Laugh tracks in the dust

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Last week I didn’t mention all the useful Christmas gifts I received from ol’

Santa. He gave me: a live animal trap so I can rid Damphewmore Acres of all the

irritating skunks and possums around the premises; a new pair of binoculars so I

can watch the wild birds at our feeder, the geese and ducks on the pond, the deer

crossing the place, and the occasional coyote; two books (both entertaining and not

particularly useful); a customized new cribbage board; a T-shirt emblazoned with

the mascot of my favorite university (Bea Wilder U.), a decorative metal bear “beer

holder,” and two boxes of 410 shotgun shells.

Plus, I guess you could say that half of the new informal dining room

furniture Santa brought to the family is mine.

Ol’ Santa brought Nevah a new treadmill, but the rascal didn’t put it

together. It wuz a good end to the year when Nevah and I got it assembled without

the “Big D” word ever mentioned.

There is one big irritation that happened at the end of 2014 that I want to

give as much negative publicity to as I can. We get our television programming via

Dish Net. And, the only news shows that I like to watch are the Fox News and Fox

Business channels.

Well, wouldn’t you know? Those two corporate behemoths got into a head-
knocker over distribution fees. Dish wouldn’t pay the much higher distribution fees

Fox wanted to charge for all its sports programming channels, so in retribution, Fox

pulled its popular news and business channels from the Dish Net lineup.

Now, from my point of view, the only folks being forgotten by both corporate

giants are the folks like me — their all-important customers. I suppose Fox thinks

I’m gonna switch to another provider just to get its news and business shows. Well,

think again, Fox, I ain’t switching providers just so you can bring in more moola to

pay for the stupidly-high priced contracts you got yourself into with professional

and college sports entities.

So, I’m left with only one source of retribution to Fox — give it all the negative

publicity that this column can generate. As much as I like sports, news is more

important. As much as I despise big, out-of-control, dehumanized big government,

it’s a fact that huge, out-of-control, dehumanized corporations are almost as bad.

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My old Mt. Vernon, Mo., friend, Manny Tallents, sent me an e-mail that

pretty much describes how big corporations ease their way into your wallet in many

imperceptive ways. Here’s Manny’s story:

“In 1994 I bought a brand new 2500 diesel Dodge Ram long-bed pickup truck

and put a camper on it. Recently, I took the camper off and in cleaning out all the

little cubby holes, I found a roll of toilet paper that had been stashed away since

1994. It was a brand new roll, so I brought it in the house, took it to the bathroom

and compared it to one of the current rolls of TP. Guess what? The 1994 roll was a

1/2-inch wider than the new roll, same brand. I don’t know when the company

started downsizing the width a half inch. I just don’t notice things like that. Then, I

looked at the paper holder in our bathroom, which is 55 years old, and it is 3/4-inch

wider than the new rolls are. I guess that paper company has been short-sheeting

me for years and I just now discovered the shortage.”

The electronic age can surely inadvertently get a person in trouble. Here’s an

example:

A middle-aged farmer received this text message from his younger neighbor:

“I’m riddled with guilt and have to confess my transgression to you. I have been

hooking up with your wife, day and night, when you’re not around. The connection

was simple, but that’s no excuse. I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you

will accept my sincerest apology with my promise that it will never happen again.”

The farmer wuz enraged, grabbed his pistol out of his pickup truck, and

rushed into his home with the intention of killing his unfaithful wife.

But, just as he prepared to pull the trigger, a second text rang through from

the offending neighbor. It read, “Stupid autocorrect. The word I intended to use was

WiFi, not wife.”

On the same texting subject. A farm wife texts her hubby on a cold winter

day. The text read: “Windows frozen. Won’t open.”

Hubby’s return text: “Gently pour some lukewarm water over it. Then try to

open it.”

Wife’s return text in 15 minutes: “Computer completely screwed up now!”

I’ll end this column that disparages the computer age with a few wise words

of wisdom about computers. Elayne Boosler said, “I am thankful that most

important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your

boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or the key to your private community.

It’s the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is ‘Delete.’”

And, physicist Steven Hawking said, “I think computer viruses should count

as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we’re

created so far is purely destructive. We’re created life in our own image.”

Ponder those thought as you text and email your way into the New Year

2015. And, have a good ‘un.

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