Marsha and humble September 30, 2007




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Below is a rough outline of the rants from The humble Farmer radio show week of December 4, 2011




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December 4, 2011 Rants

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1. When Marta Simmons turned on her oil furnace there was a huge bang. The floor shook beneath her feet. She walked downstairs into a gassy fumy haze and the smell of oil. She told me she has a service contract with Sears, so she called their central number and got that woman you always get who has the southern accent. The woman asked for her phone and zip code, found her on the computer and said, "You're at PO Box 919." And Marta said, "No, I'm not there. That's over at the Post Office." The woman got angry, and said, "Mam, I'm just reading what it says. Repair will call you in an hour." And Marta said, "But this is an emergency. My furnace just exploded." And the woman said, "This is the procedure for all emergencies." When I'm in doubt, I call the local fire department.

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2. I went to my class last night on how to make web pages. I've been making web pages since Ron Goff showed me how to do it 15 or so years ago. But I've never known what I was doing. So I've been taking a class on how to make web pages. But I'm starting to realize that even if I master the technique of web page making, all I can learn how to do is make layouts. Without intrinsic artistic ability a person who can make web pages can't know if what he is making is good or bad. One assumes that the purpose of a web page is to sell a product or service. So even though a person can make green letters on a red background and have borders that fade, how does he know if what he has created is pleasing to a potential customer's eye? How does he know if his web page is selling? To make an ideal web page, one would need to consult with a psychologist who had written papers on which combination of colors and language sell. Proficiency in making web pages might be compared with any artistic endeavor. I can listen to a musician improvise and can grade that musician on his/her degree of cleverness --- even though I can't do it myself. Out of thousands of musicians who can improvise, there are very few who can improvise well enough to make me sit up and marvel. It's an intellectual thing --- can be compared with telling a story. Dick Cash was a master. He'd get himself out on a limb and you'd wonder --- how's he going to get himself out of this. And he could pull himself out of anything with just a few, unbelievable clever notes. And you'd laugh because it was so incredibly impossibly clever. It has nothing to do with how many notes you can play in a second. You hear some musicians who arenít creative try to compensate by playing a lot of notes or by hitting very high notes. I don't know how to dress --- or how to decorate a room and I wonder if that can be learned. I also wonder if the way a person dresses or decorates a room makes any difference. My wife makes me wear this or that but I can't see that it makes any difference. You canít make me believe that you or anyone else looks at what an old man is wearing. I've only seen two women that I thought were extremely clever when it came to decorating a living space. There is one on Spruce Head Island so make that three. John McCoy knew how to dress. And I remember one girl who hired me to speak 20 or so years ago who captivated me just by the way she dressed. I don't know the names of cloth but she had on the kind of jacket you'd expect to see on an English woman who was riding on a horse. Why did you get me started on making web pages.

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3. Children speak the truth. I can remember sitting in the back of a fifth grade classroom over in Warren while Paul Strout, who was probably 11 years old, stood at the blackboard and did an imitation of me, the teacher. Paul had everything down --- my mannerisms --- my speech. The stage lost a consummate master when Paul Strout decided to work instead of becoming an actor. Adults who speak the truth are likely to be avoided in good company. You will remember one of Agatha Christieís adult characters who spoke the truth. Everyone was terrified to be in the same room with her. She was eventually murdered, which was probably just as well. Mastering the art of circumlocution is a rite of passage for children. Those who can do it, are accepted into adult society. Those who do it well, write books. Our topic came to my attention one day while I was being herded along in a tour group. Our guide raised a hand without a thumb and asked anyone had a question. A small boy said, ďI see that you have an unfriendly dog.Ē

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4. From time to time you hear about sexual harassment. I canít say anything about it from firsthand experience because sexual harassment hadnít even been invented back when I was young enough to harass or be harassed. But do you think that a manís habit of fondling women or boys who do not want to be fondled is necessarily any indication of his ability to manage a profitable company, be a football coach, a governor or even President of the United States? For whom would you vote? A man who dallies but who believes that the top corporations in the country should pay taxes and who thinks that every citizen should be entitled to healthcare and as many years of college as any citizen could stand? Or would you cast your ballot for a man who has as far as anyone knows never even let his eyes wander but who would even manufacture a pretext for extending our imperialistic empire and then bring the working people in our country to financial ruin by his fascist policies? I suppose that instead of saying ďFor whom would you vote?Ē I should have said, ďFor whom did you vote?Ē

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5. You know kids. I could never afford to have any so I don't know what they're up to nowadays. I admit that I'd be scared to go to Japan or Australia or Russia or Africa. They are unfamiliar to me. But I'm comfortable in Europe and I encourage kids who just got out of high school to spend a summer in Northen Europe just looking around. Although it would help to know someone over there, you can start without establishing contacts in your target country. You know that I lived in Sweden when I was 24. I've seen Europe as a hitchhiker, a moped driver, by Eurail and in 1974 in a European-delivery Mercedes. An intelligent kid could and should go to Europe and backpack around for a summer with a 3 month Eurail pass in hand. Your kid could go with a friend which would make both mama and the kid a bit more comfortable. Tens of thousands of kids from many countries are riding around on Eurail all summer. The kid would quickly meet his peers. He or she could hang out in college towns, a week or two in each one. All the kids over there speak English. The tourist would have her eyes opened when she saw their lifestyle. He'd learn how much it cost his new friends to go to college. He'd be invited into some of their summer vacation homes. He'd learn about their healthcare systems. He/she/they would come home, staggered, heads shaking with disbelief. The only fly in the ointment that I am aware of is the juices that boil and bubble in people between the ages of 12 and marriage. These juices are a distraction that deflect clear thinking. At 75 I have to remember back and recall what was first and foremost in my mind when I was 17 and if you were ever there you know that it is not pretty. Also, a Maine kid traveling in Europe would probably miss seeing all the American flags that proudly wave over fallen-down barns and unpainted buildings.

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6. In several programs youíve heard me mention that 50 years ago I was able to buy a furnished house and garage on an acre of land for one yearís teacherís salary. Although nowadays it takes about 5 years of a teacherís salary to buy the same house, we were supposed to be alarmed when the price of houses dropped. In other words, if the value of houses continued to drop, teachers right out of college might once again be able to buy a house with their first year's salary. You tell me --- is this good, or is it bad? Did you also realize that if you take five times as long to make the mortgage payments on your house, the banks are collecting interest payments for five times as long as they did 50 years ago? So you can understand why banks would do anything they could to see the price of a house go up. The longer it takes you to pay off your mortgage, the more money the banks make . My friend Harris sent me this lengthy but astute comment which I believe warrants our attention: humble, To answer your question in a very roundabout way, I saw something in the paper in little while ago saying that the subsidies (hence economic distortions) given to home ownership and real estate in this country (mortgage deductions and such) have resulted in no greater proportion of actual ownership than in societies where no such favoritism exist, yet have permitted over time the development of the economic debacle we are in, where the mortgage lending industry, real estate speculators, and Wall St., with the (bought off) complicity of Washington resulted in insanely overpriced real estate (now crashing down), the loss of trillions of dollars of real and fabricated wealth, lost opportunity to put that money to real economic purpose, and the necessity for bailouts by the taxpayers which further underscores the lost opportunities involved. The pseudo-intellectual rationalization to do away with sound real estate lending practices, tied in with the phony "securitization" of real estate financing, is further indication that basis for this economy isn't sound analysis, investment in people and in knowledge, and in equitable taxes, it's in cheating, charlatanism, and pulling the wool over the guy's eyes. This is the modern American economy. I answer your question by saying the situation is both good and bad-- good that phoniness and distorted prices are getting their just desserts, bad in that the economic consequences for a lot of innocent people, and the country as a whole, are so terrible. Remove the ill-founded subsidies for housing and you remove the incentive for ruinous run-ups, such as with those gawd-awful, purposeless McMansions, and a teacher right out of college may well be able to afford to buy a house with that first year's salary, or be able to rent a very nice house or apartment in a section of town near the grocery, near the hardware store, near the public library, near the train or bus station, near the public common, in other words near to community life, rather than out in the boondocks where the car (more likely the SUV nowadays) is a necessity to get around. Of course this doesn't matter to those who stole all the money, things like that aren't of interest to them.

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7. This must be an apocryphal tale. As you know, many large ships from all over the world still unload cargo in Maine. We were told that a man from Ceylon on one of those boats got sick and had to be taken to the hospital. He'd never been to a doctor before in his life. I find it hard to believe, but we were told that they wouldn't touch him because he couldn't give them a medical history.

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8. Today I have here a story written by a bitter little school child who doesnít care for sports. And I'm going to read it because children very often have opinions which adults never get to hear. Children very often say things that an adult would never dare say. For example, school rules forced my friend Ira, who is now a concert pianist, to play football when he was a kid. And because he always dropped the ball, the other kids threw rocks at him. So if you're in school and you have written a story you'd like grown up people to hear, I hope you'll send it to me for consideration. I quote from the child's paper, "It must be unfortunate to always be wrong. Of course, I wouldn't know. This time we've explored the skill, intelligence and determination needed to play a team sport. Unfortunately, it is nil. Don't get me wrong, I understand your need to hoot and holler, and run around patting each other's butts, and all that, but as far as the actual thought that goes into it, I'm not sure. How much thinking really does go on while you're scrambling around the field, yelling, knocking around your silly little ball? Now, I have played team sports. What they basically boil down to is an alcoholic, fat, red faced, I'm- trying-to-regain-my-former-glory coach, who spends over an hour each day screaming at you while you run up and down and all about. Some call this, "conditioning,"or even "practice." But it is neither. All it is, really, is just --- well ... an alcoholic, fat, red faced, I'm trying-to-regain-my-former-glory coach spending over an hour a day screaming his lungs out. And what do you do? You become a slave to this man. He becomes your god. Your family, your friends, they are meaningless. your only need is to please your god. So you run, you jump up and down, this way and that, hitting that silly little ball with your big head. And maybe you win, "The Big Game." And then, the rush. "Oooh, I beat another little team of sweaty sixteen year olds," you say. Wonderful. What glory. What pride. What a waste of time. You'll all see. Thirty years, maybe thirty-five if you're lucky, years will go by. And you'll find yourself, sitting on your couch, drinking that beer you love so much, hollering at your high school sweetheart you married, getting so angry at the Superbowl that you kick out at your wife. It's not until she leaves you, that you realize... Maybe you should coach soccer." End of quote.

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9. Do you look like the picture on your driver's license? Is it the kind of picture that you pull out of your pocket and show around? I asked Coney why he looks so much younger than he does in the picture on his driver's license and he said, "It was an old picture."

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10. St. George residents finally have the barking dog ordinance that they have wanted. The ordinance to silence the domestic quadrupeds was initiated by Albert Feek, who complained that his neighbor's dog had barked every night for three weeks. Two days ago, Feek had the satisfaction of seeing the dog shipped to Washington County, where dogs are still considered family members of the household. Late last night, when Feek returned from the contra dance at Symingtons Corner, he discovered that his grand piano and living room furniture were gone. Police report that a van bearing New Jersey plates had been seen in the area for about three weeks.

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

© 2011 Robert Karl Skoglund