Archive for the ‘Sex and money’ Category

As if you don’t have enough to do as we enter this holiday season, I have every intention of compounding your life by asking you to join me in celebrating the days leading up to Thanksgiving which, as I understand it, is considered to be our official entrance into the silly season of holidays. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or some other day or days of gift-giving and merriment, or whether you just sit back and say…no, you’re not allowed to say that, here are some pre-holiday events that you might wish to consider…for what, I don’t have a clue, but you might wish to consider.

Today, for instance is Sunday, November 19, 2017, four days before we carve the bird…or whatevah. It is also known as, “Have a bad day” day. This day has been created by those wonderful folks…no, not those folks, by the wonderful folks at Wellcat.com. Go ahead, look ‘em up. In a way, I rather like it. Yesterday, as a friend and I were leaving the gym, she yelled across the parking lot, “Have a nice day.” Since we often banter back and forth, I responded, “Don’t tell me what kind of a goddamned day to have!” She just chuckled and continued on to her car.

Continuing on from yesterday, today is Absurdity Day. So, if you are, as Steve Martin proclaimed, “a wild and crazy guy” or other person, go ahead and do something absurd. I already did. Last week I was in Wegman’s. A man was emptying trash into a larger trash bin. He stopped me and asked if I was wearing compression stockings. I told him that I was…nice guy…we chatted for a few minutes, and I checked out…of the store…whew! Later in the week, I had to order a few more pair of those socks, and I thought, “What the hell, get an extra pair and see if you can find this guy again.” The socks were left on the front stoop last night, and I managed to locate the guy this morning, gave him the socks, and wished him Happy Holidays…kind of absurd but it felt pretty good. So, get your butt in gear and go do something absurd. Don’t let this day pass you by.

Today is also Beautiful Day as well as Universal Children’s Day. No one seems to know who, what, when, or where Beautiful Day originated, but what the hell, every day is a beautiful day if you can get out of bed in the morning. It doesn’t matter if you’re greeting the sun, the rain, the sleet, snow, or hail, your feet hit the floor and that make it a Beautiful Day. Universal Children’s Day is another story…and I quote, “In 1954, the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries should establish a Universal Children’s Day on an “appropriate” day. We are not sure, but perhaps each country did….at various different dates during the year. The resolution was adopted on November 20, 1954.”

Tomorrow is a ‘twofer,’ that is, we get to celebrate False Confession Day and World Hello Day. You really have to think that first one out carefully…like…don’t walk into your local police station and tell them you just robbed a bank…not wise. You could, however, walk into church, go into the confessional, tell the priest that the Mother Superior over at Saint Whoever’s is hooking at night…although, on second thought, I wouldn’t do that unless I was certain I could outrun the priest. “World Hello Day was created in 1973 by Brian McCormack, a Ph.D. graduate of Arizona State University, and Michael McCormack, a graduate of Harvard University.” It was at a time when war between Egypt and Israel was raging. These two men thought it would be a great idea just to say hello to ten people – ten strangers if you will, just as an expression of peace. Not a bad idea…until you get flipped off by a white supremacist.

This year, November 22 is the day before Thanksgiving. About now, you need a break, something that will take you away from the chaos of getting ready for tomorrow. You should be doing something for yourself. Here are some recommendations (not in quotes, but I did copy them from Go For A Ride Day.)
• Take a sleigh ride.
• Ride a horse.
• Ride a horse-drawn carriage.
• Snowmobile rides are always “cool”.
• A bicycle is a great, way to ride and exercise.
• A boat ride, if you’re in a warmer climate.
• Doesn’t a plane ride to a sunny vacation spot sound like fun!?
• You can’t ride in my little red wagon. Okay, you can ride in it.

Had enough yet? Of course not. November 23, 2017 is Thanksgiving. I guess we’re thankful that we finally shot enough Native Americans, took over their lands, rounded them up and put them on the shitiest land we could find, so now we can celebrate. Naw, I’m not really bitter…wait, yeah, the more I read about how they were treated, I’m not certain this is a celebratory day. It’s also Eat A Cranberry Day, National Cashew Day, National Espresso Day, and my personal favorite, National Tie-One-On Day.

Since you’ll probably be camping out at Walmart, Best Buy, Target, or some other retailer, I don’t have to tell you that the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. It’s also Buy Nothing Day (yeah, right), All Our Uncles Are Monkeys Day, and Evolution Day, this last in honor of the day on which Charles Darwin published his highly controversial Origin of the Species, which is probably why we celebrate All Our Uncles…aw, forget it.

Thanks for tuning in, and have a wonderful week. Remember, if you see me on the street, you can still say, “Hello,” even if it isn’t Tuesday.

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I came in here to write. Sitting in the ‘big bear’ chair, reclined back at a 45 degree angle…well, may not quite that deep, but you understand. An idea occurred for an essay to add to the blog, and if you think I can remember what the heck it was, you’re a better person than I. How the hell can an idea disappear when one is just walking down the hall? Is that aging or is it a part of the early onset dementia that I’m told by my neurologist I have…hmm, I’d really like to settle on the aging. The dementia will come all too soon, and then, if I write at all, it will just be gobbledygook. I’m quite certain there are a couple of readers out there who are thinking, “Gad, all he writes now is crap that is nonsensical…so what else will be new?”

They are, of course, correct. The four basic premises of writing are clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity. It’s a quote from William Zinsser. He died a couple of years ago at the ripe old age of 92. He is best remembered as the author of On Writing Well, a book that I, unfortunately, never read. In reading about the man, however, I find that we do have a couple of things in common. He thought that you should write as though you enjoy what you’re writing…and I do. I don’t believe that there is a word anywhere on this blog that I didn’t enjoy putting to paper…or whatever the hell it is they call what you’re reading. Another thing we agree upon is to write what interests you, and once more, Zinsser and I are in the same camp. Oh, yes, and we both, well had in his case, have in my own, the problem of glaucoma. It’s a degenerative eye disease that eventually causes blindness. Hard to know which is going to get me first, going nuts or going blind.

Zinsser was not the idea, however, that occurred to me in the ‘big bear’ chair, nor was it the premises of writing. It could have been something about Donny Trump’s first foray into the world of military might and his bombing of a Syrian airfield. Yes, it is something to be applauded for the terrible chemical weapons attack that Bashar al-Assad launched against his own people. It took courage to act as decisively as Mr. Trump did. It was no more saying, “Stop it, Bobby, stop it, Bobby,” with no further action. Trump just had to see the pictures of children dying in agony to say, “Bullshit, Bobby,” and give little Bobby – in this case, little Bashy – a taste of his own medicine. In my mind, it was a pretty good knee-jerk reaction to a horrific criminal act, but I can’t help but wonder about the long-term strategy for dealing with this insane dictator. Obviously, initial reactions from the leaders of the world are something akin to the manner in which our own Congress behaves. The guys who like us think it was a great move; the guys who don’t like us think it was an act of aggression, or as one Russian deputy said, “This could lead to armed conflict with America.” Perhaps that’s what concerns me a bit. How far are we willing to go? UN Ambassador Nikki Haley indicated in her remarks that the US is willing to go further. What happens if Russia decides to take out a US airbase in retaliation for our strike in Syria? Where does this escalation end? What the hell do I care? Well, I do, because I’d like to see the world in one piece for my grandchildren and their offspring. In addition to which, I don’t believe the Russians are any more interested in universal annihilation that we are…the North Koreans, eh, but not the Russians.

Then, again, I don’t believe that was the idea that occurred to me while lounging in the ‘big bear’ chair – I just like saying that. It could also have been something about our upcoming gardening escapade, but you read all about that recently. Juli did, however, find a Topsy-Turvy tomato planter downstairs this morning and brought that to show me. We’ve decided that instead of tomatoes, we’re going to try bell peppers in this upside down grower. This is what we are now calling our year of experimentation. Bucket—growing of potatoes and cucumbers, experimentation with cantaloupes in New England’s short growing season, and now peppers in a tomato planter. Ye gads, next year it will probably be hydroponics!

Perhaps it was just the beauty of this particular day that I was thinking about when I decided to trundle down the hall. We’ve had damn near two solid weeks of grayness, mixed precipitation which covered the ground at one point, and we have accumulated more than seven inches of rain. The only good part about that is that our drought is no longer. It’s not just been eased; it no longer exists…now that’s when you know you have had one-giant-shitload-of-rain.

Well, as the Brits might say, I’d better just piss off until and if ever I remember what the hell I came down the hall to write about. Let me leave you with the fortune from cookie I received at Cheng Du yesterday, “Be willing to believe in anything that is good.” Kind of a nice way to end this, isn’t it?

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“Well, then, why don’t you write a travel piece?”

“A what?” I asked.

“Oh, you know, a piece about where you’ve been and what you’ve seen; the fascinating sights, restaurants, museums, and so forth?”

“You talkin’ to me?” I queried.

“Well…sure…” he replied, now growing a bit hesitant.

“The places I’ve been; the fascinating sights, restaurants, museums, and so forth?” I said, looking quizzically at this person I thought I had known for over 50 years…and actually turning around to see if he might be speaking to a complete stranger behind me.

“I DON’T TRAVEL,” I screamed as though speaking with a dolt, adding, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT?”

That brought the conversation and companionship to a rather rapid close as he stormed off, waving his hands in the air in an “I give up; what the hell’s the use,” fashion. This, by the by, is not the first, nor will it, in all probability, be the last time one of our conversations has ended in such a manner, ie, with one of us throwing our hands in the air – why do we do that, anyway – and trudging away.

So, here I am, stuck with a blank page on the computer, still in a quandary over with what to fill this clean white sheet of screen. “Why write anything?” you ask.

“Well, writing is what keeps my sanity intact, what remains of it that is.” I enjoy writing. Actually, I enjoy writing pieces that make people think…one way or the other. They agree or disagree with my postulations, and it doesn’t matter a damn to me which way they go. As a matter of fact, I prefer it when people violently disagree with me – well, not violently perhaps, but you know what I mean – and they respond with their own clearly stated – most of the time – positions.

My options are limited. To write about any of the five presidential wannabee’s merely gets my blood boiling since there’s not one who is worthy of the highest office in the land. Seriously, think about it: Trump wants to build walls, allow his cronies to do anything they damn well please, up to and including criminal behavior. He wants to make abortion a crime and he hasn’t a clue about foreign policy. Ted Cruz wants to carpet-bomb the Middle East and tough tomatoes for anyone in the way. The way he’s talking, all Muslims would wind up in WWII-like ghettos. John Kasich and Bernie Sanders would each get eaten alive by Congressional foes, and that brings us to Hillary. Sooner or later, she will be indicted for something. I liken Hillary to John Gotti…she’s the Teflon pol to whom nothing seems to stick; Whitewater didn’t stick; Benghazi didn’t stick; e-mail messages aren’t sticking so far. Not a damned thing seems to stick. Ergo, who is going to run the country? As Felix the Cat (for those who remember) might say, eeeeeeeeek!

So politics is out. Perhaps I should write about Senate Bill 524…it’s a pisser! It’s called the “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016,” and its purpose is to “authorize the Attorney General to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use.” What, we’re now making the Attorney General find a new way to fight the drug war. I guess we’ve given up trying to fight the cocaine war. It appears that Congress, in its investigative role, has found that, “The abuse of heroin and prescription opioid painkillers is having a devastating effect on public health and safety in communities across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths now surpass traffic accidents in the number of deaths caused by injury in the United States. In 2014, an average of more than 120 people in the United States died from drug overdoses every day.” My reaction to this is that it’s a great way to reduce the gene pool! Who are these 120 people who have chosen to die by drug overdose?  The circle of Kumbaya singing, well-meaning-but-wearing-rose-colored-glasses crowd will call me harsh, but that’s okay, because these 120 will not breed and they will not vote. Let them die and then let’s go after the doctors who prescribed a 20 or 30 day prescription for Percocet, oxycodone, OxyContin, or hydrocodone. I have had nearly 20 surgeries in my life, and I believe I’ve taken one Percocet pill. Did the surgeries hurt? You bet your butt they did? Were they as painful as some others might be? No! However, if doctors don’t warn patients about the addictiveness of these pills, the docs aren’t doing their job. Why did some of these addicts turn to heroin? Because (a) it can be cheaper than some of the prescription medication; (b) they couldn’t find another doctor who would authorize the pills; and (c) heroin worked better and faster. As a consequence of all this, Congress now wants to play nursemaid to people who don’t have the intelligence or desire not to become drug addicts. Sorry, that’s not where I want my tax dollars spent.

But, Congress responds, “According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (“NIDA”), the number of prescriptions for opioids increased from approximately 76,000,000 in 1991 to nearly 207,000,000 in 2013, and the United States is the biggest consumer of opioids globally, accounting for almost 100 percent of the world total for hydrocodone and 81 percent for oxycodone.” And “Opioid pain relievers are the most widely misused or abused controlled prescription drugs (CPD) and are involved in most CPD-related overdose incidents. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (“DAWN”), the estimated number of emergency department visits involving nonmedical use of prescription opiates or opioids increased by 112 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 84,671 to 179,787.

Feel free to give me reason after reason for drug addiction in this country, but don’t tell me; please don’t tell me that I have to be part of a legally-adopted payment plan to help junkies rid themselves of an addiction.

Perhaps I should have written that travel piece after all…here goes. I’ve driven and flown from Massachusetts to LA and to Florida. I’ve driven the northern route which is New York State through Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, etc., and I came back the southern route through Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, etc. Our son was married in a hillside chapel in Tennessee, so I’ve been to Gatlinburg, and driven over the Smokey Mountains into North Carolina. My travel has been limited to the United States, parts of Canada, and four unforgettable trips to Bermuda. Unlike many other people, I have not been to Europe or any exotic locales. I’d like to have seen the pyramids, but I have a thing about suicide bombers or kneeling in an orange robe and a drugged stupor while some jerk removes my head from the rest of me. Could I be more expansive about my travels? Certainly, but this little essay is now approaching 1,200 words – go ahead and count, ya damned fool – and my fingers are getting tired. Hope you enjoyed the tirade and that you’ll return again soon.

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Advice…People give you more goddamned useless advice. “Now, when you retire, you should…” “When I retired I had a lot of fun doing…” Bullshit, you don’t know me; you don’t know what would or would not please me, so please, please, please, keep your advice.

I never said that of course. People think they’re doing you a favor by telling you what worked for them; what made them happy. They’re well-intentioned, it’s true, but retirement or the mere thought thereof is sufficiently traumatic. It’s worse, I suppose, if there is some kind of policy that says one has to retire at a certain age. In my own case, I left voluntarily when I was just over 63, recognizing that if I had to wait for two years, I would either have been fired or jailed for assault. I didn’t care for the person that replaced my boss, and I’m the type who tends to speak his mind, ergo, things would not have gone well…for him or for me.

The only good bit of advice that I ever received concerning retirement was this: “Be sure you have something to do that you can do for the rest of your life.” It’s simple and it’s the best advice anyone could ever give. Whatever “it” may be, one should have experimented with it prior to retirement. Few things would have made me happier than to see some parts of the world that my son had spoken of but I knew long before retirement that Florence, Paris, and several other cities would be out of the question. When you have bad knees and a back that’s been through three surgeries, you will, if you’re smart, forget about extensive travel. Documentaries and computer research may not be the same thing, but they can serve a very useful purpose, and if you try hard enough, they’ll fill the bill. Taking up a sport in retirement can only cause frustration and has the potential for injury that is an unnecessary risk. If one is already committed to golf or tennis, great, but to take it up after one retires is a questionable decision.

One of the most interesting things about retirement lies in the question, “How long will I live in my retirement?” If one retires because of illness, great, you have some idea of how long you’ll smell the roses before you’ll smell the roots; if not, it’s a guessing game. Based on my own history, I wouldn’t have bet on anything beyond a few years. Things do have a way of changing as we all know, and I’ve been retired now for damn near 20 years…who’d evah have thunk it? If I was to give advice to anyone about this facet of life, I’d say, “Plan to live to 100; anything more than that’s a bonus; anything less is probably what you were thinking in the first place.” As Dr. Wayne Dyer writes in his book, Your Erroneous Zones, “Look over your shoulder; you have a constant companion. For want of something better, call it your own death. You can keep looking over your shoulder, in which case death will catch up to you more quickly, or you can forget that death is even back there and just plunge ahead.” It’s wonderful advice from a man who appears to know of what he speaks.

Now I’m doing the same thing that I cursed in the first sentence of this little essay. Therefore, let me add this: My advice is just as useless as the next person’s. What I tell you is what has worked for me; you may well say, “Yuck, what an asshole; I would never do that stuff,” and that’s fine, but, and it’s a major but, it is imperative that you not sit back on your ass and watch television all day. This will kill you probably faster than anything. Your body goes to pot; you get into the snack thingie, and the next thing you know, diabetes comes a calling. I became a member of a gym. In addition to the physical exercise, I’ve made a number of friends. They are people with diverse backgrounds and they have become my teachers. I’ve learned philosophy from a man who was the headmaster at a private school and who still teaches there. I’ve learned about plumbing from a man who has his own company. I’ve learned travel first hand from a woman who travels all over the world and returns to share her experiences. The learning tree at the gym has more branches than one can count…and it’s like a “workout classroom.”

I’ve also learned the joys of gardening from my companion, Juli. We have both flowers and vegetables, and although the growing season is short in New England, there is plenty of time for salad-makings, including lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, radishes, and croutons…of course you don’t grow croutons, ya damned fool…I was just testing you.

Writing has been a wonderful outlet. There are over 950 essays on this site. Some are pretty bad; others, at least in my alleged mind, aren’t half bad. The two in which I take great pride are She is Gone and The Final Epitaph. While they won’t win any Pulitzer or Peabody Awards, I’d like to think that they show some depth of thinking on my part. Therefore, if you find the idea of writing about your own experiences or any piece of fiction with which you can have some fun, go to it!

If you happen to be a reader, get a Kindle or some other tablet.  Sure, turning pages and the smell of the paper are great, but the Kindle or Nook are lighter and carry more books than you’ll probably read in a lifetime. Pick up a craft; real men can do cross stitch and latch hook and lapidary [look it up].

Retirement means, as a friend told me, that you’ll be able to spend more time looking at the useless catalogs and second class mail addressed directly to you or just to ‘resident.’ It also means that you can now take the time to smell those flowers everyone used to tell you to do when you were working. They do smell pretty darned good. Whatever you elect to do, keep busy, have more than you can accomplish, and listen to a few good jokes every day. Laughter is food for the soul so laugh often and laugh ‘til you cry!

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Ceratopogonidae; go ahead, you pronounce it you entomological genius – even I can pronounce the second one. What are cera…ah, forget it. You and I probably know them as ‘noseeums,’ those pesky little gnats, midges, or whatever that we rarely see, but that leave itchy little bites on our arms, legs, and places where we just don’t seem to be able to quite reach…door frames are often a cure for that. It’s like trying to kiss your elbow; you can’t do it so stop trying.

What in the name of the Good Lord has prompted this entomological – love that word – discussion? Well, it’s 2:00 in the morning; my girlfriend is sleeping peacefully; I can’t get back to sleep; and the gym doesn’t open until 5:00 a.m. I don’t want to turn on the television because that will wake the dog in her crate; she’ll start yowling to go out, and for all I know there’s a friggin’ coyote in the back yard who will attack the two of us…oh, no, wait a minute…it’s the black bears that have been straggling into our neighborhood recently. If New York is the City that never sleeps, my community is the one where they roll up the sidewalks by 10. The bathroom window is open and when I arose at 1:30 to empty my bladder, the only sound was the first splash before aiming at the porcelain so not to disturb the night silence – wouldn’t want to wake the birds before their usual chirping hour of 4:15.

As a consequence of all of the above, I began to consider the number of welts, bites, and other itchies of which my lady friend has been complaining about lately.  She has no idea from whence they come, but they are numerous and bothersome. I thought that when she called them “noseeums” she was being facetious; then I looked it up and that ‘c’ thing in the first line is an actual name for them. Therefore, with nothing better to do [other than reading the Kindle and I’m not impressed with the book I’m currently reading], I thought it might be nice to learn more about the noseeums. In Googling, I fully expected a blank page. Instead, I wind up with 250,000 references in 2.5 seconds.

So you see, despite my rambling, you have learned something this morning, and by the way, those nasty little bites can be treated by a topical antihistamine. Forget all that expensive stuff and check with your Walmart pharmacist. Their house brand, Equate, is pretty good stuff.

Well, we’ve exhausted that topic all the way to hell and gone; what other bit of fascinating and educational baloney can I toss into your Westinghouse?

Ah, yes…last June, we gave up on having a garden. June in New England last year might well have been considered the monsoon season in the jungles of wherever. Seeds rotted; plants were destroyed by mildew of all kinds, and we finally tossed our hands in the air and began depending on California and Florida fruits and vegetables…and they had problems of their own…all in all, not a great season. This year, however – I may be cursed since it’s only five days into the month – things are starting off well. The tomato plants have already set fruit; there are hundreds of raspberries on the bushes; we have green strawberries for which we have high hopes, and even the summer squash has poked its little leaves up through the soil. If we do reap a harvest, the “non-Little-Red-Hens-at-the-gym” will be very happy to share in our spoils. If anyone ever wanted to do the research, I’m quite certain that somewhere in these 800 plus essays, there is one that speaks of my brown thumb. However, the more I watch my partner do miraculous things with the ground, the more convinced I am that there is still some hope for this old man to grow something other than weeds. I was told that if I wanted summer squash, I would have to plant it. Therefore, those little leaves beheld a wonder for me to which the average gardener might have said, “Eh!”

Back now from the gym, sweaty and dirty since the dog jumped up and put her muddy paws on my white Under Armor workout shirt…honest, I hadn’t planned to wear it tomorrow; it just ticks me off. There is one sure sign that many colleges and universities have completed their academic year. There are more and more college kids coming to the gym…at 5:00 o’clock in the morning! Are you kidding me? Maybe, they have summer jobs and have to get their workouts done early in the day. It’ll be fine as long as they don’t use the equipment I want; then we may have all-out war!

I find that working out first thing in the morning really sets me up for the day, particularly the cardio workout. While doing weights is not my big thing in life, I also recognize its importance in maintaining upper body strength. I was reading recently that men begin to lose physical strength after the age of 40; since I’m damn near double that which explains a great deal. I see some of the younger guys piling on 45 pound plates and think, “Good luck; do one to many and your balls will pop out of your shorts and fall on the floor!” I suppose if one has to relocate buildings by oneself, pressing that kind of weight is okay, but jeez, gimme a break!

Final thought and if you have any suggestions, they will be welcomed and anonymity will be guaranteed: I’m working on a large piece of latch hook canvas using leftover yarn from the many rugs and other things that I’ve made over the years. It’s a “random rug” and has no particular pattern or complex design. If you’ve ever done anything like that, it would be nice to get some helpful hints. I rather doubt I’ll finish it before I join my wife [I hope] but any thoughts from you ‘hookers’ out there would be appreciated.

‘Til  Random Thoughts III or something else strikes my fancy, enjoy life and make it better for someone else.

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In just a few weeks, the United States will elect or re-elect a President and many members of Congress. Can you just imagine the impact that will have on our nation?  Take a moment and ponder the consequences of just what this will mean to your life…

…Okay, you through considering the above and the implications it has for your daily living? Think about it…no longer will you be subjected to one or two minute advertisements regarding the character or lack thereof of candidate A versus candidate B. No longer will your morning, noon, and evening news viewing begin with an explanation of why one candidate had breakfast of ham and eggs while the other had Wheaties and orange juice…with one percent or skim milk…and ate with a regular spoon or a dessert spoon…and read which newspapers while reading…and got how much milk, juice, egg, or piece of ham on the tie that had to be worn this day for God-only-knows what particular political meaning.

I stand with the farmer from Iowa, the man who was interviewed the other day on national television and said, “I’ll be glad when the political ads are over and we can go back to the animal food and grain ads.” Yassuh, that man clarified things just about as simply as was humanly possible. The politicians and their inane campaigns have dominated the airways, television screens, and mail boxes for damned close to two years now and it’s an absolute disgrace the way some people talk about other people in public; Why, I’ll place a small side bet with any of you – let’s make it a small wager – I’ll bet you $10,000 [oops, forgot the decimal point four places from the right] that whoever gets elected will, in two or four or however many years he or she will get, will still be making excuses and blaming people in the other party for not bringing America back to where she belongs. By the way, where does America belong? Who is it that determines where America belongs? What does that mean, anyway? Does having the greatest number of people in the world behind bars make us “belong?” Does having a gross national date of over $16 trillion help us to “belong?” “Belong,” as America’s politicos’ are so fond of calling it means something different to each and every one of us. If I can put food on the table for my family; if I can keep a roof over their collective heads and have a house that’s warm in winter and cool in summer; if I can walk to the market or drive to the next town, city, or state without having to show papers to some gun-carrying official; if I can buy food in any store I choose; if I can go to a doctor and get good medical care at a reasonable price; if I, if it, if I, etc., then I’m one happy camper. In my own particular case, if I can write essays that are critical of the President of the United States of America or anyone else in government who I happen to believe is messing up and post those essays on the Internet without fear of recrimination, I figure that life is pretty darned pleasant for me. Yes, there are thousands of Americans who go to bed hungry every night; there are thousands of Americans who sleep on park benches, under overpasses, on grates because of the heat generated. These are the people who also dumpster dive for their food and search for returnable cans and bottles just to survive, and I honest-to-God think about those people. There isn’t a hell of a lot I can do for them, but I recognize that those with greater resources than I don’t even bother to think about them, and that pisses me off!

So, where does America “belong?” It belongs right where it is; in debt; with a crumbling infrastructure; polarized almost beyond what it’s been since the “War Against Northern Aggression,”  the “War for Southern Independence;” the “War Between the States;” or any of the nearly 100 other names by which that most costliest of wars  is known. And until we the people wake up and realize that America is made up of people, not parties, we will remain right where we belong…a group of whiny children who don’t even belong on the world stage.

After the elections, there will be other people in trouble. Think about the reporters who will actually have to go out and find news stories to fill the two-hour morning shows. Don’t worry about the noon people; they’ll just cut and paste from the morning shows. The evening news folks may have to work a bit harder, but hell, they, too, can scam something from the morning crowd. How about the space salesmen for television advertising? Sure, they have Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up. There’s really not much they can push for Chanukah or Kwanza although I’m certain they’ll give it a try, but you just can’t make up the money that poured in during the political campaigns; those were the easiest bucks of all!

It’ll be kinda nice to have television back where it was; to have fewer faces to view in the junk mail; to keep my finger away from the mute button on the remote; to return to the good old days when people didn’t call each other liar in public forums. Ah yes, the good old days…

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“Birds do it; bees do it; even educated fleas do it…” and I’m not talking about falling in love. It seems that now we can substitute, “Pols do it; coaches do it; public servants of all kinds do it…” and we’re still not talking about love. Sex has been around for a long, long time. Just ask Adam and Eve…I know you can’t but you get the point. Throughout history sex has been used in so many ways and to achieve so many goals that why shouldn’t it happen in collegiate athletics?

The worst part of the Penn State debacle is that Joe Paterno is being tarred with the same brush as athletic director, Tim Curley and Financial VP Gary Schultz. Let me explain. As I understand it, when Paterno actually knew of Sandusky’s activities he reported it to Curley. This is part of the chain of command. I’ve worked at colleges and universities; you step out of the line of command in many institutions, you get blackballed in ways you can’t possibly understand…Paterno, probably not…but what were his alternatives? If Curley and Schultz ignored his comments, what were his alternatives? Oh sure, he could have gone right to President Graham Spanier. Spanier would have probably patted Joe on the shoulder and told him not to worry about it. It would be taken care of. When nothing was done, should Paterno then have called a press conference and said…what? I can just hear the President and the athletic director saying to the press, “Well, you know, Joe’s getting along in years; matter of fact he’s retiring at the end of this year,” which might well have been news to Joe. In other words, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. He did what he should have done. The fact that Curley, Schultz, and Spanier did nothing about it is the real sin.

 As I said earlier, sex is one weapon to gain an advantage. After all, Delilah used it on Samson. Candidates for admission to a particular school have been offered women for sex for many, many years. A few colleges and universities have been caught, had their wrists slapped by the NCAA – that joke they call a governing association – and gone back to doing the same damned thing a few years later. Look at the number of politicians who have been brought down or nearly brought to heel by sex. Whether it was Bill Clinton getting a blowjob in the Oval Office or Larry Craig, the Senator from Idaho, trying to get some in an airport bathroom, sex seems to be one of the two great equalizers.

Sex has been used to gather intelligence from opposing sides during wars. The old days of the casting couch in Hollywood are, supposedly, a thing of the past. I say “supposedly” but I don’t know of any other way some of today’s actors and actresses could have achieved success; it surely isn’t on ability or looks. Everyday seems to bring a new sex scandal to light, the most recent being the campaign to quell Herman Cain’s bid for the White House. However, look at the number of teachers, from Maine to Florida and from East to West Coast who have been caught up in seducing students. Proportionately, all of these people are in the minority, but when there’s even a whiff of smoke, the media will find the fire. Are these sexual shenanigans shocking? Yes, they absolutely are, and they’re illegal to boot. Should the perpetrators be punished? Of course they should. Is it necessary to flog it in the media until the next scandal comes along? No, it is not, and I blame and condemn the media for beating these stories to death.

The other equalizer – as you recall, I said that sex is one of the two great equalizers – is money. Aha, now we come back to Penn State. If Penn State wins on Saturday, alumni contributions continue to pour in the following week. If Penn State makes it to a bowl, the influx of cash is even greater. Spanier, former head of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors is well aware of what a successful football team means to a D-1 college or university’s coffers. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that he was very well aware of what was going on and merely decided to sit on it. That brings us to the Penn State Board of Trustees; this scandal broke two days ago, yet the trustees are not having a meeting until Friday? I’m quite certain that quorum could be brought together within 24 hours if necessary. Board President Steve Garman, it seems to me, is not fulfilling his role as the head of Penn State’s governance. Perhaps, he and the rest of the board thought this might just “blow over.” Not in this lifetime, Mr. Garman

Think about this other equalizer or weapon. We talk a great deal about corruption and greed on Wall Street, in big banks, big oil, big this and big that. In Massachusetts, bribery of public officials seems to be commonplace. We have one House Speaker in prison and another on his way to prison. The biggest highway project in the history of the United States has been completed in Boston and it is fraught with bribery and corruption, from substandard concrete to falling light fixtures, to a ceiling panel which fell and killed a woman. If the entire truth ever comes out about “The Big Dig,” there will be more political hacks heading off to jail.

I happen to be a fan of Joe Paterno. No, I’m not a Penn State alumnus, but his resiliency, his record of honesty and fair play, his fight – along with fellow former coaches Dean Smith and John Thompson – to force Black athletes to be treated the same as white athletes, to demand that they receive a solid education; these are the things I admire about “Coach.” However, I’m trying desperately not to let that interfere with my objectivity in this case. He knew about it, yes; he did something about it, yes; could he have done more, what? What he thought was the chain of command has turned around and given him a lion-sized bite in the butt. I’m sorry, Joe; I still believe in you.

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