Morning all:

Quote Of The Week:

“Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses.” — Unknown

Have you ever wished you were somewhere else? Right now I wish that I’d hear the wailing yodels of a Loon and be watching the mist coming off a lake while enjoying my early morning mug of steaming coffee. Alas, instead, it’s the incessant noise of our raging furnace whose heat I can’t feel because the cats are splayed spread-eagle like across the hot air vents; still, the coffee tastes great.

Few entities move slower than the Vatican. Just a week ago the Pope, on his visit to Turkey, amazingly tried to clear up an issue with the Greek Orthodox Church which has been simmering since the year 1204. Only 804 years to make it to the top of the Vatican’s “to do” list. Now that is slow! Very, very slow that is, unless you have to deal with our government’s Social Security Administration (SSA).

I happen to be creeping into an age bracket where registration is a must, regardless of whether you plan to use the system in the foreseeable future or not. If you don’t the penal impact is severe.

I had a question that was not answered on the SSA webpage. My first resource was only a simple phone call away. I discovered that the SSA phone system is directly connected into an audio book reading service and I entered midway into War and Peace (I must say that it was a very pleasant voice which did the reading). There is no escape and no access to human intelligence once locked into their phone hell. Don’t believe me? Just call 1-800-772-1213 and speak a few of your favorite questions; if you have any masochistic tendencies whatsoever you’ll have a blast.

No problem, I decided to swing by my nearest SSA office and ask in person. Here their web site had an answer. One minor problem though, the given address happened to be located in the one small section of town declared a war zone by the United Nations. No thanks.

Next came my effort to email through their “contact us” web section. A couple of disregarded “answers can be found at…” pop-ups to help change my mind about emailing and the system proudly announced “SUCCESS”.

That was well over a week ago. I am still waiting for a response.

As the clock is ticking quickly towards the SSA imposed deadline I just can’t wait to benefit from possible new and more innovative governmental programs designed to bring ease and joy into my life. Maybe I should try calling FEMA, at least after a rough start the benefits seem to keep on coming.

Last Saturday it was shopping day. Sam’s Club for the 85 roll pack of toilet paper and then off to Meijers for the groceries. Have you ever been embarrassed at a checkout? Rest assured it doesn’t take much. The cashier, efficient and pleasant, began by asking Marcia for her Meijers “Secret” Club membership card. To the consternation of both of us we came to the realization that we’d left it at home. Marcia even stammered something about looking it up on the computer—to no avail. I do believe I heard an audible hush come over the collected masses behind us before the murmuring started, some folk just stared while I caught a few pointing fingers. Heads bowed, Marcia and I high-tailed it out of the place and even replaced our cart in the cart-collection space so as to not cause ourselves further embarrassment. Who started this whole “secret” club thing anyway?

Before I go back to Meijers I will first make sure to get an Emo haircut as part of my disguise.

The zeitgeist of the Dutch during December centers on Sinterklaas and is celebrated every December 5th on Sinterklaasdag (St. Nickolas day). This photo taken on St. Nickolas Day shows the venerable old Saint caught strolling about a beach in Australia accompanied by his trusted servant Zwarte Piet (black Peter), both looking for children in need of a toy—yea right, just how many children do you see in the picture huh?. Mind you, I am not even suggesting any ulterior motive for their “stroll”; however, do you see any toys?

Make it a great week everyone; beware of scorned bureaucrats and saints about a beach.

Cheers,
Dirk

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