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Welcome to Mike Redmond's home on the Weird Wide Web!

Greetings, Earth People. I'm Mike Redmond. Not the baseball player. Instead of making you guess the rest, I'll just go ahead and tell you who I am and what I do.

  • I'm a newspaper columnist -- formerly the feature columnist for The Indianapolis Star (back when you could call it a newspaper). I bailed out of the place about two years after Gannett bought it, and I still count that as the best decision I ever made. My creditors don't always agree.
  • Now I write for papers around Central Indiana, a magazine or two, and this site. I'm also a public speaker, a teacher, an historical (as opposed to hysterical) interpreter, a farm tour guide, and occasionally, when I can be talked into it, an author. They're all my favorite jobs.
  • This is where you'll find my online column, posted every Wednesday, unless I get ambitious and post it Tuesday. But don't count on it.
  • This is also where to look for news about speaking engagements, new jobs, friends, and stuff that strikes me as interesting. I'll probably throw in a few recipes, too. I get wild like that sometimes.
  • Take a look around. Let's have some fun.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's In A Name? Rights -- And Wrongs


Lot of buzz lately about naming rights.

First, there was a woman who made the news by announcing she was auctioning the naming rights to her unborn child on eBay. I'm sorry to report the auction was yanked before I was able to get in a bid. More about that in a minute.

Then there was the news that the mayor of Indianapolis was toying with the idea of selling naming rights to streets and such as a way of generating money for repair of the infrastructure. I guess they're already doing this in Louisville, with manhole covers brought to you by KFC.

Well, I see this stuff and can only conclude that everything - EVERYTHING - is officially for sale. We've gone way beyond naming rights for stadiums and bowl games. In fact, if you want to date yourself, just refer to the Rose Bowl or the Cotton Bowl or the Orange Bowl. Nowadays it's the FedEx/Tropicana/Frito-Lay/Budweiser/Cadillac/Tommy Bahama/Calloway Golf/Dairy Queen/Pennzoil/Empire Carpet/Catterson Used Cars/Campbell's Soup Bowl, being played in the friendly confines of the Dixie Chopper/Coca-Cola/US Air/Sony/Ore-Ida Stadium. And by the time the announcers get it all said, the first quarter is halfway over.

Well, if they can sell streets, I suppose it's just a matter of time before I live on Tylenol Boulevard. That being the case, I see no reason why I can't also sell the naming rights to my house.

First, I'd sell the overall rights - welcome to the Mike Redmond Residence, brought to you by Red Wing boots, Sears lawnmowers and Tim Horton's. Then we could go room by room - the Time-Warner living room; the Ethan Allen Dining Room; the Whole Foods/Williams Sonoma kitchen; and the Sleep Number Bedrooms. Oh, and mustn't forget the bathroom, brought to you by Northern Tissue, Cannon Towels, Irish Spring Soap, Bemis fixtures and Pine-Sol. Then we can go out to the Ford/Kawasaki garage, also home of the PowerTech Leverage Gym gym and the Salvation Army Thrift Store attic.

What a bonanza. I figure the naming rights to a place like mine could just about cover the phone bill.

OK, it's a silly idea. I've had sillier. And no, I'm not going to tell you what they were. At the moment, I am embarrassed enough.

But at least it's not idiotic, which is the only word I can think of for someone auctioning the naming rights to a baby, and not for a joke, either. The woman said she needed money because she and her other six kids were living off her sister's largesse, and there weren't any jobs that would pay enough to take care of the family.

As I said, the auction was yanked, which was kind of a bummer. I was ready with a whole bunch of name suggestions, including:

* My Moron Of A Mother Auctioned Off My Name (Nickname: Dud.)

* Beat Me Up On The Playground (Nickname: Percy.)

* Destined For A Lifetime Of Therapy (Nickname: Newhart.)

* Mike (Nickname: Steve).

And I was prepared to bid it all the way up to $23. I hope the kid is grateful.

Besides, there'll be another chance. Idiocy like this has a way of repeating itself. Just ask the people behind the Dell/AT&T/Indian Motorcycle/Lionel Train/Ty-D-Bowl Bowl. Or, as we used to call it, the game.
Tue, August 25, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Saying Farewell To Yews

Well, the tree service came and did its work on those bushes near the front porch. They're history. Now my house looks weird and I'm singing repeat choruses of "After Yew've Gone."

Yew. Get it? See, the bushes were yews and ... oh, never mind.

The point is they were old and scraggly and not at all attractive, and by rights, should have been sent to that Great Mulch Pile In The Sky a good three years ago. Which, I should add, is how non-emergency home improvements work in Mike World: From deciding on a project to actually getting it accomplished usually takes three years. Four if it involves plumbing or electricity.

So, finally, 36 months after the inception of the idea, they are gone and I am dealing with the aftermath, beginning with a house that needs some sort of greenery planted in front, and quick. In its present condition, it reminds me of my great-grandma when she took out her upper plate.

Then I have to dispose of all the things the tree service guys found in the bushes which were not tree-or-bush-related and therefore not their responsibility, including:

* Quite a few newspapers, were aged to the point of being half-recycled already. Note to the paper carriers who brought me replacement copies: Found ‘em. You were right. You DID deliver to my address. I am still of the opinion, however, that you did NOT deliver them to my house.

* A pair of pruning shears that evidently jumped off the porch in a desperate attempt to escape last time I used them. All I remember is I turned around and they had disappeared. And to think I've spent months blaming a highly organized gang of pruning-shear thieves.

* A sock. It's not one of mine and I have no idea how it got there.

* Various unidentifiable plastic thingies.

* What appears to be either the partial remains of a semi-mummified squirrel, or what's left of some kids Davy Crockett hat from the 1950s. Whatever it was, my dog Cookie rolled in it and I had to open every window in the house while giving her a bath.

Once these things are all attended to, and in the last case buried, I can turn my attention to replacing the yews with something new.

A leading contender has been snowball bushes. I've always liked those. My grandmother had some around her front porch and when they were in bloom, they were magnificent. I've never seen their equal, which is why I probably won't plant any. I'm really not that good with non-edible plants. Compared to Grandma's, my bushes will likely look like snow flurries instead of snowballs.

I've also been thinking about peonies. My other grandma had peonies at her place. The problem is, peonies are always crawling with ants, and I've had enough of ants this year to last me a lifetime. It got wet and they moved right in. The other day I opened the pantry and they were in there trying to steal a gallon jug of molasses.

I'll probably end up going with boxwood hedges. They're sort of the default bush around here. They grow slow and look nice. And I can get a deal on them. And they're not yews. Or, as I called them, eeuuws. Especially after I found that sock and that squirrel.
Tue, August 18, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

U R Abt 2 Crsh

And in other news that makes you go "Duh," a recent study has concluded that sending text messages while driving is kind of dangerous.

All together now: 


Actually, there was something more "Huh" than "Duh" about the study, performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute: Truckers are 5.9 times more likely to crash; auto drivers, 2.8 times.

This is not exactly comforting, for the following reasons:

* Trucks are big. When they crash, they crash big. The fact that texting puts them at an even greater risk of a Big Crash just went onto my list of Reasons To Avoid The Interstate When Possible.

* Some numbskull is going to look at those numbers and conclude that because 2.8 is smaller than 5.9, it is 3.1 times more okay to text while driving a car.

* I recently saw where texting had also been cited in a one-vehicle accident involving my preferred mode of transport, a motorcycle. Once they start collecting data on that phenomenon, it's going to make the truck number look laughably small. I'm thinking the likelihood of crashing while riding a motorcycle and texting is going to be in the neighborhood of - oh, let me think -- 100 percent.

Am I overreacting? I don't think so. Properly-trained motorcyclists, among which I proudly number myself, are by and large a fairly observant bunch of people, and we have observed some pretty strange things going on behind the steering wheels of those with whom we share the road (but who are not always so willing to share it with us).

I personally have seen:

* Drivers reading newspapers in cars moving at or above the posted speed limit.

* One driver reading Playboy, which I believe counts as two distractions for the price of one.

* Dental hygiene involving a flosser and the rear view mirror. At speed.

  * Makeup application, shaving, and eyebrow plucking. I've also seen women doing this.

* Yes, I have also seen the first thing you thought of, and shame on you.

All of which are a long way from the old Driver's Training dictates of hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, feet on the gas pedal and floor, and eyes roaming constantly from road to mirrors to gauges and back again. Now it's the hands that are roaming while the elbows and knees control the wheel, the feet go along for the ride and the road goes pretty much ignored.

People want to outlaw texting while driving. Great idea, but it still means you have to catch the idiots doing it. I have another solution: Outlaw the automatic transmission in passenger cars.

You'd cut down on a lot of nonsense. Automatics make it way too easy to think you can multi-task while driving. With a manual, you have to be engaged - both hands, both feet, both eyes and even ears. No way can you safely text message, or do much of anything else, while shifting through pattern of four or five on the floor.

Or, for that matter, 18 on the floor. As the Virginia study shows.

Until we get this problem solved, it's up to us to watch out for ourselves. Toward that end I offer some advice:

Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and above all, always - ALWAYS - practice safe text.

Tue, August 11, 2009 | link 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Seeking the lost (extension) cord

Once again I find myself at odds with one or more of my fellow citizens over a concept I like to call "the private ownership of movable property."

Simply put, I am in favor of it, and by the look of things, quite a few of my neighbors are not, as they chose to remind me the other day.

This time my personal holdings have been reduced by one (1) electric  lawnmower, one (1) power drill and 1 (one) 100-foot extension cord on a reel. The lawnmower and drill were fairly new - in fact, I think I used the drill all of twice. The extension cord was old. And wouldn't you know it, that's the one that upset me the most. We had a lot of good times together, that cord and I. But I digress.

These items used to be stored in my garage, which I have come to find developed in inexplicable glitch in one of its doors Friday night. That glitch caused someone (not me, and I won't name names, either, because this person feels bad enough already) to think the door had closed when it had not. In fact, it just went down to the bottom of the track and then rebounded back into the open position.

At any rate, the open door was more than enough invitation for person or persons unknown to come in and help themselves to my mower and drill.

What's kind of funny is what these persons (in my mind's eye. I see persons, so I'll go with that) passed up to get there: A freezer full of food, power tools worth far more than the drill, motorcycle saddles worth as much as the drill and mower combined, a motorcycle to go with them, and so on. The fools.

(That's rich. I'm the one with the garage door that pops open, I'm the one who lost his stuff, I'm the one who has to go through the rigamarole with the cops and the insurance guys, and I'm calling THEM the fools.)

Most of the time, I figure whoever takes my stuff is taking it to convert into something they really need, such as drugs, although I have to wonder how high you can get with the proceeds from things that have been liberated from my possession in the past: Garbage cans (really!), extremely pliable plastic lawn furniture that I was planning to throw away, an ashtray, a lantern and a truck radio. I'm not seeing a lot of money-making opportunity there. Well, maybe the radio. And who knows? Maybe there's an ashtray collector out there who paid big money for mine, which I myself liberated from a motel in Cocoa Beach, FL, on spring break in 1971

This latest case may be different, though, because they took the power cord as well as the mower and drill. Maybe this indicates they will be used instead of fenced.

In that case, I would ask you all to be on the lookout for itinerants asking to mow your lawns the new fangled electric way, or if you have anything that might need to have a hole drilled into it. If you see them, call the cops, and then grab hold of that extension cord. I already got a replacement mower and drill, but I forgot to get a new cord, and my grass is getting kind of tall
Wed, August 5, 2009 | link 

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By the way -- everything on this site is Copyright 2009 by Mike Redmond. If you copy it without my permission, I will hunt you down with either my dog or my lawyer. I'll probably go with the dog. She's smarter.

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