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January 2013 Dr. Vern

Posted in Features on January 1, 2013
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Contributors: Dr. Vern

Men should not be allowed to own chainsaws. It’s just that simple. A complete ban might be unworkable, but you’d have to have a very good reason to own a chainsaw. Card-carrying members of the lumberjack’s union could have one. Same thing if you sell chainsaw carvings at the county fair. For putting out forest fires, the guys that jump out of planes (wearing parachutes, in case I have to be specific) can have chainsaws, too. So yeah, there would be reasonable exemptions to the ban. My main gist, however, is that middle-aged white guys in the suburbs should definitely not have access to any type of chainsaw.

As might be expected, I have a very compelling story that serves to illustrate my point. It may seem like tilting at windmills, but I had my sights set on reclaiming my garage from all non-Jeep uses. As a bit of background, I once had this wacky idea of creating some breathing room in my garage. With one Jeep in a two-car garage, the extra workspace was nice while it lasted. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for large, bulky objects to materialize out of thin air and make the garage as crowded as if both Jeeps were inside, so I brought Jeep number 2 back out of the cold.

While it sounds bad to have no room for anything else, it also meant nobody else would have any reason or desire to set foot in the garage. Don’t overdo it if creating a place folks would do anything to avoid. Avoid the ambiance of those sketchy restaurants in a bad part of town, the kind of building that obviously used to be part of a fast-food chain but is now some no-name place serving $3.99 buffets. Oh sure, that would keep everybody away, but I’d like to be able to enjoy my own garage.

And so after some serious effort on my part, I now possess the dream of many a man: a garage all to myself. It’s a little cramped with two Jeeps in there, but fortunately there’s no room for anything else and that’s the important thing. No lawnmower. No weed trimmer. No garden tools. Just pure, unadulterated Jeep-related things.

"Just pure, unadulterated Jeep-related things"

It was no simple task to reach this level of paradise. You can’t just evict the fun-wrecking mower and its miserable yard-care brethren. Allow me to get a bit sidetracked and explain my two-pronged approach to taking care of my lawn. (By “two-pronged” I’m not literally referring to a giant pickle fork or any similar tool with a single pair of prongs.) First and foremost, avoid living in an area with nice yards. No matter where you live, there will always be a neighborhood eyesore. As long as you live in a bad area, you won’t be the guy with the worst lawn.

The second principle applies to my teenage daughter. Pretty as she is, boys come out of the woodwork and follow her home. I used to let this bother me, then I realized the poor guys were under the spell of a pretty woman and could be easily manipulated. Voila! Cheap labor to push a lawnmower! I haven’t had to mow the lawn myself for years now.

I couldn’t just leave the mower out in the rain. Out in the back forty is an old shed that has seen better days, but with a little effort it was more than adequate for parking the mower. While fixing the siding, I got tired of fighting a scraggly old tree in my way. I’m not sure I’d even call it a proper tree. It was more of an overgrown shrubbery. Intoxicated by the dream of finally having a Jeep-only garage as soon as I found a home for the mower, I didn’t give this tree much thought, only wondering if it would make good firewood.

This is where the chainsaw enters the picture. It’s a nice saw. Plenty of power. It’s a brand favored by many professional users. Sometimes I dream of putting on a flannel shirt and singing the Lumberjack Song while holding the saw. The only thing standing between this tree and its early demise was a lack of two-stroke oil for the chainsaw. Since I was already planning a trip to the store later that day, the tree survived that afternoon for no other reason. Specifically, I never thought to ask my beloved wife if she wanted to keep the tree. Or if she liked it so much she wanted to replant it as a showpiece in the front yard. How was I to know it was a rare, ornamental variety?

Always a risky endeavor, there are many variables to consider if a tree is to survive a transplant. Soil type and drainage are important factors. In addition, you’d be wise to consider exposure to sunlight and wind. I’m no tree expert, but it would probably also help if the trunk was still attached to the roots and not neatly stacked in 16-inch pieces. Luckily the tree (and thus yours truly) lived to see another day after I casually mentioned why I needed more chainsaw oil.

So remember: Chainsaw bad. Massive potential to get you in trouble. Wrenches good. They don’t cause trouble. OK, well, other than misleading you into thinking you should tackle another project Jeep…

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