Thursday, November 28, 2013

Are You There, God? Or, Whatever, in Mendocino

Anyone who's driven Highway 1 on the California coast will visualize this.

A few miles before Mendocino, Arnie rolled his Miata, which went crashing down the canyon into the ocean. Since it was a convertible, he was able to escape and grab a Monterey pine branch about halfway down, which was hard, given the momentum of the fall.

Anyway, he did it, and for several moments, he'd look down and watch the waves roll his red Miata, and then up to see...nothing, save the outer rim of the highway shoulder and partial glimpses of the guard rail.

Yes, he did pee his pants. At least it was warm. Anyone who's ever been on this part of Highway 1 will get that.

Anyway. After holding onto the branch of what seemed like hours, he realized he wouldn't be able to hold on forever, and began screaming "Help! Help!" as loudly as he could into the Pacific fog. Someone wold probably see the gap in the guard rail, he hoped. But it didn't seem to happen. "Can anybody even hear me?" he shouted.

A voice boomed down from the clouds. "I can hear you," the voice said.

"Oh, God," Arnie said, relieved. "Can you help me?"

"Do you believe in God?" the voice said.

"Oh, yes, yes yes!!" Arnie replied in his most solicitous tone.

"If you believe in God, let go of the branch," the voice said.

Arnie considered the offer. "Can anybody else hear me?" he shouted.

And on this day, I am thankful for my father's stories. Peace and love to all.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The U.S. Government is Nothing More Than a Giant Property Management Company

If you serve on an HOA board or if you're on a property management staff, you'll know that ninety or more percent of what a property management company does for a homeowners' association is collect money from dues and disburse it to wherever. The lawn mowing guys. The tree guys. The heaved sidewalk repair guys. Just call them the Oomp-a-loomps.

And if you're a U.S. Senator or Representative, or an admin staffer, you get that ninety or more percent of what the U.S. Government does for the country is collect taxes and pay bills.  Entitlement recipients. Soldiers. Egyptians. Loomp-a-oomps.

It was all set in motion over time, and the inertia will continue unabated, save for the moment the existence of Dark Matter is verified and turns out to be useful.

Emergencies, unfinished business, ad hoc events and cranky owners take up nearly all of HOA board meetings. But if board members squabble the whole time or don't show up, for that matter, the money gets collected and disbursed.

The current Congress is on track to have passed fewer bills than any U.S. Congress in history. Elected representatives only work a couple of days a week, so I'm not sure what takes up the day. Squabbling and not showing up, I suppose. But so what?

For the most part, everything just goes on and on. The whole machine rumbles along unabated on its own inertia. The Treasury collects taxes, pays soldiers and air traffic controllers and border control agents and TSA workers, and so on.

Around fifty percent, give-or-take, of eligible voters in America are registered to vote, which means twenty-six percent of the voting public decides stuff for the whole country.  Around twenty percent of owners actually vote at HOA annual meetings, deciding the budget and board for the entire community.

But the beat goes on. The money rolls in, the Ooom-a-loomps and the Loomp-a-oomps get paid, ratifying the widespread belief that someone else takes care of it all.