Friday, March 27, 2009

Finders Keepers

Here's what I fail to fully comprehend:

Why would anybody pay good money for something they can get for less, or better, for free?

So... the other day I'm driving along with my daughter and we spy a bathtub on the side of the road. But not any ordinary bathtub. Not the one cut in half on its' end with the Virgin Mary in it.
Not the one full of Marigolds.

No the 4' x 6' kind that has 6 jets, a motor, gold fittings and looks almost new in a soothing coral finish. That kind.

I drive on by and tell my daughter that, if it's still there when I pass by again after dropping her off at her mother's, I'll stop and investigate.

Which is what I did. It was still there. Free...take it away. The sign said so.

So I was standing there thinking about how I was going to get it home when a guy drove up and asked me if I was going to take it. I said I was trying to figure that out. He said that if I didn't want it he'd take it but then offered to help me load it onto my truck. Then the homeowner came out and he got involved.

The three of us hoisted it up on top of my Ford Explorer (damn the paint...full speed ahead!) and I strapped 'er down. On top you ask? The inside was too full of other stuff...

I arrived home and my beautiful wife was not surprised.

"Another hot tub...?"

"No...a Jacuzzi tub"

You see, last year we found a 6 foot square hot tub with a cedar surround, again on the side of the road. The kind you put in the yard and have a bunch of friends over in February and sit in and then roll around in the snow...well, not us exactly, but lunatics who do that sort of thing (Bob...!)

My neighbors helped us take it down from the top of my truck (did I say "damn the paint" already...?)

Now it's in the yard and also on Craigslist and I'll eventually sell it and have the money to get what I really want...

Whatever that is...

You see I tend to find what I need. Clothing, tools, inversion tables (brand new on a street corner in New York valued at $350.00), a working kiln, a 14' canoe...!

So, again I ask...why pay retail...or even wholesale?

Just visualize it...and it will come.

Now, how about $1,000,000.00...or a cure for cancer...or world peace...or whirled peas...?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Green (with Envy) Party

Bulletin from the "Cut to The Chase", "Tell it Like it is" Department of Human Relationship Affairs:

I'm so jealous I could spit!

Well, not me personally (ok, maybe just a little bit...), but me collectively. The Royal Me. Us as a people, as a culture, as a way of life. We're just jealous of these guys and their millions..."where's mine" we say.

I, personally, don't care if Ed Liddy or John Thain or whomsoever made money during the Credit Default Swap/Derivative Mortgage Bubble (CDSDMB) That's now, and always has been, the American Way. Better mousetrap and all...

I don't care if they have gold plated faucets and trash cans and airplanes.

I don't care if they have 7 houses, all on the same street, one for everyday of the week (and all of their mistresses...)

What I do care about, however, is the fact that they are asking for billions of dollars in help from the government (you and me, if you had forgotten...) to keep their companies solvent because their companies are "too big to fail."

Imagine going to a friend, after you have made a huge, costly mistake in your business, and asking them for financial help.

"Fred. It's Milt. I messed up at work and I need $1,000 to bail me out of a jam."

"What happened?"

"I bought a machine that only worked for a few days and now it doesn't work at all. I'm flat broke and if I don't replace it I'll go bust and my four workers will be homeless and Millie's Diner won't be able to count on our breakfast money so she'll be in trouble too."

"I see...well, in that case, where shall I mail the check? Pay me back when you can. Good luck"

"Gee, Fred, you're the best...thanks"

Next day at the supermarket:

"Hey's it goin'? Did you get the check?"

"Yeah Fred...thanks!"

"Say, what are the caviar, champagne, pate and truffles in your carriage for."

"Oh, we're having a party at work to celebrate your check. It only cost $950.00"

"Uh, I see..."

"Thanks again Fred...see ya soon!"

(Fred leaves the store mulling over the 2nd Amendment.)


The mere fact that Paulson and now Geithner are members of the Wall Street club (alumni they call 'em...) shouldn't be any cause for concern. And Vegas is running good odds on the "Larry Summers will Really Answer a Question Sweepstakes."

I'm sure that the men and women on Wall Street are not getting a sweetheart deal from their old cronies. Nah...not these guys.

No...what I do care about is the notion that these "Masters of the Universe" made bad business decisions and now we're being caused to pay for them and they could care less.

Giving back their bounses my about giving back the economy and the jobs and the memories and the retirement funds and the mental health of the nation.

How about that for a plan.

How about we fire all of these clowns and start over...put an un-employed steelworker at Labor. Put an out of work cashier at Commerce. Put a frightened housewife at Treasury. Put a laid off financial analyst in full battle gear in Afghanistan.

These are people (except maybe the analyst...emphasis on "anal"...sorry, I know, a bit sophomoric, but I couldn't help myself) who really understand working within a budget and saving for a rainy day and accepting responsibility for bad choices.

Enough! (Remember Marie Antionette anyone...?)

But then again, without the Washington/Wall Street Circus, we'd have nothing to bitch about...except the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry...and A-Rod...and Britney Spears and The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus and Bachelor and...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dixie Cups R Us

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!

I am so unbelievably and completely, totally frustrated...and angry.

And I know that I am not alone!!

I called my bank today to verify a payment.

"If you want one"

"If you want two"

"If you want three"

"If you want to committ suicide press a GUN TO YOUR HEAD...!!!"

I understand call centers. I have no problem with them. They save money and in some cases, even save time (but usually not...)

I support bringing emerging economies in line with ours (it will soon be the other way around but let's stay on topic, please...)

I understand and really love technology when applied to everyday life in a way that streamlines activities and gives me more time to worry about the lack of money in my bank account...

...oh yeah, that was the reason for my call verify a payment.

But my question could not be answered by the 75 choices I had in the electronic voice tree that was at my fingertip disposal (emphasis on disposal...)

I needed a human. I didn't care who...a guy in Kuala Lumpur...a gal in Amsterdam...a dude in Santa Monica...I couldn't have cared less...

...until I became entangled in "The Bank of America Automated Time Saving, Depositor Friendly, Drive You Nuts, Electronic Phone Tree"

It took me FOUR separate calls, each of about 5 minutes, to finally get a lovely woman in New Delhi, who told me what I needed to know.

Then I made the mistake of trying to communicate my aggravation to her. She took it personally and it took me almost another 20 minutes to assure her that my problem was not with her but with the system. By the tone of her voice I'm sure she was afraid that I would report her to her supervisor for an imagined infraction and she'd soon be feeding her family from the city dump, which is already over crowded with newly starving junketeers from Wells Fargo Bank...!

Just make the first option this one:

"Welcome to The Bank of America. If you want to talk to a human being press One.
If not, press Two for all of the 1,000,000 options that await your ever fraying 21st century patience.

Thank you.

No, I insist...F--- YOU!!!

Bring back Dixie Cups!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fork in the Road

You're walking down the road. It's wooded and verdant. Beautiful.

You come to a fork. Which way to go? Frost liked the "Road Less Travelled."


One path leads to an end...wherever...whatever....whenever.

The other one too.

But path #1 is gravelly, goes up and down hills, across streams, through the desert and is very difficult.

But you're strong and determined and you'll reach the end.

Path #2 is smooth and flat and the air is moved by a gentle breeze and the temperature is steady and comfortable.

Along the way there are several oases and meadows to relax in. There are fruit trees and cool ponds to refresh in. And there are even people to carry you part of the way if you get too tired to walk.

Path #1 is dry and dusty and there isn't much water so you'll have to carry your own. There are no fruit trees or berry bushes so you'll have to carry your own food too. There are no meadows to sleep in so you'll be spending the nights on the cold hard ground. There are no other travellers interested in carrying you...they are too busy making their own way.

Choose either path and you get to the end...your end...wherever that is.

Which would you choose...?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

But...It is Broke...!

My small town is charming. Tree lined, sidewalked streets. Family parks and a wonderful town common.

We have four very good elementary schools, a fine middle school and one of the best high schools in the state.

But we have our heads up our...

We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years beautifying our already beautiful, quaint New England town center.

We now have lovely brick sidewalks and crosswalks and brand new light poles with reproduction gaslight housings.

We have tidy benches that are bolted securely in place and strategically placed around town (facing either the roadway or nearby buildings...Godforbid they should face flowers or trees or parks...or each other, fostering human interaction.)

We have planters with the names of those who donated them (trashed every spring by our highly evolved college student population) and one of our walkways, which leads into an especially cute little park, is made up entirely of the engraved names of the loved ones of the people who bought the bricks. In both cases we paid for the installment by the town DPW.

We are also cutting language classes and some of the arts and certain activities because we can't "afford" them (one of the highest tax rates in the state) and there is even talk of closing one of the elementary schools; the smallest one...the one associated with the education department at the university.

What is wrong with us? What the hell is our collective problem?

The United States is lagging far behind other industrialized nations and is being challenged at every turn by the new, former 3rd world, forces in the world; Brazil, China and India.

Those folks all know how to read and write and cipher and think grand thoughts. They can invent and fix and imagine and manifest. They work really hard and prize education. They are not, yet, slaves to popular culture (just wait a few years and they, too, will probably become Disnefied...)

We, on the other hand, spend our money on high school football and i-Pods and McDonalds and brick sidewalks and crosswalks and fancy light poles. Our kids can't read or write or identify Wyoming on a map (remember Pacino's sidekick in "Dog Day Afternoon", when asked what country he wanted to escape to, said, "Wyoming?" He must not have known Dick Cheney lives there...) We're satisfied with a "B "(too bad the world requires straight "A's" to get ahead)

If we, as a culture, don't wake up very soon, all of the beautification will have been for naught because there won't be anyone out and about to use the new stuff.

We'll all be in the unemployment line or in the soup kitchen or in the homeless shelter or hanging by our necks in the garage because we fiddled while our Rome burned to the ground. We'll be a society of Walmart Happy Faces.

Perish the thought!

But we'll deserve it...

Friday, March 6, 2009

All's Fair in...

It's not about the money.

It's not about the fame.

Or the stuff.

It's about fairness.

I don't think we really care (allright, maybe a little...) about the fact that Mr. Generic CEO of whatever Fortune 100 company is making $400,000,000.00 per year plus options and bonuses (bonae...boni...?)

Go for it! You did your homework in school (ok...Exeter and Yale...) You made the right career and business choices. You had the great idea. You got ahead (on whose backs we don't know, but never mind the cynicism...)

You are a success!

I am a failure by western standards. I fooled around in school and played music and chased girls and decided on a life in the "arts" and made the wrong choices and am nearly living under a bridge with a bottle of Night Train (ok...a 2004 Petrus...but never mind...) I am broke.

But here's where the fairness issue kicks in.

Why in holy hell am I bailing you out? You made some bad business decisions (the horror...!)

You screwed up.

Now I am giving you money (well, not me exactly...because my taxes are so low...but you know what I mean) to keep you in business?

Where's my bailout for bad choices? Where's Washington when I need it (spare me about potholes and public schools and the military...unless I can send all of that to my mortgage company...)

Are you kidding?

Well, I guess not.


Hand outs and hats (bowlers only...) off to you!

And these clowns who are "sacrificing" by working for an annual salary of $1.00...!

If they can afford to do that...THEY DON'T NEED OUR MONEY!!

Let 'em fail. Let 'em go bankrupt. Let 'em eat sh.........!

Oops, carried blog and all.

But, really...

Let's be fair...

Yeah...that's it...

LET'S BE FAIR!!!!!!!