Thursday, July 29, 2010

Too Much Stuff

A few years ago a singer/songwriter named Delbert McClinton came out with a song entitled, “Too Much Stuff”. My wife loved it. One stanza goes: “Big house, big car, back seat, full bar. Houseboat won’t float, Bank won’t tote the note” She thinks we may have too much stuff and I’m about to agree. Plus most of the stuff we have requires other stuff, like insurance and such, which makes it more stuff. Within the last several weeks a lot of our stuff has been messed up and that means more stuff has to be bought to fix the old stuff. In fact, the money spent to keep your stuff in working order is sometimes more than you paid for the stuff in the first place.

The hot tub broke. Ever tried to get one fixed? We’re still waiting for the guy who took out the broken part to at least call and say where he or the part got off to. They’re both missing now and I have no idea what part of the tub he took. The wave runner broke and it’s going to take a bank loan to get the thing fixed. Fact is, it’s not worth much more than the part required to make it run. Seems part of the problem was I didn’t ride it enough but it was stuff I never should have bought in the first place cause no one went out on the thing but me and usually only when I was trying to forget about all the broken stuff at the house.

The lawnmower broke the other day… miracle of miracles I was able to fix it. It was nothing but the air filter…sounded like it had a case of T.B. now it just sounds like emphysema but I can cut the grass if I push it slow. Someone here got the bright idea of purchasing a wading pool for the dogs to stay cool in during the summer. We put the thing on the deck (which needs repairs) filled it with water and watched as the dogs ran around it and the mosquitoes hatched offspring for the tadpoles to eat. Now we can’t get the thing off the deck (too heavy) without a siphoning hose. I ran out and got some bug spray the other day. Too much stuff.

Before you start thinking, what a jerk, this guys got too much stuff; I only got this stuff after turning fifty or so which means I had to work a long time to get it. But now that it’s here I’m wondering why unless somebody up there figured I had too much time on my hands. I take solace in the fact that most of me still works but with my weight approaching 230, one could make the argument that I am also…too much stuff.

One has to wonder if our country has too much stuff. We can’t seem to keep anything fixed long enough to make it pay off. Everything from oil wells to Afghanistan seems to be broken including the people voting on this stuff. Maybe we should all just sit back for a while, take that ol’ pause that refreshes, and learn how to manage the stuff we have before jumping into more stuff. When you buy something it’s only as good as your ability to either keep it working or take the thing back. We’ve bought several countries lately, now it’s time to see if we can make them work. Unlike like lawnmowers however, they aren’t that easy to return.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Earring Microphones

There appears to be a magic number of dollars that when attained causes temporary insanity. The number could involve things such as assets, savings, inherited wealth, publicity shots ... who knows? What we do know, through extensive Internet research, is that it seems to affect both males and females, is no respecter of race or ethnicity and sends the possessor (who is already in another world and has been for a while) into a spiral of lust, degradation and either binge eating or starvation equaled only by others of this persuasion.

Let’s be honest, flying from L.A. to Soho for makizushi would make anyone a little screwy.

You can get fairly raw fish down by the river, when you think about it. But I digress.
Howard Hughes was probably the first person to come under scrutiny by the media when he attained heights of weirdness because of large sums of money. Howard set the standard for absurd behavior, and he set the bar very high — so high in fact that no one would believe the heights today’s weirdos attain when they hit the number. If not for the miracle of the earring microphone, I doubt ol’ Mel Gibson would have believed it himself. We’ll get to that later. The smartest of these folks seem to dodge the insanity by finding ways to give their money away before they hit the magic number. The number of dollars one would have to accumulate is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of a half billion. Once that number is achieved, the owner of the number goes nuts.

It is an equal opportunity number. Elvis hit it after the concert in Hawaii, and Michael Jackson got there sometime in the ’80s. Gibson may have hit it shortly after his last film, if current news can be trusted.

Bill Gates gives a lot of money to charity, making him exempt. Jimmy Buffet does free concerts for all sorts of causes, rendering him immune as well. And Oprah Winfrey opens up schools, so she’ll be fine. These few have kept themselves immune by being charitable, but there are many very close, say within $300 million or so, who bear watching.
Several of the “lucky” ones are in alcohol rehab, divorce court or have children living at home, which keeps them from hitting the magic number. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton come to mind. I am probably one of the luckiest people I know because I would have to live forever and remain employed to accumulate that kind of money. It’s not going to happen.

But, with Gibson we have a wonderful opportunity to see just how out of kilter these people can get. The first indication, after careful revue of the earring tapes, came when he allegedly said, “I need a woman” to his former girlfriend. He must have been really close to her ear when he said it because it sure came out clear.

The second came when she must have somehow spoken into her own ear and said, “You need medication.” I have to believe ol’ Mel has had all the “medication” he can stand, which may be another part of the equation.

Now before you get all weepy on me — I’m not the one who hit the number — that was Gibson, and anyone who can make a successful movie with letterbox has got to be smart enough to know his former girlfriend may be wearing erring microphones. I’m sure Gibson, at some point in his life, realized there are cameras and microphones everywhere these days, but when he hit the magic number he simply forgot. Now, instead of being able to enjoy days on the beach and nights getting drunk, he may have to go back to work.

Hearing about these folks on the news makes me want to go home, feed the dogs, wash the car and mow the lawn. Oh, guess I’d better check the wife’s jewelry box first.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

They're Perfect Just Ask Them

I was doing some “surfing” the other day, can’t do it at the beach so I did it on the Internet, and I ran across this interesting research article written a few years ago by the Pew Research Center on Generation Next (people from 18-25). I don’t know if Pepe Le Pew was involved in the research but it certainly helped me better understand folks in their 20s. Here are some findings the Pew folks found and a few findings of my own:
They’re optimistic. Well, why wouldn’t they be, we gave them most of what they have and we still seem to have more “stuff” to give.

Half of them have tattoos on their bodies and holes where they shouldn’t be. Some have weird hair color like purple or orange. This was surprising to me because we’ve always told them how wonderful they are. Why would they want to change perfection, but that’s just me.

Most of them feel the government is perfectly capable of running most things. Well, in truth, the government does run most things, as those of us who pay taxes are aware.

Most of them are Democrats. The good news is they prefer entertainers as role models over politicians.

The majority of them say their top goals are fortune and fame. Two very worthy causes for sure and so easy to accomplish. Does it matter how one becomes famous?

Twenty percent don’t attend church. No need I suppose with the government handling everything.

They like to stay in close contact with parents and family. This is a no brainer. Wouldn’t you?

The truth is we’d better get used to them. They’re going to be around for awhile, soon to replace the “Greatest Generation,” the “Boomers,” and “Generation X.” We’ll soon have “Generation Next” and the “Millennials” calling the shots. Sounds like a rock band singing that old standby, “Works for Me!”

Everything works for the “Nexters” because everything has always been just hunky dory. I asked one the other day what he wanted to be when he grew up and in the space of five minutes we went from physical therapy to engineering.

This group can do it all because, well, they’ve been told they could. And guess what? They believe it. From the time they were born these folks have been a success in everything from Little League (they all were All-Stars and have the trophy to prove it) to playing a musical instrument via the Epiphone Les Paul Pee Wee Rave Rig.

So when we arrived at engineering, I ask the obvious question, “How good are you at math?” A pause, then, “Well, to be honest,” he said, “I don’t do math very well.” “What about beekeeping?” I ask. I’m thinking. Most folks love honey. He could sell that and I’m sure he’d be a success. I will say this, they are very big on communicating, using every medium available from cellphones to texting to Facebook.

I listened in on a conversation the other day and was amazed at the amount of information that changed hands in just a few minutes. It went something like this:

“Hey.” “Hey.” “Whassup?” Whassup widt you?” “Nuttin.” “Same here dude.” “Cool.” “I saw you on Facebook the other day.” “Did?” “Yep.” “Cool.” “Yeah, I checked you out too.” “Cool.” “Hey.” “What?” “Can you come pick me up?” “Whassup widt dat?” “My car won’t start.” “Oh, you put gas in it? “Course I did, right after my ol’ man bought it.” “What about the radiator. ... you put water in it?” “Uh, whassup widt dat?” “Oh man, you got to put water in it.” “Well, next time I will, just come pick me up.”

And so it goes, the wonderful world of the Nexter, never knowing what is going to happen next. How do I know so much about these folks? Well, I live with two of them and their dog, Sunnie, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.