Category Archives: grumpiness

Debt and Doubt

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I sincerely tried to get out of debt when I had to retire as a teacher.  I managed to shed $23,000 worth of my $35,000 of debt before being sued by Bank of America.  The lawsuit forced me into bankruptcy.  Five years of debt-reduction belt tightening and poverty has not turned into a new $35,000 worth of debt including lawyer fees.  And on top of that I have to add about $6,000 of hospital debt and $1300 worth of IRS tax payments.   Instead of solving my debt problem, I have only added to it.  Dying in a manner that will leave my family debt free is now out of reach.  And yesterday I got a notice from the IRS suggesting I may still owe them more.

I am led to these conclusions;

  1. Bankers are pirates and villains.  Especially Bank of America bankers.
  2. Lawyers are too expensive, especially when they are the only ones on your side.
  3. I am no different than a farmer’s cow.  Cows get milked for actual milk.  I get milked every single day for multiple dollars, most of it in the form of debt.
  4. The game is rigged against creative and intelligent people.  You cannot make money as a novelist.
  5. To get ahead you have to be stupid and have no morals.  That is why Trump always succeeds.
  6. But if you can ignore poverty and the disadvantages it brings, life is still wonderful and is worth living.  I don’t need an angel named Clarence to help me see that.

If this essay seems like it has not fully addressed this theme, that’s because it hasn’t.  Many more essays on this topic are coming… God willing.

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Today’s Tabula Rasa

Make no mistake about it.  I am quite capable of waking up in the morning with nothing at all in my head, no ideas, no words, no plans, no dreams…  I can be the most idiotically stupid witless twit when my brain is thoroughly drained.  But that is not the natural state of any man, and certainly not of someone like me who has lived for more than sixty years with a totally fermented head.

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So suppose I woke up this morning without remembering anything at all that I have learned about the world.  What would I do?  What would I write?  What would I think?

I think the first thing I might do if I didn’t remember anything at all about the world I find myself in, I might turn on the TV to find out what is happening, or watch cartoons, I can’t be sure I would know which should come first, if I even remember how to turn a TV on, or what a TV is…

But when I turn on the TV and look at what is really happening, and assuming I can tell the difference between Donald Trump and Donald Duck… Oh! Gonga!  My gawd!  How could it be this bad?

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Donald Duck is president.  And he gets totally angry and quacks on Twitter with that infamously hard-to-understand word-mangle of his, delivered while jumping in place and swinging his fists at the air around him.

A basset hound with a nose for clues has been tracking his every movement.  And that basset hound is a former FBI chief.  He’s very good at accurately sniffing out duck trails.

And then there is a lying and evil Keebler elf at the head of the justice department who is pursuing marijuana crimes relentlessly because he hates black people and wants to put them into the for-profit prisons he owns even though the rest of the country is deciding to legalize marijuana.

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This totally evil elf, it turns out, has been talking to Porky Kislyack, Russian spymaster pig about campaign collusion even though he swore to Senator Frankenberry in his confirmation hearing that he was guilty of nothing… that he could recall.  Hopefully the basset hound has his evil elf scent too.

And the racism and evil doesn’t end there.  Gasper the Unfriendly Ghost is still hanging out with the president, feeding him just the right duck food to create dyspeptic outrage in his duck belly.  Gasper will then spur Donald Duck on to quack more about border walls and guarding our southern border because too many Speedy Gonzaleses is a brown mouse problem in the closets of our country.  We can’t have too many queso-eaters here.

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Gasper the Unfriendly Ghost

And so, if I were to wake up with a Tabula Rasa, a truly empty head, and watched morning cartoons… or news… or whatever the heck that stuff on morning TV is…  I would be left wondering what I was going to do about it.  The options?  Certainly I probably need to vote this year.  Or I could bang myself on the side of the head with a brick and possibly knock all this stuff out of my head again, re-establishing the emptiness in my stupid head.

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The Doofus Divide

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I am trying to cut down on political notions and noodling in this blog.  It is like sugar to a humor writer.  The easy laughs are sweet, but if you are diabetic, they will eventually build up and kill you.

But between Twitter-tweeting twit-wits and Facebook false-fact fools, I keep getting drawn back in.  The gang of kids I grew up with in Iowa are seriously infected with Tea Party propaganda now that they are old coots like me, and continue to vote for Teabagger trolls (And I mean literal trolls.  Steve King, Congressman from Iowa, has green skin and lives under a bridge… and maybe eats foolish children when they try to cross) for public office.  And of course, I live now in Texas where gun-toting cowboys look at you intently to find any possible reason to shoot you and then thank Jesus if you are fool enough to give them one (like admitting to be mostly a Democrat in your political persuasion).  They want to argue anything and everything I post on Facebook.  Apparently even my bird pictures and cat videos politically offend them.

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Oooh!  This one really offends Teabaggers… especially the ones who make $25/hr or less.

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Can you pick out the Trump voters in this line?  All of them maybe?

And I am not suggesting that people who voted Republican in the last election aren’t as smart as my side.  I waited until now in this essay to say that, because the childhood friends and family members in that group who read my blog will have all stopped reading by this point.  I really don’t need to give them any more ammunition for Facebook and dinner table arguments.

But my side of the table are not wholly guilt free.

 

I regularly tweet or post things like these, innocently believing these heroes of the heart and mind have universal appeal because they champion truth and science and facts.  But I become alarmed when I learn how much Bill Nye offends them.  They tell me, “That guy is not a scientist!  He has no right to argue for climate change issues or the non-existence of God.  He’s just a TV guy.”  And, I suppose they have a point.  I mean, his extensive education and background in engineering, or his years in television promoting science to kids in research-based creative ways, doesn’t necessarily make him an expert on all science.  And Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist.  He doesn’t have a degree in EVERYTHING.  And when I point out that their so-called experts on climate-change denial from Fox News cannot even claim to be TV weathermen, they are further put out by my brain-bashing bullying way of using my superior knowledge of science to put them down.  Okay, I get it.  I am not being careful enough of your feelings.  (Oh, I forgot, you stopped reading this a while back.)

But the point of this is, we have to stop listening to and electing stupid people, while at the same time being a bit nicer to each other.  We have to approach the discussion with the notion that you yourself may not be totally right about everything, and you may actually learn something by talking about it.  (Which is, of course, no problem for me since I really don’t know anything for certain and need to learn practically everything as if I were still four years old.)

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Okay, Bill, I get it.  I am probably wrong about that too.

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Rain Is Supposed To Make Flowers Grow…

I am a pessimist by choice.  I always expect and prepare for the worst.  It is possible that this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as I seem to be the butt of a series of never-ending cosmic jokes and misfortunes.    Last night the rain came down hard in Texas.  We got over 4 inches of rain in a little over two hours.  It came in the house as the river of runoff found enough cracks and crevices in the south wall of the house to soak the carpets in the family room and the Princess’s bedroom.

We had to get electronics off the floor.  My son had to rescue computer equipment and game machines.  The wooden feet of furniture got soaked, and the carpet became spotted and squishy.  I was feeling ill already, and a wet carpet will swiftly become a mold farm… mold I am highly allergic to.  I have some carpet cleaning to do today.  In fact, the carpet will have to be removed before too long.

But even though we got way too much rain in too short a time, and it did damage, rain does make the flowers grow.  I will end up doing the carpet removal myself, as I have done twice before.  The exercise will be good for my heart, my diabetes, and my arthritis.  Exercise, though hard and painful, is a flower of goodness.  I will also be able to control how we reshape and restore the floors.  Tile is better for allergies than carpet anyway.

I have no money and I’m in poor health.  Misfortune continues to rain down upon me relentlessly like raindrops in a thunderstorm.  But I am prepared.  I have know-how and a will to respond to misfortune.  I needed another challenge about now.  Eleventy-eleven bad things happening yearly is more or less the way it goes now.  And rain does eventually result in flowers.

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Cranky Old Coots Complain and Don’t Care

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Yes, I am a coot.  I became a coot in 2014 when I retired. I have the hair in the ears to prove it.  I sometimes forget to wear pants.  The dog is learning to hide from me on days when my arthritis makes me cranky.

So I am a practicer of the ancient art of being a cranky old coot.  I have opinions.  I share them with others foolishly. And I am summarily told to, “Shut up, you danged old coot!”  And, of course, I don’t shut up because that would be a violation of number five in the by-laws of cootism.  Obnoxiousness is our only reason for still being alive.

Lately, my group of coots on Facebook (who call themselves a “pack” like wolves, but, in truth, a group of coots is called an “idiocy”) are talking about politics… very loudly salted with firmly held opinions, beliefs, and bad words in several languages.  I mean, it’s texting each other on memes we disagree about, but we do it LOUDLY, like that, in all caps.  We also do it in such an infuriating manner because, if no one ever bothers to tell us to “Shut the hell up!”  we will begin to suspect we have actually died and gone to purgatory where we are still being obnoxious, but nobody knows we are doing it.  That is rubbing coot fur in the wrong direction.

The radical right (otherwise known as coot paradise) have been cooting up a storm about school shootings and gun control of late.  They have more or less turned their ire on me because, knowing I was a school teacher, they have seized on the Coot in Chief’s notion of arming teachers to protect schools.  Obviously a majority of old coots agree that requiring a few “volunteer” teachers to conceal carry and learn how to handle a school shooter crisis situation with a gun instead of the way teachers are actually trained and practiced on handling such a situation, is the only economical way to defend schools from crazed lunatics with assault weapons.  Of course, it is definitely more economical than hiring full time police officers to handle security because “volunteer” teachers does not mean that they are necessarily willing to do it, but rather that they are doing it without pay.  And of course they shout at me things like, “Why don’t you just admit that you are too scared and unpatriotic to carry a gun as a teacher, and cowardly allow some female teacher with a big pistol to step in and do the job for you?”  That is a very coot thing to say, and is hard to adequately counter, because if you try to argue using logic other than coot-logic, like the notion that since a majority of teachers in this country are female, you are asking women who are fierce enough to do the job (and I have known more than a few who would take it on no matter how hopeless their prospects) to take a handgun that the principal bought at Walmart with money from the Coke machine in the hall and face down a suicidal maniac with an assault rifle, you will not even be heard over the cacophony of coot braying and chest-thumping, let alone be understood.

And, for some reason, coots love Trump.  Maybe because they feel he is truly one of them.  He is older than dirt.  He has an epicly bad comb-over to hide his bald spot.  He says bad words very loudly in front of women, children, and everybody.  He says, “Believe me,” a lot, especially when telling lies.  And he’s not afraid to fart in public and blame it on the dog.  I admit to insulting Trump in front of them only because I like to see coot faces fold up in extra wrinkles, and coot heads turn various shades of angry red and apoplectic purple.

So, yes.  I am a coot.  Not proud to be one… that I can remember, but a coot never-the-less.

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Fools and Their Money

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I spent yesterday with the court appointed trustee, under oath, successfully declaring bankruptcy without losing the house or any other protected assets. I have sworn to pay off the amount owed to banks without further interest.  I will be aided by the court, protected from predators so that they don’t eat the corpse of my economic life.

Fools like me are soon parted from their money.  After all, this country’s government and this country’s economy are run by con men.  Cheats, criminals, grifters, thieves… they control the entire government now, and make the rules serve them and punish us.

And I suppose that’s the way it should be.  If money is your only source of happiness, you are going to become one of them.  A credit-manipulating predator and carrion-eater.  I had to go through this bankruptcy proceeding because I lost Bank of America’s lawsuit against me.  And if it weren’t for my bankruptcy case protecting me, they could come into my house and take whatever they wanted, including everything they wanted.  They could garnish my wages up to 100% for however many months it took for my pension check to pay off my debt.  Meanwhile my children would starve.  I would have nothing to live on.  It is within their rights to do it because they own the government and make the rules.  Charles Dickens didn’t even have it so bad.  At least in the debtor’s prison in Victorian London they fed you and kept you alive… mostly.

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But I did learn some important lessons for the future.  Let me share that hard-won wisdom with you now.

  1. Never buy anything on credit.  Save the money first, and then buy what you need once you have the total price.  Only fools agree to never-ending cycles of interest upon interest, compounding and confounding your pocketbook for perpetuity.  (Say that one three times fast!)
  2. Only buy what you need.  If you really need that shiny blue doohickimus to keep from going insane, then buy it… but save up the cash to pay for it in full.  And if owning that doodadimus preposterosous isn’t going to provide you with the key to real happiness, then forget about it, and glory in your new-found self-control.
  3. Banks are run by pirates.  They are in the business of stealing your money.  They charge fees for holding on to your money, while at the same time spending your money, and fees for counting your money, even when it’s not really there, and fees for looking at your money, though your money is only blips on a computer screen, and even fees for eventually… very gradually so you will not notice… stealing your money.  You have to give them your money at some point, because you will die or be killed if you don’t.  But taking your money by force, leaving you with no other choice but death, makes them pirates.
  4. Save money wherever you can.  Bury some in the back yard (but only metal money… gold bars being the least likely to turn into worthless soil filler).  You are probably going to need it in the future.  So don’t forget where you buried it.  And making maps only helps groups of nerdy kids find it in the future after an unlikely series of fantastic adventures that all occur after you have become a one-eyed skeleton.
  5. And don’t get sick, whatever you do.  It costs too much to get health care.  After you’ve paid an arm and a leg for health care services more than once, you are not going to be dancing any jigs.  Maybe rolling around like a watermelon with a head, but that’s about it.

So, that’s the wisdom I gained from going bankrupt, for what it’s worth (and it isn’t worth much, or they would’ve confiscated it at the creditor’s meeting yesterday).

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Internal Evil, External Policy

CjUSsQkVAAE2A9TThe Republicans have found another scandal to pursue.  Two FBI personnel were texting each other messages about how stupid and incompetent Donald Trump is.  (As well as why one of them may have voted for him since they hated Hillary too.)  The one agent who was involved in the Mueller investigation of Trump was immediately removed from the investigation when evidence of the possibility of lack of impartiality surfaced.  This happened long before the Republican Conspiracy Elephants sniffed out the detail to make a big stinky in the media about it.  Now, apparently the FBI has become a secret society wrongfully plotting against Trump.

One wonders how a Republican government can investigate a Republican scandal and do it in a way that at least looks like justice in action instead of howling at the wind in order to make it blow in the other direction.

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The basic problem is what the Republican mind has on the inside.  Basically they all have the same thought embedded in the peanut they think with.  “If it doesn’t benefit me and what I want from government, then it isn’t true no matter what facts you show me.”  And of course, that thought has a corollary (even though they don’t know what corollary means), “I’m good with any lie told as long it supports hatred of those people I want to hate.”  Republicans who think with larger pieces of produce, and so don’t have those thoughts engraved in their brains, have either left the Republican Party, like George Will did, or separated themselves from the Trump faction and started a campaign to take their party back, like Bill Crystal did.

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Anybody who thinks about the evidence honestly, without partisan bias, has to admit that there is obviously guilt involved in all of this.  And Trump himself blowing back against the prevailing winds is only making it more and more obvious that he is at the top of the pile of evil actors.  They cannot keep going down this path of shouting down the truth without turning Trump into Hitler, and 2018 into 1939.  Muslims will take the role of Jews.

So, what can we do about it?  We make our votes count.  And when the Mueller investigation reaches its conclusions, we believe them.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

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