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Monthly Archives: July 2009

On self-defense and wasp spray . . .

I recently received an e-mail from one of my princess daughters, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia. The e-mail included a link to an on-line movie that extolled the value of using wasp spray as a defensive weapon, a weapon that used properly might save one’s life. The movie suggests that the attackee spray the solution into the face and eyes of the attacker. Click on the following link to view the movie: movie clip

This is my response to my daughter’s e-mail:

Nice tip, thanks.

I’m going out to buy some wasp spray today. Fan #2 on the patio (counting from the east side of the patio) has (had) a wasp colony inside the motor housing. Brantley turned it on yesterday (the fan) and they swarmed out. A few got clipped with the fan blades while exiting, and to those I administered the coup de grace, which, as you know of course, is a French term meaning “a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature.” Several more got clipped by the fan blades when, after successfully exiting the fan housing, they attempted to reenter—most met the same fate, but they kept trying—this particular species of wasp seems to be comprised of slow learners.

I dispatched others to wherever dead wasps go by swatting them with a rolled-up copy of the San Antonio Express-News, our one daily source of “news.” The publication has undergone so many changes in size, style and content that I have been forced to find some use for it other than keeping abreast of local, national and worldwide news—the only thing that seems to have remain untouched is its commercial advertising. The publication has a pronounced tilt to the left, similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and may eventually topple unless drastic measures are taken (similar to those measures taken to shore-up the Pisa tower).

In days of long ago—in the days now shrouded in the dim mists of history, in the days when outdoor privies ruled—the paper would have taken its rightful place alongside corncobs—yes, corncobs, either red or white or both—and outdated mail-order publications such as Sears, Montgomery-Ward and J.C. Penney catalogs.

Ah, those were the days, my friends.

I believe the survivors (wasps, not newspapers) have migrated to greener pastures, but they may have taken up residence in one of the other fans—we’ll just have to wait and see. These are Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini wasps and may have just hatched out—or they could be part of a pygmy species of wasps. Could be. Maybe.

That’s pure speculation on my part—I didn’t see the Mamas and the Papas anywhere.

Oh, by the way, although the video didn’t cover this part it could be that, in addition to possibly saving one’s life some day, a handy can of wasp spray might some day save one’s birdhouse—it could happen.

No, one’s birdhouse does not refer to any particular body part, or parts, of any bipedal primate in the homo sapien family, neither male nor female. It refers to a type of housing comprised of various materials assembled in various architectural styles, having been constructed with the intention of attracting and sheltering various species of avian creatures whilst they (the birds) go about the important business of procreating their particular species. However, as an afterthought I must confess that if the phrase one’s birdhouse were used to refer to any particular body part, it would probably refer to the female of the species rather than the male.

Note: The word whilst is not misspelled—its spelling is accurate but archaic and is usually restricted to poems. The whilst spelling (and pronunciation) of the word prevails in England, but has pretty well died out in the United States. In my opinion, humble though it may be, whilst is used in the U.S. by persons who also say amongst, unbeknownst and dreampt, all archaic and poetical, and all of which are used purposefully to attract attention—much in the manner of birdhouses.

A prologue to my e-mail:

A colony of yellow jackets (insects, not cheerleaders) established residence in my daughter’s garden birdhouse and one of them, for whatever reason, saw fit to sting her on her aft side, somewhere below the waist and between the hips. The unprovoked attack sent her scrambling into the safety of the house. Because she felt that another attack was highly predictable, she arranged to have the birdhouse consigned, with the yellow jackets extant, to the nearest dumpster. They are probably now feeding voraciously in a local landfill, and may morph into giant yellow jackets and instinctively home-in and return to their previous location.

Bummer.

So, as can readily be seen, had a can of wasp spray been available it might have saved that birdhouse.

And one final thought concerning the possible effectiveness of wasp spray when used as a defense mechanism—if it works on wasps it should be just as effective when used on any attacker, whether the attacker is a a yellow jacket, a wasp, a WASP or any other person, regardless of color, national heritage or religious preference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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How I won baseball’s World Championship . . .

This posting consists of several e-mails that recently passed between me and my son-in-law (the team’s coach) concerning his son’s Little League baseball team performance this year:

Brantley’s e-mail to me on 8 June, 2009:

The little Cubs finished 3rd in the post season tournament, only  losing their final two games to the top two teams by one run each game. They had an exciting season. Their coach enjoyed it, but is glad it’s over also. Here are the scores for the four games:

Game One:
Wylie 9
South Garland 3

Game Two:
Wylie 11
Dallas 2

Game Three:
Wylie 11
The Colony 0

Championship Game Four:
Wylie 10
North Garland 4

Yesterday Brennan was voted by the other coaches in the league to be one of the 13 Wylie Little League “All Stars” for the All Star team, so he apparently will be playing a couple tournaments later this month and next. The Garland Tournament is June 20—these are “kid pitch” games and should be interesting, since these kids have only played “coach pitch” so far.

This is my response to Brantley on 9 June:

Kudos to Brennan (and to the coach) for a successful season — All Stars! — WOW! Tell Brennan to be especially careful when sliding into home plate. My very brief baseball career (on a Little League team sponsored by the American Legion Post in Suitland, Maryland) ended abruptly when I rounded third-base (the only triple I ever hit) and the coach waved me in. I slid in and wrapped my right leg around the catcher’s shin guard—broke the tibia cleanly in one spot (my tibia, not his) and cracked it in two places below and two places above the clean break. When the dust cleared, my right foot was lying at a 90-degree angle from the knee.

P.S. If you’ve heard this story already, just skip it—I won’t mind—much.

This is Brantley’s response on 9 June:

That is an interesting story, one that I had not heard. Were you safe?

And finally (maybe), this is my response to Brantley on 9 June:

Nope—I was out by a mile—as I remember it the catcher met me approximately halfway between third and home. Well, maybe I was a bit closer than that to home plate, but not much.

Boy, you’re really opened up an old wound. In all the years since the incident I’ve never once thought about whether I was safe—it didn’t really matter to me at the time, nor does it now—I never really liked baseball anyway.

But listen up:

Wouldn’t it have been great if I had been called safe? And wouldn’t it have been fabulous if we had been in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied—and mine would have been the winning run, and my team would have also won the district championship and went on to win the state championship, and would have gone on to win the national title, and then on to Japan to win the world title—I can see the headlines now in newspapers everywhere:

“Maryland Little League Team Declared WORLD CHAMPIONS—the winning run was scored when Mikey, the team’s award-winning left-fielder (and sometimes shortstop), crawled the last few feet to home plate on one knee, dragging his shattered right leg in the dust.”

Hey, it doesn’t get any better than that.

That’s exactly how it happened. I was safe, and it was the bottom of the ninth, and the score was tied so I brought in the winning run, and we were declared district champions, and we went on to win the regional championship and then the state championship, and then on to win the national championship, and then on to Japan to compete for the world championship, and we won there and became the world champions, and at each game I was the honored guest, seated on a special platform directly behind home plate (with my cast and crutches).

Yes, I remember it clearly now—that’s exactly how it happened and that’s how I’ll tell the story in the future. Thanks for nudging my memory. Actually, now that I’ve thought about it in greater depth, we may have still been at war with Japan.

No, I was right the first time—the year was 1947 and the war was over, although American troops were occupying Japan at the time. So I’ll stick with my memory that our World Championship was won in Japan.

Yep, that’s how it was. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Incidentally, three years later in April, 1950 I became part of the Army of Occupation in Japan. For more details click the link below:

https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/never-volunteer-note-for-incoming-military-personnel/

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2009 in Childhood, Family, games, Humor, sports

 

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Kudos to Kathleen, Re: Teacher Letter to Obama . . .

Subject: Fw: Teacher letter to Obama

The following paragraph prefaced the “Teacher letter to Obama”:

“This is one very angry teacher—her letter is awesome. How many millions of Americans across this country think exactly what she thinks and has said in this e-mail? What scares me is that every day something surfaces that has been signed as a Presidential Order or suddenly just appears as law. Who does this stuff while we’re all sleeping at night? Those printing presses in DC must run night and day. These first (heaven help us) 100 days have been the most destructive period of time in our nation’s history, and we don’t even know the half of it.”

A Disclaimer from thekingoftexas.wordpress.com:

This complete text of the teacher’s letter follows, much as I received it in a friend’s e-mail. I took the liberty of cleaning up some of the problems the teacher’s writing accumulated from being passed around the Internet—items such as missing punctuation, incomplete sentences, broken paragraphs, etc. However, I added none of my thoughts, nor did I change any thoughts expressed by the author, nor did I express agreement or disagreement with the author’s opinions—I merely expressed admiration of her eloquence.

The letter is apparently real—a search on http://refdesk.whitepages.com shows that the purported author of the letter, Ms Kathleen Lyday, is a real person—a real school teacher, one who lives in Missouri and works at a real elementary school. Whether she actually wrote the letter and whether she actually sent the letter to the president is unknown—I would like to believe that she did write it and sent it, and that the president responded to it. However, whether the letter was written and sent by her, and whether it was received and answered are all moot points—the Internet has given it some tremendous exposure. My purpose in posting it to WordPress is to perhaps broaden that exposure even more.

Kudos to Kathleen for expressing her concerns so eloquently.

Subject: Fw: Teacher letter to Obama

April 17, 2009
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. Obama:

I have had it with you and your administration, sir. Your conduct on your recent trip overseas has convinced me that you are not an adequate representative of the United States of America, collectively or of me personally.

You are so obsessed with appeasing Europeans and the Muslim world that you have abdicated the responsibilities of the president of the United States. You are responsible to the citizens of the United States—you are not responsible to the people of any other country on earth.

I resent that you go around the world apologizing for the United States, telling Europeans that we are arrogant and do not care about their status in the world. Sir, what do you think the First World War and the Second World War were all about, if not the consideration of the people of Europe?

Are you brain dead? What do you think the Marshall Plan was all about? Do you not understand or know the history of the 20th century? Where do you get off telling a Muslim country that the United States does not consider itself a Christian country? Have you not read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States?

This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics and the principles governing this country are from that heritage, and were governing us until you came along. Do you not understand this?

Your bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia is an affront to all Americans. Our president should not bow down to anyone, let alone the king of Saudi Arabia. You don’t show Great Britain, our best and one of our oldest allies, the respect they deserve yet you bow down to the king of Saudi Arabia.

How dare you, sir! How dare you!

You can’t find the time to visit the graves of our greatest generation because you don’t want to offend the Germans, but you make time to visit a mosque in Turkey. You offend our dead and every veteran when you give the Germans more respect than the people who saved the German people from themselves.

What’s the matter with you? I am convinced that you and the members of your administration have the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle. You should be ashamed of yourselves—all of you.

You are self-righteously offended by the big bankers and the American automobile manufacturers, yet you do nothing about the real thieves in this situation. What about Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelic, the Fannie Mae bonuses and the Freddie Mac bonuses? What do you intend to do about them? Anything? I seriously doubt it.

What about the U.S. House members passing out $9.1 million in bonuses to their staff members, and the $2.5 million in automatic pay raises lawmakers gave themselves? I understand the average House aide got a 17 percent bonus. I took a 5 percent cut in pay to save my job with my employer. You haven’t said anything about that. Who authorized it? I surely didn’t.

Executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving $210 million in bonuses over an 18-month period—that’s $45 million more than the AIG bonuses. In fact, Fannie and Freddie executives have already been awarded $51 million. Who authorized that, and why haven’t you expressed your outrage at the group that is largely responsible for the economic mess we are in now?

I resent that you consider me and my fellow citizens brain-dead and not caring about what you idiots do. We are watching what you are doing and we are getting increasingly fed up with all of you.

I also want you to know that I find just about everything you do and everything you say offensive to every one of my sensibilities. I promise you that I will work tirelessly to see that you do not get a chance to spend two terms destroying my beautiful country.

Sincerely,

Name, address and workplace deleted

A visitor to this posting (see comment below) said that the teacher did not write the letter. A quick check of http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/ihavehadit.asp confirms that it was written by someone else.

The following excerpt is taken from Snopes.com:

Origins: This letter to President Obama began circulating in May 2009 as something penned by a fourth grade teacher from Hillsboro, Missouri, named Kathleen Lyday. However, Ms. Lyday has disclaimed being its author; her name merely became attached to it when she forwarded it to others. An earlier version circulated in mid-April 2009 credits authorship to one Franklin T. Bell of Columbia, Maryland.

Regardless of the author, it’s a good letter and I’ll stay with this posting.

 

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Letter to the editor, SA Express-News, re: Reparations . . .

The following statement is in the interest of full disclosure:

I have not submitted this letter to the editor for possible publication, nor will I submit it. I am satisfied with its publication on Word Press. I have submitted many letters to the editor in the past—some were published, some were not—with Word Press, all are published.

To the editor: Express-News
San Antonio, Texas
July 19, 2009

Re: Apology and reparations for slavery:

The Metro Section of July 14, 2009 included an editorial (Slavery apology is long overdue) concerning the U. S. Senate’s attempt to formally apologize to African-Americans “on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws.”

The Senate resolution is imperiled because it includes a disclaimer that “disallows its use as a basis for reparations.” The disclaimer is opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus, although it does not prevent individuals from seeking reparations—it “simply states that it can’t be used as the basis of such suit.”

Listen up:

A source of funds for reparations exists. The only problem with the source of funds is the unequal distribution of income it generates. I refer to the incomes of African-Americans in the United States. Some African-Americans’ earnings catapult them into the stratospheric level of our earnings atmosphere—many are multi-millionaires, some perhaps even billionaires, while other African-Americans must struggle along on modest incomes—or on welfare, albeit it rather substantial, distributed by a beneficent government. That wealth, whether earned income or entitlements paid, should be distributed equally among African-Americans.

Many will say that today’s African-Americans, some 12 percent of our population (from the 2000 census), were not exposed to the indignities, repression and cruelty of slavery in America—I am emphatically in agreement with that position—they were not exposed to the horrible conditions of slavery, and now demand that they be compensated monetarily for the suffering of their ancestors.

Moreover, neither was the remaining 88 percent of our population exposed to, nor are they responsible for, the system of slavery imposed on the ancestors of today’s African-Americans, and that segment, the “other than African-American,” should not be held accountable for it—not  by paying reparations individually and not through government payments—either way the money is coming from the pockets of “other than African-Americans.”  And we cannot demand reparations from those responsible for slavery—they are all long gone, either to that great plantation in the sky or to the nether regions below—regardless of their current addresses, reparation from them is neither practical nor possible.

Many, perhaps most, of today’s African-Americans appear to be united in their belief that they were somehow adversely affected by the treatment accorded their ancestors, and feel that they should be monetarily compensated through reparations paid by the federal government. I believe they should also be ready and willing to unite in “sharing the wealth,” a concept clearly voiced by our president in his campaign for the White House.

I believe that given the opportunity every African-American will willingly share with other African-Americans less fortunate, and it’s fairly certain that those less fortunate will willingly accept their compensation. It’s all a matter of racial pride, and their firm belief in the “share the wealth” concept.

Our government should take the total compensation of all African-Americans—income earned, or received through entitlements—and divide that total by the number of African-Americans in the United States, then dispense the resultant amount to each of more than 36 million African-Americans (statistic is from the 2000 census). By distributing the total compensation equally, the incomes of those existing on entitlements will be upgraded, and those earning millions each year should not be too significantly discommoded—sorely disappointed, perhaps, but not discommoded. They will simply descend from the rarified air of the millionaire strata to become part of our nation’s much-heralded “middle income” families.

Some will say that the compensation, including entitlements as well as earned income, of Americans other that those of African lineage should be part of the reparation effort, either by direct deductions from each individual’s pay or by payments from the government.

I believe that if a particular segment of our population receives monetary compensation, any part of which is taken from any group other than African-Americans, then our courts will be buried under an avalanche of law suits from other hyphenated Americans for the shameful treatment which they have endured at various periods in America’s history—Irish-Americans, for example, for their treatment early in the 19th century—the same for Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Polish-Americans (how many Polish jokes do you know?), Japanese-Americans (remember their internment and our confiscation of property in World War II?), and by the horrible working conditions, low pay and oppression endured by the many thousands of Chinese workers that were imported to help build our intercontinental railroad.

And everyone is aware of the treatment accorded Native Americans—we slaughtered their warriors, their medicine men, their women and their children and their old people indiscriminately—the official government mission in the final years of the Indian Wars was to “kill the breeders” on the assumption (correct, of course) that without the women there would be no children to grow up and become warriors—a threat to expansion.

Then we systematically slaughtered the buffalo herds, confiscated their lands, confined them to reservations and fed them on rotten beef and weevil-infested flour and meal. I realize that today’s Native Americans want their share of the American pie, but I do not recall the present population of Native Americans demanding monetary reparation for the suffering we heaped on their ancestors in our “march to the west” to build our empire.

There are many more similar groups that have suffered over the years, one way or another, since this nation was founded—they will be heard. The lawsuits might never end. Other groups will feel that reparation is due them for their ill treatment in the past—that treatment continues in many such groups, including Redneck-Americans, Gay-Americans, Hillbilly-Americans, Lesbian-Americans, ad infinitum.

I have a slogan to help make this equalization palatable for all African-Americans who feel that they are due monetary compensation for the conditions imposed on their ancestors, all of whom are long dead and gone—the slogan should be well received and endorsed by the living—those giving as well as  those receiving. It is based, in part, on the dictum that “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and is compatible with the “share the wealth” concept voiced by our  present administration. That slogan is:

From each African-American according to his ability, to each African-American according to his needs.

The slogan is not original with me—I simply added the term African-American in two places to identify those Americans who would most benefit from its use—some will benefit financially, and others will benefit from the altruistic nature of the system, knowing that their efforts have helped their brothers and sisters to a larger piece of the American pie.

The original slogan was coined by Karl Marx, and the system was first applied way back in history by the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It is still in use, at least in concept and in one degree or another, in several nations around the globe—since none are thriving as of this writing, it’s probably because the system is applied equally among the population rather than to a specific segment.

My suggestion applies to only one segment (about 12 percent) of our population. Unless my memory is faulty, I believe our president used a truncated version of this slogan at least once in his highly successful presidential campaign. When he resp0nded to a question from a man known as “Joe the plumber,” he used the phrase “share the wealth.”

I really admire his ability to reduce a wordy slogan to just three unforgettable words.

Let’s take a look at just two of today’s professional sports organizations—the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. In its 2004-2005 season, player salaries in the NFL totaled $3 billion, and player salaries in the NBA totaled $1.74 billion, a total of $4.7 billion for the two sport leagues (that compensation includes each player’s share of related revenues).

If just two of our sports organizations pay their players almost $5 billion each year, then we might reasonably suspect that by adding all the other sports in which African-Americans excel—nay, in which African-Americans dominate—tennis, golf and various Olympic sports, for example (Olympic stars earn millions in endorsements). In addition to sports, add in the compensation earned by African-Americans in the entertainment venues of music and movies, including rappers, actors, producers, directors, singers, song writers, record producers and others.

And let’s not forget persons of the cloth—our nation is blessed with a goodly number of African-American reverends—the actual compensation of many such persons is difficult to determine and impossible for some, but one can reasonably assume that some share the same rarified atmospheric strata of African-American millionaires and billionaires.

Oh, and there also are numerous African-Americans who have profited immensely from their writings, including historical, political and autobiographical tomes. In fact, one that comes to mind is our current president, an African-American who has done very well in his struggle up through the repressive atmosphere that exists in America. He can well afford, and should be willing, to participate in sharing the wealth with less fortunate African-Americans.

The combined compensation of all the above might possibly be enough to provide reparations to all African-Americans for the injustices they have suffered from the effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws without the need to call on anyone other than African-Americans.

My system for compensating African-Americans for the pain and suffering wrought by slavery—pain and suffering which still lingers almost 150 years after slavery was abolished—is therefore:

“From each African-American according to his ability, to each African-American according to his needs.”

Under the system suggested by that slogan, it should not be necessary to call on government entities or on any of our numerous hyphenated-Americans—Polish-Americans, Asian-Americans, Iranian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Mormon-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, and Lower Slobovian-Americans, to name just a few. Should any other segment of hyphenated Americans—Irish-Americans, for example—be forced to participate in reparations for African-Americans, then that segment would also demand reparations.

Government entities should not be involved in this system, other than to manage the equalization of the total compensation earned or otherwise received by African-Americans. Government participation would be limited to determining entitlements and distributing them to the affected persons.

In theory the reparations could continue forever, unless at some point in the future the recipients feel that they had been adequately paid for the sufferings they endured during slavery and for many years afterward. At that point the system could be dismantled and African-Americans could return to the old system, a system under which “some have,” but others “have not.”

That, of course, would never happen.

 

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Where did you get those big blue eyes . . .

One of my daughters, the one who lives, loves and works in Northern Virginia took some very professional and very nice photos of a Redskin player and his family. In her posting she referred to the player’s beautiful blue eyes—that description awakened a memory for me, and I responded to her comment with this e-mail:

“Your recent post to your blog on the blue-eyed Redskin player prompted the following story. It’s undoubtedly apocryphal, but it may be considered humorous by some.

Hey, I find it hilarious.

A long time ago, long before the present era of political correctness, a farmer working in his fields needed a respite from his labors. He lay down beside a small pond and fell asleep. While he was sleeping a large blacksnake crawled up inside a leg of his overalls (yes, the man was wearing overalls—he was a farmer, you know) and stuck his head out above the bib, facing the farmer.

blacksnake

For those unfamiliar with farm garb, overalls are one-piece garments, and the bib is on the front and at the top of the overalls, stretching across the chest at approximately arm-pit level. The bib is suspended at each corner (at each side of the wearer’s chest) by galluses—straps comparable to suspenders and performing the same function as suspenders—arising from the back of the garment and crossing over the shoulders and down to be fastened to the bib. The immediate and lasting effect of their action is to “suspend” the entire garment and prevent it from plummeting to the farmer’s ankles, an event that will occur if one fails to affix the galluses properly.

This has been known to happen—I mean the overalls falling down—in fact, it has happened to me. Again I refer to the overalls falling down—I haven’t worn overalls since I was a teenager, and certainly not since I have attained some semblance of adulthood. However, I have never fallen asleep while lying beside a small pond, whether for resting or for any other purpose. In fact, I have no recollection of ever having lain beside a small pond. I suppose the future could hold such a possibility but I can’t even imagine the circumstances, so I seriously doubt it.

I digress—here is the rest of the story:

The snake started hissing (they do that, you know). The farmer awoke, saw the snake and waxed poetic and exclaimed (I hope you’re ready for this), “You are the right color and you are the right size, but where did you get those big blue eyes?”

EPILOGUE:

Given the present political atmosphere in our country, in telling this story I prudently refrained from using any specific ethnicity, gender, religious or racial regional or dialectical expressions. A less prudent person than I would possibly substitute the following parts with these special terms:

Farmer could be changed to field hand, or indentured worker, maybe, or perhaps sharecropper—no other alternatives come to mind—well, hillbilly perhaps, but that term has regional derogatory connotations.

You are (used twice in the farmer’s question) could be changed to you is—this would indicate a farmer in the deep south.

Get those could be changed to git dem, also indicating the south.

In telling this story, there are many different terms available for use by other writers and story tellers, and some might choose words far more descriptive and more definitive than mine, possibly even more than the above suggested substitutes. They would perhaps do that in order to provide additional emphasis and promote understanding for the reader and listener—perhaps. However, some of the different terms available might be considered politically incorrect, a situation that must be avoided whenever possible.

WARNING—THIS POSTING WILL SELF-DESTRUCT FIFTEEN SECONDS AFTER YOU READ IT!

If for any reason it fails to destruct, or if you manage to overcome the 15-second restriction and forward it to others before it destructs, it will contaminate their hard drives with religious, sexual, racial, ethnic and gender epithets and expressions.  The contamination will be permanent—they’ll get no help from Norton—and the contamination will accompany any future computer output regardless of format, intent or content, and make the user’s life a living nightmare (fooled you, didn’t I? You thought I was going to say “a living hell”).

I know, I know—I have far too much time on my hands.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2009 in Humor

 

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Japanese trains are always on time—regardless . . .

A year or so ago, I received an e-mail from the consort of my youngest daughter, the Princess of Wylie, Texas. Her consort is a worthy fellow, an accomplished barrister who serves the public from an office in Plano, Texas. We conferred upon him the title of His Royal Highness, the Prince Consort, a term that we kings use when a royal personage marries a person whose rank is too low for them to be granted full royal status. (NOTE: The children of the Princess of Wylie and her Prince Consort are not in the line of succession to the throne).

The Prince Consort’s e-mail consisted of the mandatory greetings, and included a movie clip showing passengers being packed into train cars in China, in much the same manner as sardines being packed into a can, a much over-used but highly appropriate and picturesque description.

I responded to the e-mail as follows:

Thanks for the movie clip—it sure stirred up a host of memories, and led me to a web site which shows many of the places which I, among many exclusively chosen others, was privileged to tour over 7 months in Japan and 15 months in Korea (April 1950 – February 1952). Bear in mind that the people in these pics are commissioned officers—I was part of the Air Force’s UEF (Unwashed Enlisted Force), and our accommodations weren’t nearly as luxurious as theirs.

That scene gives new meaning to the word packed. A few years ago (okay, more than a few years—59 years ago, give or take a few months) I took a few train rides in Japan. Their packing system was about the same as China’s, and the trains left on time—no exceptions—if a passenger happened to be halfway in and halfway out, both halves started moving, so that person had to make a decision—either give up the fight or travel that way. As best as I can remember, most people chose to give up the fight and remain on the platform.

The Japanese had special express trains that had specific destinations, and those trains flashed by every stop on their way to that destination. Nothing would sway the operator—I unwittingly boarded one such train in Fukuoka, a metropolitan city on the southern island of Kyushu, and passed my duty station at Itasuke Air Base about five miles from the city at warp speed—as George Jones says in song, the train was going so fast that the telephone poles “looked like a picket fence.”

I was in the front of the first car, separated from the motorman by plate glass mounted in a securely locked door. I begged, cursed, shook my fist at the motorman and threatened to bring down the full weight and fury of the United States Air Force on him. I was in my summer khaki uniform, so I pointed to my Private First Class stripes (one on each sleeve) and my US collar brass.

Remarkably unimpressed, he smiled and bowed deeply, gave me a friendly wave then ignored me. I ended up so far out in the country that the townspeople where I finally de-trained didn’t recognize my uniform. I actually flapped my wings in an attempt to show them that I was a proud member of the United States Air Force.

And would you believe it? The train finally stopped in a small city  north of the city of Fukuoka—too far for me to walk back, and I waited for an interminable time for a returning train.

The name of that town was USA.

How’s that for coincidence?

The rumor still persists that an existing city was renamed USA so the townspeople could export items stamped Made in USA to other countries, principally to the United States. It’s nothing more than a rumor—the town was named USA long before World War II.

From that time on, I looked very carefully for its destination before I leaped aboard a train in Japan.

 

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32 Czars & counting—we need one more . . .

Our government now has 32 czars, each charged with oversight of a different segment of life in the United States. These positions are filled by people selected by unknown means, but some of whom admittedly know nothing about the segment over which they hold sway.

I suggest that President Obama appoint a Phart Czar. Were I the president, my selection would be a former vice-president—Al Gore.

Al Gore is one of the major causes of global warning. He is consistently, in the words of the bard, “hoist with his own petar.” Some of the bard’s analysts suggest that the phrase is a play on words and refers to the fact that the persons mentioned are lifted aloft by their own flatulence (see explanation below). In Al’s case, he is lifted by his own hot air, primarily generated by his pompous proclamations concerning global warming.

For now, the former vice-president seems to be a necessary evil, about which little can be done—it’s just something we will have to tolerate. Perhaps his appointment to the position of Phart Czar will add a bit of weight to a couple of his lightweight awards—the Oscar awarded by Hollywood and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here I must digress for a moment and offer my thanks for a site that is a great source for writer’s tips—check it out at http://www.dailywritingtips.com/hoist-with-his-own-petard/.

The information that follows was gleaned from that site:

Here is how the expression is used in Hamlet (III, iv, 206-208):

For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar, an’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon.

A “petar” was an explosive device. It got its name from the French verb pêter, which means “to break wind.” The Old French noun pet means “fart.” Shakespeare was making one of his earthy puns here.

Another major cause of global warning, other than Al Gore—one that can be addressed and perhaps eliminated, or at least reduced—is the methane gas emitted by animals. This is the vast amount of flatulence produced by livestock, primarily cattle (cows). In 2005 the United State’s livestock population, including cattle, was almost 96 million—this would include horses, mules, sheep, swine and other lesser animals (lesser in size, not necessarily in the amount of methane expelled into the atmosphere). Of all the animals, those in the know tell us that cows are the worst offenders (I don’t know how that was determined, and I’m not sure that I want to know).

Our country needs a Phart Czar, one who can evaluate the situation, determine methods of controlling such emissions, and exercise control over such emissions by implementing those methods. The Czar’s duties would include intensive measurements of emissions collected from various breeds of cattle. It could be that Jerseys (cows, not people) emit more methane than the Holstein breed, for example. Armed with that knowledge, the Phart Czar could concentrate on reducing the Jersey population (cows, not people), or perhaps if deemed necessary, eliminating the breed through attrition (of Jersey cows, not people).

However, I believe that our major problem is not necessarily with the lower order (so-called) of animals. A corollary problem is methane—flatulence—produced by the higher order (so-called) of animals. That order is the human race, and that problem should be addressed immediately.

To my knowledge no effort has been made to measure the contribution to the atmosphere of methane generated by the herds of humans in our country—in concentrating on animal production we may have completely overlooked our own contributions. The estimated population for the United States in 2008 was almost 304 million human pharters, more than triple the number of livestock in the nation.

Who knows? Our collective contributions to global warming may approach, equal or even surpass that of livestock.

This should be the Phart Czar’s immediate concern—to determine the depth of the problem and make recommendations to reduce the output of something which, apparently, is detrimental to our health and to our future.

Who would have thought that such a normal function of our bodies could be harmful? Certainly not I. In fact, there is a little ditty that many of my generation learned at our mother’s knee and frequently recited over the years. It’s one that the U. S. Air Force officer who established the Wellness Clinic at Wilford Hall Hospital used as the opener in all his speeches promoting the program.

It goes like this:

Beans, beans, good for your heart,

The more you eat, the more you phart,

The more you phart, the better you feel,

So let’s eat beans every meal.

This would be the most sensitive part of the Phart Czar’s job:

Any analysis of the problem must—I repeat, must—include race. The amount of flatulence, as well as its olfactory and auditory effects, is in large part influenced by diet. Some foods promote the production of methane—examples are beans, onions, diary products (especially milk) and let’s not forget one of the worst culprits—broccoli. There are those among us who eat far more beans, broccoli, dairy, etc., than do other segments of the population and therefore should be so judged and subjected to intense scrutiny and evaluation, and corrective action taken as deemed necessary.

Of course, over time through on-hands management, diligent investigation, development of corrective measures and prompt application of those measures, the Phart Czar may find that other foods and other segments of the population may generate as much, or even more, methane gas. No one, including vegetarians, pescotarians, etc., can be exempted—all must be scrutinized and evaluated.

I also suggest that significant stimulus money be provided to persons and companies involved in the study of enzymes (some of which may reduce unwanted digestive issues). In theory at least, new enzymes could be developed that would significantly reduce or even eliminate flatulence, both in humans and in the so-called lower classes of animals. As we all know, flatulence is involuntary and therefore not the fault of the animal, whether human or otherwise—it’s the bacteria in the animal’s colon—they are the culprits—perhaps under the direction of the Phart Czar, a new strain of bacteria could be developed, one which could continue to make its necessary contributions to life without producing methane gas.

One can only hope and dream.

There is, of course, a downside to the complete elimination of methane emitted by living beings—some of us, and perhaps some of the animals, are not strongly disinclined with the conditions which presently exist.

And finally, this is why we need another czar—a Phart Czar:

According to Al Gore, time is of the essence.

As an aside, I recommend that those who invest in the stock market take a careful look at Beano, a product that is said to counter, or at least reduce, the effect of beans in the production of methane in humans. It may be found that by the simple introduction of Beano into beans and other foods, either in the growth process by injecting Beano into the seeds or in the preparation of beans for retail to the public, both uncooked and cooked—a good place to start would be in the vast numbers of restaurants, particularly fast-food restaurants—that feature beans in virtually every dish offered to the public. One of the bean side dishes offered with many entrees is an ultra-delicious culinary delight—it’s called re-fried beans, an item that should be considered particularly suspect for its contributions to the cumulative deleterious effect of flatulence discharged into our atmosphere.

The makers of Beano claim that it counteracts the adverse effects of beans on the human digestive system (for some of us but not all), and offer compelling testimonials to its favorable action. I predict that Beano will in the future change the lifestyle of many people, perhaps propelling (so to speak) some into the rarified air of millionaires, provided that investors get in at the bottom (so to speak) and invest in the product. However, I must in the interest of full disclosure reveal that the product does not work for me.

It makes me phart.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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