Tom Clyde: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
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October 16, 2017
I made my weekly Home Depot run the other day. The lawn mowers and barbecues are out front, marked down for quick sale. It's that time of year. I didn't see any snow blowers, though we are into that time of year when you can reasonably expect to blow the snow off the driveway and mow the lawn in the same week. Inside, aisles were stacked with shipping cartons with a major restocking underway. I didn't pay a lot of attention at first. I needed to get my stuff and move on. But as I made my way up to the registers, it hit me.
The Christmas decorations are on the shelf at Home Depot already.
This was on the 10th of October, technically not even the real Columbus Day, let alone Halloween. The Ace hardware store in Kamas is packed with plastic horse skeletons and other cool Halloween stuff. Because it's October. But I guess if you wanted to buy something spooky to put on the porch from Home Depot, you needed to act before Labor Day. Anybody who is already setting up a new plastic Christmas tree, or splattering tinsel and inflatable Santas in the yard, needs to get a grip. The internally illuminated holy family, executed in a durable polyethylene, probably don't need to be plugged in for a couple of months yet. I don't think there is any real risk that they will be sold out.
I've got nothing against Christmas. It's probably my favorite mash-up of pagan, Druid and Christian holidays. I'm not above buying things in July that would be a perfect Christmas gift, and stashing them in the basement for a few months. It's not like Christmas comes as a surprise—it was right there on the calendar and it happens every year. But apparently now, it is the entire fourth quarter.
“I’ve got nothing against Christmas. It’s probably my favorite mash-up of pagan, Druid and Christian holidays.”
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Anyway, I bought my list of miscellaneous stuff for about a dozen different things, gave it all a heartfelt "Bah! Humbug!" and went home to my project. Plumbing repairs are never fun. Even if you are dealing with something as small as the tubing to the icemaker, plumbing has a way of spiraling out of control. Through the years, I've learned that the unpleasantness of plumbing increases exponentially with the diameter of the pipe involved. I think it has something to do with pi.
I don't mind the occasional repair in the house. As the operator of the neighborhood water system, I've spent a lot of time making repairs on pipes 2 and 3 inches diameter. I made the wise decision years ago to never buy any tools that would be useful for repairing anything bigger than that. A simultaneous and genius decision was that the water system would only replace the 80-year old pipes with new pipe that was at least 4 inches. So my plumbing tools now consist mostly of a list of phone numbers for guys with backhoes.
But sometimes you can't avoid it. I've got to replace an irrigation headgate that was smashed by a couple of tree trunks when the river was at flood stage this spring. It's 2 feet in diameter. Cast iron. When the pieces are so heavy you need a front-end loader to lift them, you know you're in for a good time. I got things pre-assembled in the barnyard, and am now waiting for the track hoe to show up to do the actual installation. The assembly went surprisingly smoothly, and as it became clear that it was going to work, I found myself humming a little song: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
There's a time and place for everything, and Christmas's time and place ought to be confined to December.
When I plugged my credit card into the machine at Home Depot, I wondered how much of my life has been compromised by the Equifax data breach. Basically everybody's credit identity has been made public. I think what it means is that lenders should no longer believe anything they see from a credit bureau. I don't know how we prove we are who we are anymore.
Richard Smith, the weasel who "retired" as CEO of Equifax with something like $90 million in stock options, testified before Congress last week. His explanation of this destructive data breach was, "stuff happens." That hardly seems adequate, and Congress has no idea how to restore credibility to the credit markets. It's annoying to have to spend $30 to put a credit freeze in place, and that much again if I need to take it off (like I'll remember those passwords). There ought to be a more appropriate justice than forcing Smith to retire a wealthy man. I'd feel better if somebody posted his social security number, date of birth, address, and mother's maiden name somewhere very public.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.