Thursday, April 14, 2011

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid...

Being fearful seems to be the main message that American Media is spewing forth these days, isn't it? This enlightenment came to me (completely unbidden) when I was channel surfing the other day, just too see what was on. Mind you, I have about half a dozen channels that I routinely check on, and most of the time, our mighty tv just plays whatever music we happen to be in the mood for, at that moment. So, as I was listlessly hopping up and down thru the programs (or the Channel Channel as we call it), I started to notice some rather disturbing trends. I wondered what a foreign tourist traveling across the land would make of all this?

Namely that it would appear to her, or his, uneducated eye that we Americans spend a disproportionate amount of time, and money, on medicine, or medical procedures, and on lawyers to bring forth compensation from those very same medical companies that were formally saving our lives, and now had either killed us outright, or were causing us to suffer a horrible life. It's also highly suspect, to me at least, that the pharmaceutical corporations are the ones that set the "National Standards" by which the entire medical field has sworn allegiance!  And if said corporation isn't pocketing a few trillion in profit, why then they can simply change the National Standards to be a bit more strict, an "update" for the health of our mighty nation. Yeah... right... In a mere stroke of a pen, potentially millions of Americans who otherwise were just fine, thank you for asking, can now be included as having some disease that (oh thank gawd) this particular company just happens to have drugs for?! And have you noticed that nobody seems to be talking about actually *curing* a disease anymore? Oh no, why that will not do, no sir! No, there's no money in curing a disease, instead we need to be able to manage it. Just ask the Insurance Cartel that runs many billions of dollars of profit each and every year, while  giving less and less coverage at the same time.

Well supposing that your health is good, and you're not dead, then you should worry about your home. In fact, you probably should have a little camera in every corner of every room, so that your entire life at home can be monitored by someone. Hmmm... sounds like a professional voyeur to me? And of course, you can get that same type of "secure feeling" when you drop off the kid at Daycare, or the dog at Doggy Daycare! Ummm... ok... didn't we used to call this Big Brotherism? I mean, do I really need to be on camera for all of my waking, and sleeping moments? Maybe they can put a camera in my toilet, and then I won't need to go see a Proctologist?

Well then, if we continue on our magical mystery tour of tv, hopefully we can run across some idiots blathering on about the Economy, Politics, Religion, and/or how all three need to be fixed in some manner. It still amazes me that we supposedly live in The Information Age, and yet every two bit politician, or televangelist believes that the louder they yell, the "righter" they are? Speaking of Politics, which I am dread to do, neither party in this country that I dearly love, are showing any signs of intelligent life! The Republicans seem to have adopted their mascot, the Elephant, as a way of life. They continually blow and snort, and make it a point to trample any idea that is not from their own particular herd. Meanwhile, the Democrats appear to be acting much like their mascot, the Donkey! They dig in their heels at the thought of actually getting anything accomplished. Then they loudly bray and whine about how the elephant isn't being fair?! I can personally assure you that the infantile way that this Congress has been posturing and behaving, is NOT what I voted for! It's as if they all have been watching way too much tv drama, and never realized that there are millions of men, women and children that need for them to do a job! Is Congress afraid of working together and getting it right? Does whatever issues really have to be skewered and pillared and set into Old Testament overtones? How about we move ahead with the issues we all agree upon, and then agree to calmly, rationally, discuss the rest? 

Let's see then, you're not dead, not suffering, and not been home invaded by a squadron of terror mongering thieves, or run over by an enraged elephant nor kicked in the solar plexus by a donkey? What else can we be afraid of? Not sure? Don't worry, they'll tell you....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring... Sprang... Sprung...

I alluded, ever so briefly, in my last blog that Spring has sprung in The Hundred Acre Woods By The Inland Sea. This annual miracle of Nature is always a welcome, and much longed for, event. Up here, we have a (not particularly funny) joke that goes along the lines of having four full seasons. Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Road Deconstruction. (told ya it wasn't that funny) And that pretty much sums up our weather calendar.

But now that March is a memory, and we're past Fool's Day, we can consider the season to no longer be Still Winter, and officially Spring. Spring up here is usually mandated by longer days, and more snow. but now, we know that the cold, white stuff won't be around for ever, and the robins will eventually stop wondering just why they came back? But, as every college basketball fan knows, Spring is when March Madness happens.

I won't delve too deeply into the mechanics of basketball, and this really isn't a sports blog (we have ESPN for that). Suffice it to say that March Madness is the college basketball round robin style tournament that crowns a national champion. But to say that's all there is to March Madness is a walloping under statement! Most everybody gets a copy of the draw for round one, and then makes their own predictions to the winning spot. Often a small entry fee is included so that the winner gets most of the cash. But there's just as much excitement to be had for entering an online pool, with your buddies, for talking trash and bragging rights.

Every year I enter two or three of the "bragging rights" variety, and usually lose handsomely. When my late mom was around, she would beat me regularly by picking teams according to mascot, team colors, and other various and highly suspect reasoning. So she handily beat me year in and year out. Which meant that year in and year out, I would owe her dinner at a restaurant of her choosing, and happily she would choose a nice, medium priced place. I think I still her owe a couple dinners, come to think?

This year, March Madness did not really feature an "Upset Round" (when some underdogs beat what was supposed to be a much better team) as an entire tournament of them! At the end of the first weekend, my boards (also known as brackets) were suitable for use as toilet paper.... barely. But watch the games I did, (and this where the real magic happens) found myself cheering for a team that I had picked to lose, but they sure were playing a great game! Point of fact, just about everybody I know did the same thing. It may seem somewhat self defeating to not cheer on "your" team, but hey, that's why they play the games.

And so it went, this year, round after round of continuing upsets. By the time we got to the Final Four (these teams played against each other to go to the National Championship game), I was so certain of impending doom and disaster, that I just didn't look online to see how badly my brackets were suffering. I usually pick one or two of the Final Four, and on rare occasion even get three of them. This year I had none, nada, zip, nuthin. So I mentally shrugged and decided to just enjoy the sports spectacle for what it should be; a showcase of the best talent in college basketball in America. I was quite surprised to learn that I had actually *won* one of the  betting pools! What?! *utter facepalm* It's true! Even tho my boards were completely shredded, everyone else had even worse boards! Well, we all had a good laugh at that, and then turned our collective attention to the National Championship game.

Which turned out to be possibly the worst example of athleticism ever in a National Championship! At the end of the first half, the commentators wryly noted that both teams were shooting under 20% (a number that should be at least two or three times higher), and so it was "a defensive struggle", meaning that neither team could score a basket. Or that the kids certainly "played their hearts out", meaning that it was a very sloppy game, and that this game was an "intense competition" to see who could make more mistakes. In short it was appalling. Towards the end of the game, the sportscasters were no longer sugar coating the lackluster performance by each team, but still tried to put a positive spin on it. Not easily done, I assure you. And in the end, one of the teams just had to win, so it was University of Connecticut (UCONN Huskies).But as bad as that particular game may have been, they still reached for, and got, the brass ring. They kept all the marbles, and really are our National Champions of Men's College Basketball. And that's just the way all those student athletes should remember it too.

So now our snow is *almost* all the way gone, and the yards are starting to green up. We have a Ruffed Grouse that we named Evin (short for Evinrude, because when he flaps his wings against his chest, it sounds like a small motor boat), that proudly announces to any available female that he's here and ready for action. You can see buds at the ends of tree limbs, and the deer are patiently stalking day lilies and other garden delights. There is no more snow in our beach, and Ace the DufusDog has already been in for a swim. Good thing he takes his fur coat along! Sap buckets are sidled up to maple trees for their sugary sap, and the buzzards have returned to Hinckley Ohio.

And I have *finally* shed my articles of Winter Clothing. Namely I am sans my long johns which so ably kept me nice and cozy during those long, bleak, dismal, dark days. And, perhaps even more importantly, I am now sporting just one pair of socks. When I would venture out of doors, I would wear two pairs of socks, and a pair of toe warmers under Antarctic Survival Boots.  To say that my feet get cold would be an understatement comparable to the Titanic nudging a chip of ice. So, you see, it must be Spring, and now that I've shed those wintry woolies, I feel like a UCONN Husky!   

Once again I took the pictures, with the exception of the shot of me watching a game, which was snapped by the lovely Barb...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sure It's Spring... Just Look At All The Snow!

Aye yup, it's Spring in the Hundred Acre Woods By The Inland Sea. This can only mean one thing... more snow?! No really, we can have snow on the ground for anywhere from four to six months here. This year, March actually came in like a Lamb, and left like Hyena, laughing all the way out!

I realize, after looking at the calendar, that it's been just about a month and a half since I've blogged last, so please forgive me. It's not that I haven't thought of you, and even missed you, but I somehow lost my Muse! No, really! It was late in February, and I had the germinations of two or three blogs that were percolating in my insides. Whatever inner region it is that such things ruminate and propagate in, was quite contentedly ruminating and propagating along very handsomely, thank you very much. I knew I was experiencing the rather typical middle of the Winter blahs, but still enjoying the season, and the beauty of Nature, and generally making the best of it. Until a certain afternoon. (cue dark music here) I still remember it very clearly. It was sunny (for a change) and the temperature was about 20F (or -7C if you are of that particular bent), and I was middling between sitting down and writing one of the aforementioned  blogs, or running to the store. Since food, and in particular this evening's dinner (or tea if you are of that bent as well) was my responsibility, I decided to make the supreme sacrifice, and go into town. (again, not easy being me)

So I was driving along merrily, listening to the classical music station, composing a blog in my mind, and generally enjoying the day. I make the six mile drive in the usual ten minutes, and proceed to the nearest, and only,  grocer. After rummaging around for what I wanted, I then proceeded to make stops thru town for various, mundane errands like the drugstore, and then finish by emptying my wallet by filling the gas tank. So it was, that on the way home that afternoon, I suddenly realized that I had nothing?! What?! It was gone. She was gone. My Muse had deserted me as if the Moon no longer followed the Sun! I felt an empty place inside, as if someone, or some thing, has taken away a dear friend, and with no notice. Confusion was left in it's wake, and then sadness.

It really took me some time to come to grips with this loss. I mean, I could still string words together and frame a good idea when I was talking. I could still Comment and Reply online, in emails and in social media. So why the frack couldn't I blog?! I would (literally) sit in front of the screen, hands on the keyboards, and nothing would come. I couldn't even get to the blogs I was in the middle of writing earlier? It just wasn't gonna happen. Period.

So... I finally had to admit to myself that I simply didn't have it, and so would "Stay Calm and Carry On". I never gave up on blogging, I just needed to wait till my Muse returned... and guess what kidz? She came back to me! I have absolutely no idea why she left (oh crapolla, did I piss her off?) nor why she returned (did she miss me?), but she is back... and so am I! Taaaa Daaaa!! Gawd I feel better now!

So now where were we? Oh yeah... Spring. We have a joke here in The Hundred Acre Woods By The Inland Sea. We enjoy four full seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Road Deconstruction. Last Sunday morning we saw diffuse lightening flashes, heard thunder grumbling, and had a squall of fat snow flakes pelting us! Oh sure it's Spring, I've even quit wearing my long johns, but the snow ain't gone yet kidz.

Oh, by the way, once again, the pics are all mine, and they were taken at the end of March, of this year.