Friday, December 21, 2007

Fershtunkena Contractors

What's with building contractors? Of course, there are the outright crooks who take your money and disappear. I don't mind that so much, because that's larceny and is therefore comprehensible. You just go to the cops. It's the honest but nutty contractor who is mind-boggling. What gets me, are the guys who give you an estimate, tell you when they're going to start the job, don't ask for a down payment and then don't show up. There's always an excuse and a rescheduling of the starting date. You haven't paid any money, so what can you do? The rescheduled date slips, because the contractors granny came down with trichinosis. The subcontractor's dog dies and then the materials aren't available from the lumber yard. The color you want and agreed upon suddenly has dropped out of the spectrum. There are no trees being cut down for wood due to an embargo by Green Peace. Some of the other excuses would make Bart Simpson blush. After the contractor has stalled you with six months of broken appointments, you decide yo are really, really going to fire him this time. He politely doesn't care. He's got months of returning telephone calls, at least one visit to the site to give an estimate invested in you, and he just doesn't care. It's as though he's testing your endurance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fershtunkener idea

As you are aware I'm fascinated by the fallibility of the human mind. I noted a new example the other day while struggling with one of the traffic circles in our retirement community. I'm not going to complain about the traffic circle itself. That's been done to death. Let's face it, at least about half of the people entering the circle don't know what they're doing. No, as I was struggling to maintain a view of the many hazards surrounding me, I jogged my head back and forth from one side of the window-roof pillar to the other. I recalled that this didn't used to be the case.

Back in the early '50's, you'll remember that we had "wrap-around" windshields. Here's a quote from a January 23, 1954 Christian Science Monitor news story titled, Cadillac Declares Top Power: "The wrap-around, panoramic windshield follows the trend in most General Motors cars this year, designed to move back the corner post blind spot from the driver's vision. These windshields add 186 square inches to the window area. A total of 55 square inches has been added to the over-all window space compared with 1953."

The problem of obstructed vision was solved by technology developed for WWII bombers. Bravo. Fast forward about twenty years and Lee Iacocca comes along to huckster "cab-forward design." Everyone signs on based upon a massive ad campaign. Besides, it's so stylish to move the windshield away from the driver and over the engine compartment!! It's more aerodynamic they assure us. (Actually the improvement is negligible.) The net result is that we all accept driving around with our view of the road obscured by a big fat post. Someday a class action lawyer is going to get smart and sue Chrysler for perpetrating this road hazard on the American people. With respect -Joel

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verschlugginer Grocery Carts

I wouldn't be the first person to complain about malfunctioning shopping carts. That's old. Every comic in the known universe has a routine based upom wobbly-wheeled grocery transport. No, I'm here to praise these wonders of domestic engineering. Next time you have no choice but to take one of those difficult-to-steer offenders, I suggest you imagine that you're in a French supermarket and thank God that you're not. A French shopping cart is a copy of the American original except that the French thought that they could do better. The American cart has two wheels that are free to steer. The French thought they could gain even more maneuverability with four free wheels.

If you ever try such a cart, you'll find that the stress on your wrists coming out of a turn is enormous. Twenty minutes per week of this kind of shopping is enough to build corded forearms like those of the Governor of California. Even if you manage to handle such a cart, you'd better take cover if you see a little old lady heading down an aisle pushing a metric ton of groceries at full speed. You don't need to have read Newton to know that "A body in motion will remain in motion." Madame will inevitably roll out of the turn sideways, madly trying to outrun the cart and to get to the opposite side. She will generally fail and run into some innocent monsieur with a cart full of bottles of a delicate Mouton Rothschild (Appellation Controllé 1999). Cleanup on aisle numero quatre!!!! Yes, thank your lucky stars that you live in America where the non-lethal grocery carts only chatter, wobble and squeek.

To the Daily Sun, Thanksgiving 2007

To the Editor:

Sandy Mott and I agree on a wide range of issues ranging from educational accountability to the war against Islamo-fascists. However, I was disappointed to see that she chose to kick off the season of love with a Thanksgiving diatribe against secularism and atheists. One vainly hoped that this year we might not hear the annual Christmas rabble rousing about how Christians are a persecuted majority. Instead, we were treated to Sandy Mott's unprovoked Thanksgiving assault on anyone who believes in the Founders' vision that religion and government should be separated. The season of hate seems to have started early this year. I'll resist the temptation to add fuel to the fire by citing the many quotations of Presidents Jefferson and Madison favoring separation of church and state, but I can't resist the fact that Jefferson refused to declare a federal day of prayer and thanksgiving.

Columnist Mott starts her article with a quote from President George Washington declaring a day of thanksgiving to the Creator at the behest of Congress. I would suggest she keep in mind and heart another quote from this visionary man.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. -Washington, letter to Moses Siexas of the Touro Synagogue, Newport Rhode Island

The Father of our Country desired that in all things the government sees each of us as individuals, not members of a class or religion or party or philosophy. People who wish to divide themselves into such groups are completely free to do so. They should not, however, seek government advantage for themselves. Columnists who wish that government would subsidize such divisions among our people should instead count their blessings on Thanksgiving. The very same amendment of the Constitution that keeps government out of religion keeps government out of journalism.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fershtunkena in particular

  • Kids at buffets that are too short for sneeze guards to be effective
  • Commercials that are louder than the tv show itself
  • English actors with incomrehensible accents thicker than 'Liza Doolittle's
  • Background music on tv that's too loud, so I can't understand the actors
  • Poultry and meat with added solution
  • Stupid people on game shows who need a lifeline just to answer "who was buried in Grant's Tomb?"
  • Family members that talk while I'm watching "House, MD"