Happy Saturday morning to everyone. I am trying something a little different today. Since the media loves to run at the mouth with all sorts of negativity, I thought I’d pass along a couple of more positive items. The just released Bureau of Payroll Statistics numbers have payroll employment increased by 304,000 in January.

Without having your eyes glaze over by numbers tables, let me just also mention that employment numbers for Afro-Americans and Latinos are at their historical lows. It would seem that the economic engine is firing on all cylinders. I’ll drink my coffee to that – and with another drop in temperature this morning, hot coffee is just what I need.

I always find that statistics are hard to follow and impossible to digest. The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. ~ Mrs. Robert A. Taft

And while on numbers; averages are just as bad. This from former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich: “averages don’t always reveal the most telling realities. You know, Shaquille O’Neal and I have an average height of 6 feet.” ~ (Reich is 4’10” tall whereas basketball star Shaquille O’Neal is 7’1” tall!)

Progressive Dinner – last weekend was a blast! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Let me just point out that the ‘soup-stop’ at our place also meant that our Speakeasy pin-ball machine was available. It didn’t take long and we had a full-blown contest in progress.

The last photo is of Julia and George, hosts of our last – desert – stop. Take a look at what they’re holding. Turns out they were in Las Vegas and found a place where they were photographed by a camera which swung around them. Then, from a block of epoxy their resultant image was laser-cut and colored. The upshot being so lifelike it’s almost scary. Julia had on an armband and the decorations on it were recognizable. George had a wedgie and he now carries this into ‘posterity’.

A different Aldi’s – This week it was time, and so we headed for Costco and then to Aldi. My mind, always going, had an idea. There had to be an Aldi closer by than the one we normally frequent; and there was.

OK, so the Aldi was on the same street as Costco, just a number of miles down. Finally, when we turned into the parking lot, Marcia’s first observation was; “this place is a suburban ghetto”. And it was. Not only that, but this Aldi has escaped all the recent refurbishments. The aisles were way too narrow, the veggies marginal, and so forth; the place was a throwback to possibly the first rendition of an Aldi store.

Stores often carry little ‘extras’ both desired by and reflective of their clientele. I spotted just such an item. Sitting on a shelf was an inflatable ‘blow-up’ and pull-out Sofa. Not only that, look at the happy couple using their new ‘furniture’ in an otherwise totally empty room. Like the wall decorations? Like the little side tables and lamps? Like the area rug? No? That’s because they have nothing! A sort-of couch and each other, that’s it.

Back in the early seventies Billy Joel had a song which captured it all; Scenes from and Italian Restaurant: (be sure to open the link, a great video rendition of the song from 1985 done with the BBC in the UK)

”…… When they decided the marriage would
Be at the end of July
Everyone said they were crazy
Brenda you know you’re much too lazy
Eddie could never afford to live that
Kind of life
But there we were wavin’ Brenda and
Eddie goodbye

They got an apartment with deep
Pile carpet
And a couple of paintings from Sears
A big waterbed that they bought
With the bread
They had saved for a couple
Of years…..”

Rain and more rain – Every so often the rains pummeling these parts take center stage. This year the river climbed out of its banks. A ‘moderate’ flood is what they call it; high enough for Newport and Covington Kentucky across from downtown to see fit to put their flood-gates up.

Aside from having a few days of not getting in my steps we also had freezing temperatures. That is when a water-main underneath our street decided to break. With a lot of school busses and traffic our iced over road was quickly deemed a problem. You can see it coming can’t you? More chaos by the corner of Chaos and Mayhem.

Mid-week early in the morning ‘No Parking’ signage was in front of our place, effective by 3:00 PM. By 4:00 a crew was hard at work. I went to bed after ten and all was still going strong with the repair. At six, when I got up, I looked out the window. All was normal and nary a sign that any road work had ever taken place. Well, maybe the dark patch of fresh asphalt was a clue. I was very impressed. Hats off to the work crew, they earned whatever extra they earned for their night shift.

Finis – OK, another landmark. Next Saturday is Derek’s Birthday, number 16. Since he is our first grandchild it also means that Marcia and I are on a new plateau, once again climbing a rung on the ladder of life. Soon, it wouldn’t surprise me, and he’ll be driving me around.

Then, just a day after Derek’s big day I’ll add another year. With this new landmark age, should you see a little drool forming by the corner of my mouth, feel free to gently dab it away.

And quite possibly, the time has come to begin paying attention to tax filing season. The other method is to just do nothing. Then, eight to ten years from now, when some IRS ‘hello’ letters take on a bit of a threatening tone, hire a firm to negotiate a settlement for pennies-on-the-dollar. Just a thought mind you.

Dirk – he of the too many candles

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