The Country Curmudgeon

The fall of an empire

I have read a lot of theories about what happened to the Roman Empire. One of the popular theories claims they all went mad from drinking water supplied through lead pipes. This would never happen today. Our water comes pre-polluted so we don’t need leaching lead to make us crazy. Another theory has to do with the abuses of power as each successive emperor became increasingly drunk with authority until chaos ensued as everyone revolted, right down to the palace guards. America has not quite reached this point, but it won’t take much more to push us over the edge.

The Tinker Bell Theory

It is a warm spring day. Well, not really, but I have chosen to exercise a power that I learned as a child from the play, “Peter Pan.” If you believe hard enough, you can make a thing true. You can demonstrate your belief in a number of ways. In the play, everyone has to clap. Sometimes we are asked to send money, another way to make it so. Charities rely heavily on this, as do those TV ministers.

Labors of love, lost

I remember my first job as clearly as last night’s bad dream. My early work experiences taught me a thing or two about the relationship between labor and management.

There was my summer job at the aircraft plant. They put me in the Heat Treat Department. Here I learned how not to work. The regulars spent a fair amount of time preparing items for the hot brine baths. My instructions were to prep the first few, then sit and stare at the rest until the lookout announced that a white shirt was coming (management). This effectively quadrupled the time needed to complete this task.

Call me a fishing fool

I recently found my old fly rods and reels while rummaging through the attic. If you are not familiar, in fly-casting the weight is in the line, not the lure and there are no sinkers to speak of. If you watch one of these guys you will see the line curling above their heads in a sort of S shape. It looks graceful and controlled.

As the world turns

I have always taken it on faith that the reason the days seem shorter in the winter is because of the angle of the sun as the earth tips. Recently I realized it could just be that the days really are shorter because the earth spins differently in the winter. At night it slows down. This makes the sun come up later.

Down and dirty

“Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way? What’s the matter with kids today?”
— “Bye Bye Birdie”

I am officially a dinosaur. Gone are the days when kids spent an afternoon playing Candyland or Uncle Wiggily. The height of gaming technology used to involve a couple of race cars with magnets in their front bumpers that attached to a magnet on a string on a stick. You dragged them over a race course. Magnets detached, cars went off the track, and you got in each other’s way, but this was action!

Selected at random

This is the second time in three years that I have been randomly selected for a census questionnaire. How is that possible? I think I will go around my neighborhood and ask if anybody else has been so honored. 

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Frog in the frying pan

Supposedly, if you place a frog in a cold frying pan and very slowly turn up the heat, it will cook to death without realizing anything is wrong. This sounds ridiculous until you look around.

For whatever reasons, the local school districts always need more money. Some of those reasons are valid. Where does a school district get more money? The town is faced with rising costs every year. How will it ever handle the extra expenses? Our local library has gotten itself into a financial mess. Some of the independent funding for the new building was not forthcoming. Whatever will we do?

The real price

Ah! Something for nothing, the real American dream. You see it all the time. Buy one — get one free, free shipping on all orders over $25, free delivery, no payments and no interest for a year. All you have to do is stop and think it through to realize that whatever it is they are selling, is overpriced.

Unique snowflakes?

If I hear that thing about every snowflake being different, one more time, I will scream. I just don’t believe it. You can’t prove or disprove this because as soon as you pick one up to examine it, it melts. I would argue that there are a finite number of crystalline configurations for water, even if it is 1 million or so. I’d like to see you prove me wrong. Once the snowflake hits the ground it is joined into the ones already landed so it must change, thereby conveniently making comparisons impossible. Let’s see what else we’ve got.