Sunday, April 22, 2018

M•O•N•E•Y


Benjamins, Benjie, Bills, Bread, Bucks, C-note, Cabbage, Clams, Coin, Dead presidents, Dough, Greenbacks, Jackson, Kiwi, Lettuce, Loot, Moolah, Sawbuck, Scratch, Singles, Smackers, Spot, Two bits or whatever you want to call it, money greases the world.
Some say we are financial illiterate?
With money anyone can purchase the needs for survival and possible posterity and without money anyone must depend on charity, illegal means, possible bankruptcy or possible suicide.
How did you learn how to handle money?
Most would aspire for the parents to teach children on the value of money with allowances in payment for chores done. Some would hope that parents would confide their efforts to provide for the family’s welfare and thus enter the child into the economic world with desire for gainful employment and a good salary.
What did our parents have for reference?
Their parents had been merchants, farmers, fishermen or lumberjacks scratching out a living without family planning education or practice. Their parents had settled the land. The land was the inheritance passed down for generations.
After the bubble burst in the 20’s, our parents were handed the depression. Suddenly barter was out the window and the federal government became the parents to help out with bread, milk and eggs.
During the war there was work but rations. After the war (to end all wars, again) tanks turned into refrigerators and new roads helped sell cars and everything looked good with easy bank credit.
My father kept (worked) the books while always working the deals, but he never taught me any of how that worked. He did show me how to get a bank account and put my weekly paycheck in a little book stamped by the teller only to immediately take it back out to purchase my desires. He never taught me about credit cards because he never had a credit card. He knew cash. He never showed me there were other means of accumulating cash, but I found out by myself.
He did teach me how to use a ledger (now an Excel spreadsheet) and keep track of all my expense and save the receipts (but he didn’t tell me the ink would fade away causing hours of frustration). He also taught me how to do my own taxes.
Now there are all sorts of financial planners and advisors present financial products, services, planning or advice related to investing, retirement, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes and more.
They will tell you how to handle money as long as they get a piece-of-the-pie. Look at any late night or weekend television for advice for how to invest or not invest, to buy or save or just stick all your cash in a pillow under the bed for a rainy day.
Money keeps you awake at night. Either figuring out new skims on how to make more or worried about the debt collectors calling, money is always on your mind. When you have enough money, you want more. When you don’t have ‘enough money’ it is an addiction to find a way out of debt. Culture always bombards images; reminders of millionaires (and now billionaires) cars and houses and boats and vacations to lust after.
Salaries are one of our biggest complaints (other than not having enough sex). Employees are given money to do a required task in a time limit. Pay scales are set (without transparency) so the water cooler talk is about ‘who is making more money than another by rumor and gossip’. Backbiting turns to distraction and productivity decline and finally union bartering and threat of strikes. If employers posted salaries to start with everyone would know where they stood and could ask what they needed to do to make more money.
Money (like sex and religion) just isn’t talked about in polite societies, except to speak of the pride our possessions, status, vacations and even children’s education can be compared against others.
I can’t tell you how to handle your sawbucks, anymore than raising your children and treating your spouse or pet.

I don’t have all the answers but if I got two nickels to rub together I feel blessed and I’ll give one who is down on their luck.

Personality


You’ve seen them. They present the local news and sports. They point out the weather H’s and L’s. Young smiling faces trying to make terrible announcements more pleasant.
They are personalities to your village or burg, but wherever you go, there is another identical group to take their place. They resemble what you’d like to think is the diversity of your community.
Young smiling faces you’d like to relate to your family or neighbors. As they grow older they will be replaced with another of the same. They are our personalities.
Our stars of the little screen with awards and directors and cameras and makeup and clean pressed clothing. They could be manikins of our nightly dreams but the next morning they will be back making bad jokes between commercial breaks.
If the personality decides to go beyond the normal local volunteer activities, a ‘celebrity’ might bring a televised colonoscopy. Now the person can be reported on in the tabloids with no makeup bad swimsuit shots and other paparazzi photos and other gossip.
Unfortunately when a celebrity gets too old or wrinkled or fat, a new one will have to replace the curious public still accustomed to their friendly local personalities.
So where did you get your personality? A personality doesn’t come with your DNA but is learned along the way. Personality is defined as the set of habitual behaviors, cognitions and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors.
The study of the psychology of personality, called personality psychology, attempts to explain the tendencies that underlie differences in behavior including biological, cognitive, learning and trait based theories, as well as psychodynamic, and humanistic approaches.
Whichever personality you decide to project may not be what others perceive.

How do you like your cheesed grilled?


Probably the simplest sandwich is the grilled cheeses except you need to use heat. There are a ton of cooking instructions and variations on two-pieces of bread and a slab of cheese, but I’ll just relate my current interest.
For some unknown reason, I got a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m not a cheese connoisseur or much of a lover for bread, but I must have seen some picture or something. On my usual walk around the Tummy Temple looking for something to grab my appetite I passed the cheese aisle with little attention. I got my usual check-off list which include soup and thought about ‘What about a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with that soup?’
First here is a brief back-story of my relationship with bread and cheese. My mother would put down a plate with a piece of Nolde’s white bread with a slice of Kraft processed American cheese. Probably the easiest and cheapest food for a kid with less work than spreading Skippy because I wanted chunky with the peanuts so I had to try and make a variation if I had to eat this. I tried mustard and relish but never had it grilled. Somewhere along the way, I did have a drippy gooey grilled sandwich in a pannier but it was accompanied with a slice of meat. Somehow I remember a connection of grilled cheese with soup as a square meal, so I decided to give it a try.
I went back to the cheese aisle full of outcaste of milk and curds and mold and I don’t want to thing about it. Swiss and Gouda are my preference but I looked for the yellow stuff. I could get a block and slice it knowing full well it would turn green and fuzzy. I found the premier version of the Kraft alternative with a price to match and grabbed the plastic wrapper off the hook in the deli.
I could be a true baker and get some flour, yeast, baking powder, eggs, milk, etc or just get a loaf of pre-sliced bread. This time I avoided the white loafs to my preferred small loafs of artisan wrappers of multi-grains, whole wheat, flax seed, rye, etc. bread.
A jar of pickles, relish, mayo, mustard, hot sauce filled the basket and it was off to try and fry. Without a iron frying pan, I spread butter on my store bought pan and pulled out two thick slices of bread. As the butter sizzled I slathered butter on one side of each slice of bread. I placed the first slice, butter side down, then struggled with the cheese ‘easy open’ wrapper to place two slices of yellow wonder on the burning bread. I placed the other bread slice butter side up and waited. After a few minutes I flipped the sandwich and watched the cheese melt. When the smoke started, the heat was turned off and the creamy mess was poured onto a plate. Slice in half and devour the stringy crunchy heart stopping lunch washed down by Mexican beer.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Your Best Friends Spouse


You got a good friend, maybe a life long friend, maybe a BFF kinda friend. That is a good thing and you two can have times together that will be memorized in memory.
You have other friends and your friend has other friends and maybe some of them are friends with each other. Friends will group together for ball games, concerts, dances or late night gatherings.
Then that friend finds a ‘significant other’.
One of the ‘friends’ becomes more than a friend.
Now the association between you two becomes three and you have to make acquaintance with this trio.
So the question is “how do you get along with your friend’s spouse?”
You know stuff about your friend that maybe the spouse doesn’t know and vice versa. How can you make the chemistry work with this new ingredient?
Some depart to raise a family and move away to be with in-laws. Some create friction with jealousy or become too close with amorous results. Some get along with the new addition and some just fade away.
And how does your spouse get along with ‘your’ friends?

Spring Cleaning


Some say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”. Anyone who knows me knows I’m spiritual but not very religious so that says something about that phrases’ reference.
So it is ‘spring’ again with all the birdies and flowers and pollen and dust and bugs and what have you and again on my ‘to-do’ list is to clean up.
It is a time when the big boy pants get rolled up and stowed away with the blankets and sweaters and high wooly socks with great enthusiasm of shoveling up the dusty snow that fell last winter, but….
There is always a ‘but’.
I’ve proven to myself my motivation to get things done are not on top of my list. If I get a chance to sweep up and vacuum and wash down walls and scrap up old paint or sit in the rocker with a cold beer and swell music watch the girls jog by? You figure it out.
No matter my best intentions when I get started with one chore I look around and see three more and they multiply before me an overwhelming zombie army. Some of this dirt has archeologist wonder what is buried under there.
Now last year I did quit a bit of outside deconstruction but inside the spiders just wove curtains in undisturbed vacant spaces.
This year’s goal is to get a couple of rooms painted and the floors redone. Oh and have three windows replaced. See what I mean?
With best intentions of a DIY project with little results, I’ve declared I’ll pay someone else to do what is not difficult and could be done with a savings, but it isn’t. In a few days, I’ll accomplish the next BIG project that may spark me (or not) to do the other rooms.
I’m a good list maker. Write down what needs to be done, do the research, get all the tools and accoutrements, start at one end, then get distracted and hire a professional who can finish a job before I can read the instructions.
My plan this year is to go room-by-room and list ALL the things that need to be done. I hoping this will simplify my thought process. If today’s project is put up blinds, then concentrate and do that task and stop. Check it off the list and achieve another project tomorrow. Sounds like a good plan to me.
Yea, but then I have to prioritize the list and correlate with other areas so not to overlap and utilize materials and time most efficiently.
Think I’ll take a nap.

LIVE! Televised Funeral


This is not a joke. I wake up this morning and suddenly I’m alert to “Live NBC News Special Report: Former First Lady Barbara Bush is laid to rest in Houston”.
Now it is Saturday so I’ll miss all the cartoons and cooking shoes to watch a live play-by-play of a funeral?
No disrespect to Barbara Bush. I never met her. I know she looked like a nice white haired granny. I know she married one president who couldn’t get rid of Saddam and had a son who could but boy did he get us into a mess with them weapons of mass destruction.
Still this is Saturday and it is sunny outside and it is springtime and the last thing I would want to do is sit down and watch people in dark clothing silently weep over a box.
No disclaimer is needed to know I’m not big on funerals but this is a bit overboard. I understood the three days of all the networks closing down to televise JFK’s funeral. Shoot, it got me out of school. Then there was MLK and Bobby Kennedy and suddenly one wonders who will be next.
How far up do you have to be to lose the advertising dollars of corn flakes for a solemn event? Do they take commercial breaks?
Someone at the network decided that live coverage of a funeral was more important that whatever was previously scheduled programming. The cost of announcers and satellite trucks and camera and wiring and….
I think I understand the fascination of watching celebrities joke and laugh and act silly at award shows but this is a dignified occasion. The star of this show doesn’t have any lines.
Where is the loud music? Where are the pyrotechnics? Where are the dancers in their skimpy outfits?
I’m sure the Queen will get the same respect with better pomp and circumstance but what about Jimmy Carter? Or Rosylinn?
This just better not cut into my sports television or I’ll be writing a letter to the peacock. If this becomes a trend maybe a new “Funeral” cable channel can start? Do they need instant replay?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Good Morning! Who died?


  Every morning I am awaken to the news of some disaster or war or murder or catastrophe with at least so many dead. What a way to start the day.
  This morning two deputies were assassinated in Florida and the alleged guy who pull the trigger committed suicide rather than answer the question why? There is a shooting at a 7-11 and the victim is fighting for his life with much medical attention. Another shooting and a few overturned trucks and cars and maybe a plane crash and I havent had my first cup of coffee yet.
  We (the global collective) seem to have a fascination with death (and the dying). Got has its Satan to balance the Yin / Yang of it, but the devil might be winning.
  Any news story today seems to be where, when and how many dead.
  Death - particularly the death of humans (or dogs) - has commonly been considered a sad and unpleasant occasion, due to the affection for the being that has died and the termination of social and familial bonds with the deceased. Other concerns include fear of death, necrophobia, anxiety, sorrow, grief, emotional pain, depression, sympathy, compassion, solitude, or saudade.
  Many cultures have religions to explain the idea of an afterlife, and also hold the idea of reward for those who are good or a judgment or punishment for past sins.
  What is our fascination with this depressing curiosity?
  Death is the cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena, which commonly bring about death, include aging, predation, malnutrition, disease, suicide, homicide, starvation, dehydration, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury. In most cases, bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.
  Yet every morning, there is story after story of the death and dying that continues to grab our attention and fascination. All our wars are not measured by the number of men and women who fought for some ideal our government made up but by the body count. If rubbernecking at the roadside carnage isnt good enough for us, we have the entertainment industry presenting us gruesome gross and gory methods of destroying our fellow planet occupants.
  There seems to be about 1 birth every 7 seconds (avg.) in the USA as oppose to 11 deaths. At that average, not sure we can keep up.
There are industries from faith to transport to disposal and every day there is a list of obituaries but not birth announcements. Do we have our priorities mixed up? At the water cooler we can sum up opinions of the deceased before discussing the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’. We may hope the inevitable will not touch us while practice drill of ‘shelter in place’.
  Today as children plead for their parents to take responsibility for the escalating violence and manufacture of more powerful and deadly tools of destruction, but when the cameras go away, was anyone listening? Is the addiction to death more powerful than family?
Stay tuned. We’ll be back tomorrow with another list of those who have passed.