Friday, June 13, 2008

Don't Ever Laugh at an Orangutan!

Our school district took elementary, junior and high school students by bus to the Pittsburgh Zoo and the Planetarium every spring. Because of this, my family didn't take us, except for one time when my grandparents wanted to go to the Zoo. My parents, my brother Bill, my grandparents and I piled into my grandfather's dark gray DeSota coupe and we arrived at the Pittsburgh Zoo about 45 minutes later. In the 'fifties, trips took longer because the roads were all two-laned and narrow, and the cars didn't go so fast.

Since my brother and I were very familiar with the zoo, we lead the grown-ups around, pointing out the many exotic animals in cages or fenced-in areas. My grandmother, who we called "Mimmi", had a bad habit of sometimes making fun of others. On that day at the zoo, she directed her laughter toward the hippopotamuses, the elephants, and most of the apes. The animals were oblivious to her behavior until we reached the cage of the Orangutans. As we all stood gazing at these most intriguing, colorful creatures, my grandmother stepped up close to the cage bars and started to laugh as she pointed and made faces at the Orangutans. All of a sudden, the largest one pursed his lips and spit. His aim was excellent and Mimmi was hit in the face with the spittle. The rest of us didn't know how to respond -- with horror or with laughter -- because we were as shocked as Mimmi was. I can remember feeling embarrassed for my grandmother, and at the same time wanting to laugh. And there was a mean-spirited part of me that felt like she got what she deserved. Needless to say, Mimmi was much more subdued the remainder of the day. We all knew not to EVER mention the episode in her presence, but over the years, we had many chuckles at her expense.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

US Economy

What is happening economically in this country is disgraceful. The high oil/gasoline prices are blamed on high global demand. It is interesting that this high demand, which is different from a decade or so ago, is coming from countries which have been given American industries by American industries. We were sold out and now we are beginning to pay for it across America. Not only have we lost jobs to countries like China, but in the process of taking our industries and manufacturers, we are now in financial crisis. Where do the soaring gasoline, power, and food prices end? Are we going to experience not just a recession, but another Great Depression? When people have maxed out the credit cards paying for necessities, lose their homes to pay for gasoline and food, begin to live on the streets because they can't pay the rent, can no longer afford any medications, lose jobs because of the cost of transportation, what is going to happen? None of the industries we have left in America will have any buyers for their products, excepting the countries to whom we were initially sold out.

I realize I am not an economist nor an elected government official. However, why can't our government limit the obscene profits the oil companies are making? The oil companies say they need the huge profits for research and prospecting. However, if our country, as well as other industrialized countries, move to alternate forms of power, then all that profit for research and prospecting will be unnecessary. Should the oil companies be required to give the excess profit back to the consumers? Not likely.

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