Friday, June 23, 2017

"Food For Thought"

                                                                   

Last Friday morning, when it was announced that Amazon is buying Whole Foods, all the other grocery chains stock prices crashed.  And for good reason.  Amazon, with founder Jess Bezos spurring them on, has transformed retail.  We see it in the declining prosperity of shopping malls and, for the good, surviving retailers working hard to no longer ignore us.

I've been a fan of Amazon for more than 20 years now.  Have bought books, video, Kindle reading devices and a whole plethora of other things.  And, in those 20 years, I've never walked away from a consumer purchase dissatisfied.  Yes, I've bought some "duds" from Amazon, but in every instance they've gone out of their way to make it right....either through a credit, a return, sometimes even giving me something extra to soothe my concerns.   

I just happen to love Jeff Bezos' favorite saying; "the customer will, in all instances, expect more than they deserve, and it's up to us to make sure they get it!"  

Now, with Whole Foods, Amazon gets a slightly snooty grocery with good organics, and stores stocked with stuff likely good for you.  The problem is that their prices are too damned high.  Bezos will fix that.  Using Amazon's gigantic supply chain and massive buying power, they'll have those prices lower than Trump's poll ratings in a couple of years.  

And, within that two years, you'll find that you will have several options for shopping at Whole Foods.  Using Amazon's proprietary purchasing technology you'll be able to order online, or if you want to drive to the store and pick it up, already bagged and waiting, you'll have that option.   Or Amazon will deliver your goods right to your door if that's your want.

Amazon, since its founding, has bought more than a hundred companies....to either enhance their retail technology, or to expand into other retail and service lines.  So, yes, Walmart and Target and Sprouts and Albertsons LLC, and all the other grocery chains should be worried.  

There are those who say "when a company gets too big they eventually begin crumbling from within, unable to manage an entity too large."  That will certainly prove true for Amazon too...their very name perhaps predictive of that inevitable decline.  But they're not there yet.  And they can stave off failure as long as they keep giving the customer what he wants and doing it at a competitive price and with a pleasing means of delivery.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Glory To Those With Their Hands Up

                                                                         

One of those beautiful "light bulb over the head" moments came to me as I read my Saturday morning paper this weekend.  Three little news tidbits provided lots of thoughts about our modest roles in society.  

The first bit of revelation came in the form of a little block on the business page.  Seems some survey wonks took a poll of recent college graduates and found that 54% of last year's college graduates cannot find a job that matches their university degree.  Being kind today, I won't editorialize on that particular fact.  Suffice to say that a Philosophy degree will not get you into the door at Qualcomm.

The second newspaper item came in the form of a letter to the editor.  The author, a retired gent, now serving as a volunteer for the Salvation Army, was decrying the cruelty and snark that exists in social media these days.  Seems the gent was on Facebook, offering his personal opinion about a community issue.  Within minutes someone had scanned the gent's profile and wrote:  "oh yeah, brilliant wisdom from someone who works at Salvation Army".  

The third newspaper article involved a two page spread, alerting the community to the impending high three digit temperatures arriving in Phoenix this week.  The article warned newcomers to limit their exercise to early morning and advised everyone to stay hydrated.  The article then went on to talk about how difficult it is for the homeless to avoid the heat and find enough water to do so.

Well, my aging brain began to collate all of that information.....the disparity between Philosophy degrees and engineering jobs, that harsh criticism of one who does volunteer work, and then the seemingly unconnected stuff on worrying about "watering the poor".

And, the results of that collating was this.  That Salvation Army volunteer is going to be busy this week.    Seems the Salvation Army is collecting huge truckloads of donated bottled water and have set up more than a dozen "watering stations" around the county for the next week.  They'll be passing out water from morning to night to those who own no personal source to keep cool and avoid heatstroke.

So I wondered just whose fulfilling a more valuable role among the players in this little scenario.  The "Philosophy graduate" flipping burgers and living in Mom and Dad's basement?  How about the snarky fellow who looks down at Salvation Army volunteer work....will he be occupied bettering the lives of his fellow men...or too busy keyboarding social media snark to get involved?  I'm betting the gratitude is going to go to that Salvation Army volunteers that's passing out water this coming week.

Just a few musings on Father's Day weekend..........to honor men who strived to do good...whether it be CEO...or Salvation Army volunteer. 

Added note:  I have a friend who reports to the local animal shelter each morning...to walk pound dogs and pick up dog shit.  I admire him more than almost anyone I know.




Monday, June 19, 2017

On Choosing The Kind Of Day To Die

                                                                     

This may sound a bit maudlin but, given a choice of what kind of day I'd choose to die, it would have been yesterday...not because of Father's Day, but because of the sense of peace I enjoyed.

I awoke at my usual 5AM, put on the coffee, checked my email and Facebook postings, posted a comment or two of my own,  then went out and retrieved the Sunday paper.

So I sat down to read my paper, coffee mug close at hand, and just decided I'd skip over the Trump stuff, ignored the liberal editorials, and, instead just stuck to the sports, the Arts page, and the human interest stories.

And the pickings were golden.  Over on the Sports page my Diamondbacks were racking up more victories on the road, nose to butt, one game behind the Rockies and those dastardly Dodgers.  The U.S. Open was prominent, one of those sport-shirted young men having shot a historically low 63 in Saturdays round and the paper even featured a nice little spread about father-son athletes.

What brought the most joy on this morning were the human interest stories, the most delightful being a recount of two middle aged women who had been corresponding with each other for 37 years but had never met.  They finally did, over in Scottsdale on a fine, recent June morning and it seems that 37 years of correspondence had served well as the foundation for friendship that had the two ladies thick as thieves at first meeting.  It was superbly delightful to read how, as children, they had shared secrets, seemingly made safe in knowing that, in living so far apart, there was no risk of being judged.

After finishing up the morning paper, and making a second cup of coffee, I re-visited Facebook and found that my daughter, Crystal, had written such a lovely tribute to me, accompanied by an old pic, that I found myself reaching for the Kleenex.  

So, dear reader, as I sat there on Sunday morning, totally immersed with a sense of peace, and a sense of being loved, and owning a kinder, gentler sentiment regarding the state of the human race, I would have been more than happy to drift off to the afterlife.  Rest assured, I'm not advocating for an early demise, nor even "booking passage", but if I had my druthers my last day on Earth would be a day just like yesterday.

A belated Happy Father's Day to all those men who understand that fatherhood is far more than getting your name put on a birth certificate.


Friday, June 16, 2017

On TV; The Great Wasteland

                                                                   
Dear Blog Readers,

Don't know about you guys but my TV viewing in the last couple of decades is somewhat eclectic.  I find myself somewhat like a junk yard dog, picking through a huge mound of garbage to see if I might find something digestible.  That problem is compounded because, having lived for a decade in Saudi Arabia, I pretty much missed the TV of the 90's.

While missing an entire decade of TV brilliance, I have to admit to having discovered little pockets of brilliance long after they entered "re-run land".  For instance, my wife and I, for two solid years, ate our dinners on TV trays while watching re-runs of "Everybody Loves Raymond".  Between Raymond and Seinfeld we pretty much did the 90's in the first decade of the new century.

Then, a few months ago, I was channel flipping and came across a charming little show called "Picket Fences".  I fell in love with that wild and wacky show and had to order previous seasons on Amazon to get my full fix.  And it was only last year that I discovered that Tim Allen has grown up, become conservative, abandoned those three boys for three luscious, sexy daughters and a sassy wife, and is even funnier as Outdoor Man than Tim The Tool Man.  Alas, Tim Allen was hitting liberals where they hurt on his nightly "Vlog", and the liberal masters at ABC cancelled his ass, even as he rode the top of the Friday night ratings.  I'm now relegated to watching the 97th viewing of each episode over on the Hallmark Channel each evening.

Other than an occasional Andy Griffith, or Perry Mason over on the retro channels, I pretty much stay with C-Span Book TV, baseball games and "Film Noir" festivals over on Turner Classic Movies. But I do keep finding little nuggets of brilliance while channel flipping.  Just last month I discovered a quirky little fellow named "Monk"...a man who suffers more OCD symptoms than seemingly possible, whose escorted around San Francisco by a pretty nurse who fills out the seat of her Levis in spectacular fashion.

Any of you also suffering from enduring The Great Wasteland?  Anyone a bit saddened that 80% of today's programming is comprised of graphic autopsies, singing and dancing wannabes and Black mob bosses?

Anyone got some bootlegged "Amos and Andy" that they wanna share?

Sigh.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Time To Take Down The Lincoln Memorial

                                                                   

In an era where men, dead for two centuries, are now judged not by their own era, but this one, we need to reevaluate those we revere in marble.  

Thomas Jefferson?  Perhaps the most brilliant human that ever walked this continent has had his name dragged through the mud for two decades now.  George Washington?  The fellow whose every move as President was plotted out...his intent to to set a noble example for every President to follow...Washington...hero of Valley Forge and Yorktown...was a slave owner, ergo...a demon.  

Isn't it remarkable these days that America raises a small army of Black thugs to the highest pedestal, then denigrates our nation's founders.  Somehow it has become more noble to attack cops and burn town centers than it was to write the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or suffer through a bitter winter at Valley Forge.

By all rights, Abe Lincoln ought to be next to have his memorial removed.  After all it was Lincoln himself who said:  "I will say that I am not, nor have I ever been in favor of bringing about, in any way, the social and political equality of the white and black races".

Lincoln also said on several occasions, most particularly in his letter to Horace Greeley, "If I could save the union without ending slavery I would do so."

That statement alone ought to warrant having Lincoln's memorial dragged into the Potomac muck...right along with Jefferson and Washington's monuments as well.

Perhaps we can scrap the statues and memorials of all these dead white men and erect statues of an angry black with looted boxes of Michael Jordan basketball shoes in their place?

Last month, when I saw the political lackeys down in New Orleans haul General Robert E. Lee's statue from the public square I was both saddened and angry.  I wish they knew General Lee as well as I do.  I wish they had read about how General Lee wept when he heard of Southern Secession, how he mourned for his country and why he resigned from the Union Army, his heart just not into turning a sword against his beloved Virginia.

Sadly, the brown shirt liberal savagery of the day precludes the study of history...both the bad and the good....or of the nobility of judging our forebears by the times in which they lived.  Someday these same ignorant thugs will be judged too....and I don't believe they'll be regarded very well when the history of these times are written.


Monday, June 12, 2017

A trillion here, a trillion there....

                                                                   

Try to imagine the biggest turd that ever dropped from your ass to the toilet bowl.  Now imagine someone taking that turd and hanging it from the top of your head, then forcing you to walk around with that scat hanging right in your face twenty-four hours a day.

That is exactly how Americans should feel about our $20 trillion dollar national debt.  The debt is now so massive, even the concept of $20 trillion dollars so vastly unimaginable, we simply ignore that huge turd hanging in our faces.

In order to grasp just an inkling of how our debt became such a mountain one need only look at our last two Presidents.  George Bush, on two major shopping sprees; the more than $3 trillion spent trying to democratize the Middle East, accompanied by his liberal-pleasing prescription drug bill, spent some $6 trillion dollars less than what the government took in revenue.  Barack Obama went Bush a bit better...spending $8 trillion more...on massive expansion of welfare, food stamps, and in making disability a virtue.  

So, let's give old George and Barry credit where it's due...more than two thirds of the entire national debt was rung up by those two in 12 short years...accomplishing what 40 plus previous Presidents were able to do in the previous two hundred plus years.

You might be interested to know that Silent Calvin Coolidge was the last President to preside over an America that was debt free.  The Great Depression of course ended that, and Franklin Roosevelt used that Great Depression to run up a government tab that first lit the fuse that would eventually lead to the massive explosion of federal debt ever since.

I find it interesting that liberals continue to revive the old charge that Ronald Reagan ran up the national debt.  And he did!  But Ronald Reagan at least got something for his spending....the build up of a military in disarray and the complete dismantling of the Soviet Union.  And let's face it; Reagan's $1 trillion dollar debt is chump change in comparison to the last two Presidents.  Ronnie's debt reminds me of the fellow who found out his wife's credit card was stolen and was glad about it...saying "the thief is spending less than my wife so I'm miles ahead!"



Retired Senator Tom Coburn, (R), Oklahoma, spent his entire Senatorial Career trying to curb spending; citing specific programs where the fraud, waste and abuse was rampant.  Colburn paints an even darker picture....the $120 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities (Social Security, Medicare, Military Pensions, etc).  No one listened.  No one's listening now....and we have that giant turd hanging in front of our nose...and we just keep ignoring it.  

We can't ignore it much longer.  The interest on that debt will soon force America to make hard decisions...decisions that will force our government masters to cut spending on social programs just to make the "minimum payments" on our debt burden.  Given that fewer Americans these days are willing to actually work for a living that's gonna result in social chaos such as you've never seen.

Sad.  Damned Sad.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Dear Facebook,

                                                                     

Dear Facebook,

I just read that your IT folks have something like a million algorithms designed to make my Facebook viewing a more enjoyable experience.  Might I suggest a few more?

1) Please don't show me posts by my friend Marsha's third cousin's neighbor.  I do not know him and have no interest in hearing about his gall bladder surgery.

2) After an animated cartoon, or cartoon joke has appeared on my timeline for the twelfth time, please do not allow it to be posted ever again.  

3) FB, please let me choose my own friends.....I do not need your suggestion that the 2,000 people who know Jenny's daughter, Cindi might be a good FB friend.  And you may automatically delete "Friend Requests" for me from Islamabad, Manila, Bangkok or any other distant archipelago in the wide, wide world.

4) Please DO allow posts to my timeline from my friends.  I am always astounded that I get posts about things and people whom I have zero interest in....posts that clutter my Facebook wall and crowds out those posts from some of my closest friends.  I should not have to go hunt on my friend's timeline to see how he/she is doing.

5) Regarding your "news feed", please use your brilliant algorithms to eliminate any news articles from "The Huffington Pissed", any news article that mentions the word "Progressive",  any article that expresses extreme joy about the Obamas' new $10 million dollar Washington estate...in fact any thing that is about Obama, Hillary or Bill Clinton, Nasty Pelosi or Kathy Griffin.  And while I'm at it, I don't care when George and Alma Clooney's baby is due.

6) Re your ad feeds, please limit any ads to dog food, Bacardi Rum, and high fiber nutrition.

7) Finally, when I post a photo of myself, please use your photographic filters to make me look more like Brad Pitt and less like Homer Simpson.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Machettes 55 - Innocents 0

                                                                   

Machetes 55-Open Carry 0

Seven people dead, 48 wounded over the weekend as Islamic terrorists crush fellow humans with their van, then get out and begin hacking to death late night revelers in London town.

None of the victims, or anyone nearby were openly carrying a persona firearm because firearms are not allowed. As helpless victims ran for their lives there was not one person available to lift their Glock and stop the madness.

London is not alone. Many of America's liberally managed cities have the same stringent gun laws, making themselves vulnerable to further mass massacres in the future.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan insists that all of his Muslim constituents are peaceful and should not be "marginalized" by having their personal lives intruded upon and insists the three attacks in three months should not stop Britain from importing more Syrian refugees.

Sadie says he'll look into banning knives and vans in an effort to quell the violence. As Sadiq spoke he was surrounded by a heavily armed security detail.......a privilege not available to the folks he was speaking to.

One person...one personal Glock might have prevented the slaughter.

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! I have no more tears, nor sympathy for those who tolerate Islamic terrorists in their midst and stand by like lemmings as their politically correct leaders lead them to slaughter.

Sigh.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Kathy Griffin's Impoverished Victimhood

                                                                     

The pics above are of "comedienne" Kathy Griffin's Belair, California $10 million dollar estate.  She has accrued a fortune criticizing, demeaning, and making fun of conservatives and conservative politicians.  She is a millionaire a hundred times over from the simple means of tearing down.

So, on Friday, when Kathy appeared before the cameras and began sobbing about Donald Trump destroying her, I was a bit taken aback.  Hmmm...did Trump force her to hold up a bloody Trump head for all the world to see, including the President's rather gentile wife and eleven year old son?  How in the world did Griffin turn from "aggressor" to "victim" in two short days?

Well, folks, we know the drill.  If you're a liberal, and you screw up, and if enough decent people turn on you...enough to affect your income, you immediately claim "victimhood".  That old 'victimhood' saw has always been the "free pass" that liberals give themselves whenever they act up.  And it doesn't much matter the act...whether it was Barry and Hillary's allowing Americans to die in Benghazi, or Michael Brown's convenience store robbery and follow on attack of a police officer, or the hundreds of Hollywood drug busts that get swept clean each year.

Conservatives, when they screw up, may as well make a will...cause their dead forever.  Liberals, on the other hand, need only plead any number of excuses, claim a newly discovered self-redemption, and can rake in more millions with next year's "redemption tour".  

Even as we speak, Kathy Griffin is lining up a team of high powered Beverly Hills lawyers and a small army of publicity agents who promise to have her reputation scrubbed clean within 12 months...or her money back.  And thanks to the vast decline in American morality, and the penchant for liberals to forgive their fellows, look for Kathy to sign a one year gig at Caesar's Palace by this time next year.

Sad.  Damned Sad.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cialis Laced Condoms?

                                                             

How many of you people know that television ratings rarely have anything to do with how many people are watching? Nope, it's not how many are watching but Who is watching. I learned that years ago when they cancelled Gunsmoke while it was still in the Top Ten in the ratings.
You see, the TV bigwigs have a little thing called "Demographics" that they most rely on. It seems that advertising big wigs studied the hell out of this and determined that the age group of 34 to 49 were the biggest "suckers" for buying a product advertised on TV. 
They also tailor particular programming to income group, but I'll get to that later. 
Back to the "age demographics". I found out about this age demographic thing when I was about 40 years old. And damn proud to be in that age group that ruled the roost on programming!
Then, when I turned 49, and was unceremoniously kicked out of that prime age group, I was angry as hell! What right did they have to kick me out...after all I was still falling for those rotisserie oven ads! "Set it and forget it"...hell I was as dumb as everyone else! Hell, I kept those "As seen on TV" gadget companies in business in my heyday! 
Alas, when I turned 50 I was relegated to the Hallmark Channel. I'd watch The Waltons, then suffer through three minutes of pharmaceutical ads that pimped catheters and meds for Metamucil and hearing aids. I looked longingly back at those ads over on "Glee" and "Big Bang Theory" that were promoting Trojan Condoms and Strawberry Greek Yogurt and Maidenform Bra commercials.
Thankfully, our TV masters also take into consideration income groups. While they are unbelievably wrong, they deduced that only rich people watch golf on television. So those golfing tournaments are rife with Cadillac and Viagra and Cialis commercials. They know their audience is older, and often need that Cialis, but they also know the average golfer has a higher income than those 34-49 upstarts!
Back to Gunsmoke. I can still flip over to ME TV and catch Matt and Miss Kitty and Festus, but, again, I'm inundated with ads for denture creams and penis pumps and catheters. By the way those catheter ads scare the hell out of me. I have no idea how they are used but I remember having a catheter put in my "special purpose" post surgery, then whined to the male nurse for days about taking it out. So I shudder at the idea that someone has to poke a catheter up their penis on a regular basis.
Alas, I long for the days when I was relevant to those TV advertisers. I wish I was as stupid as those 34-49ers who'll buy a product at the drop of a hat. 
There is hope though! Every marketing study is indicating we Baby Boomers are retiring and have more time to watch TV. Maybe that will spur those advertising big wigs to skew control back to us! Then again, they'd probably just be pimping more catheters and denture creams, two products that, thankfully, I still don't need.Who knows? Maybe they'll come up with Viagra laced Trojan condoms! Or catheters with injectable Cialis! ...."peeing strong with a big old "woody!"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Getting Weary of NATO

                                                                     

I get utterly weary of hearing Canada and the European members of NATO bragging about their "free health care".  Well of course they have better health care...they ain't paying for their own defense.  Take a look at that chart up above.  The U.S. has been paying for the defense of NATO countries for years, and by the trillions of dollars over the years.  When you got a sucker willing to pay half the freight on your defense you can afford to spend on "goodies".  Secondly, those countries are not forced to feed, medicate, educate, and incarcerate some 30 million illegal Mexicans!

Case in point, the chart above shows that we pay far more ($650 billion dollars) for the world's defense, more than the other 27 members of NATO combined.  And don't use the argument that we make more money.  We don't....we are borrowing from Japan and China to fund our defense needs.  And, if you total the GDP for the other NATO countries they actually exceed the GDP of the United States.

Remember when The Donald hit that fact on the campaign trail?  Hit it hard!  Then, just a few weeks ago, now that he's safely ensconced in the Oval Office, Trump backtracks and says "aw...NATO's okay after all.  Damn, that sad!



                                                       
As you can see by the chart above, the UK, France and Germany are by far the biggest moochers....and one of those three absolutely hates Americans.  (Parlez Vous Francais?)  Those three countries have immensely healthy GDP's, but simply won't pay for their own defense.

Now, here's the real cruncher.........almost every one of those NATO countries are not making payments to NATO, even for their tiny mandated contribution!

So, boys and girls, the next time Canada or any of those other NATO countries begin to look down their nose at us, and start bragging about their health care, tell em to grab a gun or a knife, and start defending themselves.   We've had to repeatedly save their asses in our World Wars, and protect their asses for far too long.




Monday, May 29, 2017

For Those Who Can Handle The Truth

                                                                 

Oh my!  In a nation that considers folks who own late model cars, air conditioning, big screen televisions and fancy gaming systems as "poor", folks are not going to like to reading this.

Friday, May 26, 2017

To My Liberal Friend, Jerry

                                                                   

Dear Jerry,

You and I have had innumerable debates about $15 dollar an hour burger flipper salaries. While I have argued that flipping burgers should never be paid career wages, and that those jobs ought to go to enterprising teens to instill a work ethic, I am willing to reveal a  point in your favor in this ongoing debate.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Obama's Long Lasting Legacy

                                                                   

If any of you thought the divisiveness created by Obama had ended with his leaving office you'd be wrong. This spring hundreds of American universities have staged violent protests against conservative speakers scheduled to speak on their campuses. Then, in a recent student poll, almost half of liberal Democrats say they could not room on campus with anyone who owned an opposing political view. And, on the racial front, Harvard has cowed down to their Black students and will hold a separate graduation ceremony for Blacks only.

Obama created this divisiveness, both in speech and in policy...championing Ferguson and Baltimore rioters, drunk Harvard professors, suing states who dared enforce our immigration laws and even used the IRS to attack conservative thought.

And need we even mention the "Arab Spring" and all those red lines drawn? Even foreign policy came into domestic strife as Obama championed Muslims and attacked Christians.

Or should we turn our heads around, to regard the funeral pyre that used to be a healthcare system that produced 90% of the world's medicines and cured disease...now dying in the shadow of a crumbling Obamacare?

Sadly, the residue of Obama's harm will not go away for years, if at all. E Pluribus Unum? Out of Many, One? Not likely for a long, long time, if ever. And the ginger head fella currently occupying Obama's chair isn't making things any better.

America (and the world), we hardly know ya.

Monday, May 22, 2017

You Too Can Be A "Social Justice Advocate"

                                                                       

Ah...the madness continues.  Just read that, on American college campuses, where 90% of the faculty are flaming liberals, university wonks have upped their game.  Seems several universities are insuring everyone has a "safe space" by hiring Social Justice Advocates (SJAs).

These Social Justice Advocates are hired from the student populace at large, who are then paid to walk around the dorms and the campus and identify those students who offend anyone, either in speech or body action.  The SJA's then report these offenses to the Administration who will call the offending student in for counseling and appropriate retribution.

Folks, I have to admit that I despair at this.  I guess I'm just getting too old and have lost touch with the social movements of Generations X, Y and Millennials.  When I was in school if someone offended you, you punched them in the nose, kicked em in the nuts, or exercised any number of defensive measures to curb offensive behavior or speech.  But I guess the generations who always got a blue ribbon for participation simply don't know how to defend themselves.

I've said it often and I'll say it again.  This country needs a good ole military draft, with everyone forced to serve a minimum of two years in uniform.  I suspect that when these "snowflake generations" come face to face with an IED, or even a barrack's "blanket party" they'd learn there are worse places than an American college campus.




Friday, May 19, 2017

The Gipper By The Numbers

                                                                     

The Liberal Left are known for telling lies.  The facts failing them, they resort to fiction whenever possible.  I believe the biggest lie they've ever told has been their attempt to disparage and demonize Ronald Reagan.  Why are they able to get away with it?  Because today's Millennials are as ignorant of recent history as they are about our founding.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On Boiled Tofu and Broccoli

                                                               

Over the weekend Michelle Obama slammed Trump for revoking Barry's Executive Order that threatened to withhold school meal funding if school districts failed to follow Michelle's dietary guidelines.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Throwing Black & White From The Crayola Box

                                                               
If we could only stop branding people in Black or White we'd all be so much better off.  First of all, those Black and White Crayons in the old Crayola Box  are nearly always used wrong.  A liberal takes a look at the corporate exec, then automatically grabs the Black crayon.  A conservative will grab the Black as soon as he sees the mug of a labor leader.  White Hats and Black Hats are so "yesterday"....and never were true anyway.  

We need to stop coloring people in solid colors.  There are more than enough White Hats and Black Hats on both sides to create shades of gray.  

Case in point.  I can find evidence of these truths right in the little home town where I grew up.  The Carnegie Library there is where I first discovered my love of the written word.  Give thanks to Andrew Carnegie, that corporate bastard that exploited labor and was greedy enough to accrue immense wealth.

Except that Carnegie built 3,500 Carnegie Libraries throughout America.  Before 1873, when that first Carnegie Library was built, only the wealthy had access to books and an education.  By 1929, when the last Carnegie Library was finished,  tens of millions of Americans had read tens of millions of books...all for free...and all because Andrew Carnegie put his wealth to work.

                                                               

No Black Hat for Andrew Carnegie.

Also in my hometown, up on High Street, stands a majestic Classic Grecian Post Office.  And that grand edifice, one of the last majestic buildings left in my hometown, was built by the calloused hands of laborers.  During the Great Depression the poor in my home town were as bad off as the poor in yours.  There were simply no jobs to be had.  So Franklyn Roosevelt established the WPA program, a program meant to put idle hands to work.  The program paid young men $30 dollars a month, plus room and board.  They were allowed to keep $5 bucks for their efforts...the other $25 sent home to support the family behind.  In return those WPA laborers cleared forests, built fire walls, built city halls and hospitals, helped to carve out the Appalachian Trail, strung electricity lines to rural Appalachia, created art works and wrote the histories of every single state.

So, over in Selma, California, the boys joined the WPA.  And right there in their own hometown they built a beautiful post office that was probably far too grand for our little burg.  That Post Office has served as a source of pride for more than eight decades now.

                                                       

No Black hats for labor.

Let's do our best to throw out them damn Black & White Crayons...unless you plan to use them to create shades of gray.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Interview With My Mother, Part III

                                                                   

Dearel:  So, Mom.  Eisenhower is President, we are just beginning to enter the jet age, and you and your mama are about to venture out on the grand adventure of your lives...opening a restaurant and winning riches.

Mom:  Well, you already know that's not true.  But we sure tried.  We hit every thrift shop in town, buying sets of old dishes and glassware.  And we swabbed down that rickety old joint just off '99 Highway, and Mama cooked her Okie food in back and I worked waitress and the register.  But, because we had sunk all our money into the place, and because your daddy quit his job in Fresno, we were forced to live in a dirt floor shack down behind that old cafe.  You children took your bath in a wash tub and I don't believe I've ever been more ashamed of how we were living.

Dearel:  And just as the cafe was beginning to take off....just as we were filling up the joint with car salesmen and highway mechanics, the roof fell in.

Mom:  Yes, your dad finally laid the straw that broke the camel's back....selling our business out from under us and taking off with the money.  That of course was the year of "the water biscuits" and the "Mrs. Norman miracle"....the hardest year of all...but the year I realized that I could only rely on myself to raise you kids.

Dearel:  Mom, those were the tenuous years...the years of empty cupboards and "hard candy Christmases", yet it was those years when I realized how great you were.  I was never more proud of you than when you were bearing your greatest burdens.

Mom:  I don't need to tell you that it wasn't easy.  Every one in our big extended family urged me to sign up for welfare.  I tried.  But when they asked me to sign an arrest warrant on your dad, for non-support, I just couldn't do it.  I was deathly afraid that you kids would resent me for doing that once you were old enough to understand.  So, I worked those waitress jobs, and I learned to get by on little sleep, and I rose each morning and washed and ironed your clothes, cooked your dinners, brow beat butchers for cheap meats, then went out each evening to wait tables.

Dearel:  And through it all you waived some magic wand and somehow kept us straight, kept us fed and clothed and instilled in us the vast importance of getting an education...so that we might never go through what you did.

Mom:  Well, I knew that an education, aside from family, was the most important thing in life.  I remember I once told you, late one night, when you were home from military leave, that I always wondered how far I might have gone had I an education.  As you know, I made a habit of reading the newspaper daily...tried to learn of the world through that cheap printer's ink...but I always knew it would never be enough.  I'm only glad that it was enough for my children.

Dearel:  Mom, you might like to know that, in the last several years, I have written about you dozens and dozens of times.  I have documented your love for us.  I have written about miracles you performed nearly as miraculous as Jesus and his basket of fish and two loaves.  I won't embarrass you by repeating them in your presence, but I hope you know I haven't forgotten a single one of them in the 50 years since you last performed them.    Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Mom:  Thank you son.  Do you remember my favorite slogan, "God will provide?".  Well son, guess what....he does.


Interview With My Mother, Part II

                                                                    

Dearel:  Okay, mom.  Coffee break over.  Let's talk about what it was like in 1935, the year you married at the tender age of 13.

Mom:  Well, first of all, now that you're a grown man I tell you things that I would never have told you when you were all children.  As I look back on those years, I now think there was something broken inside your dad.  There were places in his heart that no one could ever touch.  Did the emotional damage come from his losing his mother at the tender age of 4?  Or maybe it was Papa's poor parenting....a lack of discipline as he was growing up. Or maybe both.  But your Dad was an inherently lazy and unambitious man.  If he could escape hard work he'd find any way to do it.  And your dad was a strange kind of bully...never around other men...he bullied his wife and he bullied his children.  During the 22 years of marriage I was always a bit ashamed that the other menfolk knew Loda was a coward...and that he was lazy....and it hurt.  But, I need not tell you....you saw it for yourself.  I was loyal and loving and spent our entire marriage years, just waiting for your father to grow up.  And, as hopeful as I was for that growing up, I was equally hopeful that my love could bridge that gap that always kept your dad a bit separate from everyone who loved him, hoping to receive love in kind.

Dearel:  In 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression, I suppose your life choices were pretty limited.

Mom:  They were.  But don't get me wrong.  Once I had made my life choices I was bound and determined to live as well with them as I could.  It was not always easy.  Being poor was bad but it was not seeing any possibility of any rainbows over the near horizon that was equally hard.  When I had Carl Leon, that first infant son, the hope revived, then died again with the sorrow of infant death.
Vergil came the next year, my first year in dual role of wife and mother.  Then, when your dad went off and worked for the WPA, I had high hopes that the work and living around other men would mature him.  It did not.  And for several years both our marriage and my womb was barren..maybe from an inner fear that bringing children into our world was not a good idea.  The year Marcie was born was the year of the "great New Mexico trek"....a few weeks of unemployment by your dad, and over employment for me and my two jobs.

So we came back to Oklahoma, tails tucked between our legs.  But finally your dad got that job at Tinker Field, Raymond and your Dad and other men from Prague commuting into Oklahoma City to work for McDonnell Douglas.  Then you came along.  We had moved into town by that time and I was beginning to delight in playing "urban housewife".  Johnny Mike came along a year and later and things seemed fine....except for Vergil's rebelliousness...the first sign that anger and resentment can pass from father to son.

Then your father came home one afternoon from work, announced that he was quitting his job at Tinker Field and we were moving to California...breaking or collective hearts in the process.  Remembering New Mexico, I begged him not to take us out there.  Oklahoma was the only home I'd known and family was there.

Dearel:  This synchs with my earliest memories, Mom.  We kids rode in the back of that pickup truck as well all followed old Route 66 to "the land of milk and honey".

Mom:  And of course it wasn't "milk and honey".  We first landed in Stratford, occupied a field worker's shack, and chopped cotton to pay for our first meals in California.  As Vergil and I worked the fields your dad stayed back in the shack and whittled the day away.  Later we would move down to Selma and work the peaches and grapes.  And every day I missed home and family.

Dearel:  Yes, I remember.  We first occupied one of Katie Syperd's cabins, then moved to Jack Hupp's old apartments on West Front Street, then finally, when Dad got a job at Producers Cotton Oil Gin in Fresno we moved to that small house across from Jefferson School.

Mom:  And if you remember that was the year that Papa died and your Granny left Oklahoma, joining us in Selma.  And it was the next year when Mama and I opened Tommy's Cafe, our first opportunity to evolve from "housewife" to a dream far bigger.

Dearel:  Why don't we stop here, Mom.  You might need another Pall Mall break before going on.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Interview With My Mother

                                                                     

My mother, Encely Ann Jameson Friend, was born on the 10th of July, 1922 in Enid, Oklahoma.  She died in October, 2002.  Though she is gone now, thanks to my inexplicable curiosity about my family's ancestry, and my mother's willingness to share it, I feel confident that this interview is essentially accurate.

Dearel:  Mom, can you tell me a little more about where you were born and about your girlhood?

Mom:  Honey, if you're looking to hear some great adventurous yarns, well, you'll be disappointed.  I was born in a little town called Enid, Oklahoma.  Enid, back then was known for the wheat crops that thrived in the area and was the starting off point for The Great Cherokee Run...the pioneering land grab that sowed the first seeds of white settlement of the Indian Territory.  My father, half Cherokee himself was the product of a White man and a Cherokee woman.  I'm sorry that I don't know more about my fraternal grandparents.  My mother was Myrtle Jane Payne, daughter of the Payne clan who settled in the Missouri Ozarks in the late 19th Century.

Dearel:  Tell me more about your childhood.

Mom:  I don't really remember much about my early childhood.  I do remember that my father had a drinking problem and that didn't set too well with my Southern Baptist mother.  I think I may have purposely shut out the memories of those early childhood years because they proved too painful.

Dearel:  I know that Grandmother Myrtle divorced Robert in the late 1920's so you must have been very young at the time.

Mom:  Yes, I was born in '22 and my brother Floyd came along in '26, then shortly after that my parents divorced.

Dearel:  Well, we know your mother would meet and marry John Archibald Friend a few years later.  Can you remember anything about that time?

Mom:  By the time I met your fraternal grandfather he was already in his mid-30's.  He was a small framed man, gentle by nature, soft spoken and, at the time he met my mother, was raising a large brood of children by himself, his first wife (also named Myrtle), Myrtle Bargay, died very young in the great Asian flu epidemic of 1918...a flu that killed millions around the world in that year.

Dearel:  You left the Enid area about that time, correct?

Mom:  Yes, although our stepfather John came from a line of Friends who had settled the Ozarks early in the 18th century, were considered "land-wealthy", John himself was something of an itinerant farm worker.  From Enid we seemed to be moving south, then west from Enid, taking up sharecropping in tiny settlements throughout central Oklahoma, before finally settling in the Prague, Oklahoma area.

Dearel:  And what was life like for you during those years?

Mom:  Well, you've heard me talk about The Great Depression many times.  Times were hard.  No one had cash back then.  Most of the commerce was through trading in commodities.  In those sharecropping days we raised corn, cotton when there was a market for it, then wheat when the prices were good.  Mama raised a vegetable garden, then canned everything in the summer to get us through the winter.  And we raised hogs and chickens and Papa smoked the pork and any game hunted in the area.  As Papa's older children became grown and married off, the younger children came along..first Billy, then Polly and later, Paul Francis.

Dearel:  Who was the disciplinarian  in the family?

Mom:  Oh it was all Mama!  Papa just could not bring himself to spank us.  But Mama made up for it...she was the taskmaster and wielder of the switch!  The closest Papa ever came to whipping one of us was when little Billy poured out Papa's corn liquor that he hid from our Baptist mama down by the smokehouse.  Papa went down to have a snort one Sunday morning and found Billy had dumped out his  corn liquor and pissed in the jug.  When Papa saw Billy smirking about it nearby he chased him all the way to the house, but lost the foot race and then couldn't spank Billy lest Mama found out why.

Dearel:  Did you go to school?

Mom:  Sure we did.  Floyd and I attended a little red-brick one room schoolhouse, then came home to do our chores...alot of it hoeing cotton in season, or working whatever crops fertile at the time.  Sometimes we worked all day on Saturdays and sometimes, if the work was done for the week, we'd knock off, load the mattresses in the wagon and go down to the creekside and camp for the weekend.

Dearel:  My Uncle Floyd says you were a "wild child"...a tomboy who liked to mix it up with boys and that roustiness earned you a nick-name.

Mom:  Well, you already know my brothers and sisters and my mama called me "Tommy".  They've called me that all my life and I guess they'll call me that till I'm buried.

Dearel:  Did you get along with your brothers and sisters?

Mom:  Well, you know I didn't have much cause to mix it up with Billy and Polly and Paul.  They all came along later and were way too young to be my playmates.  But Floyd and I were very close.  We loved each other dearly, but we fought as brothers and sisters will do.

Dearel:  Come on, Mom.  Don't give me the "sweetness and light".  Floyd has already told me about some of your infamous squabbles...like the time you nearly amputated his toes.

Mom:  Well, he almost deserved it.  It was a Saturday and we had cotton hoeing to do.  But Papa had told us if we finish the rows he's assigned us we could quit at noon and ride into town.  I was working furiously that morning because I really wanted to have the afternoon off.  Trouble was, Floyd didn't want to work.  Instead he would find a tree stump, climb up on it, then began preaching church sermons, trying to copy our fire and brimstone Baptist minister.  Then I would scold him and he'd work for a bit, then think up another commandment to preach about and find the nearest tree stump and commence preaching again.  I'd finally had enough, then swung my hoe his way.  It came down and sliced through his boot which sent blood spurting up out of his shoe.

Dearel:  That wasn't the last time you savaged your younger brother, was it.

Mom:  No, there was that time he tore the head off my raggedy ann doll and I took him by the ears and slammed his head time and again against the bedroom wall.  Trouble was, I didn't know that there was a big ten penny nail sticking out of that wall, and with each slamming of his head I was carving out a nail sized hole in the back of his head.  I have to say though, whether if was toe amputations, or head banging, Floyd never run off and told on me.  He knew he deserved it.  I was hard to get angry but if Floyd teased me long enough he knew he could get me to blow my top.  That closeness never left us though...all our lives Floyd and I had deep love and respect and a special closeness that few have.

Dearel:  Okay, mom.  It's time.  Time to explain why you chose to surrender your childhood and marry at the age of thirteen.

Mom:  (Looking down, much reflective...a bit sad).  You know, son, I was not much different than any other country girl in those days.  I wanted more from life than that back-breaking farm work.  I had graduated from 8th grade and I somehow sensed that that was all I was going to get from school.  In those days women were expected to get married and take care of family...just as I had been doing since I was old enough to walk.  So there was your father, a lean handsome stepbrother, son of stepfather John, often lazing up in the hayloft, talking about doing big things, seeing the world.  And he spun me a world that freed me from field work and slopping hogs and I fell for it.  So, at the age of 13, your daddy 19, we said our vows before a country preacher, then settled into a shack converted from a chicken coop, on the same road that I walked to school as a child, we set about sharecropping the same fields I had walked in earlier years.  Those dreams your daddy spun dissolved like cotton candy.

Dearel:  Thanks, mom.  I'll give you a little break now.  Let's go have a cup of coffee and you can light up your Pall Mall and relax a spell.




Friday, May 12, 2017

"The Lilies Of The Field"

                                                             

 When Sidney Poitier joyfully leaped onto that Academy Award stage in 1964, he was without a prepared speech, knowing he had no chance to win.  First of all, no Black actor had ever won a competitive Oscar.  Secondly, in that year he was up against Richard Harris, and Rex Harrison, and the favorite, Paul Newman for "Hud".

Despite magnificent performances in "Porgy and Bess", and "Raisin In The Sun", Poitier had never been recognized for his acting prowess.  So what were the odds that Sydney would win an Oscar for his portrayal of Black ex-army veteran, itinerant construction worker in "The Lilies of The Fields".

So, when Sidney accepted a kiss from Ann Bancroft, and that golden Oscar, he had nothing prepared to say.  Instead he simply smiled that dazzling Poitier smile, thanked the writer of the original work, the film's director, then said "it's been a long journey".

I'm sure Poitier was celebrating as the first Black man to win an Oscar.  But that reference to "a long journey" could well have been said about the making of "The Lilies of The Field" itself.   The movie was born from a confluence of fortuitous events.

The first player in this cinematic miracle was the author of the book that the film was based on.  William Edmond Barrett was born in Brooklyn, New York.  Raised a devout Catholic, Barrett would incorporate his love of the church in many of his writings.  Moving with his family to Denver, Colorado when he was sixteen, Barrett fell in love with the written word and used the wide open skies of the American west as the backdrop for many of his stories.  

So one summer morning Barrett found himself motoring across Arizona, cotton ball clouds floating over Sabino Canyon down Tucson way.  The scene proved so lovely he pulled off the road, his attention drawn to the ruins of an old chapel.  When he questioned the locals about that old church he was told of the legend of a Black man who had wandered the desert, and built that church with his own hands.  Over the years the legend had grown larger; the Black man said to have been a Black angel.
                                                         
So William Edmond Barrett rode back to Colorado, and he wrote "The Lilies of The Field".  

Ralph Nelson was a film director out in Hollywood.  Over the years Nelson had directed a number of memorable movies, their strongest point always being that they had a good story as their foundation.  So Nelson read Barrett's book, and he immediately fell in love with those nuns, and that rascally Black man with a good heart.  And as Nelson visualized the filming of that story, he knew it just had to be Sidney Poitier

Alas, Hollywood's moneymen weren't keen on the story.  So, Nelson, intent on getting the movie made, rounded up a few "nickel and dime" investors who forked out a measly $240,000 dollars, even in 1963 a measly sum to make a movie.  The money came with conditions; all the actors would have to take a pay cut from their normal salaries.  Sidney Poitier agreed to star, would work for nothing, in exchange for 5% of any profits the movie made.

So, the gaggle of actors all trouped over to Tucson, and set up their cameras right at the foot of Sabino Canyon.  The shooting days were long, because that movie was made in a still unheard of 14 days, and filmed in Black and White.

And when "The Lilies of The Field" was released, on October 1st, 1963, Americans flocked to it.  Americans fell in love with the simple, pristine beauty of a story well told.  And the song from that film, "Amen" began to be sung in Sunday schools across the land.  

When the author of the book saw the film he liked it very, very much.  So, when William Edmond Barrett was asked about his motivation for the story, he simply said "I believe that life has more happy stories than sad ones...and I believe both book and film well illustrated the point.

Barrett would go on to write more books.  Director Ralph Nelson would go on to direct other prize-winning movies, including the poignant "Charly"....based on another wonderful book, "Flowers For Algernon".   The film profits made Sidney Poitier a wealthy man, made richer from Oscar gold.

Three men, from diverse backgrounds..on the road to serendipity, their 14- day "miracle in the desert", second only to that desert wanderer who once built a chapel at the footsteps of Sabino Canyon.

You're welcome.






Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Maryland Attorney General Grants Amnesty From Arrest

                                                                     

The Maryland State Attorney General sent out a directive to all law enforcement agencies in that state...advising against making arrests of illegals committing "minor crimes", to include shoplifting, I.D. theft, burglary and non-firearm robbery.

The State Attorney General believes arresting illegals makes them more prone to being arrested again by ICE officers upon release from local or state custody, then deported to their home country.

And of course Maryland believes this is inhumane. So, law enforcement agencies are being asked not to arrest foreign invaders, making them vulnerable to being deported.

Now I may be wrong but I am just wondering what the business community thinks about all this. Under this new directive, an illegal can now walk into a retail establishment, shoplift his merchandise of choice, and if caught, just declare "I'm an illegal alien" and be issued a free pass. And I'm wondering what Mr. and Mrs Smith are gonna feel about having their ID stolen and learn that someone's piling up Visa Card charges in their name at the local Mercado.

Maybe the state of Maryland could just offer all illegal residents of that state a "amnesty card"..amnesty against both immigration and arrest for infractions of the law. Or maybe they could just stamp a big "Amnesty" across the face of those driver's licenses they issue to illegal residents.

If there's any doubt that the liberal mind lacks the "logic" gene, this should remove all doubt.

Sad. Damned Sad.