Fear in America: The Immigrant Problem

This is a little (lot) longer than my typical blog post. Lets call this an essay- Prompted by some disturbing conversations of late.

There’s a lot of business literature on the topic of leadership and personal development. Much of it about how people behave under pressure. There’s a school of thought that to really understand someone, to really expose their true personality and leadership style you have to see them in a crisis. Pressure bring out the truth. I tend to agree with this. Sad to say the attacks in Paris have exposed a side of the American psyche that I personally hate to see.

Its human nature I guess, for people to want to protect what’s theirs, or what’s perceived as theirs. Human nature as well to get tribal when confronted with threats, again perceived or otherwise. I don’t know why I’m surprised actually, given how much I study history and how I tend to use historical examples to frame my understanding of my present.

Thanksgiving is a great time to bring up the ironies that only a historian can. In Thanksgivings case, the irony of glorifying our Puritan forbearers for leaving behind the religious oppression of Europe in order to find a religious freedom here in America. The Ted Cruz and American Exceptionalism crowd who are so adept at whitewashing history love to point out that freedom and religious tolerance are at the core of American values.

And I truly believe they are, which is why I’m so damned disappointed these days to see how quickly these values are tossed aside by xenophobic rhetoric and fear. Seriously, we either are the promise of freedom espoused on many of our most iconic national symbols, or we aren’t and we should just send the Statue of Liberty back to France, and sand blast the that radical Emma Lazarus poem off the pedestal because frankly, it doesn’t represent who we are as a country anymore. Maybe we can symbolically use the bricks to as a corner stone to start building Donald Trump’s new border wall.

Speaking of those original turkey eating buckle hat wearing folks we love to idealize, maybe Donald Trump and the “keep the Muslims out” crowd are in fact the direct ideological decedents of those original bigots. Let’s keep in mind that the Puritans did give a rip about religious freedom. The colonies they established in Massachusetts were founded for Puritans only, no one else need apply. In essence, Puritans were the Christian equivalent of the Taliban. By today’s standards they were religious zealots bent on establishing a theocracy with the narrowest definition of who was acceptable and who, was not. They had no tolerance for divergent opinions or religious beliefs. And like every religious fundamentalist theocracy, they weren’t beyond mass hysteria and the summary execution of people whom they identified as heretics. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a public moment of silence in memory of the 32 “witches” were murdered at the hands of Puritans in Massachusetts in the 1600’s.

Through the years America has experienced waves of immigration, from around the world, with many different motivations. From European peasants looking for better opportunities, Chinese laborers to work on the railroads to Africans in who “immigrated” chained the bottom of boats. The reasons are as diverse as the places they come from, the one constant in all their experiences, xenophobic prejudice from the folks who arrived in previous waves. Irony? The Thanksgiving story in America, taken as written describes the last time a group of immigrants was in fact welcomed to these shores.

Since the Pigram’s America has been enriched and built by the successive waves of immigrants. Germans, Afrrcans, Irish, Sicilians, Chinese, Jews, Japanese, Mexicans, Cubans. Just to name a few. All of them demonized in the same way Syrians today are being demonized, and most of the time with exactly the same arguments as what I hear today:

  • They’re terrorists. One of them might be a terrorist/anarchist/murders.
  • They’re not like us. They don’t value freedom. They don’t value our way of life. Their values aren’t consistent with ours.
  • They won’t assimilate. They won’t adopt our values.
  • They’re not Christian. They blindly follow a religion that kills. They’re going to impose their ideology on America.
  • They ruined their country, now they’re going to ruin ours.
  • They’re going to steal jobs.
  • We have our own problems we need to solve before we open our doors to these folks.     

It’s a shameful list, but it’s not new, not by a long shot.

Catholic immigrants, in the early 1800’s it was Catholic immigrants from Germany. 40 years later Catholics from Ireland. By the 1900s Catholics from southern Europe. Papists after all, “those” people are a fifth column for a Vatican. By golly they practically animals that breed like rabbits and swear allegiance to foreign pontiff hell bent on destroying true Christianity (Protestant) and enslaving America in their apostate heresies.

Ancient history? The Immigration Act of 1924 was enacted specifically for the purpose of restricting immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe (see Jews and Italians) and Africans through the establishment of quotas. Quotas that limited immigration to 2% of the population from that country already in the United States. Asians? The act, which was mostly unopposed in Congress, completely banned immigration of anyone not defined as White or of African descent. Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Koreans, etc.. Immigration quotas were set to ZERO. The very stated purpose of the act was to “preserve the ideal of American homogeneity”.

This act was predicated by The Federal Naturalization Act of 1906 which specified that only free whites and person of African descent were eligible for naturalization.

Interesting story to illustrate how far our countries xenophobia could go:

In 1914 Japanese immigrant Takao Ozawa, a 20 year resident of the US, sued for his citizenship citing his exemplary history in the US and his embrace of American values. Ozawa had gone to high school in California, he earned a degree from Berkley, and had a successful career in business at a firm in Honolulu. He was loyal to the United States and wanted the same rights that his Anglo friends and neighbors. Namely the right to vote and the right to own land. Side note, in 1913 California had passed a law restricting land ownership to US Citizens only.

Ozawa wanted to challenge the federal Naturalization act of 1906 specifically the provision that only white persons or persons of African descent could naturalize. The District Court in the Territory of Hawaii ruled that despite Ozawa’s “exemplary” history, being Asian, he was excluded from Citizenship under the law. Ozawa appealed, under an argument that Japanese technically are white and so he should be able to naturalize.

Head spinning yet? Well sit down it gets better.

The US Supreme court took the case and UNANAMOUSLY upheld the decision. Writing for the Court, Justice George Sutherland, himself an immigrant from Scotland (a “good” immigrant???) wrote that when under the law “white” means Caucasian and that Asians are not that and therefore could not be described as “free white persons”. Application denied. Justice Sutherland, three months later wrote a similar opinion in the case of United States vs. Bhagat Singh Thind. That case to denied “white person” status to people of Indian descent. Thind, a Sikh from Punjab had claimed that as the descendant of “high class Hindus” he was of the Aryan race and therefore technically Caucasian. The court didn’t see it that way.

I can only imagine the discussion as the highest court in America engaged in discussions of how Aryan and Dravidian racial composition could define a person’s legal standing in this country. Defining “whiteness” using exactly the same logic and language the Nazi’s would make in 1935 in their Nuremburg laws. EXACTLY.

You all know where this went. 25 years after Ozawa, the government, in one of the most egregious examples of xenophobia, imprisoned the entire population of Japanese Americans on the west coast for the duration of World War II. Why? They aren’t like us. There was suspicion that there might be some terrorists in the mix. They aren’t loyal. History notes that there wasn’t a single example of a person of Japanese origin, immigrant or otherwise actually perpetrating actions in the US (remember that 62% of the folks America interned were native born and by that, American Citizens). Ironc? The only actually case we have from the Second World War of domestic saboteurs were people of German descent in Operation Pastorius. There you had 8 naturalized German citizens were dropped off by U-Boats in New York and Florida with money, weapons and explosives. Why didn’t we round up the Germans? To hard to pick out in a crowd I guess.

Just to close this story the “free white persons” provisions in the Naturalization Act were not repealed until 1952. And it wasn’t until 1967 that Alien from Asia could own land in Washington and California.

I’m finding it much harder to not get swept up in mass hysteria about Syrian Immigrants. I had similar difficulties in California about Mexicans. The feelings come from the same place. Here’s a group of people, not like me, who are going to cause trouble and harm to America. In both cases my inklings and human nature was amplified significantly by politicians who used immigration and immigrant communities who arrive after their own immigrant ancestors as scapegoats for political gain.

History for you, voter id and voter suppression issues that we’re dealing with today has a long history in this country going back to 1798 and the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. Then it was the Federalists, alarmed at the number of immigrants in the United States, and their damned penchant for voting for Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican party. Actually if you read the body of the law, immigrants were it cites Aliens (Immigrants) as “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States”.

History tells me, that refugees are just people. Like everyone there’s good people and bad ones. It tells me that my security, and the security of this country should be predicated on the actions of individuals and organizations, not ethnicities or religions.

My personal family story is all about immigration. Irony? My fathers parents came to America 100 years ago. They were immigrants from Syria. My mother was born in Egypt, my daughter in Korea. As a Jew I don’t have to look very hard to find stories of Jewish refugees trying to escape the Nazi’s, who were not allowed asylum in this country. In some cases resulting in their deaths.

As I stated earlier we either are, or we aren’t a bastion of freedom. We can’t be conditional in our mission folks. This essay was prompted by some conversations with friends who have completely succumbed to fear. I can’t stand listening to name calling anymore. Identifying Muslims as terrorists is exactly the same as telling me Jews are all greedy killers to use the blood of Christian children in their secret rites. So when my Jewish friends take this attitude, I’m outraged.

I have the chance now to really test my open mindedness and see if I really can espouse these values I claim and look at these refugees as what they are, immigrants seeking the exact same freedoms my own grandparents and mother sought, freedom from fear, freedom to think, speak and act without fear of tyranny and oppression. Freedom to provide their families with the economic security they didn’t know back home. To live in a country that at least on its monuments and in its collective psyche claims to be a beacon of freedom and light in the world. Well, I’d argue that beacons and lights don’t really do any good when they’re snuffed out by walls, and made inaccessible by laws attempt to segregate the “good” from the “bad” based on racist labels and prejudiced attitudes about who is like us, and who is not.

It’s a tough position to take these days. No one said doing the right thing was easy.

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The ADD Hunter

Another hunting season is in the books and once again I’m faced with a very tough realization that I possibly suck at this hunting thing. I think the root problem at the end of the day is that ADD and Hunting really don’t mix.

To be successful at hunting, specifically deer hunting (and turkey for that matter) you have to be able to sit still for hours on end, nary a flinch to light a fly on your nose. HOURS. I on my best days I can sit perfectly still for the better part of 10 minutes. Eh 5 minutes. This year I actually gave it a real try, sitting stone still for as long as I possibly could. Mostly because I’d run out of other mental games to play so what the hell, let’s try “Statue”.

When I’m hunting or fishing I wear a watch with a solunar indicator on it. For those you unfamiliar with magic and zodiac, according to some expert there are certain times during the day when fish and game are more active. And during the month there are certain days where that are even better than others. Ideally you want to be out on the water or in the field on a day with high activity during the couple hours of even higher activity. Which in my world means I have 4 deer heads showing on the watch.

You can also, for the low price of $4.00 buy an app for your phone that will tell you the best times and best days to try to ambush things or entice them eat stuff with hooks in them. Even better you can conduct the entire transaction of buying the app, downloading it and checking dates and times for hours, directly from your deer blind, as I discovered. Which is how I passed the 6:05-6:25 AM time frame.

See the problem yet?

Tuesday was a high activity day, and 10:35 was the start of a major activity period, which if the stars, the magic charts, the shamans and astrologers and other contributors to the “science” of the Solunar Table for Windows Phone marketing people were correct, the deer would literally line up and present themselves for harvesting.

If I could just

So at 10:35 I made the following commitment to myself. I’ve been sitting in this blind now on and off since Saturday and in that time I’d seen 3 deer. Rather I’d seen portions of deer, fleeting glimpses of grey brown hide 75 yards away in the woods as the ghosts went about their business of getting frisky whilst avoiding me. I made a pact that as I did not want to this to be yet another year where the number of bullets I bring into the season exactly equals the number I bring out, so I pledged that at exactly 10:35 am I was going to “start trying”.

The games we pkay huh? I told myself that I was going to hunt “really hard” this time. No phone, no book, no snacking, no drinking water, nothing but stone cold, perfectly still scanning of the forest in front of me. Statue. No noise. Scan the forest. Find the deer.

And I did; I sat there. I became one with the woods, feeling my essence mix with natural environment. I heard the woods. I felt my quarry out there, I was becoming one with nature. Nothing would get by me.
Except, a certain pileated woodpecker that landed on the tree next me and started hammering. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the pileated woodpecker is one of the great birds of the woods. Size of crow with an outrageous red Mohawk, think a living Woody Woodpecker. And unlike other it’s smaller cousins that rap on trees in a machine gun fashion, Mr. Pileated does the slow pound, one or two hits, a rest and then again. Sounds like a guy chopping wood. Or a buck walking into brush.

Take your pick doesn’t matter because either way, in my state of hyper-awareness the thing scared the crap out of me with its first peck. That’s what hyper-awareness does to you.

But I recovered. Realized what it was and continued “trying”.

I was literally a part of the forest. Perfectly still. And then the sound of movement in leaves. To my right, of course out of my immediate field of vision, I heard him. Rustle, rustle. Coming my way.

And talk about going from feast to famine, another one somewhere in front of me. This was it.
For the one on my right I had a problem. Being right handed my gun was across my lap facing left. I would have to come around 180 degrees, raise the rifle to my shoulder while doing a little contortion move, all while not being noticed. I took what felt like 10 minutes to slowly negotiate the manuver. Didn’t see him right away, but being one with woods and all, I knew he was there. Then a rustle and out into the open he came. A beautiful big male grey squirrel, who looked up at me and waved. For a second I fantasized what a 7mm round would to him but that’s not who I am.

Back to trying.

As I continued to hold still and measure my breaths a little voice in back of my head started yapping.
“Pee anyone”.
When I get up at 4:00 am I’m going to drink coffee. A couple cups of it at least.
And some water in the stand.
And now I’m screwed.

Scent is a big part of this I’m told. Before going in to the woods I sprayed my outerwear down with deionized water. Am told it knocks the scent right offa’ya. I make a lot of scents during the day and am not sure that a little water would do it. To make matters worse Tuesday was pretty stinking warm which meant by 10:00 I had stripped off most of my outerwear and was now sitting in my sleeves, my invisible effluvia emanating the surrounding woods. I’m sure causing the deer to be concerned as in their own way they articulated “smells like ass in these woods”.

Pushing that thought aside I continued my effort to focus. I ignored the buzz on my phone, message of vast importance I’m sure. But not now, I’m focused.

The hot time to be hunting, according to my app, went from 10:35 to 12:35, two hours. Or, the sum total of time I’ve ever spent focusing on one activity IN MY LIFE.

The woods were quiet. I looked for the landmarks in the trees, things you notice when you stare at the same batch of woods for 3 days. To my right there was a tree that had a remarkable likeness of human face on its base. Looked like one of those detailed little ceramic heads my folks had on their kitchen wall back in the 80’s. Apparently the face was dependent on afternoon shadows, because in the morning I couldn’t find it.

An old tree stand was sitting in a tree down and to my left. Good reference point should I need something to focus on.
In front of me about 100 yards were some small mounds with aspens growing out of them. I assumed they were shallow graves from some serial killer that once stocked the area. Probably find his peg leg and hook over there somewhere too.

A pile of rocks, that the longer I stared at them, the more convinced I was that one of them, at least from my vantage point 75 yards away, looked like it had runic engravings on it. Mental note to check that out later.
And I sat. And I focused. And the little voice got a little louder. “Might want to start making a pee plan”

Two hours.

I estimated that I’d been “trying” for about an hour. Hadn’t seen a deer. Hadn’t heard a deer. My um, personal seat cushion, aka butt, was getting numb and my skin was starting to tingle from lack of stimuli. Time to readjust and settle in for the next hour. The home stretch.
I glanced at my watch to see how much time I had left:
1 hour and 50 minutes.
Hence the self-realization- I suck at this.


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College tours

On the college visit tour with the daughter the last couple weeks. Interesting process. With my two oldest kids I didn’t go on any college visits, Mrs S handled them all. Not sure what my motivation is to tag along with the girl, but Mrs S, after a bit of skepticism agreed that I could go along as long as didn’t make any comments or offer any opinions.

Fair enough.

So far the visit junket has been to Iowa State in Ames, Auburn in Auburn Alabama and Wisconsin Stout in Menomonie. I missed the Iowa State trip, but I’ve been there before. Nice school, free rice crispy bars (they were apparently invented there) and no hills. Auburn I’ve been too a nearly a dozen times, and since a football game is included in the package, means I’m game.

I think I see a pattern here.

Today we visited the University of Wisconsin, Stout. Great school, as exactly the program the girl wants, nice small class rooms. Seems to be a good choice. Not sure she not sure what she thinks about it, and if tradition holds I won’t know until her Mom and she have discussed it and made a decision.

So at the end of the day the purpose of my visit was to have much needed day off and a chance to see something new. Sitting in the auditorium listening to the student panel and the Dean of Admissions talk about the school I did find myself ruminating on some interesting, and unexpected thoughts. First of all, she’s interested in design, specifically graphic design or interior design. Read into that a career as a “creative”.

I don’t get creatives. I get numbers, science and objectivity.

Portfolio review doesn’t make sense to me.


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What to Wear to Tonight’s WNBA Championship game

Tonight the WNBA championship will be decided at the Target Center. Not everyday Minnesotans have a chance to attend a championship game with a local team at a local venue.

And predictably Lynx fans are upset that more isn’t being made of this event. BTW if you don’t have tickets, don’t worry, they’re available and they’re not very expensive.

This morning in the Minneapolis Star Tribune a letter to the editor caught my eye. The letter, written by readers named Jordan and Amy, was lamenting the lack of availability of Minnesota Lynx merchandise in local sports stores. They’re disappointed by this lack of support and inequality in women’s sports in our society. and they go on to dismiss the idea that supply and demand is driving this drought.

However, even in 2011, the first year the Lynx won the championship, Lynx merchandise was nowhere to be found. In other words, has there ever been a supply to even test the demand?

They don’t think too much to ask for local sports store to carry all the local teams which in their opinion will help fix the “problem” of gender disparity in sports.

The Free Market is bitch.

I’m sure Jordan and Amy are sincere in their dismay at not being able to find a Lindsay Whalen or Simone Augustus jersey. But reality is retailers are not going to take a risk on products that aren’t going to sell. And, to be honest, the Lynx, despite their success, don’t sell. I’ve been an NBA fan for a long time. I would suggest that the Timberwolves don’t sell either. Finding Timberwolves gear away from the Arena isn’t easy. I’d even bet that for many games the Lynx outdraw the Wolves. That’s another topic; “why fans shouldn’t support crappy pro sports teams.” An we are blessed with a bunch of those in Minnesota.

I digress.

I’ve had season tickets with two different franchises (not at the same time) for more than 25 years. I’ve watched and attended a ton of NBA games. I am their target market. A fat dude with some cash who likes sports and can afford to shell out some money for games.

That being said in my basketball watching career I’ve watched two WNBA games. Rather parts of the WNBA games.

Why just two?

The NBA, and every other professional sport, is an entertainment product. The leagues create products that their fans want to see in the hopes of attracting fans to games and selling merchandise. The WNBA, frankly, doesn’t sell. For that matter the Timberwolves don’t really sell either. Finding Timberwolves merchandise is not much easier than finding Lynx stuff. The problem the NBA has with their women’s franchise is most NBA fans, don’t find the WNBA game worth paying for. And I would suggest, based on the number of free tickets get offered every year for Lynx games as a Timberwolves season ticket holder, we’re not even going for free.

Last week Timberwolves ticket holders were offered a buy one/get one deal on WNBA Finals tickets. The season championship series had free tickets available. I hope Amy and Jordan didn’t pay full price for their tickets.

What sells tickets to NBA games is speed and individual athleticism. Big dunks, in your face blocked shots and lighting fast breaks. I get tired of hearing pony tailed dudes in Birkenstocks tell me that “real” basketball fans prefer the WNBA style of play, slower offense, precise ball movement, fundamental basketball. That may be the case, but as a NBA fan, I’m there for the show. I want to see some one-upmanship.

I also want to see success. The Lynx have certainly earned success in their league. But frankly their market is a small niche. It’s not because sports fans don’t like women. It’s not some misogynistic conspiracy to keep women’s sports down. It’s the product. It’s boring basketball and it happens during the summer when I want to be outside. If I want a boring summer sport I’ll go watch baseball.

On a side note, Amy and Jordan, try the Mall of American for your Lynx gear, the place is loaded with it.

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College Tours

We’re here in Auburn Alabama doing the campus tour thing for the girl. She would be our second kid to attend Auburn should this work out. 4 more years of fall trips down here for football and hanging out. We stay in Columbus when we’re here. We stay with Mrs S’s Dad’s cousins.. actually, I’m not quite clear on the familial deets. But where the actual lines of relation are blurry to me, the sense of family is not. Which is a good thing.

We did the campus tour today. Frankly I’ve done the tour on my own about 6 times just walking around. Never the less i still managed to learn a few things about the campus. For example, undergraduates are not touch the seal in the ground of in front of Langdon Hall lest a curse will manifest on them that they will not graduate on time. The way to break curse is to swim in the fountain on the a leap year.. blah blah blah. Not sure exactly what the deal was, but apparently if you buy a class ring there’s a lovely ring ceremony where the curse if symbolically broken and some other stuff happens..

Ok so paying attention isn’t my strongest suite. However since the cost of ring is about a “yard” in gambling parlance, I’m going to suggest a nice commemorative coffee cup and skipping the ceremony.

Langdon Hall I learned is also where Alabama lawmakers debated succession back in the day. Talk about winning the argument but losing the battle.

I skipped the dorm tour. Told Mrs S I had some work to do as the group headed over the residence halls. I figure schlepping two kids worth of shit in and out of dorms the last few years entitles me to a pass. Moving the boys is where I learned that nothing has changed in the student warehousing business in 30 years. Interestingly enough the guides did talk about the new posh South Donahue Hall. That dorm is quite different. Two students share a suite. Each kid has their own bedroom with their own private bath, queen size bed, and hold on now, washer and dryer. The share a common area with a plasma TV, furniture, small kitchen with full size refrigerator, sink and granite countertops. The guide explained that these were Auburn’s most expensive housing option. She left out most of the residents there don’t actually pay for housing, they’re on athletic scholarships. And while I would like to question our countries priorities when it comes to collegiate athletes, I did pay $150 a seat to go to the game on Saturday, making me, part of the problem.

Our kids dorm, and I assume the girl will live where the boy did, feature shared bedrooms, two per room, a bathroom shared with 2 more kids, no kitchen, and a  laundry shared with the entire dorm. Amd stcked with machines that require quarters.

What they do have are toilets that have the strongest flush mechanism I’ve ever experienced. My oldest son, the geologist, after using the can came out and promptly suggestted that “that toilet will open up a sinkhole outside”. He a scienist, he would know. Being practical myself, and a survivor of four years in dorms I suggested that these things have to be able to take down a beer can, or a bag of pot that’s still in the bag in case you don’t have time to empty it as your RA is coming through the door with an axe.

All speculation on my part. All speculation.

The tour guide referred to the many healthy eating options on campus, I’ve only heard of Chic-Fil-A. I think my son eats there every day. But there are some other options. What there isn’t is a cafeteria. The closest thing is the eating area in the afore mentioned Athletics dorm where you can get steaks, made to order omelets for breakfast.. It’s more expensive but again, most kids eating there don’t pay.

The rest of the tour was cool, but my ADD kicked in and I found myself wondering about what the purple flowers were in the yard and if a Confederate Rose really does change colors during the day (it does).

So we’re done with college visit number 2 for this kid, 9 overall. I was my first and I was reminded why I haven’t been invited to these before, I’m snarky and I may have said ” helicoptering” to Mrs S when she was asking about career fairs for our kid who’s a Senior down here.

Matter of fact, I may not get asked back.

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The NeoCheap Skate

I’m taking a shot at the simple life here at the Casa del Sank-a-Ray. Said the guy with multiple cars, computers, phones, tablets, and homes.

But you know, steps. Have to do these things in steps. I’ve learned a new axiom out of this experience, simplification, ain’t simple.

There’s a couple places where we have made some real progress this year. The best one, IMHO is the in the department of Personal Transportation. Basically Mrs S needed/wanted a new car. Let me quickly hip ya to the fact that Team Sankary are not car people, at least not the older ones. Until this latest car purchase the newest vehicle in fleet was as a 2005 Scion. Mrs S has been tooling around town in a 1996 Toyota Camry that had been in family since about 1996. The Camry has a working cassette player, power windows and a security system that no one understands. The only time I’ve seen in operation is at the store when I’ve opened the trunk to load groceries.

I’m proud to say that when the time came for a new car she decided on a used model. That’s kinda new for us, buying used. On my list of reasons the country is not worth saving, the 72 month car loan. I make a pretty good salary, but even with my take home I can’t/won’t afford a $40,000 car. People do it by taking out the 72 month loan at the dealer with 7% interest. That makes no financial sense. At the end of the day, what happened to saying “I can’t afford this”.

We said that, and we let someone else take the hit on the depreciation and Mrs S wound up with a decent car and no car payments. We’ve cut the cord on cable this week. That was a huge paradigm shift for us. We’ve been talking about it for months but since it required that I get up on roof… I don’t like ladders and I certainly don’t like being up the roof. But I put on my big boy pants, hauled my fat ass up there and installed a new antenna. Ironically, right on the pole where the Dish was. Thanks Dish. Rolled the coax off roof and hooked it up to the cable box that Charter installed. How about that? Free TV on the “mans” infrastructure. That’s how I spell awesome.

Cable cutting BTW- dropped my $180 monthly bill down to $49.00. More than enough room to add a few streaming services to the mix.

The deal breaker on that one, being able to stream ESPN and SEC Network. Of course after watching Auburn football on Saturday, I may be able to cut back on the SEC network too.

Stopped by Aldi for the first time on Sunday. I’d been told they were inexpensive (cheap if you will) but how cheap? Typical week I spend about $150.00 on groceries, mostly at Target because it’s convenient, and it’s been my habit. Adding the Aldi stop to my shopping trip.. followed by a Target run, my total shopping trip this week $75.00. In-freaking-credible. Biggest shocker- Organic milk, the half gallon I pay $5.25 or so at Target, at Aldi less than $2.50. That’s serious. Greek yogurt… Greek yogurt is single handedly taking down General Mills as their flagship brand Yoplait continues to fall. Good riddance too, the stuff is basically ice cream with all the sugar and fake flavoring they add. Chobani and Fage took them down. Granted I paid more for theirs, but being cheap isn’t just about price, it’s about value. Value in my book equals the relationship between quality and price. Fage doesn’t add sugar, doesn’t add coloring or flavoring. It’s what they call better. Aldi greek yogurt, ½ the price.

The “Consumer” brands have to be getting nervous. I know the folks at Gillette are certainly concerned. I’m at fault for that too thanks to Harry’s Shave Club. $1.00 a blade. That’s vs. $4.50 for one of their blades.

At the end of the day everywhere I look I’m seeing consumer empowerment. There’s quite consumer revolution going on and as it takes hold there’s a lot of companies that today we take for granted, that aren’t going to be around. And in some cases that’s a good thing.

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Guard Calling

National Guard called the house this evening looking for the girl. Apparently they want to talk to here about how a stint in the military could pay for her college.
The National Guard is a little behind the times. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has already passed on her. They require candidates be able to do more than one pushup. A year ago their was a contingent of IDF folks in the Twin Cities.. They did some fitness stuff at the local JCC. Laura’s Hebrew class went down for session. We heard all about the pushup. She complained about it for three days afterward.
She’s not very physical.
Last one. The empty nest is so close I can taste it!

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