Saturday, April 30, 2005

Things Change

The other evening a guy I work with stopped over at my apartment. He wanted to tell me he was getting married.

He came in an sat a while and we talked. He looked around my sparsely furnished abode. I could tell he was disappointed. He looked at my little 13" TV that I don't even have cable hooked up to. I get one channel, WVVA out of Bluefield.

I guess he though he was going to see some swinging bachelor pad... He even said I should get one of those huge home entertainment systems, DVD player, surround sound, 60" plasma screen...

What for? I watch the evening news and jeopardy. Why spend over a thousand dollars on something I'm hardly going to use. I asked him after he gets married if he really expected to watch Sportscenter on ESPN or any of the good games? No, he'll be forced to watch "Desperate Housewives" and "Survivor" and The Soap Network will have a pre-set button on the remote.

I began to tell him what I really wanted. What I craved. What I never thought in a million years I'd want so bad I'd kill for at this point.

I'd kill for a decent vacuum cleaner. I'd also kill for a heavy duty washer-dryer combo. And last but not least a dishwasher. I'd love to have a dishwasher.

He couldn't understand. He was incredulous. No, I must be joking he said.

Nope, I'm serious.

I began to tell him how things have a funny way of changing. All the things you thought were important when you're young lose meaning along the way. You don't even know when it happens. It sneaks up on you and one day you're different.

I gave him another example. When I was up in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I met with my brother and best friend in one of our old haunts to have a few beers and talk about the old times.

Do you know what we talked about?

The different pain medications our doctors have us on.

Ten or fifteen years ago it would have been the Phillies or Flyers or the hot redhead at the other end of the bar.

That day the redhead could have stripped naked on the bar and put her business right in my face and the only thing I would have said would have been:

"Hey, do you mind getting your tits out of my face! My brother and I are talking here! Hey bartender, another bowl of peanuts, please!"

I gave my young friend a beer as he shook his head. "That'll never happen to me." he said.

Oh no?

I gave him a few other examples. Like when he gets married. Say goodbye to primary colors. Red, blue, green, tan, white... They'll be gone and he'll have to learn a whole new spectrum of colors like magenta, fuscia, sea foam, mauve, lilac, eggshell...



Words I'd never though would leave my lips.

And don't even think about decorating. You will not be consulted or asked to help. Those trophies and awards you got in highschool and college? Just put them in a box in the basement or garage. You'll never see them again.

Your toilet will get one of those fuzzy seat covers with the matching little rug and the water will turn blue (seafoam, maybe?). The shower will get a funny looking flowered drape-thing. (What's wrong with a goddamn plastic shower curtain?) The bedroom will have that Martha look too. Flowered throw pillows and that frilly little thing that goes around the mattress, again covered in flowers. Potpourri everywhere.

An aside about potpourri here. I could make a fortune with that. All I have to do is in the fall go out and rake up a bunch of dead leaves, put them in little plastic bags tied with a little faggotty bow and sell them for $5 a pop. I'd be rich in a week.

Who'd have though I'd have little baskets of dead leaves laying around my house? All those years of raking up and burning them were for naught. I could have been filthy rich years ago.

That nifty little sportscar he drives?

Say goodbye to it. I'll give him five years and he'll be driving a sedan or a minivan. I gave up years ago the thought of ever owning another killer 4x4 with Monster Mudder tires, the rack of KC Daylighters and the dual CB antennas. I now drive a little 1988 Ford Ranger pickup, with a 4 cylinder 5 speed, with no power anything. Manual steering, manual breaks, no air conditioning. It doesn't even have a radio, and I really don't care. It gets me to and from work and I really could care less what it looks like.

Vehicles lost their status symbol appeal to me years ago. I used to own a 1967 Ford Mustang... I'll never have one of those again.

All these things and more will change I told him.

"Nah, that'll never happen to me!" he said...

I said the same thing when older friends told me the same thing fifteen years ago. I didn't believe them either.

I give my young friend five years. I met his girlfriend...

Nah, I give it two...

Right now I have to go to the Laundromat, do my wash and read five-year old Woman's Day magazines... There was a good article on making you own potpourri I didn't finish reading last week.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, April 25, 2005

Location, Location, Location!

What I perceive to be stupidity in most people today in our country may just be a lack of simple observation on the basic, primal level.

A few days ago in the local paper there was an article about some folks down in McDowell county complaining about the persistent, copious amounts of coal dust in and around their homes. The EPA is being called in to investigate.

Now first off I have to tell those of you not familiar with southern West Virginia and McDowell county itself that both sit smack-dab in the middle of the largest coal fields in Appalachia. The majority of these coal mines, surface and underground, are within plain sight of these homes in question.

My one question is this:

Hey, dumbass!

Did you not see the coal mine and the huge coal trucks and loaded trains or hear the mining operation when you went to see the house before you bought it?

You fucking dolts. You moved right next to an operating coal mine. Deal with the coal dust or move.

This isn't a regional problem with the observationally challenged. My house in Arizona sat about seven miles off the highway, and three miles past where the pavement ended. The house next to me, actually about a half mile down the road was my nearest neighbor. This house sat empty for a while after I moved in but soon sold. The new neighbors moved in and soon stopped by to introduce themselves.

I invited them in and adult beverages were soon passed around. They had just moved from San Diego, California (that should have been a warning to me then) and just loved the wide open night sky that you could seen trillions of stars at night, unlike the city where they just came from.

But soon into the conversation a rift began to show in our new found friendship. The wife began to complain about the dust from the road... (Remember I lived way past where the pavement ended?) Then said the smell of horse manure was making her sick...

I had two horses at the time...

Then the husband noticed my rifle cabinet and said in a condescending manner; "Oh, I didn't know you had guns."

I asked them if they had come out and looked at the house before they bought it. They said yes they had. Then I inquired if they had seen my horses. Again, the answer was yes. I bit my tongue so hard it bled, I looked at them then my ex and excused myself. Before I Walked out of the room I did point to the west and tell them California is 'that way'. I then went into my den and proceeded to beat my head repeatedly against the wall...

Please make it stop! Make the stupid people stop following me!

Remember I said they had just loved the night sky where you can see trillions of stars at night and even the whole Milky Way galaxy? You'll never guess what they did that very night. I was sitting in my easy chair watching Jeopardy! When I noticed an extremely bright light coming through my front window. I looked out, and guess what my night-sky loving neighbors had put up?

Two of those 10,000 watt sodium-arc lights, one in the from and one in the back of their house for "security" effectively lighting up an area the size of Rhode Island around the house and in the process blocking the view of the "Beautiful Night Sky" for half the town.

I shit you not, you could see their house from the highway seven miles away.

Thanks a lot, assholes.

A few weeks later a friend of mine from the Yavapai County sheriff's office stopped by to tell me a funny story. He did that from time to time, as then I'd have to tell him some of my "dumbass" stories from the job.

Seems my new neighbors called in a complaint.

You'll never guess what for.

They called the Sheriff's Office to complain about the (again, I shit you not) coyotes howling and yipping at night, and could the deputy please make them go away?


Complaining about coyotes in Arizona is like a cop trying to hand out speeding tickets at the Daytona 500.

I'll go one better.

A little further south of where I lived was the city of Prescott, AZ. In this city of about 35,000 was a very old and well regarded rod & gun club with it's own very well maintained and safe rifle range.

I really wish I could remember this guy's name, but he was pretty famous as one of the Apollo program astronauts. He bought a house right next to the rifle range and immediately began a letter writing campaign to the local newspaper about the noise and danger from this rifle range.

He effectively had this range shut down for over six months, but the range re-opened after a long legal battle with this spaced-out space man.

I again just wanted to asked this shithead; didn't you see the goddamn rifle range before you bought your house?

I think this guy was in the vacuum of space too long and retain some of that vacuum between his ears.

Back when I lived in Pennsylvania, a couple bought a house right next to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station. You could see the flightline from the front of their house. Soon after they moved in they complain to the Navy about the sound of the jets scaring their cats.

God, if you really do exist, please kill off all these fucking morons?

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Tonight something I was reminded of made me thank God I live alone again. I have to admit I get lonely sometimes, but I do enjoy my 'Alone Time' a lot.

Earlier tonight I had a splitting headache. I went to the medicine cabinet to get a few Tylenol. I took a few and looked at the bottle. On the back of the label it read:

exp. 12/04

Oh no! They're expired! I'm going to die!

Of course I'm not going to die. Shortly my headache subsided and I thought about the expiration date on the bottle more. I can see not taking something that's ten years out of date, but only a few months? Nope, I feel pretty certain they're still good.

Some things do need an expiration date though. That roast beef or gallon of milk you bought at Krogers last week for example. But it seems like everything has an expiration date now. And my ex had what I thought was an unhealthy fetish about them.

But it was only for some things. Some things would fester for months in the fridge. I'd have nightmares of those green-furry lumps coming alive one night and attacking me in my sleep.

A long time ago when I was still married, I learned that the refridgerator was off-limits to me. Don't get me wrong, I was allowed to get things to eat, but I wasn't allowed to throw anything away. That was her job I was told. I'd find really interesting science projects hidden behind the condiments. Huge furry green and blue things that I'd ask what they were but would never get an answer. Some of these lumps of fur were big enough to make a quart of penicillin.

But god forbid, if I threw them away I'd be certain to be struck down in a fury of untold magnitude.

One time I found a great green lump hidden way in the back of the fridge and discovered it was the remains of the Thanksgiving turkey.

This was in August.

Then she'd go nuts one day and start throwing everything in the house out that was past the expiration date on the package. Deodorant, floor polish, soap, aspirin. You get the picture. Then I saw her do something that just stunned me. She was in the fridge throwing things out (finally) when I saw her throwing bottled water away.

"Eh, what are you doing?" I asked.

"Throwing out everything that's expired." She told me in a tone that said 'You moron'

Expired water?

Expired fucking water???????

Water does NOT fucking expire. It's the same water that's been around for millions of goddamn years. If it's in a sealed container, that water will still be good for another million years. The only way water would "Go bad" would be if it was contaminated with something. A sealed bottle of H2O is not going to go bad, ever.

Got to the south pole. Get one of those huge ice drills that take core samples from miles down. Drill down and get a sample. Melt that million-year-old ice...

You know what you'd get?

Fucking water! That's what you'd get!

The same water I took those four month out-of-date Tylenol with tonight.

You know what's really expired here?

My patients for stupidity!

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Punctuation Pirate

A fellow blogger had a post a few days ago about mis-pronunciations of words...

In essence, bad English.

Spoken mistakes to me aren't that bad, it's the written ones that get me. I'm nowhere near perfect in that regard myself, but some things are just so blatantly obvious it's almost painful to look at.

The one thing that almost infuriates me is the misuse of the apostrophe. I'll give you an example.

On a hand-painted sign nailed to a telephone pole on my road in Arizona;

"Puppy's 4 sale, 555-1212"

I was so fucking tempted to call the number and ask what the puppies had for sale.

I don't see it too much here in West Virginia, but it was almost epidemic in proportions in Arizona. I'd see it everywhere. Restaurant menus, newspaper articles (that one is unforgivable) and advertisements. It's basic 3rd grade grammar we're talking about here, folks.

Like I said, it was more prevalent in Arizona than back east, but there is a used car lot in Beckley, WV who's professionally painted sign reads:

Quality Used Car's


But that's not what I'm trying to get at today. What I want to tell you about today is The Punctuation Pirate.

I had a Lieutenant on the police department back in the 90's who was memo-crazy. Every day I'd come into the station and would be bombarded with memos. Posted everywhere. On the bulletin board, locker room, hallway walls, doors, squadroom. I'm not talking one or two here, I'm talking ten or fifteen a day. It was driving us all nuts. Bullshit stuff too, like the temperature in Outer Mongolia. Shit like that. He was trying to impress us with his own perceived intelligence.

We all thought he was an insufferable prick.

One day, someone pointed out to me one of his memos. He said "look, there's no punctuation!"

I did and sure as shit, the whole memo was one big run-on sentence. No periods, comas, colons, nothing. Just words lined up.

I wonder who could have done that? The LT wouldn't have made such a blatant mistake!

This went on for about a month when the lieutenant gave us a little talking-to at roll call one night. He had received a memo on department letterhead with the words "The Punctuation Pirate strikes again!!!!" handwritten in red marker. (and also had a 'talking to" by the Captain)

He was pissed. He said he was going to launch an investigation to find the "Doer" in copspeak. We all chuckled because we all knew he couldn't find his ass with both hands and a flashlight.

So the Punctuation Pirate would strike at least twice a week, and it was funny he only struck when 2 squad was working. It was done really professionally too. What the Pirate would do (The best I can figure. You don't think it was me, do you?) was take the memos down, photocopy them, and then very carefully, with liquid paper, white-out each and every punctuation mark, photocopy that, and put the photocopy of the original back in the same exact place.

As an aside, someone also did this little jewel and we all thought it was the Punctuation Pirate's work. Someone broke into the Lieutenant's office one night and got into his computer. Using the "tools" function in MS Word, put the Lieutenant's name into the auto-correct, then substituted the word "Asshole" with the Lieutenant's name. So every time the Lieutenant would finish one of his memos and type his name, it would automatically change to Asshole.

He was so smart it took him three weeks to figure out how to fix that.

It was driving this Lieutenant absolutely batshit. You could see the little vein on his head throbbing, and his face would take this unhealthy magenta hue whenever the Punctuation Pirate was mentioned.

Guys even started two pools. One was who the Punctuation Pirate's real identity was, and the second pool was on the exact date of the Lieutenant's massive stroke.

This went on for a better part of two years, to the great humor of myself and the other guys on the squad. But I understand the Punctuation Pirate mysteriously disappeared (so I'm told) around the same time I quit the job and moved to Arizona in August of 1998.

I wonder whatever happened to him?

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Me, circa 2004 Posted by Hello

Me, Circa 1983... Ft. Sill Oklahoma. Another choice place. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Achtung! There's A New Pope!

Sister Mary Adolph Eichman and Sister Mary Hienrich Himmler of the Order of the Blessed Bleeding Hearts of the Stormtrooper must be very happy now.

The College of Cardinals put the last of their buds in the big papal bong and took there final hit yesterday. The smoke let the world know that the Catholics have a new pope, and he's a Kraut. They aught to be happy. The way they treated me in school was definitely medieval, and now the church is taking a few giant steps backward, right into the dark ages.

What can you say about a church that started the Crusades, instigated the Inquisition and ignored the holocaust?

But my question is this. Will the new pope insist on being called "Der Fuhrer"?

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Geography Lesson

Last week I was having my weekly phone call with my best friend up in Philadelphia, and in the middle of the conversation he said something along the lines of where I lived in "Virginia"...

Now this guy is no dummy, as I don't suffer fools lightly and we've been friends over twenty years now. I told him I lived in West Virginia, and Worked in Virginia.

"So you live in western Virginia?"



I live in WEST VIRGINIA and work in VIRGINIA!!!

"Same thing, isn't it?"

No, it is not the same thing.

Not since before the Reconstruction. They're two separate states! But traveling around the country as much as I have it still never stops amazing me how many people don't know the basic geography of their own country, let alone the world.

I can understand not knowing much about the rest of the world. Once I was talking to someone about going to Austria, and he asked if I saw any kangaroos...

But here's what I'm talking about. I had a friend once from Santa Fe, New Mexico. When the olympics were coming to Atlanta, he phoned the US Olympic committee to inquire about tickets. Paraphrased, the conversation went something like this:

"Hello. I'd like to get some tickets for the upcoming Olympics."

"Certainly sir, may I have your address?"

"Yes ma'am, it's 123 Main St., Santa Fe, New Mexico"

"New Mexico sir?"

"Why yes."

If that's the case sir, I won't be able to help you"

"Why not?"

"You'll have to call your embassy or consulate to get tickets."

"But I'm in the United Sates!"

"You live in another country sir, so you'll have to call your embassy or consulate."

This went on for twenty minutes until in frustration, after getting the same line from the woman's supervisor he finally hung up.

Hey, you dimwit up in the Olympic committee, New Mexico IS part of the US. We "acquired" it at the end of the Spanish~American War, and it was a territory until January 6th, 1912, when it became the 47th state in the union. Although I lived in the southwest for several years and every time I'd look around I'd say to myself;

"We went to war with Mexico for this? There's nothing here! Give it back!

I think we should just give it all back, including California. The only thing wrong with that state is there's too many Californians there.

Or here's a better idea.

Why don't we just do a trade with Canada? They can have California, Nevada, Arizona & New Mexico and we'll get Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia & Yukon Territory. I think It's a fair trade, and then we wouldn't have to drive though Canada to get to Alaska anymore. Hell, we built the goddamn ALCAN highway anyway.

But I do understand one little thing now that I'm older that I didn't get before. Next time you go to the post office, look up at the front of the building. It will say: "United Sates Post Office" with the name of the town and zip code. I always wondered about that. Why tell us it's the US post office? It's not the Canadian post office!

Of course!

It's to let the last few Americans here in the US know we're still in the US! Unless you're in New Jersey, which is really another country(The only place in the world where you have to make a right-hand turn to make a left turn). Ever notice when you drive over into New Jersey, the bridges are free, and then on your way back it's a $2 toll?

Well that's fair. It's worth it. I'd pay $2 to get out of Jersey anyday.

By the way,

Would the last American out of Florida please take the flag?

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, April 15, 2005

Back in combat boots

I did it.

I went up to Charleston on Wednesday to get my physical for the Army National guard. I don't know who was more shocked, me or the doctor.

Seems I passed the physical with flying colors. Even the hearing test I passed with ease. The technition had to run the numbers twice to make sure the machine was working. He showed me the results and said: "You've gotten a score 19 year-olds would kill for."

Seems the only deficit in the hearing department is in the left ear at the 6000 mhz range, which is apparently the exact same frequency of my ex-wife's voice...

So, I actually passed the enlistment physical at 39. Not bad.

Even my eyesight was what it was when I was 21 years old, 20/17. The only thing I'm actually waiting on is the blood work, which should take about two weeks.

After the physical, I was taken into a room and had a long talk with my recruiter again. We discussed my options. I'm losing three pay grades, going back as an E-2, but I don't have to go through basic training again. My original MOS (military occupational specialty) the army no longer has, so I'm going back in as a M-2 Bradley AFV crewman. I'll be in either HHC, 1/150 Armor or "C" Co. 1/150 Armor in the Cavalry section. Sometime in the next few months I'll be sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky for four weeks to get MOS qualified.

I agreed and was sworn in after he hunted down the WO2.

The unit I'll be joining has just returned from a 13-month tour in Iraq, so the chances of me heading into the sandbox anytime soon are slim, but the good thing is I'll be able to glean a wealth of current combat experience from the men in my platoon.

I must be crazy...

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Cool to be Catholic?

I'm going to burn in hell for this one...

Well, the Pope finally died. It's about time too. He looked like he was dead already and too stupid to lie down.

I know. I'm a heartless bastard.

Now the College of Cardinals will get together and elect a new Pope. Know what I think? the white smoke you'll see when they finally do elect a new pope isn't the "burning ballots"... I think they've got a huge bong and got the best dope there... That's the ONLY explanation for those hats...

I'm waiting for Fox News, CNN & MSNBC to start the projections and exit polls.

"Now on Fox News, Brian Smith with the latest returns on the Bland Corporation's latest "Big Hat" poll..."

The Catholic church's whole hierarchy is based on the size of their hats. The Pope wears the biggest. I watched part of the funeral the other day and it was done entirely in Latin. Now there's a popular language. I suffered through my entire childhood going to the two hour long Latin Mass. I didn't have a clue what the hell the priest was saying.

He could have been giving us the results of the last trifecta at Philadelphia Park for all we know.

And why was it in Latin? Does God speak Latin? I wouldn't think so. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, and didn't Jesus speak Aramiac?

We know Jesus spoke in Aramiac because another good Catholic, Mel Gibson made that movie about him and it was all in Aramiac, a dead language that hasn't been spoken in over two thousand years. At least I know that's a language along with English I'll never hear in a taxi in Philadelphia.

So the Pope was really popular and now even non-Catholics are really digging him so I've come up with a little plan to help all you non-Catholics sound Catholic, which it seems to be really cool to be right now.

I've compiled a few Latin phrases and their English translations to help you be hip and fit in with all your Catholic friends and impress that priest you saw passed out in a pool of his own vomit at the bar last week.

So it's now "Cool to be Catholic"

"Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem"

"In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags"

"Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam"

"I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head"

"Cum catapultae proscriptae erat, tum soli proscript catapultas habeunt"

"If catapaults are outlawed, then only outlaws will only have catapaults"

"Cur rides? Ridiculum non sum!"

"Why are you laughing? I'm not weird!"

"Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit!"

"God, look at the time! My wife will kill me!"

"Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?"

"Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?"

"Feles mala! Cur cista non uteris? Stramentum novum in ea posui."

"Bad kitty! Why don't you use the cat box? I put new litter in it."

"Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum."

"A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants."

"Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat."

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity!"

"Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?"

"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

"Veni, veni, veni Locamowae cum me!"

"Come on, come on, do the Locomotion with me!"

"Oblitus sum perpolire clepsydras!"

"I forgot to polish the clocks!"

And my personal favorite:

"Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est"

"Yes, that is a very large amount of corn"

So now you have all the proper tools to sound Catholic. You might even get the odds on the next pick at Philadephia Park or The Auqaduct.

Cogito sumere potum alterum!

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, April 08, 2005


The other day I received an email from a very dear friend who I thought slipped off the face of the earth. It made my day seeing that email. It went on to describe how they were doing, stuff like that. Well, my friend went on to tell of their daughter's just-passed thirteenth birthday and how her hair is now pink... In my reply I just said, well you know how we were at that age. I'm positive my friend isn't worried, this kid is smart. Really smart. Mensa smart. I was at their house once and we were watching a movie on TV. The daughter was sitting in front of the computer chatting in yahoo IM (typing about 300 words a minute by the way), playing a video game and talking on the phone at the same time. Talk about multitasking. This kid will be ready to do quantum physics by the ninth grade and in charge of NASA by sixteen.

I guess ever age has there own little rebellious things kids do. I grew up in the middle of the Sid Viscous and the Sex Pistols years where six-foot tall multicolored spikes and mohawks were common. I was more of a Led Zepplin or AC/DC concert tee shirt and flannel shirt stoner dude in school. It's all relative if you put it into perspective. I remember my parents absolutely going batshit about the Beatles with my older sister. I think you understand where I'm coming from. But as I get older, things get a little more confusing.

Back in the early 90's there was this group of kids around Philly. I guess they were the precursors to the "Goth" look. Flat black hair, flat black shirts, flat black eye makeup & lipstick (unisex) flat black pants, flat black combat boots and listening to The Cure. (If that was the cure, I didn't want the disease) Black everything except for their pasty-white "I've just crawled out of a mausoleum" look.

Kind of creepy really.

One night my partner and I were at a Dunkin' Donuts (ok, no cop-donut jokes! I've heard them all!) and this group of about nine or ten walks in, sits at the counter near up and orders up coffee. They were pretty good kids for the most part and my partner and I struck up a conversation with them. But I was so damn curious.

My smartsassness came out, again so I just couldn't resist...

"So guys. I was wondering. Why are all of you dressed like that?" I asked innocently.

"To be different, officer!"

To be different? They all looked the same! They looked like they all were extras in an episode of the Addams Family.

"Well guys" I said. "How can you be different if you all look the same?"

"You just don't get it, man." I was told.

"No, really. I want to know!"

I guess I don't get it. I thought being different and celebrating your individuality was trying NOT to fit it with the pack. The lone wolf. James Dean with an attitude. I remember the "Preppys" in highschool. They all looked the same. cut out of a cookie cutter and trying their best to follow the pack. I hated them then for who they were. I rebelled in my own way. I enlisted in the Army at a time when joining the army wasn't all that popular with the intellectuals in school. Remember I was seventeen at the time of Ronald Reagan and Cold War tensions were at the highest level since the Cuban missile Crisis and people were believing we were on the brink of WWIII and a Nuclear Winter...

So even I was a rebel.

Sort of.

Looking back I'm sorry I was a little hard on those kids. I just wanted to know. But I think now there could be a lot worse things to worry about. Let your kids be kids because it doesn't last too long. I've discovered the more they want to rebel really, the more gray matter is working up in the brain pan. Your kid who comes home from school with purple hair may just be the next Albert Einstein, Nikolai Tesla or Thomas Edison.

So pink hair isn't so bad.

Mine is turning a lovely shade of gray all by itself...

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Lowered IQ's in Pennsylvania

I took off last week and drove up to Pennsylvania to see family and friends I hadn't seen in over three years. It was a bittersweet homecoming, but long overdue. But before I even reached Philadelphia I noticed something. The collective IQ of the state must have dropped twenty points since I moved away in 1998.

The first thing I noticed was the sign coming into PA on I-81.

"Welcome to Pennsylvania! Please keep it clean! Ed Rendell, Governor."

Ed Rendell as governor? Holy shit!

He was a shitty mayor in Philly, couldn't do shit running the DNC and now he's the governor of Pennsylvania? Have they all lost there minds? Tom Ridge wasn't all that great but Ed Rendell? Come on. Ok, only Wilson Goode was worse as mayor, but only because he burnt down an entire city block of homes. Anywhere else in the world that would be crazy. In Philadelphia that's Urban Renewal.

What it really should have said was:

"Welcome to Pennsylvania! The inmates are running the asylum!"

But that's only the beginning. Driving along I-81 north towards the PA Turnpike I began noticing other signs. Giant yellow ones put up by PennDOT. The first one read: "Keep right and pass on LEFT only. It's the Law"

Well no shit.

I learned that in high school driver's ed class about a million years ago. I'm pretty sure I don't need to be reminded of this little nugget of information every half-mile. Then came these absolutely huge white spots painted in each lane about one hundred feet apart. The next sign that was erected stated: "Do not tailgate. Keep at least two dots between you and the vehicle in front."

Now they're telling me how not to tailgate. Another little gem of wisdom I learned in driver's ed. There was an accident ahead so I pulled over to see if I could help. I approached a dazed looking driver sitting on the guardrail and I asked him what happened.

"I was too busy reading all these huge yellow signs to notice traffic had slowed and I plowed into a station wagon loaded with nuns going 30 in a 65 mph zone."

How much did this signage cost the taxpayers? With the money they spent on this crap PennDOT could have re-paved every state highway. Then they could have dusted off those old signs from the mid-80's that read:

"Welcome to Pennsylvania! Closed due to construction!"

I finally get to the Turnpike around 8:30 PM. As a matter of course the interchange is under construction. All ticket booths are closed except one so there's about a two mile back up though Carlyle, PA. I finally get my ticket and zoom out of the booths, heading for the correct lane to put me on the eastbound side of the Turnpike. I'm going about 70 at this point and then I realize the curving ramp to the highway is banked wrong. I'm making a sweeping right-hand turn and the road is banked to the left. Some highway engineer probably got paid a few million dollars to design that little trick. I almost rolled the rental.

Ok. So now I'm on the road tooling along and finally get a Philly radio station. It's my old favorite from when I was a teen. 93.3, WMMR, the home of Rock and Roll! Ok. I figure all is ok now. After a commercial or two, the DJ comes on. The voice is really familiar. But he's talking some really strange stuff. He's got guys calling him and telling him how they've covered up when they've shit their pants while out on a date.


I don't know about you, but I've never shit my pants on a date, and even if I did I wouldn't be calling a radio program in the 5th largest market in the US at 8:30 on a Friday night to tell all about it. Then I put the voice to a name. It's Dee Snyder. (Remember "Twisted Sister"?) That explains a lot.

Dee Snyder is now a DJ in Philly. Wonderful. I changed the station to WMGK... The old "Easy Listening" station my parents used to listen to. At least there I can hear some Led Zepplin and The Who and not hear about shit filled drawers.

So, I'm still driving along and this guy I'm in back of decided to slam on his breaks. Was there a deer in the road? No. A state trooper had someone pulled over on the westbound side. I didn't slam into the guy who hit his breaks because I was keeping two white spots between him and I like a good little motorist.

I wondered why he slammed on his breaks though. If you've never had the displeasure of driving the PA Turnpike, there's a huge, four foot tall barrier running down the center splitting the east and west sides. They were probably retrieved from the Berlin wall when the two Germany's reunited. A 63 ton Abrams tank couldn't get over this thing. Unless the State Police now have Crown Vics that can levitate, this cop is not going to be going after you, dipshit. Keep going. Besides, he's already busy writing a ticket to some other shithead who didn't read the huge yellow signs telling him not to tailgate or pass on the right.

I finally at this point pull into a rest area to check the ticket for the cost of the toll. I couldn't figure the ticket out. The exit I want, what I thought was still exit 28, is now exit 351... Now lets change all the exit numbers to confuse the shit out of people.

So I get off at the right exit finally after I paid the $7.50 toll. I roll south on Rt. 1 into Philadelphia. I see a familiar blue sign.

"Welcome to Philadelphia! The City that loves you back! John F. Street, Mayor"

John Street the mayor? What the fuck! This guy was under investigation by the FBI, and was a parking scofflaw and never paid his gas bills. (or was that his brother Milton who didn't pay the gas bill?) Doesn't matter. The guy is worthless. Frank Rizzo must be spinning in his grave. (For those of you who don't know who Frank Rizzo was, he was the police commissioner then mayor back in the 70's. When elected mayor, when asked what he would do about crime, he said: "I'm going to be so tough on crime Atilla the Hun is going to look like a faggot!" And please genuflect when you say "Frank Rizzo")

So now I'm completely baffled. I stop into a WaWa store to get a six pack to share with my best friend.

Oh that's right! I'm in Pennsylvania. I can't get beer at a convenience store. Pennsylvania is the only place left in the entire goddamn universe where you can't get beer at a supermarket or corner store.

So now get to my buddy's house. The next day him and I go to meet my brother for lunch and get a REAL Philly cheesesteak. Something I haven't haven't had in quite a while. As we were waiting for my brother to show up, we ordered a few beers and I got the local rag, the Philadelphia Daily News. I wanted to read some local news to see what was going on in the old neighborhood.

Headline read:

"We're Number 1 with a Bullet!

Oh boy. Here we go. What was this all about?

I read the story. I just shook my head in amazement. It seems that handgun crimes are way up in The City of Brotherly Love. The guns are being bought in South Carolina and Georgia legally, transported to Philly then sold on the street to thugs. They call it the "Iron Expressway."

So who is the mayor and police commissioner blaming for this? The thugs using the guns? Nope. The thugs buying the guns in the south and selling them illegally? Nope.

They're blaming honest citizens who posses concealed carry permits, those who would like to get one and the gun shop owners in Philly. They want to make gun permits harder to get if not impossible. So the now the bad guys will have the guns and those who want to protect themselves legally won't be able to.

Really smart. Who's brain fart was that Johnny? Sara Brady sucking your dick?

If I'm not mistaken, as I was a law enforcement officer for a long time, it's not the law-abiding folks who are the problem. It's the criminals.

They just don't get it.

IQ's dropped quite a few points since I've left. I'm really glad I don't live there anymore. If I'd have stayed I'm afraid I would have had a brain hemorrhage just reading the paper every day.

I never thought I'd say it, but I was so glad when I saw the sign "Welcome to West Virginia!" The other day on I-64.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden