Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Sunday, June 26, 2005

How fights start

Yesterday, I observed the basis of a lot of spousal fights among the ELDERLY. Now being a trained salesman (and semi interested student of psychology), I try to be observant to the interaction of people to thus understand better "how they tick". And I sure got a chuckle and a lesson yesterday.

My father-in-law (Walter) and I were coming in the back door for a break about mid afternoon. Walter mumbles, "Wow! I need a break, it is hot!" To which my mother-in-law (Viola) responded rather sternly, "Well, you don't have to announce it to the whole world, just go do your job and get it over with." Well this remark perplexed me and sure didn't settle well with Walter naturally, so he of course came back with his own remark. Something along the likes of "doing what we want to do."

The exact words for the rest of the 10 minute exchange are not important, but were rather heated to say the least. Each trying reinforce their positions. I am simply an observer here but in my mind agreeing with Walter how hot it is outside. I am sure not understanding, even in the least, Viola's slave driving point of "getting the job done".

Well, to save a lot of typing, (because trying to explain the full exchange is impossible), let me cut to the chase. When Walter came in and announced "Wow, I need a break, it is HOT", Viola had heard "Wow, I need the POT". A rearrangement of the original statement and a complete misunderstanding of one word had caused the 10 minute fight.

Now, with full understanding, I am rolling with laughter, thinking how funny this heated argument was. I am shaking my head as I turn, still laughing and grinning as Shirley walks into the room. I say, "Now THAT was funny!" Shirley stops, grabs the cap off her head, looks at it and asks rather sternly, "What's so funny about my HAT."

Folks, the rest is history!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A drought?

.....it's been nearly (not quite) 24 hours now with no rain.......so no doubt that within a week or so, some rancher or farmer will say...."getting kind of dry"! Farmers are worse about it than ranchers are, but you can bet someone will say it within a week.

Did you ever really stop and think about it? Any farmer of any size is a millionaire on paper because of his land holding. And because of landholding, he pays a bundle of taxes...all land is taxed. Now to farm, naturally he has to have a lot of equipment. Tractors of any size will run $65,000 on the smaller utility side......upwards to almost infinity. Combines well over $100,000 just to start looking. Not uncommon for a medium sized farmer to have 3/4 to 1 million dollars tied up in equipment. Then comes planting season and he starts buying seed, fertilizer, chemical and easy to tie up $150-200 an acre in a row crop.

Now take the rancher. If he is a yearling/stocker guy he is purchasing calves around 4-500 lbs at $1.25-1.50 per pound for each animal he purchases, prays the animal will live after the truck ride home, adds several more dollars in medications, feed and mineral (my part), grass bills, winter bills, vet bills and then transportation back to the point of sell and would feel he did great if he makes $50 a head. (now quickly do the math to see how many head he has to run to make $30,000 over initial cost only...and remember, no benefit package) The cow/calf man would have similar figures as that.....with only one pay check a year.

These guys share one similar interest, they pray there is no government program, mad cow scare or some similar act of stupidity that comes along and breaks the market just before they are to market their wares. As you can read, farmers and ranchers are the plumpest pickles in the jar or they wouldn't be doing that! Makes absolutely (from an investment / business standpoint) to take those types of risk. Even on the GOOD years, neither will have a ROI (return on investment) of 2-3%.....which would be a bad investment by any industry standard.

But yet, each day, I go out and talk to millionaires, with bib overalls, crumpled hats, junk yard pickups and blue heeler cattle dogs to make my living. These marvelously industrious, optimistic, hard working people who buy everything they use from a retail system so they can sell everything they produce at "raw ingredient price" to the food industry.

If they truly ever wise up to what is going on.....we are all gonna starve

Monday, June 13, 2005

A certified nutcase

I thought I had seen it all, but the events of yesterday top them all. I was on my way home from visiting my folks and decided to stop for a wonderful redneck delicacy, a bacon cheese burger and freedom fries. So I find me a Braums and pull in. Practically run to the counter to order but she is finishing taking an order from a rather "delicate" looking man. She looks at him and asks "Jim, are you sure that is what you want?" To which he curtly nodded yes. She then took my order and handed me my number and I go sit down.

While watching traffic out the window I am faintly aware that the man is talking to himself, but my main focus is on the bacon cheese burger and awaiting my number to be called. His number is called and then mine. I notice the two sandwiches on his tray and think for a little guy he must have a big appetite. I return to my table and peel back the wrapper on this beautiful sandwich. I take the first bite slowly to savor the blended flavors, and think to myself I am gonna make this last and enjoy every bite.

As I relish this bite of heaven, it becomes apparent that this guy is not only talking to himself, but answering! Which in itself is not all that uncommon, but he was using TWO voices! He would look to his left and say something and then look to his right and answer! I am sure I must have been looking at him with one of those "deer in the head lights" looks. He looked at me and said "What are you staring at?"

Then looking to his left in a rather high voice "Don't yell at him!"

Looking to the right in a deeper voice, "Well he was staring at us!"

My bacon cheese burger was losing my interest very rapidly as ultimate fear set in, but I quickly begin staring at my hamburger. Though my side vision I noticed as he looked left and then right. I strained to listen.

"Jim this is not what I wanted!"

"It's what I always get you."

"But it's not what I asked for tonight!"

"You'll like it. Eat it"

I attempted another bite, but it could have been made out of cork board and I wouldn't have known. I even tried a chaser of freedom fries, but I was totally trained on the conversation across the isle. No longer was I chewing my food, rather just biting and swallowing. I wanted OUT of this place.

As I was swallowing the last bite and picking up my wrappers to discard, I noticed the counter lady watching nonchalantly. As I walked by, I pointed to the table and she just winked, "They come in here often."

"They?" I ask. "This is normal?"

"Well", she said, "I wouldn't call it normal. But, not out of the ordinary for Jim and Sarah. You should be here when Sarah comes by. Decked out to the T."

"Oh?" was my first response, then realization set in. "OH!"

"And only once have they caused a scene enough for us to call police. Sarah was having an affair and Jim caught them!" She seemed fully willing to tell me many more stories, but this was getting a little too kinky for me.

But on the way home I got to thinking......if I could just figure out how to sell some tickets to a performance like what I had just seen.......I COULD BE RICH!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Reviving the Peace Lilly

Not much really going on to write about, but thought I would fill you in on the latest near catastrophe. Since is the wife is gone, naturally I have to take on the watering of the flowers. We have had a lot of rain, so those outside have been no problem......but there are some on the front porch which don't have access to the rainfall .... but I have been diligent to water then a couple times a week. GOOD job Dennis!!

However, the other night she happen to ask over the phone about the "Peace Lilly" ....."Which one is that?" I ask with glee knowing that I would be able to describe it's flourishing beauty.

"The one in the guest bedroom" she responded.

GASP! "Fine" I lied as I walked to the bedroom to take a look. I continued the small talk about training the new guy as I peered around the door of the bedroom. There was the remains of the flower in question ..... limp as a noodle hanging down over the flower pot rather than the majestic deep green erect foliage of a couple weeks ago. I ended the conversation quickly saying that I was headed to bed. In reality, I was quickly determining which lawyer would be best for negotiating my divorce settlement.

I hit the internet for looking for SOMETHING about Peace Lilies (you wouldn't BELIEVE the things that show up on a Google search if you happen to misspell peace......but that's another story) Anyway, I did find some good information on one web sight and quickly put the "water-denied" flower into the soil-istic emergency room. That was Wednesday night and today it is finally standing erect. Now I just got to figure out how to turn it that deep rich green again!!! The flower is suppose to be a pale yellow......not the leaves!

I hope things are good in your world

Tuesday, June 7, 2005


Well today I spent the day in Woodsen county KS. Sitting on the eastern edge of the Flinthills, it has a mix of farmland covered with corn and beans as well as rolling tallgrass prairie. Yates Center is the county seat and the largest (by far) town in Woodsen county (it has about 1500 people) and is usually where I eat dinner when working that area.

Well the place I normally eat was "wall to wall", so I left to go find another place. While driving around the town square, I noticed a sign that said "Frannies, down home cooking". So I thought what the heck and stopped. I walked through the door where there was a large staircase disappearing around a corner on the second floor.

The menu was on a makeshift easel and today's special was beef and noodles. I continued up the stairs, around a corner and up another short flight of stairs. Here was a long hall and no apparent dining area, but I could hear people so I continued on. As I passed the first double doors with glass I noticed a large room of an old opera theater, still complete with a low stage at the far end.

Continuing on down the hall I finally found the door and entered into a small, maybe 10X10 room with two small tables, kitchen sink, stove, oven, an island full of pies, big bowl of vegetables, pot of mashed potatoes and a stewer of home made noodles. To my immediate left was the cash register, completely open to all who walked up. I almost turned around thinking I had entered the kitchen then realized I was in "Frannies". Through an adjourning door, I notice 6 more small tables, each surrounded by people eating.

A lady behind the island of food asked me, "You eating?"

"Yes ma'am," was my reply and she grabbed a plate from a stack of plates, then asked, "you want your beef and noodles on the side or over the potatoes?"

"Which ever is best" was my response.

She grabbed a spoonful of mashed potatoes and then took a ladle of home made noodles with large chunks beef floating around and poured all over the top. Reaching next to the bowl of carrots and peas, she dumped a big spoonful on the side of the plate then topped that off with a slice of buttered bread.

"Coffee or tea?", was her last question to which I responded "tea". With that, she handed me my meal and I begin to look for a place to sit. Walking through the door into the second room, I noticed a vacant chair at a table partially surrounded by the locals.

"Mind if I sit here?"

"Sure go ahead", they uttered between bites, conversation and sips of Frannies tea. I listened only half heartedly as they discussed business, family and vacation plans. My mind was racing back 100 years in time as I looked up at the gas light hanging from the ceiling, the high arched windows and the wooden floors.

I took my fork and grabbed a heaping helping of the mashed potato mix. One bite and I was hooked. Seasoned perfectly, each mouthful literally melted in my mouth followed closely with a bite of the vegetable mix and a sip of Frannies tea. Wonderful food, which seemed to disappear too quickly, even though very generous in portions.

There was no waitress, it was "help yourself" if you wanted more tea. Want some pie? Get your own and clean your own table when you're done.

As I got up to leave, I did eye the generous portions of home made pies, but decided to decline. I handed my plate and tea glass to the older lady washing dishes behind the small island. "You Fanny" I asked.

"Have been since ever I could remember" was her reply.

"How much do I owe you?" I asked

"You have pie?" she asked.

"Nope. But I did want it." I told her truthfully.

"Well we don't charge for wanting." was her retort, "One dollar and just stick it in the cash register. Make change if you need it."

"What keeps people from taking more than they should?" I asked

"You can trust people around here." she replied, never looking up from her dishwashing.

"My first time here" I said as I put my money in the cash register. "But it won't be my last. That was a good meal."

"You should have tried the pie." I heard her say as I walked out the door, "That's my best cooking."

And do you know what, I'll just bet she's right!