Marsha and humble September 30, 2007





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This is a rough draft of Rants for your Maine Private Radio show for May 3, 2015.

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1. Did I mention to you that last November some utility wires got blown loose and ended up draped on my driveway sign and mailbox? I sent letters to the CEO of CMP and a woman who chairs Maineís PUC and the editor of our local paper was even good enough to run a letter I wrote, asking about these wires that were hanging from the utility pole in front of my house. Guess what? A female from PUC called, said she had two letters from me, and asked what she could do for me. I told her there was not a thing she could do for me, but as a matter of public safety or concern someone might want to look at the wires hanging from a utility pole in front of my house. She asked me for the name of the company that handled the telephone service in my area and I told her I did not know. Who would know? The names and owners of companies change so often. She sounded like a resigned soul, sighed, and said she'd see if she could find someone who might be interested in looking at it. Well. A couple of days later a man from Central Maine Power came down and looked at it. He said it wasnít one of his wires but he would report it. And I wouldnít be surprised if those wires hanging off the utility pole out by my mailbox were gone in a week or two. Isnít it a good thing I know how to get things done?

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2. To my way of thinking, a genius is someone who can think outside of the box. One of the tiny wire ends rotted off my wife Marshaís favorite toy, her riding lawnmower, and the end broke off when I took the battery out to store in the solar radiant heated cellar/office of Maine Private Radio in November. And I finally got around to fix it. I needed what I think is called a grommet with a round hole in one end so a bolt will go through it. The wire gets crushed in the other end. And although I have a raft of them I've picked up at lawn sales over the years, not one was the right size. I went over to ask Larry Oakes if he had the thing I wanted. He looked in his boxes of new stuff but didn't have one. But then he handed me an old battery cable. And I could see that if I sawed off the grommet and drilled out the wire, it would be just the thing. So I did, and the mower runs slick and the trees and rocks and buildings had better stand well back out of the way when you-know-who comes home from the island and sees her toy, all gassed up by the back steps and ready to crush and destroy. Of course, if I had thought of using an old car battery cable end myself, I wouldn't have been running around the neighborhood asking for help. My thinking is limited by functional fixedness. Larry Oakes is a unique person. He builds what he calls Rat Rods which requires not just mechanical but artistic ability. He has an abundance of both. Because he can do so many things that are a mystery to me, I think of him as being a genius. Are you a genius? Is your kid a genius? Can you think outside of the box?

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3. Just when you thought that there were no unopened windows of economic opportunity in America today, we see a woman on TV telling us about the year she spent in federal prison. Of course she had in her hand a book she wrote about her experience and it must be selling well because even old dog-eared copies are $9.99 on Amazon. I didnít hear enough of the program to learn if one gets free medical care while in federal prison, but if you have secret literary pretentions, are unemployed and have a couple of teeth that need attention, you might want to look into laundering some drug money which is good for a year. Oh, it might help if you already have an education. The woman I saw on television had an undergraduate degree from Smith.

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4. My neighbor has a cooler on my front lawn from which he sells a dozen eggs almost every day. Whenever I happen to be out there and see someone take a box of eggs, I rush over and say, "I'd think twice before I ate those eggs. You see, those eggs were laid this morning by some chickens that run around in my friend's back pasture. They eat worms and whatever they can find among the huge piles of cow manure and donkey droppings. They are awful big eggs and some are white and some are brown. Wouldn't you much rather eat a little white egg that was produced by a happy hen who lives a life free from fear of foxes, in a nice tiny cage in Kansas surrounded by thousands of her friends?"

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5. Long time radio friend and now Facebook friend Pegg has taken me to task for posting an "unnecessary" quote at the beginning of many of my comments. I post the quote so the uninitiated will know what Iím commenting about. Pegg also takes me to task for not posting web sites for quotes so she can see where I got them. She complains when I do and she complains when I don't. Wouldn't Pegg make a good wife?

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6. Charlie Wing says he has sold his boat and he and Barbara have moved into a condo in South Portland. He wants to go to Europe on a freighter. I went to Goteborg on the MoreMcpride in 1960 after flunking out of The Crane Department of Music in Potsdam, New York. I'd love to go with him, but he says they won't take anyone over the age of 78, because they might not survive the trip. And yet, statistically speaking, isnít traveling by freighter not even half as risky as those Carnival Cruises?

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7. My neighbor Mike came over to see my solar water heater and the PV panels that generate the electricity on this farm. As we looked up at a plane passing by, I mentioned to Mike that coming home from Holland, I've been 5 or so miles up there in the air over my farm, have seen it from the plane, and then have landed in New York or Boston and had to drive 5 or 10 hours driving home. Mike asked me if Iíd ever seen a flight tracker. Of course I thought a flight tracker was some kind of thing the police strapped on Martha Stewartís leg. But when Mike got home he sent me a web site that tells me which plane Iím seeing in the sky over my house. It is fascinating and is the greatest useless thing to waste time that has been invented since American television. Now when I see an airplane over my house I don't have to guess if it is a flight from Schipol or Frankfurt. I can run in the house and look at my computer screen and see. Wouldnít you like to strap one of those tracker things to the wrist of your 16-year-old daughter? You could tell her that you were only preparing her for a life as a police officer.

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8. One of the greatest hoaxes perpetuated upon the masses in America today is the posting of an 1878 spelling test that we are told was administered to the 8th grade. Or the spelling test for 8th graders that was in use in 1912. Upon seeing it, we are supposed to clutch at our throats in horror in reflection of how far educational standards have dropped in the past 100 or more years. Phah. This is all good and well. But we are never told how many of the students were able to pass that particular test in 1878. And you want to remember that in 1878 some of the smartest kids who couldnít spell might have quit school to take up farming or carpentry. Ruminate this for a bit, if you will. In your opinion, is there any correlation between being able to spell and being able to think? Some of the smartest people I know can't even read. If you were not able to do both and given your druthers, would you rather be able to spell or think? My friend Jeremy says that biggest hoax in this country today is the notion that not taxing the richest will cause economic growth.

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9. Are you at the age where you are careful when you walk up or down a flight of stairs? Do you always wear your seatbelt when you are in a plane that is taking you up to do some off-hand skydiving? I have moved past this stage and am at the station in life where I have what Poirot would call "the fingers of butter." I've noticed that I've become sloppy when picking up things but today the fact that I must think when picking up something was forcefully impressed upon me after my nap when I dropped 1/3 of a cup of warm drugs as I was taking the cup out of the micro. When the cup hit the linoleum floor, brown drug drink, honey and milk splattered all the way to the ceiling. I didn't know anything in a cup could splatter so high or so far. On the ceiling! It covered the Phil Anderson original over the counter. It seeped down into the 3 drawers below the micro. Some of Marsha's towels are brown. It was all over the cupboard doors all the way to the ceiling. And because I only do 1/3 of a cup, just enough to wake me up and keep me from needing another nap, I was spared from wiping up three times as much dissipated drug drink. Marsha, who was cleaning a house out on Monhegan, called to tell me that she was in residence and that all was well. The lights will be burning there until late, you can be sure. I told her I was wiping up splattered drug drink so she let me go. Can't you see her shaking her head and saying as she hung up the phone, "Helpless. Helpless. He is helpless." Well. Lesson learned. At least I'll be more careful when Iím down in my cups from now on.

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10. You heard me say that Charlie Wing was in here the other day. A few years ago Charlie Wing told me how to insulate my solar radiant heated cellar/office. Among many other things, Charlie Wing is an expert on building, repairing and insulating houses. You can buy his books on Amazon. He said he wanted to go to Europe on a freighter. I looked it up and read that "The cost of the shortest transatlantic crossing Ö at 13 days from Savannah to Valencia, is about $1,700 per person plus about $400 in fees." Wow. Freighter travel is no longer an option. It costs 10 times as much as it did 55 years ago. In 1960 I think it cost me a whit over $200 New York to Goteborg, which was about what I could earn in two months working in the cement plant weighing trucks and typing out invoices. As I recall, I was getting about $25 a week and because I was living at home, I saved all of it. What fun it would be to ride around and see the world on a freighter. But at $100 a day, who in the world could afford to do it?

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

© 2015 Robert Karl Skoglund