The Daily Nap

27 September 2012

You might think my daily after-lunch nap is a new thing engendered by my age and diminishing capacities.  Well, you’d be wrong.  It all started one hot June day in 1964.  It was the era in which I flogged pay telephones.  Yes!  Pay telephones!  In 1964, cell phones were just the wet dreams of the geek-a-zoids and high school snots.

In 1964, if you were away from home or office and needed to make a call, you located one of the black monstrosities, dropped the dime (this is from whence came the expression) and dialed up.

Anyway, on the day in question, I’d stopped for lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant near Como Park.  Twenty minutes later and full to the gunwales with pork fried rice, I staggered to the car.  To do my job, the Company (notice the uppercase “C”?) furnished a car and on opening its door, I was overtaken by a tremendous and overwhelming fatigue (perhaps there was something in the rice?).  If I couldn’t find a place to nap, and find it right then, I’d fall to the ground in the next thing to a coma.

So I climbed in.  The car was not a good place to nap.  It was an ugly 1964 Chevie 4-door stripper with a 6-banger and 2-speed automatic.  A true piece of shit.  It was a ghastly green and had no:

  • air conditioning
  • power brakes
  • power steering
  • power windows
  • inside light
  • and not even an AM radio.
  • At least it had a heater; the ones in Old Dixie didn’t.

The Company felt the ratepayers and investors would become irate at the Company for squandering their money on such frivolous creature comforts.

It also had a vinyl bench seat that left your backside sweaty and itchy and polished the seat of your pants to such a degree that they reflected light.  Well I needed a place to sleep and the seat was a more dignified place than the grass.

Tossing my suit coat in ahead of me, I slid behind the wheel.  A quick look around to make sure Harold, the boss, wasn’t lurking close by and my head fell back on the top of the seat.  A few quick thoughts and I was out.

Twenty minutes later, on the dot, I came-to.  I opened my watering eyes and tried to remember where I was; oh yes, under an oak tree by Como Park.  To fully wake up, I got out of the car and walked about for a minute or two.  I was  surprised at how refreshed I felt.  A couple of deep breaths and I was ready for another four hours of calling on bar-keeps and service station owners, trying to convince them a payphone was the answer to all their problems.

Ever since that day by Como Park, and whenever possible, I’ve crawled in a convenient hole at the noon hour and caught my forty winks.  If I hadn’t been able to take my Daily Nap, I’d be dead from a coronary, or having gone postal, wrung Harold’s neck.  Thanks to the Daily Nap, I have thriven such that now, in partial retirement, I am full of piss and vinegar.  As I still take the Daily Nap, I should mush-on until ninety.

Harold, though, is no doubt dead.

-Merlin-

PS: Yes, he’s dead.  Harold died in 2004 at the ripe old age of eighty-four


The Cat

20 September 2012

Early this morning, Sheila, our friend and neighbor, came to the door.  On answering, Sheila handed Jo a cat.  Yes, a cat.  A kitten, actually.  The little thing didn’t even fill the palm of my hand.

“What the hell is that,” I exclaimed, pointing to the little animated ball of fuzz.  We have two cats now.  A third we didn’t need.  Before my displeasure registered (or even if it did), Jo gleefully accepted responsibility for the cat.  Since moving to Clearview, Jo and I have had a number of cats.  Kitty, Moe, Zeke, Peeper, Sweety, Blackie, Toots, Gertie and Bert and now, Sweetpea and Buddy.  Eleven in all.

The last to die was Bert, who shuffled off his mortal coil two years ago.  Bert was Jo’s favorite.  And, conversely,  Jo was Bert’s favorite.  For the first time since 1977, we were without a cat.  But it was short-lived: Within three months, Jo was militating for a new cat.  Actually, she was militating for a kitten.  Two, in fact.  “If we get two littermates,” she gushed, “they’ll never want for company”.

That’s true, but kittens? “They’ll rip the place to shreds,” I whined.  And besides, at my age, they’ll probably outlive me.  A cat can easily go seventeen years.  After all, Moe was seventeen when I shot him.  And actually, he was still in pretty good shape, but we were going on the road in a semi and couldn’t take him along.  Couldn’t give him away either; he had some odd habits that would make him unsuitable for adoption.

Poor old Moe had to die.  But he so hated rides in the car and trips to the doctor that I couldn’t bring myself to make his last minutes ones filled with anxiety and dread.  So I unlimbered the .357, carried him out back (where he liked to be), gave him some last pets and then gave him two to the head.  Absolutely, positively the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.

Long story short, we got the two kittens, Sweatpea and Buddy.  Sure enough, they made a mess of the place, but they are better now.  Well, if these two kittens last as long as Moe, I’ll be eighty-five when they go.  I didn’t want Sheila’s foundling because if it lasts seventeen years, I’ll be eighty-seven — that is if I live that long.

By the time I got dressed and went downstairs, Jo had the kitten locked in a carrying case, out in the garage.  Naturally, I had to go out and see.  The poor thing was starved almost to death and was so weak it had trouble standing up.  I immediately got some of Buddy’s canned food and put a good dollop in a dish and stuck it in the carrier.  It ate like a Hoover eating dust.

While Jo busied herself finding a no-kill shelter, I played around with it.  The food must have been fast acting because the kitten certainly came back to life.

In any case, Jo found such a shelter, grabbed the cat cage and away she went.  Well, you ‘d think that would be the end of things but no.  Before Jo left I told her to give no details and volunteer nothing.  “Just tell her the neighbor handed you the cat and you know nothing more.  Then get the hell out of there.”

Of course Jo didn’t do that, did she.  Within half an hour of returning, Jo was on the phone with the lady from the shelter.  The two are now conspiring to scour the neighborhood, looking for others.  In fact, Jo has already taken a cruise down the cul-de-sac looking for more.  Praise be, she found none but the day is young.

This isn’t the end of it.  Jo will go kitten hunting until she finds one, no matter if she has to go to downtown Seattle.  Within the next day or two, I’ll find a little flea-bag scooting around the floor, shitting and pissing where it will and ripping up the drapes — at least the parts Buddy and Sweetpea haven’t already ruined.

Jo, my wife, the Cat Lady.

AAAARRRRG!

-Merlin-


Some Solutions

5 September 2012

NOTE: I haven’t given this a close read so be prepared for typos.  Listening to all the sturm und drang during this election season, one gets the idea nothing can be done about anything.  Or if it can, the process will be excruciating and no one will be able to stand it.  Well, maybe, and maybe not.  Personally, I believe much can be done with nothing more than the swipe of a pen — or some minor changes in policy.  Some examples:

Education.  It’s true, fail to educate the kids and the country goes down the toilet.  But high school isn’t enough and college is ruinously expensive.  So try this on for size.  High school shouldn’t end at the 12th grade, it should go on through 14th.  Not K-12 but K-14.  Kids who want to stop at 12 can still do so but for those who go on, 13th and 14th grade will be at the AA or Community College level; i.e., the Freshman and Sophomore years.   However, the 13th and 14th grades will be taught in the high school campuses, so no additional capital investment (buildings) need be built, just hire teachers.  With this in place, what today are Community Colleges will provide the Junior and Senior years of a 4-year degree.  The traditional university will be available for Masters Degrees and the PhD.

Social Security.  Simply lift the earnings cap and apply FICA to all income, no matter how derived.  Of course there will be some sort of means test, but it can be designed on a scale of diminishing returns, i.e., the lower your income was during your earning years, the larger your SS check will be as a percent of those earnings.  Conversely, the higher you income, the smaller the check.  At about $1,000,000 a year, the sliding scale becomes asymptotic and that senior citizen gets about two cents every other year.

Oh, and no more congressional borrowing from the fund.

Health Care.  Medicare for all!  Cradle to grave!  Here’s how it will work.  In the human life span of 82 years, most medical care comes in several lumps.  The first is at birth.  Second is middle childhood.  Next comes the late teens then dropping off  to the mid-20s.  After that, there’s hardly any medical care needed until the mid-60s — that’s over thirty years when people are in their most robust, high earning years and seldom get sick.  Later, in the mid-60s, the amount of care goes up on a logarithmic curve, finally taking a plunge straight to zero at 90.  Those middle years will pay for the spikes at either end.  And don’t forget attrition: people will die, and more will die each year as the cohort ages.   All those paid-in premiums can now be used to lower costs.

Like FICA, your Medicare “contribution” during your years of high earnings will work like SS.

Insurance companies will be the agencies handling the Medicare program.  The gods of free enterprise and market forces will keep those companies in business, preventing wholesale layoffs.  However, Uncle Sam will bury proctoscopes deep in the insurance companies’ behinds so he can look in on them from time-to-time — make sure there’s no jiggery-pokery going on.

Huge punishments for fraud.

Taxes.  Get rid of tax shelters; on-shore or off-shore, it make no difference.  Eliminate tax cuts for off-shoring.  Add a tax for importing H-1B visa workers — if hiring someone from overseas cost just as much (thanks to this tax) as hiring an American, fewer foreigners would be imported.  Get rid of all depletion allowances.  Hike income taxes for the rich.

To accommodate us poor chumps down below who might get a big payout on, say, selling a little business, we need to reintroduce income averaging.  As it is proposed now, a one-time jackpot of $250,001 will clobber you far worse than an income of $250,000.  If people are to get behind this, they have to know that a one-time event will not be confiscated.  Let people average that big hit out over a period of three or four years.  This was the way it used to be up until the mid-80s when The Gipper decided the little guys (that’s us) were getting away with murder, and he killed it.

Some whine that if we go after the rich, they’ll simply take their money elsewhere.  OK, but they’ll have to pay a wealth export tax in the amount the export will shaft Uncle Sam.  If a country (read: Cayman Islands, et al, decides to host wealth exported from the USofA, they’ll be told to send it back, or suffer the consequences.

China.  By some accounts, China has stolen almost a $1,000,000,000,000 worth of American intellectual property.  Well, we can’t get it back, so let’s hand China a bill and a perpetual use license.  We’ll balance the amount their theft has cost us against the amount we owe them from our borrowing.

-Merlin-