Surviving Seniorhood With Sharpies – Part 2, by St. Funogas

(Continued from Part 1.)

Vitamins and Drugs – Remember the good old days when a bottle of vitamins which held 200 capsules was good for 200 doses? Those days are long gone and the low-integrity makers of gummy vitamins now label the bottle with, “Contains 165 with 15 freebies! 2,000 I.U. per serving.” They know your antiquated brain and eyes aren’t working any better than communism did so they’re certain they can take advantage of you knowing that you left your reading glasses on the dashboard before walking into the store to buy vitamins. Therefore, all you’re going see is the large “Contains 165” and miss all the nonsense in the ultrafine print about “per serving.” The print is so small the only thing that could read it would be a literate yeast cell fluent in English. And that would be with his reading glasses on. You won’t even notice it for three weeks so when you finally do, call their 800 number to complain about their predatory marketing practices, then take your  Sharpie and write “2/Day” in very large letters on the bottle on at least two sides.

Before hanging up, tell them you’d feel much better about their company if they sent you a coupon for a free bottle of vitamins to help you forget about their unsavory marketing tactics as well as to help you remember to take two per serving. Then remember to take your vitamins. On days you forget, go look in the mirror to be sure the “I” on your forehead hasn’t washed off in the shower. Now that I’m past the dry-erase stage, I have to redo mine weekly while I’m waiting for Sharpie’s “tattoo formulation” to be released.

Are you tired of trying to read the small print on that bottle of pills in the medicine cabinet that you never use but are saving for an emergency? Even though you pick them up and look at them weekly while standing there bored brushing your teeth, you still never remember what they’re for and have to squint at the label to remind yourself. Sharpies love to be of service when they can help you write “PAIN” on the top of one and “Kidney Stones” on the top of the other. Now you can read them even while flossing and don’t have a free hand to pick them up for the umpteenth time. Sharpie will also work for the medications which you take daily and the Sharpiefied cap can be transferred to a new bottle. By transferring it to each new refill you won’t have to keep going to the trouble of prying that top part off the child-proof cap so you can actually get it open when you don’t have a five-year old handy to do it for you.

Food Storage and Other Preps – No prepper worth his freeze-dried stroganoff would think of putting those buckets of rice, gallon jugs of oil, or #10 cans of textured vegetable protein into the storage room without writing the date on top. Not only will that help you calculate usage for planning future prepping quantities, but also keep your stuff rotated since you can’t read that fine print they use on those use-by dates even with your new reading glasses or that literate yeast cell that reads your vitamin labels for you. Dates will also help calculate at what point your beans have turned to stone and can be used for various masonry projects around the homestead, or turned into AR-15 ammo and assorted other projectiles after lead is no longer readily available. “Whoa, Bill! What’d you take out that roving horde with?” “Well Sam, nowadays I use .30-06 organic legume-skin-jacketed pintos with weevil-bored hollow points.”

As a side note, don’t waste popcorn in your Red Ryder shooting those little tweety birds when they’re the last remaining source of animal protein, not counting the Donner Party. Once the kernels attain a velocity of 800 fps the heat generated by the air friction causes them to pop, totally messing up the aerodynamics and causing them to prematurely terminate their ballistic bliss. Then the birds eat them instead of you eating the birds, leaving you no option but to go home empty-handed again and tell the wife and kids to cook up some more plantain and get them yummy cattail roots a-boilin’. The second reason for not using Orville Redenbacher in your Red Ryder is to avoid your wife’s worn-out joke: “Don’t pop your eye out!”

Propane – Regardless of your propane tank size, write the date and quantity on the tank when it gets filled so you can accurately calculate what your usage is. Then determine how long that will last after the Big One hits and decide now if you need a bigger tank or more smaller ones. If we get TEOTWAWKI-ized next Tuesday and the propane man becomes just one more sweet memory of yesteryear, you can also calculate how long your remaining propane will last and make changes in your usage accordingly. Like turning off the water heater to save your precious propane for cooking.

Milk – Be sure to write the date in Sharpie on your store-bought milk jugs when you get them home. The ones you buy six at a time because Daisy’s on a dry spell and it’s so far to the store. The best-by dates are meaningless and, as we’ve already established, are too darn small to read anyway. Writing the date on the jugs will also have entertainment value as everyone places bets on just how old the milk can get before it has curds floating in it. Use your five senses to determine when the milk has reached its various stages but keep in mind if you can actually hear the milk speaking to you it’s a good indication you should get your rye bread checked for ergot.

Fresh milk is great with Cap’n Crunch or dinner, sour for pancakes and biscuits, and once the curds are floating, assuming you don’t have a tuffet handy, screen them out and press them with a little salt for poor man’s cheese. You can mix in some moldy bread crumbs before pressing to make your own DIY bleu cheese, but probably best to wait for your mycology certification before giving that a shot. Next time the grid goes down be sure to have lots of rennet in your preps. Remember, a little goes a long whey.

Engine Oil – On the underside of your vehicle’s hood, preferably near the top, use your Sharpie to write the oil filter number so you don’t have to stand there at the auto parts store while the guy looks it up. You’ll feel your muscles bulge when you walk straight up to the counter and say, casually, “I need a PH8A oil filter,” and you’ll probably get the good-ol’-boy discount they generally give to real mechanics. Then below the filter type, write the oil-plug wrench size unless you don’t mind crawling under there with four different wrenches and greasy dirt blobs falling in your eyes as you try each one to see if it fits. Next, write the type of engine oil it uses and beneath that, begin recording the mileage and date every time you do an oil change. If you forget one and go an extra year between changes, write in a false date and mileage to keep up the vehicle’s resale value and to reassure the next owner that not only did you do regular oil changes, but undoubtedly all other routine maintenance as well.

Having the date written there will impress the next mechanic who looks under the hood should you experience the devastating, ego-crushing embarrassment of having to resort to one, and he’ll think you’re well organized and efficient. If you’ve never in your life changed the oil and thought dipsticks referred to gun-control fanatics, open the driver-side door and find the oil-change sticker there or possibly in the upper left-hand corner of your windshield. Look for the oil type. It’s going to say something like “5w-30,” “15w-40” or “canola.” Just for giggles, pull out your Sharpie and write the oil type on the underside of the hood to give the mechanic the false impression that you know the difference between a crescent wrench and a crescent roll.

Small Engines – Since you can never remember if you used what the manufacturer recommended for your 5 HP Briggs & Stratton or if you just filled it with that 10w-40 you had on hand in the garden shed, go ahead and write the oil type right next to the dipstick. Be sure to wipe the area around it first so you don’t send your Sharpie to an early grave.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 3.)


  1. Oh, Dear St. Funogas, You were in rare form when you wrote this article!
    “Well Sam, nowadays I use .30-06 organic legume-skin-jacketed pintos with weevil-bored hollow points.” is my fav of this installment.

    Bless you my son; you have started my day with a smile.

    1. “You were in rare form when you wrote this article!”

      You’re right Animal House, I wish I could write like this every day instead of this being rare form but the magical inspiration to this degree only happens rarely. I wrote most of this in one sitting and that’s only happened one other time, an essay about about my dad 30 years ago. I’ve been joking around about writing this Sharpie essay for a few months so one day after using a Sharpie right before going out to rototill, I started thinking about it and decided hey, maybe I could write an article. I was thinking about it all during tilling, chuckling occasionally. After that, while cleaning the carburetor on my chainsaw, I thought about the chainsaw section of the essay. I was already on my knees working on the chainsaw and in one part I was bent over laughing so hard and beating on the ground with my first. Sometimes from a distance you can’t tell if people are laughing or crying so when my favorite neighbors drove by, they saw the chainsaw, saw me bent over beating on the ground, and thought I was crying because I had amputated some important piece of my anatomy. They pulled into the driveway and came running over. When I lifted my head and they saw the tears on my cheeks, the wife had her phone out in a flash, ready to call 911. When they realized I was laughing my guts out, they then thought fer sure I was on some kind of psychotropic substance and were ready to call 911 to get the rehab wagon on its way. As a cover, I told them I was laughing over a joke about two Wyoming cowboys sitting in a two-seater outhouse. They finally decided I wasn’t injured or losing my mind so they continued into town to get some lunch.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying this so much. It’s definitely more fun to write than those dry how-to articles. And more fun to read.

    2. StF, you are a wicked man: “Next time the grid goes down be sure to have lots of rennet in your preps. Remember, a little goes a long whey.”

      That one packed some pun-ch.

      Carry on

  2. You have some excellent suggestions. I’ve also found these useful because I can’t remember all the numbers anymore.

    Oil Pan nut size
    Battery cable nut size
    Email for locations with code?
    Orange tape on all tools (garden and automotive so it “glows” in the grass when
    you lay it down
    med dose Doses on lid top w or without MEAL ie: 2 x D / M (twice day with meal)

  3. Exellent! I got a twofer, in that I didn’t read SB yesterday, and so got to read parts 1 and 2, together. I am a huge fan of the late Patrick F. McManus, and wish I could write as well as either of you. I think I’m just a little bit jealous.

    1. Hey PaulD, thanks! That’s the finest compliment I’ve ever received on my writing, to be included in the same sentence with Pat McManus. He and Mark Twain (Roughing It) were two of the funniest guys who ever picked up a pen.

  4. My Morning Chuckle! “Whoa, Bill! What’d you take out that roving horde with?” “Well Sam, nowadays I use .30-06 organic legume-skin-jacketed pintos with weevil-bored hollow points.” eh?

    Point of order hard beans are actually quite good ground up into a bean bread loaf, I use about 25% bean flour in my regular loaf recipe and it is good. Pressure cooking is amazing at turning stone beans into food.

    Thanks for the levity friend!

  5. St. Funiguy,

    The world is going to hell in a hand-basket and you’re sharing all your uses for a magic-marker. Oh, the humanity!

    Indeed, a brown marker may hit the fan, and you make jokes about precious beans and bullets. Surely, you’re not serious. Oh, I know, don’t call you Shirley!

    Big Pharma is our friend, and you disparage their gifts to humanity. At this time of year, we should bow down and thank the drug pushers for all the highs and lows and pain-free days they have given us. Give your pharmacist a Sharpie for the holidays.

    I’m not a snowflake, but I am offended that you would even suggest that I have dust bunnies under my refrigerator. And, to top it off, you want me to write “on the face of the plastic coil protector where the only one to see it will be that mouse the cat keeps missing.” First off, I don’t have a cat and my mouse can’t read. Now, you have offended Mickey!

    I agree the sharpie is great for food buckets and ammo cans, but you want me to write on: my refrigerator, my waffle iron, my rims, my forehead, my pill bottles, my gas grill, and my car (and probably my front door in article 3 tomorrow). Come on man! If I write “I” on my forehead, I’ll have to write it in reverse to read it in the mirror. I mean, seriously Shirley! Even Sleepy Joe knows to use a Sharpie for his cue cards.

    In Arizona, the poll workers issued Sharpies to conservatives to mark their ballot all the while knowing that the vote tabulator machine would reject them. Did you give the Arizona poll workers an advance copy of this article?

    So, as I look at my stash of Sharpies, I enjoy knowing that I’m not the only one who has searched Amazon for a deal on my favorite writing tool. Sharpies are cheaper by the dozen. Now, I have given away my secret and you have published to all the world the importance of Sharpies. Sharpies are the “duct tape” of the writing/marker world. A thousand and one uses. Now, I need to order more before Amazon runs out!

    1. Hey Toby, for a minute there I thought you were from the ASPCA and were going to bust me for abusing dust bunnies.

      If your mouse can’t read, you should get him enrolled in a reading program ASAP. His namesake Mickey Mouse first appeared in a film called Steamboat Willie. You don’t think they hand those steamboat pilot licenses out to illiterates do you?

      And yes, in Part 3 I’ll have you writing on all kinds of stuff you’ve never dreamed of, but one of them won’t be visible for 100 years, so don’t sweat that one.

      And yes, you can call me Shirley. Just don’t call me late for dinner.

  6. “weevil-bored hollow points!”

    Bwaaaaahahahahaha!!! Silly me, I thought I’d read this in the middle of the night before any coffee was involved, but instead my laughing just nearly woke the baby. Hmph.

    Better be careful St. Funogas, or you’ll have the gun-control wackos joining forces with PETA, because you ruthlessly exploited those poor lil weevils to manufacture your terror-iffic doomsday murder-projectile thingies….. I’ll bet you didn’t even give them matching 401ks or collective bargaining agreements, you monster you.

    The bit about the literate yeast reminded me of the time we grew slime molds in one of the bio labs. At first I named mine after my two most brainless supervisors on the overnight crew at work, but then I felt bad and un-Sharpied the petri dishes. After all, the sweet little molds were probably more intelligent, had certainly never yelled at me for stopping to take a drink of water during my 13th hour (of a supposed 8-hour shift), and they were much cuter too.

  7. I use sharpies all the time to label everything, but I put a piece of scotch tape on almost everything, with the end folded down to form a sort of handle to pull it off when I don’t need it anymore, then write on the tape. I label my milk jugs this way, with the day of the week, so when I have 10 gallons of milk stacked up that the calf didn’t drink, I know which one to use first.

    Since there has been a shortage of canning lids, I have started to reuse them, so I stopped writing directly on the lid. I instead use scotch tape with the end folded down, and write on that, so I can pull it off later. This also works for reusable Harvest Guard lids. Sometimes I put the tape on the jar instead of the lid. The tape will not survive the canning process, so I put it on after processing.

    Basically, since I try to reuse as much stuff as possible, I try to not mark it up too much. In our throw away society, it isn’t really necessary to be that frugal and thrifty, but I think it’s a really good idea to be in practice and know how to do it. There may be a time in the near future where I will need to do it and will need to show other people how to do it to survive. But even if nothing ever happens in an economic crash, what’s the harm in it? It is a game to me, which is cheap entertainment.

    1. “In our throw away society, it isn’t really necessary to be that frugal and thrifty, but I think it’s a really good idea to be in practice and know how to do it. There may be a time in the near future where I will need to do it and will need to show other people how to do it to survive. But even if nothing ever happens in an economic crash, what’s the harm in it? It is a game to me, which is cheap entertainment.”

      Hey Rose, in all seriousness, I feel the same way. Like you, for me frugality is a fun game and can be very cheap entertainment. One of my family members tells me I have a scarcity mentality but I think I have a fun-with-frugality mentality.

      And like you I think we can best learn how to do things by practicing them every day, and there will be lots of grateful people at some point in the possible not-too-distant future who will be glad we can teach them how it’s done. And not just in the frugality department, but many other self-reliance things as well.

      Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

  8. LARGE MARGE… I’m a vax rebel and I still “might not have discovered the down-loadable certificate..” I really haven’t. any advice? PS we only live a couple hours apart…i’m further north. JWR has permission to give my email if that’s a thing…thanks all. OLDUSA

    1. marc irby

      Took me a bit to “not find it” but if people you don’t know search for ‘locating and tracking vaccination records’ (yeah…that doesn’t sound creepy!) they may, or may not, find something half way down the page.

      If this link will be allowed here is a direct path:

      I shudder to go there, but internally laugh in the hopes this could defend my family from “papers please”.

  9. Another great start to the morning from St.F!

    Having read yesterday’s post, I set the coffee cup down before commencing on this one. T’was a necessary precaution. The 30.06 beans would have done in the screen and the ballistics of popcorn really did me in. Wonder how Orville’s best would work in the 12 gauge?

    Blessings and keep ’em laughing!

    1. Hey Redoubt Widow, I think you may have something there with the 12 gauge. Orville Remington Redenbacher would be proud. I’ll contact ConAgra and see if they can ship ten lbs. of free Orville to one of our SB resident reloaders to do some ballistics testing and write an article.

  10. Saint, What can I say? You bless us. It is such a delight to read your articles. Today my favorites were writing, Pain, and the popcorn story. Soooooo funny.

    Seriously, after you publish a book and become a gazillionaire, please remember us here!

    Praying you have a fantastic day, Krissy

  11. Over your work bench, place a 5X7 card, blank side up, taped to the wall. Write on it before you tape it up, “Do not write on this space”. Use the sharpie. When you see it there while you’re at the bench, it can be a pretty good reminder not to take yourself so seriously. I have found that even when faced with death, humor makes me glad I’m alive, if even only for a short while longer. This probably comes from being in the infantry a long time.

  12. St Funogas,

    Oh, who told you that I ate captain crunch the other day with what I thought was good milk only to get sicker than a dog cause I thought the date was blah blah blah!!
    I’m definitely Sharpieing all the dairy now!!

    I’ve also been Sharpieing all the meds for years now, I’m tired of that dang headache you get when you can’t read the microscopic writing EVEN with prescription glasses on!!

    Thanks for making me crack up TWO whole days in a row! Can’t wait for tomorrow

    Have a Rockin great day

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