Marsha and humble September 30, 2007





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This is a rough draft of Rants for your Maine Private Radio show for January 25, 2015.

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1. While eating dinner I watched part of a movie called Dead Poets Society and shut it off when I finished eating. Later I said I was glad I didnít see the end of it. Someone asked me, "Why are you glad you didn't see the end of the movie?" May I answer that question. You have heard me say many times that I only watch movies and read books that have happy endings. Later, while reading the Wikipedia account of Dead Poets Society, I learned that it ends like an 8-year Republican administration.

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2. If you've been around for awhile, you can stop listening right here because you've already heard this. One morning it was revealed on television that 89% of the people polled thought that public wedding proposals were a bad idea. This is certainly because as many as 75% of us have glossophobia: we read that statistically, far more of us claim that we would prefer death to giving a speech. You will remember that I was standing on a stage before 150 or so friends when, as an afterthought, half way through my presentation I asked my wife Marsha, who was sitting in the back row, if she would marry me. And now I learn that 89% of the people polled thought that public wedding proposals are a bad idea. This might be true in 89% of the cases that entail a fuzzy cheeked and probably half soused boy kneeling before a blushing virgin as he repeats the formula he has seen in Kay diamond ads on television. But when a middle-age man proposes marriage to a widow, isn't it prudent to do it in public surrounded by friends?

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3. Marriage is a wonderful experience that no one should miss. The first few years are exciting. Not a day goes by but what you learn something new about your partner that inevitably brings you closer together and tightens the bond of love that keeps you together. As the years pass in your average marriage there are no new surprises. One day is much like another and you take for granted the monotonous regularity of each otherís words and actions. In a vibrant, growing marriage, however, not a day passes but what it contains a delightful surprise. Perhaps it is a little love note or a home-made birthday card tucked beneath a pillow. We are vacationing in a tiny camper that is moored to a house owned by our friends. Because water is vanishing when all of the faucets are turned off in the house and camper, I suspect that there is a leak in the water pipe between the well and the house. Until experts can locate the leak or explain the constant running of the pump, Marsha and I have turned off the water in our sink. Two or three times a day we turn on the pump just long enough to fill the dishpan and some water bottles. We have a water bucket in the bathroom. When I was a kid, there were still a couple of houses in town without running water and in those homes there was a bucket of water by the sink. So we are no worse off than most everyone was in St. George, Maine in 1914. And a few in 1945. One night after brushing my teeth I dipped a glassful of water out of the bucket of water in the bathroom to rinse my mouth. I said, ďThis tastes like chlorox.Ē She said, ďNo, itís Lestoil. I usually use that water to wash my feet. But today I used it to wash the floor.

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4. I have a friend who reads newspapers. Perhaps like you, he reads them on line, but the newspapers he reads are over 200 years old. They tell him what was going on in Massachusetts 200 years ago and he says things havenít changed much. When Jefferson established an embargo, the folks in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island prospered. New factories opened everywhere, producing everything, people had jobs and everyone prospered. But the folks in Northern New England, those involved with shipping, had nothing good to say about Mr. Jefferson. They were the parents and grandparents of the same sea captains who hated Mr. Lincoln when he shut down the slave trade a few years later. You understand that the people in St. George, Maine were in the shipping business and when you shut down shipping 200 years ago, the folks in Wiscasset and Thomaston are out of work. What do you suppose would happen today if, instead of having a free trade agreement with countries where people work all day for next to nothing, all of a sudden we had to start producing all of those plastic toys here in the United States? When Jefferson established an embargo, we read that the folks in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island prospered. New factories opened everywhere, producing everything, people had jobs and everyone prospered.

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5. The other day we were talking about a man and his brother. My friend described the two as, ďDumb and dumber.Ē I disagreed. Sour grapes. It is my belief that any man who can steal a few trillion dollars from taxpayers, put it into the pockets of his rich friends, and still have a crowd of those who were robbed by him sill admire him, well, he is far from dumb. When your basic crook steals your money, you dislike him. But donít you have to agree that any man who can rob you blind and still have your trust and admiration has a lot going for him?

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6. Why do I go to dentist and other appointments an hour or so early? One of my friends says, "You get there an hour early so you can worry for an extra hour." As Poirot would say, "A very intelligent explanation but not true." I always try to get to appointments at least an hour early as a courtesy to the people who are providing me with a service. And by getting there early I don't have to worry about not getting there on time and inconveniencing someone. Sometimes the person before you drops dead or breaks a leg so you get in and out an hour early. When the boy or girl, behind the counter says, "Your appointment isn't for another hour and a half." I always say, "I came early as a courtesy to you. I want you to know that I appreciate your help." And that usually shuts them up. Of course, I always have some language flash cards in my pocket or perhaps a book, and I look forward to times when I can study without feeling guilty for not producing something of value. And in a few --- a very few offices --- there are magazines from which I can glean insights into something that give me material for a rant.

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7. For the first time in a long time I want to applaud President Obama --- for suggesting that we bring back something that we had 50 years ago: free college. I can remember saying when I was 15 or so: "I can't go to college. I'm not rich." I was a veteran who had sailed around Moose Peak for two years before I realized that back then it was cheap and it was possible. Free college was a good idea back then and it is a good idea now. It will never get Congressional approval, as there is nothing Republicans fear more than a population of young voters who can read. Better our young folks go in the military or clerk in a big box store where they can learn everything they need to know about the world from Fox News or basic training films. I think tuition was $100 a semester when I was an undergraduate in 1958. You could work all summer at $5 or so a day and get enough to pay your tuition. I played for a dance on Saturday night which paid $10. Half of that went for rent for my off-campus room and the other half went for food. I heard the talking heads on TV tell about President Obama's proposal. Every time they mentioned "Free college," they ended with, "How is he going to pay for it?" I don't think I've ever said, "Duhhhh." But when I heard the talking heads ask, "How is he going to pay for it?" ---- Yes. I said, "Duhhhh." Anyone who thinks about it knows that free college more than pays for itself. Any inhabitant of northern Europe will tell you why they are rich and happy. The more education you have, the more money you earn. And the more money you earn, the more you pay in taxes to support healthcare, education, and the infrastructure. To be sure, in Europe a war machine doesn't eat half of their country's wealth every year so they're ahead of us there. It can be statistically proven that people with educations and good incomes are much less likely to rob grocery stores or collect welfare, which in itself is a great savings to society. Can you hear corporate America's cries of indignation over lost income should it no longer feed and house the largest prison population since the days of Stalin? Wherever education is popular a country saves, but many Americans want everything Now. Today. Too many Americans can't think 20 or 30 years down the road. Our corporations are run to make a profit for that quarter for stockholders. Their ability to compete with China and India and Brazil in 5 years is not a consideration. So innovative research is now a thing of the past and is left to our friends in the many countries that are leaving us behind. Enough educated voters could change this, so I'm proud of President Obama for suggesting that we bring back free college. Its implementation would certainly be the most efficacious economic stimulus package to be suggested in this country since the days of FDR. Which is why I'd bet my Model T and 50 acres of forest that it doesn't stand a chance of being passed by a Republican Congress.

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8. Someone wrote in my Facebook, "Good one....too bad you can't get it in a larger format." This is my favorite comment for the day. It sounds like my wife who, no matter what mountain I have climbed, says, "But...." or "Too bad you couldn't have..." or "Why didn't you...." Do you know people who could not go an entire day pretending to be completely satisfied with everything? Do you know people who always see the glass half empty instead of half full? Do many of these people live alone? Do you need to ask yourself why?

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9. I'd never given this any thought before, but did you know that some people who donít have solar panels on their roof think that solar panels are ugly? Would a man married to a hedge fund manager notice what she looked like?

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Robert Karl Skoglund
785 River Road
St. George, ME 04860
(207) 226-7442
thehumblefarmer@gmail.com
www.TheHumbleFarmer.com

© 2015 Robert Karl Skoglund