This and That, by Rich Paschall

If you thought you had seen everything in politics prior to this year, then you were in for a big surprise.  The presidential election cycle is like none that has come before.  I hope we will not see it again.

No matter what lies the Republican candidate gets caught telling, his followers don’t seem to care.  They follow him anyway.

Grand Old Party?

Grand Old Party?

If you thought voters could be swayed by the truth, think again.

You will change no one’s vote with your Facebook memes, no matter how cute, accurate, or how well they state the case.  No one will be persuaded. You may as well watch baseball.

The State of Illinois has a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.  There has not been a budget for over a year and there definitely will not be one until after the election, when we will still have a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor.

Are you tired of politics yet?  No?


Republican senators in tight races do not want to be seen with the Republican candidate for president, especially in states that he is not likely to carry.  Senator Kirk of Illinois is up for election in the home state of President Obama and candidate Clinton.  Yes, she’s from Illinois (not Kenya).  The incumbent Senator will not be campaigning with the presidential candidate.

When I attended the Barbra Streisand concert there were many signs on the doors exclaiming “no cameras.”  Before I went through the metal detector I handed the security guy my cell phone, binoculars and a small case with my camera.

I set off the metal detector at the United Center, but they waved me on anyway after the security guy gave me back my camera and other items.  They probably thought I am just an old guy with a metal cane and there are lots of people waiting to get in.  Now doesn’t that make you feel more secure?

I have seen Streisand before and she had multiple opening acts.  This time there was a brief overture, she walked out, sang The Way We Were, and then said to the audience, “I guess you did not expect to start like that!”  Yes, it was all Barbra.

It is a requirement on the gay membership cards that all gay boys must see Cher or Barbra Streisand in concert.  They must also see Ricky Martin or Elton John.  OK, this might not be entirely true.

In concert at the United Center

Yes, we were WAY up there in the 300 level.  I brought binoculars.

Both Cher and Barbra Streisand are hosting fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton.  This one is absolutely true.

Cher never tours anymore so we must see Streisand and the ticket is très chère.

I have seen Elton John several times.  He is a good showman and always has high energy.

It is probably not a good idea to brag at work about how drunk you get sometimes.

It is not good to get drunk at a work outing because a coworker may take a video with her cell phone.

It is also bad if you get drunk and say uncomplimentary things about your boss on the video.  You never know if the person with the video will post it on Facebook or YouTube — or even email it to the boss.

No, not me.  I’m too busy to go to work outings.

My car has a video screen which is good for the back up camera.  Of course, the camera is not very helpful when drops of water are on the tiny lens.

With a backup camera, I might be able to avoid scratching up the tires and hub caps on the curbs as I have done so much in the past.  Soon cars will drive themselves anyway.


My car has 25 preset buttons (touch screen) for the AM and FM radio.  There are that many radio stations in the metro Chicago area, but certainly not that many that I like.  If you touch the screen too often while driving, the next time you start the car you will get a warning that touching the screen too often while driving could be dangerous.  Really?

I can link to my video screen by flash drive or Bluetooth.  I can download apps to my phone then plug it into the USB port so I can have the apps on-screen while I drive.  When the car sales rep explained all this to me I told him I thought it was a remarkably bad idea.

Cars are now about entertainment, just like phones.  I think my car should be about driving, at least for the driver.

The coffee I make at home and at work does not come out scalding hot.  Many fast food places still serve coffee so hot you can not drink it.

If I buy coffee at a drive-thru on the way to work I may not be able to drink it en route, and I have a long drive.

My favorites in the Olympics were the beach volleyball players and the British divers.  Do I need to explain that?

My quest to watch all of the James Bond films in order continues.


It was a lovely crisp Saturday morning. I was heading north out of New York to visit Garry in Boston. I don’t remember which car I was driving. Probably my turquoise VW Rabbit, my personal pocket rocket.

72-ROADS_09I am not a slow driver, though I try to be a careful one. If I see a wide open road and I figure I’m not going to get a ticket, I’ve been know to put pedal to the metal. Perhaps a tad faster than the legal limit. Which is why I was surprised, as I drove along in the left lane of the limited access highway, to be passed on the right and cut off — leaving just millimeters spare — by a vehicle going so fast he nearly sucked the doors off my car.


I was a bit shaken, especially since he had no reason to cut me off at all. The road was empty. He had plenty of room, so he was just being an asshole. I hadn’t even seen him coming.

“Go tiger,” I murmured, looking down at my speedometer. I was going a smidge over 80 MPH, so how fast was he going? He passed me as if I were standing still.

“People like him,” I muttered, “Give all of us a bad name.”

I continued on my merry way, made merrier by the music playing on my radio … until I saw flashing lights ahead. I slowed. Then I slowed more, until I was crawling along.


Blue lights were flashing everywhere. This was no normal speeding ticket stop. It was not one or two police cars. There must have been a hundred or more squad cars, motorcycles, and a couple of vans.

It was a genuine cop convention!

My favorite speeder and all around dangerous driver had plunged right into a convoy of law enforcement officers on their way to an event.

The fellow, a young man of unimpressive demeanor, was standing on the shoulder of the road, hands in the air looking terrified. Officers stood near him, several of whom had telephones to their ears. They had bagged a good one and were clearly having fun as only a convention of cops driving official vehicles can.


I was happy. Justice, so rarely served, was coming to one who deserved it. In such a memorable way, I doubted he would ever speed again. I couldn’t see whether or not he had (yet) wet his pants, but I could hope. I gave a thumbs up to the cops standing around the road writing out tickets — I wonder how many they gave him? To me, they gave a collective thumbs up.

I was laughing the entire remainder of the trip to Boston.


Yesterday was one of those days. Get up early and keep running until you fall down. Nothing major happening, just lots of little things.

We had to take the new car back to the dealer to get the windshield replaced — a two-car excursion. The chip in the windshield would only get worse when the weather gets cold, so the sooner the work gets done, the better.


Next stop was the insurance agent. I had to give her the papers she needs to write the new policy. It’s easier to take the papers to her office than to mail them. Her office is closer than the post office.


We also had to drop prescriptions at the pharmacy, which ought to be easy, but isn’t. All summer long the weather was dry and not terribly hot. We had almost no rain in July and none in August. The town did absolutely nothing about the roads. No pothole repair, no storm drain installation.

As soon as October hit, someone said to someone else: “You know, winter is going to come and we haven’t done any work on the roads.” The town went into emergency mode, promptly dug up Main Street. Brought in cranes manned by dangerously inept crane operators. Made driving into town pretty scary.


Someone must have pointed out that cars can’t duck and maybe the combination of cranes and cars was awesome in the wrong way, so today, they had the road blocked. An unmarked detour took us around on Route 16, but eventually we found our way back into town.


I promised to take some pictures because Garry is sure this is proof positive — finally — there’s a conspiracy to drive him crazy by destroying roads while populating them with slow drivers who are talking on the phone and texting … while weaving all over the place.

We had to do a quick bit of shopping too, since the pharmacy is in Hannaford. Which is in the middle of town, as is the dam. Autumn is at peak — about a week late — so I asked if we could stop and take some foliage shots — and I promised not to forget to take pictures of the roadwork, too.


Garry hadn’t brought his camera, but our cameras are identical, so I took some, then he took some. Then we went across the street and Garry realized the leaves are always brightest in the cemetery. Shh. Don’t tell everyone!

Then home, stopping to take pictures of the ongoing road work. There was actual work going on, which is unusual in Massachusetts where they close the roads with heavy machinery, after which everyone takes a break and comes back at closing time to lock up the machines before going home.


When we finally inched our way home, there were packages from Amazon and mail to open. We had bought a couple of pots of chrysanthemums. Garry carried them to the deck and took away the now-dead fuchsias for a proper burial.

I put away the groceries.

Then, while Garry caught up with some old black and white movies, I processed the pictures, which turned out to be more than I thought, especially since I took a bunch more after we got home. The light was awesome.


Then they called from the dealer to say that they couldn’t finish the windshield installation because they don’t have the trim. I said they might as well keep the car through Monday because it’s easier than bringing it home for the weekend, but I need it Monday night.

We have stuff to do on Tuesday and Wednesday and need that car. The service guy sounded dubious. I said “We need the car Monday night” and he said “We can arrange a loaner” and I said “We NEED the car Monday night.” And then we both hung up. I will call on Monday. Why does everything have to be so complicated?


Garry eventually had to drive back into town to pick up the prescriptions, weaving his way through the maze of detours and earth-moving machinery. I was still processing photographs.

Tomorrow is another day and I think I’m going to sleep through it.


Now, we are definitely ready for our closeup!

We’ve been agonizing about this for months especially since the “new” car has been having problems. We bought our PT Cruiser in 2007. Finished paying for it a year and a half ago. Been luxuriating since then in not having a car payment.



But each winter, when our driveway becomes the bunny slope of our personal ski resort — which would be more fun if either of us were ski bunnies — the car won’t get us up the driveway. Not even when there’s just a little bit of snow, much less a big one or a blizzard.


With tonight predicted to be the first hard freeze of the year and winter lurking in the background, we bought a car. Not a brand new one.

72-Front-Trees-Falling Snow-2-9_007

The price of new cars has gone way above our pay grade, but we got a newer car. With four-wheel drive.

72-Jeep Patriot _1

72-Jeep Patriot_3

72-Jeep Patriot_2

72-Jeep Patriot_4

We spent most of the day at the dealer … which is why I was missing pretty much all day. We were talking. Negotiating. Then signing papers, talking to the insurance agent, signing more papers. Then, more papers … and then … it was ours.

It’s a 2012 Jeep Patriot. Red. Cute. Bob Mielke, who now lives here, had the wit to bring a camera when they delivered the car. Yes, they delivered the car and drove away the old one. Here are Bob’s pictures.

Blow ye north wind. We have a car that will make it up and out of the driveway, even after the snow flies. We will need to pay for it, of course, but life carries a price tag … and we needed a car.



This week’s topic is Things with Engines or Motors (cars, planes, trains, fans, air conditioners, lawn mowers, etc). Your photos can show the actual engine or motor. It can also be objects that have motors or engines. So there really is quite a wide variety of possibilities for this week’s challenge.

And I have lots of candidates just waiting for this challenge!



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So you want red?

The last time my face was really red, I had a terrible sunburn. I’m not much of a blusher. Lacking a hugely embarrassing story to brighten your day, here is red of the world.

In flower, cars, trucks and the leaves of autumn. Barns and carousels, bricks, cranberries, and peppers. Red, redder, scarlet. Bricks and bright fabric. Red, my favorite color that isn’t black. Back “in the day” (whatever that means), my favorite “semi-dressup” was a black outfit with a red blazer.

I haven’t worn a blazer in years, but I think I still have a dozen of them in my closet. No wonder I can’t find my tee shirts!