Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lots Of Good Advice (a link)

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Mom's Scribbles: In Lieu.....
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My Life - The Soap Opera

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I'm 59; I should be getting close to those "golden years" that people USED to talk about. So, I work at telemarketing, making less money than it takes for two people to live. Monday evening, 15 minutes before the end of shift, I'm told that, the next day, I'm being moved to a different position paying $50 less a week. I really can't blame them; they need to make a profit on my work, and they may not be so much as coming out even. This old geezer just isn't good at running two conversations, two keyboards and two mouses at one time. Still, it's a bummer, especially considering that I found out earlier in the day that I didn't get the job with the state that I'd interviewed for last week. I'm sure the job went to a younger and thinner man. I have to wonder if the devil himself isn't picking on me.

After getting off work, I check my phone and find a call from a local trucking company that I'd hoped to get on with. Ah, perhaps it's the Lord's hand and not the devil's in this. You see, I might have stayed where I was too avoid a winter lay-off, if I hadn't got the pay-cut! I spend all Tuesday trying to reach the man, but no luck. Bummer. Wednesday morning, I call at seven o'clock, when they open, but he's already gone. Double bummer! A few minutes later, he returns my call and we set up an interview for Friday morning. Whew! I'm in good spirits again, but when you're fat and old, there are no guarantees. Still, he's fat and older, so maybe I'll stand a chance.

Please keep me in your prayers; I'd like to get off of this emotional roller-coaster and setle into a good job until I retire! Thanks to those who remember me to the Lord.
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Apoligies

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Sometimes, amidst all my grumping and griping, I forget to give you a peek at what keeps me somewhat in balance and sane. Perhaps it will work for you, too. It is the book in which these wise words are found:

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Where Are they Now?


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On graduation from high school, we all head out into the world to make our way, or lose it. Some are blessed by our parents with a college education. Some of us make use of that blessing, others don’t. Some work our way through college. They usually make the best use of their degree, for they know the blood, sweat and tears that earned it. Others, like me, foolishly think that hard work alone will let us build a life worth living. In this day and age, that works only for a rare few. Cunning and wise planning helps a lot, but those little pieces of paper (or sheepskins, if you will) mean a lot to the other folks with little pieces of paper who do the hiring. Intelligence and hard work are worth less these days than those little pieces of paper. I eventually got a couple of those little pieces of paper, but they were too little, too late, and the wrong kind.

For the first few years after graduation, many of us tend to be interested in how our former classmates are doing, partly to see how our lives stack up against theirs. However, as we age and start to look back on our youth with a bit of nostalgia, we wonder about their lives not only from curiosity, but also from a bit of concern and fondness for their memory.

Within five years of graduation, a few of my former classmates were already dead. One was a former star athlete turned dope-head who was cleaning his apartment floor with gasoline and forgot that it might not be a good time to light up a cigarette (or joint). Another blew his brains out when he found that he couldn’t come to grips with his own homosexuality. Yet another died in an oilfield explosion. Over the years, others have died from cancer (usually the seemingly healthy types), a few in car wrecks, one from a ruptured spleen and others from various and sundry diseases and medical conditions.

The other day, the neighbor’s roaring motorcycle brought a kid to mind that I’d been in school with back in the day. Rod was always on a motorcycle when he wasn’t in school. He had a few brushes with the law in the process. He raced motocross professionally after high school, even racing on some European tracks. Wondering whatever became of him, I searched his name online and discovered that he’d eventually become the president of the American branch of an Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. However, he’d died at age 50 “after a brief illness,” surrounded by his wife and children. I rarely saw him without a cigarette in his mouth back then, so I suspect I know what got him.

I searched for the names of girls that I once dated and found that one had married and divorced twice and then died young. Another became a doctor, had five kids by her doctor husband and lives down south. Her brother became a doctor, too. What others I could find led mundane lives like the rest of us. Of course, many of the “boys and girls” that I once had classes with, now old geezers and geezerettes like myself, live close enough that I still bump into them occasionally, or at least hear of them through the grape vine. I always enjoy seeing them, even the ones that I wasn’t particularly close to at the time. It’s funny how old age draws people together that youth did not.

I’ve read several times that the first few high school reunions tend to be about showing off and making comparisons. They say that changes about the 40th or 45th. My 40th reunion was last year. It was held at a neighbor’s farm. I’ve never attended one yet, but if I’m still here when the 45th comes around (IF it comes around) I may go. It might be nice to see some faces from the old days, though they’ll be OLD faces by now. © 2014
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Homemade Deodorant (a link)

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The Locust Blossom: *~*Homemade Deodorant*~*
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FIX THE MONEY II

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A little more on the problem:

http://www.fourwinds10.net/siterun_data/government/banking_and_taxation_irs_and_insurance/social_security/news.php?q=1320062234
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Interview Update

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For those of you kind enough to say a prayer or two on my behalf, I wanted to update you. The interview seemed to go well, but there are about 16 people vying for three positions. As one of the older and fatter guys, there when I was interviewed, I suspect my chances are very slim. I won’t know for a week or two whether I’ve made the initial cut at the local office. If I do, it will be another 4-6 weeks before the state office makes the final decision.

I was hoping for a driving job with a little labor thrown in. This would be a hard labor/flagging job with a little driving thrown in. Their standard week is 50+ hours. Due to the overtime, the pay is livable, and the benefits are very good. However, I wouldn’t see much of my wife and pooch, and if I don’t make the grade after their three-month probationary period, I’d be out of a job with no unemployment. Initially, I felt that I would feel compelled to take it, if offered. After some thought, I’m not so sure.


If you would be so kind, please say a couple more prayers for me that the Lord’s will be done. HE knows what’s best for me! Thanks.
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FIX THE MONEY !

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As in outlaw the Fed and return to a gold or silver standard administered by the government itself, NOT some bunch of Rothschild puppets.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Scriptures From Today?

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A couple nights ago, just before retiring, I asked the Lord to give me some scripture that He wanted me to read. Below are the verses that He showed me. Am I the only one to see the parallels?

"We have sinned , and have committed iniquity , and have done wickedly , and have rebelled , even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:  Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.  O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusionof faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto allIsrael, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.  O Lord, to us belong the confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.  To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;  Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.  Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even bydeparting , that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oaththat is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.  And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judgedus, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath beendone upon Jerusalem.  As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, andunderstand thy truth.  Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth : for we obeyed not his voice." - Daniel 9:5-14
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Screen Scenes

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I guess they’re a sort of screen-saver system—the pictures on the monitors at work that change every few minutes. For quite a while, they were beautiful landscapes and Gothic architecture. I enjoyed them.

Apparently though, my cubicle became the home of a young person on day-shift. Suddenly, my eyes beheld neo-Gothic armored warriors, their weapons a mix of swords, maces and lasers, fighting demons and alien life forms (armed similarly) in a post apocalyptic landscape. Blood and gore was everywhere, including on the blade of the fascine-knife or bill-hook the apparent lone Amazon-like woman was carrying. Some of the weird creatures looked mostly machine-like, others like hybrids of humans and lizards.

On the other monitor, cartoon zombies fought what must have been Monsanto GMO plants of some kind. The weapons used by the unidentifiable plants were apparently a part of their physical make-up, while the zombies were armed with strange weaponry. I noticed that the artist couldn’t resist giving one zombie a case of plumber’s crack; why, I’m not sure.

If he’s like many of the people his age who work there, the kid probably has evil, possibly satanic tattoos, plus a few piercings. I suspect that he goes home to his rat-trap apartment after work and plays video games where blood spews and things explode. He’s probably broke the day after payday, between buying pot, beer and ever gorier video games. And just imagine, he probably votes. And we wonder why this country is in the mess it’s in!


The supervisor changed the pictures back to landscapes for me, but they didn’t stay that way long. I managed to put a couple stationary landscapes on the screens a couple days ago and they’re still there, so maybe he’s moved. If he changes them again, I may if I can sneak a picture of Jesus on there for him. THAT should stir something up! © 2014
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Wish For Today

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A GREAT TRUTH

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Velly Intellesting!

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I decided that I’d stop at a local auto parts place and get some oil and a filter for my truck. I used to change my own oil all the time on my old truck, so figured that I still could (unless I get stuck under the truck). I asked for what came originally in the truck and found out that it was synthetic, as I thought. The thing is, while the dealership has been charging what I considered a fair price for an oil change, I figured out that they hadn’t been using synthetic oil. No wonder the price was “fair!” Seven quarts of oil, a filter and a bottle of Slick 50® ran me $25 more than what I’d been paying for an oil change, even after a couple discounts. I also got a mail-in rebate for $10, though, so that will get it down to only $15 more than I’d been paying. So now I’m wondering, has the dealership been using the cheaper oil ever since I got the truck, or did they switch last year when they started paying for their bigger and better new showroom?


I’ll take a look tomorrow, and if it looks like I might get my big belly stuck between the frame and a hard place, I may just pay the garage that used to work on my old truck to do the job for me. © 2014
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Why "Bugging In" May Be Smart (a link)

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http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-reasons-bugging-in-smart/
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Cast Your Bread Upon The Waters…

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On the job that I had before, there was a guy just reaching early retirement age that I gravitated toward somewhat. It wasn’t because we had anything in common, but because he got so little respect from others, and I’ve always been sympathetic to life’s underdogs. He was a Vietnam veteran, plus a former druggie and a former sound man/roadie for a rock group. He was also a semi-alcoholic and a weekend drunk. Between his current life and his past one, he was missing more than a few brain cells. He was getting a little hard-of-hearing, plus was loud to begin with, having been trained for telemarketing during the old boiler-room days. He was also prone to a general bad attitude and temper tantrums. Due to that, no-one, including me, really wanted to sit by him while working the phones.

To make matters worse, he was often forced by his circumstances to live with room-mates who stole his food, and sometimes his money. I began to realize that he often came to work without having eaten breakfast. I was doing a little better in those days before hope and change had taken full effect, and sometimes stopped at a drive-through on my way to work to get my breakfast. So, I started getting an extra dollar sandwich and offering it to him. He gladly accepted and often came back a second time to thank me. He was fired not all that long before the place closed down.

A power outage earlier this week had caused me to spend a few extra dollars, so I had to count up the change in the truck, including 25 pennies, to get something at the dollar store near my workplace to snack on at work yesterday. While looking over my unhealthy options, a familiar voice started urging me to get a particular item. Turning, I came face-to-face with my old co-worker. He had something in his hand that he was going to by and offered to buy my choice for me, telling me that he hadn’t forgotten all those breakfast sandwiches from the old days. I thanked him for his offer, but told him to save his money, but I DID take his suggestion of junk-food, to make him feel good.

At the register, I still had my change in my hand as the clerk reached for my package. My former co-worker pushed his stuff forward and told the clerk that it was all together. What could I say without causing a scene, or making him feel bad? Even those at the bottom want the chance to be the giver once-in-a-while, instead of always being the receiver. I put the change back in my pocket and thanked him. I also told him that he was a good guy, but that I’d always known that. His eyes twinkled and he almost smiled. I thanked him again and walked off with my prize.

Outside, he caught up with me and shoved a 10-dollar bill in my hand. Try as I might, I could not convince him to keep it, unless I was willing to destroy his dignity. Once again, he told me how much he appreciated those sandwiches, and explained that he might never see me again, knew I wasn’t as flush as I once was, and just wanted to feel that he was helping a friend. Once again, I thanked him, plus told him that I hoped God would bless him for his kindness.


Today was payday, and though the $10 will come in handy, I don’t feel right about keeping money from someone that I know is having it rougher than I. Maybe I’ll pass it along somewhere. Still, I was truly touched by my former coworker’s sincere show of appreciation, and I think that he needed to be able to return a kindness to maintain his self image. I’m sure that we both felt the better for it, so it appears the Lord blessed us both yesterday. © 2014
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Really Stupid Things That Some People Seem To Believe About Fundraisers

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We all work for the same company. There’s really only two of us—one male and one female. Every call that has been made by those two people for that one company in the last 40 years should not only be on record, but should be instantly remembered by the person who made it. There is only one police “charity.” There is only one fireman’s charity.” Donations to those “charities” actually help the rank and file members of those professions. You should have to be a policeman to call for the police charity. You should have to be a fireman to call for the fireman’s charity. If you are NOT a policeman or fireman and call for their charity, you should do so for free, because you don’t have the right to earn a living like other people.


Back when I used to call live, and someone told me that they wouldn’t donate, because I wasn’t a cop or a fireman, I sometimes asked them (VERY politely) if they would prefer that the cops and firemen come in and man the phones, and us telemarketers put on guns to keep them safe and spray water on their houses if they caught fire. For some reason, they thought that was a really STUPID idea! © 2014
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Pleasant Fourth Of July

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I woke up half-an-hour ahead of the alarm yesterday, so got up and got my shower. My wife had already gotten hers. It was cool enough that we could leave the dog in the truck when we went inside McDonald’s to have a breakfast of gravy and biscuits. Our appetites sated and with a piece of sausage for The Mighty Dachshund, we returned to the truck and headed south.

We arrived at Cedar Lakes, in Ripley, West Virginia at nine o’clock, just as they opened the fair for the day. The fair is called the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, and this is its 51st year. My folks took my sister and me that first year in 1963, when our beautiful state celebrated its 100th birthday. The original purpose was largely to preserve and showcase old-time skills, but that has changed quite a bit over the years. I didn’t miss the fair for about 30 years, but then they got a little off-track, plus, there were a few miserably hot Fourths, plus a couple years of poverty, so my attendance the last 20 years has been somewhat sporadic.

My wife and I hadn’t been there for three years and we hadn’t been able to afford to do anything at all last year, so I suggested that we go this year, since I was working again. It was unusually pleasant, temperature-wise, with some clouds and a good breeze. The three of us walked and looked and rested and drank water, and then walked and looked some more. By noon, we old geezers and our short-legged little friend were about pooped, so we slipped out of the place just as the main crowd started rolling in bumper-to-bumper.

On arriving home, we all took a nap, then, the missus and I went to Cheddar’s and had a nice late lunch. Looking around us, we noticed that most other folks had ordered nearly all fried stuff. I’m not sure why you’d go to a slightly better restaurant and still order burgers and fries and onion rings and such, but that seemed to be the case. We had grilled fish and vegetables of our choice and it was all very good. Then we went home and took another nap. Later, I slipped outside and did a few odds and ends that needed done before I mowed the yard, then came back in and spent the rest of the evening watching TV with the little woman and giving the dog some floor time. It was a good day. © 2014
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What Can I Say; She Loves Me.

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I’ve always said that the only completely unconditional love we ever get is from Jesus and our dogs. Jesus proved His love by willingly dying on the cross for the sins of each of us. Many dogs have proven theirs by dying while trying to save their owner’s life. Thankfully, most don’t have to go to that extreme.

When we got The Mighty Dachshund as a pup five years ago, I was working days, so, while I was gone through the day, I always spent part of each evening on the floor with her. Fifteen months of unemployment got her used to me being available a large part of the day, as well. With my current job, though, I’m working afternoons.

My wife tells me that the pooch goes into a deep blue funk as soon as I leave, and won’t perk up for anything. Well, there IS one thing, it turns out. She soon noticed that it was my voice that her sharp little ears picked up on the far end of the line, when I called my wife on breaks. In no time, she began sitting up (begging) in front of my wife and whining whenever I’d call. Finally, my wife said, “Here, say something to the dog.” So, I told her what a good little dog she was, that I missed her and that she was my little sweetie-pie. When my wife came back on the phone, she said that the pooch was on the floor, happily rolling like a pup.


Since then, she expects for me to talk to her nearly every time that I call, EXCEPT for the last time I call each evening. At that time, I speak to my wife for just a moment from inside my truck, to let her know that I’m headed home. The Mighty Dachshund seems to know what that last call means, because she doesn’t beg to talk to me, she just starts rolling up a storm. On my arrival each night, she nearly drags my wife to the edge of the porch to see me. Then, my wife hands me the leash and I take the pooch out to answer nature’s call. After cleaning her up and going inside, she then fully expects (and usually gets) some much anticipated “floor time.” © 2014
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Proverbial “New List” In Telemarketing

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Nearly every day, at some point when sales are depressingly slow, we are blessed with a “brand new list,” handed down from the powers-that-be in the nether-world of telemarketing. The first time that I heard it on my new job, I remember thinking “here we go again!” You see, truly new lists are made up from currently used numbers, usually found by looking for new business listings, or purchased from the phone companies that SWEAR that they don’t sell their lists. You very rarely get an honest-to-goodness new list.

Now OLD lists that have been beat to death, where everyone has come to hate the charity or business that has harassed them for months, eventually have to be retired. Preferably before the people arm themselves and come looking for the telemarketers. So, they are stored somewhere in storage devices, or old computers, “put on the basement shelf” so to speak, for a number of years. During that time, since many of the former best donors were older folks, many of the people die. Some move; some change numbers, and some numbers are simply no longer in service for reasons unknown. Many of those numbers are eventually re-assigned to other people, some to individuals, and some to businesses.

Eventually, when their current lists become filled with defensive, suspicious hate-filled people who have tired of giving to groups who never get enough, they decide they need some “new” lists. SO, they go down to the basement, if you will, blow the dust off the old lists, rename them “new” lists, and give them to their callers. It’s then up to the callers to get rid of the wrong numbers, businesses (if they’re supposed to be calling individuals), deceased folks and out-of-service numbers. When they’re done, indeed, they’ve cleaned up the old list and turned it into a new one, but it was NOT a new list when they received it. Of course, the company will hype the old list as a new one and try to convince the callers that it’s going to be a big deal. It rarely is; it’s just a lot of thankless, head-banging work.


With my current company, the “new” lists seem to average about 10 years old. You can gradually figure it out after enough folks say “Well Mr./Mrs. So & So has been gone for 10 years!” At my old job, I sometimes encountered lists as old as 25 years. It makes for some “interesting” work, especially since some folks don’t appreciate pesky people asking for their dearly departed. Guess it’s all in a day’s work for us sons of perdition! © 2014
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FOR ANY "SPIRITUAL" FOLKS OUT THERE

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Life philosophies are many, and a person can hold several, even some that seem to conflict. Actual religions are mutually exclusive, each believing that it is the only true one. Thus, you can't be a Christian/muslim, or a Jewish/hindu, etc. Therefore, if you claim multiple religions, in actuallity, you have NONE, you merely have a confused life philosophy. 
© 2014
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mangled Musings Of A Reluctant Telemarketer

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Just for the record, I’ve been on both ends of the line and no-one truly enjoys being on either end of such “conversations.” Furthermore, most telemarketers I’ve met are one paycheck from living on the street. Desperation is the key to getting people to work jobs they really don’t want to do. That being said, a person has to look for a little humor in a job where you mostly rob the poor and give to the rich, or you’d burn out a whole lot sooner. (Every telemarketer burns out eventually.)

I remember a few years ago when I was doing telemarketing for another company that we came across a troubling computer glitch. It seems that a company in the Midwest had bought out a bunch of independent plumbers, but then kept those plumbers on as employees or franchise owners. The company had the customers call a centralized number, at which time they dispatched whichever plumber was closest to the customer. The problem was that a computer glitch caused all of our calls to by-pass the main number and go to the office of only ONE of the former independents.

Suddenly, the guy’s phone was ringing off the wall with telemarketers asking for the owner or manager. Whether the fault lay in my employer’s dialing computer or that of the plumbing company I never heard. However, the guy did NOT handle the situation well and soon started cursing and saying lewd, rude and crude things to male and female callers alike. It was about the third time that I got him that I asked the usual phrase before I knew who I was dealing with. His reply was that the boss was in the back room “f_ing his sister. Having a sudden spark of inspiration awoken by disgust, I told the man that I didn’t hear him and asked if he could repeat his reply. Sure enough, he had no hesitation in saying the foul phrase another time. I told him that shouldn’t take long and that I’d call back in five minutes. Then, I quickly (and very politely) wished him a good day and said good-bye. As I hung up, I actually heard the guy CHUCKLE and say, “Well, I guess you’ve got THAT right.” I fully expected my job to be on the line after that remark, but I learned later that even though the call had been played numerous times in the boss’s office, for numerous managers, none of them felt like giving me a hard time over it. I recalled that incident the other day when I encountered a raging “customer” on the line.

There’s an old saying that much of the miscommunication in the world is caused by people listening not to understand, but to respond. I’ve learned that to be true. As an example, when someone asks (or demands) to be put on the do-not-call list, we’re required by law to play a little blurb telling them that “I will be happy to honor your request” and telling them that it could take up to 72 hours to fully take effect. Often, when the person hears a voice on our end start up again, they assume that the pitch is starting over. So, while we’re telling them exactly what they SHOULD want to hear, they’re busy trying to scream their “directions” louder that the voice on our end, often making threats to call the law in the process. The other day, a fellow went into a blind rage and I shut the tape down, as is normal, until he seemed to have said his piece. However, as the blurb began to play, he told me (actually the guy who made the tape, I guess) to “go f_ yourself.” Had he not kept up his tirade, he would have heard the reply of “I will be happy to honor your request…” I got to see the humor in the foul situation, obviously, his insane temper and loud mouth didn’t allow him the same opportunity.


There’s more I could tell you, but this post is long enough already—maybe another day. © 2014
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Aaaahhhh! Relief!

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For the past couple weeks, I’d been wearing a cheap pair of “tennis shoes” with “old man’s Velcro fasteners.” My stiff joints and huge belly make it hard to tie laces anymore, so the need for Velcro. Plus, I’ve learned the hard way that ALL tennis shoes seem to be made in China these days and fall apart in a month or two, regardless of how cheap or expensive they may have been at the register. As a result, I’ve taken to getting the cheapest shoes I can get (usually about $15 these days) and count on throwing them away after a month’s daily wear. They aren’t comfortable, though, since they come only in medium sizes and I’ve got a wide foot. That fact sometimes necessitates getting one size longer, in order to gain a little width. Even then, the manufacturer puts a narrow sole on them to save a few cents, so my wide foot tries to sag down over the edges of the sole. To keep my foot balanced on the narrow sole, I clamp the Velcro dern near as tight as when I chained logs on my truck. That doesn’t seem to add much to the comfort of the shoe, but then neither does slipping off the sole and walking on the side of the shoe.

Luckily, the pac-liners I ordered came a couple days ago. Yesterday, I had time to cut them down to about two inches taller than my L.L. Bean camp mocs and put them inside. It was like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers when I slipped my feet into them. I originally got them just for taking the dog outside, but they were so comfortable that I’ve used them for my daily shoes, winter and summer, for the past year or two and have gotten quite spoiled by them. The old felt liners had worn out, and were getting a bit odiferous besides, so I finally pitched them.

I was surprised with the difficulty of even just FINDING the old-fashioned blue felt pac-liners online. They were everywhere a couple years ago. The prices were nearly double what I paid last time, also. I finally found a pair for only 50% more than last time (plus shipping) and ordered them. When they arrived, I noticed they were thinner than the old ones, but that wasn’t surprising. I suspect that would have been the case no matter where I ordered them, or what I paid. Quality decline seems as much a part of modern business as skyrocketing prices. However, I’m now back to wearing my favorite footwear and loving it. There’s a lot to be said for having happy feet!

Incidentally, should you wish to try my method, get the liners in your regular shoe size, but get the mocs one size larger. Otherwise, you’d probably never get the liners in place, or the boots on your feet. © 2014
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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Little Black Weevil Blues

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I’d assumed the little black dot on the back of my desk at work was a crumb from some day-shift worker’s lunch…..until it moved. Closer inspection showed it to be a tiny black weevil with an overall length of about 3/16 of an inch. Of course, being a weevil, over a third of that length was snout. If I were at home, I’d probably have shoveled him up with a paper and taken him outside and turned him loose. This was work, though, and I figured they wouldn’t appreciate paying me to free misplaced bugs. So, I left it alone to wander my desk, thinking that maybe I could save it later.

I knew its odds of leading a life of any length was nil in its current environment. It was crawling on a laminate desk, surrounded by plastic and steel electronic devices, plastic-coated electrical wires, in a cubicle covered with what is probably plastic-based fabric, in a room with tile floors, drywall walls and some sort of unnatural-looking drop ceiling. Water is found only through a self-closing door in the restroom.

As the little fellow climbed up on a wire in the tangle at the back of the monitor, I had to wonder if the poor little guy was hoping for a glimpse of sky, a blade of grass, or a drop of water. I knew that he wouldn’t find it there. Since the “experts” have decided that even plants feel pain and have a crude form of reasoning, I had to wonder what was going through his buggy little mind. Was he “looking for love in all the wrong places,” or food or maybe just a crowd of his own kind, so he could be part of the weevil community? By break, he’d crawled off somewhere else while I was distracted by talking to folks who were as unhappy to hear from me as I was to hear from them. I suppose the poor little fellow will soon breathe his last, all alone in a strange and forbidding world.

Of course “The Boll-Weevil Song” came to mind, as he, too, was probably looking for a home. Also, the lone quail that visited my neighborhood several years ago entered my memory. Having probably escaped from the pen that held its hatchery mates, it sounded terribly lost and forlorn as it called and called, hoping vainly to find a friend.

How often, I wonder, do we humans feel like that little weevil—alone in a strange and unforgiving world. My great aunt used to say in moments of melancholy, when thinking of times long gone, “Time changes things.” My wife’s paternal grandmother used to say that she felt like she was living in a strange world. As I get older, I understand more and more what they meant. The world keeps changing around us, so we no longer fit in as we used to. Plus, we sometimes have to go places or do things that don’t seem natural to us. I think if I had to live in a big city that I would survive, but I’d probably feel a lot like that little weevil.


I’ve never been one to wallow much in self-pitying loneliness, but there have been many times over the years that I’ve been acutely aware of my aloneness. Luckily, I handle aloneness pretty well. Still, there are days when I’m especially thankful for the love of a great big God, and a doting little dog. Maybe that’s why I felt sorry for the weevil. © 2014
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mental Bric-A-Brac

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A woman kept going in and out of a local Kroger’s store for several hours today. Finally, someone called the police, who found that she had a loaded pistol on her and was trying to work up nerve to shoot any workers she saw wearing their new green aprons saying “a taste of Mexico” on them. I don’t condone her insane plans, but I understand her aggravation. With all the Americans currently out of work, why should we do ANYTHING to build a foreign economy? Tonight, on our 11 o’clock news, not a word was said about it. Our local station hasn’t been worth a tinker’s dam since it was turned into a training site for a local college journalism program.

Due to my schedule, my clingy wife and a run of bad weather, the lawn has only been mowed once this year. It’s beginning to look really tacky again. That’s what made it amusing, when we went outside this evening, to discover a card from a lawn service company stuck in our door. We had to wonder if it was from the company, or one of our neighbors. Oh well, it’s nice to know that somebody cares!

We had a couple real gully-washers yesterday evening before dark. Our road now has some ditches full of gravel, while other places, there are ditches where there aren’t supposed to be. Only a few miles away, they had 1-3/4 inches of rain in 45 minutes. The Mighty Dachshund wss pretty-well buffaloed by the thunder and lightning. Anytime there would be a strike nearby, she’d bark and growl at the back door like Thor himself was going to burst through at any moment. Apparently fearing that her food would be endangered if he did, she decided to gobble down her diced cheeseburger before he could steal it. Good plan if you’re a dog, I guess.

Today, my wife and I stopped at the Fallen Arches Restaurant for what is erroneously called an “ice cream” cone. While there, a cop turned his lights on and followed a woman onto the lot and then blocked her car when she parked. Like all good little coppers, he blocked the traffic in the lot as best he could, but failed to completely stop folks from coming for fast food. After watching him for several minutes, it appeared that he was writing her a ticket for something. Since he hadn’t yet shown any tendency towards violence, we decided to leave after our cones were gone. There was a time that I would never have thought that we should stay as witnesses, in case the cop turned psycho. Those days are forever gone. A block down the road, another cop pulled a car over which appeared to be doing nothing wrong, but maybe they were on the phone or something. Big brother must be behind on his monthly ticket sales.


The first two days of each work week (Sun.-Thur.), I work 12 to 9. That really doesn’t give me either a morning or evening to do anything. Considering that I work all evenings the rest of each week, I guess it’s a good thing that I’m not currently going to church, even though I had been hoping to after I got a few checks and purchased some better clothes. This, too, shall pass (I hope). © 2014
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Summertime

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The "experts" say that summer begins tomorrow. They're wrong. Summer begins when fireflies light up the night, the scent of honeysuckle fills the air and, most importantly, the dag-gone mosquitos and deer-flies start biting! That was at least three weeks ago. © 2014
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

A “Bible-Thumping” At Wally World

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My wife returned from inside The Chinese Emporium with two small bags in her hands and a disgusted look on her face. It seems a little old lady had approached her and invited her to her church (so far, so good). However, when my wife asked what church she attended, she gave her the name of a self-righteous denomination that believes that they’re the only ones going to Heaven. My wife told her that she was sorry, but she was a Baptist, and that she didn’t want to encourage a denomination that thought they were the only ones going to Heaven. To this, the woman quickly assured her that they didn’t believe that way at all.

My wife let her know that she’d had similar discussions with many folks from her denomination, and all started out saying the same thing but, by the end of each discussion, it was clear that was EXACTLY what they believed. The woman insisted otherwise, so my wife asked her what she considered necessary to enter Heaven. The woman rattled off a few good-sounding (and correct) things. My wife told her that she would agree with all that, and most other serious members of other denominations believed likewise, so she assumed those folks would be in Heaven with the woman someday. The woman’s story began to change then, and she said quickly that those denominations were mistaken, because they didn’t really believe what the Bible said, while hers did.

She asked the woman how that was so, since their professed beliefs were nearly identical. The woman told her that, for one thing, they didn’t have music in their church (I suspect she meant only instrumental music). My wife told her that God liked music, and said as much in the Old Testament. The woman then informed her that they didn’t go by the Old Testament, only the New. My wife’s reply was that she was throwing away two-thirds of the Bible then, and the very part that Jesus taught from. The woman started getting hot under the collar by that time and told her that only people who believed as her church did would go to Heaven. My wife reminded her that was in opposition to what she’d said at the beginning of the conversation.


The woman then told her that if people didn’t read their Bible and go to a church that believed as she did, that they would go to Hell. My wife reminded her that such things were for God to say, not her, and that salvation is between the individual and God, NOT the individual and a church denomination. The woman’s logic continued to deteriorate and her mouth kept running, so my wife told her that she was brain-washed, but that she was free to believe as she chose, while SHE (my wife) was free to do the same. At that, my wife turned and walked away. Before she’d even left the area, the woman had already accosted her next victim. The sad thing is that I’m sure that she didn’t even realize that she was doing Satan’s work, instead of the Lord’s. © 2014
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Worrisome Days

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When I was a kid, there were various bee trees in the area, and the little white clovers in the lawn and pasture would be covered with bloom and honey bees. Then came mites and other problems. No bee trees survive long these days. Personally, I don't know of a one. Few people keep bees anymore, either, it has become such a bother. Behind where my wife parks her car, outside the house, is a small patch of white clover about 30 feet across. When I was a kid, it would have been swarming with honey bees. Looking around today, I could count only about a half-dozen. I wondered how far they'd come to work it. I realize that honey bees aren't native, but neither are many of our essential crops that depend on them. These are worrisome days, folks. © 2014
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Remembering Earlier Mass Transit

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Some of my earliest memories involve going to the train station with my folks to pick up my dad’s sister or nephew. She came in from D.C. for the holidays, while he came from parts unknown for the same occasions. Sometimes it would be the Greyhound Station, rather than the train. I suppose it had to do mostly with scheduling for my aunt, but point of origin for my cousin. I don’t remember ever going inside the train station, but I remember long wooden benches in the bus station. I think I remember a small restaurant in the bus station, too.

Back then, you didn’t have to go to a terminal to catch a bus, though that was their preferred method. You could actually flag down the Greyhound anywhere along its route and the driver would charge a fee commensurate with the distance remaining on the route. My great aunt, who lived halfway between here and the state capital, often flagged down the bus to come and visit her sister, my maternal grandmother. My wife remembers her mother flagging down the bus only three miles from town many a time when she wanted to go see her mother, back before they had a car.

Our city buses of that day were the same as the Greyhounds in appearance, complete with “the black smoke a-rolling up around the taillight,” as Roy Clark used to sing. I remember them passing through the downtown in those ancient days when we still had a downtown, and me coughing if I got a snoot-full of fumes.

My wife, though, is a few years older than me, so her memories go back beyond mine, of the 60’s and 50’s, and into the 40’s. She remembers riding around town on the old street cars. In fact, her mom has even taken her several miles up along the Ohio to the next city on the wrong side of the river, where she saw a certain doctor and did a little shopping on occasion. The whole ride was on the street car, including crossing the river on the regular highway bridge. Since the street car had separate tracks from the train, their steel rails crossed a couple places along the way.

Times change, of course, and the availability of automobiles to the average worker (and a local airport) first rang the death knell for the old street car, then the rail service to our area. Next, city buses disappeared and finally, Greyhound closed their local terminal. Air service to this area has almost disappeared now. But buses, of a much smaller variety, reappeared here a couple decades or more ago, though the service just hung on by the skin of its teeth for many years. Now, though, with rising gas prices and a free-falling local economy, those buses are seeing a great increase in ridership. We all would have been better off if they’d have found a way to save the street car and rail service, I think, but I’m sure many folks are thankful for those buses. © 2014

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My Two-Cent’s Worth On Our Economy

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Due to lack of time, I hadn’t said much about JaneofVirginia’s and the guru’s comments on the economy. I know the old vulgarism about opinions, but I’m going to give you mine anyway, because that’s just the sort of guy I am.

When I started my first telemarketing job five years ago, it was because there was no decent job to be found in my area. Listening to the people on the phones, it became obvious that it was the same all over. People were losing their jobs, their homes, their cars, their businesses, and sometimes their marriages due to the bad economy. During my four years on that job, the sad stories on the line got sadder and more frequent. Then the company that I worked for got bought, their client list stolen and the company closed down. It was no great loss to society, but it put the squeeze on those of us who’d gotten used to having at least a small paycheck.

It took over a year for me to get desperate enough to return to telemarketing, but the first thing I noticed was that the folks on the other end of the line were even worse off than when I’d last called. Despite everything that King Barrack tells us, the economy is NOT getting better, except maybe for that 1% that I keep hearing about. Many folks don’t realize it, but the poorer we get, the richer they get. After all, the money we no longer have has to go SOMEWHERE.

On a more personal basis, my wife and I now have it tougher than when we first wed, 31 years ago. There’s no longer money for ANYTHING extra. We see more and more people riding the bus, and an unbelievable number choosing to walk to save even the bus fare. There isn’t nearly the traffic there was a year or two ago and, even at the Chinese Emporium, people are buying less, or even just window shopping for entertainment. We can’t sell anything on Facebook anymore, and we notice that there are fewer yard sales. The yards sales we notice don’t have the crowds they did a year ago, either. Things that I see “for sale” signs on in people’s yards (cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, etc.) seem to just be sitting there. People don’t have enough money to live on, yet prices for EVERYTHING continues to rise.


I blame two sets of people. The super-rich, for never getting enough, and the average voter, who has finally managed to give us the typical collapsing socialist world that he’s been dreaming of. The problem for the latter is that we’ve ALREADY run out of other people’s money. The problem for the former is that when you take away the things that a man lives for, he starts looking for a cause to die for, and THAT is when the world becomes a very dangerous place. © 2014
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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Devil Throws Me A Curve (Or Five)

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I sold a small piece of farm machinery recently, since I’d already sold the tractor that was used to run it. The money helped catch up some bills, buy us one good meal out and even allow me to take my wife on a much-needed day-trip to calm her frazzled nerves. There was even a little money still left over, so I thought I’d get one of my guns out of hock and buy the missus a compression shirt to help with her Lymphedema. I should have known better.


First, the expensive, yet cheaply made showerhead went bad after only a couple years. So, I forked out too much money for another poorly-made, but expensive (to me) showerhead. Next, I spent four times what I expected to order a battery for my laptop. Then my phone started crapping out on me, so there went another chunk of change. While in that department at the Chinese Emporium, I picked up a set of ear-buds, to use on my job, since I think they’re soon going to force me to operate a third computer simultaneously at work. It took $60 to top off my tank for the coming week, so now I’ve got just enough left for groceries and incidentals for the week. Robert Burns was right about mice and men. © 2014
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Emergency Water Filters

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The words below are from an email conversation between the guru and me. My words have been removed, and his have been edited slightly for flow, since it was originally a private conversation. It’s posted with his approval.

I don’t personally recommend the much vaunted "British Berkefeld" (Big Berkey) filtering unit for a number of reasons that go beyond the significant number of complaints regarding leaking, stripping of threads on the filters, filters that are not certified, filters that come apart, and flow rates that are not accurate.  As a filter unit to use in a short-term emergency it would be significantly better than nothing even with its shortcomings and lack of true portability.  But it is convenient and looks good in a kitchen in an old-timey way. But 100% guaranteed potable water is not assured with the Berkeys, regular certifications are lacking, and warrantee is limited.

Sawyer filters/purifiers are certified, do work, and complaints are minimal, usually only related to flow rates due to use of muddy/filthy water and misuse.  Important details, test results, and certifications are available and not hidden (as they are on the Berkey site).

Sawyer's Point Zero Two "bucket" purifier is rated highly and it is accurately described as needing regular (perhaps daily) reverse flushing if the water is muddy and filthy with sediment — simply pouring the dirty water through several layers of cloth, like a t-shirt, significantly improves the time between reverse flushings.

Clear water can be purified for days before reverse flushing. AND the Sawyer Point Zero Two filters remove 99.997% of viruses, 99.99999% of bacteria, and 99.9999% of Protozoa/Cysts.  FINALLY, they have a lifetime replacement guarantee on the filter.

Being a "bucket" purifier, it looks only as pretty as your bucket ... if you want pretty, use a stainless steel milk bucket.  Otherwise a plain old 5 gallon plastic bucket works just fine and costs a lot less.  For the cost of the Berkey, you can make three "bucket" filters with three Sawyer "bucket kits" (bucket not included; use your own).

I recommend having the Point Zero Two "bucket" purifier for long term emergencies, setting it up in a semi permanent spot when needed (but still moved with ease).  Or get their two-bag Point Zero Two system for backpacking and "bugging out".

The PointOne Sawyer filters are ideal for use if you choose to pre-chlorinate or use water from clear(ish)-running streams or fresh lakes, etc., where no sewage or dead animals are present ... which is 95% of the United states. Heck, even their PointOne systems remove 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa, plus Sawyer's certified 0.1 micron absolute filters remove bacteria and protozoa at a higher rate than accepted EPA guidelines.

The PointOnes are ideal to carry in a small pack, pocket, or a featherweight fanatic's backpack.
I'd stake my life and health on a Sawyer Point Zero Two purifier if it came down to SHTF, and have never had a bad result with their PointOne filters when "boondocking" or remote camping. Oh, one thing to be aware of on (both the Berkey black filters and) the Sawyer PointZeroTwo purifiers ... they should be "primed" to get a good flow going.


For my Sawyer, I used the big horse syringe that came with it, using the reverse flush method with potable water, and while it took a bit of time it allowed the flow to get started immediately.  Otherwise, with a dry filter, it will take ten to fifteen minutes for the filter to flow and bubbles to leave the housing ... be sure to keep the filter below the supply, but have its output end pointed up until it flows without bubbles. Remember, the flow will not be fast, but will slowly purify at about 3½ gallons an hour from a low-head five gallon bucket (80+ gallons a day) , or around 4½ gallons per hour from a 55 gallon drum (100+ gallons a day) of water. © 2014
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Without The Sense To Get Out Of The Rain

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I tend to feel sorry for many of my coworkers. A large percentage are what you would think of as the poor and downtrodden. Many are young and seem to barely get enough to eat. A handful of them wear home confinement ankle bracelets.

A couple nights ago, I was sitting in my truck after work, watching about a dozen of them head off into the dark and the pouring rain to wherever they called home. I wished that I could give them all a lift, but my five-passenger truck is effectually made a three-passenger truck by the dog crate and a few other things kept within the confines of the cab. Which two souls would I have saved from a soaking and which ones would I condemn to the storm?


Then I realized something. Most had cigarettes, cell phones and newish tattoos. Many also had body piercings and stylish tennis shoes. Strangely enough, though, not a one had an umbrella, or even a garbage-bag poncho. You can’t save people from themselves. © 2014
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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Telemarketing Confusion

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It amazes me the number of older folks who have telephones that wouldn't hear an air-raid siren if it was going off in their hallway. You'd think they'd eventually have to ask themselves about the logic of a deaf person having a telephone bill.

It's unbelievable the number of guys who are so insanely jeaslous that they act bonkers when a male voice asks for their wife or "love"interest. It's especially amusing to hear them go off on a recording.

It would amaze you the number of people who seem to think that there is only one telemarketer in the whole world. Evey call from every charity or business, since the beginning of the sordid practice, has been made by that same person. Naturally, everything the recipient of the call has told that person should be open to instant recall in their photographic (audiographic?) memory.

People are nuts!
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Friday, June 6, 2014

The Guru’s Comments On The Money Article By JaneofVirginia


The words below are part of three emails from the guru. They are used with his permission.

JaneOfVirginia has it right in your link.  As you know, we do not raise animals nor do we have the space to do so or even grow a garden.  It takes ten minutes to get the lawn mower prepped and out of the basement, five (if that) to mow, and three to get it back down the six steps into the basement ... so not enough area to grow much of anything except a few flowers.

But all the rest really does apply to us here, with, as you know, the exception of the stores being more or less filled — with more window shoppers than buyers — especially your Chinese Emporium.  And the various restaurants and fast food places are also seeing less and less revenues. So, in general, here in the Mid Ohio Valley, we do not overtly "see" much change — but it is still there if one looks.

The remainder, for me, is well described by JaneOfVirginia.  My pay has remained static for 12 years, taxes have risen, and the cost of everything has gone up in some cases to outlandish levels.  My wife’s take-home (salaried) has dropped because every time they give her a 2-3 percent raise, they increase the insurance (which we both need now that we are older) 8-10 percent.  Her take-home has fallen from over 550 to under 430 in less than five years and they are talking about either raising insurance deductions again, or dropping coverage entirely.  By the time expenses are included (car, gas, etc.), she is working for the insurance coverage alone.  Bummer,  but we NEED that coverage.

We both know that some items are impossible to come by (22LR for example) while other items have increased significantly; ground beef has doubled in a bit over a year as have jams and jellies, store brands have almost doubled in price, the staples like flour and potatoes have gone up significantly, etc.  The problem is the game they play to hide the gouging of the citizen: less product in the same size container so you are buying more air than something of substance.  Even the indents in the bottom of certain bottles have increased in size to hide the lower amount of liquid, and when you look at the square footage of toilet paper you see it routinely drops (don't look at the ridiculous sheet count) and is more loosely wound on the tube.
Surprisingly, this weekend we saw a few items where the price had lowered.  The higher prices the companies thought they could get backfired, and they had to drop their prices.  Of course, the companies will claim that it is a loss to their profits and therefore they will figure out a way to claim they are running in the red.

What I, and other city-dwellers, are doing is searching the Internet for better prices.  While it costs me $80 a year for "membership" in Amazon Prime, that means I pay NO SHIPPING (plus get tons of free movies to watch).  So the poor UPS man is burdened with bringing my toilet paper (save $8 on 36 rolls compared to the cheapest-in-the-area same brand at Sam’s), Ramen Noodles, Spam, infant formula, etc.  While not ideal, it at least saves an average of 15% over local and, yes, Amazon does charge WV sales tax. Shirts in my size, when available locally at K-Mart or your Chinese Emporium, are 25% higher than buying the same brands online in my size at any time the spirit moves me.  So the last round of shirts I got came by the UPS man.  Any more, I simply do not care where they are made, because all are made overseas anyway, and we have to save hard earned cash in some manner to make ends meet.

Today youth are being advised that buying a house is not a sound investment anymore, and most under-35s are renting.  Besides, they cannot afford that home that cost $50 thousand in 1990 since it now costs up to ten times that price, or more.  Even automobiles cost as much as a house used to just a few years ago.
In many ways I wish we were paid in credits instead of dollars so people could see what is happening—credits as in one-per-hour-worked.  If you take a job salary from, say, 1990 and figure out how many hours it took to pay for an automobile, versus today's salary for that same identical job with the identical tenure, you will find that many items require significantly more hours of work to pay off than just a few years ago.

For example in 1990, minimum wage was 3.80 and in 2013 it was 7.25.  But in 1990, gas averaged about $1.15 per gallon nationwide for the year and in 2013 it averaged a bit above 3.50.  You could get 3.3 gallons of gas in 1990 but only 2.1 gallons of gas in 2013 ... a third less gasoline for the same basic hours worked and pay.  Milk, bread, meat, etc. also show similar work-more-hours to buy the same item. Anyway, that’s my take on the subject.  And, yep, JaneOfVirginia is VERY correct.

Prices are either national averages or as close to “Newport” as I could find from 1990 to 2013
1990 versus 2013 average costs
Minimum wage did not quite double from 1990 at $3.80 to 2013 at $7.25
BUT
Bread                                70¢ vs $1.98           (up almost 3 times)
Campbell’s Tomato Soup     35¢  vs about $1.25 (up almost 4 times)
eggs                                 $1.00  vs  $2.68      (up almost 3 times)
Hamburger                        89¢ vs $4.68           (up over 5 times)
Canned Spam approximately $1 vs approximately $5 (up over 5 times depending on region)


I would say a 1 to perhaps even 2 times spread over 13 years on SOME items would be reasonable, but a 3 times or more spread on most items shows a major problem with GREED, as created by WALL STREET, and its desire to make all their young male Adonises into multimillionaires by the time they hit 25 is where the biggest problem stands. Again, on my high horse and in my humble opinion!

I noticed one thing, though ... vendors (or whoever) make it almost impossible to see specific prices on specific items across the years ... even finding old sale ads is darn nigh impossible. This makes it almost impossible for people to do such item by item comparisons, and to discover the REAL increases in product. © 2014
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