Dirty Doug…the first 50

I have a cousin who recently turned fifty years old.  He’s pretty much lived in the same small town most of his life.  He farms.  He sells insurance.  He’s a beef producer.  He works art festivals as a mime.   (three out of four ain’t bad)  Before his surprise birthday party this past Saturday I drove around his town, Joy Illinois, and interviewed close friends and a family member….a kind of “this is your life” kind of video interview.  With the help of the talented editors and producers at RIPLEY INDUSTRIES we’ve spliced together interviews into two digestible segments.   HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOUG.  GIFT #3 OF 5.

 

 

Thanks for watching….

R

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My secrets out…and Mrs. Ripley isn’t happy about it!!

I know.  I know.  Its been a month since my last blog so just calm down, grab a refreshing drink of your choice and hunker down for these five tidbits. Odds and ends from this end of Iowa.

  • It’s springtime here at the Palatial Estates and Worldwide Headquarters of Ripley Industries and I have a couplea days off.  I’m cooking this evening which means that Ol’ Sparky (our grill) is going to be fired up, thick juicy hamburgers will be charbroiled, topped with cheddar cheese and strips of bacon.  That alone is reason to celebrate but I’ve kicked it up a notch with potato salad and baked beans as quality side dishes.  A funny story about my baked beans goes something like this:  I’d volunteer to make some baked beans for reunions, parties etc. and literally everyone would tell me how great they were (this is a true story).  I was known in my family as “the guy who makes the BEST baked beans.”  My wife, the honorable and trustworthy Mrs. Richard Ripley, would make baked beans for us following the same recipe in the cook book but they weren’t as good.  She’d ask me if I did anything differently from the recipe and, in response,  I’d cock my eyebrows,  turn my head at an angle and reply “…like what?”  This went on for several years until one night she got all sexy-upped (more than usual is all I’m sayin’) lipstick, perfume…plying me with alcohol and her womanly ways and purred into my ear…”…are you sure that there’s nothing else that you put into your baked beans honey-bunny?”  Now normally I’m like a mountain…devoid of any emotions and cannot be swayed to betray secrets to even the prettiest girl but as Mrs. Ripley ran her fingers through my hair and told me how much she liked all of my jokes (even the knock-knock ones) and said that she was thinking pretty strongly of baking a cake later in the night (chocolate with lots of chocolate frosting) I casually replied “well….you know, about that baked bean recipe…I’ll usually use twice the amount of brown sugar in it than the recipe says to use…but I don’t really add anything to it and about that cake…when do you think it’ll be? “ “YOU USE THREE CUPS OF BROWN SUGAR IN ONE CASSEROLE DISH OF BAKED BEANS?!?!” Mrs. Ripley belted out at the top of her lungs. “Yep…been doin’ it for years…so about the cake…”  Mrs. Ripley suddenly remembered that her favorite TV show was about to start, shot me the stink-eye and left the room.  I’m still waiting for that cake to show up and coincidently….her baked beans are now the equal to mine.  Just wait until she finds out what I’ve been adding to her wine!
  • I used to work a part time job at a home for adult men who were mentally handicapped.  As part of my job I’d cook for them, help them with their laundry and for the guys who needed more help…give them baths.  At first…it was extremely awkward to do some of the things that I did as part of that job (imagine giving a person your own age a shower…washing them)  The guys, eight of them, had different levels of independence and communication skills.  A couplea of the guys couldn’t talk at all but they could do basic things.  I came to love those guys for who they were, not for who they weren’t,  their love for people and excitement for life was uninhibited.  If they liked you, they loved you.  This past weekend I worked the Special Olympics as a basketball referee and had a blast.  Two particular moments pretty much sums up the whole day for me.  I was working one game of adult men.  It was a pretty up tempo game when I called a foul on one of the players.  He jogged over to me and I thought that he was going to argue the call but instead said “Yep…it was me!!  As soon as I heard your whistle I thought to myself ‘I’ll bet that’s on me!”  My number is 58.  Sorry about that!!” and then jogged away.  I’ve worked in the neighborhood of 400+ games in the past three years and can honestly say that no player has ever said that to me!!  Priceless.  Earlier on, two different teams, one from a hearing impaired school and another from a community of kids who would commonly be referred to as “special-ed”, without physical handicaps, played each other.  It was hard, if only because the deaf team didn’t understand the game nor its rules.  We didn’t call any violations on them…they were simply that bad at the game.  We didn’t call anything on the other team either since it wouldn’t have been fair.  The deaf team was being beaten soundly, at the end of the first quarter it was 16-0.  The winning teams coach then had her team do something that I’ve never seen before….when her team got the ball they walked it up the floor and then waited for the deaf team’s players to catch up, take their defensive positions and then they would start their offense.  The better team let the deaf team shoot the ball unguarded, over and over again, getting rebound after rebound.  With just a few seconds left the deaf teams point guard, who for the previous three-quarters had just dribbled and dribbled and dribbled without ever making any attempt to dribble it towards the basket took her dribble from the half court line, to the far sideline to the baseline into the lane and tossed up a shot as time expired.  The ball kissed the backboard and swished through the net as the horn ended the game.  I hammered down the “count the basket” signal and both benches erupted, jumping up and down, high-fiving each other and congratulating one another.  It. Was. BEAUTIFUL.  The final score was something like 34-6, though my officiating partner for the day summed it up best.  “I always finish my year working this tournament.  I’m worn out.  The season is long.  The coaches, fans and players and all of their complaining and stupid stuff makes me want to quit….but then I come here and see these kids and adults having so much fun, playing, sharing and laughing….it rejuvenates me.”  Well said brotherWell said.  I hope that they ask me back next year.
  • If you’re old enough you remember the days that if you liked a particular song your choices were: buy the album, buy the 45 OR hope that you could record it off of the radio onto a cassette (which I had the rare and unique ability to do though the stupid DJ would still be giving you the weather report right up to and sometimes over the first few words of the song).  It kinda sucked.  You might only like a song or two off of a particular album but you’d have to buy the WHOLE album to get the two or three songs that you liked.  That’s why I liked K-Tel records so much, you’d get five or six really good songs mixed in with a few less crappy songs.  I owned several K-Tel albums as a kid and that’s probably the reason I’m a HUGE fan of ITunes.  This afternoon I downloaded around a dozen songs from the likes of Donna Summer, Neil Young, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Cosby Stills and Nash for about the same amount of money that an album would’ve cost me.
  • As avid readers of Rich Ripley already know….I’ve helped out at a Christian Men’s retreat entitled “A Walk to Emmaus” on several occasions.  The good folks who oversee this area of our state either lost their minds or lost a bet and decided to ask me if I’d be the Lay Director on this fall’s retreat.  I’ve accepted and am excited to see how this all works out.  I’m in charge of lining up a team of around thirty guys to help other guys over the course of a three day retreat.  Its a huge responsibility (God’s involved…you know…so I’ll have to behave as much as I can…which isn’t long) so my spiritual juices are flowing.  I’ve never made any secret about the fact that I’m probably the least holy person in the room, though I’ve been blessed with the ability to speak in front of groups…usually with a fair amount of humor involved….about my faith walk.  (keep us all in your prayers is all I’m sayin’)
  • Baseball season is just around the corner.  I’ve been reading the rule book and reviewing what I think that I’ll need to know.  Meetings and clinics are planned.  I’ve got varsity games already booked and my equipment bag opened up and gone through.  Probably the neatest thing going right now is that my umpire mask is being used by an eight year old for a play that he’s in at school.  I should’ve warned the little whipper-snapper that us umpires are regular “babe-magnets” and those third grader girls will be chasing him endlessly during recess.  Poor little fella….I hope that he gets caught just as soon as he wants to be…which may be ten or fifteen years too early for his mother.  (Melanie…tell Gabe to wipe all of that lipstick off of my mask before returning it….Mrs. Ripley insists.)

Have a great week and God Bless!! Your humble and capable leader…. R

Don’t smile at me….

So the first month of my basketball season went well, nothing out of the ordinary.  My games are usually an hours drive or more from the Palatial Estates of RIPLEY INDUSTRIES.  The two other referees that I work with the most usually drive most of the way to the game after I meet them somewhere along the way.  Kim and Jerry have worked for several years in the conferences that I now find myself.  At a recent pregame coaches meeting the coach warmly greeted and joked around with both Kim and Jerry then extended her hand to me and said “I’ve never seen you before…” in a tone that was slightly weary.  No joking around followed with the handshake so I guess that I had to prove that I wasn’t a total idiot (its harder than it sounds….).

We work quite a few small school games, which is fine with me…those are the kind of schools that I played against while in high school.  Recently we were at a school and the pep band…all ten of them, were really putting on a show.  I’m dead serious, those kids played their hearts out for the benefit of those at the game.

At another game the wireless microphone died just as the announcer started with the teams starting line-ups.  The batteries went dead and none could be found quickly so he just belted out the line-ups as best as he could and it turned out fine since everyone in the small gym went silent so that he could be heard.  The young lady who sang our National Anthem (one of the three cheerleaders that night) went without the microphone as well.  Its interesting to note that everyone seemed to pull for her by singing just a little bit louder so that she wouldn’t have to sing alone.

At one hotly contested game the home team coach wasn’t happy with some of our calls (it happens…).  I called a foul on one of his players and jogged over to the scorers table to report the foul and overheard the following:

COACH…Katy, if you had used your left hand to block that shot you probably wouldn’t have fouled that girl.

KATY….But I’m right-handed.

COACH….No you’re not…you’re left-handed.

KATY…Ah, no I’m not…

COACH….Katy…you’re a lefty

KATY…NO I’M NOT.

TEAMMATE OF KATY….KATY YOU’RE A LEFTY!!!

Fun stuff these kids!!

And finally, when an official calls a foul on a player they usually stare down the player…not to intimidate but to memorize the players uniform color and number, something like “BLUE 24” so that when the official gets to the scorers table they can report the correct information.  With me I USUALLY say “BLUE 24 BLUE 24 BLUE 24 BLUE 24 BLUE 24” the entire way to the table so that I won’t lose the information.  I didn’t do that one night recently and got to the table, started to report, lost the number and had to look back over my shoulder and find the player that had committed the foul.  Fortunately the girl had easily distinguishable curly hair and was short….so finding her was easy.  I turned back around to see the official scorer (an older no-nonsense kinda gal) smiling at me since she was aware of my brain fart.  Later on in the nightcap, after the players, coaches, Kim and Jerry had taken their places on the court I turned to the scorer and said “don’t smile at me….IT THROWS ME” and she roared with laughter.  The remainder of the night whenever I had to report a foul she’d cover her mouth with her hand when I drew near but the sparkle in her eyes let me know that she was still laughing at me…which was fine with me as long as she got it right.

January promises to be a busy month.  God-willing it’ll be a good one with safe travel, no injuries and some fun along the way.  God bless and thanks for following along.

R

Siriusly…?

Writers block. I got nothing to write about. My expert writers at RIPLEY INDUSTRIES are all on their summer sabbatical (one’s reroofing his hen house while the other is changing out the clutch in his truck). Since they’re out of the office I’m “on” for this weeks blog. Here are some random thoughts from the CEO:

Siriusly? We just bought a new car. A Ford Focus. It replaces our Ford F250 ten cylinder truck. Its sporty…almost too nice for me to drive. We love the 34 MPG verses the 10 MPG we were used to getting in the truck. So many new buttons and whistles. It came with a free three-month subscription to SiriusXM radio. Satellite radio with hundreds of entertainment options. Hip-hop, Rhythm and Blues, Rock, Pop, Christian, Dance and Electronic, Jazz, Classical, Kids, Politics, Traffic and Weather, Comedy, Latino, Religion, Sports, News and Public Radio and on and on and on. I recently had a chance to drive long enough to listen to many of these channels (my usual commute is ten minutes or less). I found out that satellite radio is a lot like cable TV…many options but, honestly, I only need TWO channels. Classic 70’s rock and Classic 80’s rock. Who’d want to change the channel when you can rock on down the highway to the Captain and Tennille’s “Love Can Keep Us Together”? Heh? Not this guy!! At $150 for a years subscription…we’ll pass, but thanks for asking.

A lot of folks take cheap shots at mega-retailer WalMart. I’m not one of them. They embrace who they are, an ultra-large company with great prices on the vast selection of goods that they sell (I’d embrace myself too if I were that successful and wealthy). They’ve never advertised that they’re the fastest at checking out your purchases, so I’m kind of confused when folks shop there and complain about the long lines…that’s the trade-off folks. I love their wide selection of some of the wackiest stuff, which I never buy but love to caption. They are as follows:

Finally a commercial bakery has captured the delicious taste of the hard and stony substance secreted by marine coelenterates as external skeletons into an individually wrapped in cellophane baked treat!!!   CAN I HAVE ANOTHER CORAL CAKE MOM?!

Finally a commercial bakery has captured the delicious taste of the hard and stony substance secreted by marine coelenterates as external skeletons into an individually wrapped in cellophane baked treat!!! CAN I HAVE ANOTHER CORAL CAKE MOM?!

As a child did you have a cousin with a voracious appetite for Play Dough but could never prove that he was eating it?  Well now you can!!  When your Lumi Dough starts to disappear just stick your suspected cousin into a darkened closet and BAM!!   Mystery solved...or it could be your dog...if your dogs logs glow at night...there's your sign.

As a child did you have a cousin with a voracious appetite for Play Dough but could never prove that he was eating it? Well now you can!! When your Lumi Dough starts to disappear just stick your suspected cousin into a darkened closet and BAM!! Mystery solved…or it could be your dog…if your dogs logs glow at night…there’s your sign.

Yes...please...give your 8 year old a "starter DJ kit".  Whatever happened to kids riding bikes....?

Yes…please…give your 8 year old a “starter DJ kit”. Whatever happened to kids riding bikes….?

...get Junior one of these and he could start making some serious cash chalking newly blacktopped roads, streets and parking lots.  Those Coral Cakes don't grow on trees!!

…get Junior one of these and he could start making some serious cash chalking newly blacktopped roads, streets and parking lots. Those Coral Cakes don’t grow on trees!!

And finally…I worked with an old baseball umpire last week as my partner. Umpires, as a whole, usually have several stories to share with whomever they’re working with that game. Honestly, several games have been delayed because the umpires were too entranced in each others stories to start the next inning. Umpires stories parallel those of fishermen, except that they’re usually telling something closely resembling the truth. The following is a pretty good story. It seems that this umpire was working a baseball game where one team was being thrashed by its opponent. THRASHED. The losing coach was fed up with his players and was making it a point to get thrown out (ejected). He hollered. He pouted. He gestured wildly. He was making a scene…all so that he’d get ejected and get to leave the ball park and go sit on the bus and not have to witness his teams ineptness that night. My partner walked over to the dugout, called the coach over to him and told him “Coach…I’m not going to toss you tonight. If I gotta stay out here and watch this then so do you.” With that my partner returned to his position and he didn’t hear anything else out of that coach for the rest of the night. Not. One. Peep.

Have a great week. God bless!
Peace!
R

Frigid Friday 5

Totally FREE of charge to you….another RIPLEY INDUSTRIES Friday 5 (not to be confused with last weeks “Fabulous Friday 5”)

#1…I work retail and consequently…several Sunday’s a month I find myself at the store TOILING AWAY. What bothers me are the Christians who look down on those of us that “work on the Sabbath.” While I understand where they’re coming from I see many of them shopping either prior to, or after church, or make others work by going out to a restaurant, etc. I usually get my “Sabbath” during a weekday, taking time to “do” my Christian stuff then as well as throughout the rest of the week. Honestly…if the only time that you’re thinking or praying to God is for a couplea hours on Sunday morning then you’re doing it wrong in my opinion.

#2…The oak trees in our backyard, being the comedic sadists that they are, release many of their leaves during the late fall and, oftentimes, winter months. This leaves (pun intended) hundreds of thousands of leaves just lying around our backyard where in a couplea weeks they’ll choke out the young, fresh grass that’s trying in vain to grow. GRASS-KILLERS those dead oak leaves. So I fired up “Ol’ Red” (my cheaply built, cast iron push mower that weighs roughly 500 pounds) and pushed it back and forth over said dead oak leaves…turning hundreds of thousands of dead oak leaves into BILLIONS OF DEAD OAK LEAF BITS. With it feeling like 26 degrees out there with a northwest wind cruising in at almost 30 miles per hour…I hope that the grass appreciates it.

#3…While traipsing throughout our backyard this morning (read #2) I noticed that the local deer population absolutely loved to loiter on our scenic property (otherwise known as THE PALATIAL ESTATES AND WORLDWIDE HEADQUARTERS OF RIPLEY INDUSTRIES). What I also noticed is that they have quite healthy digestive systems and are TOTALLY AT EASE…fertilizing our yard. (I doubt that they’re eating dead oak leaves)

#4…Not being much for setting goals I find myself kinda pumped at trying to become a high school baseball umpire. I should make it, but nothings guaranteed. My goal setting usually ends up less than I had hoped for like when I tried some new weightlifting exercises and aggravated the arthritis in my neck and shoulder last week. Two trips to my chiro and I’m almost back to normal, but that pain is something that I can do without.

#5…My bride turns another year older this weekend. She’s saving up money for her trip to Japan so she doesn’t want a cake or gift, just the cash equivalent for spending $ while in Japan. Here’s one of my favorite photos of her, taken by me last September in her classroom. She was working late and I brought some sandwiches. Connie’s “all business” at school. Goes in at 7AM, doesn’t leave the building until 5 or much later. The reason that I like this photo so much is that she can’t tell if I’m screwing around or just being an idiot (there IS a difference) and I got it on film. I’m funny. I know it, she knows it…but I rarely get her to laugh NOR do I pull the wool over her eyes…for long. This is one of those brief moments. The look in her beautiful green eyes and expression are priceless to me. They say “What…is he doing…really?”

Connie Sue.  Wife.  Best-Friend.  Teacher.  Mother. Comedic foil.

Connie Sue. Wife. Best-Friend. Teacher. Mother. Comedic foil.

Have a great weekend and God bless!
R

December 10th is circled on my calender…

December 10th is circled on my calendar; it has been for some time. December 10th is the date that I’ve been working towards since last January when I signed up and paid for attending a basketball official’s camp at a nearby college. Do well at the camp and I’ll be recognized as an official capable of working varsity basketball games. December 10th is the date that I’ve been thinking about throughout the summer and fall as I try to learn more about being an exceptional referee. December 10th is what I’ve been seeing in my mind’s eye as I lift weights, stretch out and try to stay fit for this upcoming season. In June as I try to keep these old legs limber stretching out at the gym I think about…December 10th. As I work my abs and upper body in July…December 10th is on my mind. As I work a basketball tournament in a small humid sweaty gym in rural Iowa in the middle of August I wonder about December 10th. December 10th is my first varsity basketball assignment. Two games in a town an hour’s drive from where I live. December 10th. It was a goal of mine last January as a first year basketball referee to be assigned to work varsity games in my second season, which doesn’t happen very often. December 10th.

I get butterflies in my stomach as I think about it. I’ve talked to other officials about the school; it’s a new gym…practically state of the art. We get our own locker room verses the usual “coaches office” or “equipment room” to dress and shower in afterwards. It’ll be a great first experience; I just know it.

I rationalize that I’ve worked plenty of varsity scrimmages with big, strong kids. By the time December 10th rolls around I’ll have worked over two hundred games in the past thirteen months and heard plenty of angry coaches…but I’ve heard good things too. I’m fast; I keep up with those young’uns. I’m fair, heard that from the losing side. I know the rules, heard that from other officials who have more experience. December 10th.

While November has been a lukewarm month of working AAU tourney’s and middle school games it’s been a month of trying my best to work the game in front of me and being the professional that I want to be known as. While November can be known for the quantity of games officiated in one day (I worked six games in one day. Argh, that’s a lot of running! Why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut?) December, January and February will be known for the quality of games played. Good games deserve good officiating. December 10th.

I’ve been assigned a steady diet of varsity, sophomore and a couplea freshman games sprinkled in there for good measure. For whatever reason…kids are bigger, stronger, faster and way more talented these days. Quick as a flash something just happened and now three players are on the floor diving for a loose ball and while one coach is screaming for a foul the other is yelling “TIME OUT!! TIME OUT!!” It doesn’t help that no one stands still while we officials hustle to figure out what just happened and now what’s happening (which takes all of two or three seconds for the proverbial poop to hit the fan). I’ve been blessed with wonderful mentoring and an understanding wife who won’t see me as much as she’d like for the next couple of months.

December 10th. Wish me well and if you don’t mind…say a little prayer for me and my crew that night. To be totally honest with you I say a prayer before each game, usually in my truck, as I drive towards the school. It goes like this:
Dear Lord…please pour out your blessings upon me and my partner tonight with exceptional rules application, explanation and interpretation. Bless and protect the players, the coaches, the fans and my partner and I. Help and guide us to have a fun, safe and healthy time. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

December 10th. I’m pumped! I’m excited!! I’m ready. Game on!!

R

Wanted…a few more games

Just as quickly as the season began, it ends for me this coming week.  It started on October 30th in a small junior high gym and will end much the same, 124 games later at St Joe’s middle school in Marion.  A lot has happened, most notably for me was the reaching and exceeding of a goal.  I set a goal of being the best official that I could be (sounds easy enough and cheesy at the same time, since I’m the sole judge).

As folks know, an individual can be their own harshest critic, as was the case with my officiating.  Unless you know what to look for, how to use “proper NFSHSA mechanics”, primary coverage areas as well as the differences of common fouls, technical fouls, intentional fouls (and their penalties) and violations and so on and so forth…watching me work a game would look like me just running up and down a basketball court occasionally blowing my whistle (which I’m very good at).  I wonder if coaches, players or fans ever know how much we officials dissect our own performances and yes…blown calls (yep…we have them…we’re human…and I had at least four that I can remember off the top of my head and wish that I had called differently or not at all.)

I tried to learn from my mistakes, so I wouldn’t make them again.  We’re not much different from the players in some regard, as not every shot is made, not every play works and not every situation is perfectly executed.  Fortunately I have a couplea guys who I can email and ask questions about certain situations that have happened to me…and for that, I’m thankful.  One has even become a friend, Joel.  So thanks, Joel, for all of the help and support this season, for letting me ask stupid questions and telling me the truth/right answer and videotaping a couple of my games (I still run like The Simpsons Ned Flanders).

A few things stand out this (soon to be) past season:

  • I’ve worked with plenty of really good guys.

 

  • A parent of one of the players came over after a game and told me that me and my partner did a “horseshit job.”  He apologized a week later.  Weird.

 

  • Two weeks later at the same gym, same team, three different parents came up to me and my partner, Dan, and told us that we did a very good job.  One guy even told me “I’ve seen you grow since you started, you’re doing good.”  Dead serious, he said that.  I don’t know who he was or why he felt the need to say that but it was nice to hear.

 

  • My best game was a junior varsity game in the middle of my season.  Rock music during warm ups.  Two good teams playing ball.  I had a solid game and a veteran official who had been somewhat critical of me in November (he worked my third game with me) told me that night that “working with me was like working with a seasoned veteran” which was real nice to hear.  I also got a free hot dog that night (what can I say…the ladies running the Thomas Jefferson High School concession stand love a man in uniform…at least a hot dogs worth of love).

 

  • And…league games for the little kids…while a pain to officiate can be a little fun too.  Just a few seconds prior to handing the ball to a player who’s standing out of bounds I look at the defensive player guarding them while crowding the line I’ll point to the out of bounds line and say “You can’t reach across this line…if you doI’ll have to cut off your arms…it’s in the rules.”  The kid always smiles, it lightens the moment and it’s a game again.

And finally…I plan on setting a higher goal for next season…working mostly high school games, whether that includes some varsity level games or not remains to be seen.  I’ve made plans to attend a couplea basketball officiating camps this summer, to hone my officiating skills (what there are of them), learn the varsity three-man game (it alludes me at this time) and make a few professional connections.  My goal was to get to the next level in three to four years, but if things pan out…I could make it sooner than that, perhaps in a year or two.  Until then…I’ll do my best, try to keep my mouth shut and learn what I should learn.

Baseball season is approaching and my rule books are waiting to be read and memorized…ugh.

For those avid readers of RICH RIPLEY who didn’t get a chance to see me officiate this season…here’s a link to one of my games, taken by Joel (I owe him a meal for this.  You’d have thought that with that kind of reward he could have put in some kickass special effects like me having blazing speed, super jumping ability or cheerleaders doing their own special cheer for yours truly “HEY SEXY!  HEY SEXY!! HEY SEXY REFEREE MAN WITH THE BALD SPOT SHAKIN’ IT SO SEXY!  SO SEXY!  SO SEXY!!” (I’m not so sure that they didn’t cheer that already…but it wouldn’t have killed Joel to record it or dub it into this video).  Nonetheless, the link lies below.

(special thanks to my partner that night, Jerry Winter, for his tutelage and Joel Duffy for the video and his season-long mentoring, thanks Joel!)  At the two minute mark I call a foul and DON’T RAISE MY ARM (which is what I’m suppossed to do when I call a foul, this is why it’s important for me to see this) and at the 2:25 mark I correctly call a foul…why the difference…I probably rushed the first time.

As always…have a great week and don’t forget to tip your barista!

R

It’s a Christmas Miracle!!

This is probably the first, and last time, that I’ll ever blog about something that I do relatively well that involves power tools…so listen up (if someone is reading this out loud to you).

Twice a year my lovely bride, Connie, and I clean out our dryer vent.  We hadn’t ever done it before but three or four years ago we decided to do it, bought the kit at the hardware store and on our first attempt dislodged enough lint to fill a fashionable pillow case (but we didn’t…we just threw it away).  My point is…it was a fire hazard and now we (somewhat) religiously clean the dryer vent duct work twice a year (spring and fall).

I, being the super-procrastinator that I am, decided to wait until today, December 8th and it’s temperatures in the thirties, to attempt this chore again.  Let me be clear…I’m not mechanically inclined…so much in fact that my gravestone will probably read “It all started with a pair of pliers and good intentions…RIP).  To add to this mini drama I turn into a cross between Archie Bunker and Toolman Tim….so clamity is ever so near.

Long story short…Connie and I completed the chore without incident (Thank you Lord!!) and even knocked out enough lint to shape into a nice sized well fed squirrel (if you’re into that sort of thing…shaping lint animals).  So my point is…if you’re not cleaning out your dryer vent regularly you may very well have enough lint trapped in your dryer duct to not only make lint-critters, but enough to restrict the flow of hot air from your dryer and start a fire and burn up your Christmas presents, dislodge your family and cause your computer to melt and you wouldn’t be able to read amazingly funny blogs in the upcoming year from the wonderfully creative writers here at the RICHRIPLEY STUDIOS of FINE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT (located off interstate 380 northbound, interchange 21, next to Barney’s House of Inflatable Lawn Ornaments–when you see the inflatable 25 foot leprechaun your gettin’ close).

12 feet of fiberglass rod with a brush on the end of it.  Think of it as a "scope" for your house and your the proctologist.

12 feet of fiberglass rod with a brush on the end of it. Think of it as a “scope” for your house and your the proctologist.

That's 12 feet of fiberglass rod.  I lost part of it in the duct work one time.  After a fair amount of swearing and sweating...I retrieved it.

That’s 12 feet of fiberglass rod. I lost part of it in the duct work one time. After a fair amount of swearing and sweating…I retrieved it.

I cleverly put my foot in this photo so you'd see the amount of lint that I got out of the duct work.

I cleverly put my foot in this photo so you’d see the amount of lint that I got out of the duct work.

It’s a mini Christmas miracle that somehow, someway we completed this task in less than twenty minutes, as I’m now somewhat of a master of giving my home it’s biannual scope.  This counts as part of my community service, my parole officer told me that, so did the judge….so there.

Peace.

R

I’m kind of a big deal around these parts

 

We have six mature oak trees on our property, which means that we benefit from their shade during the hot summer months as well as the birds and critters that flit and frolic amongst their branches.  That being said every fall I have (roughly) six ka-gillion leaves to rake, blow, mulcherize, pull, round-up and literally “rodeo” to the curb of our property.  It’s good exercise, if you believe criss crossing your yard with a high-pitched leaf blower three feet from your head while inhaling a mixture of gasoline & oil exhaust fumes is good exercise, but I kinda like doing it the first time of the fall…it’s the next two or three times in the following weeks that get under my skin. 

Anyway…I’ve noticed another great and wonderful skill that I have while working in the yard.  Our city has given each resident a “yardy”.  It’s a big green ‘trash can’ with wheels and a lid that you’re supposed to put grass clippings, leaves, small branches, egg shells, vegetable & table scraps, and the like into and then the city empties it once a week and composts those ingredients into a steamy pile of nutrient rich peat (which they sell to someone who loves the smell of steaming peat I suppose).  I was under the assumption that outdated deviled eggs were included on the list of “yardy acceptable items” but they’re not and the ensuing foul stench that gripped our backyard for that hot & humid July week that they were in the yardy had the dead in the local cemetery complaining (but the neighbors dogs absolutely loved it) “what is that intoxicating aroma!?”  Back to the story at hand about my newfound marvelous skill.  With so many trees we have a lot of dead branches that fall to the ground that need to be picked up and put into the yardy, and me being the non-ambitious person I am, choose to throw these dead branches towards wherever the yardy is parked (usually across the yard, or about sixty feet away).  At first I was just throwing them towards the yardy to get the branch close, but I noticed how close I was getting the branches; sometimes actually hitting the yardy, so I put a little more concentration into my effort and violaI’m throwing in branches from sixty feet away!  It got to the point where I stopped mowing and raking and just walked around the back yard looking for sticks and branches to throw (this is another reason that my neighbors shy away from me…I’m sure of it).  Distance was not a factor.  Thirty feet, swish.  Fifty feet into the wind, swish.  Twenty-five feet, rotten branch thrown overhand…banked it in.  Forty feet, thrown underhand with a slow backwards rotation…nailed it.  Fifteen-foot hook shot…rattled it in.  I was un-freakin’-conscious!

I was in what we athletes call “the zone”.  I moved the yardy to our front yard and started chucking branches again.  Same result.  My two old neighbor men, Dick and Bob, watched me with sheer boredom in their eyes as I juked and head-faked imaginary defenders out of position until I was clear to take another shot towards the yardy.  Swish!!!  I probably shamed them into not watching me anymore since they’re unable to perform this amazing feat of dexterity, skill and eye hand coordination.  Dick, eighty plus years old, waved me off after one of my “behind my back” shots caromed off of my pick up truck and into the yardy, while Bob retired to his lawn chair while nursing a bruised ego and cold ice Michelob Ultra.  (Kinda tears me up that they don’t appreciate a natural skill like this).

I began to wonder, “Where I might be ranked” if branch throwing were a national or even (dare I say)…professional world sport.  Probably top five nationally, top ten worldly (I’m just a humble country boy, or I’d so be top three).  Hell…if it were an Olympic sport I’d be the toast of America…but it ain’t. And what kind of endorsement cash would I be able to make?  “Hi folks, Rich Ripley here, famous American, native Iowan and Twelve Time Branch Throwing World Champion.  Whenever I have pain, which is now, I use Fred’s Atomic Sports Balm to help the old arm & shoulder to quit throbbing.  Made with all natural ingredients and just a hint of kerosene, Fred’s Atomic Sports Balm will have you on your feet in no time at all!”  Or “Hi folks, Rich “Captain Incredible” Ripley here.  Ya know…in my world travels nothing makes the old Ripman feel more at home than great BBQ…that’s why I take Famous Dave’s BBQ sauces with me wherever I go. China, Africa, Europe, Ohio…I take them everywhere.  It makes even the worst food more palatable, and I oughta know…I’m Rich Ripley.”  Or new cutting edge medicines like “Hi guys, you know me as Defending Twelve Time Branch Throwing World Champion Rich Ripley, but I’m also a middle aged man…just like most of you, and I suffer from the same aches, pains and issues as you…that’s why the good folks at Ripley Industries have developed a product that will revolutionize Men’s medicine.  We’ve teamed up with the makers of Rogaine, Viagra and Easy Ed’s Laxatives to form a powerfully wonderful drug that will ‘get ya going’ on two fronts (don’t worry boys…the laxative is time released so you’ve got a couplea hours, but seriously…don’t screw around too long) while the Rogaine gets the old scalp percolating with a new crop of thick, lush hair ($25 extra of you want to be a red-head).  Order it today via the RICHRIPLEY.WORDPRESS.COM website or just call the 1-800 RICHRIPLEY toll-free hotlineSmokin’ hot operators are waiting to hear from you!”

Anyway…I ran out of branches and Dick wasn’t about to let me use his branches, the jealous old coot, so I had to get back to mowing and leaf raking, sans the world fame and endorsement booty. At least the rotten egg smell has gone away.

Katy Perry verses AC/DC

Blaine from Bloomfield Iowa wrote me with this question “How’s Ripley Industries doing these days?” Just fine Blaine, thank you for asking. Our crack crew of scientists are working on a new type of shag carpeting that hides even the toughest pet stains. It’s colored and patterned in the shape of cat barf and dog poop ‘stains’. Much less expensive than manufacturing “hi tech stain resistant” carpeting with some fancy smancy retardant incorporated into the fibers, our carpeting is a fraction of the cost and will be distributed by retail pet supply stores like Petco, Labs-R-Us and Crazy Randy’s Super Big Pet Emporium. Our “Siamese Shag” and “Beagle Berber” will hit the stores November 1st!

Roxy from Belle Plaine Iowa left this question on my 1-800 richripley.wordpress.com hot line, “How do you keep up on what your teenage daughters listen too?” Truth be told Roxy Renee…I don’t. I don’t like today’s popular music and even when I do listen to an artist and start liking them it’s usually ten years after the fact (i.e. Pink, Green Day etc etc). I’ll ask about a particular ‘new’ artist that I’ve “just heard” on the radio and my girls roll their eyes and disdainfully reply “Dad….he was popular back when I was a freshman!” I had this point driven home again last night when I heard a song on the radio (I was bringing our 18 year old home from college for a visit) when I heard a song and pointed to the radio and asked, “Who sings this? I really like it!” Karalee furrowed her brow and said “Dad…that’s Katy Perry. She sings songs about teen-age sex and stuff.” The song was Teenage Dream and I had to look her up on the Internet. GGGGRRR…she’s cute. Bubble gum-cheap-teenage angst-rock. Anyway Roxy…my play-list is a rather eclectic one with AC/DC, Huey Lewis, YES, Diesel, (the one from the Netherlands) and now…one song from Katie Perry; so sue me.

Fern from Flora Vista New Mexico chimes in with this question “Why don’t you ever write about ‘women’s health issues?” Fern, sweetheart, believe me…no woman wants my advice, health or otherwise. I live with my wife of 23+ years and one remaining “at home” teenage daughter while the older two are at college. If (and when) I get a word in edgewise it’s rarely listened to…unless it’s something to do with eating…then I have everyone’s rapt attention, like when we stop for gas somewhere and I come back to our truck with a donut or hot dog and pop and I get the old “I didn’t know you were going to get something to eat!” interrogation. Well Fern…I’m forty-freakin’-five years old…do I really need permission? Then everyone piles out of the truck and into the convenience store for their snack (apparently sleeping in the back seat of our truck consumes tons of calories and thusly requires them to be replaced with M&M’s, Skittles and pop…who knew?)

Wayne from beautiful East Saint Louis Illinois asks me this “Has Hollywood called you yet?” Yes Wayne…yes they have. My agent (and seed corn salesman) Burt “The Hammer” Hamman called me the other day with a rather lucrative offer. They need a body-double for actor Morgan Freeman’s naked scenes. “Burt” I said, “I’m not black you knucklehead.” The studio said that they’d use special lenses and animation to “take care of the whole white guy thing” and I asked “just what parts of me are you planning on animating?” Old Burt didn’t know, but he’s looking into it. Don’t buy your movie theater tickets quite yet, wordpress fans, you’re old buddy Rich is still negotiating (I’m holding out for a little more money and Katie Perry to be my love interest)

That’s all we have time for today. Thanks for writing and God bless.

                                                                     Rich