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Friday, April 15, 2011

Pickin’ on Da Kid

Can you imagine the asperity of Obama? What good American would invite someone to a party then insult him in front of all the guests? Well the Prez did just that to my man Paul Ryan attacking him there, in of all places, George Washington University the East’s pillar of political science. I just don’t get what Obama thinks to gain by using an attack mentality and insults in the science of politics.

Look, Ryan is a Young Gun, A Rising Star, a Rock Star of Conservatives- endorsed by Sara Palin and nearly a Saint Paul of the religion of the Tea Party. Any goober can see that Obama just alienates more people by picking on this solid, young man from Wisconsin, the state that finally got it right by being the first to recognize that school teachers and all their rotund benefits are the REAL reason this country is flat broke. If the rest of the nation would just get it and dump the benefits to all those folks making 50 K a year and push all Entitlements into the free market and private enterprise, we would all be better off.

Here’s what’s good about Ryan’s leadership and thinking. His budget:
1. keeps the Defense Budget right where it should be for the safety of every US citizen- untouched.
2. eliminates tax loopholes and deduction- Ryan doesn’t mention which ones will go, but the republicans and Tea party will wade through them to the benefit of all Americans.
3. reduces taxes to raise revenue (Ryan has got more than the Reagan look going on this point of his budget); all those tax savings will trickle back into the economy here at home thus creating way more jobs.
4. dumps Medicare which is swallowing our great nation and puts health care for all folks where it belongs- in the arms of the American insurance companies which will again create more jobs for bookkeepers, clerks, janitors, business-form sellers, etc., etc. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and now the chair of the democratic party calls Ryan’s Medicare voucher system “a death certificate” for seniors. Just like the damn democrats using the death image to try to scare people. What does she know about balancing a budget or healthcare for that matter?
5. dumps for once and for all the silly research in renewable and alternative energies, a great plan for the companies- coal and oil - which truly make America great. I won’t go on about all the wildcatters and coal miners who will benefit from this sensible cutting in special-interest-energy groups.
6. gives deeper tax cuts to the Americans who deserve it the most- the rich who will positively reinvest those savings back into American industry. Every righteous American know that Goldman Sachs, Exxon, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Chase, J.P. Morgan need tax cuts to come on out of the financial mess that drug them down. (Ryan also gets rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two institutions that are the second cause after school teachers for the collapse of our economy. What with their loaning gobs of money to blacks and Mexicans who didn't qualify for or intend to pay for their loans, its a wonder we aren't deeper in the hole than we are.)
7. contains not ONE ideological, rib of a republican platform-it’s just good finance, plainly put.

Paul Ryan is, for America, flat-out sidereal and rising faster than a Betty Crocker soda biscuit. I just hope he keeps on gaining, keeps on cutting benefits, cutting give-aways. With his stentorian sense of what ails America, maybe we can, in 2012, get rid of democrats and progressives for once and for all. The nerve of Obama, insulting da kid who is easily the freshest-smartest political scientist we have had show up in a long, long time.






http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/
http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/glenn-beck/transcript/will-paul-ryans-budget-split-republicans
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paul-Ryan-for-President-2012/108728965815375
http://www.holeinthehull.com/2011/04/obama-insults-paul-ryan-to-his-face.html

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ooo Hope Has Returned

I am so happy and hopeful now that the country has a leader who has finally taken charge and proposed some sensible actions for fixing the deficit and reducing the national debt; I predict, once he gets on TV enough to promote and explain his fine ideas, that Paul Ryan will step directly into the bright red light of 2012’s presidential election. It would be a great thing to see him directing this country- he’s got youth and that great Ronald Reagan hair-do to pull him right on up to the top. His recent interview with the nation’s top and best news station FOX should be required viewing for every citizen in the US- maybe even put it in required curriculum for all public schools- for now.

See here- what he says makes so much sense: we don’t need to pump money into public broadcasting systems on any medium- just don’t need it. We have Comcast, GE, and FOX and all the private enterprise systems- just pick any station or channel, there are hundreds; so why rob tax dollars to support a bunch of communist propaganda anyway? The country can save so much money forever by defunding those give-aways, and you can bet that the increased dollars in advertising revenues will trickle right back to you in the form of more jobs and better living.

I think Ryan is way ahead of his times and really like his idea of taking the Medicare system and putting it in the hands of private insurance companies in the form of voucher systems- again that increase to the medical insurers has got to provided rivulets of money back into the economy in the form of more jobs and savings as two or three providers fight in the free market for clients thus providing the good competition that brings rates down. Heck, in a few years there will be so much competition that old folks will get medical insurance for next to nothing. I just wish he had pushed harder like the President Bush II for privatizing social security so that those trillions would be snatched right out of the hands of greedy democrats and placed into the safe, well-managed, self-regulated free market of Wall Street and the financial services industry. I can barely imagine the millions of jobs created when he could pulls this one off.

Along the same lines, I think Ryan should join forces with Phi Michelson, Tiger Woods, and any other good republican athletes who work with major corporations like Exxon Mobil in providing educational initiatives to our nation’s youth and move public education into the private sector. Let Exxon, the Koch Brothers, Conoco, Phil, Tiger, Barry take over national public education. Take education off the backs of the tax payer, make it profitable, make those with kids pay for it, put it squarely in the free market system where it belongs. Ryan has wisely pushed to eliminate Head Start and is truly right on in that move- why should the rest of us pay for early education for a bunch of pigmented kids? Let their own folks pay for it by putting those babies into the private day care centers where the competition for those dollars will surely drive day care and early education way down. Shoot, can’t you just see fleets of black Escalades drifting though Newark, Oakland, Philly, Detroit, picking up poor kids to take them to Little Red Exxon School Centers? Imagine all the jobs driving the Escalades, sweeping the floors, cooking the beans, and teaching the kids. What a great way to get even with the greedy-assed school teachers who have ruined this great company and its economy with their contracts and benefits and all. Ryan’s cuts and defunding in Pell Grants make sense too. Heck, let kids and parents pay for their own education- if a kid pays for his own education he is more likely to apply himself. Besides McDonald’s is hiring 50K employees nationwide and surely can put kids to work who can’ afford education. Plus, Ryan is on top of it for sure- why pay to educate kids who can’t afford college when we can just bring in already educated kids from India, China, Korea, Iran, and Iraq? The free-global-market, Ryan well knows, will take care of it all.

And this is just the beginning of a wave of good sense on which America can surf into the future if it would just get on the Ryan board- I am reluctant to support politicians but with my recent conversion to conservatism, I provide below links to the clear, light of Paul Ryan.

http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/
http://paulryan.house.gov/

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I've Seen the Light, You're the One

It has been too long- over a month- but let me explain. For a couple of years, this little writing was my therapy, kept me from running naked through Target Super Stores, searching for the ultimate bargain, reduced a bit of the pent up verbosity from which I suffer since I gave up The Drink and swore off pub-proselytizing, and gave me the challenge of aligning brain cells in an attempt to create a sensible paragraph or two. But I was restless, felt discontent, thought I did not have my true voice. So, on my annual visit with my GP, I discussed my malaise, and the wise doctor said that now that I was a ward of the federal government and would not place a burden on the private enterprise system with my medical expenses, I should consider a mood-modifying surgery. He then shoved a thick red, white, and blue brochure with an eagle on the back into my hands, patted me on the back, and suggested that I look into what he considered a modern miracle of medicine.

And that’s where I have been for five weeks, in Wisconsin, at the Newt Gingrich Center for Hopeless Liberals having surgery and therapy, thanks mainly to Newt’s largess and my Medicare Card. On February 23, I left Salisbury on a connector flight to Philly where I got a direct flight to Madison. After I waded through the enhanced check points and security position because the state’s cops where on the lookout for some missing democratic congress-types, I was met by a team of three from The Center. These folks directed me to a long, black Lincoln Navigator, and while we made our way to Prairie du Chien, the location of Newt's Center, each took a turn discussing aspects of the surgery and the follow-up therapy which would forever alter my life and make me whole.

The surgery part, as Mr. John Fortunater explained it, was darn scary: the surgeon, assisted by nurses and electronic technicians, would make a two inch incision behind my left ear, core-out a one inch circle of my skull, fish up along my brain, and implant a neruro-transpondo-stimulator inside my frontal lobe. After all the contacts were confirmed working and the lifetime battery snapped in, the circle of skull would be cemented back in with bone-growth inducer (neat stuff- made from pig cells farmed in China), and the incision sewed up. All this in thirty minutes- then I would be wheeled next door to a recovery area in The Reagan Center for Reconstructive Therapy where within hours of waking I would begin classes and behavior modifying work. John finished his over-view, handed me a nifty, durable plastic schematic of the surgery traced in red, white and blue, mentioned that I would most likely enjoy having it framed, and turned the tutorial over to Ms. Sally Slamluky. She explained how education, meditation, and medication would combine to augment the stimulator’s work of altering my personality and how, in two busy weeks, I would leave the center remade, whole, worthy of spending my final years benefiting society. As the Lincoln drifted across Wisconsin, Sally breezed through the course descriptions of Modern Conservatism, Hedge Funding, and Budget Reduction for a New Age, three of the thirteen courses that have made me a new, reinvigorated, redirected man. What with my being a college graduate and all, this part about education and modification was pretty easy to get and not a bit scary. When Sally finished, she announced that Bob the driver had us about fifteen minutes from Prairie du Chien and right on schedule, allowing that this time would be for my asking questions and for my signing off on all the Medicare forms that would cover the surgery and classes. It was pretty clear to me that these folks were the most efficient, well-trained team that I had ever had the pleasure to work with. We arrived exactly on time, and I was escorted right on in.

In another post, I will recall in detail for you, My Dear Reader,classes; for now,I will focus on a few of the results of my operation. Since I got back home, I have been too busy until this morning to write this blog. I have burned every copy of The Rolling Stone that I had saved for my grandchildren, shredded and tossed into the landfill all my glossies of Bill and Hilary, ended my online subscription to The New York Times, PBS, The Huffington Post, and Imus in the Morning. I have started a new business- NITESKOOL™ which I am advertising as the place to get the education that you missed in public school. I don’t have any clients yet but did design and have printed a flag-shaped brochure in red, white, and blue which I am handing out in the Wal-Mart parking lots in the area. There’s plenty of room for all the boxes of brochures in the cargo area of the 2011 Escalade I bought for 62 thousand (the gun mounts and detachable armor-proof turret on the roof were an extra 12 grand) all 62 K of which I will depreciate and deduct from my taxes in April, 2012. I even worked out a deal with X-finity to spot-advertise my company on The O’Reilly Factor and plan for two one minute spots for a month of Glenn Beck. Since I formed a LLC, I am donating another 20K to the Sarah for President Fund thus ducking those silly laws about donation levels for individuals. The LLC also gives me the advantage of profits taxed at individual rates rather than corporate plus I can write- heat, phone, gas, electric, etc. as business expense AND enjoy the mortgage interest deduction, too. Furthermore, now that I have the stimulator in place, I have the energy and motivation to blog about the moral sense it makes for the country to honor corporate contracts with CEOs of busted companies, about the fiscal good sense of eliminating all the public broadcasts (I get a sharp, piercing twinge every time I think about my children being educated for free by those pinko Sesame Street characters- they were ruined for life for which I will be eternally depressed), about how we should raise the speed limits on all roads to a minimum of 65 mile per hour now that Cadillac has a 300 horsepower car (what’s the need of GM putting out a car that can’t go as fast as 300 horses could push it?),and about how proud I am that Wisconsin, the very state where I got my operation, got rid of its teachers’ contracts in order to balance its budget- makes sense for Wisconsin and should make sense for the nation. And I have great plans to sponsor a Pat Buchannan look-a-like contest at our local library and a Ronald Reagan Course in Global Economics at my NITESKOOL ™. Great plans, re-enthused life.

Look, much more later, I have to get out to stimulate the economy. I am headed down to the Discount Tobacco Center to get a box of Cohiba Coronos Especiales and a box of Montecristo Grand Edmundo Edicion Limitas. Plus, I got to see if I can scrounge up a couple of illegals to do some yard work, polish up the Escalade, and remove the Turn Off Fox- Bad News for America bumper sticker from the Focus and replace it with my brand new From My Dead Hands NRA one. Got to look after those investments.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution

Once in a great while, I get to pat myself on the back for being correct in an analysis, and oh-boy was I right on, brothers and sisters, about how public education would become a whipping-person for the republikan party. I also outed the republiko-yapping-mouths (fill in any- Buchannan, Scarborough, Limbaugh, Beck, Walker, etc. Pick one; none escape being ignorant) for their being Katzenjammer Kids when they stir up absurdisms about funding public education. In the news is the current flap about Wisconsin’s governor’s attempting to abolish collective bargaining to balance his state’s budget. As usual, the republikan is totally ignorant of and abysmally hypocritical about teachers’ unions and about public education in general.

First, let me repeat that the republikan use of the word “union” when referring to teachers’ associations is disingenuous at best and scurrilous at worst. In the majority of states, teachers have no right to walk off the job; they do not have any constitutional right to walk away from their contracts and if they do, they do not get paid and usually leaders of such radical movements end up in jail. To suggest that the NEA or the AFT operate like the UAW is ridiculous. It is also completely hypocritical for the repulikan-ilk to praise the revolutions in the Middle East while condemning teachers who assemble to protest a governor’s attempt to make collective bargaining a scapegoat for financial ills. To be brief- teachers do not, DO NOT, have REAL bargaining power. In case you don’t know, let me give you a quick primer on “collective bargaining” as I experienced it over thirty years educating our children and in representing local associations in over a dozen bargaining sessions.

Each state is unique in the manner in which it operates the business of “bargaining” between the state and the state’s teachers. For example, in Maryland, the bargaining is conducted at the county level and at the state level because funding for teachers’ pay and resources comes from accounts governed by both. In most cases, the National Education Association (NEA) is the national, state and local support for teachers and in some states for administrators as well (at least, when I served in Maryland, the teachers and “building “administrators were lumped, awkwardly, in my opinion, into a unit.) The NEA is not alone in representing teachers; the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) known when I taught as a more radical unit earned toe-holds in urban areas and was in addition to supporting and representing its members, able to gain rights to strike in some locations. In Delaware, the Delaware State Teachers’ Association (DSEA), an NEA affiliate, bargains at the state level with members elected by the associations in the state, and each district’s DSEA unit bargains with "local school boards" with support from the DSEA. To form a bargaining unit, five interested people sign a secret ballot indicating that desire to the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) which then notifies the district and state that folks have requested the right to develop and organize a collective unit for developing a contract which governs, usually in a two year deal, pay and working conditions.( In the last 20 year custodians, office staff, and cafeteria workers have formed units for bargaining, sometimes with teachers, sometimes as individual bargaining units.) Dues paid by the members of the unit go to the national and local associations and that money is used to promote teaching, to lobby for teachers, and to assist local associations in their efforts to do better for themselves. However, teachers are not required to pay dues but MUST BE recognized by the bargaining unit and are due full representation. Local and state associations could not deny a teacher’s request for assistance based on his or her paying dues to the organization. (An employee organization certified as the exclusive representative of an appropriate bargaining unit has the duty to represent all bargaining unit employees without discrimination.)

PERBs require that both parties engage in “good faith” negotiations and assist both parties in disputes that arise in reaching fair and open compromises for language and pay scales covered by contractual agreement. In Delaware, in the early 90s or so, the Delaware PERB used an Appoquinimink District’s contract to illustrate to what degree parts of a contract were required to be negotiated under Delaware law. Consequently, each section of the contract was labeled with regards to negotiability by: mandatory, allowable, not required. It has been a while since I studied the Appoquinimink decision, but I feel comfortable in saying that the “allowable” and “not required” sections far out-numbered the “mandatory” sections. Boards of education were required to negotiate salaries and working conditions BUT were never required to meet any requests submitted by the teachers’ negotiation team. Language proposed by teachers had to be considered, but the boards have the ultimate power to accept or reject the proposal. The same goes for requests for salary and benefits . Therefore, in states lacking rights for teachers to strike, the negotiating unit is basically on bended knee when requesting improvements in working conditions or in pay. When republikans suggest that collective bargaining fetters governors and school boards, they simply do not know what they are talking about. In reality most teachers that you know have no rights whatsoever other than a right to negotiate and take whatever a board wants to pass out. Under PERB regulations, while boards are “required” to bargain “in good faith,”nowhere in Delaware law does PERB define what "good faith" requires. For example, I negotiated heatedly for a simple “just cause” statement to be included in contracts, most unsuccessfully. A board does not have to state that it will not fire an individual without just cause; most do not allow such a statement without gaining some concession in wages, conditions, and/or benefits. I have seen other weird actions by boards during negotiations that also defy the sense of “in good faith.” One board pulled over 150 thousand dollars from the "bargain-able funds" by creating a brand new administrative position days before negotiations opened. Furthermore, under the law they were able to refuse to discuss with us why the position was necessary to the school. I still think that was not in good faith to the teachers that our unit represented, but that board, knowing full well that it could do what it wanted, went right about its business. I will not provide any more examples of how obnoxious state and local boards can be in exercising their power, but I could. Really, any statement that collective bargaining is somehow weighted toward teachers is fallacy.

At present, school districts and states are broke for lots of reasons: failed investments in pension plans, reduced personal and property taxes caused by the deep recession the country is in. But I can guarantee you that no district is in trouble because teachers are greedy, and I can guarantee you that police officers' and firemen's (firepersons'?) pensions and benefits are just as rigorous (usually more so) than teachers. Yet, during every economic downturn, teachers get the whip quicker and harder than any other public unit. For republikans it’s OK for Wall Street and investment bankers to pay out 20 billion in contracted bonuses after tax payers made sure their businesses did not fail. However, for that political group, it is not OK for teachers to fight for their contracted packages. Teachers historically have settled for low pay in a swap for job security and solid retirement and benefits, all earned in bargaining sessions completely controlled by politicians. For any politician to claim that collective bargaining is the cause of a state’s economic problems is a lie. (On a personal level, I am one teacher who refuses to feel guilty that I worked for the public to earn a decent retirement and health insurance. I can’t feel guilty because I never forced a district into a pay or benefit package; maybe I should have been allowed to, but contrary to republikan disinformation, I was never allowed, by law, to force anything on the Boss.)

Tons of stuffs are wrong with public education, tons to be fixed, and tons that will never be under the current attitudes about educating our children and about how we treat those with the guts to step in to teach, discipline, and manage 130 students a day. With the deep lack of respect that the republikan party and society in general has for them, I am amazed that teachers stay on the job. One thing for sure: it ain’t the teachers who caused our current economic misery, no way, no how. Another thing for sure: teachers ought to save up a bit and all go home for a while and let the republikans get to taking care of schools.

http://perb.delaware.gov/information/decisions1998.shtml

Friday, February 11, 2011

He'd Jump on His Camel Named Clyde, and Ride

I have slipped into another addiction in the past weeks: I have become an avid neo-Egyptologist. As long as we have 12 degree temperatures in the AM, when the Fuzz crawls out from under our aubergine, Martha Stewart, 700 thread-count comforter to have me escort her into the back for her morning yap, I will sit in front of Morning Joe to watch the comings and goings over there. I have recently read Cleopatra a fairly interesting tome about her finagling with Caesar (hmmm that’s Kayzar BTW) and Anthony, all of the romance, according to the author, contrived for the protection Egypt, to keep the Romans, if not away, at bay. Really, not a bad deal- her making love to save her country. What’s going on over there at the moment is so much more interesting than the novel; any country that can send out camel riders armed with whips and sticks to beat down a crowd of protesters has got to be a fun place to watch. CAMELS! Way cool.

Being constantly tetchy in my disposition, I cannot resist commenting on the irony on display as Egypt camel-rides its way into a revolution of hope. The democrats are shoveling sound bites and forking money to make it seem that they are the political power which can assist Egyptians in their search for democracy; the republicans are sort of hooked because while they seem to be saying that they support Egyptian people in their search for free and fair democracy, one knows secretly that they are hoping that the KGB will take over so that republicans can blame Obama for the whole damn, failed uprising. I really liked the line from one of our silver-coiffed leaders from Congress, “We support Egypt and any country that has legitimate, free and fair, elections and democracy.” Egypt has not had a legitimate election in, forever. Although our politicians have for 30 plus years pumped about 2 billion a year into Egypt, mostly money for Egypt to buy weapons, we have never asked Egyptian leaders to do much more for democracy than keep the Suez Canal open and not shoot at the Jews. Our boys and gals in DC could care less if Egypt is democratic, that it has forty percent unemployment, that the army bakes and controls the daily bead, and that Mubarak has a Swiss account simply stuffed with US dollars, his reward from the US for not plugging Jews and if you believe it for helping us out with foreign terrorists. Can you imagine how many, FBI, CIA, NSA, KGB, Mossad, and M16 agents must be skulking around Tahrir Square, right now? Good grief what a Tom Clancy book this fight for freedom will make.

It is not lost on this poor ol’ socialist that the Romans, during the time of the Triumvirate, knew more about what was going on in Alexandria than our country with jillions of spy agencies and military officers knows about what’s going on in Cairo. Despite the slowness of communication in those times the slimy Romans were all over what Cleo was up to while all of our nefarious agents seem to know not much at all about Mubarak. The Egyptian president sure had us believing he was abdicating only to pull the old Egyptian rug right out from under their most beneficial sponsor, probably the identical rug that the queen used to secret herself into Caesar. Can you imagine all the tax dollars wasted on speech writers, paper, computers,and think-tanks in preparing for the unctuous press releases about how democracy had succeeded in yet another Middle Eastern country, how our initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, our embargoes in Iran and Libya, our drone strikes in Pakistan have all been successful in promoting a burgeoning democracy in Egypt? Mubarak, with the adept skill typically reserved for republicans, spoke so sepentinely that we still don't know what he meant and refused to go, moving power to his vice-president and setting our gubment and media into an incarnadine frenzy. What are we going to do now? Our guy won’t make nice and fly out to the Rivera to live the sumptuous life off the US tax payer. I suspect that Mubarak,having learned,no doubt from Kim Jung-il, and being an excellent father, is holding out for a sumptuous US charge account for his son to use for giving up his rightful position in Egypt. I wonder which agency will cut that Master Card or Visa?

While we jockey for a defendable position about our Position in Egypt, we are getting some help from Ahab the Arab, King Abdullah, who claims he will take the pressure off of us by picking up the tab for the Egyptian army in case we have to suspend funding (heck, we won’t suspend anything. Remember “arms for hostages” and the Iran-Contra affair? The boys and gals up on the Hill will positively not undercut the defense industry, no way, no how). But the good King Abdullah in a press release which clearly shows how he feels about democracy in the Middle East, “Egypt is a country of Arabism and Islam. No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition.” The astute, Eh-Rab, Sarah Palin also weighed in, though taking an opposing direction to the good King, "Even foreign aid — and I say that, you know, as a Republican, as a true American who wants to make sure that there is peace in the world and that America's interests are being heard — even foreign aid and the level of dollars that are spent to these foreign countries, that shouldn't be some holy grail where we can't even discuss the level of financial assistance given to countries." You-betcha. And the presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, sounding like King Abdullah criticizes, “We’ve turned our backs on… almost all of our allies. What does the president do? He sides with the protesters.”

Once again, we are staked out over an angry ant-hill because of our hypocritical meddling. For thirty years we have dumped billions into Egypt without giving a democratic-hoot about free and fair (this ol-communist is guessing the figures are way higher than the official line; if one could find out all the non-published earmarks to Egypt and to Israel, mainly bribes to encourage them to make nice, one would fall aghast from his easy chair, apoplectic over the excesses). And now,oh boy, oh girl, there’s a whole lot of squealing going on about cutting foreign aid and equal squawking about supporting free and fair elections in Egypt. All this fun is a pleasant respite from the political harangues from both parties about the condition of OUR condition. And, I watch, too, praying for those dang camel-jockeys to come back to fight against the guys on the mules. That was beyond ultro-cool.


http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49308.html#ixzz1DetRaCqF

http://www.africanaonline.com/2011/02/republicans-divided-on-egypt/

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/eye-on-2012/santorum-obama-refuses-to-cond.html

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It’s a Damned Shame

I enjoy writing this blog, the challenges of composing and editing what comes from the recesses of my brain. I also have written enough that I now feel guilt and remorse when my mind proves a llano for a developable topic. Surely, there are scores of topics available everyday from a plethora of sources which makes my present writing-procumbency so personally disappointing. Lately, I have not been able to envelop an idea completely enough to get a well-constructed blog on it. Thus, I marvel at Dave Barry, Eugene Robinson, Maureen Dowd, George Will, Pat Buchannan,and others who can create delightful work, on demand, once per week. I also revel in a blog that causes me to chuckle; alas, I think I have become such a misanthrope that I find little in what I observe, directly and vicariously, to be even faintly humorous. I do not like being eternally captious; certainly, though I can find more about which to be a harpy, flagellating so many of the aspects of our goofy culture. Really, if folks cannot see how insipidly comparable Jersey Shore is to Congressional process, they are not looking. Furthermore, if the same people cannot see that the Merican cognitive process is so akin to Dumb and Dumber, they certainly have engaged in ostracizing their sense from their eyes.

First, look at our constant, bellicose discourse over capitalism and socialism. So many are angry over any action taken by the government that appears to be socialistic. I have written before that most of those who complain could not define socialism if it were the million dollar question on Deal or No Deal. They, furthermore, positively do not know the difference between communism and totalitarianism nor do they want to learn. Our public school systems, Jefferson’s idea of a free education for citizens, are socialistic- government owned, controlled, funded,the same for our public security systems, cops, judges, troopers, FBI. On the other hand,the construct of Wall Street, hedge funds, and investment banks is supposed to be capitalistic. However, our government sets them free of the basic rules of capitalism, supply and demand, transparency. In our lifetimes, this pseudo-capitalistic entity has managed through pure bribery and political-connection to abandon capitalistic mandates for vulgar, unbridled greed and has been allowed to escape accountability for its excesses and mistakes. And in every case, where these culprits-in-cash are at the brink of collapse and free-market punishment, they are rescued by our communal (as in communistic) pot of tax dollars; we all are fear-forced by the language of financial meltdown and the crisis of unemployment to sustain a corrupt parasite with public money(Bush I the savings and loan fiasco- Bush II the bank/Wall Street bailout). What is more totalitarian than these actions? In the same vein, insurance companies, possibly the most deeply criminal, unmonitored, enjoy a totalitarian structure in this country so in love with capitalism. Do you think for a second that the insurers of the southern states devastated by Katrina and the BP gusher actually paid for claims from their surpluses which are required by law? These insurers, pillars of capitalism, simply increased the costs of home owners’ and property-insurances across the entire country, so that we, all, participated in the communal-ism of their losses, a totalitarian approach for we are forced to participate through mandates for insurance coverages. After all, if State Farm, Nationwide, or All State lost money for their stock holders because they were not conservative and because they had dangerously leveraged their profits with exposure in the CDS and MBS markets, they should have failed thus being examples of pure capitalism . But purity can not happen in this pseudo-capitalistic country. Thus, to ensure profits, carriers were allowed to spread losses from New Orleans, Biloxi, Lake Charles to Salisbury, Dover, Bacon Switch. Plus,insurance commissioners, the supposedly, socialistic safe-guard to these plunderings, conspired with the insurance companies, secreted behind the veils of proprietary-information and bureaucratic unaccountability, to make sure the companies got regular increases in rates from 2006 to the present when, with few exceptions, home and property values went down, replacement costs were stable, and the economy the most depressed since The Great Depression. What can be more totalitarian, less democratic, and less capitalistic than bureaucracies that do not protect nor respond to the citizenry?

Sadly, we continue to avoid rectifying the totalitarian sins perpetrated on the public. Not one politician has strongly or effectively proposed a complete revamping of the investment/financial complex. No politician, despite scores of well-researched and well-written, documents clearly pointing to non-enforcement of regulations, to lack of oversight, and to the risible idea that the financial industry would regulate itself, seems to have read and taken a firm, voluble stance on scrubbing Wall Street clean, so clean that it cannot force us into socialism ever again. While I type, the financial-complex yet trades in murky credit default swaps, merely government sponsored gambling, still markets mortgage backed securities, and has yet in any understandable way been required to explain how good or bad their portfolios and or companies are. Our government has forced us to invest in companies allowed to obnubilate their worths. What free people would be required to invest money in potentially worthless companies? But the politicians have us confined in the fear of more unemployment, have convinced us that regulation is pejorative to free markets, and have, no doubt, rejoiced in how many ways they have been able to bamboozle us into nipping and clawing at each other thus deflecting national angst away from themselves and from their constituency of wealth. Because the entities that were the culprits of the financial crisis were not punished for their excesses, they have had record financial rebounds thus assuaging the citizenry fortunate enough to have stocks and bonds but doing nothing to reduce unemployment.

Our confusion over capitalism and socialism brings me to the pseudo-economic notion of trickle down expansion. We bailed out the banks, the auto makers, the insurers; we lent money for nothing to banks so that they can invest and make more money, yet we have approximately fifteen percent unemployment. Now, approximately, five years after stimulus checks, tax cuts, stimulus plans, extended tax cuts, we are hip-deep in the muck of enormous unemployment, in a “jobless recovery,” thus clearly disproving any idea that the rich, companies or people, will reinvest in this country. They will reinvest where they can make the most money, in China, in Brazil, in India. Hence, tax reductions, subsidies, loopholes, stimulus checks truly provide for a gush of dollars out of the country. Additionally, the dollars invested far and away, dollars liberated from sensible taxes, do not move into the public sector, into the areas generally thought of as infrastructure where private sector masons, fabricators, road builders, architects and engineers find work. Roads are pitiful, schools crowded, parks closed. We are so consumed with the idea that taxes are evil, we perpetuate unemployment. Yet, something must be blamed for our lack of good sense over government and its operation, and the politico-financial complex blames the lack in job-recovery mainly on the inefficiency of our education system, the system, as I remember, that is the whipping boy at every economic turndown. This criticism falsely supposes that because our public schools are not getting students to some mystical, technical-math-science level, the schools are at fault for the fifteen percent unemployment; simply, because students are so ill-trained, they are too stupid to find work in our technical society. Of course, this notion defies even the commonest of sense. The collapse of the housing market and of construction in general accounts for the gross unemployment in this country. I do not think it takes an intellect of Hawkingian proportion to see that construction is the only industry left in this country that cannot be off-shored. A full two thirds moving out of our high schools will need to find blue collar work involved in construction or related industry, an analysis not meant to be cruel; it is as it has been and will be. Furthermore, because we have been so engrossed in making education like business, we over-spent time excoriating teachers and students over single-event assessments that we failed to teach work ethic and the problem solving skills necessary for employees to make profits for their employers. Of course, too, it is much easier to thrash an under-paid teacher who pops maybe five dollars to a PAC than it is to hold the greedmongers, supercilious financiers, and totalitarian leaders accountable for their roles in this national crisis.

I am not sure if this is a rant; probably not, I generally curse a streak purple when ranting. I am quite sure these thoughts were nudged along by my observing the riots in Egypt, for I often wonder what it will take here to get Congress to be responsive to those whom they represent rather than responsive only to those who pay to get them elected.

Friday, January 21, 2011

TMI

So, I have been on a search and destroy mission for about a week, maybe more, probably more, and probably most of my life. See, I get really disturbed by the most mundane- small mind equals big problems. At least two years ago, at the request of Son Three, I ordered a map of the Baja Peninsula (I think that was it but comet o think of it, do not know how a person could get lost on a peninsula) and because he was in Germany (?), I did not mail it to him. Instead I put it in the quagmire I call my library. This is not a grand room, 10 x 10, on a good day, 3 x 3 most days. A wall of shelves built for me with my materials by the instructors and students at the vocational school where I taught. Really a cool deal too because I taught the kids who worked on the cabinetry. Ceiling high, three sections, stained, adjustable shelves, holds maybe 400 books, not much as libraries go but more than I should have put together and which does not include about another 200 golf instruction books and golfer biographies. I should not have put those together either because despite reading some of them three times, I still cannot make a 3 foot putt more than 30 percent of the time. The grand plan is to tome-divest and combine the two, the normal books with the golf books. But and so, anyhow, two weeks ago, I decided that I would find the elusive Baja-map and in the process organize what had become in 100 square feet a higgledy-piggledy mess. This library now, by Herculean shoveling, is organized, but not in alphabetized, shelf-by-shelf.

On the top, two, far left shelves sits The Great Books of the Western World (GB). Purchased to my way of thinking to provide have a truly expensive, liberal education, on a poor man’s budget, for my sons and me. They remain, sadly, for the majority, unread. Oh, I flirted with Plutarch, Swift, lately Adam Smith, but those guys are way smarter than I plus they have a nasty way of using entirely gargantuan words, words unpronounceable and unspellable. Too, the sons would as soon have had Bible lessons in August as pick up a GB, avoiding thick books as if they were push mowers. Expensive really for a family of kids, they were a trade-off for the sewing machine that sits in my basement with less than one hundred feet of stitching through its throat or foot or shoe or whatever; I cannot abide with researching sewing machine parts right now. My favorite and most read of the authors in this collection is Marx (jeesh, no not Groucho). Heck, anyone who could write, “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonism. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” can’t be all bad. This much reviled author surely had it near right when he noted,” Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land.” Cool, huh? Never messed with Freud because for all his analysis of children’s psyche, he never had one, a child that is, for a patient.

Below the GBs is a shelf of history texts, from The Bible to The Tudor Chronicles. I have dusted and muddled my way back and forth through most of these. Again, most are far beyond my mental grasp: Hawking’s Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays makes my brain hurt; really I can feel the pain in my brain when I try to apprehend any of that time/matter/energy stuff; the gravity of it all gets me. On this shelf is also a four volume history by Josephus which I have plundered and a second volume of The Jesuits in North America by Francis Parkman which depends heavily on The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. What’s not to like about a book that has “Sacrifice, a human, by fire,” “Tattooing practicsed,” Unchasity of the Indian,” “Dogs sacrificed to the Great Spirit,” and “Sorcery as practised by the Indians” among its topics? (Hey, I wrote the price of this book off my taxes because I taught American literature and some of the first was the Jesuit’s account of their hard times among the Huron and Iroquois. Their painful history was recorded graphically in the film, The Black Robe; I wrote off the video, too, because I used it. As I remember, I joined the bourgeoisies to the tune of 3.07 dollars saved.)

And so it goes, a shelf of fiction, Hemmingway, Garcia Marquez, Abbey, Kingsolver; a shelf for research The American Heritage Dictionary, How Does a Poem Mean?, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (2, want one? Let me know); a shelf for Native American reading Rugs and Posts, Maria, North American Myths and Legends; another shelf of African topics, African Masks, The Tribal Arts of Africa, African Sculpture Speaks, (did you see your first breasts in National Geographic? That magazine twisted me forever.); one shelf for sports Dave Nelson’s Football, a playbook from the Kansas City Chiefs, How to Run the Slot Veer for Success. For those two weeks I pulled, dusted, poked, and shifted so that now there is even a shelf for books on their way out as soon as I can find someone with a big brain or big heart to take them; anyone want a copy of The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook or a near mint “Doing School” How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students? Free shipping. I will trade for one map of the Baja Peninsula..

Friday, January 14, 2011

And if my Day Keeps Goin' this Way I just Might Break Somethin' Tonight...

It is 14 Friday 2011, and I hereby verify that three of my New Year’s resolutions (NYRs) lasted a personal record of two weeks. I made three, two of which are still alive and which tomorrow will set a lifelong longevity record for my NYRs: one, to try to stop using the F-word in hopes that TNYT will add me to their blogger-roles; two, to make my body look less like cottage cheese and more like Mathew McConaughey’s (whoever that is-I had to do a web search because other than Sarah Palin I could not think of a great body that you would all know. I hope you have a mental image of this dude-he’s on the web). The third, to quit being angry at everything, lasted until an hour ago. I need an Anger Anonymous so that I can share and stuff and have chosen you as my AA.

See, it all compounds like last year’s snows on my roof; I just can’t take it very long before I slip back and just want to go break something. Normally, when I anger up, I hit golf balls at the yellow cat who hangs out in the sun on the rusted trailer frame out past the fence, but lately it’s too damned cold to hit anything. Oh, no animals were hurt in the making of this life either- if I were good enough to hit a cat from 80 yards, I would be on the Super Senior Tour. All you cat lovers can rest easy about my backyard-cat. Oh, yeah I got off track on the cat-anger-diffuser; so you see, rage builds up and up until finally fuses fry, wires wilt, circuits conflagrate, the motherboard melts, and I simply froth like a Tassimo Brewbot (Gawd how many bought that coffee maker thinking it would actually serve and talk). Now that this resolution about remaining unhammered, calm, detached, aloof from the vile world is bust, here’s a list of what galls me, for today, in ascending order of miffability.

1. Gasoline is 3.07 a gallon, a quart of oil 4 bucks, in a nation that is out of work. I know and can prove that the price is controlled not by supply and demand but by hedge funds and other speculators in the oil and gas markets. And that is what we get for turning our national wealth over to Wall Street. Folks, in case you haven’t noticed, the dudes and dudettes speculating commodity prices really don’t give a damn what gasoline prices are. They are probably taking a train to work from Connecticut or driving in an Escalade so what’s another dollar a gallon to them?

2. Three years ago last September, I paid a local business to provide a service. It did a pitiful and possibly fraudulent job doing it, creating financial harm and stress to me. I took it to court. I went to JP Court three times, an arbitration with a local barrister, and finally to the Court of Common Pleas, five times, not to mention trips for help with my kind and true lawyer. NOT ONE juro-person has seen the evidence that supports my claim to damages. Finally, at the end of 2010, I received a judgment in my favor for partial damages. Today, I was on the phone for one hour between the sheriff’s office and the court trying to get someone to either give me clue about how to collect the judgment. I would have been most tickled to have someone answer the phone. How in the world can a citizen call a court and find no one is there? Finally, after doing Russian roulette with the court’s phone directory, I got to talk with a human being, alas she was not the human being who could help me but was nice enough to transfer me to a human who could help. No answer. I left a message. No wonder crooks, con artists, unsavory auctioneers get away with ripping off the public, every day; the courts are Dickensian, most lawyers, mine gratefully excepted, can make more money in no time doing a 2000 dollar DUI than they can helping a citizen dig for a slice of justice. At my second date at JP Court (the first was cut short because the judge was hot), my opponent decided arbitrarily and without the knowledge of his attorney not to show up in court despite having his motion for a continuance denied. The JP made a summary judgment in my behalf; the defendant’s attorney appealed; the JP concluded on supposition that the upper court would throw it back to him; he rescheduled another date. When we adjourned, the JP did NOT censure or scold the defendant for his refusal to show in court. In fact, when I got fed up with the JP’s logic for rehearing my case, I withdrew my claim in that court. The JP apologized to the defendant for his inconvenience, his inconvenience when he had defied a court order with immunity. I moved the civil suit up a court to Common Pleas which set a date for August 2010 for the trial; I got my day in court in October. We were there all day, were asked to submit our summations in writing in seven days, and got my decision in December without 500 pieces of evidence being seen. The judge was fair, but I suspect that I will not see one nil of the award because I will not be able to penetrate the offending corporation for much of nothing.

3. A year ago, I got on a crusade about the costs of insurance here in the great republic of Delaware. We have an insurance commissioner who is elected and whose job is to make sure that those insurance companies who provide mandatory insurances, car and home, do not plunder the public. In the middle of the worst economic times and over 15 months, the insurance commissioner granted Nationwide, my carrier, 14.6 percent gross increases in car insurance rates to Nationwide. No my goesintos are pretty weak but 14.6 percent that were doled out from 3 to 4.6 percent in several months works out to be better than 20 percent increase. When I emailed the insurance commissioner about what criteria that she used to support their request for increases, I got a patronizing blurb about what it takes for a business to stay in business and no answer to my questions. When I asked what criteria Nationwide used, I was informed that I could not have it because it was proprietary. When it was suggested by one bureaucrat that it was my entire fault because I did not shop smartly, I asked for the rate increases granted to other insurance carriers over the same time period. She told me that all the companies were in individual files and that their office did not have time to do the research. I wrote back, cool, give me just State Farm, Allstate, Geico, and Progressive. She wrote back that she would see what she could do. Three months passed, and when I got no help, I wrote to her and cited Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act. That didn’t work either. Now comes a better part: the entire email exchange was cc’d to Biff and Bob my legislators in Dover and to the insurance commissioner herself. Evidently, Biff and bob don’t care about a constituent unless they agree with the constituent; they offered no help. Then, I sent the entire batch of correspondence to the legislative chair of the insurance commission who emailed back that he would see what he could do. He did nothing; it was a year ago right now when I started all this. I should have known better to make that NYR- my home owner’s insurance bill came in yesterday- up 218 dollars in one year while the value of my home is down more than 20 percent. Biff and Bob, do your job.

4. And last, blood-pressure-spiking-anger-moment of the day. I received my Social Security prognosis for 2011; the Consumer Price Index, according bureaucrats, did not go up in 2010, so there will be no cost of living adjustment in my check (see above under gas, cornflakes, and insurance). Heck, I know the country is hurting, and I could accept that an increase is not in order but just say it, say it- we are broke and can’t give you a raise. That I can take, but don’t give me CPI-garbage. CPI is linked to costs of cars and homes too- if you are on SS you are not buying a car, probably, and speaking for myself I ain’t in the market for a new home anytime in the near future. And while I am on this topic, you just quit calling them entitlements. I paid a share; my bosses paid a share; if the government hadn’t dipped into the funds for every war and every other misbegotten program SS would be ok. I feel the same way about calling Medicare an entitlement; I paid into that too and just like SS had no choice in the amount whacked out of my pay check every-other-week; don’t give me entitlement; SS and Medicare are a poor man’s insurance from going into the street or under the Route 13 bridge. If they didn’t pull enough out of my pay to cover me, it is NOT my fault.

I have to credit Limp Bizkit for my title; I wanted a shorter title about being angry, but I like the group’s name so much that I stuck with a line from their “Break Stuff.” There were better lines, but in the spirit of keeping New Year’s Resolution-One, I used a non-vulgar one. Oh well, I am trying to be good. No f$@#% or s*&^% or b*$%^@# in here today. Hey,if you are in Georgetown, look for me; I will be pingponging from court to court trying to find justice.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'm so Damn Bored I'm Going Blind (title by Raoul)

OK, OK, OK- I fully apprehend that I am late blogging, but what with the snow and the cold sort of keeping me from outdoors’ home-improvements, a recalcitrant Ford Ranger that defies common-sense repair (new UV joints did not work to displace the violent, metallic flapping that occurs when I deaccelerate), ads from Jos. A Bank-buy-2-get-one-free-or-buy-three-and-get-a-small-Yugo-for-free-commercials, and interminable chatter about iPods, I am immeasurably bored, way past hope. I have lost 203 consecutive games of hearts to a computer that is as rigged as a Big Ten crew of officials; I have hung and relocated and re-hung a dozen minor works of art (Is there a Martha Stewart guide on how to hang art, properly? Why doesn’t my home look like hers?); I have over-valiumed because of Joe Scarborough, Glenn Beck, Chris Matthews; I have made a list of completely stoopid utterances from reporters making skads of money regardless of intelligence ( My list-topper so far- “ And no change is good change.” An idiotic observation about the poor congresswoman shot in Tucson). But late last night after watching Ducks get eaten by Tigers (Why not kick a field goal, Kelly? How much do you make at Oregon?), I think I fell upon an answer to my ennui: eBay.

You know, dear reader, that I have been addicted to eBay for some time, and as a result, my garage and basement are replete with golf clubs, drivers I cannot, not, hook, putters which, even after I rub them with the hind-leg-bone of a one-eyed, black cat, will not make a single, three foot putt. I swore after the last Srixon-iron-set (That’s a mouthful) bought as a Hanukkah-gift to myself that I would give up eBay until late August of 2030 (Gawd, can you imagine 2030 and the squid-storm which will belong to your kids and grandkids? But that is, again, another story). However, last night, still pumped from watching football and unable to engage with Morpheus, I found myself staring at the computer monitor, listening to a cyber-hummer on an over-priced Acer, just staring, in anticipation of something, anything, one more thing. Then I thought of eBay's search engine, wow.

Ebay has thirty-five categories which one can search, from Antiques to Everything Else (I realize that these category-titles should, probably?, be in quotation marks, but you know, my typing sucks, easier to go back and highlight to italicize them) with Collectibles having approximately thirty-five sub-categories, though I do not know why Whole Sale Lots is collectibles (damned, number-problem here I am sure). So, I selected Health and Beauty, since I am in desperate need of some. Clicked and in the search window typed in elephant. I do not know why, but the word just bolted right there to the front of my typing-brain. Last night, there were 150 elephant entries under Health and Beauty, 150. NEW VERA BRADLEY HANGING ORGANIZER PINK ELEPHANT was the first and BINB 3 X LARGE SWEET HAIR CLIPS ELEPHANTS RABBITS CATS was the last. Cool, huh? There was a listing for 1 lbs Indonesian PRICKLY LEAVED ELEPHANT’S FOOT Herbs Buy It Now- 34.99 Free Shipping. This latter item caught my eye because, at first glance, it surely looked like 1 lbs of elephant-dung, not that I wouldn’t want elephant-dung to rub on my putters. This exotic herb comes from Indonesia, and its being on eBay is a testament to global economies.

Then I scrolled to the bottom of the page to check out Weird Stuff a category under which lay Adult Only (see if it is ADULT it’s got to be weird, right? Not adult but weird. Where in the world does eBay put Teenager Only?) In the pull down menu on the Weird Stuff page are the listing : Slightly Unusual, Really Weird, and Totally Bizarre. At this point, I am fully alert, not sleepy a tad, fired up from searching. Naturally, I clicked on Totally Bizarre and typed in knee. One hit: REAL HUMAN BONE SKELETON LEG KNEE FOOT SCIENCE; it had one bid for 49.99 with a shipping and handling fee of 16.99/ economy. The seller, patina-picker, claims that the skeletal limb is more or less from the Science or Anatomy Department froma (sic) Closed-Down College. I had to resist tremendously not to bid; rubbed up and down the shafts and faces of my putters, this combination of joints and bones would have to have a special magic. Next, in the same category, I cheated a bit then searched for fart thus revealing 176 hits: FANNY BANK FARTING COIN DROP BANK, $13.90 was one. When I was in Key West many years ago, I saw several really attractive women do wonderful things with coins, but farting with them was not one. Remote Controlled Fart Machine, $ 4.99, probably won’t sell though because the seller did not do the write up in all caps. Also, the seller was selling an eight track of carols and bible songs. No kidding. I do not want to wear farts out, but I have to share this last find: 120 DOZEN FART BOMB S BAG joke trick farting joke items, $129.00, s/h $24.99, 5 available. Simply break small liquid pack inside bag, toss near victim, and head in other direction. Bag will instantly expand until it can hold no more gas and BOOM!!!! You’ve got enough bombs here to keep the stink rolling for days. Who says American ingenuity is dead, that we do not produce anything in Merica anymore? Folks, that’s 1440 fart bag bombs. You can only imagine the fun.

After reading the fart-instructions and daydreaming some about where I could use these, I decided to try one more search before retiring. I clicked on Business & Industrial and typed in extractor. Nine hundred and eighty-eight extractors later, I was ready for bed. Williams S-60D stud extractor NEW, and Clarke- EXT Carpet 441 Extractor Used, 200.00, 136.03, (talk about precision, the freight is down to the penny) were two of the first extractors I saw. Now you know where to go it you want to suck some studs out of the wall or your carpet off the floor. But I had to look for something over which to dream. Health Care, Lab & Life Science was the spot: 5 I.U.D. EXTRACTOR HOOK OB/ GYNECOLOGY Instruments 10”, 20.00.6.99. I guess these are for the do-it-yourselfer? And better yet, Femoral Head Extractor Orthopedic Instruments new brand, 49.99 BUY IT NOW, Free Shipping. What a bargain for you the next time you want to remove your femoral head. But WAIT! There’s one more: Laparoscopic internal 10 MM Staple Extractor, 135.00, BUY IT NOW, $7.20 s/h. Aren't these searches informative? For sure, we are moving to reduce health care costs; our docs are getting instruments from eBay. Damn.

See, I told you that I found a way to be unbored, and I did not even go into all the new words I learned while reading the descriptions in the auctions. Go ahead. Beat the winter blues and search eBay for fun and relaxation.

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