs, and tools, all to no avail. When Tony Austin was in town, I even let Tony have a go at opening the jammed battery compartment. He had no luck either.

"Those batteries are jammed," Sarah decreed. "That’s your problem. You just need something to slip in there and loosen them."

I was relatively certain Sarah didn’t have a clue as to how to solve the problem, but the fact that I considered her suggestion is indicative of my frustration and desperation. After all, the camera still worked. However, once the batteries completely discharged, there would be no way to recharge them without removing them from the camera.

Barbara contacted Sony, the manufacturer, and was told they would repair the camera for a minimum of $111.00, but if it proved to be damaged to a greater degree than the quote covered, they would contact us with an updated quote. Since, I knew the camera was less than $200.00 when new, I couldn’t justify the expenditure and began searching for a replacement.

I would have gladly purchased a new Sony, the same model as mine, but I could only find refurbished ones, which sold for almost as much as a new one. I abandoned my original replacement plan and went shopping for a new camera in the two hundred-dollar range. While, I looked at other brands of digital cameras, I kept returning to the Sony models.

I almost purchased one using the Internet, but when I was in Jackson a couple of weeks ago, I went to Best Buy to see the cameras up close and personal. I quickly narrowed my choices down to two in a price range I felt was affordable. With a clerk’s help, I chose a Sony, model W50, rated at six mega pixels. I really liked the large 2.5 inch LCD screen for framing shots and displaying stored images. Toss in the feature that displays text explaining the various selections available, and I was sold. Oh, it’s also slightly smaller and about an ounce lighter than my damaged camera.

The camera has more features than I need, but that may change as I learn more. For instance, the camera is capable of recording a short video. Actually, with the optional memory stick that I bought, the recording time is more than twenty minutes. And, while a digital camcorder is more suitable for longer recordings, my camera’s recording ability is light years ahead of the Super 8 film camera that captured segments of the early years of Rayanne and Jason.

As for my damaged camera with the jammed battery access, I'm happy to report the batteries are now accessible. In fact, the night I returned home with my new camera, I was able to open the hinged access to the batteries by using a common household tool that I had not tried earlier. I found an old knife from a set of stainless flatware and pried the hinge open without breaking anything. It doesn't close as tightly as it once did, but it's functional. I have to credit my late mother with the knife idea, as she taught me to use a table knife for odd chores such as opening lids to jars of syrup or pickles, to use as an ice hammer, as a makeshift screwdriver, and as a letter opener, to name a few. Now I can add one more use to a long list of uses for a table knife, camera repair.

As I see it, I have an extra trashcan and an extra camera, and the live of each has been extended, if not frugally, then at least ingeniously.


Seafood Junction By Carl Wayne Hardeman

The following article is courtesy of fellow writer, Carl Wayne Hardeman of Collierville, TN. Carl Wayne, who has me craving catfish and hushpuppies every time I read this article, says that on the third of June, he and Mimi will attend the backyard fish fry for friends and family associated with RRN.

Seafood Junction in Byhalia, MS
By Carl Wayne Hardeman, March 27, 2006

Some of my most favorite things in this world are going out to eat with friends and family, seeing people we know where ever we go, and Mississippi seafood restaurants. We recently combined all of these at the Seafood Junction II all-you-can-eat buffet on the US 78 frontage road in Byhalia MS.

It's in a large metal frame building with picnic tables and oilcloth table covers and has room for a passel of people. That's necessary since the parking lot is full of cars from a large surrounding area. The facade is a quaint log cabin with a front porch. I like that.

They are open for supper only on Thursday through Saturday evenings. With that large a crowd of people being served, we usually meet friends, some of whom we haven't seen in a while. We weren't disappointed this trip either. Several people recognized me and my wife Mimi, who said: "Of course they recognized us. We go to church with them."

The original Seafood Junction is in Algoma MS. Since their other restaurant on MS 6 west of Oxford has closed, and Bubba's in Abbeville on MS 7 between Oxford and Holly Springs has closed, Seafood Junction II in Byhalia is the only local AYCE seafood buffet.

Mind you the term seafood is used loosely around here. Some restaurants, which feature catfish and frog legs are actually serving pond food, since that's where them critters come from. Seafood Junction II has both seafood and pond food. I always get one whole fried catfish, but I also partake liberally of
the peel-em and eat-em shrimp, fried shrimp, fried oysters, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crabs shell, fried catfish filets, hushpuppies, and a few boiled crawdads when they're in season.

The buffet has a salad bar, several veggies, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, an ice cream machine, and at least two varieties of fruit cobblers. Their slaw is sweet and hands down the best I've ever eaten. The pickled green tomatoes are a nice treat, as well as the two styles of french fries.

The emphasis there is on variety and quantity, so while all the food is very good, the catfish is good, but not outstanding. The whole fish and filets tend toward the small and are a bit crispier than I like, but some of us prefer them that way.

The service is fine as frog hair. It don't get no better than that. Our party of eight was quickly seated in the non-smoking section of the cavernous building. The waitress immediately took and delivered our drink order, and kept our drinks refilled without us ever having to prompt her. Some of us ordered off the menu, and those orders were delivered in a reasonable time. We have had excellent friendly and efficient service from every waitress there who has waited on us. I don't know where they get that energy and still keep smiling.

Yes I ate too much and almost needed a carryout, for me. But I did drink only unsweetened tea and water. Uncle Aubrey is so afraid of sugar that he will only sweeten his tea with saccharin. Now he's afraid he might come down with artificial diabetes. I hope not. Aint God good!

Appreciative readers may contact Carl Wayne at rowsofbuttercups@yahoo.com


Bodock Beau Bovine Philosophy

Maybe, it's the farming background of my parents, as I had limited farming opportunities, but for some reason, I enjoy farm-life humor.

Bovine Philosophy

A man from the city was watching a cow being milked. As he watched, a fly flew in the cow’s ear. A moment later the man noticed a fly in the milk pail.

He asked the farmer how that could have happened.

"It’s simple," said the farmer. "In one ear and out the udder."

Laugh Newsletter, April

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