Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Yelling at even More Clouds

It's raining here and I love it, Cakes loves it and Anze the Dog hates it, but...

I spent a couple of hours last week cleaning the gutters and drains getting ready for the predicted rainy weather, so I was set or so I thought

The roof has a new leak, it's easy to forget about your roof when you live in a place it only rains a few times a year. The leak sent me to the DIY Center to get a plastic tarp, so I was on the roof in twilight putting it down, getting wet while I did it. Apparently I wasn't the only person with a leak, the tarps were almost sold out. I also picked up some red bricks for  41 cents a piece to hold it down so the wind won't blow the plastic off. So far so good.

I was bright enough to put a load of firewood in the garage, dry wood is a good thing to have when your furnace conks out in cold and wet weather. On the other hand we have 2 zone heat and the system on the second floor works. That will be a comfort when the temp drops into the low 40's tonight. Once again, I'm not alone, the furnace guy is impossible to get a hold of today. He just called, he's tied up for a week.

I should have thought of "Executive Time" when I was running radio stations, close my office door and piss around for a couple of hours, But, since I'm not a "stable genius", I just ground it out 8-10-12 hours a day for years. Silly me.

If I see or read another profile of a "Trump Voter" I'm going to throw up...or see or read another pundit trying to rationalize irrational behavior. I've had it.

I'm 72, be 73 in 5 months and this is the first time in my life I'm:

1. Ashamed of my country

2. Ashamed of my fellow old, white guys. (some of you women as well)

Read an interesting article this morning written by the mother of a 20 something son, she was distressed that he, his wife and child we're immigrating to Norway. He told her, "Mom, I'll make better money, there are incredible schools, college tuition is covered, health care and day care covered, great roads, safe bridges and retirement is covered and all that will cost me roughly 20% more in taxes than I pay here. Do the math mom, it's a better deal and a better lifestyle."

Makes me wish I was in my 20's. I looked it up, the kid is right, everything is cheaper there, housing especially. Groceries are more, but you make it up by other savings.

I have a friend from broadcasting who works for Rueters in Switzerland, he's been offered much bigger jobs in the US, After 17 years in Geneva he won't move back to the USA.

One more thing...

From the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas:

Toyota and Pizza Hut have have partnered up for for a driver-less pizza delivery system. The pizza will even be cooked in the car.
Look, if I have to put on my shoes and walk out to a god damned parked driver-less system to get my pizza from some shitty chain. My pizza wasn't delivered. They just don't want to pay a delivery person.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Let's Get Real about a few things

In the early 70's a guy I knew quite well, got 5 years for possessing pot. He was a highly decorated Marine Vietnam vet. It ruined his life. His cellmate was in for armed robbery. My friend was in for getting high.

I know a guy who has a PhD degree in agronomy, he's spent much of his career perfecting hybrid strains of marijuana. and he's also has worked on other cash crops, corn, wheat, sunflowers.

I know doctors, lawyers, accountants, account executives, stock brokers and responsible Americans (and Canadians) from every walk of life who smoke pot on a regular basis and have for years.

You know who the most screwed up driggies I know are? The people who take legal prescription drugs. Ever meet the nice lady from across the street who pops Valium all day? Wasted, toasted and dangerous when she drives to the shopping center. When she gets home she has a cocktail with her hubby on top of all those nice pills. You think her kids don't notice?

Two guys I grew up with drank themselves to death by their mid 30's, they didn't smash a car up, they just sat and drank and drank and drank. I've never heard of,or met anyone who killed themselves slowly by smoking pot.

29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized Medical marijuana, 8 states have legalized recreational pot, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington as well as our nation’s capital – Washington D.C. And Vermont is next.You know who buys legal pot? Every demographic group from 21 on up.

And now the Feds are going to crack down on legal pot...what a waste of time and money.

Pot is not the problem. Opioids are a huge problem and they are legal. 

Another thing...

Do you think that if there was an outright ban, nationwide, on abortion, that there wouldn't be any abortion? If you were poor you'd head to a back alley abortionist if you were a rich woman, you'd fly off to somewhere you could get a nice, safe abortion in a clinic or hospitable. 

Do really believe if some little Susie Cream cheese white girl going to the University of Alabama got herself knocked up by a football player name LaShon Johnson, her mamma and daddy wouldn't ship her off to somewhere where where the little embarrassment could be quietly taken care of. If you don't think that would happen you are naive or just dumb as a post. 

Do you really think religious women don't use birth control?

Do you think that evangelical couples only have sex for procreation?

Time to wake up and grow up.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Let's Take a Peek Inside the Car Business

I took classes, live and on line, I went to seminars, had lengthy discussions with engineers, marketing people and sales consultants during my time in the automobile business. I consumed reviews, road tests, comparison tests and consumer reviews of cars. I worked at it. I even took classes on "phone techniques"!

Here's a few things I learned:

The number one complaint people have upon the delivery of their new car is so stupid, I couldn't, still can't, believe it.

                                                   THE WINDOWS WERE DIRTY!

Survey after survey of customers post delivery, all over the country, every make, every model, every brand the number one "piss me off" is dirty windows. It has been for years and nobody does anything about it. That is so easy to fix, it's mind boggling. You get a clean shop cloth, a bottle of window cleaner and clean the damn windows, all of them. Takes no more than 5 minutes.

Another complaint, "the tires didn't look shiny". How hard is to wipe the tires down with Armour All? Squirt each tire and wipe. About a minute a tire.

Another complaint, "my cell phone wasn't hooked up". This takes longer to do, but it isn't brain surgery. Walk the customer through the process, make sure their phone works and they have a grasp on the process and remind them the owners manual and the accompanying DVD has all the information in an easily understandable, step by step form. Mark the page with the instructions with a paper clip or post it note.

Another complaint, "the sales person wasn't knowledgeable about the car". Once again, there's a lot of down time in any job, the car business has more than most. Most of my associates in the sales department, shot the shit with each other all day long, they stood around, playing grab ass, talking about sports, sex and staring at heir phones and then they'd share some stupid video with the other guys. You know what would happen?They'd get an "up" bump into the wall when they couldn't answer a question about something and they'd come and get me or the one other sales guy who knew "stuff" about a truck or a car they were attempting to sell. It happened every day! The result? I'd get half of the deal, one month I had 9 half deals, because I knew "stuff".

When I decided to sell cars out of a combination of utter boredom, depression and the desire to help my wife with her start-up agency business, I talked at length with my retired car dealer friend Ralph Thomas. Ralph told me the biggest problem with the car business is the management. He was right. If you look at the top four customer complaints all are an easy fix, by management. Maybe they are too easy, so easy that nobody pays any attention

Another thing.

Part of the pay plan for sales people, managers and the dealership is based on something called CSI or Customer Satisfaction Index, it's a sliding scale with 10 being an A. The problem is a 9 is an F. It's an ongoing survey that tells the manufacturer, the dealer, the management and the sales person nothing about their performance, useless. You know who loses the most from bad CSI? The sales person. Bad CSI slashes not only the pay per unit, it knocks back or eliminates bonus money.

I had perfect CSI, why? Because I tried.

I was taken aside one day and told by an idiot sales manager, "You know you've got a problem." I asked him what it was? His reply, "You know too damn much about these cars!" This was the same guy who when I asked how he evaluated used cars, he told me, "You don't need to know any of that.",  Over time I learned how he did it. He quickly looked over the car, then went on line to the Kelly Blue Book regional auction price site, put in the car's parameters  and offered the lowest price to the customer. Used car expert, right?

I could go on but it makes my head hurt too much...

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas at a Car Store

in the 50’s when I was a little kid, my Dad was the General Sales Manager of a Lincoln Mercury dealership, my Mom dropped me off at the dealership after hockey practice so she could wrap up her Christmas shopping. 

I wandered around in the shop for awhile, sat at the old man’s desk upstairs, got bored and climbed in the front seat of a red Lincoln Capri convertible next to the big Christmas tree in the showroom. I was tired from school and hockey and laid down on the front seat, 

I was dozing off when I heard a woman say, “Does this little boy come with the car?” One of dad’s salesman answered, “He’s the Boss’s son, I’m pretty sure I can get him to throw the kid in the deal.”

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Whitey Whiskers Kills Christmas

I only had one cat when I was a kid. My farm Grandmother Clara picked out a kitten for me when I was 4, it was my birthday present. He was a barn cat. When the kitten was weaned, she sand box trained him and handed him over. He was perfectly white and I named him Whitey Whiskers, I loved him, Mom hated him.

Whitey followed me around, Whitey slept with me.Damn I loved that cat!

On Christmas Eve, we came home to our little GI Bill house, full of family Christmas Cheer. I'm hauling in my presents. I got a lot, I was the only grand kid on both sides. Mom unlocked the door, went in. Dad and I heard a scream.

Whitey had climbed the Christmas tree, he had pulled it over, lights and bulbs smashed, water from the stand all over the floor. Mom was over the moon pissed. Dad and I exchanged uncomfortable looks, then he started to laugh and so did I, our behavior cranked Mom to 11.

"That's it the damn cat is going." Mom was in tears, Dad and I were laughing. "I've never liked cats, I hate cats, always have."

Whitey was smart, he was no where to be seen. Mom turned on me, "Do you think Santa Claus is going to come tonight? Your cat destroyed our tree and Santa doesn't have anyplace to leave your presents!" That knocked the buzz off my Christmas.

Dad and I cleaned up, Mom went to bed, she slammed the bedroom door too. Once the tree was back up, it didn't look too bad. Dad poured himself a drink, I had milk and Grandma's Christmas cookies. and Whitey stuck his head out from behind the sofa, ran over and jumped on my lap, I let him lap some of my milk.

We finally went to bed. It took Dad a while to get in the bedroom, Whitey slept on my pillow as usual.Santa did show up and things seemed fine.

Whitey went back to the farm on Christmas Day. he moved into the barn and became a top flight mouser. He was still my cat, every time I was at the farm Whitey would climb all over me. He lived a good life for a long time, probably sired 50 litters over his lifetime. He was happy doing what he was born to do.

Never had another cat, but I did get a Cocker Spaniel that spring, plenty of Dusty the Dog stories are in the memory bank. Mom liked dogs a lot more than she liked cats, that was a relief.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas America, put this in your Stocking

I was making $68,000 a year in base salary in 1979. Using the CPI Index from the US Bureau of Labor my old job would pay $242,581.86. It doesn't, not even close.
My first radio job paid $200 a week in 1969, the same job today would pay $40,187. It doesn't
I paid $39,900 for my first house in 1974. That same house sold 4 years ago for just over $700,000. Nothing has been done to it except paint, new appliances and floor coverings. It now has a yard and the trees are bigger too.
Cakes made about $60,000 in the 80's flying International flights. That same job today would pay $133,000. It doesn't
Toyota pays $17.50 an hour after 3 years at their US factories, a Toyota worker makes around $35,000. yearly with minimum benefits.30 years ago Union Auto workers made twice that and more. Today US Union Auto workers average $33 an hour, Germany Auto Workers make $67 average
A minimum wage worker in the US making 7.50 an hour makes $15,000 a year, only IF they work 40 hours a week. Most employers hold them to under 40 so they aren't classified as full time. The minimum wage in Germany is $14.81. Norway? $16 to 21 an hour depending the job and time on the job. Every other developed nation has higher minimum wages than the US.
The question is, who is getting the money? It isn't the poor or the working poor and it sure as hell isn't the middle or upper middle class.
1% of the US population has 40% of the money, The top 20% have 90% of the money.To squeak on the very bottom of that top 20% list you have to have a minimum net worth of $740,000, that's total asserts less debt.
The new tax bill the republicans passed slashed taxes on the people who don't need a break, it throws a few of us some crumbs short term.
Interesting thing hidden in the tax bill, I haven't heard anyone talking about. If you are a married couple with an income of $150,000 a year, your standard deduction is $10,000. Nice. Better if you're you're a couple just living together (in sin?) making the same $150,000. you can deduct $20,000. Why get married?

You don't even want to think about the details of the Inheritance tax slash, you've just made the life of this guy even better than it's always been...he's Wyatt Koch, perpetual rich kid. He just sued his fiancee to get his $250,000 engagement ring back.
Merry Christmas,USA, USA, USA!

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Christmas Eve Party and the Old Man nails it!

Some time in the early 70's...

It's Noon on Christmas Eve, the word goes out that at three we're having a little Christmas Cheer at the hotel across the parking lot from the radio station, that perks everybody up, free drinks for everybody, except for the guy in the newsroom and the poor bastards on the air!

The entire staff runs across the lot at three sharp and settles in for the free stuff, snacks, drinks all on the house. Everybody is there, from the owner's ancient private secretary to a couple of the geeky engineers.

By 5 things are really rolling, the General Manager of the hotel tries to close the bar at 5 so his people could go home, we all shout "Hell no, we won't go!" He relents, puts a dozen bottles of booze up on the bar, locks the rest up, takes the coin box out of the juke box so it will play for free. He locks the door, on the way out he tells his pal, our sales manager, don't let anyone in and make sure the door is locked when you leave. The party roars on. A few of the staff ladies are dancing on the bar by 7, I danced with the owners ancient secretary, ever been ground on the dance floor by a woman the same age as your grandmother?

A  few hotel guests, lonely guys, stare through the glass in the locked door and then wander off to do whatever guys stuck in hotels do on Christmas Eve.

I look at my watch, "Shit it's almost 8, I said I'd be home by 5:30!" I find George, he's riding with me, I pull him out and we slip and slide across the parking lot back to the station and get in the car, just as I'm pulling out of the parking lot, Geo says, "Shit, I left my wife's present in my office!" he goes in and gets a microwave oven, all wrapped up for Christmas. I stick it in the trunk and we head out on the slippery, icy streets. The only reason we are both alive today is I grew up driving on that kind of shit and there was zero traffic on Christmas Eve.

We get to Geo's house, it's sleeting and his driveway is slick. I unlock the trunk and Geo gets the microwave, he slips backwards and the oven goes in the air, it revolves in slow motion about six times and crashes to the hard concrete. The Christmas wrapping looks like shit, Geo says "Merry Christmas Baaaabeee" picks up the microwave and stumbles in the house and I head home.

When I get home, I'm greeted by a very pissed off wife, my daughters are on the verge of tears, my mother is more angry than my wife, my high school brother and sister are smirking and my father  pushes through the crowd standing in the hall and says, "ROBERT YOU"RE AN ASSHOLE!"

I spent the balance of the evening with glazed eyes, being ignored by everyone other than my father who spends the next three hours giving dirty looks. Geo had gone straight to bed when he got home and his younger brother who'd flown in from Winnipeg for Christmas spent all night putting Geo's kids toys together.

We both were in deep trouble for the balance of the year for all the right reasons, too.