A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Change? You mean spare change, right?

I know less then nothing about high finance. A good day is when I find change on the street. A great day is when it’s silver and not copper. I can watch the carnage that is our nation’s economy from the safe and secure vantage point of not having two nickels to rub together. I don’t play the stock market. Hell in this day and age I don’t think anyone plays the stock market-it’s hardly a game anymore. Images of men throwing themselves from New York City skyscrapers appear before me when I think about how bad things are on Wall Street. How bad is it? The company I used to work for, which is now laying off people faster than political candidates make campaign promises, issued me a bunch of stock options when they liked me. They were worthless then. Stock options seem to me like having sex with a full body condom on. Really what’s the point? I think the option price on the lowest of them was in the 60 dollar range. The stock is trading now at $1.40. The usual jokes about using the stock options as toilet paper come to mind but actually the paper is too rough for that and leaves ink on your behind. Not much good for blowing your nose on either. Not real absorbent. Is there any thing worth less than worthless? I said I don’t play the stock market. But I do have a 401k. The same company that gave me the stock options used to make a contribution to that. I missed out on that when I left their employ but now they have stopped that little gift so I didn’t miss much. My 401k lost so much money so fast even before the stock market began acting like a Hershey park roller coaster that I put it in deep freeze mode. I am sure this is against all the advice any economist would give but not only did it stop the hemorrhaging of dough but I actually, according to my last statement, made a little money. How the hell did that happen, don’t ask me. Ask the economist next to you at the soup kitchen. Another thing I don’t understand is how all the gas stations know it’s almost election time. The closer we get to November 4th the lower the price at the pump goes. I saw a “2” on the front of a gas price the other day. At least I think it was a two. It was very dusty. Of course all the “2’s” will be long gone after we make our choice on that Tuesday in November. Look for bright and shiny “5’s” then. Or then again I could be wrong.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

See I told you so

In 17 days I will do something I have never done before. I wish I could say I will do it with a joyful heart. I wish I could I could say I will do it with the spirit of adventure and excitement that often accompanies first time experience. But sadly I am approaching this milestone in my life as more like a millstone around my neck. For the sad truth is I will exercise my franchise for the first time on November 4th and I wish it was under different circumstances. To be sure I am not proud of this particular track record. But to understand why I have never set foot in a voting booth we must go back to a day 33 years ago. I realize that for some of you, maybe even most of you, that is a long time. But in my mind it seems like yesterday. I became completely disillusioned with politics that day and I have never ever really recovered. From 1968 when he was first elected as president my generation screamed as loud as we could that Richard Nixon was a crook. It seemed that no one believed us, a bunch of overfed, long-haired leaping young people. No one, that is until Tricky Dick hung himself and succumbed to the charges of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th president of the United States became the first president to resign in August of 1974. “See we told you so!” seemed weak at the time. It still does. It turned me off politics so strongly that I vowed never to participate in a system that could elect a person so crooked that he had to be installed into his grave with a power auger. But that was then, this is now. Maybe if I had been more political in the intervening years, maybe if I had found the intestinal fortitude to hold my nose and to vote for some of the lesser scumbags that have run for office maybe just maybe this country wouldn’t be in the awful fix it’s in now. Yeah and maybe pigs can fertilize fields by doing crop-dusting flights. I have no real hope that my lonely little vote will make a difference in this year’s outcome. I watched in smug self satisfaction seven years ago as the election was stolen. But this year I have to vote. If I don’t vote and the wrong person gets the brass ring I will not be able to say “See I told you so.” I just wish that my first time behind the curtain I could vote for someone, not against someone. Or then again, God help us please, I could be wrong.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Butt out!

“Smoking or non-smoking?” A phrase that will soon be heard as often as “I need a new buggy whip.” Or “Honey the dinosaurs are tearing up the garden again.” I for one am glad to see smoking butted out of most places. It’s true I was a smoker. A pretty good smoker at that. A pack a day on good days (or bad days depending on your point of view) and sometimes quite a bit more than that. So, like most ex-smokers I now hate the smell of tobacco being burned worse than I hate death. Now, if I understand it correctly, the law prohibits smoking at restaurants that serve alcohol if a percentage of their total sales are derived from selling food. So if you don’t sell many eats, patrons can puff away. I have heard some refer to this as the “Dive bar” exemption.
Quite a few questions have been raised as to how this is being regulated. Who checks the receipts to make sure the law is being complied with? In the “dive bars” I have been in (and I have been in a few) there are typically quite a few salty snacks available presumably to increase beverage consumption.
Not to mention pickled pigs feet. I was once at such a bar where a wager was made between a local and an out of towner about the consumption of one of those pink fetus like objects in the big glass jar. If I remember correctly (there were mature beverages being consumed) the figure was $50. Of course the local got the money and the pigs’ foot. (feet?) But my point is would the $50 clams count towards the smoking restriction now a days? Just a thought.

There are still two problems with smoking that need to be cleared up. Smokers are now prohibited in a lot of places from smoking right outside the door. But they have just moved a few feet further. There still is a steel grey cloud to wade through and piles of stinky butts. It’s just in a different place.

And the biggest problem? People still throw burning cigarette butts out of car windows. It’s obnoxious and dangerous. I read a book once where the hero was a guy who was Mr. Environment to the point that he developed this device to punish smokers who discharged from the car. He would pick up the butts, load it in this thing and catch up with the person. He would get them to roll down the window and fire the butt back into the car. Extreme? Yeah, I guess. But many times I wish I had the sack to do just that. But then again I could be wrong.