Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things that Make You Go Hmmmmm

There are vast tracts of land in this country where you can drive a full day’s worth of daylight and see nothing but corn standing higher than the roof of your car in every direction as far as the eye can see.  Further if you have binoculars.  Further still with a tripod mounted Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope standing on the roof of your vehicle.  Shoot – with this gadget you can almost see the marijuana fields on Jupiter!

So with this in mind, imagine my surprise when I read the words “Product of China” in the package of Member’s Choice® Sweet Corn I purchased at my friendly neighborhood SAMS club last month!

So far we’ve found lead in the paint on children’s toys imported from China, Asbestos in drywall imported from China, and that’s not enough to tickle our inner warning response triggers, so we’re going to import food products from a source with a track record of exporting known poisons and carcinogens in their products?  Never mind that the stuff tastes more like field corn than sweet corn, what is happening with the hundreds of thousands of acres of corn we’re growing in this country, I mean, apart from continuing to scam us into accepting the fictional resource that is ethanol?  Hmmmmm

Moving on.

I read this on a bottle of Hanneford Lemon juice yesterday: “100% lemon juice with additives”.  I mean, doesn’t the whole ‘with additives’ make it somewhat less than 100% lemon juice?  When I read the rest of the label, it read ‘water, lemon juice concentrate, two different preservatives, lemon oil.  Hmmmm

The bottle of Kraft Parmesan Cheese says: “100% REAL Grated Parmesan Cheese – No Fillers”  but the ingredients in the fine print section says ‘cellulose powder added to prevent caking’.  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language published by Houghton-Mifflin defines Cellulose as “A complex carbohydrate, (C6H10O5)n, that is composed of glucose units, forms the main constituent of the cell wall in most plants, and is important in the manufacture of numerous products, such as paper, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and explosives.”

So let me get this straight – adding powdered dynamite to grated parmesan cheese doesn’t constitute a filler?  Hmmmm

I guess this stuff falls into the category of that of the infamous J.C. Penney coupon that reads “20% OFF Entire Store – No Exceptions” followed by 20 lines of microfine print which contains the list of exceptions to the ‘no exceptions’ clause.  Hmmmmm

Well, as I write this, we’re about 5 minutes removed from a ¼ inch line of thunder storms on the TV radar that could produce a tornado at worst, or kill the electricity at the least.  While I’m certain that the real thing is larger than ¼ inch – mostly because I know from experience that Florida is bigger than it looks on the radar map – I don’t know if there are any fillers, Chinese corn or exceptions.

Happy Trails!


Post Script.  It's two and a half hours since I posted this the first time, and the storm was a bust.  We got a little wind (our weather station on the roof said 15 MPH was as high as it got), the amount of rain was negligible and the lights didn't as much as flicker.  Probably could have everything turned on.  Oh well.  Got to go put the emergency lights away.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When Life Hands You A Lemon. . .

Some years back a songwriter known for odd titles like “When the Meat Wagon Comes for You”, and “You Ain’t Smokin That Cigar, Son, It’s Smoking You” wrote an original sing using a decidedly unoriginal idea: “When Life Hands You A Lemon, Make Lemonade”.  Personally I prefer the more recent idea of asking if you can trade it for a Suburu, or at the least, a nice, chilled Mojito, but it did set me to thinking.
Yeah, I know.  It scared me too at first, but I got over it.
This is the year that will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the graduation of the Miami Carol City Senior High School Class of 1971.  Yes, I realize that there were other graduating classes that year, and possibly even one or two on June the 6th, 1971, the very day our class donned cap and gowns, and in at least one documented case, nothing else, marched across the barely air conditioned stage of the City of Miami Civic Auditorium, and were handed a rolled, ribbon-tied sheet of blank paper which we could exchange for the real thing with the return of our undamaged cap and gown, shook the principal’s hand, and emerged into the searingly bright sunlight of a steamy Florida Sunday afternoon as what would likely go down in history as the last graduating Florida high school class able to correctly read, interpret and properly use a a printed Florida election ballot, chads and all.  Over 80% of the group of students that entered our school as Sophomores that first day of high school in September 1968 finished three years later having run the race, crossed the finish line, and earned our official diploma, not including those Athletes who even then received a ‘get out school free’ card based more on athletic prowess than academic accomplishment.
When the Carol City Senior High School Class of 2011 gathers by no small coincidence in the quantum order of the universe on June 6th of this year to replicate the feat of their academic predecessors of forty years ago, their company is anticipated to be a disparaging 53% of the swarm of nanoprobes who infected the infrastructure of education in those memory filled hallways and classrooms of yesteryear in September of 2008.  A shocking 47% of the students who began their journey to adulthood  will have, by attrition, death, or just plain not caring enough to complete the task at hand, fallen by the wayside.  If math is not your strong suit, I’ll work it out for you (I’d considered saying ‘spell it out’, but that would be a decidedly mixed metaphor which even I find totally unacceptable).  Pay close attention boys and girls:


Forty years ago, when flower power was dying a slow death and the birth of  Disco lay in frightening obscurity over the horizon, the classrooms of my beloved school were staffed by educators who actually educated!  This was the age when teachers still assumed the responsibility to teach – to ensure that the education process had actually taken place.  They cared!  They challenged.  They encouraged. They did more than take attendance, and hand out a book or assignment. THEY TAUGHT!  And we learned.
Somewhere along the way, the system devolved.  When my own children were in school, it was the middle school years when teachers stopped teaching and handed the responsibility for learning over to the students, but the march toward disenfranchised education slipped steadily in the direction that moved the responsibility for learning to the hands of the learner a little earlier every new year.
Entire school systems and education systems were built on this strategy.  With each tick of the clock, more and more of the responsibility to learn was taken from the teachers and placed in the hands of the students.   And with this transfer of power, went also the ability of the teacher to maintain control of his or her classroom.   Add to this mix the unavoidable evolution of the uncontrolled mass of undisciplined minds and the fear of legal action for just doing your job, and the mindset of the educator slowly became one less concerned with teaching and more obsessed with tenure and making it until retirement.
And the end result is a graduating class half the size of the beginning class.  I’m not saying that the student bears no responsibility to learn any more than I’m suggesting that there are no longer teachers who care.
The system has failed both teacher and student.
47% won’t make it to the other side of their education!  As a society, we should be appalled.  We should be screaming for someone’s head on a platter.  But the sad truth of the matter is that we have seen the enemy and he is us.
Edmund Burk once said “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”  A more vernacularized version is “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
I suppose one might extrapolate that to say “All that is necessary for our children to fail is to abandon them to a system of education that puts them in charge while we stand back and watch.”
Forty years time, and the lemon that once produced lemonade has become a bitter, sour, unfulfilled dream.
Wake up, Miami.  The Miami Dade Education system that has abandoned its students under the guise of new, flashy buildings is a failure.  I’m calling you out.  You owe these children the education their parents have entrusted – elected, even, you to deliver to them.  I am a Carol City Graduate.  I am PROUD of my school, my teachers, my classmates and their accomplishments.
You owe it to this generation to give them that same pride, and right now, you’re just passing out lemons.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In Like A Lion, Out Like a Light - BLOG for Stardate -311768.6 (26th FebruMarPril, 2,000andsumpin)

Chiefs Class of 7-T-1

I just looked and verified that I haven’t posted a BLOG since the first day of March.  Shame on me!  I haven’t been lazy, exactly.  It’s probably more accurate, if only, to say I have been otherwise occupied.  I didn’t stop writing as much as I wrote things other than my BLOG.  My editing schedule has increased by 50%.  Math is even more confusing than English.  The increase in that workload is 50%. All things being equal, if I were to reduce the workload by the exact same number of jobs, it would be a 33% reduction.  A&B+C=D and D-C=B&A, but statistically , they are two entirely different things.  This confusion probably explains my problems with Jr. High and Senior High Algebra, and it is more believable than blaming it on the teachers because they are him, and he is the same guy (ku-ku-ka-chu), and I couldn’t make amy more sense out of his work than he could out of mine.

And none of these explains my typing problems today nearly as well as 10mg of Hydrocodone saddled onto 325mg of Acetaminophen, 4 mg of Tizanidine and the 600 mg Neurontin chaser I take twice a day, twice a day, and three times a day, respectively, for back pain, or the lidocaine patch I wear directly on top of the center of the back pain to try and numb that some.
The jury is still out on whether or not I’m healthy enough for the Cialis, not to mention we only have one bathtub, situated neither in open field or deserted beach,
I am officially part of my high school graduating class’s 40th reunion committee, the number 40 referring to the number of years since we graduated, and not the number of committees we have this year, which is two, in a genuinely strange and convoluted sort of way that Hitchcock or Rod Serling would have loved.
You see, there was one loosely organized committee within which a power struggle began to develop.  In this corner, weighing in at eleven strong and representing a good cross section of our class both now and 40 years ago is the reigning Champion - the ES Committee.  In the other corner, a former committee member and elementary schoolyard bully who walked out on the committee because his ego wouldn’t allow him to not be boss or the guy in line at the BK-Lounge waiting to have his Whopper made ‘his way.’  It’s sad, really, that even after 40 years some people still behave like they’re still in first grade.
Meanwhile, back at the reservation, commitments to attend the DIY reunion being put by a dedicated group of former classmates are growing steadily while so far (as of this writing) the second reunion, sponsored by the aforementioned Committee of  Me, Myself and I (No, not me) along with a professional Reunion Company, reports that they have  only the megalomaniac who can’t handle just being one of the guys, and on other person attending.  Not sure if the Reunion Company guy is gonna be there.  Don’t have a bathtub count either. 
So, long story short (too late) , I’m helping with the committee not the Lonely Ranger and Taunto. (yes, that’s how I meant to spell it).  I’m taking photos, helping coordinate ‘special’ provisions for those who need them,  and if you know that kid who sees dead people, have him ring me up = it’s one of my committee projects.
If you need help with reunion information, go here.  If you have special needs, write or ring me.
Meanwhile, the meds are trying to turn out my lights.  Happy Trails, GO CHIEFS, and May da Farce Be Witcha.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Very Good Years

By David Roth
© 28th March, 2011
With apologies to Evan Drake
And Old Blue Eyes

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year

The Beatles were cool
The Doors were hot
Hendrix was sizzling,
The Archies were not
I fell for a girl
auburn hair, eyes of green,

When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year

In a world fresh and new
I was left all alone,
I was young and alive
I was off on my own
life was sudden and full
and my days young and fun

When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year

I have a family now
children, mortgage and wife
and if it’s not what I planned
it is an interesting life
as the clock’s ticking down
I was fully alive

When I was thirty-five

But now the days grow short
I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
from fine old kegs
from the brim to the dregs
And it pours sweet and clear
It was a very good year

High school, college,
marriage,  divorce
children who thrive
by their will, by their force,

beginnings and ends
sharing memories with friends,
the times have been filled
both with laughter and tears

They’ve all been very good years,
Yes, they’ve been very good years.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

O, Foolish Man

By David Roth
© 12th March, 2011

We play with the clouds,
seeding them with every manner
of obscenity, believing in our
foolish ignorance,
that our actions have no consequences,
and that the air we breath
and the water we drink
are safe despite our senseless manipulation.

Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1: 9-10)

We fiddle with our genes
change the makeup of the food
we grow and eat, and think
that our foolish manipulations
don’t carry over to the innocent beings
who ingest these promethean aberrations.

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  (Genesis 1:11-12)

We murder fellow humans,
for athletics shoes, a handful of pills,
a ‘look’ we didn’t like,
a faith we don’t share,
and the liquid decay of leviathan
sixty-five million years extinct,
and ponder the rising of the sea,
the warming of the air,
and the trembling of the earth.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,  and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:6-8)

And foolish creatures that we are,
we think we have it all under control.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?  Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?  It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,  And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:21-22)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…(Revelation 3:13)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

High Mountain Heather

High Mountain Heather
By David Roth
© 2nd March, 2011

Alone in the high mountain heather, come mid-day
alone in a lavender sea, by the sea,
with the wind in my hair
and her touch soft and fair
In the high mountain heather I’ll be, by the sea.

Oh come to the high mountain heather, come join me,
and in a lavender sea, you and me.
come and sit by my side
til the turn of the tide
in the high mountain heather and free, by the sea.

I’ll hide in the heather
that grows in the lee
of the high mountain pasture
that watches the sea
and dream that the mist
rolling in, rolling free
will carry my love to my heather; to me

and there in the high mountain heather, together
we’ll kiss in a lavender sea, by the sea,
for the time, for the day,
and forever you’ll stay
in the nigh mountain heather we’ll be, by the sea
in the high mountain heather with me.