Thursday, December 29, 2011

Free game starts January 3rd 2012

January 3rd, 2012 is the beginning of the 31st Silver Treasure Hunt.

There are a couple of minor adjustments to the rules this time around. The clues will be issued every two weeks instead of once a month. There will no longer be the long wait involved. The intensity of the game is also increased because the game will now end in one of two ways: When someone locates the medallion and brings it to me to claim their prize, the same as in the past 30 years. That is the desired conclusion. Or, if by midnight of February 29th no one has found it, I will retrieve the medallion personally, the game will end and the treasure will be added to next year's prize. The clues, as always are designed to help you solve the riddle.

The Grand Rapids Press and Advance Newspapers as well as are poised to cover the event as closely as space allows. Greg has stated that he will also maintain updates on his site

This will be a new experience with a long time tradition and there has been a lot of excitement expressed to me by past and new treasure hunters alike. The pace of life has changed considerably since the very first treasure hunt in 1980. My gosh! The Internet did not exist, and cell phones? What were they anyway? Facebook? Twitter? Cloud? Now the game is played all around the world electronically. Get a copy of the Greater Grand Rapids city map and: Let's get it on!

I can't hardly wait!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas past

I am fortunate to be acquainted with many people with a variety of opinions and perspectives. It adds richness to my life experience. At this time of year I make sure to connect with far away friends. Not that I neglect them the rest of the year but, to me Christmas is special in many ways regarding the times gone by. Yesterday my phone was humming with our conversations. It was enjoyable as well as informative. Of three guys I spoke with they were of three somewhat different thoughts regarding this life and the one that follows.

It is my belief that we are spiritual as well as physical beings. I believe that our lives pass from the physical to completely spiritual when we pass away. We do not go away, we simply leave the restrictions of the physical life behind. I don't expect others to share my belief but that's what it is in a nutshell.

The first guy I spoke with is 80 years old. He has had quite a life but that story is definitely for a different time. He celebrates Christmas by attending church services and going to cemeteries to sit by the graves of his deceased relatives and remember the times they had together. He feels that they have become angels, have the bodies of 18 year olds and are flying around with wings from one planet to another and exploring the universe. He misses them but is happy for them at the same time. He figures that he will join them in their explorations when the time comes. He is most anxious to see what Mars is all about.

The second guy doesn't believe in the afterlife in any form. Dead is dead he says. He's 50 years old. His mother passed away when he was 5 years old. He never visits the cemetery or attend any church services, not even weddings or funerals. When Christmas arrives he takes a vacation from work and secludes himself in his home so he doesn't have to hear about all the sappy holiday stuff. It makes him too sad, he says. He talks to me as long as there is nothing whatsoever concerning Christmas. He doesn't say so but for lack of a better term, I think he is mad at his mother for dying. He's a great guy unless you wish him a Merry Christmas. Then he becomes sullen and won't talk to you. I've learned my lesson and keep the conversation about other things.

The third guy is going through a difficult time. His mother, whom he was very close to passed away just a few months ago and this is his first Christmas without her in his entire life. He is 34 years old. He has no belief in anything other than what he can see and touch. He asks a lot of questions about our spiritual side but can't grasp the concept. He is very sad. All he knows is that his mother isn't sitting in the living room near the tree. He put up all the trappings, bought gifts for his wife and child, plans on having friends and family over for Christmas dinner but he isn't really enjoying the experience.

These are examples of how we sometimes approach differently. I feel it is a happy and joyful time. Chock full of a lifetime of memories and experiences I was blessed to have regarding family and friends. I even look back at the Christmas I spent broke, sleeping in the basement of a cold building, on the floor with only newspapers for covers. I met a couple of absolutely wonderful, caring, happy people back then that I would never have met otherwise. They were convinced they could make the world a better place, one cup of free coffee at a time. My father and mother have both been gone for quite some time now. I am grateful for my understanding concerning our spiritual lives. Although I miss them dearly I feel they are still around. The spirit of the Christmas season, the songs, the decorations, the holiday greetings, the whole nine yards are all welcome in my life. Although I find it hard to understand how anyone can not find happiness at this time, I can certainly respect their personal beliefs. I have found that everything that has transpired is as much a part of us as the heart that beats in our chest and will always be with us. Some things exist whether we believe in them or not. Meanwhile, it is my great pleasure to wish you a very, merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Treasure Hunt Riddle news

The mailbox is filled almost every day lately with requests and comments about the new starting time for the annual silver treasure hunt riddle. I thought that, perhaps a few dedicated players would have something to say but the response has been actually rather surprising. A few Purists are quibbling about it starting in January instead of November but it is just that, only a few. Most everyone expresses excitement what with the clues coming faster and the hunt actually having a specific ending, winner or not.

The time draws near as the Holy Days approach. We can all go hither and thither, taking care of business without missing anything concerning the treasure hunt or vice versa. That's what most folks are telling me. Over the last several years hundreds of people have come to pick up the riddle and rule sheet in January for the first time, saying they just didn't have time before. I took that as a hint, wouldn't you? Either way, that's the deal this year. It begins in early January. I'll pass on the exact date very soon. Meanwhile, have a happy Christmas and holiday season.

Keep an eye on Greg's website He does a pretty good job with it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Athletes and language

I think I stumbled across the secret to success in college and professional athletics. It's a secret language they use. I discovered it while watching interviews yesterday. Here were three college basketball stars, all of which were on full ride scholarships through college of course, being asked questions by a group of sports reporters. I totally understood the questions. The answers, however were an entirely different matter. Am I that far out of the loop on the progression of the english language in America? I didn't think so but after that interview I wonbdered. College students! Unable to speak understandably or even use words with more than 5 or 6 letters. I'm sure they are intelligent or they wouldn't be allowed in college or a university, right? I mean, scholarships are supposed to involve studying and bringing civilization to a higher level, right? So, in my opinion the only other explanation is that these athletes are using a secret language. Filled with soft R's, absent W's and rolling O's and L's are nearly non-existant, this language is taught to young prospective athletes as well. I know because I've heard it spoken in stores and on streets by guys and gals with a cell phone standing in line. For some reason it seems to have been picked up by a certain criminal element too. Strange isn't it? Athletes and criminals both speaking the same difficult hybrid, slang saturated version of a common language. I can't eplain the reason behind that coincidence. That brings us to some professional athletes and their secret language too. They are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the least and go up to millions of dollars a year and I can't understand half of what they say because I wasn't taught the secret language in school or at home. I wasn't hardly aware of it while I was growing up anyway. I guess I was leading a sheltered life and that's why I'm not a high payed athlete. After all I quit high school football because I figured if I was going to work that hard I was going to get a job and be paid for it. Those that know the secret language would have probably explained how if I talked different I would get paid handsomely. It must be that I simply missed a very important part of my schooling by neglecting to learn the athletic language. I mean, with my limited knowledge I think they just sound ignorant, arrogant and stupid. That's how little I know.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mourning and moving on. High school Basketball

Almost a year ago a terrible thing happened: After a final shot to win a basketball game, a Fennville basketball, player died, right there on the court. It would be next to impossible to describe the feelings of his fellow players and his family at that awful moment. Yet, the team went on to play again. The headlines have continued to this day regarding the teams efforts. The deceased player's name is Wes Leonard. May he rest in peace. Every time Fennville's basketball team is mentioned, the name of Wes Leonard is also included. It must be very difficult for the team to constantly go on in his shadow. He was an incredible person as well as a player from what I read. An excellent example to every one around him. What wonderful memories that must conjure up for his family and those that knew and played basketball with him. Sometimes I wonder how impossible it must seem for anyone to live up to his image both on the court and off. It's almost as if losing would be an insult to his memory or winning is only a result of Wes's influence, not the dedication of those left behind.

I don't pretend to understand fully the horror behind this story. However, when I see those players head onto the court, practically nameless behind the legacy of a fallen player I can't help but imagine the courage they must have to be there. My hat goes off to them and I wish them success and fulfillment as the brave individuals they are. I hope the fans show them the personal support they deserve. I can't think of a greater gift after what they've gone through and tribute to Wes's memory and his family. That's what life is about, life is for the living, we mourn and then move on.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Triple Mocha, extra Espresso, whipped Cream

I shouldn't be drinking high caffeine drinks, right? Neither should I eat meat, put salt on my food, eat fruit, have more than two beers or even munch on a candy bar. From what we read, just about everything is dangerous at some point or another. Recently I was watching a program that dealt with unusual health threats. One of them was drinking too much water can cause some sort of drowning process. What was that again? I'm beginning to fear most any type of nourishment. This morning I decided to stop at the specialty coffee shop just around the corner and get a Triple Mocha with an extra shot of Espresso. It's been about three months since my last one and it sure sounded good on a cool crisp morning just to jump start the day don't ya know. A very nice, middle aged couple was about to enter the shop behind me so I opened the door for them and let them in first. They went right to the counter in front of me and proceeded to order. "Two single de-caf's, no sugar, no cream. One plain bagel, steamed, not toasted, sliced in half to share equally." Along with a few other comments, taking several minutes while they discussed the health benefits of their choices with each other while I waited as patiently as possible. This after I had allowed them in the door instead of being first in line. (They hadn't thanked me.) They were skinny and pale looking. I'd say somewhere in their late 40's or early 50's. He had sunken eyes and wrinkled skin while she was so bundled up she almost waddled. When they finally finished and moved on I ordered my high intensity Mocha with a little whipped cream on top. The waddling lady gasped in shock. After I paid and waited by the table for them to make it the wrinkled guy came up and quietly whispered in my ear that sugary, creamy, caffeinated Mocha could very well lead to heart disease. I was a little taken aback but responded that it was OK, I already had heart disease. I'm not exactly sure why I said it but it was spontaneous and not well thought out. However, the look on his face was priceless.

I do not make fun of life threatening diseases. I really didn't then either. I was just making the best of a situation I wasn't accustomed to. I am enjoying this Mocha, guilt free. I espouse to the theory that moderation in all things ingested is the best policy: Savor the treat and move on. If I had one every day it would be a different story. I'm not particularly interested in paying for a bland de-caf or tasteless steamed bagel either. I appreciated the man's concern for my health but at the same time I didn't chastise either of them for their poor manners which I deem as important also. Meanwhile, I will trust in my good judgement as to the type of nourishment that passes my lips.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Writing a "How To" book

The subject of collaborating on a "How To" book concerning staying healthy has been presented to me. That sounds rather interesting doesn't it? The co author, should this project ever get off the ground is a solid contender for Mr. Universe body building competition. I, for my part am right in there with comparison shopping as a genuine pear. It ought to be interesting. Why me? Because I show a definite need to adjust my living habits towards better health. Well, I'm already healthy! Yeah, I may be healthy but I don't particularly display it with my doughnut shape do I? This Jack La lane Mr. Universe type guy, on the other hand looks to be the picture of physical fitness. Lots of guys in middle age would love to look like that. Nobody would ever kick sand in their face if they looked like that. (A reference to fitness ads in magazines back in the 50's and 60's) How is this all going to come together? The outline looks something like this:

Here we have two guys with different lifestyles, motivations and results. I have built a successful business. He has built a successful body. The affects of what we have accomplished are as different as our goals. The book is projected to be a conversation with the end being how an average guy can regain his health and improve his appearance. Here's where it gets a little complicated and the discussion would become heated, to say it mildly. Conflict, real guys stuff!

Throughout life I have faced a few health issues but by and large, through a combination of professional health care and learned life choices those issues changed from life threatening to manageable. Heart, lungs, circulatory and skeletal functions are all in line. My exercise regimen consists of hard work, stretching, some weight lifting and bicycling. When I wake in the morning, after prayers my first thoughts are of business and paying the bills. Humility is a necessary mainstay of my world.

The guy with the million dollar physic has also faced some health issues, some of which remain and must be tended to not because they are natural but rather because of choices made to maintain the perfect body. Blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are elevated and require medicine. Upon waking every day the first thought after showering is how to build a better body. Vanity is a necessary mainstay of his world.

The goal here is to argue points and habits and lifestyles so as to reach a compromise on how the average guy can firm up the abs, tighten the arm flab, find his waist again and be proud to wear a swimming suit while at the same time living a full, healthy, happy life style. There is a lot to be learned here. For guys anyway. It is up to the two of us to make it interesting enough to read and follow. That's what writing is all about, keeping the reader interested.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A little old ladies book review

Just when I think I'm starting to get a handle on this writing business my ego takes another hit. This time from a little old lady that fancies herself as a hoity toity book reviewer. She's actually a friend of a friend that I sort of took a liking to while visiting my friend in his retirement complex. She's well educated, informed and loves to read. She joined our conversation and the topic of children's stories came up. She adores reading stories written with the innocence of children in mind. My friend mentioned to her that I have written several children's stories for my grand kids and hope to publish them sometime in the near future. "Oh, I'd love to read them!" she laughingly declared, grinning from ear to ear at the mere thought of some new literary discoveries. She literally begged me for copies. Although I guard my stories carefully, after many futile attempts at weaseling my way out of it, I found it impossible to refuse her. So, the next time I visited I carried with me copies of a few of my stories, placing them in her thin and wrinkled hands only after she swore not to share them with anyone under any circumstances. Off she went, back to her room to enjoy her new found treasure with a promise to return them when I came back the following week. I lost a couple hands of cribbage, finished my visit and left.

On Thanksgiving morning, as is my tradition I came by the retirement home and once again played a few rounds of cribbage plus some penny ante poker to boot. I always lose! It's a tradition you know. Just before I left the little old lady came into the common area with my manuscripts tucked carefully under her arm. As she wheeled up she looked into my eyes, frowning and said I needed some coaching on children's stories. They were just too innocent! She snapped, I should put in some blood and guts, some scary stuff and more reason to make kids cry. I am hiding them from the cruelty of the real world. She put the stories into my outstretched hands, turned and wheeled away without further comment. Leaving my friend and I, considering her initial enthusiasm sitting there in complete, dumbfounded confusion. The nurse standing nearby, seeing our dismay gently reminded us that the little old lady is in a stage of Alzheimer's where she has occasional signs of normalcy, other times of complete mental reverse and all behaviors in between. We indeed had forgotten that fact. A half hour later she gave me a quick smile and stated how much she enjoyed the stories as she wheeled off to the dining area. Life deals us certain situations every day, I think just to keep us humble and on our toes. I am reminded not to take anything for granted. Just to make sure I am re-reading my children's stories.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tradition and Christmas

I guess "Traditional" is a more personal word than I had thought, in this case especially when it comes to Christmas. People have told me about their Christmas traditions ranging from placing a pickle on the tree, decorating a log for the fireplace, eating fish on Christmas Eve, to putting up thousands of outdoor Christmas lights, attending all the movie premiers, spending every waking hour hunting and even an annual trip to Disney world. I have my traditions and you have your traditions and sometimes we have the same traditions. And then along comes someone to spur my imagination and admiration by doing something rather unique, at least in this modern age.

Berl, a fellow I've known for almost all of my adult life, and his family live in Northern Michigan. They are a self sustaining family, much like a family featured in the Grand Rapids Press a week or two ago. The only electricity is provided by a generator and then only in emergencies, unless you count the solar panels with battery backup for little things. His car runs on methane gas he makes from organic waste, table scraps and dung and their hand built home is heated by wood. They raise chickens and sheep and cows and rabbits and grow a huge garden plowed by their team of horses. They are not Amish although they know, work and socialize with them. That alone is unique enough but when they tell me stories about how they spend Christmas I really feel they are special. It is their Christmas tradition to make food baskets for the needy and deliver them secretly by horse drawn wagon. Christmas presents, in their opinion consists of something made with their own hands for each other. I suspect there is little or no pressure for greater material gifts without television. Beginning with Christmas morning after church they put up the tree and have a special meal every day symbolizing something in the Christmas story until Epiphany when they celebrate with a goose for dinner and take down the tree to burn in the fireplace. The parents and each one of the kids also do something special for each other every day. Not a big thing mind you but rather a simple action to show love and caring.

I don't know if I could adhere to such stringent ideals and traditions but they are one happy bunch so I guess it doesn't matter what I think does it? The news reported a story of a guy here in town who is celebrating the new heart he had transplanted in his chest a year ago that saved his life. I'd say that's the beginning of a fantastic tradition don't you?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shopping until you drop, or go broke

I've always found the reference to "Black" Friday a little disconcerting as the beginning of the Christmas season but in this case "Black" is a good thing for businesses I guess. Our pursuit of eking out a living has lead to a complete set of days for shopping. Today is "Small business Saturday" A day when you buy all local from locally owned, independent stores. Monday is "Ciber Monday" a day when you buy on line from all over the world. I figure with the three days there we've pretty much spread our hard earned cash all over the planet. If we are indeed in need of a specific gift item and its on sale, we ought to get it. However, we all know at least one person who is simply addicted to shopping and proceeds to overspend for things they don't need. I am acquainted with a family guy that didn't sleep Thursday night because he wanted a new 46in TV. He fought and waded his way through the crowds and even got knocked down once only to find there was only one TV per store and it was sold within 30 seconds or so. This otherwise reasonably sane guy proceeded to spend his entire two week pay check for another TV more than three times the price of the original. The money he had was supposed to go for groceries and rent but he just got caught up in the moment. Friday afternoon, as he watched TV he was on the phone with his landlord making all sorts of excuses of why he didn't have the rent money. He wound up pawning his computer. Now that's what I call a problem.

A friend of mine is a psychologist and is extremely interesting to listen to. It is his opinion that each and every one of us has at least one addiction. I found that hard to believe but he went on to give a few examples of how we develop certain routines, A.K.A. addictions to help us through life. Many are obvious and frowned upon like drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Others are not viewed by us as addictions like a daily shower at a specific time, a coffee cup with the handle turned a certain way or wiping the dust off the counter on the way out the door, every day. If we look at ourselves honestly, he says, we will discover we have an addiction.
How do we get out of bed? How do we hold a fork? How do we put on our shoes? How do we read the paper? How often do you eat a certain food? Wait a minute, I said, I think you are describing simple procedure we develop over the years that work best for us. In a way, he said, but for the most part they are all addictions. I sort of think that he was playing a psychologists joke on me. I, for one do not have any addictions whatsoever. I actually need those three and a half cups of coffee to equalize my metabolic rate. If I put on my left shoe first the laces get tangled. If I don't let the engine run for exactly two minutes before my truck in gear it will blow up. I know what I'm doing. No one else understands me like I do. What was my point again here? Oh yeah, shopping! When I look at the prices offered on these special Black Friday sales it makes me wonder why I don't fight the crowds and get the deals. First, I don't need any of that stuff. And second, I still don't! I will say this though, addicted or not some of those shoppers certainly are enjoying themselves. Especially the ones who aren't spending their rent money.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yesterday and today

The trappings of life haven't always been like this have they? We've simply gotten used to them. We've changed our perspectives and expectations to accommodate all these new fangled technological contraptions as well as life expectancy and the ease of going about our business each day. When I was very young my folks saw to it that I enjoyed the company and musings of my older uncles after Thanksgiving dinner. Many of my dreams of the future were influenced by their stories of riding horses, hunting for food, warming themselves by campfires, building houses, fighting off wolves or pumas or bears with knives and bare hands and, of course drinking home made rot gut whiskey to keep from freezing when they got stuck someplace in a car in the wintertime. There was a lot of laughter and teasing that went with those stories but the truth was that life grew easier as time went on.

The news keeps us aware of the hardships of our fellow citizens. To be sure the headlines have changed.

On the medical front, vaccines have all but obliterated chicken pox, whooping cough, mumps, small pox and the flu doesn't condor up as much fear as it did only a half century ago. Heart disease is treated with medicines, balloons, stents, transplants and pacemakers. Many diseases that used to kill can now be treated. Yet there is still no cure for the common cold. We live on average years beyond what our recent ancestors did. Elder care is big business now. Aging with dignity is the big news now.

Complaints of only being able to draw unemployment benefits for 96 weeks is all the talk. Whatever will we do? They ask. Social programs may be brought to an end after only four years and that is bringing unheard of hardship to many. There never seems to be enough food for the poor. No matter how much is provided we still read that four out of nine kids goes to bed hungry. We are asked to donate food but only if it is sugar and additive free and a major brand, not the cheap stuff.

The cars we drive only get 31 miles per gallon. The engines only last about 200,ooo miles, they rust out after only about 15 years. The speed limit is too low, the speed limit is too high. We are running out of oil to make fuel. The bus and train services need subsidies because of so few riders. The paved roads aren't quite smooth enough. Gasoline taxes are too high.

The mortgage lenders charge too much interest!
My landlords are mean and want the payment on time all the time!
Everyone but me is getting paid too much!

Hey wait a minute here. Are these really the headlines? Or are they simply reflections of change. Can you remember:
Lining up at the government food surplus building for cheese, powdered milk, rice and flour?
Driving through five foot snow drifts on un-plowed roads with chains on your tires?
Waiting in line at the bus stop hoping it won't be too full and you'll have to wait fir the next one?
Working two jobs at minimum wage or lower to pay the bills?
Making bread and neck bone soup to feed the family for a few days?
Unemployment lasting 13 to 26 weeks-Period!?
Working under the hood of an old broken down car to keep it running to get to work?
Creating wondrous meals using canned meat?
Coal being dumped through a chute into the basement to fuel the furnace?
The ice man bringing a block of ice to keep the icebox and its food cold for a week?
Walking a mile or more to go to school or go to the grocery store?
Police officers walking the beat?
Everyone going "Downtown" at Christmas time to see the decorated windows?
When you were down and out and the only place left to go for help was your church?
Being all excited about the brand new, six inch round, black and white TV the size of a refrigerator?
No electronic toys, just Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Rag and China Dolls, Etch a Sketch was all the rage, cap guns, coonskin caps, BB guns, chemistry sets?
Real Christmas trees or maybe an aluminum silver tree with a rotating light to change colors and Angel Hair thrown on to diffuse the light?
Everyone sitting in the living room on a cold winters night to stay warm around the wood fired furnace that heated the entire house?
Going outside to the outhouse at all times of the day and night in all kinds of weather?
Getting water from one faucet in the kitchen sink and having to prime the pump when it went dry.
Putting pennies on the train tracks to make huge disks from them?
Heating the frozen water pipes in the basement with rolled up burning newspapers?
Not having enough money for Christmas presents and making something out of what you had?
Being alone and broke, sleeping in the basement of a small unheated building on Thanksgiving and again on Christmas, using newspapers for covers?

I guess not much of this was particularly headline news was it? No particular reason to relive any of it either. But those things did happen to a lot of people. Those people became strong and survived and built the framework for the progress we enjoy today. A reason to be thankful I think. I lived through those things and I believe we will live through what we are faced with today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas lighting and displays

I absolutely love bright, sparkly and colorful Christmas decorations. I wait in breathless anticipation for this season to arrive. Not everyone feels that way I guess but I certainly do. When I was a little shaver and my family lived in a very small house way out in the middle of nowhere my folks packed up my brother and I, borrowed the neighbors car and drove all the way into town just to ride around looking at Christmas lights and displays. I must have smeared up the windows of that car terribly with my face pressed tightly to the glass so as to see every bit of color. One entire neighborhood, three or four streets of them, had cooperated in placing lighted, wooden figures in their front yards up and down the streets depicting all the people and animals in the Christmas story, right down to the huge Christmas star and the Magi who came a little later. As young as I was I could hear in my head the voices of the census takers, the crying of the baby and the bleating of the sheep. (or was it maybe someone had an outdoor speaker system? Didn't matter then or now.)

Some lament the commercialization of Christmas, what with all the blowup snowmen, reindeer, Grinch's and elephants, you know things like that. Not me! I love that stuff too. Anything to do with Christmas is just fine with me as long as it is in good taste and does not disrespect the real reason for the season. After all, it's "Christ" mas. Rudolf is kinda cool with his bulbous red nose always trying to save someone from disaster and guiding good old Santa's sleigh. Some yards create an entire theme based on Rudolf. Then, of course there are the computer driven lights displays featuring the Christmas rock music of the Trans Siberian Orchestra. A blatant display of electronic ingenuity but fun, intriguing, fanciful and in many ways creating a joyful noise. Can't get much better than that.

I'm an adult and have been one for yea, these many years. I walk through my neighborhood slowly so I can take in every aspect of the the Christmas spirit reflected in each yard. Some are whimsical, playful and show hardly the slightest sign of spirituality. Some are strictly faith based religious offerings. Some are a mixture of new and old, electronic, hand made, and more recently the huge, air blown, lighted within balloon type displays. Some of which even have snow blowing around inside or a train going through it. I just don't know where it will go next with the new technology. It's the way of progress and it's been going throughout recorded history. Only a century ago, candles were the mainstay and electric lights were a novelty. I wonder what people thought about that?

Thanksgiving is only a day or two away. I have a great deal to be grateful for. One of them is to have driven my little shaver kids around town as they pressed their faces to the window to catch every last bit of the color and sparkle from the Christmas displays. The look in their eyes was something I'll never forget. And then the fun we had after looking at the lights by going to the homes of friends and family and throwing toilet paper on them. Now that's what I call a real Christmas spirit.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My trusty old Ghinsu Knife

Every day, on at least two or three TV shows a commercial would appear demonstrating the durability of a fantastic kitchen tool: The indestructible, never goes dull, guaranteed for life: Ginsu Knife! A chef type guy wearing one of those puffy white hats and kitchen vest would go through a half dozen almost unbelievable maneuvers with that unwieldy appearing utensil. Cutting wood, slicing cheese, carving a turkey, chopping onions, then turned to sawing a nail in half before doing delicate food preparation once again. Nah! I thought. No way any knife could do all that and remain sharp. Guess what? I had to try it.

Over 40 years ago I decided to buy a genuine Ginsu Knife and check it out. After all, the advertisement stated that if I wasn't satisfied I could return it and get double my money back. Since then I've done enough testing to fill hours and hours of commercials. I don't know if they even sell them anymore. (Guaranteed the spyware folks will send me an email if they do) A few examples if we may:

I trimmed and cut down a 6 inch tree.
I trimmed the grass overgrowing my sidewalk.
I cut and chopped the seven evergreen bushes surrounding my house and dug out the roots too.
I sawed a dozen two by fours in half when my power saw burned up.
I slit a sixteenth inch thick steel panel to attach to my truck.
I carved a turkey, actually about ten or twenty turkeys and a boat load of chickens too.
I sliced onions, lettuce, ham, roast beef and cucumbers.
I chopped garlic and quartered tomatoes and modeled pumpkins for Halloween.
I cut rubber radiator hose and fuel line repairing my car.
I sliced fresh baked bread and divided hot cross buns.
I cut up cardboard boxes for my kids school project.
I cut logs in half for the campfire.
I scaled, filleted and dressed freshly caught bluegills, perch, bass and walleye.

Yesterday, I took that forty year old, never been sharpened, flawless appearing, shiny Ginsu knife and cut slices of tomato so thin you could see through them.

Now, I tell you, That was the best $19.95 plus shipping I ever spent.

The reason I bring this up is, every time I use it and am impressed by its durability I wonder what you and everyone else that bought a Ginsu Knife has done with them. Has anyone ever destroyed one? I've tried and failed. Just where is your Ginsu Knife anyway? When was the last time you used it? Whats the biggest, strangest, most unbelievable task you've accomplished with that trusty old Ginsu Knife? I wonder if they still make them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fun with spyware

It's all becoming quite clear to me now. Duh! All those directed solicitations for diplomas and other such things in my email box are the direct result of something I sort of ignored up until now, Spyware! Spyware was a sort of mystery to me or rather I simply didn't pay attention to the concept because I was way too smart for it to affect me. Like my friend Sarah says so eloquently,"Yeah, you betcha!"

It took me a long time to catch on to the spyware tactics, how they work and exactly what they generated but I'm on to them now all right. Listen to this a second. I'm sure you naturally assume I'm talking about Internet spyware right? No, not necessarily. You know those specific store rewards cards you faithfully carry on your key chain? Spyware! Gas cards too. Spyware! Those credit cards you use every day, you remember that they sent you a pamphlet way too long to read thoroughly explaining their security when divulging any information about your transactions? Spyware! Virtually all your financials are infiltrated by some sort of spyware. Medical records, driving records and electrical usage is recorded and documented and spyware has a way of getting that information. You think I'm being a little paranoid don't ya? Think about this? If you aren't on the "do not call list" how do the solicitors know you might be in the market for a specific product. It's no accident senior citizens get a mailbox full of insurance offers neither. You buy a pair of shoes with a credit or debit card and what do you find folded neatly in your next Sunday paper delivery? Shoe sales!

I've figured out that spyware is just like this really huge type butterfly net, constantly moving back and forth across the information highway, capturing our bits of information and putting them into that big ole' advertising jar. You know whats really fun now that I know how it works? I often find these store rewards cards laying in the parking lot somewhere. If I use them I still get the discounted price and the original user gets all the email, snail mail and telemarketers too. I'm sure they wonder why, being only in their mid 20's and having two kids under age 5, why they get stuff about Medicare, rolling over an IRA, walkers, retirement villages, bus trips to the casino and Viagra. I think that's kind of fun don't you?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


One of the most annoying things I have to deal with on any given day as a business man is telephone solicitations. Business phones aren't able to be protected by the "Do not call list" It's a pitty. Don't get me wrong here. As a fellow tax payer and working person, I am happy for them and everyone concerned that they are working and paying bills. I also believe that many businesses get some really great deals from them. But to me they are an ever increasing annoyance and major interruption to my ability to earn a living myself. And maybe it's not so much that they call be all day long but more so in the disrespectful way they talk to me. Here are a couple examples:

"Hey, this is Jack, let me talk to my old buddy Joe?" I acknowledge that I am Joe. Then he proceeds to tell me he has a real deal for me but first he attempts to tell me a dirty joke, just between us guys. I hung up without further comment. He calls back and swears at me for hanging up and then hangs up himself when I asked who he worked for.

"Hi, this is Pamella, my goodness but you have a friendly voice Joe. Are you guys as busy as you were last year when I called?" Assuming she was a customer I answered that yes we were but still had room for more. "Oh, that's good to hear Joe. I have a wonderful way for you to save hundreds of dollars on your credit card transactions." I replied that I was set and didn't want to discuss the matter. Please take me off their list and do not call again. Seemingly caught off guard she said rather pointedly, "Who do you think you are talking to me that way? You're a real jerk!" Then hung up.

"Can I talk to the person responsible for paying your gas bill? I have an issue of immediate concern regarding your monthly payment." Concerned, I say that I am the one responsible thinking there is some problem with a check or something. "You sir are paying more for your gas each month than you should. Tell me, how much do you pay a month?" What? I ask. I thought you were from the gas company. "I am from such and such cooperative and I am calling to save you hundreds of dollars by joining our co-op." I say I am not interested in discussing the matter ands would they please take me off their list. "What kind of fool doesn't want to discuss saving money?" He said. and hung up.

"Hello, this is Marcia. Are you an owner, manager or employee of the company?" Yes, I'm the owner I said. "Well sir, I can sell you triple x rated movies for pennies on the dollar." I am not at all interested in triple x movies and would they please take me off their list and not call again. "Am I correct in hearing you say you don't like pretty women sir? Are you gay? I have those movies too." Take me off your list and don't call again. "OK sir, maybe this isn't a good time for you. I'll call some other time." She never heard a word I said did she?

One of the common factors besides being annoying is none of them ever asked if I had time to listen. My time is the most valuable thing I have. Because of that I have made a vow to never, ever buy anything, for any purpose from a telemarketer. Never. Even though some of what they say is kinda funny.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spam and fake college degrees, again.

Boy, they've got my number now. Those spammers I mean. A short while back I posted about advertisements for custom crafted high school and college diplomas. That's all it took. Every morning since, my mailbox is chock full of advertisements for my very own Ivy league diploma. All signed by the president, my name emblazoned across the front and set in a frame and everything. Can you believe it? Every stinkin day I'm bombarded with that junk. It must be some robot picked up the specific wording description from my posting and now has begun a relentless assault to make a sale. I will persist and send those pesky things to the spam police, every time! We will see who prevails in this war on fraudulent diplomas. (They do look kind of nice though.)

Spam is just another form of stalking I think. Unwanted attention or advances to the point of making me feel in danger. If the robot can infiltrate my email like that, and reporting it to the spam police doesn't stop it, then what is left to do? Take a hammer to my computer screen! But even if I do that the spam is still inside it waiting to point out that I deserve a new diploma. At one time, a long, long time ago, I created another email address with another server. I mean, what the heck, they're free, why not? I did it just in case I got contaminated on my regular address. I've never, ever told anyone about it neither just to be safe. I checked it this morning. Guess what? There is a mailbox full of diploma offers there too. That's just how smart that robot is ya know.

So is the life of a neophyte in the use and understanding of the Internet. Learning how to deal with such things keeps me sharp lest I grow bored. Being a student of the old ways makes me feel a little creepy though, like someone is watching my every key stroke. Reminds me of what a peeping Tom does with my computer being the window. Hey. wait a minute, I do use windows!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturdays, with reservations

What a wonderfully beautiful day today, Saturday is going to be. I'm not supposed to have much work to do at the shop. Sunshine, temperatures in the 50's, college football is on most of the day, I have a full tank of gas, and some steaks are thawing for dinner. It's shaping up to be one for the record books all right. However, from past experience I can't help but have a feeling of impending doom.

Saturdays are special. Yet they are sometimes contradictory.

It's a beautiful day to enjoy the outdoors. Saturday is perfect for spending hours raking leaves from a yard you so diligently spent hours raking last Saturday.

Saturday is a day off to spend home for millions of people. Saturday is the busiest day of the week for tens of thousands of telemarketers.

Saturday is a great day to sleep in. Saturday is the day your next door neighbor chooses to rototill his garden and get his snowblower started, before breakfast.

Saturday is a great day to pick up some things at the store. Saturday is the day everyone else does too.

Saturday is a great day to do your banking. Saturday the bank closes at noon, the same time you wake up from sleeping late or finish raking the leaves.

Saturday is a great day to take a ride and enjoy the fall colors. Saturday is the day the work crews shut down and repair the roads that were too busy to work on during the week.

Saturday is quiet, a perfect day to catch up on office work. Saturday is the day customers stop by to have you look at stuff without waiting for other customers when you were open.

As you can see I find Saturdays rather a contradiction. I work most Saturdays so you would think a Saturday off would be a treat. It is! Its just that its not a treat until everything else is done.

My plans for the day have to be flexible or I'll wind up being disappointed. I'm an expert in that sort of thing though. To prevent being woke up by a neighbor at 7am, I got myself up at 3:30. To prevent long waiting lines at the stores, I was finished by 5am. To prevent being interrupted at work I was done by 7am. To prevent a myriad of detours on the road, I took the long way home for a short but colorful ride. To prevent getting to the bank after hours, I used the night deposit.

I am flexible, pro-active, whatever you want to call it but I am determined to end the day with stories of how much enjoyment I had on my very rare Saturday off. The only cloud on the horizon that I can foresee that I really can't do anything about is this: As sure as this is Saturday, I will fall asleep, wherever I am at the time, somewhere around 6 or 7pm. That's a lock! About the time everyone else who didn't take such preventive precautions as I are just getting started in having a great time. Even caution has its consequence I guess.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tax solution

Taxes, taxes, taxes! They loom over our heads like clouds before a storm. Most of us that is. Not everyone is concerned about taxes. Super rich people may scream they are paying way too many taxes but when all is said and done their everyday lives really aren't affected much, if at all. I mean, if I have to survive on 10 million dollars a year instead of 11 million my lifestyle won't be noticeably different will it? And then there are the permanently non working poor. No income from sources other than the government, equals no taxes. Then there are those underemployed that receive credits at tax filing time and get a refund more than ten times what they paid in. Technically that amounts to revers taxation, pay in ten bucks get back a hundred.

There are so many tax loop holes, even congress can't keep up with them. And the favoritism of those loop holes is scandalous. Its enough to drive you to believe some of those schemes that profess to stop the government from taxing you at all. I've met some of those folks, before and after they went to jail for tax evasion or conspiracy against the government. That's certainly not the way to go. Then there are the super independent souls who live in the rural areas that trade services, do odd jobs and otherwise keep any income invisible to the authorities. Modern day mountain people they are. Everyone it seems is fed up with taxes. Me too!

Most every politician, during their election campaign delivers some kind of speech on how they will overhaul the tax system and make it fair, lowering every ones tax rate, eliminating or creating loop holes to special interest groups and all the while reducing spending and paying off the national debt in the next four years. It sounds magical. It sounds fantastic. It sounds too good to be true.

Since the beginning of time, no one has been able to develope a tax system that satisfies most, let alone all tax payers. The writers of the bible describe tax collectors as morally among the lowest of the low. Being called a tax collector was a slur against your good name. I guess there is no answer to the problem. We're never going to be satisfied are we? Except of course, if everyone paid taxes at the same rate no matter their situation. 1% 2% 3% 4% what does it really matter? If the rate was set, without exception, for every conceivable transaction, and that was the sole financial resource for any and all governmental agency and they had to budget accordingly, we would all learn to live within our means right? No, it ain't gonna happen is it folks?

Taxes are determined by trial and error with each new generation. Greece is finding that out. They thought that they could all receive complete financial security guaranteed by the government for as long as they lived and they didn't have to pay much in the way of tax to get it. The process is, just receive, don't pay! The politicians went along with it so they could get elected. Now the entire country is broke. Japan is a very disciplined country and take care of their older citizens very nicely. They are running into some problems there now too.

It'll all work out. It always has. It's laughable that so many of us think the situation is unique and a solution is just around the corner. It is! We just don't want to be the one to start paying the tab.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno, Sandusky and our kids

The "alleged" Sandusky child sexual assault investigation and subsequent failure to report.

How would this whole thing play out if a few minor details were changed?

What if it wasn't involving football?

What if it wasn't involving a college coach?

What if it didn't involve Joe Paterno?

What if setting certain athletic records weren't involved?

What if college students weren't involved?

What if it wasn't Penn State?

There are a whole lot of what ifs here I think. Its kind of a shame how all the media hype concerning the popular people and places involved overwhelms the plight of the "alleged" victims don't you think?

I've watched and listened to several sports commentators since this whole thing came to light. I am proud of the way they disregard the spotlight on the popular people and places involved and express their concerns for the victims. The embarrassment JoePa experiences is nothing compared to the devastation of even one of the victims. I am grateful this has come to light and the perpetrator won't be able to destroy the innocence of any more kids. He will pay hell for what he's done. I'm sure of it! No matter who or what is involved.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Testing, 1,2,3, Testing

So far, so good. Yesterday my posting went through effectively. Right now, as I am looking at my message line, there is no indication that this posting will publish as yet. So, what the heck. I suppose I can write anything. Just like about a lot of women that are making unsubstantiated accusations in the media. Kind of reminds me of little kids only the consequences are far more severe. In second grade us little kids were chatting about who we wanted to be elected president in November. I can see the sincere look on the face of the girl seated next to me in class when she said: "We don't want Eisenhower to be elected! He wants to make us go to school on Saturday and not have summer vacation." All us other kids went, "Ooooohhh! That's terrible. No! We don't want him." Actually, none of us voted for him either. I mean anyone with an angelic face like the little girl that said that certainly wouldn't lie would they? Kids just know that sort of thing, what's true and what isn't. They don't even need proof. Now that I think about it, neither do some adults.

I watched a TV program last night that covered Michael Jackson rehearsing for a concert. I have enjoyed some of his music and caught scenes from a few videos before. It was obvious he was talented. In my opinion outrageously weird, but talented. The things I saw last night really brought out his talent in a way I hadn't seen before. He was as dedicated to the perfection of his music and movement as was humanly possible I think. It was fascinating. Still outrageously weird, but fascinating. I hope he finds peace now.

The riddle that will be announced in January, along with the additional clues are being polished and made ready. I think this year's treasure hunt will be exciting and fun. A little faster paced too.

So there we have it. Just a little rambling today because I became so disheartened by the loss of several postings that disappeared into nothing, just like that. Why waste time when you and I can't communicate anyway? ...................This is a test. Now we see if it publishes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I wonder, Area 51

What with all the headlines recently I am led to wonder about some things:

Area 51 is touted to be so secret the people in there don't even know where they are. Does the government actually have the bodies of space aliens frozen in liquid hydrogen? Do they really shoot down anyone foolish enough to fly over in an airplane? If you work there do you ever get to go home, ever? I really don't know, its a secret you know.

This asteroid flying at us through space will be coming as close as 215,000 miles. Is it actually a disguised space ship? Or, is it a messenger from God to pick up some people because of the rapture. Is it a space drone spy ship sent from aliens looking for their relatives frozen in area 51?

What is the political affiliation of the women accusing Herman Cain? Why haven't they spoken up before? The old saying goes: Where there is smoke, there is fire. Will that be true this time?

Where is the actual Hawaiian birth certificate anyway? Not that I particularly care really but: Why was it kept secret in the first place if producing it would do away with the controversy?

Why are people who don't use illegal drugs, don't break any major laws, work hard, pay their bills and taxes, don't go to prison, take raising their kids seriously and possibly have a religious affiliation considered know-it-all do-gooders and other people take great pleasure in bringing them down?

Why don't we learn something about jumping to conclusions about new research? Coffee was bad, now its good. Mammograms were good, now they're bad, oops, now they're good. Aspirin is bad, Tylenol is good, oh wait, Tylenol is sorta good but sorta bad and aspirin we're not quite sure about. Stuff like that.

Why does my nose always itch or run when I am meeting a very important person for the first time? And, there is no tissue or handkerchief in sight?

I've heard on the radio that most all of our problems originate in Area 51. It's all an experiment. I wonder about that too.

Now that I have acknowledged Area 51 will my postings not disappear anymore?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another computer glitch

Underneath this you will find the sole remaining evidence of a truly hilarious but cautionary posting that took almost 45 minutes to write. Then it all went up in smoke. The 5th time that's happened in 6 days. I've checked the blog hosting service and that is supposed to be in good working order. I checked with my Internet server and they are sure there is no problem on their end. So, The only reasonable explanation is.........................................Gremlins!

I am sorry that some of my most profound postings didn't make it to your screen. They may very well have been earth shattering.

I am continuing to check all the details concerning this atrocious failure to communicate. One tecki suggested the "PIC" theory. Dumb me, I have to look that up too. Frustrating as it is, I'll try again another time to astound you with my writing and intellectual prowess.

"Attention honorable beneficiary!"

That was the subject of and email I received from a country in Africa. I'm rich I tell you, rich!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

World peace, financial security etc.

Twice now, and I hope it doesn't happen again this time, I have spent a great deal of time composing a literary work of art on this blog for all to see. And the stupid thing crashed somehow and dissapeared into the great, invisible, unrecoverable expanse of the world of electronic communication. Gone! GeeZ! That is soooo frustrating. It only seems to happen when my mind is all keyed in and the words flow with knowledge and coherence and understanding and in some way offer hope to the world. Being of a generation that grew up with slide rules, paper and pen, black and white TV, carburetors, and occasionally, outside toilets you may possibly grasp my ineptitude when it comes to rectifying a computer glitch. Small tools and gentle key manipulation was not a learned science with me. Give me a screwdriver, a hammer, some twine, wire and duct tape and I'm good to go. But, obviously that doesn't work so well in this case.

So, I am sorry to report that the instant, incredibly simple remedies for world peace, financial security, marital harmony, hundred year health, almost free carbon based fuel replacement, unwanted telephone solicitors, undie itch, bitter coffee, food for the masses, overpopulation, unwanted facial hair, gas, tooth decay, streaky windows, automatic business answering machines, and the professional basketball season cancellation will have to wait. I simply don't have the time to put it all back together again right now....................Have a wonderful day...........................Joe

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Grand Rapids Press is changing

I guess it had to happen eventually. The daily newspaper I have read for most of my life is scaling down its home delivery to only three days a week. Whatever will I do now? No more comics in the morning. No more sports updates during lunch. No more news of the city, state, country or world after dinner on the couch. "We hope everyone will take advantage of our excellent on line services." The spokeswoman said. "This is just our way of giving the readers what they asked for." was another comment from her. What she didn't say was that it was their only way to survive financially in this ever changing age of electronic media. I'll survive too but I'll miss my daily newspaper like crazy.

Albeit begrudgingly, I have learned to use the Internet resources and increased my knowledge of the world in which I live. When cars became involved in electronics and fuel injection I screamed and insisted that the "Golden Age" of personal transportation was gone forever. Now, after having owned these new wonders of economy and efficiency I wouldn't care to turn back the clock and drive those old unreliable gas hogs ever again. The days of "getting a push" or waiting for the "choke" to open, or constantly having to restart a stalling engine are a fading memory. I have gotten used to a vehicle that starts and goes down the road with ease. In a few years I will probably become used to reading the news on a 17 inch screen while I'm walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike like the guys at the gym.

The one thing I'll miss the most though is the differing personalities of the reporters and their individual perspectives on what's going on in my neighborhood. Reading their columns with the paper wrinkling in my fingers suits my pace quite well actually. I can't count the times I read and re-read a sentence or paragraph so as to absorb the full impact. Wow! It gets me to thinking and feeling empathy for my fellow human beings in whatever situation they find them selves in. The articles on the screen don't quite feel the same. To me it feels far, far away from being personal. It simply becomes news. That's not the same is it?

The world has been changing since the beginning of time. I'll get used to it. Those that follow me will embrace it. They will also grieve the changes they face, same as me. Life is a series of changes. Youth is filled with discovery, adulthood brings challenges, triumph, defeat and resolution, aging brings even more challenges and with them comes a new understanding of acceptance. I will accept the newspaper's changes. I will not do it willingly. Two other things that come with age: Tenacity and resilience. Yeah, we're all over those two things.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Greece has always been a fascinating country to me. The Greeks display great respect for tradition, know how to have a good time and in certain areas live a long, happy life. The countryside, in most areas is beautiful and the history goes back to almost the beginning of recorded time. What a place to visit it would be. Not on my bucket list but could be if I didn't have so many other goals. Now I find it fascinating for a much different reason.

Greece has provided very well for it's people. There is not much they want for and have so many holidays as to boggle the mind. I'm sure that is some of the reason for their longevity: No worries! The difficulty is that those provisions are unsustainable as they are now. The country is going bankrupt or more accurately, is already. The European Union has found a financial solution in the way of huge loans to bail it out before there is complete and utter economic collapse. From what I read the Greek people are all about receiving the loans but aren't going to give up their costly, unsustainable benefits to do it. From what I can tell, if they receive the loans and they continue to receive all the benefits they do, at the rate they receive them, they'll still go broke and bring all that extra loan money with them. Then, not only will Greece have lost everything but also all the countries of the European Union and in all likelihood, China too. Yet they still protest losing the benefits.

How can they be so arrogant? I wonder. Or is it arrogance or just plain ignorance. I really don't know. Why in the world would any other country or group of countries offer money that they are sure to lose. That would be stupidity wouldn't it? It's one thing for a country to spend all it's resources on it's own people, but to expect others to support their exorbitant lifestyles is ridiculous. No matter how beautiful and historical the country is. It reminds me of the time I lent some money to a guy because he lost his job and needed groceries to feed his family. The next day I happened across him while he was buying a new $80 phone. What I did was a good thing. What he did was a bad thing. I admire the Greek people. I wouldn't lend them a dime unless they agreed not to buy a new phone.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Interesting hunger perspective

Scanning over a list of top stories and articles I happened across statements from a woman in social services who says she has been released from her job because of a statement she made about alleviating hunger in school age children. At first I was reminded of how many people always blame someone else for their problems but she really wasn't doing that. She wasn't trying to get her job back or bad mouth anyone at all. She was simply being interviewed for her stand on childhood hunger in America.

Her stance: In schools across the country children are being fed, usually free of charge breakfast, lunch and, in some cases dinner. In her opinion all this free food is only encouraging people to use their, already quite generous resources for anything but food. She feels the school food programs are removing parental responsibility and weakening the family unit to the point of complete socialism or worse yet, communism. She pointed out that many people, children as well as adults that are supposed to be financially strapped are wearing designer clothes, using $200 cell phones and shoes, overweight almost to the point of obesity and sporting tattoos worth hundreds of dollars. Yet these same people are statistically among the underfed.

Her solution: When a child comes to school and uses the free breakfast, lunch or dinner program the parents should be contacted and interviewed to find out the reason they cannot feed their child those meals at home. If there is a rectifiable problem it should be dealt with. Otherwise, the use of food stamps, bridge cards and food pantry items should be strictly adhered to. If the parents are found to be using those gifts for other reasons and allowing their kids to go hungry, and don't change after repeated warnings: She feels the kids should be taken away from the neglectful parents as well as the accompanying government assistance and charitable gifts.

She said that apparently her views are not particularly welcome in an agency that thrives on the needs of those less fortunate as a means of control., encouraging, creating and maintaining a culture of "being needy". Agree or disagree she brings up food for thought doesn't she?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Right or wrong accusations

Once again a political figure is being accused (anonymously of course)of an event that happened a long time ago but not reported at the time for some odd reason. I'm not saying it did or did not happen, I'm just wondering why it wasn't reported at the time instead of the women involved accepting money to keep quiet.

Terrible things happen every day and go unreported. Sometimes, it's because it really wasn't as bad as we might think, sometimes it's out of fear, sometimes it's out of a feeling of personal guilt, who really knows except the people involved. On the other hand, in my opinion when it comes to politics we all have reason to question the motives as well as the honesty of the accusers.

Herman Cain is being accused of some sort of sexual harassment that occurred about 15 years ago. Why now? Who is behind this sudden desire to make the record straight? Why was it not such a big deal for 15 years? I wonder just what I'm missing? Kind of like the accusations concerning an appointee for the Supreme Court a while back.

Besides, we had a sitting President that was guilty of sexual discrepencies just a few years ago and aside from a huge amount of lip service nothing ever came of it. Perhaps it was a difference of opinion concerning the definition of sexual harassment. I'm not an expert on the subject I guess.

This whole thing will be aired out in the press I imagine, just like always. We will find out whatever details those in charge want us to know. It will be a matter of perspective as usual. I have determined that this is all just a game pitting one political ideology against another. It really doesn't have anything to do about honesty, only political gain. Right and wrong, true or false are entirely different matters in cases like this.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Random thoughts, caring and not caring

Just some random thoughts that pass through my mind from time to time.

Bernie Madoff, I don't care that you feel better now that you are in jail. Frankly I couldn't care less that you don't think about committing suicide anymore. I don't condone suicide, I just don't care about you. You cheated your own personal, trusting friends without remorse. You stripped your own family of dignity without so much as a hesitation. Your own son committed suicide out of sheer embarrassment of what you have done. You exhibit no shame or sorrow. Your own wife has to face the public while you comfortably pass the time reading without any concern of where your next meal comes from. By your own admission you have done evil and committed unspeakable atrocities against those that trusted you. Personally, I feel that you are still riding the wave of megalomania because you enjoy the notoriety. I believe the punishment you fear the most is that no one would ever speak your name again, no reporter would seek you out for an interview. Your fellow prisoners would not talk to you. You would be totally alone with your thoughts. You need to be in control and in the spotlight. Some day you will have to face the real consequences of what you have done and it is way more than you could ever anticipate. Other than that, I don't care.

There is a tidal situation in the ocean, El Nino or La Nina or something like that. We, as human beings cannot control it. The weather is affected immensely by it. Snow, rain, wind, heat, and every other form of weather is moving in and out of our comfort zone because of it. Again, we can't change it, we have no control over it, we can't predict with accuracy exactly what will happen and where it will happen. My thought is this: The human race has survived from one degree to another throughout history with far less resources than we have now. Why do we panic so? I mean, complaining is natural but the panic is just way exaggerated I think.

I am so grateful to the people with extreme personalities who are in the news. In my opinion many of their views, lifestyles, perversions and activities are so weird as to defy description or rational explanation. However, without them I would have only myself to look at. Without them I may find fault in my own behavior. Without them I may not feel quite so normal as I do now. We do need a yardstick to measure by. Man, I think a lot of folks in the news are way, way over at the other end of that yardstick and that makes me feel very good indeed on some days.

I am in training for my bicycle trip around Lake Michigan. Things I need to do: Lose some weight. (Isn't that always the case though?) Increase my stamina for longer riding. Strength and weight training for core issues. Develop an eating regimen. Save some money. Build two more bicycles to fit my needs. Map out my route. Arrange for lodging. (I am not about to sleep on the ground like I did the last time) Decide exactly when I am going to do this. Make arrangements to take care of obligations while I'm gone. Keep myself from getting too excited.

Winter is coming, there is much to do. I love the different seasons around here............Joe

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spam and fake college degrees, again.

Spam is all over the place and apparently thriving. This Internet is worldwide and there are electronic devices gathering information as I type. There is no escape and we have to stay on our best behavior and mind what we say.

A couple days ago I wrote a posting regarding college diploma's for sale. Name your college, your desired degree and they'll make it up, put your name on it, mail it to you and there you are, a college graduate. Evidently the trusty spam gleaning machine was turned on full blast because my email boxes were chock full of offers: Doctorates, Master's, Business, Psychology, Mathematics etc, etc, etc. For just a few dollars and a little ingenuity I could appear to be an extremely educated man in a very short time.

It wouldn't work. At least in my case. An Einstein I ain't and everyone knows it. Besides, the guilt factor would surely bring me to the edge of total mental collapse. No wise cracks about the mental thing OK? I do wonder how someone else pulls it off though. Maybe if they moved into a new city and had no friends or relatives in the immediate area and they put it on the wall right away no one would question it. However, what if it is from like Harvard or Yale and someone that went there started asking questions about the classes or instructors or the Fraternities. The one trying to pull a fast one would be dead meat. Is a fake degree worth the gamble?

Lying is it's own punishment. A liar can never stop thinking ahead of them self. They can never rest and have to watch everything they say. This Madof character is in the slammer because he is a liar. I wonder if he has any fake degrees in finance? No, there is no faux degree in my future. But once again we see that the Internet is not a safe and secure place. Be on your toes and alert or the spam will overwhelm you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pain of unemployment

A television ad designed to promote a pain reliever for arthritis points out that a body at rest, tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. I think most of us agree on that premise. From personal experience I would also add that a body in motion, in most cases feels a great deal less pain. Pheromones or something like that. On the subject of pain, extensive research has determined that artificial pain relievers, if used extensively can cause side effects as bad or worse than the original pain. "The cure is worse than the bite." I think the old saying goes.

There are huge numbers of us that are unemployed right now. It can be an extremely painful experience. The government is doing all sorts of things to help make it better. There is a lot of finger pointing as to who is at fault for the prolonged unemployment. According the the news headlines there doesn't seem to be a lot of introspective thought as far as to just what the curative solutions have done to aggravate the situation.

How about if we compare the TV ad for a pain reliever to the cures for unemployment.:

Pain relievers will offer relief so we can start a little at a time to move again and the movement itself will bring more relief so we need less pain reliever which will help our overall health which will help with more movement and so on and so forth. We become as healthy as we can.

Or; Pain relievers will bring us relief and we will continue to rest and sit and rely completely on the pain relievers which will in turn cause more health issues which cause us to move even less and experience even more pain. Our health continuously spirals downward.

We have a the dilemma:

Completely relying on government assistance to survive and waiting for more assistance and becoming more and more bitter and blaming others for not helping.

Or; Accepting our situation and using whatever is available to get ourselves moving in a direction of providing for our own needs through whatever independent means are available, one step upward at a time.

It's only a theory but definitely food for thought. Unemployment can be devastating. There is no pie in the sky, painless answer. But it's amazing what happens when we use our energy constructively.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

College degrees fast, cheap and easy

I'm the first one to admit that sometimes I take the easy way out. Sometimes, but not often. In cooking I have been known to buy cake mix in a box, just add water. Casserole mix for dinner, just add hamburger. Stuff like that. After attending an exercise class for 2 months I was overwhelmed with other activity so I quit and bought a work out DVD to use at home instead. Perhaps we all can admit to a short cut or two from time to time. But some things just shouldn't be cut short.

While working on the computer yesterday the pop up on the right of the screen touted a college degree for busy working people. "Don't have time for class?" it asked. Duh! I thought. "Short on funds to further your education?" it also asked. Double Duh! I thought. "Get an affordable Business diploma in a short time." The banner read. Then the ad scrolled a list of college diplomas available in various professions. "Fill out the form, name the college of my choice, choose the degree or degrees I want to display to my friends, pay my money and within a few short days I will receive a "genuine looking, indiscernible from an original", sheepskin to hang on the wall for all to see. "A reason for me to feel proud."..................Proud of what?

There must be a market out there for these faux degrees but it seems to me that there must be something a bit illegal about them. There were doctorate degrees for heaven's sake. I'm going to double check any new doctors I visit maybe. I signed off the computer after the work was done. When I signed back on later the ad was gone and I couldn't find it so maybe it was a spam thing. So much for my becoming a law professor this week.

Brings to mind the ad for spray cologne or perfume that touts the ability to make people trust you. No need to develop a moral life style of integrity. Simply spray on the trust and go about your business. I've seen some folks that don't realize the spray doesn't work when you speak on TV or radio.

Short cuts. In some cases there ought to be a law......................Trust me on that one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reincarnation, aliens and fantasy

There is a movie named, "The search for Bridie Murphy" It's all about reincarnation and based upon a true story. Of course, "based upon" coupled with literary license can become so far removed from the original story that it is almost unrecognizable. From what I understand the case of Bridie Murphy remains one of the strongest arguments for some or all of us having lived before. The comedy team Laurel and Hardy starred in an hilarious movie about airplanes, crashes, death and being reincarnated as a horse. I don't know whether it was "based upon" a true story or not. But, it made me laugh out loud and the movie, "The search for Bridie Murphy" didn't. It is my understanding that some religious beliefs are very strong concerning reincarnation, some regarding becoming another person and some regarding coming back as an animal. I have no real education in those beliefs or the history behind them. There are a lot of interesting beliefs in this world I am not familiar with and more are appearing as time goes on. It's impossible to keep up. Reincarnation is not new though and I found the movie about it quite riveting.

A psychologist or psychiatrist hypnotizes a woman as part of her treatment for psychological problems. While under hypnosis the woman slowly unravels the story of who she was in a former life. The doctor does some checking and finds out it was a real person and the woman he is treating has no way of knowing anything about her. Spooky! I wondered how she knew. I wondered if it was all a hoax like the Cardiff Giant, gargoyles or tax relief. But still, she was so convincing and looked so innocent, someone that looked like that could not possibly lie about such a thing. And, it was all based upon a true story. When I left the theatre I knew I had a lot of thinking to do. Up to that time I didn't believe reincarnation was something to be taken seriously. The next weekend I saw a movie called, "The Thing" It was all about an alien frozen in the arctic somewhere and when some well meaning scientists thawed it out they got way more than they bargained for. This alien creature, instead of wanting to make friends with earthlings, simply wanted to kill them and eat them and their dogs in a vicious manner. I can remember leaving the theatre wondering if this movie too was loosely "based upon" a true story. At school the following week I discovered that I wasn't the only pre-teen guy that wondered if it was true. It made for some lively discussion but eventually we decided, one of us at a time that "The Thing" was fantasy. But the spectre of alien life (especially on cold snowy, frozen, windy nights) always remained. The same regarding reincarnation.

Reincarnation and Alien life forms are not the same subject at all are they? I do wonder if the answer lies in hypnotizing an alien? Yeah, I do wonder that sometimes. Fantasy movies and stories based upon a true story do that to a person.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ice Cream names

Some things just aren't funny when it comes to food! Ben an Jerry's makes ice cream. Ben and Jerry's is pretty successful. They are at the higher end of the price index and still sell enough to keep the ice cream machines moving in a relatively tough economy. I have tasted some of their flavors and found them to be quite acceptable. But, to be honest I enjoy our very own Hudsonville Ice Cream even better. It may have something to do with going to the Hudsonville factory many years ago when it was located in Burnips Michigan and getting the butter pecan flavor right out of the factory freezer and being able to taste it on the ride home. Hudsonville has expanded their flavors over the years and are now under new management but I can still taste the richness that set the standard. I do get a little queezy when I open a package of "Moose Tracks" or "Deer Tracks" with the little chocolate drops resembling, well you know, the stuff Moose and Deer leave behind. I guess maybe someday an ice cream manufacturer will come up with "Road Apple" ice cream too, but I'm not about to touch that, no way!

Back to Ben and Jerry's. The new flavor they came out with had an extremely disgusting name. And, apparently so disgusting that consumers avoided it enough to prevent stores from even stocking it on the shelves. The name is reputed to be derived from an old Saturday Night Live comedy skit. I never viewed it but from what I hear the thing was hilarious. Great for a comedy skit perhaps but as Ben and Jerry found out: Some things simply need to be left alone. I'm sure a lot of us had a great time with the newly named flavor although, I must admit I found it inappropriate in the ice cream case, particularly when you realize the young children that constantly look into the freezer. It's more an adult thing. I'll let you look it up. We have to maintain an element of mystery don't we?

Other flavors that didn't succeed in the ice cream venue: Yellow Booger Delight, Puke Lime and Slime, Scabby Chip, Pimple Cream Dream and of course, Spit and Sweat Lemony Swirl. Yeah, some stuff is best not connected with any kind of food. Particularly our ice cream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Voting and protesting

I admire those people that stand up for their principles. Protesters around the world are occupying buildings, streets and town squares railing against what they view as oppression. It's not so important whether I agree or not. It is important that they be heard and we all think about it. One of the greatest gifts of civilization, in my opinion is open communication. Civil protest is a form of communication. Good can come of it. I'm not one to occupy anything. I am always concerned about the availability of sanitary facilities and I'm not particularly fond of spending any time in jail either. That's just me. A protest of another kind has always appealed to me. Voting!

There is a phrase that is seen around that makes sense. "Be kind to your enemies, it messes with their heads." Has kind of a nice ring to it doesn't it? It suggests an entirely different type of protest that can be far more effective than occupation. And it's so easy too. Every political party wants us to vote for them. They spend huge, almost obscene amounts of money to bring us around to their way of thinking. It works in instances where someone is leaning in their direction in the first place and occasionally when a voter is on the fence about a particular issue. That's the political process in a nutshell. However, it is predicated on the assumption that many of us do not vote and their followers will overwhelm the others. The idea of voter protest completely messes up that whole scenario. There are hundreds of thousands of loose cannons out there that are fed up with then status quo. Most of them are so disenchanted with the system that they don't bother to vote, they assume theirs doesn't count anyway. They are so wrong!

Because so many people refrain from voting we are operating under the wishes of those that do vote. No sense in complaining because we didn't voice our opinion in the voting booth. The pinnacle of protest is within our grasp. If everyone voted, and I do mean everyone, our leaders would get one huge reality check. Middle income, working class people become so frustrated they simply give up and deal only with survival and trying to maintain a halfway decent life style in a world that chooses them as a tax base to support their own agendas and defines our moral environment according to boisterous special interest groups. Another phrase goes something like this: "All it takes for bad things to happen is for good people to do nothing." Not voting amounts to doing nothing.

I would like to see what the results would be if every eligible person in this country voted. Then we would know which way the culture is going. Wow! Brings special meaning to "The will of the people." Kind of scary but at least we'd know wouldn't we. Until we all vote en mass it will still remain a mystery. Talk about a protest huh?
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