Tag Archives: idiots

The Lunatic Is On The Grass

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“You in the mood?” “Nope. You?” “Not a chance.”

We are doomed as a species. Not as a civilization or a nation, but as a species. Our exit from the Earth is not assured by some comet bearing down on us nor will some accident in a biological lab unleash a super-virus to take us out. We have nothing to fear from Nibiru Planet X, nanotechnology, or grey goo. We are doomed to emulate the dodo for the same reason the giant panda dozes towards extinction — simply put, we have become too stupid to live.

Allow me to explain. The Giant Panda is easily one of the most recognizable animals in the world. It is a national symbol for the People’s Republic of China; it serves as the hidden logo of the World Wildlife Fund. It is a fuzzy, fluffy ball of black and white adorableness beloved the world over and it is rapidly moving towards extinction partially because of habitat loss, but mainly due to a huge decline in birthrates. The decline in birthrate is most troublesome because biologists can’t find a really good reason for it other than the fact that pandas don’t seem much interested in mating!

China has set aside a HUGE tract of land — larger than many countries — just for pandas to live in. Only government biologists are allowed to enter the preserve. Anyone else trying to get into the preserve gets SHOT by the unit of the CHINESE ARMY guarding the place. Several major zoos all over the world have dedicated breeding programs for giant pandas, but the pandas aren’t giving birth often enough to sustain the species. In case it’s gotten by anyone, Giant Pandas basically have two jobs in the world these days: eat bamboo and make baby pandas. That’s it. Unfortunately, it’s too much for them because the entire panda species has lost its collective groove.  Folks, I don’t know if anyone will agree with me, but once a species can’t manage enough libido to keep the population viable, it’s time to just let it go. That species has gotten too stupid to live anymore.

So have we.

I have proof.

“Dear lord! Run away, run away!

Last night, Budge and I were listening to the local radio station playing all Christmas music all the time when the John Tesh Show came on. John is apparently famous for something; don’t know what and don’t care, but it is enough to land him a radio gig weeknights from 7 – 10 during which he broadcasts little snippets called “Intelligence For Your Life.” One segment last night did it for me and any hope I have we are improving as organisms. He said researchers at some top university labs have warned people against handling cash register receipts for long at a time because it is detrimental to health. He said the receipt ink contains BPH which is the latest bogey-man chemical we have to keep out of our systems at all costs because some lab rats somewhere got cancer when they were exposed to high levels of BPH. Furthermore, NEVER use alcohol based hand sanitizer before handling a receipt because the alcohol causes the BPH-laced ink to dissolve and enter a person’s skin at an alarming rate.

Allow me to summarize. Some scientists in some lab somewhere have enough time AND RESOURCES tdetermine HANDLING CASH REGISTER RECEIPTS MAY KILL YOU! We don’t have a cure for cancer. We don’t have flying cars. We’ve abandoned space flight. Instead of any of the traditional noble pursuits of science, we are funding people to test the toxicity of CASH REGISTER RECEIPTS! You know, if it was just this one kooky story on a random radio program, I probably wouldn’t be ready to chuck our civilization onto the garbage heap of time, but deadly chemical laced register receipts are simply the final proof we have gotten too stupid to live.

Mothers enter a state of paralysis over which brand of “all natural, completely organic food” to feed their babies. It is now considered near child abuse to let a kid have half an hour of unstructured play time. You can go to jail if your baby’s car seat doesn’t meet the specifications for ejection from an F-22 Raptor cruising at Mach 2. Parents are calling COLLEGE PROFESSORS to try getting “little Joanie’s” grades changed. Our upcoming generations are so mollycoddled and pampered we will be lucky if the little hot house flowers survive to reproductive age and even if they do, their parents are probably going to have to help them with that too.

Men are no better. The average man has about as much chance of fixing a minor plumbing problem in his house as Bill Cosby does of ever being on television again. Working on a simple electrical circuit is as foreign to them as a Moroccan Kasbah. Car companies have made their cars impossible for any shade tree mechanic or dedicated DIYer to work on, not because it makes a better car but because of lawsuits. If the car is impossible to repair at home, no one is going to do something boneheaded, lose a finger, and SUE THE COMPANY!

If you don’t agree we’ve become too stupid to live, just read the warning labels on products. The last belt I bought for my 2003 Element had a warning on the back in huge bold type saying “DO NOT attempt to change belts with the engine running.” Every bottle of shampoo, stick of deodorant, and can of mousse in our bathroom has a warning stating “For EXTERNAL USE only.” Our iron has a tag on the power cord reminding us “DO NOT iron clothes while wearing them.” For any of these products to sport these labels two things have happened: 1) Some idiot somewhere tried to replace a fan belt with the car running or something similar and 2) said idiot successfully sued the product’s company for a huge sum of money because the company didn’t warn him against being an idiot. I hate to admit it because I am a certifiable gun nut myself, but I’m starting to seriously reconsider my stance on gun control just because we have entirely too many people with guns who have NO IDEA how to use a gun safely, if they can use it at all.

So here we are, hurtling towards oblivion trying to dodge poisonous cash register receipts and deadly water bottles. If anyone were to ask me today what movie I think best predicts our future here, I’d skip all the usual suspects like Armageddon, Deep Impact, Planet of the Apes, or 2012. Instead, I think the movie with our civilization’s name on it is a little watched flick called Idiocracy.

Watch it and shiver.

Love ya’ll, and keep those feet clean.

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The Nobel Putz Prize

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Alfred Nobel is thrashing about in his grave.

You gave my award to whom?! I want my money back.

You gave my award to whom?! I want my money back.

The cause of his unrest is once again the prize for peace he established to salve his conscience after inventing dynamite has become a farce. Since 1901, The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded annually (with some exceptions like during both world wars) to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. Since its inception, an amazing array of people and organizations have won the prestigious award.

In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt won the prize for brokering the peace treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War. The International Red Cross won in 1917 and 1944 — the only awards given during a world war — for helping ease suffering. In 1953, Gen. George Marshall received the award for successfully pushing his plan to rebuild war-ravaged western Europe. The list of people and organizations rewarded for promoting peace goes on and contains names like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Andri Sakharov, Lech Walesa, Elie Weisel and Nelson Mandela.

Many times in the last several years, though, the awards committee was apparently drinking heavily before picking the winner of the prize meant for promoting peace. For example, in 2007, Irena Sendler was a front-runner for the award. This elderly Polish lady had helped save 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto at the cost of imprisonment and severe torture. Instead of giving her the award, however, the committee chose Al Gore for his “work” on bringing attention to global warming . . . because that certainly counts as working for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. Similarly, US President Barack Obama won in 2009 after doing . . . pretty much nothing to win the award. He was only nine months into his first term as President! Then last year, the European Union won the award. Why? Inquiring minds would love to know. As bad as those picks were, this morning’s announcement represents one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the 112 year history of this prestigious award and is proof to me the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has become just another geo-political shill peddling some kind of watered down political correctness.

Is it just me or does Al Gore look like a dead ringer for Jimmy Hoffa?

Is it just me or does Al Gore look like a dead ringer for Jimmy Hoffa?

The apparent front-runners for the award this year seemed to be poised to reverse the specious trend, however. Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynecologist who pioneered ways to rebuild women’s insides after they were destroyed by gang rapes common during the region’s civil war. He and his clinic fellows have treated over 30,000 women brutalized by soldiers. At age 86, Lyudmila Alexeyeva is one of the old school Soviet dissidents still actively speaking out against the now Russian government. She started her protesting during the black days of Soviet oppression and she’s still going strong opposing the new laws concerning homosexuality in Russia. She gets death threats often, but at 86, she figures it doesn’t matter much! Claudia Paz y Paz is Guatemala’s first female attorney general and — again despite death threats — is the first government official to arrange and pursue prosecution of the people responsible for the human rights abuses committed by the military dictatorship during Guatemala’s civil war. Until she took her post, no one had thought to try bringing these madmen to justice.

Then you have Malala Yousafzai. At the jaded and cynical age of TWELVE, she started a blog speaking out against the Taliban who held sway over her home region in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. She was upset that girls were treated so poorly and denied education and she spoke out about it, loudly. Her blog started picking up viewers and by the time she was fourteen, she’d caught the notice of Taliban “officials” to the point she was getting warnings to stop. Instead, she upped her efforts. This enraged the rabid followers of the peaceful Islamic religion to the point on October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman stopped the vehicle she was riding home from school in and SHOT HER IN THE HEAD! Instead of dying like a normal person, she survived and was airlifted first to a big hospital in Pakistan where she was stabilized then flown to the UK where she had as much of the damage repaired as possible.

At this point, most people would get the message and just shut up. Instead, Malala kept right on going and as soon as she was able, she resumed her blogging and on July 12, 2013, she addressed the United Nations about acting to ensure the right to education for females all over the world. She’s still writing, still blogging, and still speaking. Oh, and the Taliban leadership have gone on record stating they will finish her off as soon as they get the chance. In an interview with CNN, Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said Malala was targeted because she was used in propaganda against the militants. The Taliban would target her again if given the chance, just as it would target anyone who opposes the group, Shahid told CNN. “She accepted that she attacked Islam so we tried to kill her, and if we get another chance we will definitely kill her and that will make us feel proud,” he was quoted as saying. Wow. Just, wow. Real peaceful religion y’all got there Shahid.

Yeah, girl, you got ripped off, but keep on smilin'.

Yeah, girl, you got ripped off, but keep on smilin’.

So with all these worthy candidates, the committee had hard work ahead of them. Or so it seemed. Instead, they ignored all the people making a huge difference and awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”. Who? Better yet, WHAT? This year’s prize was awarded to a bureaucratic agency supposedly overseeing the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons, and MY, MY, MY haven’t they done a bang-up job?! So Peace takes a backseat to politics once again and I’m surprised that I’m actually surprised!

What. A. Joke.

Well, as Chicago Cubs fans always say, “Maybe next year.”

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

The Losing of the Lost Cause

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In the painting “With Flags Flying” by Mort Kunstler, Brig. General Lew Armistead leads his men up Cemetery Ridge with his hat atop his sword during the ill fated Pickett’s Charge.

Today we mark the end of what is variously called The War Between the States, The War of Northern Aggression, The War of Southern Independence, Abe Lincoln’s War, or — most neutrally — The American Civil War. Now, I know enough history to know the war ended in toto on April 12, 1865  at Appomattox Courthouse, but for all intents, the Confederacy lost the war July 3, 1863; it just took two more years to realize it, but in military terms, the South lost the war at the Battle of Gettysburg, which ended 150 years ago today.

Since it is impossible to duck slavery when the Civil War is the topic, I’ll say anyone who says the issue of slavery was the sole cause of the war is ignorant of history; while anyone who says the issue of slavery had nothing to do with the  war is an unmitigated fool. The Civil War had many roots and slavery was the largest, but men also fought for other reasons. This war also shares one tragic trait with all wars , it was started by the rich men and fought by the poor ones.

Regardless of origins, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg made clear what anyone then or now knew all along — the Confederacy was doomed. People — especially my fellow Southerners — like to blather on about how losing the war came down to blockades or lack of allies and other such drivel. They seem to think, as did my sainted great-grandmother Mattie Gray, “If we’d had just one more corn crop we’d have whipped the Yankees.” Nothing is farther from the truth. Truthfully, the South had a snowball’s chance in Columbia, SC of winning the war the moment the battery in Charleston opened fire on Fort Sumter.

The northern army outnumbered us in every way that matters in a war: they had more men, more guns, more bullets, more ships, more artillery, more food, and when I say more, I don’t mean a LITTLE more, I mean a crap-load more! We were outnumbered nearly three to one in soldiers alone. Southerners don’t like to hear this, but the only reason we did so well in the first two years of the war was the unbroken string of idiots and morons commanding the Army of the Potomac. Immediately following Gettysburg, President Lincoln called Grant and Sherman east and the gig was up. Those two men realized this wasn’t a garden party and war — by definition — meant a LOT of people die. Though casualties stayed the largely the same in the South while doubling in the North under the new generals’ command, they had way more men to lose than us.

Strangely, the very hopelessness of the War Between the States contributes to its romantic status — at least in the South. The David versus Goliath aspect brings misty tears to wild-eyed Southern boys, and nowhere is this love of the hopeless more apparent than in the concluding action of Gettysburg — one of the bravest, most gallant, most needless, and most useless mass discardings of life in the history of this continent — Pickett’s Charge.

Since books have been written about Pickett’s Charge, I’ll dispense with the details other than this event is known as the “High Watermark of the Confederacy.” For two days, Blue and Grey had pounded one another and it seemed General Lee’s invaders were getting the best of General Meade’s defenders, but they couldn’t break the lines and force an end to the battle. What they needed was a knockout punch and what Lee dreamed up — some believe in the throes of a minor heart attack — was Pickett’s Charge. In a nutshell, 13,000 Southerners under the command of General George Pickett would charge across the ground between the two armies, shatter the Union center, and secure victory for the Army of Northern Virginia.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, the long Confederate artillery barrage mostly sailed long and landed harmlessly behind the Union position. Also, Lee  underestimated the damage his army had done in the first two days. Finally, the ground between the positions was smooth, grassy, and devoid of any cover for the attacking Southerners. The result was 13,000 boys in grey marched out against one of the most heavily dug in positions the Union achieved during the war. Cannons firing canister shot (picture huge shotgun blasts) blew hole after hole in the Confederate line and time and again, the Southerners closed ranks around their dead and dying and continued in good order across the killing field. With Southern grit and gallantry, they broke the Union line at the top of the hill . . . only to find Union reinforcements no one knew of.

The fresh bluebellies plugged the gap leaving spent Southerners nowhere to go except back across the open field. Casualties were enormous. Barely an hour after the charge began, over 50% of the attacking force lay dead or dying on the green fields of Gettysburg. General Pickett summed up the scene in his simple, heartbreaking answer to Lee’s order to reform his division in preparation for a counter charge by the Union troops saying, “General, I HAVE no division.” From the High-water Mark of the Confederacy, the Southern troops receded slowly, brokenly, tortuously, but inexorably back into Virginia and on towards Appomattox.

I first heard of the place Pickett’s Charge occupies in Southern legend and myth when my  AP US History teacher, Mr. Sublett, quoted quintessential Southern writer, William Faulkner’s words from Intruder in the Dust:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out . . . waiting for Longstreet to give the word

I hope everyone has a tremendous Independence Day feast; be careful with the fireworks, remember I love you all and keep your feet clean!

 

 

 

 

Behind Every Great Fortune . . .

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logo@2xHonore de Balzac once remarked, “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” I would like to appropriate his comment in a paraphrase to state “Behind at least one growing fortune likes a great hypocrisy.” Anyone who knows me for long will discover at some point in our relationship I hate three things above all others — cabbage, the New York Yankees, and hypocrisy. I would rather deal with a pathological liar than a hypocrite because at least with a liar, you know what you’ve got. I realize I’ve often been cited as having no filter for my opinions, but I prefer to look at it as letting everyone know where I stand. The reason for this particular rant against hypocrisy has its roots in a “direct sales” party Budge attended just before school was out.

I love direct sales parties. Where else can you make rent money by guilting your friends and your friends’ friends into buying overpriced stuff they will never use while they are under the sway of a glass or two of Bi-Lo wine and surfeit of those little cream filled chocolate eclair poofs from Costco? Personally, I’m a Pampered Chef junkie. I have the ice cream scoop, apple corer, a set of utensils, and a sweet, lime green santoku knife. With direct sales, you know you’re getting huckstered, but that’s okay because you’re going to do the same thing to this same group of people at your next “party.”

Still, I cannot abide hypocrisy and to me the worst form of hypocrisy is that which strives to make money or any other form of gain through the use of reference to the Bible, Jesus, God, or any other type of religious iconography. The company which has attracted my ire most recently for this egregious profiteering is Thirty-One.  Oh, let the hue and cry begin. How can I come down on such a wholesome group? Why, the very name “Thirty-One” is a reference to Proverbs 31; a Bible passage which outlines the graces and superlatives of the ideal woman. However, as the son of a real Proverbs 31 woman and the husband of another, I take offense at Thirty-One’s hypocrisy that appears on the little tags inside every piece of Thirty-One merchandise  which say “Made In China.”

Here is the email I sent the customer service department of Thirty-One after discovering all of the items Budge had bought said Made In China:

Dear Thirty-One:

My wife brought home her recently purchased order of Thirty-One product today and as I was looking over her goods, I found to my great dismay that each item was labeled “Made in China.” I hope an organization like yours, which purports to be founded on “Christian ideals and principles” and mentions the name of God several times in your material would have a legitimate reason for purchasing your products wholesale from the greatest persecutor of Christians since Domitian ruled Rome. Child labor, slave labor, human rights violations by the score AND unyielding persecution and outright murder of Christians are daily facts of life in China yet you do business with them. Please, I beg you, spare me the tired saw of “well, it’s the only way we can AFFORD to sell at the price we do,” because the minute you say that, you are out of the realm of God and into the realm of Mammon.

I don’t have an issue with your company if you want to make money. Making money in all throughout the Scriptures and is a linchpin in the passage of Proverbs the company is named for, but I have serious issues with your company if you are using God like so many politicians today — as a marketing tool — all the while filling the coffers of an avowedly atheistic regime, I don’t mind entrepreneurship but I detest hypocrisy in all it’s forms. Dealing with China is as much a deal with the devil as the nefarious bargain Faust struck himself in Goethe’s masterwork.

There is no reason your textile based products cannot be made in America. Certainly the costs would triple, if not more, but again, I must ask whom do you serve? God or Mammon? I will also grant you this nation of ours is fallen far, far from the “Light Upon A Hill” some of our Puritan forebears wished it to be — if indeed it ever really was — but so far, our government does not openly or covertly execute Christians as “enemies of the state” and that is an extremely important distinction.

Perhaps you buy your items from a wholeseller and didn’t know of the origin of the goods, in which case I would think you are poor businesspeople, but at least not hypocrites. Now you know where the textiles originate so the question remains — what are you going to do about it? Are you going to keep treating with a godless and atheistic nation that persecutes people just for naming the name of Christ — whom you claim to serve — or will you buy your goods from somewhere Christians are free to worship as they choose. It doesn’t even have to be the USA, but it certainly mustn’t be the People’s Republic of China.

For the record, I am not a particularly enthusiastic Bible thumper. I am a political liberal, so don’t get the wrong idea, please.

I hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely,
Shannon Wham

I sent this email June 1st. I haven’t written anything about it because I wanted the company to have time to explain itself. So far, a month later, all I have received is the following email:

Hello Shannon,

Thank you for contacting Thirty-One Gifts’ Consultant Support! We appreciate your concern about our products. I have forwarded your concerns onto our management department, and they will be reviewing them as soon as they can. Thank you again!

Please contact us again if you have any further questions.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you,

Alycia
Thirty-One Gifts
Consultant Support Representative

I don’t have an axe to grind with Thirty-One. They are trying to make money and let other people have a piece of the pie too. What I have a problem with is they passing themselves off as a wonderfully Christian organization while at the same time buying their goods from China.

Folks, I said what I had to say in the email, but not to put too fine a point on it by way of summary they KILL CHRISTIANS IN CHINA! The government has a very sanitized state run church and its members are generally viewed with suspicion, but to be a member of an underground house church is a death sentence. Knowing this, how can a “Christian Company” with a name taken directly from the Bible have dealings with these people?

Maybe you can answer me in the comments.

Until then, love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Speak Softly and Carry a Frying Pan

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As I face my first Mother’s Day without Mama, I thought I’d tell y’all one of my favorite stories ever about me and Mama. I have been known to embellish my tales, but this one is the absolute truth.

I was sixteen and as a byproduct of such a sage and wizened age, I knew everything about everything and if you didn’t believe me, all you had to do was ask. Mama was 34 — a year younger than my Budge is right now. We were living in “The Little Barn,” which was our name for the 1960-something vintage trailer we called home for several years. It pretty much was a barn, no central heat . . . no heat at all in the back of the house where my room was . . . and no central air, just a window unit mounted in the wall in the living room. The carpet was hand-me-down from my aunt after she’d changed rugs at her place. It was a sight for sore eyes and it rocked like a sailboat in a hurricane when the wind blew, but it was home.

This is what I cut grass with .  .  .  no lie.

This is what I cut grass with . . . no lie.

Anyway, this particular day was a Thursday right around this time of year. I remember it well because the grass needed to be cut and that was my job. I never particularly looked forward to cutting our grass because my instrument for mowing our 3/4 acre lot was a 19 inch bladed push mower and it was decidedly not self-propelled. This was also in the days before wonder drugs like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra had been invented. I’ve chronicled my battle with hay fever before in these pages so I won’t go into great detail now, but suffice it to say by the time I finished cutting all that volunteer fescue with my Fisher-Price toy lawnmower, I could either endure the rest of the day sneezing and itching or take two Benadryl capsules and slip into a coma. But I digress.

It was a Thursday and I had three things propelling me towards my doom: my new ’79 Mustang, a newly upgraded drivers license, and daylight. A few years later at Clemson University, weekends always started on Thursdays, but a young man tearing out the door after supper on what was still a school night then was severely frowned upon in Mama’s household.

I had one hand on the doorknob with visions of picking up Robby and just wandering around the countryside telling lies, going a little too fast around curves, listening to loud music, and hoping to catch a glimpse of that elusive creature — the beautiful teenage girl. Mama was washing the dishes from supper and at that moment, she was cleaning out the 12″ cast iron frying pan (or skillet to you yankees among my limited readership) she’d used to fry my favorite breaded okra with earlier in the evening. She had just placed that hunk of pig iron on the stove eye where it lived when she noticed me still in “school clothes” and fixing to walk out the door. She turned back to the sink and as she did, she asked me a question — a simple question really — that would change my estimation of Mama for the rest of my life. She said, “Son, where are you going?”

I could have answered with any number of phrases, the absolute truth being best, that I was going to get Robby, put a few hard Community Cash earned dollars worth of gas in the car and drive around wasting time and daylight. That’s all I had to say and the evening would have simply progressed on. Unfortunately, I was sixteen and a boy. I also possessed one of the smartest mouths in three counties and I had a delightful talent for opening it at the wrong time and letting it say the wrong thing. Tonight, my smart mouth shoved my much less bulky good sense out of the way and blurted one word, “OUT!”

Mama paused in her dishwashing and visibly tensed, but she almost immediately went back to the suds in the sink and her back asked me a second innocuous question, “Okay, and when do you plan on being back?” Once I let my mouth off its rather long chain, it had a tendency to overdo things so I missed the chance to have a pleasant evening when I replied with yet another one word answer, “LATER!”

Again, Mama tensed up. I learned later on that weekend that I had just used the same intonation, phrasing, and even voice patterns my Daddy used when he and Mama were dating and later on when they were still married and he was off to do some mischief. Mama HATED that “Out; Later” nonsense coming from Daddy. She didn’t like it any better coming from me, but what happened next is what sealed my fate. She had again started washing the dishes and softly, without turning around, she said, “That’s funny, son. Now really, where are you going and when do you plan on being back? It’s a school night.”

Gentle reader, have you ever had an out of body experience where you have seemed to stand beside yourself as you did something unbelievably stupid and your astral self is screaming at your physical self “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Will Robinson!” But your physical self just plowed right on through that big red mental STOP sign up ahead? Well, that’s how I felt when I spoke next.

I was sixteen and basically grown — in my own eyes — and I had a car Daddy had bought me so Mama had no business telling ME — A MAN — where to go, do, and be back. As Daddy had famously told her himself on more than one occasion “No damn woman is going to tell me what to do.” So, I spoke again and very nearly paid for my words with my life when I said, loudly with all the confidence of a teenage boy who feels ten feet tall and bulletproof, “IT’S NONE OF YOUR (horrible expletive I’d never used in front of Mama deleted) BUSINESS WHERE I’M GOING OR WHEN (second horrible never used in Mama’s presence expletive deleted) I PLAN TO BE BACK! I’M A GROWN MAN!”

In the right hands, deadly weapon.

In the right hands, deadly weapon.

As God whom I serve is my witness, I didn’t know that little woman could move that fast. In one smooth, swift motion, she pivoted on her left foot, snatched up that cast iron frying pan in her right hand, and stepped and threw a sidearm cookware fastball that would have made Kent Tekulve blush with shame it was so perfect. I never saw it coming until it was too late to do anything about it. That heavy hunk of iron spun a few times between me and Mama and — mercifully — struck me right in the solar plexus with the lip instead of the handle. If the pan had rotated another half turn, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because I’d have been skewered by an iron handle.

The force of the blow staggered me backwards and I caught my knees on the arm of the sofa, lost my balance, and sprawled backwards, arms flailing, to land flat on my back after cracking my skull on the coffee table on the way down. As I lay there in a dazed stupor with my head and chest throbbing in my feet still twitching in the air on the sofa cushion like a mosquito on a date with DDT, I heard the refrigerator door open, something get removed, and footsteps coming towards me. Before I could clear my head at all, Mama slung the contents of the ice water pitcher all over my face and upper body, causing me to sit up and split my forehead on the bottom of the coffee table as I rose.

As I sat spluttering and breathless, Mama put her face millimeters away from mine, which was good because my eyes were having trouble focusing, and said very quietly and carefully, “You will never speak to me in that manner again; do you understand?” I could only nod my most vehement, impassioned assent. Then she said, “When you get your breath back, you get up, change clothes, and go cut the grass, yes?”

My pride was soaked and my head and chest were pained but that skinny bundle of good sense had whipped and hog-tied my smart mouth for a change so all I could croak was, “Yes, ma’am,” as Mama nodded and walked off.

I love her still and God knows I miss her.

Love y’all as well, keep those feet clean, and as you honor or remember your own mothers this Sunday, if you’d say a prayer for me, I’d certainly appreciate it.

Immigration Hypocrisy Makes Me Sick

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Silence is deafening, isn’t it?

I can tolerate all manner of offensive behavior without much protest, but three things will consistently anger me beyond my ability to remain silent. They are, in no certain order, lying, abuse of animals, old people, or children, and bald-faced hypocrisy. From what I keep reading in the news day after day, I firmly believe many politicians and American citizens are out-and-out hypocrites on the subject of illegal immigration.

The English Pilgrims and Jamestown colonists got off the boat in modern-day Massachusetts and Virginia, respectively, and they would have died to a man if not for the grace of God and the kindness of the native Indians of their regions. How they repaid God’s grace is a matter of debate, but how they thanked the Indians is a matter of historical record. Smallpox infected blankets, lies upon lies, and blatant disregard for Indian culture and natural rights. Down south, the Spaniards were much more direct. A conquistador would simply ask “Do you have gold? Good, we will take it all. Thank you. Now, you are our slaves, carry your, I mean, my gold to the ship.” Then, a wonderfully pious priest would ask, “Do you believe in God? Who is that? He isn’t the real god. Convert and we’ll let you live or cling to your stupid backward ways and we’ll torture you until you convert then kill you so you can go straight to Heaven.”

That was just the 16th Century.

Deemed savages because they didn’t understand or practice ownership of land and didn’t worship the Christian’s God, by that name anyway, they were worthy of extermination. The cry of the public was “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” By the 21st Century, Indians controlled less than 1% of the continent they once stewarded and tended. Well, folk, karma is a bitch. If the Hindu reference bothers you, then how about a Christian reference from the Apostle Paul in Galatians, “Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” That’s where the hypocrisy begins.

We took this land by force in the fervent belief that it was our Destiny and now some of us are pissed off people from all over the world, but mostly from Mexico, want a piece of the pie. We stole the whole cupboard and pantry and we grudge others the crumbs. Our ancestors set out in rickety ships to “find a better life” and they brave burning deserts with no water to do what? “Find a better life.” What made our ancestors so right and the new “illegals” so wrong?

People want to say, “Well, if they want to come here they should go about it ‘the right way.”” Why? Why exactly should they follow any of our laws and customs? We didn’t follow any native laws or customs to take what we wanted from them? Why do we howl so loudly now that what went around has come around? People want to say, “but that was different.” How was it different, exactly? Because they were brown instead of white? Because they weren’t “cultured?” That doesn’t fly.

It’s “different” because THEY AREN’T US.

The big argument people love to use is “They’re taking all our jobs!” Really? Just exactly what jobs are these people stealing? When is the last time you saw an illegal looking Latino individual (whatever that means) working a job you would want to have? Let’s see, landscaping? I’m sure hundreds of good strong Americans are just lined up to fill all the landscaping jobs once we deport the illegal Hispanics. I mean, who among us doesn’t want to spread truckloads of mulch, cut grass, and dig irrigation trenches in 100 degree heat?

The fact is, the only jobs the vast majority of so-called illegals are filling are the jobs business owners can’t fill with anyone else. I have an acquaintance who owns his own full service car wash. It’s not pleasant work. Wiping off cars on a slab of concrete in blazing heat and freezing cold with dampness all around is my picture of misery. He’s in his 33rd year of business. According to him, the first twenty years he filled his lines with college students home for the summer or high school dropouts learning a hard lesson.  The last ten years, though, he can’t get the college students or the dropouts. The work is “too hard.”

So, he fills all his positions with Hispanics and adores them. Both men and women are always neat, clean, prompt, and hard-working. He doesn’t have to do nearly as much supervision as he once did because all his workers are a community. They live together, eat together, and go to and from work together. They police themselves, and as he puts it, “They push a lot of cars through and make me a lot of money.”

Speaking of them being “together,” I have listened to so many good Christian people make fun of some Hispanics because they pack three and four families into a single wide trailer or a ridiculous number of them ride in a single car. Okay, riddle me this then all you stand up comedians, what kind of life and living conditions are these people LEAVING where being packed up like sardines, surviving off whatever they can get in cash, and generally being looked down upon by the people they serve is BETTER? If how they have to live here is BETTER, what in the name of all that’s holy are they getting away from?

The bottom line is this country was founded on the idea you could come here with nothing, work your fingers to the bone for a long time, and eventually “have something”. It’s called The American Dream. Why are we, a country of rebels and entrepreneurs, so incensed at a newer, hungrier wave of people coming in to grab a share of the pie? At least, we can be relatively certain they don’t plan to exterminate us as we did those who were here before us.

Something to think about. Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

 

The Perils and Pitfalls of Prescription PAs

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EffexorIt’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I figured I owe my few but loyal readers an explanation of where I disappeared to for the past fortnight. Quite simply, my meds were screwed up.

For those who are late joining this party, I have some mental health issues that I’m not particularly proud of, but which I don’t make any pretense of hiding either. Without knowing it, I’ve followed the advice Tyrion Lannister sagely gives Jon Snow to “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” I’ve just supposed as long as I’m open about my issues, no one can throw them up at me and I may just help someone else along the way.

But I digress.

First of all, you must know I am thankful for my wife’s very good insurance coverage which allows us to buy medicines with only a small co-pay. I remember some years ago when we went through a period with no insurance at all and it gave me a tremendous appreciation for those co-pays as well as an equally tremendous hatred of pharmaceutical companies which is a rant for another time. During that stretch, my primary anti-depressant — Effexor XR — hadn’t crossed over to the generic side of the street and a bottle of 30 cost slightly north of $200 dollars. Luckily, Mama was still making good money then and carried me for about a year buying that expensive medicine monthly.

Now, though, times have changed a bit. I require two capsules per day to keep on a somewhat even keel. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, our insurance company claims to know more about my mental health needs than my wonderful psychiatrist. According to them, I should STILL only need one capsule per day, and therein lies the rub. In order to get my two capsules per day allotment, I must obtain the dreaded “prior authorization” form and have Dr. Stephens fill it out and fax it to the insurance company.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with some ways insurance screws you over, here’s a jolly good one — they don’t keep you from getting as much medicine as you want. If you have a prescription with six refills on it, you can get ALL SIX refills at one time if you desire . . . but they are not paying for it. I can get 30 capsules (or fifteen days worth) for $12.50 but unless I get the PA signed and faxed, the other 30 capsules to finish the month will set me back over $100 — and Effexor IS generic now.

Oh look! It's a map of the Eleventh Circle of Hell!

Oh look! It’s a map of the Eleventh Circle of Hell!

I’ve had to do this moronic little dance now for over five years. My 12 month PA runs out in November and I have to get a new one pushed through so I can get my December prescription filled. Well, this year when I got my November refill, the pharmacist didn’t put anything on the bottle about my PA running out as she had done for the last several years. That got me to thinking I no longer needed a PA since this was the first year for generic Effexor.  I went merrily about my way and got a refill again on December 26, 2012 and still had no information about needing any forms renewed. When that bottle ran out, I called in a refill once again and picked it up. When THAT bottle ran out, I called in another refill and trouble started immediately.

Apparently, I DID still need a prior authorization back in December, but with no note or anything, I failed to notice the bottle only had 30 capsules in it. Furthermore, when I picked up the second refill in January, that bottle only contained 15 days worth of medicine as well. So when I went back to get refill two for this year, the computer shut me down. I couldn’t get my refill without getting a new PA on file.

Now in the past, the computer would shut me down in November so I would get the 15 day supply, download the form, take the form personally to Dr. Stephens, watch him fill it out, and fax it to them myself. This time, with no note, I didn’t pay attention — which is my fault — to either bottle I refilled so I found myself sitting at the window of the pharmacy being told I couldn’t get my meds without paying full price . . . well over $200, even generic.

I immediately went into a panic because I was OUT of meds. Now that might not seem terrible for any of you who have run out of cold medicine or cough medicine or some such before, but when you run out of psychotropic medicines, it’s a whole new ballgame. If I miss ONE dose of Effexor, I am lethargic all day. If I miss TWO full doses, I get a migraine headache that will incapacitate me for AWHILE, and those are the GOOD withdrawal side effects. Normally, if I see I’m going to run out, for whatever reason, I’ll take a half dose. I still feel like warmed over death on a stick, but I can carry on for the most part, except for the dreams.

Whenever I’m in full or partial Effexor withdrawal, my subconscious really has a field day when I go to sleep. Within a day, I begin having the most vivid, psychedelic nightmares you can imagine. I have been chased by Jason Vorhees riding a transmuted werewolf and leading a pack of orcs and zombies. I have been sacrificed, tied up for the kraken, and more other weirder and more terrifying dreams.

Sleeping. Is. Hell.

If you are here and don't know if you are awake or asleep, it's not ending well.

If you are here and don’t know if you are awake or asleep, it’s not ending well. Just saying.

Budge won’t let me sleep in the bed when I’m in withdrawals; not because she’s mean to me but because she’s looking out for her safety and the safety of our cats. I have woken up from a withdrawal nightmare in full combat mode punching the couch and stomp kicking the coffee table. I’ve woken up by diving off the recliner into the floor and hitting the coffee table on the way down. At a certain point, I start hallucinating and can’t tell if I’m dreaming or in reality. That’s when I stay away from driving and sharp objects. It is miserable and if I go too long and start back taking my meds . . . I get to experience the same effects while the meds ramp up in my system again. Did I mention HELL?

Luckily, the pharmacist on duty was a former student of mine. He fronted me ten capsules and by halving my dosage, I was able to make it til my PA went through, but it was a near run thing. I still had some kooky dreams but nothing like full-blown withdrawal. So that’s where I’ve been, everyone. I just haven’t had the wherewithal to make a post. Hopefully, I’ll be back in the high life again and can start up my former erratic schedule. Here’s hoping anyway.

Until then, keep those feet clean and know that I love y’all.

It’s Already Tomorrow in Australia

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It seems reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!

It seems reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!

As I’m writing this, folks who slept in all around Southeast Asia are just crawling bleary-eyed out of bed and on their side of the International Date Line, it’s already Friday, December 21, 2012 and the BBC, MSNBC, and FoxNews are all reporting nothing of consequence is happening across the Pacific. So, it looks like 12-21-12 is going to join a long and distinguishedly infamous list of other dates under the heading of “Days the Apocalypse Didn’t Come.”

I know some people are seriously disappointed. I don’t mean “fake disappointed,” either. Some folks are probably sitting around scratching their heads in real consternation wondering where all the earthquakes and meteors are or what happened to Nibaru? I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to hear some disturbed individuals will have committed suicide by the time 12-21-12 makes it all the way around the globe. Echo and the Bunnymen said it best, “People are strange.”

I never seriously considered the world ending today. I still owe money and haven’t hit the lottery. If you ever see me on TV holding up one of those funny, oversized PowerBall checks, THEN you should probably make preparations because I’m willing to bet if I ever get rich, the game is going to end. That’s just my luck.

In the interest of some vein of seriousness though, any thinking person should have realized the world wasn’t going to end on this specific day. First, look at the problem scientifically. The Universe couldn’t care less about dates. The idea of dates — as well as most other divisions of time — are human inventions. “Tomorrow” or “next century” don’t have any meaning to planetary forces like earthquakes. Comets don’t punch time clocks. Any scientific end-of-the-world scenario hitting on a particular date is simply the wildest of consequences. The Universe just doesn’t have a calendar.

Secondly, from a theological standpoint, God doesn’t have a calendar. Neither does Allah or any of the other myriad gods man has worshipped over the millenia. Time doesn’t matter to an eternal being. God will end the world if and when He gets good and ready and not before. A being who exists OUTSIDE of time has no need of specific dates so anyone trying to pin a date down is just flirting with disappointment.

We petty human peons are the only creatures on the planet things like the page on a calendar or hands on a clock mean anything to. Animals go by seasons and the sun and natural rhythms. Tides have no time, but only the pull of the Moon and the Sun. We alone fret over our arbitrary conventional invention.

So get over it and go shopping, people. Christmas is only four days away! Go on. Occupy yourselves some other way until the next big prediction comes along. But until then,

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Geez, people, you took our lands, you took our gold, you took our way of life . . . can't you take a freaking joke? Just turn to the next calendar page!!

Freaking A, people, you took our lands, you took our gold, you took our way of life . . . can’t you take a freaking joke? Just turn to the next calendar page!!

Forget the Mayans; REAL Evidence of the Apocalypse

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Proof positive we are a country of lunatics.

Proof positive we are a country of lunatics.

Folks, lots of people out “there” are completely convinced the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. If correct, we’ve got about 15 days left to go. Personally, I think these guys have the facts straight, but that’s not the point of this post. I’m now convinced the world is coming to an end sooner than later and it’s not because an ancient (and dead) civilization brilliant enough to follow the stars but too dense to invent the wheel says so. I’m also not worried about the polar bears or the end of the Gulf Stream because we aren’t going to live long enough for that to happen. No, gentle readers, I am convinced the world is going to end before schedule because America, the land I love, has been taken over by bands of raving lunatics and, no, I don’t mean Republicans. I am talking about “collectors” in general and collectors of Hallmark “Keepsake” Ornaments in particular.

Budge and I buy a few ornaments from Hallmark each year before Christmas. We seldom buy more than three and we always buy at least one based around the year being prominently displayed. We’ve done this ever since we’ve been married and we’ve got a beautiful collection of ornaments for our tree. Now this year was the first season in four years we’ve put up our tree, and I’ll tell that story soon, but not now. In celebration, we splurged on a couple more ornaments than usual. Now understand, every ornament we have in our three Rubbermaid 55 Quart Snap Top Tubs goes on our tree. We don’t buy “extra” ornaments for an “investment” because they are “collectable.”  If I want an investment, they make these things called “stocks and bonds.” Unfortunately for our country, I may have to change that philosophy.

One ornament we picked up this year was a miniature replica of the “Moose Mug” prominently featured in the Christmas classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Any killjoy Scrooges in the crowd, please keep your comments to yourselves as I am well aware the movie contains crude humor and bright blue language; the fact is, I don’t care. The movie is hysterical and a lot closer to the modern American Christmas than It’s a Wonderful Life ever was. I also happen to know Christmas Vacation is the favorite Christmas movie of my 1st-cousin-in-law Ashley, who not only is one of the purest, sweetest, and most Christlike young women I know, but also happens to be married to my oldest 1st cousin, Zach who, despite his surroundings in his early years, is a youth pastor as well as the purest, sweetest, most Christlike young man. If Zach will allow Ash to watch the uncut Christmas Vacation DVD snorting with laughter, I refuse to feel guilty.

But I digress.

Two years ago, we bought the ornament memorializing the scene in the movie where Clark finally gets all the lights on his house to glow simultaneously. After hanging the moose mug right next to the Griswold house I got on eBay’s online auction site to see if I could find the other two ornaments in the “series” from Hallmark. In less than 30 seconds, I found over twenty of the first ornament in the group — Cousin Eddie’s RV, circa 2009. Once I saw what they were going for, I didn’t even bother looking for the station wagon with the huge Griswold Christmas tree strapped to the top.

The CHEAPEST “Cousin Eddie’s RV” listed was over $100 dollars! The one in the image at the top of this post was at $215 and the reserve price hadn’t been met. I saw MANY going for OVER $300. Please, read that again slowly. Three. Hundred. Dollars. For a hunk of plastic resin made and assembled in Sri Lanka.  A family in sub-Saharan Africa could live a year off what these people are willing to pay for a PLASTIC CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT THAT IS NOT EVEN FIVE YEARS OLD!!! It’s not like it’s a rare painting by one of the “Old Masters.” It’s a freaking ORNAMENT for a TREE.

Folks, I’m not going to go on and on about this because there’s really no need to. The evidence is plain. When we’ve reached the point where people line up to give $300 dollars OR MORE for a small chunk of painted plastic churned out by children in a sweatshop factory located in a country 97% of the people using eBay couldn’t find with a GPS, a globe, and Google Earth, we are beyond the point of no return; we have converted the movie Idiocracy from a wonky comedy to a documentary and made the late Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” a work of true prophecy.

We. Are. Doomed. and we deserve to be.

So, keep those feet clean for the time we’ve got left and remember I love y’all so take care of yourselves!

Ten Years or Another Lifetime? Most Nights, I Don’t Know.

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Read ’em and weep. I know I did.

I was on my way to being very chipper and upbeat this morning until I looked at the calendar and saw the date was October 23. I had almost forgotten . . . the key being ALMOST.

Ten years ago this afternoon, at 1:00 PM to be precise, life handed me the mother of all lemons. Actually, that’s a little too “cutesy.” The long story is ten years ago this morning I took one of the Magnificent 7, which is my euphemism for the seven events that radically changed my life for the worse. Each of the seven were hammer blows against my emotional well-being and each of the seven — in seven different ways — shattered me mentally and emotionally as easily as a cinder block dropped from a highway overpass will shatter a vehicle’s windshield and with about as much warning. Ten years ago today, following a short and slanderous hearing at 301 Camperdown Way, I was summarily and officially dismissed from my teaching post at Woodmont High School.

The short story is I was lied to and about, publicly humiliated, then fired from teaching. I’d been exiled from the one place where I’d normally felt safest, happiest, and strongest. For the first time in my life, I had been kicked out of school.

I plan to post all the documents I still have from the hearing and the aftermath. When I do, you can read them for yourselves. I don’t have the mental energy to type out that story here. I love this blog. It’s not much, but it’s mine and I’ve tried to steer clear of controversy and painful memories, but to deny the scars is to deny the events which caused them and any event that makes you seriously question whether or not you really want to go on living in a world where things like this can happen to you is much too important to be ignored.

I haven’t had many things happen to me that have affected me as much or as long as getting fired did. It was two years before I was able to get back into teaching for good and I wouldn’t have gotten a break then except my alma mater needed an English teacher and the assistant principal had been my Geometry teacher and the principal had student taught my senior class in something or other. They knew me personally so they didn’t really look at anything from “The File.”

It wasn’t the same though. For one thing, Thomas Wolfe was absolutely right when he said, “You can’t go home again.” Teaching in what had been my AP English classroom in my senior year forced me every day for 180 straight days to confront ANOTHER one of the Magnificent 7 so when a library job opened up one district over, I took it.

So, it’s been ten years and the pain is just as fresh in my mind now as it was then. I can still taste the metallic tang of pure adrenaline fueled fear in my mouth when I think about the hearing. I can still see the faces of the “witnesses.” More than anything though, I can still hear the thunderous silence of the people I had called friends and colleagues for almost nine years. I had helped these people in more ways than I can imagine. I’d tried to be there for them, but when I was strung up and dangling, none of them . . . NOT A SINGLE ONE bothered to vouch for my character.

I remember leaving the district office with Budge in tears and Mama in a rage like I hadn’t seen on her face since I was a third grader and Ray Bates’ mother (God rest her soul) grabbed me by the collar and shook me because I had finally stood up to Ray’s bullying. People have asked me if I was angry and I always tell them I was too concerned with keeping Mama and Budge from getting locked up to be angry. I just wanted to get home.

Thirty minutes after leaving the pillory, I went back to the school and to the room I’d called home for so long. It was a mess because the string of subs who had kept the class during my six weeks suspension while I awaited a hearing hadn’t been able to control my hellions or my brilliant AP History students. While I was gathering my things, the assistant principal who had been the main “detective / witch hunter” for my case came into the room and asked me “So how’d things go?” I still thank God and 300 mg of Effexor CR for not decking her in her smug little mouth right then. As it was, I snatched my posters from the wall, took a few folders from my filing cabinet, and collected my most prized belongings from my beautiful desk that my friend Brian Ashley had helped me restore five summers before , then I walked out.

I’ve never been back.

Now as a sorry excuse for a Christian, I do not believe in karma, but sometimes it is tempting when I consider this. None of the three students whose complaints against me triggered the whole debacle ever graduated from high school. The principal who threw me under the bus didn’t make it through the year herself but was dismissed in disgrace partly because parents complained to the district office about her attending home football games about “two and a half sheets to the wind” as we say in the country. The superintendent who was such a jerk over the entire thing was fired by the school board within a year, partly over allegations of misconduct with a couple of female principals and partly for just basically being an ass of the 33rd degree. Finally, the district lawyer who prosecuted my case was fired and arrested a few years later after a district computer technician found alleged child pornography on the computer in the lawyer’s office. The child porn charges were eventually dropped because no one could prove the boys were underage, but the computer crimes stuck and he may still go to jail.

Coincidence or karma? You decide.

Love y’all. Keep the faith and the feet clean.