Thoughts Found Here You May Not Like

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I am getting over a nasty cold. Or speaking more precisely, I am getting over the effects of the drugs that I took to alleviate the symptoms of my nasty cold.
My doctor once told me that a cold lasts for about a week. Or you can take some medicine and it will last about seven days.
But I have found in life that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Maybe I should have just run around like a two-year-old with snot dripping. (Okay, a snotty handlebar moustache is not even a pretty thing for me to think about). But the hollowheadedness from the residual cold drugs hangs around way too long.
Since I am not thinking so clear (warning to my detractors: mind your comments carefully), I will offer you some wisdom from other writers on dealing with adversity. Metaphorically, the adversity of cold drugs.
“Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist.”   ~Edgar Watson Howe
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”        ~Mark Twain
“Suffering is one of the ways of knowing you’re alive.”    ~Jessamyn West
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”    ~Elbert Hubbard
“It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing—that’s the Lord’s test.”    ~Mahalia Jackson
“I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain.”          ~Lily Tomlin
“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of something bad.”                 ~Harry Caray
“From those who have never sailed come the quickest and harshest judgments on bad seamanship in harsh seas.”     ~Susan Glaspell
“It’s no use to grumble and complain, it’s just as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain—why, rain’s my choice.”   ~James Whitcomb Riley

While Contemplating Tax Increases Consider Sin

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Last week I vented on being carded for proof of age when buying alcohol. It must have worked because over the weekend I made purchases of adult beverages without being asked to prove I was an adult.
As we are all aware, funding the cost of healthcare is on every elected officials mind along with funding roadways and bridges. The legislature is looking at some form of a gas tax & BMV fee increase that would go to resurface roads and make for safe bridges.
So while on the subject of funding for necessities, should we consider raising the taxes on alcohol?
It’s an idea that legislators should give some thought as they mull over ways to pay for health-care related expenses — particularly when looking at investing in mental health and addiction treatment.
Currently, 50% of the revenue collected from the alcohol excise tax is distributed to the state general fund, with the remaining 50% being allocated to cities and towns according to a formula based on population.
During fiscal year 2016, Indiana collected $48.3 million in alcohol excise tax revenue, according to the state’s 2016 taxes, revenues and appropriations handbook.
Among our 50 states’ excise taxes on alcohol, Indiana ranks 24th highest for liquor, 33rd highest for wine and 40th highest for beer, according to information found at salestaxhandbook.com.
For reference on another ‘sin tax’ at 99¢ per pack, Indiana ranks 37th highest in cigarette taxes. Nationwide, the average state cigarette tax is $1.69 per pack.
According to the Indiana Division of Mental Health & Addictions, at least 50% of Hoosiers drink alcohol, although not all of them are regular drinkers. (This number could be higher if Baptists would not “bear false witness” in their answers.)
So who would pay? As it turns out, in a number of studies conducted in the past 10 years, construction workers and those in the food and beverage industries rank in the top occupations for smoking (around 30%) and for heavy alcohol consumption (11.8-17.5%).
When studies break groups down into specific professions, lawyers and doctors typically rank fourth and fifth as occupations with the highest amount of alcohol consumption.
Lawmakers (quite a few of which are attorneys) should look at alcohol excise taxes when looking for additional funding.
The studies did not indicate just where those in the newspaper industry rank in alcohol consumption. But as regular readers will know, I am not a closet drinker.
We thank the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly for their research inspiring this week’s column.

Freshly Official & Already Put To The Test

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I now have in my possession official proof: I have gray hair and Medicare. That patriotic red, white & blue card not only provides me with health insurance but insures that I can officially act like an old codger with little patience for suffering fools lightly.
And it took less than 10 days for it to be put to the test. Not the health insurance part; the cranky codger part.
I was shopping in a corporate owned big box store whose name will be left undisclosed to protect the guilty. But figure they pack your purchases in yellow, blue, white or tan plastic bags and you will figure out who the guilty parties are. They all engage in what they call their version of providing an excellent customer experience by inconveniencing customers.
I traditionally shop at the local mom & pop shops, especially if they are a Times advertiser, but there are times that that just can’t be accomplished and I must resort to the dancing to the corporate tune…reluctantly & sometimes (as you will read) with attitude.
Earlier this month I was in one of those colorful plastic bag purveyors. I made a number of purchases, and happened to notice a particularly fine sale price on a large bottle of Merlot. Planning on pasta for supper, I indulged my unsophisticated palate with a purchase of the $5 vintage.
At the check out things went fine until the heavily tattooed young person scanned the bottle of wine and asked to see my ID.
“You sure you’re old enough to scan a bottle of alcohol?” I asked. She assured me that she was but declined to show me her ID.
“Do you think I dye my hair this color of gray just to fool cashier’s into selling me booze?” I queried. “Do I look like I am under 21? Do I look like I am under 40? I think I have been over 21 for longer than you have been on this earth,” I badgered.
I heard some chuckling behind me and glanced back to see about a half dozen other customers amused by the corporate lunacy causing the standoff.
“I need to make sure you are old enough to buy alcohol,” the young cashier said.
So I pulled out my new Medicare card. “Do you know how old you have to be to get one of these?” I asked.
There was more laughter behind me so I turned and asked for a vote. “How many of you think I look over 21?” I asked the other customers.
They all raised their hand including the pre-school youngster waiting with his grandma.
“There you have it,” I said as I turned back to the cashier. “You’re the only one who thinks I look younger than 21,” I said beginning to get more than a little miffed.
“I need to see your driver’s license or I could be fired,” the young cashier said.
Well, not wanting to be a party to an unemployment insurance claim, I showed her my driver’s license as she told me Excise Police sometimes review surveillance footage to see if the store is selling to people under age.
“No, they do not,” I shot back emphatically. “They have more important things to do that watch a TV screen for crimes not committed.”
“But they do hire people who are under 21 to try to buy alcohol to test cashiers,” said I, “but I am not one of them.”
“Now,” I asked as I gathered up my purchases, “you saw my driver’s license. What’s my date of birth?”
All I got was a blank stare and an “I don’t know” as I left the building.
“Wasn’t that an exercise in futility,” I thought as the automatic doors slid shut.
IC Code 7.1-5-10-23 says…”if a person reasonably appears to be less than 40 years of age they are required to supply proof of birth.” The graphic of me at the top of the column needs to be updated. My hair is grayer and my moustache longer. I think that sketch is older than the cashier carding me.
I checked with the local office of the State Excise Police and was told excise enforcement does not like having the blame for customer inconvenience placed at their feet. “Corporations should not be blaming the alcohol enforcement division for their lack of common sense policies,” Excise Officer Christine told me.
Well I can agree with that. Only in the corporate world would you blame the people who control the renewal of your license to sell alcohol as the reason for inconveniencing senior citizens to prove their age.
In that last millennium, back when I was 30, I thought it was flirtatious for a comely barmaid to card me to see if I was old enough to drink. But that was then; this is now and now it is an idiotic intrusion to be thought to be under age 21.
Whether it is showing a driver’s license or giving a date of birth (I usually give one in 1995 that calculates I am only 22 just to see if the cashier is paying attention or just going through the motions), it is an inconvenience and an intrusion.
I am not in favor of selling alcohol to those not old enough to buy it. But there needs to be shown some corporate common sense (but alas, that is a contradiction of terms).
There is a business phrase for those of us who feel abused by corporate “nuke ‘em all” policies: former customers.
– – – – – –
Caution To All Cashiers: If a tall, gray haired man with a long moustache approaches your check out register with alcohol, to purchase, don’t ask him for an ID, enter your own date of birth, and he will leave you with a smile, a thank you, and glowing remarks on the online survey you always ask to be completed.

Sometimes It’s Difficult…

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

I could write about the weather and how warm February temperatures have early spring flowers blooming and how mid-March temperatures are doing their best to do in the early spring blooming flowers.
I could write about the Ides of March, the mid-point of the month of which Caesar was warned of his impending death and whose last words were “Et tu Brute?” (You too Brutus?) as his colleague(?) joined in with the crowd to stab him to death.
Or I could write about how we embrace celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this Friday (probably because of the revelry & beer) but how our American ancestors’ discriminated against Irish immigrants much like too many of today’s now naturalized by birth A-mur-acun immigrants discriminate against those who don’t look like us.
That kind of discrimination is one reason why Jackson County became the home of a number of early German immigrants. They were farmers and business owners who pretty much kept to themselves for their own safety. Their worship services were conducted in German until World War I when they realized some might question their allegiance to America by holding church services in a foreign tongue. America was at war with Germany, you will recall.
There was a switch to English and, as added emphasis of their loyalty, many German churches began displaying the American flag at the front of their sanctuary. Not to be outdone by the German immigrants, other churches joined in the patriotic display.
Or I could just write that it is difficult to come up with a new topic each week. That would be more of the truth.

The Wisdom Of Others

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

“There is very little difference in people but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude,” penned W. Clement Stone. Frequently we have found that there are profound truth in simple sentences or phrases composed by others. The following are some thoughts on life; some penned by the famous, some by the obscure.
“Nobody forgets where he buried the hatchet.”     ~Kin Hubbard
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”
~Mark Twain
“A bore is a person who talks when you want him to listen.”
~Ambrose Bierce
“No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from.”
~Linus Van Peeble from Charles Schultz ‘Peanuts’
Time heals of wounds but “times wounds all heels” according to Jane Ace.
“I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.”     ~Gildna Radner
“The perils of duck hunting are great, especially for the duck.”     ~Walter Cronkite
“A retentive memory may be a good thing but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness.”      ~Elbert Hubbard.
“Most of us grew up poor and didn’t know it. Today, if you are poor, the government never lets you forget it.”        ~Paul Harvey
“Always select the right sort of parents.”    ~George Ade
“Man does not live by words alone, although he sometimes must eat them.”              ~Adlai Stevenson
“The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.”    ~Frank Lloyd Wright
There is even wisdom for our current White House administration:
“People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes.”    ~Abigail Van Buren
“The first quality of a good education is good manners.”    ~Hubert H. Humphrey
“If humility speaks for itself, it is gone.”    ~Rev. D.L. Moody
“When in doubt, tell the truth.”    ~Mark Twain

Frogs…In February?!?!?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

What a difference a few weeks make.
In January I needed jumper cables for a jump start because of the weather. In late February with the sun shining brightly and the thermometer outside the wilderness window almost bumping 70° the batteries in my mini-SUV and my psyche are re-charged and raring to go.
The daffodils planted in the valley and along the lane have greened up and there is rapid bud swell. Some of the soft maple trees are beginning to show some slight red on the branch tips as their buds prepare to swell as well. The ferns placed in the basement to overwinter are sending up curled tendrils of new growth well before their natural forest cousins have dared think of sending up green.
The spearmint sitting next to the basement ferns has greened up as well and there is lanky growth leaning into the sunlight.
Outside, as I pulled weeds that took over last year’s herb garden, I was pleasantly surprised to see chives already growing.
As if they were thumbing their noses at the early February groundhog, I heard spring peepers down by the lake more than a month before the spring solstice. And to beat all, dodged a few frogs on the roadway as I drove home from an evening meeting.
Frogs…in February…in Indiana?!?!?
I had some gleaned ear corn that I shelled and scattered for the turkeys down in the meadow. Though I think Emma the Great Pyrenees thinks deer and turkey are an invading force and she is constantly on patrol protecting her property and her humans…oh, and Willow the camouflaged cat.
Mother Nature’s critters seemed anxious to be out and welcome the warmer temperatures. A fly crawled along the dock and took flight when I reached down to see how active it really was. Not to be outdone by the fly, a cricket moved, albeit slowly, along the edge of the water. And the bluegill of the lake swam at the surface seeking a handout of fish food…which I obliged.
But the warm February weather doesn’t always bring out the good. A tiny tick was removed from Emma’s fur. And, alas, while enjoying the unseasonably warm weather from the back deck (while also enjoying a chilled adult beverage), I swatted a mosquito attempting to dine on me.
What with the warming temperatures…yes, I know it’s just February & there’s more cold weather a comin’ (and might already be here by the time you read this)…I have a bunch of chores planned: spread round some more fertilizer, get some wildlife planting seed in the ground for later turkey & deer browse, pull the weeds in the mulch pile to use for the raise bed gardens, cut up some downed trees for next season’s fireplace wood…
With all of that to do, I’m not sure when I will find time for work at the newspaper. Except to inspire a column or two.