Why I’m Thankful

November 27, 2008
Why I love the beach

Why I love the beach

My bride took this picture at Edisto Island Beach, South Carolina. We returned home last night after four wonderful days of rest and relaxation.

We walked the beach a number of times, took time to fly some kites, rented bicycles, and rode all over the island. In addition, we had some great meals and had a wonderful time with Lu’s son Steven, daughter-in-law Aimee,  granddaughter Emma, and our hosts, Aimee’s parents, John and Debbe Mize.

Although the stay at the beach was all too short, it was a time for rejuvenation. I’m not sure if anyone could spend time with the sound of the surf, beautiful scenery, and wonderful friends and family and not feel renewed.

Let's go fly a kite!

Let's go fly a kite!

My only regret is that we couldn’t have shared the experience with all the rest of our children, and grandchildren. But that’s why my bride and I came home early. We’ll see the rest of the clan tomorrow when we celebrate Thanksgiving a day late.


Roast Turkey in the Woods

November 24, 2008

Turkeys and dogs have some wonderful attributes… especially when combined with a little human ingenuity. This, in fact, is what I did when my camping buddies and I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving in the woods.

Thanksgiving is a time to be spent with family. Therefore, once we decided to celebrate the holiday at a campground, we invited our children and grandchildren to join us. In so doing, we increased the number of campers to more than twenty and created a major problem. How could we cook a turkey large enough to feed that many people without the convenience of a kitchen oven?

Being creative and welcoming the chance to impress my friends, I accepted the challenge and told everyone not to worry. I had a plan. I would take care of the bird!

I arrived at the campsite the day before the holiday with my daughter, my dog, a twenty-five pound turkey, and various other items I thought I would need. Al Gallagher, one of the more outspoken members of our group examined the contents of my truck and said, “All right, you got the bird. But how do you plan to cook it?”

As I let my dog out of her wire mesh pen, I simply smiled and said, “Trust me.” I then strutted over to exchange greetings with the others, secure in the knowledge that my turkey was going to make this a truly unforgettable Thanksgiving.

I wasn’t at all surprised that everyone wanted to know how I planned to cook the turkey. It was the major topic of discussion. As more friends and relatives arrived, the pressure on me to divulge my secret increased, but I refused to budge.

I was loving it! I was milking it for all it was worth. The more they probed, the more determined I became to keep the information to myself.

Following an evening of jokes, speculation, and every imaginable attempt at persuasion from my skeptical friends, I went to bed knowing I had succeeded in becoming the center of attention. I expected somebody might get up in the middle of the night to take another peek into the back of my truck to find any clues that might solve the mystery. But I was confident that, regardless of what they saw, no one would be able to figure out my total plan.

When I arose early Thanksgiving morning, a few people were already up and had made coffee. They tried to bribe me with the coffee, but to no avail. When I brought out my own coffee pot, they relented.

After I drank my first cup, I quietly set about providing the answer everyone seemed so desperate to know. I retrieved a shovel from the back of my truck, dug a rectangular pit, filled it with charcoal and lit it. I was soon surrounded by a curious crowd trying to guess the remaining details of my plan. There was a mixture of laughter and disbelief as I pulled my dog’s pen out of my truck, removed the bottom, and proceeded to wash it thoroughly. As usual, Al was the most vocal. “Don’t tell me you’re…”

He didn’t finish. He didn’t need to be told. In fact, I don’t think he wanted to be told! Carefully, I wrapped the pen in aluminum foil – making sure the door and the top could be opened. Then I placed my “oven” over the bed of charcoal.

As my oven began to pre-heat, I asked some of the women to help me make the stuffing. As I expected, they were happy to oblige and, also as expected, they did it all themselves. When they finished stuffing the bird, the one major question remained unanswered. How was I going to cook the turkey in my oven?

Returning to my truck, I pulled out a spit and rotisserie motor. I placed the turkey on the spit and slid it into the now very hot dog pen. I attached the motor and plugged it in.

The turkey began turning and rendered my friends speechless. They were either highly impressed by my ingenuity or repulsed by the idea of their dinner being cooked in my dog’s pen. Perhaps they had visions of picking hair and fleas off their food. I didn’t question their silence. I preferred to assume they were simply awed by my resourcefulness. With an air of superiority I sat down, poured myself a second cup of coffee, and said, “I told you not to worry.”

However, my self-satisfied smile didn’t last long. The fat dripping from the turkey onto the hot charcoal soon burst into flames, and my bird was on the verge of becoming a burnt offering. Luckily, my inflated ego didn’t stop me from recognizing the limits of my inventiveness. I knew I couldn’t recreate the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Therefore, I enlisted Al’s help to lift the bird, dog pen and all, off the flames. While the flames died out, I fashioned a drip pan from aluminum foil and set it under the turkey so the juices would flow away from the coals. Then we put the bird back over the charcoal and I assumed a somewhat less arrogant stance as I returned to my coffee.

For the next few hours, my plan went well and my cockiness returned. From time to time I added more charcoal and checked the meat thermometer I had cleverly remembered to bring. My self-proclaimed brilliance was overshadowed only by the heavenly aroma emanating from my bird. Even without a kitchen oven we had one of the great delights of Thanksgiving – the anticipation that comes with the bouquet of a roasting turkey.

From time to time my dog looked at her pen as if wondering if it would ever again be suitable for her habitation. Otherwise, everything was right with the world… until the rotisserie motor fell apart. The weight of the turkey had put too much strain on the small motor and caused the screws to work themselves loose.

Quickly, I delegated some of the younger members of the group to turn the turkey by hand while I tried to solve the mechanical problems. I gathered up the motor pieces and sadly discovered that the plastic housing had melted somewhat and the screws would no longer hold. However, with the help of the duct tape I always carry with me, I was able to get it to stay together and start running again.

Unfortunately, the tape was not strong enough to overcome the damage, and the repair lasted less than five minutes. There was no choice but to ask everyone to share the chore of turning the spit.

That untimely mechanical failure removed the last vestiges of my conceit. My turkey had become community property.

In hindsight, the motor breaking was a blessing. Turning the spit was like Tom Sawyer white-washing the fence. Everyone, especially the children, wanted to have a hand in it. And I, like Tom, was perfectly content to sit back and watch.

This, of course, led to a renewed volley of good-natured barbs sent my way. The interesting fact is that when, in response to the barbs, I offered to take a turn, I was told to sit still. In truth, my friends were enjoying the task of turning the spit. Even more, they were enjoying making jokes at my expense. That was fine with me. I was enjoying the entire experience.

When we finally removed the golden brown bird and placed it on a carving platter, all took pride in what we’d accomplished. And the best part was in the eating. The skin was crispy and delicious. The meat fell off the bones and was moist, tender, and equally delicious. Everyone agreed it was the tastiest bird we had ever eaten.

I don’t normally feed my dog table scraps, but my friends insisted my dog be rewarded for her sacrifice. The wagging of her tail, licking of her chops, and the “Please could I have more” look in her eyes indicated that she agreed with us. And when the pen was restored to its original state, the time she spent licking the mesh suggested that she wouldn’t mind if I used it as an oven more often.

I’ve often thought of selling my “oven” to Coleman or some other manufacturer of camping gear. If I ever do, rest assured I’ll equip it with a hand crank. I’m convinced the entire Thanksgiving in the woods was made more memorable by having everyone involved. Come to think of it, perhaps I should equip it with a motor guaranteed to break so everyone can make fun of the owner as they share the chore of turning the spit by hand.

Of course, if I want others to have an experience just as memorable as mine, I should also include a dog.


Has it been Forty-Five Years?

November 22, 2008

On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was a sophomore at Edinboro State College doing what many college students have a tendency to do. I was sleeping in… way in. I had no classes until late in the afternoon. Therefore, I’d stayed up the night before. I doubt if I was partying on a Thursday night. Most likely I’d stayed up late watching a movie on television; I doubt that I was up late studying. I’m trying to be honest here!

When my clock radio went off shortly before two in the afternoon I was stunned by what I thought I’d heard. The disc jockey had interrupted the music to report that the President had been shot. At least that’s what I thought he’d said.

My roommates were all in class, so I couldn’t get verification from them. Meanwhile, the DJ had returned to spinning records and, being about twenty miles away from any town with a radio station, searching the dial would’ve been fruitless. Most radios of the time did not pick up FM stations.

I had no choice but to get out of bed, get cleaned up and dressed, and walk the mile or so into town. By the time I got to Liz’s Restaurant, further reports had come in. The President had been shot and killed!

As soon as word reached the college administration, all classes were canceled for the remainder of Friday as well as Saturday morning. The nation was in shock and just beginning the mourning process. There was no sense trying to hold classes for a bunch of young adults trying to make sense out of a senseless act.

John F. Kennedy was elected on November 8, 1960 and was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. As I recall, although my parents seemed to lean toward the Republican party, having a Democrat elected President was not the big deal it is today. The only problem perceived with JFK by many Republicans was a fear held by many others – as a Roman Catholic, would Kennedy allow the Pope to take over the running of our government.

It makes me wonder how many of our fellow citizens are currently worried about our government falling into the hands of Black Power advocates or, worse, Muslims!

The fears regarding Kennedy being controlled by Rome were baseless… as are any concerns about Obama today.

The young people of the sixties quickly got behind JFK and his “New Frontier”. We also loved the idea of the Peace Corps. John Kennedy had some great ideas and was an extremely charismatic leader. The only problem I’ve come to recognize in him is a problem that could also face President Obama; simply stated, he hadn’t been in Washington long enough to gather a lot of dirt on his fellow politicians. Therefore, it was difficult for him to get Congress to support his initiatives.

Sadly, it took the experience and treachery of Lyndon Johnson to make Civil Rights a reality after the death of the man who so bravely fought for such legislation.

We college students had fretted for days when JFK led our nation through the Cuban missile crisis and walked miles in an effort to be physically fit. Suddenly, the body of our brave young leader was being carried in a caisson through the streets of Washington, DC, and we all shed tears along with his wife and children.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like when President Franklin Roosevelt announced that December 7, 1941 was a day that would live in infamy. I know the queasiness in the pit of my stomach on November 22, 1963 was repeated on September 11, 2001. I pray that I can live the remainder of my life without experiencing any more similar events.

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This may be my last post for a few days. My bride and I are headed out for a short vacation. If I have access to the Internet, I may add a post or two and let you know what we’re up to. Otherwise, take the opportunity to catch up on some of the other articles here.


Inventions Revisited

November 21, 2008

On November 21, 1877, Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph. He may have been trying to invent the world’s first answering machine; his original intent was to find a way to record telephone communications.

The original recording device used a stylus on a tinfoil cylinder, which played back a simple song he’d recorded. My guess is that Edison quickly became bored with his phonograph and moved on to other things. Considering he owned 1,093 patents by the time he died, I think he quickly moved on following numerous inventions.

I find his choice of a name for his invention rather interesting. Other inventors took the basic principles of the phonograph and developed the gramophone and victrola. Later such devices were simply called record players, but we eventually evolved to hi-fi and stereo systems. And the tinfoil cylinder was pushed aside by recording discs, tape, and compact discs using laser technology.

The name “victrola” led to the name of a company that is still around; Motorola was begun by a group of men determined to make a victrola that would work in an automobile. When I think of the complexity of trying to get a stylus to not bounce around on a record as a Tin Lizzy bounced along dirt roads, I think those men must have been true dreamers! What many people fail to realize is that a number of similar problems had to be overcome in order for that CD player in the dash board to play our favorite music without bouncing from track to track.

So far today I’ve mentioned two items that began their existence as something other than what they finally became. A third item that falls into that category is silly putty. It was invented in 1943 by James Wright. He was working for General Electric at the time and was part of a large team attempting to create a synthetic rubber that could be used to manufacture tires and other items needed for the war effort.

Various scientists ‘played’ with the polymerized substance for a number of years… trying to find a practical use for it. Finally, in 1950, a toy store owner, Ruth Fallgatter, saw a market for the stuff and Silly Putty became a toy that can still be bought to entertain kids of all ages.

One other product that resulted from something that didn’t work as planned is known as ‘Post-it” notes. In 1968 Dr. Spencer Silver invented a low tack, reusable pressure sensitive adhesive that no one at the 3M Corporation knew what to do with. Then, in 1974, fellow employee, Art Fry, recognized that the adhesive was perfect for creating a bookmarker that would not fall out, but could be removed when no longer needed.

I’m sure there are many other inventions that turned out to be something other than what was planned, and it’s very likely that similar items are sitting on shelves waiting for someone to think of a practical use.

If you have such an item, tell me about it. Maybe I can think of the practical use and we can all retire!


Corporate Revolutions & Bailouts

November 20, 2008

It has been more than 200 years since we’ve had a political revolution in the United States. But there have been numerous revolutions in other areas; the political kind in many parts of the world, technological revolutions both here and abroad, and social revolutions that have moved much more slowly and are less obvious.

Technological revolutions now occur almost daily (as, in some countries, do political revolutions.)  That makes me wonder about all I will see during the remainder of my life.  My father, born in 1891, began his life by watching people travel by horse and buggy.  His life ended after he saw men walking on the moon.  I was born just before the dawn of the atomic age.  What lies before me is as much conjecture as space travel was to my father.  I’ll have to leave that conjecturing to the science fiction writers.  My interests have always had more to do with people.  Therefore, I will endeavor to use the crystal ball to predict revolutions in our social structures.

When I entered the job market in 1966, the common practice was to join a firm that offered good medical benefits and a solid pension plan.  That was it.  For the next thirty or forty years, you would do whatever the company asked of you and eventually retire and move to Florida.  The company I joined was IBM.  As with most other companies, it was almost a marriage.  Both sides had responsibilities and there was a bond of loyalty.  As long as I did what the company needed me to do, they would take care of me and my family and as long as they took care of me and my family, I would do whatever needed to be done.

In those days, IBM was unbelievable in the way they treated the families of their employees.  When a baby was born, letters of congratulations were sent along with an engraved silver spoon.  When there was a death in the family, flowers were sent along with condolences from the Chairman of the Board.  No detail was ever overlooked.  From the family picnic to the family dinner to the family Christmas party, IBM made you feel that you were part of a much larger and more important family.

But the 1980’s brought some economic revolutions.  Foreign competition and leveraged buyouts caused the bottom line to become more important than the employees and their families.  IBM was no longer the only real game in town.  We could no longer be successful in spite of ourselves.  Since sales did not increase, costs had to be cut.  “Respect for the Individual,” one of IBM’s Basic Beliefs, found itself at death’s door.  To be fair, IBM showed tremendous respect during the early cut backs.  They encouraged people to retire by offering fantastic financial incentives.  But those incentives grew smaller which each successive cut back.  The last few labor force reductions were simply layoffs – a term that was not in the IBM vocabulary prior to 1994.

With most down-sizing, a company loses valued employees as well as the dead wood.  As a result, they don’t have the resources they need to continue to serve their customers.  So what do they do?  They hire the good people back as “contractors.”

More and more companies are turning to contract employees and, from a company’s standpoint, it makes a lot of economic sense.  A contract employee is paid an hourly fee and that is that.  There are no benefits, no retirement fund, no unemployment insurance, no company-paid social security contributions… and no loyalty.  When a job is completed, the contract is terminated. For many companies, this represents at least a 40% savings over the traditional payroll.  IBM now utilizes contractors for everything from the mail room and secretarial pool to product development and marketing.

In fact, IBM has not only changed their structure from the standpoint of employees, they’ve also changed their product line. IBM now sells services. Hardware and software are secondary products. If they must install a competitor’s equipment to win the contract, that’s precisely what they will do. And, through it all, they continue to be successful.

It’s important to note that IBM has never gone to the government and asked for monetary assistance. Their management team recognized the need to change directions and did so.

It’s not beyond the realm of possibilities to see IBM someday sell off their remaining manufacturing facilities – they already sold their computer printer manufacturing business to LEXMARK many years ago.

Once all the hardware and software development facilities are gone, IBM’s workforce would be reduced to a management team and a variable number of contract employees. For that matter, the management team could also be paid as contractors. Then, it would be a company with no employees doing a land office business!

With this in mind, consider the Big Three automakers and their financial woes. From an ignorant outsider’s point of view, it seems there are many things they could do to right the sinking ship – besides begging for taxpayers’ money so they can continue to ignore the winds of change.

The first thing they should do is sell off as many of their dealerships as possible. General Motors’ 7,000 dealerships sell less than five percent more vehicles than Toyota’s 1,500 outlets. Let some of those dealerships sell the KIA or Honda products.

The second, and much more difficult, action they should take is to change the UAW contracts.

Having grown up in Pittsburgh, and having at one time been a member of the Teamsters Union, I realize many will see my thoughts as blasphemy. But I watched the unions destroy some companies in Pittsburgh. First, their demands caused A&P to close their bakery in Pittsburgh; shipping baked goods in from Cleveland was cheaper than meeting the union’s demands. A few years later, A&P left the Western Pennsylvania market completely because of labor demands.

The same thing happened with the steel industry. I often wonder why the steel companies agreed to a contract that gave the workers a thirteen-week paid vacation every ten years. This was in addition to their normal two week annual vacation. When companies are forced to pay workers to not work, someone has to pay for it. Companies are forced to raise their prices, which opens the door to foreign competition.

I’ve been told that when GM ‘lays off’ workers, those workers are required to report to a facility where they spend the day reading, chatting, watching television, or finding other ways to pass the time – and are paid about 95% of what they were earning before they were laid off. If the ‘worker’ gets bored and goes out to find another job, he or she is finally taken off GM’s payroll.

I believe the problems of the U.S. automakers are a combination of poor management – refusing to build the kind and quality of vehicles the American consumer wants – and union contracts that make manufacturing costs ridiculously high.

In my humble opinion, I believe bankruptcy is the best course of action. That would force the union contracts to be renegotiated and force management to pay closer attention to the demands of the market.

The steel industry died in Pittsburgh many years ago, yet the city is more vibrant than ever. Why? Because the steel workers went out and found new jobs, and other industries moved in to fill the void.

Labor unions, in many instances, are absolutely necessary to protect the worker. But, when the demands of the union leaders cause their members to lose their jobs, the leaders have pushed the envelope too far.

IBM never had labor unions to deal with, yet they have always treated their employees and contractors well.

Somewhere there has to be a middle ground, and this taxpayer doesn’t want his money spent so the Big Three and UAW can delay efforts to find it.


See Who’s at the Door!

November 19, 2008

I can’t begin to count the number of times my mother would call to me and ask me to see who was at the door. Growing up in the late forties and throughout the fifties, I experienced a lifestyle that had virtually disappeared.

Although we had a variety of small shops within easy walking distance of our home, many businesses went above and beyond the call of duty to win us over as customers.

There were three major newspapers in Pittsburgh back then: The Press, The Post-Gazette, and The Sun-Telegraph. All three offered jobs to young boys to deliver the papers door to door. We subscribed to The Press. The daily papers cost five cents and the Sunday edition was twenty cents. Once a week a boy came knocking on the door to collect the fifty cents we owed him.

For home milk delivery, we had a choice of Meadow Gold, Harmony, or Otto’s Dairy. My Uncle Tom worked for Meadow Gold, so they won our business. Of course, if we ran out between deliveries, we could always stop one of the other company’s drivers and get whatever we needed. I know they sold regular milk, buttermilk, chocolate milk, half and half, and whipping cream. They may have also sold eggs and butter. My memory is a bit weak in that regard,

Once a week a truck – I believe it was Brandi’s Cleaners – came by with laundered shirts for my older brothers. That same company did dry cleaning, but for whatever reason, we always took our dry cleaning down to Mr. Swartz.

The mail man came once a day except when they delivered twice a day in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Of course, we were paying the princely sum of three or four cents for first class mail back in those days.

In the years following the depression, insurance companies began selling policies that had weekly premiums. My parents had policies on themselves as well as me and my siblings. Each policy cost anywhere from ten to twenty cents per week, and a man came by once a week to collect the money. The thing I remember most about him was his smelly cigars. He never gave a thought to leaving the thing outside before he walked right in and announced his presence.

I’m not sure how often another old man came buy. He would drive his ancient truck slowly up and down every alley and street yelling, “Rag Man!” I don’t think my parents ever had anything to give or sell to him, so I’m not sure how his business operated. Looking in the back of his truck made me believe he’d take just about anything… including rags.

For the first few years of my life, we’d see the man in the coal truck making his deliveries. Our house was equipped with a coal chute that led to the coal cellar. My father had to carry buckets of coal from that cellar to the main cellar to keep the furnace going in the winter. Later, after we converted to a gas furnace, we used that cellar to store fruits and vegetables my mother had ‘canned’ in Mason jars.

As I recall, the men who delivered coal in the winter were the same fellows who delivered ice in the summer. While I did encounter a few ice boxes at summer cottages, my family had already moved up in the world and we had a Frigidaire during my early childhood.

Another frequent visitor was a blind man who sold various housewares such as dish towels, combs, brushes, and the like. Some people called him a drummer. As a child, I could never understand that term; I never did see his drum.

I was always fascinated how he was able to negotiate the sidewalks and steps using a long white cane with a red tip. My mother usually bought something from him simply because he was making an effort to earn his own living and not relying on charity.

Although my parents had a reasonable supply of whet stones and strops, when the man with the grindstone came around to sharpen scissors and knives, my mother usually let him sharpen her favorite utensils.

In addition to all the folks listed so far, we had a number of other weekly visitors: the bread man, vegetable hucksters, and the ever-popular ice cream man. In truth, there were two ice cream men – one soft serve and the other the Good Humor type products – and they came around almost every day in the summer.

Obviously the shopkeepers in our business district weren’t about to lose all their business to the home delivery folks. Some of my friends had jobs at the drug store and grocery stores doing nothing but making home deliveries.

As more and more families bought first and second cars, and more housewives went to work full time, the home delivery market seemed to dry up. For years, it was virtually impossible to get something smaller than a refrigerator delivered to your home. The one exception I can think of right now is the florists. Through it all, they continued to deliver flowers to homes, hospitals, and offices.

Then came the pizza revolution. Pizza shops began opening in every neighborhood. Before long, someone hit on the idea of home delivery. Before long, Chinese restaurants caught the spirit, as did other restaurants.

While Western Union worked their way out of home delivery and began using the telephone to deliver their messages, Easter Onion and other similar companies began delivering silly messages and strippers.

Now, I notice that some drug stores have returned to making home deliveries. Some of their vehicles are even more fancy than the pizza delivery cars. There are also caterers who will prepare a fancy dinner and deliver it to the homemaker who can serve it while pretending it was all cooked right on the premises.

Perhaps home delivery is coming back in all its glory. That reminds me, I have a few shirts that need to go to the laundry. Maybe I can find one who will save me the trip.


Bring Back the Privy!

November 18, 2008

I recently wrote about Halloween pranks and insinuated that our forefathers were noted for the number of outhouses either pushed over or moved slightly back… far enough to cause some very messy situations. Soon after, I had a number of discussions with friends and family and came to the realization that Halloween pranks seem to have disappeared altogether.

I’m aware that our nation is facing severe problems in the future due to the inactivity of our children. Too many children spend too much time playing video games; they are becoming a generation of couch potatoes. A recent news report stated that scientists have determined obese preteens now have the arteries of forty-five year old adults! Translate that to mean high cholesterol and clogging of the arteries!

When I was a child, television was new and there was no such thing as video games. We spent long hours outside playing kick ball, whiffle ball, football, basketball, baseball, and numerous other games that we invented when we had nothing better to do. When the evenings grew dark (around October) and our parents were used to us being outside until late in the evening, the mischief was waiting to get into our bloodstreams. Forget about blood clots, we had the devil keeping the arteries clean!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of favorite ‘games’ was to knock on someone’s front door and run like the dickens to avoid being seen. Another stunt we pulled from time to time was the gathering of garbage cans. We’d quietly carry them from the back yards of a number of homes, and line them up across the street… effectively blocking traffic. Then we’d hide and watch people get out and move the cans so they could get by. Occasionally someone would recognize his or her can and get even more upset with those darned kids.

So, if children aren’t going out at night to pull silly stunts, what are they doing with their spare time? Unfortunately, many are getting on their computers (they have their own – right next to their own stereos and televisions – in their bedrooms) and learning how to hack into other people’s computers. Even worse, they are learning how to create computer viruses and unleashing them on unsuspecting adults.

Granted, many viruses are created and distributed by adults who should know better, but all too many are created by children who have no comprehension of the damage they are doing.

The pranks we pulled necessitated us being out of sight, but we were close enough to see and hear the reactions to what we’d done. I have no idea what a virus monger gets out of his or her actions. I can only guess he or she hopes to read something in the newspaper or on the Internet to let him or her know that the virus managed to destroy at least some computers.

If these idiots realized that they may have destroyed the only photo album of a family who lost a number of loved ones in a fire, would it make any difference to them? If they learned that they had destroyed a novel that someone had spent years writing and was getting ready to submit to a publisher, would it faze them in the least? Do these people think about anything beyond their own pitiful existence? What a shame to have nothing better to do with one’s life.

I’ve often said it’s a shame that people who choose to do evil things never put that brain power to work for something good. It’s not easy to write a program to destroy the hard drive of a computer. It’s even more difficult to camouflage the virus to sneak it past all the blocking devices Internet Service Providers create to protect their customers. Obviously, the numb skulls that create computer viruses are fairly intelligent… they just possess a total lack common sense.

I’m going to start a campaign to reintroduce the outhouse and encourage parents to compel their children to turn off all their electronic devices and go outside to play. Perhaps the outhouses will get the blood of the children circulating in the right direction and they’ll revert back to the joys of their grandfathers.

I just hope I’m not using the facility when the spirit moves my neighbor’s children.