Monday, November 05, 2007

Notes From My Knapsack 11-11-07
Jeff Gill

Veterans and Voters and Vehemence

Booster Snapshots’ publication date is November 11, which puts the anniversary of the end of World War I smack on Sunday. Some of you get tomorrow (Monday) off work, and the mail and banks and courts hesitate a day, along with a few schools.

Generally, the once Armistice Day, still Remembrance Day, is marginally recalled as Veteran’s Day, and is a good time to say a “thank you” to those who returned, just as we honor those who did not make it back from their service on Memorial Day in May.

But with the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month falling in the middle of many worship services, I hope there’s an acknowledgment on Nov. 11 of the significance of World War I, and a recollection of what this country began learing about wars overseas.

The lessons, of course, continue.

With the detritus of Hallowe’en still laying around the house, this is a good time for me to introduce you all to the Lovely Wife’s contribution to economic forecasting. Perhaps you’ve already heard of the “Chocolate Percentage Trick-or-Treat Index of Economic Optomism,” or CPTTIEO (which has a nice, authoritative ring to it).

When the Little Guy returns from his Beggar’s Night rounds, his practice is to carefully sort the candy into types and sub-types by brand. What the Lovely Wife adds to this process is a casual eye to how much of the total candy haul are chocolate-based goodies, or as she puts it, “real candy.”

Apparently pixie sticks and suckers never did much for her.

What my wife believes is that when the percentage of a standard haul on Hallowe’en night that is chocolate-based (C-B), then a decline in the C-B% indicates reduced economic optomism, while a C-B% uptick shows people feel flush and want to share it.

Sounds as useful as anything else Jim Cramer has to say. What did your neighborhood show?

There was also some interesting seasonal news out of Iowa, where some officious idiot realized that the profusion of small pumpkin sale operations (y’know, entrepreneurism) was due, in part, to the fact that if they only sold pumpkins, they didn’t have to mess with sales tax, since Iowa like most states exempt food items.

Ah ha, said the said bureaucrat, but they do not generally eat them, they use them as dĂ©cor, which means – tonight, we tax! (Mwahahahahaha. . . .)

So the Iowa Farm Bureau and others put together a form, akin to the legal lie that associates itself with fireworks, for people to attest that they will eat some portion of their pumpkin purchase. No, really, this happened.

Which then made a number of religious thinkers ask: “Is it permissible to avoid an unjust tax by telling a lie?” Owww. Meanwhile, the bad publicity did what it was designed to do, and the legislature in Iowa will likely craft an exemption for pumpkins by next fall.

Around Sycamore Lodge, we avoid this whole problem by making pumpkin chicken soup, roasting acorn squash with butter and brown sugar (or maple syrup does nicely), and we always roast the pumpkin guts, both seeds and strings, on a cookie sheet with salt and olive oil. Take that, Iowa!

Spaghetti squash is a tradition in my family around this time of year, and the Little Guy was very skeptical as I made the sauce with the last of the garden basil, tomatoes, and green pepper. He had already figured out that the acorn squash, sweet and tasty as it may be, was a vegetable, and he was against it. So why would this big yellow thing be any different?

But the weird alchemy of scooping out real spaghetti looking stuff after an hour in the oven won him over, and he ate it all, including the sauce. Thus are small parenting victories won.

A last note, which I’ve been sitting on for a while as I don’t want to lapse into Andy Rooney parodism. This is something that’s really been bugging me for a while, though.

Surely someone can invent a radar speed measurement device for our fine state troopers that doesn’t involve shaping it like a cannon that works best when said trooper adopts a firing line stance, arms extended, sighting along the barrel, aimed right at your face?

My brief military service never involved getting shot at, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time around guns, and have spent much time teaching young people never to aim a firearm, even a toy one, at someone. And I’ve been shot at, twice, both in odd circumstances precipitated by irresponsible idiodicy on the part of others.

Anyhow, I’ve never been able to avoid a clench of my hands on the wheel and had to fight an urge to swerve when I round a bend on Route 16 and see, up ahead, someone lined up in ready position. Why should I get used to that feeling? Can’t we invent a more citizen friendly radar device? Peace out, y’all.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; if you know how to get the state to quit pointing things at us, contact Jeff at

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