Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reunion, Texarkana and Hot Pop Corn – Page Nine

Never, never, never pop corn in a microwave without watching it; or, I could say two minutes is not the same time for all microwaves. Signing in at Howard Johnson’s in Texarkana took some doing. We had to initial a “no-smoking” line and a “no-pets” line, and Chris had to swear that I would not smoke in the room after the clerk noticed that I stepped out for a cigarette while he and Chris looked at the room. It’s a $200 extra charge for smoking in the room. Ok. No smoking. I got it.

So, I lie down on the bed and turn on the T.V. and Chris puts some Redenbacher Popcorn in the microwave and goes to “freshen up.” And just like that – snap – smoke is rolling out of the microwave. Holy crap! I jump up, open the door, and grab the bag and… and… what? The smoke detector is going off in the room, and in the hall. Footsteps are coming. The window doesn’t open, so holding the burnt, but not burning, bag I head for the door. Crap again! How’s that for not smoking!

I was up early this morning and wrote a blog entry, showered and shaved and made a beeline for Wal-Mart for an oil change. I bought a copy of Don McClean’s Greatest Hits while there, because Dan reminded me that I’d always like his music. I also bought an Eagles CD and loaded both in the 6-CD Changer. So, along with Michael Jackson’s pirated, unlabeled CD we bought from black marketers hustling on his childhood street in Gary, we had music on the road. By 9:00 A.M. we were off to Graceland – the other “King’s” home – for a tour. An hour and a half later we were finally on our way out of Memphis. And it rained… and rained in Arkansas.

The second day of The Reunion started with me making coffee at five A.M. and going for a walk. I was surprised that Big Bear Resort had the same Robins that we have in our back yard, but it doesn’t have the bully Towhees. Towhees are Catbirds with an attitude. They claim ownership of our back yard and they chase Blue Jays, Robins, Sparrows and occasionally a large Crow away from the bird baths and any other spot they settle. Anyway, as I walked back to the cabin, I met Jean and I refilled my cup and we walked to Dan and Cindy’s. Besides Dan and Cindy, and Marge wandering around in her P.J.s, no one else was awake. Marge went back to bed while we four sat on the porch and talked and Dan prepared 3x5 cards for his Amazing Race game, or so I guess. That game never materialized to my knowledge unless it happened while we, and I use “we” loosely, barbequed the pork chops.

I noticed that Ryan moved to the sofa while Dan, Cindy, Jean and I were talking. Later he announced that he was going to sleep on the sofa because the room was a little “stuffy.” Hmmm. Stuffy is used for many things, but I suspect that he meant that someone in the room had gas. Since Dan and Cindy slept on the airbed and Marge slept alone in another bedroom, then Joni, Shawn, Jaime or one or both of the kids had gas. The secret always comes out sooner or later.

I spent the afternoon at Kim’s place with Kim, Kelly and Corey watching Jeremy BBQ the pork chops. After an intense interrogation and many questions, I finally got enough information out Jeremy about his marinating sauce and the spray he used on the chops. But, it’s a family secret and I promised not to tell. So, if the word gets out, it wasn’t me. Kim was there too.

Jeremy is an interesting guy and very smart… about most things. It turns out that he trades with a high risk account like I do. I’m immediately taken to anyone who agrees with me and I do except where he’s thinking about buying RIMM (Research In Motion, Inc). Do the math, it’s not worth it. RIMM costs too much, it doesn’t pay dividends and it won’t move that much. Why buy an expensive stock if it doesn’t pay dividends. Buy a cheaper, underpriced good stock and make money on the volatility.

The conversation changed to Indiana’s Pension Fund buying Chrysler Bonds and now Chrysler’s bankruptcy is causing a huge loss to the fund. It’s Obama’s fault, I heard, because the judges do what Obama tells them. When I hear something that’s totally off kilter like that, I have to wonder where an idea like that came from. How did an intelligent guy like Jeremy become convinced that the President is telling a bankruptcy judge how to rule? From what I’m hearing about the case, the judge is following bankruptcy law… period. The better question is: How the hell did the Pension Fund Administrator come to a decision to buy Chrysler’s Corporate Bonds? A Bond is debt. A Bond is a loan to a company, municipality or government at a fixed interest rate. It carries a risk of non-payment. California Bonds are nearly worthless, so why buy them? Chrysler Bonds would have been nearly worthless two years ago, so why buy them? China is worried that T-bills (Bonds) will become worthless, so it is voicing its concerns to the U.S. Treasury. When I hear mistaken ideas spread by word of mouth that go against the U.S. plan for economic recovery, I become less hopeful that we will recover and instead become just another banana republic like most South American countries. Our recovery is a two-step process; 1) throw money at the recession to reduce the impact of job loss, and 2) once the economy is somewhat stable, begin the budget cuts that get our budget back under control. It will take longer than a few months. If enough loud voices out there stall or short-circuit that two-step process, we won’t recover. There are a lot of smart people working on the problem and none of them are on CNBC, MSNBC, CNN or Fox. Turn those guys off.

I can’t help think of Daddy’s response when he heard something he didn’t agree with or occasionally thought was totally stupid: “Well.” I guess he was speechless. Me too.

The chops were good, as was the corn, baked beans, salads and cake and ice cream. I stuffed myself into misery. If you haven’t yet, go back a few blogs and read about how good the cooks are in our family, both men and women. You won’t find any better.

I learned last night that Texarkana has chiggers. A young man from Utah is working the area installing security systems and he has a bad case of chiggers on his legs. “Don’t tell me not to scratch them,” he said. “They itch.” I don’t doubt that. So, we talked about chiggers, or “no-see’ems” in California. Personally, I like “chiggers” better than no-see’ems because nothing describes what they do to you better than “chigged.” Scratch them is what I say, because you simply can't help it; but see a doctor so they don’t become infected.


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