Humor

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I think most people have played with a Slinky at one point or another in their lives. The Slinky is a pre-compressed helical spring toy invented by Richard James in the early 1940s. It is able to perform a number of tricks, including travelling down a flight of steps end-over-end as it stretches and re-forms itself with the aid of gravity and its own momentum, or appear to levitate for a period of time after it has been dropped. Kids have been known to spend hours playing with the simple spring, which rather defies the imagination in itself. Most kids tire easily of toys, so the long lasting play with a slinky was surprising. Still, as with all such toys, the Slinky eventually lost its draw, and few people play with it now.

The strangest thing about the Slinky is that it wasn’t invented to be a toy at all. In 1943, a naval mechanical engineer named Richard James, who was stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in Philadelphia, was developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. As he worked, James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring “stepped” in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright. I’m sure the sight was funny, mostly because it was so unexpected. As his wife Betty later recalled, “He came home and said, ‘I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension; I could make it walk.'” As with any inventor, I’m sure that his inventor’s mind was already clicking. James began to experiment with different types of steel wire over the next year, and finally found a spring that would walk. I’m sure he was like “a kid in a candy store” with each fine-tuning of the toy. Betty was skeptical at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky, by which she meant “sleek and graceful,” after finding the word in a dictionary, Betty decided that this word exactly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing.

The couple formed James Spring and Wire Company, which was later renamed James Industries, using just a $500 loan. They had 400 Slinky units made by a local machine shop, hand-wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 a piece. Each was 2½ inches tall, and included 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. At first, the James couple had difficulty selling Slinky to toy stores but, then in November 1945, they were granted permission to set up an inclined plane in the toy section of Gimbels department store in Philadelphia to demonstrate the toy. Finally, the Slinky was a hit, and the first 400 units were sold within ninety minutes. In 1946, Slinky was introduced at the American Toy Fair. The Slinky was without doubt a huge success, yet in it’s humble beginnings, it was an accident.

My little grand-niece, Mackenzie Moore is a loyal football fan…of her daddy’s teams. It doesn’t matter what team it is, as long as her daddy, Shannon Moore is one of the coaches. Currently, Mackenzie is a huge fan of the Wyoming Cowboys. As her daddy says, she loves the Pokes. Mackenzie always has her game face on at the games, and she cheers on her daddy’s team faithfully. In fact, at two years old, Mackenzie is quite likely the littlest Pokes fan. This little girl is such a loyal fan that she even makes sure she is bringing her baby up to be a fan. I guess she is getting set for the next generation of fans.

Mackenzie has an amazing personality. She always keeps her parents, Lindsay and Shannon, laughing and quite entertained. Nobody ever has to tell this little girl to smile, because its just a part of her nature. Mackenzie loves people and loves making them smile, and it comes so naturally to her. She makes the greatest faces ever. One look and you can’t help but love this little girl…or laugh along with this little cutie. She love playing with her cousins the most, and considers “cousin-time” to be the very best time of all…well, except for mommy and daddy time.

The summer was a great one for Mackenzie, who got to travel some, spend time with her grandparents, and of course hang out with her mommy by the pool. Mackenzie loves her time as a lady of leisure too. That’s a good thing, because before we know it, she will be going to school. Time goes so fast. I really can’t believe that Mackenzie is two years old already. It seems like it was just yesterday that she was born. With all the wonderful life moments this little girl packs into every day, I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. Of course, I wish that we, the rest of her family, got to see her a little more, but now that her family lives in Wyoming again, we get to see her more than we did before, when they lived back east. That makes us happy. We are all happy about the move back to Wyoming. Today is Mackenzie’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Mackenzie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Shortly after my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg lost a large amount of weight, she decided that she wanted to do something that she didn’t really get to do as a kid…ride a bicycle. Because her knees wouldn’t really allow her to work the pedals at that time, she looked into various kinds of bicycles. She considered the recumbent bicycle, but that didn’t work very well, because while she could sit in a chair-like position, the pedals still needed to be brought back toward her, meaning that her knees needed to bend quite a little bit.

Finally, she settled on a strider. It was an idea she got from our nephew and niece, Eric and Ashley Parmely. When their kids were too little to pedal a bicycle, they got them a strider, which is a pedal-less bicycle. The child basically sits on the seat, but runs the bicycle along using their feet for power. The seat is low enough to allow the child to have control, so they don’t fall over. It was a perfect idea for Brenda as well, because it let her be on a bicycle, but not have to pedal, which her knees would not allow at that time. These days, with her excess weight all gone, Brenda has put the pedals back on her bicycle and she can ride it normally.

Someone else apparently thought the pedal-less bicycle was a good idea too, but in my opinion, their “bicycle” idea pretty much defeats the purpose. The invention is called the Foot Powered Bike, but to me it looks like the “rider” is carrying the bike around. The bike basically wraps around the “rider” and there is no seat at all. There are handlebars, but no pedals, seat, or bicycle chain. In the matter of the chain, I guess that you couldn’t get your clothes caught in something that isn’t there, but in looking at the way the “rider” must maneuver the bike, it seems to me that the contraption would be very easy to trip the “rider” up. In running along, the “riders” legs must straddle the back wheel. That is where the dangerous part comes in…in my mind anyway. Walking, or running, with a wheel between your legs is awkward, to say the least. I think most people would find their legs tangled up in that wheel, and any thought of “riding” this contraption would be lost, but the strangest part of this is calling it a bike at all. No seat, no pedals, and no chain…yep, I call that defeating the purpose.

My nephew, Steve Spethman is a guy who can do just about any job you need him too. He has big shoulders and muscled arms, and is always willing to do the heavy lifting…something many in the family have learned to appreciate from time to time. He has helped with several building projects, including my sister, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike’s garage/apartment/wild game room. He did an amazing job on all the projects Mike asked his help with. He also helped build the back deck for our mom, Collene Spencer’s house, and a number of projects at his own home.

Steve likes to work on cars, and he has recently been teaching his oldest son, Xander the ropes, as they worked on Xander’s girlfriend’s vehicle. Steve and his wife, Jenny, are working on getting used to having a son who is old enough to drive. That is a strange time in the life of a parent. Parents always feel like their kids will be little forever, even while they are watching the grow up before their eyes. They one day, when the aren’t looking, suddenly that child is driving on their own. It helps the family out, because their child can now help with driving the other children, but it’s hard to get used to.

Steve is a hard working man, but he is also a fun-loving guy. He like to take his family camping, and loves both the lake and the mountains. He is also a jokester. He likes to share funny memes from Facebook, and tell a good joke, something he is very good at doing. He loves to make people laugh, and is a “Tickle Torturer” from way back. I would know, because I have been his victim a time or two. I’m sure that many others have been a tickle victim of Steve’s because he just loves to pick on people…in a good way, of course. There are many sides to Steve, and our family likes them all, even the teasing ones. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Adelaide Sawdon is a cute little three year old girl who is…sassy!! I don’t mean to say that she is obnoxious, because that would be totally wrong. She just has a sassy personality. She is confident in her self, and in her place in her family. Maybe she is a little overconfident in her place in the family. You see, Adelaide thinks she is the boss of her family. She gets that attitude from her mom, Jessi Sawdon, who was sassy in her own right as a little girl. Jessi was the oldest child, and like her daughter, Adelaide, she was sure that she was not only the boss, but the mom!! She knew that she was the boss of her mom, even when she got in trouble for it. Adelaide is her mom’s mini-me on that. That’s our Addie!!

Adelaide is a very smart little girl. She knows her numbers, and she knows how many three is. She also knows that she was two until today, and that while she may have been one…once, one has nothing to do with her age now, not even in counting up to three. One is over, so figure it out!! Adelaide said that she wants to be five, so she can go to school, but I think her parents, Jessi and her husband, Jason, would rather wait just a little bit before she heads to school. For now, they want her to stay their baby girl for just a while longer.

Adelaide is very excited for her birthday party today, because her parents are taking her to the Planetarium. She is learning all about that word, and what it means. She knows that she is going to see the planets at the “Pantarium.” Listening to the cute little ways she says words is so fun. Her Aunt Kellie, whom Adelaide called “Kayee” for the longest time has been one of the ones whose name came out funny, but now, Adelaide has learned to say Kellie. Her aunt was so excited, and so she clapped her hands and cheered. Addie liked that, so now she says Kellie a lot, followed by the face of anticipation…waiting for the cheers and clapping. Awww, the joys of life as a three year old. Today is Adelaide’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every family struggles to find ways to do things together…not to mention the time to do so. Kids have their own activities, such as sports, dance, and other club and school activities. Parents work, kids have school, and then there are things that need to be done around the house. By the time dinner is cooked and eaten, and the table cleared, who feels like doing more activities. Plus, there is homework to be done. It seems like there isn’t time for anything more than a television show before bed.

Most of us think this is just something that has come with modern day families, where they barely have time to eat dinner together…if that. In reality, it is a problem that has been around for a lot longer. Kids just naturally grow up and become more independent, and parents get busier too. Something had to be done, so in 1939, so Charles Steinlauf stepped up. He didn’t build his bicycle for a record, because there wasn’t such a thing then. The Guinness book of records didn’t begin until the early 1950’s. Nevertheless, he was some “inventor” to use the word lightly. His was an interesting bicycle, and apparently it held something for everyone…I guess. As odd as it was, the bicycle really did work. The top rider, namely Charles steered the bicycle with an automobile steering wheel. His wife sat below operating a sewing machine. Their son was in back and their daughter sat on handle bars in front. When they stopped, the legs of the sewing machine kept the two story Goofybike, as it was called, from falling over. I don’t know any other way to safely stop it.

It might have been one of the strangest inventions in history, but, it did get his family out and about in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m certain it also brought them quite a bit of notoriety. I’m sure that there were lots of people who that of Steinlauf as that “weird inventor,” and to be honest, it looks like he just hooked a bunch of odds and ends together. It was, however, a little more technical than that, after all, just hooking a bunch of things together, does not a bicycle make. It has to be able to be ridden in order to really qualify as a bicycle, weird or not. And the Goofybike could be and was ridden by the whole Steinlauf family.

A little over eight years ago, I wrote a story about my sister, Caryl Reed and how my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I used to attack her and give her the “tickle torture” on a fairly regular basis. Little did I know then, the impact that story would have on my readers. In the eight years the story has been up, it has received 1016 comments, which is far more than any other story I have written. I have had countless numbers of people tell me their own stories about being tortured or being the torturer. Several have suggested that I need to write another story on tickle torturing tales, and with that, Tickle Tales was conceived in my head. I thought I might highlight some of the funniness that has been born of the Tickle Torture craze.

One friend, Suzy approached me with some ideas to get her siblings, and after enlisting the help of her particularly devious brother-in-law, the tickle “chair” was born. The tickle chair really isn’t a chair at all, but is a portable set of “stocks” to lock the victim’s feet in place while the torturers tickle away. Now I’ve never had this done to me, but I can tell you that anytime you can’t kick or get away from your tickle attacker…the situation becomes a true form of “friendly” torture. While some people might think this harsh, their family loved it, and even made bets on things, like football games to decide who the next victim was. As far as I know this is now a new tradition in their family.

A couple I’m friends with, Mike and Ashley asked me for some ideas to get started on their own betting scheme. After a number of times at being Mike’s victim, Ashley and her girlfriends finally exacted her revenge. Mike had made a habit of taking a nap on the couch…an “unfortunate” mistake for him, and so the girls managed to place ropes under the couch and tied his hands and feet to the legs of the couch. Helpless to fight them off, the girls gave him the tickle torture of a lifetime. Mike is a good sport, and even being given a pedicure by his captors didn’t upset him. It did, however, make him decide that revenge was the only logical response to this. He got his revenge using feathers on Ashley’s feet, while her toes were tied together. Their current bet involves the loser on this years’ football games, and a Super Bowl Revenge that will be carried out over the course of the Super Bowl game…the whole game…when they score, or commercial breaks, half time show, and of course, the game ending finale!! Yikes!! I pity the loser in this competition!!

Tickle Torture is a great way to keep life interesting, and as long as everybody is a good sport about it, can bring a lot of laughs. The thing I find funny is that even while being tickled, very few people get upset, because tickling isn’t, after all, painful. And it does make you laugh!! I don’t think that Tickle Torture will ever be a thing of the past. It’s just too much fun!! Have you tickled someone today?

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a very busy guy. If he is not working, he’s outdoors in one capacity or another. He and my niece, Amanda Reed have a 15 year old daughter, Jadyn who is very busy with horses, and that means the family attends lots of competitions. Sean and Amanda are very supportive of their daughter’s dreams, and they will do whatever they can to help her accomplish them. Sean loves his girls, and they love him. They are a wonderful family unit, doing lots of things together.

Sean and Amanda also have a great group of friends, and they all love to go camping, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, 4 wheeling, or any other sport you can think of. Rarely do you see a family who is so outgoing, all the time…nor one that is good at so many types of sports. They always have fun. Recently they all went camping for nine days. They went with a large group of people and everyone had a wonderful time, even Carp shooting. I wouldn’t have ever thought of fishing that way, but these guys seem quite skilled at shooting a fish with a bow and arrow. Sean’s brother, Tyler and his wife, Heather were among those who went. These two couples have a great relationship. They enjoy being together.

Sean is an active guy, who enjoys being very goofy, but then so do their friends. Everything from goofy wigs to wild outfits. He’s up for anything that will get a laugh out of his friends. Still, when it comes to work, Sean is all business. Sean has worked at Sinclair Oil Refinery for a while now, and is good at his job. There are many reasons to work carefully and observe safety regulations in a refinery, and Sean is diligent in both work and safety. After all, he has two great girls to come home to every day. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Zoey Iverson is an amazing child. Zoey is just 4 years old, but she has taken on a task that is far beyond her years. Zoey is getting ready to start pre-school in the fall, but she is already a teacher. I’m sure that seems incredible, but it’s the truth. Zoey’s older brother, Lucas, who is 8 years old, was born with Down Syndrome. To Zoey, Lucas is her big brother, and she loves him, and that is all that matters. Zoey knows that her brother is older than she is, and she also knows that he needs help with things. Zoey has assigned herself the task of being his helper and his teacher. That is an amazing feat for a 4 year old girl…and nobody told her to do this!! She just has a loving heart, and wants her brother to have the best chance there is.

Zoey’s current project is helping her brother learn how to talk more and to use the bathroom more. At this point, Zoey and Lucas share a bedroom, so they play together all the time. They love to watch movies, hang out on the bed, look at books, cuddle, and play. They love their room. It is a sanctuary for them…their own space to do kid things. Zoey has been such an integral part of her brothers progress. From helping him learn to walk, to talking, to balance, to playtime, Zoey is very active in her brother’s progress.

Of course, Zoey loves to help her mommy, Cassie too. They do a lot of yardwork together, which Zoey really enjoys. And Zoey is not afraid of snakes in the yard either, although, she makes sure it’s ok to pick it up before she touches it. At snakes…I have to draw the line!! Eeeeewwww!! Zoey loves doing things with her daddy, Chris, like fishing. She also has a kitten that she loves to play with and nurture. She has a very loving, kind heart. Her mom also informs me that…once in a while, Zoey likes to talk back and be a total of four-year-old. I guess that is pretty typical of all kids now and then. Maybe it’s because Zoey is such a mommy type, herself. When she is playing, Zoey likes to dress up in her princess dresses and play a lot of pretend games. Like all little girls, being a princess is paramount in their lives. Today is Zoey’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I think most of us who have mowed the lawn in our day will attest to the fact that even if you have a self propelled lawnmower or a riding lawn mowed, if you done do that job early in the morning or on a cloudy day, its hot out there. Its usually so hot and sticky, in fact that we have to take frequent breaks to head indoors to cool off in front of the air conditioner. Finally, in the 1950s, someone decided that the world needed a cooler way to mow the lawn. So, they added what can only be described as a giant popcorn popper to a riding lawn mower. They gave it its own electric generating system for operating running lights, a radio telephone, air conditioning, and even a cooling system to provide a chilled drink on a hot day. The assumption was that people could see its value beyond the lawn. It was described as a useful tool for many purposes. It could mow the lawn, weed it, feed it, seed it, spray for insects, plow snow, and haul equipment. It was even touted as a machine that could be used as a golf cart.

The old style push mower could only be classified as a workout machine, if you ask me. It took more muscle than some of the equipment many of us pay dearly to use at the local gym. And as to speed…well, it was nonexistent. Those old rotor style lawn mowers were brutal machines, and when the job was done, you needed a hot tub, a massage, and Excedrin, not necessarily in that order. The motorized lawnmower that most households have today is considered to be an amazing tool. It makes mowing something that even kids can do. The self-propelled mowers are light weight, and actually have an engine that maneuvers it forward, with a lot less effort than the older gas and electric mowers.

I’m sure that the inventor of the air conditioned lawn mower of the fifties had visions of everyone mowing their lawns in comfort and style, but the reality is that the cost of one of the newfangled machine was far beyond what most people could afford, so it never really took off. As mowers became more and more lightweight and easier to use, the necessity of a way to keep cool has lessened, be it slightly. Still, the newfangled airconditioned riding lawnmower of the 50s was simply not cost effective, and so it was not a widely purchased or even widely known item. In one advertisement I found, it was called the “Lazy Man’s Power Mower.” I’m sure that kind of advertising didn’t exactly make people want to run out and buy one. There are air conditioned lawn mowers today, but they are mostly on industrial mowers, which makes sense, since people might spend hours at a time in one.

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