Monthly Archives: December 2008

Food (Pizza) for Thought

Welcome. I’ve set up a new page here on wordpress, re-worked my links, and added an activist section, where  you can help change the world from your key-ster.  Click above on About  for my profile.  Drop me a line, or comment, let me know what you think.

Mr. And Mrs. Elecpencil ventured out for an evening Sunday. Along with some friends we attended the Stage at the Oakland Theater. It is an open mike event that happens monthly and shows what great talent we have in the area.

Last night featured short stories, poetry, comedy, monologue and singing. Brooke the MC was spontaneously funny and a good time was had by all. Well, not by you if you weren’t in attendance. Where were you? You are missing one of the most entertaining events in the area so get your butt down to the Oakland for the next one. Look on my previous blog list for a longer review of the last one I attended.

Before the Stage the Elepencils and a couple we are great friends with stopped by Avalon Gardens on Belmont Ave. for dinner. We were surprised to find the only thing they serve on Sunday is pizza. That was OK with me as that is what I go to the Avalon for. After some nice dinner salads and my favorite beer, Straub we ate some Briar Hill Pizza. I think Avalon Gardens has some of the best pizza in the area and we have an area with some great pizza (check out a former blog I wrote about the good eats in this area).  I’d be interested in knowing your favorite area pizza or other dishes so drop me a line.

Speaking of food I present an older poem of mine with best wishes for the coming New Year:


Forrest Gump said,
“Life’s like a bowl of chocolates.”
I can tell you life
isn’t always a bowl of cherries
or peaches and cream milk & honey
or as dandy as candy
or as fine as wine
nor filled with sugar & spice.

Too often we get in
a pickle or a jam
and feel twisted up inside
like a pretzel
and get a chip on our shoulder
and express sour grapes
in the wrong direction.

Well it’s time to spill the beans,
there’s more to life than
bread and butter
and meat and potatoes.
To get the gravy in life,
America must celebrate
its melting pot
by using all its ingredients
we can make a delicious gumbo
not be content with hot dogs and apple pie.
The most nutritious thing we can do
is get the spices out of the cupboard
roll up our sleeves,
quit using our fingers
to point blame at
others who don’t look like us
and use those fingers
instead to start cooking
up a bottomless pot
of the broth of diversity
for variety is the spice of life.
Too many cooks cannot spoil this recipe,
only enhance it.
The kitchen will never smell sweeter
I guarantee ya…

Peace love and understanding

Don’t be a Grinch in the New Year

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. ~ Jimi Hendrix

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A Memorable Evening

Every Christmas pageant throughout the world has a scene showing Joseph leading Mary into Bethlehem on a donkey. Do you realize what would happen if the Republicans asked for equal time?

Q: Why is Christmas just like a day at the office?
A: You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.

I was excited to see my favorite news and opinion website Unknown News put my blog as one of their Mystery Links yesterday! It’s a site run by two real sweethearts, Helen and Harry Highwater and well worth checking out.

Mrs. and Mr. Elecpencil went to New Castle’s Scottish Rite Cathedral Friday evening. We experienced B.E. Taylor’s annual Christmas concert tour. See info on B.E. here: B.E. Taylor

B.E. does a great take on some traditional Christmas songs and also has quite a few original Christmas songs. I loved that B E includes local special needs adults who join him singing and dancing on stage. All in all two and a half hours worth of fun yet touching memorable entertainment. Mrs. an Mr. Elecpencil loved it so much we have decided to make it an annual event and that’s saying a ton in this household.

While in New Castle we stopped for dinner at Nahlas Middle Eastern Restaurant on Rt.18, which is located in an old Taco Bell. Nahalas owner is a relative of Mary’s Restaurant on 131E. Long Ave. in New Castle. I have visited Mary’s many times but had not been to Nahlas before. We had hummus with Syrian bread followed by Chicken over rice with onions, peppers and Syrian garlic sauce. This chicken dish is my favorite Chicken dish and was just as great as at Mary’s. Nahlas was packed but service, meal and price were all top notch! Two ice teas, hummus and two great dinners for about $20.00 is even in the Elecpencil’s budget range!

B E Taylor video: Feel the Love of Christmas

B E Taylor song: I Saw Three Ships

Green Planet Anti-Gift list: 15 gifts no one needs

I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.” ~ Bernard Manning quotes

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Mr. and Mrs. Stinky Racists

The Elepencil really needs to hibernate and not go anywhere but work. I can’t go anywhere without running into morons. I call it being an asshole magnet as I described in an earlier post. Here I was picking up a couple of staple type items in Kmart when I spotted this couple in their early thirties. I should say I smelled them before I actually saw them. When someone stinks that bad I can only describe it as an odor so foul you can actually see stink whiffs coming off them. It’s as if the whiffs were drawn into a comic strip to emphasize the putridity the artist was trying to get across.

It wasn’t that they looked poor but more biker or Grunge Rock grimy. I imagine for about $2.00 I could have cleaned them up. I believe that’s about the going rate to operate a self-wash stall at the car wash. I try to be frugal as I am poor so I wouldn’t spend the extra $2.00 for the dryer and wax spray, as I believe they could air dry.

I looked in their cart to hopefully see if they had bought any soap, deodorant or shampoo but alas no. This Kmart was the one in Niles Ohio so I note it is a Super K. I say that because the Super K’s have groceries. I was thinking if they went back in the produce section they could buy a head of garlic pretty cheap. I was thinking even if they hung a couple of cloves of garlic under their armpits it would be a step in the right direction.

This couple’s offensive odor isn’t even what makes me take keyboard to internet highway. It’s what I heard them say to another couple who was shopping. That was a couple that split up with the men heading in one direction and the women in the other. These were folks of Asian descent in their fifties or sixties with the men in suits and the ladies in dresses. The two men walked past the putrid white couple and were talking in a foreign language. Stink man turned toward them and said, “Yer in Ameriker furiner speakee Amerikeen.”

The Asian men glanced at Mr. Stinky but then walked on. I spun to stare at Mr. and MRS. Stinky. They had already walked down the aisle pretty fast and I was sure out of range of me yelling at them. I wanted to chase them down but with my knee that needs replaced I know I can’t speed limp that fast. That and the fact that having two kids to raise makes me worry about my safety more than when I was a single guy.

Anymore you have to consider that the fruitcakes are armed and dangerous. Truth is people who don’t spend money on soap and deodorant probably spend it on guns. I do remember seeing Reynolds Wrap foil in the gross couples cart so I imagine they were going home to make foil hats.

As I was heading to my car I saw the Asian couples putting bags in the trunk of a Lincoln with Ohio plates. They were all talking back and forth in English. English that I note was far better than Mr. Stinky’s “Amerikeen” English. The Asians had one up on Stinker as they were bi-lingual and Stinky wasn’t even singular –lingual.

Sadly, I am reminded that America has a history of racism and it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near ending. On the other hand America also has a history of community organizations and social justice groups who have stood up for equality, and inclusion, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do.

Surprise Surprise:We’re all here for a purpose

The Zebra song:Bill Bailey

Satire song about racism:Flight of the Conchords

“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.” ~ Denis Leary


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A Failed System

I am hoping the loan for the auto industry comes through for the workers sake but I am also hoping the auto companies restructure realizing that it’s a new day where if you put people, quality and the environment first profits will follow.

The Elecpencil worked in a plant that closed after being owned by half a dozen companies in the 28 years I spent there. Every one of them mismanaged it because they only thought about profits. The auto companies of today reminded me of what I experienced. I wrote the following for the labor newsletter, Impact about my plant closing in 1999.

A Failed System

The barrel plant I worked in has had half a dozen owners in the almost 28 years I worked there. Every time an owner sold us he’d explain how it was no one’s fault the business failed. The first owner, United States Steel decided they could make more quick profit buying an oil company. This decision of short- term gain was no one’s fault; just the way American businesses operate. It was no one’s fault the next owner went bankrupt, he told us. It was just that the government had silly laws that prevented things like price fixing and mail fraud. Since it was hard for our executives to run the business from prison we were sold.

It surely wasn’t anyone’s fault the next owner failed. Ok, maybe he shouldn’t have spent a million dollars for equipment to make a new design barrel without finding out if customers would be interested in such a design. Or, maybe he should have listened to plant engineers who told him said design would never pass government safety tests. It didn’t but I suppose the bad guy once again was the government with its business hurting consumer safety standards.

The next owner said it was no one’s fault the plant was going under. He did admit maybe he should have hired a salesman to sell our product but he was trying to save money. It was no one’s fault he just didn’t realize a business has to have a sales force to get customers.

It was of course, we were told no one’s fault the current owner who was leasing us has now closed the plant. It was no one’s fault just his good fortune he got a great deal leasing us he couldn’t pass up. He used those two years he leased us, to close his other two plants six months each to modernize them. We were used to supply his customers while those plants were not operating. When those plants were retooled, we were no longer needed, so our plant was gutted and closed so we could never be sold to be a competitor to him. He explained it was no one’s fault we were closing, just economic circumstances. There weren’t enough customers for three plants.

Before he bought us we had won numerous container industry awards for making the best barrel in the world, something our workforce was proud of. Customers bought our barrels because they were not always the best price, but the best quality. Those customers all deserted us when our last employer leased us. They would not do business with him because he was known for putting out a cheap inferior product. So in the end we lost our customers, no one’s fault again we were told.

How odd that with all these businesses going under it was no one’s fault they failed. For one of these owners to admit fault would mean failure, a taboo subject for entrepreneurs. The government has all kind of protections like bankruptcy laws to come to the aid of inept businessmen to keep them from feeling like failures. The government has few safety nets for unemployed workers. If you’re jobless in America you’re made to feel like a failure.

The workers were the one constant in all these businesses going under, were we the real fault of the failures? I believe not, because with each new owner workers maintained the sweat, the insight, the skill and the hope things would turn around. On top of that with each new owner came a concessionary contract, in the end all the efforts and give backs in the world won’t make up for bad management. We workers did not fail; six employers failed. Our fifty employees are now unemployed while our former employers are off mismanaging new endeavors and so it is across America.

Labor is not failing; the truth is the capitalist system with its profit before people mentality is failing. It is a system based upon unrestrained short-term greed in which society bears all the long- term costs. In the end it is a system that will be punished not only for its sins but also by its sins.

Michael Moore is right on; The truth

The Wall St. Shuffle:10Cc

Capitalism funk song:Hart House

“The cure for capitalism’s failing would require that a government would have to rise above the interests of one class alone.” ~ Robert Heilbroner

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Time is Big Money

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For all of you that think shopping is patriotic I give you:

Watch Where You Spend Your Money

Plato said, “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” That quote is lost to purchasers of the, “Day & Night” wristwatch by Swiss watchmaker, Romain Jermome. There were only 9 made and they sold out within 48 hours of going on sale. I use the word, “sale” lightly as the watches made with rusted steel from the Titanic sold for $300,000 each. You can look at this watch and say, “I’m on top of the world.” The strangest thing is that the watches don’t tell the time, which really makes it a bracelet. Romain Jeromome says, the watch offers the new way of telling time. That is by just showing whether it’s day or night. In other words they are pretty much a sundial for people who are too lazy to look up and see whether the moon or sun is up. My initial thought about a watch that doesn’t tell time was, “When did Yugo start selling watches.”

The concept of, “time is money” has now been replaced with, the idea that for the really wealthy it’s the ultimate luxury to take your time. If you’re rich enough to buy this watch I’m sure anyone you’re doing business with will wait on you.

What could be snobbier than a watch that doesn’t tell time? How about a watch you can’t even wear? “The T-oxy Concept” is also offered by Jermome. This wristwatch is made from non-stabilized rusted steel also from the Titanic. Oxygen will destroy the watch so it must be displayed in a dome case filled with argon. This watch comes with no guarantee because it is extremely corrosive. With steel from the Titanic wearing these watches is creepy because you have a tombstone for a mass grave on your wrist. I wouldn’t want to be reminded of all those horrible deaths on the Titanic very time I looked at my watch to see if it was day or night.

I’m rich in my own way because I have two useless watches that don’t tell time. They are a couple of Timex watches in my nightstand that need batteries. Being a little better with my money than the suckers that bought Jerome’s watches I’ve found it cheaper to pick up a new watch at the Dollar Store than buy batteries for my defunct watches. If I was even able to pay $300,000 for a watch I’d not only want it to tell time I’d want it to let me travel through time.

I started wondering what else the other half (or should I say the top 5%) waste money on so I did some web surfing and came across, Bornrich. org. This site has everything needed for the rich to pimp their world. For example if a watch that reminds you of thousands lost at sea isn’t gruesome enough for you how about a “Coffin Couch?” Since the law doesn’t allow the use of used coffins they are made into furniture that’s to die for. Don’t ask me where used coffins come from because I don’t want to know. I suspect when you’re wealthy there is nothing that isn’t available for purchase.

Other items found at this site for the home that are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine are: diamond studded laptops, bamboo laptops, a LCD display Digital Cutting Board, a $60,000 poolside lounge chair, a $25,000 Ferrari go-kart, or boots with a built -in Gameboy. Worried about security? How about a $12,000 bulletproof bicycle? If you’re on a budget you can buy just the bike frame for $7,000. Maybe some armor for your dog or a $60,000 18K gold, diamond studded mini-revolver for your bodyguard.

My parents taught me that a fool and his money are soon parted. As I got older I learned on my own that the best thing about life isn’t things at all.

Jeromone watch info:titanic watch

Only in America will idiots buy these watches. Jay and the Americans:Only in America

I’m an “Outsider” because I don’t want a Jeromone watch and “Time Won’t Let Me” Live Long Enough to Afford One. “Time Won’t Let Me”The Outsiders

Money Song: Muppets

“I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.” – Bruce Grocott

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The Hot Growth Industry

Through a gmail screw up I haven’t been able to post for a week. So what has been happening in the last week?

I went to a birthday party for local activist Susie Beiersdorfer. Susie is one of those activists who recognizes a need and cannot be just a spectator. She’s one of those folks I like to say, is a liberator whose only fear would be surrender. She is involved in a lot of causes and I wish I had a small percent of her energy. Her and her husband Ray both give back to the community and have taught their two daughters to do the same. Forget about Ozzie and Harriet, Ward and June we need more Susies and Rays because they lead by example.

When I think about how many good people our area has had move away it’s great to realize we’ve had ones like Susie and Ray move to our community. They put the “common unity” in community.

Mr. And Mrs. Elecpencil went out to do some Christmas shopping today. I noted near Eastwood Mall what is the hottest growth industry in the declining Bush economy. That is the job of holding signs along roadways advertising going out of business sales.

Be Patriotic Shop: shop

Beings as most of the cars parked at the mall were in front of one business I know what most people are getting for Christmas. Guns, as evidenced by the big gunny crowd waiting to enter the exhibition center for the gun show.

Buy a Gun for Your Son: Tom Paxton

For the late great Odetta who died 12/2/08: Bourgeois Blues

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” ~Franklin Thomas

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