Coping: With the $500 Christmas Tree

I happened to be in the big city this weekend on business:  The Big City being Palestine, TX, population less than 20,000.

There, in the local Big Box store that specializes in tools and hardware was a Christmas Tree.  Plastic.  And priced at just $499.95.  The joy of this tree seemed to be the craftsmanship and it looked like even an idiot like me could assemble this designer-looking marvel with only a glass or two of wassailing juice.

How could I resist?

Resist, I did.  Promptly went over to hand tools and grabbed a 12” pairs of Channel-Locks and applied them to my forearm for the better part of 3-minutes.  Then I went back to the tree to recheck the price. 

It hasn’t changed and I was surely sober and in the moment, as evidenced by the edema on the arm.

I picked up a few things I’d come for and left shaking my head.  For a country where Social Security is going up only 1.7% it sure seemed odd to see a $500 plastic tree.

My next stop, Wally World, was a little more productive.  For one, I spent more money, and for a second, they had a kind of full-sized Santa that was like the Disney audio-animatronic.  This marvel of machinery would come two life at the damnedest times and begin “Fa-la-la-lah-lah’ing” all over himself and whoever was nearby.

Little kids in their grocery carts would point at the moving fatso and their indulgent parents would go over to observe the effects.  I would have paid big to find out what was going through their heads, but I knew what was going through mine:  The world has gone frigging mad.

Nearby was another lighted tree that I could buy and take home.  This one was only $249.95. 

Still, somehow at the advanced age of 65, spending money on a Christmas tree doesn’t seem like a wise environmental choice.  Trees sequester carbon.  And it stands to reason that if the world has high CO2 levels, sequestering carbon is a good thing.  So what cut them down?

Oil, on the other hand, an even more dense source of carbon, is used to make the fancy plastic trees so again, back to the sequestration problem.

It occurred to me that there’s a serious conflict between saving the environment and saving Christmas; at least in the retail sense.

Still:  The trees don’t have lithium batteries, so they won’t have us fomenting revolutions or disease in resource-rich countries.  They were made in China  which ain’t exactly a hot bed of Ho-ho-ho’ing except as in Chi Min Trail.

I asked the check-out lady how many drinks it takes when she gets off shift to get the “Fa-la-la-lah-lah’ing” out of her head.

“It’d be three usually, but one of the managers came by and turned it up, so I don’t know for sure now.  Four maybe, I think…”  Clerks deserve hazardous duty pay this time of year.

On the way out I decided to stop by the in-store McDonalds.  Sunday is a “free day” on my diet, but I still am keeping things below 1,800 calories.  You can get two of their smallest cheeseburgers for $2.18 including tax.  If you drink just water and don’t count the extra pickles, that’s a 600 calorie meal.   A person could eat these three times a day and a couple of vitamin pills for less than $2,400 a year for food.

– – –

The next stop was the local food emporium.  There, you can order a Thanksgiving Dinner with a 12-pound turkey, all the fixings like potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and what not…for just $59.00 in the deli department.

Having just eaten is the only time to go to a grocery store, I didn’t order the turkey dinner, but I’m thinking about it.

Depending on weather, I might surprise Elaine with a trip over the holiday, but the jury is still out on that.  If not, even though it would mean giving up the wine-tasting while stuffing, baking, and doing the real stuffing to follow, it would also mean not going through the annual ritual called Turkey Thaw Roulette. 

That’s where you start thawing the turkey about Monday and, depending on weather and other forces not yet documented in physics, the bird will be ready to cook anywhere between Tuesday morning and Saturday noon.

We’ve tried thawing outside on the screen porch, in the shower, in the bathtub, in the refrigerator, and in one side of the kitchen sink.  We’ve collected more turkey thawing  formulas than NASA, too.

Thus, the real reason Thanksgiving has to be a four day weekend has nothing to do with history and ceremony:  No one seems to know when dinner is served.  It could be anywhere in there.

Looking at the scatter chart of the past 20-years of turkey day, we’ve never had an ideally timed meal yet. That would be 2:30 or 2:45 in the afternoon.  The grazing would be over by 3:30, or so, and then naps and some TV  before just a few more bites before bed.

– – –

Another calculation:  The money we saved by not purchasing a $500 plastic tree will give us 8.33 years of on-time turkey dinners.  Plus as a bonus, we’ll be sequestering carbon and we’ll have a much better idea when dinner will be served. 

Best of all?  We can sleep in.

Another Double-Speak

As we ended last week, I was whining about stupid word use.  Reader Michal is on board with that:

You talk about drop down and snuggle up, my favorite is the “hot water heater” instead of proper “water heater”. Look, hot water doesn’t need a heater, it’s already hot!

A note on Freezing up.  Think about it, water expands when frozen (think about the coke can in the freezer exploding). In the old days, water was kept in containers with the opening at the top. As water froze, the level of the liquid would move upwards, and thus, freeze up.
Just a thought, no proof.

This last part doesn’t work for me.  How would an engine – all metal – freeze UP  Most of the castings I have done shrink a bit when cooling – and from the liquid state that is freezing, am I right?  Thus, say you’re casting something of aluminum, it would “freeze down” which is why there’s always a slight indent on the pouring hole (the feeder and riser; the pour going in the feeder and the excess to the cast piece coming up in the riser, both of which will indent slightly from “freeze down”).

A Birthday Note

According to my well-kept notes, Gaye who publishes www.backdoorsurvival.com has a birthday today.

If you’re into slow cooking, what with Thanksgiving just a week and whatever away, you still have time to read here notes on the Wonder Oven.   There’s nothing in there about doing large quantities (like great big pans of dressing, for example, but it’s an interesting engineering problem to contemplate.   Especially when work on Monday sucks.

Now that I think about it, so does work any other day of the week.

Have the robots shown up to replace us all so we can become paid stay at home consumers of the state, yet?

Crap…on to more work then…

Write when you break-even

George   george@ure.net

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