Have you heard the one about the son who decided his aged father would have to be sent to the “poor house”? Yep, that’s what we Alabamians and Mississippians called such institutions back in the olden days.
One morning the son told his father, “Pa, you need to get dressed.” The old man said, “Whut fer”? His son said, “I’m taking you to the poor house.” The old fellow shouted with joy and jumped up, raced to the bedroom alternating between smiling, laughing, singing, humming and whistling. He soon returned dressed in his best suit and said, “Hey, boy, whut air yew a-waitin’ fer? Let’s go!”
Thoroughly perplexed, the young man said, “Pa, I’m taking you to the poor house because I can’t take care of you at home anymore. Why are you so happy about having to go to the poor house?” The old man’s smile was replaced with a scowl and he said, “Pore house? Pore house? Hell, I thought you said whore house!“
You, the reader, have probably noticed that the son and the father obviously speak differently. That’s because the son speaks English and the father speaks Alabamish—‘nuf said? That silly joke provides a segue for me concerning something our president’s wife said as she ascended to the speaker’s platform to stand beside her husband after he was elected to the White House in 2008.
She said, “For the first time in my adult life, I amproud of my country.” Apparently her pride in her country was generated by her husband having been elected to the presidency of the United States. I can understand her being proud of the country for having voted him into office, but for the first time in her adult life?
Evidently she was not proud of the country that gave him the opportunity to live free, that provided him the opportunity to live freely in a country that educated him, voted him into the Illinois state Senate, the United States Senate and vaulted him into the highest office in the land, a position considered to be the most powerful in the world.
Her statement made me realize that I was with the same emotion, but mine was in the reverse. I was ashamed of my country for submitting to the lure of the siren’s singing and allowing my country to go aground. We had no Orpheus and our country is foundering on the rocky islands. Her husband won the election and his wife expressed pride in her country for the first timein her adult life. For the enlightenment of those perhaps unfamiliar with Orpheus and the song of the sirens, I offer the following explanation provided by Wikipedia:
Chiron had told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens — the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in Homer‘s epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ship into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was more beautiful and louder, drowning out the Sirens’ bewitching songs.
Our ship is still on the rocks, but there is hope. Not the hope and change chanted in the last presidential election, nor the hope and change that would doom our nation to remain grounded, but the hope and change that will reverse our path and take us off the rocks and return us to deep water.
I’ve had this document, an anonymous email, for several months. I don’t remember the date I received it or who sent it. Regardless of its authenticity and its accuracy in projecting the future of the United States, the work is well written and if true, should give us pause to contemplate our future and to perhaps consider possible solutions to avoid following the problems that are destroying some European nations. Recent events have altered the e-mail’s message, specifically the 2012 presidential election, but its message still rings true.
In addition to passing this writing on, I will quote Abraham Lincoln. In 1858 he was nominated by the Illinois Republican Party to the United States Senate, and later was elected to the presidency of the United States. In his acceptance speech to the Senate nomination, he said in reference to slavery that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” He lost the election to the Senate but two years later he became the president of the United States, and following his election President Lincoln guided the nation through four brutal years of civil war to bring the two factions together.
Today our nation is again divided against its self. How many years will we need to reunite ourselves and become a whole nation again?
The following dissertation is the anonymous email I received:
Let’s take a stand
If you read ancient history you will find that every nation since Christ’s day has died of old age in about 250 years. Rome was the exception, because they were a warring nation from Christ’s birth until 500 years later, when Rome dominated the European/Asian/African continents. Not a pretty picture.
I think this is the best email ever, but you decide on November 6, 2012. This is the best explanation of what is happening in America that I have heard. Please pass it on. It may actually make folks think.
CAN THE USA SURVIVE GIVEN THE FOLLOWING?
The folks who are getting free stuff, don’t like the folks who are paying for the free stuff, because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff.
The folks who are paying for the free stuff want the free stuff to stop, and the folks who are getting the free stuff want even more free stuff on top of the free stuff they are already getting.
The people who are forcing the people to pay for the free stuff have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff that the people who are PAYING for the free stuff are being mean, prejudiced and racist.
The people who are GETTING the free stuff have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free stuff by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free stuff, and giving them the free stuff in the first place.
We have let the free stuff giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free stuff than there are people paying for the free stuff.
Now understand this: All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them.
Thomas Jefferson said it best: “The democracy (Republic) will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not willing to work.”
The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 235 years ago. The number of people now getting free stuff outnumbers the people paying for the free stuff. We have one chance to change that on Nov 6th, 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.
ELECTION 2012 IS COMING
A nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves.
I’M 100% for PASSING THIS ON
Let’s take a stand:
Language: English only
Culture: Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare
NO freebies to: Non-Citizens
Only 86% will send this on. Should be 100%. What will you do?
The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money—Margaret Thatcher
Note:I realize that certain changes have come about since I received this email, but the basic points are the same. The election of 2012 is over and at the time of this posting none of the points of the message have changed. Perhaps our nation will somehow manage to close the divide and become as one again, if not in the coming four years then perhaps in future elections. I have serious doubts that either will occur.
My daughter, the one in the middle (in age) of my group of three daughters lives, loves, laughs, labors and languishes in Northern Virginia, and plagues her father daily to find out where he is and what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, and if I’m not doing anything she wants to know why I’m not doing something.
She sent me this video in a posting on her blog. Click here for her original blog post. The video is well-worth watching, particularly because of the beautiful music. Turn up the sound, lean back and relax and enjoy the music but don’t fall asleep—you’ll miss the ending and that’s the best part.
Following the video you can enjoy the privilege of reading my comment on her posting. As of the moment, mine is the only comment. Her adventure on the ice should have attracted legions of viewers and garnered loads of comments. My comment should have attracted the same legions and comments. It has not, however, so I’m adding the comment verbatim to this post. The answer to your question is yes—WordPress will allow you to comment on comments as well as on the post, but be nice!
My comment follows, up from the Stygian darkness, away from the River Styx and up to the bright light of day.
A nice video and great sound, especially at the end when the music reached a stirring crescendo—really made me want to strap on some skates. I’m a semi-expert (read harf-arsed) and I have held on to a pair of skates from my early years. However, I have lost that little key one uses to tighten the clamps that fit on the soles of one’s shoes to hold the skates on. Also I’m unsure whether my skates would work on today’s sneakers and besides, one wheel is missing—I might manage to stay upright with just three wheels on one skate by putting most of my weight on the four-wheel skate but without that key I’m out of luck.
Speaking of traversing—defined as traveling or crossing over—and your thoughts of staying on the snowmobile rather than getting out on the ice. Seems to me that the weight of the snowmobile teamed with the latent heat of the snowmobile’s engine would increase the possibility of the ice cracking underneath. Sooooo, given that scenario, since you did venture out onto the ice, however slowly, you were probably smart to vacate the vehicle, but who knows, right?
On further reflection, the latent heat from the engine combined with your weight with you all bundled up from the cold, plus the weight of whatever equipment remained on the snowmobile, could have caused the ice to crack, so possibly by stepping out onto the ice you saved your own life and in certain societies, maybe not Montana but in certain other locales, you would have been obligated to take care of yourself for the rest of your life. It’s really neat how some things work out, ain’t it!
I recently saw a cartoon that showed a guy ice fishing and he was having good luck, had a big mound of different sized ice cubes beside him that he had caught.
That’s my comment and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, just one other thing—about that stirring crescendo—it won’t startle you and interrupt your slumber. it remains soothing throughout.
Oops, just one more correction: I said I had kept a pair of the clamp-on roller skates, but that I had lost the key and one wheel was missing. That was a great big whopper. I intended it to perhaps elicit a chuckle from the viewer, perhaps not a chortle but at least a chuckle. Hey, I’ll settle for a slight smile.
A fellow female blogger sent me a (an?) haiku and I considered it a challenge for me to respond with a (an?) haiku of my own. The challenger is one of my three daughters, the one that lives, laughs, loves and labors in the hinterlands of Northern Virginia along with her husband and three—count ’em—cats. Click here for her blog—it’s well worth a visit. Her many passions and photography skills present an astounding variety
of landscapes plus parties, places and people from all
over the US and several foreign countries.
Cheese Haiku (hers) Aged cheddar cheese Mike?
hmmm it smells like stinky feet
want another piece?
Okay, let’s take a look at that—three lines
obviously, with five syllables in the first and third
lines and seven in the second line. Nope, this won’t be
much of a problem for a stepper such as I (am).
Cheese haiku (mine) First piece not et yet,
Second piece I will not get.
Stinky feet? You bet!
Please note that my haiku meets the requirements of three lines with five, seven and five syllables respectively—and it rhymes—your haiku didn’t even come close to rhyming—nanny, nanny, boo boo! And before you chastise me because I did not meet the requirement of a season, look again. Spring, summer, fall or winter, right? Right! Any reader will immediately connect stinky feet with summer, like, you know, really hot, and stinky sweatysocks on stinky feet shod in stinky sour sneakers will definitely qualify as stinky (note the alliterative phrases—I do love alliteration).
A special note: I beg forgiveness for making the image so large, but it was so inviting I couldn’t resist it.
These almost naked hot dogs, cleverly draped with lines of mustard covering strategic areas, await apprehensively but longingly to be smothered—no, slathered—okay, both smothered and slathered with the condiments pictured above. I suggest adding the chili first, then add the onions and several spoons full of melted cheese—globs, really—randomly placed so the meat and onions and chili can still be seen. One should always attempt to keep the palette of colors visible until the last bite disappears. This enables the sense of sight to join with the other senses of smell, taste, touch and hearing while one is indulging in a feast fit for kings.
Click here to meet the blogger who prepared this visual gustatory delight. With that one click you’ll meet a lovely lady with a beautiful smile, great hair and a knack for preparing, decorating and presenting gorgeous spreads that feature an incredible variety of foods, up to and including edible flowers.
With another click here you’ll meet the blogger who made the layout and the photograph, another lovely lady with too many lovely features and too many irons in the fire for me to list all of them, so I’m steering you to her STUFF ABOUT ME. Please do yourself, the ladies and me a favor and check out both blogs. I promise that your learning curve will go up and out of sight. I also promise that both bloggers will respond to any comment you may make, immediately or perhaps even sooner, and if they lag behind in their responses just let me know, and I promise you I’ll build a fire under them.
I have some very personal and selfish reasons for steering the legions of readers that frequent my blog to check out these bloggers—well, okay, maybe not legions but I do get a fair number of hits. I made my usual erudite comment on her hot dog layout, a sparkling comment sprinkled with a delicate blend of humor, truth and fiction, and I was so enamored of my writing that I decided to share it with my readers—to share the wealth, so to speak. That phrase seems very familiar, but I can’t imagine why.
What follows is my comment on Barbara’s posting. Yep, I asked and received her permission to use her photograph in order to bring my comment up and out of the Stygian darkness of comments and into the bright light, blah, blah, blah.
I love them ‘air hot dogs (‘air is south Georgia-speak for there, as in “I love them there hot dogs.” A few years ago–okay, it was quite a few years ago— I was en route to Detroit and changed planes at O’Hare in Chicago and I had the hungries (that’s right, right? Change the y to I and add es?). I went to the terminal SlopJar and ordered two dogs with chili. I was the sole customer, so it was reasonable for me to anticipate fast service.
I was served promptly. The two hot dogs were served on a paper plate, but hidden by a mountain of chili comparable to the fire, brimstone and ashes that covered Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted and interrupted the lives of everyone in town—yep, sent almost the entire population to another realm. Judging from some of the frescoes that were painted on the walls of the numerous bathhouses, a considerable number of the population may have descended (as opposed to ascended). There is a slight chance that I could be wrong, of course.
But I digress—back to the dogs. There were no utensils visible—no knives, forks or spoons, no solid silver, silver-plated, steel or tin and not even any of those flimsy plastic forks that reduce themselves to only one tine (prong), rendering it useful only as a toothpick. The attendant denied having any utensils under the counter, in the storeroom or in his pockets.
I had to assume that the buns and the dogs were under the chili because there were two distinct oblong shapes visible, and I gave no thought to using my finger to confirm what was below the chili because steam was rising from the mixture and that’s how Mount Vesuvius started, and added to that was the fact that no paper napkins were in sight.
I detest this phrase but I’ll use it anyway. To make a long story short, I sold the paper plate and its burden back to the attendant. I did not complain, and I made my request for reimbursement in words of one syllable (I hate that phrase also). I said, “I want my cash back.” He apparently had not been trained to offer an apology to a disgruntled customer, but he complied with the utmost alacrity in completing the refund transaction.
Oh, I almost forgot—your dog posting is nicely presented with literary precision and superb graphics. Only one item is a slight turn-off for me in the posting, and that’s in the photo. I don’t hate mustard, but I avoid it whenever possible. I like mayonnaise on my hot dogs, and I refuse to dilute the mayo with even a smidgen of chili.
What is the legal drinking limit for drivers in Texas?
The blood alcohol limit in Texas is a 0.08 BAC ( Blood Alcohol Content), unless you are under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and your BAC is 0.02 or higher then you are legally intoxicated. Additionally, the legal limit for commercial drivers is a BAC of 0.04 or more.
What are the terms used for drunk driving offenses in Texas?
A person arrested for drunk driving in Texas will be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”). Moreover, the definition of Intoxication, under Texas DWI law, includes both drugs and alcohol. However the term used for a drunk driving offense for a driver under age 21 Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol By A Minor (“DUI by a Minor”).
What happens if I refuse to consent to a Chemical Blood or Breath Test when pulled over for DWI in Texas?
According to Texas’ implied consent law, once you receive your driver’s license you automatically consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine to determine blood alcohol content or the presence of drugs. If you refuse the test, your driver’s license will be taken away immediately and you will be issued a temporary drivers license until your court hearing. During your hearing the refusal may be used as evidence against you and the court may rule to suspend your driver’s license.
Those are the rules, and what follows is my analysis and my recommendations—tough love and zero tolerance.
If one is driving on San Antonio’s freeways, whether day or night, one needs to be ready to dodge some damn fool coming towards one against traffic, sometimes weaving across lanes at a slow speed and sometimes at high speeds. Alcohol is the cause of most of our wrong-way drivers—they have entered the off-ramp thinking it was the on-ramp to the freeway.
Our city is one of the worst in the nation for such violations, and our police officers do everything they can to prevent accidents and save lives by controlling and stopping the wrong-way idiot before someone dies because of stupidity. The police often resort to placing spike mats across the lanes, a dangerous action for the patrol officers and for regular traffic and dangerous even for the traffic offender. Some times the spikes work and sometimes not.
In virtually every incidence, the wrong-way driver is DUI—driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. Our daily paper, the Express-News, faithfully reports such violations, the police faithfully arrest the offender and the judge faithfully sentences the driver to prison and orders probation along with community service.
If the DUI results in the death of another driver and/or passengers, the offender is given the option of having a jury decide the punishment or places his fate in the hands of a judge. The judge almost always orders prison time and the juries almost always punish with probation and community service. In San Antonio we have drivers with as many as a dozen DUIs and still driving.
When drivers are stopped and are suspected of DUI, the routine tests are administered, including having the suspected offenders walk a straight line or at least make the attempt, close their eyes and touch the tip of their nose, take the breathalyzer test and/or submit to having blood drawn to determine blood alcohol content. If the alcohol content meets a predetermined level, the driver is charged with DUI and the court process begins.
Our local paper tracks the offenses, and sometimes the story is that a particular citizen has been charged multiple times with DUI and is still on the loose, on probation. I believe that if adopted, my suggestions will change that.
I recommend two processes to be made law. The first is to implement zero tolerance. If tests show the presence of alcohol, regardless of the amount, fine the offender and strip the driver’s license to drive for six months and impose a financial penalty. Subsequent offenses should escalate in severity to include longer periods of loss of license including loss of driving privileges for life, higher financial penalties and extended terms of incarceration. Community service should never be a sentence for violation of DUI, whether it be the only punishment or an addition to other options—community service is a farce.
My second suggestion is to require that any person, whether male, female, adult or juvenile that intends to imbibe alcohol beverages or indulge in using substances that affect driving skills, whether legal or illegal substances, must utilize a designated driver. With that protection, the drinker will be able to ride in comfort to the various venues that feature alcoholic beverages and have no fear of being charged with DUI violations. That person may be a drunken passenger, but in the absence of other violations such as mooning people, for instance, or riding while naked or barfing out of the window and splattering the windshield of the vehicle behind thus obscuring the driver’s vision and causing an accident, that person should be safe from our dedicated police officers. I have no recollection of anyone having been charged with RWD—Riding While Drunk.
What follows now is a not-so-brief bio of my mother’s youngest son in respect to liquor consumption. I hasten to say that having driven various motor vehicles over more than six decades—almost seven decades—I have never been cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. I lost count over the years for citations I have earned for minor traffic offenses, but none for DUI. Yes, luck was on my side many times, and I take no pride in that. I will, however, take pride in being truthful, at least in this instance.
In my teenage years I was a confirmed introvert—an introvert, however, only until I consumed my first alcoholic beverage, whether straight shots with or without a chaser, a mixed drink or wine or beer. Immediately after that first drink I became a confirmed extrovert, and I hit on everything that even remotely resembled a female, homo sapiens of course. I never desired nor was I ever involved in an intimate sexual relationship with non-homo sapiens whether large or small and whether animal, vegetable or mineral—well, there was just one time I was briefly involved with a sun-warmed watermelon (hey, lighten up—that’s a joke, damn it).
My hit lines were delivered regardless of the target’s race, political affiliation, religious beliefs, education or lack thereof and physical features whether heavy or slim, tall or short, whether brunette, blond, red-haired, streaked, short hair, long hair, curly hair, dreadlocks, bangs or bald. I was not one of those for whom “all the girls get prettier at closing time,” a claim made in a song by country singer Mickey Gilley. The girls went from drab to pretty immediately after I took that first drink and kept getting prettier as the hour neared closing time.
In my teenage years and extending to today’s tender accumulation of years, I have never seen nor do I ever expect to see an ugly woman. In my estimation every member of the female gender is attractive—it’s just that some are prettier than others, and in many instances much, much prettier—I mean, like you know, a lot prettier, like, you know, drop-dead gorgeous. Of course, I must remind the reader of a hoary adage which tells us that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
I—meaning the author of this posting—am a teetotaler and have been for a significant number of years. The only downside to being a teetotaler is that I can’t respond to wine-tasting parties, many of which are free. I eschew alcohol in all its forms except one. I do not subscribe to the statement that “Lips that touch whiskey will never touch mine.” In this one exception I embrace the saying that “There are exceptions to every rule.”
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Old joke—A guy in a bar approaches a tall female, one with unusually striking facial features, and says, “Ubangi?”
She replies, “You betcha!”
Click here for photos of Ubangi women, and please remember the premise that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a truism to which I subscribe with very few exceptions.
I received this heart-wrenching but charming e-mail from a family member. After reading it and digesting its message I made myself a promise to do my best to follow the path this article laid out for me. Some of the items will be difficult for me to adhere to but others are, as they say, no-brainers, one particularly. In the poet’s words, when the path I travel diverges in two different directions I’ll choose the one least traveled, rather than follow the crowd.
This is the article I received:
One evening a long-married couple retired for the night, but only one awakened the next morning. On that cold clear morning in the warmth of their bedroom, the survivor was struck with the realization and the pain of knowing that sometimes there are “no mores.”
No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more “just one minute.”
Sometimes someone we care for the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return, before we could say good-bye or say “I love you.”
So while we have it, it’s best to love it, care for it, fix it when it’s broken and heal it when it’s sick.
This is true for marriage and old cars, and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents and grandparents.
We keep them because they are worth it and because we are worth it.
Some things we keep, like a best friend who moved away or a sister-in-law after divorce. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what.
Life is important, like people we know who are special, and so we keep them close.
Suppose one morning we never wake up? Do all our family members and our friends know we love them?
The important thing is to let every one of them know we love them, even if we think they don’t love us back.
I posted this article two years ago and it has not garnered any comments. Apparently those that read it—assuming that anyone read it, and that’s a big assumption—didn’t understand it, didn’t like it, were offended by it, simply didn’t give a fig or perhaps were afraid that they would, depending on the nature of their comments be either lynched by the conservatives for being racists or imprisoned by the liberals for a breach of political correctness.
I am serving it up again for consideration, a meal to linger over, a bounteous feast that beautifully describes our nation’s precipitous slide down a steep slippery slope, a slide that if not reversed will result in ours becoming a true socialist society, and the slope is too steep for us to return to our former capitalistic society.
The following is the original posting, dated two years ago:
A check of http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/tomatoes.asp shows that the truth of the letter is undetermined. The Snopes article references a June 2006 e-mail, purported to be posted to the Internet by the husband of a woman that teaches at a large southern California high school.
That husband’s original e-mail has undergone various changes wrought by its sojourn over the Internet over the past four years, including the changes I have made prior to posting it on my blog. Please trust me—the changes I made dealt strictly with paragraphing, sentence construction, subject and verb agreement, spelling, punctuation and other rules of good grammar. I also deleted unnecessary capitalizations, exclamation points and other superfluous treatments that battered and bruised the message rather than helping viewers to injest and digest its intended purpose.
I neither challenged nor changed anything that would either dilute or embellish the original e-mail I received. In addition to such necessary changes, the original e-mail had garnered the usual >>>s and other junk picked up by the original document on its trip through the vast regions of space and time.
This should drive everyone, not to drink but rather to think, whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, and including the multitudes not politically oriented to any particular ideology.
From a California school teacher
Tomatoes and Cheap Labor:
As you listen to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things of which you should be aware. I am responsible for the English As A Second Language department at a large southern California Title 1 high school. That title designates a school that is peopled by students whose families that on the average are in lower levels of income and socioeconomic acceptability opportunities.
Most of the schools you are hearing about—South Gate High, Bell Gardens, Huntington Park and other Title 1 schools are schools where students are in the protest mode. Such schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I’m not talking about a glass of milk and a roll. I’m talking about a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott Inn proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with many trays being dumped in the trash uneaten. I estimate that more than 50 percent of these students are obese, or at least moderately overweight.
An estimated three of every four students have cell phones. The school provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls—some as young as 13—so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids.
I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing funding for the upcoming year, although there was little need for anything—my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which one month later had been decorated with graffiti by appreciative students that obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America.
I have had to intervene several times for substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students, here in the country less then three months. Those students raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them putas—whores—and throwing things that the teachers were reduced to tears.
Free medical benefits, free education, free food, free day care, ad nauseam—it’s no wonder that they feel entitled, not only to be in this country but free to demand additional rights, privileges and additional entitlements.
For those that like to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they like their gardener and their housekeeper—and because they like to pay less for tomatoes—let’s spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the true costs of tomatoes. Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding and new diseases—as for me, I’ll pay more for tomatoes.
Americans, we need to wake up!
The current flood of illegal immigrants has everything to do with culture. They constitute an American third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15, a culture that refuses to assimilate, and our historic American culture has become so weak and worried about political correctness that we don’t have the will to do anything about it.
Cheap labor? Isn’t that what the whole immigration issue is about? Business doesn’t want to pay a decent wage, consumers don’t want expensive produce and government claims that we Americans don’t want the jobs.
The bottom line is cheap labor, but he phrase cheap labor is a myth and a farce. It’s a lie—there is no such thing as cheap labor.
Consider this: An illegal alien with a wife and five children takes a job for $5 or $6.00 an hour. With those earnings and six dependents he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year if he files an income tax return he is entitled to an earned income credit up to $3,200—free.
He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.
He qualifies for food stamps.
He qualifies for free—no deductible, no co-pay health care.
His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.
He requires bilingual teachers and books.
He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.
If anyone in the family is or becomes aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI. If qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicaid. All this is paid for by legitimate American taxpayers.
He doesn’t worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowner’s insurance.
Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.
He and his family receive the equivalent of $20 to $30 per hour in benefits, entitlements provided by our benevolent government. Working Americans are lucky to have $5 or $6 per hour left after paying their bills and his.
These are the facts and the questions we should be asking of the congressional members of both political parties, and when members of either party lie to us we should exercise our right to replace them via the ballot box. The outcome of upcoming congressional elections is critical for working Americans, for our economy and for American culture and heritage.
A special Pee Ess:
Hey, I didn’t write this article and I offer no mea culpa. Please do not excoriate or execute me—I’m just the messenger. Feel free to pass it on or trash it—it’s your choice. In fact, you don’t even need to read it, and I’ll understand.
That’s my story and my excuse, and I’m sticking to both.
This brilliant evaluation of MSNBC’s evening hosts was posted eighteen months ago and has garnered zero comments. There must be at least one reader—someone, somewhere—that either likes or dislikes my literary efforts enough to make a comment. Don’t worry about me—if I can stomach the nightly ravings of these people, I can certainly survive any criticisms in return. To quote a certain ex-president of the United States, “Bring it on!”
On Friday, January 21, 2011 there was a happening, something that occurred which in my estimation and opinion equals the end of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon and the discovery of penicillin. I feel that I can speak with at least a touch of authority because I was present for all three of the wars and actively engaged in the latter two wars, and I sold lots of newspapers on my route during World War II.
I predict that when the day comes that a cure for cancer is discovered, that event will take its rightful place in history, along with the events mentioned and along with the departure of Keith Olberman from MSNBC.
As of this writing it is unknown, at least in the sphere in which I toil, whether Olberman’s departure was acknowledged by management with a ceremonial…
The various segments of the government of the United States and its military components thrive on acronyms. The people in those segments breathe, eat, sleep, love, work and worship acronyms. The Supreme Court of the United Status (SCOTUS) has just approved the health act created by the President of The United States (POTUS). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now the law of the land. It desperately needs an acronym that will readily identify the law, something other than ACA. That acronym is already in use by numerous associations ranging from the American Canine Association to Opryland’s American Cornhole Association—Opryland’s ACA banner is shown below. The event features Corn Toss, Cornhole, Bean Bag and Bean Toss. This is their invitation:
“Join us for the first ACA end of summer tournament. $10,000 first place prize, over $20,000 in total prizes. Food and live entertainment.”
When ACA is voiced it sounds similar to one clearing one’s throat—try it and I believe you will agree that it is a no-brainer. Just use it several times in one sentence and you’ll find that your throat is clear and your listeners are grossed out. Conference attendees will frequently voice it just to clear their throats without offending others.
I have spent a considerable amount of time researching acronyms used by our military services and our government’s Civil Service. Click here for a comprehensive listing of units that have their names scrunched into a usable acronym, one that is easy to remember and which identifies the various units.
Just as an aside, if the horde of reporters assigned to cover Supreme Court activities should need an acronym I’ll suggest this one—just add an R to SCOTUS, the acronym for the Supreme Court Of The United States. The Supreme Court reporters of the United States would become SCROTUS, a monumental saving of time in television reporting as well as ink and paper in recording the Court’s activities. I offer that freely without any thought of compensation for violation of copyright laws, just as I offer CACA as the acronym for the new Affordable Health Act.
I have added the word comprehensive because the Act is designed to cover every person in the United States, and most would agree that is very comprehensive. However, although I do not consider the word comprehensible applicable to the Act, I proudly offer up my suggestion of CACA for the acronym of the Act, with no expectation for national publicity or monetary compensation. Oh, well, perhaps a few bucks and a stint on Fox and Friends.
Yes, CACA. It’s a good word, very expressive even though it’s not in my outdated copy of the American Heritage Dictionary. The closest it comes is the word cacao, the seed of the cacao tree, used in making chocolate. However, it can probably be found in any dictionary of the Spanish language and on the various websites that offer language translations. It’s a word that people do not normally use in mixed company or at formal activities—not even Spanish-speaking people. Check it out here—it’s a common slang word, used by millions of people—nay, billions of people. It’s pronounced differently in different languages but it means the same in all.
An added feature of CACA is that the two syllables of the acronym are pronounced with the same emphasis, except perhaps for those that do not favor the new law. In that case, more emphasis may be directed to the first syllable—in such cases the written word would probably be followed with an exclamation point. Here are a few suggestions for bumper stickers should people want to show their political affiliation:
Democrats love CACA!
Republicans hate CACA!
Obama’s CACA covers everyone!
I have just created another acronym that would apply beautifully to the Affordable Care Act. Simply change it to the Affordable Health Act. It then becomes AHA, pronounced Ah ha! with the emphasis on the second syllable. That Ah ha! may well have been what the Chief Justice exclaimed when he thought of changing the penalty clause to a tax clause, thus mirroring Archimedes’ exclamation of “Eureka” (in the Grecian language meaning “I have found it!) when he discovered the 47th Problem of Euclid while bathing, then immediately ran naked through the streets proclaiming his discovery. Whether the Chief Justice was performing his morning ablutions at the time is unknown, of course, but his discovery allowed him to join the liberals in upholding the act.
Several Sizes of Conference Tables
Large Contemporary Reception Room Check In Unit
(Bar Height) with Glass Top
Chairs of Various Sizes & Colors for Desks,
Conference Tables & Reception Areas
Large Printers Including HP Design Jet Format Printer &
Mx4100n Sharp Scanner/Printer
Office Supplies, Computers, Phones
Drafting Tables, Desks, & File Cabinets
Water Cooler & Bottles
Time Card Machine
Modular Wall Partitions to Put Together to Form Office Spaces
Pictures, Mirrors, Accessories
Refrigerator & Dryer
Large Punching Bag & Harley Motorcycle Seat
Portable Diesel Fuel Tank for Pick-Up Truck
Large Pick-Up Truck Cover & Jeep Hard Shell 5000 Pound Wench
Metal Racks & Sides to Put Together for
Storing Heavy Items (i.e. Carpet)
30-40 Bookcases in White, Walnut & Blonde Finish
The bankruptcy sale shown above appeared recently in the classified section of the San Antonio Express-News, the only daily newspaper in the seventh largest city in the United States. I subscribe to the paper because it’s the only game in town, and I enjoy finding bloopers that were either missed by the staff proof-readers or perhaps some proof-reader had a good sense of humor. They probably depend entirely on their computer spell checkers. Such programs are a boon to writers, but spell-checkers do not do well with homonyms.
NOTE: I high-lighted the 5,000 pound wench in red to call the reader’s attention to the blooper, wench instead of winch. It was not high-lighted in the advertisement.
The lady in the image below consumes 20,000 calories daily and weighs a mere 600 pounds, a weight that falls far short of the 5,000 pound wench advertised in the San Antonio bankruptcy sale. When—and if— you tire of the sight of that tremendous amount of excess avoirdupois centered in the woman, scale down and read about a real calorie consumer, a woman that wants to be the fattest woman in the world.
I stumbled upon a slide show online that features a British woman who aspires to become the fattest woman in the world, and she is well on her way. She lives in England, is engaged to a chef, consumes 30,000 calories daily and weighs more than 54 British stone—about 800 pounds, and her waist measures 107.5 inches. She has been fitted for her wedding dress and is scheduled to marry her chef this summer.
I’ve been seeing this magazine cover throughout the day. It’s all over television and everyone is weighing the pros and cons of breast-feeding a child for several years, considerably longer than our society has come to expect. I have decided to comment on it.
My comment will be neither pro nor con because it’s her breast (s) and her four-year-old son, and it is not in my nature to approve or disapprove the actions of others. I have enough faults of my own to worry about.
Many years ago I read a scholarly tome written by a professor from one of our ivy-league colleges. He spent a lot of time in one of our states, compiling jokes provided by citizens in rural areas of that state. He presented each joke, then went into a dissertation of its meaning. A few were somewhat obtuse but most were short, to the point and hilarious. I’ll keep the state anonymous and let the reader decide which state was selected.
I remember many of the jokes and would delight in sharing them with my readers, but I’ll be content with the one that is germane to this posting. Of course, there is a story about a young boy, an old man, a fence and a rabbit that I would like to post, but I will desist unless a clamor arises for me to post it.
The TIME cover dusted off the cobwebs from the following memory:
A traveler was driving through a rural area on winding unpaved roads with few direction signs and finally became lost. He came to a house and saw a man standing in the front yard, so he stopped and asked for directions. While he was talking, a woman ran out of the house and down the road with a young man chasing her, and the two disappeared around a curve in the road.
The woman was barefoot and her clothing was disheveled, so the traveler asked the older man why the woman was running away from the young man, and if the woman was in danger.
The older man said, “Aw, that’s just Junior chasing Ma—she’s trying to wean ‘im.”
I submit to you, dear reader, that the attractive blond mother on the TIME cover with the four-year-old boy “getting his ninny” direct from the source may have to outrun him when the time comes. She could outpace him now, but she needs to maintain that svelte figure as the years go by or problems might arise—so to speak.
I awoke while I was being moved from the recovery room to an area where my daughters could gather and watch my coming out of that place of darkness into the bright light of overhead searchlights, all of which appeared to be focused on me. I was awake, but I was not completely in control of my facilities—oops, I mean faculties. I made ridiculous uncontrollable grimaces, rolling my eyes and asking pertinent questions such as where am I, is it over, you’re cute, who are you, did I tell you that you’re cute, and I asked the doctor, if it was alright to tell the nurse she’s cute.
His reply? “You can say anything you like until the anesthesia wears off, and then you must assume responsibility for anything you say.” He said it with a smile, but it was a serious smile and that dramatically reduced the lasting effects of the anesthesia. I believe the last dumb thing I said that the guy across from my cubicle was taking my picture. That’s something I learned from my sainted mother. When someone, whether male or female, sat with knees apart and facing her, she would say that they were taking her picture. In all fairness, I must admit that the patient opposite my cubicle, although wearing a hospital gown, had apparently been allowed to retain his under-shorts, or perhaps his surgery did not require them to be removed.
However, I doubt that. I had cataract surgery some years ago, left eye first and right eye one month later, and in each instance I was required to wear nothing but the hospital gown and yes, they checked to determine that I was in compliance and if not, the eye surgery would not have been performed. Go figure!
I was moved from the gurney to a not-so-comfortable hospital chair that had a host of features, bounded by a wall with technical-looking things on it, drawable curtains on each side, and a host of people gathered in front completed my recovery cubicle. Everyone seemed very pleased with my condition, all smiling and offering compliments and suggestions. My three daughters were there along with the doctor, a couple of nurses and several aides, all apparently focused on me.
I felt like Timmy probably felt when awakening after Lassie ran home and barked that Timmy had fallen in the well and he went under and didn’t come back up but they reached Timmy in time and got him to a strategically placed hospital and he got over his ordeal and continued to star in 321 episodes (1954-1973).
Incidentally, and in no way germane to this series of postings, Lassie was not a girl dog. Lassie was a boy dog because boy dog’s coats have a brighter sheen and color than girl dog’s coats and are far more presentable on screen. Had Lassie been a Pit Bull or a Great Dane or even a Chihuahua, movie-goers would have seen that subterfuge and would have insisted that directors stop shaming Timmy’s friend with a wrong-sex name. A better name would be Sirius, the ancient’s name for the Dog Star, very appropriate for an earthy dog star and far more manly.
Patience, be patient, I’m almost finished with my quadrilogy. I walked out of the hospital under my own power, sans wheelchair, sans two burly attendants, one on each side to keep me on my feet. I wanted to walk through the parking lot to my car, but my daughters insisted that I stay at the entrance and wait for the car to come to me. In all honesty, I did not protest strongly, nor did I protest when they escorted me into my home, fed me and tucked me in—actually, I enjoyed all the attention, but it waned rapidly and everything returned to normal.
That’s it. That’s my quadrilogy of my hernia surgery, and I’m sticking to it.
With the admonition that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m furnishing a composite drawing of hernia areas, but please don’t be alarmed—it’s nicely drawn and gracefully presented. Had you worried there for a moment, I imagine.
Now droning on:
This is the third posting of my quadrilogy, the operatic part (Get it? Operatic, as in Operation?). I know, I know—that’s a stretch, but it serves my purpose of presenting the details of my hernia operation in smaller doses. Believe it or not, I have been roundly chastised for the extreme length of my postings, and that makes me wonder if those who cast their slings and arrows at me have tried reading Ulysses, or the Holy Bible or the New Testament—now those tomes are really lengthy dissertations.
With the help of my three adult daughters I presented myself—no, belay that—I presented my corporeal housing, my body, to Same-day Surgery at an ungodly hour, 5:30 AM on a bleak Thursday morning. The bleakness had nothing to do with the weather or its outlook, and everything to do with my reluctance to be there. I felt the same way when I boarded a plane bound for Viet Nam to begin my 13-month tour during the height of the war, a vacation from stateside duties with all expenses paid by the US government.
The process began a few minutes after I was comfortably seated with a nice view of a big-screen wall-mounted television. A friendly and very competent nurse confirmed my identification, determined and recorded my vital numbers—height, weight, blood pressure, and medications taken in the past 12 hours. She tthen produced a hospital gown, bade me strip, don the gown with the open part to the rear, don soft non-skid booties and then recline on a gurney while she trundled me to an area near the operating rooms.
My daughters were allowed to accompany me to that area and remain there until a nurse came to roll me into the operating room. In the interim I was furnished a silver hair cover similar to that worn in Arabella. the Hollywood movie starring Jane Fonda. Incidentally, I still have dreams of Jane and the costume she wore. No, they were not, and are not, nightmares. We are just two friends, similar to two boats passing in the night.
But I digress, so on to the surgery. I was fitted with a wrist tag with my name and other significant data, especially as to the location of the surgery. When the doctor came, he wrote on my left lower side, probably something on the order of “CUT HERE.” A needle was inserted into the back of my right hand, and I was hooked up to a portable stand with two clear bags filled with unknown liquids which dripped from both bags and converged into a single line and into the line connected with the back of my hand. When all the little shut-offs were turned to shut-ons I knew my time was near, and I’ll give you three guesses what the operating nurse said as she started wheeling me towards the row of operating rooms, areas lined up precisely like the cells at San Quentin—private rooms, of course, but just as secure.
What the nurse said as we started that last mile—that Green Mile—was, “I’ll see you on the other side.” Just before I entered a state of nothingness, I asked her if she would please rephrase that cheerful remark, and she said that she meant after the surgery was over and that she would see me on the other side of the area after I had recovered from the anesthesia, and this allayed my fears—slightly.
This concludes the third part of my surgery quadrilogy, and I’m sticking to it.
Stay tuned for the fourth—and final—part of my surgery. I know, I know. I heard that long sigh of relief.
Okay, come on now, admit it—you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the second installment of my recent hernia operation. I can understand your interest in this because everyone, whether male or female or a combination of both, are subject to such surgery. Other than a few statistics extracted from the web, I’ll leave it up to you to do the research. Click here to learn just about everything you probably never wanted to know about hernias and hernia surgery. It’s the most common operation performed by general surgeons in the United States, and males lead females in hernia surgery by a ration of 3:1 in the US. More than 750,000 inquinal hernias are repaired in our country every year by general surgeons.
Now on to Part Two of my quadrilogy, the diagnosis of the hernia.
I reported to the General Surgery clinic as directed and was examined by a Doogie Howser look-alike, the young man who performed fantastic surgeries on the television show Doogie Howser, M. D. from 1989 to 1993. My doctor (not really a look-alike, just young looking) replicated the hands-on exam that I endured in Internal Medicine and scheduled me for a sonogram to determine the exact location and the size of both hernias. He decided that the left hernia warranted surgery, but the right fissure was small and would not need surgery unless it expanded or became uncomfortable or painful—uncomfortable or painful for me, of course, and not for the hernia.
The doctor told me that he had three hernia surgeries in his early twenties, and since then had no other symptoms. I suppose that was meant to reassure me concerning my pending surgery, but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sleeping well before I was scheduled for surgery, and the wait between scheduling and operating was for too short and in no way helped my sleepless nights (I unashamedly admit that I dozed off for a few hours in the mid-afternoon while waiting, and in fact I still do). I believe it is somehow related to age, but in my case I believe that it’s because I am bored, and napping is something that seems to come naturally for me to make the time pass.
The sonogram gave a perfect picture of the two hernias, and I was scheduled for surgery the following week. I made several demands—no, make that several requests—including local anesthesia as opposed to general, no breathing tube in my throat and finally, that I had to be back home before dark. My demands—I mean requests—were given consideration and the doctor said they would do their best to meet them—that was shortly after his laughter subsided.
Okay, that’s the second part of my quadrilogy, the diagnosis. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I know very well that neither you nor anyone else wants to read about my operation—well, okay, perhaps one in a thousand does wants to read about it so I will offer it up for that one in a thousand, that one that is willing to wade through such drivel just in case it might be educational or funny or foolish or all three—just in case.
I recently managed to shed fifteen pounds of avoirdupois from my 67-inch frame—that’s five feet and seven inches in height, a total of 67 inches. Okay, perhaps by now it is more like 66 inches due to the compaction of vertebrae in my backbone—that’s one of the privileges, or perhaps the vicissitudes of aging.
Mind you, I am not stooped or hunchbacked as was Quasimodo the Bell Ringer, nor do I ring anyone’s bells—in fact, I never have and probably never will. As for my height, whatever the total number of inches I rise from the ground upwards may be, I am militarily erect, and in my not-so-humble opinion I would stand tall even if I were the little fellow on television that was always saying, “Zee plane, boss, zee plane!”
Had I been taller I would have ruled the world, but as it is I’m content to be in charge wherever I may be.
Out of respect for any reader that may take umbrage, I will refrain from repeating something that Mae West said in one of her films when she responded to a tall stranger’s knock on her hotel door. She looked up and told him that he was “a tall one,” and he responded that he was “six feet, six inches.”Oh, well, what the hey! I’ll tell it anyway, and if anyone takes umbrage they shouldn’t have read it. What Mae West said was something on the order of, “Well, come on in, big boy, and we’ll talk about the six inches.”
But as is my wont, I have digressed—-back to my operation. On a fateful morning in late December 2011 while waiting for the water in the shower to reach a reasonable temperature (I’m a wuss when it comes to cold showers), I was admiring my image in the mirror, an image sans clothing, while examining the areas that still needed slimming down (just as an aside, cold showers don’t work for me).
In my pinching and lifting and rearranging for effect while holding my breath (stomach in, chest out) I found something that send me scurrying to the physician who was unfortunate enough to have me on the list of people assigned to him to monitor their health, a doctor in the Internal Medicine Clinic at the Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio TX. I first called his nurse and confided my fears, and after enduring my plaint she checked with the doctor and returned my call, telling me to “Come on down!”
I told the doctor that I had discovered a lump in my lower left abdominal area, a lump that was present when standing but one that disappeared when I sat down or lay down. He suspected that the lump was an inguinal hernia, but then used a hands-on search—with my trousers and under-wear on the floor—and said, “Yep, you have an inguinal hernia in the left groin and also a smaller one in the right groin.” What he actually called the hernia on the left was “a potential candidate for surgery.”
He said the smaller hernia could merely be followed, and at this stage he felt that surgery was not necessary. He set up an appointment with a doctor in the proper clinic at BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center, now renamed as SAMMC, San Antonio Military Medical Center). He said that BAMC/SAMMC might decide that surgery would not be necessary and then added, “But they really like to do surgery over there.”
On that cheerful note I will conclude the first part of a quadrilogy, one comprised of the suspected hernia, its diagnosis, the surgical repair, and recovery. I am breaking the series into four parts because I have been criticized for making my postings far too lengthy. It’s something similar to the old joke about two drunks in a bar, a bar bet and a cuspidor. Click here to read the joke—it’s funny and you can share it with your children. However, you’ll probably need to define the word cuspidor. The joke is in the last paragraph, and the post is a long read, but don’t be discouraged, and please don’t fast-forward to the joke—you’ll miss a lot of excellent prose!
As an aside, the Free Online Dictionary defines quadrilogy as “A series of four related dramatic, operatic, or literary works.” This posting definitely qualifies to be classified and presented as a quadrilogy. My discovery and its diagnosis were dramatic, the surgery was operatic (Get it? Operatic, as in operation?), and this carefully couched and presented 4-part series is the very epitome of a literary work.
This constitutes the first part of my dramatic, operatic and literary quadrilogy and I’m sticking to it.
Some nine months ago one of my daughters—the middle one in age, the one that lives, loves, laughs and labors in Northern Virginia, blogged about her work as the designer and producer of a bimonthly magazine for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I made a long-winded comment on her posting, and for nearly a year my comment has languished in the Stygian depths of blog comments.
I thrive on comments for my own blog, as do most bloggers. You can read her posting here, and you’ll have the opportunity to check our my original comment on her post. However, just in case you skip the comments, I will generously post the original comment below for your enjoyment., but please do not skip the original posting. If you skip it you’ll miss the last paragraph, the one in which my daughter gives me a really nice shout-out for assisting the publication. For your convenience I have extracted that paragraph:
I wrote to Ulf and asked if he would be interested in sharing his story with Hearing Loss Magazine readers. With editing and compilation assistance from The King of Texas (who also moonlights as my father, Hershel M. Dyer) and beautiful photos by Anne K. Haga, Ulf’s story—From Silence to Sound: My Quest to Hear Again—is now in print.
And finally, here is my original comment on her Six Degrees of separation, moved out of the darkness and into the bright light of day—enjoy!
A beautiful magazine, professional in every respect, and I am very pleased to have been part of its creation—a part perhaps no bigger than a mustard seed as your grandmother Hester might say, but still a part of the whole.
Moonlighting as your father? Moonlighting?
Being your father has always been and will always be a full time job. All those years since you stubbornly insisted at birth in presenting the soles of your feet to the world first instead of your head, have been a full time job. I will admit, however, although presented last instead of first, your head was beautifully rounded, and certain features such as the temporarily flat noses that were presented by your siblings at birth were absent in your case. The flat noses were caused by the long slide, of course, and soon rebounded.
My moonlighting since then has consisted of incidental tasks such as making a living to keep food on the table and shoes on everybody’s feet, assisting my country in losing two wars—Korea and Vietnam—working overtime to staunch the flow of illegal narcotics and illegal aliens into the US, detouring harmful plants, animals and vegetables away from our fields, cities and tables and controlling the outflow and inflow of people, vehicles and merchandise entering and exiting the United States..
I had a part-time job just trying to keep up with you, an effort in which I failed miserably. Six degrees of separation? That leaves some 354 degrees of separation between your mastery of so many varied skills and my success in trying to emulate them, so much separation that I officially surrender.
I give up, but I am exhilarated by the fact that you could not have done any of them without me. I take full credit for your creation—okay, half the credit—okay, okay, let’s just say that I suggested to your mother that we should have a second child—I guess one could say that I planted the seed, so to speak. Of course, I only suggested that to her after she announced that she was again in the family way—folks didn’t use the word pregnancy back in those days—they referred to it as being “in the family way.”
Nice work—kudos to you and Barbara for an outstanding publication.
Postscript: I took the liberty of extracting the following paragraph from a recent posting by Barbara, the lady mentioned above. You can find her home page here, and be prepared to begin experiencing hunger pains. She is a talented writer and a chef extraordinaire—oh, and she has really good hair and a marvelous smile.
These are her words:
When I’m not welcoming people to our home in the Washington, D.C., area, or writing this blog, I am deputy executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America. I am also editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. I don’t have a hearing loss myself but with one in ten Americans having a hearing loss, I have family and friends who do.
At any time I am out and about and anywhere near a Half-price Book store, I park and enter and browse and usually find something I cannot do without—oops, I ended that sentence with a preposition. It should read “. . . something without which I cannot do.” Such was the case recently when I found a copy of McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader, a revised edition copyrighted 1907 and 1920 by H. H. Vall—yes, my copy is of the $5 variety, not one of the $1,000-plus revisions. My imagination is not strong enough to speculate on how much an original first issue might be worth.
I paid the princely Kingly price of $5 plus tax for my copy, primarily because its browned pages sheltered a newspaper clipping, torn and tattered and darkened by the years and held together with Scotch tape. The clipping also showed a brief statement labeled Lone Star Steel Company Drops. The statement dates the clipping at sometime during 1949 or 1950—probably in early 1950. The author, Nat Lamb or perhaps Nathan Lamb would now, if still living, be somewhere on the north side of eighty years in longevity. Dallas has more than its fair share of Lambs, both Nat and Nathan, and I could not pin one of them down as to age, gender or occupation.
As an aside, I have heard and seen the term fair share used in conversations and on radio, television and in print so often that I now cringe when it appears, whether through sight or sound. Enough, I say—enough, enough, ENOUGH!
The complete article follows:
THE PIED TYPER
Loneliness is a babbling hunch-back soul, lost on the way to tomorrow, groping its way through the misery of unending space, forever looking back . . . seeing nothing.
This is the anatomy of loneliness . . . the deformed bones of its being, the wasted flesh of its twisted body . . . this is the shape of loneliness.
A wispy scent of forgotten fragrance, jerking the mind back to memories of a dead first love . . . the uneasy stirrings of gardenia leaves, discarded, dropping onto the ash heap of a burned out love . . .
Soft murmured phrases, whispering through the corridors of time, breathing the glory of an undying love in days long dead . . . raising the gray and misty ghost of a forgotten romance.
The haunting lilt of music swirling through the night . . . a tune played on a harp with half the strings missing, a melody heard in a dim-lit cafe over wine glasses on a checkered table . . . music of the past, intruding unwanted into the present.
The half-remembered warmth of a caress, mingled with a vision of time-withered flesh, creased and wrinkled with the passage of years . . . the creeping death of marching time. . . the slaughter of youth and the mangled dreams strewn over the years . . .
The crackling pages of a lavender-scented letter, yellow with age . . . faded ink blurred with tears except for a signed name under the words “Yours forever.”
Loneliness is the day after forever . . . the waking moments after a dream . . . memories forgotten until the midnight hour.
Loneliness is the throbbing moan of a half-heard train whistle wandering through the night to nowhere . . . a wild ride on a runaway nightmare with no beginning and no ending . . . the muted throbbing of an aching heart.
It is a compound fracture of the mind . . .a creeping paralysis of the soul . . . a gust of cold wind over the emotions . . . this is the anatomy of loneliness . . .
Pity the poor heart.
Postscript: In my first reading this post I considered it a sophomoric attempt at humor, or perhaps a tongue-in-cheek satirical analysis of loneliness. It reminded me of the time a college professor noted that my writing was somewhat turgid. It that is indeed a fault, I cannot continue claiming that I am sans faults in every respect. I confess my guilt to the accusation of turgidity—in fact, I embrace the fault, if in fact it be a fault.
Just one more serious afterthought: With subsequent readings I realized that the article on loneliness mirrored many of my own thoughts and feelings, and even now after those readings I still find mirrored emotions that parallel the author’s thoughts, and if that means I am sophomoric, or of a satirical bent, so be it.
Please do notLIKE a posting unless you tell me why you LIKE a posting. Use the comment feature to say why you like it, and please point out any perceived deficiencies in my blog. I will respond to your comments, including a critical response, provided that the criticism is constructive rather than destructive.
A pox on the LIKE feature that Word Press makes available to its readers. Perhaps not all, but certainly many and perhaps most of the readers that click on the LIKE feature are simply inviting the blogger to visit their own blog.
That’s horribly selfish and denotes a character failure on the part of the visitor, that is to say “on the part of the reader who clicks the LIKE feature.” If one likes something someone has said or written or photographed, or a combination of all three features, then tell them why the feature is likeable.
Was it the writing? Was it the composition of the image? Was the posting perfect, or was it perhaps flawed? If one feels that some change is needed, whether correcting, deleting or adding would improve the posting, point it out. Bring the author’s attention to what is considered to be a flaw, whether in composition, spelling, grammar or camera settings. Tell the blogger why you like their posting, even if your liking includes honest and constructive criticism.
If your liking is followed by a but, as in “I like your work, but . . . ,” that would morph your visit to the blog into a teachable moment for the author. Otherwise it is nothing more than an invitation to “Hey, click here to see a really great blog and while you’re there, check out what I have for sale!”
Clicking on the LIKE feature in order to avoid commenting on a posting is tantamount to a drive-by shooting. In some instances the person hit is the wrong target, and that person (assuming that person survives) will always wonder why they became a target, just as the blogger you LIKE will never know why you liked or disliked the post.
And finally, here is my suggestion to Word Press:
Make the LIKE feature a two-part feature, as in LIKE or DO NOT LIKE. If one likes a post, tell why it is likeable and if not, why not. The target should always have the option to reject the response or to accept it and respond to the comment, whether liked or not liked. Most bloggers, if they are true to themselves, will accept and respond to genuine constructive criticism, just as most bloggers will respond to genuine praise.
Remember the joke about the strange animal that ambled onto a family camp-site in a wooded park at dinner time? The unwanted visitor gobbled down the family dinner, picked up a shotgun leaning against a tree, fired one shot, replaced the shotgun and then vanished into the forest. The father asked if anyone knew what kind of animal that was, and one of the children said it was a giant panda bear. The father asked how he knew that, and the child replied, “A panda bear always eats shoots and leaves.”
It’s highly unlikely that one or more of my readers might wonder how that joke is germane to this posting, but I feel compelled to explain it. That panda bear is the shooter in a drive-by shooting and that family, one of many others camped in the park, was the wrong target. They will always wonder why the shooter chose them, just as a blogger will always wonder why a visitor checked
the LIKE feature provided by Word Press.
I recently stumbled upon this item and its explanation while surfing the Internet, and I felt obligated to share it with the legions (?) of blog readers that find their way to my postings. I consider this simple philosophy equal to—nay, greater than—the combined contributions of Michelangelo, Oedipus, Plato, Zeno, Socrates, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson combined.
A simple philosophy for a simple life, including the title, the image and the explanation below the image is offered up by so many different sources that accurate attribution is impossible. I will, however, state categorically that neither the title nor the image nor the explanation is original with me. I’m just passing it along because I found it both funny and factual. Enjoy!
This is a deceptively simple philosophy that I have been working on and refining for most of my life. I am delighted to say that I believe I have refined it down to its essence sufficiently enough to share it with a select band of friends that may appreciate its elegance and simplicity.
This post is the first in a series. It gives the link to a specific posting on a blog maintained by one of my three daughters, the second-born of three lovely girls—yep, my wife and I were short on boys, even though in every instance I placed my order for a boy. However—and that’s a really big however—we got the best of the deal.
I have a tripod of reasons for starting this series of postings. First and foremost, I want to give my readers the opportunity to view the gorgeous images on my daughter’s blog. She has mastered the art of photographing people, places, animals, insects and above all, glorious floral images—in fact, she has a comprehensive presentation of her talent now on show at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. The show began this week and will last through March and April.
The second leg of my tripod is to provide fodder for my blog, and if you decide to view those sites, please don’t forget to return to this site—the best is yet to come. I frequently comment on the artist’s postings, and most of my comments are somewhat lengthy because I almost always have a lot to say. As any blogger knows, most viewers neglect to give comments the attention they deserve, unless of course the comments are on their own blog. Thus my third reason for beginning this series is to showcase my comments, to bring them up and out of the Stygian darkness into the bright light of individual posts in order to give them the attention they so richly deserve.
In the interest of full disclosure I freely admit that I am blessed, or perhaps cursed, with a giant ego, one that of necessity requires constant attention and—well, constant adulation stemming from all those complimentary comments on my comments—got it? I will gladly and gleefully accept non-complimentary comments, but only if they are presented in proper English, reasonably temperate in tone and bereft of foul language.
Each posting in this series will begin with all the above en toto, including this sentence, and my comment will begin with the URL that prompted the comment. You’ll need to read the posting first, then return to the comment—if not, you’ll have missed the best of the best on Word Press.
As a youngster I cleaned the cookie mixing bowl one finger-load at a time (the social finger of the right hand). I mean, like, you know, when I was finished loading and licking the sweet dough and the wayward chocolate bits from my finger, the bowl could be returned unwashed to the cabinet shelf.
I estimate that in my early preteen years I consumed enough raw cookie dough that had the cookies been baked and allowed to accumulate, they would have kept several Girl Scouts busy delivering cookies for several days, and it in no way affected me, affected me, affected me . . .
Nice photos and a great narrative. By the way, are you sure the black cookies were not enhanced with Mary Jane? I remember (vaguely) that such enhancement darkened them—some might consider them tainted, of course.
In the interests of full disclosure, I do not view movies in movie theaters. Not at matinees, not in the evenings, not with discounted tickets, not with gift cards and absolutely not with money from my limited stash of cash. I view movies on television and enjoy them immensely, and I will continue to view them and enjoy them immensely as long as possible.
Should I lose my eyesight, I will enjoy movies on television by listening, and should I lose that sense I will wait—impatiently—until 3-D television with a hands-on feature is perfected and then I’ll simply handle movies on television. With bated breath I will wait for the industry to develop hands-on television, with the fervent hope that the Playboy Channel will be among the first to develop and broadcast first-run films featuring HanzOn 3-D. Note: The word show could have been used instead of broadcast, but the term broadcast was too tempting—hee, hee, hee.
I repeat—I do not view movies in movie theaters. I’m providing my readers—those that attend movie theaters—something to mull over before they patronize the refreshment stands in the theater. Consumer Reports has kindly permitted me to share this report on movie theater food.
Far back in July of 2010 a blogger, one of my three daughters, the one that lives, loves, laughs and labors in North Virginia posted this item about one of her children, one that is gleefully gamboling in Elysian fields while waiting to be reunited with her at the Rainbow Bridge. If you are not familiar with the Rainbow Bridge, please do yourself a favor and click here. It’s an extensive site and you’ll need to scroll down a bit to be treated to beautiful music and the story of the Rainbow bridge. And while you’re still online, linger awhile at this site for a visit to a fantastic garden, replete with fabulous floral fotographs, prophetic prose and various visits to places ranging southward from Alaska and Canada to the South Pole and eastward to various European countries.
I commented at some length, a fault (?) for which I have been scolded, on her Sewing with Jasper post. I recently reviewed my response and was so pleased with its length and its scholarly tribute to Jasper that I am now moving this pearl of prose from the dark of comments into the light of day. It would be beneficial for you to read the blogger’s original posting before perusing my comment. Enjoy!
My original comment follows:
I have some serious doubts as to whether Jasper can be trusted with his decisions on the quality of Karen’s sewing shams. In the first photo he is looking up in rapturous wonderment, showing love and understanding of your efforts with the promise that he will still love you regardless of the quality of your stitches.
Now study the second photo:
Jasper is staring intently at Karen, the seamstress, as she strives to produce perfection, fully aware of the inspector’s attention. His eyes are heavily hooded, his brow is deeply furrowed and his hind legs are curled under. He is prepared to pounce—his entire visage and his body language telegraphs his intent to seriously damage Karen if she drops even one stitch. His left paw is outstretched, ready to punish with razor sharp claws for a dropped stitch—just look at his eyes and read his lips!
That’s exactly how Al Pacino looked in “The Godfather” when he excused himself from a restaurant table, probably on the pretext that he had to pee, went to the restroom where he retrieved a pistol from behind the commode water tank, then returned to the table and pumped bullets into the heads of his erstwhile dinner companions—a high-ranking police official and a top-ranked Mafia boss—and then fled to Italy where he met and married a really cute girl and lived happily ever after until she was blown up by a car bomb intended for her husband.
See there? With a cat like Jasper around, even Karen’s husband could become a target, victim of an exacting “better get it right the first time” feline quality control inspector.
Postscript: Get ready for a delightful visit to Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria,Virginia. Click here for an invitation to Cindy Dyer’s pending show entitled Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio, scheduled for February 28-April 29, 2012, so there’s plenty of time to come see it if you’re in the Virginia/D.C. area or are planning to visit this spring.
I am sharing this video with my readers with the hope that they will understand why I am posting this plea for help. Many, perhaps most, panhandlers are out to make a buck without contributing anything in return. I intend to become a panhandler, but I will be a panhandler of a different kind. I won’t ask for money or food or sex or warm clothing regardless of the weather. My plea is for compassion and companionship, and I believe this video will help put potential contributors in a giving mood.
My soiled cardboard placard will announce my burning need for kindness and understanding, and will read as follows:
Please help me – I am desperate!
No matter how menial or laborious the task may be, I will work for conversation (on any subject), adulation (sincere or otherwise), hugs (sincere or otherwise, but please don’t squeeze my Charmin!) and cuddling (spooning is optional) at any location at any hour of the day or night whether undercover or in plain sight, whether in a furniture store on a recliner, sofa or a PosturePedic mattress, either undercover or atop the covers, whether at the Ritz-Carlton, any Red Top Inn, Motel 6 or at your house or mine.
As an aside, please remember that my offer to work for conversation, adulation, hugs and cuddling is offered to anyone who is willing to pay my price. There is only one exception. The offer applies to males, females and anyone in between, but cuddling applies only to the opposite sex and I am of the weaker sex, namely male.
If you have dawdled in traffic long enough to read this placard, traffic is probably backed up for miles and you should stop laughing and move on, and I’ll settle for a smile, a frown, a wave or a honk (from your horn, not your proboscis) and if you must frown then make your best frownie face and hope it doesn’t freeze that way, and may God speed you safely to your final destination following innumerable intermediate stops along the way.
Signed: Juan Hung Lo (a ruptured Hispanic/Oriental male)
Special note: The name and the ethnic terms above are fabricated for fun but the ruptured part is an unfunny fact, and I have the hospital discharge papers to prove it!
The floral image below is a photograph that was created by a multi-talented blogger. She is a professional photograper, desktop publisher, artist, sculptor, gardener, writer, event planner, party hostess, homemaker, loving wife, and a lover of all animals whether feathered, furred or scaled. She has other diverse talents, but in the interests of brevity I’ll settle for just these few.
The following image was posted on her blog. Click here to begin a wild ride through a kaleidoscope of images from a great number of our states, from countries ranging from Canada to the South Pole and from various countries in Europe. The text below the photo shows several comments made by visitors to the site. The first comment is by the blogger, and the third comment is my evaluation of the image.
What follows is a comment from the creator of the photo above. She is one of my three daughters, the middle one in years, the one that lives, loves, laughs and languishes in Northern Virginia. The comment that follows is in her response to Scott, a viewer who asked how she achieved the “glow” in the image.
Scott, this morning glory was blooming just outside my office window, below the fence line—and when the sun came through, it was a directed beam through the railings on the front porch—the glow caught my eye and I ran outside to catch it before the light changed! It helps that the background was dark (the shed and the woodpile), so that makes the glow pop even more. I guess the secret is to always pay attention and be ready to capture the light—ops like this are so fleeting. I’m just glad my camera was next to the computer, the battery wasn’t low, and there was actually a CF card in it.
Katie, another viewer, made this comment:
The middle of the flower looks like a female silhouette. Was that done on purpose? if not, amazing–if so, still amazing!
And (finally) my comment on the image follows. It is rather lengthy, but I was so smitten with the work that I felt that a pithy analysis was in order. I had to put the resemblance to the Mother and Child in its proper perspective, and that ain’t easy!
Just as an aside, the word pith got me into trouble with my eighth-grade English teacher, a buxom and pleasingly plump lady who wore short skirts and low-cut blouses and dresses, and she would often drop her chalk and bend over to retrieve it. Normally she would turn toward the class, but in one memorable instance she faced away from the class and bent over at the waist to pick up the chalk. I suppose that she wanted to avoid exposing even more of her buxomness than the low-cut blouse provided. In one instance that posture, that incredible vision, spurred me to acknowledge it with a whistle, and said whistle was then acknowledged by said teacher. She returned to an upright position, turned her blushing face to the students and demanded to know the culprit. The entire class turned around, pointed to me and in unison said “He did it!”
I’ll make that a separate posting soon, and I will include the incident involving the word pith—that’s not a threat, it’s a promise! But I digress, so on with this posting.
My comment on the image follows:
Katie is right on—there is definitely a female silhouette in the bloom. I can’t believe I missed it—thanks, Katie.
And I can see in the outline that the female is holding a child—great Scott, Cindy! You have captured the Madonna and Child—no, not that Madonna—the one that artists have portrayed over the centuries. Raphael is one of the most famous, but many have painted the Madonna and Child, The Holy Mother and Son, Mary and Jesus.
I can remember stories about images of Mary or Jesus or both being found in tree bark, in a toasted cheese sandwich, in a piece of toast, in an oil slick on the pavement, potato chips and Doritos, and there are probably many more that I missed. And all have drawn crowds of one size or another.
If the news of your Holy Vision in a picture of (whatever that is) gets out, especially to this part of the US and to our nearest neighbor to the south, the faithful will be beating a path to your door. They’ll leave all sorts of flowers, emblems, wreaths, burning candles and notes with wishes and prayers. You’ll have to hose them down just to get out to your car—the faithful, not the burning candles—although the candles could pose a problem for the local fire department.
And it’s possible—nay, probable, that some will bring sick and suffering friends or family members so they can be near such an apparition, in the hopes they will be comforted, perhaps healed.
I believe that you should submit this photo to your local papers, to one or more photography magazines, perhaps present it to some of your local theologians for inspection and comments. You need to protect your rights on this one—it may be a real winner.
And, of course, a closer look may lead one to believe that the image shows a woman holding one child aloft and pregnant with another. Hey, it could still be Mary—we have no way of knowing whether it is, or is not. After all, Joseph had been waiting on the sidelines for quite awhile before the Babe was born, probably with mounting impatience (no pun intended), and he must have been filled with joy that the Child, the first of their marriage, had arrived.
Most husbands, at least those with children, should be able to relate to the joy that Joseph felt—I know I did. My wife conceived and birthed three children, then committed herself to nurturing them. She projected her sweetness, honesty and joyful love of life into each of them, and bequeathed me three beautiful daughters, each a good person in every respect.
I was filled with joy at each birth and I remain filled with joy to be their father.
This posting is my comment on a post made by the blogger who created a cereal bowl for little people, specifically little people with small appetites. Reward yourself by going to her blog to find out exactly what happened. You can find it here. You should plan on devoting several hours on your first trip to the blog, because you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous one-of-a-kind photographs of flowers, gardens, landscapes, sunrises and sunsets, animals and people, and various activities such as constructing concrete leaves, beading jewelry, knitting, wedding planning and a host of other diverse creative projects, all presented with erudite and stimulating descriptions.
Yes, I said stimulating—some of those blossoms rival—nay, surpass—some of the fabulous and highly suggestive photographs produced by the immortal Georgia O’Keeffe. And then, of course, I could be wrong about that.
The following is my original comment on the posting:
It’s beautiful, and I love that shade of blue. I suggest that you ditch the spoon and the hands in future photos intended to support marketing this item. Photograph the bowl only and advertise it as a cereal bowl, and avoid details concerning its size. Just say that it can be used for cereal but don’t specify strictly for infants, or even as an outdoor bird bath, but don’t specify strictly for hummingbirds.
In your copy you say that the bowl, or bowls, may be returned for any reason, exactly as packaged by using the original packing. Most recipients of the item, or items, will have tossed the original packing by that time and they will be stuck with their purchase.
You will eventually, of course, be added to the Better Business Bureau’s blacklist and be required to turn belly-up, so to speak, and go out of business, but just consider this—the world’s population exceeds some six billion people—that’s a six followed by nine zeros, and the United States alone has about 330 million people–that’s a couple of threes followed by seven zeros.
If you only captured ten percent of the US population with your cereal bowls before joining Mr. Madoff, the Ponzi scheme gentleman now serving his 150-year prison sentence, you would have earned at least $3,300,000, minus expenses, of course—just think of all the things that could be enjoyed by your relatives that remain outside the prison walls and trust me, we would come out of the woodwork.
I know, I know, I have fartoo much time on my hands. Hey, I just created a new word in the previous sentence when I failed to space between the word far and too. I didn’t correct it because I may copyright it.
Oh, and by the way, George’s comment referred to certain anatomical features of homo sapiens. It had no relation to shrinkage of ceramic items when fired.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
As everyone remembers, George’s comment was anatomical and did not involve shrinkage of ceramic bowls.
The image and the tale of a classroom experiment below were in an e-mail sent by the youngest of my three daughters, the one that lives, loves and happily flourishes in the northern climes of Texas while looking after the activities of one husband, two young children and a dog named Wrigley. She also doubles as the president of a local grammar school PTA, and is occasionally a part-time (unpaid) consultant for friends who are commercial property managers, some actually and some potentially.
Classroom Socialism . . .
When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Is this man truly a genius? Checked out and this is true… it DID happen! An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan.” All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.” (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they
wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. It could not be any simpler than that.
Remember, there there is a real test coming up—the 2012 elections. The five points that follow are the most important you’ll ever read and all are applicable to this experiment.
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
Government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from others.
You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.
To the reader:
The diatribe below is my reply to the e-mail. If you were offended and took umbrage because of my sharing the experiment with you, whether real or false, you may want to ignore this part to avoid becoming irritated, agitated, aggravated and infused with the urge to respond with your opposing views. However, I welcome and will respond to all comments, negative and positive.
Love it, simply love it. I will never understand why people—Democrats, liberals, communists, socialists, anarchists and other misguided a-holes insist on pursuing socialism. It has never worked for any appreciable length of time and it never will. I checked this with snopes.com and learned that the e-mail has been around for more than fifteen years and perhaps longer, with various titles and referencing various schools. I seriously doubt that the experiment ever happened, whether before or after Obama ascended to his throne. Not that any of that matters, of course. I consider the experiment, whether real of false, to be a great and shining example of socialism and communism.
As you might expect, I have a story about this. Away back in the past century—in November of 1972—US Customs sent me to the United States Customs National Service Academy at Hoffstra University on New York’s Long Island. As an overall-clad country boy wearing clodhopper brogans and no socks, I was so thrilled that I could hardly maintain control of a certain feature of my anatomical waste elimination apparatus. My hope was that I would excel in my class and perhaps get an attaboy from the US Customs Service.
On my first day in class I knew that would never happen. Our instructor, a far past retirement age Customs officer faced the class and the first thing he told us was that we would be tested and graded on the various sections of the training, but we would not be required to make a passing grade, that our employment with Customs would not be affected, that in lieu of grades or diplomas we would be issued a Certificate of Attendance regardless of our final grade, whether superior or inferior.
The six-week course became a six-week vacation in New York for this ol’ country boy. I made only cursory glances at the various booklets and test papers and Customs publications, vowing to earn no grade above a C, and I was successful. Had I been even casually interested in making higher grades I believe that I would have been at the top of my class, which in itself would have been nothing to crow about. I can remember only one instance in which I stupidly raised my hand to tell the instructor that a two-step arithmetic problem that Customs officers would face on duty could be accomplished in one step, thus saving time and reducing errors in the calculation.
His answer? He took umbrage—well, he actually got really pissed-off and glowering mightily he said, “Do you want to teach this class?” I replied in the negative and I never raised my hand again, and I was never asked for an answer to any of his questions. That was probably a good thing, because had I been asked my answer would have been “Damned if I know,” even if I did know the answer.
I bore you with this diatribe only to point out that without competition, any system of government will fail miserably. Thanks for sending the e-mail. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The image below shows a table setting created by one of my three daughters (the middle one in age), the one that lives, loves, labors and languishes in the remote and desolate northern climes, specifically in Alexandria, Virginia. That ghostly image in the center of her butternut and acorn squash soup is a dollop of cream cheese. In her posting she likened it to a ghostly figure, and I likened it to a specific ghost—Casper, The Friendly Ghost of cartoon fame. Read her post here for her narrative of the occasion and the soup’s ingredients.
The text that follows is my comment on her posting. I found it so beautifully composed and presented that I decided it deserved its own post—its own spotlight, so to speak. I can say that with all humility. In fact, if I weren’t so humble I would be perfect!
En la madrugada—as freely translated from Spanish to English the term means “in the wee small hours of the morning“—I was standing at the computer we used to input vehicle license numbers, trying desperately to stay awake with very little success. However, every time I went to sleep my knees buckled and I awakened, or at least I became partially awake, not very alert but at least awake.
Casper appears to be drowning in Michael’s soup, a somewhat more ominous image than dancing, or perhaps playing Scrabble—the ghostly figure seems to be reaching for a Scrabble tile on its right—but perhaps not. Your ghost also resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost, a nebulous presence I encountered on the bridge that spans the Rio Grande River, a shallow and horribly polluted stream that divides the US from Mexico!
I met Casper the Friendly Ghost many years ago at a lonely Texas-Mexico border crossing. I was working the midnight shift—12 midnight until 8 AM, and I was one of only three people on duty. The others were an Immigration officer and the outbound toll collector, and both were sound asleep, trusting me to guard them and the United States of America from harm by applying my accumulated knowledge of outbound and inbound restrictions that were promulgated by the USA and Mexico. Mine was a Herculean task, but I usually managed to do it successfully over my two-hour shifts during the assigned eight hours until I was relieved by the Immigration officer.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear—no, no, not Santa Claus and his reindeer-drawn sleigh piled high with Christmas gifts for the world’s children. What appeared to my wondering eyes was Casper the Friendly Ghost of cartoon fame, dancing around in the bright light, appearing and disappearing while I watched. I rubbed my eyes roughly several times, but he continued capering under the hanging light, sometimes small and at other times larger. I imagine that by now you, the reader, are highly skeptical but this story is true—I should know because I was there.
The bridge to Mexico began some 100 feet from my position, and there was a brilliant light erected on a tall pole beside the pedestrian walk. During one of the many times I awakened, I focused my gaze on the lighted area and I began seeing movement high up near the source of the light, something similar to a swarm of bees or scudding clouds or rising flights of birds or bats, forming shapes that would rapidly change, literally disappearing for a split second before forming a new shape.
As I walked slowly toward the bridge I continued trying to come fully awake, and I hitched up the weapon I was required to wear, a six-shot revolver with a six-inch barrel—the hitching-up was needed because the belt was too large for me. Mind you, I had no intention of shooting Casper—I could never do that—my children would never have forgiven me.
As an aside to this posting, after several months on duty at the bridge the pistol belt fit snugly because of the frequent meals delivered at a highly reduced price—not gratis, but close—from a Mexican restaurant on the other side of the bridge.
As I slowly drew closer to the lighted area, all the while keeping my gaze on the forms that were—-well, they were forming and re-forming, and the shapes suddenly devolved into untold thousands of swarming insects, appearing and disappearing as they circled under the light. Many more thousands were on the street and the sidewalk, some dead and others still moving. I was finally wide awake and feeling considerably better—Casper had disappeared.
The insects were willow-flies, creatures that were born under water in soapstone banks and rocks. At birth they rise to the surface and lie there until their wings dry enough for them to take off from the surface of the water. Willow-flies only make one flight because they can only take off from water, and once they land they are finished.
I have no doubt that, now that you know I met Casper the Friendly Ghost many years ago, you will pester me until I post that story on my blog. Okay, okay! I’ll start on it!
Contrary to my usual promises I did post the event, albeit 360 days later (last year on 12 January 2011, and it is reproduced exactly as I posted it as a comment on my daughter’s blog.
I found an image online that infused me with an irresistible urge to tell an off-color joke as a posting, one that would definitely be condemned by my mother’s family. All have crossed the River Styx, the stream that separates the living from those who have made the crossing, the latter of which includes my parents’ entire family, except for me, of course. Those who have gone before were my mother, father, one brother, five sisters, and a stepfather that I feel obligated to mention. Of the total of ten people in the family I am the only one still standing, and I’m hanging on for dear life.
Yes, life is dear to me in spite of the loss of family members, the political upheavals across the earth, the present declination of our country and its position and importance among the world’s nations, and in spite of the price of gasoline, movie tickets, popcorn and garlic bologna. In the words of an old song, “Please, Mister Custer, I don’t wanna go!”
In telling this joke I would be chastised by all except my brother and my youngest sister. Both enjoyed jokes, especially my brother, but my sister took an interminable amount of time in the telling. I believe she did that in order to dominate any conversation—to stay on stage, so to speak.
The image below is that of our current president speaking to an audience, accompanied by a woman signing his words for the benefit of those in his audience that are hard-of-hearing. Please trust me when I say that the image includes the off-color punch-line of the joke—it’s hidden, but it’s there. On the off-chance that the punch-line escapes you, I’ll will happily forward it to you in a brown-paper-wrapped e-mail.
The honeymoon was over and the newly-weds, a well-seasoned world-traveler and a sweet young thing unwise in the ways of the world, were beginning their new lives together. They were at breakfast and just before the husband left for work he asked his wife to practice a certain action that she steadfastly refused to perform throughout the honeymoon, explaining that she had never done that and knew not how to do it or even begin to do it. He suggested that she practice the act with the ketchup bottle during the day. She loved her husband and wanted to please him and she promised to comply. She practiced the action throughout the day, performed it obediently that night and promised to willingly and happily comply with future requests, and the couple lived happily ever after.
Postscript: On November 18, 2010 a unique lady, lovely in every mental and physical respect, beautifully loved and loving, crossed over the River Styx. We would have celebrated 58 years of marriage just 25 days later on 13 December, and her eightieth birthday on 26 December. She was and still is my wife Janie, a Georgia peach that I married in 1952. For awhile after her death, life was not dear to me, but I feel that I have overcome most of the sadness that the death of a loved one can create—not all, but enough to feel that life is still good and that happiness has many facets—one needs but search for it in different ways and in different places.
An extraordinary Thai Pantene television commercial that tells the story of a deaf and mute girl who learns to play the violin against all odds. Uploaded in September 2008, it has been viewed more than five million times, and I unashamedly admit that many of those views are mine. It is a commercial, but what a commercial it is!
I found this video by accident while searching YouTube for Kim Kardashian’s tape that everyone was talking about—the wedding tape, not the other one. If you like music and appreciate the artistry displayed by musicians, you’ll love this young girl’s performance in competition, so turn up the sound and enjoy a profound musical moment. The video brought tears to my eyes and a tightening in my throat—it’s very touching.
A hoary bromide tells us that “A drowning man will grasp at straws.” What if you, a
Chinese dissident, were treading water in the middle of the ocean, desperately
trying to keep your head above water with a monstrous storm looming on the horizon, and Mao Tse-Tung pulled up alongside in a powerboat and offered a helping hand—would you accept it?
Or what if you, a Russian dissident, were in the same situation and Joseph Stalin suddenly appeared and offered to help—would you reject him? Or what if you, a person of a certain faith and nationality, were sinking for the third time and Adolph Hitler extended a helping hand—would you start paddling in a different direction?
And finally, what if you, an American citizen, a beautiful young female nurse, were thrown a lifeline by Richard Speck, the mass murderer who tortured, raped and butchered eight student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital—would you ignore it?
I can only speak for myself should I be in such a predicament, but I know that I would first consider the odds of my survival should I reject such an offer. I would spend perhaps two nano-seconds in consideration and then
accept the help and embrace the helper.
Our country is now in that situation. We are desperately paddling to avoid becoming and continuing to be a second-rate nation, drowning in unsustainable debt and no helping hand in sight. No, belay that—there is one offer on the table, an offer being made by a person that has the potential to save us from that watery grave. He is e pluribus unum, one among many who are making the same offer, but he is the only one who has the qualifications to get the job done. However—and this is a big however—he is struggling to be allowed to rescue our nation from descending into mediocrity.
From Dictionary.Com: Mediocrity is a situation which can occur in a democracy in which mediocre people prevail. The society is then subordinated to a quasi-egalitarian ideology in which words and ideas are redefined by mediocre people, to be convenient for mediocre people.
That person—let’s call him our potential savior—is being pilloried by various sections of our society for his past transactions, transitions and transgressions. He is from the “old school,” a Washington insider, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives who was elected ten times and spent twenty-one years in Congress before resigning his seat. Many attribute his “fall from grace” to his push for impeachment and removal from office of then-president Bill Clinton as the result of the president’s extramarital affair with a White House intern.
Even given all those negatives, Newt Gingrich is the only one of the ten
Republicans that is qualified to be the president of the United States and
the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. He is not a mediocre person.
He has the will and the knowledge to bring our country together if we only
give him the opportunity to utilize that knowledge.
I fear that history will judge us harshly if we do not give him the votes to allow him to take the necessary steps to strengthen our economy and restore our country to its greatness and its royal position among the other nations of the world. For many years we considered ourselves to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth, and most of the other nations agreed with us. Sadly, that agreement has been badly weakened.
According to the Census Bureau’s report (§963 Mortgage Characteristics – Owner Occupied Units), as of 2007 when the most recent data was available, the United States had 75,647,000 owner-occupied households. Of these, 24,885,000 had no mortgage. That is, not a single penny was owed the bank and the homeowner had total equity in the property.
That means 32.896% of owner-occupied households own their property outright and have no mortgage.
Now, these figures were from before the housing crisis but that shouldn’t matter because it seems like a good bet that if you owe nothing on your house, you can’t have the bank foreclose on it, can you? No matter what the market value of your home is, nobody can kick you out, as long as you pay your property taxes, which are often a fraction of the value of a residence.
To put that into perspective, imagine walking into a room of 100 homeowners that represents a cross-section of the United States. Statistically, 33 of the people in that room would have no mortgage. They would make no payment to the bank and they own their home outright. The other 67 people would have a mortgage.
There’s a downside to paying off a mortgage. I can no longer itemize items on my tax returns because I lack the necessary amount of valid deductions. The amount allowed by the IRS for a single taxpayer with only one personal deduction (self) and no home mortgage is beyond miserly—it’s pathetic. However, so far I have managed to overcome the impulse to purchase a home with a huge mortgage in order to claim the interest exemption, thereby reducing my taxes.
I realize that the option of upgrading to a larger home in an exclusive neighborhood—The Dominion in San Antonio, for example, something comparable to the home of NBA star David Robinson or that of George
Strait of country music fame, but the savings would not justify the horrors of relocating and besides, I would probably walk away from the mortgage a few months later having exhausted my savings—okay, one month.
I suppose I could search for a soul-mate (a female, naturally, or a male unnaturally—just a bit of humor there) for marriage and thereby decrease my taxes by doubling my exemptions, or even adopt a few wayward children, perhaps three or four orphans thereby tripling, quadrupling or quintupling my exemptions. Of course, if I chose any of those options I would probably wind up living in my backyard storage shed, even if I only opted for the soul-mate—bummer!
In support of my decision I have artfully crafted a poem, dedicated to those left alone by the love of their life passing from this realm to another (the dedication is extended to such persons still burdened by a mortgage).
A most heroic poem,
and beautifully made
I will remain alone
in my debt-free home
with my senior discount
until I tire of riding single
after riding double so long,
and I surrender the reins
of this unruly mount
that I travel on.
The next horse I ride
I hope will have wings
as befitting a king.
Pegasus would do
but I follow a rule,
I’ll take what is offered
though it be a mule,
But whichever life brings,
I refuse to board
unless it has wings.
Papa John, my step-father, placed little emphasis on the yuletide season, whether regarding religion and the birth of Christ or on the spirit of giving at Christmas time. I can only remember two gifts he gave me. I posted the story of his promise to my sister and me that he would get us a dog for Christmas, and how he kept his promise. Click here to read about that memorable Christmas. It’s a sad story, sadder even than that of Tiny Tim Cratchet in Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol—well, not really that sad, but it was memorable.
We lived on a small farm in Mississippi for a year or so, just long enough to sell off the cotton and a bit of timber, enough to give our stepfather a grubstake to return to a life to which he had become accustomed before marrying into our family. With the money in his pocket, he only needed to create a situation that would infuriate him enough to rid himself of the albatross around his neck, namely my mother, my sister and me. Click here for that merry tale, a story of violence and threats, including me and my sister racing to gain a hiding place and safety in the woods.
The only other Christmas gift my stepfather gave me over the seven years I lived with him, on-and-off for varying periods of time, was a .22 caliber Remington rifle in as-new condition, having been restored by a gunsmith. The wooden stock had been refinished and the metal parts re-blued. He also handed me a box of fifty .22-short rifle bullets. If you should ever have to be shot with a .22 caliber weapon, opt for the short bullet. Its casing is shorter than 22-long bullets and thus has less powder to propel the lead or copper tip.
In my boyhood I devoured the stories told in books by Zane Grey and James Fenimore Cooper. At an age somewhere between eleven and twelve years and with that rifle in my hands I became Natty Bumppo—Hawkeye—the protagonist in The Last of the Mohicans, moving silently but swiftly through the virgin Eastern forests, unseen and unheard, avoiding every twig, bush or loose stone that might reveal my presence to the wily Hurons bent on lifting my scalp, all the while protecting the white women that the author felt that renegade Indians coveted for whatever nefarious purposes.
I was also in pursuit of desperadoes, violent and dangerous men as depicted by Zane Grey including bank robbers, cattle rustlers, horse thieves and those that at one time or another had neglected to tip their hat on meeting genteel ladies on the wooden sidewalks in western frontier towns, nor did they step aside to the muddy street to allow the long-skirted ladies safe passage—the ladies were therefore required to raise their skirts to avoid the mud, thus revealing their ankles to the salacious men by deferring to them and stepping off the boardwalk into the muddy street—bummer.
As President George Herbert Walker Bush—Bush #1—might say, shortly after receiving the rifle I was in deep you know what—I was in a lot of trouble. Unknown to me at the time, our neighbors on our right some mile or so distant raised turkeys for the market. As I prowled through the forest in that direction looking for Indians or rustlers or bank robbers, I came upon a clearing with a dead tree in its center, stripped of its leaves and its branches festooned with turkeys. Since I had found them in the forest I immediately deduced that they were wild turkeys and commenced firing with the intent of putting meat on the table for my family, starving after a meager crop, with no money and a dearth of wild animals for food.
My turkey rifle was a single shot, and my stepfather had told me to never carry a loaded rifle, to load it when I was ready to shoot at something. This involved pulling back the bolt, digging a cartridge out of my pocket, inserting the cartridge into the barrel, closing and locking the bolt, then pulling back the firing pin and locking it into position to fire. Only then should the weapon be aimed and the trigger be pulled to release the firing pin that strikes the shell and ignites the powder, providing the force to propel the missile to, or at least in the direction of the target. My rifle was definitely not a rapid-fire weapon, and that feature probably saved me from disaster.
I laboriously reloaded after the first shot—the turkey I had aimed at did not seem to be adversely affected, so I took my second shot at a different bird. That turkey also seemed impervious to the bullet, but I was denied a third shot, whether at him or one of the others. I was in the process of reloading for a third shot when the owner of the turkeys entered the scene, running and shouting for me to stop shooting his turkeys.
I didn’t know that our neighbors had changed from a white family with a passel of kids, one of them a beautiful red-haired cross-eyed girl about my age, but a young girl that had all the attributes of a mature woman, or at least all the visible attributes of a mature woman. A black family was now living on the farm—yes, that’s what we called African-Americans back in the olden days—and the turkey-farmer was big and moving swiftly in my direction, shouting at me to stop shooting, so I wisely matched his speed in the opposite direction and headed for home as fast as my bare feet could carry me.
I never knew whether my bullets struck either of my turkey targets. I would hope that I missed completely, but I was afraid to ask my stepfather. I told him about my error in thinking the turkeys were wild, and he just laughed, then went into a long discourse on the use of firearms and safety after telling me that there were no wild turkeys in that part of the state.
I don’t know whether the neighbor ever came to our house to talk to my stepfather, or whether my stepfather went to his house. I have my doubts that either happened. As for my hunting efforts with my rifle, I never again went toward the turkey farm, with or without my rifle—I had lost most of my attraction for shooting at anything, whether animal, vegetable, mineral or otherwise.
The rifle is in my possession now. In the early days of our marriage, I used it for collateral to get enough money to buy gasoline for our 250 mile trip home from visiting my wife’s relatives. Many years later my brother-in-law returned the rifle to me for the exact amount of the collateral—five dollars. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but gas was only 22 cents a gallon in 1954.
I treasure that rifle. I treasure it so much that it’s stripped down into three pieces, stock, barrel and bolt, and stored in three different places in my home. Finding all three pieces would be a daunting task for a burglar—in fact, I’m not sure that I can find them—and should an intruder enter while the house is occupied the task would be even more laborious and completely unneccessary because I have a veritable arsenal of weapons readily available for such an occasion, as do most patriotic and conscientious citizens in my neck of the woods.
To paraphrase Art Linkletter in his old-time television show, Kids say the darndest things, humor can be found in the darndest places. I received this video recently in an e-mail from a lovely retired couple in Florida that migrated from North to South, legally of course, leaving the winters of Ohio and fleeing for the flora and fauna of Florida, going from icicles to iguanas, from shoveling snow to seeking shade, and apparently living and loving every minute of life in the sunshine state.
This is the video from YouTube that the Florida couple sent, a video that has already been viewed one and three quarters of a million times—you can keep it moving towards the two million mark, but please be forewarned that it makes a strong political statement, an incredibly funny one but still definitely political.
If you tend to lean toward the left on the political spectrum you might want to skip the video—it might make you laugh even if you are so tilted to the left that you are lying down, so view it at your own peril. However, if you tend to lean toward the right even ever so slightly, you will be doing yourself a gross disservice if you don’t watch it. Please note that the audience found humor in four separate places in this brief portion of the president’s speech, but their laughter and applause reached a crescendo when the Great Communicator delivered the punchline. And at the time of this posting, 2, 625 viewers say they liked the video and only 80 have voiced their dislike. None of the votes is mine—I strive to remain neutral in this area, a position that is rather difficult to maintain and I sometimes stray, but I still try.
I do not own a Porsche automobile. I have never owned one nor have I ever longed to own one, and unless I hit the lottery for multiple millions I will never own one. Having said that, I can state without any hesitation that should I ever have an occasion to drive a Porsche, on a test drive perhaps after I bank my lottery winnings, I will not—and I repeat, I will not—drive it as suggested by Jeff Purner, a professional driving instructor for Porsche Cars North America.
Our local paper is the San Antonio Express-News. It’s the only daily newspaper in San Antonio, Texas and each Monday it publishes a feature called Monday Drive. On Monday, June 6, 2011 the feature was titled Take action before you hit the road, an article provided by NewsUSA.
Most of the advice given by the professional driving instructor in the article deals with routine maintenance such as checking windshield wiper blades, tire condition and inflation, fuel and other gages, condition of seat belts, headlights, brake lights, turn signals and positions of external and internal rear view mirrors. The professional Porsche instructor states that checking those items before you turn on the ignition could mean the difference between life and death. He also extols the dangers of cell phones, whether texting, talking or using GPS applications, and considers such actions equal to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
I am in complete agreement with Jeff Purner, right up to the point that he is quoted as saying, So many accidents can be traced back to bad decisions before you even get behind the driver’s seat. At that point Jeff and I are in violent conflict concerning auto safety—at opposite poles, so to speak.
If you, the reader, wonder why I do not agree with Jeff Purner, a professional driving instructor for Porsche Cars North America, please read the previous paragraph and note carefully where apparently Jeff sits when driving—behind the driver’s seat rather than behind the steering wheel. I believe that even if his arms were long enough to reach the wheel, there is no way he could reach the brake pedal or the gas pedal, or the clutch if the car has a manual transmission, and his vision of the various dashboard controls and gages would be severely restricted.
I will therefore counter the professional driver’s advice with my own: Do not get behind the driver’s seat to drive a car unless you are a very large and very highly trained octopus. With your four pairs of arms you could then dedicate specific arms to work the brake pedal, accelerator, mirrors, sound system, cell phone and a GPS unit, and still have two arms for the steering wheel. I believe that makes eight—yep, that’s all eight of them.
Those of us who are not octopuses—yes, that is the correct plural for octopus—should check all that stuff before getting behind the wheel, not behind the driver’s seat. I will also counter the advice of Porche’s professional driver to hold the wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Poppycock! Poppycock, I say! Keep holding that wheel at 10 and 2, and for heaven’s sake, do not listen to those that would tell you to hold the wheel at the bottom, whether with palms up or palms down. Either way you are subject to contribute to drivers’ efforts to fill heaven up sooner rather than later, heaven and that other place also.
To paraphrase Art Linkletter in his old-time television show, Kids say the darndest things, humor can be found in the darndest places. I received this e-mail recently from a lovely retired couple in Florida that migrated from North to South, legally of course, leaving the winters of Ohio and fleeing for the flora and fauna of Florida, going from icicles to iguanas, from shoveling snow to seeking shade, and apparently living and loving every minute of life in the sunshine state.
I freely admit, with not a smidgen of shame, that I took a few liberties with the original e-mail and in my not-so-humble opinion I approved it immeasurably. In the original e-mail, for example, the bagpipe player said he felt badly about being too late for the graveside services.
No, no, no, never—not no, but hell no! If one feels badly, then one has a deficiency in one’s ability to feel, to exercise the tactile sense of touch. Consider this: Does anyone ever say that they felt goodly about anything? No, they say they felt good, not goodly, about whatever the feeling was that generated how they felt. There were numerous other improvements involving wayward commas, failure to capitalize when needed, attempts to reflect regional dialects of Kentucky and redundant terms such as like I’ve never played before—the word never does not need before.
I rest my case, and I now offer the edited e-mail:
Bagpipes at a funeral . . .
As a bagpiper I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. The departed had no family or friends, and the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in rural Kentucky. I was not familiar with the backwoods and got lost, and being a typical man I didn’t stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw that the funeral workers were gone, and the hearse was nowhere in sight. Only the diggers and their equipment remained, and the men were eating lunch in the shade of a nearby tree.
I felt bad about being too late for the ceremony and I apologized to the workers. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and saw that the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and gathered around with their hardhats in hand. I played my heart and soul out for that man with no family and no friends. I played for that homeless man like I’ve never played for anyone.
I played Amazing Grace, and as I played the workers began to weep. They wept and I wept, and we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car I heard one of the workers say, I have never seen or heard of anything like that, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.
Apparently I was still lost—it must be a man thing.
Postscript:The internet offers several versions of this story by different bloggers—none are better than this one and some, while not necessarily worse, are not as good as this one—take your pick.
Long, long ago in a far-off land, way back in the good-old-days of the past century when I was gainfully and sometimes painfully employed, my managerial duties involved a close, professional and personal relationship with narcotic detector dog teams. On two separate occasions during mandatory training sessions in classes conducted in the field at various locations. the instructor defined a narcotic detector dog team as “a leash with a problem at both ends.”
I lodged my protest at such a definition and the instructor noted my objection. Whether the instructor continued to characterize the teams that way is unknown, at least to me, and in the not-too-distant future I severed ties with my employer—I retired, an act that was quite pleasing both for me and for my employer, and there-in lies a story—nay, a series of stories, but those I will hold in abeyance for now.
My reason for this posting? I submit that the president of the United States is at one end of a leash and our national unions are on the other end, therefore both are problems, and their actions are adversely affecting our nation. I refer, of course, to the current bru-ha-ha of Boeing’s new plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, and to the actions of the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, and finally to our president’s apparent non-involvement in that conflict.
I considered going into detail concerning the current conflict between the Boeing Company, the unions and the NLRB, but I will resist the temptation—those who follow current events will be familiar with the situation and those that do not follow current events would not be interested in details. And I will not specify whether the president is leading or being led in my analogy, although I have an extremely strong opinion as to which position on the leash he occupies. I’ll leave it up to my readers to decide that, and I welcome any input, whether pro or con.
The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! – Jane Austen.
That quote by Jane Austen was the THOUGHT OF THE DAY recently on the home page of Refdesk.com, a reference source that in my untutored opinion is one of the best reference sources available online. Try it—you’ll like it!
The writer died young at the age of 41 and garnered little fame during her lifetime. However, posthumous publications of her work established her as a major contributor to the world of literature. Austen never married but received a proposal for marriage, one that she accepted but then she withdrew her acceptance the following day. Her answer to a request for advice from a niece was this: Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection. Click here for a biography of Jane Austen provided by Wikipedia.
And now for my unprofessional and unlettered analysis of Jane Austen’s statement shown above. In a Herculean effort to understand it, I viewed the quote in physical rather than metaphysical terms and I may have perhaps unlocked her secret, that part of her that caused her to formulate the statement. The answer lies in her plaintive statement that I require so much!
I believed it first to be a mental or psychological aberration, and of course it may have been, but it perhaps could have referred to a physical flaw, albeit still an aberration. The psychological aberration refers, of course, to a person that has an inexhaustible need for sex, a condition termed by professional psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists and to a lesser extent by the common man, an insatiable libido, a medical condition, a need for sex that can never be satisfied and makes life unbearable for those suffering from such a condition—yeah, right!
Now please don’t misunderstand me when I approach her comment from a different slant, so to speak, and postulate a condition somewhat different than an insatiable libido. Perhaps when Jane Austen said I require so much, she meant that her physical makeup includes a corporeal void rather than psychological, an area so large that she felt that it could not be filled by any man. One cannot help but wonder if she ever submitted to a trial effort. Or perhaps she was tremendously promiscuous and through trial and effort concluded that it was hopeless. She was engaged for a very brief period, less than 24 hours—she agreed to a proposal for marriage but retracted her agreement the following day. And a growing school of today’s scholars are exploring the possibility that Jane Austen may have been homosexual—some believe that her love for her sister kept her unmarried and uninvolved.
I know, I know—I’m being naughty but I can’t help it—it’s my nature, it’s in my genes. I cannot resist seeking out and elaborating on double entendres, no more than a squirrel can resist storing up nuts for the winter, or a dog resist barking, a cat resist meowing, a mule resist braying or a cow resist mooing—their natures demand those actions. They are involuntary, just as are my evaluations and explanations of double entendres. I suppose I should apologize, but my nature also precludes apologies. Besides, all things are possible, so the possibility exists that I am right in this instance—concerning the void, not Jane Austen’s love for her sister.
Postscript: Biographers of Jane Austen differ on the cause of her death, but at least one researcher, Katherine White of Britain’s Disease Self Help Group, suggests that Austen died of bovine tuberculosis, a disease associated with drinking unpasteurized milk. And that calls for a posting dealing with that subject.
Stay tuned—I’ll conjure up images from my childhood far back in the past century, shrouded in the mists of time but still quite vivid in my memories, and I’ll get back to you later with the intricate details of making butter the old-fashioned way, and I’ll tell you up front that today’s way is far better.
The city of Farmersville, Texas is located in the far north corner of the state, with a population of 3,542 in 2009 and still growing, and in that city is a restaurant called—are y’all ready for this unusually alliterative name?
Intrigued by the name, I reviewed some of the comments made by various customers. The first one below is a classic that has a typo—at least I believe it is a typo. It must be a typo because no sane husband would refer to his spouse as his wide rather than his wife, especially while stressing that she considers the fried peanut butter pie a special treat. Click here for a food critic’s review of the restaurant.
Here is the husband’s comment:
You have to try the fried peanut butter pie. It is wonderful. My wide and I have it as a special treat. Wow!
More raves about the restaurant:
Good home cookin’ here! I’ve never recommended a restaurant based on a side dish, but if you are anywhere near Farmersville, you have to try this fried cabbage. Nothing I ate was on my diet, and all of it was worth treating myself, but the cabbage was magnificent. I was told it is boiled, and then fried on the grill with onions. Oh wow! It is hard to mess up a chicken fried steak (though public schools do try), but the one I ate was very, very good. Not too much breading, plenty of actual meat, and gravy that will make health nuts cry. The fries were not great, but not bad, and mustard helped them. I did taste my wife’s okra and mashed potatoes. Fantastic. Daddy O’s it is worth the drive, especially if you like themed restaurants and southern cooking. Get there soon, and don’t take your doctor. http://mnmwrite.blogspot.com/2010/02/food-notes-daddy-os.html
Chantilly Lace and Some Great Food I love this diner!! This is a gem of a diner located in the heart of Farmersville. A true step back in time. There are all sorts of pictures and memorabilia from the 50s and 60s. Oh, and the food is fantastic.
Great atmosphere. This is a great restaurant to go to and have a wonderful hamburger. The food is great and the prices are reasonable. The staff is friendly and the 50s rock n’ roll theme is enough to make you want to stay for more.
“Loved loved loved this place. the food was great, the waitress was friendly and the place was very clean. Loved the decor. Live in Princeton, so we want to go back soon.”
Some excerpts from comments:
“The food is great and the prices are reasonable” “great atmosphere “ “Even better is the chicken fried steak” “Oh, and the food is fantastic” “Chantilly Lace and Some Great Food “ “Loved the decor” “I love this diner!!” “Our server was quick to tak.”
I don’t understand the last excerpt, the one that states that the server was “quick to tak.” Was she/he quick to talk, perhaps, or quick to take, as in a gratuity, or was quick to task? I guess we’ll never know, unless the commenter reads this posting and decides to explain the meaning of “to tak.”
I now have Daddy-O’s Doo Wop Diner on my bucket list. In fact, it’s the only item on my bucket list, and I may or may not ever add another item on the list, but I will go to Farmersville and I will go to the diner and I will order the chicken-fried steak and the fried peanut butter pie. I have a trip scheduled to visit one of my daughters in Wylie, Texas this summer, and she lives just 39 miles from Farmersville, so the first and only item on my bucket list may well be crossed out after next week.
The only other item I may consider adding to my bucket list is riding the zip line (now in construction) from Mt. Everest, the highest attainable point on earth—29,029 feet above sea level—to the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth on dry land—1,371 feet below sea level. The zip line will run for 7,500 kilometers or 4,750 miles. One should pack a lunch and wear several layers of Depends—even with an average speed of 100 miles per hour the ride will require 48 hours to move from top to bottom.
Perhaps depending on the public’s interest the zip line could become an aerial tramway with spacious cars fitted with bars, food counters, restrooms and sleeping accomodations something on the order of sky boxes at our sports arenas (I’m unsure whether the sky boxes have sleeping areas). If that should come to pass, I will insist on being compensated for my basic suggestion to upgrade to the tramway system.
I’ll get back to you later with more details. Oh, and just one more thought—I made up that zip line thing, but wouldn’t it be great! Take a look at the globe and just imagine the scenes moving below, gorgeous even at 100 miles per hour—and just think about the photo possibilities!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: Every story has at least two sides, and what follows is the other side of this story. I found a somewhat negative review—well, actually it was a scathing rebuke of the diner, its servers, its services, its food and its restroom facilities.
The following comment was dated April 16, 2011 and is presented exactly as found online, with no effort made to correct punctuation, spelling, capitalization errors or sentence construction. Apparently the bottom line of this comment is that the writer probably would not recommend Daddy-O’s Doo Wop Diner in Farmersville, Texas, not for breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight chow, nor for a picnic basket to take out—of course, I could be wrong.
My first time there. And thank god my last! Worst service ever. We went there for breakfast, missed it by 4 minutes. The waitress appeared to look exausted and hung over. she acted like we were twisting her arm when we inqired about breakfast. She said the cook was in a bad mood mood and would not make any exceptions. I ordered an apetizer and pretty much recieved it WITH MY MEAL. where I come from you serve apetizer s before your meal. I ordered the sampler.with cheese sticks, fried mushrooms and corn nuggets.They arrived in a bed of oil. Every bite felt like drinking a cup of vegetable oil. The mac n cheese should of been called” water n mac” cause there was not any cheese flavor what so ever.she kept forgetting the little things like to check on us refresh our drinks and to smile. I took my 3 year old to used the bathroom and let me tell you it looked like the sewer scenes from the ninja turtle movie. Dont get me wrong I love diners, I will just try to pretend this was a bad dream.
Let’s hear it for those stalwarts that are presently in attendance at Texas A&M University, for those that have been graduated by that school and for those that were prematurely tossed out for various but completely understandable reasons—faults such as a predilection for unnatural communion with small animals, for example, or for failure to attend at least seven percent of required classes over a period of six years, failure to achieve a solid D average over the same period, and failure to qualify for an undergraduate bachelor degree in fewer than eight years.
I have a certain amount of sympathy for the Aggies. I don’t believe they deserve the fusillade of stones and arrows that rain down on them from all points of the globe and from persons in all walks of life—well, perhaps some deserve such treatment, maybe—okay, perhaps most deserve such treatment, but certainly not all—there must be at least a few good apples in the Aggie barrel.
Aggies are the abject targets of social discrimination. Apparently they don’t teach sociology at Texas A & M, because any group that wishes to protect itself from discrimination has only to declare itself as a minority and document the discrimination—properly documented, the Aggies would be a shoo-in for designation as a minority and thereby entitled to all the privileges and benefits thereof.
Their request for minority status and freedom from discrimination should include the jillions of jokes—love that alliteration—that target the Aggies, jokes that in large measure have been converted from jokes aimed at other so-called minorities. The Aggies need only to believe that they are the victims of discrimination, declare themselves a minority, express that belief and then document the discrimination.
How easy is that!
And on the same subject and using that same sociological definition of what constitutes a minority and discrimination, I suggest that white folks—I favor that term over hill billies, whities, white trash, honkies, gringos, rednecks and trailer trash—identify themselves as a sociological minority and claim discrimination. It really doesn’t matter whether they are or are not the victims of discrimination, nor does it matter that they constitute a majority of the US population. Discrimination does not depend on population—read on.
The 2009 population figures show a total US population of 307 million, and whites alone constitute 65% of that total even after excluding the 30 million White Hispanics and Latino Americans in the population. Whites only are obviously not a minority in numbers, but the sociological definition requires only that a group believes itself to be discriminated against, expresses that belief, and documents the discrimination and that definition is satisfied—it does not depend on the number of people in the minority group.
Come on, all you Aggies! Get your stuff together and force us to pick on some other group—unwed fathers, for example, or maybe cross-dressing homeless Lower Slobovian refugees. The current hordes of wannabes clamoring for attention as potential candidates for the presidency of the United States of America under the GOP banner would be an ideal target to replace the proud present and past people—there’s that alliteration again—-with ties to Texas’ Agricultural and Mechanical University, the state’s first public institution of higher education, established by the Texas state legislature ‘way back in April of 1871.
What follows next is a joke that includes some suggestions for replacements that qualify as targets for jokes in order to reduce the pressure on Aggies. For example, you might ask someone, Didja hear about the two community organizers that, blah, blah, blah?
Now for the joke:
Have you heard the one about the two (at this point insertpolitical independents, republicans, democrats, communists, activists, community organizers, socialists, old maids or other persons) discussing the weather?
First person: It’s going to rain.
Second person: How do you know?
First person: My instincts.
Second person: My end stinks too, but it doesn’t predict the weather, rain or otherwise.
Click here for the original posting, dated 26 Feb 2011, that featured the instinct joke. In that one I used two little morons for the joke. There is some highly cogent political posturing included in that posting, so I’ll apologize in advance for that.
In your show on the evening of Friday, June 3, 2011 you covered Sarah Palin’s visit to Boston. You skewered her when she said that Paul Revere rode his horse through the towns to warn the people that the British were coming, and you said that Palin knows nothing. You said that the warning was one if by land and two if by sea, and that everybody knows that.
That phrase was not a warning—it was merely a signal to Paul Revere, as immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem Paul Revere’s Ride. Click here for the poem and Wikipedia’s discussion. And Chris, for your enlightenment the first two verses of the poem are as follows:
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hand a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal light,
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”
So there, Chris Matthews—that one if by land, and two if by sea was merely a signal to Paul Revere to jump on his horse and spread the alarm through every Middlesex village and farm, and here it needs to be pointed out that Palin used the term town as opposed to the term village, but in my unlearned opinion the two terms are interchangeable. In summary, Palin was right and you were wrong. And now to wrap this one up, although I do not enjoy repeating myself, I will repeat myself:
Nanny, nanny, boo-boo, Palin knows more than you do!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Postscript: I would be remiss if I failed to insert at least a smidgen of humor into this posting. Many years ago, far back in the mist-shrouded years of my boyhood in the past century, a popular corruption of Paul Revere’s Ride was told and retold by me and by my fellow elementary students:
Listen, my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
He jumped in his car and stepped on the gas,
And the floorboard flew up and busted his donkey.
In case you haven’t noticed, please note that the final word in the ditty above, namely the word donkey, obviously does not rhyme with gas—it is a harmless synonym used in an effort to remain in compliance with the language limitations favored by WordPress.
I voluntarily submitted myself to the excruciating torture of watching your show yesterday, June 3, 2011 and during your coverage of John Edwards’ current trials and tribulations I started counting the times you mispronounced John Edwards’ name. When you needed to show possession, without a single exception you pronounced his name as Edwardses, and somewhere around twenty I stopped counting, primarily because I ran out of fingers and toes.
Please note that I did not use an apostrophe in the word Edwardses in that last sentence—it’s impossible for a listener to detect the presence or the absence of an apostrophe in such usage. It may or may not have been present in the mind-numbing number of times you voiced it. With an apostrophe the word Edwards’es, or Edwards’s, is a violation of English usage—without an apostrophe Edwardses is a good word, forming the plural of the Edwards family, as in The Edwardses embarked on a family vacation aboard the Queen Elizabeth—I refer to the ocean liner, of course, not to the current royal monarch.
And no, in answer to the question that is probably forming in your mind one would not, or at least should not, identify the entire family as the Edwardss—the plural requires the es—that’s what makes it plural. Got it?
The es added to Edwards tells us that the whole famn damily went on vacation aboard the QE2. Based on that example, I would hazard a guess that each time you used the term it would be spelled thusly—Edwards’es—but I could be wrong. Words that end in an s are made possessive by the addition of an apostrophe only, not by an apostrophe and s, nor by the addition of an apostrophe and es.
Jumping Jehosaphat, Rachel! Even Sarah Palin knows that! If you were reading a teleprompter last night, I suggest that you fire the worker that compiled it, and if you were winging it I urge you to enroll in English 101—both you and your viewers will profit.
Minutemen were members of the American colonial militia during the American Revolutionary War with England. Modern minutemen have been in the news recently, ordinary citizens who are working on the Mexican border monitoring immigration, businesses and government operations in an effort to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants, smugglers and illegal substances flowing into our country. Click here for the official site of the Minuteman Project.
And now just for fun here’s a bit of levity, a somewhat different definition of a minuteman:
Minuteman: A customer that double-parks in front of a house of ill repute.
A special note: Visitors familiar with my blog will undoubtedly notice and perhaps question the brevity of this posting. I have been chastised for the length of my musings, chastisements including terms such as overblown, overlong, verbose, childish, inane and other terms, up to and including ridiculous. The chastisement I hold dearest to my heart is a simple comment—and simple is the operative word—that was posted to my dissertation on Fox News’ Harris Faulkner.
The comment was: I think you are a boob.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript:Click here for my essay on Fox News’ anchor Harris Faulkner—trust me, the posting is worth viewing—oops, I meant to say the posting is worth reading.
Countless times over the years I heard my mother say that she was not afraid to die, that she had lived her life with love for her Maker and in deference to Him, and that she was ready to meet Him at any time He called her. My mother believed that if one had faith, even though that faith be no larger than a mustard seed, then everything would be alright regardless of the situation, whether it be sickness or hunger or severe weather or any other danger looming on the horizon. And if you’ve ever seen a mustard seed you’ll have a good idea of how much leeway that gives one regarding the amount of faith one must have as one travels through life in this realm—let’s just agree that the size of a mustard seed leaves a lot of room for error, for straying from the straight and narrow path.
In late November of 1980 my mother was hospitalized with an embolism near the heart and was scheduled for surgery. She was so thin and the embolism was so large that it was visible under the skin, expanding and contracting with every heartbeat. When I arrived at the hospital late in the afternoon she was in the Intensive Care Unit, scheduled for surgery early the next morning.
She was understandably fearful of the pending surgery, and I told her that her fear was normal, that anyone would be afraid, and then I reminded her of the oft-quoted power of the mustard seed, the seed that if faith were no larger than, then everything would be alright.
My mother’s answer? With tears flowing freely she said, I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to hear any more about that mustard seed!
My mother was a heavy smoker, beginning in her teenage years and continuing through adulthood and middle age and later. She never really became old—her body took her into old age and reflected that long journey, but her mind and her thoughts and her outlook on life remained young, right up to the end of her time here on earth. Somewhere around the age of fifty she enrolled in a course of mail order studies and eventually became an LPN, a Licensed Practical Nurse. She often nursed persons rendered helpless after years of smoking and she was well aware of the dangers of the habit.
In response to admonitions to quit smoking, she always said that she would quit smoking when she was eighty years old. She smoked her last cigarette on her eightieth birthday in 1977, and her death came in November of 1980, almost four years later. Her surgery was one of those instances, according to her doctors, in which the surgery was a success but the patient died—her heart was not strong enough to endure the invasive and intensive surgery.
One of her doctors told us that her lungs were remarkably clear, particularly considering some six decades of smoking. I’ve never believed that—his comment was probably meant to be some sort of balm in an attempt to keep her survivors for blaming her cigarette habit for her death. It was not necessary—none of us placed any blame on her—our blame was aimed at the cigarette makers.
That’s it—that’s the story of my mother’s surgery and her death, the only time that I was present when a member of my family died, although I was privileged to attend the funerals of several relatives during my boyhood days. One by one my family members fell—mother, father, brother, five sisters and my stepfather, not necessarily in that order, of course. From the age of sixteen I was far off from home and was able to attend only a few of the funerals, whether my immediate family or those of assorted relatives—brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins—all gave up this realm for another as the result of accidents, disease, old age and in one instance, suicide—none was murdered, at least none of which I am aware.
Of my immediate family I am the last one standing. I’m not particularly proud of that, but I’m not disappointed either. I remain, I exist, perhaps due to the luck of the draw, the roll of the dice, or the turn of the wheel, or perhaps because of divine providence. Perhaps the Creator has a special purpose for me.
Hey, it could be—perhaps some day my WordPress musings, my ramblings, will be consolidated in a pseudo autobiography and published world-wide in numerous languages, and perhaps my tales, my escapades, my foibles and my frolics will influence someone to turn away from a life of sin and pleasure and become a monk and one day become the Pope, the holy keeper of the Catholic faith, the only living link with St. Peter, an apostle of Christ and the rock on which He built His house.
And perhaps not.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: I’ll be back later with more thoughts of my mother—stay tuned.
This evening I am privileged to introduce the president of the United States, Barack Obama and our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. However, before I introduce them, this gentleman and this lady that loom larger than life in national and international politics, I would like to point out serious flaws in both the president and his Secretary of State.
Both have multiple flaws, just as everyone else has, but their major flaws lie in their public speaking expertise, or lack therof. The president is continuously described as the most powerful man in the world, and he also is lauded by many to be the most powerful speaker on earth—our esteemed Secretary of State runs him a close second, both in position responsibilities and in public speaking expertise.
I imagine most of you are familiar with the Toastmaster’s Clubs that exist across our nation. Those clubs are dedicated to improving people’s performances in public speaking, particularly in extemporaneous presentations, speeches made off-the-cuff as opposed to reading a speech or utilizing a teleprompter.
Many years ago, while I was still gainfully employed as a military service member, my immediate supervisor was an Air Force major who was a member of a local Toastmaster’s Club. The members met each week for five weeks and each member presented to the others an extemporaneous speech.
Each speaker was graded by the positive and negative comments of the other members, and each week the person that voiced the most uhs in speaking was given a large pink plastic piggybank. That person was required to keep the pink pig on his work desk in the coming week and return it to the next meeting to be awarded to the next speaker that uttered the most uhs. The uhs were viewed as piggy oinks.
That pig sat on the major’s desk for five consecutive weeks. Each week he lugged it to the meeting and returned an hour later and put it back on his desk. At a later date he joined the Club for another five weeks, and the pink piggybank sat on his desk for that five weeks also. I transferred out soon after that, and I have no knowledge of his activities since then. Uh, however, I can, uh, assure you that he, uh, is still lugging that, uh, that pink, uh, pig back and forth, uh, each week.
If you, the reader, have not guessed my reason for this posting, please allow me to explain. My point is this: If Uhbama and Hilluhry joined a Toastmaster’s Club, the club would need two pink piggybanks, one of which each week would sit on Hillary Clinton’s desk at the Department of State, and the other on the president’s desk in the Oval Office. Incidentally, that desk was dubbed the Offal Office during Bill Clinton’s presidency—okay, maybe not—maybe I was the only one that gave it that title, but it should have been given that label—he earned it.
But I digress. Has anyone counted, or even noticed, the frequency with which Hilluhry and Barack Uhbama say uh when they have no teleprompter? And how many times Uhbama stretches the word and to a count of five seconds and then adds the word so stretched out for another three of four seconds. He is desperately trying to formulate his next words and uses the uh, and, so trio to give him time to think. He also frequently uses the three words in sequence and sometimes adds and then, also stretched out to gain more time.
In virtually all his public speeches, beginning with the speech at the national democratic convention in 2008 and continuing in his speeches during the presidential campaign he used a teleprompter—without it he would not be the president of the United States today.
One can sum it up by saying that the president has never met a teleprompter he didn’t like.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: I learned while watching Fox News today that the White House has created an office that has been tasked to screen various media including books, newspapers, television shows and talk radio stations for criticisms of the present administration, and then develop and apply tactics to counteract such criticisms. Yep, that’s our tax dollars at work.
While rambling around a Virginia blogger’s site I came across a photo masquerading as a breakfast in a Huntsville, Alabama home. I was born in Alabama but left there as soon as I could, illegally migrating at the age of five with my family far off to a westerly location in Mississippi, some thirty miles distant from my birthplace. For the next eleven years or so, I had many occasions to return to rural Alabama and I consider myself an expert on country breakfasts, including their composition, presentation and consumption. Click here if you are even the least bit interested in my humble beginnings—it’s a good read—check it out.
Please heed my warning—do not attempt to follow a mule while breaking new ground for planting if this is all you had for breakfast because neither you nor the mule will last until dinner—yes, dinner, not lunch. Country folk do not do lunch, except perhaps while visiting in colder climes in the northern regions.
Breakfast at Sue’s 23 11 2008 En route to Texas for the holidays, we stopped to stay overnight and spend Sunday with our friends, Sue and Steve, in Huntsville, Alabama. They moved from Virginia in April 2007. Sue always has funny napkins on hand, and Sunday morning’s breakfast proved no exception—guess she’s not a Yankee anymore with that attitude! Sue buys most of her funny napkins from Swoozie’s.
And this is my comment on the counterfeit breakfast, a comment that is beautifully composed and presented and can be consumed far more readily than the fruit and pseudo sandwiches shown in the photograph:
Breakfast? BREAKFAST? In Alabama? Where are the grits and eggs and sausage and bacon and biscuits and gravy? No new ground ever got cleared and plowed and cotton never got planted, chopped, picked and hauled off to the cotton gin by people with such a breakfast—that’s not a breakfast, that’s a brunch. Is that a glass of tea? FOR BREAKFAST? Where’s the steaming mug of coffee, one-half chicory, one half cream (real cream) and the other half sugar (real sugar)? This is a country breakfast!
I can only surmise that the invasion of hordes from Northern climes has wrought such drastic change. That “breakfast” wouldn’t provide enough energy to get a team of mules harnessed and hitched up to the wagon. What a pity, or as we say in South Texas, “Que lastima!” As Stephen Foster lamented in his ode to Ol’ Black Joe: “Gone are the days . . .”
With that off my chest, let me say that the table setting is lovely, the photography is superb as always, and your hosts Steve and Sioux—I mean Sue—are the ultimate in graciousness. Their migration from Alexandria to Huntsville is Virginia’s loss and a boon to Alabama—these are people who will always “. . . leave the light on for you.” Click here for a beautiful dissertation on painting, poetry and picking cotton, all relative to this posting—a great read!
And as always when the need arises I will render full disclosure concerning any of my WordPress postings. The breakfast blogger is my daughter, one of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and labors in Virginia, and that bogus breakfast is the work of a transplant from Virginia, formerly a neighbor and still a best friend of the blogger, her BFF as they say on facebook. Sue is a lovely lady that has become a genuine Southern belle in every respect except, of course, in learning what constitutes a country breakfast. I trust that she will learn and conform as time passes—and time is fleeting, Sue!
Beginning in October of 1950 I spent 15 months in South Korea during the height of the Korean War, first at Taegu Air Base until it was overrun by the Chinese early in 1951—we retook the airbase a few months later—and then at Kimpo Air Base near Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Taegu and Kimpo were cold and wet, as was all of South Korea, and facilities lacked few of the comforts to which I had been accustomed.
For several months I slept in a sleeping bag in a tent on a canvas cot with no mattress, I performed my ablutions in the outer shell of my steel helmet and at breakfast, lunch and dinner time I fished cans of food from a 55-gallon drum placed over a flame to heat the water and the contents of the cans. I used the same helmet shell for bathing, shaving and hand washing with water from a two-wheeled water tank trailer in the center of our tent city—at least I did that when there was water in the tank. It usually stood empty for a couple of days before being refilled.
Incidentally, the sleeping bag was a gift from a fellow GI who was rotating to the states. I learned the first night I used it that it was swarming with body lice—crabs—and the next morning I sprayed it liberally with DDT and also liberally sprayed myself with DDT. The spraying burned a bit in various locations and crevices—burned me, not the sleeping bag—but it killed the body lice, critters known as crabs in the vernacular. Crabs were a fact of life in Korea. DDT killed them on contact, but as the DDT dissipated the many-legged little devils again proliferated—the battle between body lice and us was an on-going affair, a give-and-take relationship consisting of them biting and us scratching, with never a truce or peace agreement.
The cans of food came from boxes of C-rations. Rather than issuing us personal boxes every day—each box held three meals—our superiors felt that it was more propitious to remove the cans of food, place them in the drum and have us fish for cans at mealtime. There were days when the only thing I could catch in the barrel was canned pork-and-beans, and to this day I cannot look pork-and-beans in the face without feeling nauseous—I can eat ’em, I just don’t look at ‘em!
I didn’t complain then over our accommodations and the lack of normal niceties, and I’m not complaining now. I knew the troops on the front were sleeping in foxholes and many were dying in battles. Trucks loaded with full body bags were frequent sights as they passed by headed for makeshift morgues to the south. I’m simply setting the stage for an event that helped make up for the pork-and-beans, the helmet for a wash basin and the days and nights we spent on the flight line, maintaining aircraft, loading and launching them toward the front and retrieving them on their return—if they returned—some did not.
The morale-uplifting event was a visit to Taegu Air Base in 1951 by a Hollywood troop that performed on a makeshift stage facing a hillside covered with hundreds of homesick GIs. We were entertained by Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Jerry Colonna, Errol Flynn and numerous other luminaries and dancers and a real band. For a short few hours we shuffled off the privations of being in a war zone, 12,000 miles away from home, hearth and family.
Errol Flynn was late getting to the show because he walked through tent city and received many invitations from the GIs to stop and have a drink. He was well into his cups when he stumbled onto the stage, and his contributions to the show were minor. Not that we minded, but he sure didn’t project the image I remembered from his swashbuckling movies. Oh, well, it was wartime and we were in a war zone—abuse of alcohol by the GIs was common and late arrivals for duty assignments were numerous among us—we understood and accepted the actor’s fall from grace—his dereliction of duty, so to speak.
I vividly remember a line in Bob Hope’s opening monologue. He said he was told that Korea was a peninsula, a long neck of dirt extending into the ocean. Then he looked out over the crowd and pointed to someone and said Hey, that guy has a long dirty neck, so I guess that makes him a peninsula—in fact, I see a lot of long dirty necks out there. That was about as corny as corny gets, but the hillside erupted with applause and laughter.
In the interests of keeping this posting brief, I’ll promise to post more information about those 15 months I spent defending the United States and democracy in a country still stuck in the 18th century—there were no skyscrapers in the capital city of Seoul, human excrement was still used to fertilize crops, and primitive tools were still used for building and for agriculture. Building scaffolds, for example, consisted of bamboo poles held together by bindings made of hemp—the ropes may have been ripe for smoking purposes, but I don’t know whether anyone tried that. It would have made some of our trials and tribulations a bet easier to endure—not that I would know, mind you, because I have never—oh, forget about it, I don’t want to talk about it any more!
The show was uplifting in many respects. Marilyn Maxwell reminded us of how beautiful a blond-haired white-skinned round-eyed female could be—there was a definite dearth of such in Korea. Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna entertained us with slap-stick comedy, Errol Flynn showed us that Hollywood immortals were human after all and could be bested by that old demon rum, and the band reminded us that live entertainment was far better than the recordings played over the US government radio stations available to us.
I received this joke in an e-mail at sometime in the distant past. For some inexplicable reason—heh, heh, heh—I saved it and now I would like to share it with my readers. It involves a conversation between two women, a domestic maid and her employer, the lady of the house. The maid begins the conversation, and her words are in bold letters—enjoy!
I want a raise.
For three reasons—the first is that I iron better than you.
Who told you that you iron better?
Your husband told me.
The second reason is that I’m a better cook than you.
Who told you that you are a better cook?
Your husband told me.
The third reason is that I am a better lover than you.
Really! And did my husband tell you that also?
No, senora. The pool boy told me.
How much of a raise would you like?
Postscript: A special disclaimer for my readers: To defend myself I echo the words shown on the Gadsen battle flag, a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike, below which are the words DON’T TREAD ON ME. So please, Don’t tread on me. I did not choose the word senora, a Spanish word that identifies a married woman—yes, married. In Spanish an unmarried woman is properly addressed as senorita, regardless of her age. In this instance it refers to a married woman, the lady of the house and the
maid’s employer. The word obviously tells the reader that the maid is of
Hispanic extraction. The maid could have just as easily have said, Naw, m’am. I heered dat from yore pool boy, or perhaps her reply could
have been couched in Ebonic terms, or with an Oriental accent.
The purpose of this posting is to share, with anyone and everyone who happens to pass this way, the beautiful thoughts expressed by Samuel Ullman in his poem Youth, excerpts of which appeared recently on Refdesk as the THOUGHT OF THE DAY. The posting is also a recommendation for Refdesk as a home page. Refdesk has an astonishing range—it has never failed me in my searches, regardless of their purpose. Donations to Refdesk are welcomed, but otherwise the service is free!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Youth is not a time of life—it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of red cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will; a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over a life of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty, more than in a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.” – Samuel Ullman
Here is the poem in its entirety:
Youth, by Samuel Ullman:
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.
Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.
When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.
A brief biography of Ullman (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):
Samuel Ullman (April 13, 1840 – March 21, 1924) was an American businessman, poet, humanitarian. He is best known today for his poem Youth which was a favorite of General Douglas MacArthur. The poem was on the wall of his office in Tokyo when he became Supreme Allied Commander in Japan. In addition, he often quoted from the poem in his speeches, leading to it becoming better known in Japan than in the United States.
Born in 1840 at Hechingen, Germany to Jewish parents, Ullman immigrated with his family to America to escape discrimination at the age of eleven. The Ullman family settled in Port Gibson, Mississippi. After briefly serving in the Confederate Army, he became a resident of Natchez, Mississippi. There, Ullman married, started a business, served as a city alderman, and was a member of the local board of education.
In 1884, Ullman moved to the young city of Birmingham, Alabama, and was immediately placed on the city’s first board of education.
During his eighteen years of service, he advocated educational benefits for black children similar to those provided for whites. In addition to his numerous community activities, Ullman also served as president and then lay rabbi of the city’s reform congregation at Temple Emanu-El. Often controversial but always respected, Ullman left his mark on the religious, educational, and community life of Natchez and Birmingham.
In his retirement, Ullman found more time for one of his favorite passions – writing letters, essays and poetry. His poems and poetic essays cover subjects as varied as love, nature, religion, family, the hurried lifestyle of a friend, and living “young.” It was General Douglas MacArthur who facilitated Ullman’s popularity as a poet – he hung a framed copy of a version of Ullman’s poem “Youth” on the wall of his office in Tokyo and often quoted from the poem in his speeches. Through MacArthur’s influence, the people of Japan discovered “Youth” and became curious about the poem’s author.
In 1924, Ullman died in Birmingham, Alabama.
In 1994, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Japan-America Society of Alabama opened the Samuel Ullman Museum in Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood. The museum is located in the former Ullman residence and is operated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In my not very humble opinion, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written (title and chorus are in bold italics):
Lean on Me Sometimes in our lives
we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
So just call on me brother,
when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that
We all need somebody to lean on.
Lean on me . . .
All lyrics are property and copyright Bill Withers.
During my tenth year of schooling I enrolled in a typing class. I would like to say that my interest in typing was an effort to hone my writing skills and perhaps follow in the footsteps of the great authors, giants such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, Orwell, Vonnegut and lesser lights. I would like to say that but I will not say it because it would not be true. I had a rather strong ulterior motive to learn how to type.
There were several typing classes taught by different teachers, and I chose the class taught by the one that was said to be the best teacher of the group. No, belay that. I can’t say that because it would also be untrue, and I cannot tell a lie, at least not in this instance. This is a WordPress blog and I do have my standards.
I chose a specific teacher’s class because she was quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive, and the rumors that swirled around the campus of the original Stephen D. Lee High School in Columbus, Mississippi in that stellar year of 1948 were that she had been known to dally with some of the students.
Well, actually, the talk in the restrooms reserved for male students was that she—well, it was not only talk but it seemed to be confirmed by some of the writings on the walls of the stalls—the talk intimated that she dallied with students, and in fact some of the images depicted such dallies, crudely of course but rather effective. Walls of the stalls has a solid resonance, don’t you think? Quite expressive, and also quite masculine!
Well, actually, the rumors and the writings and the crude images drawn indicated that she not only dallied—she was said to have actually diddled some of the students. The writings and graphics were routinely obliterated by the janitors but mysteriously re-appeared, often on the same day they were removed.
I attacked that state-of-the-art upright finger-operated non-electric Royal Standard typewriter with all the fervor a fifteen-year-old lad could muster, and after three or four weeks I was typing 65 words a minute, and that was after taking off 10 words for every error made, regardless of its nature, whether a misspelling, a wayward comma, a failure to capitalize or missing a period—hey, that last error has a double meaning!
I felt in my first week that the rumors might have a modicum of truth—judging from my observations there was definitely some meat on those bones—the rumors, that is. I know, I know, that term could apply to the typing teacher and in fact did apply to the typing teacher, and it was distributed in all the right places in the right amounts. Before the second week ended I had convinced myself that the rumors were probably true, and I had also convinced myself that the teacher was perhaps considering me a possible candidate for diddling purposes.
That quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive typing teacher was a hands-on instructor—literally. She would often stand behind students, both males and females and reach across a shoulder to point out errors and perhaps to demonstrate how to retrieve the carriage to start another line, with the other hand on the student’s other shoulder to help maintain her balance—the teacher’s balance, that is. I believe I made many, perhaps most, of my errors while she had her hand on my shoulder.
I was a cutie at fifteen and I can prove it. One day when I was around 10 or 11 years old I was with my mother at a grocery store, and I can vividly recall a remark made by the check-out lady. She asked my mother if I was her boy and my mother replied in the affirmative. The lady then said, “He’s a real cutie. He’ll be a heart-breaker and a home-wrecker when he grows up.” Don’t bother to ask whether that prophecy came to pass. I will stand on my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and refuse to answer on the grounds that it may tend to get me into all sorts of hot water and incidentally, of course, would tend to incriminate me. Also incidentally, the image on the right is not me—that’s Michelle Pfeiffer, a gorgeous lady that realized her true calling while working as a checker at a California supermarket. I used this photo to simulate a grocery checker—Michelle probably dressed differently at work.
That heart-breaker and a home-wrecker remark had the same effect on me that I felt several years later when a young girl out in west Texas told me I looked just like Van Johnson. I blogged that incident, and that posting has a lot more than that to offer—it’s worth the read, and you can find it by clicking here.
On a fateful Friday I made my move, and in doing so I made a fatal error. I dawdled after class until I was alone with that quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive woman and then I made my bid—actually it was a proposition—I proposed, provided that she was amenable to my proposition, to share some time with her over the weekend. Exactly what I said and how I phrased it is enshrouded in the mists of time, but I’m sure that it was concise and to the point and could not possibly be misunderstood. Actually I blurted it out, and I could see that she was transfixed by the proposition. After a long meaningful stare, she answered thusly, each word enunciated slowly and distinctly:
I do not want you in my class. Do not return to my classroom on Monday. Find another typing class or a different subject to fill this period. Is that clear to you, or should I repeat it?
The mists of time have also shrouded my response to that measured order. I have a feeling that my only response was to vacate the premises as quickly as possible. I probably squeaked out something similar to Yes, m’am, it’s clear to me and no, you don’t need to repeat it, and immediately made my exit, out of the class and away from that ugly broad—I mean, I made my exit away from that quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive woman.
On Monday morning I fully expected my homeroom teacher to tell me that my presence was urgently required in the principal’s office. However, she called the roll and then released us to head out for our classes. I waited until the others left and told her that I was not doing well in my typing class and needed to replace it with something else.
Without questions or comment she scheduled me to a second hour of biology, sentencing me to two hours, back to back, under the tutelage of a well-past-middle-aged woman that dressed in multiple layers of clothing, wore heavy black stockings rolled down to midway between knee and ankle and had a face remarkably resembling a turtle—in fact that’s what the students called her—old lady turtle. Actually, I thought she was kinda cute, but of course I have a soft spot in my heart for turtles—in fact, I once had one for a pet.
That’s my story about a state-of-the-art upright finger-operated non-electric Royal Standard typewriter and a class taught by a quite young, unmarried and exceptionally attractive woman who turned out to be an ugly old unappreciative toad that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole—not that I had anything that resembled such an item.
My only regret concerning this situation is that neither she nor I will ever know what we missed—well, I’m pretty sure I know what I missed, but I can’t speak for her. In the words of the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.
The poet had another saying that had I known it then I would have told that typing teacher this: The joy you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. With that included in my proposition my weekend might well have been remarkably more memorable.
Where ever she is now, whether she is still in this realm or has left it for another realm, I wish her well.