November 14, 2008

Ramblings of the Fall

Category: News — Ira @ 6:35 pm

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If a man watches three football games in a row,
he should be declared legally dead.

—Erma Bombeck
______________________________________

It’s been a strange season. Less than six weeks before winter officially arrives, fall has fallen. It’s November. Buggies clog the roads like swarms of locusts each Tuesday and Thursday morning, bound for Amish weddings. The frosts and cold have finally arrived for good, it seems, and the leaves are dropping from the trees in great brown torrents.

Not on my property, though. When the last old decaying oak was unceremoniously dismantled and removed from the front yard last summer, I had no more shade and no more leaf-shedding trees. The negative balanced by a positive. Makes life more simple, and the yard a lot cleaner.

And then, of course, the election clamor and fuss we endure every four years. It’s over. Finally. A great hush has descended on the land. Punctured only by continued sycophantic, enraptured accolades for the winner. Already the glowing comparisons to JFK’s Camelot have begun. And some group is lobbying for a national holiday in honor of the One.

But it’s over, thank God. The election, I mean. A clear winner. And a lot of clear losers. Except in Minnesota, where the vile Al Franken has manufactured the exact number of magical votes he needs to win. As I predicted. Simply breathtaking. Open fraud. You gotta hand it to the Dems. They go for the jugular, for victory at all costs, voters be (bleeped).

But overall, it’s pretty amazing, when you think about it, how power passes from one party to the other with a minimum of violence. We think nothing of it; it’s just the way it is. But in many, if not most countries in the world, such a thing would be impossible. Elections bring blood and fire and death. Think Zimbabwe.

The country expelled a long collective sigh of massive relief. Slightly over half the people in this country rejoiced wildly, along with about 95% of the people in the rest of the world. Those of us who didn’t, well, we can at least breathe again, albeit with a deep sense of doom and foreboding. At least the doom and foreboding can be absorb-ed in some relative peace and quiet.

Having posted my thoughts on the outcome last week, I’ll refrain from repetition. I’m just thankful not to be assaulted by inane campaign commercials every time I turn on the radio or watch a football game. A little peace and quiet is a good thing.

After the election, it’s back to the daily grind of focusing on making a living. The economy stumbles along like a sick horse. One more bailout, another company (Circuit City. Go buy their discounted stuff.) going bankrupt, more layoffs, it’s enough to make me appreciate my job a lot more. I’m still quite steamed about the $750 billion banker bailout last month.

We definitely see the slowdown at work. Fall is normally our crunch time, our busiest of the year. People want to get their building projects completed before winter. Usually our post-Labor Day sales take off and last well into December.

Not this year. We were having a record year up until August. Then suddenly things slowed almost overnight. Soon the calls came in, from crews looking for work. We declined all such requests, preferring instead to keep our own crews busy for as long as possible.

It’s strange too, when you look at what happened to fuel prices. Dropped like a rock. Reduced demand, is the official explanation. But one wonders. We’re down to just above $2.00 a gallon. A lot of places are under $2.00. Big Blue is back in fashion again. Not that he’d ever fallen out of fashion with me. Costs less than $50 to fill his tank. I never thought I’d see that day again. But it’s here. At least for now.

In August, when I was freaking about my projected winter heating bills, I went out and bought one of those Eden Pure heaters that’s supposed to run all day for about $2 in electricity. Framed in dark black plastic, no Amish-made wooden cabinets for me. The sales lady smoothly assured me it was maintenance free, wouldn’t deplete the oxygen supply, and would heat my whole house. I took it home eagerly.

I’ve been using it now for the last two weeks. Works well. I leave it turned on low during the day, turn to high in the evening and to low again at night. So far it has heated the house as promised. But lately, a strange odor greets me when I enter my house. Assaults my senses. After a few minutes, I don’t notice it.

At first, I feared my bachelor pad was, well, emitting unpleasant odors from who knows where. Maybe a dead mouse; I’d set poison around the house for the fall invasion. And it’s not like I clean my house thoroughly every week, or even every month. But I tracked it to the heater. Not sure what to do about it, or why it’s happening.

Oddly, the malls are overflowing, at least in this area. Last Saturday afternoon, I stopped at Park City for some coffee and people-watching. I could hardly find a parking space for Big Blue.

In the mall, I dodged through the crowds, and the small temporary vendor stands in the middle of the halls. One particular vendor, who sells some sort of beauty product, Dead Sea Natural, or some such name, staffs the stand with perfectly coifed, aggressive beautiful women. They assault the unwary and entrap them with long presentations.

I’ve always avoided that particular stand like the plague. I duck, I hug the walls, I hunker down behind other people and try to slink past. I never, ever make eye contact. But the aggressive beautiful women always, always focus on me like a laser-guided missile.

“Sir,” one will say pleasantly, approaching with a plastic thousand-watt smile, “may I ask you a question?”

I hunch down. I’ve never learned the question she wants to ask because I always extend my hand straight out to fend her off.

You’d think they’d recognize me and leave me alone. But no. So we dance again.

“You may not,” I say, plunging ahead.

The smile dims to a mere five hundred watts. Pleasantness morphs into unmasked aggression. “But it will only take a minute.”

I’m through the gauntlet. “Not my minute.” I’m gone. Safe for now. Until I pass through again.

I’ve often seen other hapless men, less wary than me, standing there hopelessly ensnared, glancing around desperately for any source of rescue. While the aggressive sales lady spins her spiel, smiling plastic thousand-watt smiles. They won’t escape until they buy. It’s just that simple.

Oh, well, everyone’s got to make a living. Just not off me. Not like that.

Last weekend I attended a gun show in Reading. Medium sized, probably a hundred-plus tables. The first post-election show. Gun people are quite discouraged and gloomy about the future. What the One will do to take their rights, and ultimately, many believe, their guns. Paranoid? Maybe. Maybe not.

I browsed about, taking my time, absorbing the atmosphere and the camaraderie. The place was humming, especially the ammo tables. Stacked with customers two or three deep. Gun vendors, too, were doing brisk sales. I usually check out all the merchan-dise, make a mental note on what I might want and make my purchases just before leaving, so as not to walk around lugging a bunch of stuff.

I was immediately drawn to a large Ontario Bowie knife, brand new, made in the USA, for about 40% off retail price. I examined it, walked away, returned, hefted it again. The grooved black Kraton handle fit my hand perfectly. The black powder-coated carbon steel blade gleamed seductively.

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It drew me back again and again, from all points of the trade floor. Finally I made the decision. Forked over my forty bucks and proudly took possession of my prize. Fifteen inches overall, ten inches of razor sharp steel. Heavy. Wicked looking. I attached the leather and codura sheath to my belt, tied the lanyards around my leg and walked about proudly, feeling very manly.

Why would a man buy a great Bowie knife he didn’t really need? I don’t know. Because I wanted it. Because I could. Seemed like an entirely rational decision at the time. Still does. Great price. It’s a guy thing, I suppose. Dubbed the “Sword of Righteousness,” it now resides quietly under Big Blue’s driver’s seat. Ready for instant access in any emergency.

Pro football season is more than half over. That’s how I keep track of time in the fall. And somehow it always just flies by. My Jets have been doing quite well, actually leading their Division. I expect them to at least make the playoffs. Favre has worked out better than I ever imagined. Last night he led the Jets to a win in overtime, beating the evil Patriots 34-31. Any win over the Patriots is especially sweet.

In college football, things are shaking out. Late October/early November is my favorite football time of year. Huge college shootouts every weekend, with huge implications for the national standings.

Penn State, my local nemesis, found itself perched loftily in the #3 spot in the nation. Undefeated. Getting a bit uppity, they were. JoePa still had it, they proclaimed. Maybe they’d get a chance to play in the National Championship game, even.

But then, alas, they traveled to Iowa last weekend. The lowly Hawkeyes. The sacrificial lambs. Unranked. And still my favorite Big Ten team. There, in the cold blustery northern Iowa winds, the Nittany Lions met their fate, losing on a last second field goal, 24-23. Their visions of grandeur cruelly crushed. I was on the road, my only regret being that I couldn’t watch it unfold live.

At the post-game press conference, JoePa mumbled incoherently. He didn’t seem to know exactly where he was. I do believe the man is getting senile.

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My new screen saver.
The Bowie will complete my outfit.

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  1. Great looking knife. Large and very threatening. I carry similar self-defense with me in the truck, with high hopes. Of course, nobody ever tries anything.

    Jets looked to be in decent shape last night. FARVE-daddy is thee man.

    Comment by Andrew Yutzy — November 14, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  2. Sweet knife. Good choice. I am a fan of Ontario Knives.

    Another under rated knife company is Cold Steel. They make some pretty sweet stuff at some amazingly low price points.

    You ever need a real edge put on some knives holler at me. I have a little knife sharpening business on the side. When I get done with a knife it has a relatively tough, yet razor sharp edge.

    I am planning to move to Texas. Got offered a job there in sales. As soon as I accepted it I got an offer here locally. But the local job sucks and the Texas job should pay about double.

    Best to ya man! Bummed I am headed west without getting to hang out with you. You ever get to the Dallas area holler at me.

    Ira’s response: Wish too that we could have met. Good Luck in TX. And stay in touch through this site.

    Comment by RagPicker — November 14, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

  3. If you put on the whole armour of God you don’t need a knife to protect yourself. Read (Eph 6:11) I trust you bought your knife to butcher wild game.

    BRET Farve is a divorced remarried whoremonger, and if he gets his team into the playoffs I predict he will become color blind.

    Ira’s response: Yo, dude. Take a deep breath. Of course the knife is for wild game only. So calm down. And leave old Bret alone.

    Comment by DLY — November 15, 2008 @ 12:17 am

  4. She wants to know if your fingernails are natural ;~)

    It had been nearly twenty years since I had been in a mall, when, needing shoes for Daniel, I went to a big one while in Lexington a few months ago. A bit overwhelming, to say the least. The Dead Sea lady grabbed hold of me (yes, my nails are natural) and I ended up spending $120.

    Maybe you should carry your new knife with you next time you pass the Dead Sea booth :~)

    Comment by pilgrimhen — November 15, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  5. Grinning to myself, thinking of Ira skinning a rabbit with that knife, after shooting it with the firearm he is using for target practice. Great reading and cheap entertainment, this site. Keep it up.

    Comment by Bear — November 15, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  6. Brett Favre is absolutely NOT a divorced remarried whoremonger. Check your info, uncle Dave.

    Comment by Andrew Yutzy — November 16, 2008 @ 10:10 am

  7. I have devised a method for dealing with the Dead Sea ladies. When they approach and ask “May I ask you a question?”, I smile, barely breaking stride, and reply, “You could, but then, you wouldn’t like my answer.” By the time they think about that, I’m long gone.

    Whoremongers, Bowie knives and AK-47’s…. great blog!

    Comment by Patrick — November 16, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  8. The kiosk people? The ones from the Israeli kibbutz, here to take advantage of the Christian holiday season? After far more years then I care to remember working in malls I employ one of my favorite NYC tactics – just keep right on moving- I’m more intrigued by the notion that you guys think you have to engage them…

    Comment by Glo — November 17, 2008 @ 5:38 am

  9. Wanna know what works for me? (those Dead Sea ladies) Look’em straight in the eye and give’em a firm NO without breaking stride…..Guys somehow think they’re being rude by not stopping and listening to their shpiel.—-As a woman, trust me, you’re not.

    Comment by Liz — November 17, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  10. We have one of those Eden Pure heaters and we have had it running 24/7 for 3 winters now. Just make sure you clean the filter or it will plug up and melt the little plastic thingy on the front.

    Comment by Jason Yutzy — November 17, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

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