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Archive for November, 2008

Why did Mcdonalds stop counting how many served?  If they hadn’t how many trillions would they be up to? Some of you probably don’t know what I’m talking about.  McDonalds used to have up on their golden arches sayings like over 3 million served. At some point they stopped.  What would be really interesting would be the number of pounds gained, or heart attacks caused.

You do have to admit their dollar menu is the best cheap eats on the planet if you don’t care about eating healthy.  A double cheeseburger and fries for just $2.12, can’t be beat.

And while I’m throwing out random thoughts here, is it just me, or is there something in fountain soda that really makes you pee?  I can drink 3 20 oz bottles of diet soda no problem, but one fountain drink and I’m off to the races every 20 minutes.

Why is everything sold on TV always $19.95?  After awhile you start thinking what a deal or they must be making a killing on this if they can sell it for only $19.95.  Also when did they decide that wasn’t good enough, we will give you 2 for $19.95.  Now you know it’s apiece of crap if they can give you 2 for the same cheap price.  Then they started throwing in quickly under their breath that you could get a second free if you “just paid additional shipping and handling”  For a small item how much does it really cost to throw another one in the box, come on.

Doesn’t Billy Mays really get on your nerves?  And do you really trust your life to health insurance that he’s selling on TV.  My favorite all time pitch of his is the “Amazing Garden Auger”  Till he gets done you get the auger, 5 attachments, and a power drill for only $19.95.  That must be high quality stuff.  Plus watch that commercial, that dirt couldn’t be any looser.  I’ve never dug dirt that loose in a garden.  It’s basically brown sand.  For what it’s worth Consumer guide ordered the Amazing Auger, the real price in the door until you pay all the extra shipping and handling is $59.95, $40 more than the $19.95 they want you to believe it is.

My Wife got sucked into one of these infomercials.  The Amazing Tobi Steamer. Whatever the grab you price was, the real price in the door was about $159.00  She showed me the infomercial and told me how much easier it would make her life.  A quick wisp of steam instead of having to iron her work clothes.  I tried to fight it, but she’s the bread winner, so I gave in.  It’s been sitting here for about a year.  I used it 2-3 times.  She has yet to use it.  So now it’s my secret weapon.  Whenever she wants to buy a TV gadget, I mention or point to the Tobi in the corner of the closet.  In the end it has saved me lots of money.

One last thing on those TV gadgets.  They always say “Not sold in stores”  Wait a week or two, there they are in the store.  No pushy telemarketer, no shipping charge, and usually less than the TV price.

You ever look at yourself in the morning, or evening before you go out and say “my hair doesn’t look too bad, I can skip a shower, then 15 minutes later when your out in public you won’t take your hat off because your hair is so greasy and you can’t believe you left the house looking like that.  Especially since a man can get a shower and be dressed in about 20 minutes.  And why then does it take a woman a good 45 minutes to an hour for the same thing?

How come when your out in the middle of nowhere in your vehicle and your not into sports the only thing you can get on the radio is the ball game or sports talk?  And it’s coming in loud and clear, even if it’s from 10 states away

Till next time, Spiney

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Well spiney is a little raged right now.  I already wrote this whole entry once this morning.  I was down to my final thoughts when I hit some key stroke that wiped everything out. Repeated attempts at undo and ctrl-z you name it were futile, it was gone. So do I push on or wait till the light of day and a good nights sleep. Damn it’s already after 5am.

For those that are unfamiliar with the TV show Monk it is a comedy centered on a police detective Adrian Monk, a man who is OCD. His main obsession is cleanliness, and avoidance of germs.  He’s always using a hand wipe after touching something or someone. When it is flu season, or I’m around people with a contagious bug, I got into full blown Monk Mode.

Spiney has to take about 17 pills a day in order to keep my pain at a bearable level.  The one thing in this world I really fear and loathe is nausea. I can’t stand it and have very little tolerance for it. So I do all I can to avoid it like the plague. If I’m nauseous then I can’t take my pills. When that happens my pain level increases plus I get the added bonus of withdrawal from not taking my pain killers. Withdrawal symptoms are usually headaches, dizziness, and nausea.  So it is a viscous cycle.

Last week my Mother-in-law whom I live with came home with a stomach virus. To keep this entry PG we will leave it at stomach virus.  Just as she was getting over it, about a 2-3 day period, My Wife came home from work on Friday with the same bug.  So she got to spend her weekend off sick in bed or the bathroom. And she only gets every other weekend off, so she was really looking forward to it.  Well this much sickness in one home put me into my Howard Hughes mode. Again for those who haven’t seen “The Aviator” The late billionaire and inventor Howard Hughes was a big time germaphobe.

I needed to tend to my sick girls. Get them this, bring them that, and all with the minimum of contact.  Also if you really don’t want the bug you have to wipe down or not touch everything they touched. So out comes the Clorox wipes and several strategically placed dispensers of hand sanitizers. My hands are really dried out and chapped from 5 days of continuous hand washing and sanitizing.

Then there are the other things. 3am runs to the 24 hour supermarket for Ginger Ale for upset stomachs, Sherbet, and Saltine Crackers.  The staples of the sick room.  Oh I almost forgot, the Jumbo pack or double roll toilet tissue, ultra-soft. Also you always carry your own pen for when the checkout person who is hacking and sneezing needs you to sign the receipt with their flea bag pen. Or worse you use cash and they try to give you change with the hand they just coughed into. Finally you get rewarded by sleeping on the La-Z-Boy because sleeping in the same bed with someone who has the bug or flu is just like putting out a welcome mat for Mr. Virus.  The first night Mrs. Spiney could have cared less, she was too sick.  The second night she felt better and needed companionship.  She got the consolation prize, Tommy the cat who is great comfort and knows you need him when your sick or sad. Luckily we are told most illnesses are not trans specie contagious.  Now we are at the third night and she really wants old reliable Spiney by her side, but not too fast. The bed needs to be stripped and the linens boiled before I’m going back there.

But you do all you can do for them because you love them and hate to see them hurt.  Just like they stood by you through 2 major back operations, and at least a hundred Doctor visits.  Or they held your hand or rubbed your back when it feels like your spine is trying to push through your skin like something out of Alien.  My Wife and I taught our Daughter a lesson about all of this.  Everyone will be there for you when your fabulous and life’s a party.  But the ones who are there for you when your heads in the toilet puking, they are the keepers.  As far as we know she has found but 2 of those people outside her family, or a nurse who is paid to be there. And they are both keepers.  So thank everyone who ever took your temperature, emptied your puke bucket, got you an ice-pack, rubbed a boo boo, or just held your hand when you felt like shit. And do the same for them, just make sure you wash and sanitize that hand ASAP.

Love,  Spiney

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Hopefully I’ll make some sense as I write this sleep deprived, in pain, and just a little cranky.  Well today was a day filled with bad business news at least according to my sources at Fox Business News both on Cable and XM-Radio. The Dow fell into the low 8200’s because Secretary of the Treasury Paulson came out and said that big bail out I sold you on, it ain’t working the way we need it to , so I have to change the rules.  Also for the 3rd day in a row Representatives from the remaining big 3 auto makers have been meeting with Nancy Pellosi, Harry Reed, and others playing their sad violins and holding out their green tambourines for their shot at the great American bailout palooza of 2008.  Everyone who is feeling the pinch due to poor planning or short sighted thinking has their hand out for Billions, yes Billions with a B from the government.  But the government is for and by the people so guess what, the money to bail out Detroit Rock City will come from you and me, and our kids, our grand kids, and the favors we now owe to China, Aubu Dubai, and others we don’t really want to be tied in to like a loan shark for the next 30 years.  And if they get our help, will they really recognize you and give you a special deal when you go down to buy your shiny new semi-hybrid quickly slapped together world box on wheels.

I got a question, when they couldn’t build mini-vans fast enough, then SUV’s, Then Eddi Bauer SUV’s, Then P-Diddy Escalades, Then I want to play soldier HUMMERS (but I’m not volunteering for anything) Each one bigger than the other. Did they put a little extra in the bank for a rainy day, or start doing R&D for the inevitable day that oil / gas would be expensive.  Did they forgot the Gas crisis’s of the 70’s and 80’s.  The promise of we will build cars as good or better than the Japanese and VW.  The no more Big V8’s.  It will be world of V6, V4’s Diesels, Turbos, and then the sneaky Honda and Toyota built the Hybrids.  Couldn’t make them fast enough so they dare to even build plants in the USA to build them.  And when we were embarrassed that we the Americans, the smartest country on the planet didn’t have a hybrid, Toyota was kind enough to sell the basics to Ford so we could claim to have a hybrid also.  So in the 2 years leading up to the current crises what happened.  Toyota & Honda worked on their second generation Hybrid cars, and moved production here.  They built up a great campaign and following and people cheerfully got in long cues, paying a premium over list to get one.  What did Detroit do.  We brought back the biggest of heavy metal engines of the past, The Chrysler Hemi a 300 HP plus Big V8 was put into everything from Monster Trucks, to Power Sedans the Dodge 300, to incredible rebirths of the best Muscle Cars of the 70’s The Charger, Challenger R/T, The Cuda.  Ford brought back ever faster Mustangs, and Pickup Trucks that could pull Freight Trains or Tractor Trailers your Wish.  And GMC Just made the biggest SUV , Truck, Combination’s, 3 variations of the Hummer  H I  H 2  H 3, Escalades, and Rocket Propelled Cadillac.  Oh and during the 90’s when they could have been re-tooling for the future, maybe downsizing they went on a buying spree.  I’m sure I won’t remember all of these, but Ford bought Volvo, Jaguar, pieces of Mazda, and possibly Land Rover. GM bought Saab, Hummer and maybe they bought Land Rover who knows.   Chrysler bought the creme off the bones of AMC, the JEEP then merged with Daimler Benz, They also bought Masseratti.  After a few years Daimler Benz saw the writing on the wall and sold off Chrysler at a great loss.

Right now due to the credit crises no one, including #1 Toyota are selling cars.  People are too nervous, and only the triple AAA rated credit risks with a nice down payment can buy a car.  Car dealers are going out of business at an alarming rate.  Thank God those Vultures who sold a car to anyone “No Credit, Bad Credit, your Job is your Credit”  Those guys were the first to go, because there is no more sub prime credit.

I think that the Government has to help the auto industry because it is so intertwined with all of the small businesses that supply it and help to deliver the car.  You are talking 3 major corporations with hundreds of plants, hundreds of thousands of workers, and hundreds of thousands of downstream business from upholstery shops, to machine shops, to corner diners and bars will be effected.  But the manufacturing model doesn’t work anymore. You can’t build hundreds to thousands of cars ahead of time to sit on dealers lots, and you can’t carry the overhead of hard won union promises going back 30-40 years.  Things will have to change for many.  The auto worker can’t be one of the highest pain workers in the world for what is mainly a semi skilled boring job.  They can’t have the grandfathered benefits that their parents and grandparents fought for.  That makes us totally non competitive in the world.  To the point where we need to build massive SUVS to make a profitable car.  GM, Ford, Chrysler aren’t interested in building the cars we need for the future because the profit margin isn’t there for them.  But Fuel efficient, safe, sustainable cars need not be Yugo’s.  While now dated the Chrysler PT Cruiser was a retro’d econobox that was fun to drive, fun to look at, and got decent millage. Chrysler sold a ton of them, and it leaked out later after they were so popular they were priced too low.  They could have easily tacked another 2 grand on the price and got it.  The whole next generation of drivers coming up has been brought up on tuners, slicked up Honda’s, Toyotas, and Mitsubishi’s.  They won’t be looking for condos on wheels.

Well it’s late, this is probably too long to be read by most but I’ll try to wrap it up.   If we do bail out the Auto industry the money has to come with many hooks.  It can’t be business as usual.  I think it can’t be done fast, that will just throw the money away.  They need meetings of the best minds in the business, and in business and places like the MIT Think tanks to come up with out of the box ideas.  The one I’ve heard that seems really plausible is Just in Time building, not building thousands ahead.  Reduce the number of lines.  We lost Oldsmobile, and the world still turned.  Chrysler dropped Plymouth.  We don’t need Chevy & GMC Trucks.  We don’t need Similar sedans marketed as Chevy, Buick, and Pontiac.  Same for Ford / and Mercury, though the Mercury girl is hot!.   What do you think ?  America has lost probably over a hundred car manufacturers in the past 100 years.  Companies go out of business all the time.  But this is big.  It’s one of the few things we do still make in America.  We can’t all be paper pushers.  Countries excell when they employ people making things, that other people need.  If not cars, then what?  Thanks for taking your time.  Please do respond, Spiney

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Well congratulations to our New President elect Barack Obama. It took us 232 years but we can now say we are truly a nation where all men are created equal. I wish him well as he will soon take on a very difficult job at one of the most trying times in our nations history.  John McCain put up a very good fight and by popular vote it was very close, but Obama won this election fair and square.  And that’s good because we needed an election where there were no questions as to whether he really won or not.  Congratulations to America for not making this election about race. It was about who we felt was the right person for the job.  Here is looking to a brighter future.  Spiney

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Well nothing like waiting until the last minute to blog about something.  I’ve been wanting to write about this but haven’t had the sound mind to do it.  But I need to write it before the actual election so this is being writin the eve of the election started at about 11:59pm EST.

FWIW I’m listening to Cracker’s Eurotrash girl among other things on my cheapie MP3 player.  I’m not a got to have an Ipod snob. It holds and plays 2GB’s worth of songs or video or pics for $39.  Works for me.  I also use good old fashioned headphones.  I’ve tried Earbuds.  Don’t work for Spiney.  I must have unusually small ear canals, can’t get them to stay in.

Anyway back to the election.  I have no real strong feelings to vote for either candidate, but I do have thoughts and feelings about both of them.  First lets give honor to age and service and talk about John McCain first.  You can’t talk about him without first giving him props for going through the hell he did for his country.  5 years of beatings, torture, isolation, agonizing physical and mental pain every day.  He could have got out early, but had the honor to not use his Father’s position as commander of the Navy to jump ahead in line of the other prisoners to get out early.  He also did not denounce his country.  For that honor he was treated especially hard because he would not be used for propaganda by his captors.  And as far as I know he has never used this to further his career or to shine his own light for the election.  Others have done it for him, to honor him, but he doesn’t use it to his advantage.  Senator McCain lost the primary in 1999 season because of dirty tricks by George Bush and the Republican National Committee.  They spread false rumors about him, and put out the doubt that he may be a little mental because of his captivity. He was leading in primaries and they killed his chances.  It seems that this time around his chance to be president may also have been killed by the same George Bush, because Bush’s squandering of all of his political capital and making all republicans seemed doomed because they may even remotely be attached to Bush.  It’s a great year to be a Democrat and a really crappy year to be a Republican.  And McCain has said somethings that really have come back to haunt him.  Mainly “I don’t know much about economics that’s not my strong point”  and “The underlying basics of the economy are strong”  He said that right before the worst October in US financial history since the great depression.  Also as a maverick he should have voted NO for the financial bail-out.  That would have given him a strong platform on economics for the final month before the election.  Then there is his selection of a running mate.  I really thought he was going to pick Romney, who in hindsight would have been good from an economic standpoint, but I really don’t think they get along, and that is important attribute in a VP.  If he really went by his gut he would have picked Lieberman, his strongest ally and a true friend for years.  It would have been a maverick move to pick a former democrat turned independent as a VP.  That would really show being able to work across the aisle.  Now for Sarah Pailin.  My first reaction was that of most of the nation “WHO”  As I got to know her I got two impressions.  One she is a gutsy lady and great speaker.  But her answers to some of her interviews made me cringe.  To say Obama is not qualified to run for president and then pick someone yourself who is not ready for prime time really takes away that argument.  I think she will have a place in the Republican Party down the road, but not this year.  If I didn’t have strong mixed feelings about his opponent I would say that McCain must win.  He deserves it, and it’s really his last chance at his age.  But I don’t feel strongly enough to really push for him.  But there are other considerations that I will bring up a little later.

Mr Barack Obama, of all of the democratic contenders I have really liked this man from the start.  He has really worked his way up from close to the bottom and fought and earned his way to the top. To be raised by a single mom in Hawaii, graduate with honors from Harvard with a Law Degree, become first a state senator and then a US Senator at his young age is quite a feat.  When I hear him speak I think of him as our generations chance at a JFK.  He has the charisma and promise of our martyred President and got there without daddy’s millions to buy his way up the ladder.  I do not buy into any of the internet or far right rumors of him being a Muslim, a crack head, a cheater, having illegitimate children, you name it.  I do have problems with some of his association with Rev Wright, Bill Ayers etc.  Though if I were black, or poor I may even agree with some of Rev Wrights rants.  Non of the innocents who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks deserved to died, but the US has done some dirty things in the past through the CIA and such that yes our chickens have come home to roost.  Just watch some of the history channels specials about things we and other western nations have done for oil, bananas ( yes bananas ) and other self interest.  We are not without dirt on our hands, but I digress.  My only real problem with Obama is his politics lean pretty far to the left.  I have worked very hard all of my life as has all of my family.  We were never handed anything.  And I believe that when you are handed more than a safety net, you loose all incentive to earn a living and work your own way up.  I’m concerned that with a left leaning president and a totally democratically controlled congress, there will be more than a new deal.  Things work out best when there are checks and balances of one party in the presidency and the other in control of congress to avoid run away legislation. Now back to Obama.  He should have his chance.  We have had 0ver 200 years of mostly old white men running this country.  Some have done well, some really sucked, and many were somewhere in the middle. He can’t do much worse than where we are at, and he may inspire a nation.  I grew up in the 60’s.  I was aware of the Vietnam war, and the racial problems, but I also remember a nation inspired to go to the moon by JFK and we reached further and greater heights all of the time.  Times may have been bad, but the future looked bright.  I think we could use a similar time of inspiration to create new forms of transportation, alternative energy sources, and cures for some of our medical and social problems.  My biggest worry with a President Obama is some extremist asshole will try or worse succeed at assassinating him.  That would be a terrible tragedy for all races.

I also have concerns if McCain would win.  I would be OK, maybe even very happy with it, and I think he would do well, but many would feel like the presidential race was stolen from then yet again.  I think there would even be rioting no matter how legitimate of a win it was.  I heard a conservative African American commentator on Fox Business News say that if he were to lose it would be like Martin Luther King, and Malcom X being assassinated all over again.  It would really dash the hopes of a generation.  I can’t argue with that.

So who will Spiney vote for.  Well that’s between me and the booth and I don’t mean John Wilkes.  I feel that they are both good men who can bring much good and some harm to the country.  But that’s because they are human, and no matter who is in the office, the biggest contributor to how your daily life turns out is you.  So may we get the President we need for the tough times that are ahead.  Who ever wins gets to take over at one of the most challenging times in U.S. history.  God Bless them they will need it.    Spiney

Ps:  I send a heartfelt condolence and prayer for Barack’s Gram who passed away just 36 hours short of possibly seeing him make history as the first African American President of the United States.  If he does make it, I’m sure she will see it, from a place where she is no longer in pain.

Pss: As I finish writing this after many songs I’m now listening to “Love Gun” by Kiss, oh memories of high school!

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