Dumb Things I Saw at WalMart

Posted in Humor, On Tthe Road on May 4th, 2011 by MadDog
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I am presently sitting in my hosts’ . . . uh, I don’t know that to call it . . . sitting room (?) watching a TV commercial for Farmer’s Mutual Insurance telling me that there are 15,000 clothes dryer fires every year caused mostly by people not cleaning out the lint filter and urging me to check my policy Real Soon Now to assure myself  that I am covered against such a tragedy. The commercial features a dude in a suit torching a gigantic lint ball with a flame thrower. It’s all very amusing, but scary, as it is intended to be. I cannot help thinking of how many people are, as I write this, scurrying out to the garage or laundry room or wherever to inspect that potentially dangerous bit of equipment.

Well, kiddies, I’m here to tell you that I am not of the timid ilk. My bravado is assisted by the fact that it has been decades since I owned and operated any such so-called convenience as a clothes dryer. Oh, yes, I do have a clothes dryer of sorts. It consists of a number of wires hanging from a carousel-like contraption out in my back yard. On sunny days my clothes dry in a snap. On gloomy days it takes a little longer.

Well. Now, that was interesting, wasn’t it?

I have been moaning about the weather. I’m tired of moaning and you’re tired of hearing me moan on and on about it. The sun came out today and do you know what? I’ll tell you what. It got freezing cold,  that’s what. Now I have something else to moan about. Here’s the freezing cold sun:

I forgot that the whole sun thing works backwards in Indiana at this time of year.

Before I get into the subject of today’s post I want to tell you about a very disturbing development in my life. I am becoming tragically absent-minded. A few mornings ago, about 09:00, I was getting my vitamin pills out of the big plastic bag of sundry medications and nutrient supplements which are keeping me upright and more or less mobile. As I was rummaging for C and Multi and B Complex and Magnesium and D3, I noticed that my little blister-pack of sleeping tablets was nearly exhausted. Well, that simply won’t do.  So, as I was thinking about how I might contrive a way to con a doctor into giving me a script for some Temazepam, my fingers took on a life of their own. Before I knew what was happening I found myself asking, “What did I just swallow?” It was at that point that I noticed the count of remaining pills had reduced by one.

I spent the rest of a very drowsy day wondering if I had just been introduced to yet another harbinger of the future.

Okay, on to one of my favourite activities, heaping scorn on Wal*Mart. I know that it is so very unfair of me to do so. It’s not only unfair, but hypocritical. I am, as are the vast majority of the poor and disadvantaged, forced by economic necessity to frequent the sterile and depressing aisles of the Big W when we would prefer to blow our meager disposable income at more trendy emporiums.

Yesterday, while I had an hour to kill as the Wal*Mart pharmacists slaved to produce a package of dream-time tabs for me, I decided to waltz about among the treasures of rampant consumerism to capture images of some of the dumber items I could find. I don’t present this as the definitive collection of The Dumb Stuff at Wal*Mart. I had nowhere near enough time. This is a mere sampler.

I’ll begin modestly enough by poking some fun at another of my favourite targets – those who lavish their pets unto death with every conceivable extravagance. I give you Beggin’ Chips:

Hey, aren’t dogs fat enough already? We need to give them calorie-laden treats to insure that their lives are free of unfulfilled longings? My dog, Sheba, eats no better than I do. I believe in shared suffering. What doesn’t kill me and my dog makes us stronger. And, while I’m at it, what’s with the missing g  on the end of begging?  I had nearly forgotten that Midwestern American English long ago economized the alphabet by making redundant the final g  from all of our precious verb forms employing it. Within days of returning to my indigenous roots I found myself talkin’ to people about workin’ in Madang and tellin’ them about divin’ and fishin’ from my boat and all about the books I’ve been readin’ and when they start askin’ me how I’m doin’ I’ve been sayin’ that I’m still livin’ but not enjoyin’ it very much.

I’m losing thirty years of progress developing my Man of Mystery accent. I’m most often asked if I’m a Canadian. Now I fear I’m suffering a relapse into my original Hoosier Twang. Alas, I’ll have to endure many snide remarks from my Australian friends back home who chastise me for not picking up Strine as my dialect of choice.

I’d best get on with my abuse of Wal*Mart. We have all experienced those distressing occasions in which an ordinary fan simply will not do. I distinctly remember those sultry summer afternoons in the trailer park when up and down the cul-de-sac could be heard the familiar complaint, “Hey, baby, this regular fan here just ain’t cuttin’ it. We oughta hop in the pickup and go git us one o’ them mistin’ fans.” Yeah, Clyde. A misting fan is just what you need and Wal*Mart’s got your number:

I can find plenty of sources of misting fans. It seems that many vendors wish to sell me one. However, I’m still a little puzzled as to exactly what a misting fan does. Presumably it will wet my face while blowing (or blowin’, as the case may be) air on it. Because of my intense frugality, I’m against the idea of tossing away sixty-nine bucks of my rapidly vanishing resources on a device that accomplishes nothing beyond the effect of a fan which I already possess combined with that of a wet towel.

I should probably mention that I’m writing this late in the evening and am slightly punchy from a long day of doing Very Important Stuff which I am now unable to remember. I went several places and did a number of things which were more or less crucial to my survival, but none of it registered in long-term memory. I’ll need to consult my notes. Hmmm . . . it seems I took no notes.

My final jab at our mom-and-pop-store destroying retail giant centers on the matter of absurdly large presentations of choices, namely forty-two flavours of vacuum cleaners:

Why, for pity’s sake, is it necessary or even sane to offer such a ridiculous and surreal number of vacuum cleaners from which to select? Personally, I would be struck dumb when shopping for a mundane household device if I were forced to evaluate so many possibilities. Thinking about it produces the same panicky feeling that I get when I’m purchasing bread at one of today’s colossal food mega-marts. At home I can get white bread, brown bread and bread with lots of unidentifiable seeds in it. The seedy bread also includes, at no extra charge, a range of little sticks and pebble-like objects which I reckon add to the fiber content. I buy the seedy bread. Here in America, The Consumers’ Paradise, I get giddy and nervous when confronted by 267 varieties of bread.

Okay, I am getting very sleepy now, so I’ll let Wal*Mart off the hook. Before I pass out, however, I’ll pass along, as a public service, a link to this partially literate article which I found on AboveTopSecret.com which proves, with absolute certainty, that Wal*Mart is deeply involved in Satanic activities.

I had every intention of entertaining you with several hilarious paragraphs about the Royal Coat of Arms and this depiction of same which I photographed on the corner of the old courthouse in Gympie, Queensland, Australia. Alas, I am now too tired and I must leave you to puzzle it out on your own:

The unicorn appears to be very angry.

Before I nod off, I’ll alert any astrology fans out there that an event of major significance is impending. Get up tomorrow morning and look to the east before the sun comes up. You will, if you have the eyes of an eagle, see six planets lined up as pretty as you please. Having consulted the foremost astrological experts today living I can assure you that you must immediately convert all of your assets to cash and arrange an electronic transfer of the funds to my Chase Bank account. Contact me for detailed instructions. Ignore this announcement at your peril.

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Warp Speed in Indy

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 2nd, 2011 by MadDog
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Today the news is dominated by the execution of Osama bin Laden by a team of US Navy Seals. I’m trying to think of a time in history when so many people celebrated a death. I’m sure that some are grieving and many others are angry. I suspect that they are outnumbered by those who rejoice. This seems to be a pretty sad comment on the man’s life. Few will note my passing, but I’d like to think that fewer still will celebrate it.

I am desperate this morning to devise some trickery to make this post interesting. I feel flat and listless. The weather here has been miserable. Sad, grey days with no hint of the warm, cheerful light of the sun. It’s depressing weather and it’s not helping my mood one bit. At least there is no snow. I’ve seen one sunny day since I’ve been here in Indiana.

I’ll toss out a few random bits from my so-called adventures of the last few days and see if anything inspires me to vocalise.

My cousin, Jack Stephenson, hauled me around a few days ago for some sightseeing. While we were at lunch he showed me some images he had stored on his phone. Understand that this is still a new thing to me, a phone which takes pictures and stores them. What will they think of next? Anyway, he had two very nice images of a red fox. He got them at Yellowstone National Park. I asked if I could show them. Here they are:

They are both nicely composed.

Thanks, Jack.

We had lunch at an ancient tavern in Indianapolis, The Workingman’s Friend:

I remember the place from my childhood and high-school years, but I’d never been inside.

Much is made of the quality of the food at TWF. I chose unwisely. I was expecting a huge, hand-breaded Hoosier-style tenderloin sandwich when I ordered, smacking my lips. What I got was this:

A soggy, manufactured bit of unidentifiable meat covered by some kind of crumbly substance. Don’t order the tenderloin.

If you’re looking for a down-home American working class cultural experience, stop by here:

Try the smashed burger. It looks better than the tenderloin.

We also went to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. I’d been there before with Eunie, so I once again got that weird feeling and found myself turning my head to see where she had gone. I took a few snaps of esoterica. This is Harry Jackson’s, The Marshall, a coloured bronze of John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn:

I snapped many interesting items, but the collection of images is too rambling, even for MPBM. Here is one more which I found fascinating – a 2,000 year old duck decoy:

The Eiteljorg is a place which inspires cultural introspection. The history of indigenous Americans is not full of joy. Hopefully, the long sad era of human history which was characterised by conquest is over. There is hardly any place left to invade and dominate, one would hope. There will be, of course, petty thieves who will hop borders to pillage and loot, but these will be mere fly-specks on the pages of history. No, we’ve simply run out of profitable targets.

I have but a week left here in gloomy Indiana. Maybe the weather will clear. My son, Hans, will drive from Canada to retrieve me from Brownsburg, haul me to Illinois for a few days visiting with Eunie’s family and thence to Wisconsin for a meeting with a supporting church. Then it is off to Canada, Hamilton, Ontario, to be exact. I’ll be there for two weeks. I’ll then fly away to Sedona, Arizona for a while. All of my meetings and stressful obligations will be finished when I arrive in Canada. I plan to allow myself to unwind and rediscover some joy.

Some have asked when I’ll return to Madang. I can’t answer that exactly at this time, because my time here is doing me a lot of good and it’s limited only by the number of couches I can crash on. I’ll spend not a dollar on a hotel, so I’m looking for hospitality. I’ve been given leave to take as much time as I need. I know my work is waiting for me when I return and I am more grateful for that than I can express.

Healing comes month-by-month. I’m infinitely grateful.

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