Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tiny Tidbits From an Untidy Mind

I guess I'll get this silly nonsense over with first before our cities go up in flames over it. I don't know if the Media (with a capital M) is so frantic to stir up emotions over nothing or some people have become so well off they have breakdowns over essentially non-events, but recently we have had a tempest in a teacup (or cacaphonies over a coffee cup). We are talking the Starbucks' Coffee Cup, the overpriced coffee choice of the pretentious and self-important here. I mean really, people, they brought out a solid red cup for the holiday season and we claims of Starbucks waging war on Christians?

Someone explain how their traditional cup celebrated Christianity? Is that a Nativity scene I see upon the waxed cardboard, was the Christ child born beneath the boughs of a pine tree amid deer and falling snowflakes? We even have a presidential candidate calling for a boycott of Starbucks over this and threatening their leases in his buildings. (No names here, but he is really, really great and if he was going to design the coffee cups they'd be the best coffee cups ever designed cause he has the greatest designers and everyone would love his cups.) There are Christians having their heads cut off in certain parts of this world today and we are supposed to take offense at a plain red coffee cup destined for a trash can?

Maybe the plain red wrapping is more appropriate to the Gospel than all those flakes
and deer. What is the Gospel? It is that we are out in the cold; weary and burdened from our sins, cut off from God and then God sacrifices his Son, Jesus Christ and it is in His shed blood that our sins are forgiven and covered. And as the salvation of Christ's blood covers us in red we are filed inside with the warmth and renewal of the Spirit. It works for me! Give me that Gospel coffee!

If you are really all that offended by Starbucks' packaging stop buying your coffee at Starbucks. Not giving them your money is the most effective protest you can make if a protest you must make. As for me, I wish my life was so free from concerns of living day to day my only worry was the color scheme of a coffee cup.





I open up Facebook the other day and two of my favorites singers from me wasted youth popped up before me, Simon & Garfunkel. Yes, I practically wore out their records and yes, I have all their songs on iTunes. This particular entry was put up by a site called "Little Things". I am not sure how they became regular contributors to my daily Facebook life, but that is fine because they put up these feel good videos and stories, often revolving around cute animals, ordinary people with unexpected talents or those who overcame great difficulties. In this case it was none of those. It was a clip of the duo from one of their last reunions singing, "Bridge Over Troubled Water". This particular occasion was on the 45th anniversary of the song's release in 1970. Thus it was also the 45th anniversary of their breakup as a duo. I guess the bridge wasn't open that day.

The video was accompanied by a glowing paean to it as such a inspirational, comforting, hopeful
icon of music. The piece stated:

"The song is inspiring and hopeful despite its mournful atmosphere. The world seemed doomed in those days, but sometimes all it takes is a song to tell you that, even though the water below is lashing in anger and fear, so long as the bridge holds, you will eventually make it across to the other side."

Mournful atmosphere indeed, the object of this song's narrative is downright depressed. It talks of being burdened with tears, rough times with no friends in sight, weariness and sadness everywhere as you wander down and out on the street, surrounded by darkness and wracked with pain all around.

Then comes the uplifting, inspiring part in the last verse because sailing right behind is something that will ease your mind. What is that shining thing sailing by? That is silver
girl, your trusty hypodermic needle that is going to bring all your dreams on the way. (Go look it up.)

I am sure  Paul Simon will deny strongly he ever had that in mind when he stuck in those mysterious lines, that he never heard that term used for an instrument of drug delivery anywhere on the street or backstage among the varied musicians.

He'll deny it just as much as Noel (pronounced No-well, not Naul) Stooky, also better known as a Paul, will insist "Puff, the Magic Dragon" has no connection to "Maryjane".

Okay, maybe neither Paul meant anything to do with those things, but I can't avoid those images when I hear those songs and I like those songs.


You can put these little anecdotes below in the "Why we hate you, big business" category or "Why a lot of people buy into Bernie Sanders".

A couple weeks ago I am driving home from dinner at Duffer's when I say to the Little Woman,
"Does it seem awfully dark on the right? I think our headlight might be burned out."  Yes, we got home and I checked and the right side headlight was dark. I figured I'd go pick up a new bulb on the morrow, which happened to be a Sunday. I looked up bulbs on the Internet and Pepboys had them for $11.

I also found a YouTube video on how to change a Fit headlight. The last bulb I changed was on our former Cobalt and I had to take a quarter of the car apart just to change the headlight. It looked like Honda had used sanity in their design and you didn't need an engineering degree for such a task.

Fine, there is a Pepboys not far from my church where I could stop at on my way home.

This burn out was naturally bad timing, too,  since I had to get the car inspected and had intended to do it that week.

I didn't get the bulb on Sunday after all.  I decided to get it on Monday after my morning walk.

On Monday morning I turned on the Fit, released the hand brake and this warning light pops on upon the dash. In glowing orange caps it says DRL. I never saw that one before. I pluck the owner's manual out of the glove compartment and find nothing about such a warning light, why it would come on and what it means. Maybe it tells you your headlight is burned out? Once again back to Google. I found nothing explaining exactly what this light meant, but I found many references to it indicating a problem in the electronic system, especially some mysterious black box hidden beneath the dash where some horrid fowl up may have occurred. This might require repairs above my pay grade.

Off I drove to a local garage that I trust. I explained my concerns and the guy there never heard of
that warning light either. He asked for my owner's manual, which of course didn't help. He then went and got another mechanic. This one never heard of that warning light either, but he got a fresh bulb and switched out the old. The headlight now worked and the warning light no longer appeared. We did figure out DRL stood for Daytime Running Light and it was telling me a bulb was burned out. This garage charged me $16 for the bulb and labor. Not bad, because I all ready knew the bulb cost $11, so only $4 for labor and it saved me the trouble, and he struggled some with it because it is a tight space to work in.

Anyway, I go and get the inspection (another complication I may address in a future post). One week later I am leaving Bible Study and when I turn on the Fit my left headlight flares up bright and then goes dark. I knew I should have had the guy install both lights. But I seen it done and am confident I can make the change. I'll just go to Pepboys and buy a bulb.

I go and ask for a bulb. Yep, it's $11 as expected. The clerk says, "You want us to install it, right?" I think, hey it's not that much, sure go ahead. They do and I come in to pay for the operation. "That will be $34," he says.

Thirty-four dollars, you could have knocked me over with a replacement bulb wrapper. Yep, $11 for the bulb, $20 for the labor and $3 for shop use. That was the one that got me, that $3 for shop use. Yeah, see, big business, this is why people hate you and some like Bernie Sanders.

It seems everything has an angle these days to pick the little guy's pocket.  I live pretty lean. I have little in reserves, so it is paycheck to paycheck.  I look at my one bank's balance. I have little left, but one of those checks will come in on Wednesday. Everything I have to pay is covered just barely, but covered and then a new infusion. We can make it for the next two days. I do have a payment for our monthly subscription to the Philadelphia Inquirer coming due, but it is under our balance.

Now, I did plan to move some money from my other bank to the account, but I decided not to make a special trip until the check hits this account. But on Tuesday I check my account and it shows a negative balance of $4.08. What in the world! I open up the statement and I see there is a hold now for that Philadelphia Inquirer indicating it will hit my account a couple days hence. The amount is $10 higher than I had budgeted. The Inquirer has raised my rate and as far as I know they never gave me any notice of this. It is enough to overdraw my account.

No big deal, it is a hold. I've had holds that gave a negative balance before, but only on paper. Still, I
go and make that transfer of money into the account in case it hits over night and really does overdraw me.

Wednesday morning I check my account. My transfer is there, of course, and so has the monthly income check been deposited, but there is also a $35 overdraft charge. Yo, I look down my daily balances. There is no overdraft on any day. I see a message and open it and they have charged me an overdraft on the basis of that hold. They have charged me $35 on a $4 overdraft that technically never really occurred.

Now I use to work in a bank, in fact, I was a costing expert at that bank and I knew what it really cost the bank when someone overdrew and my little $4 blip was minuscule in cost, practically zip. Yes, I am telling you that bank overdraft fees are a racket, a scam, a deceit, a quick buck to the bottom line, although banks wouldn't admit this anymore than Paul Simon will ever admit silver girl is a needle.

I went with statement copy in hand to my bank branch and protested this injustice. The clerk said she would see if she could get the bank to do anything because I had never had any overdrafts before at that bank.  It was not a very confident assurance, though; however, they did come through and reverse that fee. I thank them for that, but overall these are the things that make people hate big business and
some people to like Bernie Sanders.

Anyway, enough of little teeny tiny tidbits and rants for today.

Oh, just as a caution, when you do a Google search on Headlights you get a real lot of images that have nothing to do with automobile electronics.









1 comment:

Jon said...

A great post which covered a lot of things I can relate to - - especially the trials and tribulations of vehicle ownership. I recently had a similar problems with those pesky dashboard "warning" lights.

Since I seldom pay attention to the news anymore, I haven't heard about the Starbucks ruckus. It's pathetic and disgusting that - with all the genuine problems in the world - people are only concerned about coffee cups.

I've always loved Simon & Garfunkel, and I, too, have worn their records out.