Simply Enchanting, Insect Apocalypse, and Solitude is Elusive

When I was a child I was terrified of almost everything- strange people, especially strange men, cops, other kids (because left to their own devices they generally beat the hell out of me,) strange places, being shoved and locked in closets, and I had an obsessive fear of being shot to death through the window, which considering the neighborhood we lived in until I was about 7 years old, wasn’t as irrational as it sounds.  People in that little slice of redneck heaven liked to get drunk and shoot off their shotguns in the middle of the night, so who’s to say?  But my most overwhelming childhood fear by far was of flying, stinging insects.

I still have a pretty hearty dislike for these bastards.

It didn’t help that my sisters (especially the oldest one, who was sadistic as hell) liked to toss live wasps in my hair.  There’s a number of reasons why I wear my hair very short today.  It is cooler, easier to color, and much easier to style, granted.  It is also easier to keep it insect-free.  It was bad enough to have live wasps tossed in one’s hair, but far worse when you have insanely thick hair that goes down to your waist.  I still really hate anyone or anything- besides me- touching my hair.  I’m weird about any kind of touching anyway.  Going to the hairdresser every month or so for a simple cut (I color my hair myself) is a necessary evil, but I can’t say I enjoy it.

Anyway, I found it most distressing to be informed that the insect apocalypse has arrived in what was my grandparents’ house.  Dad had rented Grandma’s old house out to a dude for the past two years who paid his rent and lived there without incident, but said dude died about three days after Dad landed in the hospital.  The dude’s girlfriend had been keeping a dog there and for some reason the electric had been turned off.  So she left the place- rotten food in the fridge, dog shit all over the floors, and unauthorized insect life- just as it was.  Poor Spencer went in to examine the disaster and ended up completely covered in flea bites. God only knows, but I’m sure in that neighborhood that the roaches are living high off the hog in there, and possibly bed bugs too.  There’s no way in hell I’m going anywhere near that.

Just call the exterminator, or the crime scene clean up people.  It’s not worth it to try cleaning up that nightmare without having the Extreme Prejudice to do it.

I still don’t like bugs.  Especially ones that leave welts.

So, I hope, when Dad is able to deal with his rentals, that he just gets the exterminator in there and lets them de-bug the place.  I do not envy anyone the task of cleaning out a rotten fridge in high summer, but I would want the bugs annihilated first.  Again, I think the crime-scene people are the way to go.

 Some things may not technically be considered HAZMAT, but should be.

I did attempt- with little success- to get some quality leave-me-alone-dammit time in over the weekend.  Mom calling me at 7:30 on Saturday just after I’d fed the dogs, let them out, got them back in, and then got Jerry out the door was a nice, annoying touch, since she usually never gets up any time before 10AM.  I was hoping to be left alone Saturday at least between 8AM and noon but that wasn’t happening.  It’s my own fault for forgetting to turn the damned phone off.  It would be one thing had she been calling me for emergency purposes, but she was pretty much only calling me to bitch at me because Steve-o was rude to her and it was a rant that could have waited until later in the day, or even a rant she could have saved for one of her nosy friends.

To make it worse, when she got off the phone with me, no sooner than I’d hung up,  and before I had the sentience of mind to turn the damned thing off, Steve-o called me with his own 37 minute rant on why he’s pissed that I’m not paying for his emergency room visit back in April.  I listened to him vent, but pretty much responded with,  “It’s called ‘you’re an adult now,’ so now you have to pay for your own shit.”  It sucks enough that he’s still on my farking health insurance so my deductible and my weekly premiums are even higher.  Needless to say, the cougar nap was out of the question Saturday morning, because I was so pissed by the time I got off the phone with him- after both his and Mom’s tirades- that I figured I might as well screw attempting to nap or read or even to put in a Journey DVD.  I decided I might as well work off some of my aggravation and start the day’s business early.

Step one for a nice, solitary day: turn this son of a bitch OFF!!!

Admittedly since Dad’s surgery and stay at the rehab I have been loathe to turn the phone off just in case there is some sort of emergency.  The sad thing is that I have no way of knowing the difference between a bullshit/nuisance call and an emergency call.  Mom will call me for the most banally stupid things- usually when I am not in a good position to waste an hour listening to her vent about how she’s pissed that the WalMart messed up her scripts, or how much Dad whines about the food at the rehab place.  Believe me, she is going to hear his whining about the quality and quantity of food available to him even worse when he gets home.  He knows how to cook.  I would suggest to him that as part of his rehab and recovery that he get really good at preparing his own meals.

Steve-o will whine and cry to me about virtually everything from how much he can’t stand how hot it gets at work, to how much he doesn’t like having to get up with his daughter in the middle of the night when he’s home, to how torqued he is that he can’t spend every dime of what he earns on playing with his cars.  That gets old too.  I feel for him as he does have a grueling schedule right now, but he sort of brought a lot of that on himself.

There’s no rest for the wicked.  I ended up most of Saturday in WalMart with Mom (I don’t believe in purgatory, but dammit, that comes close- she’s slow and she knows everyone she sees) though I did get about half an hour in the Cougar Pool when I got home.  Sunday I ended up going back up there and spending most of the day with Dad at the rehab.  I hope he gets out this week, because I am going to stay home and in bed at least for a little while this weekend.  Unless I have to bring him food he can actually eat.

I think we all know how to prevent these- but I love antique posters and such.  This one is from WWI.

Not very politically correct, but it sure gets the message across.

A Friendly Little Dystopia, Somewhere in a Solitary Bower, and Dead Presidents

I’m more comfortable in my own little world.  Aren’t we all, I guess, unless you’re one of those people who thrives on being surrounded by the company of others.  I feel positively smothered in the midst of large gatherings. I can only take so much, no matter who it is or what kind of conversation is going on.   Most of my family are incorrigible extroverts (I understand the mentality, but acting as though I’m an extrovert positively wears me out) so they wonder why I don’t always answer the phone immediately or text back the minute I get a text.  Sometimes I simply have to turn all that stuff off or just ignore it if I have any hope of remaining sane functional.

It’s all good here in my own little dystopia.  I have old Journey songs on the MP3 player, iced tea (with lemon only, NO sweetener of any type) and a cougar pool, capacity: 1 old cougar, namely me.  The dogs don’t give a rat’s ass if I wish to engage them in conversation or not as long as they get their meals of processed, crunchy mutton and whatever else is in their dog food, and they get to go out from time to time to perform their bodily functions and run around in the grass.  Jerry will probably be going to the campground this weekend, so I get at least one quiet solitary overnight.  I may utilize some of said solitary time to enjoy some of my live Journey DVDs (cranked up, because I know Jerry is not a Journey fan) and/or finish reading a couple of books.  The one I just started – FDR’s Deadly Secret is proving most fascinating so far. The theory in this book is that FDR died from melanoma that spread to his brain, although he had a laundry list of medical conditions going on that could have killed him too.

I just finished another book – Florence Harding: The First Lady, the Jazz Age, and the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President which picked over quite a bit of formerly obscure Marion County history as well as some rather seedy dirty laundry involving Warren G. Harding.  Yes, Harding was a tomcat.  Yes, Harding had friends in low places, but as far as scandal goes, from today’s perspective, I would have to say Clinton far exceeded Harding in the area of tomcatting, and both Clinton and Obama have far exceeded Harding in having friends in low places, and in flat out scandalous and illegal behavior.  Since this book was written in 1998, before many of the Clinton scandals came to light, and Obama was probably still a “community organizer” somewhere in Kenya, I can forgive the author that.  This book was well-researched and documented, and (though long for most people) to me, a fascinating read.

I feel for Florence Harding.  I know all too well how difficult it is to be an intelligent woman stuck with carrying a man with a lot of issues.

I don’t personally think Harding was the worst president ever.  Obama takes the prize on that dubious distinction as the worst president ever hands down as far as I’m concerned, even when compared with Dick Nixon, (in his instance I will venture to speak ill of a fellow Republican,) Jimmy Carter and even Bill Clinton.  Many past presidents (JFK, FDR and LBJ to name a few- in the 20th century) were tomcats.  Almost every past president, including my personal favorite, Ronald Reagan, was involved in something that someone might construe to be scandalous.  It’s a necessity of the office.  Perhaps the most squeaky-clean of the 20th century presidents was Harry Truman- but his sort of Democrat is extinct today, believe that.

Even Reagan had his moments, but IMHO he would do better from the grave than the current squatter occupying the Oval Office.

Come on, answer my poll, and comment, even if you do think I’m a right wing nut job.  I’m not politically correct, and I’m not very easily offended.

History is an endlessly fascinating subject for me, especially 20th century history.  I don’t know where the fascination came from but for the past several years most of my reading has been historical non-fiction.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and I tend to get more engrossed in a story if I know it’s at least somewhat derived from historical fact.

It’s not entirely that I dislike people. Dislike isn’t really the right word. Dealing with people in most circumstances wears me out and sucks up what little energy I have to begin with. I do have my misanthropic tendencies- and I think people get on my nerves more than I should allow- but there are people I do adore.  The main problem I have is I can only take most people in very small doses and I can only take so much of even those who are dearest to me.  I need a lot of time alone, and when for whatever reason I don’t get it, I get very crispy around the edges.

Perhaps it’s the old school Catholic upbringing, but I feel guilty when I actually do put myself first.

In the event an airplane loses cabin pressure in flight, the flight attendant always instructs the adults to put their own oxygen mask on before masking their rugrat.  It makes sense- you have to cover yourself before you can have the resources to cover anyone else- but sometimes I get so preoccupied with other people’s wants and needs that I forget to do the things that re-energize me.

One of those things is simply turning off all the electronics and locking the doors.

 

 

Victorian Ephemera and Other Morbid and Melancholy Forays

Lactated Food sounds pretty gross, but it’s simply an early form of baby formula made from powdered lactose (milk sugar) and various grains.  Infant mortality was about 25% in Victorian times for a number of reasons, many of which are preventable today.  If a mother wasn’t able to adequately breast feed her child this was one of the alternatives.  If you’ve ever tried a taste of modern baby formula, or even smelled the stuff, it couldn’t taste much worse.  Today’s baby formulas are majorly nasty tasting,  but if you don’t know any better and that’s all you get, well that’s all you get.  Unfortunately Lactated Food, while it may have served as a emergency baby formula, it couldn’t do much to prevent the epidemics or correct the sanitation issues of that era which likely caused most of the infant mortality.

The Victorians are especially known for their sense of drama in matters involving death.  Death was not something that was shoved off into hospitals and nursing homes, far away from the rhythm of daily life.  Death was part of daily life.  The guy who built your furniture was the same guy who built your coffin.  They also called it a coffin, not a “casket,” or  “receptacle for remains.”  Mortality wasn’t something reserved for the catastrophically injured, terminally ill, or the aged who are normally shoved off into some sort of facility for months or years before they die- mortality was an equal opportunity proposition.  Death usually wasn’t a lingering thing back then. One day you might be doing your daily business and the next you could just plain drop dead.  I think that’s the reason why there were so many post-mortems taken.  You didn’t have a chance to have so and so’s pic taken when he/she was alive, so now you have to do it before he/she starts to rot.

Was it winter? Did they put her out on the porch to chill until the photographer could make it? ‘Cause she looks pretty well preserved for being dead over a week.

I don’t know why I find post-mortem photography to be fascinating.  It’s creepy to take pics of dead people and even creepier to gawk at them, but I guess it’s more morbid curiosity.  The Victorians raised post-mortem photography to a high science, even developing a sort of guitar stand for the dead so they could be maneuvered into a more lifelike pose:

Now I can explain Keith Richards.

Should I have had the misfortune to have been born in Victorian times, I likely would not have survived much more than a day or two- I was born with pneumonia and had to spend a week in the hospital from the beginning.  Sickly infants were the first to go. The Victorian world made 1000 Ways to Die appear comparatively tame.  If the contagions and bad nutrition and having to wander around in horse shit didn’t kill you, the odds of death by accident or misadventure were pretty good too.

I still admire the artwork of the Victorian era though.  The drawings are stunning and ornate.  The clothing, while beautiful, would have had to have been something wicked to clean and maintain, and I don’t see how any of that stuff, especially corsets, could have been comfortable.  I balk at underwire bras and pantyhose.

I have no idea how these poor women could breathe- but they were probably already rail-thin from always having Montezuma’s Revenge.

 Another hallmark of the Victorian era was maudlin sentiment, which was sort of understandable when you didn’t know from one day to the next who would be alive and who would be dead.  The next birthday you remember might be the last, so yuk it up good.  The cards- and I admit I don’t spend much time or money on paper cards these days- are awesome.  Even the ads are so much more artistic than the ones we are treated to today:

Of course the stuff in the ad probably had lead and arsenic and heroin and cocaine in it, but what a pretty ad!

Patent medicines- basically anything someone could put in a bottle or a tin and market creatively- intrigue me also.  A lot of that stuff proved to be more deadly than anything.  I have to wonder how many people died because the “cure” was worse than the disease.

This looks like someone’s acid trip- and it might just be acid- but if it does something about my lumbago, I might just try it!

I like the little demon drilling on the top of the dude’s head  (center frame on the left.)  That’s a nice touch.

Everyone Loves Dirty Laundry, Mystery Meats Revealed, and How’s That Diet Going?

See! I’m not a criminal, just a tomcat!

Don’t we all just love a juicy scandal?  Even though John Edwards didn’t technically commit a crime, you still kind of feel like the guy is a sociopathic, horny scumbag.  I feel most sorry for his kids, especially the youngest one.   Yeah, the media did have a bit of a field day with Edwards, and in a way rightfully so, but how many people cheat on their spouses in equally egregious fashion and never get caught?  If the truth were to be told there are plenty of men (and women) out there harboring various paramours and breeding unplanned children.   I know even though I shouldn’t follow scandals, sometimes I just can’t resist the temptation.  I think humans are hardwired with an insatiable desire to stop and gawk at others’ mistakes and tragedies.  Comedy is, after all, the flipside of tragedy.  No wonder I enjoy watching shows like World’s Dumbest or Most Shocking.  It feeds that primal desire to slow down and stare at the three car pileup in the opposite side of the freeway.  Worse yet, for me, as far as car accidents on the freeway, is the morbid curiosity I have to determine how badly the cars are damaged.

I find it interesting how one person’s fine dining is another’s barf fest.  In some places sheep heads are considered a delicacy .

One nice thing about the sheep head recipe is they provide the very handy information that one head serves two people, so I guess you’re supposed to bisect the head with a hacksaw or something before you serve it. Sort of like pigs’ feet.  Yummy.  I sort of hope cannibals don’t do head eating like this:

I find it hard to imagine that there’s much meat in either a sheep head or a human head.

However, most of us have (even if it be unwittingly) eaten meat that could once be found on the heads of animals.  Chorizo (Mexican hot sausage) is made from hog jowls including the salivary glands- even so- I adore chorizo in my hot chili.  Many old-time European sausages also contain some pretty gross stuff:

Blutwurst (the French call it Boudin Noir- “black sausage,” while the English call it blood pudding) has got to be one of the grossest sounding foods going, but it’s not terribly popular here in the States.

Head cheese Which is really much more gross than it sounds.

Not dairy cheese.  Not even really made from heads.  Just leftover bits and pieces congealed into this sort of gelatinous mystery meat mass.

Lamb Fries– made famous in the movie Funny Farm – that’s something I don’t plan on trying.  Something about eating testicles-even if they’re just the leftovers from neutering sheep or pigs- is just plain wrong.

Not eggs. Not at all.  Tasty testicles..mmm, mmm good!

There are times I wish I were one of those people who are easily grossed out. While it may be inconvenient to be an impulse puker, I have to be dehydrated-deathly-ill-time-to-go-to-the-ER sick before I can puke.  I can discuss all sorts of macabre things over dinner and not bat an eyelash, I can cut up whole chickens or turkeys without flinching, and I have no problem cleaning and filleting fish.  I’ve skinned and cleaned rabbits and squirrels too, no big deal.   It may help that I have a very limited sense of smell and I had an extreme passion for ’80’s slasher flicks back in the day.  I can’t see myself ever being a bulimic either.  Very few things cause me to lose my appetite, which sort of sucks when you’re one of those people who has to dole out every sip, every bite, every carb, and count every calorie to prevent my ass from being the same size as the front end of my car.

I wish that I naturally had the appetite of someone like Calista Flockhart and could survive for weeks on Diet Rockstar and lettuce, but that is not my destiny.  Better yet to be one of those lucky bastards that can eat like a feeder hog and not gain an ounce.  I used to work with a guy like that.  He was 6’2″ and about 80#- a walking freaking skeleton- who pounded down Big Macs, fries, chocolate shakes, greasy pizza, Bahama Mamas, chips, pastries, etc. you name it, all day long.  For awhile I thought he might be a puker, but bulimia is uncommon among dudes and I don’t think he really liked being that skinny.  So I asked him how he could eat like a Sumo wrestler all day, every day, and be that god-awful thin, to which he replied, “If I don’t eat like this, I lose weight.”

Bastard.  I wish a plague of Richard Simmons on him.

It’s just not fair.  I could run 20 miles a day, and eat nothing but lettuce and Diet Rockstar and probably would still have meaty arms and that nasty leftover skin flap from abdominal surgeries.   I got the shit end of the stick in the metabolic lottery,  just like almost everything else.  But I did get straight teeth- somehow.

Cool Old Air-Cooled VWs From England…

Speaking of air-cooled VWs, do I wish I could go to this show. It’s in England (so I don’t see it happening) but at least I can enjoy these great pics of some really cool old air-cooled VWs!

Bandwagen

It all started back in 2005 after driving back to the UK from the vintage VW show in Hessisch Oldendorf, Germany. “Why don’t we have a Vintage Volkswagen show like that in England?” Well, now we do!

Lavenham is regarded as being the finest surviving example in England of a mediaeval town, with superb ancient buildings – over 300 of them listed as being of architectural and historical interest.

I was one of the organisers of the first Lavenham Vintage Volkswagen Show in 2008 which was a great success, with over 100 Vintage VWs arriving in Lavenham for the weekend from all over Europe. For our second show this year, things have had to get a little bigger to accommodate the 170 vehicle that have registered. The Market Square will be home to pre-1957 vehicles. Lavenham Press has the Big-window beetles while you will find Karmann Ghias, Type 3s and…

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Psychopathy is Intriguing, The Fickle Finger of Justice, and Don’t Can the Evidence

I don’t know if Ted Bundy’s ’68 Bug really qualifies as a “celebrity car,” because it’s kind of hard to envision a serial killer driving one of those.  I would probably place most psychopathic killers in old police auction Caprices or Crown Vics, if I had to profile.   Maybe today I would say a normal car like a Camry or an Accord, so as not to attract the undue attention of law enforcement.  Then again, in the ’70’s VW Bugs were “normal cars.”  I am (to my Dad’s and my son’s chagrin) not terribly enamored of air-cooled VWs for a few reasons.  Air cooling means no hot water heat, which most of us take for granted when it’s 20° below.  The old Bugs had a charming trait when it was that cold.  One would have to scrape the frost off the inside of the windshield.  The one winter- I think it was ’87 or ’88- I was unfortunate enough to have to drive the ’72 every day I got frostbite in my feet and ankles.  When I finally got another (water cooled thank God) Rabbit I was overjoyed.

I love the old Bugs as a curiosity, but as daily drivers they are a pain in the rear unless you live somewhere that’s it’s 70° and sunny with low humidity every day.  Ohio is NOT 70° and sunny every day, and the humidity is only low in the dead of winter when it’s too frozen to have humidity.   Old cars in general don’t like temperature extremes, but the Bugs are particularly temperamental.  If it’s too hot they can overheat easily, as well as it’s hotter than the stygian depths of hell in the car if it’s not moving.  I probably still  have burn scar imprints of the vinyl nubbins from the ’72’s seat emblazoned in the skin of my thighs.    If it’s too cold they are difficult to start- though they generally will run OK in the cold- but driving one in the extreme cold gives the word frigid a whole new meaning.

If you didn’t know Ted Bundy was a psychopathic serial killer, one might almost think him to be a rather hot looking dude.

I freely admit I have more than a passing interest in the macabre.  One of the reasons I took it upon myself to learn about criminal profiling and how to avoid being a victim is that I grew up witnessing a lot of bizarre shit.  Yes, I grew up in a small town, but in small towns much of the crime happens under the radar. Unless it’s something most dramatic or egregious, it gets swept under the rug.  You got to make it worth Channel 10’s while to send the Eyewitness Mobile Spy Cam 45 miles out in the middle of nowhere when there are shootings and stabbings and flaming car wrecks just up the road.

Sometimes people think that because one lives in a small town that there’s no violence or crime and everyone’s like Ozzie and Harriet or the Brady Bunch, but the reality is that small towns have never been nearly as pristine as the people who live in small towns want you to think.  There’s every bit as much scandal and probably then some- because those who live in the city just don’t have the time and energy to get so obsessed with other people’s lives.

No, this is not small town life. Not by a long shot.

It’s more like this.  Sort of like Deliverance, only without the canoes, mountains or banjos.

When I was growing up what would now be called domestic violence was just stuff that happened.  Men beat their wives and kids and it was (not right, mind you, but it was) considered normal.  One lady who lived directly behind us (and was part of the reason why Dad insisted on moving out of that house) had enough of her old man coming home drunk and beating her.  He worked at one of the local factories.  For about two weeks he didn’t show up at work.  She kept calling him in sick,  so some of his co-workers took it upon themselves to go check up on him.  When she could not explain why he wasn’t there at home in bed, the guys got suspicious.  Then as they were leaving, the door to the utility room was open. One of the guys peeked in the door and noticed shelves and shelves of large canning jars with strange looking meaty stuff in them.  She had killed him, chopped him into Mason-jar size pieces and canned his happy ass- most literally.  He was sort of a big dude, so I wonder to this day if she had a chain saw or a saws-all or did she just do it the (quieter) old fashioned way with a hacksaw?   I also wonder if she planned to eat him.  Why keep the evidence unless you’re planning to do something with it?  She probably would have gotten away with it if she’d just loaded him up in his truck and dumped him out in Killdeer Bog where the copperheads, coyotes, raccoons, possums, and other assorted swamp critters would have done away with him.

Yummy.  But they do pick the bones pretty clean.

I was about 5 years old when the Dismemberment and Canning Incident happened, because I remember asking Dad why the yellow tape said, “POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS.” I bet that was one time he didn’t appreciate my early reading ability- or hyperlexia- one bit. It was bad enough I read the newspaper, road signs, billboards and any other printed word I could view- whether I should have been viewing it or not.  I found out the full story many years later, because the local paper had a big write up on her when she was paroled.   I think she only escaped the death penalty because there was a brief window in which the death penalty was suspended in Ohio- personally I think we should take a cue from Texas and ramp it up a bit- but she was partially exonerated (I think) because her old man beat her and she was technically a battered woman.  In 1974 no one had heard of a battered woman defense, but by the late ’80’s I think that sort of thing was starting to come to light.

In this poor woman’s case (I can also remember hearing this couple’s rather heated fights in the middle of the night) I think paroling her was the right thing to do.  I know how difficult it is for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, and I also know that there’s the predatory killer who kills for the thrill of it, and the desperation killer that kills out of self-defense or even out of the reservoir of pent-up rage.

My best friend in high school had a rather nasty boyfriend who liked drugs and who got most violent when he was high.  I didn’t care much for the dude even when he wasn’t stoned, but I was completely pissed off when I’d gone to her house only to find him chasing her around with a knife.  This was back in the day before cell phones, and the nearest pay phone was about a quarter mile down the road at the Dairy Mart.  For whatever reason I hit the chronometer on my watch and ran like hell to the Dairy Mart to call 911.  It took the cops almost 20 minutes to get there, and the only reason she wasn’t dead was that he had cornered her in the bathroom and she had grabbed a behemoth can of hair spray (this was the late ’80’s after all) and bashed him in the head, putting him through the shower door and knocking him unconscious.  He was out cold when the cops got there. Bastard deserved it- but back then a woman had to press charges to get the cops to do anything, which of course she didn’t do because she was afraid of him.

Today the cops have to take someone in if they are called out and they so much as suspect domestic violence, which sort of makes sense, and then sort of doesn’t.  A poke or a shove or a little mark could all be it takes to send someone to jail for the evening and perhaps longer.   I have to wonder how many people get carted off for simply defending themselves or their kids?

Some Pigs are More Equal, Vertical and Breathing, and Fun With Cars

 The French, God love them, in spite of their penchant toward socialism and love of abysmally designed motor vehicles, have a saying: Plus ça change, plus c’est la méme chose.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The difference today is, sadly, that there is still a pro-slavery crowd preaching the morality of forced servitude to the masses.  It is a far more deceptive form of servitude, though.  The preachers of the religion- and it is a religion in which Government is God- of socialism keep telling the masses that we can reach some grand utopia if only we let government have all of our resources…so the government can “redistribute” them.   I can go on and on ranting on that point, but suffice to say that someone has to pay for all the “gimmes” to the entitlement crowd, and it seems that “someone” always ends up being people like me.  It’s just a tad bit grating knowing that all the money I pay out in taxes and insurances goes toward other people getting (for free) things I can’t afford.  If I think about it too much, it really pisses me off.

I can’t stress it enough.  Read  George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Which pigs are more equal?  Of course, the phrase “more equal” is an oxymoron to begin with, but the political correctness movement has brought us an era in which being some sort of protected minority du jour buys one privileges that the rest of the population is not accorded.   Is it truly in the interest of “equality” to give special scholarships to black students, while white students with better GPAs and more notable achievements are denied, or to hire a person who belongs to a minority group who is less qualified to do a job?  Doesn’t this send the message that ____ group is inferior and can’t achieve anything without someone fudging it for them?

I am all for equal rights, but I despise “affirmative action,” which is simply reverse discrimination.  It’s an attempt to make “some pigs more equal than others.”  There will never be equal rights in this country until or unless there is no preferential treatment given to anyone on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, national origin, sexual preference, ad nauseam.  No one has equal rights until no one has special rights.

Ok, I’m done with today’s rant on government and society, before I piss myself off too much.

You win some, you lose some.  I do well to remain breathing and vertical.

Speaking of remaining vertical, tomorrow my illustrious son and his buddy are going to go to Cinci to retrieve his car, saving me at least part of the road trip, and I get my car back. I want to go hang out with Dad for awhile but I’m trying to think of creative ways to avoid having dinner at the nursing home.  I’m still having nightmares about that shrivelled up piece of sausage (?) and whatever that dried up film was on the outside of the coffee cup, but there are times when dining is more about being social and polite than it is about pretending to be a frigging gourmet.    Perhaps it is a sad commentary on my life that I am looking forward to driving a Yaris, but I have driven far worse in my life. I’ve owned a plethora of cars in my time- some good, some abysmal, some classic, and some forgettable. Maybe I can remember them all:

1979 Subaru DL- it was completely trashed long before I got it, but memorable because it was my first car, and when I got it there was a behemoth pack of Trojan rubbers in the glove box.

1975 VW Rabbit- this car completely sucked because it was a (rare) carbureted Rabbit – (same powertrain and induction as an old Dodge Omni… those one barrel Solex carbs sucked… and just as depressing to drive) and it had a number of bizarre electrical faults. It would not start if you turned it off at Burger King, for example, which makes no rational sense.

1977 VW Rabbit- ugly as hell but would run like a raped ape because we put the air distributor from a Porsche 944 on it (more air=more fuel on the old mechanical Bosch CIS injection systems)- this was the car I beat the boys with the Novas and Chevelles with the 350 engines and 411 rear ends in the quarter mile.  I know, drag racing is bad, but when you’re 18 and like to teach young punks some simple physics, it was really fun.  Horsepower means nothing unless you have the low end torque to back it up.

1972 VW Super Beetle-my first and last air-cooled VW- had to sell it to the ex to have money to move.  Loved the car, in spite of getting frostbite in my ankles from driving it in winter, but sometimes getting away from an ex is worth the trade-off.

1979 VW Rabbit- not as fast as the ’77 but it was my very first 4 door, and my very first Blaupunkt stereo with 16 speakers and 100 watt power amp.  Led Zeppelin cranked up in this car was awesome. Spending $800 in repairs in one month- brakes, control arms, front shocks, rear shocks, tires and a starter,  was not so awesome.

1990 Chevy Cavalier- worst piece of shit I ever owned- and I bought it new.  The week after I bought it I had to have the hood painted.  The lifters clanged like a diesel’s, and the oil pan drain plug was stripped from the factory. I was glad to see that son of a bitch go.

1983 VW GTI- I could kick myself in the ass for selling this classic. Damn, it would run fine…  But it was black, a 2 door, and the A/C didn’t work.  Plus, at the time I had an infant in a car seat, and that does NOT work with a 2 door that has no A/C.

1988 VW Fox- not magic, not tragic- it had 4 doors and working A/C, but I sold it before I ever had to have the clutch replaced.  Clutch replacement on front wheel drive cars with longitudinal engines is a bitch, and a repair that’s way too expensive for me.

1994 Toyota RN series truck- I loved this truck.  It had 250K on it when I begrudgingly let the old man trade it in on his ’99 Tacoma. The old 22RE engines were virtually indestructible.

1998 Toyota Corolla- It was purple and I loved the color.  But I made the mistake of putting aftermarket aluminum wheels on it and had nine kinds of trouble with them, and then I became enamored of the Celica I saw in the showroom.

2000 Toyota Celica- Another car I could positively smack myself for trading in.  This beastie was fun to drive and fast as hell.  But Steve-o couldn’t fit in the back seat, and the lease was up so I had to trade it in on something.

2005 Scion XA- This car was fun and it had 4 doors and more room in the back seat.  The only reason I traded it was because the lease was up.  I don’t see myself doing leases anymore.

2008 Toyota Yaris- I liked this car too, until I got rear-ended and was paranoid taking it back even after the body damage was repaired- and I was offered a hell of a deal to just buy a new one with more safety features on it.

2010 Toyota Yaris- This is my current ride- exactly like the 2008 only with power everything, cruise and side airbags. Why the hell they don’t make the sedan anymore is beyond me.

In all honesty it is difficult to find a decent car if you’re one of the 13% of American drivers that prefer a manual transmission.  The Europeans offer the best rides for those who like to shift gears themselves- but they’re also the most expensive.  The Japanese do offer manual transmissions in a variety of models, but most of those are base model econoboxes, (my vehicles of choice) so if you like options you’ll likely end up dealer trading for them or special ordering them.  I’ve gotten lucky with most of the cars I’ve bought recently- nobody wants the manuals with all the toys- so I get better deals.

Steve-o found out today that his automotive hypocondriasis was exactly what I thought it was: something stupid.  Steve-o is also a member of the 13%, and he’s also aware that the Europeans have the best offerings for those of us who pass by all the cars on the lot that only have two pedals.  Audis, especially turbo Audis with 150K+, are very temperamental when they have vacuum leaks.  He had an improperly sealed valve cover and a slightly cracked flange leading to one of the vacuum lines. It was miraculously devoid of the catastrophic failures he envisioned, and frankly, I barely noticed the trivial, almost indiscernible miss on cold start before he took it in for repairs.  He would crap himself if he had to fire up Dad’s ancient Mazda van and listen to the lifters clang like a diesel’s until the temp gauge gets at least half way up.  That disturbs me- and I try to be very easy on it when it’s cold- but I admit the play in both the ball joints scares me more than the lifter noise.  I hope to avoid the larger potholes and divots with this thing.  At least I get my car back tomorrow, after I hear his whining about how it hydroplanes in the rain (no shit when you’re going 85) and the wind blows it around. I’ve not heard any whining about the 40+ MPG it gets on the highway though.

I have to wonder what kinds of drugs the artist of this painting was on.  Cats with umbrellas, in the snow?