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?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poor, Rich, which is which?

"The poor will always be with us!"

There is a lot of talk these days about taking care of the poor. We need to do that. The politicians are batting all sorts of ideas back and forth on how they intend to tackle poverty and the poor.

We are taught from the time we can understand that we must take care of the poor. Who can disagree with that? There is one problem that has consistently muddied the water in the application of this charitable approach. The definition of exactly who the poor are goes all over the map. At one end of the spectrum: Wandering tribes living in portable housing without running water or electricity in the harshest territories on the planet often describe themselves as happy, free and not in need of anything. Some people not of their culture refer to them as poor. On the opposite end: Some people living in subsidized housing in developed countries are provided with food, clothing, shelter, heat and other amenities well beyond what we consider the necessities of life, with no need or inclination to fend for themselves and continuously whine for more are also considered poor. Some, not of their culture would call them rich. Although I find this situation very perplexing, I guess it's a matter of perspective.

One story: I co-signed a car loan for a guy that had lost his job and needed a car to get a new job to support his family and not lose his home. His new job payed him twice my income. He never made a payment for a hundred different reasons and I wound up paying the loan in order to maintain my credit. He said he just had too many bills with his family to meet the car payments. He described himself as one of the "working poor." A year after I paid off the car loan I put my motorcycle up for sale. He heard about it and came by my house (I hadn't heard from him in almost a year and a half), in his new car to see it. He said he always liked it and wanted to buy it. He offered me the asking price and hauled the cash out of his pocket. I asked if he realized that I had payed off his car loan and I felt he still owed me for it? He said he used the money for the car to pay his bills, this was different money.

Back to the politicians: Tax cuts, tax increases, housing, food and clothing assistance, tax exemptions, tax credits, tax free zones, overseas tax free accounts, tax deductions. It's as confusing as it always was. Occupy Wall street, occupy main street, it really doesn't matter. Taxes are a way of life. It's the definitions that do matter. The rich receive tax exemptions and credits as if they were poor in order to increase profits and create jobs. Mostly they create profits, effectively eliminating the need to create jobs. The poor receive assistance enough to meet almost every necessity and beyond, effectively eliminating the need for a job. Most of us are kind of stuck in the middle. Everyone is talking about this. Not much has been done about this because no one really knows who the poor are. And, of course, this is all different money.

The poor and the rich will always be with us. I wonder if it's us that will eventually disappear?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adoption, domestic or foreign?

As an adoptive parent for over 35 years my ears are keenly attuned to the word, "adopt." My eyes are drawn to it when I read like radar locking on a UFO. Adoption as it is today, is a unique situation and filled with wonders as well as challenges. As short a time ago as the mid 1930's kids were shipped off on orphan trains to just about anywhere, to people that never received any sort of background check by well meaning institutions in the name of charity. We've come a long way from that. Tens of thousands of kids have been placed in homes and adopted by incredibly caring parents and become as one family. I applaud those families. I do wonder about a trend that has developed over the past decade or two though: Prospective adoptive parents in the United States don't seem to like American kids!

There isn't a week that goes by that I don't hear about this family adopting a child from one country or another, but not from the good old U.S of A.. A child is a child, no matter the place of birth, in my opinion. All children deserve an opportunity to experience family love. I'm getting the feeling though that many people have given up hope on our homegrown kids for some reason. Actually to the point of where some people are wearing the foreign adoption thing like some sort of elite badge of honor. Not all of them of course, but enough that I would notice it as a trend. I spoke with one guy and he stated, several times that he has adopted a couple "Chinese kids." Another couple mentioned, with emphasis that they had adopted, "Russian kids." And another couple adopted an "African child." I don't ever recall telling anyone I adopted anything other than a "child." I find it rather confusing. Obviously, there is something about this foreign adoption situation that I don't understand and I am not doing any judging of motives here, but as an adoptive parent myself I feel I do have the right to wonder about the reasons or need behind it. Are foreign kids smarter? Are foreign kids healthier? Are foreign kids supposed to be something different that I am missing? On the other hand: Are American kids not worthy of adoption for some reason? Are we, as Americans not responsible for our own orphans? Why not? Is it easier for some reason to explain a difference in the appearance of an adopted child if we say they came from a particular country of origin. More "pure" a strain perhaps? Does that make us better because we adopted from another country. Are we making up in some way for things we feel our own country has done wrong by ignoring those kids already here in need by bringing in replacement kids because ours are defective simply by being born here?

Like I said, no judgement here. Simply some questions that I do not understand the answers to. When I ask those who have or will be adopting foreign kids they seem to get a little defensive and huffy because, "If I understood I wouldn't have to ask questions about it." Like one parent said, "Adopting a domestic child is very selfish when there are so many others around the world who need parents more." I am all the more confused by that statement. My confusion will not change anything. Nor will it change the fact that even kids born here are important enough to receive love and consideration. Yeah, they really are.
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