WalMart Automotive, Challah, and Butterfly Optimism by Rick London

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I was up pretty early this morning because I knew Lee was making challah and I needed to go to the grocery as the cupboard was pretty slim pickins.  I wanted to get back early to get some work done (aka scattered creativity).  So I pushed myself to get up and get out. 

I went to the garage and as always, snapped on my seatbelt, turned the ignition and “all the things I take for granted kicked in –  the air conditioner would kick in, the battery would start it right up as it always had for years, etc. 

None of that happened.  Click click click click.  I know that sound well. It means dead battery.

It all started about 5 years ago.  WalMart was having a sale on batteries (they’re fairly cheap anyway) and I’d always had positive luck with them (no pun intended).  WalMart had a battery sale years ago and I bit.  Little did I know it would force  me into a vicious cycle of trading in at least 2 batteries per year for ones that worked. Yes I checked my connection and it was fine.  The battery was junk.  But until I want to really go all out and spend a few hundred on a car battery, I will be trading these batteries in until I stop driving.  Besides, I grew attached to such things.  There’s a lot about WalMart I don’t like.  But I do like that they take the battery back as promised and replace it with one every bit as sorry. 

There’s a lovely chunk of woods next to our nearby Walmart and a beautiful butterfly flew by (that I could name by name) and that frightened me a bit.  At the same token it made me even more grateful to Lee for taking the time to teach me what each one is called as we see them.   Butterflies keep me optimistic and this was no exception except for my totally dead battery about to be fixed.  

 

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So I got on the phone to click on Lee’s name, but the phone was dead too.  Why had I allowed facebook alerts when I had them off for years.  I don’t even like that silly “Droiiiiddddd” noise. 

Lee was there in a jiffy with her jumper cables, jumped me off, and followed me to WalMart as they have a lifetime warrantee on car batteries.  But this happens every 3-6 months these days. They used to last for years.  I turned to Lee and shouted my guess, “I BET THEY’RE MADE IN CHINA NOW”. 

To satisfy my curiosity, sure enough, the large percentage (if not all) of WalMart batteries are made in China. They carry one “top shelf” unit that only has parts from there but is assembled from here. I like Chinese food. I like Chinese dogs. I like a lot about China.  But I don’t like Chinese WalMart batteries. 

Admittedly they were very prompt to replace it, though they did do one of those “lump in the stomach things” announcing they couldn’t find my receipt in the pile of papers from the last battery I purchased there.

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 They smiled and instructed Lee and I to take our time shopping “in WalMart” (we know this is how WalMart makes their minimal battery loss back and then some).  We answered,  “Yes, we will.  And when we get back from Kroger’s, in say 30 minutes or so, betcha the battery will be ready”.

 After a long frown he said, “Yes, should be”.

Lee figures things out faster than I do. I always feel I should get her one of those “I’m With Stupid” Tshirts.  Early on, she splurged for a new good battery and has not had one bit of trouble with it since she bought it 4 or so years ago. 

We got all our groceries (at Kroger) and followed each other home.  Groceries are in the fridge, bug spray guy will be here any minute, and I’m learning how to use the social network Tumblr while running sales at my Zazzle RickLondonGifts.com shops.

While most days remind me of The Beatles “A Day In The Life” (It’s just another day….etc), this one reminded me that our society offers up so many basics and luxuries, many of which we take for granted, but we’ve decided not to do that very often.

I made a mental note to myself that before I die I need to purchase one of those “tank-like Mercedes” that probably doesn’t even need a battery or electricity or gas.  One just owns it and it knows just what to do and where to go.  Of course my CPA may have different ideas about where my money goes, or lack thereof. 

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We are a “pay as you go” couple.  Our cars are in perfect working order (when the battery is ok), and they’ve been paid for for years.  Our town is small, so we don’t drive long distances. Our driving record is flawless.  Both vehicles are parked under a roof.  Given those amenities, Geico just charges a tiny green lizard for our insurance.  We don’t take that for granted.

The good part about aggravating days such as the way today started is one knows it can only get better.  And get better it did.  We got home and Lee made one of her magical smoothies.  She is doing her baking magic now and we’re on our way to having challah at sundown. 

Please remember to be grateful for the little things as well as the big things….even crummy Walmart Chinese auto batteries that only last several months.  Shabbat Shalom. Lee and I are proverbial “Internet networkers”, and you’re likely to find us on any social media at any given time.  We’re busy as beavers.  We’ve discovered we live in a “Hollywood World” in many ways. Sort of a “What have you done for me lately”.  

So we spend a lot of time online offering up as valuable of content as we can find to who we have decided are our marketplaces.  But at sundown tonight, we will bring that to a halt (at least the business part) as the Jewish sabbath (or Shabbat) begins.  

Tomorrow we play.  We’ve both gotten into the habit of reciting our Rosetta Stone language module, I play the guitar, and then Lee chooses vintage movies on tv.  

So Shabbat Shalom to all who observe Fri-Sat, Good Sabbath to those who observe on Sunday, and happy weekend to everybody else 🙂   Sincerely, Rick

 

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Rick London is a writer, musician, entrepreneur and cartoonist.  He is best known for having founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997.  They have since become #1 ranked by Google & Bing.    He is married to wildlife and nature photographer Lee Hiller (Lee Hiller-London) who has the nature blog Hike Our Planet and numerous designer gift shops such as Lee Hiller Design. 

 

 

Lost Dog In An Imaginary Fight by Rick London

     Social media is a lot of fun because we get to talk to friends we’ve never met (or probably will meet); mostly on Twitter, and on facebook we run into plenty of old friends that we did know a millennium ago in our cities of birth.  One also meet new ones from that same city, but perhaps they lived outside of our school district so maybe didn’t get to know them as well, but now we do.   And we meet new ones from being in groups “with similar interest” worldwide which is great fun.  And we get to send birthday wishes to each and every one of them without buying one stamp.

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     Now if facebook has done nothing else for us, let us be grateful for those incredible services.  Plus that imaginary feeling of importance  we all get when we update our status, and in our minds,  people are on the edge of their home/office chairs waiting to read what we are going to say next (when in reality they are playing Poker, Farmville or Mafia Wars).

     I try not to turn on the news but sometimes I can’t help myself.  This past week we learned the TSA feels it is a good idea to allow knives on commercial planes.  One thing we all surely learned in 2001 is that there simply aren’t enough sharp objects being taken onto planes.  I bet every TSA agent and exec gets vetted to make sure they have at least one ivy league degree….or at least has caught a terrible case of poison ivy at least once in their lifetime.

       We live in a dangerous world with a lot of people extremely sensitive about a lot of topics.  Some of them, they have every right to be, some of them have lost dogs in imaginary fights that aren’t even theirs; or, they haven’t a clue what the invisible fight is about.  One is the 2nd Amendment. Thank you Wayne LaScare for sending enough emails and letters to keep your gun manufacturer’s businesses very lucrative. They all salute you even though they feel you’re as loco as we think you are.

      I’m relatively neutral about guns per se; that is, I believe in the Constitution and that includes 2nd Amendment rights.  But unlike many (who truly believe they support the Constitution), I’ve studied it and I do have a clue what it says and means.  All the amendments are VERY conditional.  Let’s take the 1st Amendment.  Free speech is great fun and makes me proud to be an American.  What we can do and say here can’t be said in a very lot of countries on this planet without losing a limb or a head. But there are limitations.  We can’t and shouldn’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater anymore than we should make a racial statement that could incite violence or even a riot.  With the 1st Amendment comes a multitude of responsibilities, just like with the 2nd Amendment.  If someone doesn’t understand that, they believe in the NRA’s Wayne LaScare, not the 2nd Amendment. The two are as different as night and day.  

      I grew up around hunters and half or more of our little hamlet’s homes have a firearm for protection.  And that’s their business (the gun owner), not mine.  Handguns and rifles are (COMMON USE WEAPONS) in the U.S. hence protected by the 2nd Amendment.  Every other gun is conditional and is not even really a 2nd Amendment argument as extended magazines, AR-15s, Bushmasters etc etc. are not the common use guns of our country. 

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     They were all designed for military combat.  The very use of them by civilians in our country is a spit in the eye of every soldier in the battlefield who is fighting for us to have a country where we civilians would never have to confront such terror as they do on the battlefield.  It’s a spit in the face of every veteran who has ever experienced war.  They all fought so we could feel safe in our country and never have to worry about such weaponry.  Those are not guns; they are terror weapons and for military defense only.  They have no other intelligent usage.  

     We pay taxes that pay our local law enforcement’s salaries and buys their equipment (often including assault weapons).  Why?  So we won’t have to use them.  If you are unhappy with their service, and feel you can do better, why are you paying taxes?  They can do better, believe me.  The statistics of someone with a weapon in their home (whether it be automatic or not) is so dismal, as far as “getting the bad guy”,  you might as well have loaded guns at the front door with a sign that says, “Here…take one”.  The police are here for a reason.  And they are very trained to get bad guys with guns, a lot better than you or me. 

      I am proud of the Million Mothers For Gun Safety and The Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

     One friend made the stale old NRA Wayne LaScare statement that when/if we ever automatic weapons, only criminals will have automatics.

     Actually that has already been proven to be untrue.  When machine guns were banned on May 19, 1986 only criminals were using them.  They were not the “common use weapons” in America, and caused horrendous damage to those shot, very much like today’s automatics. 

      So tell me, when is the last time you heard or read about a crime committed by someone with a machine gun?   Me either.

     So I never purposely get into these meaningless debates because all they do is push someone with a strong opinion further into their strong opinion, and that’s okay.  At least they know the real deal whether they want to believe it or not.

   For law abiding citizens, no matter what Wayne LaScare spouts, nobody wants your guns. Not me, not Congress, not our military, not President Obama, nobody.  Only that scared little boy/girl paranoid voice that lives in your head that is absolutely positive someone is pulling a fast one.  Besides, admit it, you’ve been wanting to form or be a part of an organized militia since you studied military science in 1976.  Come on. Admit it. I won’t laugh.  At least not where you can hear me.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997.  By 2005 the project had become Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts and it has remained in that position ever since.  London also creates famous quote gifts which are unique to the gift market and sells them at such stores as RickLondonDesigns.com. He is married to popular wildlife/nature photographer Lee Hiller London who runs the nature blog HikeOurPlanet.com. 

The Dramaless Strain (How Older Hippies Reduce Drama) by Rick London

       It was a very good day today.  Most of my days are very good.   For the younger crowd, you might have called your psychiatrist to make certain your Prozac prescription was renewed for the next 250 years, but for me, it was ideal. 

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       Number one, it was drama-free.  I love days that are drama-free.  Don’t get me wrong; I do understand the ups and downs that life can purvey, but I worked very hard for very many years to live a life that involved very little drama.  My younger days had more drama than Les Miserables on steroids, so you can imagine how grateful I am for the serenity.

       My beloved wife Lee and I drank our delicious smoothies (which she concocts every morning) and enjoyed it while reading several newspapers online and getting a little work done.     Someone once asked me how many newspapers and periodicals I read and I really don’t know the answer so I just gave it an educated guess, “About twice as many as Sarah Palin”.

      A little before mid-afternoon, the weather was turning mild; about 65 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  That is the perfect time to hike the Hot Springs Mountain Loop.  Lee and I were both excited because a lot of the wildflowers that had been elusive or gone all year, were and are back.  So are a lot of the birds and butterflies.   This might not sound like much, but remember, we had a whole year of severe droughts and forest fires followed by a brutal blizzard which destroyed about 75% of our beloved forest.  It felt like a death in the family.  All the wildlife was gone for a month. Not a bird. Not an insect. Not a wildflower. 

      Then suddenly we saw a few warblers here, a cardinal there, a few butterflies riding the wind and occasionally landing on the lone wildflower.   Today, still very bare in many parts, little bits of green are returning and pink and red buds and berries are peeking their way out of the end of tree branches.  For a better view of this drop by Lee’s HikeOurPlanet.com.   To see a comparison of what it was like, say 2 years ago, simply go into her archives.  It truly looked like a Peruvian rain forest.  It has a long way to go before it is back to that, but we’re patient, and we still love it, and all it offers.  Lee heard a deer today. Sadly one ran downtown two Sundays ago and into a store window.  Chances are it was searching for food.  It did not survive. 

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     At the top of Hot Springs Mountain two large robins greeted us up close for a photo-shoot.  Lee was too busy shooting and trying to name some rare wildflowers so I took “The Magic Box”, Lee’s old camera that I inherited, and made sure the robins got equal time. 

     We’ve got bears, panthers, mountain lions, snakes, wolves, foxes, and just about every animal you could imagine.  They are surprising in that they are shy.  They do not look at humans as their prey.  Bears are about the most unpredictable and we carry extremely loud alarms which they do not like, causes their ears pain and they move along.

     Today, we heard a wild turkey toward the end of the hike.  We could tell where it was, but it was very shy and not in the mood for human companionship.

      We came home and turned on the tv and ate a lot of whatever was left in the fridge.

      If you look up, you see “the typical day of a semi-retired 58 year old”.  What makes me laugh is that it just seems like yesterday I couldn’t wait for my subscription of Rolling Stone to arrive, see which bands were the hottest, when they were coming to the nearest venue (which used to be The Warehouse in New Orleans), a place many of us have incredible memories, and even more incredible non-memories. Well, you know they say if you don’t remember the 60s or 70s you were probably there.  And though I’m no longer a party person, yes I did inhale.  Don’t worry…I have zero political ambitions.

     But today, I had a drama-free life.  I came up with a few gift ideas for my shops which I’ll make tomorrow, and then at about 6pm CST starts Shabbat.  Ironically, I was born Jewish, Lee is studying to be, and she knows 100 times more about how it is celebrated than I do.  But I’m a good student, and I know I like challah so I imagine I’ll be quite the mensch….a drama-less mensch at that.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist. He founded Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997 which became Google’s #1 ranked Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 2005 and have remained at that ranking for the past 7 years with nearly 8 million visitors.  He also designs more serious gifts and collectibles at such shops like his RickLondonDesigns.com which carry famous quote gifts.    He is married to popular nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who runs the nature blog HikeOurPlanet.com.