This Part Gets Me the Most

by on October 14th, 2013

The last story I heard was ended with a disclaimer:
this part gets me the most
tacked on like proof of extraterrestrials or demons,
when in “reality”, none know the revival of reverant rangers.
None really know about the prisons,
surrounding hair’s palace,
which girds them like sick panda sumo wrestlers,
cut off from bamboo, their only source of food.
this part gets me the most:
The road to heaven is paved with bad intentions.

Arr, There Be Pirates Here!

by on April 9th, 2013

Big Town, Small Town

by on December 11th, 2012

This weekend I had the unfortunate pleasure of visiting my grandmother’s family in Griggsville, Illinois. A pleasure because I genuinely had a good time meeting and getting to know my out-of-state family and the people of the small 1200-person township in South Western Illinois, about 50 miles west of Springfield. Unfortunate because I had to make this homecoming under the purpose of a family death; my Grandmother’s brother had passed away and she had to go up there to take care of family business

I’m not going to lie, it’s a long trip. I went up through Lexington, KY, up past the confusing jumbled mess that is Louisville, KY, the bottleneck of the nation. I drove three times around the city before finally getting pointed in the right direction and progressing up towards Indianapolis, IN and then West towards Springfield. Get a map if you need to. I’ll wait.

My Google Navigation on my wife’s traded Incredible 2 got me to the front door of the bed and breakfast where we stayed, unbelievable to my Grandma. I made the trip in 10 ½ hours. The first things I noticed when I got to the farm were the stars. In Knoxville, we must have many more lights and clouds and trees covering up the stars in the sky. Up in Griggsville, it was as if the sky were opened up and we were standing directly underneath it unimpeded. I swear I could see the Milky Way galaxy, a darker, almost cloud-like swath of white, on a clear night. The picture I tried to take looks like a fully black canvas, or unexposed photo paper.

Griggsville, Illinois was founded in 1833 by my 6-great grandfather, Daniel Dean. He founded the town and he was the first mayor. A fiery bearded man, he was a farmer and made a community of farmers to share resources and help split expenses up among the township, or something like that. I really don’t know what he did, but I know what he didn’t do: shave. The man had a beard on him like an 1849 gold digger: rough and unkempt. His picture was paraded down the streets of Griggsville accompanied by the words, “Remember our Heritage.”

Arriving for the first time in downtown Griggsville, the town of my family, the town of my ancestry, felt like a homecoming without the singing, which really isn’t much of a homecoming at all. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m someone, like I’ve got a place here, like I can make a difference. The small population doesn’t concern itself with modern luxuries like computers and wireless Internet, much to my disheartening. I had to settle for Verizon’s extended network, which still did allow me to make and receive calls, and use data. We’ll see if they hit me with a roaming charge.

Making my way around downtown Griggsville was lonely. I walked off on my own, away from the family, to get a feel for the small town. There weren’t many people walking around, but those who were seemed to know each other. I noticed a girl walk a long way to briefly visit a bar, then go off on her way again, which I thought was odd. What happened in those brief minutes? Why come such a long way if only to stay for such a brief time? Somethings not right here.

When I saw my great-uncle Norman’s house, it was much more modern than I expected. I envisioned a white farmhouse, surrounded by rows of cornfield. There were plenty of those in Griggsville, but not this house. This was a basement rancher like any other suburban house in a semi-dense downtown neighborhood. The sidewalk sat up closer to the house than I thought it should. People shouldn’t get that close to their neighbors. And it’s not like there is a lot of traffic to warrant a health fear of walking near the road. I glanced over once and saw two young teenagers enjoying each others company, then kissing. Young love is so sweet, I thought, and here of all places must be heaven.

My great uncle Norman was a collector of antiques. The antiques he had were old machines and inventions used to make a man’s job easier in times before computers and electric implements, things like a popcorn shucker, made smaller to handle the tiny kernels of popcorn shaved off into eager bowls for popping. The littlest things make for the most beauty, relatively speaking.

The receiving of friends is a blur. I met so many people I can only tell you about the one’s that stick out distinctly. First and foremost is my Grandma’s cousin Robert Sleight, who has visited me in Knoxville recently, which I found to be most agreeable. Hanging out at Bob’s house felt like Griggsville could even be home, like this could happen for me, and for the family. We found a front quarter of deer meat on his golf cart turned hunting cart, painted black to hide better.

It was open season and hunters were migrating to Griggsville to pick off the deer that roamed the corn fields and surrounding forests. There was a whole economy in serving the hunters, hotels and lodges. My own bed and breakfast had been often home to a weary hunter, sure to leave his muddy boots outside the door. The owners of the house and adjoining apartment were a late middle aged couple who were part time farmers and hospitality hosts, bringing in out-of-towners to stay in their home for the night. They had original breakfast items, always good and always plentiful. I ate well of pancakes and hard boiled eggs, washed down with orange juice and coffee.

Griggsville was the Purple Martin capital of the nation, claiming purple street names as a nod to the mosquito-eating bird. The Purple Martin could devour up to 2,000 mosquitoes in a day, making me thing that a health population of these birds would be nice for Knoxville on a hot summer day. Their tall birdhouses decorated the city square and surrounding houses, offering nesting places for the birds, absent the weekend I was there. I was told that there was a place in South America that all of the Purple Martins retired to every fall and winter, which was the capital of the world in population of these birds. Maybe this distant retreat encompassed the world’s Griggsvilles, the world’s homeland of ancestry and heritage. Maybe this bird devoured the record of any historical authenticity and created a haven of second place small towns, one for every nation, so no one felt left out.

Small towns can be big business if you’re in the business of making money. Griggsville, I was told by my grandfather, had several millionaires, made with good seasons and and high corn and soybean prices. But no one seemed wealthy. The most obvious tell of well-to-do farming families were nice sunglasses, used to hide the faces of wives wanting to avoid the hot, arid sun, beating down on hot October days.

The gift and the curse of the curious is the need to ask questions. Wherever I go in life, I bring my curiosity desire to learn, and farmland is no exception. I had several misconceptions corrected during this trip, most of which had to do with important things like nutrition and a farmer’s responsibilities. I had heard corn had no nutritional value. I don’t believe that any more.

Everybody should go make Facebook pages for their Skyrim Characters!

by on January 4th, 2012

Okay, just a thought. Everyone should make pages for their Skyrim characters on Facebook. Wouldn’t that be sweet? The next step would be an MMO, which these guys are already working on. Just a thought, go back to what you were doing before.

Latest Occupy Movement Promises Results

by on November 25th, 2011

I’ve heard whispering about an upcoming Occupy Wall Street event that promises to draw a massive crowd of protesters: Occupy Walmart. On Friday, November 25, 2011, millions of agitated consumers will be gathering in front of department stores and shopping malls across the nation. They gather in angry protest of the high prices levied against our American consumers this Holiday season. Because of the super sales and excessive advertisement, they’re determined to stick it to the greedy CEO’s and Business Executives behind these so called Black Friday “deals.” 

Published in newspapers across the nation, these well-known specials are bait for the wealthy business owners and executives to lure shoppers into their stores. Their conspiracy has been exposed time and time again in colorful sales pages and inserted into almost every newspaper across the nation. This year the American public isn’t going to stand idly by and watch others get the best deals in the store. These brave protesters will be sure to have their wallets intact, protecting their hard-earned dollar in faithful capitalist fashion. It is time to make a difference in this crony capitalist system of cheap cell phones and half-priced blue jeans. It’s time to buy all of their low-priced stock, to rob the robbers of the robes of the robbed.

The dangers of the Occupation are well known. Last year, a man died while being trampled in a horde of angry occupiers the day after Thanksgiving. There have been stories of police officers roughing up occupiers, and I don’t expect Occupy Walmart to be any different. You’ll want to take advantage of the steal-of-a-deal price on sunglasses, just to protect your eager eyes from pepper spray, aimed at more unruly shoppers. One unlucky 84-year-old New York occupier got sprayed a couple weeks ago chasing deals on stocks at her local stock market. Though the casualties are many, we maintain a worthy goal and continue to occupy those greedy markets until our demands for low prices are met.

The Occupy Walmart movement predates the more recent Occupy Wall Street movements by many years. In the past, however, we’ve been content to merely camp out at stores the night before, passively waiting for the management to turn on the lights and open the doors to the stores, heavy laden with Tickle Me Elmos. But this year, in camaraderie with those brave souls occupying Wall Street since August, there will be adopted a similar spirit of anger at injustice. No more will we pay full price for imported, lead-laced children’s toys. It is time, once and for all, to stand up and demand lower prices on cheap consumer electronics.

The Occupation isn’t just limited to Walmart; they’ll be crowds as early as 3:30am Friday morning at Kohl’s, Target and even Best Buy. They smaller local businesses will be watching enviously across the street as hordes of angry shoppers, armed to the teeth with credit cards and cash, storm the doors of corporations and conglomerates. Some local businesses are even trying to match the special deals offered, but most consumers see through the charade. The small businesses aren’t the enemy here, so they shouldn’t be occupied. The local mom and pops’ fair prices aren’t undercutting anyone, so they will continue to be ignored. Our true enemies here are those big businesses, those capitalist bulwarks, who, though rich and fat with the filthy lucre of years past, are still unsatiated in their evil goal to amass the world’s wealth. If you share in the growing distrust of big business, if you spent too much the last few years on your Target card and want the debt forgiven, or if you just want to equal the playing field by picking up a great buy on pepper spray and batons, then come out and join your brothers and sisters this Friday morning as week seek to right the wrongs on Black Friday.

Something Fishy This Way Stinkith

by on October 14th, 2011

I got to see behind the scenes of something yesterday I shouldn’t have seen. Strange happenings and monetary inflation were viewed through wonder-filled eyes as I found out that my car, which had slight hail damage and a bumped front fender, had cost 4 times the original estimate the Geico claims adjuster had given me.

“Believe me, we’ve billed much higher supplements,” the clerk at CARS, Inc., on Callahan Rd. in Knoxville, TN told me reassuringly. I bet they had. The original estimate was for $2,300 bucks in damage repair. My brother told me that was high and he thought he could have gotten it done cheaper than that. I met the GEICO claims adjuster at CARS, so I just figured they were a trusted vendor and known to do good jobs for GEICO..

My red flag went up when I picked up the car. It looked really good and for that I cannot complain. I was signing some documents for CARS and the last one promised that if I got a check from GEICO, I would immediately forward it to CARS.

“Why would GEICO send me another check?” I had already been paid from my insurance company what seemed like a lot of money.

“Sometimes we have to bill a supplemental amount of work to the insurance company,” the clerk reassured me. “Sometimes, they accidentally send it to the owner of the car instead of us. This is just a precaution.”

Since the car was finished, this begged the question: “So did the work come to more than first estimated?”

“Oh yeah,” the clerk said.

“So how much was it,” I asked, puzzled.

“The final bill is $8,100.” I was floored. How had the GEICO claims adjuster missed the mark by $6,000? I couldn’t sign the form. It seemed like something really fishy was going on here. I made the clerk wait and called GEICO. They sent me to someone else up the chain there, who told me, Yes, sometimes there is more damage than initially estimated. She said it wouldn’t affect me, my rate wouldn’t change, it being an act of God and a hail storm.

Didn’t GEICO care that CARS is gouging them for another $6,000? Why is there no responsibility on the behalf of GEICO? If I was paying out of pocket, I would be furious, but since I wasn’t, I signed the front of my folder at CARS that said I would forward them any check from GEICO, got in my car and left.

As I turned the situation over and over in my head, I kept wondering what I had just witnessed. Insurance Fraud? Palm Greasing? Maybe this is why our economy is in such a mess: companies with shady little scams they run to make massive profits. The car’s only worth $18,000, or it was when it was new. If I had known it would have cost $8,100 to fix it, I just would have taken that money and paid it towards my balance, almost paying off half of the car’s note. I could have lived with the slight hail damage and fender bump.

As I left CARS, I noticed the owner getting in a Lexus parked in the handicapped spot out front and leaving. Maybe I should call Don Dare, I thought, then decided against it. After all, they had done a damned fine job.

Hostages

by on October 11th, 2011

The Problem:

Corporate America is holding us hostage. We are the negotiation tool of the rich, used as a bargaining chip with the government. The well-to-do want tax breaks and to extend corporate loopholes, meanwhile, they ship our jobs overseas to be done by slave laborer with slaves’ wages in India and China. Final Irony: these people call themselves patriots.

 

The Solution:

Tax incentives to insource jobs back to the US to put people to work again. For example, if you employee a factory of workers for a job that was done in China, you can be given a healthy grant to start your business, including tax benefits for every American job you bring back. Everyone wins.

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