Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why Fredstuff has become one word

Why? Because it took the same route many words have taken. Weekend for example. Started out as week's end. Then the possessive fell away as the idea expanded to mean more of a general concept rather than a specific week's end. Many phrases go through a hyphenation period on their way to becoming a compound word. Week-end. Finally weekend. Two distinct concepts becoming one. Fred. Stuff. Then Fred's stuff. Then Fred-stuff. Now Fredstuff. The process can happen over a century or in a matter of weeks in fast-paced arenas like computers. Mine took about 15 years.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Internet Questions

Every once in a while, someone sends me that list of questions going around the internet. I decided to answer them, once and for all. Send more if you like.

1. Is it good if a vacuum really sucks?
Answer: Yes. But for a different reason than if the Steelers really suck but they’re in the Superbowl anyway.

2. Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
Answer: Actually it isn’t. Look closely. The second hand is the first hand you get to. The other two are below it. The third hand is actually called the fourth, although no one knows why anymore. Things get a little more complicated if you bought that watch at a second hand store.

3. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
Answer: Because I would tell you.

4. If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
Answer: From a long conversation he had with a fellow named Steve Thesaurus.

5. Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack?
Answer: A whack is not a thing but a process. It is, or was, used to keep children in line. When one misbehaved, a librarian (I believe the year was 1921) was once heard to say, “His parents must have run out of whacks.”

6. Why does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?

Answer: Actually they don’t mean the same thing. Well, they do, but are used under vastly different circumstances. When a cop pulls you over for speeding, you slow down, hanging your head in shame, embarrassment, and/or regret. When you see a beautiful woman standing beside the road with a flat tire, you slow up, assuming a more vertical position out of hope, expectation, and/or desire. In either case, the end result will be the same – your luck has neither run down nor up, but out.

7. Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
Two answers:
A. Because of the dance floor. Both the obese girl and the bulimic girl have the same chance of being asked to dance.
B. Because of political correctness. When referring to the odds of your winning the lottery, for example, you would, when talking to the fat girl, avoid using the term fat in favor of saying slim chance. When conversing with emaciated girls, you choose the term fat chance.

8. Why do "tug" boats push their barges?
Answer: It’s those Brits again. Originally it had nothing to do with pushing or pulling – it had to do with the shape of the boat, which reminded people of Santa’s belly. Back then, the Brits required ambulances and all other service vehicles to write their names backwards on the front of the vehicles so that people could read it in their rear-view mirrors. They called these boats gut boats, you know, like because of what I said about Santa. Ambulances still adhere to this policy, but gut boats abandoned the tradition when a tourist on the Thames remarked, “But none of the other boats have rear-view mirrors.”

9. Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we are already there?

Answer: It has to do with the IQ of baseball fans.

10. Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?
Answer: Because of what baseball fans do in them when something exciting happens at a game, such as the seventh-inning stretch.

11. Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?
Answer: Finally, something I can sink my teeth into, as the inventor of The Nightcatcher. In the original version of “The Official Instruction Manual for Your Nightcatcher,” (since modified) I had a dilemma. Laying out 48 pages of a manual on a Word Program is not an easy task. Every page requires a totality. On one page, I ran out of room for the words needed. I had to make a decision whether to reduce the font size on that page, or cut out some words. Since my eye surgery, I have needed to maintain a 12-point font size minimum. My only choice was to remove a couple of words, so I changed the phrase “after the onset of darkness” to “after dark,” the excised words being left to the assumption of the reader. Seventh grade English teachers have a phrase for words left to the imagination of the reader, but I can’t remember what it is, and I’m way too busy making Nightcatchers to look it up.

12. Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?

Answer: I expect so.

13. Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?

Answer: Because they are opposites. It’s fairly easy to tell which is which. Originally, it had to do with the way they tilted their hats, but now that no one wears hats anymore, the only way you can tell is to go to their Facebook page.

14. Why do "overlook" and "oversee" mean opposite things?

Answer: Look, I don’t have time for silly questions such as this. I have work to do. See? Over.

15. Why is "phonics" not spelled the way it sounds?
Answer: What’s your problem? I don't see no stinking problem.
Phred H.

16. If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?

Answer: Only play is terrific. And players get paid terrifically. Like baseball players. People who work get paid very little. If you want to get paid a LOT, find something to do that doesn’t fall under the category of work.

17. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
Answer: In the stands.

18. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

Answer: Because it’s made of silk.

19. If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?

Answer: Cross-eyed dyslexics don’t read much, but if they’re lucky, they will surely know what silk feels like.

20. Why is bra singular and panties plural?
Answer: Because when something’s made of silk, grammar takes a back seat. Which is where I first... never mind.

21. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?
Answer: Well, it worked when I tried it on the silk.

22. Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?
Answer: Not always. I’ll never forget the strange look I got from a guy when I was a photographer. I was shooting the entire graduating class of Lindenwood College one time, and this guy went into the dressing room carrying a suitcase. He was taking too long getting ready, so I stood near the door to see if I could tell if he was about ready or if I had time to grab a cigarette. I heard him say, “Ready? Are you ready? Are you sure? Okay, then, if you’re’s your surprise!” I backed away from the dressing room, far away, and waited. He came out alone, carrying a suitcase. He sat down on the posing stool, carefully setting the suitcase down beside him. Weird.
I asked him, “So, what’s in the suitcase?”
He said, “A suit.”
That’s when I got the strange look.

23. How come abbreviated is such a long word?

Answer: Because it’s really, really irritating when you find people who ab. a lot.

24. Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?
Answer: All I know is that when I was living in the wilderness for a year, and trying to remain civilized at the same time, the dirtiest thing in my possession was a soap dish. (And the first thing to turn green was my water filter.)

25. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Answer: Because of the proprietary anti-stick coating they apply to the bottle. Which is why it’s so expensive. Otherwise, glue would only cost nine cents.

26. Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?
Answer: Because that’s what you do in front of it – set.
You have to. I mean, stands are too big for your living room.

27. Christmas, what other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree, and eat candy out of your socks?
Answer: Hey, that’s not the only time for me. I did it in the wilderness on my birthday and had a fine time. A fine time.

28. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?
Answer: Because we all have too much stuff. If we cleared all that Christmas crap out of the garage, we’d be able to get the car in there. Then the phrase would change to “Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a garage?” Such a question is hardly fascinating, which proves once again that it’s all that junk we pile up around us that makes us interesting.

My turn. I have two follow-up questions if I may: why do such interesting, intellectually challenging questions such as these, referred to as oxymorons, and requiring my afternoon to answer, contain the syllables “moron”? And, secondly, if “oxy” refers to oxygen, why am I panting after this is finally over?
Possible answer: I am a mouth-breathing moron.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pain and Other Interesting Things

Here's something interesting:
1. Most people want to live interesting lives.
2. Most people want to avoid pain.
3. But those who avoid pain lead the most uninteresting lives.
4. And those who confront pain have the most interesting lives.

Or try this:
1. People hate conflict in their lives.
2. People go to the movies and wish their own lives were more like those on the screen.
3. But every good movie, from Harry Potter to Doctor Zhivago, has conflict.
4. People read stories and novels in order to escape their own dreary lives.
5. But every good story has conflict, from Cinderella to Lord of the Flies, from Jack and Jill to War and Peace.
6. People go to concerts and listen to music all day, wishing their boring lives were worth writing a song about.
7. But all good songs, from rap to the blues, are about conflict.

Why do people avoid the very things that make life worthwhile? Because humans are silly. So laugh. Comedy is about laughing at pain and conflict.

But what should you do after the laughter subsides? No, I'm not advocating that people go out of their way to create more conflict and pain - heck, there's already plenty to go around - but to avoid pain and conflict is folly.

What makes hemorrhoids, nasty relatives, and bad hair worth putting up with? Why, thank you for asking. It's more conflict and pain.

You're quite welcome.

So if you want to have a good time, get out there and find some worthy pain and conflict to confront. The battles will become the most interesting parts of your life. Resolving horrible conflicts and pushing through excruciating pain will become the most pleasurable and satisfying points in your otherwise pointless lives.

And don't tell me you can't find any to battle or I will hit you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A George Carlin Quote

George Carlin once said, "People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point."
Now George was a weird and dangerous and angry man, but he was also a thinking man. Whether or not you accept his hypothesis isn't important to me. I only ask that you consider it by thinking about it for a while.
My Nightcatchers and most of my other Stuff are designed to have fun with life. There are way too many people taking life way too seriously. I took life seriously for a spell, and then during my year in the wilderness, a revelation hit me: I took life seriously because I took myself seriously, and I wasn't really all that important.
A good exercise in humility is to go out on the porch, look up at the stars, and see as much of the universe as you can. Try to find how big you are in proportion. Imagine yourself to scale.
Every year, as I slowly and painfully convert knowledge into wisdom, I discover that my sense of self-importance is still just a tad high.

I never was as important as I used to think I was.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is That All There Is?

Peggy Lee sang her greatest song, "Is That All There Is?"

In that song were the immortal words, "If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing...."

But I don't enjoy dancing.

So I invented more
stuff, so that wouldn't be "all there is." Whew. She even discusses suicide in the song.

I invented this Fun Collector, for example.
(This Fun Collector has been sold, but I'm making another.)

Now you can do as Peggy recommended: "Let's break out the booze and have a ball."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Humans are funny.
I'm sure glad I'm not one.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Latest Video - "Words Are Optional"

When porching, words are optional. Wagging tails, however, is a whole different story: The Sixties decade, not so long ago, popularized some silliness, like, like, some people, man, would get stoned, man, and ask their favorite rhetorical question, "Hey, man, what's the sound of one hand"
Well, I have a better question: What's the sound of one tail wagging? If you have 32 seconds, you can find out. Right here. Right now.
Once you've answered that to your satisfaction, we'll move on to the other heavy question of that era: If a tree falls in the forest, and there's no one else around, does it make a sound? (Hey, there were a lot of egocentric people back then.)
Then the feminists quickly answered the question's corollary: If a man talks in the forest, and there are no women around, is he still wrong?

Nightcatcher Number 177, with Pedigree

Read all about this Nightcatcher by clicking on the Official Pedigree below.

Wood and brass thimble

My handmade thimbles are fully functional and eminently collectible. Each one is unique. Go to your next quilting in style. I sometimes have three sizes. Prices usually run around $30.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Spot gets some lessons on how to smile again.

Spot apparently had a rough life. When he found us last fall, he was skin and bones. The only things holding him together were ticks, cockle burrs, and tangled hair from his ongoing retaliation against all the flea bites. He hadn't been happy for a long, long time. We cleaned him up and put him on a diet of puppy chow to rebuild his spent body.
Then I started him on some lessons on learning how to be happy, how to play, and how to start smiling again.
I agree, his smile still needs a little work.
Turns out that he had a wonderful sense of humor, I mean, once he got over some of his pain and misery and hunger. I started him out slow and easy with a series of knock-knock jokes that I thought he picked up on with surprising speed. By the end of the first month, we'd moved up to chicken-crossing-the-road jokes. He even offered up one of his own, but I couldn't quite make it out. I played along anyway.
By Christmas he'd mastered the concept behind jokes based on the theme of how many people it takes to change a light bulb.

Here he is laughing his rear end off at my tale about the guy who goes into the bar with a frog on his head. And it's only March. What progress.
Shortly after Easter, I tried to introduce him to metaphor and a sampling of irony, but all I got in return were some blank stares.
What to do? We couldn't stop there. So I taught him to just play off the body language of the joke teller if he didn't get one of the more cerebral jokes, and that with his huge and beautiful brown eyes, he could get by with just a little wink and a nod. He mastered it in three tries. He's good.

But he still won't play fetch.

Nightcatcher Number 81

Nightcatcher Number 81 comes from a beautiful exotic wood that takes a luscious lacquer shine. The front has what appears to be a fern leaf embedded into it, almost as if it were a fossil. It's not, of course, but it sure is interesting. One of my all-time favorites.

A photo at night, during a catch

Here's a picture of me that my lovely wife took while I was using Nightcatcher Number 73 to catch a particularly nice night back in October. Of course, she wasn't allowed to use flash, as that would have driven away far too much dark matter to make my catch effective. My tests show that night particles can leave quite rapidly when light comes around. It's a speed that I call the Speed of Dark, which is a little faster than the speed of light, but not by much. I compare it to how fast a rabbit can run compared to my dog Spot. It's not a lot faster, but just enough.
We're out in the open area of our wraparound porch to catch some night particles, a favorite place when all the lights are turned off. I'm wearing my favorite shirt.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Pain takes some of the fun out of arthritis.

The first time I said that, people laughed. I didn't think it was all that funny. Let me explain. Part of growing older is resigning oneself to the realization that there is pain involved when trying to achieve the goal of growing older and avoiding the alternative. Even bending over is painful enough that I find myself postponing act until I can find something else to do while I'm down there. You know, make the trip worthwhile.

Well, I decided that if I'm going to suffer pain like this, I might as well enjoy it. So I set about making up my mind to do just that. Enjoy pain. Over time, and with a good deal of practice, I've achieved a modicum of success in mind control. So, by combining my new Intention with the universal truth that we're about as happy as we make up our minds to be, and then combining these two things with another aphorism - What your mind can conceive, you can achieve - I set about growing older in style. Have a glass of wine on the porch with my lovely wife, watch a lovely sunset, pet the dogs, and look forward to another sunrise.

But arthritis can be like Chinese water torture - drip, drip, drip. Pain, pain, pain. It keeps coming up, and its constancy is maddening, causing another dilemma and forcing me to draw another conclusion:

Arthritis takes some of the pleasure out of pain.

This was not acceptable.

So I had another glass of wine.

And that's when I learned this:

Pleasure takes some of the pain out of arthritis.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eleven Nightcatchers pose for a family portrait

(Click photo to enlarge)

Some Nightcatchers have quite a personality. Not a single one of 'em is dull. Hey, do you know how many dull people it takes to change a light bulb? One.
Okay, where was I? In case you're asking, I'll answer your question. Yes, the tallest Nightcatcher in this group photo does have a spark plug. It's the first time in civilized history that a spark plug and an antique honky-tonk piano have ever been this intimately acquainted. Comes with its own wrench. It should throw quite a spark into someone's romance.
All Nightcatchers have been thoroughly tested for their night-worthiness or they can't leave home. Test results are on file at the Home Office.

M & M Bowl

Yes, it's an M & M Bowl. This one is full to the brim. Just think, now you can eat the whole bowlful and not feel guilty. I sold one to a diabetic one time, and he said I'd just made his day. Said he was going to call his wife immediately and tell her that he'd just eaten "a full bowl, rounded over, and when she starts screaming at me, I'm gonna laugh my (!) off."
I never heard the outcome.
Sometimes life is worth living.
This bowl is made of walnut with a copper inlay at the shoulder and a decorative burn ring at the foot. Handmade. Lacquer finish. M & M bowl... he-he. They're one of my inventions, loosely grouped under the heading Fredstuff. Comes with a bunch of words. I have six M & M bowls ranging from $20 to $100. The expensive one has a cap with genuine ruby in it. That one, of course, will only accept red M & M's.

This tiny Nightcatcher is a necklace!

Nightcatcher Number 437 is part of a series of Nightcatchers made to be worn. Of course, I call the series, Nightwear. I had to, now, didn't I?
How much more romantic an evening can be when you catch part of the night and wear it proudly forever after.
It won't hold a lot of night particles, but it'll hold enough for a memory, and that's what counts.
This Nightcatcher is made of cocobolo, one of the finest woods ever, and is on black silk cord, accompanied by four wooden beads. It's signed, numbered, and cataloged.
The Official Instruction Manual tells how to catch a lovely night with your Nightcatcher. It explains the fun ceremony involved.
You'll have fun anticipating the night.
You'll have fun during the night.
You'll have fun catching the night.
You'll have fun wearing the night.
You'll have fun explaining to friends, when they ask, "What's that?"
You'll grin every time you think of what's inside.
Not a bad deal at all.
Hand made, one of a kind. $40.
Email me if you want it:

Capture the magic of the night!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another necessary accessory

Not only is "necessary accessory" fun to say, it refers to what some Nightcatchers need to reach their full potential. It's a stage where they can do their thing - very helpful for those who like to show off. This stage, #15, allows Nightcatcher Number 361 to tell his stories again. And again. Some of his stories are quite lengthy, especially when he gets to talking about the Great Ice Storm of '07 that brought him down, along with the tree he'd been a part of for so long.
Notice the multiple speakers high on either side of the background. Ahhh, stereo.

More stuff at

Nightcatcher Accessory

As previously mentioned, or not, Nightcatchers like to talk. The problem is with their tiny little voices. They're hard to hear. So, I built some tiny little microphones to go with their tiny little voices. Here are some of them. Be careful, though; they'll talk your arm off.If you're interested in some of my stuff, tell me how to contact you. My email address, which I call edress, is You can see lots of Nightcatchers at I don't have microphones or stages up yet, but first things first.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So, What's a Nightcatcher?

What's a Nightcatcher, you ask?
Nightcatchers are my new invention.
They make a romantic evening sexier.
They make a fun party funner.
They add significance to an important event,
such as a wedding night, an anniversary, or a birth.
Now wait! Not only do they catch nights,
they do it with humor.
They do it with pizazz. Whatever that is.
They do it artistically.
They do it creatively.
They do it ceremonially.
They do it religiously,
to say nothing of scientifically, what with all the dark matter, the black holes, the quantum physics, the metaphysics, and the regular physics.
You'll see.
You can see more of them at There's a catalog there.

Nightcatcher Pedigrees

Here's Nightcatcher Number 33. Click to enlarge it.

Someone wondered one time, what's all this Nightcatcher stuff about? (It might have been me.) So in an effort to clarify it in my mind further, since I invented them, here's some more stuff. I do hope I'm listening this time. Just be warned that a clear mind is an empty mind. Clarified water can have no fish. And a clarified mind has no place to go.

But still.

Sometimes I start with an idea. Sometimes it grows into words. Sometimes it fleshes itself out with wood and other objects from the equivalent of my mother's button box. But inevitably the wood and words meet. This is about the time the Pedigree comes about.

Here's the Pedigree for
Nightcatcher Number 33.

Click on it to read it.

There's also an Official Instruction Manual that helps a lot. It tells how to properly catch a night, the ceremony involved, some pitfalls, what to do for adapters in Europe, and a bunch of other stuff. I'll put it up on my blog sometime soon.

Spot n Rolly

Spot, full of grace, has begun the education of little Rolly.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What one Nightcatcher looks like

Here's what one Nightcatcher looks like. It's the only one that looks like this. There are 453 others that don't. You can look at it while I continue learning how to post stuff to a blog. Is that right? Did I say that right? The prepositions sound all wrong. I'm new at this.

This is Nightcatcher Number 349. It has a tiny diamond on top, mounted in gold, which is mounted to a glass cap, hand made by me, with a birch stopper attached.

There's some inlaid copper on the body of the piece. The body is turned from purple heart wood and finished with several coats of lacquer.

It also has a Pedigree.

All my Nightcatchers are hand made, one of a kind, signed, numbered, cataloged, and professionally photographed. About half of them have Pedigrees, which tell of their backgrounds, materials, dates, and sometimes humorous stories.

Of course, no one should own a Nightcatcher without also having The Official Instruction Manual to go with it. Forty-eight small pages of instructions, care, precautions, European adapters, etc. Some are leather covered and signed.

Oh, I've also made little performance stages for them. It gives them a chance to show off, and if you can't hear their tiny little voices, I've manufactured little tiny microphones so you can chat. When no one else is around.

New video: "How to Catch a Night - A Demo"

So, here's a video you might enjoy while I'm learning how to post on a blog. (Did I say that right?)