July 2014

Older and Wiser

 John thinking

Throughout our lives we’ve been led to believe the older we got, the wiser we would become. Well, maybe. As an example, given the physical nature of maintaining yards and homes, I’ve noticed many of my friends and neighbors now hire people for many of those tasks. For better or worse, in most cases, I still take on those responsibilities. Of course, that’s probably why my chiropractor now owns a vacation home in Hawaii.

Regardless, in taking on these tasks, I really do try to work smarter. I’m always looking for and finding interesting and easier ways to get things done. In a recent blog I related a great time saver suggested by my wife. It was the amazingly effective and inexpensive cleaning products featured at Dollar Tree stores. Many friends and neighbors followed my suggestion and report having the same great experience. The owner of the bike shop I frequent didn’t seem very interested when I suggested he try their basic cleaner, so the next time I went in, I gave him a bottle. A week later I stopped by and asked him how it was working out. He opened the cabinets under his cleaning sinks and there were several bottles. He said when cleaning the grease from an entire bike, it saves him more than a half hour in work time. I’m hoping for a discount on my next bike tires.

In the same time, money, and labor-saving vein, let me share another great suggestion for working smarter. With a drum roll please, its vinegar. Yes, plain old cheap vinegar. While many of you probably already know of its many uses, and there are literally dozens, I want to share some of my favorites.

Weed and grass killer

This summer, after so many windy days, I’ve grown a great crop of weeds all over my property. The toxic sprays sold at the local home improvement stores are really nasty and high-priced. I just fill up my little sprayer with some cheap vinegar, and ta da, no more weeds. Even more interesting, this year my palm trees decided to drop seedlings all over the place that began to grow. Everyone told me, even one of the local “tree guys,” that nothing will kill these seedlings and you have to get down and pull them out of the ground by hand. Oh yeah. Well, a couple of spray sessions with my vinegar did them in. Now, of course, you need to be careful. While vinegar is actually good for growing some flowers, it will kill not only weeds and unwanted grass, it will also kill grass you may not want to kill, so be careful. But, I must say, being able to handle those weeds and wild grasses growing up through cracks in cement and other places so easily is a real-time and money saver. And since its not toxic, I don’t have to worry about growing another head out of my shoulder.

Here are some other great uses for vinegar:

Unclogging drains

Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot tap water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.

Cleaning windshield wipers

When your windshield actually gets blurrier after you turn on your wipers during a rainstorm, it usually means that your wiper blades are dirty. To make them as good as new, dampen a cloth or rag with some full-strength white vinegar and run it down the full length of each blade once or twice.

Removing mineral deposits from shower heads

Wash away blockages and mineral deposits from removable shower heads by placing them in 1 quart (1 liter) boiling water with 1/2 cup distilled vinegar for 10 minutes (use hot, not boiling, liquid for plastic shower heads). When you remove it from the solution, the obstructions should be gone. If you have a nonremovable shower head, fill a small plastic bag half full with vinegar and tape it over the fixture. Let it sit for about 1 hour, then remove the bag and wipe off any remaining vinegar from the shower head.

Keep out four-legged creatures

Some animals — including cats, deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons — can’t stand the scent of vinegar even after it has dried. You can keep these unauthorized visitors out of your garden by soaking several recycled rags in white vinegar, and placing them on stakes around your veggies. soak the rags about every 7-10 days.


Give ants the boot

Serve the ants on your premises with an eviction notice. Pour equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle. Then spray it on anthills and around areas where you see the insects. Ants hate the smell of vinegar. It won’t take long for them to move on to better-smelling quarters. Also keep the spray bottle handy for outdoor trips or to keep ants away from picnic or children’s play areas. If you have lots of anthills around your property, try pouring full-strength vinegar over them to hasten the bugs’ departure.


Removing rust from tools 

If you want to clean up those rusted old tools you recently unearthed in your basement or picked up at a tag sale, soak them in full-strength white vinegar for several days. The same treatment is equally effective at removing the rust from corroded nuts and bolts. And you can pour vinegar on rusted hinges and screws to loosen them up for removal.

These are just a few of the dozens and dozens of uses for vinegar. There are many web sites that can give you many more ideas.


John Parker

John Parker



To Text or Not to Text,

That is The Question

While I frequently discuss the benefits of maintaining a positive attitude, being somewhat human, I feel the time has come to vent on a particular topic.

Based upon overwhelming observational research, what we have here is a failure to stop communicating. How many times have you been talking to someone, young or old, only to realize that person is looking at their cell phone? I recently heard a radio talk show host bemoan the fact he had just interviewed a young woman for a job as a nanny for his two children. In the middle of the interview she began texting. On three separate occasions I’ve had to swerve my car around cars going under 50 on major interstates. In each case, it was young women drivers’ texting while driving. One of these was very scary because it was nearly midnight on a dark Florida highway. Fortunately, I saw the dim glow of her phone from inside her car in time to swerve and avoid a collision. In my rear view mirror, I then observed several semi-tractor trailer trucks behind me perform the same maneuver.

Now before I’m accused of being a sexist, I’ve also witnessed my share of men and women, young and old doing the exact same thing. What is so addictive about these devices?

Obviously, I appreciate the convenience of cell phones. They have, however, completely changed our society. Most surveys reveal that a majority of individuals say they could not get along without their cell phone for one day. This is not limited to our society here in the U. S. Having had the opportunity to travel extensively, the use of cell phones is world-wide. In China I actually had my cell phone stolen off my person by a pick pocket.

In addition to safety issues, perhaps my biggest gripe is people using their cell phones in places where they should never even display them. The most egregious venue to me is in the front row of sporting events. No matter the sport, be it baseball, basketball, whatever, if you’ve got tickets in the front row, leave the stupid phone in your pocket. I follow a couple of teams and at every game there are the same people, in the front row on their phones. They could have given me those tickets.

Then of course, there’s this guy. Somebody call and wake him up.



John Parker

John Parker


Old Dog, New Kicks

Old Man Soccer

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? It depends. I’m a firm believer in living in the moment with an eye to the future. But sometimes the new thing is only just that, new. A morning snowflake with no chance of lasting very long. I guess I’m not into trends. I never bought a Nehru jacket when I was young and my closet is not now filled with skinny jeans. Heck, I’m so behind the times, I don’t even wear pajama bottoms to Wal-Mart. Trends are trends, and fads come and go.

Take soccer. It was actually our generation that introduced our children to the game here in the U. S.  That’s probably because the game requires only a few players, a space to play, and one ball. Kid’s soccer is great. It provides exercise, gets the family together on Saturday mornings, and everyone gets to let off some steam.

The question is: Is soccer catching on in a big way here in the U. S. as some in the media would have us believe? I doubt it. Naturally, those recent immigrants to the U. S. who were soccer fans before they got here are still very excited to follow the sport. For the rest of us, I would say it’s like watching grass grow, but that would be too on the nose. Even with the recent success of the U. S. team in Rio, I really don’t think the excitement will be sustained.

So why is kid’s soccer so popular, but professional soccer so dull. Well, first off, the skill levels of kids are so varied it almost guarantees some, if not a lot of scoring. Secondly, watching your kids play any sport is pretty cool. All three of our sons played the sport when they were young and all of them enjoyed the experience. Pushed by his older brothers, our youngest was once pulled from a game after only 30 seconds. He had already scored two goals and the coach didn’t want to run up the score.

Soccer played by highly trained and skilled athletes can be very boring. Scoring is infrequent and watching the players flip and flop faking injuries is a bit bizarre. I will admit I do enjoy watching those guys in white coats run out with a stretcher only to have the “critically injured” player jump up and resume play. At that point, off go the white coat guys like a small flock of penguins.

In my opinion, our generation will never really get interested in professional soccer. Maybe some day it will attract a larger audience, but when you have so many other exciting sports that actually tear up the grass, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Happy 4th Of July


Getting Older

Speaking of times changing, have you ever been going through old photos  and one or two sent a shiver up your spine? I was scrolling through some the other day and a couple really caught my eye. One was my wife Trisha when she was about 17 and the other, well, I guess it’s me. Where has all the time gone?

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

John Parker

John Parker


Now, I can truthfully say Trisha is still as beautiful as ever, but what the heck was going on with my Duck Dynasty look? I was way ahead of my time. We all age physically, and as I wrote about in my last blog, there is nothing we can do about it except to live the best we can. Everyday!


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