Young Men of 1977

While purging some of my hoard, I came across the 1977 Outstanding Young Men (OYM) of America book. I am listed in that publication which I considered a fund raising scam. I do not know who nominated me but I filled out the application, including some fictional material. I did not order the book (1251 pages) or purchase the plaque the U.S. Jaycees market to the honorees. But they outsmarted me because they also solicited my father (whose name and address I foolishly provided on the application) and he surprised me by purchasing both items for my Christmas present. At least my copy verified that the Jaycees publish whatever is submitted without any fact checking. As a former OYM, I was invited to nominate ten others for 1978 (chain letter). So I nominated teammates on my softball team and a few fictional people with addresses I could control. I filled out creative biographies for the fictional people. They apparently sailed through because for years the Jaycees requested more nominations from me. I had great fun until I tired of the prank. The 1977 Volume highlighted a Top Ten OYM list that included Steve Garvey, Wayne Newton, and Harry Chapin. I did not make the Top Ten but neither did the Attorney General of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. I looked him up because he was also in the eligible under 35 demographic of 1977. He appeared in very small print along with over 15,000 of us. Next I checked Donald Trump who was not mentioned anywhere in the book. Maybe the program had higher standards than I thought or perhaps The Donald just recognized a good scam when he saw one.

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For Better, For Richer

I know a couple who claims they have given permission to each other to ditch the marriage if one gets an offer from someone wealthy. Presumably the rich candidate would need to possess some qualities other than money. But I did not ask for fear of giving this provocative couple the satisfaction of thinking I was shocked or even curious. I expect someone could rationalize such a plan if it provided security for their children or if it really just acknowledged the winding down of a marriage. More likely the couple in question is messing with me as payback for all the trouble I have stirred up in the past. At any rate, my arrangement with my wife still stands: she will only be leaving me over my dead body.

Put in Puns

A carpenter who was blind became confused about when to use a thumbtack or a fingernail. After my Uncle explained the distinction, the blind carpenter said “I see” as he picked up his hammer and saw. Myself, I mix up caps and lids and sometimes end up bumbling around with an eyecap and a kneelid. Soon I get my Towers confused. The one in Paris is an eyeful and the one in New York is a bellyful of Trump. Before you know it, I have the puns and am depositing the waste byproduct all over my Blog. And yet my approval rating was already so low that it actually went up. However, I cannot tell if the boost is real or just the result of fake Russian Facebook friends tampering with my account. I am wary of who exactly my new friend Shtormovoy Daniel is.

Insect Aside

Lloyd and Michinson quote Lewis Thomas in their book of General Ignorance: “Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labor, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.” Thomas died in 1993, so never lived to see ants watching television. As you may know, they favor the Disney movie where Aesop demonizes the grasshopper. According to the CBS television series Brain Dead (canceled in 2016 after 13 episodes), undocumented ants arrived by meteorite. Besides killing humans, they were addicted to watching television. Donald Trump is famous for alleging that he had proof that millions of these ants illegally voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012. This was obviously impossible. The Brain Dead super ants only arrived in 2016 and Trump himself likely benefited if they voted at all. Brain Dead was cancelled because I was apparently the only one watching it while others were glued to the fake news channels. I have never been a fan of ants but they are a hardy breed considering the many insects and animals that eat them, e.g., beetles, caterpillars, flies, spiders, armadillos, birds, horned lizards, and presumably anteaters. The explorer ant Arctica led the Ant Elope migration where columns of newlywed ants rode even-toed ungulates to colonize a frigid continent free of predators. The settlement ultimately failed because Antarctica was also free of televisions.

Polka Dot Lips

The lead song on Janelle Monae’s album Dirty Computer is “Make Me Feel.” It only makes me feel old. But a promotional photo of Janelle in red lipstick with white polka dots caught my attention. I do not even use lip balm but all my granddaughters are keen observers of music, fashion and the world of makeup. The six year old became a huge fan of Taylor Swift after googling “good singers.” When Zofia was brushing her teeth the other morning, Dolly Parton was singing “A Coat of Many Colors” on the television and Zoi came running into the room to see who had such a beautiful voice. I think she was mostly surprised to see that some good singers are my age. So I thought I would demonstrate my own hipness by showing her the Monae photo. But my granddaughter was clearly bored by the polka dot lipstick. She said YouTube shows you how to put on regular red lipstick and then squirt little white dots on it. Children are always destroying the magic for adults. Next she will be telling me that the Easter Bunny is not going to appear on the upcoming April Fools Day. So I am back sulking on my dirty computer.

Urban Procrastination

In March 2016, a daughter-in-law sent me a link to a TED Talk on Procrastination by Tim Urban. I should be able to learn something from Urban because he turned his WordPress Blog into a Global Movement. But I have been too busy to find the 14 minutes to watch it. I keep getting distracted. Once when I set aside time for viewing the video, I ended up googling through posts about a different Tim Urban from Tacoma who appeared on American Idol. After I watch the Procrastination TED Talk, I am going to finish this Blog by adding my insights. Until then, I will save this draft in my queue.

Property Taxes

Property tax time rolls around again. The good news is that the value of our house continues to increase faster than the fruit fly population in the kitchen. The bad news is that our property tax now exceeds the gross domestic product (GDP) of Belgium. I could contest the numbers but comparable valuations from the neighborhood are used to justify the assessment. Unfortunately the comps do not take into account the conditions inside our home like deferred maintenance, homeowner neglect, and demolition a la grandchildren. Our utility provider uses us as the inefficient neighbor on the charts that categorize the power usage of customers. Well, we also need to be rated as the neighbor who most destroyed their home over the last two decades. And the Assessor should be required to purchase homes at assessed value if the homeowner chooses to sell. That would insure the more conservative approach that errs on the side of undervaluation.

Dueling Days

Aaron Burr was a sitting Vice President of the United States when he killed Alexander Hamilton, former Treasury Secretary, in a duel on July 11, 1804. The National Rifle Association (NRA) could not get their act together until 1871 and by then duels were already outlawed. By now the NRA has the lobbying clout to bring back duels. I am thinking they could sponsor a nationwide search for dueling talent in the tradition of shows like American Idol. A single elimination World Dueling Championship could be held with Regional Tournaments leading to a Super Bowl type of event. Initially this might glamorize guns and killings but eventually NRA membership and influence would be significantly reduced.

BoJoe

Don and I were still in junior high when Joe was a big football star and class president at the high school. We all looked up to Joe, especially Don. But after Joe graduated, he came back to a baseball clinic and made a joke about Don’s small hands. Don always hated him after that. Don began wearing long gloves everywhere. We think he stuffed the fingers with toilet paper. He claimed the gloves protected his hands for golf, although he left the golf team in the middle of his junior year. The rumor was that he had been caught cheating but he claimed he was busy on Saturdays helping his Dad in the real estate business and could not play tournaments. Don’s nickname for Joe was “BoJoe the Clown” and he spread his own rumors that BoJoe beat up on the fat and ugly kids when he was in high school and that he had been caught plagiarizing a political science paper in college. I tried not to believe any of that because Joe always treated me kindly, maybe because we were both from the Irish Catholic neighborhood. I was always a class clown but tried to make fun of the teachers more than classmates to avoid becoming a target of Joe, Don, or their lackeys. I live far away now but have heard that neither Joe or Don has matured much. But then again, neither have I. According to Hillary, the former editor of the school newspaper, Joe and Don almost got in a fist fight at the last reunion. In fact, Don claims they did go at it and that he beat the crap out of Joe. If so, Joe is better off than Don who is still full of the stuff.

Pro and Context

AAA says in an ad: “Think everybody texts and drives? 68% of driver’s say they don’t.” I am not sure why AAA thinks that statistic is so wonderful. How much comfort would they take in data confirming that a third of survey takers admit to driving drunk? One problem with trusting the 68% figure is that I fudge on my answers. I might say I never text and drive because I deem it bad behavior and I fully intend not to do it ever again. I only did it once in an emergency when I needed to remind my wife to get me some ice cream at the grocery store. I am not counting those times when I was in a safe driving situation. Actually I am such a poor driver that texting cannot possibly make me any worse. Nonetheless, I guess a more accurate percent would be 67.9%. Most other self assessment survey results must be just as unreliable. Does anyone think you get solid data when you ask people if they have a drinking problem, eat healthy, or exercise regularly? I fudge on answers to avoid appearing holier than thou. Or when I am applying to get on a reality television show. Or right now when rush hour traffic is crawling slow enough for me to use my phone to take an email survey on my personal hygiene habits.