Thursday, September 17, 2015

It was easier

Try to top this true story.  A guy came in our plastics shop in July to buy a piece of plastic 15 by 27.  So, we cut him a piece of plastic 15 inches by 27 inches.

He looked at the plastics and said "It's too big. It's supposed to be 15 inches by 27 centimeters."  I looked at him and I said, "How did you decide to measure in inches one direction and centimeters the other?"

He said he had a tape measure that reads inches on the top and centimeters on the bottom. When he measured the top, it was easier to read the inches and when measured the side it was easier to read the centimeters.

I was NOT expecting that.

A friend recommended that we charge the guy the same per square centimeter as we charge per square inch.  If he complained, just tell him it's easier that way.

Hemp Macaroons

Earlier this Summer, I stopped into Nature's Food Market and Juice Bar on H Street in downtown Bakersfield at lunchtime for a to-go sandwich and a juice drink. I recommend you try their store. 

Bakersfield Plastics had made some machinery parts for them and I wanted to see that they were working the way the store needed. 

Talking with the store owner, Chuck, is always a pleasure and he graciously gave me a box of macaroons they make.

Since they are from Nature's Food, there is going to be a natural food angle. So, the macaroons contain spirulina algae and hemp. They are dark green, but Chuck assured me that there is no active THC and he will not be putting a green cross on his building.

I put the cookies on the center console of my truck and drove off on the next errand which happened to be the federal prison at Taft

Only after driving past the prison entrance and reading a K-9 search sign did I realize that I did not want to have to explain bringing a box labeled "Hemp Macaroons" into a federal prison!

I found that the space under the truck seats decreases in proportion to the need to put something there in a hurry.

At the ATM

This morning, I went to a bank ATM to make a deposit a little after 7.

There on the keypad, was a paper receipt from 6:37 a.m. for a $20 cash withdrawal leaving a balance of $0.35.

A second customer found the receipt, read it carefully, formed an opinion of the first customer, got out a pen, looked to see the that no one was watching, circled the balance, wrote "LOSER!", and left it for the rest of us to see.

So, who is the real loser here?

Human nature does not always please me, but it rarely surprises me.

Facebook responses to this story included:

Mark:Bill, please mail me my receipt. Thanks.

Rusty: I think $20.35 is way too much money to trust Wells Fargo with, good for him to get at least 20 back.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Belgian Pen Pal

Forty-five years ago, I was studying French in junior high school in Long Beach, California.  To increase interest, students could sign up for a French-speaking pen pal. I signed up and, voilà, my pen pal was Christine Dallons from  Charleroi, Belguim.

Of course, I was a schoolboy then and I wrote schoolboy letters that were probably not very interesting.  Of course, she was a schoolgirl too and, truthfully, I could hardly make out her graceful cursive script.  Sad to say, we gave up after two or three letters.

I now live 120 miles away in Bakersfield, California. I run a small plastics manufacturing company.

My pen pal’s name has been banging around in my head these forty-five years and, recently, out of curiosity, I looked for her on Google and Facebook.

I didn’t find her exactly, but I did find an interesting family history of a man with the same last name from the same town in Belgium.  Thinking this was perhaps some sort of relative, I read on.   François Dallons, a glassmaker, moved his family from Charleroi, Belgium to Indiana in the 1890.  In1906, the gas field that fired the glass plant gave out and the plant closed overnight. The Dallons family moved to Stockton, California where there was work making glass for repairing San Francisco after the earthquake there.

In 1920, the immigrant’s son, Victor Dallons, moved his family to Bakersfield. In 1923 they bought some land, and built a house on 8th Street, just a few houses down the street from where my company is today!

When I saw a picture of the house, which I immediately recognized, I couldn't help but laugh how small the world is.

Reading on, the likelihood of a relationship to my pen pal doubled.   There was a second branch of the Charleroi Dallons family that had moved from Belgium to England and then Los Angeles.  During World War II, the grandson of  François Dallons, Willis Dallons, who lived on 8th Street, was stationed in Los Angeles, met and courted the granddaughter of distant relative Jean François Dallons, Suzanne Dallons.   They married and one of their sons, now retired and living in Florida set up the website I found. 

I haven’t found Christine yet, but she’ll be interested to know that her probable-relatives have been doing well in America.
The Dallons family moved on from the house on 8th Street years ago.

What an odd coincidence of human migration.  
I'm enjoying the World Cup soccer this year.  I think that once every four years is about the right dose for me.

On the funny side, I was talking to an old friend of mine here in California about the World Cup.  He's a Jew, was born in pre-Israel Palestine, served as a tank commander in the Israeli army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and moved to California in the mid 1970's.  That just sets him up as a tough, funny, old guy with a rugged accent and direct manner of speech.

My friend doesn't have any favorites among the countries.  He watches games to enjoy the talents of several players he follows.  Among the top world players he was following was Luis Suarez of Uruguay.

A day or so after the Uruguay defeated England, we were talking on the phone and he said that just as the game was starting on TV,  a premonition came to him how it would end.  He said, "I looked at the TV and said 'Suarez, today you will score two goals.'"  That's just how it happened.

In the the next game, Suarez created quite a controversy by biting one of the Italian players.  I called my friend and left a message asking if he had predicted the bite.

He called me back. "My predictions are about human behavior, not animal."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why would I bother?

In my plastics workshop, from time to time we need our saw blades sharpened.

A sales rep from the sharpening company comes a few times a year, takes the blades away and brings them back sharpened in a week or so.

One visit, out of idle curiosity, I asked the saw blade man if any of his customers ever lost a finger.
"Oh, yes,” he answered rather matter of factly.  “Probably about a digit a week."   I was floored. I had never expected that rate... and uncompassionately calling them “digits”...
He went on to the story of an oldtimer customer of his.  The old guy had run a lumber yard full of probably very dangerous saws without  accident. Retired for many years, he was using his table saw at his home shop and did the classic stupid thing.  After a saw cut, he tried to remove a little cutoff sliver and it dragged his finger into the blade, cutting it off.

"Did you get it sewn back on?" asked the saw blade man.  The oldtimer replied "I'm 92 years old. Why would I bother?"

The point is, there are stages in life that you haven’t even considered.  I'm still at the stage where the finger would get sewn back on.   

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Front Fell Off

This has to be one of the funniest comedy routines I have ever seen. It’s so well done that I never grow tired of seeing it again.

As background, the team of John Clarke and Bryan Dawe have appeared on a weekly TV news program in Australia for better than 20 years.

They do a three-minute satirical interview of someone important discussing a current event. 

Bryan Dawe is the straight man interviewer.  No hamming it up. Just-the-facts type questions. No obvious softball questions. 

John Clarke plays the interviewee, not an impersonation, but perhaps including a signature quirk of the real person, perhaps a hat, or sunglasses, or other unique trait.

The typical interview seems to unfold in three parts:
  1. Introduction and overly-solicitous greeting… “It’s nice to have you here…”
  2. Funny interview
  3. Announcement that “Time is up” and we get to see what a jerk the interviewee really is.
This episode is a political satire interview of Australian Senator Bob Collins, the Minister for Shipping in 1991.

You can find the interview at YouTube  and audio

The following is my transcription:

Interviewer:  Senator Collins thanks for coming in.

Senator Collins:  It’s a great pleasure, thank you.

Int:  This ship that was involved in the incident off Western Australia this week...

Sen:  Yeah, the one the front fell off?

Int:  Yeah

Sen:  That’s not very typical, I’d like to make that point.

Int:  Well, how is it untypical?

Sen:  Well, there are a lot of these ships going around the world all the time, and very seldom does anything like this happen ... I just don’t want people thinking that tankers aren’t safe.

Int:  Was this tanker safe?

Sen:  Well I was thinking more about the other ones...

Int:  The ones that are safe,,,

Sen:  Yeah,,, the ones the front doesn’t fall off.  

Int:  Well, if this wasn’t safe, why did it have 80,000 tonnes of oil on it?
Sen:  Well, I'm not saying it wasn't safe, it's just perhaps not quite as safe as some of the other ones.

Int:  Why?

Sen:  Well, some of them are built so the front doesn't fall off at all.

Int:  Wasn't this built so the front wouldn't fall off?

Sen:  Well, obviously not.

Int: "How do you know?"

Sen:  Well, ‘cause the front fell off, and 20,000 tons of crude oil spilled into the sea, caught fire.  It's a bit of a give-away."  I would just like to make the point that that is not normal.

Int:  Well, what sort of standards are these oil tankers built to?

Sen:  Oh, very rigorous ... maritime engineering standards.

Int:  What sort of things?

Sen:  Well the front’s not supposed to fall off, for a start.

Int:  And what other things?

Sen:  Well, there are ... regulations governing the materials they can be made of

Int:  What materials?

Sen: Well, Cardboard’s out

Int:  And?

Sen: ...No cardboard derivatives...

Int:   Like paper?

Sen:. ... No paper, no string, no cellotape. ...

Int:  Rubber?

Sen:  No, rubber’s out .. Um, They've got to have a steering wheel. There's a minimum crew requirement."

Int:  What's the minimum crew?

Sen:  Oh,… one, I suppose.

Int:   So, the allegations that they are just designed to carry as much oil a possible and to hell with the consequences, I mean that’s ludicrous...

Sen:  Ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous.  These are very, very strong vessels

Int:  So what happened in this case?

Sen:  Well, the front fell off in this case by all means, but that’s very unusual.

Int:  But Senator Collins, why did the front bit fall off?

Sen:  Well, a wave hit it.

Int:  A wave hit it?

Sen:  A wave hit the ship.

Int:  Is that unusual?

Sen:  Oh, yeah...  At sea? ...Chance in a million.

Int:  So what do you do to protect the environment in cases like this?

Sen:  Well, the ship was towed outside the environment.

Int:  Into another environment....

Sen:  No, no, no. it’s been towed beyond the environment, it’s not in the environment

Int:  Yeah, but from one environment to another environment.

Sen:  No, it’s beyond the environment, it’s not in an environment. It has been towed beyond the environment.

Int:  Well,  what’s out there?

Sen:  Nothing’s out there...

Int:  Well there must be something out there

Sen:  There is nothing out there... all there is .... is sea ...and birds ....and fish

Int:   And?

Sen:  And 20,000 tons of crude oil

Int:   And what else?

Sen:  And a fire

Int:   And anything else?

Sen:  And the part of the ship that the front fell off, but there’s nothing else out there.

Int:   Senator Collins thanks for joining us.

Sen:  It’s a complete void

Int:   Yeah,  We’re out time

Sen:  The environment’s perfectly safe.  .... We’re out of time?..  Can you book me a cab?

Int:  But didn’t you come in a commonwealth car?

Sen: Yes, I did, but

Int:  What happened?

Sen: The front fell off

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Financial suggestions for California's governor

Several years ago, I drafted a letter to then California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger. I had several suggestions what to do to help California's fiscal problems.

The real lack of creativity in Sacramento is thinking that California cannot print money without limit like the federal government thinks it can.

Well, just use lottery tickets as a new form of California gold:

Pay state vendors in lottery tickets.

Pay tax refunds in lottery tickets.
Pay state employees in lottery tickets.

Pay state retirees in lottery tickets

Print lottery tickets without any winners.



Here's a word to ponder: Disoriented.

Today, we use the word "disoriented" to mean lost, not knowing where one is, or maybe unable to tell right from left or up from down.
But if we think of the prefix, "dis" meaning "not" and the root "-orient" meaning "East",we can think that the earliest meaning of disorientation might have been "not knowing which way is east."

But, today, looking at a map, clearly North is the most important direction.  What happened?

The magnetic compass was discovered around 1000 A.D. and since the  needle points north, it became the new direction for "orientation" and the drawing of maps.

In early history, East must have been the primary direction.  The sun rose there and travelers might re-orient themselves in the morning and figure which way they needed to go


The moment I became middle aged

I remember clearly the instant that middle age hit me.

I was 38 and my daughter was 3. It was Halloween night a little past 9 o'clock and trick or treaters were getting few and far between.

I went to the local big-chain grocery store to get some milk for my daughter's breakfast.

Of course, milk is at the back of the store, so that customers will pick up higher-profit impulse items on the way back to the front.

I'm savvy enough to know all that, but that night, I did fall for several of them and I was laughing at myself as I put them on the counter. I told the young woman checker that I had come only for the milk for my daughter's breakfast, but now I had the impulse items too.

Then came the blow. Without malice or any thought how cruel her words were, she said, "That is so nice. I like when my parents have me over for breakfast" -- leaving no doubt that this young adult thought me old enough to be her father.

Instant middle age.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

A.F. Branco - Political Cartoonist.

This is a great cartoon from A.F. Branco at the Legal Insurrection blog

I love the cartoon. I just keeps on giving.

This is the website:

A bomber titled "Romney-Ryan is towing banners of hope. "Fix the economy, etc."

The flak gunners, Obama and the Democrat Donkey, are shooting their guns appropriately titled "CBS", "NBC", "ABC" and "CNN".

The flak explosions are all silly points "Romney hates poor people", etc. and the flak all misses the plane.

Finally, one sees that the bomb has been dropped and, best of all, it's title is "Obama's own record"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Highspeed Derailment

Mitt Romney should make a campaign promise to cut all federal funds for California’s highspeed rail.
If you can promise to get rid of Obamacare, could you please get rid of Jerry’s train at the same time?
In Democrat-dominated California, if Mitt Romney is likely to lose the 55 electoral votes, he could make a point that would be popular outside of California, and strangely might be popular to a large number of the Golden state’s voters too.
Voters outside California would have a number of reasons to agree with cancelling this California pork, ultimately saving hundreds of billions.

Voters within California, a majority now having second thoughts about Jerry Brown’s train to nowhere, might hear fiscal sanity in a Romney promise to cut federal funding.  That might help Republicans in marginal races within the state.
What if it made California competitive by making its voters think about the economy?

You know, we did vote for Reagan. Several times.

Greetings from a 108-degree hot Sunday afternoon in Bakersfield, California. It's not that bad.