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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fringeville #99, January 19 2014

Sticker Shock
Holy Sh*t...

My wife has been working late shifts for months. I've been doing a lot of the shopping. She's on a new shift, and gets out in the early evening. That means she's back to a normal sleep schedule, so we can actually go to the store together.

Last evening we went to Wally World in Pittston Township. As we went up and down the aisles, this was the mantra escaping my beloved's lips:

"Holy Sh*T! Look at the price on this!"

"Holy Sh*t! The cheese we buy has gone through the roof!"

"Holy Sh*t!" Look at the bacon prices! It'd be cheaper to buy the pig!" 

The only genuine bargain we found was Eight O'Clock Columbian coffee K-Cups, the elixir of the gods-too-lazy-to-grind-beans-at-six-AM.

The really bad news is that price-wise it's even worse in other stores.

So where do we shop?

Ranked by preference (meaning we actually enjoy the overall experience), we do the bulk of our shopping at Schiel's in Parsons. The service is excellent (I hate lines).
None of our other stores match Schiels on getting you through the line quickly. The prices and quality are good, and it is also closest to where I work.

Next on the preference totem pole is Weis Market on River Street in Plains. Like Schiels, good prices and quality. Schiels gets the edge because it is usually next to impossible to get out of Weiss quickly. There are just a handful of checkouts and they're not all manned.

Price Chopper would get more business from us if they were closer, but they refuse to move the store. Their selection and quality is great, it's just their location relative to our abode.

Wegmans is heaven for selection and quality ...I could live out my life in their olive bar ...but the prices are too steep and the crowds are unnerving.

Wally World is reserved for odds and ends and things we just can't get cheaper. It is always the worst possible experience. There are 60 bajillion checkouts, and maybe three or four manned at any given time. Kind of like going to the bank these days. Lotsa people, lots of lines, zero service. And Wally World either has chimpanzees stocking their eggs or they use the egg display for bazooka practice. But Wally World is generally the cheapest and they tend to save us trips out for other things totally unrelated to grocery purchases.

Now if I rank these stores by where we actually spent the most, the batting order is: Schiels (46%), Wally World (26%), Weiss (23%), Price Chopper (4%) and finally Wegmans (1%). I've got to say, that was a surprise to me, because we don't make that many trips to Wally World. But when we do, we spend. When the cheapest place, where we spend more than 1-in-4 food dollars, elicits sticker shock from my wife, this can't be good news for the overall state of the economy.

It's the inflation that isn't happening and it is the inevitable and predictable result of printing money out of thin air while vastly increasing national debt. Mix in the myriad and rising taxes at all levels of government, the falling actual wages, and we've got what some call the deliberate destruction of the American middle class.

I think it is far, far simpler: We have a vast and growing government that is utterly incompetent, hopelessly corrupt, and completely out of touch with the people they serve. A government which believes, perhaps correctly, that we serve them because we certainly vote that way.

Whatever the cause, here is the cry we're all going to hear going forward from the shoppers of America: "Holy Sh*t! Look at the price of the toilet paper. Time to stop mulching and use the leaves!"

* * *

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fringeville #98, January 17 2014

Yes, the Almighty has a sense of humor...

Recently, God pranked me.


He even let me know something was coming. Of course, being the Almighty and all, there was no way I'd guess what He had in store.

It happened at Mass earlier this month. I was on Eucharistic Minister duty, but it turns out I was also on His prank list because I'd missed some Masses. (One because I apparently don't know how to read a schedule, others because I'm pigheaded about some things and that's all I'll say about that.)

As I dressed in my white robe for duty, I had a sense of foreboding. Something was  going to happen, I was sure of it. 

But what?

Would I drop a host (done that before).

Would I knock something off the altar and watch in horror as it clanged, banged and bounced across the marble floor (done that twice).

Would I trip and fall flat on my face, sending Communion Hosts skittering all across the floor (not yet, but it is inevitable).

I said to one of the other Eucharistic Ministers: "...I'm due for some small catastrophe. Whatever happens, just yell out, '...yeah, I remember MY first beer.'"

But Mass went without a hitch. Flawless in fact. When I was finally back in my pew to await the recessional, I let out a deep breath. The music started. We left our pew and lined up behind Monsignor, bowed, then turned around to start the march to the back of the church.

Which is, of course, when God pranked me in front of the entire congregation.

I was about to take a step when one of my comrades tugged my elbow and pointed down.

We wear rope belts around our waists and moments before, when bowing, mine had fallen off and was tangled up in my feet.

So there I was, with everyone watching, trying to gracefully bend down and pull up my belt while hopping pathetically down the aisle. I caught the eye of a woman in a pew and stammered: "...yeah, looks like that diet is working for me."

I swear I could hear the Almighty laughing. He's good. The ultimate prankster. I mean, how else do you explain armadillos, porcupines, or Dennis Rodman?

At least He didn't let me trip I did receive a small measure of mercy.

But I'm going to be on edge for a while. I don't think he's done with me...

* * *

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fringeville #97, January 14 2014

Labor Farce

The vanishing American Worker
As bad as the trend has been since 2009, what is even more unsettling to me is how many people in that horrible number in the lower right-hand corner are working two, three or more jobs to prop up the rest of the country.

You can, if you wish, spend all kinds of time tossing blame back and forth between this President or that. If it makes you feel better.  If you think it will matter one damned bit.It won't.

Whatever the hell it is we think we're doing, it ain't working kids. I said more than once in 2010 that we were in a depression. I still believe that. Maybe it's a little baby depression, not a "great" one, but if we continue shrinking the labor force and enabling long-term dependence we are going to be toast. In fact the bread's in the toaster now, and we're fiddling with the dial: light, medium, dark, or burnt to an inedible crisp.

* * *

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fringeville #96, January 12 2014

The sad state of the typical domestic American male

I'm trying to figure out exactly when it happens: The moment when a man transforms from that perfect creature adored by his woman into a certifiable dumbass.

Is it right after the honeymoon? Probably not. Five years later? Ten?

I don't know, but it creeps up suddenly. One night you go to bed king of the castle and the next day you awaken as the village ...make that domicile ...dumbass.

In my life, here are just a few of the things I did on a limited formal education:

  • Worked as a newspaper correspondent
  • Ran my own business
  • Taught myself programming
  • Taught myself AS400 management
  • Wrote and performed music, even recording a session on local radio.
  • Wrote a novella and a number of short stories.
  • Taught myself basic bookkeeping.
  • Ran for office.
  • Managed a Congressional campaign.

The list goes on. And it's all for naught because most days it is pretty much driven home that I'm a dumbass.


It may sound like I'm whining here, but I'm not. This is what happens to all American males at some mysterious point after they tie the knot. Their significant other, who loves them to death, realizes that she's somehow gone and married a dumbass.

I am not unique.

I've done considerable research, and I've found some of the greatest minds in history were, in fact, dumbasses. I've uncovered some diary entries by famous and brilliant men.

Let's review:


Tuesday: I found myself contemplating the nature of the Universe. I have found there to be five elements: Earth, Water, Air ..I must set aside my quill a moment. I have, it seems, left my robe upon the floor and have most stupidly not cleaned river mud from my sandals and have tracked it through the library.

Wednesday: I continue my analysis of the Universe. These are the elements necessary for existence: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and I once again take my leave. I put the crockery away for Herpyllis this morning, and did not stack them properly. Big ones on the bottom, smaller ones atop those. I just jammed them all in there higgity piggity. Well, one fell and smashed, a gift from her mother, and I will be sleeping on the veranda again.

Thursday: I must write quickly. I've not sorted laundry correctly. The elements are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and the Aether. Oh! She calls! Perhaps there is a sixth element, Nagathium.

* * *


Sunday:  I continue to work on what I feel must be a perfect speech for my trip to Gettysburg. This morning I called my dearest Mary to the study. "My love," I asked, "What sounds sweetest to your ears? '87 years ago' or 'Four score and 7 years ago?' To which she said, "What would sound sweetest to me, dear husband, is the sound of your remembering once ...just friggin' once put the lid down on the toilet."

* * *


Monday: I am so close! E=MC ...MC ...drat! Mileva beckons. She found the cigar hole I burned into the sofa.

Tuesday: E=MC. Maybe that's all there is. Just E=MC. I thought I was on the verge of a breakthrough, but Mileva lectured me once again on how to put away her hatboxes. Round ones on the left side of the closet ..or is it the right? I can never remember. She's right. I'm a nincompoop. Anyway, round on one side of the closet, square ones on the other  Not all muddled together. "Squared away," she calls it. Squared. Squared. Hmmm...

* * *

So boys, just accept it. We're dumbasses. But we're in good company. Gotta run ...I put the dishes away wrong again. I've mixed coffee mugs with glasses. Dumbass...

* * *

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fringeville #95, January 1 2014

It's New Year's Day.

If you're worried I'm going to do a long-winded year-in-review thing, let's put that to rest immediately. It will be short and sweet: three bad, three good and I'll wrap it up.

The Bad:

1) Got my butt kicked in another election. 9th place out of nine contenders. A good and proper slaughter at the polls. Note to self: never tell people exactly what you plan to do if elected.

2) Uninvited house guest in the wee hours. A big-ass dog will deal with this should it happen again. If you come back, plan to leak.

3) More than once, I went a week or more without wings.

The Good:

1) New Granddaughter. This alone negates anything in the "Bad" section above.

2) Got to sing on stage again with my old and dear friend Mark Williams. Rumor has it I was mostly on key this time around. Come this summer, I may play the guitar as well. We'll see.

3)  I'm down at last to one brick and mortar full-time job with benefits. I worked two part-time jobs and did a side job bookkeeping until a part-time job transitioned to full-time. There were days I literally didn't know what day it was. But I'd do it again versus collecting  unemployment. I'm one and done with that.

The year ahead...

I'm taking it a day at a time. I'll start each day by wondering what good I might do that day, and end the day asking myself if I achieved it. The Ben Franklin approach. Keep my eye on the little things and the rest will take care of itself.

Ciao for now...