Tuesday, August 31, 2004

‘Driven’

I’ve always loved to drive.

I started driving when I was 14 – legally when I turned 15.

Yes. In Louisiana, where I’m from originally, they give drivers licenses to 15-year-olds.

Actually, in Louisiana, you can operate heavy machinery at 16 because that’s when most people get married, start drinking and go on Food Stamps. But, I digress.

When I was young I used to drive everywhere, in my brown Toyota Corolla. I drove cross-country several times. I visited relatives, and also hawked a record I had made to radio stations across the country.

I was too young and stupid to realize you had to put oil in the car, every now and then, so one day my brown Toyota Corolla threw a rod and died.

Later, when I was older, single and working, I had a Chevy Blazer. The truck was perfect for me, because I could put ALL my stuff in it.

I was quite “mobile.”

My Chevy Blazer went well with my radio career. Every time I got fired, I could just load up all my stuff and move on to another state and station. By this time I knew about the oil thing, so my Chevy Blazer lasted a lot longer than my Corolla.

It was only after getting married and having kids that driving ever became a “chore.” Since I was still in radio (and still getting fired) I not only had to move myself around but also Michelle, the kids and their stuff.

Being sent to the store at 1:30am for diapers also took some of the fun out of driving.

After mercifully ending my radio career – after several more cross-country jaunts – I still enjoyed driving and, by this time, was not upset by my many missions to the store.

I happily drove everywhere when taking the family places.

One non-radio move later, a few years ago, and upon our arrival in “beautiful downtown Pueblo, Colorado” (sarcasm over), I suddenly realized… I couldn’t drive anymore.

My eyesight had begun to go.

You may be saying, “Praise God.” But I am still disappointed by not being able to drive.

The funny thing is: I can still pass the State of Colorado eye test (which should tell you something about the State of Colorado). My peripheral vision is gone and things get blurry up close and, even though Colorado says it’s “A-OK,” I know it’s not smart or safe to drive anymore. So, I don’t.

Since I’ve turned into Mr. Magoo, I am resigned to having Michelle drive now. For some reason, she loves the fact that I am an invalid. What’s up with that?

I DO miss driving.

I suppose it’s a good thing that I can’t. I may be tempted to begin driving and not stop until I was far, far away from here.

These days Michelle has to drive me wherever I need to go. Sometimes it’s a pain in the butt for us both. Since I was a driver for so many years, I’ve now become the best “backseat driver” around…

“Dammit! Stay in your lane!”

“Kerry, don’t start.”

“The signal! Use your freaking signal!”

“I USED the signal. Leave me the hell alone!”

“Watch that rock, Michelle!”

“That’s the BANK BUILDING!”

“Huh?”

“Shut up!”

“The windshield is a mess. I can’t see anything!”

“That’s because you’re blind, you old fool!”

Not too long ago, every now and again, I’d get brave and drive down the street to the store for something I wanted. I’d wear my glasses, go alone, and also go very early in the day when there was no traffic and because it’s a short, straight shot.

But, those times got farther and farther in between, as I got more blind and nervous about driving.

My driving days are completely behind me now.

But, with the aid of a flashlight and magnifying glass I CAN still check the oil.

Monday, August 30, 2004

‘Held Up’

13-years-old is a scary age.

Well, not to the 13-year-old but to EVERYONE else.

They are scary especially if the 13-year-old is a boy. My daughter will be 13 in a little over a year, and something tells me the experience will not be nearly as annoying as dealing with my 13-year-old son, Lawrence Andrew, whom we call “LA.”

Let me give you a for instance on this:

Saturday was the downtown parade for the Colorado State Fair, complete with floats, marching bands and… Boy Scouts.

LA is a Boy Scout.

He knew about the parade for over three weeks. But, come the fateful Saturday morning, did he have one single thing ready?

No! Of course not!

Even though he KNEW the troop was picking him up at 8am, shortly before 7am he showed no sign of assembling himself…

“LA! Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the parade?”

“Huh?”

“The PARADE. Remember?”

“Oh… yeah.”

“Is your shirt ready?”

“I don’t know.”

“That’s right! You don’t! So Mom ironed it for you this morning before she left, because you didn’t take care of it like she told you to.”

“Oh. Okay.”

A few minutes later, LA came to me wearing a pair of crusty blue jeans that had several gaping holes in the legs.

“Son. You’re NOT wearing those… things.”

“Why not?”

“Because they aren’t really pants. They are pants substitutes.”

“But, I don’t have any other pants.”

(A complete fabrication, he has many).

“Didn’t you wash your nice slacks like I told you when you had laundry yesterday?”

“I meant to.”

“But, didn’t you tell me ALL the laundry was ‘done’?”

“Yeah.”

“So where are your good pants?”

“I don’t know.”

“Son. Go… find… your good pants.”

“But, I don’t know where they are.”

“That’s WHY… you…. have to… ‘LOOK.’”

Fortunately, some nice, clean pants were located (my daughter had laundry detail the day before LA).

But, we were not nearly done.

LA also could not locate his Boy Scout scarf tie. He has two of them. But, they were in his room somewhere and he couldn’t find them. He wanted my opinion on his choice for a replacement; a piece of rusty metal he had found in the dirt at the park. I sent him to look for one of the actual clips.

“Okay, Dad. I found the clip.”

“That’s great. You’re showering, right?”

“Aw, man. WHY?”

“Because you’re IN A PARADE!”

“So?”

“So, you don’t want people to think you only shower once during months with an “R” in it.”

“Man!”

(So the boy showers… likely missing the pits).

“DAD! Have you seen my underwear?”

“Why would I have seen YOUR underwear?”

“I don’t know.”

“Didn’t Mom just buy you a big new package of underwear?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, where is it?”

“I don’t know.”

Underwear catastrophe averted; LA had never removed the package of underwear from where he set it down IMMEDIATELY after Michelle handed it to him. It was in his clothesbasket, which was still handy because LA had never put his clothes away.

Naturally I wondered what the boy had been wearing in the interim.

The session went on and on. But, after we went through “I don’t know” with socks, shoes and his hair (how can you not know about your own hair?), finally he was, for lack of a better word, “presentable.”

Of course he KNEW to ask for money.

I’m hoping – I’m praying – that this is all normal 13-year-old boy stuff.

I believe that it is.

At the same time: If all the others his age, in his troop, behave the same way perhaps they should change the Boy Scout motto from “Be Prepared” to “What the Heck?”

Scary.

Friday, August 27, 2004

‘Fierce Creatures’

A couple of years ago the neighborhood, here along the Arkansas River, was alerted to the presence of a ferocious beast by the legions of neighborhood dogs.

Did I say a “ferocious beast”? Sorry. Actually, the hubbub was caused by a puny, smaller black bear that had become thirsty (a victim of the drought) and had meandered down to the river valley in search of refreshment.

He wasn’t a cub, but he wasn’t full-grown either and had likely been separated from mama bear.

Still, he caused quite a commotion. He scared some tennis players down the street by dashing across the court. He then led the Keystone Cops on a wild chase that actually went through the alley behind the house here.

Loose dogs, children on bikes and more loose dogs followed the pursuit, a police helicopter hovered and all of the fenced-in neighborhood dogs howled.

It was quite a scene.

My money was against the frightened creature, what with the army arrayed against him, but he managed to outwit and elude his pursuers and make it back to mama even before the TV news crew arrived.

The bear was about as much of a “threat” as we ever have around here.

It’s possible the poor bear could have made it through the neighborhood, rifled a few garbage cans, had a drink and skit addled, if not for the hundreds of neighborhood dogs.

Everyone – EVERYONE – in the neighborhood has a dog. Most have more than one.

I’m not sure I can call them “guard dogs.” They never get to guard against anything, as there aren’t any threats.

They do, however, have many opportunities to “bark.” And, they take advantage of each and every one.

Okay. “Bark dogs.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. We have one, a Beagle. But, the neighborhood IS a bit overdone with dogs.

I can always tell when the mail’s about to arrive. There is a faint thunder in the distance. Then as Virginia, our mail lady, gets closer and closer the thunder becomes distinctive barking. Not from merely a few dogs but from dozens and dozens of them. By the time Virginia has run the gauntlet, and arrived at our door, I can recognize the barks of the dogs nearby that I know personally.

First, of course, there is our own dog, Pearl. She doesn’t bark in response to a threat. She barks because… well, all of the others do. I see her when she’s barking. I’m convinced she hasn’t a clue why she is doing it.

Next door we have three of my favorite dogs, Tika the Akita, Bella the Mixed Breed, and Willie the Retriever. All are great dogs and our family loves them. The dogs like to sit along the fence and stare at me when I cook at my grill. Okay, okay. I admit it. I toss them hotdogs on occasion.

Let some older couple come by, however, taking what they thought would be a peaceful stroll, and these three guys are the loudest and most threatening-looking canines you’ve ever seen.

After the “threat” has passed they are right back to their happy-go-lucky selves.

Lux, on the other side of our house, doesn’t bark much at all. However, she recently had four or five puppies. I’ve never seen them but I know they are there because every morning at about 4am I hear them yelping for milk, over the fence, about three-and-a-half feet from my bedroom window.

Across the street lives… the anti-Christ of neighborhood dogs, Petey the Mutt, aka “Stupid Petey,” aka “Six O-Clock Petey.”

We call him “Six O-Clock Petey” because, every evening, at precisely 6pm our self-centered neighbor Tom shoves Petey out into the yard, where the dog proceeds to bark repeatedly for three hours at… absolutely nothing.

I sometimes think that they make Petey go outside at 6pm because his barking at the toaster or closet door distracts from the TV.

Sometimes Tom WILL let Petey out to bark a bit early, while he cuts the grass in his teeny, tiny front yard with his Politically Correct and Environmentally-Friendly electric lawnmower (which acts and sounds more like a high-powered vacuum) – for an hour and a half!

At first, we used to feel as though Petey was barking at us. But, he barks so much anyway in the same, monotonous, no-personality tone, that we’ve stopped taking it personally. He does it whether he sees us or not.

I’ve never wished anything bad on an animal in my life. But, I’ve had pleasant dreams about being the ice cream truck driver who runs down this annoying little SOB.

I guess, overall, the neighborhood IS safer with all the dogs. Even if there is no threat and, even though, at times, it does seem like we’re living in a very large kennel.

I’ll bet that poor little bear learned HIS lesson.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

‘The Game’

It’s an obsession, based upon necessity, and driven by an insatiable desire for conquest.

Perhaps its origins can be found in a deprived childhood.

Maybe it is similar to hunting and fishing, with which the hunter and fisherman are always searching for their next biggest trophy.

In any event, “couponing” isn't always just a "hobby." It can become the driving force in a grown woman's life.

I’ve seen it myself.

In its simplest form “couponing” is represented by the loving, caring mother at the kitchen table… perusing newspaper ads, and trying her best to save a few pennies in preparation for the upcoming Cub Scout Thanksgiving pageant.

But in its purest, naked and most aggressive form “couponing” is represented by the “professional couponer,” a no less loving yet infatuated person who tries to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE… on EVERYTHING.

My dear wife, Michelle – God bless her – is a “professional couponer.”

The “professional couponer” awakes each day with one goal in mind: To get as many of an item for free as humanly possible.

There is no limit to how many of this item they attempt to obtain and, I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter what this item is. It can be fudge-pops or salad dressing. It can be oatmeal cookies or yogurt. It can be something we need and use all the time or it can be an item that makes you say “huh?”

It doesn’t matter.

Just as long as the item is “free,” and as long as Michelle can abscond with every single one from every store in town.

For instance, right now, we have 200 or so Lean Gourmet Bistro Bowls in the garage freezer. I’m quite confident nobody else in town has any at all.

It’s not just single items either, with the “professional couponer.” I’ve seen Michelle plan and execute attacks on stores where she got hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for pennies on the dollar, and left some poor checker crying in her wake.

Michelle is getting quite a reputation around town. All the grocery store checkers and managers know her (her photo is likely posted somewhere). I expect that soon, when they see her coming with her huge coupon binder, they’ll speak in code over the store’s PA system, similar to the way they do on a submarine submerging in preparation for combat.

“Code Red! Code Red! Clipper One at ten o’clock! I repeat, ten o’clock!”

“Freezer lockdown on aisle 5. That’s a roger!”

“10-4, off-sale. All hands!”

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding…

The stores never win. Michelle is very organized. She has her coupons at the ready and the store’s own words in print from the ads. The checkers don’t stand a chance. They don’t even try to argue with her anymore.

While she’s in the store, if she sees something she wants she can usually whip out the proper coupon for that item.

I can picture the managers, rifling through their paperwork, desperately attempting to restock items Michelle has gotten all of, muttering “why me, why me?”

Michelle has cobbled together an impressive network with other “professional couponers,” all of whom are intent on taking control of the World… five and ten cents at a time.

They plot together via email, message boards and instant messenger, coordinating their attacks for the next day in their various locations. They also trade with each other to make sure they have all the right ammo in the proper positions.

It’s very sophisticated.

I should mention that Michelle does all of this naturally, but also out of love for her family. She once kept me well supplied with Fig Newtons for several months.

I suppose there are worse… infatuations.

Michelle’s web site and her daily blog are linked to the right of this page. Both, of course, are about “couponing.”

You might as well join up. You CANNOT beat them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

‘The Net’

The Internet is so cool.

I’ve been on it for years. But, I’ve never had much fun with it until the past year or so – especially the past week.

Initially, I got involved with the Internet by starting my own news web site. I did rather well, but something unexpected happened: Some people at another online magazine news site saw my page and hired me to work for them.

After I worked from home for that company for a couple of years an online buddy referred me to yet another magazine, and I went to work for them – from home – for another year-and-a-half.

As I also continued to run my own news site – before, during and after – while working for these other two sites, I didn’t have much time to do any writing, aside from news editorials and such.

To be at the computer was to be “at work.”

The experience wasn’t as pleasant as some might think. Working from home for someone else is like working on a ranch… they always know where to find you.

There WERE good things; I never had to work in an office, and the closest I came to having personal contact with bosses and co-workers was the phone and email. This alone was worth all the paperclips at Office Depot.

Still, the experience wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.

It probably emitted from my subconscious, but things suddenly changed a lot. Within the space of a few months I no longer had my site, and I didn’t work for anyone else. Consequently, I had TOO MUCH time on my hands.

I needed a new outlet. And, since I always write anyway, I began reading and writing screenplays. Something I’ve always wanted to do but, which, the Internet has now made much easier.

In the course of beginning my new career/hobby/folly, I came across a few new friends in a screenwriting chat room. One thing led to another and, subsequently, one of these new friends and I endeavored upon this blogging notion.

Now, we are addicted. But, we are having a lot of fun.

This is a great outlet. The best part is that I can write about anything I want, from one day to the next. The fact I am writing every day is also a good habit.

Things were never very private for me while I was in radio, so it doesn’t bother me to write about personal stuff, as I’ve already done several times. Plus, I can also pontificate about anything else; politics, the weather, canker sores, my lust for Sandra Bullock.

I may not get a million readers or anything, but that’s okay. It’s fun just the same.

When you have to write, you HAVE to write.

At the same time… thank you. It’s really nice of YOU to stop by and read it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

‘Gorillas in the Mist’

It’s happened a million times; I go to where I left something that BELONGS to me, and… it’s gone.

Vanished, without a trace.

Depending on how vital I consider the item is to my existence, I may just shrug it off, or round-up all the usual suspects, proceed with the interrogations and, if necessary… resort to torture.

The interrogations ultimately produce nothing of substance. Nobody ever knows anything. The bottom-line being that… NOBODY was responsible for the disappearance or destruction of the personal property.

Michelle always likes to toss me an anchor in these instances by saying something like “You’re getting absentminded in your old age.” Unless, of course, the item belongs to her.

The search for a suspect on a missing or broken item has happened so many times – and the children have denied their involvement so many times – that I started telling them that we MUST have an “invisible gorilla” in the house.

It’s the only explanation, considering there are only innocent people around here.

Only an invisible gorilla could possibly explain everything that’s gone missing, or gotten broken for over a decade now.

It’s a bad and prolific gorilla as well. This ape has taken or destroyed so many things of mine I’ve lost count and concern.

For instance, the gorilla has claimed all of my prized radio T-shirts.

I was in radio for 20 years, and I amassed an impressive collection of T-shirts from all the stations I got fired from. But, they are all gone now. The gorilla took them, one at a time. Eventually, the children ended up with some and used them for “nightshirts.” Others have been stained up, peed on, used as rags, chewed up by the dog, and, in some cases, discarded by the gorilla.

I found one of my radio shirts covered in dirt and lying under a rain-soaked bush in the front yard.

I’m over it though.

One thing I may never get over is the fate of my Sopranos cap.

I loved that cap.

I obtained the cap for free, back when they still had free things on the Internet. Everywhere I went, when I wore that cap, someone would say, “Wow! Where’d you get that? I wish I had one.”

Of course, I’d proudly proclaim that I “got it for free.”

I always wore my wonderful Sopranos cap.

When I was done with it for the day, I’d carefully place it in the same, exact spot in my bedroom – MY bedroom! There it would sit and wait for me to wear it the next day.

For several days in a row, my Sopranos cap wasn’t in the place I had left it. Someone had moved it closer to the floor, where it was in danger of being chewed by our ever-teething dog.

I inquired, of course, as to who might have “messed with my Sopranos cap!” But, nobody knew anything.

I found what I thought was an even “safer” place in the room for it, high above the floor and out of sight.

The very next day, the invisible gorilla killed my faithful Sopranos cap.

It was the same pattern as with many other items. First, it went missing. Then, later, its shredded body was discovered on the floor in the hallway, where it had been chewed to smithereens by the dog.

Like usual, I suspected one of those people was responsible. Then, I tried to blame the dog. But, the truth is… it HAD to be the gorilla again. Certainly none of my innocent children would monkey with my Sopranos cap.

The invisible gorilla in our house has done much damage over the years; he’s destroyed rooms, broken windows, clogged up sinks, left clothes and shoes scattered all over, attacked things in Michelle’s desk, broken glasses and dishes, drank ALL the milk, taken pens, deleted programs, downloaded viruses, misplaced our mail, stolen stamps, taken food, and rummaged through my pockets for change.

He’s constantly leaving toys in the yard, and trash just about everywhere. When the invisible gorilla uses the toilet, he refuses to flush.

The list is endless.

He’s a nasty one, that invisible gorilla.

He’s been around for a while now. And, it’s beginning to look like we’re stuck with him.

Maybe, someday, he’ll leave the house if we’re willing to pay for his college tuition.

Dammit!

Where’s my checkbook!

Monday, August 23, 2004

‘The Quiet Man’

Once a year, the Colorado State Fair is on just down the street from us. We HAVE to make at least one appearance there.

The fair started Saturday, the nagging the week before.

I’m sure we'll look a sight at the fair. I’m usually dressed badly; ball cap, Raybans, one of my shirts the family has allowed me to have, and jeans. But, you see, I don’t care any more. I’m just there to get it over with because, if I do not, I have to hear about it for another year.

So, I just do what I’m told. It’s better that way.

The fun part is in watching everyone else at the fair.

I laugh when I see of all the younger men who are just starting families.

They have so much to learn.

You’ve seen how the younger guys are, ages 19-28. They still strut at that age, even with a wife and two or more kids in tow.

I even know what they are thinking:

“Ha! I’ll never look that beaten down by life! Not like THAT guy, with the older kids, over there. Or, like THAT poor geezer, with the teens over there!”

I like watching these young whippersnappers with their wives and kids, issuing orders, always in total control, still dressed impressively.

At that age, it’s the young wives who look the mess, in handling the offspring of the “strutters.”

But, over time, that will change.

You see… the children will start to… GROW – in direct proportion to the wife’s increasing power and the “strutter’s” declining influence.

It’s natural.

At a certain point, 5-10 years in, the “strut” becomes a “front.” Which, then, turns into “desperation,” and, finally… ultimately… total, abject "apathy."

It doesn’t happen all at once. The “strutter” may not even realize when the change occurs.

But, at some point, they begin to notice that they AREN’T in total control anymore. They notice that their clothes all have some sort of stain on them. The day of realization may occur when they find their favorite strutting shirt balled up in an old toy box, with the kids’ Playdough, or stopping an unexpected leak around the bottom of the toilet.

They begin to merely insert their opinions – when asked – concerning major, family decisions, as the wife is now handling all of the minor details. Later, as the “strutter” realizes none of his opinions really matter, this answer will become, “whatever.”

To be fair, he will ALWAYS be asked for his opinion.

Later, as the kids grow even larger, the “strutter’s” tools will start disappearing. His shaving equipment will be roughed-up or missing, his clothes either damaged, missing or cast aside somewhere – the scars from fighting a constant battle for control on multiple fronts.

He will have long before surrendered all authority over finances to the wife, who has, slowly, yet certainly, obtained all power over the family.

At this point, all the “strutter” wants is some of his own things in his own space somewhere. But, he cannot have it.

It’s not… “natural.”

If the “strutter” makes the mistake of complaining about all this, he will only get blank stares in return, as if he were “crazy,” or having a “fit.” Ultimately, complaining will do no good, because, even when he is promised cooperation, it is not supported with anything resembling effort.

All of this simply serves to further demoralize the “strutter’s” attempts to retain some sort of control over aspects of his life, until – for control’s sake – he is reduced to merely clutching the television remote.

At first he is confident about his chances, in this long battle. Then, he makes a gallant effort to win. But, like a general with a dwindling army of volunteers, the war begins to take a toll. Finally, like Lee at Gettysburg, he will send his armies ahead, for one, final, glorious charge. But, he will fail.

It’s natural.

Yes, it’s amazing. “The "strutters” will see my family and I at the fair.

They will actually pity ME.

It’s okay, though. I can picture their nice shirts wrapped around the bottom of the toilet.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

‘My Fellow Americans’

I’ve mentioned how thoroughly disgusted I am with our current fearful leader, George W. Bush. Here’s a short listing of some of the reasons:

The economy
Islam, a “religion of peace”
Outsourcing
“Illegals… come on in!”
“Weapons of mass destruction”
Halliburton
The economy
The Department of Homeland Security
Bailing out the airlines
Slimeball political tactics
The economy
North Korea
The “religious initiative”
Un-enforced trade agreements
Osama Bin Laden
The economy
Healthcare
Dick Cheney
Stem cell research
Elements of the Patriot Act
Huge deficits
The economy
Prescription drug policy
Unchecked borders
Overtime work legislation
The Iraq “obsession”
And, of course, there’s… the economy

It’s also tortuous to listen to the man speak. The listing of Bushisms is too extensive to be mentioned in this post.

I genuinely believe that Bush is a nice guy. It would just obviously be better for all concerned if he went back to Crawford, Texas, and returned to running ONLY oil companies into the ground.

What about John Kerry?

Well, it’s not that I don’t like him – I do. It’s not that it isn’t time for a change – it is. But, let’s face it… he gets elected and, four years from now, we’ll all be griping about him.

Isn’t it time for a REAL CHANGE – and a “significant” change at that?

Ralph Nader?
The Constitution Party?
The Libertarians?

No.

When all things are considered, evaluated, and weighed against the consistency of our ever-losing ways, there is only ONE, clear choice:

That’s right… ME!

I did not come to this conclusion easily. It’s a mighty weight to bear. But, after much thoughtful consideration, it is clear that I should run. As I am the only person alive who could straighten out this mess we have.

I know, I know. I would be sacrificing much: writing, loafing, homeschooling, fishing, etc. But, I have decided I am willing to make this sacrifice for the betterment of our country. Plus, I get a killer pension out of the deal.

SO (((so (((so, HERE, TODAY(((day (((day, I ASK FOR YOUR SUPPORT (((ort (((ort AND YOUR VOTE (((vote (((vote...

Why should you write-in “Kerry R. Fox” for president of the United States?

I’d rather, first, that we concentrate on HOW to write-in “Kerry R. Fox.”

Simply bring a pen with you to vote. The ballot has a blank space in each category. Very firmly, print in this space (for president): “Kerry R. Fox of Colorado.”

It’s that easy.

Oh, I see. You want SPECIFIC reasons to cast your vote for me.

Alrighty then...

For one thing, I’ll have the POLITICIANS griping from day one. That’s how you’ll know I’m accomplishing something. No “four years later” for me. Nuh-uh!

I plan to use the “Executive Order” to cut, slash, burn and devastate the very structure – the very fiber – of the Federal Government itself.

Out goes:

The Department of Homeland Security. They can do their color-coded “security” at K-Mart, where they belong.

The Department of Education. These nitwits can go waste $9 out of $10 of somebody else’s money. I’m sure that’ll go over well in the workforce.

The Transportation Department. What the hell is this about anyway? We already have cars. Do we really need someone to count them? Gone!

The Commerce Department. Something tells me that if we didn’t have someone in charge of overseeing commerce, we’d have MORE commerce. Out it goes!

The Department of Energy. Have you been to the pump lately? Gone.

The Department of Health and Human Services. I don’t think these guys are good at either. Outty!

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Huh? History.

The Department of Labor. See: “Commerce.” Out of there!

The Department of the Interior. We already HAVE an interior. We should leave it alone now. Gone!

The Department of Agriculture. The whole idea of paying people NOT to grow things bothers me a lot. Let’s get rid of this turkey!

Imagine all the extra room and sandwiches for Cabinet meetings. Heck, the money saved on stationary alone, from all of these "Departments," will be enough to pay for healthcare.

If all of the employees in these "Departments" want to moan about the loss of their jobs, then, they can take advantage of the "Replace a National Guard Troop in Iraq" program I plan as an interim policy on that issue.

For the time being, I’ll keep Justice, Defense, State, Treasury and Veterans Affairs around. But, I’ll keep my pen ready and cast a wary eye on their movements. Especially "Justice."

What about current policy?

That’s easy.

On the Economy: Once everyone in the Federal Government who is in charge of an aspect of the economy are gone, how can it NOT improve?

On Iraq: Invading Iraq was a dumb idea. Up until the time we went there, they were killing each other. Now, they shoot at our guys. There really isn’t an “Iraq” anyway. There are three distinctive Muslim cultures there. Let’s let them remain that way and leave.

I mean, let's face it, we're never gonna' get McDonald's and Wal-Mart going in Iraq.

I will remove our troops from “Iraq,” and pay for their unarmed invasion of the Bahamas. The British won’t mind. Perhaps I can coordinate the troops’ placement there with “Spring Break.” I’m sure our guys will love it.

On Trade: There is only one, fair way to do this: Establish a “Mirror” policy. No negotiations on percentages to available markets. If, say, the Chinese only allow us access to 20% of their market place, we do the same for them here. If they are wise – and raise it to 100% – fine and dandy! It’s up to them.

On Foreign Policy: Unless we are directly threatened by someone else, what the hell do we care what they do? It’s none of our business.

I DO believe in a strong defense. If somebody gets out of line and is an ACTUAL and immediate threat to OUR people on OUR shores, what the hell did we make all those nukes for?

On Immigration and Border Security: Only legal, competent and well-documented immigration from other countries will be allowed during my administration. As for the borders: a mote, a wall, an electrified fence and… many well-paid troops.

Political Correctness: Over.
Taxes: I'm against them.
IRS: Buh-bye.

Well, there you have it, my policies on a few of the essentials. There are more, and I’ll cover them another time.

For now, I (((I (((I, HEREBY ANNOUNCE MY CANDIDACY (((acy (((acy, AND, ASK FOR YOUR SUPPORT (((ort (((ort...

Remember to write-in, for President of the United States, “Kerry R. Fox, of Colorado.”

The Right "Kerry" for Now!

Sorry, Senator.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

'The Fly'

As my Uncle once said, when he learned we had moved to my wife’s hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, “Well, that’s good, good. But, Pueblo isn’t exactly the prettiest town in Colorado.”

He was right of course. It isn’t.

An old mining town, Pueblo is an odd duck, located smack in the center of some of the most beautiful country on God’s Earth. 30-minutes to the North is Colorado Springs; a gorgeous spot of ground nestled up against Pike’s Peak. To the West, in the Rockies, are many lovely mountain communities. To the South it is pretty until you get close to Pueblo. To the East, and toward Kansas, it is even nicer than here.

Pueblo has hardly any work. Businesses open late and close early. National chains are even screwed up by the locals, who are intent to do things only one way: Bassackward. Through experience, I’ve learned that Pueblo is the one spot, along the Arkansas River, where it is difficult to catch Trout. My son expected much snow in moving to Colorado. But, the snow mostly bypasses Pueblo.

It’s been 90-degrees at Christmas, two years in a row now.

Pueblo DOES have more of one thing than all of the "gorgeous" areas of Colorado: Flies.

Yes, bunches and bunches of flies.

Right now, it is “Fly Season” in Pueblo.

What’s really fun during “Fly Season” is having three kids to go with it.

It's all part of the "circle of life." You see, children are the natural enemies of doors. It’s just one of those things about nature. The wildebeest and zebra have the lion. Mice have the snake. Doors have… the child.

We’ll get past the part of how doors are the natural prey of children, and how children tear up doorknobs and screen doors. That’s another story altogether.

For now, during “Fly Season,” in fly-ridden Pueblo, we’ll concentrate on what I like to refer to as, "The Fly Chain."

Doors+children+fly season=lots of flies in the house.

Flies don’t seem to bother the children much. Every time one of the children is standing in the doorway, like a dufus, allowing the pesky critters inside, they always look at me with a puzzled look when I holler, “shut the damn door!”

“Gee, Dad, no flies are getting in, okay?”

SLAM

“Mfffphh ^%$^*((**&%!”

As soon as one child is finished holding the door open, another comes along to do it once again. Soon, many flies are buzzing around the house – mostly around yours truly.

Because, you see, flies don’t bother children.

Late in the day, when the children are playing outside, they take turns entering and leaving the house (and, slamming – always slamming – the poor, abused door).

SLAM

“Stop going in and…”

SLAM

“… out of the damn…”

SLAM

“… DOOR…”

SLAM

“… DAMMIT!”

Still more of the flying insects make their way inside.

Yes, a house full of totally annoying creatures, oblivious to how much misery they are causing.

Oh? You thought I meant the flies?

Flies bother me so much I’ve actually researched on the Internet, to see if there is a place on Earth that doesn’t have any.

There isn’t.

Since the issue is forefront right now, I HAVE wondered much, lately, “Why are flies?” “What do they want?” “Where do they come from?”

I came up with this tidbit from a “fly expert’s” web site:

“Once they're established in your house, they can sustain themselves on an impressive range of nutrients. They can live on the slime inside a sink drain. They can flourish on a sour mop. They'll eat damp flour or food fermenting quietly in a crack in the floor.”

Swell, we have ALL that stuff around here.

“And in their eight-day life cycle, they breed prolifically.

Some thoughtful soul has gone to the trouble of calculating that one pair of flies, in one year, can produce a dynasty that, packed in a ball, would fill the void between the Earth and the Sun. And that was at just 100 eggs per female. Some sources say they lay 1,000.”


Alright. Maybe I can’t beat the Flies of Summer.

Maybe it’s not too late to save the doors from the children.

Friday, August 20, 2004

‘All the President’s Men’

I still remember how I felt during the primary election contest of ‘00. I didn’t know much of anything about George W. Bush, except that he was a “Christian,” and had the firm support of Pat Robertson and his organization.

Impressive, I supposed.

How refreshing it might be to have someone with principles and character in the White House again, I thought.

All the signs pointed to an anointing of Bush as the GOP nominee until… the New Hampshire Primary. There, John McCain, the war hero, pulled off an upset. Now, the “anointing” of George W. Bush was in doubt.

The next major, primary campaign stop would be in South Carolina, a state with many “Christians” and a long military tradition. There, I believed, we would get to see what the two candidates were really made of. I expected a good debate between two honorable men.

I was only half-right.

Before the dust had even settled after New Hampshire, some disturbing events began to occur.

A rumor emerged that John McCain had illegitimately fathered a dark-skinned child, with a black mistress. Actually, McCain DOES have an adopted, dark-skinned daughter. But, the rumor was vicious and untrue nonetheless. I suspect it caused some unnecessary hurt to the young woman.

Rumors and questions also arose about McCain’s “lack of stability,” allegedly caused by his years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. There were aspersions that brought McCain’s service itself into question as well.

Some people, from an “independent” organization, were making phone calls to prospective voters in South Carolina, repeating all of these same rumors and aspersions.

I remember thinking that, perhaps, the Gore people were certain McCain would win the nomination and had decided to start hitting early, since polls showed McCain would be a bigger election threat than Bush.

But, I was mistaken.

These efforts were coming from… Pat Robertson and his organization of “Christians” AND some shadowy individuals from Texas, connected to… George W. Bush.

I was stunned. I was also infuriated.

Here was a "conservative" Republican breaking Reagan’s main commandment rule: Never speak ill of other Republicans. Here, also, was a man who had never served in combat himself sliming another man who had served his country with honor – and not even directly, but via intermediaries.

The fact that these nasty and untrue rumors and innuendos were coming from “Christians,” on behalf of another “Christian,” was simply tasteless and disgusting in my view.

These efforts had nothing whatsoever to do with a belief in a principle concerning God Almighty, but rather the total absence of such a belief, based on “principle.”

McCain, for his part, stuck to ideas on policy, and refused to get down in the dirt. Although he DID point out where the attacks were coming from, which got him slimed even more.

Bush, meanwhile, stayed “above the fray,” pretended not to know about these efforts and never repudiated them.

It worked.

McCain got slaughtered in South Carolina, and Bush, “the anointed,” went on to win the GOP nomination, and, some say, the election.

So much for winning with better ideas.

The whole thing left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I almost wrote-in Daffy Duck for president.

Again, here we are in almost the exact, same position. Only, this time, there is no primary contest for Bush. He is already “anointed.”

Here he is again, going up against a Vietnam War hero. And, here again come the slime and attack dogs, while Bush remains “above the fray,” and refuses to repudiate attacks that even some conservatives believe he should disavow.

Is there any truth to the attacks? It’s turning out that there is not.

Does it matter to George W. Bush? Not at all.

Is it going to work? I don’t think it will this time. This time, you see, Bush has a record he HAS to run on, or, in this case, run AWAY from.

Where are these attacks coming from? They are coming from a group of folks who are being funded… you guessed it… by the same group from Texas that slimed John McCain in ‘00.

In this instance, the attacks concern John Kerry’s exploits in the Vietnam War, and whether or not his citations were deserved. It doesn’t matter, of course, that the citations are well documented, supported by the military itself, and verified by the guy whose life Kerry saved and all of the crew under Kerry's command.

Since Bush has absolutely no accomplishments on which to run for reelection – and no war-time service himself – he HAS to attack Kerry’s main strength: His military service.

This is the last firewall for Bush. If he can get this positive out of play for Kerry, he has a chance to win. If he cannot, he has nothing left to fight with.

This is what desperation looks like. The negative attack ads against Kerry began back in January, long before Kerry had even been officially nominated, and earlier than ever before.

Here is where the TRUE character debate lies.

So much for winning with “Christian” principles and better ideas.

I think I see Pat Robertson warming up in the bullpen.

Your phone will be ringing shortly.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

‘What’s Up Doc?’

Several weeks ago, without thinking on it, I answered a question my wife asked me: “What's a good time of day for Matthew's doctor's appointment?”

“Early as possible,” I said, immediately.

“How’s 8:30am, Kerry?”

“Fine.”

I wasn’t worried. The day of the appointment would occur on my wife’s day off. I can’t see well enough to drive anymore, so she would be taking him.

Brilliant!

I can never figure out why she needs my opinions on these things.

Well, today was the day of the appointment.

Michelle had mentioned, last night, that she would like me to go too. I was as non-committal as possible. Why she ever wants this has always been a mystery to me. Perhaps it’s a “misery loves company” thing.

You see, when we both go, we ALL have to go. Depending on what the chore is, it can sometimes be a miserable experience.

There are some things that children simply do not mix with well: grocery shopping, ANY checkout stand, clinics, hospitals...

They don’t do well in places that require quiet and a parent in control of all their faculties. Maybe I should say, “parents don’t do well” with their children in such places.

I’ve learned from experience that there is something about hospital carpet, especially, that makes children want to… RUN.

Since we are in public, we can’t always threaten the children with a good beating. And, the children know this and use it to their advantage. Plus, the longer it takes, the more unmanageable things become.

I tried to weasel out of going but Michelle pressed hard. So, we ALL had to go to Matthew’s doctor’s appointment, at the clinic, adjacent to St. Mary Corwin General Hospital.

By the time Michelle and I mustered everyone awake and got past the missing shoes, un-brushed hair and undone lockup duties, we meandered outside into a dull, chilly and constant drizzle.

Already everything I expected.

The children weren’t fully awake, which slowed them a bit. Although, Matthew had slept late and missed his early-morning raid on the leftovers in the fridge, so he was already cranky.

The staff at the clinic and hospital is a good one. They are usually friendly and chipper, a stark contrast to their patients, who are mostly, of course, hurting, dying, injured, sick and unhappy.

When the other patients saw us come into the waiting room, I could see the terror in their eyes... frail old ladies thinking we were there to make their day even worse.

Michelle visited the nurse and hurriedly began filling out forms.

Matthew was there only for a follow-up appointment with a neurologist, so he was good-to-go. LA and Sheyanne began to wake a bit more.

Before they could begin the fighting, I, strategically – and much to the horror of the other patients – placed them in separate areas around the waiting room. I thought it was a stroke of preemptive genius, but they soon began to fidget, talk across the room to each other and generally annoy the sad-looking patients.

Okay. Bad move.

LA interpreted my rounding them back up again as a “retreat,” and immediately started causing trouble with his sister. Soon, it was time for the ceremonial removal of the boy from the waiting room and his placement at an isolated location in the clinic hallway.

Lately, he is unapologetic, unembarrassed and determined to challenge my every move, a 13-year-old who knows everything already.

I placed him in a seat away from all the normal people, along the corridor, and rushed back to the waiting room for more damage-control-ops.

Back inside, Matthew had decided he would begin to touch everything. He was also being quite loud.

Finally, and probably prematurely, in order to get us out, the nurse called Matthew’s name, and we went inside to see the doctor.

I could feel the sighs of relief, from the patients, behind us.

The doctor pronounced Matthew in perfect health, as I suspected.

But, as a bonus, the doctor invited Matthew to have some blood drawn down the hall at the lab, for safety’s sake. Which meant another round-up, more herding, new seats and more waiting – with still more hurting, dying, injured, sick and unhappy people.

I’m not kidding about this: The sign in front of the lab area said, “MOB – lab/x-ray.”

I’m sure they meant something else by “MOB.” But, it was appropriate in layman’s term as well, as it was crowded.

The kids were really wound up by this time… and “bored”… and “hungry.” We knew this because they took turns saying these things alternately. Everyone at the “MOB lab” knew these things as well. One nice, old lady suggested “McDonald’s,” which caused me to briefly consider taking her life.

After a spell, Matthew had some blood drawn (he handles this well), and we began our long, drizzly trip home.

In the hubbub of re-entering the house my poor daughter, who was wearing her huge, suede boots for her "appearance" at the clinic, took a nasty, head-over-heels spill down the stairwell toward the basement.

Frightening stuff.

I saw her lying at the bottom of the stairs on the floor, and, naturally, thought of broken bones and broken teeth and a new trip to St. Mary Corwin.

Praise God, nothing was broken. But, she is bruised up pretty good. Right now she is lying on our bed and issuing orders like Cleopatra.

Obviously, in hindsight, the correct answer to my wife's question was: "If we're ALL going, there IS no 'good time.'"

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

'The American President'

I’ve always been a political animal, and I have a prediction: Bush is going to get creamed in the Electoral College. A blind man could see it coming. Which tells you something about the GOP and their belief in their chances this fall.

I know, I know. Heated arguments begin with “politics” and “religion.” But, this turkey (Bush) has debased both and more. I’m not only infuriated with him, I’m sick of the double-talking BS, “down” means “up,” “bad” means “good,” etc.

Just so you know, I voted for this disaster. So, I’m to blame as well.

I’m very sorry.

Adj.
obtuse - lacking in insight or discernment; "too obtuse to grasp the implications of his behavior"; "a purblind oligarchy that flatly refused to see that history was condemning it to the dustbin"- Jasper Griffin

obtuse - slow to learn or understand; lacking intellectual acuity; "so dense he never understands anything I say to him"; "never met anyone quite so dim"; "although dull at classical learning, at mathematics he was uncommonly quick"- Thackeray; "dumb officials make some really dumb decisions"; "he was either normally stupid or being deliberately obtuse"; "worked with the slow students"
Synonyms: dumb, slow, dense, dim, dull


I’ve never seen eye-to-eye with obtuse people. Obtuse people have no common sense and are completely impervious to anything in the way of reason. Obtuse people also have no business in a position of responsibility that affects others. But, you can find them anywhere; in churches, corporate boardrooms, the Teacher’s Lounge, the Manager’s Office, the Drivers License Bureau, The Vatican, The Oval Office...

They ALL have one thing in common: They KNOW what’s best, they already know the WHOLE truth, and they simply do not want to hear about ANY alternatives, even if they don’t realize the building’s on fire when it actually is.

“Watch out for that Mac truck!” SPLAT!

My least favorite thing obtuse people do is make decisions that do not affect themselves, but others. And, they have no interest in our feelings about the subject. They don’t even want to hear about it. They already know better than us. This is a recipe for disaster I’ve seen occur over and over again – both personally and professionally. Sadly, it also happens politically.

That’s apparently what happened in ’00. A “compassionate-conservative” – who wasn’t really either – got elected by a skin-slim electoral count, got creamed in the popular vote, and, then, thoroughly convinced himself that he had a “mandate” from God Almighty.

Well, dammit! That’s “obtuse.”

That’s always been one of my concerns as a semi-conservative/Libertarian: That Republicans are “obtuse.” Notice I do NOT say “conservatives.” I don’t believe Republicans are “conservative,” at least not anymore. No. The Republicans are obtuse hypocrites who know what is best for us all, while they take care, mostly, of what’s best for them. And, they don’t really want to hear what we think about all this.

The Democrats may do the same things – and the Republicans will wail about it – but it’s still A-OK to do it if you are a Republican. Because, you see, Republicans have the “nobler motives.” And, they don’t want to hear about any alternatives to this.

The United States economy sucks. Almost everyone knows this. Through outsourcing (which helps to enhance corporate profits), un-enforced trade agreements (which helps to enhance corporate profits), unchecked illegal immigration (which helps to enhance corporate profits) and government-supported corporate greed and outright thievery, many are struggling to make ends meet.

Many, many more than Bush and the Republicans realize, or want to know about.

The corporations, to be sure, ARE doing “great.” They have even taken their tax breaks and further enhanced their financial stature and golden parachutes by moving to low-cost-labor countries, importing cheap labor, cutting employee benefits, and by raising prices and cutting portions. The profit numbers are staggering.

Unfortunately, absolutely none of this has “trickled down” to the American workers. They’ve been taken to the cleaners (outsourced to China).

With the “great” numbers, we should ALL be doing fine. But, this isn’t the case, and, I believe, voters will make their next decision with their pocketbooks to reflect this outrage.

Forget about “Iraq,” another fallacy and disaster, passed to Bush, via "God," and a word Bush uses with consistency in every sentence he utters. The American people will vote their pocketbooks, as always, no matter what Republicans say they should think.

The Republicans have managed to delude themselves into thinking that they are just, “not promoting the 'great' economy well enough.”

So, lately, Bush has taken to the campaign trail to “convince” voters that they are actually better off than they know. I can picture the blank stares from people all along the way, through Ohio, Michigan, Missouri (insert state here) – places where tens-of-thousands of people have been laid-off, let go, and where, if they still have a job, they’ve lost benefits, taken a hit in pay, or are currently training their replacements from another country.

And, Bush is there to frighten them about terror and proclaim that the economy is “great.” Maybe he’ll pass out flags (made in Taiwan) while he’s at it. That’ll surely help.

Dammit! That’s “obtuse.”

But, after all, the man has a direct pipeline to God Himself. Certainly, we should respect that. I mean, doesn’t God KNOW what is best? And, isn’t Bush there to translate His thoughts for us?

I’ve met the same sort of people in church – which is why I do not attend anymore. You’ve met them. They interfere in your life, whether invited or not, then, when everything goes wrong, it’s “God’s Will” or “somebody else’s fault.”

Now I know what Jesse Jackson meant when he said, “stay out da Bushes!”

That’s damn right.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

'Risky Business'

Today was a real bell-weather day.

It started unusually enough, with Michelle waking me up, like usual, with the noise she generates from her desk in the bedroom (I use the term "desk" very loosely).

After two months of planning, sorting, web site building, hollering, debating, submitting and "couponing," we received our very first order, on the web site, for clipped coupons -- a total of $4.50.

Why is this a big deal? Well... because this constitutes $4.50 more than we would make otherwise.

That's not really true. We have one outside job (Michelle's) that pays for two or three of the bills.

But, this phenomenal order gives us the delusion that we are actually exhausting ourselves over something that just may work in the long run. And, if you have been married for 15-years, and have three kids entering their teens, delusions can be very important to your existance.

After two months of sounding like a parrot to Michelle, saying, "you'd better get the inventory act together, you'd better get the inventory act together. Aaaaaach," my darling wife immediately threw the house into damage control (albeit: "chaos") with the arrival of this order, from some coupon fanatic in Georgia.

The children were immediately pressed into action, after being violently awaken (and, after a long night of staying up late behind our backs). It was their job, you see, to skim the stacks of newspapers for coupon slicks.

There were many stacks of papers throughout the house, because Michelle had completely ignored my advice to "get the inventory act together. Aaaaaach!"

After Michelle alarmed everyone to full-steam-awake, and after she drove everyone nuts for an hour, the order was nearly completed (that’s $4.50 an hour, divided by four workers. No tips).

I was expecting a visit from the child-labor police when Michelle departed for work, with a promise to “finish the order later.”

The children tried to go back to sleep, but, since no authorities showed up at the front door, I forced them into heavy schoolwork, followed by intense house chores. That’ll teach’em.

Not exactly the way most businesses are run. But, you never know. It could work. Especially if Bush stays in office and drives more people to couponing. There’s always hope.

And, we DO have hope.

It may not be completely justified, as we haven't had a lot of success in the past.

We shall see.

At least, it's a good sign to me that we've had an order with a site that gets about four hits a day.

Only 19 or so more orders like this one every day and we can move from Hamburger Helper to Meat and Potatoes.


Monday, August 16, 2004

'Goin' Bananas'

Monday. Not like I'd notice which day of the week it was.

Let's see... I wrestled with my computer (like always), fussed the children, said "stop it" a few hundred times, talked to my new, loony, Irish friend via AIM, played Warrior of Rome on my beloved 8-bit Sega machine, did some homeschooling pontificating, mustered the children for chores, showered (didn't shave though), started a blog.

Whoah! "Started a blog." That's different.

Well, we'll find out of course.

Thus begins another endeavor: a daily blog. And, only a couple of years behind the curve. I'm improving.