Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Do You Know?


With all your training and mentoring and teaching and instruction you must know something.
Some have walls covered in paper stating they be edubacated on many levels and degrees but can’t find their shoes in the morning. Others who may not have complete formal training can take apart and put back together your car engine.
In public schools there is reading, writing, and arithmetic that is suppose to get us started into higher forms of understanding and comprehension. As advance classes started getting more difficult, the really smart ones looked for electives.
As school lesson run out as they do after some extended time, gainful employment is required to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and minimal payments on the stack of credit cards. A new schooling was about to begin for every occupation has it’s own language and terminology. 
As we grew older and comfortable with our new language, did we learn diversity? All over the globe there were other people do similar jobs and performing task but we could not communicate.
Our different tribes created various languages and word and meanings. The scripts or calligraphy was taught in small regions and when seen somewhere else could not be read. Writings were translated. Linguistics help understand what another person was saying. Yet words had different meanings and the placement in a sentence could not always be easily understood.
Yet a smile is universal. Laughter and song do not have to be translated. Tears and hugs do not require writings and love does not need words.
See, you are smarter than you thought.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Updated #2: Tummy Temple


Hey Tommy! Mary Anne! Billy Bob! Sally Belle! And you too Timmy!
Don’t you want to earn some extra cash for the winter? Sure you do to get those streaming vampire movies or double-size burgers and fries or get diapers for your family.
Well they are hiring at the Tummy Temple! Now!
It doesn’t look too difficult and for years they have hired the brightest and the best to keep all the customers happy and healthy.
What could be better than supplying families with fresh produce and an array of sustenance to keep their bellies full and satisfied?
Move some boxes around on these cool mechanical power lifts and pull carts, empty the contents in the proper place on the shelf, rinse and repeat.
And you get to wear a blue shirt so every customer who can’t find the avocadoes or pimentos can ask directions. Probably best to memorize the inventory?
With the ebb and flow of the crowd you can at anytime be told to stop what you are doing and help the cashiers bag and fill the carts for the impatient in a rush to get home after a hard day at work not wanting to be late for their latest episode. You even get the opportunity to push their overloaded cart and they tell you all their problems and try to remember where they parked. Don’t expect a tip.
If you do well you can earn a coveted position behind the customer service counter where you can fill out Western Union money transfers, give refunds for bruised bananas, hear about the bathrooms and constantly smile.
You’ll be working in a fine organization and in a climate controlled building with everything variety of products from batteries, magazines, phone cards, dairy, diapers, cookware, spices, dead animals (raw or pre-cooked) and corn (on the cob or in a can). An the atmosphere is constantly changing with sweaty youngsters after their gym workout to screaming children and anxiety mothers and overwhelmed, confused elderly in bumper cars.
What could be better?
Right now managers (those people you never see but they were dress shirts, no ties, wonder why they never wear ties?) are checking and bagging and stocking due to the increase in the hungry mobs turned away from other food islands that are vacant now. They are filling in for they do not have the compliment of staff to move the inventory, update and replace out-of-date stores using fancy zap guns to read barcodes, change prices and promotions and seasonal displays.
William Shakespeare could not have written a better play that constantly changes with new characters but the same script. There are a few other temples I could attend but I’ve grown familiar with the back roads to get to this one. I recognize the distributors and try to friendly with the staff, even calling them by name (you also get to wear a nametag).
The peak comes during Thanksgiving. There is no better circus than people fighting over frozen turkeys or cumin.
Like most jobs working with the public who are spending money and time for your product, you are merely a representative in uniform. Shifts go from early morning to late at night, cleaning floors, taking out the trash, and storing those carts that wander the parking lot.
So come sign up for the Tummy Temple team!
I’ll not give you any trouble as I peruse the miles of aisles that are like pathways to the next adventure in hunger. I appreciate your effort to keep the temptation filled with wonderful flavors and enticement to such things as chocolate, ice cream, cookies and hummus.
For the most part, during these trying times, I’ve found enough to survive and return the next day to restock. I’ll say pleasantries and appreciate your effort with a “Thank you sir” or “Thank you madam” as I was properly brought up to do.
They are hiring now!
And please restock the black pepper. Thank you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Mission



It was March 7, 1970. There had been rumors of a life-changing event about to happen and we knew what we had to do.
A convoy of old cars filled with white college students with altered minds headed for the beach.
We were on a mission.
The details of our journey may vary from person to person and through the years become foggy but it was a memorable event.
Most of us agree there was slow traffic since the rest of the country wanted to view this event so occasional stops and a few Chinese fire drills and hopefully getting back into a car where people knew you.
Some say we went to a private restricted beach and some say we just pulled over and walked out on the sand. Either way, our tribe had arrived before the end of the world.
While families gathered in their little huddles and stared at the sky, we had bigger plans.
We formed a circle and started digging up the sand. Piling up the sand into a tower. We were fanatic and the tourist avoided us.
Taller and taller the tower grew as we chanted to the sun.
“Oh great Maasai and Bila and Gnowee. You bring us warmth and light. Oh praise Wala and Malakbel and Nanahuatzin and Ekhi. You are the gods of the sun. Meri and Marici and Surya and Belenos have mercy on us.”
Then it happened.
There were ripples on the sand. The birds stopped flying. The world became silent.
Yuyi, what are you doing to us?
Day became night and there was a chill in the air.
We were doomed.
“Oh the mighty gods Ra bring back the light. Sól and Titan and Aryaman have mercy on us. Ravi and Surya and Inti and whatever your name is, please give us back the light.”
We raised our hands and circled our sun tower as the tourist moved away from our religious experience. We were on a mission.
“Bring back the sun Kinich Ahau. Bring back the sun Hunahpu. Bring back the sun Akkadian. Bring back the sun Sumerian. Bring back the sun Muisca.”
At that point we started to kick down our creation as the others cuddled in the darkness.
“Bring back the sun Lakota. Bring back the sun Nahundi. Bring back the sun Sol. Bring back the sun Hors. Bring back the sun Koyash. Bring back the sun Zun.”
Some of the families started to join our chant and then it happened.
The sun came back.
Mission accomplished.

Rebranding Nazi


There are many words in the dictionary that have certain connotations that are not, shall we say, pleasant. The ‘N-word’ comes to mind.
We’ve struggled for years trying to find an alternative to this insulting reference to the now African-American (which if you think about it is all of us) politically correct title.
Advertising is all about ‘branding’. Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. The key components that form a brand's toolbox include a brand’s identity, brand communication (such as by logos and trademarks), brand awareness, brand loyalty, and various branding (brand management) strategies.
Now the organizations touting white supremacy, intimidation, hate mongering are using brands that already carry fear and loathing. So why don’t they change their brand?
Companies like tobacco manufacturers feeling the pressure of medical accounts of cancer and bad stuff associated with smoking changed their corporate identities to some unpronounceable words like the pills to save you from the worst threat of dying.
Even stock car racing which was associated with rednecks southerners expanded their audience by branding itself as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). Acronyms started to replace long names trying to identify a company or organization or club, etc.
Nazi stood for ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party’. National is encumbering of the entire nation and it defined Germany as that nation. Workers included everyone who had jobs and party is just fun. The word ‘socialist’ stands out to define what the real cause was.
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production, as well as the political theories, and movements associated with them. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective, or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. Social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms.
Socialist economic systems can be divided into non-market and market forms. Non-market socialism involves the substitution of factor markets and money, with engineering and technical criteria, based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing an economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws from those of capitalism.
Non-market socialism aims to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system. By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets, and, in some cases, the profit motive, with respect to the operation of socially owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them.
Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm, or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend. The socialist calculation debate discusses the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a socialist system.
The socialist political movement includes a set of political philosophies that originated in the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 1700s, and of concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism.
In addition to the debate over markets and planning, the varieties of socialism differ in their form of social ownership, how management is to be organized within productive institutions, and the role of the state in constructing socialism. Core dichotomies include reformism versus revolutionary socialism, and state socialism versus libertarian socialism.
Socialist politics has been both centralist and decentralized; internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organized through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions and at other times independent of, and critical of, unions; and present in both industrialized and developing countries.
While all tendencies of socialism consider themselves democratic, the term “democratic socialism” is often used to highlight its advocates’ high value for democratic processes in the economy and democratic political systems, usually to draw contrast to tendencies they may perceive to be undemocratic in their approach. “Democratic socialism” is frequently used to draw contrast to the political system of the Soviet Union, which critics argue operated in an authoritarian fashion.
So much for a history lesson on social dysfunction let us get back to the point of disparaging offensive words. Words do have meaning.
There are these hateful groups of skinheads or punks or alt-right or fascist or whatever you label them, as ‘Nazis’ even though the history books say that tribe was defeated in WWII. Germany has turned away and moved on but maybe the south hasn’t?
Like college football teams or soccer or basketball, fans associate with team names. They identify with logos on clothing and cheer and can be fanatical about these associations with people they will never know but watch on television. Young girls with pom-poms will fan the frantic exuberance and there forms a following.
Now teams of rough and ready sports have names (brands) like ‘Tigers’ or ‘Raiders’ or ‘Pirates’ or ‘Chargers’ or ‘Dolphins’. Not so sure about that last one, but the point is aggression and confidence following a powerful brand.
Would you play against a team called the ‘Nazis’?
My thought is that we change these hateful words to something different.
Replace the ‘Ku-Klux-Klan’ name with the term ‘Snowflakes’. Substitute the brand of ‘Nazi’ with ‘Cupcake’.
Stop and think about it.
How would the news media report these rallies?
But you have to admit; the cupcakes did have some sharp uniforms.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back-2-School


I used to love this time of year.
My parents would take me downtown to buy a few fall fashions but most they would save for Christmas so it looked like a lot of presents. What is better on Christmas morning than ripping open a three-pack of tighty-whitties or some swell tie clips? Thanks Chris Cringle.
The best part was all the books and papers and pens and pencils and markers and pads and compasses and rulers and scissors and…. The school would send out a list of supplies required for each student to purchase for the next year as proclaimed by the retailers with their massive displays and newspaper coupons. All those black and white covered composition books for each subject until we grew into ring binders and removable notebook paper. Works great unless you are left handed.
Our books were handed out; expecting to be returned at the end of the year in perfect condition. Textbooks printed in the 20’s and well worn by previous classes they could not be highlighted (there was no such technology back in the day) but pages were earmarked and some evil person unlined phrase and paragraph. Brown paper grocery bags could be cut up and folded and decorated to show personal taste and artistic ability without crossing the rules.
The last day of school was sad because all your friends would go on vacations with their families or they would go to camp and you would see anyone for three months. Many summers were spent with ‘summer friends’ you didn’t see until it got hot.
When the school year started, usually the day after Labor Day, some familiar faces appeared again and a whole new sets of faces never seen before. Some who were accustomed to since you had gone to school with them ever since elementary grades changed over the summer. We were growing up and finding new attractions and interest and the ladies were developing.
Back to school brought back a daily regiment where parents didn’t have to babysit you everyday and turn over the duty to public servants to train, feed, implant values and protect.
Soon it will be time for a class reunion with a bunch of strangers I didn’t know then and don’t know now. What is the draw to attend? To check grandchildren (yes, we are that old) photos on cell screens? To dust off the memory of teen angst and try and remember why those six years of high school seem to go on forever? To check out the cute chicks you were too fearful to ask to the prom as a teen and see what they turned into after two marriages and four children?
It will be back-2-school without having to take another English exam.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

…and now a word from our sponsor



I live in the Capitol City of the Commonwealth of Virginia. A town of 200,000+ folks of all ages and colors and backgrounds and oh yeah, 150 years ago this was the Capitol of the Confederacy. You know the Civil War or as referred to down here, that time of Recent Unpleasantness or the Northern Aggression or the War Between The States, even though we are a commonwealth. The Rebs could have picked any town like Roanoke or Norfolk but they decided they’d settle for the city that had a citadel on the hill designed by Thomas Jefferson and gave us “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” by Patrick Henry. There is a lot of history here.
Well the recent events in this land I’ve lived in all my life have me reflecting on the past and the future.
This city does have some gigantic statues, monuments if you will, to that time when the Cause was lost. The city was burnt and occupied after years of isolation and depravity.
From what I can understand, the soldiers came home and picked up the pieces and rebuilt and started over under regulations and learned a new lifestyle and the little town grew.
Still there was resentment as in any lost. Check your blood pressure after your team loses.
Idols were created and monuments built and a heritage of belief that the South Would Rise Again was formed and it was called ‘Jim Crow’. Economy was still in the hands of the white folk so people still knew their place and as long as you played your role, everything was fine.
Then the government of the United States (that included the CSA) decided to make it a law it was illegal for people to have to use separate bathrooms.
The tradition of what was an acceptable daily interaction between ‘races’ made the War Between the States seem like a cakewalk.
If you didn’t like the change then federal troops were brought in with fixed bayonets. The change came and schools were integrated and then women made their stand and then gays and then….
It was a time of change.
The Stars and Bars were put away no longer displayed in parades and football games. Any reference to what some said was a heritage became a museum. Still proudly these statues stood tall and proud on what is called Monument Avenue. They became a familiar a sightseer attraction for visitors and forgotten by the locals.
I’ll add that growing up in the ‘former’ Capitol of the Confederacy was an education in intolerance, it was a lesson learned. Yet Stonewall Jackson rode high next to my church.
So now up in a mountain village an invasion came to preserve a block of cement and metal. If this had been a group of artisans declaring the statue a work of art rather than a symbol of bigotry, would there been a battle?
 The folks who showed up for this past weekend’s confrontation are truck drivers, factory workers, students, fathers, sons, and daughters. That guy might be throwing your burger or processing your driver’s license. He might be picking up your trash or she might be caring for your grandmother.
They all will go back home and declare victory that feeds their anger.
So take down all the monuments to history and hide them under the rug or place more and more statues like a cemetery.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It’s FREE!


Isn’t that what we are looking for?
We search through piles of coupons, online offers, double-check reviews and fill our surveys to get bonus points, clearance discounts, two-for-one or any other enticement retailers/manufacturers can create.
What we are really looking for is ‘FREE’!
We want FREE schools, FREE medical and childcare, FREE transportation, FREE homes, FREE entertainment and FREE utilities.

 FREEDOM!!


Welfare is the provision of a minimal level of social support for citizens without current means to support basic needs.
In most developed countries, welfare is largely provided by the government from tax income, and to a lesser extent by NGOs, charities, informal social groups, religious groups, and inter-governmental organizations.
Social security expands on this concept, especially in welfare states, by providing all inhabitants with various social services such as universal healthcare, unemployment insurance, student financial aid (in addition to free post-secondary education), and others. In its 1952 Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, the International Labor Organization (ILO) defined the traditional contingencies covered by social security.

Just ask the people in our cities’ reservations called public housing.

Why work if everything is FREE?

Think of it this way. As we go to work to build buildings to live in and machines to move us from place-to-place and invent new gizmos to entertain and amuse us and create wonders of science to maintain and perhaps prolong our retched lives; we place worth on our deeds and feel we need compensation for our labor.

Why not?

Well if everything is FREE, why get paid? All the money will go into a “big fat kitty” to pay for all the materials and distribution to the masses that want the latest electronic gadget or magical pill. No hedge funds or margins…. but there is a catch.

Would a welfare state reduce the quality of the garments or housing or transportation options or availability to healthy food? What is the incentive to try harder and do better?

A commune would have everyone share everything from work to religion but our species want more. If we feel jealous of what someone else has we envy his or her processions and we covet until we steal it.
As our families or tribes have migrated and accumulated lands and water and stock some gerrymander to get more than their fair share.

If we live in a society based on monetary rewards for hard work then our economy can be maintained and order preserved as everyone knows their place by his or her value. That is why we create a government to monitor and regulate each other.

Nothing is FREE.

Not really.

When you wake up and open your eyes and take that big yawn of sucking in air; that is FREE. Every breath is FREE and it keeps you alive.
Take a step forward and move your arms and hands to make that cup of coffee and bowl of cereal and it is FREE.
Smell the flowers, feel the raindrops, hear the children play, watch the dogs run; it is FREE.

Enjoy what you’ve got for the rest of life has a cost.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

UPDATE: from the Tummy Temple


There is no hurricane or snowstorm coming but it looks like it. Items are popping off the shelves faster than the staff can restock. The selections are dwelling.
The trucks are rolling in and stacks of boxes carted out in a steady stream but they may not be able to keep up with the demand.
The parking lot is full as if it was the day before Thanksgiving or the Super bowl but these drivers are in a panic.
And being ‘ole folk’s day’ even though we don’t get no discounts anymore, them there folks are bused in to wander the aisles in their bumper cars or be guided by a carrying family member to find the prunes and pampers.
The rest of these new faces to the congregation are still confused, looking at signage, reversing their journeys into unknown aisles, double checking their menu and checking each item for glutton. I think that one is a vegan?
I’m old enough to remember when there were two cans of soup: tomato and chicken noodle made by one manufacturer that you trusted. The butcher was known by name and knew how you liked the cuts. Flies had to be swatted away from the produce that was squeezed for freshness. Plastic bags had not been invented. Most selections were for ingredients in a recipe made at home and not pre-cooked and frozen. Coffee was percolated but the fancy stores allowed you to grind your own beans. Milk was whole and delivered to your doorstep. There were no pre-made meals in a deli. If you wanted to eat, you waited to be called to the dinner table.
What? There were also rotary phones with party lines and black and white televisions with no remote controls.
Variety is the spice of life they say, but when an entire aisle dedicated to spaghetti sauce that used to be handmade with your grandmother’s secret ingredients but now comes in a bottle that you can microwave and poured on some soggy pasta, why not get a frozen TV dinner?
Well the produce guy keeps me stoked with blueberries and the frozen food guy keeps the pizzas stocked and the beer guys keeps the medicine flowing so I’m still happy.
I can enjoy the sight of these new parishioners who have decided to affiliate themselves with our denomination. They will soon understand the ecclesiastical polity of this place and the deacons will assist them in blue shirts.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Story of Beau-Beau, the chipmunk


Once upon a time there was a girl. She was like every other typical girl. She loved nature and she loved love.
She loved horses and she loved flowers and she loved birds and she loved the great outdoors. She was a free spirit.
One day on one of her many ventures she found a baby chipmunk. He was alone and the girl took him in to be her friend.
The girl got a wire hamster cage with a squeaky wheel and made it a comfortable home for her new friend and companion. The wild woodland creature adapted to his new surroundings.
The girl named her new friend “Beau-Beau”.
She provided food and warmth for Beau-Beau and he seemed grateful growing healthy in his new environment.
The girl met a man.
The girl moved in with the man.
Beau-Beau came along.
The man accepted the pair but had a problem with Beau-Beau running at night on the squeaky wheel.
So the man bought Beau-Beau a plastic castle with tunnels and play areas and lots of new space without a squeaky wheel.
Beau-Beau’s new housing arrangement was moved upstairs out of constant sight of the girl.
The walls of his new castle were no-match for Beau-Beau’s sharp teeth and he freed himself into a much larger unknown space.
The girl frantically searched high and low for the little creature and on a chance saw him dive under the floor but could not catch him.
Beau-Beau, being a cleaver fellow, found a hole in the wall and got into the gutter highway.
He was free!
The girl was worried about her little friend being alone in the big world and built all sorts of tunnels and shelters for protection from predators.
Hours were spent looking out the window trying to see if his travels could be traced but to no avail. He had disappeared into nature.
So the girl decided to build him a new environment. A forest was constructed where Beau-Beau could flourish in nature.
Trees were planted. Bushes were planted. Pathways were carved. Water was provided.
The result was called “Puppywoods”.
Today, almost 50 years later, Beau-Beau’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, uncles, and who ever followed have formed a wild herd of chipmunks.
The man still daily puts out food for the little brown scooters with racing stripes and enjoys their antics.
Beau-Beau would be proud of his extended family.
The girl would too.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Would You Weep With Me?


Our friends and family join together to laugh and dance and eat and sleep together with great camaraderie. All these activities bond us together.  
Yet what of the pain?
Condolences and prayers are sent with an awkward distance for no one wants to feel pain. Funerals are attended in silence then life is returned to binge television and self-indulgent complaining.
Now and then there is one who will feel enough compassion and affection to empathize and share in the pain with a tear.
This is love.

Nice Job


I hear this all the time from the parent’s of my neighborhood kids and wonder? “Nice job?” What did the kid do to warrant such a positive rewarding statement?
Pick up your toys. Nice Job! Eat all your carrots. Nice Job! You made a poopie. Nice Job!
I’m no child psychologist and I fully understand us kids need to know right from wrong, good from bad, but “Nice Job”?
A job, from what I understand, is a person performing a task or reaching a goal for monetary compensation. I’m not sure making a poopie accomplishes that definition but the tooth fairy gives you money for losing teeth.
Now we all like compliments and it is a good training tool for reinforcement of a positive reaction.
Since we were first in school we got certificates for ‘best attendance’ or ‘excellent penmanship’ or ‘plays well with others’. Report cards are suppose to motivate our youth, but no so much for me.
After getting ‘for real’ employment, filling out an application, sitting politely through an intensive grilling or interview with lots of scribbling and hush remarks about your attire and you want to have a make over for the first answers, then a long wait for an approval or rejection notice and finally a photo ID, security clearance and a medical and criminal check-up you finally have a job. After a pile of HR papers with rules and regulations and possible benefits, you are assigned a spot and an overseer and start to find the techniques to perform your task with the skills you brought with you and look for the bathroom and when the breaks are scheduled. Getting along with your co-workers is important for all are also vying for a position on the corporate ladder like a team of star players seeking that corner office.
Along the work career you accomplish goals and are rewarded with certificates of excellence and hopefully an increase in monetary rewards for your drudgery of making a company healthy and wealthy and bosses and their bosses and their bosses stock holders and engulfed in their annual reports and their extended vacations in the Hamptons.
Yet somewhere along the way your immediate supervisor stops saying, “Nice Job” or “Well done” or even a pat on the back (side). High fives become competition and the ones with the most medals on their chest or plaques on the wall get new titles demanding respect.
Don’t fret dear friends, as we get older and no wiser, but less mobile and even feeble we can hear those wonderful words again.
“You made a poopie, nice job!”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sailing with David


Sunny morning with a big bright sun with powder puff clouds greets the day. It is getting warm so might be good for a sailing venture? Looking at the clouds (I’m sure they have some sort of scientific name but you don’t need a weather man to see which way the wind blows) there doesn’t seem a breeze and besides I don’t have a sail, I don’t have a boat, and I’m not near the water so I’ll grab my pony and you can ride along.
My mate David took a spill the other day and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men patched him up and put him back together again, but he is off his wheels for several months. (Sad face here)
 So you can ride along with me on my morning adventure and I’ll show you the sights and describe the experience as best I can.
It is fairly late for me. About 10AM but the morning traffic is gone and the noon traffic hasn’t started yet. I pull out my pony and strap on my gloves but forget my helmet was on the other pony that I brought home yesterday. Back inside I couldn’t resist putting out another load of blueberries and sure enough the bunnies came hopping.
Before I take a ride I pause and survey the yard. I try to get a sense of what is happening and what has happened last night. I also get my breathing going. It is like a little prayer because if I get run over I’ll never see this again.
Unlock the gate and park the bike on the newly dumped gravel. Down the street the city is repaving. Don’t know who got that financed but they are taking their time and doing it right. Still it is construction sounds in the neighborhood I’ve gotten so used to.
Walk to the corner before mounting then take another pause. Check the sky again and the trees whose leaves are starting to drop and get crunchy underfoot. It is like what leaves of spring in reverse. The shadows will be different after they all fall.
Wait for traffic coming in both directions until there is a break in the action and I can slowly start out in low gear. I know you don’t use gears but this Geezer appreciates the technology to start slow and easy and build up pace then be able to downshift for hills or just when I get tired.
Take a right turn off Westmoreland to Park and they are still building something over on the left. That big dumpster has been filled and emptied a couple of times. This is the first block and time to shift up and quicken the pace. It still has a canopy of shadows and only a few potholes. Cars are parked on both sides of the street so take the center route and check the mirror (I know, I’m a weenie) to see if anything is coming behind to ruin the morning.
Slow at Commonwealth because it is a pretty wide street and the traffic sounds on Patterson sometimes mask trucks moving at a high rate of speed going to the plumbing shop across Broad.
The next block is a little incline so the work to pedal is a bit harder and the breathing is better. Good time to yawn to clear the ears and cough up that last hunk of mucus from last night. Also widen your eyes to get some air in and wake up like a splash of reality on your face. This is a good point to readjust your back and hands to loosen up. It is not a long ride but minor stretching is helpful.
The next block is downhill so can coast and shift up to the next gear. Watch out for the big branch that fell out of these old trees and has been dragged to the curb for the city to come by and remove. This happens around this time of year in this neighborhood. The trees are old and when they get laden with leaves the weight brings down rotten branches. One of the things to look out for while riding is the crack of falling branches. Snow or hurricanes do tend to thin the danger out.
On every block there is a house for sale and in a few days the signs will be taken down and there will be a different car parked in front. Notice that English tutor has just been painted. Looks swell with a sunroom in the back facing east. There are many sunrooms on these houses and many more fences than before.
Take a left on Antrim and watch for that pothole that some truck will be by and fill with asphalt only to have to come back and do it again next year. That is what we pay taxes for.
Turn on to Franklin and up shift again. The houses are much bigger here and the street much wider. This is a training ground for joggers and a regular of young mothers pushing their offspring’s. More construction to raise the prices of the homes and the street is wide enough that people double park with ease. Beware.
Before we get to Westmoreland beware of the pothole in the middle of the street. Several years ago the street caved and the city or state or whoever comes by to take care of these disasters brought all sorts of heavy machinery and with lots of shovels and folks standing around in white hard hats and lots of white pickup trucks and big orange signs that said: “Don’t Come Here Cause Some Men Are Standing Around Looking At A Big Hole”. Well they done patched it up all nice and neat and now a dimple has formed again. Whatever the problem underground was, it didn’t get fixed.
Westmoreland is a stopping point. Did you like the Lamborghini? Nice red mustang? Seems everyone that lives around here has two or three cars and very few garages. Luckily no one parks on the front lawn to check their old and change tires….. yet.
Franklin gets thinner on the other side but I’ll show you the path to avoid the bumps and pitfalls. Believe me, I’ve found every one of them. Follow me to the left and the right and we can avoid another disaster. There is a big patch job up here with a quick drop off and a bumpy ride so caution taken. Also stay away from all those construction dumpsters.
I could tell you stories on almost every house on this route because I see them everyday. That house on the corner was completely removed and another house built up. This house was gutted and a second story being built.
Here is another roundabout that was just put in and another one coming up. Didn’t know there was so much fast traffic through these side streets but here they are. Another city project and it don’t bother me. If it slows down crazy driving I’m all for it.
This is a downhill coast but watch out for many of these folks have those driveways and back out into the street. Watch for lights and listen for movement. There is the lady cop washing her car. That house over there is always for rent. Don’t know why. Maybe they have ghost?
Another incline and rough crumbling road put a bit more work to the muscles. You notice I ride where there is not much traffic?
Turn left on Monumental that is actually Park Avenue but it breaks off like Leonard Parkway to become this road to fill in space where the city planners messed up. We are in the county now. Watch out for the gullies. This is what the county does when it doesn’t have underground plumbing. They just build these deep trenches for water runoff. I’ve seen cars lost in these things. Would not be a place for two-wheel travel.
Let’s swing to the right by the house with all the plastic children play structures and downshift to the Avenue of Monuments. I know the traffic pattern and when to stay and when to go but I seem to have gotten here at the dreaded “Lunch Time”.
The sun is getting hotter waiting for traffic but I’m a whoosh and will wait patiently rather than see what my health insurance will cover.
Finally onto the Willow Lawn pavement looking for nails. Yesterday I picked up a nail here and only the clicking sound alerted me that I had a passenger. When I locked up I could see the nail protruding through the tire and figured it would be flat when I came out of the store. Miraculously when I came back to pack up the tire was still sturdy. Do I chance it? What choice do I have? I road the pony home fully loaded and she got me home without a pop, whizz, puff or a whistle. So I put here in the stable and got her partner so I could have a backup. This morning she still was holding air so I decided to try another run. The nail had maybe just punctured the outer core of rubber and not poked a hole in the air sack? Every day is an adventure; enjoy the ride.
Oh wait, I forgot that I have to pay my bills today. I always pay them at the first of the month and have them packed away in my bags all stamped and ready but forgot to take the turn off to the mailbox. I was in the zone. So we will have to go around back and climb the hill. You remember that hill at Willow Lawn? It is not too steep but it is very, very long. Downshift is for sissies so just man up and show what you are made of. By the top you find out if your breathing is clear and your heart still loves you. Avoid the people who are taking classes on how to drive because they got a ticket and apparently missed driver’s ed. in high school and watch out for the sand left over from last year’s snow jobs. Double check the five envelopes for stamps and dump them in one of the few blue boxes still around. $200 and I’m done for another month of payments, except for that $75 to Joel for the TJHS party.
Back down the hill but wait for that big white SUV. That driver is checking a phone message or a GPS or ordering her underwear online. It is best to be cautious. Once cleared, we can coast down the hill past the torture chamber where people pay to wear spandex and sweat until we meet another construction zone. Detour through a packed parking lot to increase awareness.
Once at our destination without harm or injury, we can lock up and venture into another adventure. First is to get one of those little baskets. It will be my walker as I wander the grounds of sustenance. The guy with the dreadlocks smiles for he knows I’m here for the blueberries. A couple of smoothies and then venture through the haze of confused old folk and bumper cars for today is Tuesday and that is “Ole Folk Day”. Even without the discounts them geezers are carted in only to wait until they can be shipped out.
A couple of soups but the lane filled with people reading labels and checking their grocery list so move onto another location. Move down the spices aisle or the pet food aisle they are usually free from them old folk. Move down by the pharmacy and that cute girl in the short shorts probably getting birth control and over to the frozen foods. Avoid the frozen pizza and get a couple of breakfast biscuits instead. Now it is time to run the gauntlet to the adult beverages. Avoid eye contact and predict movement just like on the bike. My Rocky Mountain guys know how to keep me replenished so grab two six-packs and it is off to the check out line.
Shawn has the shortest line and he is a red vest (somewhat of importance) and he knows I won’t take long so whiz through watching all the old folk sitting with their treasures waiting to be carted out.
Back to the pony that is still holding air but now for the real test. After packing all this grub will she get me home?
Wait! The parking lot is full and it is ole folk day so take your time. When we find the spot we will move and turn and avoid and make it to the traffic lanes of the Avenue. They come in bunches so after the flow make your move. Always remember the guy on your left might just decide to turn right. It has happened.
The trip home is sort of a downhill climb with a few mom’s and dog walkers. The last leg is up another hill and a downshift. Wait for the light, check the cars coming up behind and watch for yellow. When it changes check to the left because some people don’t pay any attention to the laws of the road but try to start before it turns green to avoid the turning traffic.
The hill on the other side is steeper and there is always a red truck parked there so double check before going around for Westmoreland is wide but not 4-wide. Pull up before entering the alley for all the gravel is hard to ride on. We will walk the ponies down to the gate to protect them and us.
Back in and secured it is time to put out the grub for the critters, turn on the fan and towel off. It is also time to hydrate.
Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trouble at the Tummy Temple


The leaves are falling. Not so much that it is getting colder but that it is dry. Even giant branches are falling off huge old trees so I mind where I ride going to the store. Hoping for a rain tonight and possibility tomorrow but Mother Nature will do what she wants. Got a little spritz on the way in with more to come.
The parking lot seems to be busier than I’m used to but I’m a little later and might have gotten into the noon crowd. Upon entering and inhaling the air-conditioning there are few carts available.
Following my usual routes there seems to be more folks today than normal. Many more confused and wandering than normal so the traffic becomes jammed and there is no horn on the cart to get them out of the way.
These faces are strange to me so they are not the usual neighbors filling their carts with grub. The staff still seems to be restocking as normal and going about their usual routines but all these new folks are searching the aisles as if they are aliens that just landed.
The items I had come to load in my cart are in the same places so I just took a breath and took the time to move around these wandering zombies and took my place in the line to the checkout.
All the checkouts were stocked and the lines were long like it was Thanksgiving, but I have time and can wait.
I ask about the crowd today and Katy tells me, “The Martins are closing and the Food Lion is shutting down.” So as Brian stuffed my dirty cloth bag with blueberries, peanuts, and my medicine, I thought this might be the NEW normal?
As I loaded my pony the parking lot was packed. Have all those shoppers decided my little Tummy Temple would fill their needs or was it the threat of rain?
I somehow avoided the traffic craze and managed to get back into a quiet neighborhood over crusty leaves and noticing another branch down on a neighbor’s house. Ouch!
Will return tomorrow as I always do, except for Christmas, and may have to adapt to the new competitors for our daily sustenance.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who Are These People?


Every morning this week I’ve been hearing about the massive forest fires burning. Due to climate change or drought once a forest gets started burning dry vegetation is a wonderful fuel and with a breeze can spread quickly.
So I hear these reports from government officials saying they are using every resource to try and control Mother Nature. When fire spreads it doesn’t care if it is a tree or a house, it is fuel.
My question is who are these people that go into a very threatening and dangerous situation to help strangers save their property, animals and perhaps themselves for blistering heat and flame?
Unlike soldiers or police who run toward danger, these fire fighters are only there to stop the danger with water and dirt.
Seems the U.S. Forestry Services, you know Smokey the Bear and caretakers of our natural parks, get volunteers of folks who will carry 70 lb. packs and wear heavy clothing and helmets and walk for miles up steep terrain to dig trenches and chop down trees and try to stop Mother Nature from causing more catastrophe.
Our taxes pay for their meals and clothing and training and cots but it is the people who make the difference to continue to go back again and again making a war on fiery disaster.
Like many professions; teachers, police, trash removers, etc. cannot be fairly compensated for the amount of difficult work in stressful conditions with little appreciation.
I applaud these folks who put themselves in harms way to save our forest and grasslands for they are also home for others.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Have you colluded today?


You may have brushed your teeth and combed your hair and whipped your butt but you probably colluded too.
To collude, by definition is to come to a secret understanding for a harmful purpose; conspire. Knowingly perform some evil deed.
Some may refer to such thoughts as ‘sin’ but it happens everyday by everyone.
If you run a business you have to decide what will expand the business and if that means layoffs don’t worry about those people. If you are a medical professional you have to perform triage for some won’t make it.
To plot and plan to do collusions takes skill and scheming. There will always be folks who offer the opportunity to enlarge your ego without consequences; unless caught.
“Thank you Mrs. Wiscoft. That silver tray helped pay for my electric guitar.” “Mr. Murry, that money I found in your dresser helped pay for the booze to get your daughter to give it up.” “Mrs. Rollins, thanks for the use of your sports car for our road trip. We brought it back. No harm. No foul.” “Suzie, please files these reports and I’ll see you at the regular place at the regular time. Call your husband and tell him you’ll have to work late and I’ll reschedule my wife.”
These are just day-to-day adventures into testing the limits with the experts sharing secrets that were made up to be secret anyway. Then there are those who wake up in the morning and plot war.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Collaboration

Have you ever tried to write a book with another person? It is more difficult than one thinks.
Two separate people with two separate ideas trying to collaborate. Sometimes two minds are better than one.
It is how we socialize by getting along with other people. If it is a book there is a proofreader, an editor, a publisher, etc. No one goes it alone.
Yet it is tough when the heads knock and a decision has to be made. Who is the grown up here?
Some of the great collaborations: Rogers & Hammerstein, Lennon & McCartney, Goffin & King, Jagger & Richards etcetera had one person who was good at one skill and another person who was good at another. Together they complimented each other and results were incredible.
You may not like the other person but to accomplish the collaboration you have to get along.
The most intense collaboration is marriage.
We’ll skip that dating and crush and sharing sweaters and rings but a collaboration of marriage is a commitment. For whatever reasons you tie the knot you better like the other person.
I’ve collaborated.
A guy who is a much better poet than me wrote some of the best songs. Enjoyed sharing ideas with other writers presenting me with images I’d never seen. Jamming with pickers who are more qualified than this strummer taught me techniques and patterns and rhythms never heard on the radio.
Luckily for me I also collaborated with a few who taught me wonders never expected. A good collaborator will enjoy your company and talents and thoughts and makes you laugh and help you cry and takes you on unexpected adventures and fill in the gaps.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I have a pre-existing condition

I’m crazy.
Not bat-chit crazy with foaming mouth and coats that tie in the back, but somewhat not normal.
Is crazy on the affordable health care act/bill of the past several years that cannot come to fruition? What do they offer for crazy?
This insurance thing has gone on and on and no one seems to know what to do. Why is that?
Have we made the simple care of professional health care workers taking care of the sick and injured so difficult that even an act of congress can’t solve it?
Yet everyday there is the sound of sirens carting the broken to the nearest health center to try to be patched up. The same with every war movie when the first words you hear after the bullets start to fly is “Medic”.
No one ask for your insurance carrier on whether you can afford the services being provided to keep you alive.
Still somebody has to pay for the gasoline, the tubes and pouches and needles and uniforms and vehicles that come at the beckoned call for assistance.
Those big fancy buildings with admission and tiled hallways and gurneys and all sorts of flashing light machines and nice people dressed in scrubs to check on your chart will still have to pay the light bill for life support won’t matter if the plug is pulled by the power company for delinquent payment.
Insurance is a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium. Insurance is indemnity, indemnification, assurance, (financial) protection, security, and coverage. Insurance is a thing providing protection against a possible eventuality. Insurance is protection, defense, safeguard, security, hedge, precaution, provision, surety, immunity, guarantee, and warranty for peace of mind.
From what I understand, you pay premiums for a policy with clauses and restrictions and agree to co-pay before the insurance is needed and the insurance company says, “You are covered”. Just keep paying on time.
The idea, I believe, is to get everyone to buy into the insurance plan so if one or another gets sick or request payment assistance there will be this big pot of money to draw from to ‘cover’ the cost.
Maybe they forgot that when all those horny solders came back from WWII they made babies. Lots of babies who are not getting to the ripe old age of needing more and more health care. Can we afford it?
I personally have all the respect for the health care providers. It is a nasty, messy, smelly professions with little appreciation but those you are helping are at their most vulnerable.
I also appreciate insurance for I’ve had catastrophic events that would have required me to sell my house to compensate if I’d not had insurance.
So the discussion will continue and people will get sick and people will be hurt and people will die and insurance won’t pay for all of it.
What do they do for crazy?