Sunday, March 29, 2009


Another person I have met while having breakfast at McDonald's is Ski. He is a large rotund man with a Stalin mustache, it looks like a cookie duster. He has retired from his job as a prison guard at Raiford State Prison. While working, he drove 62 miles each way every day to get to work. I have been able to get only a few comments from him about that job because he is also a joke teller. He arrives later than I do and once he gets in he starts to tell jokes. Often, a conversation in which I am interested is interrupted by his desire to amuse us. He has worked nights as a bartender at the VFW hall here in town. I cannot determine whether he still works there or not. As a bartender he discovered that if you entertain people they give larger tips. His repertoire is extensive and many of his stories are old, never the less, he tells them with relish and good humor and he usually gets hearty laughs. When telling off color jokes he will look side to side, then behind him, to insure he will not offend someone within earshot. While we are laughing at a joke, I can tell that he taking that time to come up with another joke. I am usually the first one to leave because I teach at 10:00. Often I am irritated as I leave because our conversation was interrupted or we did not discuss some of the things that interest me and some of the others. I now look upon him as a bore and am distressed when he comes in to join us. I have tried to get him to participate in some serious discussions but he looks upon himself as our entertainer and intends to play the role completely. I would like to know what the ex-prison guard thinks about things and am not at all interested in the jokester' thoughts. All this is ironic because when I was younger I very much was a willing listener when somebody wanted to entertain. I even judged my teachers on their sense of humor and not on the knowledge I would obtain from them. Many a time I remembered the jokes the teacher told and not the substance of the class lessons. (However, unhappily, the jokes were never on the test.) Ski is not a well man. Over weight, diabetic, trouble breathing, bloodshot eyes, and varicose veins all militate against his being around for a long time. Even now, some days he does not make it in the morning and I do not concern myself because he is missing. I do enjoy the conversations when he is not there.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The people that received bonuses from AIG did have employment contracts and bonuses were included in the contract. For myself, try as I might, I never received a bonus from any organization for which I worked. I came close, but never got one, they always went to those higher in the organization than I. In all cases, the company had to do well to pay out a bonus. In the industries in which I worked it is hard to imagine that a bonus would be inserted in a hiring contract. If there was one, I was not aware of it. At AIG the culture there had bonuses in their contracts. As long as the person fulfilled their part of the contract the bonus is paid. Because the company was failing it was provided with bailout money, taxpayers money. Bonuses now paid seem to be coming from taxpayers money. This enraged Barney Frank and he demanded to know the names and addresses of the people that received the bonuses. Why is it the business of the Congress of the US Government who received bonuses? True, they are looking out for our money, but they should be dealing with the president of the company. Barney demanded that the money be given back and wanted to know names. Was he going to personally ask each individual to give the money back? What happened is that an affiliate of ACORN went to the homes of the people and demonstrated. This is dangerous stuff. How did they get the names and addresses of the people? In other words, an arm of the Democrat party put pressure on citizens of this country. During the French Revolution that is exactly what happened when the "Seigneurial" system was being dismantled. Gangs went to the homes of the seigneur and forced him to give up his rights, sometimes burning his house and barns. Seigneurs throughout France faced angry mobs and sometimes it got very ugly. Is this what we want in this country? Are we not better than this? The founders of our country were extremely wary of governmental powers and set up a system to keep the government from harassing its citizens. Is that system now working the way it should?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Prosperity - A Fable

There were two countries existing side-by-side, one was very prosperous and the other only marginally prosperous. The prosperous country had a goose that laid eggs of gold. The marginally prosperous country did not have such a goose and was covetous of the neighbor and their good fortune in having such a goose. The trade between the two countries provided a good standard of living for the marginally prosperous country. The prosperous country was continually being asked by the marginally prosperous country to let them have the goose that laid eggs of gold. They were convinced that the only difference between the two countries was that singular goose that laid eggs of gold. Partly that was right, those eggs did increase the net worth of the prosperous country. Through a series of events, the marginally prosperous country came in possession of the goose. It made the citizens of the prosperous country sad but they accepted the loss of their goose. The marginally prosperous country was elated and immediately announced that they would care for the goose better than the other country. Even better, they had schemes that would increase the egg output of the goose and thereby improve the net worth of their country quickly. A committee was announced to care for the goose and increase egg productivity. The prosperous country had an education system that taught: "Goose Husbandry", "Feeds And Nutrients", "Soils For Enhanced Yields", "Proper Manuring" and "Livestock Contentment." Some attributes of the citizens were: hard work, responsibility, frugality, cheerfulness and treating everyone equally. The marginally prosperous country had an education system that taught: "Equality Of Outcomes", Group Thinking Is Best", "It Takes A Village", "Law - Making It Work For You" and "Sexuality And Enjoyment." Some of the attributes of it's citizens were: short work hours, long vacations, allowing the government to pay for wants, suing when offended, never admitting when wrong and committees can solve all problems. The committee, now in charge of the goose, decided to mate the goose and see if it could reproduce other geese that could lay eggs of gold. They did not read the literature that explained that this could not be done, due to not having studied the proper subjects. They did not consult the prosperous country because they were suspicious they would not receive the truth. The goose began to lay fewer eggs. The committee was called to task for this, and it resulted in a decision to redouble the efforts to get goose offspring. The goose committee, realizing how valuable they were, insisted on pay raises and perks - which were granted. The goose committee called on experts in their country to come up with suggestions on how to improve egg output. Some of these were: put the goose in a community where it would learn that it's eggs were needed by the country, play charming music during mating time, give the goose only organic food, study to see of it's air is polluted, place a crystal in each corner of the pen, purge the goose once per week to clear out it's bowels, on days of no production either beat the goose with a stick, or use shock therapy - the committee tried them all. The goose was now near death, and in an act of desperation, they decided to return the goose to the prosperous country to see if they could revive it. The prosperous country, without their goose, were now in difficult times. They were overjoyed at the return of the goose. However, they soon discovered the truth, the goose was dying; furthermore, there was nothing that could be done, death was inevitable. When the goose died the marginally prosperous country blamed the other country for not doing anything right. They vilified the productive country's citizens as always having been insensitive to the goose and extolled their committee as having done such a great job with the goose. With the unavailability of eggs of gold, both countries went into decline and the standard of living decreased for everybody.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Church Thoughts

Today, while at church, I found my mind wandering: Why did Pat move so far into the front of the church? There were two old men sitting nearby that talked loud so that I was not able to totally concentrate on my first prayer, the Our Father, said slowly with an understanding of each word. The old men talked about weather, food and parking. Why an I listening to them? Three rows up, that little girl is a most delightful little imp, her parents must surely enjoy her. The readings (I read them before Mass starts) were short today: Noah and the rainbow, the flood prefigured Baptism, and the Gospel on Jesus being tempted in the desert. The music is slow today because it is Lent, (Pat thinks the music is slow all the time.) The homily focused on how we are all tempted (also covered in the Our Father prayer) just as Jesus was tempted, He prayed to defeat temptation and so must we. The basket is coming around. Today I have my envelope (only write one check a month.) A small girl, with a running bounce, has moved forward to drop something into the Child's collection in the front. Her bounce is even cuter as she returns with a large smile on her face. The woman directly in front is very obese and her fanny widens even more as she kneels resting her bum on the seat. There are two altar boys and one girl, first time in a long time that boys outnumbered the girls. The man behind us is a good singer and I feel he should sing louder. I should sing louder, but I don't. Because of Lent the music has changed and I miss the uplifting, stirring music with which I am familiar. During the singing of the "Our father" I was holding the hand of the man next to me. I wondered if he would squeeze my hand when it was over, he did. The eyes of the Eucharistic Ministers showed recognition as they administered to me. The sip of wine was very good. The recessional music, again, was slow in keeping with Lent. Just before dismissing everyone the Priest told a joke: A man came into a pub and ordered three beers. He drank each one slowly taking a sip alternately from each. Every day he came in and ordered three beers. The bartender told him he would be glad to serve him one at a time so he could have a cold one each time. The patron responded: "My two brothers and I always had a beer together and we made a pact that no matter where we were in the world we would order the beers and have a drink together." One day the man came in and ordered only two beers. The bartender came over to him and said, "I am sorry for your loss, I see you only having two beers." The man replied that his brothers were all right, the reason for only two beers was because he had given up beer for Lent.