Archive for April, 2012

Charles Richter

“Don’t wait for extraordinary circumstance to do good; try to use ordinary situations.”

— Charles Richter


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OK, so I got the call this afternoon and the diagnosis was not good… my car, just a little over 2 years old, has been declared a total loss and they have taken it off of life support. When the guy at the body shop started totaling up what it would take to make the repairs, he stopped when the tally topped $15,000. He said he had only got to about 40 percent of the damage and decided the car should be put out of its misery.

The good news is that, because of the great deal I received when I bought it, the cash value of the car is more than what I owed the bank on it, so I’ll have a little insurance money for a down payment on a replacement.

So now I’m officially car shopping. Anyone have any recommendations for a particular car or dealership? I had a very good experience at Gwinnett Place Ford last time around.

I got used to the relatively good gas mileage the 2010 Ford Fusion SEL gave me (25/33 MPG), so I’ll probably go with something similar, although I might be tempted to go with a classic car. A late-1960s Mustang would be fun to own. A convertible would be a blast. But I’m going to take this nostalgia to the extreme and look for the first car I owned, a 1974½ Mustang II like the one I drove during high school—that car was a nightmare.

In 1974, the Mustang II must have been a sharp car (see below). I mean, look at the cute girl hanging out of the sun roof (my car did not have the sun roof, though, and hence, no cute girl). By the time I got it, in 1984, it was a pile of crap that nevertheless got to and from high school and work at Straw Hat Pizza and off to college.


The brochure for the 1974 Mustang II.


I think I paid $1,700 for it when I drove it off the lot and, over the next five years, another $5,000-plus in repairs. Remind me to tell you the story about when threw a rod on Highway 99 in Chowchilla on the way to Fresno… that was a real treat, I tell you. Yeah, seriously, on the way to Fresno for a college journalism convention in 1986, my trusty steed threw a rod. It was a very expensive weekend.


Waiting for a tow truck on the side of the road in Chowchilla, Ca.

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“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.”

— Edward R. Murrow

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Ron “Tater Salad” White

Boy, some people just can’t take a joke. And some others can’t tell when a joke is appropriate. And together, they end up writing new jokes for comedians.

It seems that a high school principal in Columbus, Ga., is in hot water because he played a clip of comedian Ron White’s (he of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, with Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall) “You Can’t Fix Stupid” routine at a faculty meeting. Now, who knows what point Columbus High School Principal Marvin Crumbs was trying to make when showing the clip—maybe to buck up some of his teachers who must feel like Sisyphus, trying to roll those dumb-as-rock students up the steep hill of education—but he must have also known that the bit makes a detailed reference to breasts, and there was bound to be at least one fussy, can’t-take-a-dirty-joke type in the room who would rat him out as soon as the meeting was finished.

You can see where this is going, right? Someone was, indeed, offended; the school district administration was called; and Muscogee County School District Superintendent Susan Andrews got involved, reassigning Crumbs. The students of Columbus High are outraged at the transfer and have started protests and a petition drive to get their beloved principal back.

Of course, this has only been a comedic gold mine for White, who says he is going to incorporate the controversy into his act. Oh, and he’s headed to Columbus to do a show on April 28. Guess what he’s going to be talking about? The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer asked and White was happy to answer:


That will be my whole show. I’m going to get involved with it,” White said. “It teaches me something about the people in charge of that school system, and I think I need to bring out the fact that they magically made my point for me, that you can’t fix stupid . . .”

“To fire the man and humiliate him is great fodder for comedy.  . . . I mean, here you’ve got a man with a doctorate who wants to be a principal. You’ve got kids defending him who want him to be their principal. Who else wants this job?”

If you have never heard of Ron White or heard his “You Can’t fix Stupid” routine, here it is. You decide which of those involved made a bad decision:


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Robert Penn Warren

“I’ve been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but writing was always first. It’s a kind of pain I can’t do without.”

— Robert Penn Warren

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My car after getting T-bones at the intersection of Satellite Boulevard and Boggs Road on Saturday afternoon.

OK, so on Saturday afternoon, I was making a left turn on a green arrow. It turns out, the green arrow went black and it was strictly a green light.

I didn’t see the car coming in the other direction. At least not at first.

I saw the car at the last second as it approached the intersection and pretty fast clip. I think I stepped on the gas, hoping to jump out of the way, but I don’t know. I don’t think I stepped on the breaks.

It’s funny, but it didn’t make one of those movie car-crash sounds. There was no squealing of the breaks that I could hear (and I saw no skid marks later). There was no tearing of metal or breaking of glass, despite being T-boned. There was just a sort of WHAM! and then everything slowed down.

There was just silence. I saw a wave of brownish liquid splash across the windshield. My first thought was, “oh shit, that’s blood.” But I didn’t feel any pain, and I think I actually looked down to see where it might be coming from. I then noticed the right-side airbags were down over the windows, but they were already deflated. While all this was going on, my car was spinning in a counterclockwise direction.

The other car. No one was injured.

Eventually, the car came to a stop and my car was making noises. The alarm was going off, and the dash board was asking if I wanted to report an accident. Looking around, I realized that my sun glasses and Giants hat, both of which I was wearing only a moment ago, were sitting on the passenger seat as if I placed them there. I was also wet, as that splash across the windshield was Diet Coke that sprayed out of the can and not blood.

The teens in the other car were shaken up but not injured. Someone called the police, and a hook-and-ladder fire truck came pulling up seconds later. After assessing the situation, the fire truck left, as there was no reason to break out the Jaws of Life.

I have one small bruise and a dull ache in my shoulder, but other than that, I’m fine, although it did take the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday for my brains to unscramble. But come Monday, I think I’m alright. I worked got the insurance worked out and the car to the body shop. Now it’s just a matter of finding out if the car can be repaired or if it’s totaled. I’ll get a rental car tomorrow and go to work.

So, now, two and a half later, the thing I keep thinking about is that no one was injured, especially after looking at the cars sitting on the wrecker. Despite the extensive damage, the seat belts and air bags and a crumple-proof cabins all did their jobs and we all walked away, even if it was on shaky legs.

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J. P. Donleavy

“Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.”

— J. P. Donleavy

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