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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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Monday, November 23, 2009

Call Dial-A-Turkey And Ask For Mom

Mid-November means time for the annual Family Holiday Conference Call, in which we debate the age-old question: Aw, geez, what are we doing for Thanksgiving this year?

This year's participants are (as usual) Mom, my sister Amy (mother of Deniece and Denephew) and yours truly. Also as usual, my brother P.D. and sister Vicky know enough to be busy during conference call time.

We join the gang right after Amy has spent a half-hour explaining to Mom how to activate the "Conference" feature on her telephone. Hey, 30 minutes is pretty good for someone who was still on a party line not that long ago.

Amy: All right, are we all here?

Mike: Here.

Mom: Hello?

Amy: Mom, can you hear us?

Mom: P.D.?

Amy: OK, she can hear something.

Mom: I think I have a call coming in. Hello? P.D.? Is that you?

Mike: (Unprintable.)

Amy: MOM! It's Mike and Amy. We need to talk about Thanksgiving.

Mom: Thanksgiving is at Amy's this year. I know I don't want it here.

Mike: (Unprintable.)

Mom: Amy? I think P.D. just called but I couldn't hear him very well.

Mike: MOM!

Mom: Oh, hi, Mike. Amy wants to talk to you about Thanksgiving.

Amy: (Unprintable).

Mike: (Sighing) O.K., Mom. I just ordered the turkey. It's a heritage breed raised on a special farm out in Kansas. It'll be about 20 pounds.

Mom: Heritage?

Mike: Heritage -- a breed that was close to being lost because of the way turkeys have been ruined by selective inbreeding to make them all white meat and no flavor. This is a turkey that tastes like turkey.

Mom: I don't like turkey.

Amy: You don't have to eat it, Mom. Where did you get it?

Mike: Ordered it online. Pretty expensive, too. It's going to cost (price withheld due to embarrassment at spending so much on something that's just going to become leftovers.)

Mom: For a turkey? I don't even like turkey.

Mike: Maybe you'll like this one.

Mom: I doubt it.

Amy: OK, so Mike can do the turkey, I'll do sides and we can all do a dessert.

Mom: Did you hear how much he paid for that turkey?

Amy: Yes, and that's his business. I've wanted to get a heritage turkey but I've always put it off.

Mike: Why?

Amy: Because I figured you'd buy one first and then I'd know if it was worth it.

Mom: No turkey is worth (price withheld, but it was a doozy).

Mike: You want me to do gravy and dressing, too?

Amy: Yes. Although I'll probably roast a small turkey because I saw this recipe I wanted to try.

Mike: Wait a minute. You're doing a turkey, too?

Amy: A small one.

Mike: (Extremely unprintable.)

Mom:  See why I don't like turkey?

Mike: (Darkly) All right. Whatever. What time?

Amy: Well, the way you're acting maybe we should just have our own Thanksgivings. I hope you can eat 20 pounds of turkey, you big jerk.

Mom: We're not having separate Thanksgivings. That's just silly.

Mike: OK, OK. I have an idea. We can have two turkeys, the sides, the desserts, everything. We'll just ...

Amy: I'm way ahead of you. We'll have Thanksgiving at Mom's! (Singing) Over the river and through the woods...

Mike: Be sure to tell P.D. and Vicky. Gotta go. Bye!

Amy: Bye!

Mom: (Unprintable.)

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Mon, November 23, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Smart Phone, Maybe; Operator, Maybe Not


The price was right and the deal was solid, so I recently joined the 21st Century and bought a Smart Phone.

What was I thinking?

Well, obviously, I wasn't, or I wouldn't be sitting here wondering how to get the darned thing to work.

I've taken the online tutorial three times and I still get hung up at anything more complicated than calling Information. Which, I might add, is getting tired of hearing from me.

Supposedly, I can use this phone to do all the regular phone things - talk to Mom, order pizza, send text messages when I have an hour or so to type "Hello, how are you?" on those teeny little keys - as well as fancier phone things, like take photos and videos, and even place calls based on voice commands.

And then it can do higher computer-type functions, such as surfing the Internet and ... well, surfing the Internet's actually as far as I've gotten in the instruction manual. I have about 200 pages left to go, though, so I'm assuming I can do a lot more computer-type stuff than just type in my own name to see if I'm out there anywhere. Oh, don't act so superior. You've done it too.

Anyway, the way things look right now, the Smart Phone is exceedingly well named, because it certainly appears to be smarter than the operator.

I really don't need all this gizmotronic trickery, you know. My business - Me, Incorporated - is pretty much contained in my hip pocket. I'm the only employee, so it's not like I have to stay in touch with the workforce. And since I work at home, I'm never really away from a regular computer and an actual full-size telephone.

Therefore, by process of elimination we can deduce that I bought this phone for one reason only: It's a gizmo, and I'm a guy, and guys love gizmos.

That doesn't mean I buy every gizmo that comes down the pike. For example, I still don't have a laptop computer, preferring my old desktop computer instead. What can I say? It's dependable, when it works. Besides, you just don't see that many diesel models anymore.

Or take cell phones. I wasn't the LAST person in the Seventh Federal Reserve District, but I was close. It was down to me and a few Amish people.

But every once in a while something comes along that really catches my fancy (and if you've ever had your fancy caught, you know how painful that can be). The only solution is to buy it. This is how I have come to own most of the Ronco line of home appliances. It seems my fancy is particularly susceptible when I'm up all night watching television.

Anyway, back to the new phone.

I'm told this thing is going to improve my productivity. I fail to see how that's possible if I spend all day trying to get it to work.  Although I'm pretty sure if I keep with it, it won't be long before I figure out how to place real phone calls, with the area code and everything.

And then I'll really join the 21st Century and start getting a little more use out of this gizmo. Which is more than I can say for my Ronco Pocket Fisherman. Used it once. Didn't even get a nibble. I think the fish were too busy laughing at me.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Tue, November 17, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Leave The Sprouts In Belgium


Someone sent a list of super-healthy foods and I was pleased to see that most of them were high on my list of Things I'd Eat Even If They Weren't Good For You - which is not a very long list, me being a man and all.

I've long observed that women are much more likely than men to something nasty if it's good for them. Brussels sprouts, for example. Brussels sprouts are horrible. There is simply no good reason for Brussels sprouts to even exist.  They taste like a mouthful of sulphurous compost. 

But I have known several women who would load their plates with sprouts - even while admitting they didn't really care for them - because they are (a.) a vegetable and (b.) good for you, allegedly. I have my doubts.

Guys, on the other hand, will simply say "No thank you," or "I'll pass," or "Get those things out of here before I hurl."

Anyway, back to the list. It contained a lot of really good stuff that was already on my grocery list, such as:

  • Wild salmon. Which is the only kind I'll eat. I've seen some reports about farmed salmon, and in some cases ... well, let's just say you'd be better off eating the paper it's wrapped in.
  • Low-fat yogurt. I'm not wild about yogurt, but when I eat it, it's low fat. Everything around here is low fat. Except me.
  • Oysters. I love oysters. One of these days I'm going to an oyster bar where I'll tell them to keep them coming until I say stop, or pass out. I want to see where my limit is. The only thing stopping me is this strong feeling that I will embarrass myself when the bar closes Saturday night and I'm still eating when they reopen for Sunday brunch.
  • Blueberries. Love ‘em. Except in pancakes. It goes back to when I was a kid. My whole family ate blueberry pancakes on Sundays, and I was called a weirdo when I wanted mine plain. To this day, I haven't touched a blueberry pancake, and that was 47 years ago. I am nothing if not dedicated.
  • Kiwi fruit. Bless their fuzzy brown outsides and sweet green insides.
  • Sweet potatoes. I prefer squash, but I don't mind a hot sweet now and again. And no, I don't need them in brown sugar with marshmallows. Ick.
  • Spinach. Call me Popeye.
  • Tomatoes. Call me ... well, I can't think of anyone. But I love tomatoes.
  • Walnuts. That's actually my snack of choice these days - a handful of walnuts just before bed.
  • Dark chocolate. OK, sometimes I have a piece of dark chocolate with my walnuts. So sue me.

So there I was, looking over this list of healthy foods and feeling proud of myself, indeed. I've made a conscious effort to eat better this year, and here were things I had been eating all along not because they were healthy, but because I liked them. That they were making me healthier was just a bonus.

Then I read the fine print. This was an article from a ladies' magazine about how these foods would make you more beautiful, with lustrous hair and glowing skin and all that girl stuff. Beauty? Luster? Glow? One look at me and you know it's bogus.

Oh well. On the upside, you'll notice it didn't say anything about sprouts.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
Tue, November 10, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just The (Bare) Facts, Ma'am


I'm sure we've heard the old saying about how people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Well, you can add some other things to that. They shouldn't pick their noses, either. That is to be done in the car, at a stoplight. And they shouldn't walk around naked, although I would be willing in to make exceptions for Halle Berry and Sofia Vergara.

Which brings us, in a most roundabout way, to the case of Eric Williamson of Springfield, Virginia.

He doesn't live in a glass house but he was naked the other morning, and that seems to be the trouble. So much trouble that he was arrested for it.

Here's the story, hot off the Internet:

"Eric Williamson, 29, got up at 5:30 a.m. Monday and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. He was naked, but he was alone in the Springfield house, so he didn't think it mattered.


"A woman and a 7-year-old boy were cutting through Williamson's front yard from a nearby path, according to WTTG-TV, Channel 5 in Washington. Through his front window, they saw Williamson having coffee in his birthday suit.

"Fairfax County police showed up and arrested him."

The story didn't say so, but I am 99 percent sure that the house is made of some standard building material with only the customary amount of glass. Which, evidently, is all you need to break the law against being naked in your own home in Springfield, Virginia. I presume one exists or else they wouldn't have arrested him.

Williamson says he was just standing in the kitchen, having a cuppa joe in his altogether. The police say he wanted to be seen. However, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Not that I have any personal experience, but it doesn't seem to me that 5:30 a.m. is the prime flash-your-neighbors hour.

That said, I'm not sure drinking coffee in the nude is the brightest idea he ever had, and not just because there were people cutting through his yard and looking in his window at the time. I can sum up the problem in one word:


Owie owie owie.

Now let's go back to another detail of the case. This woman and the kid were cutting through the guy's yard. Since when is this acceptable? How come they didn't get arrested for trespassing, or peeping in his windows? I was taught to respect other peoples' property, every hour of the day including 5:30 a.m. You simply don't go traipsing through other peoples' yards.

You don't stare in their windows either. It's rude. Besides, they might be naked and if it's not Halle Berry's or Sofia Vergara's house, you could well need a brain scrubber to get that image erased, and so far, nobody has invented one. You could very well scar yourself for life, and anything less than the aforementioned Halle or Sofia, it's just not worth the potential trauma.

But no. The woman and the kid skipped, and Eric is looking at a possible year in jail and a $2,000 fine. All because he wanted to have a cup of coffee au naturel, and also without sugar or cream. And because he didn't do what anyone with a lick of common sense would do when walking around the house naked:

Close the curtains.
Tue, November 3, 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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