Thursday, September 26, 2013

Crazy is as Crazy Does

Well I did it again.
I did something crazy, I gathered dried bean pods from our garden green beans that we’d ignored for the last 6 weeks.  I think about my friends Claudio and Cruz whenever I do this, and I’ve written about it before:

"People call me crazy doing what I’m doin’,   Well they give all kinds of advice, to keep me from ruin…”

This afternoon I spent a half hour gathering a gallon of dried bean pods (and I’ll spend at least an hour getting the dry beans out of the pods so that we can soak and cook them).  And I spent more just a little time picking individual beans out of the soil where they’d fallen, all the time bent over.  Many of these beans were smaller than any bean you have ever purchased, by the pound, by the bag, at the grocery store.

So am I crazy?  Maybe.  Unlike people like Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell the senators, who work tirelessly 120 days a year trying make sure that things don’t happen; I’ll work two or three hours and get a cup of beans to eat.  

You can call me crazy.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Note to the Fifth Graders taking SOL Tests

What am I supposed to remember?

Every day, friends, parents and teachers tell you stuff and you have to ask yourself; am I supposed to remember this?  Am I expected to remember this?  Will I be tested as to whether I remembered this or not?

The answer is: You'll never know which are the important things and which aren't.  I'm not a young person any more, but I remember something said to me when I was 11 years old, way back in 1958...   My friend's mom told me that she could write any number in the world with nothing but 0's and 1's.  Like, 101101 (which is 45 in our numbers).

We write our numbers in decimal: (base ten: our 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9     We've got ten fingers so we chose ten).  Or they can be written in binary: (base two:  0 1).  Or we could use three: 0 1 2 , or four: 0 1 2 3, or any base we choose [even sixteen:  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 x y z a b c ].   Computers use electricity and that only sees ON and OFF,  computers can only see two kinds of digits (fingers).  They count with only 0's and 1's but they do it really fast!  Computers are running the world, they are in every product that uses electricity.  They have changed the world.

My friend's mom was a very funny looking lady and you probably would say the same thing about her.  She was way over six feet tall and she looked like a man and didn't wear womanly clothing.  If she hadn't been my best friend's mom, I would have been afraid of her and probably never would have listened to, much less remembered, anything that she said.  But what she told me that day was true.  She and her husband were helping to invent computers back then and I was there on the computer's first birthday.  Why do I mention that she was funny looking?

You never know where the really important things will come from so you should want to remember everything, not just the stuff you think will be on the test.

That lady told me something that I didn't think I would ever have to remember, and that something turns out to be pretty important today.

Good luck, work hard and remember everything, you just might need it on a non test day.

Mr. B

Sunday, March 31, 2013

To Niggle is a good thing

Occasionally, things do work out for the best.  The other day while volunteering at the elementary school, when I heard that "my kids" in the 5th grade would be having a test and I wouldn't be able to help, I said to another tutor, that I'd sit and read the dictionary while they worked.  I told her that there was a wonderful quote that went: "Most of the things that I've learned were when I was looking something else up."  That's a paraphrase, I can't seem to find the correct original quotation.

As luck would have it, I flipped open the dictionary and the first thing I saw was: "niggle".  (niggle; v. i. To work fussily; to pay too much attention to details, to putter.)  That's ME!  I make thingies!  I will obsess over details and processes and parts that will never show (or likely make any difference in the long run).  I can niggle for hours in my workshop, making parts for thingies out of copper and brass and searching for just the right kind of home made wood for this or that part (and certainly not using up a piece of wood than is 20% bigger than I need).  Not to mention that the thingy itself has a very questionable reason to be made in the first place.

Many years ago, I read a story by J. R. R. Tolkien called: "Leaf by Niggle".  I never knew whether I was pronouncing the name: Niggle correctly and I didn't connect it with a real word.  I recall that the story was about a man that worked his whole life on one single painting and that at the end of his life, "The Powers of the Universe" kept one little part of his painting: a single leaf.  And they laughed.  I have a home made guitar stool in my shop that I have been building for more than a decade.  It has seven or eight different kinds of wood in it (all made from trees, not purchased wood from the hardware store).  Years ago I stamped the words:  "Leaf By Niggle" on one leg.  On top is written: "Worlds Ugliest Guitar Stool".  I'm not done with it yet.  Now I need to stamp "Leg by Ralph" on one of the other legs.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Donald where are you in our hour of need?

I am relying on people everywhere to use all possible means to contact Donald on this vital mission: 

The only rational explanation of how crazy the things that Wayne La Pierre is saying is that he is a "mole". That as the central part of a vast conspiracy, he was planted by foreign interests, likely African or East Asian, about 50 years ago so that he could be raised American and someday be elected to the Presidency of one of the most powerful institutions in America: The National Rifle Association. From this position, he could then impose his and his masters' mission which is the utter destruction of the very institution that he heads. 

In so doing, he will then destroy the essence of America, freedom, and everything that we hold dear. We can only hope that Donald Trump will help us in our hour of need by exposing these facts to the nation.  Maybe a reward for a birth certificate?

Friday, January 18, 2013

The United States Postal Service

I work for a small business (small: less than ten full time employees), and we do a lot of shipping of our products; we wouldn't even be in business at all without our ability to ship.  To say that your United States Postal Service (USPS -  it's important to remember what this stands for) is our best option, is a massive understatement.  A perennial attack on the USPS is occurring as you read this.  The usual so-called "free market conservatives" are once again working in our Congressional House of Representatives to further marginalize the USPS.  Any diminution in the scope of the USPS, would be a terrible blow to our local business and to our customers, and to you.

In this case, "free market" means: "Let two huge multinational corporations (corporations are people, my friend), increase their profits by decreasing the role of the USPS.  The corporations are the United Postal Service (UPS - gee what a great name, that couldn't possibly be designed to confuse users as to which country it owes allegiance to, could it?), and FedEx (again, "Fed"?  that couldn't be confused with our Federal Government could it?).  Both of these corporations do a reasonable job to shipping packages from businesses (corporations) to you and me.  The price that you pay  them to do so (included in the price your pay for your item) is almost always just a little higher than what  YOUR USPS would charge you.  So far so good.  I would like you to call and ask UPS or FedEx to come to your house and pick up a letter or package.  They won't do it.  Have you forgotten that your USPS picks up AND delivers letters and packages to your door?  On Saturdays too!  Ask UPS to do that.  They don't, not even for the corporations.  So we see that the USPS does twice the job at a lower price than those "free market" competitors.

Now just in case this doesn't move you, think about the fact that UPS and FedEx hire lots of part time workers, mostly at Thanksgiving to Christmas time.  They pay these people as little as they can get away with; no health, vacation, sick leave, or other benefits.  Great for the Corporations' bottom line... so why are their charges to you higher?  I guess that you'd have to ask the CEO's of these people/corporations...   In contrast, the USPS pays mostly full time employees a living wage with benefits and deliver a service to you at a lower cost to you..  The employees are people in your community that live with the same needs and desires that you have.  They give you better service than the "private sector" employees and they'll be here for you six days a week while doing twice the service of the alternatives.  Have you been moved to think about buying locally, spending locally?  Oh, by the way, the United States of American Constitution requires that your government maintain a United States Postal Service for your benefit.  That should be enough for you if you call yourself a patriot.  Now ask yourself what your Congressman (or woman) has been saying about the USPS.  Are they planning on closing YOUR Post Office?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Have You Been Scammed Lately?

I recently received a "SECOND NOTICE!"  About immediately important sensitive material that I NEED to address.  Apparently, I , and only I can save myself.  This is serious!  The form letter informs (don't you love the irony?) me,  that the warranty on my Honda will expire THIS MONTH!  Again, that sounds serious!  BUT, it offers me a helpful 1-800 phone number that I can call to save me from this terrible harm.  But I have to call soon, because this offer (to save me) will expire in less than TWO WEEKS!  I can tell that they are serious business people because their fine print protects them from having to deal with people that might not have the ability to pay (dead beats) or that might not meet their eligibility requirements.  Serious business!

The letter came with an ominous warning; "A $2000 fine and 5 years of imprisonment, OR BOTH! is applicable to any person that interferes with or obstructs the delivery of the letter to me... (U. S. Mail TTT.18 CODE)"  Boy that sounds serious too!

Except that these people have nothing to do with Honda, and it's a scam.

I've never understood why Mr. Honda (who certainly has the money and resources to do so) doesn't just hire some goons to go find these guys and break their fingers.  Sure, the scammers would sue, probably successfully, then Mr. Honda could pay the goons to go do it again.... And Mr. Honda would probably lose less money in the courts than he is losing to people that don't buy Hondas anymore because they think that the warranties are rip-offs.

As a proactive person, alternatively, I suggest that each of us who owns a Honda could call this Scammer's  posted number (1-800-785-3128)  and pretend to want to pay these fine people bunches of money for their valuable service.  I would talk to them for 5 minutes, and then say: "OH, OH! I can't find my checkbook or credit card." then I'd hang up.  Or perhaps say:  "Oh, Oh! your call is breaking up!", then hang up.  Or maybe: "Can you hold?  I'll look for my credit card; I really want to pay you...."  Then leave the phone off the hook and wait for THEM to hang up.  (I don't really hate telemarketers, I just want them to find real productive jobs).

A while ago, I heard about a service that was called something like: "Get even"; a company that you employ after you've given up being nice, reasonable, legal, and rational, but when you are just ready to extract revenge.  I like that concept; let's see if we can get someone to write an app for that.

Mr. Honda?  I'm waiting for you to act.