Friday, April 20, 2018

The jitters

Yesterday I experienced something I haven't experienced since I was a kid, if even then. I had a terrible case of the coffee jitters.

Up until about a year ago I drank coffee whenever I wanted, all day and every day. Then my doctor said I should cut down to two cups. So I've dutifully cut down, although I still generally have three cups or so each day. Before yesterday that hadn't been an issue.

Yet sitting at my computer going through e-mails and such and such, I went through four cups in an hour on an empty stomach. It didn't bother me at first, but by the time I got to my Shop I was nervous and jittery and talking a mile a minute. I know, that last symptom will draw a laugh, but I could actually hear that I was prattling on by then.

So it seems that my caffeine tolerance has gone way down. Stupid doctors.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Shot Heard Round the World

On this day in 1775 the American Revolution began. The militiamen, the ordinary citizen soldiers of Lexington and Concord, turned back the more organized and more highly trained British, harassing them all the way back to Charlestown outside of Boston. The Shot Heard Round the World had been fired. April 19, 1775 had secured its place in American and World history.

The significance of this event cannot be underscored enough. To date, it is almost surely the only large scale revolution which has had any modicum of positive success. Most new nations sink into anarchy, more terrible tyranny, or simply the same old same old with a new face when a known form of government falls. We need only look to the recent Arab Spring uprisings to see this is true.

To be sure, even our Revolution was subject to severe trials early on. It was no certainty that a civil government based on popular will would result from the Revolution. Yet somehow it did; I believe that it was American Exceptionalism through Divine Providence that our nation rose from those battlefields as it did.

I do not mean this as an insult towards other people and nations who have or are now seeking similar freedom and respect. I know that we aren't and never have been perfect, and that there are and have been other rightly proud and blessed peoples and countries. Perhaps over time Libya will stabilize, Isis fail in Iraq and Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood moderate. But I cannot help feeling that their story will be many more years playing out than the American tale. The fact is that popular uprisings need more than simple change. They need enlightened leadership. They need more than mob mentality. Any dictator with charisma and organizational skills can turn crowds to their will quite easily.

The colonists had rational leadership. The colonist themselves were on the whole reasonable people. They were able to overcome the occasional rabble to form a stable, reasonably free nation. And that's exactly what makes April 19, 1775 so memorable. Our revolution is truly unique in history. It was essentially founded 243 years ago today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Burning the (comic) books

A friend of mine, a guy I've known since high school (I'll call him Cloyce just to give him a name) did then and still does collect comic books. Let me tell you, if you think Catholicism is a religion, you know nothing about comic book collectors.

Cloyce buys two issues of nearly every major comic book every month. One he reads; one he carefully, oh, so carefully, slips into a hypoallergenic plastic sleeve or some such nonsense, for preservation. Yes, really.

I was talking to old Cloyce awhile back and I told him that when he passes, if I have any say in the matter, we're going to give him one impressive send off. We'll build this raft, see, and we'll lay his dead body upon it. Then we'll push it out into the ocean, westward, as the sun goes down. Then we'll have an archer fire a flaming arrow into it once it's far enough offshore to not be a hazard. You can see the arc of the fiery projectile gracefully heading to the air in the dusk, to descend purposefully on the raft. A sharp yet small puff of flame will set everything aglow. Then his funeral pyre will drift away into the reds, blues, and purples of the sunset.

"Wow," Cloyce responded, kind of caught up in my moment of description. But then he asked, "How will you fuel the fire?"

I answered, "With your comic books."

He began to stutter and stammer. I said, "Don't worry. We'll soak them in gasoline to make sure they ignite and burn thoroughly."

Cloyce hasn't spoken to me since.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Income Tax Day 2018

As I have said before, I've come to the conclusion that incomes taxes are in general immoral. I pay mine because there's no practical alternative. Yet they only exist because might makes right. In the case of republics like ours, what that means is fifty percent of the voters plus one authorizes the majority to dip into everyone's pockets however deeply they want to.

This isn't necessarily wrong I'll admit. Sometimes a crisis must be met with greater government intrusion into our lives. Yet by and large this is not the case; only extremes such as World War II demand it.

I know governments need money. But it should be gotten through user fees and sales taxes. And you know what? Such a system is automatically graduated. The rich will naturally pay more in taxes, the middle class less, and the poor nothing (I'd have no problem exempting them from any taxes) because those with greater incomes will buy and use more.

There are reasons I've cited before which support my point, but I'll stop here. Why? Because those agree with me know them, and those who don't have likely stopped reading anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The doctor, the priest, and the undertaker

Father Hanrahan was a priest at our Church oh, about 35 years ago. He was a good priest if a bit gruff, but that was part of why I liked him.

As happens with many of us later in life, he developed heart issues. Once he had had a heart attack while driving. He was able to get his car over onto the shoulder of the road, and two good Samaritans stopped to help. One gave him basic medical treatment and both waited until an ambulance arrived, and they each even hung around with the good padre's keys until another priest arrived with a tow truck to retrieve the car. Father survived the episode and lived several more years.

What makes this tale humorous though was that of the two who stopped to help, one was a doctor. The other was a mortician. When the stricken Father Hanrahan found this out he rasped to the undertaker, "I hope your buddy is good at his work and that you're only here just in case."

He worked the story into a sermon, as many good pastors will.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

She still has her humor

She hasn't lost her sense of humor.

I was sitting with my Mom in her kitchen, on my way to the Shop to play Saturday catch up. Being still pretty cold here in Michigan, I had on my old, heavy Carhartt coat. "Aren't you hot in that?" she asked as we talked over coffee. It was interesting question considering that she herself always complains about being cold.

"Nah, I'm okay," I responded. I then went on to explain to her, thinking she might be impressed by the thought, "Dad gave this to me years ago, well before he passed in fact. I think I've this coat about 15 years."

Mom nodded her head approvingly. Then she squinched up her face and asked, feigning disgust, "You have washed it since then haven't you?" It was clearly a motherly hint that it was rather dirty and in need of care. I could tell because she burst out with a hearty laugh right after saying so. That's how I'm taking it anyway.

For the record I have washed it since then. And that's all you're going to get out of me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Me Grandpas

Me Grandpa Joe and me Grandpa Hutchins well, I wish I was just xacly between'em.

I loved 'em both and they was both mighty fine gentlemen. The one, he was fairly harsh and the other he was fairly gentle. Unless a bee stung him, and then that bee had to die, he had to. And I get that. That bee had to die. That's a'nother tale.

One took things far too close to home, the other took nothin' personal. That there's both a good trait.

Yet they was both mighty fine men. I'll fight ya if don't agree. They was mighty fine.

They was mighty fine gentlemen, they was. They was me Grandpas.

And say they was not and not and I'll fight you.