Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Hate Banks

I hate banks. I haven't always hated banks. They used to be almost exciting places to visit. When I was a kid, I remember how awesome it felt to take my very first paycheck to the F&M bank in Ashland to make a deposit. I felt like such a big shot. I think the teller even gave me a lollipop. But now, although they still hand out lollipops, it's just not the same.

I am part of the problem since I am every banker's dream. . .the ultimate loyal customer who takes whatever they decide to dish out because the prospect of switching banks is so daunting, I don't dare even consider the prospect. When I first got married, I opened up my first grown-up account at Central Fidelity Bank, largely because they had a branch right down the street, and I didn't live in Ashland any longer. For ten years or so, Central Fidelity was perfectly fine. Then suddenly, for no discernible reason, my perfectly fine bank was purchased by a high roller outfit out of Charlotte, Wachovia. The transition was annoying but uneventful, and the new boss was promising the very, very best in modern banking technology. Before too long I discovered what this meant...monthly service fees. When I protested, they offered me a chance to do away with annoying fees forever if I signed up for a bank issued credit card. I did. For several years this worked well, then I discovered that in banking the word forever has a highly ambiguous, nuanced meaning. You see, my checking account fees got replaced by a raft of mysteriously appearing credit card fees. About the time I had had quite enough of this shell game, Wachovia started settling a series of Federal investigations into their activities. . . everything from cashing a ton of unsigned checks to serving as the number one launderer of Mexican drug cartel money! Then the financial crisis of 2008 brought them to the edge of insolvency. One minute my bank is the fourth largest in the country, the next minute they get bought/bailed out by Wells Fargo. Not the sort of thing that inspires confidence.

So, that's how I wound up with the stagecoach guys. At first, all was well. The employees at my branch of choice were friendly and helpful. I eventually refinanced my mortgage with them, and opened a line of credit. My kids opened their accounts with them. My business checking account is with them. Sure, I read the papers, I'm aware of the recent controversies regarding shady dealings and the huge settlement with the government. But hey, if I bailed every time my bank got into trouble, I would be on my twentieth bank by now. No, no. . .I'm loyal.

How do they repay me? A while back I noticed a service fee pop up on my business account. This account serves as a holding company basically, a place where I have random paychecks directly deposited so I can pay business related bills via bill pay, their automatic service. It's the most boring account I have. Not much happens there. I might actually write three or four checks a month. The average balance usually hangs in the low four figures. So, why on earth were they hitting me up for $14???? The friendly and helpful banker explained to me that there wasn't enough activity in the account. Incredulous, I looked her in the eye and with as much restraint as I could summon replied, "So, wouldn't that lack of activity mean that your bank had less to do to service the account? Why is this a bad thing?"

I know what you are all thinking. Why don't you close all of your accounts and find a better bank? Simple, when I add up all the automatic deposits, the fixed bill paying strategies I have employed at my bank, to unwind all of that financial architecture would be a headache which would require a name more menacing than migraine. My bank knows this full well. So, they exact their $14 pound of flesh from me every month. The bastards.

Maybe one day I'll snap. Some dim bulb at the home office will come up with a new fee for, I don't know, walking inside and using a teller, and I will flip out and in a fit of rage rip every dime from their greedy grasp. Then the problem will be finding a fair dealing bank to do business with, one that I don't have to drive halfway across town to.


Monday, November 28, 2016

The Christmas Marker

Thanksgiving is over with. Christmas is coming. Soon there will be snow. Days are getting shorter and the weariness of winter awaits. I struggle with Winter. The holiday season is very much a mixed bag for me. The weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas bring an unsettling melancholy. Always has. I can't explain it because I've never understood it myself. Of course, this year Castro is in hell, so that should help a little!

I don't know very many people who have been blessed with good fortune like I have been. I own a successful business, I married an amazing woman, have two wonderful children and enjoy the benefits of a large and loving extended family. For the most part, my health is good and nobody I love is suffering. In other words, I have absolutely no good reason or room for melancholy in my life. And yet...along with the Christmas greenery, it comes.

The odd thing is. . .I love giving gifts, look forward to Christmas morning much like I did when I was younger. Only now the excitement comes with the giving, not the getting. But always just above the din of activity and the sound of laughter hovers a gnawing sadness. Why?

Perhaps it's because Christmas serves as a marker, a milestone. It's the end of something, the curtain closing on another year, the sense that you have fewer Christmas celebrations left than you already have enjoyed. The new year brings with it another birthday, yet another marker on the road of your life. The question festers in my mind. . .Am I using the time wisely? Am I taking advantage of all of this good fortune or am I simply marking time. What has been the result of all of my consumption? To what end do I work? What is the purpose of my spending?

Reading through this, it strikes me that I sound like the writer of Ecclesiastes. It's not that bad! I guess it goes back to something my Dad used to say..."have you been a blessing to someone today?" Maybe during the holidays when we focus so much on all that we have to be thankful for, I start to notice all the people who don't. The panhandlers on Broad Street weigh more heavily on me when it starts to get cold outside. The injustices of life seem somehow more unjust when I'm buying expensive gifts. The more delicious and abundant the feast, the more the hungry creep into my consciousness.

I'm 58. Using my parents as examples, I've got roughly 30 more years left on this Earth, 20 at full physical capacity. Every Christmas I spend much of my resting moments pondering how I will finish the race. What will I accomplish over the last third of my life? I desperately want it to be in a flourish. But more importantly, I want to be a blessing. I want to have earned my place, to have been worthy of the blessings I have been showered with. Maybe the melancholy comes with the realization  that I'm falling short and running out of time.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016. Perfect.

The reviews are in and by all accounts, Thanksgiving 2016 was a raging success. The ministrations of my wife carried the day to sublime heights, earning her a record setting 16th consecutive Martha Stewart award. From a table decoration display that rivaled anything ever seen in Southern Living to a meal planning and space utilization scheme that was not only flawless but had NASA engineers scratching their heads in fascination.

Twenty souls sat down to eat around 2 o'clock. I stood to read George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation. Those two hundred year old words resonated with all of us, at the same time charming and transcendently true. Then, Pam had placed a verse of scripture at everyone's place setting with the theme of thankfulness. Each of us took a turn reading them aloud. Beautiful. Then Grandad said the blessing. These pre-meal readings took all of five minutes, but added immeasurably to the day. It calmed all of us, prepared us to be properly thankful. It was a comforting moment, a time for reflecting on our amazing good fortune as a family.

The meal was a triumph. Turkey, ham, an array of casseroles featuring cranberries, sweet potatoes, and green beans. There was stuffing, corn pudding and mashed potatoes. The dessert table was heaped with pies of every description. There was hot coffee and cider. If you fully participated from appetizer table to dessert tray, the caloric intake per person would have surpassed the weekly consumption of many of our fellow human beings from Sub-Saharan Africa. But, this was no day for Western guilt. There was a football game to play.

This year's tilt ended up being a battle between age and youth. Yours truly, my son and son-in-law, vs. my brother in law, and two of my high school aged nephews. Mixed in each lineup were our two family dogs, Lucy and Jackson. On the first play from scrimmage, Jackson was flagged for multiple penalties when he took the legs our from under his master, sending him sprawling. Not only clear pass interference, but unnecessary roughness as well. He was sidelined for the remainder of the contest. But Lucy never left the field for even one play. While it was unclear which team she was actually playing for, she was always in on the action, and particularly fond of being in the middle of any huddle that happened to form! The rugged game came down to an overtime Hail Mary which deflected off of a tree limb into the waiting arms of Mick, sending the "home team" to a crushing defeat.

After everyone left we all got in our pajamas and waddled around trying to summon the requisite energy to rouse ourselves from lounging on the sofa. For a couple of hours we had no success in this effort. Eventually Patrick and Sarah coaxed me into playing one of those New Age board games whereby no one plays to beat any other player, but rather, everyone works together to accomplish some grand project or public good( in this case, saving the world from rampaging diseases ). Clearly, this game has the ulterior motive of dulling the competitive instincts of Americans in favor of coorperative behavior. Sadly, perhaps because of my strategy of saving America first, we failed and the world was overrun with four plagues. Bummer.

By this time we were ready for turkey sandwiches and a movie. Lucy and Jackson were ready for the deep, peaceful sleep of the righteous. It was a perfect day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Safe Place?

I've been using the term parallel universe a lot lately, mostly because I'm half convinced that we are living in one. Somewhere out there is the actual universe where America is going about its business like it always has, where say, Jeb Bush has just won the election and is busy assembling his new cabinet to the collective yawns of the press. His Vice-President. . .Nikki Haley goes to see Hamilton and nothing happens. That sort of thing.

Just a few days ago there was another PU moment when Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel called a press conference to announce his intention to defy any attempt by Trump to alter his town's status as a sanctuary city. Without an ounce of irony and with an amazingly straight face, The Godfather actually said that his city would always and forevermore be a safe place for immigrants. Let the ballsiness of that statement sink in for a few minutes, then continue reading. I'll wait.

It is astonishing that a mayor of a city which has experienced over 600 murders in 2016 alone and a full 3000 shootings would choose to describe his city as safe for anybody!! Consider this. . .there have been more Americans killed in Chicago during the five years of Mr. Emanuel's mayorship than have perished in freaking Afghanistan...a lot more. Oh, and American soldiers have been slugging it out in that hell hole for 14 years!!! And yet, we send National Guard units to Iraq and Afghanistan but never to Chicago.

I understand that there is a Chicago company doing Hamilton. You know what I would love to see? I would love for Rahm and his wife to go to see that terrific play one night. After the thrilling performance, when the gifted cast comes out for their curtain call, I would love to see one of the actors step up, acknowledge his presence, then read him a prepared lecture with the line, "Mr. Mayor, we are the diversity of this great city and we are afraid that you are not willing to protect us!!" Just once, wouldn't it be grand to hear a liberal politician get lectured by some show folk?

But, enough with the politics. Thanksgiving is upon us and I am feeling magnanimous. There will be twenty of us around my table. In a PU where it is no more difficult to host a hundred than twenty, I would love to have one of those infinity tables filled with all of the people who I am so thankful for. There would be my extended family, the Dunnevants, the Dixons. There would be good friends from church and the office. There would also be the random souls I drive past at intersections in Short Pump panhandling. Maybe the cast of Hamilton. Barack and Michelle would sit right across from George and Laura Bush. I'd even have Donald and Melania here, although they would probably be at the kids table. After the meal, Frank Sinatra would drop by for an impromptu concert. How cool would that be?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Great Poop Bag Scandal

This falls into the catagory of "Life's Little Annoyances." It may seem trivial what with all of the political upheaval running rampant throughout the land, but often, it's the little things. Am I right?

Ok, so. . .if you have a dog, you go through these things faster than Donald Trump through the Miss Universe dressing room.

Because I have yet to successfully teach a dog how to mount a toilet, the poop bag is a staple of any dog owner's life. With Lucy, sometimes when so moved, she can go through three of these babies in one day. The things work like a charm. You just drape it around your hand, reach down and pick up the offending deposit, then reverse the process, twist the bag a few turns and tie a knot in it and you're done! But, there's a problem.

Each roll is held together by an insidious piece of clear tape. If you look closely, you can see the shine above. This is no ordinary tape, no. . .this tape could hold the space shuttle together. First of all, it never fails to take me at least three minutes to find the leading edge of this tape so I can begin the arduous task of peeling it back. Once found, it's another couple of minutes of slow, painstaking progress before the first bag is freed from its cellophane prison. Then it happens. The newly freed poop bag unwinds itself revealing a giant rip right down the middle. Every. Freaking. Time.

We can put a man on the moon, but we can't figure a way to package poop bags in a manner that doesn't sacrifice the first bag of each roll! Come to think of it, Pam bought the giant package which advertised clearly...BONUS! 20 Free Bags. Well, not exactly. It's more like 8 free bags, since the first of each of the 12 rolls will be worthless. It reminds me of the famous hot dog bun scene in Father of the Bride. I'm thinking that the big shots in the poop bag industry know exactly what they are doing.

So, sure, in the grand scheme of things this poop bag scandal might not seem as important as Hillary's server, but in the real world where real people live, this is just one of many annoying, indignant straws which when combined with thousands of others eventually break the camel's back. Who knows? Someone fixes this poop bag snafu, maybe people chill out a little, and we don't end up with Trump.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Christmas List 2016

Lately the pressure has been mounting on me to come up with a Christmas list. For my family this means going to our Christmas Central Google Doc page thing and broadcasting my selfish desires for  the entire clan to inspect. To help me in this task, my Christmas lists from the past ten years or so can be pulled up from the archives. It has made for very interesting reading.

First of all, I never get the hat. Seems like every year I ask for a cool hat, but I never get one. What does this say about me and my family?? Do they not feel comfortable in their ability to determine what cool is? Perhaps. So this year I added the modifier, "befitting someone of my age and station in life." We'll see.

I did notice that this year's underwear request specified a waist size slightly larger than previous years. The reason for this remains a profound mystery.

I also keep asking for a Bacon-of-the-Month Club membership, to no avail. I understand that they are quite expensive. Perhaps so, but considering the ridiculously luxurious gifts I have bestowed upon my children, one would think that they would step up to the plate in this area. Besides, the more bacon I eat, the sooner they might enjoy their inheritance.

Something new was added to my list this year...a remote controlled rodent for pranking purposes. (I have somehow lost my old one.) After a while you get tired of fart machines, pocket sized air horns after grace at family meals, fake dog poop and vomit on the floors. It's time for something new.

So, there you have it. My Christmas list for 2016 is up a full six days before Thanksgiving. Now, get out there and do your best!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Quoting Jefferson

"Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes.’ . . . I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility."

UVA President, Teresa Sullivan

This is the unfortunate paragraph that has sent over 500 students and faculty at the University of Virginia scurrying to their safe spaces in horror. Mr. Jefferson's high opinion of the quality of future UVA students has had the effect of sending some of them to their fainting couches. Perhaps if the old man were alive today to see what has become of the student body of the school he founded, his exalted opinion of them would come crashing back down to earth. . .where it surely belongs. For us, the living, we must devoutly wish that UVA graduates do "not succeed to the government of our country."

The petition signed by the aggrieved parties at UVA objects to the use of a quotation by its founder not on the merits of what he said, but rather who he was, namely. . .a slave owner. The complaint is that although Jefferson was a great man, he also owned other human beings, so quoting him cannot be allowed because of the message of exclusion, and disunity which his past sins represents.

Ok. . .

Yes, by all means, let's throw out the wisdom and contributions of our ancestors whenever we discover them acting like men and women from the 18th century. I mean, how virtuous can they really be if they particated in an institution like slavery? No, men like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington have nothing whatsoever to offer  enlightened 21st century humankind. No mention of their words, no matter how lofty, any longer has a place in polite society.

I feel quite confident in my conviction that the combined future output of the entire student body at UVA will not produce anything more lasting and durable than the Declaration of Independence. I feel sure that all the future scribblings of the 500 buttercups who signed this letter will not eclipse the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom for its advancement of liberty. But yeah. . .the bastard owned slaves. 

Our heroes often disappoint us. We wish they were more consistent. That a man who wrote, "All men are created equal" could own slaves jolts 21st century man. How could a man with such progressive attitudes towards government like Woodrow Wilson be such a bigot? How could someone who did so much for the poor and downtrodden in America like FDR be such a homophobe? The answer is, A. We are all deeply flawed, and B. We are all reflections of the times we grow up in. I hate to break it to the tender reeds in Charlottesville, but it is quite possible to have been a great and even indispensable man and to have been a slave owner in  the 1700's. The two are not mutually exclusive. We can at once acknowledge the greatest of Mr. Jefferson and ponder the inconsistencies in his life. Why was he such a spendthrift? Why was he so late in acknowledging the abuses of the French Revolution? Why did he lie about Sally Hemings? Why didn't he take up arms during the revolution? Why did he own slaves? But friends, I am here to tell you that without the man, the American experiment would have failed, and the delicate flowers in Albemarle county would be matriculating elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Best Joe Biden Meme Ever?

Joe: Yes, that was me.

Obama: Please stop.

Joe: I will not stop. This room will smell so bad when he gets here.

Obama: Joe...

Joe: Nope.

It's Been a Week. . .

A week has passed since the election. I had promised not to comment about the protests for a week, but now I'm having trouble articulating anything interesting on the subject. It's all been said by voices more prestigious and informed than mine. I will make an attempt here but I fear that you will be disappointed. It would appear that my politics tank is on fumes.

Post-election America has become a meme's war. From the right have come photographs of empty streets with the caption: Scenes of angry protests by disappointed Republican voters in 2008 and 2012 when Obama won the election. From the left a whole host of Joe Biden memes, my personal favorite being this gem:

As is my habit, I have not seen footage of any of the protests since I do not watch television news. I have read plenty and seen scores of pictures, enough to get a flavor of what is going on, and enough to form an opinion, which basically is. . .much of the overwrought histrionics on display in America's streets is one of the primary reasons Donald Trump got elected in the first place. I have the sense that many people are worn out by the sight of the perpetually aggrieved. Many of the same crowd that just a week ago were talking about how America was already great, were now carrying signs declaring that AmeriKKKa was never great in the first place. The same people who a week ago ripped Trump for suggesting he might not accept the result of a rigged election were now screaming, "not my president" at the top of their lungs. I will freely acknowledge that the vast majority of these demonstrators were peaceful and fully within their constitutional rights of protest, however, the accompanying violence and property destruction dealt out by the knucklehead fringes is always what makes headlines. At some point, one would think that these folks will abandon the streets and either go back to class, or back to work. But maybe not. Maybe slogan-chanting protests will be a permanent feature of life in Trump's America. Lovely.

While I am aware that many post-election stories of anti-immigrant hate crimes have been exposed as hoaxes, there are two stories that I know to be true as they involve my son. A friend of his, who I know personally, was accosted at a stop light by a man yelling vile things at him for the crime of being a "f**king Mexican."  Actually, Elias is a legal immigrant from Venezuela who just recently became an American citizen, and you will search far and wide before finding someone who loves this country more than he does. My son's church door was bespoiled by a swastika just in time for services this past Sunday. And while it is true that random graffiti and racial slurs do not equal Nazi Germany's rebirth, and cannot fairly be attributed to all Trump voters, its still disturbing to see, no matter it's origin. Some things are always wrong at all times from whatever source.

I didn't vote for Donald Trump. I have a boat load of concerns about his fitness and temperament. But  he won. I will give him a chance just like I have given every other duly elected President in my lifetime. When he does something right and good, I will cheer him on. When he does something wrong and destructive I will rip him a new one. But, the Republic endures. I've got a life to live and bills to pay. It's time to buck up and get on with it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. I have testified to that love many times in this space. I have pointed out its superiority to Christmas in every measurable way. For one thing, it is uniquely American and as an American I'm thinking that we desperately need to find things to be thankful for about now. So, this Thanksgiving comes at a good time.

This year, it will be a Dunnevant/White affair, and it will take place at our house. Pam's parents, sisters and their families will join us along with all of my tribe, including Miss Sarah Upchurch for her first ever Virginia appearance. So, there will be seventeen of us along with two large dogs, Lucy and Jackson.

Pam is already planning the event with painstaking precision. The appropriate linens have been purchased, along with the requisite table decorations. The meal will be a work of art. But, lest you think that she's doing all the work, I have important tasks on my plate as well. For example, I am in charge of the after dinner football game. This year, since we are in the suburbs, it will take place in the street, so I will have to borrow my neighbor's "SLOW...CHILDREN AT PLAY" sign. Football on pavement could get chippy, so I will have to be sure that the first aid kit is well stocked. I'm thinking that this year's contest might very well become a Dunnevant vs. White affair. I will be paying particularly close attention to the competitive instincts of Patrick's girlfriend, having never observed her in athletic efforts before. . .a crucial test.

When it's all over, the six of us will settle in for the evening, listening to carefully chosen Christmas music as we decorate our tree. There will be hot chocolate. There will be turkey sandwiches. There will be a lump in my throat.

And this year there will be much to be thankful for. 2016 has been a profitable one. All of us have been healthy. All of us have enjoyed job successes. Patrick got his first solo apartment. Kaitlin and Jon moved into their first house. For the first time in our lives together, Pam and I got to spend an entire month on vacation in Maine. We have recently discovered a new church and can't wait to get out of bed every Sunday morning to go, that in and of itself, a miracle. And. . .the election of 2016 is finally over. 

So, I am ecstatic at the prospect of having all of my family sleeping under my roof, even if only for a few nights. Let the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving begin. Wait, that's not a thing, you say? Well, it should be!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Dryer-rack For My Head

Sometimes there's a million things banging around the inside of my head, but I can't get any of them out. It's like when you put wet sneakers inside a dryer when you were a kid and listened to them bang around until your Mom came running in asking what in the name of Sam Hill was going on, then promptly ordered you to go outside barefooted. . . not that this actually ever actually happened to me personally, but you get the picture. I believe that an excess of ricocheting thoughts inside your head is where headaches come from. Well, ever since the election, there's like a dozen pairs of sneakers in the dryer.

First of all, I'm tired. Aren't you? Tired of the names, tired of thinking about big weighty things. Tired of hearing the names...Newt, and Huma. I'm also tired of being wrong about everything. I used to be pretty savvy about things political. I didn't see a Trump victory. Yes I did predict that he would win the nomination long before the NYT got around to it, but I never dreamed he would actually pull off beating Hillary Fricking Clinton in the general. Never. So being wrong is no fun.

Prior to election night my biggest fear was what angry, disillusioned Trump voters would do when their man lost. I never once considered what Clinton voters might do if she lost. Never. In keeping with my pledge to give all sides a full week to vent without comment, I will defer until the 15th to opine on that subject.

But now that the election is over, we will soon be into the miserable, boring business of actually governing. The Trump people will be announcing the makeup of their team. Partisans will scream their glee and displeasure with every new offering. Newt Gingrich for Secretary of State. . . "Brilliant choice!!". . . "My God!! It's the end of the world!!!!" By the time the inauguration rolls around the entire country will be exhausted, beaten up and left for dead by the side of the road by the hysterical hyperbole of the media. My Lord, if I have to watch so-called journalists openly weeping on television one more time, hell. . . I might move to Canada!!

I understand that they actually make a tray thing that you can set up inside your dryer to stack sneakers on so that they don't fly around inside the dryer. I need one of those for the inside of my head. I could organize into neat little stacks all of these disparate, competing thoughts, then line them up on the tray. . . We elected the first president ever to have appeared in a porn video. . .what will Huma do for a living now?. . .wonder what the tuition is to go to the Electoral College?. . .what do you do with yourself  after you've served two terms as President of the United States and you're only 55? I mean, you could play golf every day, but he already does that. . . who is going to be willing to pay Hillary $250,000 for a speech again?. . .will Jerry Falwell Jr get a cabinet post, and if so, which one?. . .who is more likely to get assassinated, Trump before the end of his first term, or Anthony Weiner before Inauguration Day?. . .will Ryan Zimmerman get traded over the winter so the Nationals can get a power hitting first baseman for once?

See? It's a mess up there.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Swinging Pendulums and Protests

Four years ago I sat down at my desk to write about my disappointment with the outcome of a Presidential election. My guy had lost. The punditry was unanimous in their belief that the Democratic Party was on the cusp of perhaps fifty years of dominance. For a small government, liberty-loving Libertarian like me, despair was a reasonable position. But the contrarian in me just couldn't bring myself to buy in to all the gloom and doom. You see, there's an advantage to being a student of history. Who knew that my History degree from the University of Richmond would come to my rescue at such a time as this?

So, I wrote what follows. I post it here as I watch footage of angry, disillusioned, mostly young people exercising their constitutional guaranteed right of protest, demonstrating in the streets. It's worth reading if you are angry about the election. It's also worth reading if you're excited and perhaps  feeling a little cocky. Take a look. . .

Now, to those of you who feel exultant as well as those of you who feel despair at the outcome of this election, I offer the following history lesson. The election of 2012 will usher in neither a 50 year reign of Democratic Party dominance, nor the death of the Republican party. How do I know this? History. Here’s my theory. In times of great uncertainty and tumult, the American people have often warmed up to a beefier, more aggressive and dominant attitude toward government. However, when the crisis passes, the American people have consistently preferred a lighter touch, as follows:

World War 1 and it’s upheaval usher in Woodrow Wilson and his merry band of Progressives bent on transforming American society. As soon as the war was over, and before the ink was even dry on the Treaty of Versailles, America quickly soured on Wilson’s Progressives and opted for 12 years of laissez faire Republicans. It was time to have fun and make money, and we did both in record breaking ways. Then the Great Depression and the rise of totalitarian regimes round the world ushered in FDR and the New Deal. Things got scary, so we wanted our government to beef up and protect us. After the war was over though, we got tired of all the fussiness, all the rules and regulations and do-gooders. It was time to rebuild, to get back to growing the economy and making some money. Yes, that nice man, General Eisenhower will do nicely. Then the civil rights movement and the social upheaval brought on by the war in Vietnam turned the sixties into a caldron of chaos. Whenever that happens, America turns to government and so we got LBJ and his Great Society’s war on poverty. Which was fine and dandy until the radicals started getting a little too weird. Then it was time for some law and order, and who better for that job than the Republicans and Richard Nixon? But, America doesn’t much care for paranoid crooks in the White House so we decided to give a big-toothed southerner a try. Thankfully Carter gave way rather quickly to Ronald Reagan. When he left and was replaced by his Vice-President, the first George Bush, the temptation was to believe that this time, the Democrats really WERE dead. Wrong again. Hello Bill Clinton.

The pattern should be pretty clear by now that the preferred political philosophy of the American people is highly fungible. The pendulum swings in slow motion sometimes, but it does swing. In 2012 America, has turned once again to Obama. We have experienced in the past ten years the worst terrorist attack in history and the second worst economic collapse in our history. Time for an aggressive, vigorous government. But, as sure as day follows night, these trying times will fade, this government will overreach, and the American people will tire of the Nanny state at some point.

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. Oh, and one more thing. I’m going to do a better job of praying for the President than I did during his first term. Now that he’s our guy for another four years, he’s my guy too.

I'm going to refrain from criticizing anyone who protests an election for the first week or so after. I think there should be a grace period in politics, a cool down period where both sides can freak out freely. I very well remember some on the right who trotted out the not my President idiocy back in 2008 and 2012. Who can forget the 2000 protests against George W. Bush? In a bitterly divided nation like ours, this is what happens. But with time, most reasonable people will give the new guy a chance, albeit on a short leash.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After

I watched the returns last night in my library on my iPad, having lost faith in television media the day that Tim Russert died. I spent the evening and a fair part of the wee hours of this day going back and forth between the New York Times website, the AP and Reuters wire, and the Twitter feed of the #NeverTrump guys over at National Review. It was an astonishing upset which I have still not completely come to terms with. I am fully aware that this is a deadly serious matter and many of you are either exultant or devastated at the moment, so I must tread lightly. But, I only know one way of dealing with life's difficulties and that's through humor. Some may call it gallows humor, but humor nonetheless. So, with my tongue lodged firmly in my cheek, I offer you a more lighthearted interpretation of last night's historic election.

1. The most anticipated and longed for nine words in the English language will be, "May I help you with your bags, Mrs. Streisand?"

2. Job number one for the Clinton team is finding property in a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S.

3. If I owned stock in the Clinton Foundation, I would be selling.

4. One ironic thing about last night was the fact that the Democrats were ultimately done in by their own preferred strategy...identity politics. Only this time, instead of blacks or Latinos voting as a monolithic block, it was the white working class, who gave nearly 70% of their vote to Trump. To my Democratic friends I can only say, "frustrating, isn't it?"

5. One thing that popped in my head when they called Pennsylvania for Trump. . .where are they
going to put his tanning bed in the White House? Surely not in the Oval Office, right?

6. To my great dismay, I saw Facebook posts last night from Christians about how their Bible Study groups had been transformed into celebratory Trump parties. Yeah, I get it. . .abortion. . .but if I live to be a hundred I will never be able to wrap my head around this Trump-love among believers. I just can't. . .

7. Here's a prediction. Four years from now, abortion will still be the law of the land.

8. With the election of Donald Trump, the American people have now permanently lowered the bar for admission to the Oval Office to serial adulterers, gropers, and casino and strip club owners. Way to go, America. Good luck with that!

9. Evangelical Christians have lost forever the spiritual authority to criticize the immorality of politicians seeking the highest office in the land.

10. The American people finally drove a nail in the coffin of the Clinton Dynasty. Not at all a bad thing.

11. It should be fairly pointed out that there was not a single incident of violence perpetrated by an angry, disillusioned Evan McMullin voter last night.

12. I'm told by many of my Christian friends that Trump will be guided by and faithful to the Republican Party platform. This despite the fact that he has been an actual Republican for approximately 15 minutes of his life.

13. If it is true that during the campaign, Mr. Trump became a Christian, then Mike Pence has just become the single most important accountability partner in the history of evangelism.

14. The poor men and women at CNN must be thinking, "If our 24-7 cheerleading for Hillary couldn't put her over the top against freaking TRUMP, what good are we??!!"

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nervous Voting

In roughly 48 hours from now I will be disappointed, having long ago given up any hope of a positive electoral outcome. If it's Hillary, I will be embarrassed, if it's Trump, horrified. But today at church I heard the words of a prayer offered up by the pastor which spoke to me and apparently many others in the congregation since an audible approving murmur rose up around me, a rarity in the church I'm currently attending. These words. . ."God, no matter how this election turns out, many of us have the sense that we are in trouble as a nation." Something has gone off the rails. He went on to pray that the election result would be received by the American people without violence and bloodshed. Honestly, I have always assumed that as an American, I would never hear those words from a pulpit. But, given the fever pitch of emotion, the hair trigger hatreds which have grown up among us in 2016, it is a real concern. So, along with 300 million other Americans, I wait.

I will vote on my way into work on Tuesday morning, like I have always done. I'm too old school for early voting. I will stand in line with my countrymen. In the past, my time waiting has been comforting, a time of pride, a time to feel good about my amazing good fortune as a citizen of a country such as this. This year, I will be nervous, restless, eyes peeled towards my perimeter at all times. Virginia is one of three states listed by Homeland Security for heightened security because of vague Al Qaeda internet chatter threats. It would be just like those bastards to pull something on Election Day. If you're wondering, "who would a terrorist attack on Election Day help the most," then you, my friend are part of the problem.

I have family members who will be voting for Hillary and others who will be voting for Trump. I have friends who support both candidates. Some enthusiastic readers of this blog love Donald Trump, despite my opinions to the contrary. But, I am proud to say that I have not lost one single friend because of this election. I will not think less of those who disagree with me in this regard because friends and family are far more valuable to me than mere politics. A month from now, we all will have moved on. We will be back to arguing about far more important things. . .like which yard chore is more obnoxious, raking leaves or shoveling snow?

So, go out and vote on Tuesday and keep your eyes peeled. On the other hand, if you're one of those people who can't name your congressman, or if you think that the Supreme Court is the name of Diana Ross' second album. . .feel free to sit this one out.

I'll patiently await the day very soon when we Americans once again remember that not everything is about politics. Oh, happy day...

Yard Sale Highlights

Dunnevant Family Yardsale #116, Fall 2016 edition, is in the books. Although the haul of $660 was on the low end of expectations, that is not to say it was a failure. The treasure trove of anecdotes alone made it worthwhile! Here are a few of the highlights:

So, it started Friday night when we all gathered at the site for set up, that euphemistic phrase which translated means "We all just had a long hard week, so let's get together and have a Chinese Fire Drill in Mechanicsville."

 Step one of this set up business involves Ron putting up yellow crime scene tape along the road with 
signs clearing warning customers that under no circumstances are cars to be parked here. Because it's dark, and Ron being Ron, he thought to bring his coal miner head lamp. But, this is America. More specifically, this is Mechanicsville, Virginia, America, where rules are for other people.

This particular Mechanicsvillian was especially bold in her disregard for instruction, parking her tiny, toy car directly in front of the driveway, where she left it for nearly an hour while she haggled with us over the fair black market price of curtain rods.

Once again, yours truly won top salesman honors for like the 116th time in a row. I was able to move not one, but two of the most tacky hunks of knickknackery ever offered for sale east of the Mississippi. The first was a set of black cat cheese knives that defy my powers of description. I am
quite sure that beside the Webster definition of kitsch you will find a photograph of the four black cat cheese knives. My pitch was based on the fact that since Halloween just happened, now was the best
time to stock up on all of your Halloween decorative crap needs while prices are low! My second triumph was another decorative figurine whatnot which looked like a cross between an angel and
Lady Liberty attempting to clear a high hurdle. There were red, white and blue ribbons festooning
this hideous creation which seemed to be making some statement about 9-11, since the Twin Towers loomed in the background. My sisters had voted this particular item as the worst, most tacky thing in our entire inventory, which I took as a personal challenge. Soon, I spied a likely mark hovering around the offending table display. I meandered over, picked up Lady Liberty and said with a straight face, "Wow, this is about the most moving thing I've ever seen." The poor woman replied, "You know, my brother is a fireman. I wonder if he would like this?" I closed with..."Can you say, 'stocking stuffer'?" BOOM!!!

Other highlights:

An elderly man was looking puzzled at the small box of odd shaped Fram oil filters being offered for
.25 each. He asks, "You have any idea what these filters are used with?" I answered, "Haven't the foggiest notion." To which he remarked. . ."Well hell, for .25 I can throw them at a barking dog!" He bought the entire box!

Here's Ron trying to convince this hapless shopper that these windows aren't as bad as they look. "Sure, the wooden frame is rotted through by termites, but the glass is still relatively clear."


Of course, no Dunnevant Yardsale would be complete without a tent being erected inside the garage to hold in the heat from the Kerosene heater that Ron set up to keep the ladies warm. Here are the three queens taking a rare break.

Another day, another dollar.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Unity Cup?

Just in time for the election, there's a new controversy brewing at Starbucks. The purveyor of overpriced, and over roasted coffee unveiled a new container called the Unity Cup.

The cup features a hundred different people drawn in a continuous pen and ink style without lifting the pen, illustrating how connected we all are, I suppose. I haven't examined the cup with a magnifying glass, so maybe there's some sort of satanic symbol hidden in all of the humanity. Otherwise, it's hard to understand the insane uproar that has greeted this cup on social media. Boycotts have been organized. Starbucks has been accused of liberal bias and trying to brainwash voters on the eve of the election. Wait,. . .what???

"During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other," offered CEO Howard Schultz in way of explanation. Sounds reasonable to me.

Ok, I get the fact that Schultz is a big liberal and supporter of Democratic candidates. But, it's his company, and he can promote whatever he wants to promote. Now, if he introduced a cup with VOTE Hillary emblazoned across the thing and her picture smiling back at me, yeah, that would probably give me yet another reason never to enter a Starbucks. But, here's the thing. . .I'm a capitalist, and as such, I'm a big fan of the whole free exchange thing, whereby I don't want anyone or anything to interfere with my ability to exchange my money for your product. So for me, boycotts seem like stupid and ineffective annoyances. People who organize them seem small and overly strident for my taste. It's a form of group-think. If you disagree with "X" you can't buy "Y" or you must not really disagree with "X." Listen, nobody is going to pressure me to buy or not buy anything based on politics! Are you kidding me? Do you boycott people realize how ridiculous you sound, and how hypocritical? "Let's boycott Starbucks because their cup is liberal," says the angry lady as she pulls into the Citgo station to buy gas. . .a Venezuelan company, then whips out her Chinese made cell phone to Google the closest ABC store so she can buy a fifth of Russian vodka. Please.

No, I will not be purchasing any coffee from Starbucks in these subversive cups. But not because of some paranoid craziness that assumes that everything in the world is about politics. I will not be buying coffee from Starbucks for purely market based reasons. . .their coffee stinks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Game Seven vs. Election Day

Tonight, America will be treated to the ultimate winner take all sporting extravaganza, the seventh game of a World Series. Roughly a week later, America will experience the ultimate winner take all political extravaganza, Election Day. Let's compare and contrast, shall we?

Tomorrow night, either the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Cubs will become world champions. If it's the Indians, it will be their first such championship in 68 years. If it's the Cubs, it will their first in 108 years. Either way, there will be great, unbridled joy unleashed throughout the land. Someone will be chosen as series MVP for their outstanding play. Fans of the losing team will be crushed, having come so close after all those many years only to come up short. A minority of them will rail against the umpires, others will bemoan the bias of Fox Sports for unashamedly rooting against their team. But most of them will take the loss in stride since they have so much experience dealing with defeat and disappointment. We will be treated to images from inside the winning clubhouse of grown men giddy with victory, dousing each other with expensive champagne, acting for all the world to see like teenage boys after a victory over a cross town rival on Homecoming night. Baseball fans will rejoice to see the entire nation focused on "our" game. But as the clock strikes midnight, and all of the commentators have finished giving us their take on the game, we will all be a bit sad since pitchers and catchers don't report to spring training for another three and half months!

Next week this time either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will become President of the United States. An election that took what seemed like years and took us to depths never before probed in our moral and ethical history will finally be over. Either way, there will be no joy, unbridled or otherwise released throughout the country, only profound relief that it is finally over. There will be no MVP selected. Supporters of the losing candidate will be enflamed with anger. A majority of them will rail against the entire rigged process and claim that the election was stolen from them, others will rail against either Fox News or the mainstream media for their blatant bias. Hopefully, only a minority of them will take to the streets, Molotov cocktails in hand. We will be embarrassed to see the winning candidate make his/her victory speech. But, when the clock strikes midnight, nobody. . .and I mean nobody will be sad that the 2020 New Hampshire primary is 39 months away. Why? Because for the next four years we will be lead by either this. . .

Or, this. . .

We will have far more immediate things to be sad about.