Charting Trump’s rise through the decline of the middle class

From the Washington Post:

“For anyone trying to understand the emergence of Donald Trump as a force in this pre-election year, the Pew Research Center this past week provided some valuable insight. There’s little doubt that what has happened to America’s middle class has helped to create the climate that has fueled Trump’s sudden rise.

The Pew study charts the steady decline of the middle class over the past four decades. It is a phenomenon often discussed and analyzed, but the new findings highlight a tipping point: Those living in middle-class households no longer make up a majority of the population.”

The rich are not like you and I, said Scott Fitzgerald once.

(Meaning they are flying Smarter — or belong in Dunce?)

No need have they for subterfuge — they speak their mind quite plain.

(Unless, of course, their tax returns they’re trying to explain.)

So while the Middle Class recedes, its power slipping daily —

it looks to wealth (at least the kind you could call Barnum & Bailey).

This explains why Donald Trump has mesmerized so many.

(But reasons for our politics . . . c’mon . . . there isn’t any!)

I’d rather have some Pew research explaining to me why

the crusts are always soggy when you get a store-bought pie.


Pew research has gathered all the stats it needs to show

the Middle Class no longer has the will to fight and grow.

Instead it turns to Donald Trump for morbid inspiration,

meaning common sense is now on permanent vacation.



The Emoji Invasion

I have always lived by the code that if it’s in the Wall Street Journal you have to take it seriously.

So imagine my dismay when a WSJ reporter did her entire story in emojis, those quirky little Japanese pictograms that are infesting emails and texts like grain beetles in a sack of rice.
It took almost an hour to read and translate the damn thing. And this is how I felt about it:

But wait — there’s more!
People are now writing emojipoems on Tumblr.  Here’s an example:

​For you ignoramuses who don’t get it, let me explain that it is a line of a poem by British poet William Blake:  “The owl of Minerva takes flight when the shades of night are gathering.”
Any eight-year old child would understand that — and, as Groucho Marx once said, “Run out and get me an ​eight-year old child; I can’t make heads or tails of it!”
It all leaves me feeling like this:

This is not some fad, but is likely to stick around a long time like Egyptian hieroglyphics.
And an enterprising baker with questionable taste is turning out something called a “poop emoji cookie”.
Not to be outdone by these emoji auteurs, I hereby submit my first emoji poem:
But the self-revelations don’t stop there, folks. After looking in the mirror today, I’m convinced that the original emoji is based on my face.  See if you don’t agree.  ☺ =

There wasn’t room for Grandpa at the Christmas feast this year.

There wasn’t room for Grandpa at the Christmas feast this year.

The townhouse was so crowded, and he didn’t live too near.

He gave up driving after his old license was revoked;

and so the kids would drive him, as complaints he always croaked.

He was a messy eater, and he dropped stuff on the floor.

And if you kept the salt from him he’d really get quite sore.

He liked to take his dentures out when finished with his meal,

which made the kids all grimace and the grand kids really squeal.

He told the same dull stories ev’ry time he had the chance,

and jingled coins inside the pockets of his flannel pants.

His sense of style had vanished; you would not call him allurin’.

(And truth to tell, he often brought a whiff of musty urine.)

He liked to boss his kids around, and gave advice unwanted.

His ignorance and prejudice he always gladly flaunted.

And so this year it was decided by his own descendants

to declare a sort of Holiday-type independence.

They called him and they sent him Hallmark cards of great affection;

yet still and all it was a rather brutalized rejection.

But while the kids made merry round the festive yuletide board,

their smartphones got an Instagram from Gramps that had them floored.

It showed him with some eye candy, just grinning ear to ear;

the message he included, it was brief but crystal clear —

“I hope you freeze your butts off, cuz I’ve won the Lottery —

I’m celebrating Christmas on the beach at Waikiki!”

“Don’t worry that I’m lonely — I’ve got Suzy here, and Jenny.

And at the rate I’m spending — you scamps will not see a penny!”

So let this be a lesson to you vacillating Boomers:

Love your Papa earnestly and put up with  his humors.

Otherwise whatever gelt he’s got to give away

will never come to you no matter what the holiday!


Not Even OPEC Can Fix Oil Glut

The world has pumped up so much oil it has no place to store it.

Even the Grand Canyon might be used in which to pour it.

 Yet the price of gasoline remains a bit too high;

the laws of economics seem suspiciously awry.

I think those derricks sucking up the fluids of the earth

should be employed in draining some fat capitalistic girth. 

Oil of Olay

When catering to women’s whims

you go for the face or the limbs.

No matter the goo,

you will score a coup

if they think the stuff also slims.


What to Do if You Lose Power During the Winter.

Any number of things can cause a power outage during the winter months. Most probably it is weather-related. If it is caused by the weather, the outage could be wide-spread or it could be localized.

First check to make sure you have not blown a circuit. Check the circuit breakers in your home’s electrical panel. It’s a good idea to always keep a small LED flashlight by your circuit breaker box — because an outage could occur in the middle of the night. reminds you not to take your electrical power for granted. Always be prepared for not only a winter-time emergency, but for emergencies all year round.

If power is out in your entire neighborhood, call your local utility company to report the outage. The phone number should be on your electricity bill.

If power is out over a widespread area, it may take a longer time to restore power everywhere.

Here are some things to remember or to do…

    • UNLESS there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. That number should ONLY be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.


    • If there are power lines down in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 and call your utility company. DO NOT GO NEAR DOWNED POWER LINES.


    • Listen to your battery-powered radio or TV, especially for news at the top of each hour, to find out when the power might be restored.


    • Dress to stay warm – wear layers, including a sweater, sweatshirt or even a jacket. You lose heat through your hands and the top of your head. Wear gloves and a knit hat, not just a baseball cap.


    • Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed.


    • If you’re cold, take a warm shower – to increase your body temperature. Your hot water tank, even if electric, will stay warm for a few hours.


    • Unplug some of your major appliances. When the power comes back on, all of those appliances can create a drain or power surge. This can harm sensitive equipment. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power source. Leave a light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.


    • If you have a generator, do not connect it to your home’s power system unless it has been properly installed and disconnects you from the main power grid when it is operating. If you do not disconnect from the power grid, you can be sending electricity back down the lines; not just to your home. That could be deadly for power company workers.


    • If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can use it for heat. However, DO NOT USE kerosene heaters, BBQs, or any outdoor type heater inside. Such devices create poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas given off by combustion and could kill.


    • Check on your elderly neighbors or those who may have medical conditions or use medical machinery that operates on electricity. Make sure they are dressed for warmth. If someone needs to have machinery that operates on electricity, move him or her to a place where electricity is working.


  • If you have to go out, drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out during a power outage. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.

Adult Coloring Books Test Grown-Ups’ Ability to Stay Inside the Lines

From the Wall Street Journal:  “Eight of the top 20 selling books on Amazon currently are coloring books designed for adults. These books tend to be much more finely detailed than those for children. Popular topics include animals, fish, flowers and mandala spiritual symbols.”  

When I was but a little lad my mother said to me:

“Life is just a Color Book — so choose them carefully.”

Alas, I disregarded her sage counsel from the start,

and colored with abandon using hues I thought were smart.

Acid green, carnelian, and celadon, and puce;

actinic and fuligin, and others more obtuse.

Until at last I reached a stage where color was passe;

a single dot of sepia said all there was to say.

Now I use no colors, only white on white like lard

It makes my color books quite dull, but they are avant-garde.




No White Silk Scarf

From the Wall Street Journal:

“The U.S. military’s increasing demand for drones has forced changes in the Air Force’s “flyboy” culture over the years, plucking pilots out of the cockpit and sending some to high-tech desert trailers to operate remotely piloted aircraft, leaving their proverbial white scarves at home.

As the need keeps rising for drones and their valuable ISR—intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance—due to the rise of Islamic State and other threats, the Air Force is embarking on yet another cultural shift. For the first time, it is allowing enlisted personnel, not just officers, to pilot some drones.”

You do not wear a white silk scarf when piloting a drone;

you’re in a darkened quonset hut where tumbleweeds are grown.

The glory and the glamour of an F-16 flight plan

are naught to you while looking at a digital screen scan.

You target little blips of light, you push a button so,

there is a glare, then nothingness — that is the whole darn show.

It’s grunt work with a little bit of cybernetic twist;

taking human life with but the flipping of the wrist.

No wonder that the Air Force has a problem filling seats

with psychopathic murderers who function with spread sheets. 


The Smoky Holidays. A Boyhood Mini-Memoir.


One of the first things I remember about Christmas vacation as a schoolboy living in Southeast Minneapolis was the lingering sore throat and hacking cough that came from second hand smoke.

Everyone smoked back in the late Fifties and early Sixties.  My dad. My mom. My uncles and aunts. The neighbors. My older brother. If we’d had a dog, it would have probably lit up a Winston as well.

At school, of course, even though the teachers puffed away inside their sacrosanct lounge, at least the classrooms were free of tobacco fumes – instead we had the heady perfume of mimeograph fluid and chalk dust.  But once the winter vacation started I was cooped up at home, in a house full of smokers.

The adults gave each other gaily wrapped cartons of cigarettes for presents.  In fact, the tobacco companies printed special cartons that sported mistletoe and candy cane designs, as well as old Santa himself jovially gazing out in approval.  And my stocking inevitably contained packs of candy cigarettes, with brand names such as Marlboro and Kent boldly emblazoned right on them; they were sticks of pure sugar, with a red-dyed tip, that I kept dangling between my lips like Humphry Bogart.

Naturally all the windows and storm windows were shut and sealed tight against the bitter cold in our home.  There was nowhere for tobacco smoke to go except into our clothes, hair and lungs.  When the aunts and uncles and cousins came over for spritz cookies and mugs of coffee I could see the layers of tobacco smoke languidly drifting through the living room and dining room like atmospheric fog in a Universal studios horror film.

When it got too bad my mother would light a bayberry candle.  This was universally believed to ‘eat’ the smoke up. To this day I associate the scent of bayberry with nicotine.

By Christmas Eve my throat was as raw as hamburger.  I coughed and hawked up spittle like an old man.

My parent’s diagnosis was bronchitis, so after opening presents Christmas Day I was put to bed with Vicks Vaporub slathered over my chest, and an electric steam humidifier hissing 24/7 in my room; it fogged up the windows completely, so all I could see was an opaque landscape that hinted at bare elm branches and blurry shapes mysteriously gliding along the sidewalks.

When no one was around I’d open both the window and the storm window in my room to gasp some fresh air – until I heard my mother coming up the stairs with my Campbell’s chicken noodle soup; then I’d slam them both shut and lay back, hoping she would also bring me some of the brandied plum pudding we got from relatives in England each year.

Willy nilly, I was sent back to school as soon as it started again, and my ‘bronchitis’ would clear up immediately.

Finally, in 1964, the Surgeon General came out with his report on smoking.  My mother and all the aunts gave it up immediately.  My dad and his brothers were harder to convince.  But now smoking was banished from the house.  My dad had to go out on the front porch, even if it were blizzarding, if he wanted to have a Salem.

And I was never troubled with holiday ‘bronchitis’ again.