Monday, April 18, 2016

A poem I've always liked

Spring and Fall, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Rejected by TurboTax

I'm just a mediocre person, incomewise, so I couldn't suppose the government has much interest in my taxes, as opposed to those of Al Sharpton, the presidential advisor, tax-evader and murderer.

But I digress.  My income consists of a pension, Social Security, and not much more.  It's generally pretty cut and dried.  So I've usually done it myself.  But this time I had a royalty check for a book I and some others wrote in 2002.  

When I entered the figure--about 50 dollars--TurboTax got all high and mighty, refusing to do my taxes for the regular sum of about $40.  I had turned out to be a very special taxpayer, one which would strain the algorithm and probably crash the entire system.  So complex was  my income that TurboTax stopped in its tracks.  It shied like a horse who was asked to jump a deep ditch.  I was informed that my royalty check made me an unusual taxpayer and I needed an extra $50 for them to continue my return.

I would now be paying a hundred dollars in fees for earning an extra $50.  For a couple of hundred I could hire a live accountant.

I pondered the problem for a couple of days and then decided to file for a six month  extension, thus evading the problem until the leaves turned color and started to fall from the trees.

I have so many diseases and they are so complex that I have enough doctors to make a basketball team, although some of them are too short.  I figured that the chances were good that one of them would kill me before October, if I was lucky.


Thursday, April 07, 2016

Another poem

Another poem for poetry month:

Robert Burns. 1759–1796
John Anderson, my Jo
JOHN ANDERSON, my jo, John,
  When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
  Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,         5
  Your locks are like the snow;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
  John Anderson, my jo!
John Anderson, my jo, John,
  We clamb the hill thegither;  10
And monie a canty day, John,
  We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
  But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,  15
  John Anderson, my jo.
Anyone who has been married for a long time will get this one:

Psychologizing Trump

Since everyone else in the country is psycho-analyzing Donald Trump, I figure now it's my turn.  Fair is fair, no?  I know as little or as much as  anyone who has not been locked up in an abandoned coal mine for the last six months, so I'm going to have at it.

(That rumbling noise you hear is The Donald shaking in his shoes.)

He reminds me of my Uncle Doc, who would say anything that came into his head without pausing for thought.  He yelled at everybody who ever upset him.  You should have heard him opine on my father after he divorced my mother.  Or his son-in-law.  Or the government, Republican or Democrat; he had no use for any of them.  And he could change his mind at the tip of a hat.  Many times, he didn't know what he was opining about, but that didn't stop him for a minute.

It was all a sham.  Deep down inside, he was a generous and loving man, but no-one was allowed to know  this, it would ruin his reputation as a hard man.  But his parents knew, and so did his brother and sister.  He never let any of them down, although his siblings got plenty of verbal abuse.

I'm not saying Trump is a good man; but his statements about everything strike me as so much bluster. I'm sure he never gave abortion a moment's thought, for instance.  But on the basics he's got a few things right, and isn't afraid to say so.  That's what makes him attractive to voters, who are tired of the mealymouthed politicians of both parties, and their thinly veiled contempt for average Americans.

Monday, April 04, 2016

A poem for poetry month

“It was a lover and his lass”

By William Shakespeare
(from As You Like It)
It was a lover and his lass,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green cornfield did pass,
   In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;

Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
Those pretty country folks would lie,
   In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;

Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that a life was but a flower
   In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;

Sweet lovers love the spring.

And therefore take the present time,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crownèd with the prime
   In springtime, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;

Sweet lovers love the spring.
I do like a good hey nonino from time to time.And hey ding a ding ding is very cheery too.
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Credit card fraud

I got a call from my  credit card provider.  They were questioning certain transactions  made in California last month: to wit,  a charge for gas at a Shell station, and a purchase from In n Out Burger.  The two together were less than $50, but the bank was right.  I was not in California at the time.
Neither was my credit card.  It was secure in my wallet.

So  somebody  committed a felony to get some gas and a burger. I'm struck by the modesty of their desires.  Why not buy an expensive camera or  a set of tires?  (These are the items a thief bought on my credit card last time I was robbed.)  Why would anyone risk getting a criminal record for a hamburger?  If I were going to steal something, or defraud someone, it would have to be for a much larger sum than that.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

My vote

If the Republican Party chooses Donald Trump as their candidate for President, I will vote for him.  Unless he is convicted of a major felony between now and November.  And no, he would not be my first choice.

I'm so sick of people on the right, and on the left, maligning him.  You cannot pick up a conservative magazine without encountering some learned dissertation predicting the end of at least the nation, if not the world, if he should be elected.   In my opinion, the Republic will survive. 

Mine is purely a protest vote.  I don't want Trump, but I want Hillary less.   The Democrats have had eight years to screw the country.  I want them out.  It's the Republicans' turn.  If this means Trump will be president, bring it on.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

When do college students study?

I'm confused.  I was admittedly a slacker when I attended college.   I was fond of hanging out, drinking beer, and playing bridge with my friends.  Dating guys.  But I still had to study, pass exams, and write term papers.  Students at the time had sex, just like they do today--well maybe not that much--but we did in before 10 o'clock and never complained.  Or we stayed out past curfew and were helped to sneak into the building by confederates.

From what I read on the Internet, the average college student is having sex at all hours of the day and night, sober, or more likely, drunk.  Complaining, protesting, picketing, raping or being raped, making rude remarks to faculty and guest speakers, or being insulted.  Sending obscene texts to other students whom they fancy on their expensive cell phones.  Protesting when the recipients of the texts take them up on their texted suggestions.

How do they ever study?  What happens when their French professor schedules a pop quiz?  When do they have time to prepare term papers?  Why do they get all As when they are drunk, stoned, protesting social injustice, or preventing invited guests from speaking all day long?  Or painting obscene remarks on college property?  Or being so hurt and aggrieved when they encounter someone who thinks differently that they need a safe space?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What's wrong with Philly?

I live 20 minutes from the Philadelphia Airport, 30 minutes from downtown Philly.  It takes me 25 minutes to get to the Kimmel Center, 5 minutes to go to (paid) parking.  I have paid as little as $20 to attend a concert at the Kimmel Center (Obviously this is an exceptional price).  Last Friday I had tickets to a performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony which cost $60 each.  We sat in the highest balcony, but the acoustics were superb, and the sight lines were perfect, if you had opera glasses. Plenty of leg room. The house was full.  And the performance was outstanding. 

Meanwhile, it costs $65 to attend a concert at the Delaware Symphony.   These concerts are held in various venues, including some private schools in the sticks which you need GPS to find and when you do find them they are crowded and you feel like you are back in high school. It takes maybe 15 minutes to find these places, if you are lucky.  Concerts in the Grand Opera House are more elegant, but parking in downtown Wilmington is no fun.  Also, residents of nursing homes are bused in and none of them pay $65.  One dollar is more like it.

The problem?  No-one wants to go to Philadedelphia.  I had a friend who used to attend concerts in Philadelphia with me, but she moved away.  And nobody else wants to cross the state line.  They will go to Philadelphia to consult a doctor, but to attend a concert?  It might as well be in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, there are excellent concerts in Philadelphia--not just the symphony, but the Chamber Music society offer concerts by world class musicians.

So what's wrong with Philly?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hollywood actors and their teeth

I saw the film 'Race" over the weekend.  It was a well done movie, although they didn't mention that he was called the Buckeye Bullet.  He came from Ohio and so do I, and another bunch of famous people.  James Thurber was the only one I can remember--oh yes, William Howard Taft, who was so fat they had to put a special oversized bathtub in the White House.  But there were others.

The young man who played Jesse was extremely good looking.

When I got home I looked up Jesse on the Internet, and he was not nearly as handsome, and he looks like he had crooked teeth.  In fact, all the actors playing his family members had flawless teeth.  This was in 1935, during the depression, when people didn't have money for food, let alone fancy dental care.  My mother's clients were from the same demographic, people descended from sharecroppers and slaves.   by the time I encountered them, they didn't have such wonderful teeth except for the kind you put in a glass every night, maybe.

Anyway, if they ever want to make a movie about my life, I would like to be played by Jennifer Lawrence.