Depressed, But Not Ready to Give Up

If this poster offends you, tough s__t!

It accurately represents the current state of the Union and is the cause of my depression.

He plays to the part of Mr Williams in Atlas Shrugged to a "T"

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure,

the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy,

its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery..”

— Winston Churchill

 

 

 

Quads Desperately Seeking Oxygen

Presta valve

Image via Wikipedia

A fantastic idea popped into my mind yesterday, why not take a bike ride tomorrow? It stayed with me throughout the rest of the Saturday and was playing in my mind as I fell asleep. It helped to watch the 2011 Tour de France pre-show too.

This morning, I looked out the window at the 2011 Monet Vision. Yes, sunshine powers the flowers without a cloud in the sky. I quickly trot to my office to look out at the flag, it lay still against the poll. The weather-station shows nice warm temperature. No more excuses, I told myself. Your back hurts even though you have not been on a bike in a year. The bike is not the reason. It is the perfect fair-weather day suited for the fair-weather outdoorsman I have become. Go for it!

2011 Monet Vision

A quick rearrangement of garden stuff in the garage allowed me to reach the bike hanging from the ceiling since last year. Be careful, don’t strain your back taking it down. Do the back wheel first. Easy does it. Yes! Now carefully lift the front wheel off the hook. It is down and my back still feels good.

I hear Bill Lang instructing me at Effective Cycling class, “Remember the ABC’s.”

Before every ride, check “A” air in the tires, “B” brakes are engaging, “C” chain is lube’d and moves freely.

Air, yes find the pump. Ah there it is in the corner. Oh crap, the fitting no longer holds pressure on the Presta side. Go find the adapter so you can use the Shrader side . Now that is a problem. Where is it? Look in the tool box where you keep bike stuff. Where is that? Start in the basement. Ten minutes later the adapter is on the tire and I’m pumping carefully. I don’t want the tire to blow off the rim. The tires are old and brittle. The last thing I want to do is blow it off the rim. Keep checking the tire for bumps and make sure it seats properly on the rim.

Good, the tires have the proper air-pressure, now check the brakes. Yep they are working. The rear pads need replacement, but they’ll make it through today. Wheel the bike out to the lawn and spray the chain with WD-40. Backpedaling the chain is difficult. Move the shifter to align the chain with the gears. Okay the chain is free. Now spray the chain and pump the pedal at the same time to spread the oil.

Ready to ride? No, what’s wrong now? Shoes, I have to find my cycling shoes. I dig through seven pairs of shoes piled in the closet. I find my Shimanos and loosen the laces. My feet have spread in the last few years, but they still feel good as long as I keep the laces loose. Almost ready, A quick dash to my desk to find the Cateye. Boy there is too much stuff in this drawer, it is time to purge. There it is.

I  put on the helmet, adjust the mirror, give Grandma Peggy a quick kiss and out the door I go.

Oops, where are my gloves? Without gloves my hands will burn on a day like this. Look in the top drawer of the cabinet in the garage. Yes, they are still there from last year. Okay, now I’m ready.

Just pedal easy and enjoy the day. My legs automatically go to ninety revolutions a minute. That is not easy, I tell myself, but that is the pace my legs like to move. Downshift dummy. That’s better. The street heading to the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) is slightly uphill. Normally, this grade would not need a downshift, but today is different. I move down two gears and make it easier. By the time I reach the stop sign I am out of breath. Thankfully, I coast down to the trail without pedaling.

There was a day just a few years ago when bicycling the OPRT was a daily routine. The trail is twenty miles from one end to the other, and would take three hours to complete at a leisurely pace. There is no way, I could do that today.

At the end of the downhill to the trail, I turn east toward Harlem Avenue. This section of the OPRT is my favorite. The trail, a converted railroad track bed is straight, but somewhat rolling in gentle long downhills and uphills.  It passes through a forested area bounded by Prestwick Country Club on the south and Lincoln Estates on the north. The sunlight finds a way through the trees to form dapples of light. The only time a wind affects a rider is when it is east-west. Today, there is merely a gentle breeze which is not felt at all.

There is a lot of traffic on the trail today. I come upon a young man ahead of me, “On your left,” I holler, and then pass him. I can’t believe I passed a young guy, I thought. There must still be some fire left in these legs. Then I hear him say, “hello, I’m riding on the trail. . . ”  Damn, he slowed down to answer his cell phone. A few minutes later he passes me like I am standing still.

I pass the point where Busia Barbara had her heart attack. It still bothers me every time I do. This year marks the tenth anniversary of that fateful day in August when she had the Widower-Maker. Except she made the mistake of hanging on for two years after. Not a good time in her life.

At Harlem Avenue, I feel good, but decide to turn around per plan. No sense in overdoing it on the first ride.

The ride back feels less stressful. The sciatic fire running through my  right gluteus (ass) has toned down to a warm remembrance of trouble to come.  The pain in the left patella which began in the garden a month ago, is not going away, but sends a signal on each bend of the knee. The lyrics of a song pop into my mind,

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

The song keeps me spinning as I pass a mother pushing a buggy with her toddlers. Next, I move way over to pass a woman walking two shaggy little dogs.  Two young riders pass. They are bent over the bars making time on their Sunday workout. A skater swinging her legs wide from side to side making time as she comes toward me. She slows a bit as we cross by each other.

The trees end and the trial opens into the Prairie Park on the edge of Frankfort. Kids are fishing from the pier, and the traffic of people walking dogs increases.

A crowd of bikers waits for traffic to allow them to cross White Street. I catch them and tailgate across to the Briedert Green. Morning shoppers crowd the trail at the Farmer’s Market. This is my western turnaround point. and I am glad to leave the trail. I take the back roads just north of the Trail.

I feel good, but the song keeps looping through the mind as my quads burn desperately seeking oxygen.

I arrive home forty-three minutes and seven miles later. In the good old days, I wouldn’t have returned until I had a metric century(62 miles) under my belt.

“Those were the days my friend . . .”

Strato-Cruiser aka Grumpy-Mobile

How did the amateur get chainwheel grease there?

Can you find the Grumpy-Mobile in there?

Hot Date With a Hungarian Fiddle Player

Coat of arms of Hungary

Image via Wikipedia

I mentioned earlier that I had never dated a Hungarian girl.  I was wrong.  I remember a Hungarian girl named Hermena.  She was beautiful and blond.  I met her during my freshman year.  She lived in Burnside, west of Cottage Grove. I first noticed her hanging around 93rd Street near Our Lady of Hungary church  Perhaps she was visiting some one. Because she was so pretty, well-developed, and shapely the boys all swarmed around her.

Hermena played the violin and had to practice daily.  Her parents were very protective of her, and didn’t want her hanging around with guys. They wanted her to become a concert violinist.  I never heard her play, but the way she talked about it she must have liked it.

One day I got up enough nerve to ask her to go to the movies with me.  She accepted on one condition, she would meet me at the show. Later, I realized she did not ask her parents and lied to them about who she was with. We went to the theater on Cottage Grove. Ave.

We met in the lobby, I bought the tickets and popcorn and we watched the movie.  At one point I put my hand on her knee and promptly had it removed.  Shortly after our date, Hermena disappeared from the neighborhood just as mysteriously as she appeared.  I sometimes wonder if she ever made it as a professional musician.

The Real Grampa Joe

The Real Grampa Joe

My dad left Hungary when he was just seventeen years old. His father told him he had to go to America because he could no longer feed him.  I admired him for the courage it took to make a move like that. He never looked back. Once he arrived in the USA it became his new home, and he adapted quickly. His sponsor was my Aunt Anna and her husband John. Uncle John worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. It was Uncle John who got dad his first and only job in America.

Dad worked as a laborer at the Burnside shops. He became an expert at repairing brakes on rail cars. During his career as a laborer, he received several awards for money-saving suggestions for how to improve the efficiency of brake beam repair.

Dad met Mom in Burnside and that is where they married. They bought a house with one of the very first Savings and Loans mortgages. They lived in that house and raised three kids there. At age seventy, Dad bought Mom her dream house in Calumet Park. He took out a loan and paid it off before he died.

Dad was a staunch Democrat. He voted the way his boss told him to vote because he didn’t want to rock the boat with his job. Dad and Mom lived as conservatives. They would have died from shame had they accepted welfare. They didn’t have much, but they knew how to make it stretch and to work for them. They made today’s Green Movement look like a bunch of wasteful polluters. There wasn’t anything Dad or Mom wouldn’t reuse or recycle into something of value.  Sometime, I’ll tell the story of being sent out to the street to collect horse manure for Mom’s garden, or  going to the railroad tracks to collect coal from the roadbed, or about raising pigeons and chickens for Sunday meals, or about using old pieces of rubber to fix worn tires.

Dad taught me moodiness, and quiet. He also taught me honesty, love, and the value of hard work. He taught me love by example. He and my mother parted only by death after sixty-four years of marriage.

Dad retired at sixty-five from the very same job he got when he arrived from Hungary. He never complained, he just kept working hard, and kept on loving us the best he knew how. He remained independent until his last week on earth. When he realized his loss of independence, he left the same way he came, alone.

Happy Father’s Day

Share with me!

Attack Cobra for Grumpa Joe's Garden by Benjamin age seven

This card is very inventive. The cobra pops out when the card is opened. Ben is also the lad who sorrowfully asked Grumpa Joe not to harm the Wabbit. He has seen the error of his ways, however, by offering a carniverous reptile to help reduce the Wabbit population.

Love from Grumpa Joe's Oldest- notice the Wabbit lurking in the corner waiting for the Lobelia to bloom.

Love from Grumpa Joe's artist Jenna Rose age seven

Stupid Subliminal Message

Image representing GE as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

One of my greatest peeves is watching dumb commercials on TV. The dumbest ads leave me wondering what product they want me to buy. Others are cute scenarios and are funny, but leave me wondering what are they are selling? The most recent commercial to catch my eye is the one where hundreds of people carry a huge extension cord out-of-town looking like a caterpillar.  They arrive on a grassy hill and tilt the three prong plug into an electrical outlet overlooking dark skyscrapers in the distance. The plug goes into the socket but the town stays dark. Then a wimpy young man in a sport coat hauls off and slams his fist into the plug, and wallah, the town lights up.

Cute, I thought, but I can’t tell you what the ad is selling. I do remember the company though, it is General Electric, or GE as we fondly refer to them. Since GE builds turbines for generating electricity, the ad must be about the power of GE filling our need for electricity.

The first time, I saw the ad, I liked the very clever visual. I commend the ad company for coming up with the idea of  all those people lugging this giant extension cord out of a dark town. The people struggle to tilt the three prong plug into the outlet on the hill. The plug drops into the socket, but the town stays dark. It is funny when the fast thinking guy bumps the plug to get the system to work.

By the second and third viewing the ad became more disturbing. Why would a company the size of GE condone such a stupid message? They build turbines for Boeing, Air Bus, and power plants. They do amazing stuff, and have a fantastic record of reliability. At one time they owned the home appliance business. They rivaled Whirlpool for the quality and reliability of  refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, etc. Not any more. In fact people now avoid GE appliance because of poor reliability. I have owned several GE refrigerators over fifty years, and the newest one has problems. Thankfully, their reputation for turbines is still intact.

The engineer in me began questioning how something as rugged looking as that extension chord can be so sensitive that a bump from a single person can make it work. A message flashed through my mind, if it is so touchy, it is not worth crap. Now when I see this commercial, I think of  the townspeople who  expect their  power company to supply consistent and reliable power with a system that a single soft bump can take down.

Atlas Shrugged-Directive 10-289

A few weeks ago I heard friends talking about a movie called Atlas Shrugged.  My Facebook friends commented about how the liberal Hollywood establishment panned the film. That is all it took to raise my ears. Anything that gets a liberal mad is fuel for my soul.

I procrastinated for days before I finally asked a friend to go see the film. My buddy Al immediately turned me down because he had read a review by Michael Medved who panned it.

I said,  “Thanks, I’ll save my money and read the book instead.”

The Frankfort library did not have the book on the shelf so I ordered it through the South Suburban Library System.

A week later, Atlas Shrugged arrived and I picked it up. Immediately, I knew why the movie is a dud. The book is two inches thick. I didn’t even know what it is about, and I could tell that no single two-hour movie can do the job of telling the story without omitting huge sections. This story can be a series similar to Dallas or Dynasty, but not a single movie.

It took me three weeks to read the story. I am not a fast reader, but the story held my interest and I could not put it down. Several times, my eyes grew weary and I fought off sleep.

The story Atlas Shrugged is definitely not a liberal favorite. The plot revolves around a socialist United States government that has hypnotized the people into believing that all industrialists are evil profiteers. Profit is evil in the possession of the profiteer. Profit is “greed” in the hands of the businessman, and belongs to the people. It must be diverted to “social good.”

Ayn Rand, the author, devised an amazingly complicated and entertaining plot and describes an advanced socialist progressive society well. Those governing want control of the minds of the people. Not because the governing wants to use men’s ideas beneficially, but rather so the people would not use ideas against the governing.

Government is comprised of a group of good old boys who all believe in the same principles of providing for social good. Their efforts become disastrous.  Only those who believed in themselves, and were in business to make a profit, actually provided goods and services that contributed to the social good. The “looters,” were just that, “looters” they contributed absolutely zero to the social good.  The more they looted, the more they needed to loot.

Miss Rand first published this book in nineteen fifty-seven, but I recognized elements of 2011 throughout. She used words like “greed,” to describe evil business. “Social good” was a euphemism for ”income redistribution,” and the government lived for taking control of, and regulating everything.

The story moves along at a fast pace, and except for a single chapter near the end, was totally entertaining. Ayn Rand tends to use too many words to describe her characters; I would have done the same story in one-third the pages. but I am not a writer.

I have inserted a page from the story describing how the actions of government made the economy crash further and further. Each time, the government reaction was more control. Each time the economy lost ground. The social good became poverty for the people. Their final action was called Directive Number 10-289, a list of wage and work controls that turned every one into a slave. Directive 10-289 became the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A single character named John Galt, an inventor, physicist, and businessman is captured and held hostage. He is literally their last chance to save the world. They need him to resurrect the business and industry to get the economy rolling again. Galt’s first recommendation is to cut taxes and to roll back regulations.

“No, no” responds the leader, “we can’t do that.”

Sorry folks, but Mr. Williams, the so-called leader, sounds like Barack Obama. He wants someone to save the economy for him without giving up an inch of his turf.

Atlas Shrugged may be Barack Obama’s playbook for hope and change. If you want to know where you fit into the plot, read the story and decide if you still want Obama’s version of America.

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