Monday, December 31, 2012

1116 Band Aid

1116  Band-Aid

The name has been so common for so long we sometimes forget it’s a trademark.  No one calls those adhesive strips anything else except competitors who have to.

Whether it’s a store brand from Wal-Mart or Waldbaum’s or Walgreens or CVS or Target, whether it’s a competing brand from 3-M or anyone else, we call them Band-Aids.

Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer, doesn’t make a big fuss about use of the name in common conversation.  It’s almost generic, anyway.

But mindful of competition, the company has churned out dozens if not hundreds of variations to keep its market dominance.  More different dimensions and shapes than Macy’s has dress sizes and Lowe’s has nuts and bolts.

Decorated.  Clear.  Semi clear, huge, tiny.  The colors of white skin, plus yellow, red, and so on.  

By now, though, it’s apparent that J&J and its competitors don’t know how to make a sterile package that is easy to open.   

Maybe you remember those little red strings that ran down the sides of the packaging?  You’d pull on them and one of two things would happen:  Either the string came out or nothing.  You had to claw open the paper to get to the band aid inside.

Modern times brought changes.  They’ve abandoned the little red string and replaced it with perforations.  When you try to use them one of two things happens:  you rip the paper or nothing.  You still have to claw the thing open.

Some have peel away packaging.  That works better.  If you can get the peel started.  It’s easier to peel a coconut.  Not to mention that while you’re doing all this, you’re also bleeding or burned.

You’d think that in 2012 they’d find a way to make the things easy to open in bad circumstances, but otherwise remain sterile.

And it’s not like they don’t know how to make adhesives.  Modern Band-Aids hurt less than older models when you try to remove them.  That is IF you can remove them.

Like the packaging, it’s all or nothing.  The thing either comes off the wound immediately and without your trying or it stays on forever, especially if it’s wound around a finger or toe.

The worst offender is the clear one.  It’s waterproof.  And it’s you-proof.  You can practically take a nail out in trying to remove one from the upper part of your thumb.

3-M is no better.  This is a glue company.  It’s the company that makes Scotch Tape, Command Strips and Post-it Notes.  And for the record, what does “Nexcare” mean -- if anything.  And why are thingies you use to hang pictures “Command” strips?  What do they command, besides your attention?  And why call Scotch tape scotch tape?

Some of life’s great mysteries are about pretty small things.

Shrapnel:

--The folks who make LaBella musical instrument strings will be celebrating their 100th anniversary in the US next year.  But that’s deceptive.  The outfit started in Italy in 1640, 372 years ago, which helps place European commerce in perspective.

--RIP Mike Auldridge who left this world last Saturday, 12/29/12. In the tight little world of musicians who play the resophonic guitar, Auldridge was a king who never flaunted his crown or his ability but he made a heavenly sound, a skill that suits him well now that he’s up there.  Mike was 73 and died of cancer.


Happy New Year. I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

1115 The Girls of Shop TV

1115 The Girls of Shop TV

And the boys.  It’s just quaint to use the kind of headline that Playboy would when running a picture a picture feature on “the Girls of...”  (Houston) (Cape Cod) (San Diego) (Target) and such.   

There are few if any stunners among the “girls” or the “boys” who appear day in, day out for years on QVC or HSN or ShopNBC, Jewelry Television, and the dozen or so similar merchants, some of which come and go like fans of the visiting team at a middle school softball game.

Mostly, they’re normal looking next door neighbor types ranging in age from young drama students who can’t get acting jobs to middle age householder types who want a steady gig and don’t mind living in places like St. Petersburg, Florida, West Chester, PA or Eden Prairie, MN.

They are mostly attractive or at least not unattractive.  Some of them are obvious dopes, but many appear to be of normal or even above normal intelligence.

And those are the ones we’re studying today.

As in, what do they think as they tout the virtues of the latest vegetable chopping device for your kitchen... going over every little detail of this plastic thingy and trying to make it sound like the greatest invention since the founding of Levittown.

Imagine the prep.  These men and women have to psych themselves up to be enthusiastic about “today’s special value,”  which is guaranteed to make your saggy, blotchy, cowhide-like skin turn into something Cate Blanchett or Beyonce would envy.  This kind of role preparation would send Constantin Stanislavski leaping in frustration from the roof of the Bolshoi Dom in St. Petersburg.

Reality check:  You are selling stainless steel jewelry because the price of gold is out of reach and the price of silver is getting there.  You are selling oddball gemstones like Tanzanite and Tourmaline and quartz because traditional stones are going the way of gold and silver.

You (and Wolfgang and Emeril) are selling kitchen appliances customers will buy, use once and store away never to be seen again.  

You are selling handbags, mock Tiffany lamps, bras, and shoes that the manufacturers can’t get rid of elsewise.   And you’re doing it with gusto and a smile that would be the envy of a carnival barker or the auctioneer on “Storage Wars.”

And all the while you’re probably thinking of hitting the bar after work where you can describe your customers as suckerfish with credit cards.

Shrapnel (Twitter edition):

--Mayor Mike is a regular on Twitter.  And it sounds like he writes the stuff himself.  Be nice if more public officials joined in and tried to connect with their constituents personally and directly instead of through layers of flunkies.

--Rupert Murdoch is a regular on Twitter.  And it sounds like he writes the stuff himself.  Murdoch’s easy to dismiss as a right wing nutjob, but he isn’t …  he’s a smart guy with a lot of insight and worth reading.

--The Associated Press is a regular on Twitter, and we know they write their own stuff.  Often, the tweets are available sooner than any website that forwards its news.  And so far, they seem not only fast, but accurate.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

1114 Resolutions

1114 Resolutions

About those New Year’s resolutions you’ve been thinking up:  forget ‘em.  You’re never going to keep them anyway.   And maybe you shouldn’t.

At this time of year, we remember Jim Fixx, the man who made jogging a part of the language.  After his “Complete Book of Running” hit the shelves (we had shelves, not Kindles and Nooks in those days) everyone became a jogger.

On the morning of Friday, July 20, 1984,  Fixx went for his morning run in Vermont and later that day died of a heart attack.  He was 52 years old.

Just the other day, pioneer organic food expert and promoter Russell Libby of Maine died after 50 years of eating only the best organic fruits and vegetables available.  He was 56 years old.

You resolve to exercise and eat right?  Good plan.  You might gain an extra day or two.  But don’t count on it.  Stories like this make you want to get a “Hoveround” even if you can walk perfectly well, and to eat for the rest of the year exclusively at Burger King.

Or you can use the Wessays™ Sure Fire New Year’s Resolution Keeper System, offered here free of charge.

Since you won’t keep your resolutions, make sure they are of the kind you wouldn’t dream of keeping in the first place.

Such as:

“I am going to gain 25 pounds in 2013.”
“I am going to resume smoking in 2013.”
“I am going to skip my (mammogram) (prostate screening) (drivers license renewal) (hunting/fishing license renewal) in 2013.”
“I am going to get a direct phone connection to Cinnabon and use it at least once a day.”
“I am going to be kind to my next door neighbor no matter what his dog does on and to my lawn.”
Or, you can make resolutions about things you already do:

“I am going to have a midnight snack even if I have to awaken to do it.”
“I am going to fill the gas tank when it gets down to the ¼ mark.”
“I am going to threaten not to vote in the next election but change my mind at the last minute purely out of habit.”
“When I set the table, I will put my own silverware in place last.”

Those are easy to keep and will give you a feeling of accomplishment.

But forward-looking New Year’s resolutions are bad for your health.  They produce stress.  They produce guilt when you don’t keep them.  And that’s good.  Why?  Because it shows we haven’t fully discarded our consciences.

Shrapnel:

--Under the tree this year:  an old fashioned stovetop percolator.  Takes forever to make a pot of coffee.  But it’s worth every minute (hour?) of the wait.

--Sign of the times:  Midnight mass at the Vatican was held at 10 pm, Rome time, Christmas eve.  This proves that things over there don’t always move at glacial speed.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

1113 WestraDamus 2013

1113 WestraDamus 2013

With 2013 upon us, we offer the 24th anniversary edition of the WestraDamus reverse predictions, those for the year 2012 presented each December or January for the year gone by and generally wrong. 'Damus started as a parody of the forward looking astrological year-enders appearing in the supermarket tabloids, almost always wrong and never acknowledged as such. But the Non-Prophet has grown into an American institution, like the Smithsonian, the Public Television begathon, global warming, the Kardashians and dropped cell phone calls.  And so, we continue...

TOP OF THE 2012:
As President McCain moves into retirement and vice president Palin will be soundly defeated in the Republican primary, the nation will elect Newt Gingrich to lead the nation.

Suffering from Death Apnea, Larry Hagman will return to the set of “Dallas” to finish season two of the revival.

Attempts to exhume the body of former Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat will fail with the discovery that his mausoleum is empty and that the radioactivity in his toothbrush was caused by toxic emission blowbacks from missiles he fired from Gaza into Israel.

Overthrowing evil dictators, Egypt, Syria and Libya will plunge into freedom, economic stability, religious tolerance and peace.

Overthrowing evil bankers, Occupy Wall Street will plunge the United States into newfound prosperity, cheerfulness, tolerance and peace.  (And don’t for a minute believe those anti semitic undertones are representative of the group’s membership.  Not for a minute.)

The Dow Jones Industrial average will end the year at 5678.34.

Displaced Greek, Spanish and Portuguese workers angry with austerity measures will storm the EU headquarters in Brussels and make off with US$ 4 trillion in Euros only to find that the leaders of France and Italy had already made off with the other 4 trillion in the stash.

Britain’s successful campaign to eliminate the Euro will make both heists worthless.

A former Pennsylvania college football coach will be exonerated in a case charging he was a serial child molester, but not before a huge and wildly overrated university and its dependent subsidiaries are thrown into a state of money-losing self flagellation.

Now, Month By Month in Non-Prophecy:

JANUARY:

Cruise ship from Italy will hit land and sinks, and the captain -- charged with manslaughter -- will be quoted as saying “I thought it was an iceberg.”

Unemployment falls to 17 percent to the cheers of corporate honchos across the country.  Unions settle strikes against Wal-Mart, Koch Industries and the New York State Conservative Party.

FEBRUARY:

Random House Dictionary will declare Feb Yoo Erry is an acceptable pronunciation of the name of the second month.

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin will be assassinated by Muslim rebels from Chechnya who will be lauded by ecumenical advocates for their use of Israeli machineguns.

No Israeli-made weapons will be found in a deadly Egyptian soccer riot causing ecumenical advocates to withhold lauding.

Susan G. Komen For the Cure will announce acquisition of the agency Planned Parenthood in a $28-million cash and stock deal.

MARCH:

Putin will win the Russian presidency posthumously.

Confusion will reign as sports fans confuse Super Tuesday and March Madness, declaring Barack Obama as America’s top basketball team and backing the University of Kentucky as the Democratic candidate for President. (The actual candidate will be chosen at the convention.  See below.)

Aliens from Mars will land in Wisconsin and quickly burrow underground to celebrate the success of their flight as above ground neighbors call police to complain of earthquake-like noises coming from below.

The IRS will send letters to 154,000 taxpayers reminding them they missed the tax filing deadline, March 15th and threatening fines and interest penalties.  (3/15 hasn’t been tax day since 1954.)

APRIL:

Eleven female secret service agents will be fired after the McCain administration learns they moonlighted as hookers in Colombia where prostitution is legal.

Once again, the IRS will outfox itself by demanding that all returns be postmarked by 11:59 PM on April 15th, which will be a Sunday.

Paint manufacturers will celebrate Earth Day by dumping 400,000,000 million gallons of green paint into the Mississippi River and then learn it’s not biodegradable.

MAY:

Shoney’s Restaurant chain will offer Green Plate Special with appropriately green catfish and roast green wood duck from the Mississippi River.

Mitt Romney will concede defeat in his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination, saying he hasn’t yet made up his mind whether to endorse the presumed nominee, Newt Gingrich.

Seeking to solidify support, Gingrich donors will offer subsidies to ExxonMobil to reduce the price of gasoline to $1.99.9 per gallon in states still not firmly in his camp.

Census Bureau will announce “minority” births now outpace white as increasing numbers of women decline to have sex with white men and adopt the slogan “would you bang one of THEM?”

JUNE:

Muhammad Morsi will be declared president of Egypt, replacing Hosni Mubarak, who will have fled to Uganda, granted asylum and awarded the Idi Amin Medal of Freedom.  At his swearing-in, Morsi will accidentally drop a small book he was carrying, the autobiography of Nicolai Lenin.  Following the ceremony, Morsi will be quoted as saying “that’s not mine.  I am just holding it for a friend who had to use the lavatory.”

Wisconsin voters will recall governor Scott Walker who will accept a job working for Grover Norquist.

The Supreme Court will approve Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law forcing Associate Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alioto to self-deport, even though they were born here.

JULY:

India will be hit by a massive power failure and no American will be able to reach customer service phone centers for three weeks.  American-owned Bhopal Power will establish a temporary center in Toronto and none of its Indian customers will be able to understand a word the Canadians say.

Scientists at the CERN Laboratory in Switzerland will verify the existence of the Higgs Boson, the so-called “God Particle” and tell us it looks much like a really, really small elephant and is pink.

Retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal will come out of the closet and declare that he isn’t really Irish and he really stands 4’8” but wears a “tall suit.”

AUGUST:

The Republican National Convention will be held in Opelika, Alabama and, as forecast, Newt Gingrich will be nominated, pick Sick Rantorum as his running mate, magically cause the price of gasoline to fall to two dollars a gallon, a bubble in casino stocks and the release of the American hostages in Iran.

The unemployment rate will fall to 16.8% as presidential nominee Gingrich declares the precipitous .2% drop is a result of “job creators’” enthusiasm for his candidacy.

The Democratic Party will hold the world’s first internet-only convention, only to find that the go-to-meeting-dot-com servers cannot handle the traffic and will crash and no nominee will be chosen.

SEPTEMBER:

Chicago will dodge the bullet and avert a strike of public school teachers.

Occupy Wall Street will mark its first anniversary and a year of peace and happiness by announcing it is disbanding.  The general reaction: “Oh, really?  Are they still around?”

West Nile Virus will be declared a terrorist organization and local death squads in Texas will kill all known germs.  Before this, the virus will have told  Al Jazeera it never meant to hit Texas, but made a wrong turn and confused the Rio Grande with the Nile.

OCTOBER:

The sponsors in collusion with the television networks will cancel the Presidential debates, citing surveys that show no one cares and the commercial time is too valuable to squander on a couple of posturing ne’er do wells.  NPR and Fox News will object and jointly hold their own series of debates and the ratings will be better than expected, as the programs top TruTV’s “World’s Dumbest Criminals,” and TV Land’s Andy Griffith Show Marathon.

The New York Mets will win the world series, sweeping San Francisco in four games.  (October? What ever happened to “the boys of summer?”)

Hugo Chavez will be defeated in his re-election bid by former United States Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI.) who has promised to privatize everything and declare an “official religion.”  The Vatican agrees to build a Presidential Palace for el Presidente Ryan.  A competing bid will come from Liberty University.

NOVEMBER:

President Morsi of Egypt will declare the court system invalid and personally assume the role of judge along with his presidential duties.  Once again, he will deny that the Lenin book found at his feet on inauguration day was his and remind us it was something he was holding for a friend who needed to visit the bathroom.

Ordered to pay $4 Billion in restitution for damage in the Gulf of Mexico drilling platform explosion and the resulting massive damage to land and water, British Petroleum raises gasoline prices and then checks into a hospital suffering from morning sickness.

Presidential candidate Gingrich rips BP a new one about the prices, but uses words no one understands to prove that a few years teaching at a junior college in Georgia makes him a real professor.

DECEMBER:

Princess Kate of Britain will be hospitalized for treatment of an undisclosed ailment possibly related to pregnancy.  Blue Cross of Greater London will reject her expenses saying “we don’t pay for ‘undisclosed’ ailments, but if its morning sickness, she should have applied for pre-authorization, which would have been rejected because women have been dealing with that since the dawn of history and don’t need ‘hospitalisation,’” as they spell and say it.


The state legislature will defeat proposed legislation to make Michigan a “right to work” state and the governor in after-vote comments will say “Right to work?  Here?  This is MICHIGAN, fer cryin’ out loud.”

The National Rifle Association will announce it is disbanding and give back all the contributions it has received from the makers of guns and ammunition.

The Mayans will be proved wrong as there will still be a world on 12/21/12... unless you consider the Michigan item above or the child abuse allegations against the knuckle dragging college football coach in Pennsylvania the end of the world as we know it.  NASA scientists will conclude the destruction didn’t take place because a coalition of transportation companies and agencies, including U.S. Airways, Amtrak, New York’s MTA, CalTran, PennDot and Transit of New Jersey were responsible for scheduling and running the asteroid.

I’m WestraDamus.  My postdictions are my own but you’re welcome to
them. ®

This annual feature is available all year long at http://westradamus.com/
© WJR 2013

Friday, December 21, 2012

1112 How to Tell When the Laundry's Done

1112 How to Tell When the Laundry’s Done

In olden days, you’d walk to the back yard or reach out the apartment window and feel the clothes on the line.  Not any more.  We either have washers and dryers at home or we have access to them nearby.

And in today’s era of high technology, you don’t have to have a sense of touch to know when the wash is dry.  The dryer will tell you.  Sort of.

The first dryer made a loud buzz.  A really loud buzz.

The cat would jump up on the thing and sleep because it was warm.  The buzzer would sound, rattling windows for half a block.  You couldn’t miss it from three back yards away.  The cat would jump to the ceiling and scoot off, fur standing up on end.  It was funny when she was a kitten.  But by the time she turned 16, there was little jump left in her, so watching the clock and gently removing her from her perch before the buzz became routine.  (You’d think an otherwise cat of normal intelligence and who lived to a ripe old age would have learned to avoid that particular warm spot, but she didn’t.)

The “new” dryer gave off a relatively faint beep at the end of the cycle.  If you were in the basement at that time, you didn’t need to hear it because the machine motor stopped rumbling. If you were in the kitchen upstairs, and the basement door was open you could hear it. Barely.  It had a three position volume control:  “loud” was soft, “soft” was “barely audible” and “off” was off.

The “new new” dryer plays a tune.  A Korean “Shun Yun,” which is so light and delicate that no one who weighs more than 85 pounds is permitted to dance to it.

And you can’t hear it from across the room, let alone upstairs.

So now, what to do?  Watch the clock?  That doesn’t work because (a) no two clocks in the house tell exactly the same time and (b) the “time remaining” read-out is an estimate, not a promise.

Okay, here’s the solution.  Get one of those old fashioned mechanical kitchen timers, set it for maybe five minutes longer than the time estimate.  That you can hear.  It’s not loud enough to make a sleeping cat jump, but it’s loud enough.  

Have you tried to find one of those timers recently?  Oh, they’re out there, alright.  But they’re not easy to find.

Shrapnel:

--Among other things you can’t find on a store shelf anymore is a simple stovetop coffee percolator.  Not much profit in a plain old tin pot with a basket and a small clear glass (or plastic!) thingy on top to show you how dark the coffee is.  Why sell those when you can sell the more fashionable “French Press” (sounds like a wrestling move) or the espresso maker, the latte maker, the Keurig or even the lowly “Mr. Coffee?”

--What’s with all the endorsements at Linkedin?  This one and that one endorses you because of your skills in weaving baskets, avoiding occupational therapy class, leading the other blind.  Is there a way to counter-endorse everyone on your list with one click and be done with the whole thing?

--Can’t wait for February.  By then all of the merchants will have stopped sending you hourly updates on their latest super sale.  Has “unsubscribe” become totally meaningless?

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1111 A Personal Reflection

1111 A Personal Reflection

(Note to readers:  I’ve always said and still believe it untoward to talk about oneself on these pages even to the point where I generally decline even to write in the first person singular.  But I’ve received a great many requests to discuss my own experiences in covering stories similar to the horrific shootings in Newtown, CT.  So apologies in advance for this.)

You learn early on that reporting the news can be a tough job.  My own first lesson in others’ personal tragedies happened one day in Hicksville on New York’s Long Island.  I don’t remember whether it was 1965 or 1966, but one of those.

Long Island Railroad trains ran mostly at ground level in those days.  And I was told to cover the scene of an accident in which a train struck a convertible with the top down and carrying five or six teenagers.

No survivors.  No complete bodies.  Have you ever seen a kid’s head lying ten feet from the rest of him?  And with that story, I made up my mind that hereafter, I would be an “inside guy.”

But it didn’t matter.  The Vietnam war was raging.  The Pentagon regularly supplied lists of the dead and wounded Americans from the region.  And our job was to call the families for reaction.  Stupid.  What did the suits EXPECT the reaction to be?  Sometimes --infrequently-- we made the call before the Defense Department got around to visiting the homes and informing the family.

The Oklahoma bombing, the Atlanta bombing, the Long Island Railroad  train shootings.  Bernhard Goetz, Columbine, the World Trade Center. Then Virginia Tech, the Arizona mall, the Oregon mall, Aurora and now the Sandy Hook school in Connecticut.  

I stopped active reporting in 2007 but have friends and former colleagues at almost all that happened since.

The tragedies aside, these are frighteningly difficult stories to cover.  There are an awful lot of moving parts -- and often formerly moving parts.  Police and other investigating agencies, witnesses, hangers-on.  And, of course, the victims. Children this most recent time, dead babies!  You don’t know where to turn first.  So you turn anywhere and start reporting about anything you can see or touch or smell or hear.

And everyone wants to be reported on.  There’s never a shortage of flapping mouths.  Gun control advocates, gun advocates, clergy, psychologists, former FBI profilers (where were you when you could have done some good?)

Should we interview the kids; stick a microphone and a camera lens in the face of a seven year old? (Yes.) Should we interview the clergy? (Probably if they’re active participants in the aftermath and can answer a yes or no question in under 1,000 words.)  Should we interview the first responders? (Of course.)  The cops, the medical examiners, the survivors, members of the community with no direct connection to what took place?  (Yes.)  Things to make this real to the rest of the world.

What purpose do we serve with marathon coverage?  None.  We do it because the infrastructure to do it is at hand.  We do it because all the time people have “...just tuned in.”

It’s damned debilitating to do and it’s damned debilitating to watch.  To an extent you can forge ahead as a reporter, just keep working.  Don’t let it in.  As a viewer or reader, after awhile, you just have to turn off the TV or the internet, or fold the newspaper and drop it in the trashcan.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

1110 Real Gun Control

1110  Real Gun Control

It starts at home.  And it can’t start at home until parents take control of their children.  And that can’t happen unless they start early.

“Now, Bobby, don’t be shooting that handgun inside the house.”  Bobby is eleven.  That’s too late.

Let’s say you’re a rootin’ tootin’ card holding member of the NRA, with guns all over the place and antique rifles and blunderbusses and pistols going back nine generations, enough ammunition for a regiment and mooseheads on your wall.  Big John Roberts and the Supremes confirm it is your right to “bear arms.”  Okay.  There are other interpretations of the second amendment, but that’s the one we have to live with for now.

So it’s pointless to try to stop someone who wants a gun from getting one.  But all the safety courses, and lectures about “respect for the weapon” and “respect for life” from gun advocates don’t mean much if some out of control nut job of a kid doesn’t learn early that these things are dangerous and people with warped minds or uncontrolled anger can be death walking.  Your death.

You combine a loose cannon with a real cannon, sit him down at a video game console for a few years while he zaps zombies or space aliens or cartoon terrorists, sometimes you get a guy who transfers the animated fantasy into a pile of un-animated corpses and wounded.

The Connecticut shooter was no kid.  But it’s impossible to say “no one saw this coming.”  Someone had to.  Even if it was his gun-collecting parents.

Newtown, CT is a lovely little town surrounded by nothing.  It's upscale, quiet and now a living hell.  Junior is mad at mommy, goes to mommy's house and shoots her dead.  So it shouldn't be a total loss, he also goes to a grade school and offs 20 babies, six adults and himself.  At least he's not here to reproduce and we don't have to hear about his tough childhood and how the big kids bullied him.

When the President of the United States is driven to tears during a post-massacre speech, maybe that’s a sign that we need to be doing something more than advocate the elimination of guns in the hands of the public.  

Of the loose cannons with real cannons on the street today, there’s little we can do.  Little, but not nothing.

Rat out your kid/husband/lover/pool-shooting pals when they make noises like they’ll become the next Adam Lanza or Jacob Roberts or Jared Loughner or Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold or Charles Whitman or Seung Hui Cho.  Let people know about their angry bragging... let them know that they soak up half a bottle of Old Grand-dad each night and then polish and load their 9mm Glock and old grand dad’s 1943 M-1.

It’s simple, though not easy.  But it’s one way to cut down on some of this violence.

The Brady bunch for handgun control hasn’t made enough of a dent.  Neither has Mayor Bloomberg’s laudable effort to protect the city from itself.

Time to bring out the big guns:  Mom and dad.

Shrapnel:

--Stories like this are miserable to cover, not only because of the profound tragedy but because they are complex and we’re all trained to report the newest available information -- or misinformation post haste.  Early on, the shooter’s mother was widely identified as a teacher at the Sandy Hook elementary school. She wasn’t.

--It took 32 hours for that information to emerge, understandable because fixing a mistake like that is far from everyone’s mind.  And it’s not a terribly important datum, given the circumstances.  But you can be sure other early “facts” will be turned around.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

1109 Wandering Plants

1109 Wandering Plants

It’s magic.  The various flowers and mini-trees migrate from one part of the house to another.  Somehow.

There are 20 live ones and about a half dozen fakes.  But they all must have legs.

They are rarely in the same place today that they were yesterday.  There’s no telling how that happens, though I suspect there is a Prime Mover.

A “money tree,” a few orchids, a couple of bamboos, a vase of wheat-like stalks.  A glass bowl of curly willows, and on and on.  They switch places, usually overnight but sometimes in broad daylight.  And figuring out how they swap places or find new places?  That’s a complete mystery.

They find new corners.  Surely, they must walk.  But without legs, how do they do that?

They travel silently.  But they travel.  And never when you can see them do it.

Orchids have a wide following of people who have huge books on how to take care of them.  Ours just grow and make new flowers.

Poinsettias are fragile and last only a short time.  Except ours.   One has lived for two or three years with absolutely no care except a daily watering.

Okay, okay, the fake ones stay as they are forever because they’re made of plastic and paper and wire.  Easy to understand.

But the vines?  The ignored vines?  They just keep growing.  You can’t kill them.  And putting them in the trash is murder!  You trim them and they just grow back.

Your correspondent has a black thumb.  He can’t grow a decent potato in Long Island sand, famous for its potatoes.  You can grow a potato in air, for cryin’ out loud.  Here, they flourish.

Onions here grow scallions.  Bury them in the woods and they still grow scallions.

Okay, maybe it’s because everything grows well in central PA.  Or maybe it’s magic.  We live on what used to be farm, forest and deer country.  The deer still show up.  The trees still grow.  The plants still move around as if they had legs.

Even inside the house.

There are a few exceptions to the constant growth. Around here, you plant tomatoes, and nothing happens.  But throw a few watermelon seeds into a pot of dirt and ignore it, and six months later you get a watermelon.

Fellow citybillies take heed:  there’s no telling what happens in nature.

In the meantime, if anyone can say how the plants migrate from room to room, please speak up.

Shrapnel:

--President, George W. Bush appeared astounded at the way grocery checkouts work (unlike his father who was also once stalled on a supermarket line, but didn’t really care.) So amazed was Bush II, that he honored the inventors of the barcode at a ceremony in the White House.  Now, one of the two co inventors, Norman Woodland has died at the age of 91.

--The other co-inventor, Bernard Silver died in 1963.  These two college boys earned their patent in 1949.  It took awhile for the thing to catch on, but now it’s yet another techno-thingy we can’t live without.

--Soon, babies will be given barcodes at birth along with their social security number.  Then they’ll have those microchips embedded under their skin and their DNA will be taken into the national data base.  You think you have no privacy now, just wait.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2012