Tag Archives: April Fools Day

Reaching the end of the roll

By Bruce Stambaugh

If I ever wrote an autobiography, I know what the title would be. I’d call the masterpiece, “The End of the Roll.”

I know this is a family blog. But I just can’t take it anymore. Please make sure your children aren’t anywhere nearby when you read this.

I have been seeking the answer to this important question for most of my adult life. Why can’t men change empty toilet paper rolls?

great egret in flght

No end of the roll for this bird.

I’m serious. If I had a dollar for every roll of toilet paper I have had to put on the holder, I’d be a millionaire. I realize most humbly what that says about my digestive system.

Nevertheless, I’m willing to come out of the stall once and for all and say it like it is. Men have to be helpless if they can’t change a roll of toilet paper.

Of course, never having been a regular in the women’s room, I can’t really know if the same is true on the skirted side of restrooms. I’ve privately asked my wife this touchy question, but she just stares at me in prolonged silence.

I’ll just assume empty toilet paper rolls in female water closets are not a problem. If I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll hear about it.

But let’s get back to the issue, or should I say tissue, at hand. Is it so difficult a task that men can’t figure out how to take an empty cardboard roll off its holder and replace it with a new roll of TP?

Now I know not all toilet paper rolls are created equal. Shoot. Some TP doesn’t even come on a roll. Some “holders” dispense all too tiny pieces of thin paper that are, well to be truthful, less than adequate for the job, please excuse the pun.

I will say, though, that as long as the supply lasts, they have to be better than those European bidet units. The last thing I need is to be hosed down while reclining in a compromised position. And please don’t try to imagine that either.

But, again, I digress.

I mean how difficult is it to change a roll of toilet paper? These are the same men who rebuild diesel engines, send rockets to Mars, build an entire barn in a day, approve multi-million dollar budgets in the twinkling of an eye, and climb sheer mountain cliffs with no ropes or safety harnesses.

Yet these same masculine minions are so inept that they can’t even unlatch an empty toilet paper tube from its holder, discard the spent roll, unwrap a fresh roll of toilet paper, slide it into place, and secure the holder. It absolutely makes no sense.

Can you tell this is important to me? I mean I can’t be the only thoughtful, regulated man on earth. But then again, maybe I am, given the number of times I’ve had to install a new roll of TP.

dog on beach

No end of the roll for this dog either.

This male ineptitude seems to be universal. It doesn’t matter where the bathrooms are, church, businesses, rest areas, restaurants, even private homes. I’ve replaced roll after roll wherever I go.

Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. Replacing empty toilet paper rolls with full ones just happens to be one of those important values instilled by my loving parents.

My parents set the tone. If we borrowed something from someone, my brothers and sisters and I were taught to return it in better shape than we got it. If we used someone’s car, we filled up the gas tank before we returned it. Of course, gasoline was 33 cents a gallon then, too.

Maybe that’s the problem. I’m an old guy with old-fashioned values. Replacing empty toilet paper rolls with full ones just happens to be one of those important values instilled by my loving parents. I’m sure they would be most proud of my TP obsession.

So men, please think about this the next time you reach the end of a roll. That’s especially true if it happens to be on April Fools Day.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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April Fools!

April 1, April Fools Day

April Fools!

The palm frond saw its shadow. You know what that means? They’ll be 12 more weeks of spring.

“April Fools!” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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Words I would never use, except now

Amish country sunrise

It dawned on me.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. My quotidian passion for words is inexorable.

The English language is replete with nomenclature I seldom employ either in composition or conversation. Now and then I have to unleash my literary angst. The eve of April Fools Day seems like the perfect time to cleanse my self-abridged dictionary.

linguist

My linguist.

Naturally I strive to espouse with beatific legerdemain. I have to do so. My jurisprudence is pathetic. Otherwise, my capriciousness gets the best of me.

I desire to be convivial about my codifications. In this political climate, I certainly don’t want to cause a kerfuffle. Although I’d confess to burble with the best of them.

I’m afraid my temerity has defeated my timidity. I hope to be more ebullient than piquant with my verbose mélange.

I certainly don’t intend to be recalcitrant in my effort to foment erudition. Neither do I want to pen prudery nor have my bespoke verbiage tamp or cajole folks. That’s not my forte.

My carapace should always be buoyant, and reflect the timbre of my character. That way I can steel and galvanize my bonhomie without any frisson. It’s neither insuperable nor insurmountable since their meaning is indistinguishable.

The context should never subsume a redolent, louche, or unpalatable knell. That would be downright bumptious. Rather I need to codify my content to be prescient and pictorial without catering to the gentry.

I don’t want to be feckless in the vernacular after all. That would just be smarmy and lack verve. Even after all these years, I still consider myself a nascent scribe in diaspora.

The reverberation of this dissipated resonance evokes no fiat. It may, in fact, be decrepit with the host of literary scions. Grimace and fulminate all you want. They’ll be no seminal effect on me. I’ll continue to shamble along without hyperbole.

Of course, that could be deceitful subterfuge on my part. However, I’m no nihilist nor am I illiberal.

PA Dutch

Verschteh?

Though this literary caravan may seem desultory to you, it is actually a scabrous compendium of hifalutin words. I’m not trying to be self-obsequious either.

I am sure there are some cognoscenti readers out there. If so, I will parry their harangues. They are not protuberant to me. Neither am I servile to them.

We can still rhapsodize together on this lexicon of gibberish. After all, I’m no pugilist or sycophantic snob.

I get the feeling that this peripatetic retinue is moribund. Its ethos is unequivocally irrefutable. Mayhap, its thrall is winsome at least.

My actual intent was to be ruminative and instructive. At the very least, this pellucid piece will generate impermanence. Also, here’s hoping that the piece achieves diptych from opening to closing. In that case, abstemious reticence will suffice.

Will I deign to manufacture a whelp to this ineffectual encyclopedia? Probably. I can assure you that it won’t be pernicious. I will admit, however, that I do have a predilection for such febrile panoply.

Bloviator that I am, the comportment for significance here is scandalously bodacious, if not excruciating and specious. I had better halt before my loquaciousness parboils my audience.

American Goldfinch, molting

Pooped.

In my defense, I can’t be accused of being a cheapskate with terms. Perchance I am, I plead amicus curiae.

This invective could go on for perpetuity. I must skedaddle. My hangdog thesaurus is pooped. Ergo, this is the epitome of epistemic closure.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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No fooling about the waffle iron

hersheysbybrucestambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

When I came across an article about the many uses for a waffle iron, I had to read it. The story’s headline pulled me in: “5 Outrageously Good Items You Can Make in a Waffle Iron.”

Besides the obvious and traditionally the only reason to use a waffle iron, to make waffles, the article transformed the lowly gadget into a veritable utilitarian kitchen necessity. I suspicioned the author owned stock in a waffle iron manufacturing company, and was trying to persuade people to rush out and purchase one or two.

dadandmombybrucestambaugh

My late father and mother.

The first alternate to waffles on a waffle iron listed was everyone’s favorite, unless you happen to be vegan, toasted cheese sandwich. Next to the pancake, this has to be the world’s most universal food. If you use a waffle iron, it might even surpass the world-renowned flapjack.

Next on the list was an offering for people who either are indecisive or can’t wait for dinner. The author recommended a fried chicken waffle. I am not making this up. He called it “Chicken Stuffed Waffles.” Let’s just say that the directions weren’t as simple as making the two entrees individually. But syrup on fried chicken? I think I’ll pass.

I thought maybe the third recipe would be the charm. I was disappointed. “Cheesy Pasta” for the world’s mac and cheese fans was presented. Again, the confounding recipe resulted in a crispy crust with a gooey, cheesy center. Not for me.

The next one I might try, if my wife isn’t home and I can find a gluten free recipe. Heat up the waffle iron, plop down a lump of cookie dough, and close the griddle for a minute and a half. Presto, you’ve got a crunchy cookie.

lecturebybrucestambaugh

Dad was much more comfortable giving talks on Native American history than he was working in the kitchen.

Finally came a suggestion that really made sense. Though the author didn’t call it this, the result was a waffled omelette. Just preheat the waffle iron to medium-high heat, pour in your favorite egg scramble and two minutes later you’re good to go.

All this leads me to a simple warning. It came to me as soon as I saw the article’s enticing headline. Don’t do what my late father once did. It was kind of like the waffled toasted cheese sandwich, only worse.

Apparently, Dad was home alone shortly after he and Mom were married in 1942. Now my impetuous father knew less about cooking than me. But he was hungry, and what was a man to do without his wife around to fix food for him?

waffleironbybrucestambaugh

Dad’s partner in crime.

Dad got out their brand new waffle iron, and made, or at least attempted to make, his favorite gourmet sandwich. He had all the ingredients right there before him.

Dad put a slice of plain, white bread on each side of the waffle iron, without preheating it of course. On top of each slice he carefully placed half of a plain Hershey’s candy bar. You know, the flat one with multiple rectangles with the brand name Hershey’s molded into them.

Dad squeezed the two sides of the waffle iron together, and then turned it on. I’m not exactly sure what happened after that, but when Mom got home, the waffle iron was ruined. Her only choice was to throw it out.

I think Dad was really fortunate that Mom didn’t pitch him out, too. Instead their incredible marriage lasted 67 years, in part because Dad gave up grilled chocolate bar sandwiches, not just for Lent, but for good.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014

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So many questions, so few answers

By Bruce Stambaugh

Some time ago I listed several questions over a wide range of topics that I had accumulated. Most of my musings were unanswerable.

Well, since I’m an inquisitive fellow by nature, I’ve done it again. My inquiring mind wants to know, and I thought April Fools Day might be a good time to ask. Should we let the questions begin?

northcoastbybrucestambaugh

The North Coast of Ohio is really the south shore of Lake Erie.

Why is the south shore of Lake Erie called the North Coast in Ohio?

Why do people feel compelled to yell “In the hole!” after a pro golfer hits a shot?

Are there East of Chicago pizza places west of Chicago?

Why do fans in line with the TV camera at baseball games wave and wave and wave once they realize they are on TV?

easterfullmoonbybrucestambaughBeside the letter “r,” what’s the difference between the word “wiggle” and “wriggle?”

If lights attract moths, why don’t these nocturnal winged insects come out in the daytime?

Do they serve Cuban sandwiches in Cuba?

What kind of wine goes with honey barbequed potato chips?

Why are the natives of the Philippine Islands called Filipinos and not Philipinos?

Why is it that when a teacher says the test will be simple, it will always be hard?

someassemblyrequiredbybrucestambaugh

Some assembly required.

Why is it that when directions say, “Some assembly required,” it usually is a lot?

Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to hang a roll of toilet paper?

Do you know which is the right way to hang a roll of toilet paper?

Did you know that Easter always falls on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox?

Did you know the emergency number in Australia, the country down under, is 119?

If tornadoes in the northern hemisphere spin counter-clockwise, and tornadoes in the southern hemisphere spin clockwise, which direction would a tornado on the Equator spin?

Did you know that in Ohio it’s a law that motorized vehicles have to have their headlights on if their windshield wipers are operating?

How do bullfrogs know when the air is warm enough for insects to fly in early spring?

Did you know that the only direction you can travel from the North Pole is south?

When you sneeze, why do people say, “God bless you?”

hotdogsbybrucestambaugh

You won’t find these hot dogs at McDonald’s or any other fast food restaurant for that matter.

Have you ever tried to order a hotdog at McDonalds?

Where did the idea of the Easter Bunny originate?

Is Allstate Insurance really available in all states?

Have you ever wondered who your doctor’s doctor is?

Why is baseball the only professional sport where the manager and coaches have to wear uniforms like the players?

Why is it when you are following a slow moving vehicle in a no passing zone, you don’t pass any oncoming cars, but as soon as it is all right to pass you can’t because there is oncoming traffic?

What is the difference between a day being “partly sunny” or “party cloudy?”

partlysunnybybrucestambaugh

Partly sunny or partly cloudy?

Why do emergency vehicles proclaim “Dial 911” when we no longer have rotary phones?

Why do we still say we’ll carbon copy an email, for example, when we no longer use carbon paper?

Do they serve French toast in France?

americanrobinbybrucestambaugh

In good weather or foul, American Robins still have orange breasts.

Why do people refer to the red, red Robin when the American Robin’s breast is orange?

Why do donuts have holes in the first place?

Why does it seem colder at 27 degrees in April than it does when it’s 27 degrees in January?

Why do we celebrate April Fools Day anyhow?

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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Groundhog Day is February’s April Fools’ Day

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’ve never been a fan of Ground Hog Day. It’s like February’s equivalent to April Fools’ Day.

I see Feb. 2 as an artificial holiday. It is more marketing ploy than weather prognostication, designed to pump up a small Pennsylvania town to help distract those living in the country’s colder climes from cabin fever.

That was a long sentence.

I am pretty sure no one, other than the mayor of Punxsutawney, Pa. perhaps, takes the event seriously. Winter after all is driven more by calendar and climate than it is one day’s sunny or gloomy weather. Whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not, winter will continue until it really is over.

I hope I don’t sound too bitter.

smartgroundhogbybrucestambaugh

This groundhog was a little to cagy for me. No matter what I baited this live trap with, the groundhog resisted and returned to its burrow under our back porch.

Besides, Punxsutawney Phil has developed some competition over the years. Not to be outdone by the silliness, Ohio has Buckeye Chuck, who is more or less the Avis of rodent forecasting. He tries hard, but doesn’t draw the crowds or paparazzi of his Keystone counterpart.

Where am I going with this? For one, back in time.

Many years ago when I was a young man in college who thought he knew everything, one of my roommates and I got into a mildly heated discussion about groundhogs of all things. And yes, we were both sober. We might have been bored or stubborn perhaps, but definitely not delirious.

Nevertheless, we did indeed disagree about this four-legged furry creature. My roommate, Joe, claimed that groundhogs and woodchucks were two entirely different animals. I said they were one in the same.

We didn’t come to fisticuffs, but Joe was pretty sure that he was correct. I was just as certain that I was right.

Finally, after too much verbiage for too long a time, we decided on a neutral determinant. We would look up the two words in my heavy-duty Random House dictionary. The thick reference book was my one major college personal investment. I was, and still am, a notoriously bad speller. Being a journalism major, I knew I needed to have my assignments completed with proper spelling. This was long before personal computers and word processors with built in dictionaries existed.

Since my parents had taught me to share, the dictionary held a prominent place in our little off-campus abode. It sat atop a desk in the dining room for anyone to use. It wasn’t uncommon for us to invite fellow students over to study together. At least we were supposed to be studying.

Since “groundhog” came before “woodchuck” alphabetically, I turned to my word first. I placed my index finger beneath “groundhog” and read, “Groundhog. A woodchuck.”

My roommate was in denial. I stepped away while he turned to “woodchuck.” “A groundhog” the dictionary declared, Joe’s voice cracking in disbelief.

If I recall correctly, the dictionary was closed rather suddenly. Joe surrendered, a bit grudgingly.

I learned much later in life that in Maine groundhogs are colloquially called whistle pigs because of the whistling sound that they make. In other locales in North America, groundhogs are labeled land beavers.

That brings us back to the present.

Just remember that Feb. 2 when you see a man dressed in a top hat and tuxedo holding up a groundhog, woodchuck, whistle pig or land beaver for the cameras, it really doesn’t mean a thing. Spring will officially arrive March 20 shadow or no shadow.

daffodilsbybrucestambaugh

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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2012 calendar looks to be a bit on the crazy side

Eerie sunset by Bruce Stambaugh
By Bruce Stambaugh

We were having a right nice 2012 until January 13th arrived. Of course, it was a Friday, the day the first disruptive snowstorm of the season hit the northeast Ohio area.

Forsythia by Bruce StambaughUntil then, the winter weather had been more like early spring. People reported dandelions and forsythia blooming. I even saw a pussy willow bush ready to open. One person bragged about mowing the lawn at the end of December.

Then along came Friday the 13th. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not blaming the snowstorm on that supposedly superstitious day. In fact I’m not even superstitious, knock on wood.

I had to wonder though if this was going to be the first of several goofy events, either natural or human induced, to occur in 2012. I’m only thinking this because of the way the year’s universal calendar plays out.

Besides the Friday the 13th snowstorm, this is also a leap year. People born on February 29 will finally get to celebrate their Birthday by Bruce Stambaughbirthdays again. February, the shortest month of the year even with Leap Day, has five Wednesdays this year. September has its usual 30 days, and five of them are Sundays.

Of the 12 months, three begin on a Sunday, one on a Monday, one on a Tuesday, two on a Wednesday, two on a Thursday, one on a Friday and two on a Saturday. I think we can thank the Leap Year phenomenon again for making sure no day got ignored.

Other oddities include Washington’s Birthday and Ash Wednesday coinciding. April Fools’ Day and Palm Sunday share the same date. A full moon occurs on Good Friday. August is the only month that has two full moons, August 2 and 31. September’s full moon also occurs on the last day of the month.

Unless you have been hiding in a cave, you have long figured out that 2012 is also a presidential election year. Given the candidates performances so far, that alone would make 2012 a bit tilted.
Flag and bunting by Bruce Stambaugh
To add to the calendar party, we have to mention the Mayan calendar references December 21 as being the day the world ends. That day just happens to be this year’s winter solstice. Maybe we won’t have to worry about winter anymore.

Of course, as we learned last year and a thousand times before, the Mayans can’t claim title to announcing the end of time. Harold Camping still has some explaining to do from last year’s fruitless end-times predictions.

Playing off the fears of an already unsettled global society, the goofiness goes on. For instance, one claim for this year is that a previously unknown planet will hit Earth. Right, and the Cleveland Indians will beat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series thanks to an assist by Steve Bartman.

Another oddball prediction has the Earth’s magnetic poles switching places, sparked by a series of solar storms. Better stock up on sunscreen before the prices go up.

Number 13 by Bruce StambaughThere is yet one more piece of information that just might sway you to cash in all your stocks, sell your property and give the proceeds to a respectable charity. Of course it involves Friday the 13th. There are three of them in 2012, January 13, April 13 and July 13.

That in itself may not be so statistically unusual until you hear what my friend, Mic, discovered. The three Friday the 13ths are each 13 weeks apart.

To quote my good friend, “Be forewarned.”

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It’s no joke: April 1 used to be New Year’s Day

By Bruce Stambaugh

If there was one day I dreaded each school year of my three decades in education, it was April 1st, better known as April Fools Day.

The students, and even a few of the teachers, were merciless with their inane April Fools jokes. I was relieved if April 1st happened to fall on a weekend.

But five times out of seven, it did not. As teacher then principal, I was forced to endure the school-wide silliness. I gave a little more slack to the younger children who dared approach the principal to try to trick him. I did my best to play along.

I remember fondly their coy smiles with their giddy calls of “your shoe’s untied.” I always took the bait, waited for the giggles and moved on down the hall until the next juvenile ambush.

It was harder for me to tolerate the older students who tried unsuccessfully to be more sophisticated with their trickery. I didn’t have much patience with students who released the distracted teacher’s pet garter snake in the room or for those who put tacks on teachers’ seats.

I wondered who in the world ever invented such a silly day. After all these years, I decided to quit wondering and investigate.

My do diligence was a thorough if not speedy search on Google. The results didn’t really lead to any definite conclusions, other than to surmise that the antics of the crazy day likely got started way back when the Gregorian calendar was introduced. This major change, which had to make health care reform seem simple, revamped the annual calendar in the entire civilized world.

The King of France, Charles IX, instituted the switch in 1564. Foremost was beginning the New Year on January 1st instead of on April 1st. Problem was 16th century communications were not what they are today. Of course, given the state of the current Twittering world, that may have been a good thing.

Word of the calendar change took several months, even years, to make its way around Europe and beyond. Not surprisingly, there were those who resisted the change, and instead preferred to maintain the status quo, which included celebrating a new year beginning March 25 and culminating on April 1. Just imagine New Year’s Eve lasting eight days. Sounds a lot like Mardi Gras to me.

Those who refused to honor January 1 as the beginning of the New Year and instead continued to use the April 1 demarcation became known as April Fools for their obstinacy and resistance to change. As the lore goes, April 1 was dubbed April Fools Day for those who clung to their old ways.

Those poor fools, excuse the pun, who refused to accept the new calendar were sent off on ridiculous errands and were made the butt of practical jokes, like sticking signs on their backs that said “kick me.” It reminded me of those good old school days.

Perhaps because it took so long for the new calendar to be accepted, the practice of nonsense on April 1st became an annual event. The silliness gradually found its way to both the British and French colonies in America.

Apparently traditions, whether good or bad, die hard. Students have been pestering teachers and principals, and probably parents, ever since. With that in mind, you just might want to check your seat today before you sit down.

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