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Thursday, December 31, 2009

BITMA TO CHENEY and the REST of the REPUBLICANS WHO WANT toFOLLOW his LEAD

Been a long time since I have awarded the BITMA; so many mouths, so few bricks.
But here you go Dick Cheney, you dick, here's a brick in the mouth. Why do you not just go away and shut up? And the rest of you idiot Republicans who cannot make a positive action or move out of your lock-step, goosestep for the good of our country, you just go away and shut up , too.

I am sick and tired of Cheney and his party using any moment of trouble or threat to this country as an excuse to dredge up more hate and fear in an attempt to control the country. Cheney and his boss blew it in Afghanistan, blew in Yemen, blew it in Nigeria in fact they blew every piece of government management for 8 years that felt like centuries and got wealthier doing it. It is bad enough that we had to suffer through the worst presidency of our nation's history with Cheney calling the shots while boosting his stock portfolio but to now have to suffer his idiocy and the idiocy of a myna-bird Republican party who will never open its mouth with a positive statement or suggestion, is beyond all sense and sentiment.
For those of your who pretend to be patriots and support this moron, go do some reading about how your ilk has been a major contributor to the ruination a perfectly good country.

Dick you are a dick; you suck and so does every man and woman who repeats your lies and venom.

Sadly there are not enough bricks in the world to fill your hateful mouth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What My Dog Says

I am just so Last Week in my thinking that I decided to spend more family time with Fuzz to kind of get an idea what is on her mind these days. I did have to retrogress some in my deprivation tank but soon got on her wave length. She is really very brilliant but her mind works in flashes of disassociated thoughts she refers to as cajas de sopa; she’s multilingual also. Keep in mind, please, that I probably missed a ton of nuance in my translation:

Do handicap tags really mean “ride real slow in the freakin’ passing lane?”

What is up with women and all those revolting cat photos, cats on a hat, cats in a boot, cats at a nap? Only good place for a moronic cat is on a bun.

How come I can’t ride through the inspection lane? Are they afraid I might bite the wand they stick up the ass of the car? Oh, it’s a tail pipe, my bust.

Why do you have Jimmie-legs? Do you know why I sleep all day? It’s because all night I fight your jerky-assed Jimmie-legs.

I have bad breath because you feed me chicken butts, chicken feet, lamb tracheas, lamb bladders, and ox lips. You want good breath? Give me a lamp chop, cheapskate.

I know people do not like me jumping up on them. Hell, I am 12 inches to my eyes; you try telling whether a person is a republican or not by looking at their damned socks. I mean I can tell but I am tired of socks, socks, socks.

I run of whenever it is windy because I can smell one part of chicken manure per every million parts of air. So, I go nuts, but then when I get away, there is so much chicken shit floating around in the air, I get lost, confused, dislocated. I get the same way listening to FUX news. Look if you’d bought something in Nithsdale instead of this scrungey neighborhood, I would be disinclined to run off. This is Nitsdale.

Look if the going rate in Afghanistan is 5.25 per day for working men, why don’t we just hire the Taliban to be good? That’s 5.25 x 260 x 100,000 (Taliban) equal 136,500,000 A YEAR A YEAR ONE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION A YEAR TO PUT 100,000 TALIBAN to work for a year. Hell, dude, double the wages and we got them for 272,000,000 dollars a year. Come on HOME and guard the borders. Sorry, I slobber when I get excited.

Look, you are the human; you figure that one out for yourself.

OK so, the Taliban makes some money off the opium and weed over there. Come on think outside the kennel for a change: With all the money (about 4.6 billion) we saved hiring the Taliban rather than fighting them, BUY all the opium and weed directly from the farmers . Bring it back here, use the best stuff for medicine and give it away by prescription. Then, take the rest and put it on the “free market” and sell it right here. Takes care of the sleaze ball Afghani politicians selling it to us. Probably would put the boys in Colombia and Mexico back into the coffee market, and with all that new competition, our coffee prices would go down. Win, win, and win.

Hmm Brad Pitt is pretty hot to me but that Jolie girl is whacked and just think,I am the one who takes a dump out in the cold.

By the way, I am glad you are not using the wood stove this year. In case you hadn’t noticed that damn fire alarm scares hell out of me when it announces another one of your chimney fires. Get a life and spend some money on decent, safe heat.

And while I am at it. Leave off cutting the toenails. That hurts you goober; I don’t flinch for fun. IT HURTS, HELLO.

Look, I think you are as reasonable as a human is going to get; I could have done worse, but dude you got to get out more. One, because I like to ride and stick my nose out the window, sneezing is orgasmic for dogs. Two, man you just got to get off that computer and go DO something. Jesssh.

I quit; I am tired of using third grade vocabulary so that you can understand me, and besides I am getting ready to contemplate on some silly republican or another, and I would simply rather go lick my ass. Thanks for the chat, dude.



Fuzz is pretty cool but uses bolding and capitals way too much and is a bit snobbish about her intellect but only to me; if you came by you’d never know she wasn’t a regular good-gal dog. . . unless of course you had on republican socks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Under House Arrest

So it’s wet, it’s all wet. And while managing Pumping Station 12 of the Water Energy Transfer and Hydraulic Systems Operations Center (WET-HYSOC), I have been for two weeks and am under house arrest. I’ve company coming and after the rain Sunday, I can work only 20 minutes before running down to turn on the pump. During Sunday’s monsoon, I was watching some old westerns because I pretty much knew what was going to happen and could run down to turn the UtiliPump on whenever. But, I got to thinking that my watching westerns most Saturday mornings from age 8 to age 13 is pretty much what has ruined my outlook on life.

You know- whitehat, vs. blackhats= whitehat wins after the girl with the real pointy breasts loses faith in the whitehat, is duped by the blackhats, but figures how dumb she really is and fixes the situation. So at the end, she rides off into the sunset with the whitehat, her bullets pressing into his back. Oh boy, what I had coming in psych-socio-logical angst when I discovered that, in whatever the real world is, the whitehats seldom win and that those breast ain’t, well, naturally pointed.

As I listened though I began to notice that a whole bunch of what the cowboys were saying had some pretty darn good applications today. So for your fun and entertainment, I made a list of poignant dialogs and give it to you here. At the end just for fun, I listed a whole bunch of folks who probably are not whitehats, and you can sort of match them by figuring who might have said the line or had the line said about them. This sure ain’t copywrit or nothing’, so go ahead and print it off so’s you can get the correct cowboy next to the appropriate remark.

I can tell you’re from Nevada cause of your lack ofmanners.
Posses a comin’!
Little double crosser
Rest of ya scatter, now!
Now, remember don’t shoot until I shoot.
Who’s in charge here?
Were trapped-spread out!
What if he don’t turn tail?
Don’t turn around; he’s got a gun!
You dealt me in; I didn’t ask for this.
Why should I save your neck?
You’d better git ta praying iffin you know how.
Nice work at the bank.
Darndest thing I ever seen-shot his own deputy.
You must have some other means of identification.
Search him.
Search me.
I ain’t a fixin to take no bullet for him.
He’s asking for it.
Come on, git up to that there trough.
Because he’s stuck on that there pretty little filly.

The gold he stole and hid ’for they send him ta jail.

Now, the contestants:

Tiger Woods --- Elin Woods
Jamie Jungers (just love her name)--- Sarah Palin
Barack Obama --- John Thain
Barney Frank --- John Boehner
Nancy Pelosi --- Harry Reid
Ronald Regan --- Bill Clinton
Janet Napolitano --- Scooter Libby
Dick Cheney --- Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Rick Warren --- Hank Paulson
Stanley McChrystal --- Robert Gibbs
George W Bush --- Bernie Madoff

OK, podnahs, this ain’t hydraulic science. In fact is like a Wor-Wic honors’ program-everyone gets an A. But I am listing a winner next week, so print your answer out on a 100 Reais note and mail ‘em on in. And try TCM for westerns, beats the horse biscuits right out of putting up with ads like Emery Cat, the Mucus family, the Colon Lady, Tired of Socks that Aren’t Shaped to Fit My Feet, Crash Tests Videos, and the Suckometer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Primer in Politicalese; Guide to What the Jackasses Really MEAN

Great American people = the dolts who keep electing us every year.
The fine American way = what we tell the folks they have while stealing every bit we can
Justice= what rich folks with lawyers in silk-cashmere suits get
Investigation= time for me to run and cover up the dead bodies
Plain speaking= circuitous, convoluted, hyperbole infused with clich├ęs and redundancies
Bill= some sort of language created by lawyers to which all sorts of other language is attached without anyone understanding any of it.
Gentleman from Maryland= asshole for a state governed by dipshits
Gentlewoman from Maryland= breasted asshole from a dipshit state
No more bailouts= all my silk-suited cronies and major supporters from Wall Street and the banks have got their bonuses, are living in the Bahamas, have promised continuing support so screw the rest
Too Big to Fail= all the wheels who work there give me huge bucks to help me stay elected. Got to keep them around.
Constitution= some legal document from long ago that I never read.
Free market= economic term suggesting a nonexistent fairy world where supply and demand is rumored to control the price of stuff.
Trouble Asset Relief Program- TARP
The canvass we pull over the dolts’ heads so they can’t see Goldman, BofA, and the rest of the gang heading out to rape them.

YOUR TEST of COMPREHENSION
Answers at the bottom


1. “Er… we are promising our constituencies that rigorous safe-guards designed to protect our great American people will be vigorously applied to the big banks and Wall Street.”

2. “Er…they really don’t make cars in America anyway.”

3. “I am going to demand that our committee address in a rigorous manner the absolute federal corruption that is crippling our great country.”

4. “I have here in my hand seven sound solutions to the health care dilemma but the other party will have nothing to do with either.”

5. “It is essential to the Great American people that we have a bi-partisan approach to this most grave issue.”

6. “We cannot survive as a Great Nation without campaign reform.”

7. “His comments sound like treason to me, certainly unpatriotic at a time when this Great Nation is at war.”

8. “Smaller government”

9. “No more taxes”

10. “I have you know this Volkswagen was made by Great American workers in Cranium Creek, Kentucky.”

11. “Get the government, all of it, out our lives.”

12. “We wish you and your American family the very best Holiday Greetings.”

ANSWERS

1. OK boys get those rates, penalties, and fees up as fast as you can. Get those hedge funds pumping and those fabricated securities re-designed before anyone catches on. Aw don’t worry about it; the dolts can’t do a damn thing about anyway.

2. I have a Mercedes, Jaguar, or Volkswagen.

3. OK, guys nap time except for Monday when we have national news-converge. Don’t forget your makeup, the silver hair-dye, and wear lots of flowers.

4. I ain’t got jack-shit in my hand but it looks great on TV. Damn, Joe McCarty was a smart dude.

5. Oh, shit, won’t someone form the other side please sign-on. I don’t want to be responsible for any of this crap; my term is up and I got to get home to campaign.

6. We have to convince the dolts that we are trying to make it possible for any dolt to run for office, but that ain’t going to happen until my immediate family and mistresses get filthy rich.

7. He is exercising Constitutional rights and has an opposing view point so we had better make all the dolts think he is against all the troops and the Bible and the Constitution.

8. Let’s increase the federal payroll and staff by five percent.

9. I won’t vote to pay for anything and just blame it all on entitlements.

10. Got VW some really great tax-breaks, put 400 illegals on the assembly-line, have VW stock, and real estate in Germany where the profits from this car are going anyways.

11. Dump every government program except the ones in my state. I won’t get reelected without pork.

12. I hope these discount- made-in-China cards will convince the dolts that I really give a damn.

Score: based on American-to-international-weighting system

1-3 correct very good, you are working hard not to be a dolt.

4-7 correct nearly excellent, you have done exemplary work and have made your instructor proud. You are almost out of doltdom.

8-10 correct outstanding, you are a credit to your race, to your sex, to your Little League team, and to your family. You are also eligible to run for office in Delaware.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Morning’s Musings

Please Just Shut Up, Already

OK, so you think President Obama applied for the Nobel Prize? Have you done any reading on how recipients are selected? Do you know the criteria? And, what is the guy supposed to do, insult the world by not accepting, insult most by not showing up? Recently, goobers by the scads have mouthed off on how Obama doesn’t deserve the prize and how he ought to be somewhere else pitching for jobs instead of showing up to accept a prize. On the other hand, you got another bunch who is muttering that he has insulted Norway because he didn’t add more time in Norway to meet the king and all the rest of swells who make up the committee and rituals which normally go along with the award. And? What if the guy, upon notice of the award said, “Oh shit, I don’t really know what I did to deserve this.” Was he as leader of our nation supposed to say that and insult the ones who awarded it to him? What would a gracious person do; what would a politician do; what would John Boehner do; what would you do?

I do not know myself if he “deserves” it; I am not happy that he has not got our asses out of expensive wars because I do not know that we are any safer for being in them; I am displeased with his lack of speed in ending the corruption that is killing our financial and medical complexes. However, when it comes to “deserving,” I can’t come to grips with why our crooked bankers and crooked politicians are not getting what they deserve. I know we would be better off directing our energies making sure that the politicians who have not minded the store, that all the bureaucrats who get paid for ignoring rules and laws, and that all the financial wizards that lined their pockets while letting 97 percent of this nation go down the toilet get what they deserve.

In case you did not know it, two concepts are at play here. Our preceding president and his administration was so abysmally horrible and truly despised by the world that our current President seems to have captured the imagination of hope that much of the world has for our future. Second, in case you hadn’t looked, the rest of the world ain’t mostly white. I suspect that this man, by managing to become our first President of color, has suggested for many, in places foreign, that just maybe some justice and equality might be around the corner for them.
I do not know who deserves a Nobel Prize, and Obama is not the only American to receive it under some suspicion. I do care and hope his speech is well done and that he builds some good will around the world with his world. See, I want him to do well because I want this country to do well. It’s that simple.

Health What, Redux

A bit back, I was trying to explain my frustration and confusion and anger over what had happened when I decided to deal with a small independent pharmacy instead of a larger chain. I wrote my local politicians about what I perceive as conflicts of interest in the way Medco, the state’s pharmaceutical provider is allowed to do business. I did get a response though from one senator’s executive assistant that the senator and she had been waiting, as of November 30, since June 6 of this year to meet with the lobbyist from Medco. However, the lobbyist is on record, I guess, of stating that he “preferred that we come to him instead of drafting a bill to correct it.” In this statement the “we” is the senator and assistants and the “it” refers to a similar complaint that my pharmacist had filed regarding the same issues. As of this morning, my pharmacist had heard not from an elected official but from the legislative aide and has heard not from Medco, and I do not know if the lobbyist has ever met with the good senator or not. As for me, I have yet to hear personally from either of my district’s politicians. I guess I will get my lobbyist to go see them.

Maybe She Will just Float off with the Polar Bears; They Would Probably Get Food Poisoning

Sara Palin who has the depth of logic and intellect of a WalMart birdbath is at the global warming issue, again. I won’t dare go into just how vapid this quitter is but when she yabbles about the non-existence of global warming, I quote Alaska’s Senator Murkowski’s comments to Hillary Clinton during the latter’s confirmation hearings: Murkowski- “The loss of summer sea ice from climate change is having a truly dramatic effect on the Arctic, and the Bush administration saw this unfolding.” Clinton-“You know, maybe because the change has been relatively rapid with the melting of the sea ice, people haven't kept up with what is going on in the Arctic, and I -- when I was in your office and you were telling me about how cruise ships now are going to Point Barrow, I was shocked.” Murkowski-“So were the people at Point Barrow. So were the people at Point Barrow! I mean, look on the map. It's the northernmost place in the United States, and it's not a place that one would have thought previously was on the tour for cruise ships.” And earlier Murkowski- “we have opportunities, when it comes to a leadership role, in collaboration on research, on environmental issues, on issues as they relate to commerce, and we're seeing more of those issues present themselves as we see a world out there that is more and more free of sea ice.”
Do any of you so called conservative Republicans out there who support Palin ever read anything or are you, like Pat Buchannan, too busy trying to look down her blouse or trying to catch a shot of beaver at a book signing? How come Alaska’s Senator knows that Alaska is melting away, and the state’s former gov and wannabe political pundit/candidate hasn’t a clue? I hope that the helicopter she uses for shooting wolves doesn’t run out of gas; the pilot might not find a spot of ice to set down on. Jeeeesh want a maroooon. I do hope she runs out of political gas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Guy’s Golf Game Is in the Balance

OK everyone is chipping in on Tiger; so, here is my interpretation of what this means.

Nothing then everything.

I have never been a fan of Tiger and while it may not be totally original, I have very often referred to him as the guy who brought basketball to golf. All the crap about golf being the game of gentlemen and the most honest game in sport and thus the fairest simply went in the hazards when Woods came along. But I could never rally an admiration for him for several reasons.

First, compared to many guys who struggle in sports to make a buck (and I do not have a ton sympathy for them) Tiger has had every advantage and that is OK, nearly. He had a doting father, a promoter supreme, a country club Joe Jackson, muted, yes but a promoter nonetheless. He has a vicious witch for a mom, imagine telling your 8 year old that when you have your opponent down stomp on his throat. But one can’t dislike a dude because of how his mom and pops are. Consider instead the last day of his last amateur win at Pumpkin Ridge. Steve Scott took the championship to thirty-eight holes before losing to Woods. Scott was ahead at the end of the first eighteen holes and at the break, Tiger consulted with his swing coach, his dad, his putting coach, and with his caddy. Scott, an amateur, had a quiet sandwich with his girlfriend who was also his caddy for the tournament. OK, so one guy has the dough to afford to win and that is the American way and the way of golf, for in the past 30 years only Trevino became a champion by coming up through the driving ranges, public links, and hustling tournaments around the South. Most established American champions since Palmer have either family in professional golf or mom and pops had the do-re-mi to be hustle junior off to the sweetest country clubs and the most intense lessons from the best teachers. No big deal to me, life ain’t fair, but golf manners are supposed to supersede advantage. The expectation of golf champions has always been that they show respect for their opponents. However, in his last amateur win (a link for you to look is below), Tiger does not have the dignity to first congratulate his opponent. The first in his arms was his mom for an abbreviated hug, the opponent’s throat being well-collapsed. The second embrace was from dad whose hug went on while tears flowed. Then a firm handshake and pat on the back for his caddie. In the meantime, awkwardly and I think embarrassingly, Scott had to wander around the green waiting for Tiger to disentangle himself from his entourage. What a shame. Had I been Scott, I would have wanted the handshake and the national interview to be over quickly. It ain’t fun to lose especially a big one. Hell, since I am not known for being politically correct, I probably would have walked off. So, I got a problem with Tiger because he does not have manners. He has never shown manners or respect for his opponent on a course; his gyrations, fist pumps, racing to balls with finger extended are basketball bull-shit that normally are not the culture of golf.

Also, I didn’t care a bit for Tiger’s attitude about and histrionics over his winning the Masters. He made a big deal about how former black golfers did not have the chance to win a Masters because golf and Augusta National had been an exclusive white-folks tournament and club. Of, course Augusta National was real quick to hustle up one black member when it became apparent the there was no way these rich old dudes running things down there were going to avoid Tiger Woods. SO? So, first Tiger ain’t black in the first place. He is Thai-American, fifty percent, Native American, twenty-five percent, and African- American, twenty-five percent. He is either Thai-American or just plain American as far as I am concerned and always will be. But there is not giant market, I guess, in Thai American golfers, no news, no bucks. I guess a guy can tag himself anything he wants? But another problem jumped into my face: at the same time Woods was bemoaning, rightly, the racist history of The Masters, there were no women allowed in that country club, none, zip, nada. When Tiger was approached about the inequity for women there in the magnolia-lined drive, he took the gutless route and refused to comment. I got a real problem with a guy who ain’t black, hitting the bricks for black golfers but taking the coward’s path when questioned about unfair treatment of women at Augusta. I still believe that the best questions of all for Woods would have been, “Hey, Tiger, whataya think about dis place not havin no Thai-American golfers? Don’t you want to see some folks of Thai heritage beaten’ the ball around here?” I sure would have loved to see him answer that one.

Now what to do? Does anyone in the world with even primitive media not know Tiger has boinked 9 or 12 hot women, waitresses, escorts, cart girls, and a few women, I guess, that are sort of passed around by all the top jocks in the country? And hey, just imagine your hitting a tree and a hydrant in your neighborhood and telling the state police that you didn’t want to talk then and to just check back in five days or so? Oh, well, you would probably be driving an 86 Toyota pickup and not a ginormous, black Escalade and, therefore, would deserve to be drug off to jail. Gotta have an Escalade. So, all the news now is he addicted to sex, like who isn’t if they got the bucks to get all they want from all over, you know break up the monotony of sleeping with a huge, blond model. The other news and “in” word is the question of his “branding.” Endless idiots assault cable news everyday pontificating about whether Tiger’s screwing around on the mother of his two kids is going to hurt sales and his pocket book. Hey, Tiger wanted a huge blond model and from the looks of the info on the pre-nup and the offers out there for her to stay with The Man, he bought one,sort of like folks going to buy a brood mare. That didn’t hurt his “brand.” Branding disasters, Tiger’s problems, the fall from grace, yuk some hate the situation; some defend it. It won’t affect me one dimple because I wasn’t buying any of the junk with his name on it in the first place.

But I am anxious to see if he wins The Masters. If he does, oh wow, forget the teachers like Leadbetter, Harmon, and Haney. These guys will go broke and a cottage industry will spring up and help the economy and golfers. Obviously, if he wins, having multiple sex-partners will roll in as the best way to fix a golf swing. Hot damn, go Tiger! YoudaMan!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0IoL8A12HY

Monday, December 7, 2009

Leakin’ and Learnin’

As many homeowners with the misfortune to have a home with a basement, I have been under “leak’ arrest for more than a month. Every half hour I go down into the basement to turn on a utility pump which sucks water out of the southwest wall and pumps it into a sump which pumps the water to a ditch on the east side of the property. If I don’t do this, the water rises into a small stream running into the basement floor where it will build up in a 64 gallon puddle before reaching the sump on its own. OK got all that? As Vonnegut says, “So it goes.” Can’t stop nature or any physical nature of hydraulics, but I am getting a good education in both.

Between trips down the stairs, I get an education on the two wars into which we dump an average of 1.000.000 dollars a year, per solider. I get that figure from all sorts of sources, the freshest being Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchannan, the conservative pundits for MSNBC who now want to know how we are going to pay for the army that the current administration plans to send there to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans and to stomp out the Taliban. I will use that figure; it is as good as any and as reliable as all (I am convinced that no one knows how much we are spending per day on war, depends on which clock or calculator and on which group is doing the figuring). Anyhow, it is a hellofa mess of money, all of which comes from taxes or really from the credit card called deficit spending. But am I missing something as usual? Are we not already spending that million a year per solider in Iraq? Will we not transfer some of the guys and gals for Iraq to serve with McCrystal in Afghanistan? Why do those idiot conservatives make it sound like it is new troops and new money? Where did we get the money for the seven years of war in Iraq plus the nation building (now that IS an oxymoron)? We didn’t; we charged it. Seven years ago, were Scarborough and Buchannan, MSNBC’s morning morons, asking how we were going to pay for the invasion of Iraq to get to those weapons of mass destruction? I do not think so.

So what good will it do transfer 30,000 troops to Afghanistan? Plain and simple: it will keep the deficit growing and accomplish little. According to COIN (that’s a cool acronym for the policies of counterinsurgency adopted many years ago by our military institutions) manuals and operational strategy, the idea is to move into urban areas, to squeeze out the enemy, to train the locals to be good police and army dudes, and then to get on out, leaving that area in the capable hands of the newly trained cops and soldiers. I will not try to argue whether this will work or not; some say it has in Iraq, but until we leave there in total (and we are not ever going to) no one will really know. And Afghanistan is not Iraq: they have never had a well-trained standing army (the mujaheddin war lords fought the Russians with our support; heck, identical warlords fought Alexander the Great), and they have about a 10 percent literacy rate on a good day in Afghanistan. Imagine trying to train cops and soldiers who cannot read; imagine trying to train those folks when they are possibly not loyal to a country but to a tribe. Pashtu is the predominate tribal influence, and the Pashtun like to help out other Pashtu, and this pisses off the other tribes, the Tajik, the Uzbek, and Hazara. The CIA will tell you that there are about 60 Pashtu tribes which are divided into 400 sub-tribes. Sort of imagine what it would have been like here conquering the Sioux, the Crow, the Comanche, and the Kiowa if they all had AK-47s. To complicate matters, some of these folks are Sunni and some are Shia. The bad guys, the Taliban, are Sunni refugees slipping back and forth between their country and Pakistan but have in their forces Chechens, Punjabis, and Arabs. And they get support for all over, including our buddies in Pakistan. Go figure; we give money to Pakistan to help fight Al Qaeda; Pakistan gives money to the Taliban to help fight us, I guess. And if you think this little bit is complicated, throw in a tiny bit of economics of destitution: since most Taliban are educated in hyper-religious madrassas, they have little education in science, math or vocations. Hence, to the Taliban, war is work and no war is unemployment and nobody is going to give the Taliban unemployment compensation. For them to eat, to be clothed, to survive is to wage war against anybody.

Heck, I won’t go on. It is an educational challenge, slippery as K-Y. All you have to remember is COIN because it is going to take billions of coin to wage more war in Afghanistan. Right now people all over are arguing over this idea of a surge of troops. But right or wrong one thing is very clear: nobody wants to pay for it. Trillions on credit-card wars, rising deficits: priceless.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=map+of+Afghanistan&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=Afghanistan&gl=us&ei=pxkdS7_vFo6Ytgf5ov32CQ&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CAoQ8gEwAA

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Health What?

A couple weeks ago (was it more) I wrote encouraging a filibuster on the cobbled up health care bill(s) that are in the news, in debate, and in flux. As I have repeatedly noted, when it comes to fiscal savvy, I was last in line when the boss passed out gray matters in that area. However, I have read and heard enough to know that any bill plastered together by politicians will be one that helps not their constituents but will help those who put the most in their campaign coffers. I also suspect that whatever either side says about the cost and the paying are both, simultaneously, lies. If an estimate involving a bunch of zeroes comes from politicians, you can bet the three bucks you’ve been sitting on for a Starbucks mocha latte that that number will be off by at least six zeroes. And you can up the beat by wagering a chocolate-java cappuccino that ninety-five percent of the people living here will suffer for it.

We all know we are in harsh times economically, and I do want to share some personal adventures that illustrate partly why we are in such a mess when it comes to health care and our economy. First, a few years ago some local, toothless idiot sailed exactly into the dead center of the rear end of my Taurus station wagon. I ended up in the hospital with a couple of compression fractures and two herniated discs. I was referred to a pretty cool doctor up in Annapolis who regretfully wasn’t so cool to his wife; he sold out, beat it for California, and left my records with another surgeon in Baltimore. The divorced doc and I had decided that before any surgery would be done for the neck thingie, we would try some pain blocking shots if things started hurting really bad. Well, in a couple of years, they did, and I called up the good doctor with whom my records now are parked. His “office” said that I should come on up, that the doc would review my films and records with me and that we would schedule a shot event. I am at this point pretty dang happy as I tend to put off a deals with folks in the hurting businesses, doctors, dentists, and lawyers. I drive a couple hours to Mt. Sinai in Baltimore, find the doctor’s office, wait for forty -five minutes, meet and shake hands with the doctor who tells me that I need a new MRI and other stuff and that he hasn’t looked at the earlier dvd or the other records because they are lost in boxes in his old office. This entire conversation took four minutes and forty-six seconds; I checked. The ride home in a down pour took two hours and thirty-five minutes. On the way home, I am cussing myself for not being proactive and telling the doctor that I would be needing new tests before I came up, but then again I have never had too much luck telling a doctor anything. About six days later, I get a statement from BCBS showing where the good doctor had billed 245 dollars for the consultation and that because he was participating in their plan I had saved 60 bucks. OK, now I am not real good a higher math but can figure that there are 12 five minute sessions an hour and if he works for 5 hours, leaving 5 hours for making some real money in surgery, he can bill about 4500 real dollars a day (I do not know why doctors show a 245 dollar charge when they know they will settle up for 180 anyway; a former pharmacist says it is because the bill is general to fit all the possible health plans out here or lack thereof. But if that is the case why in the world did “the office” ask for my provider card?) Anyways, 180 is a lot for a five minute conversation and the doc sure as hell could have said that I should get tests X, Y, and Z before we met. But then again, I have never met a poor doctor.

Another story: an acquaintance had a bummer of a PSA, but his doc couldn’t see him for a couple of months. So he gets another PSA despite the protests of two doctors and the results are moved on to the urologist. He takes off work and rides about an hour expecting a biopsy and some bad news. He gets into to see his urologist-of-choice who informs the lucky rascal that the last PSA dropped significantly and that no biopsy is necessary (another PSA dropped some more, I am happy to say.) I never did ask what he was billed for that four minute and twenty-five second consultation, but I’ll bet it was a hell of a lot of lattes. A simple phone call would have sufficed and a small bill for that phone call, say 10 bucks would be fine, figuring any competent high school graduate can make at least 20 such phone calls an hour, more than covering the 15 bucks and hour he/she makes.

Finally, my true stories turn to pills,pharmacies, and politics. I did business all my life with local drugstores that were bought out by a succession of growing chains until finally all my prescriptions were in the hands of Rite Aid. Rite Aid got a good deal on some corner property and moved into Maryland. I am not real wild about paying taxes in Maryland, but prescriptions are not yet taxed so I was OK with the move. But Rite Aid forgot who I was, and I didn’t know a damn soul there, and all the new folks were either hiding behind walls of cookies, licorice, and condoms, or they were just plain rude. Consequently, I quit Rite Aid and take my pitiful little business to an Epic pharmacy run by one fellow and one clerk. I am happy that they know my name, will deliver if I get in a pinch, and am liberal enough to like supporting what really is a small business. BUT, my prescription plan is run by Medco, chosen by some mental giants in Delaware to administer the pharmaceutical-plan of all state employees and retired state workers. Good move, we sure don’t want government running the health plan. Yet, Medco while being a manager is also a purveyor of drugs, huge company, selling ninety day supplies delivered right to my doorstep. But I do not want my drugs coming in the mail; the mail is for bills, cigars, and flavored lubricants. So, I stick with the small guy. But he can’t make any money, actually loses money if he supplies my non-generic meds for ninety days. But I stay, not because I am a multi-millionaire, but because what it costs me for a thirty day supply versus ninety days’ is worth it for the personal service. However, Medco comes up with a new plan that if I don’t get ninety supplies, I have to pay an extra 40 dollars every other time I refill for 30 days. Now, I can’t afford to use the guy who knows my name and will probably have to go to humping Happy Harry’s which is really Walgreen’s or to ratsville Rite Aid. Oh yes, nobody so far in Delaware politics can tell me just how we have what appears to be a conflict of interest in pharmaceutical management. If the powers to be wanted a single provider, they should have said so and forced all who worked for and retired in the state to use Medco; at least that would have been up front. To exacerbate this deal, I tried to get a shingles vaccine, but it would cost me 45 dollars copay plus 230 dollars because the Epic man-in-white has to pay that much past what is allowed. I called Medco to find out how come. I talked to two women there who knew not only what Medco was allowing for the drug but also what my pharmacist was paying for it. Both women insisted that my pharmacist was refusing to service my account, but when I asked them why a business man should provide a drug that cost him more than they would reimburse, they just didn’t get it. Finally, when a supervisor told me that she was not concerned about every mom-and-pop drugstore out there, I gave up and hung up, nicely.

For sure Epic has failed my friendly pharmacist; I guess because it is not buying enough or smart enough, and of course, we can’t survive growing health care costs by providing drugs that are more expensive than they should be. Thank goodness for the other guy who went through the PSA deal or I might get to thinking that I am the only guy in the United States that all this stuff happens too and that everything is just dandy with health care like some are saying. Oops, nearly forgot to tell you that Medco stock is up 13 percent in the last month, go figure.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lexicongraphy

I am off the bar stool again, a rocket-brain, totally warped, because, since it is Online Monday or Black Cyberday, or whatever, I was online searching for a lamp shade for the lamp next to my bed. The shade on there now is solid black, depressing, light blocking, dust revealing, just a bad shade. I figured I would contribute to the economic data files by buying something online, a double for the economy, a sale and shipping, all in one. But I got hung up in lamp parts, and tumbled on from there, unable to stop.

The worst thing that can happen to me and leads to a gross waste of time (what I can’t put off) is to discover a strange looking word. I eternally had a struggle explaining to former students just how much I love words. Of course most students simply smiled or yawned and thought, ‘He’s weird anyway. So what if he is having an affair with words?” But really, I wish I had discovered lamp parts to include on my vocabulary lists. How many times have you needed a part to a lamp and been reduced to approaching some sales clerk asking for a do-hickey? Goodness knows even using that term put you close in the catalog of lamp parts because hickey is a real part and no doubt the etymology for that good old slang term “do-hickey.” Look in any online dictionary, and the first definition you will see for hickey has to do with all those suck marks we tried to brush out, ice off, and hide with turtle necks. A hickey is really a double ring with inside threads through which electrical connections are made on lamps. There are malleable hickeys, “u” hickeys, utility switch hickeys, and stamped steel hickeys. Pretty cool but don’t go to WalMart and ask for a hickey; after all, you have seen those pictures. Another lamp part that fits the tongue nicely is the nipple. Oops, no I won’t do that to you, just teasing, really. Of course, nipples are lamp parts , but the part which really rolls around the mouth is the bobesche, a cupped ring placed under a socket for ornamentation but which originally caught drippings from candles. That is a most cool word. Go ahead and go into one of your hardware stores and ask for a dozen bobesches, be pretty darn interesting to see what you might get. For sure you know that lamps have bases, bodies, and bulbs. But, did you know lamps have harps? They are the light-bulb shaped, heavy-wire appliances that fit into a socket to provide support for a shade. And a spider is a do-hickey that screws above a harp to support the weight of a glass shade. Lamps take toggles and taps, finials and flanges, risers and rosettes. And balls too, brass, marble, and glass. And you can get, at your local lamp store, a palnut, a washer thing-a-ma-jiggie that is used as a separator between ornamental parts. Who would have known?

While looking up parts for lamps, my word addiction in full flower, I just went wild looking for parts of, well, stuff. So here’s your challenge of the week: go forth (do NOT multiply) and find an entasis, a crocket (not a Davy-kind), a quoin, a clerestory, and a tympanum. You’ll have fun and for a while your mind just might move off Obama, the stock market, the Chinese, and the price of gas. At least I hope it does.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poemsagain

Enticement

a dirty gray cat teases
at my sweet dog
while she guards my yard
from her vigil on the porch

Vulturing

How in the wind
does the blackish buzzard
avoid the shimmering
pines?

Edifice rex

it was a home
but is now a house
the kings lived there



M Owl

A lonely rhythm all its own has the hoot
Of the barn owl sitting near, in the edge of a pine.
She hunts solitaire, deadly to voles, moles, mice,
Any small life rambling about the field or forest floor.

She calls, and it echoes off
The barn’s tin roof and swings
Around to the cool, dark porch
Where I sit and smoke and swing.

I wonder if she knows I am
Here but a few yards away,
Drawing on a cheap cigar, watching
The smoke drift off, on its own?

As one smoke ring slides inside another,
It dawns on me she cannot care a whit,
For my existence as long as I do not interfere,
Do not interrupt her purpose for that night.

Naturally, she is concerned solely with
Groceries for her kids, and in that chore
She is concentration epitomized, Ms. Death,
Staring from eyes designed to capture every flicker.

I am so lucky for I capture her sudden fall
From her branch to disappear into the stubble
Of corn stalks and to rise and glide away,
Dinner’s silhouette, dangling from her clutch.


My Worms

I do believe I’ve got
Worms in my skull,
Tight, muscular ones,
Designing to bore me to death.


Dusty Rodent Sex

How did these dust bunnies
Hop so deep beneath my bed?
Is it they that make me sneeze,
Or are they responsible for my snores?

I can imagine them at night, scurrying
Up the wall and diving from the window’s
Ledge, double-twisting-full-gainers
Into my nostrils, (perfect sixes from the Russians).

Do they have sex? Are they actively
Screwing there and popping out baby-
Bunnies that are born fertile, vaginas and penises
Alert to Malthus’ math?

God, they have to be promiscuous. There
Is no other explanation for their fecundity,
Other than their ill-breeding, dark, secret sex
In front of embarrassed dust mites.

Dogs eat good

Have you ever noticed how
A dog never debates dinner,
Never snubs a pizza gift,
Always watches for the fallen crumb?

Do you see how a dog’s palette is not
Governed by gastronomy but by a gusto
For any morsel of grease from our
Chins, droplets from our lips, bits from our digits?

Dogs do not share; they are wise and usually full.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Filibuster Please

Since the big flood here on wonderful Delmarva, I have pumped more water than the politicians who run or governments have pumped bull shit, and that’s a mess of water. I would be ashamed to share with but the most sympathetic of friends what rig I have put together to move water to the sump; let me just say that Rube Goldberg would be more than proud. This contraption involves a plastic, perforated paint stirrer, an old 3/8 inch nap paint roller, resurrected from the trash can, one partially melted eight foot piece of gutter, twelve feet of squashed plastic gutter, and two ten foot pieces of aluminum corner metal. Also involved are an old coffee pot, a 1 x 3, an empty tube of Liquid Nails, two golf balls, and a rubber band. It works, sort of, sending about 50 percent of the leak to the pump. I broke down in a deep sweat yesterday, tired of vacuuming and sweeping, sore from a recently pulled number 2 tooth, and headed to Home Depot for a “liquid transfer” pump. These pumps are used to move water out of aquariums and water beds. Sadly, there has been a run on them, none in sight, could-have-sold-a-thousand-if-we-had-them, Gonzo. I tried the electric-drill-driven pump, a cheap and cheap-looking plastic device, to find it had succumbed to Chinese, planned obsolescence. So, I quit, turned on the recording of the world championship of goose calling, opened the basement window, scattered some local corn about, shut the door to the basement, and will not open it again until I hear Canada geese splashing about.

Now, I have time for important stuff: writing to my fine elected officials daring them to pass this bill on health care, pleading with them all to filibuster, to read Martha Stewart’s cook book collection, transcripts from Rust Limpbag and Glenn Buck, anything, even Ann Catler. I can stand any sorts of torture as long as it defeats the current health care bill which is cobbled together worse than my water transfer system in the basement and will work not to deliver sane well-thought-out improvement to our burdensome health care debacle.

Our ball-less congress has done just what they have done since forever: they have shafted the tax payers and enhanced big business, namely the insurance companies who have spent half a billion dollars in six months lobbying against any plan that would make them compete for and improve their business. The insurance companies will not have to move about in a competitive free trade market. Instead they have lobbied for and won the right to keep their monopolies on providing health care insurance. They will be generously protected because there is no provision to allow us to shop from state to state for the best buys in health care. Furthermore they have garnered anti-trust protection that makes baseball’s monopoly look like the Mother Teresa’s hospitals for the poor. Probably, they will get a tort-reform which will limit what individuals can do to incompetent doctors but will give up absolutely nothing for it. They will have less money to pay out by billions but will not cut their fees, premiums, bonuses, or bottom line profits one cent. We desperately need health care reform, elimination of monopolies, reduction in fraud, reduction in waste and reduction in costs. If you are thinking the screwing we are getting from Wall Street sets your hackles upright, when the truth about how we are getting robbed by the current health care bill gets out, you will lose your hair. As long as the republicans can make it seem like the democrats are socialists, communists, and Rastafarians, and as long as the democrats keep wasting time trying to shove the republicans out of the bed they share with lobbyists, we lose. As long as the crooks in your state houses and in DC have anything to do with it, you can bet your last doubloon that the only ones who will benefit from a health care bill will be the doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies.

Using the time I save by not vacuuming another drop from my basement, I am going to start emailing, pleading for the offices of my representatives to nix this plan and any plan that gives unfettered monopolies to insurance businesses and fails to address the wastes and fraud in the business. But,I know that all the typing will be for naught: trying to get a politician to do the honest thing is as useless as trying to get water to stop running.

PS I truly enjoyed reading the comments on my last post. One to which I shall respond later on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On a Conundrum in a Paradox

In my last post, I promised to reveal what single action is the root cause for the failure of our economy. Oh, yes there were several dubious, politically motivated actions taken by members of congress that exacerbated the problem. My conservative friends have pointed rightly at the likes of Barney Frank for “encouraging” lenders to open up the mortgage markets to a wider consumer base than was appropriate. Other conservative buddies want to vilify all the damn people who bought a home bigger than they could afford. Because of lobbying and generous political contributions, so many of our sweet-electeds have made Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so entirely corrupt those government sponsored forays into finance have sucked up so much tax dollars and will require so much more that we will probably never see a recovery of the dollars dumped there. For sure, there was some spurious lending and finance going on in the sub-prime loan departments also. But all of those egregious actions, even the insane tax cuts tossed out by George II, were a mere blip on the vast radar of economic misadventures compared to the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. And whole bunches of politicians and lobbyist were guilty in that deed.

The Glass Steagall Act, GSA, (pardon me for I know I am boring those of you who know this topic well) was passed in 1933 during the administration of the most hated liberal of all, FDR. It was a direct action to make sure a market collapse that cased the Great Depression could not happen again. Simply, the GSA required that a commercial bank could not be an investment bank and vice versa. This bill for sixty years protected the American depositors from banks' fiddling around with depositors’ money in risky investments. What a great idea, right? Not if you are a conservative and want no government involvement because all conservatives know that banks and investment houses will regulate themselves out of the sheer goodness of their corporate hearts. Certainly not, if you are the honorable Phil Gramm who was the chief proponent of the repeal and if you will remember was the honorable John McCain’s financial adviser for a while. The first movements to repeal the GSA began in the Reagan years when the banks began to lobby hard. Of course, the swinish democrats jumped right in because they didn’t want to miss out on any of the huge political contributions all the banks and investment houses were passing out. The vote in the Senate went republican 52 for and 1 against while the democrats went for it 38 to 7. In the house the democrats were even more piggish and went along for the ride there: the donkeys voted 138 to 69 for the repeal and the overall vote being 343 to 86. You can do the math to see that the republicans, with their elephantine appetite for contributions and lobbying fun were not out done in their enthusiasm to let the banks have at the general population of the United States. Interestingly McCain and Nancy Pelosi saw the wisdom in not voting at all, proving they are more alike than not.

So what did the tax payer get for the repeal: a more conservative approach, a truly free market, a self-imposed moral order by big banking? What we got was Citigroup’s invention of the so called structured investment vehicles. Now think about that: structured investment vehicle, not a stock, an ownership in a good American company, not a commodity like oil, grain, sow bellies but mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. Now I want to tell you if you do not already know: nobody but nobody knows what they hell those things are. They are so complicated, contrived, and convoluted that the banks and insurance companies, who joined in the fun by filling their portfolios with the rascally investments, had to pay performance-bonuses to the few ladies and gentleman on Wall Street who had twisted all these “investments” together into the world’s largest Pretzel Hold. The bonuses were supposed to be for their sticking around to explain what they had wrought; they never did so that anyone could understand how to get out of the Hold. They got the money, but guess what? What any of these investments are worth remains one of earth's great mysteries. Heck in many cases banks don’t even know who owns the mortgage on a home so that somebody can kick the guy out that is not making the payments. What they do know, but ain’t telling you and me, is that the vehicles are clunkers and are pretty much worthless. The bonus-babies also are pretty sure that the MBSs and CDOs are so entwined by compounded sales that they can’t be pulled apart and are The Financial Tar Pit. Problem is that the bones in the Tar Pit will not be from the bad boys and girls who designed this nefarious activity and spurious vehicles but will be the bones of the taxpayers, awash in all kinds of debt.

So why am I picking on the conservatives? Because they are preventing a reckoning, a righteous come-to-Jesus-good-ol-fashioned-ass-whuppin’ by refusing to see their noses for their asses, that’s why. As long as they keep screaming, “No more government, get the government out of our lives,” we will never get this derelict on the right keel because it is the government that has to go in and clean house. It would be real easy to reenact the Glass Steagall, it worked for 60 years. It would be real easy to make lobbying illegal because it is corrupting at all levels (freedom of speech does not allow for fraud or extortion). And it would be real easy to assemble a nonpartisan panel of folks to investigate the financial crimes against America and get some old fashioned accountability and punishment going for the crooked politicians, the crooked bankers, the crooked bureaucrats who led us to this mess and who are going to come away unscathed. That would make a whole bunch of us happy. But the conservatives, ironically, won’t let conservative stuff happen.

And that is a conundrum in a paradox.

Friday, November 6, 2009

OK, So We Are Screwed. Now What?

Boys and girls, there are some really great headlines hitting the news this morning: Unbelievable Unemployment: Embarrassingly at 10.2 (Blasting Hopes for Relief: Unemployment Shoves above 10 Percent for the First Time in 28 Years). Absolutely amazing news, depressing for me, and coupled with the Muslim Major killing 13 in Texas, Wall Street is going be a little nutty, and President Obama has got to be wondering why he wants the job at all.

Take a look at unemployment: that figure is more than likely off by 3 to 5 percent, depending on who is counting, and really who is counting? That report does not indicate how many thousands are under-employed or working three or more jobs to keep afloat. Nor does it take into account the thousands who have given up looking, dropped off the rolls, went on the road, moved in with Mom and Dad, or left the country. Pretty much sucks that the real number that pops into my walnut-sized brain is more like 13 percent or maybe 15 percent counting those who are working way below a living wage. But I keep running into conservative folks who say that there are plenty of jobs out there, that people just don’t want to work, that we are a lazy country. That may be. But I am glad I am not trying to find a job right now, no one is building, schools are not hiring, and car lots are not knocking on my door looking for a salesman. Hey, we do have some chicken plants and tons of MacDonald’s. Look at some numbers from the current Bureau of Labor and Statistics Report: currently 15.7 million folks are unemployed; construction lost 62 thousand more jobs; manufacturing “shed” 61 thousand; retail trade lost 41 thousand. And for non-supervisory work the average work week is only 33 hours. So, you get it: even the ones with a job are not making as much money.

Usually, in time of economic downturn, if my memory serves me, states could stimulate some activity by bonding up some school additions or hustling up some road improvements to put blue collar folks to work and keep things moving along. Hey, but the states are broke, too. Taxes are down, pension funds are down, and wages are frozen. We probably ought to have mass layoffs or huge weekly work reductions in federal and state employees, but heck, they are all relatives of our elected officials or of each other so that won’t happen. But some are taking mandatory unpaid furloughs and pays are frozen. However, no help is on the way for Joe the Plumber or Tom the Teacher from the states promoting construction or encouraging an upgrade in education systems, places where people actually do work for a living. And without home building, as I have said probably too many times, we do not produce anything in this country. Wall Street, plus all the pundits there, is wringing its hands because the “consumer” is hurt; fuck the producer, Wall Street needs China and people consuming.

So what’s the deal my conservative friends? What’s your proposal? Start another war some place? Hell, we didn’t and haven’t paid for the two we are in. You want the government out of your business, right? Cut off unemployment benefits that have been extended to 15 million folks. Cut off the prescription benefit to seniors. Cut off Social Security. Cut off all disability payments. So far, I have heard only from the idiots (visualize John Bonehead, my least favorite Republican), let the banks fail (they deserve it), let the car companies fail (they deserve it), let the insurance companies fail (they deserve it). OK, I am finally in, call in the loans, dump the banks, dump the last of American car companies (hey, one local legislator told me it wouldn’t matter because no cars are made in America anyway; thus, he drives an Audi), oh yes, wipe out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while you are at it (they deserve it). BUT while you are doing all this, just what in the HELL are you going to do to put people back to work in this country? You are doing a real fine job of kicking the current administration all over the lot about not getting people to work and spending your grandchildren’s future. Maybe you are right. So, I have swung over and am with you all the way on your conservative, Escalade-pulled bandwagon. But, come on fess up; what’s your plan for turning the country around and for putting people back to work? What are you going to deregulate to make all the jobs come back? It is about time that the conservative, tea-bagging, helicopter-shooting, name-calling conservatives clearly reveal their plan for getting us back to work. I wait for your reply.

And in the next post, I will tell you how, with one smooth political move, the conservatives caused all this mess in the first place.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What I Have Been Up To (To What I Have Been Up {Up To What I Have Been})

OK, so it has been a while again; I can’t help it; I have been jacking up the ceiling in the family room, hoping the entire time that the entire deal would not come crashing down, driving me into the basement where I would probably drown over in the corner where ten inches of rain over the last week and a half is slowly seeping in though the walls. But, hey, the leak is better than it was; the ducks have left, and I have eaten all the bull frogs which swam about down there before I did the chipping, patching, sealing, and painting. I counted about 3 billion whacks with my chipping hammer and about 2 thousands schwacks with an old 4 iron when I got the bright idea that the old plaster might hop off faster if I used more force. But, though it worked well, I had to quit that method because I picked up an awful slice which is sort of like picking up an awful dose of consumption. Oh yes, back to my ceiling wars.

The ceiling sway came on like bankruptcy, slowly then suddenly. I kept looking at a piece of trim, thinking that it looked a tad sloped, but being terrible at determining if anything is running uphill or downhill, I figured it was my internal incalculations that were causing the cove molding to look like it was headed for the floor. So, I put off looking mainly because the attic is a crawl space filled with an extra 6-8 inches of insulation I blew in one day, between fire alarms. I am not into crawling anymore (in fact crawl space is an oxymoron anyway as I have never been in one which really wasn’t a slither-space). Crawling hurts the knees and invariably my head when I thunk it into a rafter or joist or beam or concrete pillar; crawl spaces are always darker than Ray’s sunglasses. Anyhow, a couple of days ago, I was eating a double helping of Quaker’s French toast oatmeal and petting the dog there at the dining room table and noticed that not only was the trim at a 30 degree down-bubble but that the belly in the ceiling was suddenly bigger than Hilary’s butt (gawd, she must have to have at least three seats anymore on the plane. Must be all the foreign cuisine and snacking; goodness that woman has got to get on a diet or install a Nordic Track there in aisle one.)

So, now, putting the bowl down and stepping over the dog who will eat just about anything from a bowl on the floor, I got the step ladder, raised the access panel to the space above the ceiling, brushed a half pound of insulation from my face, and shimmied on up. There’s about 30 inches of room to crawl along the center of the roof space, but you have to duck walk from truss to truss because there is nothing to crawl on and of course, the bottom chord of the trusses are hidden under the insulation. Ever see a duck guessing where to waddle? The situation promoted much cursing and flailing about; every time my quadriceps would cramp up, I would rise up to stretch them and run my head into a couple of roofing nails which project through the shingles and plywood of the roof. A religious person would not want to crawl over a ceiling with me. Furthermore, I have distrusted ceilings since falling through one and nearly on top of my baby sister who lay asleep in her crib. I maintained that that was not my fault: my father in not finishing the second floor had enticed me to explore and crawl around; he did not see the sense in that excuse and besides he liked my sister better anyway. But, like my trim, I slant from the proper direction: I made it finally over to where the trusses should have been sitting on a beam to support them. No beam, no support equals sagging ceiling. I also noticed as I lay there in the chemically-treated insulation that the ceiling and all the rest of the structures up there were beginning to groan in protest of my avoirdupois’ being added to the weight of the deal. I retreated. As I scrabbled out, I began to formulate a plan to fix the defect before my ceiling became my floor.

Now, figuring is another one of my weak suits because what makes perfectly good sense in the convolutions of my brain seldom make sense in practical application. I thought it would be a simple deal to screw a 2 x 4 across the span, get some basement posts, and jack it up. No problem. One slight miscalculation was that I was trying to move 20 clear feet of roof load plus 20 additional feet of ceiling load, heavy stuff. Consequently, the jacking was easy, but instead of doing 4 or 5 feet at a time, I soon discovered that the 2 x 4 would not support any more weight than about a 2 foot span. So, I had to go to Home Depot and get a couple more basement post so that I could jack less space by using more posts. I also got a couple dozen 2 x 4s, 4- 2 x 6 x 10 feet plus half dozen 2 x 4s the same length. Oh, before I went to the lumber yard, I had to pump up my pickup’s tires but the bicycle pump’s leather bellow had rotted out; thus, I could not get enough air to come along and join up with the tire. Off to Messick’s to buy a pump. Now, I am back at Home Depot getting ready to check out when I realize I have no wood screws long enough to make a suitable purchase into the ceiling joists, and I grabbed a box of them, too. By the way, if you think that joblessness and a sinking economy would drive prices down, you will not qualify as an economist; lumber is expensive, 2.86 for a stud, 5.04 plus tax for a small box of 3 inch screws, ridiculous, absolutely insane,,not to mention the price of that Chinese pump which wheezes in Mandarin when I work the handle up and down. Damn, Chinese.

Anyways, I got back home, applied the jacks at more frequent spacing and began to move the earth, so to speak. I would jack a 2 foot space, wrenching on the jacks two at a time, until I brought that section up to level. Then, I would crawl off the ladder, measure the distance from the underside of the 2 x 4 to the floor, go out to the garage (oh yes, it was raining some), cut the wood, come back into the house, and drive the 2 x 4 supports under the space. Then, I proceeded on to the next space and repeated the process. Fuzz was no help; she headed for the porch the first time I barked my knuckles and used her canine gender in an oath. She is a fair weather friend.

As I finish here this morning, there are 14- 2 x 4s, 5 jacks, and a broom handle holding up my ceiling. I have one more 6 foot span to raise, and then I will climb up and screw 2 x 6s to both sides of the 2 x 4 plate, screw the 2 x 6s into the support posts, get Fuzz into the backyard (I am not sure the porch is safe) and gingerly remove the temporary posts.

If you don’t hear from me in about 3 days, send the ambulance and some water for Fuzz; she’ll be a little parched from waiting for me to let her in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gotta Love Nicknames

According to dictionary.com (1400–50; late ME nekename, for ekename the phrase an ekename being taken as a nekename), nickname as a word has been around for about 500 years and meant, originally, additional name. This makes a lot of sense to me considering that so many people were named after what their father did for work: Cooperson, Wrightson, Smithson, Friarson, etc. So when the teacher yelled for the Carpenter boy and six kids showed up, nick names were invented, “Oh. Not you, Carpenter, I want Snot-nose Carpenter; you know, the one.” Of course, all the kids howled and in an instant, Snot-Nose was named forever. Nicknames often reveal so much about the appellating and the appellated. Surely, that teacher was picking on old Snot-Nose, and for sure would find himself in court today for such a crippling remark, but positively that Carpenter‘s nose had to be dripping, constantly.

Because of the current trend to litigation, great nick names are probably disappearing. When I grew up there were DaDa, Strawberry, Spider, Duck, Snazzy, Buck, Ears, Chisel, and Rabbit, to mention only a few of the more commonly used. And all of these nicknames were cast because of a person’s deformity or proclivity. Strawberry’s nose at the end was just that, a strawberry, seeds and all. Buck and Rabbit had humongous over-bites; so did the Gnawyer. I got stuck, pre-orthodontist, with Bucky, after the beaver of Ipana fame (brusha, brusha, brusha). Snazzy liked color and motley. It was not rare to see him wearing striped flannel over checked polyester. Of course, Ears had to get real earnest to get home walking into a headwind but was a veritable kite, downwind. And Bones, Fats, Nubs, Knucks, Squirrel, Boodles, Beaky, and Hawk all paint a picture of the person so nicknamed. I suppose it was a cruel deal on the guys; after all, I don’t remember girls having nicknames. It was not so much fun picking on girls, I guess.

And states have all those nutty nicknames: Ohio is the Buckeye State after a variety of chestnut; Maryland is the Free State because it voted against Prohibition or the Terrapin State from which is derived that most fearsome mascot, The Terps; and Wisconsin is the Badger State, not because the people are feisty or pesty, but because the early settlers at Wisconsin’s lead mines lived in sides of hills, burrowed-in, like badgers. I like very much some of the older appellations for states: Georgia was once, the Cracker State, the Buzzard State and the Goober State; New Jersey, the Mosquito State; Michigan, the Wolverine State despite the debate over whether wolverines ever lived there (one claim is that there is one living in Bad Axe) and the funniest of all: South Dakota, the Sunshine State.
In current times, nicknames of sports teams have captured national attention (really these are mascots but the press will get screwed up from time to time in identifying stuff): The Fighting Sioux, The Redskins, Seminoles, and Chippewas have been under attack, mainly by the NCAA. For sure nicknames abound in professional sports, always have, always will. In politics, George W. Bush, according to many sources, commonly used nicknames for those he admired and didn’t. We all remember Brownie, but Dick Cheney was Big Time; Maureen Dowd, the Cobra; and Karl Rove, Turd Blossom. And George was rightly dubbed Dumbya, and Slick Willie is a righteous and suitable moniker. Television, the boob tube, brings us Joe the Plumber, Balloon Boy, Octomom, and my favorite from TV advertising: “Yes, I am the Colon Lady.”

But somehow, I guess from our being a much more compassionate people, nicknames have lost their fun, their zing. Really what, anymore, compares to Strawberry, Fish, Boodles, June Bug, Coon Dog, Coon Puppy, and Poukie? And Chisel, by gawd that’s genius in nicknaming. Well, OK, Turd Blossom is pretty damned good.

Monday, October 19, 2009

snacking at Victoria’s

snifting through the bras (brassieres i mutter), fondling the
thongs, hoodies; if the floor matron
wasn’t so on guard i would drool over
the pushups; the demis, I would nibble for hours

i stroll, yes , stroll by and graze,
wishing for a dream, tongue the blue
string bikinis ever so faintly; over-hip-
huggers, the pink, i tease with my teeth

in a feeding frenzy, I gnash at the sheer baby doll;
gobble the merry widows, exquisite coral ;
wolf down the Lacies in raspberry rose;
inhale the halter teddy, basic black

for dessert a warm blush, silk romper,
fattening (silk does that to me) and i
let melt in my mouth, while i roil, swept in chills,
the satin, platinum, Sexy Little Thing

Friday, October 16, 2009

Conservatively Challenged

I have no idea why I am so far adrift from what presents itself via emails as “conservative” America. Here are a few excerpts from an email that I just received and will be sent ad infinitum by all my Glen Beck touting, Limbaugh praising, Christian right, conservative buddies. I provide a response to some, knowing full well that nothing, absolutely no rational exposition will promote change in a conservative's mind.

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn`t buy one.
If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.


As a matter of fact, I do not want all guns outlawed and firmly believe that all citizens have a right to protect their homes with a gun. I do not think that citizens need AK 47s, 50 caliber machine guns, and tanks to defend their property. I do think states have a right to set reasonable limits on appropriate protection. I just don’t get why it is usually acceptable that one can hunt with only three shells chambered for killing geese, rabbits, ducks, and deer. But, some insist that they have a right to carry a pistol that will fire in excess of ten shots in less than ten seconds. Is it un-American to know that the designers of the Constitution had only muzzle-loaded weapons for a frame of reference and that common sense dictates a continual examination of our standards as technology reshapes how we behave? Or does only Glenn Beck have the inside track on common sense?

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.


I don’t worry about homosexuals at all, and I do not care who squawks about what if they think they are getting a raw deal from this country. In fact, if we would redirect all the energy worrying and protesting homosexuals toward fixing our energy grids, becoming independent of foreign energy, and extricating ourselves from useless wars, all of us, conservatives, lesbians, liberals, and libertarians, would be way better off.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)


I can’t claim this one; it is already in the Constitution. Unfortunately, conservatives refuse to read it and apply it as the very word-conservative-means they should. I agree with the wit who says that if you will stay out of my government, I will stay out of your church.

If a conservative slips and falls in a store, he gets up, laughs and is embarrassed.
If a liberal slips and falls, he grabs his neck, moans like he's in labor and then sues.


Good conservatives hire illegal aliens to shop for them and then deport them if they are injured.


Oh, there were a bunch more of comparisons between liberals and conservatives in that email, all insulting to liberals. But I, as I have said, in another post, am still wondering why I am a target for all this conservative blather. Oh, they usually add some disclaimer about its being posted in good humor, but it is not. There is nothing funny about people who want everything one way and refuse to join in or to compromise to make things better.

I never know if I am liberal or not; in my head, I am not. I think you can have a gun just not one that fires huge bullets or a whole mess of bullets real quick. I think you can go to church or a synagogue or whatever; just don’t try to put religious pressures in public schools, local, state, federal governments or laws. I do not care to argue about where you put the baby Jesus and the wise men as long as it is not in a place paid for by taxpayers. And that goes for your menorah, too. I think we ought to pay our bills, improve our country, improve public education, make life as good as possible for people who will work to help out, and have the balls to do what it takes to accomplish the these goals. Furthermore, from Washington, DC to Willards, MD, we should get rid of elected folks working against these principles. If these are liberal ideas, I guess I am a liberal.

Above all, I am convinced that if we would think more for ourselves instead of letting others think for us, we would all be way better off.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wal-Mart Frugal and Proud of It

I love emails, usually. And for a while, I thought one of the best is the current Just Wal-Mart Folks that arrived, simultaneously, from Australia, South Africa, and West Post Office. It is a collection of rustics in various garbs from pink shorts and yellow knee high boots to a “Fuck You” hat to a swastika emblazoned red t-shirt. Cool. But the more I surfed through the photos the more I got troubled. Then it struck me “right upside ah da haid”: there is something elitist about that email (I researched and found that all the originators AND forwarders are registered Republicans),and it rubs me against the grain of my fur. The collection, after all, makes fun of people for having the audacity to live cheaply and for dressing like they do. Furthermore, I am crushed personally because I am probably the cheapest SOB to stroll the aisles of late-night Wal-Mart. Please don’t get me wrong; I don’t consider myself cheap towards other people. After all when I was investigating religion from the pews of the local catholic bingo game, I always tipped The Little Sisters very well; I have been known as being over-generous in tipping, especially at a Hooters; and the few friends who remember me will account that I will buy a round or two at any pub and enjoying doing it. But this Wal-Mart email suggests that I have some defect for being frugal.


Look: the guy in the Fuck You hat probably didn’t pay much for it at all; I can’t imagine that he strolled into Neiman Marcus and found it at the gentleman's accessory-table. And I am as cheap in the chapeau department as one can get; I bought six brand new Marilyn Manson baseball hats, 100 percent wool, black with purple embroidery for a buck a piece, a DOLLAR. That was about five years ago, and they are such nice hats that I am only just breaking in the second one and use, still, the first on rainy days. It is my favorite golf hat; call me silly but these are cool hats especially when any Adidas one is twenty-one fifty. And, how much could a woman possibly pay for a leopard print top paired with a tiger print, spandex bottom? I understand and applaud her frugal nature. Say, if new, golf slacks would cost me sixty-five dollars each. About eight years ago I got a baker’s dozen, polyester Sans A Belt golf pants for six fifty total. Now that’s a bargain not to mention that I got red, canary yellow, lime green, and for Fourth of July, red, white, and blue checked ones. And after eight years, so what if the yellow-checked pairs’ zipper pops off track whenever I hitch them up? A safety pin snitched from a tag on a golf jacket holds things together and in; I don’t wear them around women or children. I am proud of saving so much money on golf stuff by being on the lookout for bargains: thirty-five golf gloves for twenty dollars, real goat, made in India from some sort of goat-hide that would not surrender its odor. What do it I care if the gloves and my hands smell a little like moldy, goat urine? A Foot Joy glove is fourteen dollars at the pro-shop; now who’s silly?

And it is not just golf where I save money: take my trucks and cars. I drove a ’76 Toyota pickup that cost 500 bucks from ’88 to ’00 and then sold it to the junk yard for 185. I do confess to driving it for a year and a half without a clutch, but other than at stop lights and signs where I had to shut the truck off and then hop it through the intersection until I got up enough speed for first gear to take over, it really wasn’t a big deal. My current transportation is a Focus station wagon (I don’t know what year it is), and the piston-dudes that hold up the hatch have run out of grease, seals gone bad. Thus, the hatch, on cool mornings will, if you aren’t paying attention, drift down onto your head. The closures are about 100 dollars for the pair; I found a worn out, old broom along Route 13, took it home and sawed off the rotten bristled end. Viola, a hatch prop: savings= 100 dollars. When the floor mat on the driver’s side wore through, I cut a hunk out of some red Astro-turf left over from tiling my shower, custom fitted the remnant to the hole and duct taped it in from the back. Damn, floor mats are expensive; why spend good money for new ones? I tried just duct taping it because the grays kind of matched, but the tape could not maintain a purchase on the mat’s fibers. And batteries, folks they sell "blems” out there. For real, there is such a thing as a blemished battery, and you can get one cheap. The blem won’t have a label or advertising or directions, but for fifteen bucks it will crank your engine. And I found that if the new battery doesn’t fit just right into battery rack, I can take an empty, plastic, quart oil bottle and wedge it in between the battery and the wheel well; the plastic bottle gets warm and will mold right around the battery and reduce rattling and vibration-wear on the cables.


I am ambivalent about that Wal-Mart email; the photos reveal some strange looking outfits on equally strange looking folks both of which caused me at first to chuckle and to scratch my left forehead in amazement. Yet, I am a kindred-spirit with those good Americans; I understand how you can get by by shopping smart and taking advantage of stuff that people who shop at Food Lion often toss in a dumpster (I ought to tell you about what time of night Wawa tosses out the bagels and donuts, but I don’t need any competition in that department).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nyahhhh, You Must Be a Maroon!

I am fully aware that I am not the most acute angle on the protractor, but I do find myself wondering, muttering, spitting, and cursing at some of the stuff that goes on in the name of “good” sense:


We are about to enter into a debate on the Hill as to whether or not it is dangerous to text- message (sorry I guess that is a verb) while driving a car. Go figure how many millions will be spent in DC and in state houses affirming that people ought not to be looking at a Blackberry, Palm whatever, or cell phone while they are driving anything. Why the hell do we need a meeting about that topic? We can’t drive a car without a seat belt without being liable for a ticket, but I have yet to figure out how my not wearing a seatbelt can hurt anyone. I do because it makes sense but could care less if you don’t and want to run the risk of getting thrown out the window when you are hit head on by some “ijit” texting his Mom to see what’s for dinner. But do we need a national debate on whether it is safe to text or to talk on the phone while you are driving. It ain’t. Ray LaHood (probably the only aptly named person in the entire administration) says it isn’t good to text and drive and with training the cops could enforce a law prohibiting it. Training? What freaking training: Hey. She has a phone up to her ear… Hey, look, Barney, he’s staring at his lap while driving 65 on the bypass. Hey, drop the donut, and let’s go bust the sucker. Training, my left butt cheek. Oh, well.


And how about all the folks who are always screaming about what good sense it would make to open up oil production by drilling in national parks and in the oceans? Aren’t they the ones who say we need to be self-sufficient in oil and gas as a matter of national security? Sure makes sense to me except for two facts: lowering the speed limits on interstate highways and enforcing the speed limits on a regular and fair basis would, I am guessing, save millions of gallons of gasoline, every day. I came to this simple conclusion while going home on Route 13 North at, I admit, an illegal 58 miles per hour and watched as scores of cars zipped by me going at least 65 miles per hour. I sure am in favor of giving a little bit of “wiggle room” on speed limits, say five percent. So if you are in a 40 mph zone and are going 43 mph, zap, Barney wakes up from guarding the road crews for 75 dollars an hour and gives you a ticket. And who needs to go 70 miles an hour? The number one killer in automobile accidents is speed; so why have speed limits of 70 mph, allow drivers to go 85 free of punishment when by reducing speeds, we save lives, reduce medical expense and make the country safe at the same time. In fact, if the law makers in Delaware want to cush it up for off-duty cops to make some extra folding money, why have a pair of them drive abreast from county line to county line going 57 miles per hour. Reduce accidents, save gas, make us safe. That’s probably asking too much because every cop I see in my travels is busting past me well over the speed limit as if he/she is above the law. Ah, what the heck.


As my hero, the politically incorrect Bugs Bunny says, “Hey, youse must be a maroon.” Bugs’ aspersion applies precisely to anyone who wants to have a debate about texting while driving and to all who want to drill in precarious places without lowering and enforcing speed limits.

Friday, September 25, 2009

OH KAY

fall it must be

Spiders
Huge, knit at rafters of the barn.
Sew snares squarely across the porch
Door, munch at moths captured over night,
And scurry up their ladders at any alien jostle.

Gnats
Minuscule, swirl and cling to cabinets, gather
Gaily at garbage pail, linger over a banana,
Or peel off to zip straight up my nose if I dare
Breathe deeply while sweeping the walk.

Flies
Filthy, bat abuzz against my front window,
Nip at my ankles while I paint the garage door,
Ramble across wet paint, dragging wingprints
Until they are fixed, firm in the Barn Red.

Thanks, Pandora for all that you have done.







So, go easy on the mustard

I thought you wanted the freaking burger
Babe?
Wasn't I only trying to make up for the lapse,
Love?
Can I help it if time is a vortex for me,
Sweet?
But why do the notes nor the calendar not work,
Hon?
So what’s another birthday anyway, a wrinkle,
Dear?
What can I do with your sandwich and my hot dog,
Darling?





Refrigerator prayers

God, there is that celery.
Forgive me for I knew not it would darken so.
Please cast me not into purgatory for this limp
Twig found while searching for hunger’s salvation.

This spring mix, gone to sloshy mush
In plastic; bless me, oh, Lord, I have let
The graces of your good fields turn to
Sacramental wine in a box.

Bless, me father, I knew not the mustard
Would encrust, brown varnish at the edge
Of the jar, strange glue for
Holding a dog firmly to bun.

I surrender to your most merciful forgiveness
This wiener, shriveled small, wrinkled,
As from an indulgent bath. Slick, fatted
Calf of my eternal undoing.

Forgive me for this transgression.
I promise, forever, regular ablutions of this Frigidaire.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Did, too, Learn from the Apaches

Some time back I unglued completely after listening to Glenn Beck sob about something or another and not wanting to spend time in the county slammer, I took my wrath out on a passel of crickets that had run amok, amongst, and all over the crab grass that I call a back lawn. I figured that I killed about 4 to 4.5 million and was totally relieved of Beckangst . Being a frugal sort, I figured counting the squirt of WD40, electricity for sharpening the blades, and the IRS standard mileage rate for the miles on the 42 that I got rid of a pint of venom for about fourteen dollars, US. I did feel much better but the euphoria was short lived. A mere three nights later, I had retired and was moments from sleep when from the basement came a long, sharp chirp, then another then more and more. I rolled out of bed, headed down the hall without turning on the light, drop kicked the triple sized ottoman with my right big toe, tripped and flew into the coffee table which collapsed, really disintegrated. Fortunately, my toe hurt so much that I hardly noticed the nick out of the bridge of my nose and the nifty little slice from my left elbow. Somehow, I gained the vertical and swung open the basement door and switched on the lights. Dead silence. I hobbled down and crickets of all sizes began heading for the corners and the undersides of the work benches. The Egyptians got locusts and frogs and all sorts of plagues; I had the crickets. I had to find a way to control the damned bugs or sleep, never again.

So, I got to reading up on crickets that very night, and it turned out that the common ant was not a friend of any cricket. Furthermore, crickets and ants have the ability of several forms of communication, one of which is hollering like Michelle Bachman when in trouble and singing with glee when in intense pleasure. I figured that if a cricket had all that sort of vocabulary that one or two, in deep trouble would scream like Man Cow on the water board and a whole bunch of crickets would gallop in to the rescue. In like manner, if I could set some ants loose on their natural enemy, the cricket, the ants would probably start yodeling like Brad Pitt when he gets up close and personal with Angelina, and an entire city of ants would show up to join in on the fun, ants being much like humans in that cultural trait. So, I had a plan.

The next morning by nine fifty, I was standing at the door of Michaels, the hobby store, fairly panting to have at the supplies. As soon as the clerk opened the door, I went straight to the fly tying section and got myself a sixty-five dollar, fly tying clamp, brass and chrome, suction mounted, four year warranty, top drawer. Dropping that into my orange, plastic, basket, I sorted out the stamp collecting area and found magnifying glasses. Finding a perfect, twelve inch high, 200 power, chrome model, with weighted base, I grabbed it up and swung around and grabbed a pair of those half glasses used by watchmakers, 4 x reading power. Forty-eight thirty-seven for the two. For a mere fifteen dollars I got two pair of surgical, tweezers-clamp thingamajigs, and I was done with Michaels.

When I got home, I went directly to the basement where I set up a Craftsman vice on the workbench where I have most of my golf supplies. The vice I had but had not bolted it to the bench and when that was done, I searched around the shelves until I found an antique, steel clamp that I picked up at a yard sale in Pittsville, oh, probably fifteen years ago. This little ditty has a flat bar for inserting into the jaws of a vice and a pair of jaws of its own operated by a wing nut-looking device. I clamped it and the fly-tying rig next to each other in the vice, pretty near parallel. Then up the steps and out to the tool-shed I went and found a spool of fine gage, copper wire. On the way back to the basement, I grabbed up a table lamp with a 75 watt bulb to put beside the vice so that the light would be exemplary. All my tools in place, I was ready to put my plan into action.

I began to crawl around the basement floor looking for a fairly large cricket, figuring the larger the cricket the louder the cries for help. It wasn't long before I corralled one up against the water pump and snatched him up (it might have been a she; I have not read up on how to sex crickets) and took him to the antique clamp. With reasonable care, I clamped him in place, so that his legs were free but he was snugged in enough not to wiggle free. Now, I got to admit I squished about half a dozen goodly sized crickets before getting the technique down, but what the heck, they ain’t singing anymore. With the fella clamped in, I put on the glasses and moved the magnifying glass into focus. (I got to admit, for as much as I dislike the creatures, they are pretty damned amazing under great magnification.) Then I swung the fly-tying rig in close enough to capture a leg. Once the leg was secure, I got the wire and tweezers and put a double half hitch onto the fore-leg. After snaring the first leg, the job was easy because I could manipulate the arthropod into place by holding onto and twirling the wire. When I got four legs wired up, I dropped him into a Mason jar and found three more of the rascals and wired them up and plopped them in the jar.

By now it was just about dusk, perfect for my strategy. Up out of the basement, I went with the crickets, and before going out of the kitchen, I grabbed a box of those fancy, cellophane-ended tooth. Just about ten feet from the back steps is a pile of crush and run left over from leveling the space between the home and the tool shed. That pile is inhabited by a colossal farm of tiny red ants, Tetramorium caespitum, or pavement ants. They are fairly docile creatures until their home is disturbed; then, they will sally forth and pestercate whatever is about the disruption of their home. I walked over real quiet like to the ant hill. Then I knelt and gently inserted four tooth picks in a square, in four different spots on the hill, four squares of four toothpicks. Then, I wired the four crickets to each one of the sets of tooth picks and went to the shed and came out with a beat up, old sand wedge. I sat down about a dozen feet from the hill and waited for the action.

Sure enough, in a few moments, a couple of ants came out to explore. When they saw their bitter enemy thus trussed out, they began yodeling like mad (mind you I could not hear the yodels but some communication had to be going on), and in a matter of a half minute, each crickets was being gnawed on by a good couple hundred ants with more coming, like WalMart shoppers trying to get to an Xbox. The crickets must have started their SOSes for an entire Chinese army of the lepidogrylli hopped out of the woods and fields and skipped directly for the mound of stone. As soon as the drive filled with the varmints, I hopped out myself and started stomping and flailing about with the wedge. I hopped and wedged until it was too dark to see. Crickets were so thick on the bottom of my Nike running shoe that I was a full six foot one, up from five ten. I can’t say how many I got with the wedge; they were pretty well knocked all about kingdom come. I know I got at least a score of thousands, not counting the four I staked out which the ants had rendered into a few flakes of thorax when I went out the next morning to do a walk over. The best part, besides an improved wedge-game, was that all the crickets in the basement must have rushed up to the aid of their brothers because when I went down to take a look, not one was about.

Years ago, I had a cricket-eating dog named Niza. If a cricket dared enter the house, that dog would snap it up in no time. In the early fall, she would often go around the house gobbling up as many as a dozen. Then, she would puke them up in the kitchen. Cleaning it up was not nearly as bad as lying awake listening to the incessant chirping. I would get another Niza except her breed costs upwards of fourteen hundred dollars. I can buy a bunch of wire and toothpicks for much less than that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just Take the Phone of the Hook

Dear President Obama,

I suspect that by now you might consider me a pestiferous force of persuasive ideas and all. But for sure, since you couldn’t even hook me up with a job anywhere on the Hill (which would be way cool and would give me no doubt a better image in the minds of my conservative friends- so if you reconsider I would not mind at all) czarring or lobbying or bureaucrating, or what-not, I got sort of steamed and figured I would send you a few opinions that you probably already know but may be forgetting in the short time that you’ve had in office.


Don’t forget that as soon as you got in office, fifty percent of the country hated your guts simply because you are a Democrat, and that it will not matter what you do, bad or good, idiotic or sensible, fiscally fishy or fiscally sound, all those in that fifty percent won’t like it. If it is bad, they will run it up the flagpoles they have out in driveways and label if something despicable like fascist, socialist, communist, or whatever. If it is good, they will lie and say it is bad anyway. So the way I got it figured, you have the most wonderfullest job of all: whatever you will do will be wrong so why not do all you can do to actually bring about some sensible changes, take your one term in office, get a presidential library, and go on speaking tours for ten or twenty thousand dollars a pop. Heck, if there are groups out there willing to pay Sarah Palin twenty-five thousand to make no sense, whatsoever, at a convention or cotillion or craft convention, you ought to be able to suffer through by cutting prices and get a dozen K for sure, at the convention for demoralized democrats or the gathering for responsible government in, say, Texas. Just throw out the conventional rules governing a paragraph and ramble on about anything, toss in some hot words like Hitler or FDR, conclude with a grand visual: fireworks, Harleys thundering by, or decapitation of a few chickens or bunnies with your .357. Heck, sir if you can do all that at the conclusion of any speech, you might be able to pull in the bucks ol’ W is “agittin” wherever he pops up. But, Mr. President, before you get all lined up for an oratorical tour of American and points otherwise, you got to make a few adjustments.


Just forget the health care deal: bad deal and you should have known. When the likes of Richard Nixon couldn't get the boys and girls to move on it, why you just had to know you didn’t stand a chance. There ain’t no way that you are going to get that deal through without insurance, pharmaceuticals, and the doctors ending up better off than they already are. Remember there are greed, gluttony, and the health care industry. So here’s the plan, sir. Arrange a prime time appearance on say 60 Minutes or on the Glen Beck Hour, and simply say, “Look. Folks, I got it all wrong. I was over taken by a fit of altruism and got it all wrong, all wrong. So, what I want America to do is to back the Republican health care plan, 100 percent. In fact, my dear friends, as of this moment, I will veto any bill that comes across the bow of the Oval Office unless it is totally one hundred percent Republican. I just think that is the better way for America, right now. Thanks for your time; my discussions about health care are over, kaput, and all.” And just don’t look back, Mr. President, do the boogaloo, all the way to the White House, kick back, have a Coors Lite in a bottle, and chill. That one miscalculation will be off your back.

Next, sir, appoint a special prosecutor from Willards, Maryland, to investigate all of Wall Street. But set it up that he, no, here’s an idea: get a Republican she- that she start with the Security and Exchange Commission. That would be real easy for her: they have provided no security and have exchanged America’s middle class wealth for huge bonuses for the Wall Street bunch. Give her about ten days to come up with a few suspicions, shouldn’t be hard at all, and fire the whole damned bunch. Everyone of them and cancel their health care and pensions in lieu of prosecution. Find the custodian who has been polishing the brass and emptying the spittoons there and make him or her the secretary with unlimited hiring power and get that show up and running real quick. Next, get the special prosecutor to move onto a ten day investigation of The Federal Reserve and all the regional presidents who set it up so that the banks and brokerages could build a money making empire by investing one freaking dollar of their money against forty dollars borrowed from the Fed. Hell, sir, even Joe the Non-Plumber can see that that is risky business (sorry, sir, I just couldn’t help myself on that trite reference to the movies. We all have our flaws is what I think). Now since these folks were entrusted with the fiscal policy of the whole United States, find them guilty of everything, take away all benefits, put an ankle bracelet on them, and make them work for free for thirty years, directing their wages to John Boehner’s toupee fund or to the RNC. Finally, on this theme, under direction of the Republican special prosecutor,set a bunch of bookkeepers loose investigating all the huge banks that were allowed, despite clear conflicts of interest, to act like brokers. I can guarantee you, President Obama, that, in a South Philly-minute, rats will surface, clasping all sorts of “internal” memos proving not only illegal bookkeeping but also collusion and guilt in anti-trust laws and racketeering. Heck, this approach put Al Capone in jail and will certainly work for that bunch. Sir, when you have pulled this off, make the investigator the czar of special investigations and let her have at it, unlimited power, unlimited venue. Sir, this is pure genius, here, if you catch my drift and all.


Finally, Mr. President, and this is the easiest of all, just stop all the troops’ actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Do it in one day; hire the entire fleets of America's airlines; fly them to all the airports in both countries; board all the troops (don’t charge them, sir, for the extra baggage; that would not be a good move); bring them all to border states and charge them to get to work on the illegal immigrant deal. Of course, UPS and FEDEX can get the contracts to haul all the gear back home; you know tanks, helicopters, tents, all the accouterments of war. That’s it, Mr. President. Should take about a month.


Now comes the best part for you, sir. After only about seven months in office, have your staff refer all calls to Boehner’s suite, Palin’s twitter page, or Governor Sanford’s South American office. That’s it sir, just turn it all, every bit of it, over to the Republicans. Then, just take the phone of the hook and kick back.

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