Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Much Better Later Than Sooner

When ideas are tough to come by, the tough make up stuff - as you'll see.

Like most kids I had an imaginary friend. My friend’s name was Later, and the reason I got along so well with Later was that Later saw that I could put things off I didn’t want to do until sometime Later on. (Most of you will get what I mean.)
For instance, I wouldn’t have been able to buy so many things if Later hadn’t been there to inspire my purchasing. I’d have, say, 10 cents in my pocket and blow the whole wad on licorice twists. My ma would ask why I’d spent all my money on candy. “Fer Later,” I’d say. “I’ll eat a few of them now and save some fer Later.”
Being a typical grown-up, she didn’t understand, She didn’t realize I wanted to share my loot between Now and Later. It was, after all, when Later never came that I would eat all my candy Now.
“Now” was okay when it came to buying and eating licorice twists and Necco wafers, but I didn’t care much for Now when it came to picking up walnuts and pulling weeds. Now said chores had to be done Now and I always wanted to wait for Later.
What bothered me most about Now was his influence on Ma. She’ll tell me to go pick up walnuts. I’d say, “ah-h-h, Now? Can’t they wait fer Later. (Like Later was going to lend a hand!)
“Now!” she said, and sure enough Now got the job done. I don’t think Later minded much, lazy as he was and all; he’d rather put things off. That’s why he and I got along so well, you see.
If I was too slow picking up the nuts, Ma would stick her head out the window and say, kind of nasty like, “That oughta be done by Now.” That’s true I thought , I could use some help. But Now wouldn’t be coaxed into working any faster, especially if he could wait for Later.
Now stayed in Ma’s shirt pocket all the time – when she washed windows, scrubbed floors, ironed clothes, cooked dinner.  Being closer to her ear, Now kept Ma tuned into what I was doing all the time, kept her looking out the window to see what I was doing.
“Is he getting done, Now?” she’d want to know.
“Naw, not really. Seems he’d rather wait for Later,” the snitch would say. I came to dislike Now very much.
I didn’t like Again much either. Now and Again were very close with Ma, especially when it came to picking up walnuts and pulling weeds. I never could get my point across that if I didn’t want to do it Now, I couldn’t be expected to enjoy doing it Again. But no one seemed to care what I thought. None of my shenanigans worked. But I did manage to confuse Ma on several occasions.
She’d say, “It’s time to go pull the weeds in the garden Again. Go and do it Now, never mind Later.” (On second thought, maybe she hadn’t gotten them confused. They make perfect sense to me now that some time has passed.)
There were some other parts of speech around that I liked better than others. I liked Sooner okay, by not as much as Later, of course. “Go pull weeds Now,” she’d say. “Can’t it wait for Later?” I’d say. “It has to be done Sooner or Later, she’d say” mixing things up again. “How about after fishin’; will Then do?”  “Naw. It’s got to be Sooner than that! I’ve been where you fish.” I didn’t care for Now and Then any more than I cared for Now and Again. Both had the bothersome prospect of having to do something again sometime in the future.
Ma and I of course had our preferences. She liked Then only when it was closer to Sooner than Later, and I preferred Later when it was closer to Never. Ma despised Never. She was always saying things like, Better Late than Never, and Better Sooner than Later, and Never put off until Tomorrow(Later) what you could do Today (Now).
I liked There okay, but I didn’t care for Here and There together. “Here!” she’d say. “How about There?” I ask. “Okay, Here and There!” Ouch.
Not once did Ma ever suggest Now or Never, half of which I could have lived with. She liked making my choices difficult ones . For her, all that mattered was Here and Now or Now and Again (Soon) or the much preferred Here and Now. She would later take a shine to Right Here and Right Now.

 I would much prefer Left Now and Left Again – to go fishin’!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nothing Much New About New Cars

Shopping for a new car is no less mind-boggling then shopping for a bottle of shampoo – there is so much to choose from without having any real choice. There is a perplexing sameness to the myriad items in a particular category, but that hasn’t stopped the advertising claims that each is superior to the other, when the only real difference might be the color. Or in the case of cars, the shape of the taillight.
I found myself in a bit of a traffic jam the other day – a traffic jam in Steuben County is when  there are six other cars in view of your car all headed the same way on the highway – and I noticed how little difference there was among them. They weren’t all the same make, either – there were a couple of Chevys, and couple of Fords, and they all had the names of sports teams on them – Cougars, Broncos, Lynxes - no Donkeys or Mules, however.
I was snooping around on a new car lot one day, just kicking some tires as the saying goes, when I became mindful that some of the major parts seemed to be lacking. Some of the fixtures that used to come with a new set of wheels had, indeed, become options. And in many cases the only designation used to identify a car was a set of letters and numbers.
I was kicking the tires on an SUV when a guy walks up and wonders if he can help me.
“Nice looking car,” I noted.
“Yessir, That’s one of our QZRK22PKUs. She’s a beauty, ain’t she?”
“What’s the name of this thing,” I asked.
“It’s a Water Buffalo, sir.”
“A QZ … What did you say this was?”
“A QZRK22PKU, sir ,,,”
“How do you know that? All it says here is Water Buffalo.”
“We are required to memorize the model numbers, sir.  This is just one of the models of this make of car. For instance, over there is a QRV …”
“I’d like to look at that one over there,” pointing in the opposite direction. “What’s that called?”
“That’s one of our newest models – the Mama Hippo, model GSPM7-ought-ought D. The slightly smaller one next to it is a Baby Hippo and the big sucker  is the Bull …”
“How’dya tell a Hippo from a Water Buffalo.”
“The biggest difference is the price. Hippos cost a little more.”
“You don’t say? Why is that? Where’s the difference,” I asked.
“Hippos come road-ready. You just hop in and drive away!”
“You can’t do that in a Water Buffalo …
“Or a River Rhino …”
“A what?”
“A River Rhino, sir. That’s one you’re leaning on.”
“What would I have to do to one of them in order to be able to drive it off the lot?”
“Put a carburetor on it.”
“There’s no carburetor on this 45,000 dollar car?”
“Nope, carburetors are extra. But it does come stock with a glove compartment, three cup holders, and windshield wipers. You have to pay a little more for seats, though; seats are extras.”
“Oh, yeah? How about a radio?”
“Radios are optional. We do have a wide range to choose from, though. You can get a standard AM/FM or one with multiband overseas capability, which is installed in the trunk.”
“If you can get one in there,” looking over a Water Buffalo Calf in the adjacent row. “I suppose all of your cars come equipped with a steering wheel and tires? I think you guys have been screwing up when putting spares in the newer models; they’re much too small; they look as though they belong on a wheelbarrow.”
“Yessir. We’re just trying to keep the price down. We’re very people minded – bullish on America, as it were.”
“Yeah, right. What else you got?”
“Well, let’s see. Over there’s an Armadillo; right next to it is a Platypus. If you like a four-wheel drive pickup, there’s a Pack-E-Derm – it’s the same one you see on TV sitting on a mountaintop with no roads going up it.”
“Yeah. Good ad for helicopters, and I don’t see one around here. Besides, if I’m going up a mountain that steep, I’d rather have a mountain goat. Say, you got a Mountain Goat around here? Ah, never mind, I don’t have much use for a truck that can climb over boulders and crush rows of cars. I don’t come up on many of them on the way to the “Y”.
“Say-y-y, what’s that sitting over there by the showroom? Looks like a Ford or a Chevy or maybe a Buick.”

“Naw. That’s just the boss’s Cadillac. Nothing special about that.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Putting DC's Best to Good Use

 I was happily at home tinkering in my garage. I had just finished nailing a couple of boards together when my pal Red-State Louie arrived with a six-pack of Red Dog.
“Hey, ‘Hawk, whatcha making?” Louie wanted to know, handing me a beer.
“Working on a prototype for a new green car,” says I.
“Prototype, huh? I see you’re making it out of wood. That’s pretty green. What’s it gonna run on, wood chips? That would be really green, eh, eh.”
“B.S. I figure to set up shop within an easy drive of the Crapitol. Fuel would be in endless supply. The only catch would be that the Socialists would soon find a way to tax it.”
“Yeah, it’s the only commodity they ever produced down there. You’d think they’d pay you to haul it out of there. Better watch it, they’ll be charging you to haul it away, then taxing you for using it. Whadya gonna call your green car?”
“The Fart. It’ll be manufactured with green materials, it might as well have a green name. Farts are a natural phenomenon. They’re part and parcel to b.s. Help me lift the hood into place, would ya?”
We put the hood on and, of course, it fit perfectly. Louie asked, “Where’s the fenders, I don’t see any?”
“Ah, it won’t need fenders. They’ll just get all dinged up when you’re in the Walmart parking lot. The insurance companies will love the Fart.”
“This thing have a roof?” Louie asked.
“Yeah, over there, that piece of blue tarp I got down at the hardware store. Help me stretch it across these upright pieces. There we go, now it looks like a real green prototype.”
“Looks like a piece of crap, to me, somethin’ right out of the Beverly Hillbillies.” opined Louie, taking a big slug of Red Dog.
“I could put a coat of paint on it, I s’pose.” I went into the garage and gathered several partial cans of paint. After prying the lids off, I poured them all together and mixed the colors. I came out with a lovely chartreuse and, grinning from ear to ear, began slapping the paint on with a stiff, old brush. “There,” I said at the end, “is a thing of beauty.”
“Yeah, right. Hey, who’s going to pay for the production of this, er, work of art.?”
“The Energy Department. Bureaucrats are always looking for green projects to throw money at. They’ve already blown about six and a half billion of our dollars on green projects that don’t work. The Fart is just the type of thing they’re looking for. You’re not only looking at a prototype, you’re looking at a proto-millionaire.”
“Is there an alternate fuel source? I mean, what if, heaven forbid, and I know it’s unlikely, you run out of b.s?”
I unlocked the trunk and threw up the lid to show him the solar panels. “The Energy Department will get all giddy and start writing a check as soon as they see these. Solar panels are hugely green. I thought about installing a mast and a big sail to use wind, which is another big green thing. But the Fart would really be ugly with a sail sticking up through the roof.”
“Yeah, well it’s obvious you have good taste, eh, eh.. You’re a real Michelangelo.”
“True. True. Maybe I’ll rename the Fart. Call it the Mikey!”
“Why not just call it the Fred. Hell, you invented this thing and built it from scratch. There were lots of early pioneers in the auto industry that named their first cars after themselves – Oldsmobile, Ford, Packard. Ford named one after his son Edsel. Naming your car the Fred would put you in some pretty tall company.”
“Ah, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just call it the BS Bus. Or maybe the Green Wienie. Ha, the Energy Department getting diddled by the Green Wienie! Ah, hell, there’s no use diddling somebody that don’t know they’re being diddled.”
“By the way, does this contraption really work?” he asked just as a tow truck backed into the driveway. The driver came back and began hooking up the Fart so as to pull it onto the bed of the truck.

“What? Surely you jest, my friend! If it actually worked, I’d never get any money from the government.”

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Future Sales Pitch

For many years now, the banks have been sending credit cards in the mail. You’ve been preapproved for a loan, of course, or so they say in the beginning. You really haven’t, you see, until you respond and the bank has run a credit check on you, to see if you’re worthy of their trust. Then, you might receive a credit card with a ridiculously low credit limit on it, just enough to bait you into seeking a higher one.
It used to be, back when interest rates weren’t so low and the banks were making money, it was easier to get a loan. You’d get all gussied up in your best suit and, God forbid, shine your shoe before going to see a loan officer and do your best impressing him or her with your trustworthiness for using some of their money. How well a person presented himself , the pride he took in his appearance, clearly had a bearing on the officer’s decision.
Not anymore. Most people have forgotten how to dress properly; most couldn’t tie a knot in a tie for the life of them. Others couldn’t fathom the process of shining their shoes – after all, you really can’t shine a pair of sneakers.
This change in grooming habits of the average American hasn’t stopped the banks from devising ways to do business with you. Banks and companies with products to sell have lost sleep dreaming up ways to put those products right into your home, short of dropping them in your mailbox personally. What if the  credit industry should take the bull by the horns and, instead of sending the means to buy, just go ahead and send the merchandise.
Imagine coming home from work, or the unemployment line, wherever you spend your day these days, to find a brand new La-Z Boy recliner sitting right where your old La-Z Boy recliner used to sit.
“Say,” you say to your wife (or whomever you’re sharing space with these days), “where did the brand-spanking new La-Z Boy recliner come from, dear (or whomever).”
“The nice people at the furniture store dropped it off this afternoon,” dear says. “Isn’t is lovely?”
“Oh, yeah, it’s a beauty,” you say, “But who told the furniture store to deliver the lovely La-Z Boy recliner?”
“Nobody. They just figured it was time you had a new one.”
“They did, did they? And did they figure how we are going to pay for the lovely La-Z Boy recliner?”
“Oh, don’t worry about a thing, dear. The store said they have taken care of everything. They were so wonderful. They arranged to have the payments removed from your social security check every month Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yeah, I’ll say,” you say.
There are, as you know, many products that can be bought in such a way. I don’t think I’d want to be in the room when my wife opens a surprise package of women’s undergarments shipped from Frederick’s of Hollywood. That should not be considered a part of a successful marketing strategy.
But, what if you arrived home one day to find a brand new car sitting in your driveway, perhaps a real spiffy one like a 2017 BMW 1055 Gran Torino, msrp about $100,000. Or maybe a 2017 Cadillac CTS Sport Sedan, selling for circa 60,000 balloons. Lying in the front seat you discover an envelope addressed to CARSORT 2017 DQ – Occupant, which, sad to say, is you. You rip open the envelope to find a form letter that reads:
“An exhaustive  credit analysis conducted by our firm revealed to us that you do not owe enough money. We have, therefore, chosen you to become the proud owner of this incredibly aesthetic, totally ergonomic, richly designed automobile.
“To save you the hassle of acquiring ownership of this fine ride - and ain’t it a beauty, sir? – we have extracted a nominal down payment from your savings account. This extraction was an amount your exhaustively researched financial portfolio indicates you can easily afford, provided, of course, you are not planning a withdrawal anytime in the near future.
“As a further service to you, sir, we have taken the liberty of registering this great set of wheels  - and it truly is a beauty, isn’t it, sir? – in your name at the department of motor vehicles in your state of residence. You will find the registration fee on your credit card statement tagged DMV fee. On a personal note, please observe the personalized vanity plates already attached to the vehicle, which we are confident you will drive with pride. The cost of the plates and associated fees have been added to your water bill.
“Listen up! Should you choose to reject our kind offer, dial the above 900 number anytime between the hours of three and five a.m. on Saturday or Sunday morning; ask for the Phantom. Following the receipt of your call, we will initiate the necessary procedures to repossess this, the slickest automobile in the world today, from your premises. You have three days, including yesterday, to make this most important decision.
“Additionally, a refusal to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the proud owner of this precision-built dandy, you will be liable for towing charges plus the cost of the totally over-priced vanity plates and, oh yeah, the smiley faces on the mirrors, which were added at our expense. Also, it will be your responsibility to notify the DMV and pay any transfer fees.
“Also, it will be your responsibility to contact our attorneys at your expense to arrange an equitable reimbursement to us for the inconvenience of wasting our time on you. If, however, we do not hear from you, your first interest payment is due the day after tomorrow.

“Sincerely, your good buddies at Movers and Shakers Merchandisers Inc. Somewhere Off Shore, USA!”

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Making America Great Again

I was browsing through the Breitbart website and ran across an article that got my goat.

Apparently, Kellogg's (yes, the breakfast food people, among other things) have been contributing beaucoup bucks to the likes of George Soros for the purpose of gunning down policemen.

According to the article, Kellogg's is contributing heavily to Soros' Open Society Institute and the Tide Center, organizations that spread hatred across the USA thru groups like Black Lives Matter. It seems these race baiters believe an Open Society is one without white cops in it. Soros reportedly spent $30 million to foment the riots in Ferguson, Mo. Thirty million dollars to cause problems. What an asshole!

Just WTF is this old, white Hungarian SOB doing coming to this country and causing problems? We all know he is, or was anyway, a huge Hillary fan. He obviously was hoping for a Hillary win, as were so many others of his ilk. I wonder if the Clinton defeat means we've seen the end of the Clintons and the likes of George Soros, etal? Be nice wouldn't it? But my guess is they'll lay low and continue to cause problems from the shadows. With the Democrat media to whitewash every move, what is there to lose? Unless, of course, our wishy-washy Congress gets some backbone and enacts legislation that will put guys like Soros and his ilk in jail. Let's face it, if the government wants to put an end to something, all it has to is pass a law that makes illegal. Consider the RICO statutes that put an end to the mafia. (Yeah, I know it's still lurking in the shadows somewhere, but it's not operating in the open like it used to). What if Congress put out a similar law? Call it JARBS - Jail All Race Baiting Scum. Make the law say all the race baiters have to do show the characteristics of fomenting racial intolerance. Just like with RICO. All gangsters needed to do was become involved in activities that looked like they were involved in illegality and/or corruption. Bingo, they were hit with RICO, and most of the mafioso boys ended up in the hoosegow.

Gangsters and people who start riots and kill cops are all terrorists of sorts. Gangsters stole from people, beat up people, killed people, stole people's businesses. Big difference between the groups was the race baiters want to kill cops, the mafia wanted them on their side.

You might think it's unconstitutional to throw people in the hoosegow on supposition, and you might be right. There are a lot of good lawyers that would agree with you. Rudy Guiliani was attorney general when the RICO act was passed and he used it to put a lot of bad guys in the hoosegow. But I've heard Guiliani say RICO was not constitutional, but it got the job done. Perhaps a similar law could put an end to the depredations of people like Soros and his ilk. Very few have been considerate of the Constitution in the past few years anyway. Let's use the indifference for something good.

In the meantime, and I'm going to need your help here, what do you say we boycott Kellogg's products? Hey, I know it means shunning those sugar frosted flakes, but there are other brands that are close to the same thing and are probably a bit cheaper. Just don't buy anything with a Kellogg's label on it. And while we're at it, I think it's about time we consumers made Hollywood pay for its liberal views. Actors and actresses expound liberal tripe and financially support liberal causes, then laugh all the way to the bank. Most of them are millionaires at our expense and it's time we hit them where it hurts - in the pocketbook.

My wife and I have decided to do our part by staying away from movie theaters for two years. There are plenty of reruns on TV we haven't seen. And we will buy other brands of the things that Kellogg's sells.

How about it? Will you join us? We have to make a stand sometime. We have a new president who has promised to make America great again! Let's help him.  Let's start right now

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Some Signs of the Times

Signs, signs, signs. There are signs everywhere. Signs for this. Signs for that. It used to be that a big event in a cowboy’s day would be to see a cow plop along the trail, a sign a wagon train had passed this way at some point.

Or maybe something really exciting, like finding a dead guy hanging from a tree limb, a sign local ranchers had caught a rustler.

We don’t see many signs like these anymore. There are no wagon trains to speak of, and although I understand there are still rustlers (they haul ‘em off in semis and cattle trucks these days), they are never hanged. However, in some western states, it’s still legal to hang rustlers. And if I’m not mistaken (perish the thought), a guy can still be hanged for robbing a bank. Horse stealing, mistreating a woman, killing someone (other than self defense), most cases of theft, were all hangable offenses. That was a sign of the times back in the 19th century and for some years into the 20th century. Now, it’s real hard to get executed, no matter what you do. A sign of the times.

My youngest son, Earl, is dead-set against the death penalty. I was a staunch believer in it. As you might imagine, we’ve had some heated discussions, and Earl always backs up his arguments with facts and figures. I am very proud of him for his principled pro-life stance (we are both against abortion). His well-reasoned arguments have forced me to be wishy-washy. Every time he just about swings me over, some crazy s.o.b. breaks into a house, tortures and kills an entire family, and I’m asking myself why we shouldn’t be hanging this guy. Earl believes locking him in a cell for the rest of his life is punishment enough. Also, I’m wishy-washy because twenty-some years ago, (about the time DNA evidence became admissible in court) the governor of Illinois put a moratorium on the death penalty until every condemned person had his case reviewed, using the new techniques. Twenty-five percent of the condemned men were found to be innocent. Twenty five percent! Put yourself in the place of one of those guys.

Of course, back in the 19th century, most of those guys wouldn’t be around to have his case reviewed. Commit a crime on Monday, you’re getting your neck stretched on Friday morning, back in those days. They weren’t going to let you lay around in jail, getting three squares a day, on the taxpayer’s dime for very long. Oh, how the times have changed. The sign of the times, now, is there are dozens of lawyers making a good living filing appeals for condemned inmates, over and over again. I used to think that was a bad thing; now, I’m not so sure. Like I said, I’m wishy-washy. Sometimes I have a nightmare about being on death row for a crime I didn’t commit. And the clock’s ticking. Tick. Tock. (For a real-life account of just such an incident, read The Innocent Man by John Grisham. You’ll read all about how a district attorney can destroy a man’s life. And it happens all too often.)

There are signs of the times that are very confusing. Pull up to a busy intersection in almost any city, and you’re hit with a bewildering variety of signs. Signs saying “to 86” and “to 21”, signs indicating a hospital is nearby, turn here to go to the state park. This is a bicycle trail, this is a hiker’s trail, this is a wine trail, this is a deaf child area. It is impossible to read all this stuff, unless you sit through a couple of lights and take notes. Signs of the times. A hundred years ago there were no traffic lights, and the only sign you were likely to encounter at an intersection would read “Denver 200 mi,” and it would very likely be tilted or laying flat on the ground, covered with buffalo dung.

A hundred years ago, telephones and the telegraph were the only instruments used for long-distance communication. If you’d have shown an early 20th century person one of today’s smart phones, they’d have fainted on the spot. Think for a minute what you would be showing this person: Making a phone call to someone with a handheld device, and actually seeing the person, in some cases. Taking a picture and sending it to someone halfway around the world in less then a second Go shopping at any one of three dozen department stores, or a woodworkers store and having your new table saw sitting on the front porch when you got home. Google something (which is still the most remarkable function ever invented). The internet. The person would absolutely flip. And there’s liable to be some crazy old coot accusing you of doing the devils work and shooting at you, yelling he’s doing the Lord’s work. Showing off a sign of the times isn’t always a good idea. Be careful.

Meanwhile, back to road signs. I heard a story about a liberal guy who wanted to go bear hunting. He jumped in his SUV and as he was backing out of the driveway, his wife yells, “Hey, put your pants on. It’s not hunting bare naked!” So he decides to go bear hunting in the mountains and come to a sign that says, “Bear left.” So he turned around and went home.

Isn’t this sort of the way the country has been run lately – stupidly?  Hopefully, a new president is a sign of some good times that began last Friday. It's about time for some guys with smarts.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ouch! Two Losing Picks!

Boy, talk about catching a drubbin’! All year long, any Packers’s game I watched, I never saw them play so poorly. Five dropped passes – these guys are professional, for heaven’s sake, they’re not supposed to drop any passes. A fumble at the goal line? Receivers not getting open?  And as usual, the opposing QB had a field day picking apart the Green Bay secondary. The team really needs to work on recruiting some better help in the backfield in the off-season. Actually, I was quite pleased that they made it as far as they did, being ranked 31st in the league in yards allowed. Final score: 44-21. Ouch!

The Steelers didn’t fare much better, 17-36, against New England. I was biting my tongue when I picked them to win, knowing what a great team a Brady-led Patriot team is. Their receiving corp is better as is their secondary, prime requites for a primarily passing team. The Steeler lose of LeVeon Bell was not a good thing.

So, out of the ten games played in the post season, so far, I’ve won seven. 70 %. No too good. Only the Super Bowl  is left – two weeks away. The Atlanta Falcons vs the New England Patriots. What a game that will be! Of course, I and many others thought yesterdays games were going to be a lot closer than they were. Nobody expected the Packers and the Steelers to get run over like they did. (But you can bet there will be some loudmouths out there this morning crowing about how they knew it all along. Don’t pay them any mind.)

So who do you like in the Super Bowl? (this will be my 51st one to have watched, by the way.) I really don’t know at this point who to pick. If both teams play at the levels they played yesterday, it will be something to watch. If one team has a bad-luck day, like the Packers and the Steelers yesterday, it will be a groaner. But how do you know beforehand?

Tell me your pick at

The Flip Side