Iowa Is Good for Writing

My friend and her husband are driving cross country to deliver a car to their daughter in D.C.

Nevada and Utah were blanketed in snow, which made for stunning pictures. Wyoming was another matter. Flat is the only word for it. A view of the occasional cow on some green land was the only bump on the landscape.

Now they’re in Iowa, home of John Wayne and its depressing Main Street, which looks more like a movie set than a real place for real people who work, play and raise families.  

I’m so used to living on the coasts that I forget there’s a whole country in the middle of the country. It looks like a foreign land to me. I expect people to be speaking another language and living another culture. And perhaps they do. They are ranchers and farmers and people who have worked the cornfields all their lives.

I looked up employment in Iowa. The list included pizza driver, office clerk, test administrator and library assistant. I noticed there weren’t any tech jobs. That’s probably because there’s no internet. Who needs internet for herding cows? Two border collies will do.

What I did discover were a ton of bloggers from Iowa. A lot of them are food blogs. But I don’t see Iowa as a foodie destination. How many blog posts do you need for grilling hamburgers?

It’s worth mentioning that there’s the famous Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, which has produced many award-winning authors over the years.

For some, looking at pasture lands and grazing cattle fosters the urge to write. I, for one, wouldn’t find any inspiration looking at a cow chewing the cud. I’d need some action like a line of geese following a marching band.

Calvin says, “And to think Iowa is the bellwether of American politics.” beagle

 

 

 

Super Hoopla

I went yesterday to see the Super Bowl hoopla at Moscone Center. The NFL had set up a huge staged exhibit that cost $35 a ticket.

Thousands poured inside.

I wasn’t among them. I’m not that kind of fan.

Prices have skyrocketed around this event to the point of shocking me.

For example, if you flew into San Francisco from Colorado or North Carolina on Saturday, stayed in an Airbnb for two nights, watched the game and left on Monday, it would cost you more than $7,000.

I suppose that’s nothing if you’re a millionaire, and I saw a lot of them yesterday.

It’s amazing what we’ll do for our favorite sport.

 

But the sight that was most extraordinary were the SWAT teams, the police presence, and the security agents roaming all over the area.

Frankly, I thought I was in another country.  Super Bowl

This couldn’t be the United States.

Yep, it was.

The security surrounding the Super Bowl rivals the stuff that happens when our president rolls into town for a fundraiser.

At one level you feel protected, but on another, it’s pretty darn scary.

I grew up in countries where heavily armed police, army tanks, and soldiers marched in and took possession of an entire city.

That was when there was a dictator running the country.

So what I witnessed yesterday sent shivers down my spine.

Calvin says, “Were any beagles sniffing NFL footballs?  beagle

 

Foreign Policy

While the Warriors played their championship win this week, I noticed an interesting cultural phenomena on my street Tuesday night.

My Indian neighbors – those who have come to the US for the tech jobs – were hooting and hollering like the best of us over the game.

Their voices flowed out of their open windows and crossed the street to my house.

The American assimilation had begun.

One family has two children, a white Lab, and a Volvo. They’ve already been seduced.  white lab

Another family has a daughter in the elementary school around the corner. I often hear her arguing with her mother in perfect kid-lingo, sounding like a typical spoiled American child, while her mother answers her in her language.

I grew up in foreign countries.

I know what it’s like to be on foreign soil, eating different food, hearing another language all day long.

It’s exhausting.

So a basketball game makes a lot of sense.

There’s no need for subtitles.

A basket is a basket.

A foul is a foul.

And a shouting coach needs no interpretation in any language.

I remember going to bullfights.

I would always cheer for the bull.

Calvin says, “You would. You prefer animals to people anyway.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Getting Off

I am glued to the World Cup soccer matches. The European teams aren’t doing very well this time, giving the Latin Americans a chance to score and move up in the rankings. I’m rooting for Argentina, next is Mexico, and after that I don’t care. Brazil of course, being the host country, is determined to win. Good luck.

Already there’s a scandal about rigged games – I’ve been saying that for years – and now here’s proof. Apparently some of the referees can be bribed in order to give advantage to certain teams.

Is there anything left on the planet that isn’t manipulated?  photo (55)

Our food is full of illness-producing chemicals, but advertised as healthy products.

Our newspapers, media outlets, and radio shows can’t be trusted with accuracy in the news and yet we turn them on every night.

Airlines and car manufacturers are notorious for cutting corners to save a dime, but we’re the first to grab a no-frills discounted ticket.

The medical industry knows of easier ways to cure our illnesses, but suppresses the truth in favor of expensive therapies because they bring in the bucks. Hey, somebody has to pay for those $100 aspirins in the hospital.

Stop! I want to get off and live somewhere else.

When you distill it, it all comes down to making a profit.

Nobody cares about your quality of life, or even if you have a life.

It’s more like where’s your wallet?

Calvin says, “Don’t get me started about our dog food. Have you ever wondered why vet practices are always full? The pet food industry owns them!”

 

 

 

Digging in with My Bare Heels

I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to submit to the full body scanners at the airport.

I’m convinced all that radiation is bad for my health no matter what reassurances we have been given.

So I waited my turn in line, barefooted, beltless and breathless. I moved closer to the dreaded machine.

When it was my turn, I said, “No!” with conviction.

“No?” said the TSA agent. cropped-rubbed-my-tummy.jpg

“Yes, I mean no,” I said.

“It’s the law,” the agent said glaring at me.

“It’s not the law for my health,” I said.

“Very well. That means a pat down,” he said.

“Fine,” I said.

The agent stretched out both arms barring me from moving away and held me there. He called out, “Female agent. Pat down here.”

The other passengers in line were getting free entertainment even before boarding.

I didn’t care.

A female agent appeared. She put  on a pair of latex gloves with a fanfare and gave a little snap at the end. It was clear I had interrupted her coffee time.

“This way,” she said and motioned for me to follow her.

“Do you want to do this in a private room or here?” she asked.

“Here,” I said and smiled. I wanted witnesses.

“Very well. First, I have to tell you what I’ll be doing,” she said.

“Skip that. Just do it,” I said. I smiled again.

“I can’t. It’s the law.” Then she slanted her head upwards to show me a camera that was recording everything.

Witnesses! I loved it. I smiled even more.

She asked me to stand with legs apart and arms outstretched.

I complied.

I smiled at my audience in front and above me.

The agent ran her hands all over me, from head to toe, in a professional manner.

“You’re free to go,” she said when she finished and removed her gloves with another snap.

After reading so many horror stories in the media about pat-downs, I was prepared for the worst. Instead I was shocked at how decent an experience it was.

Calvin says, “If that had been me, I would slobbered all over her face.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Smart Swap

The Republican National Convention is over and now we’re hearing from the Dems.

Is there an empty chair in the house?

I have to admit that was a masterful stunt by Clint Eastwood. Without a teleprompter no less.

Did he memorize the script? Was there one?

He knew his message so well all he had to do was speak knowing he had a receptive audience. Even if the only thing he said was, “Make my day” he would have been received well.

Wait. He did do that.

To be fair he said a lot more than that, in a halting sort of way.

The trouble with these political rallies is that right now it’s all hoopla and applause, but in a year’s time disappointment will reign again. For Republicans and Democrats alike. That’s a guarantee.

There isn’t enough collective wisdom, money, or services to get the job done.

Government is no savior.

“We own this country,” Clint said. “Politicians are our employees and when somebody doesn’t do the job, it’s time to let him go.”

That’s a good point.

Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of term limits. In his view, it would “prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress…”

Are we ready to fire the whole lot? Senators, congressmen, governors, and mayors?

It used to be an honor to serve your country. You’d leave the farm for a period of time, go to Washington, do your duty as your state’s representative, and then come home and continue milking the cows.

A career politico was unheard of.

Nowadays that’s all we have. We’re saddled with the decent ones, the mediocre, and the messes.

Why do we keep voting them back in to office?

I say let’s send all the politicos home and replace them with the cows.

Calvin says, “The dairy lobbyists would love that! Finally their day in the hay.” 

Center Stage

People don’t want to be fixed. They want to be loved. They want somebody to listen to them. They long for the spotlight. To be the center of the universe, even if the universe is a family, a club, or an office. There are some who demand a larger stage. They become actors and politicians. Where do these people go when time catches up to them? They write memoirs, of course. They believe their audience still cares. Like Tony Blair. I bought the book. I read four chapters. Yawn. It proves once again that nothing interests people so much as themselves.

Calvin says, “That’s why a dog is still a man’s best friend. We keep the illusion going.”