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?

Tires, Testicles and Trouble, with Some Pent-Up Angst Too

Sometimes old pics are creepy, especially if they are high quality color pics.  The above postcard of Downtown Marion from the early 1950’s reflects that not terribly much has changed other than the cars and a couple of the buildings.  I know exactly where that pic was taken- right in front of the south side of the Courthouse looking west.  I can see the cigar store (on the south side of Center Street, on the east corner of the intersection) and what is now the Ohio State Bank across the street from it.  Further west on the south side of Center Street is the Harding Hotel, which is also still there but has been made into senior citizen apartments.  The Taft Hotel (on the north west corner of the intersection) was torn down in  1969.  The National City Bank built their ugly boxy windowless monstrosity of a bank there (which burned down in 1985 or thereabouts) and rebuilt another hideous modern architectural disaster piece there on the same exact spot, which PNC Bank inherited.  The Bank Fire was almost a funny thing to watch as the digital thermometer on the outside of the bank skyrocketed to over 500 degrees (F) before it melted.  Then again, when you live in a backwater town, excitement is where you find it.  One would think a bank of all places would be built of relatively fireproof material, but I guess as long as the vault holds, who cares?

The WWII In Color episodes are fascinating, but they are almost too personal, as if they are bringing something too antique and faded into real life.  Some things are better viewed through the distance of black and white.

Some things are just too powerful and frightening to experience in all their details.

Admittedly I have been more depressed than usual lately.  Part of it I know is coming off of the Late Winter Funk that lasts from the beginning of February until usually the middle of April or so. I just can’t get enthused about much of anything as the snowbooger grey days drag by, overcast, rainy and dismal.  My perpetual state of poverty does nothing to brighten the picture, especially when Jerry’s groundbreaking suggestions for “saving money” include options such as getting rid of my car, and cancelling cable except for the basic channels -so he won’t miss any sports.  At no time were curtailing beer-drinking, eschewing gambling or getting serious about quitting smoking put on the table.  Then again, I don’t drink beer, I hate gambling, and thanks be to God I quit smoking several years ago.  Jerry isn’t going to address cutting back on his vices but it’s OK to cut back on my base essentials.  Imagine that.  I am disappointed, but not surprised at his zeal to make my life as miserable as he possibly can.  He wonders why I absolutely can’t stand to ask him for anything- not even basic, common sense things like paying for his own scripts and for a reasonable amount of his own expenses.  However, I am not going to give up the car. If worse comes to worse he can cram the cell phone where the sun don’t shine. I can live without the electronic leash, but as far as I can help it I am not going to put myself in a position that I have to beg for the use of his truck.  Being at his mercy for transportation is just not a good idea.  Not happening.

But as I said yesterday, I am thankful that things aren’t any worse.  Maybe I can beat some sense into his head if he’s sober- or just ignore him as usual if he’s drunk.

I don’t know why he is so jealous of any social contact I have with people other than him, even women.  It’s a fight for me to go to church and other activities at church.  Maybe in his mind he sees that he’s missing his “live-in maid” or gopher and he resents not being able to order me around or bitch at me for an hour or two here and there.  Maybe deeper down he’s afraid that I’m trolling for his replacement.  Being with Jerry is sort of like driving an old hoopty. You get none of the options that make having a car fun or comfortable (no A/C, no stereo, etc.) but all of the problems inherent to an old POS. (POS: Piece Of Shit)  He reminds me of my ’79 Rabbit that I spent $800 in repairs on in one month.  It did have a good stereo but no air conditioner, and it was a crap shoot as to whether or not it would start and run from one day to the next without something major failing. Why the hell keep on dumping money, time and frustration into a lost cause?

If I’m going to pay out the ass to drive a car,I want one that works, and one that doesn’t give me fits.  The same goes for men. I had enough of nickel and diming away my life on pathetic hooptys in high school and college- and enough of nickel and diming away my life on mooching trolls from there forward.  I hate to admit it, but Jerry has simply followed the pattern- taking advantage, draining me dry, and browbeating me into feeling like a total shit every minute I am not actively kissing his ass.  It gets old.

I take responsibility for this in so much as I allow it and I have allowed it to continue for years.  I don’t know how to make it stop other than simply disappearing, which I can’t do because I have no money and nowhere to go (also my fault) so it’s a catch-22.  The vicious cycle continues.

I’ve never been able to find a trouble free man.  If anyone could find me one who isn’t a complete troll, please let me know by commenting on this post.  Seriously.  But then again, perhaps I would be better off alone.  I would be, if I could afford it.

It’s not that I am inherently anti-men.  I love men.  I love to look at hot dudes.  If memory serves me right, I like a lot of activities involving men.  I simply have a problem with being used and guilt tripped and ignored and made to feel as if I only have value if I’m either earning money or doing endless chores.  The minute I don’t have enough money to just pay for everything or I’m exhausted and can’t do anything else then the hell with me as far as Jerry’s concerned.  Steve-o treats me the same way.  As long as Mommy’s footing the bill everything is roses, but the minute Mommy’s broke it’s F.U. this and F.U. that.  At least my poverty and lack of stamina have served me in two important ways: to let me know I am not worth a tinker’s damn to anyone, and I’m pretty much destined to die alone.  If the dogs don’t eat me, I’ll be left to decompose for months until the guy who comes to read the water meter can’t get in and as he’s banging on the door he notices a funky smell.   That’s what happened to the creepy old lady who lived across from Mom and Dad.  She used to bitch at us kids for “stealing her snow” if you scraped up a handful of snow from her yard as you went down the sidewalk.  It was thought she died sometime in February, but they didn’t find her body and fumigate the house until high summer- the middle of July.  It took two weeks for the health department to fumigate that house.

I wonder if the “I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up” alarm people have an alarm for old people who live alone and whose relatives are either dead already and/or don’t give a rat’s ass about them?  If I live to be old, I will be one of those people I am afraid.  When said geezers die in their sleep the alarm could go off and call the coroner to come and get the corpse before it festers and rots for months or the deceased’s dogs start munching on it.  I’m going to need one of those, or should I say the poor suckers who eventually happen upon my remains would probably be grateful for an early warning.

Maybe that could be the invention that makes me rich- the Dead Geezer Warning System.  So the coroner gets to you before the smell gets to everyone else.

Winter in Central Ohio, Beauty is Where You Find It, I Am the Anti-Football Fan

I have a hard time finding anything beautiful in a Central Ohio winter.  We don’t get snow like those up around the lake do.  Most of the month of December we had a very small amount of snow cover, which is not typical here, but most of the time winter is simply cold, wet (precipitation forms will vary, but precipitation is a factor on most days) and dark. I can deal with cold and wet, but it’s the dark that gets to me.  It’s dark in the morning when I leave for work and dark when I get home.  Most days are overcast even at high noon so even the daylight hours are usually subdued.  I took this pic at about 5:15 last night.  The pink sky (and the bit of lingering daylight) intrigued me.  Despite rush hour traffic (which sucks) I had to snap off a pic if only for the rarity of a nominally clear sky and no precipitation falling from it.

Beauty is where you find it.

Technically I understand that after the winter solstice (December 21 or thereabouts) the amount of daylight starts to increase by a minute or so every day, until summer solstice (June 21 or so) but during January and February it’s hard to convince me that life isn’t just one big long dark night.

Tonight is a Big Deal among my friends who are into Ohio State Football.  I am not a football fan by any stretch- sure I’m glad they are playing the Sugar Bowl and all that, but I just can’t get ramped up about football.  So I will be nice and rested tomorrow morning, as I am planning on getting to bed nice and early, so I can taunt my hungover co-workers who I know are going to stay up until 1 AM drinking beer and woofing at the TV screen.  Not me.  I’m watching Dirty Jobs.  Later I might troll on over to History Channel or TruTV to see what’s on there.  I might as well get an education.

Cincinnati gets snow even less often than Columbus, but this is the view from my sister’s house on Christmas.  It’s unusual to have a white Christmas in Cinci, so this was kind of cool.