Monthly Archives: November 2017

Inferior Garbage

Image result for recycle symbol

At our house, we repurpose by donating things to Goodwill or K4AMG—a charity that helps kids learn electronics. We compost. We recycle. Some places I’ve lived, we had one bin for paper, one for cans, and one for bottles. Here, we have one giant container for everything, with the sorting done elsewhere after it’s picked up. A few years ago the paper included a story that two weeks after scrap cardboard was sent to China, it was headed back as packaging for new merchandise.

But wait.

The Chinese are complaining that there are too many imperfections in the material we recycle. (Please note that “we” refers to more than just my family).

The approved recyclables include bottles, cans and cardboard, BUT NEVER, EVER INCLUDE A PIZZA BOX BECAUSE THE GREASE FROM THE PIZZA RUINS EVERYTHING! However, some people have included more than what is on the list—bowling balls, deer heads, and——-you really don’t want to know.

Once American products set the standard for the world, but no more. Now we’re known for inferior recyclables.

So, how do we improve the quality of our recyclable garbage? Maybe the White House should appoint a recyclable garbage Tsar, but that would mean bigger, more complicated government.

On the other hand, there’s one group that knows garbage better than anyone—politicians. So, let’s make it one of the duties for any politically elected or appointed position to spend a couple of hours a week down at the recycling center separating the good recyclables from the bad recyclables. While they’re down there, sooner or later they’ll start talking among themselves, which would be a marvelous improvement.

The Studio Boss’s Advice

“Thank you all for coming to this important meeting on such short notice, but this is extremely important after all the allegations of sexual misconduct. I’d like to correct it, but since this is Hollywood, we’re going to make people feel—almost believe—we corrected it. Hey, perception is reality, we’re going to give people the perception that we’ve corrected it.

“How? First, we all know that there are only a handful of plots that we keep recycling. A few of them are going to have to be put into suspended animation, at least for a while. ‘Boy meets girl’—forget it. It’s poison and no venture capitalist would touch it with a ten-foot pole. I spoke with Art Stanslawski—the former basketball legend—well, he’s a 7 foot 1 ½ inch Pole, and he said he wouldn’t touch it either. It’s going to be a hell of a long time before Harry meets Sally again.

“Next standard plot, at least for the 21st century, ‘Boy meets boy?’ Trust me, it’s just as dead after some of the big name actors who say they were molested.

“Boy doesn’t meet girl?” There might be a few possibilities, but the planned sequel to Sleepless in Seattle with a female playing the Tom Hanks’s role and a male playing Meg Ryan’s? That’s deader than another remake of Baywatch or The Dukes of Hazzard.

“And as far as I’m concerned, if you want to do ‘reality TV,’ more power to you. Me? I’m going to wait and do real reality TV It will feature the exposes about the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes on reality TV. I can cover the allegations, arbitrations, trials, and appeals. I’ll make a ton of money from the shows AND even more from the lawsuits.

“So, where does that leave us? Anything with lots of explosions, computer-generated effects, car chases, and spaceships. We might want to bring back Westerns.

“If we can’t computer generate actors who aren’t real people, we can always use puppets or maybe we can hire some Jesuits. Can Jesuits join the Screen Actors Guild? Maybe not a good idea because of some of he Church scandals. Scratch that.

“Anyone with a better idea, let me know. Don’t come to my office—we’ll meet in some heavily trafficked public place that’s loaded with security cameras. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but one can’t be too safe, you know.”

It’s Different for Some People

Nice shirts!

I noticed that the story about the UCLA jocks who were arrested for shoplifting in China disappeared pretty quickly. Some stories stay on the Internet news sites as “Breaking News” for weeks, but not this one.

I wonder why.

You had to love the press conference that was arranged for their public apology where they were all wearing matching UnderArmour shirts with the UCLA logo.

Do you think they all might have stopped to buy those shirts together at the campus bookstore? I’m not saying the company gave them to the school, who then gave them to the ball players. But, then again . . . .

What if, instead of jocks, this incident had involved science, technology, engineering and mathematics students? Would the President have gone to the Chinese leader and asked for them to be released?

Silly question:

  1. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba would never invite boring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students for an all-expense paid trip to China.
  2. Those are the kind of people who know that it’s wrong to steal sunglasses from anybody on any continent for any reason.

Finding Life

I’m sure that over the past ten years I’ve mentioned this—at least once or twice, if not more.

We’re having a Thanksgiving potluck at work on Friday. I usually contribute jambalaya, but this time I decided to bake bread—sourdough bread. In the 19th century, during the gold rush, someone discovered that there were microbes in the air near San Francisco that would not only leaven bread, but also give it a crisp crust and a savory almost sour flavor. Sourdough has been popular ever since, to the point that we don’t even realize that it is routinely overpriced.

For a while it was claimed (and maybe even believed) that you could only make sourdough in the climate conditions found in the Bay Area. Fortunately, that’s not true.

I bought a sourdough “kit,” which included dried sourdough starter (which included some of the lactobacilli that make the magic happen), a crock for storing starter, and a book of recipes. That was in 1982, and I’ve kept it going ever since. This has not always been easy, especially with a few deployments taking me out of the home scene.

Nevertheless, the starter has lived long and prospered. Today it was combined with flour and water to make the “sponge,” the first step in making sourdough bread. As I write this, the  lactobacilli should have everything under their control. I have already returned  a cup of sponge to the crock to be the starter for the next batch and carefully placed the crock in the back of the refrigerator.

I’ve added more flour, water , and salt to the mixture, and tomorrow it will be formed into loaves and baked. I will literally “break bread” with my coworkers.

I see sourdough the way I view wine and cheese; it is what it is because we combine living organisms with the hand of man. Wheat is alive, we harvest it, and it dies, but when we add yeast–or better yet, sourdough starter, it lives again and morphs into something new and better. Then we share it, which is another living thing.

I’m told that there’s an old Russian saying, “Where there’s food, their’s life. Where there’s life, there’s hope.” You may not agree with their politics, but you must give Russian philosophers their due.

Pass the bread, wine, and cheese. Share life.

P.S. Most of this was typed one-handed because Alex the parrot claimed the other hand as her perch.

Good Old Virginia Politics

Greetings from post-election Virginia, the state commonwealth where gerrymandering isn’t merely a despicable political ploy, but a lifestyle. But then, when you’re home to the longest continuously running political fiasco legislative body, what do you expect?

Some of us wonder if the English who disappeared from the lost colony of Roanoke did so on purpose. They likely moved in with the Croatoan nation when they found out that these Native Americans did not engage in political campaigns. It can’t be proven, but no one has ever seen a Croatoan political poster, billboard, or campaign button.

I’ve enjoyed several days of not having to listen to negative campaign ads–Alleluia! The weird part is that all of these ads seem to be recorded using the same female announcer. Is she just so angry at the world that her voice is perfect for negative ads? Maybe she’s pissed off because negative political ads are the only type of gigs her agent can get for her? Maybe she’s angry at the world because she wanted to be an actress, but instead, the best she can do is to record negative campaign ads.

I think her friends ought to take her out for a few drinks and help her sort through her feelings; of course, that presumes she has friends, which, given her demeanor, may not be true. Now that I think of it, it may not be a good idea to take her drinking, anyway. She might be even more obnoxious after a couple of skinny margaritas.

In any case, the negative ads are over until the campaigns for the 2018 elections start cranking up.

In a week or two.

In the meantime, the worst I’ll have to listen to are those ads that run every three minutes for the personal injury lawyers as they promise to get the victim every dollar possible from the insurance companies. Less their cut, of course, and after tax, title, fees, and the dealer preparation charge.

Maybe that’s why I listen to so little radio and watch even less television. Give me a book; if I don’t like it, I can take it right back to the library—neither the book nor I any the worse for wear.

(Yes, I know the picture is of Huey Long from Louisiana–but he just so perfectly embodies the spirit of politics, yesterday and today.)

If Only

If only I were half as smart as the politicians who will be on the ballot tomorrow. Hell, I’d settle for being half as smart as the various bosses I’ve had over the years. While most of them claimed predominance, I believe most were tied for penultimate.

If I were as smart as they apparently are, I’d be a billionaire while also being a saint. I’d live modestly, but still need enough space to stuff my various Nobel medals, Pullitzers, Emmies, Oscars, and my Four-H Best Hog awards. It would be no problem, because I’d be smart enough to routinely pick winning lottery numbers.

I would not only cure cancer, but also the common cold. I’d metaphysically move all the hair on my body from where it never was before, to the top of my head, each follicle smoothing wrinkles as it made the journey from wherever to the suture that joins the parietal bones at the top of my skull.

But, alas, ’twas never so, and ’twill never will be.

But there was one boss—Larry Miller—who said, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, that he was the lowest paid member of his Wharton MBA class; however, unlike a number of his classmates (this was during the junk bond scandal era), he was proud to say he’d managed to stay out of jail.

He was more of an inspiration than he knew. The choice always is between doing well and doing good.

I proudly served as a Navy Reserve Supply Corps Officer, and reminded myself that I never wanted to break the rules because I would look terrible in a fluorescent orange jumpsuit, picking up Moon Pie wrappers along the road near the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In the last few days, it was announced that the Navy has been investigating dealings with “Fat Leonard,” who owns a company that sold supplies to the Navy in the Pacific. He was a marketing genius, determining customer needs by gathering data on customers, such as which military ship was headed where, and when it would arrive. He catered to his customers by providing the usual ballpoint pens and flashlights with his company logo, plus grand banquets, and luxury hotel suites with hot and cold running prostitutes.

Today, it was announced that a number of additional Navy officers are under investigation, including 60 admirals. Translated into English, this means AT LEAST 60, plus a bunch of captains, commanders, etc. who either participated in the largesse or are expected to take the fall for their bosses.

Tomorrow the politicians, the admirals, and the bosses may worry about their future.

On the other hand, people like you and I just worry about what to pack for lunch for work since we’re not so smart.

I’ve had my share of rough days, but I’m proud to say I followed Larry’s advice and stayed out of jail. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I try like hell.

Off Year Elections

Next Tuesday we have elections in Virginia for governor, lieutenant-governor, attorney general, and various gerrymandered offices that mean absolutely zip.

Our current governor has not gone to jail—at least not yet—well, so far as I know. Our previous governor was convicted, but won on appeal. Our current candidates flang (as in past tense of fling) so much—how do I say this politely? Help me here—Bullshit? Okay, so bullshit is the most appropriate word. The current candidates for governor flang so much bullshit at one another that it is embarrassing. By the way, all the negative ads seem to feature the same female voice; whoever she is, she’ll speak—with passion—for whichever candidate crosses her palm with gold. There are words for people like that—shill is one of the kinder ones.

Don’t smirk—I’ll bet that your state/county/parish/city/township/whatever is going through the same experience.

Help a little old lady across the street? Obviously obstructing highway progress!

Picked up someone who fell down? Corrupting healthcare! Wait—the person you picked up was brought into the country without a visa at the age of three weeks? You’re destroying the sovereignty of these United States!

All stop!

Let’s look at these issues in terms of their effect in fifty and one hundred years. What if we had used that perspective in 1865, at the end of the Civil War? At the end of the First World War? We might have avoided the Second World War. Think about it.

So, what should we do?

Me, I’m tempted to vote for the person who is the target of the most unproven, inconsequential negative ads.

On a national level, we could always redesign the Statue of Liberty; put her into waste-waders to deal with rising sea levels, and replace her torch with an outstretched arm to warn people to stay away.

As Gallagher, the comedian used to say, “People, you just haven’t thought these things through!” Okay, if we haven’t, let’s stop and think.

Thinking things through is good.