If you live in South Florida, I’m sure you’ve noticed, as I have, that road traffic has greatly thinned out. I now find myself sailing through traffic lights that, these days, always seem to be green – a big change from having to stop at every light during season when many more cars clog the roads.
Moreover, I now have no trouble finding a parking spot at the supermarket or mall that doesn’t require a taxi ride to the front door. Lines are shorter at restaurants and theaters – not to mention the airport. But the best noticeable change for me is that I’m no longer jerked from my weekend morning sleep-in by peals and squeals and the sound of splashing water echoing from my condo’s swimming pool.
What has caused all these lovely changes you ask? The Snowbirds went home!
Now, I realize Florida depends on seasonal snowbirds and tourists for a good chunk of its revenue, so I’m not, by any means, anti-snowbird. In fact, we may have our many snowbirds and tourists to thank for Florida not having a state income tax.
However … the peace and quiet from May to October is blissful!
The first thing that enters my mind when some big corporate entity tells me they’re giving me something for nothing is – how are they going to rip me off now. And sure enough, that’s always the outcome.
Case in point: My TV cable provider, which comes with my condo dues, notified me that they are making “enhancements” to my service. All I have to do is add this little gizmo they provide to my TV set. Well, since I was happy with what I had, I didn’t get around to picking up the ‘free’ gizmo, which I wouldn’t know how to attach even if I wanted the enhancements.
Anyway, last week, while I was out on vacation and enjoying some free time at home lounging around, I turned on the TV to find I had suddenly lost all the cable channels – which, instead, were replaced by a notice that my “current TV set wasn’t equipped to receive the ‘enhancements.’” All I got were the local channels … and for some odd reason … HBO – which didn’t disappear with all the other channels.
Well, this sour state of affairs caused me to finally give in and splurge for a new digital TV, which a friend helped me pick up at Wal-Mart. Being somewhat technologically challenged (I have trouble even changing flashlight batteries), I had to enlist aid in installing my luxury purchase (It cost $260.)
Happy as a clam with my new 32’’ digital TV – not to mention my expected new ‘enhancements,’ I plop down on the sofa and hit the remote. Big disappointment! Not only were my ‘enhancements’ nowhere to be found – but the same old ‘notice’ occupied the screen where CNN should have been.
Okay – I call the cable company and explain my dilemma. To make a long story short – they tell me I still need the gizmo if I want cable channels. BUT … once I attach the gizmo I would lose all the local channels. What! No Masterpiece Theater! What happens when “Downton Abbey” comes back on!!! What about “Independent Lens” and my favorite old reruns of “Are you Being Served?”
And … I’ll lose HBO, which the voice on the phone tells me I’m not supposed to be getting, anyway. Horrors! No way am I giving up “Game of Thrones”!
This is the long and short of it. In order to get the ‘enhancements’ and still receive the local channels and HBO – I have to order yet another receiver box from my cable company – which, of course, is going to cost an arm and a leg. And for what? I don’t watch the tons of junk shows on cable like ‘American Pickers,’ ‘Hoarders,’ ‘Pawns Stars’ or the never-ending sports channels, cooking shows, etc. and all the other crap they throw at us – while at the same time making us pay through the nose for stuff we don’t want.
So, the reality is – the so-called ‘enhancements’ deal is nothing more than double talk for making me cough up more money while telling me they’re doing me a favor!
What to do?
Well – my college-student son came up with a solution – albeit, a pain in the butt solution. He said I should install the little gizmo so I can watch my cable news channels and other things on cable that I enjoy – then detach the gizmo when I want to watch local channels and HBO! (And here I thought I had died and gone to heaven because I now had a remote so I didn’t have to keep getting off the sofa to change channels or lower the volume on commercials!)
In my verbose way, the point of this story is … IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY! We, the people, just can’t win. Whatever little we manage to squeeze out of this downhill economy – they want it!
Will any one of our elected officials ever stand up for us? Not in my lifetime!
A recent news article reported that 90 percent of all the flowers purchased in the United States on Valentine’s Day came from South America.
That sad fact leads me to conclude that in addition to not being able to produce cars, electronics, clothes, cell phones, oil, or even customer service representatives – we can’t even grow flowers!
Apparently, the only thing America is still good at is turning out ‘Top 40’ hit records and blockbuster movies, and even that is arguable.
I think it’s way past time for American political leaders, and all of us ‘huddled masses’ to remember what we learned in school about the “Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.” (Then again, maybe World History got tossed out of today’s school curriculum along with Geography.)
Suffice to say that the great Roman Empire, arguably the greatest civilization the world has ever known, committed slow, mass suicide by none other than – ‘outsourcing.’
From its earliest humble beginnings to its illustrious rise to world power, Rome’s strongest national characteristic was self reliance. Rome and its citizens produced everything it needed without relying on outside sources. And it was only when Romans got fat and lazy and lost that self reliance, depending on ‘satellite’ dominions for just about everything they needed – even the very food they ate – that the slow decline into oblivion began.
Does the plot sound familiar?
So – America, take heed. The handwriting is on the wall. We need to bring an immediate halt to ‘outsourcing’ what we used to do better than anybody. Yes, it might hit us in the pocketbook, even at a time when that pocketbook is pretty empty.
However, not to do so, I fear, will earn us a place in some future history book under the heading: “The Rise and Fall of the Great American Civilization.”
I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I’m probably one of the very, very, few people in the country who did not watch the Super Bowl on Sunday!
That’s right – believe it or not.
Instead, I curled up on the sofa, fortified with a mountain of munchies, and spent the day watching an all-day marathon of “Law and Order” reruns.
It would have been pointless to invite anyone to join me, or even attempt to ring-up a friend. I knew no one was available. Everyone else was glued to the TV watching the annual bone-crushing ritual that’s become a modern substitute for “gladiator combat.”
Yeah, I can now understand how thousands of Romans packed the Coliseum in the distant past to cheer wildly as people’s brains were bashed out, or while others morphed into animal chow.
The way I look at it, human nature hasn’t changed all that much in 10 centuries. Granted, the entertainment is not quite as barbaric, but spectators still call for blood, and probably wouldn’t mind seeing some, at that.
So, you can imagine the incredulous looks I got from those who, after asking what I thought of the game, heard my half-hearted reply: “Oh … who won?”
Newt Gingrich’s knockout punch to CNN’s John King in the televised debate on the eve of the South Carolina primary was, arguably, the primary (no pun intended) reason Newt trounced Mitt Romney, the favorite contender.
Gingrich was trailing Romney by double digits in all polls when two things happened that changed the outcome, almost overnight.
The first was ABC airing the ‘tell-all’ interview with Newt’s ex-wife – a revealing conversation that hardly painted Newt as ‘conservative’!
In fact, I have my doubts that many, if any, conservative couples would agree to living an ‘open marriage.’
The second thing was moderator King’s huge mistake in opening a presidential debate with a gossipy tidbit more likely heard on ‘Entertainment Tonight.’
The audience apparently thought likewise and cheered Gingrich’s 1-2-punch to King, demonstrating its animosity towards the media.
CNN went home with a black eye, and Gingrich walked off with the primary.
Now, I’m hardly a fan of Gingrich. Besides all the dirty laundry he’s carrying around in his suitcase, I still remember how he went after then President Clinton, doing all he could to drag the popular Democratic leader down for his peccadillo (no pun intended) with Monica. I well remember Newt’s ‘holier-then-thou’ stance as he railed at Clinton from his House perch – not unlike history’s Cotton Mather, as he condemned witches to death.
And at the same time he was damning Clinton to hell … well … let the gossip rags fill in the blanks.
So, as I said, while I’m not a fan of Newt’s, I couldn’t help smiling when Gingrich delivered his knockout punch. And King deserved it.