Monthly Archives: September 2016

banks

I was in Prescott, Arizona , watching on a hotel TV the Wells-Fargo chairman -of-the-board , or whomever he is , sitting before Congress . Wells-Fargo Bank has been defrauding their customers , evidently , for several years by opening accounts never requested and charging fees for services never requested . Bank policy was to pressure low level employees in bank branches to bring their new account numbers , etc. , up . Corporate quotas pushed some employees to break the law , and about 5000 of those people were fired over a period of years.

One point brought up in the Congressional hearings was that this illegal activity had gone on year after year after year . Employees were fired each year for this illegal activity but the quotas and  “culture” that had pressured them to do that was never changed , year by year by year .

Then it all was exposed by the L.A Times and hit the national airwaves .

The chairman then , evidently , apologized for ripping off customers year after year after year after year and promised to make things right .

A Congressman from New England held up a picture of a man who had robbed a bank , got caught , whose bail was set  , I think ,at  $ 170,000  , and who stood a good chance of being sentenced to prison for a long long time . The money had been returned , and this robber had apologized , too .   ” What makes you different from this man ? ” the Congressman asked the bank executive . I thought that it was a  good question .marcus hanna

Anyway , I was watching some of this on a TV in a hotel room  . It got me thinking , later , of my bank experiences . They’re not up on the realm of the Wells -Fargo stuff . I have never had an account with Wells-Fargo . If I had I might be one of those victims , ripped off , because I’m not good at checking details in bank statements . I might have even seen an odd 25 dollar charge on my statement , wondered what it was all about , and then just forgotten about it . I’ll write about my bank traumas in a future post .

This bank chairman was required by the Wells -Fargo Bank board , after all of this made such bad publicity nationally for the bank , to “return”  forty-one million dollars of his pay this year . That , I must say , has never happened to me . I’d be in a bit of a financial bind if it did . The  $41,000,000 makes up about one forth of this guy’s yearly pay . I don’t know how he’ll get by this year on only , maybe , $ 120 million in his pay package . Life is tough all around and prices are going up at the supermarket .

I wish that the reporters would re-investigate this a few months from now . I suspect they’d find that this  $41,000,000 amount would have been somehow reimbursed , quietly , and hidden in this guy’s mattress or under the floorboards of his outhouse .

Will he do jail time ? I’ll make a bet with you  right now . Let’s say we bet $100,000,000 . ( That way you’ll still be able to have $20 million or so to live on . I have a heart , after all ! )  I say he does no jail time . None .

Oh , there will be investigations , of course . All the cogs will be cogging , as now all of the Senate and House of Representative members are sputtering for the cameras , and in the end this guy will , at most , get a hefty fine and maybe even some kind of probation . Hopefully some of the Wells Fargo Board of Directors will get the same awful treatment . Maybe some of them , as a result , will have to sell one of their houses or cut next year’s vacation short . Who knows . They should certainly check with their accountant firms and their tax lawyers .  (I see big write-offs in their futures .)free lunch drawing

Ah  , but I am just  whining . Sour grapes ? No . Negative . Just a bubbling up of my inner cynicism .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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another cat conversation

Dan : What’ve you been up to , Cosmo ?

Cosmo : Oh , it’s you . I’m just relaxing .

Dan : So , what else is new ?

Cosmo : It’s been a tough few days . Too hot !

Dan : Have you even been outside ?

Cosmo : Plenty .

Dan : I haven’t seen you outside .

Cosmo : Cats are stealthy , and you’re not overly observant .  Just saying !

Dan: You  know , they eat cats in China .

Cosmo : Dogs . They eat dogs some places in China . I’m not a dog .DANCER

Dan: But you play one on TV .

Cosmo : What ?

Dan : I’m thinking of the old commercial : ” I’m not a doctor , but I play one on TV .”

Cosmo : I don’t watch TV . I’d read if I knew how , though . I’m curious about computers , too , but , you know , there aren’t any cat classes for computer .

Dan : It’s a dog’s life !

Cosmo : I could teach stretching , though . Maybe a cat yoga course . What do you think ?

Dan : For other cats ?

Cosmo : Why do I waste my energy talking to you !  Cats ? Like anyone would  have to teach a cat to stretch !   If you’re not ready to feed me , then please go away .

Dan : The class  would be for dogs ?

Cosmo : I was just yanking your chain . I’m not going to teach a yoga class anytime soon . I need to take a nap right now , perchance to dream , so  please , if you don’t mind , beat it .

Dan : Let me ask you something . Do you dream of chasing mice ? You make all kinds of movements when you sleep . I think you dream of chasing mice  or maybe of catching birds .2 mice cartoon

Cosmo :    No . I’m dreaming of flying through the air on magic carpets , singing in a choir , playing the fiddle with the philharmonic , and stuff like that . Mice ? Mice and birds ? Gross ! How long have you known me ? You really haven’t been paying attention , have you !

Dan : It’s a dog’s life .

Cosmo : Again , I’m not a dog . But , whatever !  Bye .  Don’t let the door hit you on your way out .

Dan : Maybe I should get a dog . They’re man’s best friend . Not like cats .

Cosmo :  Bon Appetit !

 

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debate

I was sitting in the sauna at the YMCA a few days ago . There was another guy there and we began to talk politics . Only we talked around issues and candidates , beat around the political bush , because neither of us wanted to get into a useless fiery conversation about this or about that , or about her vs. him . We discussed people we each knew who held fanatical positions in the current campaign for President . That held the arguments at arms length .civil war reenactment Moorpark 004

” Are you going to watch the debate ? ”

” Oh , yeah . ”

All of my local friends , however , begged off when I asked about the debate . Hey , are you going to watch the debate ?  Not one of them said they planned to do that . They twisted up their noses and said no .

I was looking for a TV so I could watch the thing . I was curious to see , mostly , if the moderator , Lester Holt , could get them to discuss policies instead of just continuing the purely entertainment approach that seems to have dominated the race so far .

I remember those Republican debates . I saw only a few bits of them .  Moderator : “ He called you a filthy  pig on national television . What do you have to say about that ? ”  Who cares ? Really .

I got one of my friends to agree to let me sit in front of  his TV tonight to watch the debate . He said he’d be in another room , couldn’t bring himself to watch the thing , but I was welcome to come over and watch . He didn’t want to see Trump bully Hillary Clinton , he explained .  Maybe he expected her to crumble , and he didn’t want to see it . He’s had enough of the campaign crap , I guess .

Oh , I have a couple of friends who say they’ll vote for Trump . I know another guy who supports Jill Stein and hates Hillary . He really hates her with a passion . Warmonger . Same old same old political hack . He was a burner for Bernie until Bernie dropped out and told people , I guess, to support Hillary . Now my buddy  hates Bernie , too . Well , could be , more correctly stated , my ex-buddy , because his Facebook posts label me as various things :  an idiot , a coward , etc. , and ,lately , as a “sycophant”.  Not that I take it personally , but I’ll be sure to get that checked sometime soon .

Reminds me of the guy who I met once for a couple of drinks and a few jokes at a wedding several  years ago , who I followed religiously on Facebook for years  until one day , and against my better judgement , I offered a small courteous-as-I-could comment that disagreed with his opinion , and I was forcefully reprimanded and subsequently quickly  blocked from his site. He said that he ” didn’t have to listen to someone like you ” about me , which took me aback a bit . I was wondering how he knew me enough to be so offended by someone like me , given that we’d only met that once for a few minutes . Maybe he didn’t like my jokes . I could understand that , and I might even agree with him on that point ; but I don’t really think that was what was sticking in his craw with the FB problem.   Oh , well .

Trump ?  are you kidding me ?  Every statement out of his mouth is either a lie or nonsense . He’ll make the country great , fantastic !  How ?  He’ll make great deals . We don’t want to reveal the details to the enemy , though . No , he wasn’t involved in the birther controversy . Hillary Clinton started it ; but Trump ended it . Didn’t he offer the President  a million bucks for the birth certificate , or something like that ? Isn’t there videotape to document most of his lies ? Sure . And , what about releasing his tax returns ? She’s right to say it’s his own reality .

Hillary lies , too , but do we all have to consider her lies equivalent to Trump’s , when his are so immediately provable ? And when the news media , or whomever, point out the lies , then they’re ” so mean , so horrible ” to poor meek and humble  Donald . FAIR Szczecin 2014 158

Vote for Jill Stein ! Bernie let us all down !   We live in a police state and the country is a violent war-mongering entity bound to deny human rights and to  cause trouble in the world !   .  And all the time I thought we were pure as the driven snow and perfect and saintly .  My bad !

Up on the mountain where Ada and I have our little A-frame cabin , I see plenty of Trump signs , and a few ” Hillary For Prison ” signs . Apparently lots of these folks are anti-government types who think  Trump will be  their savior .  One guy lines his driveway with orange highway cones  as if hoards of people  are dying to park in front of his garage . I don’t really get it , but it makes sense to him .

So , I went over to my friend’s place to watch the debate . His wife made chili . She gave me some and then went to another room to watch some English sitcom . They have two TVs , or more , and Ada and I gave up our TV reception a year or so ago . It’s a mess , folks. This country has become a third world country  because of these political hacks who have messed everthing up .

I’m moving to China . Trump says their political leaders are so much better than ours . Or to Mexico. Same reason .

I continued  talking to the guy in the sauna at the Y . He said he’s thrown his TV out three years ago . He said , because of that action , he isn’t bothered by the presidential campaign , of who said what about whom and all of that noise .  He wakes up these days , he said , and looks out at his flower garden , then walks his dog , then has a good breakfast before he goes to work , and he feels good about the world .

Might  be a secret Libertarian Gary Johnson supporter , I think , this guy . You never know . Trust no one .

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aplomb

I have great confidence in fools ; self-confidence my friends call it . —Edgar Allen Poepoor man

 

I was considering walking on over to the Ralph’s supermarket yesterday to look for some aplomb . Maybe they’d have some over there .

A year or so ago Ralph’s put up new signs over the isles . It used to be easy to look up to the signs and see what that isle had . Now the signs are triangular . All three sides tell different stories . The apex of the sign points straight along the aisle so that shoppers are forced to shift to the right or to the left to even see what the sign says . Shift to the other side and there is different information . It makes no sense to me . Some corporate genius must have thought   up those signs  . Probably got a million dollar bonus for the idea .

I decided to look up and down the aisles for some aplomb . Why I thought Ralph’s might have some , I don’t know , except that Ralph’s has all kinds of stuff . Where does aplomb come from ?

I didn’t find any at Ralph’s . I considered asking a Ralph’s employee if they had any aplomb. Lately , though , even they don’t know off- the- cuff  because of the recent Ralph’s habit of changing the location of items to adjacent isles or to  other isles altogether every few days . Again , some corporate genius must have thought up that novel idea . Probably got a million dollar bonus for his/her brilliance .  Nowadays the Ralph’s employees pull out little cheat-sheet charts to find out on  which isle the item is now hiding  . KutaisiTblisi 2016 687

As I was wandering around Ralph’s the idea suddenly came to me that there is a Dollar Store on the next block . They have all sorts of odd stuff . Maybe Dollar Store has aplomb . So , I left Ralph’s without making a purchase and wandered over to Dollar Store .

I know the Dollar Store .They keep the cookies in the cookie section , the facial tissue on the facial tissue shelf  , the paper goods in the paper goods section. You get the idea . Apparently they don’t have the corporate geniuses  that Ralph’s does . Metro April 2014 034

But , alas , Dollar Store in my neighborhood has no aplomb , either . I looked around for a long time and then asked a clerk . No , none of that , but they had little plastic mice that squeak when a little motion detector is triggered , so I bought one . I’ll probably hide it in the canned food cabinet to scare Ada when she reaches for a can of tuna or tomato paste .

No , on second thought , I’d better find me some aplomb first , maybe in bulk , before I do something  as dumb as that . That way I’ll  have a chance of surviving the chewing-out I’ll get from Ada .

Maybe Home Depot has aplomb . Or Bed Bath And Beyond .

 

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lingo limbo

I’m sitting here this morning listening to Ada talk to her computer laptop . There is a picture of one of her good friends over in Poland  on the screen . Actually , Ada is using Skype to talk to her , which usually works pretty well , and doesn’t cost anything when both parties are on computers . The woman’s face is pictured in a round frame . She’s not moving . Maybe the camera on her computer isn’t working , or else she didn’t push the right button to show herself in real time . Her voice comes to us over those thousands of miles loud and clear . In Polish . cropped-chess-police-2015-016.jpg

I don’t speak Polish . My excuse is that , until recent years , I’ve never been over there long enough to pick up the language . In  Arcadia I seldom hear Polish spoken .

Ada chastises me from time to time for my lingo-ignorance :    ” After all these years together……………….”  I should know Polish . She’s right , in a certain way of thinking , of course .

I’m lazy , you should know  . That plays a roll . If I had any lingo -ambition I’d speak fluent Spanish by now , for example , having lived most of my life in southern California . I speak some Spanish . Only some . I should learn Spanish and then try to learn Polish .

Poles , generally , speak Russian and or English as well as their own language , and possibly some German or French and/or other languages . My niece speaks Polish , Danish , French , English , and probably Spanish and German too , and maybe Russian .  She looked at me in astonishment once , asking  ” You speak only English ? ”  Yeah.

Well , a little Spanish , too  , and  I can order a beer in German and Swedish . Does that count ? I know how to say ‘hello’  and  ‘thank you’  in Korean and Georgian and Chinese , and I can say ‘ Hello , how are you ?’ in Armenian . That must count for something . dancer-anna-pavlova

I bought a book in Poland last year called ” Learn Polish in Four Weeks “. I told the clerk at the bookstore in Szczecin that I’d be back in four weeks and have a conversation with him . He didn’t seem to understand enough English to realize that I was trying to make a joke . I think  he thought I was a bit crazy , but he sold me the book anyway .

That was last year .  I’ve been working my way through those four weeks . I think I’m about two and a half weeks into it . Weeks turn into months . They should have entitled the book , perhaps , ” Learn a Little Bit of Polish in Four Years “.

I’m searching the internet , now , for a good Polish course . I’ll give the whole thing  another try . Meanwhile , I should study my Spanish texts a little , too ,  I suppose .

I’ll head for the refrigerator , meanwhile , grab a cerveza , and think about it . What was the Polish word for ‘refrigerator’ ? It’s on the tip of my tongue .

 

 

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glasses

Girls don’t make passes at guys  who use the wrong glasses —- anonymous

 

I don’t want to talk about eye glasses . That’s another animal entirely . I want to discuss drinking glasses . There are exactly 23,879 different shapes of glasses in the Free World . Remember the Free World ?

Of course , I might be slightly wrong on the count . It changes all the time . Some styles are discontinued and some new ones are introduced . Let’s just say that , to be more accurate , there is a margin of error of  , say , 60 %  . Give or take . But I’m always willing to be corrected , if you’d like to do a recount or can cite some trustworthy person or agency who has done a more accurate count in recent months .

I ran in to a couple of nice beer glass designs [ note: I didn’t run into  the beer glasses . Maybe Alice in Wonderland does that sort of thing , but  I don’t  ]  in Poland this year . One glass had a slight curve . It was a half-liter glass and curved like a rams horn ; but the curve was so gradual that I  didn’t notice it at first , probably because I was looking at the copper beer-making equipment a few feet away in the little brewery where I was having the beer . After a couple of sips of beer I did notice something odd about the glass and wondered if it was a hallucination , and wondered could  I really be so drunk on two or three sips of this micro-brew stuff as to think the usual straight-tapered glass suddenly seemed like it wasn’t . Well , stranger things have happened .

I’ll try not to bore you with my little Polish beer traumas , though . On to my story about glasses !

I was thinking , recently , about a wedding party that Ada and I were invited to several years ago at The Top of the Mark , the 19th floor lounge at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco . Very fancy . Very . There were several round tables crammed with wedding guests . I was sitting next to an assistant principal at the school where at I teached in those days . Well , to be more accurate , for the record , I was  a dean then , handling discipline ,  and I wasn’t teaching  nothing . Let’s just call this AP sitting next to me at The Top of the Mark  Bobby . Bobby and I worked closely together at the school .

Bobby was a Latino , a Hollenbeck boy , an East L.A. homeboy , and proud of it . He had taught in the Hollenbeck area just east of downtown , from what he referred to as ” Hell and Back ” . He was ambitious , too , as it turned out , and he was appointed  a high-and-mighty mini-superintendent in the L.A. school system a few years later . Be that as it may .

Anyway . Waiters were coming around with bottles of wine , circling the tables like mother birds while  we frilly-feathered , dressed-up wedding guest fledglings held out our wine glasses like open baby birdie beaks and the oh -so proper waiters and waitresses filled up the glasses  . They filled everyone’s glass but my friend Bobby’s . Passed him right by .

Then another pass of the waiters and waitresses with the wine  , and they again passed Bobby by . I could see his blood  immediately rise after the second shun .  If he’d been Irish , then his Irish was up . He wasn’t going to stand for this shabby treatment !   No way , man !  So he confronted the waiter who began making another round  .

” Why won’t you pour me  wine ? ”

The waiter said calmly and oh-so matter-of-factly : ” Yours is a white wine glass , sir , and this is red wine . ”

Bobby , the future school superintendent , sat back down in his chair , corrected and defeated .

” I can’t take you anywhere ,” I said .

Ada and I have wine glasses at home , the red wine and the white wine variety . I’m still not sure which are for white wine , the fatter ones or the thinner ones ? And some , to add to the confusion , are in between . Ada knows the difference , however . I know that she knows , because when friends come over , I inadvertently pour red wine into a white wine glass , or vice versa . Evidently , that’s a huge fow- paw !

It seems to me that a red wine glass works just about as well for white wine as for red . Maybe a little too small for beer , except in an emergency , but either one , red or white ,  could also be used , if necessary , for whiskey , water , vodka , or shnapps , etc. [ Don’t mention this last comment to Ada . She’ll chastise me for the household protocol heresy and no doubt watch me more closely when we have guests over for dinner ].

We were in Poland and friends were over at our apartment for drinks . The gals wanted wine [ white wine ; but we , mercifully , have only one type of wine glass on hand , so no traumatic decisions had to be made ] , and the guys were drinking beer and/or Irish Whiskey . We ran out of taller glasses for the beer , having no beer mugs , so I reached for a shorter water glass .

But , I got caught . ” What are you doing ? ” Ada asked in her Master and Commander voice . I explained the problem . ” Polish people don’t like to drink beer from that type of glass ,” she said . The law had been laid down .  In order to avoid an international incident , I found a taller glass . Maybe Ada found the glass for me  .

We were over at Willie’s for dinner a few nights ago . I reached for a large brandy glass , seeing no better ones at that  moment , for my beer . Willie , being English , was non-confrontational and polite . He offered me a beer mug , urged me to take one , but I pointed out that the beer had already been poured . I suppose that , underneath my elegant and sophisticated facade , I’m just an etiquette reprobate , not following the commonly agreed-upon  rules . I could see that Willie was slightly bent out of shape about the glass that  I was using , somewhat flummoxed ,  but he didn’t press the point or throw me out .

Wrong glass  !  Wrong one .KutaisiTblisi 2016 1172

My mother used to say , ” It all goes the same place “, and I guess I adhere to that general dictum.  So , sue me .

Another friend of mine gave me a set of specially-shaped beer glasses for Christmas a few years ago . They look a little like wine glasses . He explained how the shape channels the whatever and creates a great whatever and so makes the beer taste much better . All I know is that the glasses he gave me work just about as well as a Mason jar  does , or a beer mug , or a water glass , or a coffee mug  for that matter ,  or a pewter beaker,  or a highball glass ,or even a brandy snifter . So , sue me .darse

Finally , the one glass I might object to for beer drinking is a long tall champagne -type glass that restaurants about twenty-five years ago used to serve beer in . I , inevitably , would knock the things over and the beer would spill over the table . They were just too tall and unstable .  Thank heaven someone came to his/her senses about that little harebrained, daft , asinine  idea . Sure , it  looked urbane and sophisticated……………………… We have a slew of them , for some reason , hiding out in our garage . If you want them you can have them , but I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The first fuckwit

Sometimes I like to do a little change of pace and include an off-beat post ( I know , I know . Some of you think all of my posts are off-beat ; so , be that as it may , bear with me .) This may be a good one for those of you tourists dreaming of going to Australia .

Strong Language

The recent launch of the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary (AND) gave me a chance to indulge in my long-time hobby of looking up the swear words. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favourite home-grown colourful language in a future post, but I want to start with an entry that gives me the kind of pride that others expended on the Olympic Games last month.

The entry for fuckwit (p. 647) includes the note:

Used elsewhere but recorded earliest in Australia

That’s right. Australia is the home of the fuckwit. The earliest citation in the AND and the Oxford English Dictionary is from Alex Buzo’s 1970 play The Front Room Boys. The earliest non-Australian citation in the OED is from a 1992 article in Making Music magazine from America.

The second edition of the AND expands the citations for fuckwit, makes a clearer distinction between…

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