Saturday, March 26, 2011

Scams, airline tickets, Joe Cramer, author

A national news program I was listening to had a program dealing with a subject I brought up on this blog: Internet coupon deals. It was interesting to hear my own words coming from someone else, word for word! Quite the compliment I think. I don't spend every waking hour promoting "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime." Although that is very important to me I actually do have a life. Part of it is involving myself in gathering information concerning scams and price gouging techniques used to extract money from the most trusting and needy among us. The methods these operations use to circumvent the law are ingenious and we have to approach any good deal with pessimism or very likely face the loss of some of our hard earned cash.

Have you or do you know of anyone who purchased a car from one of those "Buy here, pay here" car lots? They serve a useful purpose to many high risk, otherwise un-financable folks who have gone through hard times, are honestly trying to make a better life for themselves and need transportation to get to a job. They also offer structured payment plans which help develop proper appreciation for maintaining credit. Then comes the dark side of some of those places. They buy a car for $500, sell it for $3000 and collect exorbitant interest rates, often making a profit of 6 to ten times their original cost. Something to think about.

I just received a letter informing me I "have become eligible to be awarded two first class airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States." Boy! That's sure a mouthful of nothing tangible. Also, given there was no return address on the envelope or on the stationary and the name of the company on the letterhead was false, I'm guessin' this just may be some sort of scam.

I've always had a yearning for one of those tall, wooden, classic grandfather clocks. In my mailbox one day was and offer to purchase a grandfather clock for $60 plus shipping and handling. The picture was beautiful. It was priced so cheap because it was part of a shipment to a bankrupt company and it was cheaper to sell at below cost than to ship them back to the factory. I bit on that one! It wound up like this: $60 money order in advance, checks or credit cards not accepted, they took too long to process and these clocks need to be sold now. When the clock arrived it was shipped to a warehouse and I had to pick it up there, no home delivery. I had to pay the warehouse another $113 money order for shipping and handling. I got it home and assembly was required. This grand old, heirloom quality, grandfather clock with Swiss movement was made from some type of hardboard, similar to what the boxes my shoes come in. It was held together by cheap plastic clips. The genuine Swiss movement clock works had fake cotton draw strings and hollow, plastic, fake weights, a cheap plastic, fake pendulum and a battery operated plastic housing that I had to glue in place. The word "Swis" was stamped on the back, crooked and mispelled as it was. By the time I called the company the next morning the phone was disconnected and they were no where to be found and neither was any of my money. so yo know from where I speak, not from being so smart but from being dumb enough to be taken like that. I just wanted a grandfather clock so badly I forgot to think.

Now I'm going to turn on that national news program and listen to find out if I hear my own words again. I'd appreciate it this time if they'd us my name as part author. Yeah, that'd be kinda cool..........Joe

Friday, March 25, 2011

Drag racing, history, Joe's Story and Teenagers

From the very first page it is clear in "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" that in the not too distant past, the word freedom had a slightly different meaning. As one exuberant reader put it: "Those of us over 50 will know those things happened all the time. Those who are under 5o will wish they had enjoyed the same adventures." Joe's Story is often a really enjoyable bit of U.S. history.

Automobiles were a sign of passage for most all young people but most specificaly for men. Squealing tires, burning rubber, loud "Cherry Bomb" mufflers, straight pipes and "Lakers." Rag tops, Lead Sleds, Reverb radios, Spinners, slicks, Continental kits, fender skirts, Frenched headlights, cams, carbs and solid lifters all added to the cruising experience. Of course, those hopped up cars were hopped up for a reason, and it was usually drag racing. I did my share of drag racing right along with most other guys I knew. I spoke with one of those guys the other day and we reminisced about a race we had that never really got off the ground. He had a "64" Chevy with a 409 engine, I had a "64" Pontiac GTO with a 389 engine. He had Dual Quads and I had Trips for carburation, We both had 4 on the floor transmissions. Those muscle cars were made to drag race. We went way out on a country road around midnight and squared off side by side. A friend stood in the middle of the road and dropped a handkerchief flag us to start. He took off like a shot, so did I. The problem was he went forward but I went backward. I had mistakenly left my car in reverse. He went to the end and came back demanding his $20, for that was what we were racing for. I asked if we could do it over, it was simply a mistake on my part. He said fine and we squared off again, the handkerchief dropped and tires burned and squealed. He went racing to the end, one of my tires blew out and went flat almost ruining the rim before I could stop. He went to the end and returned, again demanding his $20. I asked if we could do it once again, double or nothing, no excuses. He like the idea of possibly going home $40 richer. I changed my tire, we squared off, engines revving, hearts pounding, the hankerchief dropped, clutches popped and we both took off like bullets from guns, side by side, banging into second gear at literally the same time, engines screaming and tires squawking announcing the added power neck and neck, his transmission almost exploded and he lost three gears while I continued to the finish line. I returned, oblivious to the fact that his transmission was junk and asked very nicely for my $40. He gave me a barage of verbal abuse worthy of a boot camp sargeant. After he explained about his transmission I apologized and told him I had no idea and he cooled off. Then he set off to go home driving in 3rd gear, the ony one that worked, at 25 niles an hour with me right behind him in case it broke again. Luckily he made it home and I helped him fix it over the weekend. So much for that race that never really happened.

Yeah, stuff like that happened all the time. That's the way it was during that time. Not everything turned out perfect then either. But, it sure seemed like a lot of fun while it was going on. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading all about them in Joe's Story and sometimes it will take your breath away.........................Joe

Thursday, March 24, 2011

demonstrations, "Joe's Story" and rationality

The pages of "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" are filled with rewards and penalties resulting from the decisions I and other people made in our lives. I am personally not fond of penalties but they are as much a part of living as anything else aren't they? Over time I've witnessed my share of demonstrations by those who feel they are being penalized in one way or another and it's not fair. History tells us that sometimes the demonstrators are right, but it also tells us that sometimes they are wrong. Have you ever participated in a public demonstration? Personally, I believe the right to demonstrate is an incredibly efficient way of expressing dissatisfaction with the status quo or those in positions of responsibility. Today we have no difficulty in finding a demonstration of some kind on the local, national or world news do we? Egypt is changing hands due to demonstrating crowds of citizens. Several other countries in the general area including Libya are experiencing the same civil insurrection. All of this will no doubt change the way business is handled in a big way. My questions: Both here in the States and abroad, "Are the demonstrators necessarily right? Will all the results necessarily bring rewards? Or, will they possibly bring major penalties? I think these are important questions to answer before we go sticking our foot in our mouth supporting someone Else's position.

Right here in Michigan people are demonstrating against some of the positions taken by our new governor concerning taxation. Usually the ones demonstrating are going to see a little less take home pay than they do now. Accompanied by some citizens that are being almost completely supported by taxes and will have to take on more responsibility for supporting themselves. In Wisconsin the demonstrators are rallying against paying for some of their own benefits from a tax base provided by tax payers with ever decreasing incomes. In Egypt the demonstrators wanted a different government. In Libya they want a different government. Those are just some of the reasons for recent demonstrations.

Are some people exempt from participating in this recession because they draw their money from the public coffers? Are some people unfairly taxed? Is it our position to stand behind a new government even if we don't have the vaguest idea who will be in charge and what they will do? How quickly should we defend demonstration simply because demonstrating is what we believe to be a fundamental right? there is an annual "naked" demonstration supporting public nudity, anywhere, anytime. Do you support that? Another annual demonstration supports legalization of pedophilia. How about that? In the Middle East several demonstrations support strict religious laws suppressing the rights of almost anyone under the penalty of death or dismemberment. demonstrations in India and Pakistan support the caste system, in South Africa they support genocide.

I support the right of all of us to do proper research, gather information and make rational decisions. Then we will reap our rewards or penalties without blaming it on others. "Joe's Story" is filled with that sort of thing. I'm just asking.........Joe

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lake Michigan walk and Joe's Story

In "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" one of the chapters covers my trek around Lake Michigan. It was an adventure of such massive proportions I'll never forget. Loreen Niewenhuis did it too. She has recorded her experience in a book titled: "A 1000 Mile Walk on the Beach" From what I've read in the Grand Rapids Press yesterday it's sure to be a good read. I just finished emailing my congratulations to her on her accomplishments.

I walked around Lake Michigan in 1964. I was just being a young man trying to find himself. I had no intention of writing about it. She and I had completely different reasons and I believe I will learn much about the Lake from her perspective as an adult. I also walked around in one complete event. She broke it up into 10 segments. I road a bus through Chicago and Gary because I didn't want the hassle or the stench of such a congested area. She walked through there too. It is our differences throughout the whole project that interests me. We saw the same Lake. But, at different times, under differing circumstances, with different agendas, at different ages. I want to see the picture she's drawn.

Sometime in the future, depending on responsibilities and life in general, my goal is to ride a bicycle around Lake Michigan. A mishap with my leg and ankle have pretty much eliminated my ability to walk around but I can ride a bike anywhere. I look forward to it and the plans are being formed as I write here.

So I congratulate Loreen and wish her well. Her next goal is to walk around all 5 of the Great Lakes. I say, "Go for it!" I offer my encouragement and good wishes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Great book quotations

In the writing of "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" The farthest thing from my mind was the possibility of someone using parts of it to quote and make a point. That's still true. I'm not known particularly well for making profound statements. Hopefully, I make sense most of the time though. And, of course most recordable quotes are taken from people who are in the public eye for one reason or another. After all, if you say something noteworthy there should be somebody there to hear it shouldn't there? I mean like otherwise you may just be making something up. Memorable quotes come from a variety of sources on a variety of subjects. I enjoy studying quotations and also the people that made them. Sometimes its the people that make the difference on whether the quote has any significance at all or is simply a series of mundane words. Here are a couple of my favorites:

On the intelligence of mankind: "Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe"................Albert Einstein

On the difficulty of understanding phobias: "A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths."............ Steven Wright

Putting aging into perspective: "When I was a boy, the dead sea was only sick."..............George Burns

On relationships between the sexes: "The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he's a baby....................Natalie Wood

Looking back on our childhood: "I knew I was an unwanted child when I saw my bath toys were a toaster and a radio"...................Joan Rivers

Explaining changing life styles as an adult: "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted............Mae West

Constantly changing perceptions of modesty: "I never expected to see the day when girls would get sunburned in the places they do now.".........................Will Rogers

Interesting perspectives on living a healthy life: "Food is an important part of a healthy diet."...........Fran Lebowitz

Another health perspective: "Smoking kills! If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." ..................Brooke Shields

Many quotations bear a sense of humor but not all.

Sometimes it's all about doing something: "The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention.".....................Roger Nash Baldwin

On being under scrutiny of the public eye: "You can only do so many interviews with the word 'controversial' to where you just naturally become fairly weary."......Pastor Rob Bell

I am fairly assured that my quotes won't be recorded for posterity any time in the near future. But, on the other hand maybe I'm wrong. That's just like being mistaken. We should maybe all think before we speak just in case................Joe
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