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Three score and ten or more

Monday, January 25, 2010


When we were graduate students with three children existing on a teaching stipend just over 100 dollars a month, we ate very cheaply.  A primary source of protein was chicken backs and necks which often sold for 10 to 15 cents a pound.  Another source was chicken wings which sold for 15 to 19 cents a pound.  A real splurge would involve ground beef which was often on special three pounds for a dollar. 

Our exciting evening came on Saturday if I wasn’t in production.  We would buy a twelve ounce bottle of Vernor’s Ginger Ale (flavor aged in barrels) for 25 cents, cool the bottle in the coldest spot in the refrigerator, dip two glasses in water and put them in the freezer, then, after the children were asleep, we would pour half a bottle each, in the frozen icy glasses then sit together on the couch, sipping and snuggling.    Occasionally we would save our pennies and buy chicken  breasts which Janet would prepare with fantastic spices and rice.

Last week, I was walking through a discount store that we patronize and noticed a sign “Chicken Wings, $1.99 per pound.”   Just below it on the freezer was “Chicken Breast, $1.39 per pound.”

The world has turned upside down.  Whatever genius came up with Buffalo Wings has taken a product which, for most of my life was one of the parts most likely to be thrown away or boiled for soup into a preferred item.    Chicken Wings selling for more that chicken breasts is almost a violation of nature, but it works.  Almost anything, packaged correctly (and who knows what is correct?) and advertised to the saturation level, can become a fad, and make millionaires along the line.

Just sit back and think of the products that have gone through a reversal during your life time. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cynical? ME???

I have been watching, as most of us have, the events in Haiti.  The pictures of children with terrible injuries, groaning elders, people wandering aimlessly from place to place, as if knowing that they must go somewhere, but have no idea where, or why.  These are images that tear at our souls.  I would give almost anything that would really help, but if seventy five plus years has taught me anything, it is that all this pain is being watched with glee by a bunch of scavengers that make jackals look like gentlefolk.

We Mormons read a scripture that has real application to this time (If you really hate Mormons, skip to the next blog now)  In Mosiah, a book of the Book of Mormon, the fourth chapter and sixteenth verse it says

“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17. Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand , and will not give him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just----

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this, the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done, he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God

19.  For behold, are we not all beggars?  Do we not all depend up on the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have.. . ..?”

Mormons think a lot about this scripture, though there are some who say, “Heck, as long as I contribute to appropriate charities I have taken care of my obligations.”

I am not that way, I take that scripture personally and seriously,  and as a result, over the years, I have made it onto every sucker list (sucker, not succor) in the country.  IN addition, if you come up to me and tell me that you are broke and need five bucks, If I have five bucks, you will get it.  Someone also has passed my address (my old one, not my present one because I live too far out in the country) to every down on his luck guy in the county.  My old house was mowed, weeded, cared for by a bunch of guys (One, named Carl, really owned my franchise and passed it around) who, if they couldn’t spot something they could do and get paid, were quick to knock on my door with “Hey, I was just wondering, could you lend me a little money today/”.

Nobody ever stood on a street corner with a sign that I could get to without causing an accident, without getting a few bucks if I had them.  I have never resented the fact that I knew that some of them were using that money to buy drugs, booze, or whatever, but I did  (and do) what I think is right.  And some of them needed a meal.  It was not uncommon for one of them, after getting five or six bucks to ask me to give him a lift to the nearest Chinese-all you can eat- Buffet. (and get it, much to the distress of some Buffet owners.)

What bothers me is a lot of money grubbing folks running adds on TV and giving five or ten percent (if anything) to the “cause of the day”.  I think my first cynical thought arose when an acquaintance with a  of mind told of an experience with the Red Cross relating to a hurricane in Texas/  He had a friend whose home was totally destroyed in the hurricane.  He wanted to help his friend but knew that the friend would not accept help directly from him.  He went to the Red Cross and asked that if he gave them five thousand dollars, would they relay it to his friend.  The agreed, he gave them a check and was very happy, until some six months later he discovered that the Red Cross had only given his friend about half of the sum.  Angered, he went to the Red Cross, who explained that they had to take out “administrative expenses'”

I love the Save the Children Federation.  My oldest daughter was adopted from a Save the Children orphanage in Finland.  They were wonderful, but my appreciation dimmed several years later when I watched  a commercial on TV for a “Save the Children” situation which feature a woebegone little girl in some South American slum.    About six months later, I was doing my job, trying to get some of my theatre students signed up with an agent, when I noticed a “9X12” on his table.  I had to ask the source of the “9X12” and discovered that this picture was of one of his modeling clients.  You guessed it, it was the woebegone little girl from the Save the Children commercial.  they still got my money for a long time, but somehow it wasn’t the same.

I went for years giving money to Police Organizations of various kinds (they call around Christmas) until I discovered that most of them distributed less than thirty percent to the folks who needed help.  I still contribute, and will to my dying day to the Georgia Sheriffs Association for the homes they support for teenagers and sub teen agers, because I have seen the work they do, and have taught their young people in classes.  I have even cut a few PSA Commercials for then over the years (Radio not TV).

I will find a way to send money to Haiti through some source that I trust, but I have become so darn cynical about charitable organizations, and I really hate it.    I confess that I was happier giving money over the phone to organizations when, in my heart,  I knew that the guy in the Boiler Room (the name for telephone solicitation rooms) was taking a big cut to make payments on his BMW, but as I get older, I really want to help, but I want to really help those who need help

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I have been staying away from politics, but this was sent to me by a friend. Some folks have been trying to knock it off from you tube, so if you don't look at it soon it may be off the air. http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/01/025329.php

Saturday, January 09, 2010

So Much for Posting at Least Once a Week

I have learned more about what it means to be a coot.  (Oldish, I say in the bio next door.)  iI have actually had a lot of stuff happen to me since I wrote that last post that is interesting enough that I will post it just so my progeny can see i and know something more about how they got the way they are.

I did get to Columbia and I sang in the open singing Messiah.  I happened to sit next to a guy who shared some experience with me.  I gave up trying to sing really good choral music for performance last year at Christmas.I had been getting the “stare” from the choral director for most of the autumn.  If you are used to being one of the best in your area ( I have been a bass, slipping into baritone and occasionally filling in as tenor if there was a shortage.  In that last few months of rehearsal I didn’t feel like I could read, or count, or much of anything)  it is hard to cope with the “stare”, especially when you know it is justified. 

The guy sitting with me in the bass (sing along) section had been through the same experience.   We both bucked up and marked our scores pretty well and I felt like I was –at least- not embarrassing myself until the next to last chorus.  I had failed to mark it in my script and was all set up for the Amen (a fairly tricky piece of music anyway) when everyone started singing something else.  By the time I figured out where we were and where we should have been we were actually on the Amen.  It was still a wonderful experience that I would not willingly have missed.  Even with the mistakes, I was on a high all the way home.

The next morning I cooked the turkey, and my family said”It is good”.  But screwing up music, and failing to screw up turkey are just some of the things that have made me aware of how much I am failing, and in how many ways.  If it weren’t for the GPS in the front of my car, I would be lost half the time.  I can hardly count the number of times I have started off to the drug store and pulled up into the Wal Mart parking lot.

When we first came to Georgia we laughed a lot about the frequency of old cars and pick-ups going down the road at ten or twenty miles per hour less than the speed limit allowed, and we chortled at how frequently the driver of such a car was a little old man wearing a hat.   We developed all kinds of funny stories about old men with hats peering over the dash board of their cars as they proceeded to whatever destination they had or didn’t have in mind.

We live about half way between Statesboro and the little town of Brooklet, where we once lived.  We have found that it is faster to take a package to be mailed to Brooklet than to the main Post Office in the “city”.  There is also a good discount (bent can) store and an excellent IGA store so we go off to Brooklet with some frequency.  Yesterday I was driving down Highway 80 to Brooklet when my wife, in her subtle way, asked me if I had forgotten my hat?  “No,” I replied, “Why would I wear a hat, the weather is cold, but sunshiny?”

There was a pause then she asked “What is the speed limit here?”  Glancing at a passing sign, I replied “55, Why?”  “How fast are you driving? “    I glanced at the speedometer and said “45 “.   “That’s what I thought as I noticed the line of cars behind us, so I wondered why you weren’t wearing your hat.”    I gulped, muttered a bit about “the most unkindest cut of all” and sped up to 55, or even a few mph above 55, and my cheery wife roared with laughter all the way to Brooklet.  She has promise to keep a hat in the back seat in case I need one again.

Mumble Grumble Mumble.  It was about the female gender that Shakespeare wrote “Age cannot wither, nor custom stale her infinite variety.”   Shakespeare didn’t have to worry about hats if he decided to slow down on the high way.