Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Friday Potpourri Vol. 19


Doesn’t a cruise sound like fun?  Lido decks. Gopher and Issac.

It’s all fun and games and Charo until the power goes out.  Then you have 4000 people stranded at sea without adequate plumbing alternatives.  Low on food and patience.

Five days floating in the Gulf Of Mexico, I can’t begin to imagine the stench.

But, the final indignity was yet to come.  As they were tugged into port, who was waiting for them?  Erin Burnett and the CNN cameras.

How did you feel?

What was it like?

CNN went all in on their coverage of the disembarking.   Understandable, since Jeff Zucker is in charge at CNN now.  He used to run the Today Show which means fluff and filler is his specialty.

It took three hours to clear the ship of passengers.  They were allowed to keep the bathrobes the cruise provides in the cabins.

I just read that they got full refunds, paid transportation back to the point where the trip started and $500.00 in cash.

That won’t stop the flurry of lawsuits which always follow something like this.

That was an interesting way to spend Valentine’s Day.

If you survived the cruise ship, the next thing in the news might have given you pause.

A giant thing from space was hurtling toward the Earth.

Something landed in Russia and it was caught on dashcams.

Former baseball player Jose Canseco said on Twitter that it was not a meteor but something fired from North Korea.  Since Mr. Canseco is not a former scientist, I believe we can dismiss his claim.  At least, for now.

I tried to not get very invested in that.  You know, what can you do?  If it hits it hits.

Finally, since it was Valentines Day, here is one of my favorite songs.

(Two embedded videos?  Yeah, I am embracing this new ability.)


Until next time,







I may have written about the USPS before but I feel the need to make another run at it.

As you may know, the Postal Service is proposing to do away with Saturday delivery for regular mail.  Packages will still be delivered.  The change is supposed to take place in August.

First, a little family history.  My Dad started working for the Post Office (as it was called then) Thanksgiving week 1956.  I was 5 months old.  From then to now, the USPS has been a major influence in my life.

He worked there for 29 years.  I was employed by them for 27 years  before taking an early retirement.  My wife works there.  Even my son works for them to earn enough money to put himself through college.

Over the first 14 years of Dad’s career, he had to work extra jobs because the pay was so low. He worked part-time at convenience stores.  During December, he would work for Sears putting together toys.  We didn’t see a lot of him back then.

Mom worked part-time as well, just for us to get by.

Then, in 1970, Moe Biller led a strike in New York which was followed by strikes in other major cities.  After a short time, there was legislation that allowed for unions, collective bargaining and all the rest.

Finally, Dad could just work one job.  We weren’t rolling in money.  It took a long time to dig out from all the debt they had incurred trying to raise a family.

Dad was a mail carrier.  Most of his time there he had a walking route.  It is hard to properly explain the toll that takes on a person.  When the weather is good, it can be tolerable.  But in the rain, snow and all the rest of the credo, it is drudgery. Carriers feel it in their backs, shoulders, knees and especially their fingers.  If you look at the hands of a retired carrier, you will see all kinds of twisted fingers and swollen knuckles.

If you work inside a plant where the mail is sorted through high speed machinery, you avoid the weather but not the sore feet, hands, back and the added inhaling of paper dust.  The air is full of it and it settles in your throat and lungs.  The ventilation that used to handle that problem was shut off after the anthrax attacks in 2001.

I know there are tougher jobs. I am just giving perspective for people who aren’t aware of the toll working for the USPS can take.

Now, back to the lack of Saturday delivery.  I think it is being suggested to try to move Congress into changing some things.  Notably, the pension requirement.

Let’s be clear.  If UPS or FedEx or someone else wanted to do the everyday deliveries the Postal Service does, they would have tried it by now.  Fact is, they can’t.  A large percentage of the packages they move wind up being delivered by the USPS.  It is called the “Last Mile” mail.  They pay the postal rate because it is cheaper for them to do that than deliver the packages themselves.

The USPS also hires small trucking  businesses to move their mail over long and short hauls.  Since they don’t have their own fleet of planes, they have to purchase space on commercial carriers.  There is a whole lot to moving the volume of mail the USPS does every day.

As far as benefits go, people have said the benefit package is too rich and they (postal workers) should get less.

I find it odd that people who had fits over anyone suggesting that the rich pay more in taxes are in favor of taking away bargained for benefits.  I would like for workers in other industries to fight to get better pay and benefits.  Workers should be striving for more and better not settling for less and less.  If that means joining a union, then by all means, join one.  The pendulum has swung so far over in favor of the CEO’s, it is time for it to come back.

A strong middle-class drives the economy with their purchasing power. Not everyone can own their own business, so you need workers who are fairly compensated.

I don’t know how this situation is going to resolve itself.  It will probably be some sort of cobbled together mess that leaves no one happy.  That seems to be the way things get done these days.


Friday Potpourri Vol. 18

Welcome back!

I was invited into a Twitter session Wednesday night.  It was a Dads Roundtable .  They meet once a week and tackle different topics.

My friend from Founding A Father tipped me off to it.  They were discussing keeping the connection between the husband and wife while juggling raising kids and work.

I think sometimes people put a bit too much pressure on themselves.   My suggestion was to do the simple things.  Offer to get the other a drink, maybe an extra pillow.   And you can’t look at the kids as an obstacle to your happiness.  Resentment follows and it just becomes a downward spiral.

The hour flew by.

Shortly after they were done, I saw a tweet that led to a woman’s blog where they were talking about the same thing just from a different perspective.  The writer of the piece has a blog of her own called My Cheap Version Of Therapy. I left a comment there that reflected what I had said to the guys a little earlier.

It was an interesting experience, visiting with both sides.  They really want the same things.  The challenge is how to get there.  And there is no easy answer.  But you HAVE to keep plugging away.  YOU HAVE TO.  Marriage.  Raising kids.  None of it is easy.

It is odd how Twitter can give you the opportunity to meet such a wide variety of smart, sharp writers.  Like the folks over in the Blogroll, for instance.

In other news…

Who thought opening the new Die Hard movie on Valentines Day was a good idea?

While we are talking about movies here are some predictions for Oscar night:

Sally Field wins for her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Argo should win for Best Picture. The only other nominee we have seen is Lincoln.

I liked both.  They were similar in that we knew how they were going to end.  The trick becomes keeping the suspense going throughout the film.  Argo did that much better, I thought.

Let’s face it: Whom were you more surprised by?  Ben Affleck as a director or Steven Speilberg? Right!  So, since Affleck got passed over for director, he deserves the Best Picture award.

Lastly, the following is my favorite tweet of the week.

A person I follow had just finished reading a book about Charles Dickens kids.  She said they adored them for reasons that escape her.

My tweet went like this, “If the book on Dickens kids didn’t start with “He was the best of fathers, he was the worst of fathers”.T’would be a shame.”

That’s it for me, kids.  Play nice. Check out the blogs I mentioned today and any of the others to my right.

And as always,



Friday Potpourri Vol. 17

Let’s talk about an assortment of things today.

Waitress Gets Fired After Outing Cheap Pastor

A female pastor went to Applebee’s with a large group.  They automatically triggered the 18% tip charge.  The pastor wrote on the bill, after trying to get around the charge by saying they were using separate checks, “Why should you get 18% when the Lord only gets 10%?”

The waitress showed it to a co-worker who took a pic of it and posted it on the internet.  Somehow, this got back to the pastor who then wanted everybody on that shift fired.  Applebee’s fired the person who posted the pic.

Understand this, the customer is not always right.  That is a load of crap.  Especially in this case.  The person the pastor should be mad at is Ronald Reagan.

That’s right, Reagan.  When Uncle Ronnie was President, his people figured out that tip income was not taxed.  So, while lining the pockets of millionaires with tax cuts, tip income became taxable.  Which meant you have to have a method of keeping track of it.  Which meant using the software for the cash registers as a way to keep track of tips by using a separate line on the receipt.

So the cheap pastor had the writing room necessary to show what a classless individual she is.

What else is there to talk about?

My Spaghetti Is Better Than Yours

I found myself in a discussion about spaghetti on Twitter a few days ago. Seems innocent enough, right? I should have known better.

Spaghetti is one of those things that everyone has a very distinct opinion about.

At our house, we have finally settled on a sauce (Classico Traditional Sweet Basil), store brand thin spaghetti, and store brand garlic breadsticks. Just add some ground beef for the sauce, sprinkle in Italian seasoning, voila! We keep it stocked in the pantry as an easy go-to meal.

My mistake was to mention that in front of a do everything from scratch person.

I have been known to make things that take a lot of preparation.

I can make a German Chocolate cake from scratch.  No cake mix box.  From scratch, baby. Cake flour. Double boiler for melting the chocolate.  Homemade icing.

I just don’t see the need for all that fuss to make a simple pasta dish.

New Shiny App

In other news, there is an app called Vine.

It is a way to make a six second video.

Yep, that is all it is.

Even a technologically challenged guy like me knows you could do that already.  Do a video and stop at six seconds.


The video I was a part of (see my last post)   has around 300 views on YouTube.

I am particularly happy with the support from you wonderful folks.

Thanks again



Post Navigation