Thursday, June 2, 2011


Today is “soapbox day”. A day I’ve dedicated to preaching on about things others might like to say but don’t. Today’s soapbox has to do with reading, a skill that seems to be slipping further by the wayside with each new reality show on television, and the infomercial, a great way to become “infomed”? What is the problem with people not being able to read in the year 2011? Are we going backward here? While I don’t think you can raise a person’s I.Q. much by teaching them how to read, you might be able to get them some lateral movement, plus, most of the intelligent people I know can read. Someone once said we are what we eat but I rather think we are what we read. Still, we have folks out there who feel that the ability to read a road sign or menu comes second to being able to watch television and is really the only life skill we need, other than smoking or being able to drink ten beers without throwing up. Why else would someone put a five year old in front of a television for hours each day? I suppose they figure if they can pull up to a McDonalds, see a Big Mac and fries picture, cipher out what c-o-k-e looks like and maybe f-r-i-e-d p-i-e, why, they’re good to go! But think about the difficulty of say, going to Wal- Mart. Now the non-reader has to find a label that might say c-e-r-e-a-l or c-h-e-e-s-e, or maybe m-e-n’s w-e-a-r or l-o-u-n-g-e-r-i-e. Is that French? Well, I suppose it really wouldn’t matter if the person can’t read in the first place.
And what about reading the paper to find something to buy or check out an old friend’s obit? You might find them by their picture but what if the picture shows them thirty years ago sitting on the back of a truck at the local Krystal. Reading is important and the only way you would know it was them would be if you hadn’t seen them in thirty years. Yes, preaching to the choir here because you can read or you wouldn’t be reading this. You have to wonder what it says about my intelligence though. And speaking of television, are we really becoming more informed by watching infomercials? Or less “infomed” due to information that insults our intelligence?

Here’s one for you. “Can you boil an egg? Can you peel an egg? Can you dispose of the shell of an egg? Or has the effort become just too darn time consuming and energy consuming to allow you to really enjoy the experience? It sounds like you may need to consider purchasing the new Ripoff egg peeler, designed with the person like yourself, lazy, allergic to water and “uninfomed” in mind. Give me thirty minutes of your time and I will demonstrate how peeling an egg the old fashion grip and strip method can raise blood pressure and cause carpel tunnel syndrome. Let me show you the latest in egg peeling paraphernalia guaranteed to take the stress out of raising your cholesterol level. And after I’m finished we’ll crank up the old dishwasher, place the Ripoff in there and have fun searching for its pieces when the dry cycle completes.” Please…we can do better. The only way a person would need the Ripoff is…you guessed it…If they couldn’t read a recipe for boiling an egg in the first place! My guess is somebody out there is getting richer by the minute as I write this and an infomercial on washing celery and flossing one’s teeth can’t be far away.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Where would we be today without the green folks, the conservationists who, like me, want to preserve the planet? Like my dad used to say, “Son, you’ll never know when it’s gonna stop raining or the sun runs out of gas.” I’ve been a green man for years, and have known many “greenies”, learning many of my conserving ways from dad. We always think of May as conservation month around here, making an effort to go just as far as possible into “Saunaville” without turning on the A.C.This year, after living in a hothouse full of mold for a month, we made it until May 12th. When your back sticks to your shirt, which is stuck to your chair, and every smell that has ever been in the house reveals itself, you know the A.C. fairy can’t be far away. There are other signs as well. The dogs pant near the A.C. air vents but since they must know nothing's coming out of there but the stench of dead bugs and fur balls, I think they do it just to make us feel guilty. Once in a while they look up as if to say, “If I had your brains I believe I’d turn on some A.C.”
Actually, I remember growing up when we didn’t have A.C. at all, and dad was as green as a cucumber. We had this wonderful contraption called an attic fan. It was in the hall ceiling and the blades must have been huge because they would turn ever so slowly and still bring air in through the windows. Very quiet it was, and all you would hear was the soft sound of hot air rushing into the attic. We had to be in bed around nine, except for Sunday nights when ice cream was on the menu. The ice cream was melted of course but I can tell you that was the best bowl of ice cream ever drunk. After that you had to go sweat in your bed until the blessed fan sucked in enough cool air from the outside. If that didn’t happen you’d either pass out from the heat or wait for a cool breeze to lull you to sleep around 2 AM.

Turning on the attic fan before the air outside turned cool was considered by dad to be un-green and once in a while you’d hear him holler, “Who turned on the d-mn fan!?” He didn’t much care for lights on in the summer either, said it made the house too hot. Except for using his belt on my brother (who deserved it) he saved on energy any way he could. Not one of us five kids would admit to turning on the fan. When I was around fifteen I learned a trick with that attic fan. You could lower your window to just a few inches above the sill and feel one heck of a breeze. One night, while adjusting it just right, I happened to spot two future leaders in the green movement, on the front porch next door. Mary Beth and Roger they were and about seventeen at the time. She got a window A.C. before we did but went green about that time also and chose to spend time outdoors on most evenings with Roger, her boyfriend, saving energy. I’ve always admired their sacrifice as they preferred sweating on the stoop to turning on the A.C. in her bedroom. I often wonder if she received some kind of green award for her efforts. I’m sure Roger got his just reward. Now days, when I hear the dogs panting, I think of these two pioneers in the green movement, conserving energy on the porch years ago.