Sunday, April 15, 2012

Barry's Secret To Prosperity

Last night I stopped in at Clyde's Place. That's the little bar down the road a piece from where I live. Now as you know, Virginia does not really have bars. You gotta sell enough food to justify getting a license to serve alcohol. Clyde does that by selling two-dollar hot dogs. (But they are really good hot dogs.) Anyway, those hot dogs and his pretty good stew are enough to make Clyde's a real restaurant in the eyes of the law. Most bars in other places have a two-drink minimum. Or a cover charge. Clyde has a one-bowl minimum. I was in for the one bowl. To go.

I stepped inside the dimly lit joint, (that's probably a better way to describe Clyde's), it was largely unoccupied. Just a couple sitting on the same side of a booth and my neighbor Barry sitting alone at the bar. As my eyes adjusted I looked around and since there was no one else there I joined Barry at the bar. 

“Hello Barry,” I said, “You finally sold that Cadillac that's been on the lot for so long?”

“No. I mean yeah, sold that thing a few days ago. Why you asking?”

“Well,” I said, “You usually nurse a Pabst for an hour, but Clyde here has just poured your second Scotch since I came in. And it ain't cheap Scotch. You get that much outta that old Caddy?”

“Hey Clyde!” Barry yelled to the other end of the bar, “Get Bunkie here a hot dog. No, make it two. Put 'em on my tab.” Barry has always called me Bunkie. I don't know why. I sure didn't suggest it.

“No, it's not the Caddy. Lost my shirt on that one. I've discovered the secret to prosperity. Really I have. Eat your hot dogs while I tell you about it.”

As Clyde set the paper plate holding two hot dogs in front of me I settled in for what I knew would be an interesting tale. Barry is like that.

“Between the high-dollar scotch and four dollars worth of hot dogs you must have really found something. Stock market?”

Barry stared at the mirror behind the bar, took a sip of his second drink and said, “Did you know you can pay your bills on-line?”

“Yeah, I do that,” I answered.

“Did you know you can set up a bill to be automatically paid every month with a credit card?”

“Yeah, I do that too” I said. Now I'm starting to wonder where he was going, but with Barry you get the whole story from start to finish or he starts to ramble. I let him ramble.

He started back up, after draining his new Scotch. “Clyde,” he said, “refill this please sir,” Turning back toward me he continued, “did you know you can pay one credit card online with another credit card?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “but I don't do that. I either mail a check or use my debit card.”

Barry grinned, took another sip of his newest Scotch and said, “I did that too. For years. It's too old-fashioned. We need to follow the leaders and change our ways of thinking. Now all the money from the car lot goes on the debit card from down at the bank, while my credit cards are paying each other every month. Automatic-like.  I even set it up so one of the cards pays Pee-Wee, my mechanic and car washer, every other week. You'd be amazed at how fast that debit card balance grows now.”

He then turned around, leaned back with both elbows on the bar and just grinned.

“Hey Clyde,” I called. “Bring me a go-box for this other hot dog. I gotta get home now.” I left Barry there basking in the glow of his new-found prosperity.

The idea hit me as I passed Barry's Used Car Emporium. I turned around and drove on the lot.

There it sits. A low-mileage Chevy Silverado. Bright red of course. That's what I'll bid on at the inevitable auction. Hell, I might even get the whole place at a real steal.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hide The Women and Kids! PC Has Run Amok!

There's a reason Mark Twain said, "Of course truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense." Here's an example.

Imagine. You're a 17-year-old student artist. You're nearing the end of your High School career. You've been asked to design and paint a mural on a wall inside your beloved Alma Mater.

Wow! A mural. Painted by me! “See”, I can say to my kids years later, “there in the lower corner is MY signature!”

Who wouldn't love to be in that position?

17-year-old Liz Bierendy found herself living that dream. Then it was snatched away.

Ms. Bierendy imagined a mural that depicted the life of a man. A man who started, on the left end of the artwork, as a small boy. She then took him successively through life as a youngster, a pre-teen with a guitar, to graduation. Cap and gown and all. Her design moved to the final scene to show the young man, his wife, and their young boy. The rather busy background includes a wedding band and engagement ring interlocked above the couple's heads. She even included the family cat curled contentedly at their feet.

Now that's a sweet image, right?

Nope. Too sweet. Bring in the censoring committee.

That image lasted long enough to be “...deemed inappropriate and painted over because it depicted a man holding the hand of a woman and child”.

The story continues “some of the members of the Pilgrim High School community suggested that the depiction of a young man’s development from boyhood through adulthood as displayed may not represent the life experiences of many of the students at Pilgrim High School.”

As displayed? May not represent?

No. Can't have one student think himself different from all the others. That's not at all like the real world.

Can't hurt the feelings of some kid with no father. Or mother. He's never even seen a family with two parents. Or maybe it was the cat. She has a dog, but always wanted a cat. Kid's who have never seen a typical family because their family can't afford a TV? A kid who wants soccer shoes because the kid on the wall has soccer shoes?

You tell me. I'm lost.

Thankfully Warwick School Superintendent Peter Horoschak has better sense. Or maybe not. He had to actually consult with other administrators before reaching the decision that would have been obvious to Larry, Moe or even Curley. (I know that's not the order typically used for the three Stooges. Larry was actually the smart one. He knew that by pretending to be in the center he would never have to make a decision. Kinda like our Mr. Horoschak here.) He
asked the unnamed assistant principal to meet with the student again and discuss her views on the proposed changes to the mural.

Proposed changes? It had already been painted over. Weasel.

Liz showed she was the most mature person in this fiasco. She told the assistant principal she “preferred the original idea” but “would take the weekend to think about any changes”.

Weekend over, she stuck with the original idea. Kids, there's your mom's signature in the corner. Hurrah for Liz.

In a really
weaselly move, “Horoschak
asked that Bierendy’s ideas be respected and 'that she be allowed to finish the mural as she visualized it'.” No hurrahs for Horoschak.

Now, lest you think I made all this up, (as if I'm really that imaginative), here's the link.

Also note. While Virginia school boards can be silly sometimes, this ain't one of 'em. This story comes out of Rhode Island.

Wind Power, Big Boats, and Oranges

I used to get a kick out of the Roanoke Times Editorial page when Dan Rademacher was in charge of it over on Campbell Ave. Dan is avidly anti-coal, therefore he is a firm devotee of the Global Warming Religion and its High Priests, Al Gore and Michael Mann.

Since Dan left the Roanoke Times opinion pages in the capable left hand of Christina Nuckols he’s been working for an anti-coal non-profit of some sort. And he’s started blogging and Facebooking and all that stuff. I do follow his Facebook page, Blogging Dan. I occasionally check out the eponymously named blog as well.

I like Dan. I really do. He’s a good writer. We’ve even had a “beer summit”. I appreciate that he has opinions different from mine. If only he would stop calling those opinions of his facts.

Back when he was leading the choir in the upper room on Campbell Ave. he would go to great pains to point out the error in his foolish conservative readers minds and carefully explain the difference in weather and climate. Recently, under his Facebook blurb, “I’m afraid global warming is going to get a lot harder to deny.” he linked to a WaPo article;
Not just March, but start of 2012 shatter US records for heat, worrying meteorologists

“It’s been ongoing for several months,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Ashville, N.C.

Meteorologists say an unusual confluence of several weather patterns, including La Niña, was the direct cause of the warm start to 2012. While individual events can’t be blamed on global warming, Couch said this is like the extremes that are supposed to get more frequent because of manmade climate change from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

I wrote all that, just to point out Dan’s original point. As the WaPo article’s source makes clear, there is a difference in weather and climate. Then Jake Crouch instantly reverses course. Left me dizzy.

I think everyone pretty much agrees that we have experienced a warming trend. But are humans and our various mechanical monsters truly to blame? Let’s look at a couple of historical facts.

It is well-known that there was a cooling trend during the late 19th Century here in America. Historical records, (letters and diaries for example), tell us so.

How many of you are aware that a couple of hundred years before that Spanish colonists were reporting to the King they were successfully growing oranges. Not in Florida. In South Carolina.

Bartolomé Martínez in a letter to the King dated at Havana, February 17, 1577, stated: “And what may be truthfully told to your Majesty is that in Santa Elena [Now Parris Island, South Carolina] I planted with my own hands grape vines, pomegranate trees, orange and fig trees; wheat, barley, onions, and garlic.” Martinez lived in Santa Elena until 1576, so his oranges were planted earlier than 1577 which found him in Havana, a pen pal of the King.

Orange groves continued as a valuable asset to South Carolina, apparently until well after the Civil War. In a letter to the South Carolina Legislature dated 12-16-1861, Governor F.W. Pickens described the state this way, “… from the snowy crest of her rugged mountains, even to the orange groves that bloom over her sunny plains…”

Parris Island is hot today. Ask any Marine. He’ll tell you it can be dang hot. However, even during what has been alarmingly called “An Inconvenient Truth”, and a “disaster to mankind”, it ain’t hot enough to grow oranges. A tree or two, carefully tended in winter? Maybe, but nothing on a scale that would call for a bragging letter to the king.

There is no way a sane man would attempt to establish a commercial orange grove very much further north than Gainesville FL. Gainesville is five hours south of Parris Island driving really fast in a foul-smelling, polluting, modern SUV.

I suppose you could say those Spanish Galleons were the SUVs of their day. Did those wind powered boats create a similar “climate change” to the one we blame coal and oil burning boats for today