Starting Out Young

Watch this baby’s reaction to the Star Spangled Banner to the very end. This kid is destined for West Point Military Academy.

Just Thinking

The current political debate about the debt ceiling got me to thinking about how to cure the problem. As usual, my ideas are extreme, radical, and different from those of the current administration. The only thing our government should be spending money on is our defense, and safety, Instead, over the years we have opted to pass laws that invented numerous bureaucracies and departments which have aged into obsolescence. As they have aged numerous new responsibilities have been tacked onto them to take care of so called problems of the nation. All of these laws need people to write them to proceduralize them process them, and to to enforce them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are a lot of workers needed in these bureaucracy’s. Workers cost money, they need space, and computers to do their jobs. Each year as the population grows and more people believe they need governmental help these agency’s grow and grow. The cost of operation grows with it.

My idea is to make each bureaucracy self sustaining. Cut them off from the government’s payroll. If the agency fills a legitimate need then the users would pay for their service. If the agency deals only with indigent people who cannot pay, then the agency must raise the money. Our tax dollars should not be used to pay for anything but the protection of our country.

A much better idea is to eliminate every bureaucracy on the books today, and start from scratch. Fill the Greek and Roman looking buildings with computers that are loaded with Artificial Intelligence. The AI machines would no doubt find solutions to each problem in record time and only cost some electricity. Going one step further, I’d put a solar panel on the roof of each of these places to power the AI computer. No tax dollars needed except for the one time cost of implementation.

If the bureaucracy’s were reduced in size by 90% there would be no need to raise the debt ceiling every four years. Think of all that money going back into the economy, business would boom.

I know you are thinking that I have no heart.What would you do in a recession, like the one coming, to take care of all the people who will lose their jobs? What kind of safety net will you create to take care of these people? Government safety nets are exactly what we don’t need. All a safety net does is to incentivize workers to not work. Look what COVID did to the economy. Uncle felt sorry for all these people and they rewarded Uncle by staying out of the workforce permanently. I know people who enjoy being laid off of a job so they can live on unemployment for two years. Why work when a check comes to take care of me, and I can get food stamps, and many other bennies too?

Well Grumpa Joe, “It easy for you to say eliminate all the safety nets, you have Social Security you don’t have to worry.” My reply would be this: I never asked for Social Security, if I lose it tomorrow I will survive off the nest egg I amassed by working for a living. Granted, my lifestyle would change a lot. I’d not own a computer, I’d drop my internet connection, cell phone, cable TV, and I’d live in a smaller house. I wouldn’t drink as much wine, or eat as much steak, but I would survive, and so would the government.

We have tons of safety nets to protect people, but we still have homelessness, why?

Cost to Grow vs Buy

Expanding the garden at my age only makes me appreciate tomatoes and cucumbers at the grocery store. It is so easy to pick from the pile in the vegetable section compared to picking the same item from a vine that you planted and nurtured, watered, and dusted for bugs. (Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say dusted for bugs). If Lovely finds out I did such a thing she won’t let me eat any of the fruits of her labor.

My part of the garden involves digging, spreading compost, and warding off critters with suitable rabbit deterrents such as fencing. The remainder is up to Lovely. She plants, waters, weeds, and shoos away bugs and birds. I have donated two home made whirly gigs as bird deterrents. I don’t really believe they will scare a hungry bird away from succulent greenery, but it sounds good.

My plan to cure Lovely’s ravishing appetite for onions, cucumber, beets, and sorrel is to expand the space she has to plant. This will be the third expansion since we have been together. (When will I learn that only a 100,000 acre ranch will do the trick.) The first plot was a dainty five foot by eight foot area. The second step added a second plot of five by ten, this time I am going ten foot by twenty, an expansion of five times more space. than the original.

Lovely’s Garden

I promise myself not to keep track of the cost of these vegetables because it includes a love factor that can’t be monetized. Besides the more money she spends on veggie plants the more I will spend for flowers in my little world of the Monet Vision.

One Small Room In Grumpa Joe’s Garden

This week, my big accomplishment was to open the pond. That means dredging the bottom of a thick, stinky layer of fermenting leaves, and then re-installing the pump, and pray that is still works. It did, but the whole effort took two days which equals five hours total of physical labor. Each time I went out with a promise not to spend more than one hour, but each time the job required twice that much time. Each day after completing a specific task, I came in and collapsed in front of my computer for the remainder of the day. I once had a boss who said the job expands with the amount of time available to do the job. As I age, this adage makes more and more sense.

I went out of my way to run to PetsMart to buy some fish, and bought two dozen comets that measure about one inch long. Of course, after stabilizing the water temperature in the bag, I let them loose and they disappeared instantly. It’ll give me something to do everyday, that is, to watch the water to spot one. In the past it was two weeks before I finally saw a fish, and they were about twice the size as they were when I released them them. By the end of summer, about five of them will be four inches long and the rest will be much shorter. Come November, when the leaves drop from the trees into Lake Joe, and begin to decay, the process will consume the oxygen in the water, and the fish will die. In the fifteen years that I’ve been raising goldfish in this lake, I have only been able to winter them successfully twice. In my first pond, I never lost more than four fish over the winter, and I never bought new fish, they propagated. The difference is the depth of the water, aeration, and the filtration system. In the first pond I designed and built all the components, and this pond was done by a professional. It might be time to dig it up and start all over with the same amateur design I used for pond #1.

This story began with me whining about how much work there is to expand the vegetable garden, and it ends with a Nova like burst of energy required to rebuild a pond from scratch, It isn’t going to happen, I’ll spend five bucks every year to add new goldfish just like I do with the flowers.

Sticky Fingers

As usual, Maxine is dead right. Why would we believe the simpletons of government can do the job better? They toy with a mountain of our tax dollars as though it is sand. That is the real problem, they have too many of our dollars to handle. It is just too easy for a few thousand of them to stick to their fingers while they run their hands through the pile.

The last time we had bank bail outs was during the omnipotent Obama’s term as ruler. He had this queer little man named Barney Franks in charge of the committee to oversee the banking system. What we see today is the law Barney enacted to make sure this never happens again in action.

So much so for wise Democrats who know how to handle everything better than anybody else in the planetary system.

If I Wanted a Job, I’d Apply For One

Today, I experienced some frustration that annoyed me beyond comprehension. Lovely and I did our best to keep our neighborhood Walmart from closing it’s doors. We had not shopped for groceries for a couple of weeks now, and our cupboards were bare. It was time to give up and shop. The big news during the week was that four Chicagoland Walmart stores closed because they were losing money. It’s my guess that the effect of the relaxation of penalties for shop lifting have been measured, and one of the world’s largest retailers has voted with it’s feet. In other words, “let’s get out of town before they steal the shelves bare, and strip all the copper wire from the building.” Anyway, we did our best to fill a shopping cart with food. We have a habit of guessing how many dollars are in the cart before we check out. Both of us guessed two hundred dollars.

A New Humanless Checkout
The Traditional Human Checkout

Usually, these stores had as many as twenty lines for check out with humans scanning and bagging. Today, there were only two human staffed checkout lines. In their place were two corrals of fifteen self checkout stations with one human overseer. Walmart has aggressively been working on reducing labor costs since the fifteen dollar minimum wage was introduced. Secondly, since COVID there has been, and still is a huge labor shortage.

Lovey and I parked at one of the computer operated checkout stations and began scanning. We bought a lot of fruits and vegetables and learned that scanning cucumbers, peppers, and onions can be challenging. Each piece of vegetable, and fruit has a label with a bar code. It all sounds great except that the labels are tiny and the bar codes don’t read or scan at all. The computer then asks you to find the item in it’s database by clicking on a photo. Of course this took some time, since it was the very first time I tried scanning a tomato, and a green pepper. Neither was shown as a photo on the screen, so it involved typing in a description of the item, or the four digit unscannable number that was on the tiny label, and then answering how many of the item there was. Okay, I got past that frustration, but then proceeded to try to place the items into a plastic bag that hangs on the station. Plastic material is a great collector of negative and positive ions. The bags stuck together agressively. I found myself fighting magnetically adhering plastic sheet stock to get the bags open, GRRR! This final step of the shopping experience taught me to avoid shopping at places where I must do a self check out. After thinking about this for a few seconds I realized I will not be shopping in too many stores because they are all headed in this direction.

This phenomenon is not new. The first labor intensive vendor switched customers to self checkout many years ago. I recall when my dad drove his car into a service station for gas, he stopped by a pump and waited for the attendant to come to his window. Dad asked him to “fill it up with regular,” or “two dollars worth please.” While Dad sat there, the attendant cleaned his windshield, checked the oil, and filled the tires to a correct pressure. Dad handed him money (credit cards weren’t invented yet) and the attendant would make change and give him a Green stamps. Most gas stations were independently owned and operated businesses. When the oil companies took them over to expand the size of the station by adding more pumps they also reduced the amount of service to zero. Car owners were forced to fill their own cars, and to clean their own windows with station supplied water, brush and paper. Today, I use my phone app to dial in to the station location, the pump number and type of gas. The pump communicates with my phone to charge my card. I still have to open the gas tank, and place the nozzle into the filler tube. Perhaps someday soon an AI robot will do all of this for me.

I don’t know if I saved enough money shopping at Walmart to make the aggravation I suffered to warrant going back there again. If Walmart goes out of business at this location it won’t be because they didn’t have paying customers, it’ll more likely be because they didn’t have customers who wanted to do their work for them.

By the way Lovely and I both guessed wrong, the total was $301.