I want to be a curmudgeon. I’m the right age. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve earned the right. Problem is, I’m having a hard time doing it. I want to be able to yell at kids to “GET OFF MY LAWN!” You know, traditional curmudgeon stuff. Unfortunately for me, I can’t do that. I live in the middle of the woods.

Nope. Not a kid in sight.

The nearest kids are at least a mile or so away. In over 20 years not one Trick-or-Treater has come to our door on Halloween. And who wants to walk over a mile just to play on some stranger’s lawn? And if they did, why would that bother me? I mean if they were blowing up my lawn, or stealing my lawn I’d be pretty pissed.

Photo: theketog.org

But just playing? What’s your problem?

That never stopped my Grandpa. He loved yelling at kids. I think he looked at it as sort of a sport.

OK, my Grandpa wasn’t really Yoda. I just thought the picture was funny. Photo: Imgflp

The problem I’m having with being a curmudgeon is that I’m too tolerant.  I think it’s a generational thing.  Us baby boomers  are a lot more tolerant than our parent’s generation. We let our kids get away with stuff our parents wouldn’t put up with. This has made some things tougher for our kids. For instance, pissing off their parents.


It’s a kid’s job, especially in their teen years, to piss off their parents. It’s a rite of passage. Part of growing up. In my day, it was ridiculously easy. All I had to do was grow my hair long. And by long, I mean as long as the Beatles. The early Beatles.

PHOTO: The Beatles, left to right, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon (1940 – 1980) arrive at London Airport February 6, 1964 (Photo by Getty Images)

Long hair was responsible for every evil and ill in the world. Crime, Communism, the canceling of the Lawrence Welk show, etc.

Photo: gigoid.me

But our generation is way more tolerant. Kids today have to really work to piss us off. A while back I was in a shopping mall when I saw a group of teenagers walking by. One was wearing what I think is called a “side mullet”. One half of his head was completely shaved and the other half was a mullet. Yes, a mullet, the hairstyle of the Gods.

Photo: MachoHairstyles – Hipster Mullet

He was wearing a studded dog collar around his neck. He had pierced ears, a pierced nose, he had one pants leg rolled up above his knee and he was wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants. All I could think was, Wow. That poor kid. Look how far he had to go before his parents finally went: “That’s it! Your grounded!”

Not the actual kids. But close.

And here’s another thing. That kid got up that morning, got dressed like that and looked in the mirror and thought to himself “Yeah, that’s cool. I’m rocking this look.”

Which brings me to the flip side of this equation. While it’s a kid’s job to piss off his parents, it’s also a parent’s job to embarrass the hell out of their kids. Mostly when they are teenagers. Here, the advantage goes to the parents. The best my parents could do was to show naked baby pictures of me to my prom date. Embarrassing? Not really. Today? I’m sure the parents of that kid I saw in the mall have a Pinterest account devoted just to him. It will live in the cloud forever and will pop up at every family gathering for the rest of his life. And what the hell will his kids have to do?

What does any of this have to do with me wanting to be a curmudgeon? Nothing much, other than it makes me realize that all the traditional things I should be yelling at just makes me laugh.

So, I guess I’m out of luck.

Oh wait, there’s always Trump.


It all started with a notice from National Grid about dehumidifiers. We have one. It’s pretty old, but we need it because otherwise, the basement gets soggy. And smells damp. I hate that smell.

A few years ago, we had to replace all the window air conditioners because they were old, heavy, and grimy … and they weren’t really cooling the place like they should. This year, it’s time to take on the dehumidifier. Not nearly as bad as replacing five or six window air conditioners, but not free, either.

I needed something that would fly lower under the electrical radar.

We have recently become “that family” to which all other neighbors are compared, with the lowest electricity bill in our neighborhood. No one was more shocked than me when they sent me that same message two months in a row. But those days are about to end because as the outside temperature heats up, the window A/C units get installed … and whoopee, those electric bills fly up and away.

Meanwhile, getting the damp smell out of the basement is looming large. A new unit? Okay. But … how big?

None of the units I found myself staring at seemed ready to offer me information about how big an area they could handle. I needed numbers. How big a dehumidifier to dry up a damp basement? The size of a unit is measured by how many pints of water it can suck out of the air. The smallest for an average-sized basement would be 30 pints, the biggest probably 70 pints. If your basement is just a little bit damp, you might get away with a little one. If you have small pools of water on the floor, bigger is better.

I typed my question into Google.

I love Google. You can type anything into it and the answer comes up before you finish the question. Where was this marvel when I was researching papers for school? Come to think of it, I doubt it would have helped me much comparing the writing of Thomas Wolfe to Lawrence Durrell. I don’t think you find that on Google. Yet. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, I found a couple of sites and eventually, rating our basement of 1350 feet (and only half of it is damp … the other half is bone dry), calculating it as “damp, but not really wet” — which would be discounting drenching rains, hurricanes, or run-off from snow plus a spring rain — I went for the 50 pint. The 70 seemed to be overkill. More would not hurt the basement, but it would use more electricity.

The prices were pretty much standard. Between $170 and $250 for 50 pint model. Frigidaire had the top rating, no matter where I looked. The difference in price was minimal and I have learned to not buy the cheapest appliances. When I do, I wind up buying them again and you don’t save anything when you have to buy the unit twice.

Price: $200 plus tax. Including free shipping.

It took me a surprisingly long time to coördinate the size of the basement — which I know from all the times I’ve refinanced the house — with the “damp level” of the area. This process chewed up my morning. I didn’t even look at Serendipity until I realized the WordPress daily prompt was “measure.” Nothing could be more measured than my morning.

All of which reminded me of why I was so good at technical documentation. When I’m thinking measurements and numbers, my brain locks down.

So, to reiterate, if you have a soggy basement — and so many of us do — maybe you need a newer dehumidifier. If the basement is damp, but you don’t see actual wet spots on the floor — and your basement is in the 1000 to 1600 square foot size, you probably need a 50-pint unit. Especially if you hate that damp basement smell wafting up the stairs. Save yourself the extra effort. Get one of the Frigidaire units. I’m told the wheels work well too, so you can roll it reasonably easily from room to room.  Good to know!


And so, with the sun bright in the sky, I took the camera and went out. I wanted a haircut. The car needed a shampoo. And, we needed some cold cuts for lunch.

Mumford River and dam – middle of town

No leaves on the trees, but you can see the hint of them in the fuzzy pink color of the branches. Another two to three weeks before the flowers get serious about blooming. In the meantime, this is early spring in the center of the Blackstone Valley.