Way to go

All that Megan had to do was pass the ball to her Wildcats teammate, Sarah, who was wide open for the layup and what did Megan do? She dribbled the ball off her foot and watched it roll away as the buzzer sounded ending the game with the Wildcats trailing by one.

They lost by one point. Sadness? Disappointment? No, not really. Megan got high fives all around and “nice tries” and some hugs and then everyone got in line and received a trophy.

I think my boss, Bethany, must have been on the Wildcats growing up. I came back into the office to a “how’d it go?” and after telling her that the customer didn’t bite I got a “nice try” and a high five, which was kind of awkward, but then she pulled out my sales report and told me I hadn’t made my quota for the month which meant that the company would have to let me go. Then she came over and gave me another high five and a big hug.

I’ll have to go on unemployment but I do get a company t-shirt so that’s nice and those “high fives” and hugs make me feel pretty good about myself. The t-shirt is blue.

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Keeping up with the Jameses

It started almost as soon as we got married. I’d heard that most marital problems involved fights over money but it was still a shock to actually have those nasty, money arguments with my lovely bride over and over and over again.

“Peggy and Tom just bought a new car and we’re still driving your old junker from college. Why can’t we get something new?”

“You want a new car? Is that what you want? Are they giving cars away? We can’t afford a new car” and we wouldn’t talk for two days until she found out that Mary Ann and Jim bought a great new house.

“Can we look at houses this weekend?”

“Jeannie, what don’t you understand? We can’t afford a new car or a bigger house right now.”

“We can’t afford anything. Why don’t you ask your boss for a raise?”

Week after week it was always the same thing, “Why can’t we…?” Keeping up with the Joneses. Nevermind that Peggy is a lawyer and Tom runs his father’s Ford dealership. Nevermind that Mary Ann comes from a very wealthy family and Jim is a dentist. Nevermind that Jeannie doesn’t bring home any income because she’s a stay at home mom and I have a job that pays at a rate that isn’t all that much more than minimum wage.

But things might be changing. New position? Big raise? Big bonus? A great new job at a different company? No, not yet. Here’s why I’m feeling pretty good. Here’s why I think things are changing. Income inequality. I think this income inequality election issue may just catch on.

It won’t be long before I’ll be making as much money as Peggy and Tom and Jim and Mary Ann and I won’t have to hear about what Peggy and Tom just bought. It won’t be long before my 1040 will look like those filed by LeBron James and George Clooney and Bill Gates and won’t that be great?

“Hey, LeBron, let me get that, buddy, I got a little extra this week with the overtime. How about another Big Mac?”

“George, if you need a little something to get you through to payday call me, I know how it is.”

“Did you see that the Yankees just signed a shortstop out of the University of Texas? The kid is supposed to be the next Cal Ripken at short and the next Mickey Mantle at the plate. I think they signed him for $31,000.”

And why shouldn’t we all make about the same amount of money? Why shouldn’t we get rid of this income inequality? They don’t need that much. Oh, I’m sure that someone will say something about my not being able slam dunk a basketball like LeBron or not being quite as handsome as Clooney or as computer savvy as Gates and that’s true but what on earth does that have to do with what we earn? It’s about equality. Let’s keep it fair.

Who am I kidding? Like there would ever come a day when LeBron James and George Clooney and Bill Gates would make what I make, fair or not, the issue of income inequality or not. They’re never going to be stuck making my money.

But you know what that means don’t you? What if income inequality does become the hot election issue? What if something happens?

“Jeannie, I’m home. Sweetheart, call your mother and see if she can watch little Randy.”

“Why?”

“Oh, nothing much. I just thought maybe you’d like to test drive a car or two.”

“Are you kidding? What’s up? What’s going on?”

“Just that when I got to work this morning Mr. Martin called me in, said I was doing a good job and that he was giving me a raise.”

“How much? Is it a good raise?”

“Well, I was making $33,500 a year and now I’m making $21.5 million.”

“That’s fair.”

How much?

I like ice cream. About the only flavor I don’t like is coffee.

I like bacon. I like bacon and eggs and BLTs and bacon on hamburgers and bacon in salads.

I like potato chips. I like the regular chips and the ruffles kind but I’m not much of a fan of the flavored chips except maybe some of the barbecue ones.

I like orange juice. I like a nice cold glass of orange juice for breakfast and sometimes later in the day when orange juice just seems to hit the spot.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that a half gallon of ice cream (the way my mom always bought ice cream) now comes in a 48 or 54 oz. “half gallon”, the pound of bacon comes in a 12 oz.-1 pound package, the one pound bag of chips comes in a handy 10 oz.-1 pound size and the ½ gallon of orange juice comes in the convenient 59 oz. carton.

Remember when inflation meant paying more for an item. Now inflation means paying more for less of an item in packaging that is meant to deceive the consumer. Ice cream makers have pretty much gone to the carton with the lid. The lid is the same size as it was when the carton contained 64 oz. but now the sides of the carton slope to conceal that the fact that the package holds less product. See that box of Wheaties or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes? Same size boxes when you look straight at the front but checkout the side, it’s about a 1/3 smaller (for a higher price). It just goes on and on.

Try to buy a pound of ground beef from the supermarket meat case and all you’ll find are packages containing 1.27 or 1.33 pounds. Go to the meat counter for the pound of ground beef the recipe calls for and the same meat is priced higher.

Need shoes? Why not head on over to Kohl’s, they always seem to have great prices. Wow, look at those terrific cross-training shoes, regularly $125.00 but now take 40% off and take an extra 15% off today and tomorrow only. Got Kohl’s Bucks? Great, take another $10 off and if you use your Kohl’s charge take another 5% off. You walk out of the store with a $125 pair of shoes for about $50.00. Isn’t that something? How does Kohl’s stay in business giving stuff away?

How much is that candy bar in the display by the cash register at the Pump-n-Go? $1 or 2 for $1.50?

Gee, I just saved $.50 when I bought 2 candy bars. I wonder how many candy bars I would have to buy every day to save enough money to be able to quit my job?

Getting mad about food prices? Why just look at that, the Super Food Giant just marked down a bag of potato chips to the lowest price ever—it’s a large bag too, oh, but now it only holds 8 oz. It’s still a good deal though, isn’t it?

So how much does a candy bar cost? How much do the shoes cost? How about a pound of bacon or a pound of potato chips or a half gallon of ice cream or a half gallon of orange juice? We have no idea what things are worth.

Deception, deception, deception, we live in a world of deception and I haven’t even mentioned Obamacare.

 

It’s bad for you

For me nothing tops off a bagged lunch better than an apple: a nice, cold, crisp apple. So what happened as I set it there on the table?
“You’re not going to eat that are you?” my friend asked while making some kind of pained facial gesture.
“What? It’s a ham and cheese sandwich.”
“No, no, the apple, you’re not going to eat that.”
“I love apples, why wouldn’t I eat it?”
“Haven’t you read about the stuff sprayed on apples? They say it will kill you.”
And so I threw away my bright red, cold, crisp delicious Delicious apple and there went that lunch. I didn’t really know why apples were suddenly evil but I knew I had to do the right thing and so I didn’t eat my apple because of what “they” say. “They” seemed to be saying a lot and loving saying it.
And then it was “no” to sugar (except raw sugar) and “no” to salt (except sea salt which comes from the blue, blue ocean) and “no” to fats (except good fats like premium first-press, cold-press extra virgin olive oil from the third tree in the fourth row of an olive grove next to the little church with the blue bell tower on the Island of Crete but only if the oil comes in a hand blown green bottle with a cork) and “no” to cheeseburgers from fast food restaurants (oh, it’s okay to eat cheeseburgers but only if they cost more than $12.50, are called steakburgers and come on a 17 grain, no-gluten bun with a slice of extra sharp organic cheddar).
The good people, who know what is and what isn’t good for us, smile knowing that there just couldn’t be anyone better than them. And the stream of articles on studies of new evils just keeps on coming.
I started to notice that after the official word came out from “they” on what is good and bad that it usually wasn’t too long before claims were made about the link between the condemned foods and all sorts of ailments. The problem is that the general public does pretty much what it wants. The public ignores the looks and snarky remarks of their betters who listen to the experts and who look down on the rest of the population which disregards the constant flow of bulletins about the wholesomeness of our foods, the source of our foods and the effect our eating habits have on the environment—if only we would just listen to the experts why we could reduce the cost of health care, save the planet and live forever. If the people won’t listen to the experts and the good people I guess “they” will just have to make the people listen and so here come the directives and the regulations and oh, the taxes which produce revenue which doesn’t necessarily go for programs to really change behavior but to support whatever is the next batch of studies that are needed to control the next batch of behaviors which then brings the next batch of taxes.
But do you notice, “they always seem to condemn products which can be easily replaced. Don’t eat apples? Eat some other fruit. Don’t use sugar? Use honey. Don’t eat meat from the supermarket? Eat grass fed, organic Angus beef. It’s really so easy to be a good person by just doing what “they” say.
And what do we get for all of this jumping up and down? We get to believe that we care about ourselves and our families and our world. We get to feel that we’re now good people too and better yet we get to let others know that we’re good people and maybe force them to follow what we say they should do.
But an apple is just an apple. No big deal, just eat something else. There’s always been a substitute. But what would happen if tomorrow you woke up and read an article about studies which show that radio waves and internet signals and Bluetooth signals and microwaves and cell phones are killing people? Haven’t you heard? Those articles about radio waves and cell phones have been written.
Do you think that people will throw away their cell phones? Do you think that people will force WiFi signals to be shutdown? Do you really believe that people will give up their cell phone and WiFi connected devices? Do you really think that people will see their families as being more important than the latest I-gadget? Hey, I feel pretty good and so far the kids look alright, I guess. I don’t think there’s any danger or not too much danger and I’ll keep an eye on everyone. I sure don’t want to stop using all my stuff. “I’ll stop when I need glasses.”
That’s what I think. Let me know what you think. Text me.

 

 

Breakfast in the diner

Wake up and the landscape has changed.
City streets are gone and there’s nothing outside the window but a golden prairie and snow fences and telegraph lines going up and down and shiny rails heading back.
The orderly seating arrangements have changed to shades up, shades down, sleeping, sprawling and dozing with blankets or sweaters or coats because the train got a little cool last night.

Push the button and the door slides to the side with a whoosh
Step between the cars and push the next button, whoosh
It’s just the same, early morning sleeping, dozing and waking.
Push the door button and you enter the next car and the air is warm and humid and heavy with the smell of sausage and coffee and muffins.
Pots and pans clang and muffled kitchen voices can be heard as you walk down the side corridor.
“Good morning, sir, how many for breakfast?”

The world rushes by as the steward seats you at a table with a smiling gray haired lady.
Be polite and listen to her questions, she’s from New York or Pittsburgh or someplace.
You race through towns where the people look up but this train never stops.
“Yes, my grandmother’s”.
Pancakes or eggs?
“8 o’clock, but I think we’re about 45 minutes late”.
You pick up the slip, “To avoid errors in service our employees are instructed to take orders only on written meal checks”.
“Cleveland”.
Fill out the meal check: scrambled eggs, sausage, toast and butter, milk.
“Eighth grade”

As passengers wobble in and out the waiter glides through the dining car with your breakfast and sets it there just so.
Heavy silverware, dishes with emblems, a water goblet on a white tablecloth and a breakfast that is wonderful at 80 miles per hour with a rose in the vase there by the window.

The change comes back on the brown tray and you leave a tip that produces a,
“Thank you, sir; we’ll see you for lunch”.
But, he won’t.
That clanging of pots and pans signals a meal that isn’t for you.
Whoosh and whoosh and nobody has moved and outside it’s a golden prairie and snow fences and telegraph lines going up and down and shiny rails heading back.