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Our brains are a funny thing, aren’t they? I’m guessing your brain is similar to mine…maybe not.

Have you ever been in your car, maybe heading home through city streets, when you see a person on the street and then, later, you can’t get that person’s face out of your mind?

Now, guys, I’m not talking about a half-clad beauty, although maybe the similarity of that experience would be the same. Something about that person won’t move out of the picture-screen of your mind’s eye.

It happened to me Saturday evening. It bothered the hell out of me for two days…still does. So I’ll write about it.

We had left my wife’s car at a Big O’ Tire place for a realignment problem. It became one of those three-phone-call fixes that grew the bill with each ringy-dingy.

#1 Ringy-dingy…Sir, the bad alignment has worn two tires to the cords. You need two new tires…uh-huh.
#2 Ringy-dingy…Sir, we regret to inform you but your right side front axle is broken. You need a new axle… ok
#3 Ringy-dingy…Sir, they sent us the wrong axle and it will be another 90 minutes. We’re staying overtime to get it fixed….yeah.
So, the $79 alignment had become $500 and that’s life. We picked up the car and I followed her to a Mexican Restaurant for dinner.

I allowed Amy to back-out of the parking lot first, and began following her home.

That’s when I saw her. And I’m still seeing her in my mind.
I passed her doing 10 or 15 mph, so the image was quickly past. The first thing I saw was the big white sign that said, “Funeral Money Needed.” There was a name on the sign I didn’t catch because I then glanced up at the woman sitting in the lawn chair with the sign at her side.

I need to interject something about “Funeral Money” signs. I see them every week, at least two or three. Young kids are getting shot and killed by senseless people with senseless guns. Their friends and families are holding up signs and waving towels and begging to wash your car for “Funeral Money.” There are two business I pass on my way home that allow these car washes so I see them each and every week.

So, seeing a “Funeral Money” sign Saturday evening was not something new. But the woman…She was a tall, gaunt, hollow-cheeked older white lady sitting in a lawn chair, staring straight ahead at nothing. Her narrowed eyes were not angry or sad, but empty. Empty eyes staring at emptiness.

I came to an immediate stop-light and turn to make and followed Amy on home. We had a few things to take care of at home and then other stuff popped up and I forgot the lady for a few hours. But when I got in bed I couldn’t stop thinking about her. She seemed familiar, even though I knew I didn’t know her.

Sunday morning, yesterday, I had to make an early run to Pasadena to an all-day meeting. When I was about a half-hour away from home I thought of that lady. I called Amy and told her I had trouble sleeping because her face was imbedded on my brain. I asked Amy to go look for her and offer some money and help.

She couldn’t find her. I got home from my meeting, we had dinner together, watched a couple of our Sunday TV favorites and then it was time to start my blog for today. The lady’s face came back into my mind.

Then I remembered reading the exact description of that woman. I remember the words that described this book character drew a face in my mind . It was the face of that poor lady needing “Funeral Money.”

So, just now, I Googled the book that described her. All of us here in Bakersfield are celebrating the 75th anniversary of “Grapes of Wrath.” The “okies” came here by the thousands and John Steinbeck wrote of their journey that ended here in Bakersfield.

Even though it has been years since I read the book the words about “Ma Joad” described my lady with the “Funeral Money” sign. Here are some of Steinbeck’s descriptions of her:

When told about the “California dream—the nice little white house surrounded by orange trees ripe for picking—Ma Joad said, “I’m scared of stuff so nice. I ain’t got no faith. I’m scared somepin ain’t so nice about it.

And then a scene with Tom Joad talking about his mother. “Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding.”

 I should have made a U-turn.

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Whose Fantasy?

So, just 14 days until the new NFL season starts. Millions of people are busy this weekend with “draft-day” for their fantasy football teams. What was laughed at a few years ago is now taken so seriously that ESPN is trying and succeeding in owning the TV shows, podcasts and web sites. They feature a daily podcast featuring strategies, injuries, player previews and game previews.

I have DIRECTV and now they are getting involved with a new NFL package unlike anything imagined. The price for the entire season is now under $200.

Here’s what you get:

On your ONE screen you can have EIGHT games all playing at once, each with a scoreboard and clock. Wow!
Eight games One screen

For you fantasy players, you can click on a screen with 20 of your fantasy players following their performances, updating their stats, and GET THIS—Big Play Alerts!  Yes!

And brand new, they now have a dedicated channel called “Fantasy Zone Channel” with four talking heads (yes, they have one female) just talking all day about fantasy football. Constantly talking. Constantly updating. Constantly talking.

And of course you get every game played on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. Every game.

Sounds exciting, but I’ll pass. Again.

The NFL television “rights” is the most lucrative and expensive rights of any American sport. Each network pays over ONE BILLION dollars per year (Five billion total) to televise the NFL.

Rumor has it that Google is biding their time until it’s time for a new contract. Since they have more money than God, they can outbid anyone. By 2021 all television watching will be finished. Our huge computer screens will show us football unlike anything we’ve ever imagined.

Maybe I’ll get the package then.

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Get Up and Get to School (or work)

This is a public service announcement. I’ve already heard anguished cries from parents about getting the kids out of bed for school this week.

On the same subject, I’ve even heard some adults are having trouble getting their bods out of bed.

Here it is…the perfect answer. Just get a cheap laser pointer and turn the dog loose. In our house it works fine with the cat, too.

Just 42 seconds, so try this out. You can thank me later.

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Returning to Simpler Times

Don’t you hear that all the time?

Back when times were simpler. Returning to the wonderful family values of the ‘50s, maybe?
housewife from 50s

A wonderful blogger named Therese Oneill did some digging to remind us of the “way of doing things” back then. She used as reference some “self-help” books that were the big sellers of the ‘50s. One was by the Reverend Alfred Henry Tyrer (Sex, Satisfaction and a Happy Marriage). Another by Doctor William Josephus Robinson.  And the joyous words from Edward Poldosky (How to be a Good Wife) Yes, these wonderful voices were spreading the Christian marriage values that many people would like to see us turn back the clock and once again enjoy those happier times.

Spoiler Alert!  I was there during those times and if that’s your idea of “values” then make the trip without me, please.

Here are some tips for the women-folk, because they are the glue that holds the marriage together. These are especially for you whimsical ladies who feel the world is changing too fast.


Reverend Tyrer says, “Do not ask for things. This is called “nagging”.  I verily believe that the happiness of homes is destroyed more frequently by the habit of nagging than by any other one. A man may stand that sort of thing (nagging) for a long time, but the chances are against his standing it permanently. If he needs peace to make life bearable, he will have to look for it elsewhere than in his own house. And it is quite likely that he will look.

Mr. Poldosky adds to that with these rules.
Don’t bother your husband with petty troubles and complaints when he comes home from work.

Be a good listener. Let him tell you his troubles; yours will seem trivial in comparison.

Remember your most important job is to build up and maintain his ego (which gets bruised plenty in business). Morale is a woman’s business.

Let him relax before dinner. Discuss family problems after the inner man has been satisfied.

Are you getting the point, ladies?
Reverend Tyrer has more to say about this  “talking” thing.”
“If [the husband] is intellectually inclined, and from time to time seeks to explain little things to her so that she may have at least a bare knowledge of what it is that interests him, and, without the slightest comment, she takes up again the fashion magazine she laid down when he commenced to speak, we may be pretty sure that there is going to be a ‘rift in the lute’ sooner or later in that house.”


More words on that subject from Reverend Tyrer: “A social service meeting, an afternoon tea, a matinee, a whatnot, is no excuse for there being no dinner ready when a husband comes home from a hard day’s work.

Housekeeping accomplishments and cooking ability are, of course, positive essentials in any true home, and every wife should take a reasonable pride in her skill. Happiness does not flourish in an atmosphere of dyspepsia.

And the good Doctor Robinson adds these wise words:  
“Bad cooking is responsible for dyspepsia, dyspepsia is responsible for grouchiness and irritability, grouchiness and irritability lead to quarrels and squabbles. And bad cooking, which is the usual thing in the average American home, has been responsible as much as any other factor for driving the husband to the saloon, and to other places. And when she does cook, she should cook, and not be, as somebody said, a mere can opener.”


Take it away on this subject, Reverend Tyrer:
“Picture a woman preparing a fine meal for her husband. She remembered his choice of meat and was careful to get an extra-fine cut…her best cutlery and dishes and finest linen are all in evidence, and a little colorful decoration has been tastefully displayed….and as he comes into the house she greets him with a smile of welcome and a touch of manifest love.  Now, say that linen was a bed sheet, the colorful little decoration was fuzzy handcuffs, and you had the privilege of being that extra fine cut of meat. What does all that equal? A husband who doesn’t cheat on you!

But say that same wife “is constantly setting him down to indigestible meals, cold and unappetizing, with nothing properly cooked, set out on a kitchen table with a dirty cloth, she need not be surprised if her husband frequently telephones from the office that business will prevent him from being home for dinner.”
All because you weren’t properly cooked when he was hungry

(Now we’re getting to the good stuff)
Let’s hear what Doctor Robinson has to say about sex:

“Just as the vampire sucks the blood of its victims in their sleep while they are alive, so does the woman vampire suck the life and exhaust the vitality of her male partner—or “victim.”

It is to be borne in mind that it is particularly older girls—girls between thirty and fifty—who are apt to be unreasonable in their demands when they get married; but no age is exempt; sexual vampires may be found among girls of twenty as well as among women of sixty and over.
Now, if you are one of those frigid or sexually anesthetic women, don’t be in a hurry to inform your husband about it. To the man it makes no difference in the pleasurableness of the act whether you are frigid or not unless he knows that you are frigid. And he won’t know unless you tell him, and what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Heed this advice. It has saved thousands of women from trouble.

Keep talking Reverend Robinson:
“That the underwear should be spotlessly clean goes without saying, but every woman should wear the best quality underwear that she can afford. And the color should be preferably pink. And lace and ruffles, I am sorry to say, add to the attractiveness of underwear, and are liked by the average man.”

Yes, Dr. Robinson, the ladies can’t wait to hear more of your wise words:

“But in case of an occasional lapse on the part of the husband—there a bit of advice may prove acceptable. And my advice would be: forgive and forget. Or still better—make believe that you know nothing. An occasional lapse from the straight path does not mean that he has ceased to love you. He may love you as much; he may love you a good deal more.”

(Of course this is my favorite, and my wife never reads this far down anyway)

“The Number One Rule. Reverence Your Husband.—He sustains by God’s order a position of dignity as head of a family, head of the woman. Any breaking down of this order indicates a mistake in the union, or a digression from duty.”

 I feel better now, how about you?

Have a great week. Welcome back to school teachers and students.

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Flatter than a Pancake

Ten Years ago, some scientists with time on their hands composed an algorithm to measure the flatness of states. Like United States’ States. The methodology is very complicated and uninteresting, but their reasononing for developing a way to measure flatness made sense. The three fellows said that everyone was measuring mountains and nobody was measuring flatness. Okay.

So, they took an IHOP pancake and recorded the actual contours of the flapjack and compared it to their findings of the state of Kansas. Sure enough!
Kansas was determined to be flatter than a pancake.
Pancake Stack

Last month, we finally heard a reply from Kansas. Three geographers from the University of Kansas were tired of hearing they were flatter than a pancake and improved upon the methodology and measured the whole damn country, state by state. Well, they didn’t waste the money going to Alaska and Hawaii. They knew there was no flatness in those places. They were assisted with NASA Shuttle Topography Information.

So we have it. I used this information for a few weeks to see if any of my friends could guess which states were the flattest states. Kansas was always in the top 3.
Actually there are SIX states flatter than Kansas.

Here are the Top Ten Flattest states.
1)         Florida
2)         Illinois
3)         North Dakota
4)         Louisiana
5)         Minnesota
6)         Delaware
7)         Kansas
8)         Texas
9)         Nevada
10)       Indiana
You don’t really give a damn about any of this do you?

Have a great weekend. For many it’s the official end of summer break.
Back to school, kids. Back to work, teachers. Crowded rush hours, people.

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Fantasy to Reality

By the time I was a young lad in love with books, it was the Hardy Boys Adventures that captured my imagination. My grandfather was a master story-teller and he loved to relate to me stories he read to my father. I think he knew every one of the Tom Swift Adventures. My favorite was the “Daring Adventures in Elephant Land.” (Written in 1911, the year before my father was born)
Tom Swift

Every Tom Swift book had a plot that needed Tom inventing some wild fantasy machine or tool to allow him to escape certain doom. (Think of a turn-of-the-century-Macgyver)

In the Daring Adventures in Elephant Land, Tom had invented an incredible electric rifle that shot bolts of electricity. He could dial-in the range, intensity and lethalness. Even shoot it through walls without leaving a hole.

When Tom and his friends head to Africa to do battle with the dreaded “Red Pygmies” they are confronted with wild rhinos, buffalos and giant elephants. Tom’s electric rifle brought them all down.

I loved that story.

Sixty years after that story was written a man named Jack Cover patented his own electric rifle. Like me, he grew up listening to the stories about Tom Swift. In his honor he named his electric rifle after him. The Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle. He just used the initials.


I wish police would go to their electric rifle first— instead of instant bullet-death.

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