Thursday, December 3, 2015

Trees






     It was another Sunday morning, mid-April, and the Weatherman had promised a beautiful, sunshiny, Spring day.  I was up early, as usual and the view through the family-room windows as I raised the blinds to let in the expected sunbeams, bid me linger for a few moments. 
     I simply love this time of day.  It has never let me down when it comes to fulfilling my expectations.  Nature seldom disappoints anyone who knows her ways.  Given enough time, the grass on my lawn will always turn green again, the dormant bulbs in the flowerbed will probe the soil which covers them for their signal to emerge and grow, bursting into those lovely, colorful blooms, and in a way which only they know, refresh the human spirit, bringing renewal to all who do not ignore them.
     As I scanned the scene before me, my eyes paused as Hazel's slender, straight trunk came into my field of vision.  "Hazel"!  what a strange name for a tree.  Stranger still is the realization that anyone would name a tree, but my Wife, Maureen had.  It was her Mother's name and I had accepted her actions because I think I understood her reason for doing so.
     Naming a tree after someone you have known and loved for most of your life is not so strange actually, not if you think about how similar they are to humans, and this morning, I was doing exactly that.
     There are many kinds of trees, just as there are many kinds of people, but their basic structure differs very little.  Trees are roots, trunk, and branches.  Humans are roots, strength of character  and area of influence.  Both have their beginnings as seeds of a sort, and both, if they are to survive, must put down some supporting roots.  A tree's root system consists of a "TAP ROOT", which is its central core and many finger-like branches, or "FEEDER ROOTS" through which it nourishes itself.  In dry periods, the tap root bores deep into the earth, usually down to and below the areas water table level, whatever the depth may be of that water table. If it is to survive, it must have that resource available to it.
     A tree will regulate its growth in direct proportion to the amount of nourishment it can obtain through its feeder roots.  Water is the determining factor in that respect.  Without water to dissolve the minerals and other organic matter within the soil and turning it into a usable kind of tree-soup, a tree will go "Dormant" for whatever length of time it remains undernourished.  There will be little or no growth for that season and a lengthy period of consecutive arid seasons will result in a stunted tree, or possibly one that is deformed.  Think about the facts which I have just stated with reference to trees, substitute love and nurturing for water as it relates to trees and apply that to a young, human child.
     Do you know how a young tree withstands the forces of Nature? It's trunk must possess sufficient strength to support its branches and yet, it must be flexible enough to bend with the force of whatever wind is present.  All the while, it must have a firm base to rely upon to keep it anchored in place without danger of its roots giving way and allowing it to be toppled over.
     The leaves on a tree's branches are not there to provide shade and beautiful scenery for some human observer.  They are the "Pump" which causes the "Tree-soup" which the feeder-roots gather to rise against the force of gravity to the very highest branches, nourishing the cells of the wood fiber bringing about increased growth.
     Have you ever noticed how some trees grow in all directions with no resemblance of order or direction?  That is the result of a variety of influences, be it their position in relation to other plant life around them or their location on a hillside or even the result of storm damage or it could be something as complicated as genetic mutation.  Do you see how these same relationships could easily apply to humans?
     If a tree has a large number of branches it also will have a great many leaves.  The branches, which support the growing twigs to which all those leaves are attached, must be strong and thick out of necessity and it follows that the trunk, which supports all those thick branches with all those leaves, must be massive and strong.  Strength does not always relate to rigid, stiffness.  Large trees with a great many branches and leaves can be easily toppled by above average, straight-line winds or be twisted and broken by the circular motion of tornadoes. 
     Take a look around after a windstorm or tornado.  Large trees which had a strong enough root system, a sturdy, yet flexible trunk, and not too many branches will usually still be standing erect.  They may be battered and damaged, some of their branches broken or missing, but they will survive.  The trees showing the most affect are the ones with shallow, surface roots, a massive, stiff trunk and too many branches.  A large willow tree is a good example.  The other survivors you will find are tall, straight, slender, and flexible with just the right amount of branches for their size.
     Nature has so many valuable lessons to teach us if we will only pay her some attention.  If you ever have the opportunity to take a walk through a wooded area and you are fortunate enough to come across one of these "Monarchs of the Forest", take the time to observe your surroundings closely.  How many other young trees are directly under the area of influence of this Monarch's massive, spreading branches?  Are there any at all?  Moreover, if there are, are they small and stunted?  Usually, the ground beneath those massive branches is covered with leaf-litter and dead branches from the great tree itself.  Even its' own offspring must have been fortunate enough to fall beyond the shadow of its parents influence if it is making any progress toward maturing at all. 
     The only reason these trees survived to gain the position and stature they presently have can be attributed to nature and fate or if you will, "Good-fortune".  They have survived to a ripe, old age for a variety of reasons, none of which can be attributed to their own efforts.  Their very position in life and within the boundaries of the forest itself allowed them enough water, sunlight and protection from the wind to survive and grow sufficiently in size and strength where they were able to survive the onslaught of all of natures perils later on.  They could have been brought down by disease, insect infestation, fire, wind, lightning, or the Woodsman's Axe, but no, such was not deemed their fate.
I have heard them speak as I sat quietly near by them, the wind was their voice and the branches, their vocal cords, and they whispered, "I am, because I was allowed to be, by one, who is greater than even me."


Clarence Bowles

Friday, November 13, 2015

Letter (rant) to my dealership's service dept.

TO:  Kerry Toyota
ATTN:  Service Department Staff

I am writing this letter because I am a long time customer … an unhappy long time customer.
As I sit here, thinking about what I might say to allow you to clearly understand where I am coming from,  I’m saying to myself, “What are you thinking? and why are you thinking it?”

Is it you hope that if I keep returning to your service department with the same complaint about my 2003 Toyota RAV4 and you keep assuring me that you have diligently checked everything possible trying to find the problem but are unable to do so, that I will become discouraged enough to give you my little truck as a trade-in on something else that will take me at least six more years to pay for, that you will have done your job?

My little truck is 13 years old but it is not worn out, a piece of junk, an old rust bucket or ready for the bone yard.  I change the oil every three thousand miles religiously.  My father taught me to do that.  I have kept to Toyota’s recommended maintenance schedule at the required intervals.  I keep my little truck in a garage all the time.  Your mechanics have told me a number of times … “it still looks like the day it was driven from the showroom floor or from our stock.”  That’s because Toyota makes a great product and I respect that fact and do all I can to keep it that way.  

I purchased my last Toyota back in 1991 from the dealership down in Covington.  It was a Camry, a GREAT Camry and it lasted me as long as this RAV4 has so far.  I am 75 years old now and hope that it will not be necessary for me to purchase another new Toyota before I shed this mortal coil and move on to a better place.

You say you are motivated by providing the best customer service available. Allow me to inform you that you have not gotten there yet.

Don’t you like making money by replacing worn out parts on you cars?  Aren’t you concerned with the future safety of all your customers?  Why would you not take the time and effort required to remove a caliper and physically inspect the pads for wear and cracks when a customer repeatedly brings their truck in complaining about brakes that lock up and are so noisy all the time?  Just removing a tire and looking at the edges of the pads is no way to estimate the condition of one’s brakes.  Removing that little rubber plug from the back of a brake drum, shining a light through it and seeing how thick the shoe pads are is not the way to evaluate the condition of brakes.  This truck has 78,000 miles on it and the brake shoes are the original ones that came on it as far as I know and I should know, being the only owner of said truck. They could be glazed, hard as diamond without any remaining friction ability left.  The drums could be grooved where the shoes have ground them down, needing resurfacing. You know all this, but still, you estimate 15 minutes labor to do this thing, an ½ hour labor to do another and expect your staff of mechanics to stay within those time limits.  

If you inspect brakes as should be done and realize that some expensive work would be required to put them back in safe condition, do you fear that a customer might believe you are taking advantage of them, gouging them, asking them to let you do unnecessary repairs just to make more profit?  I’m sorry, I simply do not understand your motivation here.

You recently discovered that I had a broken rear spring at a time when I had complained about unusual noises under the truck.  That was great!  I had you replace it, didn’t I?  Then, I heard more noises and you investigated and found that the ends on the sway--bar were bad.  That also was great!  I had you repair that, didn’t I?  Once again, I will state that I do not understand when it comes to your response about my continuing complaints about my brakes.  I wasn’t rushing you, informing you that I was in a hurry or anything.  Take the time, do the work and make the repairs, keep your customers safe and happy.  Isn’t that your job?  

SO, yesterday, I took my little truck over to Sears Automotive and told them all the symptoms associated with the brakes.  They did a free evaluation of the situation and informed me about what they found and what they might do to remedy the problems.  They also informed me what it would cost, up front, before they began the work.  At that time, they said the pads on the front were CRACKED and that was most likely some of the reason I was hearing squeals and squeaks when I braked.  I asked for the old pads so I could show your service department later what they had found.
I insisted that they resurface the drums and replace the shoes because of the 78,000 mile factor I was concerned with, about them being glazed and hardened.  They did as I asked.  

They resurfaced the rotors and replaced the pads and did a general maintenance all around. I saw the truck up on the lift as I passed by, heading out for lunch with the wife and daughter who had stopped by to check on me. The axles looked all clean and bright.

The little truck was finished and waiting for me when I returned from lunch.  As best I can figure, Sears had approximately five hours of time invested in this repair.  The total charge was less than three hundred dollars.  This guy was happy.  I only got happier as I drove home.  The brakes worked flawlessly and quietly.  No complaints from this end.


What am I hoping will happen as the result of this writing?  
I hope that you will hear me and make some changes in the way you do things.
It wouldn’t hurt if you told me personally that you were sorry for the way things has taken place and that you would try to do much better in the future.

My Brother recently purchased a new Corolla from you.  I have already talked to him about this.
My daughter also purchased a new Corolla, but not from your dealership.
She has asked me to come with her as she takes her car to Sears for brake replacements.
She knows, having dealt with a certain service dept. agent at your dealership, that women are treated as less than normal customers due to missing testicles. I have witnessed that same employee's’ attitude toward women customers first hand and personally.  It is not hearsay. I hear that you have promoted him.  Way to go Kerry Management.


Thank you for listening   -  Clarence Bowles

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rainbow Rage

It is said that the longest of journeys begin with the first step.
That’s what this is.  Also be forewarned; I will not be politically correct.  If you are sensitive, best you just keep moving on.
I will be seventy-five years old this month.  I have recently transitioned into a “Curmudgeon.”  In other words, I’m too old to care about most everything except keeping this guy happy and unloaded when it comes to social concerns.
With the introductions over; let’s get on to the reason we are here.
Believe it or not, I’ve been paying attention to what is going on in my little world.  Slowly but surely, our culture is being influenced by certain people who see themselves as smarter than your average citizen.  Their goal is to make micro-adjustments to our opinions about the LGBT organization and its participating members who are of a similar ilk, namely “GAY” in some aspect of their lifestyle.
It began with a hint that someone or some-two characters in an entertainment production being viewed by WE, the people of these United States, be it any mode of visual content, is “different”.  
Today, it is very difficult to watch a movie or weekly series on our televisions, at home, that does not include LGBT behavior by at least two of the current characters in an episode.  It’s everywhere we go on our TV remotes.  And, here’s the rub … it’s working for millions of people.  It has invaded every aspect of our daily lives.  The more we are exposed to it, the more those that have been in the closet in the past, know a growing confidence and boldness. I don’t know who they were trying to fool by remaining so secretive about it.  Perhaps they were trying to fool themselves.  Well, that was a giant fail to those closest to them.
Drugs, crimes of all sorts, especially murders of one or many at a time and the tearing away of our social fabric, IS changing our world; our entire planet.
Conflict is everywhere we turn.  Mankind is destroying everything it touches. Nothing is sacred to even the most devout.  Mental illness and perversion threatens all.  There is no haven to be found, no sanctuary except for joining others of a like persuasion.  Thus, we have enclaves,  tribal units and fortified compounds where some semblance of safety and security can be found.
At first, all the new emergents from the secret niches of unaccepted lifestyles required was inclusion in a family unit and support from parents and siblings. They were making slow progress and then … the AIDS epidemic struck the ranks of those gathering in bathhouses and massage parlors or other kinds of activities where same sex men could meet and cultivate relationships.
Total FEAR reigned for a time and there was a new surge of rejection from the masses to contend with.  To be shunned and hated; Yes! hated by so many once more was a burden many would not be able to tolerate, so the sick suffered alone most of the time, and died from their affliction.  Few of those outside the ranks of Gay men held any sympathy or compassion for their plight and the isolation only increased.  Whatever happened to pity for one’s fellow man?  It was swallowed up by rampant fear of being infected, somehow, someway; no one knew for sure how the disease was transmitted but it certainly took on the appearance of a curse from God Himself through which, He demonstrated His anger at their sinful lifestyle.
Men laying with men had been written about for over two thousand years.  All the great civilizations, such as Rome participated in this behavior.  They wallowed in perversion and orgies of any and all kind.   Their culture and customs had the effect of  bringing down the whole kingdom.
You know … if everyone in the world were attracted to another of the same sex, we would not have the problem of worldwide overpopulation we are facing today. Then again, the human race would soon become extinct.  Our planet might be better off if that WERE the case.
As a male member of said race, I  do have the ability to understand how we arrived at where we are today.  I served in our nation’s military for three years.  Men living with men; competing with one another as men will want to do.  Pissing contests, the measuring and comparing of each other’s penis size; realizing how it caused us to feel superior or inferior to one another.  Yet we were secure enough in our own individual manhood, we had the ability to recognize and appreciate what we saw as the positive aspects of another man’s being.  
Having expressed all the above, I also perceive something mysterious about how we men possess the ability to come together under a common motivation and something within us allows for a bonding with one another to allow us to become a unit, a tribe of brothers, Warrior types, who can “watch one another’s six;” a saying that is so popular today.  I would stop short of calling it “Love,”  but certainly, it is emotional, a deeply held kinship and respect for the complete package which represents what an individual man is composed of. I can’t help it if that last sentence is crude in its structure.  I suddenly find myself at a loss for the right words to express my thoughts at the moment.
Females of our species, I believe, know of what I make reference to here. They express themselves by calling another female their BFF, etc.  They can dance with one another; men cannot and still see themselves as men unless they are in the midst of a gathering of other men that are likewise.  They prefer to attend a “gay bar” where they can simply BE.  It is dimly lit, with alcohol flowing, music thumping, and they are most comfortable in such an atmosphere. The rest of the world is Out There, beyond the walls of their chosen world. And yet, they wish deep down inside, that it were otherwise. It is with that goal in mind that they dress in wildly outlandish attire, or very little attire and band together, rushing headlong into the public and parading through the streets as if to say, “Here we are world … take us or leave us, but we will not go away.” We have as much right to love who we will, marry who we will and you MUST accept us now.  It’s the law of the land.  Our highest court says we can.
Are they right?  Must we?
Isn’t that what prejudice is all about?
They demand RESPECT and total acceptance from all others. Their union is as righteous as any other; except I and my wife do not get upset and reject an invitation to a celebration of another’s achievements because the one preparing the invitations failed to include their partner’s name on the envelop.  What kind of social slight is that?
So, we unfriend one another on Facebook.  Resentment for some major faux paux is so extreme, family gatherings are affected.  Family members will ask; “Where is so and so?”  “It’s complicated,”  they respond.  “There has been a falling out and our bond is now broken.”  Isn’t that ridiculous?   It’s a situation so uncomfortable that no two, holding opposite views, can bring themselves to simply sit down and discuss it.  It is what it is!
Our family units and our nation is coming apart at the seams.  Shootings abound throughout the land.  The whole world is in chaos.  We have more individuals confined inside correctional institutions than any other country on the planet.  Tru Dat!
SO! where are we going people?  To hell in a handbasket it doth appear.
It’s getting so bad, I can hardly sit back and relax while I watch the news on cable.  I sit on the edge of my recliners seat, eat snacks and yell obscenities at the talking heads on my flat-screen.  I can’t even qualify as a good Couch Potato any longer.  I’m overweight, have diabetes, high blood pressure and a faulty memory.  I’ll become a shut-in before you know it.  House bound and existing on Meals on Wheels, etc.
I suppose it’s a good thing I still have the option of running over to Cookies Diner; sitting around the large round table back in the corner there and helping my compadres solve the problems of the whole world each day.  Yeah! That’s right; a bunch of men, some old, some not so old, with personal opinions about anything and everything.  What else has a seventy-five year old Curmudgeon got to do, except go home and play with the dog?
Another national holiday is fast approaching.  Thanksgiving and another gathering of a dwindling sized family unit with differences so varying, there is no chance of reconciliation before Christmas. Add the growing threat of Isis and Russia bombing in Syria and the US  with a President that leads from behind and there is enough trouble in the world for any day … God help us!   

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Government and US.

What kind of information do you think the United States government should collect about you?

This is the question I was confronted by on my browsers' homepage.

I wonder if they would like to look in my cars' trunk?

At first I was tempted to respond with ... "I really don't care; I have nothing to hide."  Thought better of that and realized they probably already know more about me than I can remember about myself now due to old age forgetfulness.

I believe the fact that we have come to mistrust our government speaks volumes about it's declining standing in world opinion.  As Bernie Sanders said "Our country is in a race to see who can get to the bottom first." Or some thing like that.

Can you feel the building pressure?  It's similar to diving too deep under the ocean.