Federal Crime Machines; Why Isn’t There a Special Counsel Looking Into This?

It is my understanding that defacing American currency is a federal crime. This law makes sense for several reasons.

  1. Defacing could be used on counterfeit bills to mask blemishes and shoddy workmanship.
  2. National pride is affected by defaced bills and coins. What does it say about us if we voluntarily graffito tag our means of buying and selling? Monetary transactions are professional affairs. You wouldn’t turn in a memo at work that was all marked up in the margins, would you? This may seem like a little thing. Perhaps I’m being ridiculous. Still, if you visit a country and, at the currency exchange booth, do you not look more impressive handing over clean, crisp American dollars? And if, in exchange, you are given bills portraying leaders sporting anachronistic mustaches or devil horns, are you not then negatively biased against the local populace?

I know I said there were several reasons why the law against defacing currency makes sense. I suppose there are really only two. That I can think of anyway. Despite the number of reasons, however, a law is a law. If it isn’t going to be enforced, why have it on the books, so to speak?

“How do you know it isn’t being enforced?” One might ask, should said One have read this blog, encountered me out in public somewhere and somehow recognized me as the author. “Isn’t there an agency responsible for the destruction of worn and defaced bills? It seems to me it is enforced in some fashion.”

And my answer, should this unlikely scenario occur, would be “Good point.”

I would then quickly rebut thusly: “There exist within the confines of legally operating establishments throughout our country dens of iniquity that, while providing quite legal, fun and/or educational experiences, also blatantly promote the defacement and destruction of our currency by individuals unauthorized to do so. And for a profit, no less!”

To which your reply would likely be something like “Go jump in a lake, lunatic! What are you even talking about?”

I’m talking about those Kiosks of Chaos, those Federal Crime Machines, those coin mashing and defacing vending machines that stand in nearly every zoo and tourist attraction lobby that allow you to pay fifty cents to squish a penny into a souvenir.

These are certainly entertaining. They are interactive, usually allowing you to crank the penny to an elongated and otherly engraved state. They are educational, sometimes mushing some historical fact or figure into malleable bits of dollars.

Entertaining. Interactive. Educational…Illegal…

The argument could be made that these machines only deface the least of our currency. Who cares about pennies, anyway? Most of us drop them in the little bowls on store counters just to keep them from cluttering our pockets or purses. I’ve even known people to drop them carelessly onto the sidewalk rather than carry them around. All of this is perfectly fine and legal, but could it be representative of our attitude as Americans? If we have a law about currency, shouldn’t it apply to all currency, even the least valuable? It makes sense to answer “Yes” here. That answer being a positive one, can we now apply the same concept to laws that govern Americans? If there is a law for one American, shouldn’t it apply to all Americans, even the least significant? Of course. But if we, as a society, and the government, as a government, are willing to overlook the blatant defacing of pennies, are we not also likely to overlook the mistreatment of “less significant” citizens?

Perhaps this is all a bit of a stretch. I haven’t even decided for myself yet if I’m all that upset about this issue. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rant and rave.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider the fair treatment of every American be they “pennies” or “one hundred dollar bills”.

A don’t…deface pennies. I think it’s illegal.

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Europe and the Sights You May Not Want to See or A Confused and Innocent American Abroad

It seems I look like a drug user. Now, before you get up in arms and accuse me of stereo-typing or profiling, consider the following facts:

  1. Substance abusers often tend to develop certain physical traits. These traits are generally the result of the havoc their substance of choice wreaks upon their bodies. These traits have nothing to do with the individual on a personal level and are therefore not stereo-typical of anyone of a certain race or background, rather of people with a proclivity toward certain substances.
  2. If you want to accuse anyone of profiling, accuse those who deal drugs on the dark street corners of Berlin and Amsterdam. They apparently assumed that I use drugs based only, I assume, on the facts that I am a white male and that I was passing through the dark street corners of Berlin and Amsterdam.

I can say this because I did not travel to Europe alone. I went with a Vietnamese friend and not once did anyone offer him drugs of any sort. I would say that perhaps these dealers assumed my friend spoke no language they would understand. This cannot be the case, however, because when a small man stepped out from behind a statue in Berlin he walked directly to me and said, in English and with no hint of question, “You want hashish.”

I asserted quite strongly that I certainly did not. He then, without ever addressing my friend, melted back into the shadows of Germany.

In Amsterdam a similar occurrence occurred. We passed a dark corner and from the shadows leapt, actually leapt, a small man. He, also without inflecting his voice to indicate a query, offered me illicit substances. This time it was cocaine. This time, he also used default English, though it sounded as if he barely spoke my language himself. Upon my decline he also faded back into the night, never addressing my friend.

It seems as if these discriminations are poor business practices for these guys because, based on a later incident at an Amsterdam coffee shop, my friend showed that he was in no way opposed to obtaining at least certain types of drugs. Perhaps he only wished to procure legal intoxicants and perhaps somehow these street dealers sensed that.

But how? And why didn’t they sense that I wanted no substances, legal or otherwise?And why did they always start with English? Unless they’d been following us and heard me speak, they’d have had no clue that I’m aware of that I speak English. What is it about me that identified me as an English speaking potential purchaser of illegal drugs? I wasn’t overweight at the time, although the Army with their nearly anorexic guidelines said differently, but I was by no means emaciated. I wasn’t covered in sores. I don’t have any involuntary twitches or any of the other tell tale signs of drug use I’ve come to recognize in the time I’ve worked at my current job.

So what was it?

No idea.

And apparently, whatever it was, it was pronounced enough that it wasn’t only drug dealers that recognized it. My friend and I, after landing in Frankfort, visited Berlin, London, Edinburgh, Wexford (a coastal town in Ireland with a very cozy B and B that had three or four beds to a room and a husband and wife that showed up at the door early every morning with a very satisfying breakfast and a newspaper), Paris and Barcelona. After Barcelona we sailed to some port in Italy and made our way to Rome where we were robbed by Gladiator impersonators who take your picture with your camera in various “I’m being killed by Gladiators” poses in front of the Coliseum, then demand an egregious amount of money for the honor of being photographed, on your own device, as they “kill” you.  After all this we took a train back to Munich to catch our flight home.

As we attempted to depart the train station three German police officers, one male, one female, one canine (a German Shepherd, of course), approached me. Me. Not my friend. The male officer asked, immediately in English although this time that was understandable because I had my touristy backpack on, “Where are you coming from?”

“Rome.”

“What is in your bag?”

“Clothes”, and reluctantly because I didn’t know the import/export/customs laws and had no desire to go to German jail, “A bottle of wine for a friend.”

“You have drugs in your bag.” Again, no hint of a question.

“No.”

“I will look in your bag.”

“Ok.” I said. I removed the pack from my back and held it out to him.

He sneered at me and then said, in what sounded like a Schwarzeneggeresque attempt to be intimidating (he was successful) “Get out of here.”

I gladly went. But so did they. They never once addressed my friend who had only barely remembered to rid himself of his remaining “legal” substance before we left Amsterdam.

I know you likely don’t know me, but there is nothing about me that I can see that indicates I have a desire to buy drugs or do drugs. Perhaps it’s simply a European thing. I’ve never been offered drugs on the dark streets of California or Seattle or even Las Vegas.

Who knows.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…visit Europe if you have the chance. There are many beautiful sights and sites to see. Stonehenge is especially impressive, as are Windsor castle and Notre Dame. Try the Donor Kebab. They are prolific and quite tasty.

A don’t…go unprepared. If you share whatever characteristic it is that identifies me, somehow, as an aspiring drug addled fiend, expect to be fending off small men at every shadow you pass. You could simply stay in at night, but where’s the fun in that?

The Turnpike Conspiracy; I’m Probably Way Off

There’s a toll road that my wife and I must travel should we ever wish to visit her parents. For some, this would be a sufficient deterrent to skip a trip to the in-laws’. I am blessed with in-laws that are a pleasure to visit and be fed by. We often take to the Turnpike and suffer the inconveniences of pulling over for every brightly lit toll plaza between here and there for the sake of family togetherness.

I’ve had many a choice word to share with my wife about the Turnpike as we drive it. I’ve pointed out every skid mark, rough spot and guardrail dent I can find. If they’re demanding I pay to drive on their road, shouldn’t the road be perfectly kept? Maybe they could get a crew out to mow if they didn’t have to pay the electric bills on those ridiculous plazas. Who knows how much they spend to employ the toll collectors and maintain the toll-taking infrastructure? I’m sure someone does and I’m sure that someone is highly paid to know it.

Despite the fact that they take money meant for road maintenance and spend it on better money-taking, I’ve come to love the Turnpike because I’ve realized what they really are. I know where the thousands of dollars they take in daily is really going, and I fully support it.

I only realized what they’re really up to yesterday morning at the toll plaza. The guy in the little booth had a nametag on and I had never bothered to notice before that they bother to wear those. But they do. The guy who stole my money yesterday was, according to his tag “Gary” (name changed to avoid litigation). And “Gary” was also apparently #1032 (number changed to avoid litigation). I thought benignly about this as we drove on and this was the first time I had ever had a benign thought about the Turnpike. I emotionlessly considered whether or not “Gary” was employee #1032 or whether he was actually “Gary #1032”. I think, for my own well-being, he must’ve been “Gary #1032”, which means that the reason the Turnpike takes so much money yet fails to keep the road in perfect condition is because they are perfecting techniques to clone employees.

Why is this a good thing for me to believe? It comes down to peace of mind. I become inordinately angry when I think about paying to drive on an imperfect road. It drives me bonkers to see that most of the money taken in goes into maintaining the ability to keep taking money rather than maintenance on the road itself. If I can convince myself that the Turnpike is involved in cloning, I can further dream that one day the entire Turnpike system will be maintained by mindless peons who demand no pay or days off because they’ve been programmed by the dude at Turnpike headquarters who makes a lot of money to know where Turnpike money goes to love and cherish and nurture the Turnpike and to serve said Turnpike with their lives.

They may never totally do away with the tolls. After all, they still need to feed, clothe and house their clones. Probably they have to pay some royalty to the original DNA owner. But the tolls should decrease. Even if they don’t, though, it is enough for me to know that I’ll be paying to drive on a road that is meticulously maintained and that my money is going to feed a scientific miracle.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider some sort of medication if you agree with any aspect of this post. I become so irritated by the most mundane inconveniences that I sit in front of a computer for long stretches of time crafting ludicrous posts.

A don’t…enslave clones. Or anyone else. Ever. Even if you did clone them and they could help lower the tolls on the Turnpike, no one deserves to be “owned” by another.

Do-nuts and Don’t-nuts; Cake VS. Yeast: A Meandering Mind Tackles a Problem of No Great Concern

Let’s start with the etymology. Donut. Pronounced dough; spelled do. Some may spell it doughnut, but for the most part we lazily use donut. That’s ok.

How did they come to be called doughnut before being abbreviated to donut? The first part is simple. They’re made of dough. The only thing I can figure for the nut part is that they were either originally covered in nuts, shaped like nuts or invented by a mechanic or maintenance person to whom they resembled the nuts that screw onto bolts. Perhaps they are intended to have nutty fillings or flavorings. I fear, however, that the true origins are lost to time.

At the very least they are lost to someone like me who hasn’t the gumption to research and find out.

We’ve addressed the laziness of the word itself and how it has devolved from doughnut to donut. Now let’s address the laziness with which they are produced. A true donut (or doughnut; if you’re a self-motivated go-getter) is a ring made from a yeast risen dough (or do; if you’re lazy or simply don’t care one way or the other) and either smeared with a sweet glaze, topped with a sweet topping, or both. That is a doughnut, plain and simple. It meets the requirements of being made of dough (or do.  My goodness, how long is he going to drag this out? How much can you reasonably milk a single joke? Speaking of milk, it goes quite well with do-nuts. And also with don’t-nuts, I must admit. It’s really the nomenclature that chaps my hide.) and at least roughly resembling the nuts that screw onto bolts if it isn’t nut topped, filled, or flavored.

But cake donuts? (Or doughnuts or, more aptly put, don’t-nuts.) Cake is made from batter, not dough! Therefore, despite being shaped like a donut, glazed like a donut, sold as a donut, it isn’t a donut. It’s a farce. It is at best a cakenut (read cakenut as don’t-nut).

Now, I have nothing at all against cake. Cake is glorious. Have you tried Angel Food? Here is a food that is aptly named. Light. Fluffy. Amazingly chewy, as I imagine a true Heavenly Angel must be. Devil’s Food is an equally aptly named cake. It is sweet, decadent and delicious. As the devil is. He is a trickster, tempting with sweetness, rewarding with obesity and heart disease if you over-indulge. Cake is perfectly, wonderfully fine.

But cake is cake. It isn’t a donut (doughnut…ugh…enough already, guy…geez…). I’ve never once associated a desire for a donut with a desire to eat a ring shaped cake. When I want a donut I want a light, airy treat that dissolves on the tongue and upper palate the moment it contacts saliva. I want to have it resist slightly as my teeth tear into it and then have it slide down my throat, smearing melted sugar as it glides, condensed on itself yet light as feather, to my stomach. It shouldn’t crumble. Cake crumbles. Cake leaves crumbs because it is made from batter, not dough. It isn’t quite as cohesive. It quite simply is not a donut. If it is sold as a donut, it is nothing more than a donut shaped cake. It is a lazy donut. Instead of waiting for dough to rise you simply whip up a batter. It is, without question, a don’t-nut.

In closing, I don’t believe in cake donuts. I reiterate what I so recently typed, cake donuts aren’t donuts, they’re donut shaped cakes and should be sold as such. There are do-nuts and don’t-nuts and the latter are made of batter. They are re-branded cake. Go America! Go False Advertising, Capitalism and Consumerism! End of post!

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…get a true donut or doughnut (it is truly up to you) when you have that craving.

A don’t…get a don’t-nut. Boycott them. Cake is cake and dough is dough. Sock it to The Man until doughnut cases are no longer diluted with simple, easy, lazy cakenuts. Do or do not eat a glorious, made with love, leavened with yeast, true and honest DOUGHnut!

Mothman: Another Misunderstood Monster

As far as I can tell from all the Mothman stories I’ve read and that one movie I watched, Mothman, although menacing in appearance, was after nothing so substantial as our very souls.

I’ll explain. I read no accounts of disemboweled animals. No eviscerated owls or exsanguinated cattle were ever found that I know of. Simply humans. Frightened horrified humans. And what is one thing that all humans, especially suburbanites in the 50’s, have in common?

They have clothes on. Right? No one that I read about was out for a nude stroll when Mothman confronted them. They were out with their families having completely G-rated (and in the case of the teens that saw him/her/it no more than PG, it was 50’s conservative suburbia, for crying out loud). They were wearing clothes!

Moths eat clothes. Men wear clothes. Mothman was either hungry or ashamed of his nudity. He didn’t want to horrify folks. He wanted to eat their Sunday best. He didn’t want to scare them. He couldn’t help that, by nature, he was scary. He wanted to either eat or wear their clothes and he hesitated. He never killed anyone because he just couldn’t decide which clothes looked tasty and which looked fashionable and I think, deep down, he didn’t want to kill anyone anyway. Otherwise, he would’ve.

Now, about that bridge collapse and the idea that Mothman prophesied it. Perhaps he truly did. But I think, in his innocent monster way, he didn’t show up to warn people about it. I don’t think he truly realized that people were dying. I think he simply thought “CLOTHES BUFFET!” And all the carnage was lost on him because it all had this decadent stagnant water sauce on it and he didn’t even stop to think about the terror that had been wrought on the small community he’d been terrorizing. He was, after all, a monster. A hungry, naked, confused monster.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear clothes, even though it might attract mothman.

A don’t…stroll nude to repel him. The police are much more prevalent than mothmen and much more likely to complicate your life should they find you unclothed in public.

School Breakfast: Scientific Miracle, Conspiracy, or Simply One Man’s Overactive Imagination?

I think it is worth noting that as I’m writing this, a cup of coffee (Cain’s; black, no sugar and steaming hot) is sitting next to me. I think this is worth noting because it is the first time I’ve ever written anything with a cup of coffee (as perfect as previously described) next to me and it somehow feels right. With that out of the way, let’s proceed:

I went to school with my kids this morning for breakfast. They invite the dads a few times a year for breakfast and guided conversation with their children. I’ve been to several of these but this morning, for some reason, I suddenly realized that it felt like neglect, if not outright abuse.

That last sentence probably begs some explanation. Here goes: We woke up at our usual time but, instead of fixing some pancakes or spreading Nutella on toast we simply watched cartoons and did a little work on the cardboard haunted houses we’ve been building. The kids kept telling me they were hungry and I kept reminding them that we were going to have breakfast together at school. They brushed their teeth, as usual, commenting on how weird it was to brush before breakfast, and we piled into the car. The trip to school was dark and wet and chilly. This morning was a real Halloweeny type of morning here where we live. I didn’t realize it was a fore-shadowing of what was to come. When we arrived at the school we hurried in before we got too rained on or shivered ourselves to death. Once in the cafeteria we lined up and the kids encouraged me to help myself to chocolate milk. I did. I didn’t regret it. We made our way to the end of the line where the trays sat ready to grab with a steaming breakfast (technically that’s exactly what it was; breakfast.) of a single biscuit, a slightly larger in circumference than a half-dollar yet wafer thin sausage patty and a small tub of apple juice. The biscuit looked like it was made of whole wheat flour, so there’s that, but…I hadn’t even fed them and now the school wasn’t feeding them either. We found a place to sit across from some other dads who didn’t have forlorn looks on their faces. They must’ve fed their kids before breakfast.

Maybe my kids eat more than usual. I sat looking at the barely breakfast before us thinking of how my kids usually eat like ravenous pigs in the morning. Two and sometimes three, pieces of toast or pancakes (whichever we’ve made) heavily laden with Nutella followed occasionally by, as my daughter calls them “Canola bars” (although when I call them canola bars she laughs and says “not canola bars, they’re canola bars”). I harassed them to eat it and eat it all so they wouldn’t get too hungry before the end of breakfast. They nibbled at bits and crumbs. My oldest daughter ate three small bites of her sausage patty and, after I’d harassed her sufficiently, tried enough of the biscuit to realize she didn’t like it. My middle child, canola bar girl, didn’t try any of it and got a tub of fruity cheerios, which I didn’t even know existed. My son ate all of his and I was relieved even though he made some sort of weird sausage-upside-down-biscuit by mashing the patty onto the top of the bread. He sat there chomping away with a disturbing ravenous carnivore sneer on his face, oblivious to anything but the dinosaur fantasy I’m sure he was having. I wolfed my own down and was surprised that the taste wasn’t all that unpleasant. I spent the rest of the breakfast ignoring the goings on the administrator initiated such as a video on respect and an opportunity for dads to stand and brag on their kids. I wasn’t disinterested. I was simply worried that their little tummies would be growling before they got to class.

That’s when the idea first crossed my mind that the school gets away with neglect. I understand that it is a parent’s responsibility to feed their children. I wasn’t worried about my own who, even if hungry this morning, wouldn’t have to worry about that tomorrow. But what about the kids whose families can’t afford to feed them and a free school breakfast and lunch are something they look forward to? I know some people have misgivings about the government being involved in welfare and such, but I don’t think kids should suffer hunger simply because their parents can’t afford enough food. I have no problem at all with my tax dollars going to fund free school meals for kids who truly need something to eat. But for crying out loud, I thought, give them something to eat!

As I sat there having these thoughts rather than paying attention to the goings on, I began to realize that I, a full grown man, felt satisfied in my belly. This was nearly three hours ago and I’m still not hungry! Now I’m thinking new thoughts. It seems school lunches are scientifically engineered to swell to the size of your stomach. Maybe my kids really did eat until they were full. Maybe now I should be worried that my son is going to founder rather than starve because he ate just as much as I did and he only has a flat, tiny five year old tummy. I only hope that this isn’t some make-them-feel-full conspiracy. I hope that the little bit of food provided had some disproportionate nutritional value. I hope it wasn’t that we were essentially filling our bellies with cardboard and, though feeling satisfied, were left lacking essential proteins and vitamins and such.

Or, as the title of this post suggests, perhaps my brain was bored and I’ve severely overthought this.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…spend your time with your children enjoying their company rather than letting your mind race to bizarre and distant places. After all, we spend a large portion of our lives hallucinating in the dark. Why do it in the daylight when you could be enjoying your family?

A don’t…let them eat too many school breakfasts if you can help it. I’m not completely convinced it’s real food. It certainly didn’t behave like real food this morning. But it did taste good.

Let’s Conspire! Here’s a Theory to Get Us Started

I present to you a real cake-taker of an idea. This idea was presented to me as a truth, or at least as a perceived truth. It has some flaws, but my reason for posting it is so that perhaps a dialogue can be started to iron them out.

The theory goes something like this: Hitler was on the verge of creating a gas that would only kill Jews. I already asked the first logical question; “How?” The answer was that the gas isolated some genetic…bit, for lack of a better word…that was specific to Jewish people and then, somehow, killed them with it. Hitler never got to use his gas, as it was still nearing completion near the end of the war.

In case all that wasn’t quite enough, the theory goes on to state that a certain environmentally conscious former Vice President got his hands on the formula, modified it to only kill cows and then procured several crop dusters. He is planning to fly these over every cattle operation in the U.S. so that, with cows extinct, we must all become vegetarians. More questions arise here. So I asked them. First was “If he only kills the cows won’t people just resort to filling their pastures with deer or bison?” Burger lovers like myself could certainly make do with another form of burger as long as it included meat of some sort. Beef is preferable but not necessarily necessary. Second was “Once the people realize what’s going on won’t they simply keep watch and shoot all crop dusters out of the sky?” The first question was never answered, although I assume the answer is he’ll eventually kill all those too. This of course implies that he doesn’t care for the environment at all, as mass extinction is not extremely environmentally friendly. The answer to the second was that it would be so well coordinated that all the ranches would be hit simultaneously.

You’d think that would be enough. It wasn’t. The next stage somehow has the has-been V.P. owning the only car in America and going door to door confiscating every gun in the country. And that, finally, was enough.

Now, there are those out there who wouldn’t stand for such things and there are those who would shrug their shoulders and live on. If you wish to participate in any discussion you should probably decide which side you’ll be on.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…keep an open mind. Stranger things than this have turned out to be true.

A don’t…judge me for sharing. This is a theory held by at least one person that I know. There may be other believers out there somewhere.