July 27, 2007

Checkout Woes and other Drivel

Category: News — Ira @ 7:06 pm

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______________________
“I am not making this up.”
—Dave Barry

There was an unfortunate occurrence at the Giant grocery store last Sunday when I stopped to pick up a few things on the way home from church. I have long ago accepted as an irreversible law of the universe the fact that the checkout line I choose at any store, any time, anywhere in the world, will instantly slow and crawl along at a snail’s pace (or slower) or stop completely, sometimes for no apparent reason, for long periods of time.

Once, while a student at Bob Jones in Greenville, SC, I chose the very shortest line at a K-Mart, only one little old lady with two small potted plants. I swooped in triumph- antly behind her. What luck. The sale was rung up. But no.

“Wal Mart has these same plants for fifty cents apiece less,” the lady quavered in a querulous voice.

Angry, quick thoughts like, “then why don’t you go to Wal Mart?” flashed through my mind, as before my horrified eyes, the clerk stopped everything and CALLED THE MANAGER. Of course that took several minutes. The manager finally lollygagged his way over, stated piously that they would not be undersold by Wal Mart and gave the lady back her fifty cents per plant, or whatever trifle it was. He then spent much time punching savagely at the cash register, which buzzed and clacked angrily before acknowledging the refund and reluctantly spitting out a revised receipt. Meanwhile, of course, the other checkout lines, all ten of them, were clicking along at approximately the speed of light.

Anyway, back to Giant and last Sunday. I picked up a few items and some things for my lunch and got in line at the express checkout behind not one little old lady, but two, and they were together. I should have known better. I should have backed off and gone through regular checkout. They had put their stuff in one shopping cart, but checked out separately. The clerk, a middle-aged woman, obviously knew them and chatted inanely at great length, which was fine. I’m as patient as anyone, especially on a Sunday after hearing a stirring sermon at Westminster Presbyterian.

The first lady paid for her things, then decided one bag was too heavy and wanted her milk container separated from the other items. The second lady, standing behind their cart, directly in front of mine, then checked her things through and paid for them. She was also very fussy, deciding that one bag was too heavy (it was less than half full) and the milk jug too wet, and blah, blah, blah, on and on.

Meanwhile, the guy behind me, who obviously had labored under the delusion that Giant actually has an express checkout, had chosen to shop without a cart or a basket. He stood there stolidly like some great grocery monster, his arms outstretched and struggling to balance a vast pile of assorted items. I’ve never seen anything like it. Someone else must have loaded him up, but there was no one with him. I don’t know how he did it. He kept shifting and swaying, trying to keep any single item from escaping and splatting on the floor. I felt bad for him, but could not move forward to make room for him to deposit his pile onto the checkout counter. Oblivious to the crisis, the ladies yakked and fussed.

After enough time had passed for the pudgy pastor at Westminster to preach another full sermon (his sermons are brief, but substantive), everything was finally paid for and satisfactorily bagged and the change received and counted and the receipts thoroughly scanned for mistakes. The ladies slowly started forward out of the checkout line, and I pushed my own cart forward. The guy behind me immediately lunged into the small space that had opened and unleashed his pile of groceries onto the counter with a great rustle and clatter of plastic and tin cans.

Sadly, the second lady then suddenly stopped to impart one last particle of wisdom or admonition to the clerk. No one will ever know what she was going to say because the bottom chassis of my cart nudged, and I mean barely touched, the back of her ankle. I didn’t even realize anything had happened until she turned reproachfully and leveled a hostile glare at me.

“I am SO sorry,” I said politely.

“Sorry won’t cut it,” she quavered severely. But she moved out of the way. I hastily paid for my few items. The clerk looked grim. The two ladies trundled off to the side, the one I’d nudged limping in a very exaggerated manner, and sat primly on a bench. Maybe they were waiting for their ride. The wounded one reached down and rubbed her ankle vigorously.

“Next thing you know, she’ll need an ambulance,” I thought to myself. All I wanted was out of there. I grabbed my bags and fled. They glared after me, muttering and cluck-ing to each other about my uncouth and caddish behavior. I could only hope the store manager wouldn’t check the security cameras and decide to press charges for assault or something. It was an accidental nudge, I tell you.
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I can’t prove it, but I’m strongly suspicious that an irate and humor-deficient feminist defaced my bumper sticker. In Lancaster County! As you can see in the picture, someone keyed out the middle line, so the sticker says “Without Men….The oil needed changing,” which in an odd way, makes sense as well. I was extremely irritated when I first noticed it on Saturday afternoon, just as I was getting ready to leave on an errand. I have no idea how long it had been that way. I’m just glad the sticker was on the bumper and not on the tailgate, or they (she/he) would have damaged the paint with the key scratches. I ripped the sticker off, only later wishing that I’d taken a picture of it on the truck just as it was. But after returning home, I unfurled it and stuck it on a piece of wood and took a picture anyway.

Rush Limbaugh claims that feminism was founded by ugly women who couldn’t get dates. While that may be a tad simplistic, I will confess that almost all the feminist spokesmen (oops, spokeswomen) that I’ve ever seen on TV were less than stellar in the looks department. In any case, I sure wish I would have caught the defacer in the act. I would have pressed charges in a heartbeat. I suspect it was an ugly woman. Or a very weak, sissified man. Whoever did it was certainly ugly inside. Fortunately, in my last order from Fred the Curmudgeon, I purchased four bumper stickers. So I just slapped on a fresh one. If they (she/he) get this one, I’ll place another inside the back of my truck window. If they (she/he) break the window, well, let’s just not go there.

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Since my old clothes dryer was pronounced a lost cause by my friend Paul Zook, I decided last week to enter the appliance jungle and buy another one. Paul suggested that I call some used-appliance dealers, but I decided to check out new pricing before making any purchase. Last Thursday (7/19) after working out at the gym, I headed down the half block to JB Zimmerman, the True Value store in Blue Ball. They have a wide selection of appliances. I told the salesman what I was looking for, and he showed me what they had.

I bought one on the spot, a medium-priced GE model. The salesman checked the delivery schedule and said they could deliver it the next day, Friday. It now sits proudly in the laundry room and works like a charm, very quiet. It even has a little light on the inside that lights up when you open the door. Never saw the like.

I was very impressed with Jeff, the salesman. He was polite, friendly, very know-ledgeable, and not at all smarmy. He showed me the models in the price range I requested and did not try to persuade me to upgrade. Most importantly, he did not try to sell me an extended warranty, a rip-off method that I absolutely abhor. I had planned on checking other stores, such as Sears, but because of the salesman, I bought on the spot. I even sent JB Zimmerman a letter of appreciation, something I very rarely do, because I was so impressed.

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The movie we’ve all been waiting for is now in theaters. The Simpsons. I usually go to about one movie a year, and this year it will be The Simpsons. But I’ll probably go the second or third weekend, so the crowds will have thinned out a bit. Can’t wait. I’m way overdue for some gut-busting humor.

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  1. This post is your funniest yet..thanks for the humor!
    the bumper sticker defacing people don’t know what they’re up against–(an endless supply :)

    Comment by Dorothy — July 27, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

  2. Yep, Ira, there’s no question the 2 old ladys spotted you as a lawyer. Do you realize there are over a million of them in the USA ? [I mean the lawyers]. I myself recently have wasted a whole forenoon being depositioned [whatever that is] in an inane suit someone brought against someone else, that I supposidly had material information on..Two senior partners from opposing law firms, paid me 35 dollars, for my time & milage. [they probably charged someone thousands of dollars]. My favorite answers in a setting like that are. ‘would you repeat the question? ‘etc. etc.& then studied my little notebook intently. The little one I carry every day. One of the bigwigs at last demanded to examine the little book, but handed it back without comment after not being able to read my fine handwriting. Well, enough of that. A pox to all such…..

    Oh, by the way, the great Marner-Miller Wedding draws near. All relatives are expected in S.C. in Aug. We are happy to put up as many as come. The pool is fine, too for those who swim. We’ve got 2 pigmy goats now, to fight the kudzu behind the pool. If enough folk show up, maybe we can bar-b-que one of them.

    Comment by jess from S.C. — July 28, 2007 @ 12:05 am

  3. While not a usual Blog activity, I am saying goodbye.

    I find arguing/debating differences stimulating, thought provoking, enjoyable, and usually a profitable use of time. To challenge and be challenged about the basis and reasoning of one’s beliefs is a worthwhile pursuit – whether it be politics, religion, social matters, race, ketchup/catsup, sports (Oh Yes, THE EVIL EMPIRE RULES!) or any other topic. All are ripe for discussion on many levels.

    For me, when discussions are typically “descriptions of fact” or when one’s ability to present a position is abridged, the impetus to continue wanes. Such discourse becomes more a polite conversation than a debate – usually intended to not upset anyone.

    I apologize to any who feel they have unjustly been the object of my comments. With one exception, it was nothing personal. I responded from my perspective (not yours) and my responses were about the positions (stated), and again, not you personally.

    I am neither a family member or from your world. As such, some of your phrases and statements led me to conclusions different from what you intended or you assumed they would be. However, that’s what happens when words are spoken or written. Their meaning is open to the interpretation of the receiver – not the speaker or writer. We shouldn’t assume our words will be understood as we intended. Often they aren’t. Such differences are, I feel, can be beneficial to both you and I. These differences introduce an additional texture to the tapestry of our lives and, while we may disagree, it gives us room to look for possible agreement – or to acknowledge that we don’t and won’t.

    I believe in Ira (and the skills he has) to become a writer. He has a way with words and can skillfully bring them together in a way others can’t. We agree on many matters, and on others, we don’t. In my world, debate is more unlimited and with fewer restraints. Yes, civility and some general rules apply, but that’s about it. Debate is intended to establish a basis or foundation from which further interactions take place. Nothing (or hopefully nothing) is left to assumption. If you have something to say, you say it. If you don’t like the response, you say so, and you don’t whine, go hide or pretend that it wasn’t said. If you’re wrong, you admit it. If you’re right, you don’t crow about it and you have the sense and courage to know the difference and act accordingly.

    It is my opinion (and here I stress my – no one else’s) that Ira, while he has invited critical arguments, does not really want them. This isn’t a problem for me. A blog is not necessarily a democratic process.It is Ira’s blog after all, and those are simply the ground-rules he’s set. They just aren’t my cup of tea – or coffee – if you prefer. As long as the rules are clearly stated, I will play by them – whatever they are. It makes choosing to participate (or not) an easy process. I am choosing not.

    To me, one of the measures of a man (and I include women equally in this) is not just what he says, but is also his willingness to defend and/or establish the validity/basis of what has been said. Perhaps, your cultural view of being the only “holders of the truth” precludes the need for such ideas as these. Whatever it is, the only one to offer a rebuttal to anything I’ve said is LeRoy. For that, I commend and thank him. I believe him to be absolutely wrong, but that’s what makes a horserace.

    So, I say goodbye and thank you. It has been an enlightening experience. Keep your support of Ira active and on-going. I know of the place he resides (having been there myself) and though he may growl a bit, family support is necessary to the process. Thank you for the contributions you’ve made.

    Thorne

    Ira’s response 7/29: Thank you, sir, for your many contributions and for your good wishes. I wish you well as well.

    Comment by Thorne — July 28, 2007 @ 12:35 am

  4. Yes, checkout lines at the grocery are still the frontier, potentialy. Good things happen there too. One of my favorite memories is from Walmart in Seneca SC with Nate and Porter running a twenty dollar bet on who will spend the most money. Conveniently, Nate was buying for me, and actually sent me from the checkout line, to get something, anything I wanted. Porter spent a hundred and Nate something like three hundred ninety. He was appalled. But the deed was done and I had four new shirts.

    Keep an eye open for the troubled, bumper sticker-scratching types. You might actually catch one.

    Comment by Mervin — July 28, 2007 @ 10:22 am

  5. I howled with laughter. You have NO IDEA how many times this happens to me….little old ladies are one thing, but add coupons with the little old ladies and you may as well just pull up a chair. The next thing that is equally disturbing is the lady that stands in front of you with a receipt longer then her arm and says to the cashier, “are you sure those strawberries were not on sale?” at this point it seems best just to reach into my purse and hand the lady a $1! Seems there should be rules for etiquette posted about somewhere for check-out lines.

    On the flip side, I have waited in line at the store numerous times suffering through some long Wagler negotiation….seems we are often guilty of holding the line up ourselves.

    Comment by Janice — July 28, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  6. Your blog this week has left me dumb-founded. You begin by exhibiting a profound disrespect for age – cloaking it as “humor” (?) Adding insult to injury, you then proceed into a rant against the feminist ideology. You purport that a small, “out of context” statement by Rush Limbaugh stands for the entirety of a philosophy (“… feminism was founded by ugly women who couldn’t get dates.”) What’s worse is you believe it. If I were to take what you have said to its final conclusion, then you must believe that being a prostitute is the crowning achievement for a woman. After all, men will pay for her beauty! In this way, the man feels he controls all aspects of the male-female relationship, and that the woman will bask in the knowledge that she is truly desired!

    Where and when did you get nominated superior to anyone – young, old, male, female, ugly or handsome? Did you ever think there might be a portion of the society that finds you: (a) mildly offensive; (b) offensive; (c) very offensive (d) all of the previous three?

    Your words express the views of a misogynist who is clearly mistrustful of women – especially strong and intelligent ones. Your words are demeaning and your attitudes repugnant. I think these attitudes went out of vogue in the 14th century, though there is a contingent of undereducated and over inflated male egos that think that this philosophy is still an acceptable one. These descriptions and attitudes actually show you to be a cultural sloth. I’m convinced that problems in many relationships arise from such arrogance. The fact that you insist upon aligning yourself with this outrageous and backwards thinking is disgraceful!

    Ladies, before you further extol this man’s finer “attributes” think about how severely he has demeaned you – not by direct name, but the sheer fact of your gender. To him, you are second-class citizens – nothing more. Heaven help you if you should be old, physically infirm, or found deficient in any other way.

    Ira’s response 7/29: Rush does say one other thing I forgot to mention: Modern feminism is devoid of humor. I’d say he’s right on about that. Thanks for your comment. Please visit again.

    Comment by Margaret — July 29, 2007 @ 1:33 am

  7. Ira has suggested that I write something to post on his web site. I have thought about what I might write about now. I could address the stumbling stock market, the drag on aggregate demand from the housing market pull back, the surge in Iraq, the presidential campaign (I live in Iowa so that campaign has been going since 2006) or whatever. I decided to think about global warming versus energy shortages.

    What is the more pressing crisis, global warming or energy? Al Gore has tried to stampede me into mindless panic about inconvenient truths. I wonder if Michael Moore will be along shortly with Fahrenheit 800 (slightly over the melting point of lead and the approximate surface temperature of Venus and its runaway greenhouse). The globe is warming. Too much good science backs that fact up. This warming is dangerous because even if the global climate change were net neutral (it does appear it will be net negative), the parts of the planet that will suffer loss in its carrying capacity from climate change (i.e., savannah becoming desert) will force mass migrations towards other places or result in die offs. Now we debate, is the dominant cause of the warming human induced or otherwise? Most climate science and models point to human activity as the majority cause of the warming. A minority in science says that human activity does contribute to global warming (if fossil fuels put CO2 into the atmosphere to the point that the partial pressure of CO2 increases, average temperature must increase, if only a little) but that other causes are much more significant. One report that I read recently from a meteorological scientist states that the solar output is increasing and the increase in solar power is burying the warming affect from humans’ increasing the partial pressure of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The sun is the 800-pound gorilla in the earth’s heat balance equation. The earth is almost completely solar powered. All fossil fuels come from solar activity in the past. The atmosphere and ocean’s currents are solar driven. About the only energy sources on earth that did not come from this sun are the heavy metals (uranium, plutonium) to power fission reactors, and they came from previous suns that went super nova. This meteorologist stated that the sun runs 11-year, 22-year, 80-year and 220-year cycles (the ones we have discovered so far) that fluctuate solar output and that several of the cycles are reaching their maximums now. If the sun’s power output is reaching towards a synergistic maximum, this could be the majority cause of global warming. If so, we could face global cooling in about 50 years when those cycles’ peaks move away from each other. So, I don’t know yet how quickly to rush to draconian measures to stop the increase and even decrease the partial pressures of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, some refrigerants) in the atmosphere.

    I am convinced that there is another, more critical crisis upon us and needs solved now. The people on earth continue to require even more energy and the supply of available and economically possible energy supply is loosing ground to the demand. Our global population, as well as this nation’s population, continues to increase. China and India are significantly increasing the standard of living in their nations. Since the first industrial revolution, the human standard of living floats on a sea of power. More people and more people with higher standards of living equals more energy each year. Right now, our modern economies are powered by fossil fuels. We tend to use coal to make electricity and petroleum for transportation. We use natural gas to heat and in the United States, to make electric power. In 2008, we will need about 1.8% more energy than we used in 2007. This is running up against an observation made in the 1950’s that is proving true. A petroleum engineer named Hubbard postulated that when an oil field has 50% of its oil removed, the rate of production (barrels per day) decreases, regardless of changes in extraction methods. He then made the ridiculous prediction that United States oil production would start declining in 1972. When that actually happened, his observation became known as the Hubbard Limit. The concern today is that the world probably hits the global Hubbard Limit in 2012. See what this means. The rate of production (barrels per day) starts falling while demand continues to climb at 2 to 3 percent each year. We need to wean ourselves very quickly from dependence on fossil fuels, petroleum in particular. Petroleum comes from remote parts of the world from places that are not friendly to the United States (Russia, Iran, Venezuela), are moments away from hostile takeovers (Saudi Arabia) or are political basket cases (Nigeria).

    Energy is the foundation of our standard of living. Energy is key to national security. Our military is energy (as well as information) intensive. Our economy, which supports our military and our diplomacy, lives or dies on energy. The United States has a degree of security and influence in the world because we have the REALLY BIG ECONOMY. Japan attacked the United States in 1941 not only because of the hubris and racism of the military government but because we were working hard to put a collar on them by shutting down their petroleum sources. Look at their attack plan. They seized the resources, especially oil, of Malaysia and Indonesia and tried to build a ring of steel around the resources to resist the counter attack by the Western allies.
    We have a lot of coal but it is dirty in several different ways. One way, despite bag houses, is that coal plants put a lot of tiny particles into the atmosphere that play havoc with people’s health. Another way is that coal plants annually throw tons of radioactive elements (thorium, uranium) into the atmosphere. The nuclear reactor that melted down on Three Mile Island in 1979 put no radioactive elements into the environment outside its containment. The nuclear reactor that burned up in Chernobyl in 1986 possibly put more radioactive elements than the coal plants that year. The coal plants continue, long after Chernobyl was entombed. A third way that coal is dirty is its CO2 production. If we want to hedge bets on the human contribution to global warming, we don’t want to sit the energy economy on coal until we build a coal plant that sequesters CO2. There is a prototype coal plant that does this, using steam to process coal into hydrogen and CO2, injecting the CO2 into the ground and burning the hydrogen in a gas turbine, producing water as the product of combustion. However, a prototype is a long way from an economically possible, full scale, working power plant.

    We can diversify our energy resources in the short and intermediate term several ways:
    Conservation. This does not mean Jimmy Carter’s calling for lowering or raising thermostat setpoints and other suffering for the greater good. This is market and statue (national security is the business of the government and energy legislation is warranted) driven changes in construction and manufactured goods to increase energy efficiency. We have a national energy code, ANSI / ASHRAE 90.1. Iowa has adapted this by statue as the required standard for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) design but provides no authority to check construction plans and job sites for compliance. We can improve on this energy code by 30% with only a 2% increase in construction cost. We can achieve a 35-mpg CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) or better for cars and light trucks with six cycle engines (water injection drives the last two cycles by recovering mechanical energy from the waste heat of the combustion in the third cycle), plug in hybrids (this is an electric vehicle with a liquid fueled sustainer engine as a backup instead of today’s Prius type of hybrids that are internal combustion vehicles with batteries that boost acceleration and recover energy during braking) and more composites in the bodies. Conservation is the cheapest way to match energy demand to supply in terms of dollars per BTU (British thermal unit, the basic unit of energy. The International System (SI) unit is the joule.). Increasing alternate energy sources matches supply to demand by increasing available BTUs. Conservation achieves the same end by decreasing needed BTUs.

    Nuclear. This is probably the best short and intermediate solution to increase alternate energy. Nuclear power is a very mature technology, and it is safe. We learned a lot from Three Mile Island and have made light water reactors very reliable and safe. The United States is the only G8 economy that is afraid of nukes. We can build a lot of plants in a short time using proven designs. Our NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) is streamlining the licensing process if the utility picks one of four standard designs but that still means a five-year licensing process. The construction requires another five years. Attorneys (many times leaches on the body politic) can and will stretch out this ten year cycle far past ten years while China is starting to build forty plants. We have 108 nuclear plants that were started in the 1960s through 1980s. A reactor can only be certified for 40 years (if it is annealed around year 20, an expensive step). After this, accumulated interstitial displacement of the iron atoms in the reactor’s steel casing by neutrons spewing out of the nuclear reaction makes it too dangerous to continue to use the reactor. The last of these plants will shutdown and decommission in 2027. So, if we do nothing, 25% of our electrical power generators will be gone by 2027. Replace with what, coal? The world has about 70 years of proven uranium reserves. We can stretch this out by building breeder reactors. This is a more dangerous design as that they produce plutonium. This is a bomb material. Also, breeders have more potential to have a nuclear explosion inside the core during an accident. Chernobyl was derived from a breeder design (water cooled, graphite moderated). The United States had a breeder farm in Washington State at Hanford. This is where we made our bomb material. Our reactors have produced about 95,000 tons of high-level waste that still needs disposed. Since nuclear materials are very dense (Uranium is element 92), that big number does not represent much volume. The NRC and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are showing a pilot plant this summer that processes high-level waste into new fuel rods and seriously reducing the amount of waste that needs to go into the high-level waste site. Let us stop pissing our pants in mindless fear and get some nukes under construction now.

    Oil shales. The world’s largest known petroleum deposit (two trillion barrels, about ten times more than Saudi Arabia) is located in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming. The oil is locked in the shale and can’t be removed by simply drilling a hole in the ground and pumping it out. It must be mined and chemically separated or heated until driven out of the shale. Shell claims that they have recently run an oil field in the shale deposits by drilling holes, inserting electric heaters, heating the ground for several years then extracting the oil through a conventionally pumped hole. When I looked at their process last year, they said they could recover the oil and make a profit at $60 a barrel. Shell abandoned an earlier recovery project and the EPA abandoned theirs in the mid-80’s when the price of oil plunged. This time, the Hubbard Limit will make sure that the price of oil will not plunge again. To me, this is a great application for nukes. Nukes are base load technology, preferring to put out the same power 24/7, never varying their output. Thousands of electric heaters in holes are the steadiest load that I can think of.

    Wind power. Several decades of steady development has made utility scale wind power practical. Ten percent of Iowa’s electric power comes from utility wind farms in the NW corner of the state. A wind farm can be built at about $1.50 per watt, the same as current design coal plants (CO2 sequestering coal plants will be much more expensive). Wind power has limits. One, there must be suitable wind sites (about 18 mph average wind speed) within several hundred miles of the users. Two, only 20% of a power grid’s power can come from windmills unless they are coupled to an energy storage scheme. This is because wind is not base load power. It does drop to zero at times so it is considered supplemental power. Wind becomes baseload power if it can be stored. We hope to see a wind energy storage power plant built here in Dallas Center, Iowa. It may be built here because there is a rock dome 3,000 feet down that will trap the compressed air pumped in at night by the windmills for use the next day to drive the power turbines. Since these domes aren’t everywhere that wind works, I hope to see high-energy flywheels, several tons spinning at 100,000 RPM inside a vacuum chamber buried in the ground, to store the wind power. If windmills are coupled to storage, wind can fill up 50% or more of a grid.

    Sequestered Coal. This is the Holy Grail of coal power, true Clean Coal. I don’t know if this works. The idea is to remove the carbon from the combustion process and store it so it does not get into the atmosphere as CO2. As noted above, I have seen a general interest science presentation of a prototype plant that strips the hydrogen from the coal, burns it in a gas turbine and stores the carbon in the form of CO2 into the ground. If this works in a utility scale coal plant and is economically feasible, wonderful, because we have a several hundred-year supply of coal buried in the United States. The trick is the CO2 storage; the rest of the process will work. If global warming does not have a major human contribution, this approach, without CO2 storage (just let it go), can be a major source of United State’s electric power. The hydrogen stripping process takes care of the particle and radioactive discharge problems of coal plants. If the CO2 storage does work, the United States would be well served with 10% wind, 5% hydro (existing, we probably can’t develop any more), 45% nuclear and 40% CO2 sequestered coal and claim that our electric infrastructure contributes zero CO2 and almost no other pollutants.

    I could go on but this is getting long. The point is the as bad as we think human-induced global warming may or may not be, I think that energy supply is a much more pressing crisis and is very real. We can restructure our energy infrastructure to cut our ties to energy sources in other nations, continue to support and expand our standard of living and we can hedge our bets on human-induced global warming as we change.

    Comment by Mark Hersch — July 29, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  8. Ira:
    Simply trying to ignore my statements or attempting to ridicule me as humorless does not reduce or obviate the validity of what I’ve said. What I just posted in your blog is eerily similar to responses I made to you 7 or 8 years ago. At that time, in private conversations, you presented the same type of biased and degrading statements about women as you do now. (remember; “my woman”?) Quite frankly, Ira, I’m hugely disappointed to realize that you would even want to cling to such outmoded and debased platforms.

    That you would think nothing of mocking older women because they weren’t somehow fitting into your “timeframe” shows me a troubling lack of empathy. Have you stopped to think what it might be lack to be unable to operate as quickly and freely as youth can? Is this the stuff that you call humor? Is this the best you can do when someone calls you out on it because of its cruelty?

    Concerning the lack of a sense of humor. Would you consider it laughable if it had been your sex that has been bred like animals, beaten, enslaved, prostituted, raped, tortured and burned at the stake for centuries simply for daring to voice differing opinions from the ruling gender? It wasn’t funny then Ira, and it isn’t funny now.

    I count my lucky stars daily that I am privileged to live in an era where I, as a woman, am free to choose my life’s work, rather than having to accept what is expected of me simply because I was born with female organs! If that makes me a feminist, then I thank you for the honor.

    Margaret

    Ira’s response: For someone who was left “dumbfounded,” you certainly have a lot to say. Your shrill and hysterical fussing is worse than that of the ladies at the grocery store and even more tiresome. Are you really that disappointed about the “outmoded and debased platforms” or are you just pretending you are so you can use my site to publicly preach to all my “hick” readers and display your superior intellectual/philosophical prowess? If you remember in such minute detail my faults from eight years ago (I could only remember that we fought a lot, and now I remember why.), then why feign such disappoint-ment now?

    As for the grocery store incident, what happened happened, and I would have told the story had it involved a young lady or ladies or a young man or men of any age.

    The fact also remains that a crime was committed against my property, a point that you have ignored. Like I said, I suspect the person who did it was a feminist and ugly, inside and out. If that offends you, I suggest you find other things to peruse on the web. Or maybe start your own site.

    In the meantime, lighten up and try to find a bit of humor in life. People live longer that way. I also suggest you start reading Camille Paglia, the only feminist writer out there who makes a lick of sense.

    Comment by Margaret — July 30, 2007 @ 1:23 am

  9. Just got in from spending the weekend out of state taking in a NasCar race and visiting family. I found the checkout line incident hilarious, being well able to visualize Ira mumbling and seething, unable to comprehend his ill-fated luck.

    I believe Thorne made the right decision to bow out of future “debates,” as he calls them. He needs to start his own site, am sure he will achieve an audience that will be more appreciative of his humor and vast wealth of knowledge. I suggest Mark Hersch take his spot in this audience; thanks for weighing in, Mark. Goodbye Thorne.

    Ira, this morning Dort and I were enjoying breakfast at a local diner in central Illinois, and were approached by a jolly looking young man. After establishing the fact I am a Wagler, he introduced himself as “Ira’s new boss, Patrick Miller.” We chilled breifly and look foward to doing so in the future. May Graber Supply continue to prosper under the new leadership.

    John Wagler

    Comment by John Wagler — July 30, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  10. Very funny checkout story, never fails if I pick the shortest line I always end up wasting much time muttering and mumbling to myself. Today I was racing down a 2 lane hi-way and all of a sudden traffic slowed to about 45 mph and there were at least 25 vehicles behind an old red truck. I proceeded to make my way to the front and lo and behold at the very front of the long line was an old geezer (no offense) peering out over his steering wheel and grinning happily as if he had no idea that there were many cars behind him. I had to think of Ira in the check-out line har, har.

    -Andrew

    Comment by Andrew — July 31, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  11. Great story, if I get stuck in a checkout line, I will surely think of this blog and hope I don’t embarrass myself by laughing out loud. Keep writing. Bear

    Comment by Bear — July 31, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  12. If you want a serious analysis, Wayne Grudem’s book analyzing Evangelical Feminism might be a place to start, if considering principles of the Bible as relevant to any debate is not too restrictive. He takes real concerns about mistreatment and depreciation of women seriously, but does not thereby become a “feminist.”

    But I really like your good humor, Ira.

    One author, who used to rub shoulders with David Rockefeller, published the quip Rockefeller made when “feminism” was brought up in a conversation. This wealthy and powerful man said that “they” promoted Feminism because they (certain Internationalist corporate profiteers committed to a world government) would thereby have more women in the workforce, from which they could profit.

    Almost laughable in their perspective of somehow moving the world. But it is worth something because of some real influence some of those folks have in funding educational materials and government policy – things which have had an effect on society quite a bit in those 40 plus years.

    Should we start a counter movement “Masculinist”? But your bumper sticker suggests men do not need banners waving to prove our worth. And for right-minded men, (strictly my opinion here) women do not need to wave sectarian banners for us to truly appreciate their worth, either.

    Comment by Heidi Whitman — August 1, 2007 @ 5:22 pm

  13. Sorry, the above comment was by LeRoy, not Heidi. I’ll have to see if she agrees….

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — August 1, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

  14. Peeping into the roots of Ira Wagler. As a teenager I recall groups of young men on several occasions visiting at my grandfather’s house on the homestead at Morgantown, PA. Among them was a young dark haired man with his hair combed in a sideways swirl who stood out from the rest and usually sat with his legs crossed. This was Ira Wagler’s father David who later wrote a column in the Budget (a weekly Amish paper) for many years. I generally looked forward to read his column. I also found David Wagler’s books to be uplifting.

    About seven years back when my wife and I still had a house in Phoenix, Arizona, David Wagler, now in his seventy-eighth year, and his wife came to Phoenix for the winter. We rented to them a room at our house for several months. This gave us the opportunity to know them even better. At that time he was writing another book. Most of the day and sometimes into the wee hours after the sun went down we could hear his typewriter clicking along. To be exact it was a word processor that was not as quiet as they make them today.

    One of the things that he wanted to accomplish while he was in Phoenix, at least if possible, was to find his grade school teacher whom he had some clue that she may still be living. After a number of phone calls while following the leads that he had, he received an answer at a lumberyard from a voice that sounded familiar. The lady at the desk who answered the phone was his former schoolteacher, now into her nineties. It was her family business and she still worked in the office part time. They then had a grand reunion with a lot of catching up to do.

    According to a letter I have which was written on Dec. 4, 1943 by my grand-father to David Wagler, Amos J. Stoltzfus was one who encouraged him during his first effort to publish a small paper called “The Sunbeam.” This camp paper was his first publishing effort when he was yet a young man.

    Ira’s response: Thank you, sir, for your comments and historcal details of my father. It is an honor to me that you read my blog.

    Comment by Chris P. Stoltzus — August 1, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

  15. I feel like I’m sticking my neck out here but I have a question for Mark Hersch. In the report you quoted a certain meteorologist as talking about heavy metals from previous suns that went super nova. Is this your view as well? I’m not trying to hit you over the head with this, but just curious if you subscribe to a literal interpretation of the creation as described in Genesis. Would you care to comment?

    Comment by jason yutzy — August 1, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  16. Ira,
    Well I see you’ve done it again. In your desperate attempts to avoid being pinned down to any definitiveness on the topic at hand, you instead entertain us by throwing “red herrings” at your unsuspecting audience. However, I’d like to thank you for the unexpected compliment concerning my philosophical prowess. I see myself as quite a beginner in the whole field. Most days, I’m afraid I’m far clearer about the fact that “the more I know the more I know I don’t know”! So, I thank-you for the nod.

    Your comment however does lead me to my first point. Since when have I called any of your audience “hicks”? These are your words, Ira, not mine. The few names that I’ve recognized among your readers are all well-educated, well-spoken people. The rest are people you know, not me. Who exactly are you referring to and why are you calling them “hicks”?

    Secondly, about the crime committed against you. There is a reason it’s a bad idea to defend oneself – even in the court of public opinion. Any lawyer worth his salt would know that accusations, based entirely on supposition and personal prejudice (“an ugly feminist or a sissified male”) would be totally inadmissible in Court.

    Thirdly, you’ve “looked a gift horse in the mouth”. Within this week’s discourse, I’ve given you multiple chances to express respect for females who simply ask for nothing more than to be treated as equal partners with men. Instead you’ve used the space to reiterate your utter dismissal and malice toward them. When I expressed disappointment, Ira, I meant it. I would never disrespect you by “feigning” an emotion just to manipulate the discussion. I really trusted that you would have had a fundamental shift in your attitudes from 8 years ago. In the intervening years you married and I assumed that this alone would influence you towards a woman’s equality with man. My assumption, however, appears to be wrong in that you show yourself to be incapable of or unwilling to realize this fundamental truth of our common humanity.

    Here’s a New England joke for you:
    John and Maatha (Martha) were New Hampshire lobster fishermen. John would pull the pot, hand it to Maatha who would pull the lobstah (lobster), put the bait back in, and throw the pot back overboard. One day John turned to speak to Maatha but couldn’t find her on the boat. He called Sam at the Coast Gauhd (Guard) to see if he could find her.

    For three days John had to pull the pots, pull the lobstah, stick a fishhead back in, and throw the pot back overboard. About noontime, he got a call from Sam at the Coast Guahd who said, “John, I found Maatha”. John said, “Where did you find her, Sam”? Sam said, “we found her in one of your pots with about 10 lobstah in there with her. What do you want us to do with the body?” John thought a moment and then said, “Sam, let’s not be fools. You stick her back in that pot, and throw her back overboard!”

    Ira’s response: Ah, yes, the red herring. Couldn’t you find a straw man in there too somewhere? I assumed you considered the audience hicks because you were treating me like one. As for you giving me multiple chances to express myself the way you wanted me to, you must have forgotten a few things in those eight years. It will be a cold day in July in the desert before I allow myself to be manipulated into mouthing politically correct jargon that proves nothing, just because someone is screeching hysterically at me. Anyone can say anything (ie: I’m not racist. I’m not bigoted. I respect women as equal.), and it’s just words. But I won’t and you can’t make me. Just a natural reaction, combined with my stubbornness, I guess.

    Your attempt at humor, while valiant, does not show that you’ve lightened up. And I wouldn’t change a thing I wrote in the blog.

    Comment by Margaret — August 1, 2007 @ 11:55 pm

  17. Thorne, though you’ve said “goodbye,” I’ll take the chance to add one question, since you started our thread of conversation. If you choose not to answer, I guess it becomes a parting shot (though I’ve no intent to injure).

    Why do you believe me to be wrong? Said another way, What do you put in place of the history of the Bible and its claims? (How do you propose to win the Horse Race?)

    Or are you satisfied with Pilate’s disregard of Jesus’ face to face claim by his nihilistic, “What is Truth?”

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — August 2, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

  18. Margaret, It makes me sad that you do not find good old-fashioned humor such as the checkout line story humorous.

    For what it’s worth, as a fellow woman, I do not feel the need to go around making sure I am “EQUAL” with man, as we are all EQUALLY important to our Creator God. If I may be so bold as to dare say, I think you would be much happier if you truly enjoyed womanhood instead of jumping on the popular (but unhappy) feminist train…

    Comment by Dorothy — August 2, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  19. Well Ira, I can assure you there are no cold days in July here in the desert….As a young girl I remember idolizing my uncles Ira and Nate, they seemed so much larger than life and always spent time and energy on their 2 little nieces… These 2 uncles never ceased to encourage me to follow my dreams, get an education, venture into business (large or small). I cannot tell you the number of times both of them said “you can do anything you want” & “follow your dreams.” To hear one of them referenced above as not being supportive of women is ridiculous and almost hilarious.

    As for Margaret – it’s a shame that you feel you must uphold a strange brand of feminism… actually, I correct myself, it’s not so strange, it’s just that it is a “type” of feminism that allows women everywhere to rant and rave with no apparent dignity in the name of equal rights. If your theory is that women deserve equal rights because of past treatment, then this is something I, as a woman, want no part of! You may want things handed to you on these terms, but as a business women for a major company and also an active member of the WPN (Womens’ Professional Network), I can assure you that this is not what I want.

    Were you a male right now and had just posted the above comments, we would all generally consider this type of man as insecure, given to whining, somewhat of a bore, and would probably not feel his opinion was worth paying attention to. As there are different types of women, there are also many different types of men. So congratulations. You have achieved your goal of being equal to a type of man.

    Comment by janice — August 2, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  20. Ira: We seem to butting heads rather than discussing matters. Your use of “catch phrases”, describing me as “hysterical”, “tiresome”, “shrill” and (perhaps worst of all) “humorless”, do not answer my questions. Ira, we both know these words/phrases are used to connote particular meanings (none of them particularly nice) within the community and are intended to somehow discredit either: my right to ask them; me as an individual or both. Be that as it may, they avoid and do not directly answer what is being asked.

    Wouldn’t it be better to define our terms? In doing so, our dialogue would shift from name calling and blind support, to one of reason and defined terminology. Your definitions would allow all of us, whether in support or disagreement, a consistent and open basis for discussion -not one based on assumption or nebulous interpretation. Do you not ask for and use specific measurements when building a Pole Barn? Or differently stated, we all know what happens when we break down the word assume.

    My question are:
    1. How do you (Ira) define feminism?
    2. What does or doesn’t it mean to you?
    3. Why is it that a woman cannot be an equal of a man?

    Thank you.

    Margaret

    PS: My father (yes, you know the Bishop) taught me that humor becomes real and good when it is not used at another’s expense. It is a lesson, I try to remember and follow. Thank you, Daddy.

    Ira’s response:

    1. How do you (Ira) define feminism?
    True feminism is a woman who is confident and secure in herself and doen’t feel the need to attack men because they are men, and can accept opinions opposite her own without going ballistic. What we too often see as the public face of feminism is women attacking men because they are men. And that gets old fast. I will not walk around on eggshells trying not to offend feminists’ sensibilities.

    2. What does or doesn’t it mean to you?
    Haven’t considered the question, but suppose that “feminism” as defined by the more aggressive types (of which I would consider you one) usually causes a strong negative reaction. I would need more time for a more detailed answer.

    3. Why is it that a woman cannot be an equal of a man?
    Why indeed? What gives you any idea that I believe such a thing? Was it just because I wouldn’t say the words you wanted me to say? And that’s where we lost any chance of communication, because you attacked with the assumption that I believe women are inferior. I described you as hysterical because your first comment warning the other women to beware of me was exactly that. You know me better than that. The other comments were almost as bad. Listen to yourself. How do you expect anyone to hear what you say when you come out with such savage (and yes, hysterical) rhetoric?

    As for your pious little dig about humor at the expense of others, come on. That’s what humor is. Your joke certainly has “humor” at the expense of lobstermen (oops, lobsterpersons), for example. Humor has to be at the expense of something or someone (usually someone) or there woud be no humor. However, you are free to have a different opinion. Just accept the fact that I have that freedom as well, and please restrain yourself the next time my humor offends you.

    I have never questioned your intelligence, or Thorne’s (if I may bring him into this discussion). But if you go back and review some comments (not all) from both of you, the reader gets the impression that you are addressing two-year-olds. You MUST respect your audience or you will simply not be heard; it’s as simple as that. I think you both would have a tremendous amount to contribute to my blog or anyone else’s if you would accept people where they are and quit preaching to them. No one likes to be lectured incessantly. Not everyone has had the experiences you’ve had, but everyone has experiences worth relating and considering. Like I wrote during the “racist” brouhaha, respect is due to everyone until it is shown a person or persons don’t deserve it. And respect covers everything, including race relations and feminism. I don’t respect what I consider radical feminists because I don’t think it’s deserved. And I don’t respect the person who mutilated my bumper sticker (very likely a feminist), which is what started all this.

    This was your most amicable comment yet (in this round), and I thank you for it. I answered the questions in a few moments (I could come up with more detailed answers with time) because I chose to, not because I owed you anything or need to answer to you. Hope this helps.

    P.S. My description of “tiresome” was accurate. I am weary of this subject. I suggest we drop it for awhile. It’s not as important to me or most of my readers as it obviously is to you, and that’s not an insult. It’s just a fact.

    Comment by Margaret — August 3, 2007 @ 9:33 am

  21. Jason,

    The beginning of Genesis creates a quandary for me. I was raised and educated in a somewhat skeptical Roman Catholic family and tradition that saw the Judeo-Christian cosmogenic myth as an allegory only. Allow me to define a few words here. Cosmogenic means the beginning of reality or space-time or the world or the people or what ever. Myth means story or narrative, nothing more. Many think that myth has the connotation of false story or fable. No, in this definition, it means the narrative of the beginning. Many peoples have their own cosmogenic myths, substantially differing from the Bible.

    Now that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I believe that the one stated in Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 is truth in at least revealing that matter-energy, space-time, life and that one special form of spirit filled life, humans, were created by the will of the Holy Trinity, the One God expressed in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the creation continues through the will and Word of God and will end at some time in the future in accordance with the will of God.

    Now, I do wrestle with anything more implied in the creation narrative. Many believe that the six days of work by God were six sidereal days, each one 23 hours 56 minutes long (remember the earth rotates as well as revolves so high noon to high noon is not 24 hours). In turn, others in Christian faith understand that the six days represent an indeterminate length of time. I lean towards that long interval understanding. I see evidence of great age in the earth itself and the universe that surrounds us. We see objects receding into the distance at 0.8 times the speed of light relative to earth and Hubbel’s constant, shown to work with much nearer objects whose distance we can also measure with triangulation, shows that the photons detected here today started on a journey of 12 billion light-years. God could have created everything from nothing at one instant, but He chose in his special revelation to state that He stretched out His work over an interval of time. I understand that I may be holding two contradictory thoughts in my mind at the same time but that is my burden.

    I do believe that the Genesis narrative concerns earth and God’s special creation, us. God may have chosen to not speak of what came before that in his creation because it doesn’t matter. The Christian bible is a book of God’s relation to humans and not a comprehensive book of science. I understand that Special and General Relativity work in understanding what we see in nature but God did not tell us about these concepts by special revelation. He allowed Albert Einstein to winnow them out of the evidence in nature.

    So, yes, I do think that there could have been stars before ours and they now do not exist and that they have contributed their matter to objects that came later.

    Comment by Mark Hersch — August 4, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  22. I’ve been ‘catching up’ on your site, Ira, and was grinning all the way thru. I’m ending my time with a firm conclusion: I would not like to be in any check-out line behind or before Margaret, who ever the heck she is!

    Comment by Lil — August 9, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  23. Whoa! I apoligize for being as crass as Rush. I actually desire to be gracious to all ‘Margarets’ I meet, yours just ‘sounds’ unhappy. And I must say, Ira, when my kids hit the back of my heel with the grocery cart……..it’s not funny!

    Comment by Lil — August 10, 2007 @ 7:59 am

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