Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Spring Love ... The Climax

     As promised I have the answer to how to find that love of your life. While I can’t speak for any of the other on-line dating services I can assure you that eHarmony works. It was like finding me with long hair, minus the beard.  We match in so many ways it is scary. Even scarier, she agrees.

     There are some ways YOU can beat the system though and find one of those ‘normal’ relationships. You know, the ones that are as unlikely to work as you are to win the other lotteries.

     The big problem that separates you from failure is the propensity most users of those services have for telling the truth. What kind of a relationship can possibly develop from a display of honesty?

     To begin with, you can count on one of the real nice things life has to offer. Bait and switch works well in merchandising but is illegal. It doesn’t work in on line dating but IS legal. Use that to your advantage.

     For years I ‘borrowed’ Bill Gates’ picture for my profile picture. All I ended up with were a lot of replies from angry gold-diggers. Perhaps I was too obvious. There are many people out there who are better looking than you are but are not as well known as Bill is. Pick a picture of one of those and use it, keeping your little secret right up to the time you have your first face to face meeting with your potential bride. Works the same way every time but be aware that some unscrupulous ladies use the same trick.

     There are bound to be other secrets you can hold onto until the last minute if you use an alias. Background checks on ‘that guy’ are not going to have a careful respondent finding out anything about your criminal record. Pictures of you standing in the yard of an estate or next to a hot car can be usefully deceptive as well.

     About the worst thing you can do is reveal something in the “I’m looking for” section, so don’t hesitate to do so. The mention that you would like a mate who has a nice house because you are tired of living in your mother’s basement and the smell down there that has been getting worse lately is often a deal killer. Likewise, that you are about to enter your fourth drug rehab program may set off an alarm.

      For the few of you who actually WANT a successful match if you fill out EVERY question accurately you are likely to be matched with someone who is possibly that girl you are looking for but are not sure really exists. Beyond the long list of simple questions try to be a little descriptive and precise in answering those little ‘essay questions’.

      You would be surprised at how many people are passed over when they say that they are looking for someone ‘that will be honest and care about me’. Pretty much everybody using the service wants that.

     If, on the other hand, you mention that you’d like to meet someone with an RV and an itch to see the country, your results will be different. You’ll chase away the motorcycle gang aficionado, the homebody, and the tent camper but you’ll actually find someone who wants to ride around with you in an RV seeing the country. Weird as they are, those guys are out there.

     The better you express yourself the better your chances for attracting the attention of someone you might meet, get along with, and go charging down the path to the rest of your life with.

      You will, regardless of how you respond to your questions, get a number of men who start out expressing their interest in having sex with you and then following up with telling you about how they’d like to have sex with you, especially if you are a woman. I have not run into that problem as a man. Not a single pair of virtual panties was ever tossed onto my podium.

   eHarmony has anticipated this as have, I’m fairly sure, the other online dating services.  It is set up to provide plenty of protective anonymity and ways to ‘ignore’ anyone you would rather not hear from again. You have nothing to fear from this likelihood. If, on the other hand, that is what you are looking for you can count on these guys having a few other things in common with you, even if you might not get around to discovering them for a while.

      All I can promise you is that you are much more likely to end up where you want and to be, and with whom, than you would be in the bar, the church, or the grocery store. It is the best way to turn the odds of finding your soul mate in your favor that I know of. It often really works.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

So Ya Want to Fall in Love ...

      It’s springtime. The birds are doing it. The bees are doing it. You’re not doing it.

      Chances are that you want to though and, if you’re over 22 or so, you’d like it to be meaningful. OK. Who am I kidding? If you are over 50 or so you want it to be meaningful. How are you going to do that?

     Up until recently (before that half century mark) all it took was a fifty dollar or so bar tab and last call to come around. The herd might have been culled but those two AM runway models were still hanging around and their chances got better as yours did. And how meaningful did those turn out to be ten or so hours later?

     Problem is that in that scenario it’s probably not even possible for you to spell ‘meaningful’ let alone not twist the definition a little. Nowadays you actually care about that.

     You might as well face up to the fact that, if you are looking for a kindred soul, the bar is not the best place to do it. Among those still upright, sitting or standing, the chances of you finding a heart throb are a crap shoot. The dice are loaded against you.

     If you came looking for a bar-hopping buddyette you can’t be sure that the girl you are looking at is one. She could be a people watcher or working on her master’s degree in aberrant behavior. Chances are she’s not either of those but even if you get lucky, and plan to get luckier, there has to be more to life than meeting someone who can match you drink for drink. So you look elsewhere.

      Going to church seemed like a good idea. Still how can you know that pretty lady down the pew is not there for her weekly repentance for closing another bar the night before? Maybe she is a people watcher or working on her master’s degree on hypocrisy. Chances are she is not either of those but if you talk to her after the service how will you know if SHE means what she says?

     The grocery store is another place to shop for a love mate. Everybody who goes in there wants to be in love. Some actually are, but the odds are in your favor betting against the house on that one. How do know she’s not actually there to pick up groceries. She could be a people watcher or maybe she’s working on her master’s degree in marketing or lame pick-up lines.

      You really need to think twice before you ask her if she’d like some help with those melons or offer to show her which is the best meat. You’re no longer willing to settle for less than love, remember?

     Reality provides enough evidence that all of the traditional mate hunting tricks fall short of being anywhere near successful. Statistics, even if you’re not working on your master’s in that subject, will tell you that less than fifty percent of the “until death doth us part” commitments ever last that long, even with matricide pushing the numbers up a little. The happily ever after crowd might not fill a good sized football stadium.

     Still, you insist on beating the odds. You might try the bowling alley, the casino, or the city park. Even if you go for the high rollers in the first two or one of those without a stolen shopping cart in the latter the odds are not that good. There are several billion people on earth and maybe several thousand that you could happily spend the rest of your life with. Doing the math, which I can’t because I slept through that class, the odds must be hundreds of thousands to one against you coming up on the plus side. You wouldn’t bet your life on that basis but every day there are people betting the rest of their lives that they can pick a winner. The house giggles.

      The house can be beat though. There is a way to turn the odds in your favor. You might even hit the jackpot. I can tell you exactly how to do it but, if I did so now, would you be back to read my next blog? More likely you would be spending time getting to know your soul mate.

      In interest of making this world a better place, perhaps inching it closer to world peace, I’ll share the secret with you in my next blog, getting at least one more massive audience, before I toss it all away. Of course that won’t bother me much because I have already collected on my promise.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Continuing Amish Crime Wave

Driving through peaceful Amish country may seem like a safe endeavor but I’m telling you folks that you are risking more than you would ever guess by doing so. There is a growing Amish crime wave.
This past week four youths of that bent were arrested for underage drinking after an alert New York police officer discovered their drunken horse and buggy drag race on a public highway where they were using both lanes. One of the buggies tried to change lanes and struck the police cruiser, resulting in the buggy flipping and the horse breaking loose to rampage through the countryside.
Only the latest outrage, this comes after a 2011 hate crime spree in Ohio. That’s two events in two years. In that activity seven Ohio members of a breakaway sect cut off beards of their opposition. Once they knocked on the door and pulled out the bearded gentleman, then attacked his facial hair with a pair of scissors. Earlier they had broken into a house and cut facial hair from all of the residents, one of who was 74 years old.. For good measure they removed the hair from a thirteen year old lass.
Some of the cult members were caught with freshly shorn locks they brought home to prove to their leaders that they had carried out their assignment.
The leader of this sect, with the surname of Mullet, which brings to light other possible hair related crime, was noted for his strictness. He was known to have forced members to spend several days in a chicken coop. That, coupled with the horse thing, makes one wonder if PETA is not slacking off on the job a little.
If that were all of the police blotter material there might not be much of a case for calling this a crime wave. Wait though; there is more.
As recently as 2008 Kentucky Amish blatantly ignored a law requiring them to display and orange safety triangle on their buggies when driving on public highways. The miscreants produced at least two weak excuses for this blatant disregard of public safety.
One of them was willing to apply a long strip of orange tape across the back of his buggy but refused to display the triangle saying that was a symbol reserved for the holy trinity. Another cited the use of the triangle as a symbol indicating the lack of trust in the Lord to provide all of the protection they needed.
Part of the punishment for refusal to pay fines for failing to abide by the law appears to have been forcing them to wear ORANGE prison garb. A little jail time was meted out as well.
In still another matter of public safety the Rainbow Acres Farm in Pennsylvania was shut down after a FDA sting operation proved there was raw milk being sold across interstate lines. A federal agent used several aliases to sign up for a Yahoo group of users who ordered milk from Pennsylvania for delivery in Maryland. He ordered milk for delivery to a private residence in Maryland and pounced upon the delivery when it was made.
In an unsubstantiated off-the-record statement the agent said “I knew we were onto to something big when I saw all those guys in black suits milking cows. It’s not like we didn’t learn anything when we were dealing with the mafia.”
The agency also managed a five AM surprise inspection of the Rainbow Acres Farm. While it may have been the crack of dawn for the inspectors the criminals were wrapping up their daily operation. Fortunately, before leaving, one if the inspectors saw milk being tagged for delivery to Maryland.
The cagey criminal switched his business model to a stock operation (not sure if the pun is intended or not) by selling shares of his dairy herd and delivering the dividends to stock holders.
A heads-up judge recognized the deception and delivered a 14 page decision against the farmer. His brilliance was somewhat challenged by a protest group who rallied in Constitution Park opposite the national capitol and publicly drank raw milk.
There you have it. Amishish criminal activity in four states in four years. This is getting out of hand. Folks, we don’t need to make heroes out of these kinds of law breakers. We need to stop this before it becomes a 21st century abomination.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Maple Syrup

Syrup season

I’ve never had much success in fathoming the depths of God but I think I’ve identified His greatest Practical joke. That would be Maple Syrup.

For years I thought the stuff was great. Anything from Pancakes to 2x4’s (2 parts maple syrup, four parts Crown Royal) was to die for. I never knew how close to the truth that was.

That sweet amber liquid shining through the bottle and then soaking into my very soul was merely addictive bait. Any human being with taste buds will go a long ways to keep a good supply of it. When I got the chance to participate in my first syrup season the punch line hit me like a different kind of 2X4.

I’d start at the beginning, but there is no beginning. It’s all one continuous joke. I’ll start with Autumn. Right about then the leaves fall off of trees. That makes maple trees look like oak trees and basswood trees and regular maple trees as opposed to sugar maple trees, especially to those of us who are not all that tree savvy.

Normally that’s not much of a problem. When it comes to tree tapping it becomes one. Most trees don’t produce maple sap. Time spent tapping anything but sugar maple trees is not time well spent and is harmful to the product. The boss guy looking over your shoulder will let you know all about that .The right trees are found only on steep hill sides. They are guarded by randomly placed boulders and fallen trees. Add a few animal holes to the picture and remember the scene. Soon the next season, winter, will come.

The majestic white drifts of snow fill the woods and create a graceful wonderland. By syrup season there is likely to be around three feet of majesty hiding all those items I told to you to remember. Do you now remember EXACTLY where they were?

Don’t worry you’ll find them soon enough if you’re collecting maple sap..

In the old days that came as you were carrying a five gallon bucket or two of sap down the steep hillside. Too often the result was a face first snow angel.

Angel probably is an appropriate word to utilize at this point because it was then that sap gathering became a truly religious experience. At least it is the time when God’s name is most likely to be vocalized. It’s real hard to retrieve spilled sap from a majestic snow drift.

Nowadays we avoid those pratfalls by tapping the trees and attaching tubing to the taps.. Gravity carries the sap down to a collection point without spilling a drop.. At least it does if you have spent a week or so dealing with Heavenly intervention.

Even if you have memorized where all of the rocks, logs, and holes are, God will have added a few more. The rocks don’t move. Trees do fall and nearly everyone will fall across one of those lines from the taps, interrupting the work of gravity. Animals are never satisfied with living in last year’s hole. You will discover their new real estate claims while repairing the damage caused by the newly fallen trees. You will make new face-first snow angels and talk to God some more.

On the bright side, which you will be up early enough to see arrive every day during the season; the evaporation of the sap into syrup is fairly easy. All you have to do is carry wood through the snow and ice to the wood stove under the vat for about twelve hours a day. Since days are shorter in the spring you can pretty much count on bracketing the bright side with darkness.

The only part of the production process that includes boiling and tasting and bottling and such that you need to remember is that little bit about carrying wood to the fire twelve hours a day. Got any idea how much wood you can use up in a couple of weeks with that kind or persistency? Got any idea where that wood came from?

Spring turns to summer and it is time to replenish the wood supply. Another event that occurs during the early summer, when you need to cut that wood to make sure it is nice and dry for syrup season, is called the hatch. That is when the mosquito, the black fly, the no-see-um, and all of their friends make their annual appearances. Of course they will only be a problem for a few weeks before they become a little less voracious. In that same few weeks you will be cutting wood in the forest. Guess where our little friends like to hang out.

Splitting and stacking the wood is relatively easy, though it’s nice to cool down with a 2X4 or two at the end of the day. In fact there are so many nice things to do with that maple syrup that you are bound to use up a good portion of what you made. You’ll probably want to get some more put up in the spring.