Yay! Olympics!

When I was about eight years old, my father bought a camper-trailer.  Unlike today’s lightweight units, this one was built like a small shed, heavy as sin.  Being trailering tyros, we took along four full-sized concrete blocks to support the corners.  Thank something, that the days of heavy, powerful cars were not past.  I don’t know how we pulled that monster, but from then till I was 14, we went somewhere every summer.

I need to clean out the paint locker at the back of my mind and offer up another story of how a small-town boy had his horizons widened a bit.  In the meantime, this story isn’t about a trip.  It’s about who we saw when our trip was interrupted.

This was the summer of 1953, or ’54.  We had been camping here and there for almost two weeks.  We were moving from north to south, somewhere just east of Toronto.  We almost reached a main east/west highway and were stopped by a Provincial Police officer.  He told us we’d have to go back and around another way, or find a place to park at the side of the road until “She” went through.  She, who??  Queen Elizabeth, of course!  He took pity on a family of campers, and told us how to get down to the little city ahead, and where to park, but insisted that we could not cross the main road until after the parade.

We followed his directions, and decided that, if we were stranded, we might as well get a vantage-point on the sidewalk.  Mom and Dad piled up at the back of the crowd.  Mom was 4’ 11”, I don’t know if she saw anything.  Dad was 6’, he might have.  I was about eight or nine.  I just insinuated myself through the crush until I was right down front.  The crowd ran right to the curb, and wasn’t allowing any room, even for a little kid, so I just stepped off the curb and stood in front.  As the Queen and Prince Philip rolled regally through town, I was only eight feet away from her.  Big F…..ng Deal!  Can we get back to camping now?

It happened again last Friday night.  The wife and I went down to the Rec room, to watch Jay Leno, and there was that damned woman interrupting my planned enjoyment again.  The Tonight show was delayed by an hour for a broadcast of the opening of the Olympic Games.  Well, it wasn’t just her.  I got to see David Beckham, a man who makes his living on dry land, row his boat up the Thames and pass off a fancy cigarette lighter to some other guy, who gave it to a passel of pre-teen arsonists, who managed to start a big fire on the ground.

Get the feeling I’m none too impressed, yet??  How observant!  Actually, as shows go, it was a decent show.  The pacing fireworks as Bend-it’s boat raced up the river, how the individual copper leaves on the ground rose on gas-pipes, to amalgamate and form the Cauldron, the fireworks that went off after the flame was lit, all of these were grand theater.  At least they went off in a timed display, not like San Diego’s 10-second, Fourth of July, boom and fizzle.  But theater was all it was.  Bread and circuses for the masses.  Proof of this is the fact that responsibility for the show was given to a Hollywood director.

Owned, sponsored and controlled by multi-national corporations, it reminded me of the movie Demolition Man.  Do you know that attendees’ clothing style was restricted and controlled?  If you were wearing a tee-shirt mentioning Pepsi-Cola, you would be prevented from entering, because Coca-Cola bought all soft-drink promotional rights?

Perhaps it’s because I learned early that I can’t compete, but I’ve always been more of a fan of co-operation.  For every competition, there’s only one winner, and all the rest of 203 countries, are just a bunch of losers.  It’s all just a feel-good societal ego sop.  Millions of dollars poured into each country’s athletes’ training and transportation.  Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of hours spent training for this soap opera, and when it’s all over, even if “we” garner a few fake medals, not a job has been created, our GNP has not increased, nor the national debt reduced, and banks still need bailing.

Us vs. Them prevails.  Tribalist chest thumping.  I wouldn’t be so cynical if people watched simply to see top-level athletic performance.  They’ll tell you that’s why they watch, but, the same folks who haven’t even driven past a swimming pool in the last four years, are suddenly experts on synchronized three-meter diving.

These games are supposed to promote international fellowship but their very competitive format prevents it.  It all boils down to, “Our team doctor is better at masking performance-enhancing drugs than your team doctor.”

Some of the “sports” that are getting in are just ridiculous.  One person synchronized swimming?  I could send over a dictionary so they can look up the meaning of synchronized.  And the little girls running around on gym mats, waving sticks with ribbons on them??!  Are they just so chi-chi that they got kicked out of drum-majorette school?  Trampoline?!  I thought the kids down the street were just playing.  Good Lord, what’s next, Tiddly-Winks and pie baking?

Ah well, it is the middle of the summer, and there’s almost nothing else on television.  Everyone can watch what they want but, I don’t watch chick-flicks.  If I watch something by a big movie director, it better have some adult language, rock-‘em-sock-‘em Kung Fu action, car chases, explosions, and maybe a little gratuitous nudity in it.  Why is Victoria fully clothed??!

I’ve kept my eyes tightly closed for a week now.  It’s half-way over.  Soon I won’t have to worry about this meaningless display for another four years.  What’s that??  What Winter Olympics in two years??  Will it include competitive Sno-Cone Serving?  Where’s a good movie when I need one?

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I’m Too Duh-mb For My Shirt

The chances to watch the stupidity of some of the members of the human race are everywhere. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes.  The local paper has an automotive section in the Thursday edition mostly about current and soon-to-be-released vehicles.  I still drool and dream over the weekly motorcycle article.  On the tonight show each Monday night, Jay Leno usually has a bit he calls “Headlines”.   This week, he showed an ad for a motorcycle for sale.  Well, it actually read “Modersickle”.  Oh dear, is there a special school for morons?

The automotive section includes an article with photo of “Classic Cars”.  I love the old stuff.  I know the new ones run better and are safer, but the old ones had an élan and joie de vivre, before they all became indistinguishable corporate cookie-cutter clones.  I have my advancing age thrown in my face when the weekly *Classic* is from 1994, instead of 1944.

The duh-mb comes from the Question and Answer column.  People write…well, probably email, this ex-mechanic to get him to solve their automotive problems.  For a while, it seemed every week there was some kind of scam operator, trying to use the leverage of the power of the press, to force a business to accept a losing proposition.  Things like trying to force a tire shop to replace all four tires under a two-year warrantee, when they’d been driven two miles up a logging trail for a bush party.  Do they think an experienced mechanic and paid problem-solver won’t find out?  Oops!  Damn!  Sorry, I used that word again.

One guy owned two cars, and took the backup in to a shop to have the spark-plugs changed.  An apprentice removed the old plugs and, in doing so, broke one off.  The car was not ready for pickup when he came back, but they said they would call him when it was.  They thought they might have to take the head off, to get at it from underneath.

The letter rambled on and on about; why did they let an apprentice do this labor?  For the money I’m paying, it should always be a licensed mechanic!  I’m afraid that they’ve done some damage to the car, and they’re holding it for ransom to make me pay for their mistake.  It’s been almost two weeks and they haven’t phoned.  Can you help me get my car back?

The reply was; if you insist that it always be a licensed mechanic, the apprentice will never get to train, and eventually we’ll run out of licensed mechanics.  About damaging your car; they managed to get the plug out without dismantling the engine, so no damage was done.  About holding your car for ransom; apparently the cell-phone number you gave them was not in service and they had no other way to contact you.  The car has been ready for you for over a week if you’d bothered to contact them, instead of me.

Another genius wrote to say that he wanted another chip-encoded key for his car.  He complained that the dealer wanted almost a hundred dollars for one, so he bought one off the internet for ten.  He sent a picture of the key and said that he was having problems coding the new key to his car, what was the problem?  From the picture, the mechanic told him that the problem was that he had bought a non-chip key, and no matter how much he tried; he would never be able to code it.  He should keep it as a spare, in case he ever got locked out, and go to the dealer or a locksmith, and buy the correct one.

I watched an online video recently.  If I’d thought to record the web address I could include it here, or, since the wife and I are learning about linking and inserting, I could show you or let you watch it on your own.  Perhaps another blog.

The gist is; a mid/late-twenties male and his girlfriend, in a car.  He says, “Jenny, I’ve got a math question for you.  If I’m driving at eighty miles per hour, how long will it take to go eighty miles?”  She goes off about how she’s a jogger, and she jogs about nine miles an hour.  Well, if she pushed it she could probably do ten for a while.

“Jenny, if I’m driving at eighty miles an hour, how long will it take to go eighty miles?”

Well, truck tires are bigger than car tires, and you always accelerate hard when you start.  Is this on a level surface, and is the wind behind us or ahead of us.

“Jenny, if I’m driving at eighty miles an hour, how long will it take to go eighty miles?”

This is a trick question, because you probably know a shortcut.  I can’t run that fast, and you won’t let me drive.

“Jenny, I’ll tell you the answer.  It would take an hour.”

No it wouldn’t!  You always drive faster than that even though the truck tires look like they’re going really fast.  I bet it would only take forty or forty-five minutes.

It’s obvious that he’s not keeping her around as a coach for his Jeopardy appearance, and therein lies the problem.  I know we have to let them vote, and drive, even if he won’t let her, but is there some way to keep them from breeding the next generation of duh-mbs?