My Old Kentucky Home

 

I lived in Kentucky in the early aughts. It’s a beautiful state in many ways – the northern part is shaped by picturesque valleys overlooking the Ohio River (which is really in Kentucky), in the center is bluegrass country dotted with stately horse farms and quaint distilleries, and to the very south, lovely mountains and hollows in the foothills of the Appalachians. The rest of the state mostly sucks.

The Boy Governor ran the state when I was there. They called him the Boy Governor not because he had boyish good looks (he didn’t), sophomoric naiveté (he was just plain dumb), or some sort of playful personality (which doesn’t exist in bible thumping Republican (though he did try a humorless comedy bit on the Jay Leno’s Tonight Show)). No he was called the Boy Governor because he knew as much about running a state as an eleven year old boy. And he proved it week after week. His given name was Ernie Fletcher and he was both Baptist minister and medical doctor. Word was, he wasn’t a bad doctor and could deliver a nifty fire and brimstone sermon at a drop of a hat. The good people of Kentucky put him into office because they figured these traits would be a dandy background for a Governor. They found out they were wrong.

The Boy Governor before he was indicted.

What the Boy Governor accomplished in four years of office was ‘not much’. He couldn’t get a budget passed so he ruled by decree for two years. That got him into judicial hot water but like most things that go to court, it got tied up so long that legislature finally figured out they ought to pass some type of spending bill and by the time they did, everyone was too tired for any retributive shanigans . The Boy also said he had no idea that hiring state employees followed some type of process. He thought, you give me something – money, cars, vacations – and I give you a job. Most of his underlings thought that’s how the law worked too. After three years, the whole lot of them got indicted on a riffraff of charges around bribery, conspiracy and perjury. The governor pardoned them all and actually got away with it. Although he was indicted too, he thought pardoning himself might return vigilante hangings back to the state justice system so he made a plea bargain with the Attorney General wherein he regretted doing all sorts of illegal hiring practices but didn’t admit to actually doing them in exchange for a Get Out Of Jail card. Even this was too much for voters. After four years of mayhem,he was trumped out of office.

That was when I left the good state. But I always had a soft spot for buttered corn grits and cheap whisky so kept an interested on what the state was up to. A guy named Steve Beshear thrashed the Boy Governor in the 2007 election. Beshear was a Democrat and Democrats generally fare poorly in Kentucky elections but the Boy Governor had so pissed people off that Beshear got in on a cakewalk. That didn’t stop the Republican dominated senate and house from trying to box him in whenever possible but he did what he could without them. One of the things he did was expand Medicaid coverage to almost 600,000 Kentuckians as soon as the ACA was passed. The Republicans called it a foul deed, but the voters thought different and re-elected him to another term.

Matt Bevin auditioning to sell Chevys in Louisville.

Then came Matt Bevin. That’s when I decided to write Kentucky off. If people were so stupid to elect a man who thought the Tea Party was a little too lefty to be trusted, they have no one to blame but themselves as their homes go up in flames. It’s been only two years but so far he cut state to education by 10%, eliminated grade school/high school academic standards, began disbanding the states ACA support, and implemented two of the worst anti-abortion regulations in the country. He was taken to courts on most of these, but the Kentucky Supreme Court seems to have thrown their ethics into the same morass that Republicans in Congress have and let Bevin make Kentucky Great Again as he saw fit.

As great as it has ever been.

I said at the beginning of this that Kentucky is a beautiful state in many ways. But it has a dark side to it as well. Take away the mountains, horses, the bourbon trail and you are left with a state whose people are devastated.

Just when you were wondering if there was any organization that kept track of all the statistics produced by other organizations, one that does pops up on the internet. The name of its site is Wallethub. Right. The name doesn’t make any sense to me either but they post the largest collection of statistics I have encountered. So I thought – here’s a state with a history of electing morons to office – Fletcher and Bevin to be sure, but don’t forget its Senators. Somehow, Kentuckians elected a guy Hermann Goring could have mentored (McConnell) and another too wacko for even Ted Cruz (Rand). The state is full of Kim Davis’s – you don’t hear about them because then generally stay under their rocks, but they must have a debilitating effect on Kentucky. And they do – you just have to look.

So here’s some stuff that helps explain things – it is all 2018 data (except number 10) that covers all fifty states:

 

  1. Highest number of adults in poor health:            #2
  2. Poorest state by income:                    #4
  3. Highest percentage of people living at the poverty level:    #4
  4. Least educated adult population:                #5
  5. Least opportunity for new jobs:                #2
  6. Highest number of adult smokers:                #2
  7. Highest expenditure on guns and ammo:            #6
  8. Lowest investment in innovation:                #6
  9. Highest Healthcare Uninsured rate 2010:            #4
  10. Highest Healthcare Uninsured rate 2016:            #42

     

These are a pretty dismal set demographics aren’t they. They paint a picture of poor, sick, ignorant people who have little hope of improving things with better jobs, training or education. I doubt if anyone who lives in Kentucky likes that picture.

So what do you do? There is no simple answer. You’d think in a state that invests so little in education, health and jobs, would a low tax rate. Not true – 22 states have lower tax rates that Kentucky and all but three (Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi) spend more on things like schools and Medicaid that Kentucky. The money is there but where does it go?

And that’s the question the people who live in Kentucky should be asking anyone running for Governor or the Senate or Congress at election time. You get the sense that the current people in office think Kentuckians are too dumb to ask a simple question like that. I hope they keep thinking that. For the most part, the people of Kentucky are a pretty smart bunch of people and when they catch on, there will be some house cleaning to be done.

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The Three Florida’s

When people think of Florida, they usually think of two things: Disney World and sunny beaches. Ask a national politician what they think about Florida and they will tell you there are three of them: (1) Southeastern Florida from West Palm Beach on down to the Keys, (2) a fifty mile wide band that runs from Tampa to Titusville and (3) Everything else. People whose job it is to classify regions in the United States would classify southern Florida as Caribbean, the Tampa to Titusville strip as Urban and Everything else as Deep South. People who vacation in Florida only know about the Caribbean and Urban country. Politicians focus on the Deep South. That’s where the voters are.

I am not from Florida but I have lived in the Miami area for almost thirty years. Today, as it was in 1990, if I travel 70 miles north, I might as well be in Tuscaloosa. And it’s like that for the next 100 miles and the next 100 miles and another 100 miles after that. Except for that little bit of Interstate that runs through Orlando.

    Horse farm in Bronson. Only Texas has more.

There are a lot of things that would seem to most people to be terribly wrong in Florida. The state is a reasonably rich, maybe not a California or New York rich but certainly it holds its own with the likes of Ohio or Pennsylvania and does a fair shade better than places usually thought of as nice places to live – Colorado, Washington and Oregon come to mind. Tourism is the number one income producer here but there are a lot of large national service companies in Tampa, Orlando and Miami. Northern Florida is covered with rich farmland and if they are not breeding horses, they are growing fruits and vegetables for their northern brethren. There is money here, lots of it.

But the voting part of Florida doesn’t like parting with their money. We don’t have an income tax here which the natives and snow birds just love but it also means it’s hard to get money to pay for things governments usually do. Things like education – Florida is 50st lowest state in per student funding. Nobody does screwing kids better than us. What about healthcare? Well Florida ranks 48th
in health access and affordability, prevention and treatment metrics. That comes from the Common Wealth Fund which even the Governor agrees is nonpartisan. Only Louisiana and Mississippi fare worse. The Florida Department of Health offers their own impressive statistics – we have the highest uninsured population in the US, rank 49th in providing mental health services, and have some of the rottenest teeth in the nation. If you live in Urban Florida, 74% of us see a dentist at least once a year; in Deep South, 31%. They don’t eat those grits in Pensacola for nothing.


You can’t swing a cat without hitting a prison in Florida

It goes on –We love prisons. Florida has the highest incarceration rate in WORLD. But for all the fun we have putting people behind bars, we are the third lowest in the amount we spend per prisoner so if you in a jail here, it’s a pretty rough ride. Alabama and Louisiana are worst but only by a couple of percentage points.

Then there’s the drinking water – last year we had more EPA drinking water standards violations than any other state except Texas (of course they have almost twice as many people as we do). It’s pretty bad water. When northerners come visit me in Miami, they notice that the commode always looks like it needs to be flushed. They don’t say anything at first but after they flush it another a couple of times, they figure it’s OK to politely observe that the water in these parts is yellow. I respond, “Yep, and you don’t want to drink it either.”

Potable means you can drink it.

I have a neighbor who works for the State who says bottled water was invented in Florida. He leaves off the reason – only a fool would drink the water here. My water is yellow because the farmers up north dump loads of fertilizers on their fields whose run-off goes directly into the aquifers. Nobody in Deep South Florida gives a shit and when it comes to election time when there could be a change to elect a government that might care to do something about it, the Urban and Caribbean Floridas stay away from the polls. They figure it’s cheaper to buy bottled water.


The Thing That Cannot Be Named

It goes on and on. State employees are forbidden to use the phrase ‘Climate Change’ because our current Governor as well as our last two former ones didn’t believe such a thing exists. If you live in the Miami or Tampa areas twenty years ago, streets were pretty dry throughout the year even if they were a couple of blocks from the ocean. Now we get localized flooding every time there is high tide due to the Thing That Cannot Be Named. Since global warming does not exist in Florida but property insurers have suddenly become reluctant to sell insurance for homes within three miles of a beach, the state stepped in to guarantee any losses insurers might incur if The Thing That Cannot Be Named causes flood damage to a property. The Deep South Floridians haven’t figured out that they are now paying to ensure the big high rises along South Beach. However, they have done a lot more dumber things so I am betting they aren’t going to figure that one out for a long, long time.

The Home Depot in Lake City

What else have we got? Conceal and Carry – you bet – it all started here. Ditto with Stand Your Ground laws. You don’t see a lot of gun slingers out in the open here in Miami but stop in at a Wynn-Dixie (it’s a grocery store chain) in Ocala and it’s like walking along Main Street in Tombstone when the cattle drive comes through.

There is another interesting area that Florida is also a leader in – the number of hate groups that call this state home. The Southern Poverty Law Institute inventories hate groups by state. Last year, Florida had 66 of them, more than any other state except California (‘natch) and tied with Texas (double ‘natch). Some people might say that relates to another interesting statistic – 93% of all white people who shoot someone with a Stand Your Ground defense get off while only 26% of blacks do. I am just saying.

Most people who live in Florida know most of this stuff one way or the other. Maybe not the statistic but certainly the effect. None of us pay income taxes. We like that. A whole bunch of us drink bottled water because we want to live. The larger bunch that don’t drink bottled water eventually gets a dreaded disease but as the chance of them having medical insurance is pretty low, they won’t do much about it until it’s too late and the state has to pay a lot of money to medicate them while they die. Their survivors will still continue to complain the state shouldn’t be providing medical care to anyone anytime – doctoring ain’t the business of the state.

How can you go wrong with Spring Water that has an Eagle on its label?

It is not likely anything will change. The Deep South Florida has been keener on voting than the rest of Florida for the last eight presidential elections. Forget the off year elections – most people in Miami don’t know such a thing exists. So if you ignore elections and nothing changes, well you really can’t complain can you? And that seems to be just fine for every one that lives here – the Urban and Caribbean guys get to keep a whole bunch of tourist dollars every year and no income tax is a nice thing if you think about it that way. Sure you can’t drink the ground water but that’s why Wynn Dixie stocks all those shelves of spring water.

 

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Thanksgiving 2018

Somewhere in all of this, Barron got lost.

10. Donald Trump – When it comes to figuring out things you’re thankful for this year, you got to admit Trump is pretty high up on the list. White guys can be white guys again! White women too as long as their OK with a little grab assing now and then. How good is that? Now it’s cool to talk about shoving all the spicks, beaners, colored, curry munchers and gooks on to boat and push it into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Pretty sweet. Some Yids too but you have to sort of quiet about that. Trump’s daughter is married to a Yid. And a couple ‘loaned’ Donald a lot of money. But other than them, it’s OK.

9.  Cable TV – When I was a kid, you had three broadcast channels on the TV set. Each showed five minutes of commercials spread over a thirty minute show. In the late 1970s, cable came along. It had 30 channels and –wow – commercial free. But you had to pay a monthly fee for it and we couldn’t afford it. But to watch a whole movie in your living room – fucking awesome! Now it’s 2018. There are almost 300 channels on cable. And they each show at least 15 minutes of commercials in every thirty minute slot. Shit, some channels are nothing but commercials 24 hours a day and tens of thousands of people watch them. Why should we be thankful? Well – this is a wonderful lesson of how capitalism works in America. The big guys always take the little guy’s money. And they will pump commercials into your life until you just give up and empty your wallet on their doorstep. Admit it – nobody else in the world has shit like this on their TV. Another reason why America is so great.

8.  Cell Phone Drivers – you’re sitting in a traffic intersection waiting for the light to turn green. There is one car in front of you. The light turns green. The car does not move. You wait 20 seconds then give the horn a short tap. The car does no move. You hit the horn harder two times. No body moves. Then you lay it on. The car in front of you finally makes their turn. You notice through the car’s rear window the driver has a phone in their ear. The light is red again. You have not moved.

This is an opportunity to exercise what the Buddha called nijhana khanti – the virtue of patience. You should be thankful. It is often difficult for us to find time in our busy lives for meditation and reflection. You have been given the opportunity to experience deep spiritual awareness from a person you’d normally would call a shithead. Give thanks.

Old white guys taking care of business.

7.  Brett Kavanaugh – Anybody of average intelligence who works hard and trusts in God can be anything they want in this country. Even President. At least that’s what we’re told by the third grade. It’s bullshit of course but rarely do you get an object lesson on just how deep the muck is like the one President Trump gave us with Brett Kavanaugh. The man was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, schooled in an elite preppy school where drinking until you passed out and fucking everything that walked made you a winner as long as you went to Mass on Sunday. Then off to Harvard to acquire a stoner’s belly and a bevy of drinking friends whose daddies either owned a Wall Street hedge fund or were related to one of the Bushes. It’s one of those guys who got Brett his first job with Ken Star and it was Starr who taught him all about mud slinging, guzzle vodka, and get some ass while still being the Eucharist Minister at Holy Trinity on N Street. Then he gets to be a Supreme Court justice. Talk about the rewards for putting your nose to the grindstone. .

None of the Huckabees actually believe in science let alone genetics.

6.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders – Mike Huckabee’s big little girl. Politicians like to portray women as kinder, more gentle humans than the average man. Unless they are running against one for office in which case they tend to want to lock her up. So you got Sarah, who grew up on pork bellies and pecan pie, learned racism from her bible token father, and then lost every scrap of moral values (assuming she ever had any) making up stories for the world’s biggest con man. But she has a syrupy southern accent. It’s all good.

 

5. Gluten Free Foods – Gluten free bread makes us thankful for the taste of real bread. Lots of people suddenly found themselves gluten intolerant a couple of years ago and spawned a whole industry of shysters willing to separate them from their money. Gluten free Aspirin? Come on Walmart – how dumb do you think we all are? Well it turns out, it sells pretty well; better than the old Bayer brand. And people still wonder how could so many Americans vote for Trump.

4. Newport Kentucky – We American’s are trashy people. But you never realize just how tidy most of us are until you spend a week in Newport Kentucky. Newport is a sleepy little Ohio River town due south of Cincinnati. But it ain’t a durn thing like Cincinnati; it’s classic Redneck – grits on every breakfast menu, ash trays on the table, and front yard planters made from white-walls. And trash. White trash of course but also real trash and a lot of it. The city’s motto should be ‘The World Is My Ashtray’ because here it is. Trash is everywhere. The city sends out guys sentenced to community service once a week to pick it all up every couple of days. But 24 hours later, the ground is covered with cans, broken glass bottles, dog shit, wrappers from every imaginable fast food outlet and, of course, bunches and bunches of cigarette butts. Newport makes you really appreciate the guy in the car in front of you for only chucking an empty beer can out the window. In Newport, he’d be throwing out whatever happened to be in the kitchen trash can.

  • 3.    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) – FCA is the car industry’s worst manufacturer. For eight years Jeep, Dodge, RAM and FIAT have never been out of the bottom 10 of Consumer Reports car reliability and safety rankings. Eight years. Jeeps roll over on gentle curves and break apart after three years. The most costly car to maintain in the world is the little 2016 FIAT 500. Because of FCA, we are thankful we don’t have to keep searching through the internet on who makes the worst cars. By the way, what SUV has been the bestseller year after year for the last eight years – Jeep. And people still wonder how could so many Americans vote for Trump.
    You can’t make this stuff up.

    2. Evangelicals – You’ve got to be thankful we have so many evangelical Christians around. They make us laugh every day. Most of them are simple, zany and clueless though a few have a bit of a mean streak, especially when they meet up with a person of color. Or a Jew. But other than that, the misfits who call Christ their Lord can be pretty funny. They live in La La Land and love to talk about it. No science to fuck up their lives, no worries about death – their biggest problem is how to avoid baking a cake for a gay couple. How hard is that?


    1. Dogs – they get you through the day.

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Frank Borman – American Hero

1957 – America was losing the Cold War with Russia. The year ended with the shit really hitting the fan.

October 1st – The Strategic Air Command initiates 24/7 nuclear alert in anticipation of a Soviet ICBM surprise attack. Something was brewing with the Russian Rocket Force but it turns out it wasn’t an attack. Because

October 4th –  The Sputnik satellite was launched. President Eisenhower is depressed though he noted to Mamie that an ICBM attack would have been worse.


November 3rd –  Sputnik 2 was launched. Khrushchev smirks ‘with little Laika aboard’. The dog dies and becomes a Soviet hero. Eisenhower kicks Heidi, Mamie’s husky Weimaraner. Heidi survives with a bruised rib but Ike ends up missing a week of golf as he takes Mamie and Heidi to Kansas City so Mamie can spend time with her mother.

November 7th – Admiral ‘Rip’ Radford, Chairmen of the Joint Chief of Staff, recommends President Eisenhower initiate an urgent campaign to build fallout shelters. The Russians are ready to ‘completely fuck us over’ was Admiral Radford’s assessment.


You’re joking of course. Right? Right? Hmm.

November 15th – Khrushchev challenges Eisenhower to a missile ‘shooting match’ to prove Russia is far ahead of the United States in missile capabilities. Eisenhower, however, declines.

1958 – America grits its teeth against the swarthy Russians. Republicans in the House steal Herbert Hoover’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan to stir up the folks down home.

January 21st – Eisenhower delivers his famous ‘Duck and Cover’ State of the Union address. Congress immediately approves a national program to build bomb shelters in all American cities and insure schools are equipped with strong metal desks.

March 12th – Yakety Yak is recorded by the Coasters

April 17th – Frank Borman, an Air Force professor at West Point, requests a transfer back to aircraft testing. He is pissed. Fucking Russians. By 1960 he is finally back flying experiment aircraft. He joins NASA in 1962. A picture of Khrushchev’s ass hangs in his locker. Fucking Russians

Frank Borman turned 90 this year. Most of us remember him as the leader of the first space craft to orbit the moon. Neil Armstrong would come next. But Frank proved you could get there, circle around it for a couple of days, and then come back all in one piece. He was a hero. A true American Hero.

At 90, people badger you to reminisce. NPR (who else would have remembered, eh?) interviewed him hoping (I assume) he would revel in the excitement of shooting into space, the thrill of being the first person to see the far side of the moon and relish the experience of being in space for six days, of seeing the first ‘Earthrise’ in history.

Actually, he said, “it was very boring.” In fact, he seemed to have had an awful time. The moon sucked. Borman described it as ” Devastation. Meteor craters. No color at all, just different shades of grey. I wouldn’t want to go there.” Wow, that would have surprised Neil Armstrong. Why didn’t Frank tell anyone about it? “Nobody asked”, he said. A sensible answer I guess but still, he could have at least told Armstrong not to get his hopes up.

Fuck the Russians!

To Borman, it was just a job. Fly a rocket to the moon and back. The Russians had never come close to doing anything like that and he wanted to be the guy to rub it in their faces. “I wanted to participate in beating the Soviets. But that’s the only thing that motivated me. Beating the damn Russians.” How about being in space, experiencing weightlessness? “Boring after 30 minutes”, he didn’t spend a second thinking about his answer. NASA asked him if he wanted to land on the moon in a subsequent Apollo mission but he turned them down. “No interest. Why would anyone want to do that?”

Well America’s idiot savant Elon Musk would. Actually he just wants to fly around the moon ($200K per ticket); it’s Mars he wants to land on. That’s where the idiot part comes in. Not only does he want to fly there, he wants to live there – in a big self-supporting city which would be part of a huge earthling settlement which would grow into the place humans would escape to when the earth is destroyed by climate change/nuclear catastrophe/unsustainable population growth/Donald Trump/whatever. He quips he plans to die on Mars. Well if he can figure out a way to get there, I am with him – he will probably die there. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long to see how he fares. The first Mars launch is scheduled for 2023. If Musk is aboard the thing – and how can he not be – he will arrive by the end of 2024.

It’s a longer trip so we have more in-flight movies. And beer.

The savant part of Musk built the Heavy Falcon rocket that lifts huge payloads into space and can recover its spent rocket stages by softly landing them on a target as small as Mamie’s dog Heidi. That is quite a trick. The Heavy Falcon is the most powerful rocket every built (take that you dirty Russkies) and SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company, has basically becomes NASA’s space travel outsourcer.

Musk is now working on the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The BFR is the fucker that will take passengers to the moon and back (first flight already sold out) and then on to Mars. Yea it’s a big jump from a two day trip to the moon and a year’s trip to Mars. That’s when the idiot Musk pops back in. This whole moon trip thing was supposed to happen by now but, as usual, Musk is running late. 2020 is the new date. To the Moon Alice, to the Moon. And then on to Mars in 2023 three years after that! I can’t wait.

It is hard not to come back to Frank Borman’s opinion of space travel. Why in the name of Heidi the dog would you do this? A Moon trip for $200K? At least two years of your life wasted just to step foot on red dust?


They charge 200,000 dollar round trip; we only charge 150 thousand.  No assigned seats though. Bring your own food.

Maybe I am an old fogey. But what I like about space travel is that it could get me from New York City to London in 15 minutes. I’d pay good money for that. Who’s working on that angle? Richard Branson who owns Virgin Airlines, started his own rocket company, Virgin Galatic, twelve years ago to develop a rocket that could take a bunch of people 80 miles up above the earth’s atmosphere and then bring them down again a few minutes later. The aircraft could connect any two places in the world in 20 minutes or less. If done on a large enough scale to be affordable, it would change the world. Lunch in Paris, see a show in New York, back in time to hit the hay in Honolulu. But a couple of years ago, Branson dropped this dream. Now he wants to take people to the moon. An intercontinental rocket that can hold a hundred people sounds a whole lot more affordable, valuable and safer than one that can fly a dozen people to the moon and back.

I haven’t mentioned Jeff Bezos yet. He has rockets too. His goal is modestly similar to Branson’s – ferry people to the moon and back and maybe deliver some packages to the International Space Station along the way. But if Musk gets enough people to live on Mars, Bezos will find a way to get them their Prime deliveries.

I still just wish one of the loonies would figure out a way to get me to London in 15 minutes.


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Allways Always

Nature’s deepest secrets are always there for anyone to see and understand. But you have to look.

Albert Einstein

Third Lecture: On Tensor Differential Principles

Mrs. Baker’s Sixth Grade Science Class, Matawan Primary School

Matawan, NJ

We have never promoted a product on this website. Sure, we have bashed a few – Microsoft, Panera Bread, Kmart (R.I.P), and everything made by Fiat/Chrysler to name a few. Nobody listens (since 2009, Jeep continues to be the best selling SUV in America and also the least reliable, most unsafe vehicle in the world. Go Figure!!), but if you sell junk, we like to write about it. Promotions are another story. This site isn’t here to sell anybody anything. Up until now: we found a revolutionary new design to a common, utilitarian product used by millions of people every da. We had to share it. This isn’t just someone who has made a better mousetrap, this is someone who has rethought the whole mice catching business.

What are we talking about? Glasses. That’s right – the thing that hangs on your nose so you can see what you’re doing. They have been around for century and principle has never changed. Stick two pieces of magnifying glass in front of your eyeballs and voila, you can read a menu and see the car in front of you. How do you majorly change something as simple as that? Well Shimshoo Hunan did – it’s called Allways Glasses and they are the world’s first ever reversible glasses.

Why hasn’t anyone thought about such a thing before? We will answer that question in a bit but first let’s describe how these glasses work. At first glance they look just like ordinary glasses, but once you look closely – you see that one temple part bends one way while the other the is turned opposite. This means you can wear the glasses with the nose pads resting on your nose (the classic glasses look) or flip them over and have the bridge between the two lenses rest on your nose. Because of the ingenious shaping of the two temple pieces, the glasses feel snug and comfortable no matter which way they are put on.

Now why would you want to flip your glasses over and wear them like that? Well, if you wear glasses for any length of time, try it. When you reverse the position of the lenses bridge so that it rests on your nose, there is a miraculous freeing of the nasal canals; your near field of vision opens up and you see things that were only blurred outlines with glasses worn the conventional way.

ALLWAYS RIGHT!

People who wear bifocals will love Allways Glasses. When you work on a computer, read a books or review memos at your desk, you are holding your head at an unnatural angle so your eyes align to a bifocal’s reading lenses. The muscles in your neck, jaw and eye sockets are stretched and bent. Over time this increase fatigue, and in some people, leads to headaches or bruxism. Flip your glasses over and try it. Now you are working on your computer with you head up, pointed straight ahead – no neck strain or tired eyes from continuously looking down. Older business men and sports fans who enjoy a few drinks at the downtown strip club every week will love them. Ever offer a dancer five bucks to have her flap her buttocks two inches from you nose and you can see those little tattooed messages running down her ass crack but you can’t read them because your looking up and your eyes are directed to the bifocal’s distance lenses? With Allways, you just flip those glasses around and every detail of the lady’s body snaps into focus including all the clever tattoos.

Who would have thought such a simple design could so profoundly change the way you see things? It’s much like cracking gasoline from crude oil, making atoms out of quarks or disposing radioactive waste. The simplicity of the design belies its genius.

So why did it take so long for a company like Shimhoo Hunan to figure out a completely new way to make glasses? One word – Luxottica. Luxottica is the company who owns just about every brand of glass eyewear that exits. You probably never heard of them because they market little under their own label but if you wear glasses, you are Luxottica customer. Lens Crafters – owned by Luxottica. Pearl Vision – ditto. Oakley, the same. Those five hundred dollar designer glasses from Coach or Ralph Lauren or Chanel or from wherever one can buy five hundred dollar designer glasses; every darn one of them is made by Luxottica. It is an Italian company, long thought to be a Mafia front, based in Milano. Their sole business plan is to make cheap glasses in hundreds of styles and sell them at enormously inflated prices (plus launder Italian construction company money). True innovation would eat into sales and that, my friends, is where the Italians draw the line. So maybe they tried out the reversed temple parts in the lab but when the big wigs figured out that if you could simply flip your glasses upside down to see something close better, people are going to buy less reading glasses. It’s that simple.

Shimshoo Hunan may be their next victim but right now, this small group of engineers and entrepreneurs is kicking sand in Luxottica’s face. They are selling Allways Glasses in fifteen different styles for men and women. They make their lenses using the same high quality computer controlled lens grinders Luxottica employs. They sell a basic set of prescription glasses for seven dollars. Ten dollars will get you bifocals. The price range of their designer glasses starts at fifteen dollars and ends at thirty. They say they are making a healthy profit on every pair of glasses they make.

We like Shimshoo Hunan. We have had a couple pair of their bifocals for six months and they are superb; scratch resistant lens in a light weight bridge on a set of frames that looks like Gucci. You should try some of their stuff as well. It is only a matter of time before the Luxottica hoodlums start leaving a horse head in the boardroom of Shimshoo Hunan. Then it will be too late to get the best darn eye glasses anybody ever made. Allways Glasses at www.allwaysglasses.cn

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Meyers And Sons

It is August in Miami. That means hot humid weather. It’s in the low 80s when you wake up and still in the 90s when you’re ready to call it a day. It also rains every day. August is right in the middle of hurricane season, but our luck has held; the Caribbean has been mighty calm so far this year. But we get rain and when it rains, it comes down thick and hard with plenty of lighting and thunder to make sure it gets your attention. It rolls in fast on the wings of a western wind that drops the temperature ten degrees in sixty seconds, dumps rain by the buckets for 10 minutes, then bang, its gone; the sky clears and the sun quickly turns the wetness into a miserable outdoor sauna. It happens every afternoon. Sometimes twice.

Joe Meyers ran a paint store across the street from where I then had studio. He sold house paint, the Sherwood Williams kind. He also sold all the accoutrements you’d need to paint a room or a house: brushes, rollers, ladders – stuff like that. If you ever wondered where painters get their nifty white painters outfits, they get them at places like Joe’s. Pants and coveralls made from a heavy white canvas material, T-shirts with the ‘Sherwood Williams’ logo on the back in bright green ink, and white hats that looked like baseball caps someone squared in right angles with a pair of scissors. I asked him why painters wore white outfits since you figured anybody worth their salt in spreading pain around was bound to get some on their head or legs or arms. Joe didn’t know. What he did know was that your pro painters wore clean white clothes every day which meant their stuff got washed a lot which, in turn, meant they wore out fairly quickly. Joe said his biggest selling item was the white pants.

The store was called Meyers and Sons Paint. Joe was the one and only son. His father, also named Joe, started the business when Joe was a toddler. That was right after WWII ended in 1945. North Miami was still mostly sand and swamp then but Miami developers had started building north in the early 1940s. The war stopped things for three years but by 1946, subdivisions were exploding all over Miami’s northern suburbs. Joe senior built his store in what was then a tiny little strip mall and waited for suburbia to catch up to him. It didn’t take long. When it did, he was ready to sell them some paint. The sign went up when Joe was born. Joe’s dad must have figured he would have a brother or two before it was all over but it didn’t happen. Joe had a sister, who was born two years after he was; after that, no more little Meyers.

There was never a question in either of the Joes’ minds on what Joe Jr. would do when he graduated from High School. He would work in the store and eventually take it over from daddy. He did too. His father formally turned the store over to him in the late 80s. Joe senior was in his late 60s by then and thought he wanted to finally take some time off and travel around the country with Joe’s mother. The travelling bug didn’t bite too long. Whether his dad tired of the travel or his mother tired of his dad, Joe wasn’t sure. But Joe senior was back in the store within six months helping at the cash register, dusting shelves, and sitting in the back office drinking coffee with some of the old painters. He was there every day the store was open up until the week before he died in 1993. He loved the store; he loved his son cared about it as much as he did. His only disappointment was he had no grandson – Joe junior and his wife, Thelma, had no children.

I moved into the area in 1991. Joe was in his early fifties; daddy in seventies. I never bought a lot of paint there; maybe a half a dozen quarts over the twenty years I knew him. In fact the first time I met him was when I was walking back from the corner deli with a sandwich and one of those August downpours hit and I high tailed it to the closest shelter which was the awning the covered the front of Meyers and Sons Paint store. Joe had also been out there people watching when the storm blew through. He said then what I was to hear again at least a thousand times – “Your skin is waterproof you know. People don’t seem to understand that.” Standing under the awning, I could see what he meant. There were people completely soaked zigzagging up the street as if running in angles would somehow make them a smaller target for the rain drops. There were mothers under giant umbrellas walking up the sidewalk with a clutch of kids clinging to their waists. And then the little old Jewish couples in long sleeve slickers that hung below their knees walking patiently though rain with the same cadence they would when the weather was clear and dry. They dressed like that no matter the weather. I had learned long ago that old people in Miami – and there are a lot of them – somehow lost their ability to absorb warmth from the sun as they aged. They walk around on the hottest days in long sleeves and a jacket. When the evening temperature dropped into the 80s, they usually don a sweater too.

Mr. Butterfield On His Evening Walk Yesterday – It Was 92° Outside.

Joe and I got to be good friends. He always had a pot of bad coffee on the hot plate in the back room office and most mornings, I’d stop by after he opened to sip a cup with him before the morning started. By the time I knew him, there was a Sears store a couple of miles west in Opa-locka that sold pain a lot cheaper than Joe did so most of his business was with pro guys who bought paint by the five gallon bucket and had been buying from Joe or his daddy for years and years. These guys were dying out but there still were enough of them to keep the place going. And that was nice. Joe might not have sold a lot of paint in the neighborhood but it was convenient to be able to buy a paint brush or roller refills right around where you lived instead of having to trek all the way to Opa-locka. Plus the store had turpentine and for whatever reason, Joe sold a lot of that in the neighborhood. Joe said it was a good cockroach killer. He might have been right; lord knows we had tons and tons of cockroaches.

Joe closed the shop eight years ago in 2010. He was seventy two. I never met Thelma. They had a two bedroom bungalow down in Miami Shores. Joe and Thelma had been married for 26 years when the shop closed. They tried to have a kids Joe told me, but they couldn’t. He didn’t say why.

A carry-out open up in the store’s space in 2012. It last three years but lost their beer license for selling to minors. It has been empty ever since. The awning still covers the store front. The deli is still on the corner and I go there almost every day for coffee or a snack. Yesterday I was walking back when the skies opened up with drenching rain. I made it under the awnings without hardly a drop hitting me. Then I heard “Your skin is waterproof you know.” And walked across the street.

 

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