The Humble Farmer

Banquet Speaker, Entertainer, Humorist

Name:
Location: St. George, Maine, United States

I enjoy standing on stages in front of sober people who like to laugh. I enjoy playing bass in a jazz band.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

April 1, 2006 Radio Program Rant

You know that I am not a computer guru. For some reason I don’t understand, my computer puts some messages that I want to read in my spam folder. So I have to dig through my spam folder several times a day just to make sure a letter from you hasn’t ended up in there. And --- here is a spam that attracted my attention because it says Lou Gentile talks with spirits and you can hear it live. It says, Don't believe? Lou has been doing this type of communication for many years and within the last 2 years has been letting people experience this first hand with 100% success! End of quote.

It is my understanding from the little I read that the gifted Mr. Gentile makes a lot of money going around saying what people obviously want to hear.

I don’t know what you think of this kind of activity, but perhaps you agree with me that it at least warrants our superficial consideration. For thousands of years billions of people have spoken words to an entity that they have never seen and because billions of people have done it for thousands of years it has become not only a normal, socially acceptable behavior but, for many, a psychological necessity.

But --- nowadays when one person claims he hears a voice talking back it suddenly becomes paranormal activity and a lot of people who pray every day would say that Lou Gentile is crazy.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

October 14, 2005 _____ Radio Rants

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Like many of my friends, I have an undergraduate degree in history. Many of us read history books and foreign newspapers and watch the French news on Channel 2 out of Canada. I also have an inexplicable interest in the life and machinations of Adolf Hitler and from time to time I have questions: In 1932 Hitler got over 13 million votes. Although he had dropped in the popularity polls by 1945, even then he had supporters --- and you will still find those who emulate his modus operandi today.

While cleaning out my barn I got to wondering what it took to get German citizens to admit that they had made a mistake. It is obviously possible to support your leader with all your mind and heart and soul and then one day be aware that he is a nut who has turned the entire world against you. But does this realization that he is a dangerous dubber come to you gradually or does it strike suddenly? Everyone did not wise up to Hitler at the same time. So what did it take to get people to surreptitiously scrape from the back of their cars the little black swastickas that said “Support our Biltzkreig?" At what point did they not want their bumper stickers to remind their neighbors that they had voted for Adolf H in 32?

We do not like to admit that we make mistakes so, for many, accepting the truth must have been difficult. After all, Hitler said “I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator… I am fighting for the work of the Lord." You have read that Adolf Hitler could not have come into power without the support of the Protestant and Catholic churches and the German Christian populace. He preached peace and many cried with him as he gazed skyward, clenched his fists and said, “I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.” So because of compartmentalized thinking, we can embrace a leader who fights for truth and justice beneath a Christian banner with the unequivocal approbation of God while, at the same time, we know that he is a megalomaniac who is pulling the country down around our ears.

How did Hitler find people who would cheerfully and proudly march into far away lands to fight and die in a senseless war “for the fatherland?” He said, “the political opinion of the masses represents nothing but the final result of an incredibly tenacious and thorough manipulation of their mind and soul.” Today he might have said, “Thank God for compartmentalized thinking,” Anyway, although I don’t know why it took so many so long to wise up, perhaps you can tell me.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

September 23, 2005

I have a letter from a distant cousin, a very intelligent and well educated man, who loaded his family into his Jaguar and evacuated New Orleans. His big everyday car would have been more comfortable but he couldn’t replace the Jag. Thoroughly acclimated to life in the City of Sin, he pocketed two hand guns for protection and headed for Texas.
After reading his letter I spent some time moving the pasture fence as I wondered how, while stuffed into a Jaguar with mother-in-law, wife, kid and bedding, one would whip out a hand gun and blow away looters. Serious looters.
Don’t you suspect that would be looter-shooters are influenced by the good old cowboy movies we saw as kids, in which Tom Mix and the Lone Ranger simply fired one shot and shattered the gun in the crook’s hand?
But since then you and I have seen news films of real live crooks who riddled police cars with bullets from awesome automatic weapons and kept wounded armed policemen pinned down in the street.
While carrying a gun to protect yourself there is the obvious danger that without too much careful thought or consideration, you could point it at whatever pops out at you from around the corner and shoot. If it is a crook and you miss, he probably won’t. If it is your buddy, we’ll read about it in the newspapers.
If you’ve been around long enough, you and yours have probably been awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of creaking stairs. That’s when a gun under the pillow or in a drawer beside the bed might be a comfort --- as long as you don’t shoot your cousin who ran out of gas and is creeping into your house for help.
If you were an old batch who lived all alone until the age of 54, awakening to an unfamiliar 120 pounds creaking up your darkened stairs was startling but not unknown. Nowadays, according to what one sees on Desperate Housewives, creaking, darkened stairs are the rule rather than exception.
So having first hand experience with creaking stairs in the night, having seen in-store videos of clerks and robbers shooting it out, and having seen how a couple of determined bandits can pin down and shoot up an entire army of police officers, I have opinions on the efficacy of packing iron in the real world.
Would I enjoy pumping 22 birdshot into anyone who came into my house to carry off my Django CDs? Yes. But from what I’ve seen it can be a risky business.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

March 4, 2005 _______ Radio Rants

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1. A recent food study from Sweden says that French fries, potato chips and some kinds of cereal are not good for you. I wouldn’t have believed that had not a representative of the grocery industry immediately denied it.
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2. The US Department of Education concluded that nearly half of the adult US population was illiterate when it comes to such things as understanding a bus schedule, filing out a bank deposit slip or computing the cost of having some work done. Do you believe it? I do. I’m a card carrying member of the club. I am unable to understand my Central Maine Power bill. Several people I respect studied the document and fared no better than I. Listen to my account summary. Prior balance: minus $17.25 Payments received through 2-26-05 $0 plus. Balance forward. $17.25 minus. New charges Adjusted delivery charges $8.26 minus, Electricity Delivery: CMP $7.07 plus. Adjusted electricity charges $8.62 minus. Electricity supply, $2.18 plus. Total new charges $7.63 minus Current Account Balance: $24.88 minus. No payment is needed with this bill, it says, and I’m glad because I wouldn’t know what to pay. To help clarify things, however, below all that there is a section called Central Maine Power Delivery Service Account Detail which says Delivery charges of 226 KWH Cancel $15.33 and below that Delivery Service 52 KWH Rebill $7.07 and below that the number $8.26 minus for total adjusted delivery charges. When it comes to bills, this particular study in obfuscation is a relatively simple one because you’ll have to agree that telephone bills are even muddier. Now ask yourself, why should any company mail out a bill that their customers can’t understand. And you know why, don’t you? If you can’t understand your light bill are you going to find fault with it?
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3. If the lottery paid 180 million dollars, would you buy a ticket? I wouldn’t. You probably wouldn’t, either. Odds are against you. But if you heard someone on the radio offering to give you, for the price of an email, an excellent hard-cover coffee table book just published by Down East Magazine, would you take the time to snap out an email and ask for it? No, you wouldn’t do that either. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a book by Cindy McIntyre. This book has old pictures and new pictures of 50 or so towns in Maine. It is a beautiful book. I said that the person with the best reason for wanting it could have it. Only one person wrote and said, “I want it. This is my address where you can send it.” Even if you didn’t want it for yourself, the $28 price on the back cover would stagger your father in law when you gave him the book for a birthday present. He works in Wal*Mart. He doesn’t listen to this program. He’d never know. So why didn’t you ask me for it? Are we afraid of being suckered? Do we hear so many voices crying “free, free, free” from all sides that we simply don’t believe it anymore? I’m about to say something that you’ve heard me say before, and it will pay you to say it over and over to your children and grandchildren. Over 35 years ago I went to graduate school for three years, for free, at the University of Rochester. Perhaps my only qualification was the fact that I wrote them a letter and asked for financial aid. Over 35 years ago I was chosen to be a delegate to the Xth international congress of Linguists in Bucharest. When I got to Romania and asked to meet the other American delegates, I was told, “There is but one from each country.” I was amazed that I was representing Harvard, MIT and the University of Maine at Machias, and I said, “Why did you pick me?” Professor Mohrmon looked me up and down and said, “Perhaps you were the only one who applied.”
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4. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Is this always true? It’s true part of the time because I saw an example today. One of my pet peeves is emails that arrive with no contact information on them. I get hundreds of emails from Pete and Leslie and Joe and sometimes they want something and when they do you would be safe betting 20 to one that they don’t tell me where to send it. I have spent dozens of hours trying to locate friends, who might be living in a culvert down in Eastport, for all I know. I tried to find them on the web just so I could thank them for a favor. A week or so ago I tried to give away Cindy McIntyre’s book on this program, and out of all the letters I got, only two people included their mailing address. If you ever taught second grade and had to help kids put on their rubbers and mittens you might be able to grasp what I’m talking about here.
For several years I’ve been wanting to buy something from Joe out in Colorado, and I finally got around to it today. I’ve heard a lot about Joe over the years. He’s got a product I want. We have mutual friends, so even though there is no mailing address on his website I felt safe in mailing him a check. So I emailed Joe and asked him where to send the money. He snapped his address right back. But I had to rush off on a trip and then I had a cold for a week, so I didn’t get the check in the mail. And within three days Joe sent me another email saying, “When you’re ready, I’m ready. $104.” I was glad to get that reminder, I needed that reminder, but even more I needed Joe’s mailing address which he didn’t include in his second email. To help you understand this, Joe recently had a stroke and he’s 74 years old. But wouldn’t you think that somewhere out there in email land, there would be a few folks somewhere between the ages of 7 and 74? If you handed in your doctoral thesis and never saw it again because you didn’t put your name on it, I’d like to hear from you. I’m humblefarmer@midcoast.com
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5. I write to a lot of meeting planners so I wasn’t surprised to get an email that said, “Meeting Time and Place of Meeting.” But I was surprised to open the email and read: “Current Matches: 1. Ashley Swenson is within 20 miles from your location. She is married, but her husband is away almost every weekend and some weeknights.
2. Hannah Mccoy is within 17 miles from your location. She is married but looking for another relationship while her husband is on the road.” What’s going on here? In 69 years I’ve learned that people can get in a lot of trouble without trying to look for it. Right off the top of my head I can name several permanent swaps that inadvertently resulted just because some friends got together on a regular basis to play cards. And carpenters. I can name two carpenters who gave a whole new meaning to the term customer service. My father was a carpenter and although this is the first time I’ve thought of this for perhaps 50 years, I can remember having the impression that there were places where father didn’t dare get on his back to crawl under a sink. So there have always been lonely widows or divorcees who were just waiting for a chance to take up the slack. Way back in the dark ages you’d pay 50 cents to read in the Maine Times Personal column: “Antique dealer seeks attractive young woman interested in one nightstand.” But now it’s coming into our homes, unsolicited, in our email. Has this foolishness affected you or someone you know? Do we really need to be invited to wander? I’m humblefarmer@midcoast.com
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6. Dear Humble, Thank you for your wonderful show. It is delightful to study to out here in California, and I love a constant reminder that Maine is the way life should be. I have been using your show as an example to my friends of what a true maine accent is. However, we've had some problems with the internet connection, and the volume often isn't loud enough even after we've turned up the volume on the computers all the way. Is there anyway you can load your progams onto the internet a little louder? Thanks, Hans H.

Hi Hans, Thanks for writing. I am crushed that you find what I am saying to be of less interest than how I am saying it. You have pointed out a problem with my delivery. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about it. The first analogy I come up with is the monkey who draws a crowd for his ability to recite philosophy and science. No one pays any attention to what the monkey is saying because they are amazed that the monkey can talk at all. My mail indicates that most of my radio friends have been able to get past my speech impediment. Thanks for writing. I'll pass your comments along to Nikki, although I think the volume problem is on your end. Thank you for writing and thank you for listening.
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7. Dear humble, I ran into Norman Mason---the son---who knew you from college days at Mason's Variety in Gorham. His face brightened when I mentioned your name, and the ride his Mom took with you came up. I believe that he said she is 93---and living in a group home in Yarmouth. Her memory is fading a bit, but otherwise she is well. Mark on the Dock in Portland. Thank you, Mark. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been driving that same car now for 54 years. It’s interesting to think that the car is just the same as it was 54 years ago. The car has stayed the same but I’ve changed. If you went to Gorham Normal School, you must remember Masons. The store. And I do remember giving Mrs. Mason a ride in my model T down there in Gorham --- must have been back around 1962 or so. I have a picture somewhere of Mrs. Mason and my Model T. I remember that in 1962 Mrs. Mason was very very old.
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8. Did you know that you can earn a college degree in only two weeks? That’s what the email said. You can earn any college degree in only two weeks, and I believe it. Yes, I would bet ready money that I have many intelligent but uneducated friends who could, in two weeks, pass all the examinations necessary to obtain a degree from any college in the United States. And because you can think faster than I can, you’re already saying, “Of course, anyone could do it, if their ancestors lived for hundreds of years in Russian ghettos or practiced medicine in Viet Nam.
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I have visited lawn sales where it is possible to buy good books for a quarter. I can remember finding a spotless brand new book called “Caring for your baby and child.” I mentioned to the woman selling it that the book was in awful good condition. She said, “Yes, after I had the kid, I never had time to read it.”

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Friday, February 11, 2005

February 18, 2005 ------- Radio Rants

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1. While I was out at a farmer’s convention in Grand Rapids, I met a very smart farmer. I asked him what he had to do with the convention, and he said he’d helped out on a committee. And when I asked him what he had done to help, he said, “I stood back and got out of the way.”
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2 We got an email the other day from Betty, one of Marsha’s 47 cousins. Betty said that she was going to be on a program called Jane Pauley. So for an hour we had to watch Betty and some of her friends on Jane Pauley’s program. Please tell me what you know about this man and his book. I’m humblefarmer@midcoast.com The expert on this program was Dr. Michael Roizen, a gerontologist and the author of The RealAge Makeover. The way I understand it, if you do certain things, you can be younger than your chronological age. Eating walnuts will make you three years younger. 10 teaspoons of tomato sauce helps. The 4 ounces of nasty tasting red wine I chug while holding my breath every day is good. Eat 1 ounce of chocolate every day. Drink coffee, which cuts your chance of alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Avoid white bread. And here is one that many people you know will hate: eat breakfast. I’m a firm believer in breakfast, but some of the crankiest people you know will tell you that they never eat breakfast. You can hear them: “I don’t need breakfast. Never eat it. I don’t need breakfast.” This man, this expert on what to eat so your body won’t age, would have earned more points with me if he hadn’t died his hair. But I’ve got to admit that he has helped cousin Betty: She’s taken up kick boxing.
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3. If you know any wise old people who say things that make you laugh, there is a good chance that they could do the same thing seventy years before when they were 14. When I was a kid our next door neighbor was Errold Holmstrom who was named after someone you’ve heard me tell about many times: my fourth cousin and good friend, Gramp Wiley. Errol Wiley. Errol Holmstrom is 89 or so now. He used to teach auto mechanics in the state prison and he also knows how to fix radios and TVs. Because he can fix or make most anything, for the past 30 or so years I’ve usually come to him when I wanted to know what to do. The other day we were talking about the pills you see advertised on TV. And Holmstrom says, “Have you ever seen a pill advertised that didn’t give you a toothache or hemorrhoids while it was curing you? You’re willing to put up with the unpleasant side effects because in the long run you think it makes you feel better.” You know, you could say the same thing about marriage.
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4. While flying from Grand Rapids to Detroit, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a dentist. He was an unusual seat mate because he wanted to talk. He said that he had bought a house in Florida because by the time he gets around to retire, he wouldn’t be able to afford one. He said the house that he bought in Florida goes up in value about 20 percent every year. He said that dentistry has its challenges. People ask a lot of questions. You finally get them calmed down enough to numb them up, and they say, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom.” So they go to the bathroom and people are starting to pile up outside in the waiting room, but they come back and you numb them up and just about the time they’re ready to drill, they’ll say, “I shouldn’t have drunk so much coffee. I have to go to the bathroom again.” And people are piling up in the waiting room. He claims that dentists are some of the few people who are trying to put themselves out of business, which I thought was a nice observation. I asked him why he was a dentist, and he said, “If you had a choice, which end would you work on?”
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5, I can’t remember if I told you about the woman who made me a subway sandwich out in Grand Rapids. I was at the National Farmers Organization’s annual meeting and it took me six or eight subways to get through the two days. This woman and I were the only two people in the Subway place which gave her a chance to rush around just like my wife Marsha, The APW, and polish the glass in all the counters and cases. I could see that she was a digger so I mentioned that it was unusual to see someone taking such an interest in a place if they didn’t own it themselves. And she said that she used to own a restaurant, but she couldn’t get any good help so she sold it. But she continued to work there. And after a year it was doing so well she bought it back from the new owner. But she had the same trouble again getting help, so she sold it again but continued to work there. I said that all that must have exhausted her. And she said, “It was worse than that. I changed political parties three times.”
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6. According to the little notebook you’ve seen me carry in a pocket above my right knee, someone named Julie told me that she went to a bull fight in Spain. I asked her how she could stand it and she said it helps if you were raised on a farm. She also told me that Lion King is an awesome play and that I should see it. If you have seen Lion King I’m humblefarmer@midcoast.com and I’d like to know if it really is awesome. Julie, and I can’t even remember if I was sitting next to her on an airplane or how I happened to be talking with her --- Julie said we should have a drug related Olympics. If you’re not on steroids, don’t even think of applying.

What do you think?
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7. Every society has its own standards for bravery. What is bravery? Is a person brave if they suddenly jump into some volatile situation and save somebody? You might argue that if you don’t have time to think about it, it’s not bravery. Are you brave if you are doing something you don’t want to do that somebody who has power over you tells you you have to do? Does it take bravery to walk out of a situation that you can see is not doing anyone a bit of good? He who smiles and walks away, will live to smile another day. Would it surprise you to learn that some people, including myself, might believe that I should at least be considered for a medal for my bravery? Listen closely. One brisk spring day in 1963 when I was teaching in the town of Lee, Maine, I took a bevy of 8th grade girls to Mount Kahtahdin on a camping trip. Would it surprise you to know that the bravest man I know can barely speak English? He drives a taxi in Boson.
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9. Perhaps you have to read yourself to sleep at night. I do. No matter how tired I might be, I have to have a soothing book in my hand before I can go to sleep. Oedipus Rex is too exciting, but chapter 17 in John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding does the job. Chapter 17 concerns the Idea of Infinity. There is no question in my mind but what Locke’s chapter on Infinity reigned as the most obscure and incomprehensible piece of writing in the English language right up until Windows for Dummies.
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10. I was listening to Harry Allen & Joe Cohn playing some Al Cohn tunes which made me think about a scene from Roger Rabbit. Remember Roger Rabbit? He was a toon. A cartoon character. And when the bad guy wanted to find out where Roger Rabbit was hiding. He knocked, knockety knock knock --- and then he paused. Because it was impossible for a tune to hear those first knocks without answering with the last two. Knock knock. So the bad guy was able to tell from the knocks where Roger Rabbit was hiding. So. A musician is hiding in a closet. A bad guy comes in the room and instead of looking around to see were the musician is hiding, he goes over to the amplifier and puts on Harry Allen playing an Al Cohn tune. Half way through the first chorus Harry Allen does something so incredibly clever that the musician, who is hiding in the closet, can’t control himself and hollers, “Yeah, yeah.”
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11. Waldoboro photographer-artist Cindy McIntyre began collecting old Maine postcards about six years ago, and made it her mission to re-photograph the views of Maine’s towns and landmarks as they look today.

The result is a book published by Down East Books titled “A Century Apart – Maine Then and Now.” Five dozen Main Streets, lighthouses, and landmarks depict the changes – and the survivors – of a century of Maine life. Each county is represented, and a page of text accompanies each set of images.

Our friend Maine historian and author Neil Rolde says, “Charming, enlightening, and fun."
Cindy says I can give away one of these excellent books filled with Maine pictures of then and now, so tell me why you deserve it. I’m humblefarmer@midcoast.com As you know, I’m impressed by wit and brevity, not necessarily in that order. In case two people write and I am stuck with a tie, The Almost Perfect Woman’s decision will be final. No fair, you cry. You don’t have email.

785 River Road, St. George, ME 04860.

Remember that you can get printed particulars on tunes played and my commentary by asking to receive my weekly newsletter, The Whine & Snivel.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

February 25, 2005 Tentative Rants

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Start: Have you ever lost your keys in the sand at the beach, had your credit cards stolen from your gym locker, or left your wallet at the tennis court? If these unfortunate situations sound familiar, then perhaps you ought to give up sports.
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2. I have a letter here from my friend Larz, in Boothbay Harbor, who writes: “Hey, humble - did you catch the piece on Maine Public Radio this morning about a guy got arrested for stealing $150,000 from the safe of a lobsterman in St. George? They didn't identify the lobsterman, but they did tell what was in the safe: $150,000 cash and a large bag of marijuana.” Gee Larz, you know, that could be almost anybody.
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3. In the course of my day I get to exchange email with many nice people. I also get to talk with many pleasant and friendly people on the phone. About one person out of 100, however, comes across just about as nasty as you can get. One never knows why these people are being rude --- no let’s use the word nasty. Because we don’t know why these people are being nasty, you and I always try to be nice to them. Perhaps their spouse backed over their favorite pet that morning. Perhaps they ate something that has given them a stomach ache. Perhaps they’ve been eating too much cheese and not enough apples and prunes, which would have given even Mother Teresa the personality of the Wicked Witch of the West. Perhaps you have to have phone conversations with some of these people in the course of your business. Have you ever asked yourself what you could do to help them? On the other hand, there are people in the world who get their kicks from teasing anyone who is mentally ill. If they can’t find a reason, they will invent one. Can’t you see one of these teasers compiling a web page of the telephone numbers of these mentally ill or hung over people who are always nasty on the phone? Any time you think things sound bad at home you could go to that web page and call one of these people who snarl and bite. What’s that? You’d be afraid to call for fear of getting your own wife?
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4. I dropped out of scouting because I didn't like the socks and I was always partnered to this girl named Barbara who was even less popular than I and totally boring and she liked the socks. My father called us neo-fascist reactionaries when we were in scouts. Olga Thank you Olga. Dear humble, You might be surprised to know that you can actually see parts of my lawn. The part that is just over the septic and the part that is directly below my dryer vent. Gregory in Arundel
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5. You know that I’m interested in words and their social implications. The National Soft Drink Association has changed its name to the American Beverage Association. We know that all big industries spend millions of dollars researching what will sell. Do the words “soft drinks” leave a bad taste in your mouth? Are soft drinks a mealtime option in the school in your town? Would you feel more comfortable if you knew that the sugary chemicals your kid drinks from the can were called beverages instead of soft drinks? I don’t know. I would never have thought of this if The National Soft Drink Association had not changed its name to the American Beverage Association. I’m asking you why they changed their name. I’m humblefarmer@midcoast.com What do you think about it?
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6. When you started school were there big pictures of letters over the blackboard in front of the room? Did you have to hold your pencil in a manner proven to be conducive to legible penmanship? My wife Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, has 2 and one half grandchildren and pictures arrive by email almost every day now. You will not be surprised to hear that the two-year-old, who lives up in Fort Kent where they invented snow, is probably having her ears blown to pieces riding around on a snowmobile. Do snowmobiles make a noise like a lawnmower that would hurt unprotected ears? I hope they don’t, and I hope that’s what you’ll tell me. I don’t know. But what really distressed me in the picture that came today was the way the kid holds a crayon. One would think she had a chisel in her hand and was about to hit it with a hammer. By the time the poor little thing gets to school, where I hope they still teach the correct way to hold a pencil, they’ll have to break all her fingers and start her again from scratch.
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7. I was surprised that only two of my pedantic friends wrote to point out that last week I wrote brother in laws instead of brothers in law. My computer didn’t like brother in laws, but I said heck with it because brothers in law sounded unnatural --- as in, “this is something up with which I will not put.” My friend Robert in Bath had this to say: “I am one of those who approve of using words not necessarily because the grammar is correct, but because it sounds good. Thank you, Robert. I ain’t got nothing against that.

Robert also says, “When you mentioned the picture book of life one-hundred years ago, I couldn't help thinking of the excellent photo exhibit at Owls Head Transportation Museum of the fishing and boating industry in New England one-hundred years ago. There are also quotes from people like Henry David Thoreau, who visited one fishing community in the late 1840's and said that between the bed-bugs and the cats hollering on the roof, he could not get any sleep at night....
Thank you Robert. I don’t remember hearing this Thoreau quote. I do remember that before taking an exam in an undergrad class in American lit I walked through the classroom just before our exam and sprinkled water from Walden Pond on anyone who thought it might help. I am not alone in my belief that sprinkling on a bit of water from Walden Pond can be effective before an American lit exam. I know what your thinking and I don’t want to hear it. A drink of Sam Adams would not help you pass an exam in American history.
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8. Did you know that you can earn a college degree in only two weeks? That’s what the email said. You can earn any college degree in only two weeks, and I believe it. Yes, I would bet ready money that I have many intelligent but uneducated friends who could, in two weeks, pass all the examinations necessary to obtain a degree from any college in the United States. And because you can think faster than I can, you’re already saying, “Of course, anyone could do it, if their ancestors lived for hundreds of years in Russian ghettos or practiced medicine in places like Viet Nam.
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9. My brother in law Mark Sisco recently called to tell me that in a Mark Trail comic strip, Mark Trail is standing on an oyster bar ankle deep in water, surrounded by hungry sharks. Mark Trail is saying, “I’m in big trouble. I’m surrounded by sharks on this oyster bar and the tide is going out.” My brother in law thought that this was funny and said that Mark Trail wasn’t going to get in trouble as long as the tide was going out. But anyone who thinks about this knows that although only a very few men have been eaten by sharks, many men have been undone after eating a few oysters.
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10. My friend Denise from down Kennebunkport way writes that Mark Trail doesn’t age much over the years- she says he looks too cute now. I had to remind Denise that Mark Trail was the same age when she started reading him. Now he looks like a kid because she’s old enough to be his grandmother. If you will remember, Mary Worth got younger and younger. When I was two years old Mary Worth had already outlived most of her peers. If you are without bias, even if you don’t care for Mary Worth, you have to admit she looks awful good for a 130 year old woman.
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11. Alison, the oldest kid, said that she was in a road race and came in in the top 16 percent. I asked for the web site www.beach2beacon.org so I could see the chart for myself.
When I saw that the fastest six runners in that race were from Kenya, all I could think was, “Wow, I wonder why Swedes and Italians don’t find out what kind of a training program they have for their runners in Kenya so they’d be able to run fast, too?” And wouldn’t you think that American educators in charge of physical education programs would want to incorporate as much as they could of the Kenyan system, too? Any educator in America today will tell you that genes have nothing to do with a young person’s performance in the classroom or on the playing field. When we get rid of the teachers who are incompetent dubbers, when our school system stops failing, when we finally implement the right kind of magic program, no child will be left behind. Imagine what chaos will reign when every country implements the training program they use in Kenya, and 10,000 runners all show up at the finish line at the same time.
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12. When I was sitting in the Knox County Courthouse hoping to be selected for jury duty, people were asked to stand if they or a close family member had been involved in an incident involving alcohol. 20 or so stood. The judge asked one man, “Was it you or a family member who was involved in this incident,” and the man said, “It was me and I still think I was innocent.”
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13. My wife Marsha works hard and I thought it would be nice to take her on a little winter trip down to Key West where it is warm. I opened the AAA tour book and read the motel prices: 599, 279, 498. I says to her maybe we can’t go. But then --- I looked further down the list and said, look at this. Here are some motels we can afford: $24, $25, She said, “You are looking at the prices of meals in low class restaurants.”
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14. End: You can learn a lot about a man by simply going into his bathroom and seeing how many extra holes he had to drill in the wall to put up his towel racks.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

February 11, 2005 Tentative Radio Rants

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"Today is Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address. As Air America Radio pointed out, it is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication and the other involves a groundhog."

From D, a radio friend.

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Two or three years ago I had around 700 Nigerian letters in my computer. I can’t remember why I should have been saving them because they’re sad letters. They are letters written by lawyers or ministers --- family friends of a lonely someone without children, aunts, siblings or cousins. This person died in a plane crash or was poisoned by his business partners. And what makes it really sad is, every man jack of them had from 20 to 78 million dollars in a big black box. I know what you’re going to say. Of course you probably don’t want to die if you haven’t got a cent to your name, but think how much worse someone feels about dying when they have 28 million dollars in ready money lying around in a box. It would be just like dying with five cord of dried and split birch stacked neatly in your barn. You did all the work and next winter somebody else is going to be toasting popcorn by the fire with your wife. But --- I have been studying these Nigerian letters for several years now, and I’m starting to notice a pattern. The landscape is littered with hundreds of thousands of people who died in a plane crash or a car crash or a train wreck and every single one of them left umpteen million dollars behind and no heirs. Nigeria must be a strange place, indeed, because the minute you stop breathing in the state of Maine, the man in charge of selling your trailer is going to be mobbed by relatives you haven’t heard from in years.

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