Intolerable Petroleum Preservation and Protection Apparatus…ses

gas-canWe really try to keep our blog fun and light-hearted…but sometimes, you just gotta vent. Oh, the title? I wanted one government-worthy, since they’re at the heart of the issue.

Have you ever seen one of these before? I don’t even need to ask if you’ve ever used one, because if you have it has already triggered the same visceral response you get when you realize your license is about to expire and you’ll have to go camp out at the DMV.

The first time you used one is still a vivid memory, because the intense frustration it causes sears it into your brain almost as vividly as the first time you see the beautiful woman you would eventually marry.

It’s called an “Auto Shutoff” and it’s a new kind of gas can safety device. I suppose it technically is, because the safest thing you can do with gas is, well…NOTHING! It’s best that you just leave it in the can. There’s no danger at all, if you don’t pour out a single drop. If you do manage to figure it out though, I hope you are wearing galoshes, because you’re about to pour it all over the frickin’ place.

Well, here is how my “first time” went:

I went down to the barn recently to…you guessed it: get some gas. I needed to mix up a gallon of fuel for the Weed Eater for the last “weed eating” of the year. I would say that, in total, we have about 16 different gas cans in the barn, ranging from practically antique to still red and shiny.

I noticed that one of them looked really new, but it had some crazy contraption built around the nozzle. I steered clear of that one, and started checking the other 15 to see which ones still had gas in them. I shook my head back and forth as I rattled the last gas can and didn’t even hear a minute splash. I really didn’t want to drive to the gas station for a single gallon of gas, so I was pretty pleased when I picked up the odd can and it was still full. (Now I know why.)

I took the nozzle (with no “safety features” at all on it, thank you very much) off of the one gallon and poured in the mix. Next, I looked over at ole’ red. “It looks like you press this down”, I thought. So I pressed a little lever down and it stayed. “Nice!”

I picked it up and started to pour. Nothin’!

I set it down and took a closer look at this new-fangled device that was obviously intended to keep me from somehow hurting myself. “Ahhh, I see!” It has a twisty part too. I didn’t notice that the first time. So, I made sure the lever was pressed down, then I twisted the green part and let go. It springs right back.

“I’m gettin’ this.” (These short phrases are my internal dialogue during this process. I edit out all of the expletives, though. Don’t worry.)

I see that I have to twist the green thing, pick up the 28 pound gas can, pour the gas, and try to make it into the other can all at the same time. I can assure you that at no point in the process did I think to myself, “Man, this sure is safe!”

I began the aforementioned task that requires a level of multi-tasking I rarely undertake and….not a drop.

“Well, for Pete’s sake!” (See, I told you.)

The next attempt, I was somehow pressing down the lever while twisting the green thing, as I am lifting, tilting, aiming and pour…nope! “What the…!”
I set it back down and tried for at least 5 more minutes to dream up some magical combination of twisting, pressing and pouring that would give me access to the necessary liquid. I never managed to get a single drop of fuel out through that wonderful safety nozzle. And you know what? I’m not the least bit ashamed. I’d like to see you try it.

At this point I was quite frustrated (so there won’t be any more internal dialogue quoted). I set the can down and simply took the entire nozzle with its magical frickin’ safety device off and poured straight out of that can into the other one. Did I spill some? Uh-huh. A good bit more than I would have if I had an “un-safe” nozzle? You betcha. But I got my mixed fuel made and went to do some weed eatin’.

What’s the moral of the story? There isn’t one. But I can tell you this: If I am ever president, (and it could happen) the first day I am in office, I am going to outlaw those safety devices in our country. I will then collect them, ship them overseas and replace all of our enemies’ gas cans with those dastardly safety cans, then sit back and relax.

I am convinced that those safety nozzles alone will so obstruct the day-to-day operations of any nation as to eventually result in its economic collapse. I think they have a better chance of increasing safety that way than any other.

The 4 Year-Old Theologian

Handsome Super Man

Do you know if “napping” is an actual spiritual gift? If it is, it would make sense. I mean…I am really good at it. And one’s passions and gifts are often aligned. You just try asking me about naps. My face will light up with joy as the discussion of one of life’s legitimate pleasures commences!

I plan on doing some research on it, starting by reading through the New Testament and writing down all of the passages where naps are mentioned. Then I’ll grab the concordance and do a word study, going through every instance where the word “pancake” is used. Based on my experience today, if that food is referenced, then “nap”, “napping”, “will soon nap”, “hath nappeth”, or some other conjugation of the Greek verb “nappos” will be right around the corner.

This afternoon at 3:30, Thatcher and I had just gotten up from our very pleasant Sunday afternoon nap. Nicole was out grocery shopping and we were relaxing and gradually waking up on the couch, he with his Ipad, and me with my Kindle. My brother, Allen, had just sent me a link to an individual’s web site and recommended I check it out. I was reading an article* he had written about his own conversion when this conversation between Thatcher and me took place.

Warning: The text of this conversation has not been altered in any way to protect the ignorant (me) or the innocent (Thatcher). This is exactly as it took place.

“Daddy, do you want to play one of these games?” Thatcher said as he looked up from his Ipad.

“Not right now, tiger. I’m reading an article in a magazine (on my kindle).”

Thatcher: “What’s an article?”

Me: “It’s like a story in a magazine.”

Thatcher: “I don’t like magazines, do I?”

Me: “Well, this is a story for adults. It’s about how a man became a Christian.”

Thatcher: “What’s a Christian?”

Me: “It’s a person who has dedicated their lives to Jesus.”

Thatcher: “Do I have it?”

Me: “Do you love Jesus?”

Thatcher: “I do.”

Me: “He loves you too.”

Thatcher: “But I don’t want to go to heaven. Do you Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, but not now. Right now, I’m here with you guys.” Daddy and Thatcher fist-bump.

Thatcher: “When, Daddy.”

Me: “That’s not for me to decide.”

Thatcher: “Who does then?”

Me: “God.”

Thatcher got pensive as he processed and then goes back to playing his Frisbee game on his Ipad.

It’s fun having a 4-year old who is inquisitive. Oh wait…every 4-year old is inquisitive. Oh well.

I do love my Thatcher.


The article I was reading was “The Golden Fish: How God Woke Me Up in a Dream” by Eric Metaxes

Chubby Digit Sundays

In Joplin, Missouri, we know tornadoes…and ice storms. Last week we had our third in the last 6 years.

The evening was cold and wet. It had been drizzling for the past ten hours and maintaining a steady temperature between 30 and 32 degrees. We were sitting in the living room interacting with our multitudinous digital devices when we heard a great crash.

“Whu THA?!” Chandler our two-year-old daughter says when she hears a sound she can’t identify.

Someone needs to investigate. The deck was so icy that Nicole didn’t want to walk out onto it, so she went upstairs, out onto the balcony, and observed verifiable truth that guardian angels directly influence women’s driving. If they didn’t, well, you know…

Nicole had originally parked my Yukon right where that tree fell. Fortunately, she came back out and moved it over a bit. Not a scratch!
Nicole had originally parked my Yukon right where that tree fell. Fortunately, she came back out and moved it over a bit. Not a scratch!

She had taken my SUV on a brief errand earlier in the day before it was too bad to drive and had parked it where she typically does her vehicle. After getting out, she reconsidered and moved the car over one parking space. The loud crash we had heard was the sound of two 25 foot ice laden sections of our beloved river birch trees falling precisely where Nicole had parked it before being prompted by the heavens to scoot it over a bit. It was so close, in fact, that the driver’s side door was pinned by the bent smaller branches.

The drizzling continued through most of the night. We awoke that Sunday morning with the glorious sun a-shining. It looked like the land of Narnia while in the midst of its perpetual state of winter. The deck was covered in ice and the birch branches were bent within two or three feet of the deck and looked like they would snap at any moment.

I looked over at my vehicle and noticed a slight, unnatural bend in the 70 foot sycamore just beyond it. Precarious was the word that came to mind. Between the fallen branches, and the ones weighed down by ice, there was no way I could move my car, but move it I must! I now knew my mission for the day. Let Operation Yukon Rescue begin!

First, Nicole and I decided it would be a good idea to try to lighten the load on the trees by melting some of the ice, thus giving the Yukon safe passage to the East. There are multiple ways to melt ice, and Nicole suggested spraying water on the branches with the hose, which had worked for her before. After locating a hose at the barn that wasn’t frozen, setting it up, ramming an oscillating sprinkler into the ground at an awkward angle, and turning the water on, Nicole and I sat back and watched.

“Is it melting the ice?” Nicole asked.

“I can’t tell,” I responded. “It’s pretty darn cold outside, you know. It might just be freezing on the branches, thus worsening the situation.” (That’s a retrospective paraphrase of my response, but the intent is accurate.)

We waited longer.

Now we weren’t just cold, but the introduction of water had created mud in the flower bed, and Nicole had gotten sprayed in the face twice by the sprinkler as she tried to set it up properly. What?! It was her idea, so I figured it would be best for her to attempt to execute it!

“CRACK!” went the section of the tree we were trying to salvage.

“Abort! Abort!” I ran to the faucet and turned off the sprinkler. It seemed we were indeed making the situation worse. Time for Plan B.

“Fire usually melts ice,” I thought. “And there is a fire pit on our deck. Why don’t I start a fire in the fire pit on the deck and see if it melts some ice off of the trees?” Sometimes we initially overlook the obvious.

Do you know what it’s like to fear triggering an avalanche? I do now! I spent half of the afternoon treading lightly on the ice covered deck, constantly tense as the entire canopy above me seemed as if it could collapse at any moment. Any time the breeze picked up, the branches above would crack and I would run for cover. If I were a smoker, I would have chain smoked all afternoon just to ease the tension.

Did I mention that it was cold?

I can handle working outside in the cold. I’m pretty rugged, you know. A friend of the elements, you might even say. I do have a weak spot, though…my Achilles heel in chilly climes. You get the point.

While the rest of my body remains quite warm, my fingers, regardless of how thick the gloves, pretty quickly get cold. I blow warm air into my gloves, shake my hands, stick them under my arm pits, (which does absolutely nothing!) anything I can think of to get Jack Frost to stop nipping at my, um, fingers. Nothing works! And shortly after they get cold, they just plum start to hurt. That’s when I typically throw in the towel. It’s why I’ve often mentioned that I wish I had chubby digits. A friend with whom I work outside has, well, chubbier digits than I. His fingers never get cold! I’ll be doing all the above mentioned things to warm mine up, and Captain Chubby Digits over there isn’t even wearing gloves!

I really wouldn’t want them all the time, though. I like the appearance of my fingers just fine. But it would be nice to have them on occasion. I’ll have to sit down with Santa next year and see what he can do.

I finally got the frozen logs burning well (after the 4th attempt) and set out to release my Yukon from its cage of icy limbs. I began with hand tools because both the kids were taking a nap, but soon reached a point where something more powerful was necessary.

The kids were up now, so I went down to the barn and grabbed the big daddy…the largest chain saw on the property…the Echo CS-600P. It had a new chain on it so it cut through the trees like butter. It was a little overkill, I suppose; but sometimes you gotta take control (or something along those lines). Anyway, it was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the afternoon.

I cut up the branches and dragged them into the grass, all the while glancing above me to make sure I wasn’t about to be crushed by falling branches. The car didn’t have a scratch. Thank you, Nicole’s automotive guardian angel!

We maneuvered my car out from under all of the trees, and by the time the evening was upon us, I had three roaring fire pits on the deck. The next morning, things were slightly better and by the following day, the sun was out and the ice falling off of the trees sounded like you were in a hail storm. No more major branches broke, fortunately, and although there was a good bit of cleanup after it was all over, it was not disastrous.

Hopefully we’re done with ice storms for a while, though.