Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Episode 49: Did You Know: Indiana

I live in Indiana, so I thought it might be interesting to find out just what makes this state important or interesting.

Did you know there is a town in Indiana called Santa Claus? I am not even kidding. You can find it right near Christmas Lake, which you cannot go to because the people who live there got tired of visitors and turned their little haven into a gated community. In any case, the story is they wanted to be Santa Fe, but there was already a Santa Fe in Indiana, which caused a problem when they wanted a post office. To get a post office, they had to change their name, and what better name for a town could there possibly be than Santa Clause? (Did you know quarterback Jay Cutler was born in Santa Claus?) Although I have very little proof, which is to say absolutely none, I am pretty sure those responsible for naming that town are somehow connected to those who most recently named our beloved Fort Wayne baseball team.

Speaking of baseball, shortly after the aforementioned name disaster (the town, not the team), the first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne. It was 1871, which also happens to be the year something was invented, someone was born, and something else fantastic happened or didn't happen. It was a good year.

Another good year was the one in which someone discovered lots and lots of limestone in southern Indiana. A whole collection of good years followed for the people who figured out how to sell that limestone to the folks building the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Pentagon, the U.S. Treasury and a bunch of other buildings in other places.

A collection of bad years for Indiana trees began shortly after settlers came and started chopping them down. Before the settlers, Indians lived in Indiana, and they seem to have liked trees a bit more than the settlers, so they left them (trees) mostly alone. (They had really good reason to like trees more than settlers once the settlers started attacking trees and bringing all sorts of new illnesses, like "boy bands" and "pop divas".)

Back in the day, before boy bands and pop divas, Indiana was around 80% forested. After all the settling and buildings and fences and fields and SUVs and talentless hacks with pretty faces and small brains exploited by greedy shysters with lots of money and no scruples, we are now closer to 17% forested.

That makes me feel bad about using my fireplace. I mean really, shouldn't I be watching all those poor exploited artists instead of wrapping my fingers around a steaming cup of hot cocoa while staring blankly into the flames as the firelight flickers warmly around the otherwise dark room and the cares of my day melt slowly away? Of course not, then all the trees would have died in vain! You have to ask yourself, if you were a tree, would you rather be chopped down and burned or subjected to the latest American Music Awards show?

Thankfully, Indiana does not have be ashamed of the artists we have produced. We can boast about the likes of James Dean, Steve McQueen, David Letterman, John Mellencamp, Cole Porter, Axel Rose (okay, we might have some explaining to do on that one), the Jacksons, and some other famous people.

The point of all this is there are lots of useless facts and tidbits floating around out there, and you may never know any of them. On the other hand, there probably aren't really any bad consequences for that, so you don't have to get all panicky about it just yet.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Episode 48: What Just Happened?

Have you ever suddenly wondered how you got to where you were? For example, you find yourself alone in a row boat in the middle of Lake Michigan in the middle of a snow storm and you cannot remember how exactly you ended up there when you started at a New Year's Eve party in Toronto. (If this has ever happened to you, you need to start asking yourself some questions about your friends.)

Okay, maybe you cannot identify with that, but how about something a little less extreme. Perhaps you find yourself wedged into a seat next to a very drunk half-naked middle-aged man sporting what is supposed to be some sort of team emblem in body paint on his chest and screaming incoherent insults at the opposing team. You wonder how you got yourself into that when all you did was accept free tickets to a game from a friend.

In any case, we had a friend over for lunch a while back. Later in the afternoon we found ourselves in the guest room looking at our newly remodeled bathroom and chatting idly about something quite forgettable.

Very innocently, she suggests the room might be more "open" if we move the bed a bit. My wife is skeptical, but figures there's no harm it moving it just to see. Of course, to move the bed, we have to move a few other pieces of furniture, but what else do we have to do on a Sunday afternoon?
Had we only glanced up we may have seen the grill of the truck hauling a trailer full of doom bearing down on us, but we did no such thing.

The next thing I know, I am in the garage staining a Crosley-like wooden record player/radio/cd player a darker color (to match the other dark wood furniture) after building two new shelves for the closet and moving all the furniture from the guest room into my office (which only recently recovered from its part in the bathroom remodeling project) while my wife and our "friend" are out shopping for paint, material for curtains of some sort, and a new reading chair.

Maybe it was the fumes from the stain, but I couldn't remember how on earth things went from, "You know, if you moved the bed over there, it would open up the room." to "Hey, why don't we tear down the house and rebuild it before your parents arrive in three days for Thanksgiving?"

As I try to navigate my staining sponge around all the knobs and dials, and use q-tips to try to clean when I am not so successful at avoiding said knobs and dials with my staining sponge, I wonder if this whole thing could have been avoided somehow.