The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Another Week Rolls By

Time passes more quickly when you get old. I am reminded of a joke by Richard Pryor that goes:

I don't understand why old people move and drive so slow. I would be in a hurry to get someplace... since you don't know how much time you've got left.

I'm pretty sure he didn't say that last phrase, though, I just tossed it in for effect. I'm also reminded of a bumper sticker I saw when I was in my teens in south Florida:

When I retire, I'm going to move up north and drive real slow.

I am already driving slower than I used to, I used to zip around now I am more careful and deliberate. I have had a few accidents and Faye would never forgive me if I banged up the Lincoln. I can't blame her, she's only had one accident and that one was not her fault. She got hit from behind on I-5 in California going to Disneyland.

I would definitely be in the doghouse if I put a dent in the car so I am real careful. We have a lot of older drivers here in Paradise. It's to be expected since the average age of a full-time resident is around 55.

And then we get the snowbirds in the winter who seem to have forgotten where everything is and slow the effective speed on US 27 from 55MPH to 35MPH. That wouldn't be so bad except they also drive side by side and play "blockade."

The younger drivers zip around them when they can and scare me.

Friday, February 26, 2016

I'm In Pain!

No, I may be a pain but that's not what is happening. It might be a case of bursitis... which I had before and it feels like that this time. Before you recommend a cortisone shot, the last time I had bursitis the shot had no effect at all.

The last time I had bursitis, I was having to run down to my folks' place a few days each week in Hallandale from my house in Palm Beach County and the most efficient way to get there was on the Florida Turnpike. Unfortunately, it was before they had the Sunpass system and they still had tollbooths several miles apart where you tossed a quarter into a basket and the gate flipped up. Equally unfortunate, the bursitis was in my left shoulder so I spent the ride in agony. After it finally left my left shoulder, it attacked my right one. I didn't bother with a cortisone shot and that went away after a month, or thereabouts. Now I have it again... many years later.

Since the cortisone shot didn't help the last time, I have been applying ointments to my right shoulder after this pain developed. These ointments smell terrible so I looked at Blue Emu but the pain of paying so much for something that might not ease the pain anyway disabused me of that. I did learn something... do not put the ointments on after a shower... way too much pain comes from that.

I still can play golf (badly, as usual) so I am not completely impaired but I hope it does not move into my left shoulder this time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Have Gas

I don't own a gas guzzler now. Seriously, who does? But I still pay attention to gas prices. Our current car gets lousy mileage in town but that's okay because it's only driven short distances. One of the places I visit, about every 5 or 6 weeks, is a gas station. Remember when they were called service station and they checked your oil and filled up low tires for free? Now they sell food and items you could get cheaper just about anywhere else.

It happened over a long period of time. But a lot of the changes came about with the 1973 oil embargo. Service stations gave way to mini-marts/gas stations and some added fast food providers... especially near interstates. All while the price of gas went up and up.

Now it's going down ($1.71 locally) but there are plans by OPEC to reduce supply so it should go back up. Meanwhile, people are happy and they will remain so until it climbs past $3.00 a gallon again.

The stock market is not happy with the low price of gas. The Market is down... I suspect they aren't happy because the low price of gas isn't making people buy stock.

The economy is truly weird, isn't it?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nonconformists, Get In Step

I used to be as noncomformist as one could be... but that was long ago. Now, I am just another old white guy; amost indistinguishable from all the other old white guys in this city.

There's a standing joke at the golf course when someone asks, "Hmmm, don't know him, what's he look like?"

"Old guy, gray hair, wears glasses... you can't miss him."

I don't have all gray hair (but it's "salt and pepper") and I do have a gray, almost white, goatee. And, like most of the gentlemen around here, I have to at least wear reading glasses. And I dread the day I will need glasses to drive.

But, when I was in my teens, I followed my crowd and wore white dress shirts, black slacks, and black shoes ("Italian loafers" we called them). Now the "soshes" (short for socializers) wore pegged pants of various hues and tennies without socks and pastel shirts. We weren't much liked by them; they were the kids of professionals mostly or ones who were destined for college and a professional life. And we were mostly street thugs, at least by reputation.

I bring this up because of a cartoon strip I read on Sunday or Saturday:

Which, of course, got me to musing about conformity and how we look at it.

When I was in the Navy, conformity was mandatory... there's a reason they chop off all your hair, put you in ill-fitting uniforms, and demand you get into formations. They don't want you to be an individual.

There's a good reason for that, you need to identify as part of a team, loyal only to your outfit and your branch of the service. After a couple of years, you find you like it that way... call it "institutionalization." Like what happens to criminals in prisons after awhile.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Apparently Old Age Sucks

I'm old so I can say that with authority. It's a time in one's life filled with pills, medical procedures, and aches and pains. I can attest to the aches and pains. I don't take a lot of pills, just a generic, over-the counter, acid reducer which I take every night so I don't wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn. By the way, this acid reflux problem began for me in my early forties, not exactly "old age."

I took a friend to the hospital this morning so he could have a stent put in (they ended up giving him two so now he has10 all told). He'll be fine and he'll be back playing golf by Monday.

I have another friend who is 87 and has been suffering with Leukemia for the last 30 years, he's also doing fine and still plays golf occasionally. Leukemia used to be a death sentence but now it can be treated and cured or treated and maintained at a tolerable level.

When old guys get together, that's pretty much what we talk about: medical procedure and conditions, the pills we take, and the aches and pains we deal with. Many of us are on blood thinners or low dose aspirin which makes us bleed more than younger guys and clot less.

Another thing we do is talk about how much better we were at golf and other sports when we were younger. I was never very good at golf but I have gotten much worse the past three years... I like to blame that on an inner ear problem which is affecting my balance but that is assumption on my part, not confirmed by any doctors.

I hate doctors, by the way, and (like my father) avoid them as much as possible.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I Lost My Train Of Thought

I had an idea of what to blog about a little while ago but now I don't know what it was. I am sure it was something that would have been entertaining, interesting, or fascinating (pick one) to you readers but we'll never know now.

I was watching some shows that we recorded last evening and one of them gave me an idea but now I've lost the apperently tenuous hold I had on it and it is just gone. That's been happening to me a lot lately. I could chalk it up to old age... which reminds me of an old joke:

If you forget where you left your keys, that's normal.

But if you forget you own a car, that's the time to worry.

Of course, you'd have to have the presence of mind to worry, wouldn't you? And it isn't likely you'd have that at that point.

Oddly enough, I have not forgotten where I've parked my car in large parking lots but I know what to do if I ever do... press the "panic" button on the key fob, that sets off the horn and flashes the car's lights so you can find it. I suspect that is the primary purpose of that button and not to draw other's attention to you because you're being mugged or something.

My key fob has a lot of functions:
  • Start the car (lock it first, even if it is locked already) then press the remote start button twice (only had to press it once for my Lucerne).
  • Lock and unlock the doors.
  • Unlock the trunk. Also has to be pressed twice.
Don't know why Lincoln decided we needed to press twice for a couple of things but it is not a great inconvenience.

I need to test the GPS function but I don't have a need for it now. And it is hard to get lost trying to find how to get to a city, just hop on a freeway which will take you to it. A little too easy, if you ask me. I need to head north to I-10 to go west and that means I must find a route to I-75. But we haven't taken a long trip anywhere in a few years so it will likely never get used.

So, this is my post for today. Hope you enjoyed it. I would suggest you never get old but that sounds more like a curse.

Monday, February 15, 2016

This is Not Political

... though it might read that way. I want to talk about how we view the role of government in the US. It's important to me. Personally, I want government to leave us alone. Not completely, that would be more libertarian than I am willing to accept. I think the private sector does many things well and capitalism, while imperfect, demands more efficiency from private industry than government ever would. But there are some things best left to government... like the military, infrastructure (water, sewage, and zoning).

As you know, I spent some time in the US Navy and witnessed huge amounts of waste; from "float tests" (where we would toss a piece of broken equipment overboard) to stupid decisions about food by our disbursing officer (like serving liver and onions once every two weeks). Before the liver and onions lovers blast me over that, let me relate the story of it:

When liver and onions were on the menu, the cooks would also cook hot dogs. If you lollygagged a bit, or were on watch, and were not in the first group in the chow line, you got no hot dogs. They went fast because only a small number of the crew wanted liver and onions.

I asked the disbursing officer why he wanted to serve liver and onions.

He replied, "They're good for you."

"Not if you don't eat them," I retorted, "and I am not the only one who won't eat it. Most of the crew grabs the hot dogs."

"But they're good for you," he insisted. And I gave up.

We also stole food (mostly things like pepperoni and cans of peanut butter) when taking on provisions... which went to waste because we'd end up tossing it over the side after we got tired of it. The milk would go sour after 5 days at sea and end up being dumped. After that, we'd get "bug juice" (Kool-Aid) and powdered milk for our coffee (the Navy got me in the habit of drinking black coffee, no sugar once I got aboard a ship). Some of the crew persisted, though. I had had enough of powdered milk when I was a child (milk was expensive and Mom tried to be thrifty).

So I have seen waste in government and you have also... like when you see government work crews where only one is actually doing some work and 3-4 others are just there...

But even when work is contracted out, it seems like the contractors don't worry about the work as they would when hired by the public. I know that I insist a job be done right when I pay someone to do it and I am reasonably sure you do too.

And then there's waiting in line at the post office or DMV only to have a clerk go on break or to lunch when it is your turn next.

So I don't trust government to do most things efficiently. Unless we are talking about the IRS... they are relentless.

Friday, February 12, 2016


They are the future, are they not? Many of the politcians talk about them in terms of their future. When I was in my twenties (back in the late 60's), they were even held up as examples of tolerance and fairness.

Bunk! Or maybe the ones holding them up as shining examples had faulty memories. I recall my own youth and small children were mean, close-minded, and cruel.

It's true they were/are innocents in a lot of ways. But they are born selfish and demanding. We parents spend 4 years civilizing them so they can go out in public and not embarrass us. We send them to school by age 5 so they can learn how to communicate enough to carry on conversations with us.

Hopefully, they learn learn enough about how to get along with others to refrain from being menaces.

There is a popular saying that goes, "it takes a village to raise a child." It certainly used to. School, neighbors, the friendly cop on the corner were all part of the mix... helping to socialize children so they can become productive adults. But no more. Today the schools are failing to even educate them, the neighbors are afraid of them, and the cops are not respected by them or the parents.

Think about that baby you brought home from the hospital. He/she turned your world upside down, making you a slave to their demands. Your schedule became tied to their needs and desires. Feed me! Change me!Keep me amused... or I will cry and turn red in the face and cause you worry and frustration. And you did those things, probably happily because you thought it was a requirement of being a parent. That was what you learned as you grew up: it was expected. And, so, you tried to fill that role as best you could.

Kids were often afraid of you and you tried to ease those fears but you were also afraid of them. Especially as they grew older and started to gather in groups. They could be quite dangerous in groups. Mischievous and cruel in groups. They made fun of other kids (which you tried to curtail) and teased and ridiculed any kid that seemed different; smarter, uglier, messier.. whatever.

When they were little (pre-school), you felt only a little fear of them. And it was mostly fear of what others might think of your parenting skills or accidently hurting them. Your job, as I see it, was to civilize them enough to be tolerated in school. If you did your job well, they would not act out in class or bully other children. Children are, as I said, mean by nature and are natural bullies.

Some said (back in the 60's) that children had to be taught bigotry and prejudice. That's not so, not exactly. Other children would teach them those things but parents also would do it by example. In reality, we parents just reinforced those things and we used other children as examples of how to behave. We really wanted peace in our own houses so we did those things we thought we had to. We gave them adages to live by: dress nicely ("clothes make the man") and reinforced that by criticizing their choices in clothing and their friends' clothing styles. We judged them by their friends because we knew that others would.

But all we really wanted was for them not to embarrass us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Most Of What I've Learned...

...Comes from crossword puzzles. It's a strange place to learn, I admit, but that has been the primary source of my vocabulary for some years now. I have learned new words, new definitions, and a bit of other things. How? Nice of you to ask... One of the first things I learned was that "Nice" usually refers to a city in France and that means the word is probably French. I did not know the French word for "head" until I started doing crosswords, though I did know adieu and a few others from osmosis, I guess, when I was younger. It's weird that I know how to say "thank you" and "good-bye" in several languages, I think but we pick these up easily enough. I have picked up a few Latin words (mostly pertaining to footnotes, it seems), some Greek alphabet, and the word for "tent" in Mongolia.

Crossword clues can be vague and misleading, though, one must be very careful when doing them in apps or online where you are penalized when entering the wrong letter (A good tactic is to check the clues for other words that will make up the word you want). That can still mess you up, though, but I don't have to tell you that.

I learned that crossword puzzles-makers seem to use similar clues and words on the same day. This helps in solving them. Especially when you attempt to do several puzzles each day, as I do.

I have told you previously about the app I use on my tablet, "Shortyz", which collects and provides several crossword puzzles each day. Prior to finding that app, I started doing some online crossword puzzles when I started into dealing with the internet back in 1994 or 5. I have used the internet's research functions (mostly Google) to find answers. I have learned that there are those who make money of of crossword puzzlers by being the sources of words that stump some.

I have this notion that I can help keep my brain healthy by doing crossword and jigsaw puzzles and that both are as highly addictive as cigarettes. I am probably foolish to think that.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Apocalypse Is Coming!

...Soon... I'm sure...well, fairly certain anyway... maybe... I dunno... could be. To watch the news, you'd think it's very soon. Especially since it is a presidential election year. Doom and gloom is the message everywhere, it seems. Global climate change, giant meteors maybe hitting the planet and triggering a mass extinction event (these have allegedly happened in the past); this time wiping all life from the planet. Not just humans but all life.
Think about it: the final retribution, not just paving the way for far in the distant future fuel sources being set up but total and complete annihilation. And, of course, the entertainment industry is taking advantage of the possibility (as they always have). I am talking about "You, Me, and the Apocalypse", of course. Sorta...

As a child, I fantasized about such an event. As I reached my teens, the fantasy grew larger but, somehow, I would survive it. In my daydreams, I would roam the country looking for clusters of survivors and living on my wits (and canned food from supermarkets), somehow I would not contract some disease from the multitude of corpses that would surely be scattered throughout the land. I didn't think about the horrible stench that would fall over the land. But I would contemplate how to get gasoline from pumps that had no electricity (all that stored energy pretty much unusable without energy to deliver it). I would have little competition from other humans, of course, but there would be dangers galore that I would have to avoid or overcome. In my fantasies, I would always (especially once I reached puberty) find a girl (or several) around my age that had, like me, somehow survived.

But the TV show is more about the events leading up to the mass extinction than the aftermath.

We humans are both fragile and resilient, some of us will survive the event... possibly only to die in the coming years of starvation or whatever. Think about it, something as minor as as a disease could become as deadly as the plagues of olden times. A broken bone might easily lead to your death, as it likely did for many who ventured out into the wilderness just a few hundred years ago.

I once wrote about surviving in the not so distant past when there was no indoor plumbing, no anesthesia... little of the modern amenities we depend on today. But we are a tenacious species and some would survive and learn to cope with what is left. Maybe that is why we love the Mad Max movies.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

But How Do You Feel About It?

Life is, as my mother often told me, unfair but it is the only thing we have. We are pretty much stuck with whatever it dishes out to us. As I grow older, I have added a corollary to the old saw that "life sucks and then you die"... "first they take away your dignity and then they kill you."

I am talking about doctors, mostly, but there are more forces out there than just them. As you get older, you will learn this too, I think. Maybe not, maybe you will have a more optimistic outlook. I run into that outlook a lot but it is mostly "what other choice do you have?" thing. It is often phrased this way, "it beats the alternative," life, that is. To which I usually answer "how do you know?" or "are you sure?"

You see, very few have been dead and then came back. So how do you know if death is worse? Maybe if you believed in Hell and know you have sinned often, you can be fairly certain and I, being atheist, don't believe in either Heaven or Hell so I am pretty much doomed according to the believers I know. There is no chance I could end up in Heaven. And Hell? Well, most of my childhood friends would be there (or soon to arrive) and I am looking forward to seeing some of my old girlfriends should I be wrong about Hell. I would be greatly disappointed if they got to Heaven somehow.

But I am committed to the idea that when you die, your body rots (like meat left out) and you just cease to be.

Frances (my late sister-in-law) believed and I can hypocritically hope that it's true and real for her. She certainly deserves a Heaven, she had a tough life.