Tuesday, April 30, 2013

WWII documents

According to Frau's will, everything she had in our house when she died belongs to Darling. Among all the stuff was a lot of paperwork. We don't know what they are all about. Many of them are in German, and some are in Polish. Some are dated as late as the seventies and are probably legal papers when known family members died. That might be fun to research in the future.
Some of these documents will make it into my next book, The Frau Chronicles: My Mother-in-Law Misadventures.
For various reasons, some will not. Some don't add to the narrative of Young Hertha and many are simply confusing.
Sadly, I won't include some of them in the book because of family issues. I won't say much about it, but I fear if I include documents mentioning some of Darling's brothers they will feel they have a claim on the book. I just don't want to venture into that territory.
One very cute document I can't include is a note from Darling's oldest brother to his mother. This was written in the late 1940s or early 1950s, while Hertha and Adolf still lived in Gellendorf Number 72 In Schaumburg-Lippe as refugees. This shows both the front and back of the note:
To Mother from me. may I go to bed mommy pls sweetharte
Finich your lessons please P  Mother

I think it's cute and gives some idea of Hertha as a young mother, certainly showing her background as a kindergarten teacher. It also fascinates me that Frau kept this scrap of paper for over seventy years in a lock box with all her other documents.
Along the same lines, Adolf and Hertha each had British Zone ID cards. We have no idea why they had these instead of German cards.
The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center has a copy of the September 1946 issue (Number 61) of the Weekly Information Bulletin, apparently issued to Allied commanders and refugees. Within this document, on page 16, is a description of the Identity Documents in use in the British Zone, stating they are now valid in the US Zone.
I can (and will) include a picture of the adult British Zone card.

That same Bulletin describes the British Zone card used for children under the age of fifteen. Her oldest brother had one of those, too, which is fascinating to me from a historical perspective. I can't include a picture of that document in the book either, which is too bad.

Sometime soon we'll get the documents that clearly belong to each brother to them. It takes a while and a lot of research to determine what each is and to whom it belongs.
It takes a long time to determine what can be in the book and what cannot, also, but I'm sorting through it all and getting closer to publication every day. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Life is Hard

Life is hard.
You've noticed it, I'm sure. James Altucher, a favorite read of mine and a friend-yet-to-meet wrote about this in today's post on his web site.  If you don't read James, you should give him a try. He's absolutely honest; because of this many of his posts are controversial. I liked him so much I wrote an app to keep track of him, and it's still the only app I have that is on both Droid and iPhone. I haven't updated it in quite a while, but I've been busy finishing my book on the years we lived with Darling's mother.
All the stories for my book are finished, but I'm working on Frau's past, her years growing up in Poland and Frau's escape from Nazi Germany with her husband (Darling's father). It's harder than I thought it would be, not least of which because the few documents she kept are either in German or Polish. I can handle the German ones (with help from Google translate). The Polish documents will not go in the book, but might be worth future research. Her life was hard, and I see her smile fade across the years in the few photos we have of her.
Yet for all that, Darling reminded me, Frau loved to laugh. Thinking back on it, I have to agree. Many of my stories don't express that laughter, but some do. I guess when I was writing, the incidents that forced me to seek catharsis in the written page weren't really laughing ones.
I'll make some changes in the stories to reflect her laughter. It's one of the things the Lass (my Darling Daughter) remembers the best and I like how she wrote about it.
The Lass actually sent me a chapter for the book and I like it. She wants to do two more and we'll see how those turn out. Just the one is priceless, giving me an insight into Frau that I didn't always have.
Life is hard, but Frau managed to move forward. James states that you need a "push" and for Frau the "push" might have been her children. I think it might also have been a simple stubborn, iron will. It might also have been the time she spent on her knees talking to God, something she did even when she was very old and it took her a long time to get on her knees (and even longer to get back up). God watched out for her. He didn't always protect her from the Nazi soldiers. There are stories that I don't tell. But there are two other stories where God's angels intervened.
Both incidents are similar. I mention one in the book, a time when the Nazi soldiers searched for young Hertha with bad intentions. She hid under a willow tree in her yard. Though the soldiers walked within feet of her, they never saw her in the shadows. Another time, which I don't mention in the book, a similar incident occurred. She hid this time in the upper floor of her husband's mill, among the sacks of grain. Though the soldiers walked right past her they never noticed her.
There was another intervention, where the Nazi soldiers sought her husband, planning to kill him. Young Hertha made him put on layers of clothes and hid him in a hay pile in the barn. Just like in the movies, the soldiers took a pitchfork and stabbed repeatedly into the mound of hay. Never once did they touch Adolf. Frau told that story many times.
You know what? Next time maybe I will be brutally honest and talk about the dark day that I lost everything I valued. Maybe I'm not yet that brave.
Yes, James, life is hard. I remember when you talked about wanting to die so your children could get your life insurance. Be assured, James, many of us have felt that way, and we didn't lose millions to get there. Yet each of us lost what we had, what we valued most.
Some of us dropped to our knees in order to get back on our feet.
I don't know how else to do it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Garden

We grew impatient and bought some plants from the local garden center (Joseph's - very nice place) for our garden plots. All look healthy and we have blossoms everywhere. The thing to remember about the plants from the garden center is that they are hybrids. We probably won't be able to take the seeds from the produce and use them for plants next year.
Our seedlings
The plants we are starting from seed in the house are heirloom plants, and we will be able to use their seeds for next year. Those plants are a little smaller, but they are springing up more every day!
We will have so much squash and cucumbers I'm not sure what to do with it all. Yeah, I'm counting my squash before it's picked, but I remember the squash boom the year Dad was in Viet Nam.
This could be epic!

Five Lessons from a Tale of Tomatoes

I found this tale among my archived computer files.
An unemployed man is desperate to support his family. His wife watches TV all day and his three teenage kids have dropped out of high school to hang around with the local toughs. He applies for a janitor's job at a large firm and passes the aptitude test.
The human resources manager tells him, "You will be hired at a minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. let me have your email address so that we can get you in the loop. Our system will automatically e-mail you all the forms and advise you when to start and where to report on your first day."
Taken back, the man protests that he is poor and has neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the manager replies, "You must understand that to a company like ours that means that you virtually do not exist. Without an email address you can hardly expect to be employed by a high-tech firm. Good day."
Stunned the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having $10 in his wallet, he walks past a farmers' market and sees a stand selling 25 lb crates of beautiful red tomatoes. He buys a crate, carries it to a busy corner and displays the tomatoes. In less than 2 hours he sells all the tomatoes and makes 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 profit and arrives home that night with several bags of groceries for his family. During the night he decides to repeat the tomato business the next day.
By the end of the week he is getting up early every day and working into the night. He multiplies his profits quickly. Early in the second week he acquires a cart to transport several boxes of tomatoes at a time, but before a month is up he sells the cart to buy a broken-down pickup truck.
At the end of a year he owns three old trucks. His two sons have left their neighborhood gangs to help him with the tomato business, his wife is buying the tomatoes, and his daughter is taking night courses at the community college so she can keep books for him.
By the end of the second year he has a dozen very nice used trucks and employs fifteen previously unemployed people, all selling tomatoes.
He continues to work hard. Time passes and at the end of the fifth year he owns a fleet of nice trucks and a warehouse which his wife supervises, plus two tomato farms that the boys manage.
The tomato company's payroll has put hundreds of homeless and jobless people to work. His daughter reports that the business grossed a million dollars.
Planning for the future, he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. Then the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. When the man replies that he doesn't have time to mess with a computer and has no e-mail address, the insurance man is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? No computer? No Internet? Just think where you would be today if you'd had all of that five years ago!"
"Ha!" snorts the man. "If I'd had e-mail five years ago I would be sweeping floors at Microsoft and making $5.15 an hour."
Which brings us to the moral:
Since you got this story by e-mail, you're probably closer to being a janitor than a millionaire. Sadly, I received it also.
Okay, you didn't read this in e-mail, but you read it on a computer. Sorry.
I really like the story, though.

The Five Lessons
First of all, the man is at his wit's end when he sees an opportunity and takes it. He didn't have to spend his last $10 on tomatoes. He could have been afraid of spending all he had, but he took the risk. He didn't give up and he looked for what he could do for himself.

Secondly, he worked hard at his new profession. Not only did he work all day, he gets up early and goes to bed late. He refines his process with a cart, then a truck.

Thirdly, his family supports him and joins him in the hard work. They are all willing to learn new skills.

Fourthly, he hires more people and expands his business, but he seems to do it at the right pace. Too many start-ups leap forward and use credit. This guy seems to be using the cash from the tomato sales.

Fifthly, he expands his abilities to support his core business. Yes, he sells tomatoes, but he also get a warehouse and apparently they all learn about growing tomatoes since they now have farms.

I'm not an economist, but a story like this, if it could be true, illustrates that "trickle-down" economics can work. But maybe it's only fiction.

Donkey Tales

Yeah, this isn't the Greek picture
Once again I had a story in my archives that I needed to tell. That same story is told in other places, in exactly the same words, so I'll just post a link.
My version finished with a quote from Thomas Jefferson:
In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.
One of the funny things about it is that it might be based on a true story - the photo in the linked article also appears in a Greek paper. I can't read the text, but the look on the donkey's face says a lot.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beer and Ten Men - A Tax Story

A friend of mine and I discussed taxes again the other day. She has a sister who thinks the government should help pay all her bills and pay all her medical and dental costs. The government should take care of her, since she has "no husband to take care of her" (her words, though she also admits she doesn't want a husband). I think I got the story right. Essentially, I hear much the same thing from many people today. But "the government" is "the people" and the money has to come from somewhere. "Well," most say, "let the rich pay. They have the money."
That always makes me think of the Beer and Ten Men Story, which I had to dig up from my archived files on my computer. Here it is as I originally found it. I'd reference my source, but it is now repeated in a lot of places on the internet. Too bad. I wish I knew the original author (and Snopes doesn't know) - I'd want to shake his hand.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the total bill comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1. The sixth would pay $3. The seventh would pay $7. The eighth would pay $12. The ninth would pay $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59. So, that’s what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beers by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80." The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?" They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings). The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings). Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free, but once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that’s right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too."
"It’s unfair that he got TEN times more than I!"
"That’s true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered they didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes DO get the most benefit from a tax reduction. They also PAY more than the rest. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Mutterings

My second World of Warcraft character hit level 90 this weekend. My Drenai Death Knight, Darkwylf, hit level 90 a few weeks ago. He flies through Pandaria with impunity. He mines the ore, skins the dead beasts and searches for the Lost Treasures of Pandaria.
My Worgen Druid, an herbalist, now flies the continent picking the various herbs and occasionally grabbing a Lost Treasure. In some cases he is the guy to send into the caves for the hidden treasures that occasionally appear because he can turn into a panther and go into stealth mode. My Death Knight has to beat the enemies to unmoving corpses.
Yeah, it sounds as if I like my DK. I do. I do. I admit there is a lot of satisfaction in having my toon avatar drop into a group of little animated non-playing characters and finally walking away with them all deceased - and neither of us break into a sweat doing it.

As opposed to real life… Darling and I spent Saturday putting four new garden beds in the back yard. I use the verb very loosely, since I exhausted myself early in the game and we had to hire some help to finish it all. Fortunately for me, Juan was available. He's the guy who made the stump of the second tree in our front yard disappear last summer and then spread the dirt and the sod. I was not in good enough physical shape to do that work then, and am not in good enough shape to put the four planting beds in the yard now.
I designed each bed to be eight feet long by a bit less than two feet wide and two timbers deep. I was undecided about the width actually. I thought if I did three cuts on an eight-foot landscape timber I'd have four pieces just a blade width shy of two feet. If I wanted the beds to be about seven-foot six inches long I could then make them just shy of two feet wide by using the full length of the ends. I could sister some boards on the ends for support. If I inter-locked the timbers, I'd have a length of seven and a half feet and a width of about a foot and a half, but it would look better and have more structural integrity in the long run.
Of course, that was the plan in my head. I'd rather minimize the cuts, so for four beds I would only need twelve cuts and I should be able to physically manage that before I exhaust myself.
Darling had the yard guy trim the grass along the fence line down to almost dirt level on Thursday. Darling and I laid out some of that black weed-blocking matting in each of the 8' x 2' spots first thing Saturday. A nice guy across the street, Louis, was doing some yard work for our neighbor. He took a few minutes to look at what we planned to do. First he recommended that we double the mat material. He said it is typically pretty useless, but might help if we doubled it.  After some discussion with him, we also cancelled the dirt and mulch we ordered. We just didn't need enough for a delivery. I guessed about one and a half cubic yards of dirt, but it really wasn't a guess. If you estimate six inches deep, you have:
Forget about the mulch. Our last house required a half truckload of mulch each spring. I can bring bags in to do the mulch at this house. Sadly, Louis is booked solid and doesn't have the time to help us with our yard.
About ten-thirty we thought Juan wasn't coming, so I headed off to Home Depot for the timbers - in my Toyota Camry. That car is amazing. I squeezed ten eight-foot landscape timbers in the car with both back seats down and passenger front seat as far forward as I could pull it (cramping my leg in the process, I might add, since I had such a hard time exiting the vehicle). They were pressed in pretty tightly. I would not have been able to get eleven in there, that's for sure. No bags of dirt, and I was pretty frustrated finding the timbers, so I was just glad to be out of there.
On the way home I grabbed a couple burgers from BK. No doubt, this is part of the reason I am not in good enough shape to do my own yard work.
I got home and we were almost done with the burgers when Juan showed up. Darling gave him the fries (which I didn't want, but I sure wanted the drink) and made him a PB&J sandwich.
We unloaded ten timbers (of the twenty estimated requirement) to the back yard. Juan carried four at a time. He always does that sort of thing. I'll carry just one or two, thanks. An impromptu design discussion ensued and the plan changed slightly but significantly.
We're now going to wedge the planting beds in between the existing fence posts. Now every timber has to be cut. I measure it and calculate six foot six inches and since we're redesigning for less length, I figure we want two solid feet of dirt, so the width now changes to two feet six inches. I'll need twenty-two timbers, since I'll only be able to get three ends out of a timber now. Instead of a simple twelve cuts total, we'll need to make thirty-two total cuts.
I have my little circular saw. It runs on a battery - how amazing is that? I don't have an electric saw, for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t do much wood work. Secondly, BR, probably the greatest father-in-law ever (well, for nine years) had a fantastic workshop and he spoiled me rotten. Hence, back to the first reason.
Darling and Juan headed off to Home Depot in Juan's truck. I started cutting.
Of course, six feet six inches wasn't quite right. It needed to be another half-inch shorter since the landscape timbers were a bit more than three inches at the center. Are you following all this? Another cut.
By the time Juan and Darling returned I barely had the first box built, the saw battery was exhausted and I was thinking that I am entirely too old and out of shape to be doing any of this stuff. And I'm getting sunburned. None of the timbers were cut for the second box.
Juan went home and got his tools and he took over. Occasionally I got up and drove some of the landscape nails into the timbers. I dumped a few bags of dirt (estimated by Juan at five bags/bed, but that's probably a bag too many). Each bag is 1.5 cu ft, but the beds are not eight foot long now. It's good dirt, though, so it won't go to waste.
We had a few scraggly tomato plants
The first box (mine) is two feet wide. Juan made the second one smaller, using only one timber for all four ends and not overlapping the timbers in the corners. He made the rest of the boxes like the first box.
By the end of the day, Darling had four planting boxes. We still aren't sure what we're planting in them, but certainly squash, tomatoes and cucumbers.
I planted myself on the couch for the rest of the weekend, every movement a little bit hurtful to stressed muscles. I'm still limping today, actually.
Do I sound out of shape? Yes. Do I feel badly about that? Most certainly. An office job doesn't prepare me for manual labor and I don't do any exercise to enable me to do rigorous work. I did build the first raised bed box, and it looks the nicest. I could still have done all the work; it just would take me four days - or four weekends, since I'm still employed.  The boxes are done, though. Thanks Juan.
My Death Knight did go on a killing spree Saturday evening to make me feel better.

We watched some of the Master's tournament on Sunday. Golf isn't really tedious to watch; baseball is harder. Golf skips the boring parts and shows only the players taking the shots. The Augusta course is gorgeous. I watched a little baseball and there is still a lot of chatter and non-playing time. That's why all my friends twenty years ago watched basketball.
We started watching the Master's while we ate lunch at BJ's. I really like their Jambalaya. When we got home we watched golf a little more. Since Darling is a good golfer she is able to appreciate some of the fine shots the players made during the tournament. I could appreciate that I'd never be able to make such shots. I did love watching Angel Cabrera play; he had a wonderful time and it showed. Congratulations to Adam Scott, the first Master's winner from Oz.
If Tiger hadn't hit that pin and then was penalized for another poor drop, he might have been a contender for first place too. Glad to see he's back, though.
Thorbjorn Olesen came in tied for sixth at four under par for the tournament. Yeah, I don't have to mention it, but what an awesome name! Thunder Bear.
Rory McIlroy and Bernhard Langer both finished far down in the lists, at two over par for the tournament. I like their names, too.

We watched Ice Castles Sunday on television. This was the 2010 remake of a 1978 movie with Robbie Benson. If you're like me you are confusing that one with another skating picture, The Cutting Edge which was made in 1992, 2003, 2006 and 2008. Ice Castles has a girl figure skater who hits her head and goes blind, then (of course) makes a skating comeback. The Cutting Edge is the one with the ex-hockey player teaming up with a figure skater to skate as a team.
Yeah, it was okay and I liked the acting, but we followed it up with Unknown, which is more up my alley.
Don't forget about the premier of Defiance tonight. I hope it's a good show. I've been disappointed recently in new shows.

And today is tax day. We cut it close, but our accountant filed electronically for us a couple weeks ago. I might be able to do my taxes, since it doesn't require heavy lifting, but the myriad of required forms it too daunting. I don't want to be a tax guy.
I am thinking of writing another book, though, as a sort of sequel to The Fiscal Cliff. I'm thinking of calling itThe Fiscal Chasm. It's really dark at the bottom of a chasm, and that's where I think we're all heading financially in the USA. I'll ponder that.
My Darling Daughter sent me a short essay on her first interaction with Frau and I will see if she lets me put it in my book. I really liked it, though I doubt Frau liked me as much as the essay implies. The working title remains The Frau Chronicles and there is a lot of new material in the book that hasn't been seen before. The book title will probably be She Bit Her Own Butt: My Mother-in-Law Misadventures. We're moving closer to completion on that one every day. I'll keep you posted.
Now, what can we plant in four little beds? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bits and Pieces

She looks so ... Brit

Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87 Monday. I haven't much to say about the death of Britain's "Iron Lady," as I didn't pay much attention to Mrs. Thatcher or politics back then.
I did pay attention to Annette Funicello, though, and she died from complications with MS. My favorite article is an opinion piece on CNN. Most guys around my age adored Annette (and, obviously, were on a first name basis with her). Annette was seventy.
Roger Ebert died on April 4th at the age of seventy also. I used to watch "Siskel and Ebert" and they were an engaging team. Seldom did they discuss something without some sort of fireworks, and I appreciated the repartee. I didn't always agree with Ebert on what constituted a good movie, but I always had to concede his reasons for rating them as he did.
We might be looking at the death of the 401(k) soon, too, according to some articles. Of course, the title of the article is a bit misleading. Michael Lind of the New America Foundation has a three part series on Salon.com where, in one part of it, he proposes the abolishment of the 401(k) saying it mostly benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor. I don't understand it all, but I have a 401(k) and I don't agree with that assessment, of course. Our company 401(k) program is managed by ING, so how is that government funding? Any enlightenment on that would be good…
This isn't the first time I've seen rumblings of the demise of the 401(k) or (even worse) that the government might step in and control our 401(k) programs for us for our own good. The government isn't able to get the country's finances in order and they might start managing mine? I don't think so.
Finally, North Korea is kindly telling foreigners in South Korea to get out of the area. They don't want to hurt innocent people, it seems. I guess there are no American civilians that are innocent, so nuclear weapons are okay.
I don't feel very good about that.
And I'll miss Annette. We all will. Those were simpler times.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Fretting

The day after we had the ribs at Spring Creek BBQ we received another coupon in the mail. Last night we used it and had ribs again. How lovely. This time I was much, much smarter. I only ate half my ribs, so only felt half as stuffed as last week. I also have dinner for tonight!
The ribs weren't quite as tasty as last week (how quickly familiarity breeds contempt) but they were still quite good. I think it is the best coupon in town. The mac and cheese wasn't quite as creamy as last week though. The coleslaw was a little better and Darling is right. The green beans are delicious. The rolls, of course, were wonderful, but I need to make a note to eat a bit later; I think they start bringing fresh rolls to the table at about five, not four. (Hey, I was hungry.) 
And I still like the pickles.
The service is incredible, too. Darling dropped her knife on the floor. I had barely picked it up when one of the staff brought her new utensils. One of the young ladies working there also helped an elderly woman carry her take-out to her car. You just don't see that much.

We are getting invites to free dinners if we go listen to speeches. Last night we could have eaten free if we were willing to listen to some local chiropractors. I wasn't willing. Next week we got an invite to listen to some investment folks on retirement. That might be worth our time and their food.

On the positive side of the news, Orange County rescue workers found the missing second hiker, Kyndall Jack, in the Santa Ana Mountains alive and well. Good job to all of them.

Roger Ebert, famed film critic died yesterday, succumbing to a recurrence of his cancer. I used to watch Siskel and Ebert occasionally. He was 70.

Hayden Panettiere now has a sentence tattoo down her back. One of the words is spelled incorrectly. Where's spell-checker when you need it?

On other entertainment news, Fox had a short interview with Marie Osmond where she talked a bit about her son's suicide and her oldest daughter being gay. Everyone loves Marie Osmond, and for good reason, I think.

Sen. Nelson, FL Democrat, now endorses same-sex marriage. This is a wave that will sweep the Congress, I predict. Endorse, not endorse - I don't care. As Rev Graham said, we can redefine marriage if we want, but God defines it as one man and one woman. I personally don't care if the government wants to legalize civil marriages. Render unto Caesar still works for me. I might point out that the early patriarchs almost immediately decided that God's definition didn't work for them and opted for one man and many women; mankind really hasn't changed in thousands of years. Thank God there's a new "no world-wide flood" rule. Really, Congress, don't you have bigger issues to settle - like the economy or North Korea?

Speaking of North Korea, I see that we aren't going to yell at them anymore. We don't want to make them nervous or upset. After all, they are only aligning nuclear missiles on their eastern coast. AND they are using an older iMac to plan their attacks. (Looks like mine, actually.) Experts say they won't reach the US mainland. Experts have been wrong before. And what's with the war games? Russia is simulating attacks on our missile defense sites in Asia?

President Obama has a new budget which has cuts to Medicare and Social Security and an increase in taxes. It seems to anger liberals. Apparently he wants to make this budget disagreeable enough that Republicans are forced to get serious. That's a great plan, and worked well with the Sequester. No, wait, it didn't…

I want a new budget. I want a budget that is good for the US people. That will certainly include higher taxes - we have to do something to counter the decades of irresponsible spending and taxes will go up and programs will need to be cut. Balancing is hard. Some of the first things to cut might be the expensive perks of our highest government officials. I already wrote about the excessive spending for trips for the VP. Now I read about the concert that our President is still planning to have. I don't look at it as dollars any more (apparently neither do our executives). When our VP spends a million dollars, the government says it isn't much (and it isn't compared to our national spending). When I see a million dollars I see enough for twenty families to live for a year. I wish our representatives had to spend money that way. "Well, let's see, Joe. That trip to London just cost us ten family-years. Paris was eleven. Oh, and Joe? That limo cost us seven family-years. That's twenty-eight family-years, Joe. Want to choose which families will go without or shall I do it for you?" I guess it does make me mad.

And how about the $500 million that President Obama is giving the Palestinian Authority? I had to find that in an overseas paper. It sure faded from our news sources quickly. I need some verification on that one.

Pebble Watch
I prefer to write about tech and gadgets. Samsung apparently thinks it's time for a smart watch (pun intended), which is cool, since I'm wearing one on my wrist. It doesn't do much yet, but it's fun to listen to music and see the song appear on the watch face (yeah, that's Celtic). I also don't really need to take my phone out of my pocket any more. I can read texts on my watch and with Siri I can send a response. In practice that doesn't always work, though, since I don't want people hearing me talking into my headset. What I need is a sub-vocal microphone like in Metal Gear Solid.

On the personal front, I haven't seen the new GI Joe yet (and may wait for the DVD), but my taxes are finally finished and it's time for planting a garden. We released our little bunny rabbit into the back yard. He just wasn't happy in the house. Darling make him a hiding place in the corner, somewhat protected from the elements. Darling calls him "Whisper" but his real name is Usagi Destroyer of Worlds. I expect great things from him in the future.

I started a short story about Usagi, but just couldn't get it to flow. Perhaps I misheard his real name. Perhaps he is Usage Destroyer of Whorleds. That might make more sense, especially if he is a sentient rabbit from a far-off world.

The soft fabrics folded softly around his body, soothing him as he sat in his transport device. Two beautiful women carried him, occasionally glancing in his direction, but not quite daring full eye contact. He did his best to ignore them. After all, what were they to him but simple followers, brought here only to tend his needs?

He is Usagi, Destroyer of Worlds.

Those are enough snippets for today. Enjoy and feel free to comment.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Another of those web things I captured years ago and saved on my computer. This one made me feel better on the days when I was feeling pretty idiotic. I finally decided to do some research and make sure they are real stories. Some I cannot find and others are proved false, but that's okay. They can be fake as long as they are funny. Enjoy.

Measures of Dumbness
If you ever felt stupid, read these and you'll feel much better....
I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital. She calmed down, and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants. I told her that she better bring her daughter in to the Emergency room right away. I could find nothing to dispute this one, so it might be true. I hope not, though.
Seems that a year ago, some Boeing employees on the field decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home. When they took it for a float on the River, they were quite surprised by a Coast Guard helicopter coming towards them. It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator that is activated when the raft is inflated. They are no longer employed there. This one isn't true, but it is funny. I thought it was true for years, but Snopes says it just isn't so.
I worked for a while at a Wal-Mart store, selling sporting goods. As an employee of Wal-Mart you are sometimes required to make storewide pages, e.g.,"I have a customer in hardware who needs assistance at the paint counter." One night a tentative female voice came over the intercom system with the (I kid you not) following message: "I have a customer by the balls in toys who needs assistance." I can't find anything on this one either, but it seems more plausible than the poison one. I've certainly said stupid things before (not this, though).
A police officer had a perfect hiding place for watching for speeders. But one day, everyone was under the speed limit, the officer found the problem: a 10 year old boy was standing on the side of the road with a huge hand painted sign which said "RADAR TRAP AHEAD." A little more investigative work led the officer to the boy's accomplice, another boy about 100 yards beyond the radar trap with a sign reading, "TIPS" and a bucket at his feet, full of change. Snopes says this one is "probably lore" (near the bottom of the article) and includes a few other similar stories.
A true story out of San Francisco: A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote "this iz a stikkup. Put all your muny in this bag." While standing in line, waiting to give his Note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the Note and might call the police before he reached the teller window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn't the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said "OK" and left. The Wells Fargo teller then called the police who arrested the man a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America. I can't find anything on this one either, but it is funny.
A motorist was unknowingly caught in an automated speed trap that measured his speed using radar and photographed his car. He later received in the mail a ticket for $40 and a photo of his car. Instead of payment, he sent the police department a photograph of $40. Several days later, he received a letter from the police that contained another picture - of handcuffs. This one is true.
A woman was reporting her car as stolen, and mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report called the phone and told the guy that answered that he had read the ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested. I like this one, but again there is no mention of it as true or false.
Drug Possession Defendant Christopher Jansen, on trial in March in Pontiac, Michigan, said he had been searched without a warrant. The prosecutor said the officer didn't need a warrant because a "bulge" in Christopher's jacket could have been a gun. Nonsense, said Christopher, who happened to be wearing the same jacket that day in court. He handed it over so the judge could see it. The judge discovered a packet of cocaine in the pocket and laughed so hard he required a five minute recess to compose himself. I find no evidence that this is true, but it bears a striking resemblance to the next one, doesn't it?
Oklahoma City: Dennis Newton was on trial for the armed robbery of a convenience store in a district court when he fired his lawyer. Assistant district attorney Larry Jones said Newton, 47, was doing a fair job of defending himself until the store manager testified that Newton was the robber. Newton jumped up, accused the woman of lying and then said, "I should have blown your (expletive) head off." The defendant paused, then quickly added, "if I'd been the one that was there." The jury took 20 minutes to convict Newton and recommended a 30 year sentence. I doubt it's true. After all, he probably wouldn't have been "doing a fair job of defending himself" if he was this stupid. Sort of funny, though.
R.C. Gaitlan, 21, walked up to two patrol officers who were showing their squad car computer equipment to children in a Detroit neighborhood. When he asked how the system worked, the officer asked him for identification. Gaitlan gave them his driver's license, they entered it into the computer, and moments later they arrested Gaitlan because information on the screen showed Gaitlan was wanted for a two year old armed robbery in St. Louis, Missouri. This and the following are also similar, but I can find no basis for their veracity.
Guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but he refused and said "Because I don't believe you are over 21." The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn't believe him. At this point the robber took his driver's license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over, and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later. Can find nothing, but it does make me smile.
A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, "Nobody move!" When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him. True or not, this one always makes me laugh. Sad that it's in Michigan, though.