Who Would buy a license plate for $14,300,000…

expensive_plate.jpgYou know we are sending too much oil money to the Middle East when someone earlier this year bought a license plate for over $14.3 million dollars. It’s true. And the plate was not even made of gold–just ordinary aluminum like other plates. Well it did have the number 1 on it. Imagine…

They say money can’t buy happiness. The guy who bought that #1 plate must be really Miserable. I think I could handle a little of that misery.

 

The Early Bird and … the worm

bird.jpgWe all know the saying about the early bird getting the worm. Your parents probably stressedthe virtue of being early. But can you be too early? There are those last minute specials on airfares and cruises we often hear about. A reward to those who are flexible in terms of when they can travel. I like being on time even when I know others will not be. As I get older, I am realizing that maybe that’s not always a good thing. How much of my life have I frittered away waiting on others? Timing as they say is everything. I have a friend who sold a house at the top of the housing bubble and another who has a house on the market for over a year. Then I know those who sold way too early before the bubble even started…

I still admire the early bird but am cognizant of the fate of the early worm too.

 

Sagging Pants and other impractical Clothing ideas

Sagging pants are all the rage and I can barely conceal my amusement when I see young men holding up their pants with one hand and fumbling to carry something in the other. many older folks are disgusted with the trend. Some towns and cities are even moving to pass laws against wearing such seemingly senseless clothing. Apparently this trend started in prisons where belts are not allowed and one has hold the pants up by hand. It’s also thought to be used by prisoners as a sexual signal of some kind.

saggypants.jpg The older generation shouldn’t complain too much though, for one thing,  that will only make it more popular as it gives the youth something to rebel against. necktie.jpgAnd look how long the necktie has been around. Now if there ever was a bad clothing idea, that gets my vote but look how entrenched it is. Grown men willingly constricting the blood vessels of the neck to be considered properly dressed. If there is any justice then the guy who came up with that idea surely died a horrible death…

 

Death of the Dollar

dollar_bills.jpgI recall reading a book entitled The Dime Dollar several decades ago. It predicted back then the demise of the US dollar. The author seems to have been proven right, although it took a while. As the US government and people continue to spend what they do not have, it’s only a matter of time before no none wants to accept the dollar. Don’t be surprised if we’re dealing in euros in just a few years. Of course, things could turn around but it’s not likely. We are too locked into the destructive patterns of spending and consumption.

Other countries are beginning to look attractive to Americans contemplating gloomier days ahead for the US. Oh, the companies may do well but the average wage earner is already feeling the pinch of rising inflation and health care costs. People in the US whose parents were born overseas–especially in Europe–may claim EU citizenship based on parentage. And some are finding the life style and pace of life more attractive there. They may have more stuff in America but many would quickly trade some of that stuff for more vacation time and a better social safety net.

 

An idea whose time has come back?

horse.JPGI read recently about some farmers who had ditched their tractors for mules due to the soaring price of gasoline. With economists predicting no end in sight for rising prices, we may be seeing more horses and mules on and off the farm. And this morning I heard about some kids who actually rode horses to school. The principal did not object and even provided food for the horses. Can you see it now, special lanes for this original mode of transportation? Can horse “dealerships” be far behind? This could save some gas but what about the special emissions :-)?

 

The Panama Connection

panama.jpgThe last time I heard the phrase from Wacky kill Phillup, I wasn’t in Jamaica or even around Jamaicans–I was in Panama. Many Jamaicans and other Caribbeanites went to Panama to work in the building of the canal in the early part of the last century. The descendants of those workers have kept alive many of the traditions and customs that were brought to the canal zone. Fueled by revenues from the canal, Panama looks prosperous and progressive. There is a building boom: skyscrapers dot the downtown skyline. Donald Trump is building a tower there. Americans, especially retirees, are flocking to the place in droves as the country has rolled out the red carpet to attract them. Driving around Panama city, I saw one sign that would ease any retiree’s worries about living outside the US: a hospital with the words “a subsidiary of John Hopkins University Hospital.” Overall, I had a wonderful time connecting with relatives and meeting members of this less publicized segment of the Diaspora. Interestingly, many of these descendants had never been to Jamaica but sounded as if they had just landed from Kingston or Mobay. Jamaica would do well to copy some of Panama’s marketing strategies.

 

Catching Rainwater…

catch_rainwater.jpgThe county I live in is offering a course on how to set up a system for diverting rainwater from your roof into a container or barrel. We are in year two of a serious drought and water restrictions have left many lawns and businesses in trouble, despite occasional rain. I have not rushed to adopt this “new” system of catching water. You see it is not entirely new me. When I was growing up in the parish of St. Ann in Jamaica, we had drums that stored rainwater. Later, as our lives improved, we built a large concrete tank in the backyard complete with gutters that drained into it. We even had a manual pump that we used to pump water from the large tank into a smaller tank located on the roof and this provided the house with running water. Nowadays, there is a public water supply and many people have filled in their water tanks. Perhaps you can understand why I am in no rush to go back in time and “catch rainwater.”

 

The Power of One

number_one.jpgWe are all familiar with the saying “the power of one.” Upon hearing these words, we naturally, immediately think of examples of one person making a huge difference as did Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. And then there was the unknown rebel student who captured the world’s imagination when he singlehandedly stopped the advance of the Chinese Army tanks in Tienanmen square in 1989.

Less thought about is the power of one to do tremendous damage. The world has had its Hitlers and other despots who wreak such havoc. Even today there are examples of those whose hands wield the power for evil. In such cases, we need the power of many to stop the madness — but often the many seem powerless and we must hope for the power of one.

 

Loving Day

lovingday.gifIn 1958, Richard Loving, a white man and Mildred, his black wife were arrested in Virginia and convicted of violating the state’s laws against interracial marriage. They had been married in the District of Columbia and subsequently moved to Virgina to live. They were sentenced to one year in prison but the sentence was suspended for 25 years on condition they leave the state and not return for at least 25 years.

They went back to the District of Columbia where, in 1963, they filed a motion in the state trial court appealing their convictions on the ground that the statutes which they had violated were repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

Their case was denied by the state trial judge. Their case was then appealed to the US Supreme Court where on June 12, 1967 their convictions were reversed.

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And so June 12 is Loving Day. The lovings are both deceased now. Mildred passed on this week but there is a growing movement to publicize this little known but appropriately named holiday and the story behind it.

 

War and High Prices

war.jpgIt should be no surprise that after five years of war in Iraq the US is experiencing skyrocketing prices on just about everything. Inflation follows war as sure as night follows day. This has been true since the dawn of history. Although politicians tout “no new taxes, ” the implements of war must be paid for.

The military needs guns, bullets, bombs, vehicles, planes, uniforms and lots of them. The government simply borrows or prints more money to pay for stuff but in doing so it decreases the value of each dollar so we need more of them to buy our stuff. Wars are financed by inflation.

Last week the price of a barrel of oil was almost $120. It wasn’t so much that oil became more expensive but that the dollar was worth so little. We now need $120 to buy what we could have bought for $100 just weeks ago.

In war time we use our money to blow up and destroy things and people. Inflation also destroys. It erodes our savings and our purchasing power. It causes misery. Once law abiding citizens are now seen stealing gas by driving off without paying or siphoning from others. Higher prices on foodstuffs has sent more and more people to the food bank. Where has all our money gone? gone to war most of it has.