Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day or Labor Day-Off? - Redux

Original Post 9/5/11

So what's the bigger deal?

Labor Day…or Labor Day-Off?

I mean really...other than the day off it provides for those who do actually labor, day in and day out—freelance writers excepted—it’s one of the least popular and most misunderstood of all U.S. holidays.

In fact, if you asked just about anyone around here, back in June or July, if they were looking forward to Labor Day, the response probably melted your shoes…if you were wearing shoes.

Begun in the late 19th century to honor those tireless workers, of every creed, color and nationality that built this country into what it is today, Labor Day was a holiday of great significance and pride. 

It was also a way for the government to say, “Ooops…sorry about that…” to the unions after workers were beaten and killed during the Pullman strike in 1884.

Yes, I know. Thank you Wikipedia, that mostly accurate font of internet information.

Anyway, the point is…if there is one…and with me, usually there isn’t…Labor Day, nowadays, doesn’t get the props it deserves; even if it was the progenitor of the 3 day weekend.

I mean you would think that alone….

Aside from the 3 or 4 majors that folks get so nutty about and look forward to every year, there's also Memorial Day and 4th of July…Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day...maybe even Chiropodists Day that get waaaaay more respect….

Well, it doesn’t take a genius—needless to say—to understand why; I mean besides their own copycat 3 day weekends.

Location, location, location.

In this case, calendar location.

Memorial Day - Unofficial start of summer.

4th of July – Summer icon.

Columbus & Veterans Day – 3 day weekends in the midst of fall foliage season.

Labor day – Unofficial end of summer…school starts…work heats up…traffic slows down…new episodes of “The Apprentice” return.

Need I go on?

Switch Memorial Day with Labor Day on the calendar, and guess which one becomes the ugly step-sister?

And in this time of nearly double digit unemployment, outsourcing and general insecurity in the workplace, isn’t it a little hypocritical to say “We honor our workers for their labor.”

I mean we should…but do we?

When was the last time you looked inside a pair of pants—preferably your own---to see who made those Levi’s.

LEVI’S…that great American icon of how the west, our west, was won.

But somehow, I don’t think any of those cowboys were wearing pants made in Egypt, Mexico, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Haiti and some place called Lesotho.

Actually, to be honest—which I guess now you have to assume the rest of the time I’m not— it kind of makes me feel like an International Fashionista. But you should hear the chatter that comes out of my closet at night.

And that’s just jeans. The next time you call customer service about your computer or TV, ask Skip, Todd, Betty or Suzie Q what their favorite pizza topping is. If they say, “Lambs Brains” you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

But I hear they’re actually quite mild….

I’m also betting if you take a look around your house, you probably can’t fill out a hand full of fingers with stuff that’s actually made in America.

And your schnauzer doesn’t count….

So maybe…just maybe…there’s a reason , other than location, why Labor Day’s lost its shine with the average worker bee.

Maybe…just maybe…Labor Day would regain its status as a prominent holiday, filled with civic pride, calendar placement be dammed, if we renamed it....

“Give Me Back My Job Day!

That and the 3 day weekend, of course….

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bad Bananas - Redux

Original Post 8/12/11

The bananas are bad; brown and mushy.  

And Z only brought them home from the banana store a day or so ago.
Luckily I don't eat as many bananas this time of year as I normally do.  This time of year I eat a lot of watermelon, peaches and plums.
I even had apple pie for breakfast today; just because I can....

This time of year can be brutal on fruit. The Peaches look like my grandmother’s elbows.

That’s really not fair to my grandmother since she’s been dead for more than a dozen years.  I guess one of these days we’ll have to move her out of the garage.

The storms seem to have moved along and the heat and humidity’s been broken by a nice breeze zipping down from the north. 

A female cardinal, the bird, not the priest, which goes without saying since…well, I’m not going to get into that whole archaic catholic view of women and their “rightful” place thing. 

Anyway, a female cardinal just alighted on the bush near where I’m pontificating (sorry).

You can tell it’s the female since it’s not as brightly colored as the male…or as opinionated.

Nature has a way of sprucing down its females.  In fact, knowing almost nothing about nature, I’m not afraid to say, it’s like that with most species, except our own.  
But can you imagine what it would be like if men routinely walked around in pantyhose and lipstick and the women wore boring charcoal grey suits with closely cropped hair.

I personally wouldn’t leave the house as often, as infrequently as that is, in the first place.

But WHY DO women put up with these societal norms?  I mean it must be nice to walk around bare legged and shouldered all summer, but is this desirable when it’s 20 degrees?

Do they really enjoy highlighting their lips and eyebrows every morning, let alone the multitude of other mysterious torturous things they put themselves through?   

For what…for men to appreciate, which we undoubtedly do?

But what are men doing for the women?

Men basically jump out of bed, beat back their nose hair, ignore their ear hair, run a comb through whatever head hair they have left, possibly change their underwear, depending on the day of the week, throw on a suit and tie and off they go; dried piece of shredded wheat on their lower lip be dammed.

Quite the eye candy for the lucky ladies on the train.

To be honest, none of us even consider this as odd. 

Just the opposite.

I’ve sat in numerous corporate meetings with top level, big shot execs, both men and women, and the men are all suited up, sporting either some sort of nasal chafing cologne or last night’s Chimichanga.  The women, all lip stick’d, mascara’d and eye liner’d up, topped off with some sort of nicely scented powder, are all bare arms, legs and feet.  From a comfort factor, all this is great for the women and not so great for the men; I mean except for the subliminal primordial pleasure we derive from these norms. 

I wonder who normed them in the first place?

Three guesses…and the first two don’t count.

Of course corporate casual, which has now become more the norm than not, has put a crimp in the whole scenario. 

For men, corporate casual means basically putting on a pair of Khaki pants and some form of Polo shirt, depending on the season. 

But where does this leave the women?

They can’t go the Khaki and Polo shirt route unless they work at Best Buy or some other sort of Buy.

For women, going corporate casual is really going corporate uncomfortable.  Because no matter how many norm acceptable skirts or dresses, of whatever length or shape, women wear to work, if they show up in shorts…it’s going to be frowned upon. 

Because guess who made up those rules too?

But, like I said, I guess that’s the norm. Except for the birds and everything else on this earth, that doesn’t try to over think everything.  

Anyway, we started with bananas and my dead grandma’s elbows and ended up here.

Go figure.

My neighbor’s 2 year old has been standing on the adjacent deck for the last 20 minutes saying hello to me so I better go say hello back. Mostly so she doesn’t end up, years from now, on some therapist’s couch recalling how the mean man next door ignored her.

But first, I have to get the hose ….

Friday, August 23, 2013

Our Smoking Ghost - Redux

Original Post 7/22/11

Sorry about the Christmas photo in August, but I wanted to tell this story, and it originated during the holiday hence the pic.

And it kind of makes the house look spooky, which is good for the atmosphere I want to create.

Besides...doesn't it make you feel cool?

Anyway...we have a smoker in the house.

And since Z and I live here alone; and neither of us smokes….

Well, you can see where I’m going with this.

Z will be in the kitchen chopping away at some poor radish or cucumber or other unsuspecting salad making ingredient.

Believe me…you don’t want to be a salad making ingredient in our kitchen. 

I’ll wander in, sniff the air and say, “Someone’s been smoking in here again”. And Z will reply “Yep”…since Z is not a big talker while chopping, which is a good thing.  Then she’ll put down the knife and open the window and put on the exhaust fan.

This has been going on, intermittently, since our first Christmas, soon after we moved in, almost ten years ago.

At first we thought it was just some old smoking residue seeped into the walls, since time in memorial or hold over smoke from our pretty stone fireplace; but no...this was definitely tobacco smoke. We poked around in all the corners, under and behind all the counters; even the basement ceiling tiles below.  And none of that smelled like smoke.
So the only “logical”conclusion we could come to was...we had a ghost in the house…a  smoking ghost to boot. 
And while you might think, at first, as we did, that this was undeniably a thoughtless, rude ghost, who refused to follow the norms and customs of today, by taking it’s filthy habit outside, you have to remember, ghosts operate under a different set of rules than us live folk.  Plus, I’m guessing that smoking is probably quite common among the dead since, well, since they’re already dead. So the health risks are minimal.

Anyway, that’s pretty much the extent of its ghostly activity.  No tables moving, no chairs balancing on end, or green slime oozing from the walls.

Just smoking. 

So I guess it could be worse.  I mean the ghost could be ordering pay per view, and it doesn't, so in that way it’s a considerate ghost.  

Interestingly, when we first moved in to our humble little abode, we replaced the original oak floor in the dining room and found this old-fashioned tin for small cigars tucked under the old floor boards. So it must have been sitting there since at least 1927 when the house was built. 

It got me wondering who put it there.

Obviously, one of the builders; but did he just misplace them or did he put them there thinking that it would be cool for some folks in the future to find them?

But I don’t think he would have said “cool”. He most likely would have said that would be the “cat’s pajamas”, which is the kind of thing they said back then. I think it had something to do with the unfiltered water.

I tend to think it was the latter; since the box was empty…”no cigar” as it were. But it would have been the “cat’s pajamas” if he had left a note from the “past” for us to find.

Even "cat pajamier" if it read, “A fat guy named Lou left this on August 7th, 1927”.

Or even better if it said, “There’s an annoying loudmouth named Lucille buried under your bathtub! August 7th, 1927”

Then I got to thinking about all the people that lived in this house; the house I now own, but really just reside.

In truth, we’re only the 3rd set of owners. The previous ones lived here from 1972-2001. Besides the funky Laugh-In style wallpaper they left under the funky treasure chest stove hood thing in the kitchen, plus a lot of graffiti in the boiler room, they didn’t leave behind anything of much least to me. 

It’s the original owners, who lived here from 1927-1972, more than half the life of this house, who comes to mind when I think about the past, and feel their presence.

Think about all they lived through, right here. 

All the happiness and all the sadness that comes with a life, right here. 

A Model T parked in the driveway. The ice man cometh. The milkman goeth. The Depression, Prohibition, Al Capone, Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde,  those funny crank style telephones, party lines, a farm down the street,  trolley tracks, radio soap operas, Little Orphan Annie, two World’s Fairs, one World War, rationing, blackout curtains.  Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, Give em Hell Harry, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, NIXON!!!  Those poofee women hairdos, those slicked back men’s hairdos, crew cuts, shag cuts, Korea, Vietnam, Sinatra, Goodman, Miller, Elvis, The Beatles, B&W TV, Color TV, rotary phones, Princess phones…and of course my recently departed beautiful relic of a slop sink. 
These are the things I think about as I tend to my fire on a cold winter night, and imagine it’s 1927 and we’re all sitting close to the coals, trying to stay warm.

Me, Z and our smoking ghost.

Okay...back to the summer....

Share this on Facebook

Tolerate me on Facebook—"Like" is much too much of a commitment—

Plus the occasional extra silliness and chance to compete for valuable prizes…not really.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Happened to the Future? - Redux

Original Post 10/5/11

What happened to the future?

 I mean the future everyone was talking about when I was a kid back in the 60’s.

The one where we all lived propped up on mile high towers in near-space where the stars shone all the time. We drove, or flew rather, on skyways in tiny little space cars enclosed with synthetic see through bubble tops. 

Hi-tech machines and robots took care of all of our menial chores, including bathing, brushing our teeth and even dressing ourselves.  All you need do was push a few buttons and off you went down a conveyor belt and into some sort of electronic phone booth where, within seconds, you emerged from the other side fully clothed and ready for your day at the sprocket factory…but not before saying goodbye to Jane your wife…daughter Judy and your boy Elroy.

What happened to that future with all the cool toys that were promised, like wall size 3D holographic interactive TVs, indoor dog walkers and robots named Rosie to keep your sky pad up and running in tip top button pushing shape? 

When I was a kid I couldn’t wait for that future. It might have been the cool, high collared stretchy outfits, but I think it was more the idea that anything imagined was possible or within reach of possible, through technology...although I had never heard or used the word technology back then.  Back then, the most technology I came in contact with was the transistor radio I could sneak into the classroom to listen to the World Series through a tiny earphone that used to belong to Marconi. And I guess there were my glow in the dark monster toys.  But they only glowed for about 10 seconds and I think sent radioactive ions into my frontal lobe…I think.

So certain and anxious was I for this brave new world, that I actually counted off the years until we reached this utopian space age, which I associated with the year 2000.  I was about 8 at the time, in 1962, so 38 more years to go was the magic number. But my anticipatory enthusiasm was a little bittersweet because I also calculated that I would be all of 46 by then, pretty old to fully enjoy it all.

But hey, maybe in the future 46 wouldn’t be all that old. Maybe 46 would be the new 18! 

The NY World’s Fair came along in 1964 and reinforced all my expectations.  Futuristic towers and buildings as far as the eye could see.  Gleaming monorails streaking overhead. Cars that drove on streets AND water. Moving sidewalks and huge waffles with strawberries and whip cream…the food of the 21st century, right there for the taking.

At the Bell Telephone pavilion they said we would all be using picture phones by 1970, and while that that was slightly more than half a lifetime for an overly imaginative 10 year old, it seemed doable…but just barely.

The GM pavilion had it all.  Tall space needle buildings, flying cars…even underwater cities.  

They even had this scary round machine that we all gathered around and watched as they split an atom, creating this loud intense boom.  This I assumed, in my decade old brain, was the boom that would jettison us up into our little space apartments and cars. It was all making sense…at least to me.

Vacationing on the moon…hiking on Mars….

This was happening people!

Only it didn’t….

Oh sure…we do have microwave ovens that can cook a chicken in about 10 seconds. But did you ever eat a microwaved chicken?

We have a lifetime of collected music on devices the size of a stick of gum.

Mobile phones and computers that can tell us anything we need to know…except how to get to grandma’s house without going over the river and through the woods.

Flat screen TV’s that can fill an entire wall.

Medical imaging that can spot a pin hole on your liver.

Digital space pictures of Uranus as clear as…well, let’s leave that to the imagination.

We have all that and more, but it doesn’t seem like enough.

I guess the future loses some of its shine when it becomes the present.

We still have all the bad stuff that we had hoped would disappear.  And in some cases the bad stuff seems worse than ever.  Far from the Utopia we were lead to believe was on the way.

On top of all that….no flying cars, no spaceways, no robots to clean the toilet…not even the cool high collared stretchy suits.

Basically, I’m still wearing the same old clothes I wore in the 60’s….

Even my cool futuristic World’s Fair hat.

Just try taking that away from me….

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Shark & I - Redux

Original Post 9/30/11

Z is a shark.

I don’t mean she’s mean or will bite off your head or anything for buying the wrong kind orange juice

I’m not saying that….


But I’m not saying that….

What I mean is, she’s a perpetual motion machine…like a shark.

Sharks have to keep moving or else they drown or something.

I think I read that somewhere…I think.

Or maybe I heard it during Shark week.

Or maybe I’m making it up….

Anyway, the point is that sharks have to keep moving or something bad happens.

Z needs to keep moving because she’s afraid something bad will happen like the refrigerator won’t get cleaned … or the basement, or the garage or the big maple tree out in front.

I do not….

I’m perfectly happy not to move for hours…even days…sometimes weeks, at a time.

I’m very patient that way.

The weekend is upon us so let’s take a look at a typical Saturday.

I’ll get up at 7 AM, go down stairs to read the paper and have some coffee, while Z will have already washed 7 loads of laundry, ironed, folded and put it all away…including the shorts I went to bed in, which is a little disconcerting.

I will read my horoscope.

Z has now removed the metal covers off the washer and dryer and is vacuuming the dust that’s accumulated over the past few days since the last time she disassembled them.

She’s also repainting the boiler room.

I’m having a second cup of coffee and worrying that a person in authority is talking poorly of me, which is what my horoscope said. 

Z is then off to Zumba, which gives me a bit of a break from all the clanking that was coming out of the basement while she was re-building the boiler.

While she’s off Zumba-ing, whatever that entails, I’ll often take a walk around the gardens and admire all of Z’s horticultural efforts. I’m nothing if not supportive that way. Sometimes I’ll even make a mental note to point out a few areas where I think there could be some improvement. But for the most part Z is usually right on top of it.

After Zumba, we go for a 4 mile walk, which I actually find relaxing, if not a bit taxing physically. This takes about an hour or so, depending on the condition of my knee that day—which has been feeling quite a bit better—thanks for asking—then, immediately upon our return, Z will run out into the back yard and start dead heading.

I’m not exactly sure what that entails either since I’ve never actually seen her do it since I usually have to lie down for a bit after all that walking.

I think it might have something to do with Jerry Garcia, or maybe squirrels.

Anyway, after I’m refreshed from my little nap, I’ll often find Z cleaning out and reorganizing the garage.  She usually does this after tuning up the lawn mower, but before actually mowing the lawn.

By this time, I’m usually enjoying the lunch that Z prepared while I was napping and while it’s not always the thing I was hoping for, I usually just let it go without a comment.  


This goes on and on for most of the day. I tell her to relax but she won’t listen. She says the cracks between the sidewalks won’t clean themselves.

I guess she’s right. Nobody ever really thinks about that do they?

After a long hard day like this Z will finally, but reluctantly, conclude that there’s just not another chore to be tackled, at least until tomorrow.   So being the good sport that I am, I‘ll often offer to take her out for a nice dinner.  I mean what the heck; I’ve had 2 naps already and can probably grab a third before we go.  It’s not gonna kill me.

Besides, Z is always good dinner company; even that time she fell asleep in her Chicken Francaise.  I thought that was so endearing; just like a little puppy.

I still tell people about it.

The only downside to all of this is Z gets a little restless in her sleep. She has that thing where she's constantly kicking her legs…usually into me.

And sometimes she walks in her sleep a bit. One time I even found her holding the air conditioner over my head.  Poor kid… She was probably dreaming about putting it into the window, which I promised to do back in June but never got around to. I can’t let Z take on everything herself. Luckily we only had a few weeks of really hot hot weather.

Afterwards, we had a good laugh about that too.  Although it might have been more me than her doing the laughing, now that I think about it.

Oh well…all this writing has been a bit of a drain. Guess I’ll grab a quick nap before lunch.

I hope Z got it right today….

"Like" is much too much of a commitment—