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"No brag, just fact"
(Walter Brennan
aka Amos McCoy)

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Sunday, March 2, 2003

How guache! (Yeah, but the watch looks nice)

When I am clicking through the many channels on our cable, I always come through that patch of shopping channels. There seem to be about five of them and they are impossible to avoid. I admit a slightly grotesque if momentary fascination with the world of trinkets, special pans, stuffed sausages. junk jewelry and really ugly clothes for very large people. I have even been guilty of lingering long enough to get sucked in by the super vacuum cleaners, one of which I actually purchased.

The most intriguing thing that these cable trinket bazaars are currently hawking is expensive jewelry and watches. Some of these things are more than two grand. Who in the world with two grand to spend on a watch or bracelet would buy such a thing sight unseen on television? Even more horrifying is the idea that the rich are now watching junk television just like us po folks.

I was in Switzerland once and was fascinated by all of the jewelry store windows with dozens of Rolex and other watches with price tags of five thousand plus. In one rather ordinary small shop in Lucerne, I counted more than $200,000 worth of such timekeepers.

I got a watch for Christmas that keeps perfect time. It has a radio receiver in it and once a day recalibrates it's internal time to the broadcast time signal out of Colorado Springs. The signal is calibrated to the vibrations of the Cesium atom and is corrected a few nano seconds now and then to account for the slight variations in the earth's orbit around the sun. In short, my watch which cost less than $100 keeps as nearly perfect time as anything that a human could wear on his or her wrist.

So, were I ever to be in a position to buy a watch solely for it's "Look at me, I am rich" factor, I would want to fly to Switzerland and show how cool I am by walking right into one of those shops and trying them all on before I plunked down the cash.

Try as hard as I might, I just cannot imagine buying a $2,000 dollar watch from a fat lady with long fingernails on TV. And how would I brag about the bargain I had gotten by telling everyone of it's origins? Just don't think my rich peers would be impressed by my ability to watch the shopping channels with the underprivileged classes. How gauche!

Sunday, February 9, 2003

Waiting For War



According to the headlines, war with Iraq seems to be inevitable. The troops are being put into place, the planes armed and ready, the diplomats scampering about the world, attempting to gain support or to announce our intent to proceed with or without anyone's support.

It will be a big war, the biggest since Korea. The first Gulf War (this one might be called the second) had lots of troops but virtually no casualties on our side. This one will have a lot more. It will not be easy and when we win (we all assume we will) there may be US troops there for 5 to 10 years. When you take a county apart, it takes a long time to put it back together again.

The war that our parents remember, and that we grew to know was not expected. There were politicians who knew that it was inevitable that we would fight the Germans and the Japanese, but the general public did not know that or feel that it was inevitable.

I wonder sometimes what World Two would have been like with CNN and the other media that we have today. Would we have had reporters in Tokyo the day after Pearl Harbor waiting for interviews with the Emperor or in Berlin to talk with Hitler? What would have been the effect of live reports from Auswitz as the Allies liberated the camp?

No, it seems to be coming. Once again, someone who had a great chance to lead his people into a new world has wasted their lives and fortunes and most probably his in some mystic view of a past gone by. Instead, there will be bombs, fires, women and children killed all in support of some insane vision. And, we will do the killing. We will not like it. We will justify it in the name of some greater good. We will probably be right but hopefully we will still feel very bad about it. Only those who kill and never regret it are beyond redemption.

So, we will wait. We will read our morning papers, watch the evening news and keep an eye anxiously on CNN for the sounds of the first bombs and the first gun shots in Baghdad. We will wait anxiously to hear that yet another Prince of Evil is dead, no longer able to threaten the world, no longer able to make his own people bow to him and sacrifice their lives and fortunes in service to his vision of himself as the living God. I hope that we will feel both triumphant and sad.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003


Trusty Retainers


So far I haven't demanded too much of life but as I grow older and less patient with the endless chores around the house, I have decided that I deserve to have a few trusty retainers; servants to do those things I no longer wish to do.

First of all, I need a full time handyman. I am endlessly fiddling with toilets and sinks and pipes that suddenly develop mysterious leaks. Then there are the many electrical challenges of my old house from changing burned out bulbs to wiring jobs and replacing faulty switches. I need a trusty retainer.

Then there are my clothes. Despite my attempts in the last few years to reduce the complexity of my clothing needs (mostly I run around in sweatshirts and jeans in the winter and short sleeved polos in the summer) I still manage to generate great piles of dirty laundry. Just as I once wished to be free of my daughter's diapers and the endless changing thereof, I wish to be free any association with my own underwear and socks except to pull them out of the drawer clean and ready to put on. I am also sick of washing jeans and dress pants and finding hangers to put them on. I need a trusty retainer.

In the winter I need a yard man to shovel snow and in the spring to plant and all summer to mow, water and generally tend my vast gardens. I am also sick of raking leaves. I have done more than my share of yard work in this life and I don't think I should have to do any more. I need a trusty retainer.

I know that when spring comes, I could keep a fulltime painter and carpenter busy with the endless repairs demanded by a house that is trying to devour me. I have served my time at the end of forty foot ladders with a paint brush or hammer in my hand. I need a trusty retainer.

And of course, there is the endless cleaning that the house requires. I constantly amazed at the dishes that two people can get dirty in one day. I seems like we get several dozen glasses dirty in any given twenty four hours. Certainly dehydration is not one of our problems. I need a trusty retainer.

I don't think it is too much to ask to go back to the days of the truly wealth with huge houses and armies of help to feed, clothe, clean and maintain stuff for them. It all seems so orderly and natural somehow. Ahh…those trusty retainers. Ya gotta love em.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003


White Magic


It is snowing here, the first we have had in more than a month. This snow is crisp and crystalline, perfect powder for skiing if only we had some hills.

A fresh snow is a beautiful thing. It changes the dreary winter landscape into something magic, a fairyland of shining white. If only you did not have to drive on the stuff and the ice it leaves in its wake, it would always be welcome.

By tomorrow, however, it will not be a thing of beauty, but an ugly and tedious task. The main streets will be slushy and brown with sand put down for traction. The intersections will have patches of ice where the foolish will spin out.

My driveway is about a hundred feet long and is bordered on one side by the house and on the other by a high fence. The only way to get the snow off of it is to move it straight forward into the street. Fortunately, I have a snow blower that will make the task cold but swift and easy.

Snow blowers were a great invention. They help to make the snow bearable (as if Nature cared what we think of it anyway).

 

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