Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Diner

The chime at the door lightly rang as the old man entered in.
He strode on across the floor, and took a seat amidst the din.
He sat alone at the table there. The other diners did not know
Who this silent stranger was, so conversation began to flow.
“How’s your son?”, they asked, and, “What’s happening in your life?”
“What are you doing now?”, and, “I haven’t seen your wife.”
Then, in came a raucous crew full of vinegar and vim.
They spied the old man sitting there, and thought to have fun with him.
They thought themselves invincible in the power of their youth.
The idea of respect and manners had not touched them with its truth.
They bounced up to the table, and with a wicked grin,
The largest of their number sat down across from him.
“Make way old man! Give way! There’s more of us than you.
Even though you’ve barely touched your food, I can tell you’re through.
So saying, he reached right across to take the old man’s plate,
But that’s when things took a twist in the young giant’s fate.
The old man hardly moved at all as he grabbed his taunter’s arm.
“Son you don’t want to do that. I don’t want to cause you harm.”
He smiled as he continued, and his grip began to increase.
“You see I’m really quite hungry, and not finished in the least.
The youth was now confused, and in not a little pain.
He tried to retrieve his arm, but his efforts were in vain.
The old man’s sinews and muscles stood out in broad relief.
Hardened by years of farming chores, he said, “I’ll be brief.
Now son, you thought to bully me, a man unknown to you.”
He tightened up his grip once more as he took a moment to chew.
“You hadn’t thought what I could do If I took a mind to react.
You chose to try and intimidate, rather than try another tact.”
By now the lad wasn’t sure if he’d ever use his arm again.
He was sliding from seat to knees, breathless in his pain.
The old man continued eating ‘til his plate was wiped quite clean,
Then he let loose the boy, and gave him a look both bright and keen.
“I want to thank you son for keeping me company while I ate.
Now, I better be on my way, my wife hates it when I’m late.
From now on boy I expect that you’ll say, ‘Yes ma’am’, and ‘Yes sir’.
That you’ll give respect to those around, and your friends will all concur.
The next man you try to hassle may not be as nice as me.”
Then reaching down with that mighty hand, he lifted the boy off his knee.
He stood him up, and brushed him off, and chucked him lightly under the chin.
“Now be a good boy, or I’ll be back.”, then he spun away with a grin.
He paid his bill, and thanked the cook for the wonderful meal he’d had,
Then turned once more before he left saying, “Boy, don’t you feel bad.
There are men in this world of ours who’ve done just like you’ve done
Without a thought for the other man, or the battles that HE’S won.
Respect is earned when respect is given. From good manners we reap the same.
You can hold your head up high, and folks will praise your name.
A simple ‘Thank you’, and a ‘Please’ can go a long, long ways.
It might just save your life, and lengthen out your days.”
Then the old man turned and left. The boys just stood and stared.
Not one of them said a word. None of them even dared.
So learn this lesson in your youth. Be kind to those around.
For you never know who you’ll meet, when you try to put somebody down.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Snakes, toads, turtles, and other assorted collections

I recently had the occasion to think about some of our childhood collections. I recall bringing home a bucket full of Western Ring-necked snakes, a box full of frogs and toads, and bike baskets filled with box turtles. Mom made us return the snakes to the kind lady who let us gather them from her root cellar. The turtles, frogs, and toads all got turned loose in our big back yard from which they would occasionally emerge to be found again (sometimes, unfortunately, by the lawnmower--ewww).

We collected rocks, arrowheads (before it was illegal), stamps, and coins. We had friends who collected toy frogs, teddy bears, anything strawberry, geese, cows, and owls. We collected knives and swords, UFO memorabilia, seashells, and in our mother's case fabric for quilts. Grandma collected EVERYTHING else. Buttons, pins, shoes, clothes, old magazines, toys. It seemed like nothing was beyond the realm of possibility when looking around her house.

Today, I don't see that same fervor to collect. Is it the nature of our society now? We do tend towards the disposable, and the immediate. Maybe things don't last long enough to be collected, or perhaps we are more concerned with the instant, not the enduring. I think I would like to see us return to that time of saving things for the future. Something to show for our time here.

I wonder where I can find a few turtles?.....

Take care. Stick.

This is it

I thought I should blog today. I started to comment on the state of society and our country. It was too depressing. I thought about writing on work ethics--too boring. Perhaps I could have talked about our school system and what I perceive as the shortcomings therein--too preachy. So, sorry to say, I couldn't think of one thing to focus on. This is it.

Have a great day! Stick.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I have been thinking lately about manners and morals. In the classroom I subbed in this morning, they had a poster "All I really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten", by Robert Fulghum. I post it here in its entirety for your perusal.

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:

* Share everything.
* Play fair.
* Don't hit people.
* Put things back where you found them.
* Clean up your own mess.
* Don't take things that aren't yours.
* Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
* Wash your hands before you eat.
* Flush.
* Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
* Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
* Take a nap every afternoon.
* When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
* Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
* Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
* And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

I also work at a major retail store in the evenings. My specific job includes helping customers in the toy and sporting goods section, and in keeping those areas neat and clean. My main difficulty in doing this comes from people who never learned those Kindergarten lessons, or for that matter, ANY lessons in basic manners. These people think that our section of the store is a babysitting service for them while they shop. One mother brought her three kids into the toy aisles saying, "Have fun, I'm going to go shop. I'll be back in a while." She left, and leaving left her three kids ages six and down, alone in the toys. They proceeded to destroy two hours worth of work by playing with, or just throwing on the floor, toys from every aisle there. Now lest you think only young kids do this, perhaps I should just mention the parents.

Many of these upstanding citizens, who probably consider themselves to be decent, upstanding people, feel no qualms about throwing something that they have decided not to buy on the nearest shelf, regardless of what it is, or where they are in the store. I have found melted ice cream, spoiled meat, gallons of warm milk, fresh vegetables, and many more thrown to the back of the shelves in random areas of the store. Then there are those who in spite of our low prices, think they cannot afford to pay for what they want, so we find empty packages also thrown to the back of those shelves. Some of these items only cost a dollar, or two. We have caught people trying to steal a five dollar item when their basket is filled with three hundred dollars of items they have already paid for.

I'll stop my rant, for now anyway. We need to teach more Kindergarten lessons, and more people need to learn them well.

Keep smiling. Stick.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For All the Pyromaniacs Out There

I watched a Mythbusters episode six times today. It included a section on a cannon made out of a log. In the episode, they made their own gun powder. For those of you who want to do this as well, here is the formula.

By volume, not weight, mix together:

75% Potassium nitrate, 15% Charcoal, 10% Sulphur
add enough water to make a paste, and mix well. Let the mixture air dry. Using a non-conductive mortar and pestil (made of brass, or hardwood for example), grind the dryed paste into a powder. Finer grains are better for some applications. For a cannon, larger chunks (possibly as big as the first joint on your finger) are fine. Store in a non-conductive media, preferrably somewhere outside your house. :o)

Please don't play around with this mixture. This stuff is volatile! A single spark can turn this from powder to explosion! However, that said, in the right hands this is a way to create a means to power a muzzleloading rifle, and obtain food.

I don't feel bad posting this, since most people could find this on the internet as easily as I did if they wished. I also researched how to make Potassium Nitrate and charcoal if anyone is interested. Finding the sulpur could be a little more difficult. :o)

Have a nice day, and work responsibly. Stick.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I started walking as a babe
A year just barely gone,
And have hardly stopped at all since then
With troops, or all alone.

I hiked a thousand miles
Just to see this land of ours.
I meandered through a thousand more
While whiling away the hours.

I paced the floor for hundreds more
As I was a-waitin’
Sometimes for the birth of kids,
Or else when they were a-datin’.

I’ve slogged through mud and snow
When I’d rather sit and rest,
And I’ve splashed my way down river beds
When on a private quest.

I’ve spent whole summers trekkin’
High in the mountaintops,
And have trudged along down city streets
Passing cars and traffic cops.

Yes, I have walked for miles and miles,
And I’ve run a step or two.
Now, having walked all that way
I would like to think I’m through.

I wish that I could skip this drudge,
It only makes me tired.
It brings me down to places
Where I only end up mired.

But though I trot out all my reasons,
For why I should be done,
None of them have set me free
From my pacing ‘neath the sun.

So I’ll continue my measured tread
Down street, or rocky way
Until I walk that last great path
Upon the judgement day.