Saturday, January 25, 2014

If Clouds Could Talk

If Clouds Could Talk

A couple o' clouds are floatin' along in the sky, observin' the people down on the ground, and makin' comments on what they see. One says to the other; “Hey look at that guy over on the sidewalk. He's staggerin' around like a complete idiot!”

“Ah,” says the other cloud, “he's just a little drunk. Let's drift over by the kid's playground, they're usually a lot more fun to watch.”

Well, you're lookin' at me as though I've lost the last o' my marbles. Well maybe I did an' maybe I didn't. But don't tell me you believe humans are the only creatures with a sense of curiosity. Heck, I remember a gang of pelicans on the Red River up there by the locks that used to float down the stream watchin' people watchin' them. Then they'd fly up an' settle back into the water upstream a ways an' do the same thing all over again. They'd do that all day long between snacks from outa' the water. It got so that I'd be watchin' the people right along with the pelicans too.

As a matter of fact, many years ago I was reading a story about that famous battle at the Alamo where everybody was shootin' everybody else, when it occurred to me that the animals like coyotes, foxes, snakes an' such watchin' all the fuss goin' on must'a been scratchin' their heads at the idiocy of people shootin' away at one another an' not even botherin' to eat the carcasses.

The point is that I can remember layin' in the grass watchin' the clouds go by an wonderin' what I could see in them. I don't know why it never occurred to me before that they might be doin' the same thing back on me. Let's face it, they're up there in heaven an' who knows what goes on up there? The sky's a big place an' lots can happen there. You've heard o' golfers an' soccer players getting' struck by lightnin' durin' a game. An' them tornados comin' outa nowhere. That all comes out'a the clouds. So I just wouldn't sell them short neither. An' by the way, who's manouverin' them around up there anyways? Did you ever think o' that? No, no, the more I think about it, the scarier it gets.

I'm not sayin we should make more of clouds than what there is. I'm just pointin' out some o' the “what if's” that could be. You can do what you want but me – well the next time I'm lyin' in the grass or snow starin at the clouds thinkin' 'bout what or who they look like, I'll be watchin' a little more closely to look at their expressions. It they're lookin' a bit grouchy I'll be on my best behavior an' you can take that to the bank. Well you're never sure of what's goin' on so it's always best to go into the 'just in case' mode of behavior to be on the safe side in any sort of circumstance. You never know if the clouds are just doin' what clouds do or maybe are the policemen or the KGB of a higher power an' can report your activities whenever they see them. Lord knows, they see enough to fill a whole cookie jar full of tall tales. An' they can cover the whole world in no time at all so's you can just imagine all the things they come acrost.

Well at my age they ain't goin' to be seein' nothin' they hadn't ought to see so I guess it's all right for me to go lay in the snow an' watch them driftin' by, imaginin' what they look like. See, I don't think they know that I know what they're up to. At least that's how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Sister Heinie

My Sister Heinie

Well that settles it! For years, even within the family, there was always confusion about what her name really was. Was it Hanna, or Hannah, or more formally Johanna. The latter seemed to make the most sense to me because she is after all the daughter of Johann. Not only that, but Johanna is a more proper German name than Hanna.

It's kinda too late to settle the matter anyways 'cause mom an' dad are now gone an' far as I know, they didn't leave any record. My money is on Johanna anyways, but then you never know for sure.

Havin' said all that, there's people in this world who have a tough time pronouncin' names that ain't of their own culture, although it seems to be gettin' better these days with all them foreign names showin' up. You figure if you pronounce it for them they'll get the hang of it, but no, that never happens. Seems they got their own way of gettin' their tongues around sylables an' their ain't no changin' it. Let me explain it first so's you get the idea. Hanni, as we call her, is pronounced H-ah-knee, like when the doctor sticks that popsicle stick in your mouth an' you gotta say “ah”. Most non-European folks would say H-aw-nee like ball or fall which, if you're a stickler for pronunciation, is a pain in the Heinie. It just grates on the nerves.

And therein lies the rub. Yeah, that's another thing; in the German language, Heinie is an endearing shortening of the name Heinrich – mainly used on young boys. In English it means something entirely different of course.

A couple of weeks ago my sister Hanni blew into town to stay with her older sister who lives in a large senior's complex. It's quite a place where they serve meals an' have lots of stuff for old folks to do. Apparently she had a great time except at meals. Their table mate is a little set in her ways and is one of them people who has the afore mentioned problem with name pronunciation. As you've probably guessed by now, she calls my sister Heinie, of all names. After a number of exasperating tries to correct the mispronunciation, my sister came up with the idea to re-name herself Hannah. I don't for the life of me know if it worked or not, but she somehow got through the ordeal.

The cardinal sin in this is to have mentioned it to her nasty an' fun lovin' brother. Considerin' all the ramifications of the little adventure I came up with some various scenarios. On the one hand, she is the last of our family and came into this world at the tail end of it. That's a thought. And – over the last seventy – odd years, there have been times here and there where she has acted like, or been considered as a complete Heinie. Mind you, that's no different than the rest of us. Or, on the other hand, she could consider herself named in honor of her Onkel Heinrich, rest his soul.

All things considered, I don't think that's got anything to do with anything. After all these years I'm sure she don't give a rip about what she's called as long as she ain't called late for dinner. What grates on her is the mispronunciation of the word. In our family we got this thing about when we hear a word being said wrong, it's like runnin' your fingernail acrost a blackboard or singin' off key. It's downright infuriatin'. But I'll tell you what. Heinie is one o' them names that's goin' to stick from here on in. So I guess I got me a brand new sister called Heinie. At least that's how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Get Off My Television!

Get Off My Television Set!

Listen, I paid a lot o' money for my television set! An' I pay a lot o' cash for my cable an' all the rigamarole that goes with it. So I figure it's all mine an' nobody else’s! So if I tell you to get off my television set, I ain't kiddin'.

I'm talkin' 'bout all them advertisers who keep interuptin' my programs with messages I don't want to hear at the best o' times, never mind when it suits them. It's bad enough that the TV stations ain't got enough programming to play original programs nomore so they got to repeat everything about once a week an' three times on weekends. An they do all this on MY television set!

My friend had a way with people using his equipment. One o' them telemarketers would call up an' he'd answer on purpose an' let them make their pitch. Then in a big boomin' voice he'd say, “GET OFF MY PHONE!” Well the poor telemarketer wasn't expectin' that, so he'd sputter somethin' foolish, and my friend would read him chapter an' verse about who did he think he was, tyin' up his phone like that? After he'd read the riot act to whoever was at the other end, he'd hang up with a bang an' chuckle to himself, visualizin' the befuddled look on the caller's face. He wasn't angry at all, just annoyed at the intrusion.

Well it ain't all that different with the dad blamed commercials on the TV. Every time you get involved in watchin' somethin', they break in an' try to sell you some snake oil. If that ain't bad enough, they do it over an' over. Then somebody else tries to get you to donate to somethin' or other. By the time you get back to what you figured you'd be watchin', you forgot the story line for crimeny sakes. Listen, I ain't got nothin' against these snake oil salesmen. They gotta make a livin' too, an' they're just hornin' in wherever they're allowed to go.

An there's the problem right there! The governin' body that regulates all that stuff is asleep at the switch. They're so busy regulatin' who buys what airwaves an' broadcast content an' all that business, you'd think somebody in that whole dang place could figure out you need a separate channel that is strictly for adverstisin'. That way, if you need somethin' you just go to that channel an' watch for what you need. An' don't think nobody would watch it neither. Them cuckoo birds in the advertisin' business know how to make things attractive for people an first thing you know the ratin's would be right up there.

An' the dynamics wouldn't have to change at all neither. All the people payin' for the advertisin' would just move the money over to the advertisin' channel an' Bob's yer uncle. Straight shuffle. Just look at the benefits. People watchin' the advertisin' channel would actually be interested in buyin' somethin' so the makers o' them products would have better sales, an' the rest of us could relax an' watch our TV without all them unwanted noisy interuptions. An' the CRTC would actually have done somethin' useful for the benefit o' the taxpayers for once. At least that's how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin',

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Mandela Effect Part III

The Mandela Effect Part III


The largest labor union in South Africa is calling upon the resignation of president Jacob Zuma. Well that sure didn’t take a whole lot of time did it? I said it would eventually happen, and here it is already. Could this be the beginning of the groundswell to come? Perhaps. There have been low muted rumblings in the country for some time, kept quiet during Mandela’s last days that are now gaining momentum. It appears that the labor unions who have had a great deal to do with the government are preparing to ratchet up the pressure one more time to bring about a more equitable economic outcome.

I was actually surprised last year at the unrest, which led to the massacre of thirty-four miners by police. It was the kind of bloodshed that had been seen during apartheid. And yet it was somehow quelled at the time. I remember the miners being told to be back at work the next day or risk being fired. I couldn’t believe the cold-blooded violence or the callousness of the mine owners. It became obvious that the violence and discord had only been driven underground by Mandela’s influence and was still restive just below the surface. All the complicated networks of labor unions, government alliances and white domination still simmer just beneath the surface. In other words, nothing has really changed.

But as much as the predatory caldron is bubbling below the surface, the caldron of forgiveness, equality, and reconciliation that Mandela first ignited has perhaps been heated up enough to hold sway over the former. One can only hope that the torch will be picked up by South Africa’s poor and oppressed. Regardless, I see a big blood bath in it’s future. Whether it is a blood bath with a purpose or not depends largely on the power of the spirit of Mandela. In every indigenous culture there are predictions of someone coming in the future to lead the way to the happiness of the people. In South Africa, that someone has come and gone. Now it is up to the people themselves. We’ll see. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin’.