Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our stories are worth listening to.

On Saturdays I do things around the house. Some Saturdays I'll have to work a little while, and that's ok. Generally though, Saturdays are for shopping the yard sales early, listening to the Public Radio shows and reading magazines or papers I've not gotten to all week. I like this because it is food for my head. Today I found a metal mixing bowl for my old Kitchen Aid mixer. It had a small dent in the side, but it's just fine. Those bowls cost about $30 and I got it for $5.

When I was a kid Saturdays were when we went to town to get groceries and do shopping. We would leave early and be there just as the stores opened. In a small town Saturdays are as close as you get to traffic. Every business was open, the Courthouse was open and so were all the banks. Now on Wednesday some of these places and all the doctors and dentists were closed. I have friends who live in that small town still and it's the same now on Wednesday.
In the afternoon I would help my grandmother take a bath. Mom would make a cake. My sister would mow the yard and both we girls would take our weekly bath. We didn't have indoor plumbing until I was eight and the way we took a bath was to use the tub in the milk house that was used to wash milk cans. We would each carry a kettle of boiling water and take towels down, partially fill the tub with cold water and add the hot water; one tub and two girls.

This was also the day we washed the car, made sure our clothes for church were clean, pressed and rolled our hair. The one day of he week you were to look your best was Sunday.

Grandmother had been born twenty years after the Civil War. She grew up on a farm in northern Kentucky. She was the oldest of fourteen children and said she had spent her youth taking care of babies. She never went to school past the fourth grade but she loved books. I would read to her. As a kind of exchange she would talk about her life. Grandmother is the person who first told me stories and I have never gotten over listening to people talk about their lives.

Every one has a story. Some have hundreds. Sometimes they won't tell you all their stories, but it is amazing how easy it is to get a story.

Today on "This American Life" the producers of the show chose nine counties in Georgia and divided them amongst their reporters and staff. The reporter visited their assigned county and went into café's, stores or the courthouse and asked a random person, "Who is the most interesting person you know in town?" Sometimes they would have to go to several people because when they got to the one someone recommended, they would suggest another more interesting person! The idea was based on a Charles Salter's newspaper column in the Atlanta Journal in the 1970's entitled "Georgia Rambler."

If you'd like to hear today's "This American Life" go to iTunes and download the podcast for your iPod.

I sometimes type up stories people tell me. I'm not disciplined with this. Usually it will be a couple of paragraphs I put in my journal. Meeting a lot of different people I cannot remember names, but years later if they mention something about their life, I can bring that story up and immediately we're. I'll think, "Oh this is that guy who had the 1965 Mustang and his ex-wife painted it purple one day when she caught him messing with her sister!
It started raining again tonight after dark. All day the temperature was below 90 degrees and humidity was only 50. This week we got strong rain every day but Friday. Usually overnight and I'd wake up at the sound. Nice to go back to sleep listening to rain.

Next week it is predicted to be almost a repeat of this past week; 90+ days and hard rains.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh, that feeling when he's gone.

Some of you may have knowledge of Morgan's Raid led by Gen. John Hunt Morgan in 1862. The raid lasted 46 days and covered 1000 miles through Indiana and Ohio. This was during the American Civil War. The raid struck fear in the civilian population and drew tens of thousands of Federal troops away from their regular war duties, to protect the citizenry. There are historical markers all through southern Indiana and Ohio to this day. We were taught this bit of history in our schools in the small town I grew up near. Having knowledge of and reading the papers about Rick Scott, I am reminded of Morgan's Raid.

Rick Scott was born in Illinois, moved to Kansas City and went to high school and junior college there, enlisted in the Navy for 29 months, came back to Kansas City and graduated from law school. He moved to Texas and practiced law with the state's largest firm in Dallas. He and two other people started Columbia Hospital Corporation and with further acquisitions of competitors, the company evolved into the largest health care corporation in the country.

Mr. Scott passed through Louisville when Columbia acquired a subsidiary of Humana. They announced their headquarters would be in Louisville and the city was delighted to have them here. Billboards were put up on all the expressways. The corporation contributed big bucks to the arts and Mr. and Mrs. Scott were invited to all the best parties and galas. There wasn't a week when they were not featured in the social pages.

It wasn't just the old and new society money who embraced the Scotts. The State government gave low and no tax deals to the corporation. The city was told new high paying jobs would come together in Louisville and so the city helped with those nagging occupational taxes. Then before the commuters got tired of the billboards, Mr. Scott and the corporation decamped to Nashville.

The local paper was full of outrage. Letters to the editor were numerous. We were never told what Nashville used to lure them there, but we as a city were not amused.

In the late 90's Columbia/HCA was charged by the Federal government in a huge Medicare fraud case. Mr. Scott was CEO of the corporation. Among the crimes uncovered were doctors being offered financial incentives to bring in patients, falsifying diagnostic codes to increase reimbursements from Medicare and other government programs, and billing the government for unnecessary tests. The case was never brought to court and was settled with a payout of $1.7 billion.

Mr. Scott was never personally charged, but the corporation ousted him. In an application of veneer to hide their crimes, the corporation changed its name to HCA Mr. Scott went on to spend the next decade investing in health care service firms and technology start ups.

Now Mr. Scott has turned to politics in Florida. He is the GOP candidate for governor there. His campaign has been saturating the airwaves in an effort to introduce himself and wash away the dirt on his resume. By Sunday he will have spent $24.9 million of his personal wealth in this.

He is also pushing the legal limit of things to get the public financing laws changed in his favor. He's upset because his opponent, who is not a millionaire, will begin getting public financing when Mr. Scott reaches his spending limit Sunday.

I could write about the injustice of election financing. I won't do that today.

In 2009 Mr. Scott put up the initial funding for Conservatives for Patients' Rights. The organization sounds like it would be working to help individual patients get help. The true purpose is to reduce the growth of Medicare and other government programs.

The irony just does not stop!

Mr. Scott and his companies get all the tax breaks they can scare the state out of, and then abandon Kentucky to zip down to Tennessee, which also abates taxes for them. Then through guile and clever machinations with cunning schemes that amount to out and out theft, they cheat the Federal government of funds that should have been used to help more people.

I know how we feel here in Louisville after experiencing the acquaintance of Rick Scott. I'd advise Florida to take note. I suspect if he's elected governor there, they will have a similar feeling when he leaves.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who do I write like?

I write like
Ernest Hemingway
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I had copied my last blog post into the analysis.  This was that result.
Being a skeptic of this kind of thing, I posted a recent day from my journal.  That analysis said I write like Stephen King.
I then posted a blog entry from a month ago.  In June I wrote like David Foster Wallace.
The only one of the three I have read is Stephen King.  I used to read every book he wrote until I got to IT and was too scared to finish it.  Remember that; the clown in the sewers looking up from the sidewalk drains?
I'm going to conclude from this that I write like myself. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rain and clothes drying on hay.

The rain started yesterday mid afternoon. I was working and the sound didn't register in my mind at first. It had been so long since we had rain the sound was oddly not recognizable. The rain stopped two minutes after it started. When I came out of the building to get the mail there hadn't been enough water fall to cover the truck; just wet spots on the paint.
Later it was pouring when I left work.

This morning it was a gentle steady rain. This went on for several hours.

When I went out for lunch it was no longer raining. The grass seemed greener. Flowers were standing up straighter. The best part was it was fifteen degrees cooler!

The month of June was the hottest average temperature since 1952 in Louisville. I wake up in the morning cool, having slept under a ceiling fan all night, but moving around even a little means I sweat and am sticky. It has become my habit to immediately get in the shower. I don't wait for the water to warm up; just a cold shower and eventually a warm one. I stay downstairs until after lunch, so the AC isn't needed so much.

Now July has started hot. This week it was 97 three days in a row. With the rain it will be cool until Sunday. Forward predictions say 90's through the month of July.

I've been daydreaming about rain and warm summer showers; how it would be so wonderful to invite friends for hedonistic romps in the rain. I don't have a place for this, but I imagine a green pasture. There would be rolling Indiana hills and uncut fescue gone to seed. The seed heads would reach to my waist and tickle my skin, the stalks separating my barefoot toes. Take note, I have never done this kind of thing when I lived on the farm and there were lots of pastures.
There is a barn in a meadow near a creek on that farm, with bales of hay stacked waiting for winter feeding. Do any of you remember the novels or movies where a woman and a man meet somewhere and get caught in the rain? They run for the barn and when safe in the dry they just have to take off their wet clothing for fear of a cold and lay it out to dry. This story is often repeated with an old farm house instead of the barn and a fireplace and blanket!

Of course this ends up with them having sex. They have never noticed each other until the day they get wet in the rain. They've lived just down the road from each other all their lives or she is the new girl in town but never saw that they really love each other until they got rained on! The rain is like a love potion.

In the city there is no place for nudity, let alone taking showers naked in warm summer rain! I've been thinking though that it would be possible to lure Lenny to the parking lot at work some evening after midnight when it's raining. One problem is the police park on that lot during their breaks. I wonder if they would arrest me.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Garden in grass and normal neighbors.

The people next door have put in a garden. The always green acre has been just grass for almost two decades. As far as I can tell there has never been a garden there.

One Saturday in March they off loaded a small tractor and disk. I've seen farm equipment of all kinds. I grew up on a farm in Indiana. This was like the full size disks but smaller. I hadn't seen a plow and since the area they were cultivating had been fully sodded with fescue, I have to believe the plow had done its work before I started watching the area.

A man was on the tractor and a woman stood to the side drinking from a plastic cup through a straw. I had no doubt he was doing her bidding in making the garden. I watched as she walked to the edge of their property at the edge of mine and dumped the contents of her cup on my side. I immediately thought of how good produce from their garden would be later in the summer.
This garden is on a commercial lot and my property is where my business operates. I'm there a lot though; much more than they are.

The mail man stopped by the other morning. He is a nice guy and always has a moment to chat when he sees me. Last week he had been on vacation and the mail man who delivered before he was the regular guy had been the mail man for about 10 years. He moved to another route last fall and said he was retiring soon and would fill in for vacations till then.

I told the regular guy about the vacation sub had been a former regular and that he'd asked about getting cake samples. I explained that I enter cakes in the Kentucky State Fair and make some for my church carnival for practice, as well as for the business next door and in previous year's the mail man. He smiled.

"You wouldn’t be willing take a practice cake, would you?" I asked.

"Well I don't need to eat cake but that would be great."

"You could take it home to share with your family, you know," I said.

"Sure, that's a good idea," He said.

"What do you think; pineapple upside down cake or red velvet?" I asked.

"Surprise me," He said with a grin.
The announcement earlier this week that eleven people living and working in America are spies for Russia was greeted by chuckles for the most part. The statement by the President was not adversarial and Putin said he didn't think the people were Russian. Of course the FBI has been listening in on their phones, watching them move about, hacking their computers and putting bugs in anything they own for years. I have no doubt they are spies. I've always believed that the best spy would not be a James Bond type, but someone who blended in and didn't look or act like a spy novel character.

Another former CIA man said there were probably 50 such couples living quietly, doing the same kind of social networking to learn about and influence what we do, politically.

So now instead of seeing Islamic terrorists in every cab or bodega, we will be suspecting that nice couple at your kid's school, just because they "sound foreign" or act normal.