Going Shopping for my Pumpkins Tomorrow

September is almost over and the grocery stores have got their first deliveries of pumpkins for Halloween. The ones at Kroger are $10 for medium sized pumkins. That is not a bad price, but I am going to check WalMart’s prices before I buy anything. Most of the time I don’t shop at WalMart, but I want to buy three pumpkins this year. If the pumpkins at Kroger are $10 each, that’s $30. But if they are only $5 at WalMart, then I will be saving $15 so that might be worth it.

I’m going shopping for my Halloween pumpkins tomorrow. I’ll check the WalMart price, then I’ll drive by the church pumpkin patch and see how much money they are are charging. The last time I went to the church lot, the pumpkins were huge but very expensive. The cheapest one they had was $20, and I did buy one from them last year because I was trying to support the church youth group. But this year my budget is tighter and I want to buy as many pumpkins as I can get for $20 – not just one big one.

Mandatory Reading for Farmville Players

bookcover of farmville for dummies

Why do so many people spend hours and hours on Facebook every day playing this Farmville stupid game? Its not like you are getting paid for farming their stuff. What do you get out of it? Nothing! Its just a huge time suck. Get over it!

No Late Night for the Post Office

So many people are filling their tax returns over the internet now that I guess the post office has taken a big hit from not as much mail on the yearly tax deadline day. I remember years ago that all the post offices would stay open until midnight so the last minute tax filing people could still buy their stamps and mail their returns to get the post marked date of April 15 on their envelope.

But this year I read in the newspaper that no post offices around here are staying open late. In fact the biggest, main post office out by the airport is only staying open until 10:00 pm. Wow – things have sure changed because of the internet!

Litter Collection

Ever since I moved into this neighborhood, there has been a lovely, older man and his dog taking care of litter along my street. He has come out for a long walk with his dog every day, rain or shine. But I have not seen him since New Year’s Day.

Here it is, 20 days into the New Year, and he has not been walking our street. I have a very bad feeling that he is sick or hurt. But I do not know which house is his. I know it is not one of the houses actually on my street, because I do know every one of my neighbors, all the way down to the stop sign. So he must either live on the street that runs parallel to mine, or on the street that T-bones mine at the stop sign.

I hope he is OK and that his absence is just temporary. I looked forward to his friendly waves and once in a while petting his dog if I happened to be outside when he came along.

No Tolerance for Slurs

Last night I watched a public service announcement on TV that was very timely and informative. It addresses the use of slurs words in our conversations, which are just not acceptable. The organization is targeting people who use the word “retard” as an insult, but it also raises awareness of the other slur words that we hear and might use. I think there is a link to the video that shows that commercial if you go to the r-word.org web site. I’d appreciate it if you would take a moment to read their message and watch the short video. I would like to be part of spreading the word.

Litter Patrol

Lately a nice looking older gentleman has been walking the neighborhood streets every afternoon with his dog. They are both pretty old and walk very slow. But I suspect they both enjoy the exercise and the time together.

Today I noticed that he has started carrying a canvas bag over his shoulder and he stops to pick up trash on the side of the street. What a nice things to do! I will stop and tell him that I appreciate his efforts next time I see him.

Street Concerts

I miss the days when people would just block off a city street and have a party. We used to blockade the street by the community center and have a street dance on Friday nights. A local band would play for free or sometimes we had a DJ. It as a family event – all ages would show up and dance in the street. It was a great way to spend time with our neighbors and the parents did not have to worry about getting a babysitter to have fun.

No Shadow – Yay!

The groundhog did not see his shadow this morning. That is great news!

According to the Groundhog Day legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow when he first comes out of his hole this morning, the shadow scares him so badly that he runs right back into his hole and stays there for 6 weeks.

But if he does not see his shadow, he stays outside and we all get to enjoy an early Spring.

So, we are hoping for an early Spring and the groundhog is saying that we will have one!

Ben Stein’s Final Column

Worth repeating:    How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today’s World?

As I begin to write this, I ‘slug’ it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is ‘FINAL’, and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world’s change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton’s, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to.
It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars.

I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton’s is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.Beyond that, a bigger change has happened? I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated.

But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today’s world, if by a ‘star’ we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsche’s or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails.

They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.

A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton’s is a big subject.

There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament. The policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin or Martin Mull or Fred Willard–or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

But, I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister’s help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

By Ben Stein

Don’t ever forget to “Seize the Moment”!

How to save some American jobs and we can help!

I got this in an email and thought it needed to be shared by any means possible. Here’s what the email read:

I want to share with you some great information that I found out purely by accident. I believe it can also save and create jobs in America while giving people better customer service.

So how many times have you called a company’s service phone line and found that the rep. can barely speak English? Once with a major mortgage company it was so bad I demanded to speak with someone who spoke English. Right at that moment I broke the code, the secret password for customer service.

Come to find out that every American company using overseas operators must transfer you to an American rep. by saying…….” I want to speak to a representative in America “. (Don’t take no for an answer on this)

This was confirmed by the American rep. that they must transfer you after that request. I’ve tried it on a half a dozen major companies including cable, bank, phone and mortgage companies. It works every time and I actually get my issues taken care of.

Last thing to help save even more jobs…. don’t use the automated check out lanes they are pushing at the big box stores. Once again I found out that if we use those check outs rather than cashiers people loose their jobs too. I’ve refused to use the automated check outs and have had two cashiers already thank me for help saving their job.