Rated “E”

This post is rated “E” for entertaining.  No, educational, uh, erratic.  THIS POST IS FOR EVERYONE … Whew?  Sure glad we got that out of the way.

Oh well, it is Tuesday, and as with all Tuesday’s I have my problems.  Much like a child in grammar school, I am never prepared for the lesson on Tuesday, I am geared up for recess instead.

Most of my days, were spent in desperate contemplation of the hour in Gym class and a considerable amount of time was devoted to “the fine art of pencil sharpening and the observation of the world’ just outside the window.  I excelled in that, but unfortunately, I found out later in life, not much demand for it in the marketplace.

I used to really get into recess, which should not come as any big surprise to anyone that is a regular reader of this page.

You cannot always effectively plan for the future, especially when you are young.  I remember when released from the U.S. Military, they told me that “I could use the skills that were taught to me in the service” in my civilian occupation.  So when I found out that American Airlines wasn’t hiring any tail gunners …. I went to work for the Railroad.

This is what happens to you when you major in recess, remember this.

USA Today is reporting that stress levels are up nationwide and surprisingly, the most affected, are not adults.  The highest stress levels in the past six months have been reported by the 18-24 crowd at 64% coming in second is the 24-34 bunch 55%, 35-44 at 47%, 45-54 at close behind, 46%.  The old geezers like myself, we are just laid back and cooling it, only 37% of them reported stress.

Which is reasonable, when you stop to think about it.  We moved all “those hard to live with people out of the house” years ago.  And we are not forced to watch “Dancin’ With The Stars” three nights a week.  Did you know that more American’s voted for the winner of American Idol than voted for Bush in the last election?  True.

Might be a good day to talk about that “three ring circus” (the great American Dog & Pony Show) in the Nation’s Capitol, but to tell you the truth, I am really tired of it.  So much like T.Boone Pickens latest book (The First Billion is the hardest – Crown Business, 260 pages, $26.95) I am going to take a pass.  Having the lowest stress levels in the above group did not “just naturally occur.”  Often you have to work at it.

Good and Bad News:

Phoenix, Arizona has told home builders there that they are to install water collection systems on new homes and that they are going to collect rainwater from these systems for the watering of plants and outside shrubs.  Which is a good idea and a bad idea.  It is good to be geared up to “green thinking” and all that, it is bad, because as anyone knows.  Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert portion of the American Southwest and generally speaking …. It doesn’t rain there much, if at all.

Biting the hand that feeds them.

Hard to believe, but like beggar’s with outstretched hands the U.S. Auto companies are trying to entice the public to purchase a new car.  Only thing is, “they are going about it in the wrong manner or fashion” if you ask me.  Now they are telling us that in order to buy a new car, we need to bring MORE cash and a larger down payment is going to be required of us.

Tighter credit standards are forcing many car buyers to put up more cash in order to qualify for a loan.  The average down payment last month was $3,108.00 which is up 42% from the same time last year ($2,194.00).  It is like some kind of shark feeding frenzy on the American consumer these days.  General Motors wants to buy Chrysler and of course, they are lining up at the Federal trough to see if they can get some creative financing in the Great American Give-Away currently enjoying a nice run in Washington DC these days.

These dumb-bells ought to take a lesson from U.S. Oil, we stopped buying their products, and we effectively proved to them that we can do without oil based-products and we can do without these new cars too.

Eat Your Oil

OPEC (namely Venezuela and Iran) are crying the blues, they are now saying that they are cutting back on spending and projects in their respective countries because of the low demand for oil.  It seems that their profits are down some fifty percent and they are experiencing a hardship.  Now everyone …. All together now … One big collective sigh for our poor energy rich oil partners. Now didn’t that feel just swell boys & girls.  Actually that is a misnomer, we (America) get most of our foreign oil from places other than Venezuela and Iran.

Canada and Mexico for instance, are big suppliers to the U.S. and it is not $700 billion as previously reported but rather around $230 billion per year, big difference.

Anchor’s Aweigh

Not to be deterred, the Boys in Dubai went shopping this week, the oil rich energy czars bought the Queen Mary II and she is going to sail to Dubai on her last voyage.  After four decades of plying the oceans of the world she is being retired and will be converted into a five-star hotel in Dubai, the flashy Arab resort Center of the Middle East (United Arab Emirates).

This leaves the sister ship with the same name still plying the oceans for a little while longer, with peak oil, there will come a time in the not so distant future, when all of them are parked and converted.

“Uh, maybe the Woodpeckers were not a good idea?”

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah’s Ark . One: Don’t miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you’re stressed, float awhile. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Now, wasn’t that nice? Pass it along this Tuesday, tell all your friends, and make someone else smile, too

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Two Wheel Beginnings

My First Bike was a used Schwinn that I bought off our paperboy.  You remember your first bike?  Maybe it was under similar circumstances, back in the fifties, money as it is today, was tight.  You didn’t get a lot of new stuff back in those days.

Everyone on the block was getting a bike, one by one, my buddies brought them by the house to show them off. New paint, shiny leather seats, bright chrome spokes and I wanted one. I wanted one so badly that I approached my father and I said to him, “Can I have a bike?” He looked at me, and then he said, “What did you say?”

So mustering up as much courage as a ten year old kid is possible of, slowly I repeated the question, “Can I have a bike? Everyone on the block has one and I was wondering if I could have one too?”

My father just replied, “God did not put me on this earth to buy bicycles, he said I had to feed you, clothe you, give you a warm place to sleep, he didn’t say a thing about bicycles.”

Not prone to give up easily I repeated the question as if I never even heard his answer. “But Dad, everyone on the block has one, and I want one.” So he said, “Listen, there is a lawnmower and a rake in the garage, if you want a bike, go get ‘em and start mowing lawns. I aint buyin’ you no bicycle.”

And thus, at a early age, I learned what would be a long series of life lessons from my father.

I got out and I hustled, that summer I mowed my share of lawns, and I got my first bicycle. Luckily for me, there was no shortage of lawns to mow on Mocine Avenue. I mowed a lot of lawns that summer and put the money back and saved until I had enough to buy my own bicycle.

It was not easy, first I have never been all that good at putting money away for a rainy day as my mother used to call it. And in those days, you got fifty cents for mowing a lawn, and that was it.

Over time my labors proved to be rewarding and I finally saved up the coin to purchase a bike. I found a teenager who had one that had just recently been painted and had racks for a paper route, he wanted fifteen dollars, I talked him down to twelve and I rode it home.

My father came home that day from work and mom and I were in the front yard admiring my new purchase and mom said to my father, “Look what Don bought. He says he gave twelve bucks for it, pretty sharp huh?” and my father said, “Sure is, let me take it for a spin” reaching down and grabbing the handle bars.

Gently I pulled the bike back and said to him, “God didn’t put me on this earth to provide you bicycles to ride.” And he smiled, and then said, “That’s it kid. You are learning.” Then he walked on in to the house, somewhat amused. Who knows, he might have been amazed that I actually got it?

That was my first bike.

I delivered the morning paper at 4am on it and threw the afternoon paper after school for a couple of years. That old bike served me well and it was a sweet time of life for me. Today I am not sure whatever happened to it, I think it was eventually stolen but I cannot for the life of me remember.

Later on came a ten-speed and my old man jumped in his pickup and drove alongside me down Goodrich Street and clocked me at thirty-three miles per hour. It seemed to amuse him to no end, I would often hear him repeating the story about that damn kid almost going 35 mph and how he could not believe it.

In 1963 or ’64, I am not all that sure of the year, President John F. Kennedy declared that every American should be able to walk 50 miles.

Even at that time, it was evident that American’s were getting grossly out of shape and eating way too much. So we all got together, all my buddies and I, and we determined that if you could walk 50 miles you ought to be able to ride 100. So we did that.  We started out from Franks’ Donut Shop one morning at daylight and we rode over hills out thru Niles Canyon, to the valley to Livermore, California, and back a distance of 106 miles.

And it was way after dark when we finally made it back home, tired, sore and very much wore out.

I used to go down to the meat market and beg off the scraps of meat, and then ride my bike down to the bay (about five miles) and sit on the rocks and fish for sand sharks, no licenses, no school, no lunch, none of that garbage.  When I was a kid, if you wanted to go somewhere you took your bike, no soccer mom in a SUV drove you anywhere. That is just the way it was.

You rode the bike, or you did not go. No ninentendo, MP3, Streaming Live Video, MTV or Hackey Sack … We had our own amusements  …  Just being a kid and having a bike played an important part of it.

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