Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

    If you see a posting you like and wish to share it with others, by all means feel free to do so. I'd prefer that you send the link to your friends, but you're also welcome to reproduce anything here—as long as you retain my identity on the document. If you have a web site of your own and wish to post a link to this blog (or to a specific post), again, feel free to do so.

    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

    Oh, and…yes, I can spell. That "Write-wing" is only a play on words. So, there. Again.

    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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  • About this “curmudgeon” guy…

    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Archive for December, 2010

“Merry Christmas.” (Yes, really.)

Posted by The Curmudgeon on December 25, 2010

It’s a harmless, time-honored expression. You got a problem with that?

 

In an earlier entry, I ranted thusly:

Saying “Merry Christmas” is a seasonal greeting. Christmas is, itself, observed in the United States as a traditional holiday—not a religious holiday. That some also link it to the birth of Jesus should be of no real consequence (and they’re probably a few months off, anyway), as it’s been suggested that the arbitrary designation of December 25th to commemorate Jesus’ birth was deliberately intended to coincide with the winter solstice and the Roman festival known as “Saturnalia”. People should be no more offended by hearing “Merry Christmas” than they would be if someone handed them candy and hard-boiled eggs and said “Happy Easter.” And that thing’s called a “Christmas tree”—not a “holiday tree.” Raising a fuss about that just smacks of political correctness taken entirely too far (a rapidly growing –finally!– issue in many areas of concern, by the way.) Does the expression “Yuletide Greetings” offend you? It’s no less “religious” than “Merry Christmas”, inasmuch as “Yule” initially referred to a pagan festival—another of many traditional winter festivals of various names observed in cultures around the world for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

Now, being a reasonable guy, I many years ago began substituting expressions like “Happy Holidays” in the belief that “Merry Christmas” somehow implied other meanings that some might find offensive. (In other words, I bought into the political-correctness argument…though we didn’t call it that back then.)

This was back when the argument was first being advanced that we all have an absolute right to never be offended in any way by anything.

Kiss that good-bye. No more.

I’ve noticed the re-emergence in recent years of the use of traditional greetings by the population at large—even as retailers and businesses seem bent on eradicating their use. Whether this represents a rebellion against the political-correctness movement is uncertain.

Whatever it may suggest, I like it.

So do a lot of other people.

A few years ago, I very deliberately adopted a specific way of concluding business with those I encountered while on the road. For example, after getting unloaded and settling the matter of bills-of-lading, I’d tell the shipping clerk: “Okay, we’re good, then? Alright, have a good day—and Merry Christmas to you.”

You know what? People reacted to that. Their faces would light up. They’d enthusiastically respond: “And Merry Christmas to you, too—and get home safe.”

I’ve thought recently about an interesting encounter many years ago in Korea. The remote site the Army had assigned me to was located near a Buddhist temple, and a few of the priests came to call a day or two before Christmas. I found myself engaged in light conversation with one of them, and couldn’t help pointing out to him the irony of the situation (Buddhist priests in Korea joining in the observance of what many GI’s also regard as the day marking Christ’s birth)—which, of course, wasn’t lost on him, either. He noted, though, that while they didn’t regard Jesus the same way that Christians do, they did acknowledge him as a great man whose teachings were nonetheless compatible with many of their own beliefs; besides, the priests viewed us as visitors in their land, and maintained that they would be poor hosts if they didn’t at least note the occasion. Moreover, he emphasized the universal “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” view as the central theme for the holiday, anyway—which resonated well with their own beliefs.

And he had no qualms whatsoever about bidding me a warm “Merry Christmas” when we finally parted company.

Sorry, but I don’t see anything offensive about Santa Claus, Jingle Bells, or reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to kids. If the strains of Nat “King” Cole crooning about chestnuts roasting over an open fire offends you, you have a problem. While I don’t buy into the “He’s the reason for the season” and “Keep Christ in Christmas” arguments, I don’t find such missives offensive, either; each to his own. As noted above, Christmas is a traditional holiday, and I leave it to each individual to take from it what he or she may. I have no feeling about Nativity scenes one way or the other; as far as I’m concerned, if people want to have them, they’re welcome to it. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the argument could be made that the presence of such displays is likewise traditional. While I’m more partial to Here We Come a-Wassailing, I’ll freely confess that hearing Carol of the Bells also carries a certain significance. Probably the last place anyone would expect to find me this time of year is a church—yet I’ll also admit that passing by a church alive with a choir singing familiar carols also puts me in the holiday mood; whether one embraces similar beliefs is irrelevant. Again, it’s up to each of us to take from all this what we will.

At the conclusion of a road trip not so long ago (a particularly arduous one, it should be noted), I’d just dropped a trailer and hooked another to take on the final short leg of my journey home—trying to make it home on Christmas Eve. The guy in charge came over and handed me my paperwork (oh, and, by the way…he’d done me a considerable favor,which served to save time and to make my job easier). Tired, cold, hungry, and anxious to get home, I turned to leave—then stopped. I removed my glove and extended my right hand. “Thank-you, brother—and a Merry Christmas to you.”

He’d been about to climb into the cab of his yard tractor, but stopped and grasped my hand firmly. “Merry Christmas, driver. Be safe out there.” The firmness of his handshake, his eyes, and his voice all revealed an unmistakable sincerity.

At such moments, I find that I’m suddenly no longer quite so cold or tired or hungry. In fact, I feel pretty damned good.

So do most others, I suspect.

And with that, I freely, happily, and unapologetically bid you all a Merry Christmas.

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Posted in Christmas, political correctness, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

“A Better Class of People”

Posted by The Curmudgeon on December 16, 2010

As I was saying,—

 

Some might recall a recent comment I made about truck drivers; if not, scroll back a few entries.

When I first started driving over-the-road, some asked why I’d leave the safe, quiet, white-collar world to drive a truck. I’d jokingly reply: “Better class of people.”

Here’s a timely case in point:

Last week, I finished picking-up a load in Monte Vista, CO. As I was about to leave, I learned (the hard way, of course) that the starter on my truck had failed. The usual remedy is to “pull-start” the truck (exactly the opposite of “push-starting” a car) using another vehicle. At this point, one continues either to a repair shop to have the starter replaced, or completes the journey and defers the replacement until arriving home. After conferring with my company, we opted for the latter course.

No problem. Done it before, and will probably do so again. The key is to not shut-off the engine until the truck gets to a repair facility.

I set off, entering La Veta Pass about an hour later, about 10:00PM. Not one of my favorite places to drive—even under the best of circumstances. Swirling, gusty winds, frequent encounters with ice, snow, and fog, winding roads, and steep grades. It has claimed a fair number of vehicles—and lives. Not a place to become complacent—and certainly not a place one would choose to break-down.

And this is where I discovered the second problem with the truck: Engine overheating.

Now, merely overheating is an annoyance, to be sure. However, it isn’t insurmountable.

Unless, of course, the truck is equipped with a protection system that shuts the engine down when it overheats—and you already have a faulty starter.

You can no doubt surmise what transpired next.

Yep. Just as I reached the summit (about 9500 feet above sea level), the engine shut itself off. I was at least able to wrestle the beast completely off the road—though just barely.

Next, I reached for my cellular phone to call for help. Nope. “NO SERVICE” was all that was displayed.

So…there I am, sitting in pitch-black conditions, unable to call for help, can’t get the truck going, and it’s about 15° outside—with the temperature inside my now-unheated truck rapidly dropping to meet it. And then there’s the chill factor. To make matters worse, deteriorating road conditions had served to reduce traffic through the pass. To say the least, things weren’t looking too good.

I saw the glare of headlights of an approaching vehicle, and turned-on my two-way radio (most folks call that a CB). It was, indeed a truck coming my way. I called out for help as the Freightliner passed me.

I got an answer.

I briefly explained the situation, and asked that the driver make a call to my company when he reached an area with cell service. She replied that she had service and was pulling-over to make the call.

And this is where the story gets a bit more touching.

She told me: “Hang on. I’m turning around.”

Turning around? Up here?

She rounded the turn and pulled up right behind me and I walked back to greet her. “Get in before you freeze,” she told me. Then she pulled a little further down the road to a safer parking spot. She lent me her phone, and I was able both to talk to my company and to make arrangements for a road service crew to come and get me going again.

And then we waited.

At one point, she repositioned her truck again (some pretty nice handling, I might add) to bring us as close as possible to my disabled rig. And, as it turns out, we learned that our paths had crossed just that morning at a truck stop outside Denver. Small world.

I was surprised that a woman alone would stop to help. “I probably wouldn’t have, but you were some distance away, and just asked me to call for help. After I talked to your company, I figured you were for real.”

Now, we all know that time is money. This is as true of trucking as it is of any business—and more than most. After a while, I started feeling uneasy about her spending so much time sitting there. “No problem,” she said. “I don’t actually load until tomorrow morning. I was just going in early, anyway.”

She sat there with me for three hours, refusing to leave until the wrecker arrived. “You’d freeze out there before they ever showed up.”

And when she departed, she casually dismissed the episode. “No big deal. I had time to kill, anyway.” (Note that truck drivers never have “time to kill.”)

Now…if you were broken-down in a mountain pass and entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers, would the average motorist stop to render assistance?

And that, gentle readers, is why I’ve come to prefer the company of truck drivers.

__________

Posted in truck driver, truck stop | Tagged: , , | 26 Comments »

How Soon They Forget

Posted by The Curmudgeon on December 15, 2010

Congressional amnesia strikes again.

Shortly before the “shellacking” he received last month, Barack Obama suggested that Republicans were pinning their hopes on voters suddenly developing amnesia. In an earlier comment, he also asserted that “elections have consequences.”

For those with short memories (that would apparently include most of Congress), voters overwhelmingly jettisoned Democrats in droves (sixty-three of them, to be precise) — giving Republicans control of the House of Representatives, narrowing the Democrats’ margin of control in the Senate, and delivering an unmistakable message to the Obama regime.

How soon they forget.

Just today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stood before the Senate and bluntly asked whether all of Congress was “tone-deaf” and stricken with amnesia.

The reason?

A massive, 1.2 trillion-dollar “omnibus” spending measure being rammed-through the lame-duck Congress by soon-to-be departing Democrats apparently intent on looting the nation’s treasury on their way out the door. More than 2400 pages long and delivered to members of Congress only three days ago, it’s apparently been read by absolutely no one (does this sound familiar?) and loaded with “earmarks” and hidden pet projects.

In other words, they (Congress) didn’t learn a damned thing. They heard us, loud and clear—and simply don’t give a damn about what we want or what we have to say.

To be sure, it isn’t just Democrats responsible; indeed, at least two of the leading “earmarkers” are Republicans. That said, the entire effort still is being shepherded by Democrats—many of them lame ducks with nothing to lose.

Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is intent on ramming-through his backdoor amnesty program (aka “The Dream Act”)—again relying on colleagues with nothing to lose by supporting the measure.

And just to round things out, “always-in-campaign-mode” Obama seems to think he’s still gearing-up for last November’s election, likening Republicans to “hostage-takers” in the ongoing battle of the soon-to-expire Bush era tax cuts. (Ironically, some of his stiffest opposition is yet again within his own party.)

However all this shakes out, everyone needs to keep one thing in mind: Though the lame ducks are already on their way out, they won’t be able to carry it off without help—and those who remain in office will be up for re-election in 2012.

Let’s hope voters hold the culprits accountable just as they did last month; since this batch of crooks obviously didn’t get the message, perhaps their replacements will.

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Posted in budget, congress, corruption, debt, deficit, earmark, economy, election, illegal aliens, immigration reform, income tax, obama, politics, pork barrel spending, Reid | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »