Acronyms? No!! OMG!! WTF??!!

It seems nobody uses complete words anymore. At least, this has become normal while texting or instant messaging. TY means “thank you,” OMG means “Oh My God,” and then there’s the naughty one of WTF, which of course means “Where’s The Fish,”… or something. Many people say these are acronyms; but last I knew, an acronym was formed when you used the initials of several words to make yet another word. Being the curious noodle head that I am, I had to look it up. If you can’t make a real word, then it’s at least something with vowels and consonants mixed together into a form you can actually read and pronounce. NATO, UNICEF, and UNESCO are some examples.

So things like OMG and LOL are actually examples of initialism; of which I had never known until I started writing this “Happy Friday!!!” I’ll probably continue to refer to the text thingies as acronyms, because if I call them initialisms, people will probably wonder if I’m some sort of subversive nerd clown geek bug biter weirdo person.

Anyway…

I’m retired now, but we used an instant messaging program at work pretty extensively. It could also be a source of amusement, for me at least. I used it as a stress buster and sent obscure ditties to my friends like: “I probably won’t put my nose in the toaster today,” or maybe “Listen!! Do you smell something?? I can’t even see in here with all this noise!!” I copy the first line and send it to a friend; then paste it into message windows for several other friends. Must help them smile, because I’d get yelled at when I got too busy to send out the sillies. “Hey Ken,” they’d complain, “where’s my silly text for today??”

The chat program can also have legitimate work purposes, like gathering information. I used it regularly to ask quick questions. Most people were pretty considerate and answer quickly; but one of my favorite times was waiting for the other person to reply and they’d say, “brb,” for “be right back.” And then of course they forgot about you. So, I found myself texting people more and more often with the words: “OK to call?” Don’t get me wrong, texting can be useful, but many, many times it is more useful to actually speak into a phone. Much faster too really. Dunno about you, but even though I can type quickly, I can say the words way faster than I can type them.

Then you have the people who use abbreviations (initialisms? acronyms?) so frequently that communication grinds to a halt. For example, I was trying to pick a cohort’s brain about a computer problem. I typed what I thought the solution was, and his reply was, “imho, yes.” “Imho?” I typed back. Then I teased him and texted, “mgype? E I E I O??” Finally I broke down and asked him what “imho” means, and he replied “in my humble opinion.”  Sheesh!! So is this the way of the future? People are just gonna make up stuff in short hand and expect the other person to understand? I mean, Oh My God!! Where’s The Fish??

I still send out silly stuff; but since I’m no longer at work I enjoy sending messages to friends and family.  You know, important texts like, “My nostrils have been coated with varnish again,” or maybe, “why don’t we go out for a nice cup of cabbage and celebrate the arrival of the New Dust Amplifiers?” I’ll shy away from the abbreviations, thank you very much.

If you don’t like it, SMT!! (Smell My Toes!!)

And now for something… completely different:

Don’t Wait!! (Some Things MUST Be Said…)

I consider myself a very fortunate person. Not sure why I’ve been given so much in this Life, but I’m very grateful for all of it. I have a Beautiful Girlfriend who loves me (she even let me marry her!!) and gave birth to two Beautiful Children. I have friends who love me. I have a warm place to sleep at night, and plenty of food. Cars that work and are paid free and clear. I could go on and on, but that would just keep me at this keyboard for many hundreds of years.

I don’t want to type for that long. At least not without a break or two.

I’ve received 66 trips around the sun, so I’m getting pretty close to being an Old Fart. Hopefully, I’ve learned a few Important Things along the way. By Important Things, I’m not referring to the stuff I had to know for my job (I’m retired now, so nyaa nyaa na boo boo to you, ha ha ha!).  The Important Things I’ve learned are basically Important Things that I’m still learning:  how to get along with others.  Some examples:

1) How to Be a Friend.

R) How to Set Boundaries.

4.9) How to Forgive; and of course

Q!) How to Love.

These Important Things did not appear to me in a dream; nor did I magically learn them by osmosis, or by reading any manuals. No, instead I went to several Schools of Hard Knocks; and many of these Knocks were directed at my Hard Head. I had to have experiences and make many mistakes before getting any good at items 1 thru Q! above. Made some folks very sad and probably very angry with me. And some folks made me very sad and angry at times.

After several years of Hard Knocking, I slowly began to learn how to wear Big Boy Pants (and no, I didn’t steal them from the restaurant guy). I learned that striving for love and peace is much more rewarding and valuable than striving to be terminally correct while yelling “I think you eat from the cat litter box!!” at people.  I’m working at keeping my “Mr. Know-It-All Disease” in remission by often repeating some lines from my favorite Scrooge movie:

“I don’t know anything.  I never did know anything.  But now I know I don’t know anything!!”

Maybe just being an old fart has caused me to mellow. Maybe I just got tired of being an angry stinker punk all the time. Whatever the case, I’m finally catching on to the fact that our time here is limited; and that every thought and action really counts. As a friend of mine recently said, “the human mortality rate is 100%;” meaning we’re all gonna die; so there’s no time like the present to make our world a better place.

I truly believe one of the easiest and most effective ways for me to help make the world a better place is through love and understanding.  I need to work on expressing love to everyone I meet, regardless of where they might be on Life’s Journey.  If I remember correctly there are some religious texts that say weird things like “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Well maybe even better than thyself.  So I really do try to love everybody.  Does that mean I like everybody?  Um… no.  If I find you icky I probably won’t invite you to my house for a delicious bowl of raisins with gravy followed with a nice grapefruit milkshake for dessert.  I believe The Creators want us to be kind; regardless of whom we may encounter. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean I need to like them; just need to realize that we are all part of the fabric of humanity.

I think it’s really crucial to do these things quickly and gracefully, because none of us knows how much time we have left here. I’m learning how to disagree without being disagreeable. And I’m learning that procrastination, when it comes to saying “I’m sorry,” or “I Love You,” is not very helpful at all. So, I try to mend fences with kindness when I run into conflict. And I say “I Love You” often to those who are near and dear to me.

I don’t want to drag my feet with the Important Things ever again if I can help it. So to all of you out there in Happy Friday Land, I Love You. If you don’t believe me, just ask me some time.

When we turn on the TV or the radio we see and hear all kinds of really bad news. That, unfortunately, is because bad news, for some weird reason, has become more profitable than good news.  Our country is going through some very tough times right now.   The spreading of lies and the sowing of distrust have caused all too many of our fellow humans to lose sight of facts.  In my professional opinion (worth about 3 or 4 cents on the open market), those who have gone so far as to stage an insurrection have been driven to a sort of madness by all the lies and deception they’ve been absorbing.  So much hatred.  So much intolerance.  So much focus on horrible things, real or imagined.

You may have to look under the headlines, but with a little effort you’ll find that there really is good news out there.  My friends, it really is a Wonderful World we live in.  Many of you are aware that there’s even a song about it; and here are my two favorite versions.

In my professional opinion, both should be played loudly.

Save The Country: The Truth Shall Set You Free

On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech that rocked the nation. The first sentence is indelibly burned into the memories of anyone who has even a slight knowledge of American history: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date that will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” These words, of course, were delivered to the country the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Very shortly afterward, we were launched into World War II and our citizens worked together in toil and sacrifice to defeat the evil foreign empires of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Another “date that will live in infamy” is September 11, 2001; when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked our country in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

And it is with great sadness that we must now add January 6, 2021 to the list of dates that will live in infamy. However, for the first time in our history, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by a mob of our own citizens; and what adds insult to injury is that this mob was urged to do so by the words of President Donald Trump. Many of us dreaded that such a day might come; but I believe in my heart that those of us who were experiencing such dread were also not surprised.

Shocked, but not surprised.

In 2016, our citizens lawfully elected, to our nation’s highest office, a man with a long history of deceit and complete disregard for anything or anyone that did not yield him personal gain. In the midst of growing distrust in politics, he presented himself as a savior; and boasted promises of cleaning up what he labeled a completely corrupt federal government by “draining the swamp.” And while some of his assertions were true, his favorite methods of effecting change involved spreading falsehoods about and then demonizing anyone who stood in his way. Prior to his entry into office in 2016 he spread false assertions about the integrity of our elections; stating that he would accept the results of the election “…if I win.” And of course, he again attacked the integrity of the 2020 election several months prior to Election Day; spreading lies about “irregularities” that did not exist. Upon losing, he launched numerous unsuccessful legal battles to overturn verified results.

Sadly, a number of his supporters both in and out of government were willing to enable President Trump’s behavior, and even publicly agreed with lies that were being blasted to our citizenry over the airwaves and in social media. And after numerous verifications that he lost the 2020 election, rather than accept the will of the voters, our President and members of his circle instead chose to continue lying about nonexistent voter fraud and proclaim publicly that the election was stolen from him. In a final fanfare of desperation, he urged a mob to march on the Capitol, and of course the resulting coup attempt will forever be a stain on our democracy.

Thankfully, after the Capitol was once again secure, our Congress was able show the world that our democracy did indeed survive; and they performed what should have been a ceremonial acknowledgment of the results of the Electoral College: that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be the new President and Vice President of the United States. Of course, Democrats and Republicans alike were shaken. Democrats spoke up. Thankfully, a number of Republicans also spoke up. And while a minority of the Republican party still seems willing to perpetuate false claims made by the President, I was very grateful for those who expressed disgust at the result of Wednesday’s rally.

If you’re old like me, you may remember that Mitt Romney ran for president against Barack Obama in 2012. I didn’t vote for Senator Romney back then. Although I didn’t agree with much of his platform in 2012, I’ve always very much admired him as a man of honor. Honor. That’s what’s missing in too many of our elected officials. Not all, but even one is too many. Truth. All we ask is that we get truth when our elected officials speak to us.

Below is a copy of the speech Mitt delivered to the nation this past Wednesday night after Congress reconvened. I very much agree with every word he spoke during that historic session.

“We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.

“The objectors have claimed they are doing so on behalf of the voters. Have an audit, they say, to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen. Please! No Congressional led audit will ever convince those voters, particularly when the President will continue to claim that the election was stolen.
The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership. The truth is that President-elect Biden won this election. President Trump lost. Scores of courts, the President’s own Attorney General, and state election officials both Republican and Democrat have reached this unequivocal decision.

“We must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty. We must continue with the count of electoral college votes. In light of today’s sad circumstances, I ask my colleagues: Do we weigh our own political fortunes more heavily than we weigh the strength of our Republic, the strength of our democracy, and the cause of freedom? What is the weight of personal acclaim compared to the weight of conscience?

“Leader McConnell said that the vote today is the most important in his 40 plus years of public service. That is not because this vote reveals something about the election; it is because this vote reveals something about ourselves. I urge my colleagues to move forward with completing the electoral count, to refrain from further objections, and to unanimously affirm the legitimacy of the presidential election.”

Thank you very much, Mitt!!

Rock The Vote!! Again, And Again, And Again…

Say what??  Most of us in the U.S. are pretty sick up and fed with election crap, and we’re really ready to move on with life.  Doesn’t matter which side you’re on;  there is sure to be much more activism and mudslinging pretty much forever; or so it seems.  Lately, political rhetoric has reared its ugly nostrils and is sniffing in the deliciously annoying media compost bins.  And although this election saw one of the highest turnouts on record, some who complained the loudest decided not to vote at all(sigh)!  No excuse for that if you ask me…

As my good friend (not) Mr. Nixon would have said, “let me say this about that.”  While voting at the polls is a vital responsibility for those who wish to live in a democracy, there is also a type of voting all of us should really embrace as a way of life.  We need to determine what kind of planet we want to live on, and more importantly, what kind of planet we want for our kids.  So, we all need to rock the vote.  Again and again.  Not just with ballots, but with each dollar we spend; and every action we take.  Now, I can’t tell anyone what to do, but here are just a few examples of how I “vote” and why:

Chemical Pesticides, Fertilizers:  I do not buy them.  Ever.  Why?  Foist of awl, pesticides are poison.  Pretty good reason not to buy them, right?  Unfortunately, most pesticides often kill beneficial creatures like wasps and spiders; not to mention the harmful effect they have on humans and other animals (hey!!  I told you not to mention that!!).  Food crops can be grown with companion planting to minimize pest damage; and there are many other Nature-friendly ways of keeping plants safe from pests.

Fertilizers offered by Mother Nature are available in most places where plants grow naturally.  Composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure are good examples of soil building materials, and are natural fertilizers.  Because I grow a fairly good sized garden, there are times when hook up my trailer and  jump in my automobile to retrieve these things.  Usually all I need is available free at our local landfill transfer station (fondly known to us as “the dump”).  However, if I were to go to a store to buy even organic stuff, much more energy is consumed mining, processing, packaging, and shipping fertilizers and pesticides.  A lot of dinosaur juice (petroleum) is used to support this industry in the form of fuel for energy, and petrochemicals for processing.  And let’s not forget how they are packaged, either in paper bags (bye bye trees) or plastic bags (petroleum again!). And even more wonderfully, the factories that manufacture these goodies pollute, and when it rains their products also pollute.  And don’t even get me started on “weed and feed.”   Our lawn gets mowed, that’s it.  The neighbors probably cry when my dandelions are in bloom.  We think they are pretty, and the bees love them.

We get some pretty awesome veggies that we grow organically.  We do not spray any crops to keep the bugs off, but rather we use crop rotation and companion planting to keep insect damage to a minimum.  I’ve heard some folks say, “without fertilizers and pesticides you would not have all that wonderful produce you see at Meijer.”  Well that is simply a crock of moose juice.  Anybody notice the proliferation of certified organic produce at the supermarket??  Huh??  Guess what?  Those growers are doing pretty well these days.

Packaged Meals:  First of all, blech!!  We prefer fresh food and home cooking, thank you very much. Package meals are intended to be convenient, of course, but holy MOLY the ingredients are poisonous awreddy!!  Sodium, ingredients I can’t pronounce, sugars, sodium, and also more sodium.  What I’m saying here is that packaged meals are chock-full of chemicals, and many of these are known to damage our bodies.  Of course, all these nasties are made by chemical plants.  Chemical plants consume energy and pollute.  More petroleum.  Oh, and not to forget the packaging:  plastics and paper.  More dead trees, more dinosaur juice.

Automobiles:  One of my all time favorite hot rods was a Toyota Corolla.  I got 35 miles to a gallon, sometimes more.  When our son’s car died, I passed it along to him; albeit with a “serious defect”:  the odometer won’t go any farther than 299,999 miles.  It’s a known defect and the only way to change it is to buy a new instrument cluster.  The stupid thing is 17 years old and still runs like brand new!!  My lovely wife has a  15 year old Toyota Matrix, which will also get over 30 mpg.  Although we’d love to have electric or at least hybrid cars, we at least can drive vehicles that don’t burn so much dinosaur juice.  Our planet has a finite supply of oil, and cars are just a small part of the consumption of it.  So although I don’t have the bucks for an electric or hybrid car (yet) I do like the fact that the cars we own have a track record of lasting up to 20 years.  Call me a “tree hugger,” or whatever other radical environmentalist label you like; but Hummers and Escalades and the like should be illegal (in my professional opinion).

Electricity:  “Turn the lights off!!  Whaddya think, we own the Edison??  That’s what your Grandma and Grandpa would say ya know.”  My beautiful wife would shout this at the kids to remind them that power costs money.  She used “the Edison” to refer to the power company because when she was a kid growing up near Detroit, that was the name of the outfit that ruled the electrons.  So she echoed her mom and dad when yelling at our kids.  We must have raised them right, they both confess to be habitual light switcher-offers (technical talk).  Here again, electricity generation relies a lot on fuel, whether it’s coal or natural gas or whatever.  There is more and more alternative energy available these days but the percentage is meager compared to the output of fuel burning plants.  More demand equals greater dependency on petroleum, either directly (burning to generate power) or indirectly (shipping coal).  During the Arab Oil Embargo in the seventies, Mr. Nixon (holy cow, I mentioned him again) urged everyone to conserve.  Businesses were urged to turn off all lighting except that required for security or safety reasons when they closed up shop for the night.  Drive past any shopping mall and see if this is the case these days.  I think just a couple thousand people are leaving the lights on!!

Reuse, Recycle:  Reusing objects is pretty much the norm at our house.  Cloth grocery bags have really been a nice way to keep all those plastic bags out of the house.  Of course, we do buy disposable things like food storage bags (for example); but we wash and reuse them regularly.  There is a limit to this, of course, but plastic freezer bags can be washed and reused several times before they go into the trash.  We also we also do weird things like reuse plastic half gallon ice cream containers from Country Dairy.  When I make too much soup, I scoop it into the ice cream bucket, put a small hunk of tape on the lid, label it and date it, and into the freezer it goes.  Glass jars make very nice containers for dry beans, corn meal, popcorn, and the like.  We have very little trash left over after composting our veggie waste and recycling the plastics, cans, and glass.

Think Globally, Act (buy) Locally: “Everything’s made in (expletive deleted) China!!” That’s the refrain my lovely girlfriend and I chant when we go shopping. Never thought I’d actually say it, but I do my best to buy goods that were made locally or at least as close to home as possible. And yes, I do find myself looking for the “Made in USA” label. Of course, we buy things that are made abroad, but having some awareness is vital. Keeping the dollars at home will help our communities thrive.

Well, I could go on and on, and this could become a very very long Happy Friday.  Suffice it to say that I would love to see more people join a movement of “Let Every Dollar I Spend Send A Message.”  And yes, I’m sure there’s much more that I could do… I sometimes spend my money on crap just like anybody else.

Of course, I’m not so naive to think that voting with dollars is the answer. Rather, it’s the tip of a very large iceberg. Decisions we humans make have deep and lasting effects on our Mother Earth and all the Citizens of Nature (that includes all of US). Every action we take, every word we speak, really, really matters.  There IS positive change in the works, but it is woefully under-reported by the media.

My friends, we need to stand up for what’s right, but learn to disagree without being disagreeable.  We can do this.  Together.  With Love!!

It’s not a new concept…

Daylight Craving Time

“What to write for tonight?” he wondered (OK, he is actually me). Let’s see… there’s Hallowe’en coming tomorrow, but COVID has made us very unwilling to go house to house trick-or-treating in the middle of a pandemic. Instead, we’re meeting our grandsons and their folks at a cemetery to play “hide the candy on the kids.” This was our daughter’s idea… sounds like fun!

“But hmmm… what to write for tonight?” he (me again) continued to wonder. Well, there’s an election coming up… but nah. Folks are getting pretty tired of everything political about now. I use the mute button on the remote quite a bit these days when political ads hit my TV. It’s OK to be tired of all of it… BUT PLEASE VOTE!! We done voted already. But we’ll be very happy at our house when we start getting a little less junk mail. Well, OK, Christmas is coming; so the junk mail will still make the mailbox bulge, there will just be different ads.

“I know!!” he (OK it’s really me again) exclaimed, “I’ll whine about the loss of daylight after we turn the stinkin’ clocks back again!!”

So here we go again. A few weeks of getting used to the early darkness is on its way. I thought about writing some cockamamie jab at the history of Daylight Saving Time, but there are so many convolutions that I ran away screaming. If you’re really interested in that stuff, Snopes has a pretty good page that describes it all in a nice little nutshell, here:

http://www.snopes.com/science/daylight.asp.

Any who how, most of my friends here in Beautiful West Michigan are very OK with the concept of Daylight Saving Time during the summer. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy having daylight till 10:30 PM?

But now Autumn has invaded and the days are getting shorter and shorter. Gets dark about 7 or so now. And of course when Eastern Standard Time comes back, we gain an hour of sleep but the darkness comes to visit with the 6 o’clock news.

That’s icky.

Foist of awl, I’ve never really been a morning person. Sure, I used to get up in time to go to work each morning: I’d set the alarm for 6 AM and then snap out of bed… after I slap the snooze alarm about 3 times. But hey, I’m retired now.  I am don’t liking the alarm clock thing, OK awreddy?  My Beautiful Girlfriend still works twice a week, so the Screaming Alarm Clock Thing still yells at us at 6 AM, but thankfully only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  And guess what?  It’s on my side of the bed, so I get to slap the snooze (usually about 3 times) for my Lovely Honey Pie.  Oh well.  She IS the most Beautiful Woman In The Universe, so I oblige.  Some folks try to soften the blow by saying things like, “well, it will be light a little earlier in the morning.” WHO CARES?? I wanna sleep!! !! I’m not gonna play in the daylight at 7 AM!!  Sheesh.

Second of awl, I need to reiterate how spoiled we are here in Beautiful West Michigan during the summer!! Summer, after all, is my favorite time of year; and we get very long days. I really love being in the garden until it’s too dark to see; and as I mentioned earlier that’s almost 10:30 PM here during part of the warm months.

I try to remind myself of being spoiled, because I’ve experienced the other end of the toaster handle. When I was a kid growing up on Long Island, it was dark outside not too long after we got home from school. In those days, our local fire department touched off a siren every day at precisely 7 PM. Now, when you’re a little kid who has to be heading home “when the 7 o’clock whistle blows,” you still can have lots of fun with hide-and-seek because it’s dark outside at about 5 PM. We’d eat supper, go outside and play, and have gobs of fun running around “at night.”

So even though we haven’t turned the clocks back just yet, and even though I now live on the far western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, I’m already craving more daylight. Not gonna happen till March 14, I know (I just looked it up). Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe all this clock switching nonsense. I’d be OK with that, so long as we were able to keep Daylight Saving Time.

Please write to my congressman and woman to make this happen. I’ll give you $3.40 up front for an incentive, and I’ll even bake you an Apple Surprise pie (Surprise!! I put raisins in the apple pie for the fun of it!). If you can get this done before Sunday, I’ll even make you an Apple Surprise Surprise pie (Raisins and walnuts!!) !!

Well, it’s time for me to quit writing about time now. There was a time though, back in 1973 when I had a very nice time, listening to these guys. My very first rock concert in my living life.  All I could say then (and all I can say now), was WOW!!

Columbus Corruptus

Happy October to all the boys and girls in the Gregorian Calendar Universe!! Whether you’re a cat or an ant lion, I hope you all have a wonderful October; and may the Great Pumpkin bring you lots of presents on Halloween. But, hey, if you really ARE a cat or an ant lion, it’s not likely you’re reading this, so just nevermind. Go eat some antmice or something.

For all youse human reading-type beings, Happy October already. Not sure about your neighborhood, but ours is extravagantly beautiful with glorious fall colors these days.  It’s truly a magnificent Autumn this year.

So this past Monday was Columbus Day.  A federal holiday here in the U.S.; which is why our daughter now refers to it as “no mail day.”  She actually calls it that for other reasons which I shall elaborate upon in a minute.  Even though it’s a holiday, nobody invited us over for Columbus Cobbler with Moosetracks ice cream and small waffles dripping with olive oil.  Maybe I was expecting too much!!  I don’t need any of that stuff, anyhow. My COVID midriff is already becoming large enough to store unused motor oil. Wanna go get a Whopper?  I think they’re on sale!!  Anyway, I remember hearing about Columbus when I was very young. Most of you probably do too; you know… he journeyed over here in 1492 in three ships: the Ninja, the Placenta, and the Hanna-Barbera. Or something like that…

Now that I’m an old fart and have learned a few things, I’ll have to say I’m a bit confused about the fondness for Columbus Day. Well, I understand how the Italians think it’s pretty cool; he was one of theirs, after all. But when I was a kid, the teachers lied to me with their faces. They told me that Columbus discovered America. This makes me cry inside. They even made us learn that stupid poem:

In fourteen hundred and ninety two,

Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

If he hollers let him go,

Eeenie, meenie, myenie, moe.

Pretty weird poem. Even though I may have it a little wrong, my revised version makes about as much sense as Columbus “discovering” America. Sure, he was able to talk Isabella into financing a voyage to look for a new route to India. He basically got lost and ended up in the Caribbean, in what later became known as the West Indies.

Eventually he figured out where he really was, so he made several more trips and got the ball rolling for Spain to conquer Central and South America. Then lots of Europeans were catching on to the riches in “New World.” Bad medicine for the folks who were already here for several thousand years (not so good for lots of Africans, either). The white folks were absolutely sure they lived in a Superior Universe, and if you didn’t believe them, they had the weapons to prove it.

OK, I digress.  Remember when I mentioned that my school teachers lied to me about Columbus “discovering” America?  Well that’s because archaeologists and historians have learned otherwise.  Turns out Vikings were here about 600 years before Columbus, and even tried to settle in a place they called Vinland. Didn’t work out so well, so they went back home. Guess they were happier chasing whales and herring.

My ancestors were vikings, but that’s not your fault.  Come to think of it, it’s not my fault either!!   And it’s also not my fault that when I was a kid in school, we white folks didn’t seem to get nearly enough information on the history of the Native Americans; who were really the first ones here. But hey, why should we have focused on any of that?  We Europeans stole this continent from them fair and square!

Can you tell I feel strongly about this?? I mean, Columbus didn’t discover ANYTHING. Lots of folks knew about this place before he did. When I was a younger lad, I’d rant and rave about this stuff like there was no tomorrow. Get really emotional and all that. Veins protruding from my neck, pale face turning into red face. With freckles. Now I’m still a young lad, but I live in an old man’s body; so I’m pretty sure all that red face vein protrusion stuff is not healthy.  But I’ve learned a few things over the years; and now I can do something REALLY weird. I can pay attention to what’s going on, and vote. Change the things I can, accept the things I can’t.  No more red vein protruding face stuff.

Sure, I love living in a free country and having the luxury of owning too much junk. But I try to be sensitive to those who were here first. I still get mildly irked about all the Columbus Day hoopla, but it’s numbed out substantially. Thankfully, the term “Idigenous Peoples’ Day” is being celebrated as a substitute for Columbus Day in more and more places every year.  As our daughter so accurately stated:  for us, “Columbus Day” is just another day when we don’t get mail.

As I said in the beginning of this little rant, the Autumn colors of the trees are pretty much at a peak. Now, THAT’S something to celebrate for a Happy October!! Fresh apples and lots of other fall harvest goodies are ready and waiting for us at the farmers markets and in the stores!!

Well, it’s getting late, there’s supposed to be frost on the pumpkin tonight, and the kitty wants in. He’s staring at us, just outside the door, and probably beaming messages for me to get off my hiney and let him be warm with us.

Guess I’ll go outside and “discover” cold air!

Oh, and remember when I mentioned that one of Columbus’s ships was the Hanna-Barbera?  They made a lot cartoons!!  Unfortunately, I could only find snippets of them on the interwebs; so I didn’t really want to plop one of those here for the weekly video.  So here’s a here’s an early Merrie Melodies gem I “discovered” after some digging (meaning I’ve never seen it before).  Hope you like it as much as I did.

Lawns: The Cash You Save May Be Your Own!

Please don’t hate me for this, but I have to speak up about something that many Americans consider sacred: the lawn. Sure, I love that plush green outdoor rug, but in NO WAY do I look forward to the weekly mowing ritual. Talk about a totally silly human custom! Lawn mowing seems so fruitless. We certainly spend a lot of time tending a crop we can’t eat! Well, I suppose you could eat it; but you can never be sure of whether it’s tainted with doggie weewee.

The primary reason our lawn gets mowed is that I have a spouse. Left to my own devices, our yard would probably grow into the giant weed patch that Mom Nature intended it to be. Since our marriage contract would never allow this; I have come to accept the weekly ritual of beheading the huge conglomeration of plants we call a lawn.

We don’t bag up the clippings or fertilize or anything; just mow. Fortunately, my wife and I agree that the less work a lawn brings, the better off we are. She’d love to have a “golf course lawn,” but she knows how environmentally icky that would be. When the lawn comes up in discussion at our house, she laments, “we don’t have a lawn, we have a yard.” God bless my poor Honey Pie… although she’d love to have “a real lawn,” she has accepted the fact that all the fertilizers and other chemicals needed to do that would be very insulting to Mother Nature.

Some people are very fussy though; they water, fertilize and carefully inspect the blades of greenery. They want to make absolutely sure that grass and ONLY grass is growing! I’d love to invite some of those types to inspect my weedy ground, and watch them go nuts. Then I’d invite them in for a grapefruit milk shake and complain about the terrible waste they’re generating. I just think it’s weird that folks actually spend money to poison the ground with weed killers and fertilizers so they can wash it into my drinking water with underground sprinkling systems. This runoff isn’t any good for lakes and streams, either.

Most types of weed killers are designed to kill, among other things, white clover! Being a legume, clover makes nitrogen in the soil (as all good legumes do), and feeds the lawn. Remember finding four leaf clovers when we were kids? They were in the LAWN (or maybe just the yard…). But now the lovely clover has been dubbed a weed, and for too many of today’s home owners; weeds in the lawn are taboo. Personally, I’m grateful for clover and its weedy mates. They join together with the grass to form a nice carpet at our place; one we’re not afraid to play Tackle The Kids on. If we go a little while between mowings, we get some beautiful flowers, too! By the way, white clover seed is readily available at most feed stores; nudge-nudge, wink-wink. No special tools needed, just fling it about here and there if you want to add clover to your yard carpet.

Some folks even post KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs! Something like that is more anti-American than flag burning if you ask me. How does the stuff get mowed if you have to KEEP OFF? People must be mowing, though, and they DO bag the clippings. Instead of letting them hit the ground where they can decompose into humus (more lawn food that helps soil hold moisture), they send them off to consume scarce cubic feet at the landfill. Why not let the clippings lie, and SAVE MONEY on garbage bags? If you get too many clippings due to extended mow – procrastination (like me), they make great mulch for the garden! Thankfully though, many communities place yard waste in a large pile and compost it. I’m one of those weirdos who actually goes to the dump to retrieve grass clippings and leaves. At our local transfer station, they are free for the taking. Excellent soil building material for the vegetable or flower garden.

So… why not let Mom Nature water instead of sprinkling? It’s possible you could SAVE MONEY. Sure, an occasional drought might mandate a little rain dance with the hose. Or not!! Grass will go dormant during a drought, and usually comes back when the rain returns. At least, that’s true here in Beautiful West Michigan. Watering the lawn makes it grow more, so you mow more. And hey, there’s something intensely sad about an automatic sprinkler system running full-tilt-boogie during a thunderstorm. Oh, and I bet you’d SAVE MONEY if you didn’t buy the weed killers and fertilizers. That would help keep our lakes and streams healthy, too.

So hey, next time you’re SPENDING MONEY on all those nasty chemicals for the domestic hay crop; just ask yourself, “Self, what would happen if I didn’t do this anymore?” I mean, would it be so terribly bad if a lawn took on a more “natural” character? I put “natural” in quotes because lawns don’t really occur in the wild. But all those nasty “weeds” do, and a lot of them were invaluable to our ancestors for food and medicine. And yes, those “weeds” still are very valuable; and there are even folks who seek them out while foraging for food or medicinal flora.

A suggestion: quit with the fertilizers, weed killers, and lawn watering already. The very worst that could happen is that your yard would become filled with useful (and often beautiful) plants. With something simple like the lawn, there are lots of opportunities to be environmentally responsible.

And oh yeah, did I mention you can SAVE MONEY?

I couldn’t find any good cartoons about mowing the lawn; so this week’s video is just plain weird… so I thought I’d better share it with you.

Peace, Love, And Understanding

Well my friends, here we are again in another election cycle. Lots of opinions flying around the interwebs and the Twitbooks and Facepages. Some opinions are based on facts, some are making up “facts” as they go along. All I know is, if someone is very sure about themselves, there’s not much I can do to get them to look in a different direction. There was a time in my life when I felt it was very important for me to try however; and all that accomplished was hurt feelings and sometimes the loss of a friendship.

A very dear friend of mine used to say, “you know, we can disagree without being disagreeable.” As I grow older and moldier, I try to practice that philosophy. Sometimes I fall short, of course; because what can I say? I’m human. In tough times though, I’m finding that peace and harmony are much more important than getting on a soap box.

Does all that mean that I’m OK with injustice, hatred, and environmental insults to Mother Nature? Of course not! I just need to be careful not to spit out all the “My Way Or The Highway” platitudes. There’s certainly enough discord in this world without me stirring up more. However, anger can be stirred up even when facts are presented. An example: I recently posted what a complaint about the actions of a government official on the Bookface. This unleashed a torrent of comments, some agreeing and some not. I was saddened by one of our leader’s actions and I spoke out, but I was not prepared for the sniping that my post generated. Then, unfortunately, some name calling ensued.

My response: delete the post. I could no longer bear the sniping.

All of us have the right to our thoughts; but when discussion morphs into anger fueled rants, communication is sabotaged. Name calling (even if it’s directed toward the government official I complained about) will not promote harmony; which is desperately needed right now. Bad enough we have to endure a pandemic without spewing venom at each other.

As I type all this I suddenly find myself on a soap box!! So be it. Guess I’ll continue to speak out… there really is an awful lot of injustice and other nasty activity going on around us. We really do need to speak out against the madness. We just need to do it in a peaceful way that strives for the greater good. We need to disagree without being disagreeable.

To quote a favorite artist of mine, “what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?”

Just Trying To Help

Corporate greed seems to have become a global phenomenon. In too many corporations here and abroad, the people who call the shots seem to live in a different universe.  They really don’t care much about the average family person who is trying to make a living.  They may say they do, but they really don’t.  Otherwise, jobs in this country would not be moved to other countries.  Sure, if we kept the jobs here it would “cost more to do business,” which mostly seems to mean that the Really Big Shots wouldn’t get their millions.  Well maybe they don’t need millions.  Does anybody really need more than a million dollars??  Not me… so they can just give me a million and I’ll quit complaining about corporate greed.

Or not…

Anyway, since I know people whose jobs are in jeopardy, I thought maybe I’d try to be a helpful with this week’s Happy Friday thing.  I have been the victim of corporate downsizing in the past; so I’ve been there and done that.  It wasn’t the end of the world.  Actually it was the beginning of a pretty cool journey.  I explored some alternative career ideas and got to know myself and my family better.  And finally after many moons of being out of work, I got a job.

One thing I’ve learned is:  probably the most important ingredient of a good job hunt is a resume.  Keep it to a single page.  Emphasize your strengths and achievements, and especially focus on the skills you have that an employer needs.  What I ended up doing was keeping a general resume “on file” and modified it to suit the particular job I was targeting.

Another good tool is an introductory cover letter.  For a guide, I dug an old one out of my archives and thought I would share it with you.  You have my permission to steal it and alter it in any way you see fit.  This one may (or may not) be the exact same letter I sent to Ludmilla Sunkenchin, who was HR director of Blammo Manufacturing.  So without any further ado, here it be:

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To Whom It May Concern,

This is in response to the advertisement for a Working Type Person. I understand that you were accepting money up front, to get people jobs and stuff like that. I intended to respond sooner, but my cat threw up inside my shoes, and then even my slippers!! So I’m sure you can empathize that I’ve been distracted.

Please consider this as a letter of application because I need a stinking job.

The jerks I have been working for at XYZ Industries these past 27 days have laid me off ; and I’m sure I don’t need to tell a person like you how that makes me squirm inside.  However, I believe that I the skills I acquired there were probably useless, but that doesn’t really matter now does it??. I’m really good at taking breaks, and I know how to impress the best of them. I figure that if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull manookey. I worked on various types of equipment during my career at XYZ, but most of it was pretty old and always screwing up, so I don’t really know how to run anything without a large hammer in the immediate vicinity.

I have computer experience… after all, I do own a Sony Playstation.  Them video games have really increased my ability to react quickly under stress. There goes a fly! HA! Got it!!  See what I mean? As for my ability to interact with others, I enjoy meeting new people, especially when they give me money. Those are the nice ones, ya know?

Please let me know the exact date upon which I can expect to apply my skills at your place of employment. I am available for an interview, and would enjoy the opportunity to give you $20 up front and more if I get the job. I will be “checking in” frequently with you to keep tabs on your progress in hiring me.  Get back to me soon, or else you may soon find some “souvenirs” from my kitty’s litter box in your mail slot.

Ha ha, just kidding I think maybe.

Thank You,

ME

P.S.:  I did not choose to share my name at this time, as you will learn more about me during the hiring process, and especially when I have learned of my start date.  Some upfront information:  I can’t work where women are present, because I usually have pretty offensive gas.  Also, if there are men around, they should stay away from me, because they normally have even worse gas than me.  Other than that, I can do work real good unless I don’t feel like doing what you ask me to do.  In cases like that, just ask me what I feel like doing that day and I’ll probably get right to it.

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Well my friends there you have it.  As I said, feel free to use this cover letter in its entirety if you wish.  Or maybe tweak it a little… but I think it stands on its own merit.  If you find it useful, please let me know very soon; as I also have some bridge property for sale at reduced rates for special people like you.

Hopefully, your next interview won’t go like this…

“We Have Met The Enemy…”

If any of you follow this blog regularly, perhaps you’ve noticed that I try to stay far away from politics when I send out Happy Friday!!! stories. Well I’m gonna veer away from that just a bit tonight, and jump on my soap box for a bit. Actually what I’m going to write about is really not a political issue, but it is, but it’s not. Politicians will play a role in it, but the bottom line is that all of us need to act. No exaggeration here, it’s a matter of survival.

Although many seem to be in denial, there is abundant scientific evidence that we humans have caused many unwelcome changes in our Earth’s ecology. One of those is climate change; and unless you live in a cave, it’s likely you’ve heard of the young people protesting about it. One of the most well known is a young lady namedGreta Thunberg, and she was seen on TV imploring U.S. politicians not to listen to her, but to listen to science.

The sad thing about all this is: scientists have been warning about the toxic effects climate change and pollution have on our ecosystems for many, many years. And no, I’m not just talking about all the hooting and hollering hippies like me were doing in the 1960s and 1970s. No, even the ancients knew that humans could affect local climates by actions like draining swamps or deforestation.

As economies evolved along with, and often because of technology, the degree we humans parted from Nature widened. The result: too much of our society is addicted to a lifestyle that has sprung from a dependence upon fossil fuels and massive agricultural operations. In short, we’re addicted; and the consequences have been rearing their ugly heads. The consequences include an increased frequency of intolerable heat, powerful storms; and reductions in wildlife numbers. And until recently, not enough clamor arose to stop it. Not sure if you’ve ever met a heroin addict or maybe really learned what addiction is all about; but for practicing addicts one thing is always true: they engage in destructive behavior and ignore the consequences.

That is of course until they get caught.

Guess what? We’ve been caught. By children. Children!! All I can say is, Thank God for the Children!! So Greta Thunberg is what… 16? That means that we hippies are indeed having an impact. How? Well, these are our children’s children. So we can take pride in our legacy. Millions of young people around her age are loving what Greta has to say. And guess what again some more? They’re gonna be voting soon. This is a very good thing.

Some politicians and big business folks are trying to demonize the Green New Deal. Boy would something like that be stupid or what?? A totally crazy and brand new idea: create much needed jobs here at home; slow climate change, and clean up the planet all in one fell swoop. Pretty ridiculous logic, eh?

Well I try to be a “glass half full” kind of guy. I like to believe that most humans are decent and loving; but there are all too many humans who insist on maintaining the status quo with absolutely no regard for negative consequences.

When I was a kid, there was a wonderful comic strip called “Pogo” by Walt Kelly. One of my favorite quotes is Pogo complaining about the follies of human nature, “WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.”

Ain’t it the truth.

And now for some of those hippie environmental tunes…