424. Have I got a deal for you

 

So the new manager of my coffee shop has been making changes rapidly since he showed up less than a year ago to replace the lovely and inimitable Andrea, who moved on to work against sex trafficking. Andrea replaced Krista, who works with kids and got married. After Mitch left to lead worship services at my church. After Jake, Shelly, Jana, Sam and Emily and hundreds more barristas served their time in the coffee trenches. They come and go like Haitian presidents. Unlike Haitian presidents, however, they usually leave public service alive.

Which brings me to Nokay the newby and his almost able assistant Ong. They are housemates and friends on top of being employer/employee, which needs to be investigated soon by a federal agency before the Orange Emperor eliminates all such agencies. The boys are young and vital. Nokay the unmanager has been making executive orders as if he were a diabetic checking his blood sugar three times daily, then writing orders in a single drop of blood. Every day brings another change into the monkey cage of Coffee Nation. There is the soda case, the new table arrangements, menu changes, oaky decor overhaul, and more. But he has gone too far with his latest gimmickry.

On the wall behind the bulging soda/salad/parfait case Nokay had erected an exclusive coffee club cubby station rack of time shares for elite, by invitation only members.  I noticed it going up and slowly filling with black and blue logoed coffee mugs advertising the shop. At first I thought it was an attractive display of overpriced coffee mugs made in China. More wall art with a sales angle. Then neatly typed names began to appear below these mugs. Other mugs appeared to break up the black and blue monotony. “How nice”, I naively thought to myself, “a personal holding rack for regulars. How considerate. I may have misjudged Nokay.”

Then it got real yesterday around noon. Nokay approached me with the deal of the year as I waited for Ong to bring me a cup of delicious Tuscan Tortellini soup.

“Burrito, would you like to join the exclusive, elite, for members only coffee cubby?”

“Well, that depends on the deal.”

“Okay, let’s talk turkey.”

“As my ghost writer said in The Fart of the Deal, ‘Always negotiate from strength’.”

“Um, the terms are simple:  for $75 you can join and then drink all the coffee you want for a year at only $1.00 per cup. You get your own black and blue mug and a name tag.”

At this point his other bean lackey Grace offered to type up the paperwork and print the neat label on the cubby of my choice.

“Slow your roll, Marla Marbles. I’m working a deal here. It’s gonna be huge. I’ve talked with a lot of generals and the border patrol and they all agree with me.” Turning back to Nokay, “My price point is $50. You keep the mug.”

“I can’t do that. The mugs are worth $10 each.”

“Stop! You sell them for ten bucks, but you buy them for less than two bucks from China. The mug is off the table. I’ll provide my own Bob Dylan mug.”

Ong arrives. “How about a hug from me to sweeten the deal?”

“No hugs, no mugs, no drugs. Shut up, Ong. I’m working a deal here. It’s gonna be huge. Look at these hands. Call the generals. People love me.”

Nokay, “Here’s what I can do… $65.00 without a mug, plus your pick of old tee shirts which sell for $12.00 to folks who don’t know any better. And a free sample bag of stale coffee.”

“Again, I have several of those tee shirts. I wear them when I want to appear anonymous. They work like bug spray to repel sighted humans. Plus, I have my own custom made coffee shop tee shirt with my title and logo on it. And, under the belly line, printed upside down, is this bold statement: ‘You need to Growaset’.”

“No, sir. You go too far.”

“It’s true. I’ll wear it this Thursday.”

Ong, “How about that hug? It’s cooled off a bit to normal body temperature.”

“Ong, hug off!! Stay behind the bar or I swear I’ll hit you with this pint of Pepsi.”

Nokay, “What are your conditions?”

“I want Bob Dylan facing right on the top shelf with lightning bolts blazing out from his face.”

“Done. Grace, get on that.”

“I want an upstream payment of $1.00 from each of the previous suckers who bought into this square ponzi scheme whose cups are ranked below mine.”

“Not done. I’m not paying you to drink coffee here for free. I’m selling you an opportunity to save hundreds of dollars in your coffee budget.”

“Your ‘savings’ require me to spend money, Nokay. If you really want to save me money instead of persuading me to part with slabs of my money, you’d meet my terms and Grace could print out those lightning bolts. Why are you being so obstructionistic? I am trying to get this economy moving toward greatness again.”

“But you’re impossible. You act like you are negotiating, but all you are doing is taking. You aren’t giving anything. Can’t we meet in the middle?”

“Son, the middle is where you stick the knife, just above the navel. Read my book.”

“Just cut to the chase.”

“I have trained your barristas in how to deal with difficult customers, true?”

Reluctantly, “Yesssss.”

“At no charge, just a gentlemen’s agreement.”

“Okay.”

“Nokay, I have blogged about your enterprise bringing in untold business to you without increasing your advertising budget.”

“But we never…”

“Silence!! I’m not finished. I have invested thousands of dollars in this business over years of faithful customerization. I haven’t tried to weaponize or monetize my loyalty… and here we are arguing over a lousy fifteen bucks. Aren’t you ashamed?”

“uhhhh, I don’t know. I’m really confused right now.”

“Okay, here’s how we will settle this:  I’m folding this five dollar bill vertically. If you can pinch it as I drop it, you win. If you can’t, I win. We’ll do this three times or until the fifteen dollars is taken care of. Deal?”

“Sure. No, it’s a trick. I’ll lose… just, okay. I’ll pay you to drink coffee for a year, plus free muffins, just stop!! My sanity is at stake here.”

“You gotta deal, son.”

“And those other fools will pay for my wall.”

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328. Vacate the Premises

A few times per year I need to vacate the premises. It gets chilly, plus too much continuous time in Turtle Town, like secondhand smoke, may be hazardous to my health. I know this because short bursts of time in Turtle Town make me a danger to self and others, so it only makes logical sense that longer periods of time simply aggravate the aggravation, gravitating toward a grave situation.  My butt gets deflated and spreads out like peanut butter on a warm summer day. My hips cry out for support, but none comes, not even Tom Brady. My protruding pelvic bones imprint shuffleboard cue stick marks on my leather office chair, skeletal remains are all that remains… or maybe I’m just hallucinating again. If you listen to paranoid clients long enough, you need Haldol too.Image result for person melting in lava

Either way you just know when it’s time to leave town. It’s like knowing when you have to turn off the Neil Young song train before you hang yourself with the power cord next to your I pod dock. [CSI investigator Bob… “Looks like he was listening to Down By the River.”  Ed, “This much sadness it too much sorrow…” Bob, “Yeah, it’s impossible to make it today.” ]  This is just good self care, Blogobblers. So, off we went to the true South, where grits and alligators live in harmony, that is if no ducks connect them. Add one stinking duck, however, and the feathers fly. The duck eats the grits, the alligator eats the duck, and the grits eat… uh, let me get back to you on this one. (Think!! What do grits eat? Alligator poop, that’s gotta be it.)

Last year it was Savannah, Georgia we graced and were graced by. (We  also visited Jekyl Island and the beach nearby.  It was a-gracing maze where the wealthiest Americans once roosted in the winters… Roosevelts and Rockefellers and the Burritos.) Walking around the city of squares and live oaks covered by Spanish moss and sordid gossip, we gaped and gasped and gulped at the jaded beauty of it all… lovely and culturally osmotic how that Southernness crosses the air/skin barrier and gets into your very marrow. In mere moments you begin drawling, “Ya’ll good folk, bless your little Rebel hearts.  Come on and give yo’ Mama a big ole hug. Look at that po’ homeless panhandler, Junior . Izn’t he precious? Give’m a dollar, Sugar. Ya’ll got nuff tea to melt yo sugar? We can double fry that Oreo cookie for you.” After an hour you’re singing Dixie and talking NASCAR with religious fervor. “In Dixie Land make a left hand turn, Look away, away.”

This year our destination was Charleston, S.C.  Folks, I am blog-plugging this city, though they don’t need my plug. Our tour guide told us Charleston is the Number One tourist destination in the USA. I can’t argue with a man who drives two mules and a carriage through a three hundred year old city without hardly watching. (See that? I tossed in a smooth Southern double negative there.) It became clear that Savannah was the little brother, the distant cousin to the throne of this historic bling. Wow!! The old city of Charles Town grew by filling in marshlands that had functioned as the municipal dump. Land was scarce, so many of the Charleston buildings of a certain age are one room wide, three stories high, and go deep in their narrow lots.

 Now you’re with me, huh?  Notice the open porches, piazzas, Baby!  In subtropical temperatures and humidity levels this was a breezy form of free air conditioning. Still is. Charming. Naturally you’d have to get along with your next door neighbors when you hang out so closely without electricity or television.  No wonder Southerners are famous for their nice manners. Sardines are also known for their quiet compliance once laid in tins full of oil, which is what the humidity levels feel like in August in Charleston. I’ve never heard of a sardine bar fight. Have you?

The John C. Calhoun House was beyond words. The current owner has taken artsy hoarding to Olympic levels. Priceless, one of a kind, irreplaceable, bubble over your mind’s cognitive dam as your senses are totally bombarded by perceptions and information. I never took LSD but I imagine its effects would be like a tour of the Calhoun House– psychedelically endless and ultimately unknowable– Tiffany lamps, Russian Czar silver, Chinese incense burners big enough to cook a whole pig. “Yeah, I tripped out there once…like Vegas in a snow globe, Man, or Jimi Hendrix’s walk in closet. Totally trippy and synaptically  sizzling. Words fail, Man. Dig it?”

It wasn’t till the next day at Boone Hall Plantation that the economic engine for all this magnificent wealth stepped clearly out of the antebellum fog. 13 brick slave quarters line the driveway up to the mansion house.

Three hundred and fifty year old live oaks shade the sandy lane but cannot hide the stain of slavery. Hundreds of Africans were run through and run down on this soil, making attempts at  producing rice, cotton, indigo, bricks, pecans and a host of other crops. The extant mansion house was actually built in 1935, so it’s a bit of an anachronism. It’s an odd spirit that settles in after you visit a few of these vacated cabins. They were well built with bricks and ceramic roof tiles made on the plantation when a German family owned it all. It is a strange premise that work will set you free. Where have I heard that before? There is that neat, orderly German thing going on where precise engineering went into producing things while not a drop of humanity was spilled exploiting human beings. A darkness builds as you visit each cabin and realize that the imperial wealth of nearby Charleston was extracted from the sinews and marrow of slaves.

Old-slave-mart-facade-sc1.jpg  The shame is not simply a Southern burden, though, even if Neil Young says it was. “I saw cotton and I saw black, tall white mansions and little shacks…Southern man when will you pay them back?”  Well, just like the darn duck in the earlier allusion, somebody bought all that cheap cotton. And somebody sailed those slave ships. And somebody bought all the slave made products at rock bottom prices. The market place was not the South. It was the disapproving, highly moral, can’t resist a bargain world that kept the slaveholders in business. Hmmmm. How about that? Not sure much has changed since the official end of slavery. The world still chooses to look away, look away, look away from the misery beneath the bargains we capitalized consumers enjoy.

I know that free market folks like to speak of the freedom that capitalism has inspired, how it has modernized and improved living conditions for the masses. I’m just not sure how I’m going to be real with the enslaved workers who made my cheap cotton t-shirts and socks when I meet them in heaven. Someone may have to vacate the premises.

307. Mr. Scratch Off

I just noticed him again, sitting in the alleyway outside my office. Early morning, bent over a lottery scratch off sheet, methodically rubbing a coin across the silver filmed boxes under which fortune awaits him. “Oh Luck!  Strike me. Fulfill me”,  I imagine him saying to the goddess Fortuna. He’s older, maybe 70’s with a cool ball cap on his head. Alone, very alone.

Now maybe it’s because earlier this morning I heard Otis Redding singing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, but the lyric … “and this loneliness won’t leave me alone” floats across my consciousness. Lonely and alone are not equivalents. Lonely is a qualitative state versus alone which is a quantitative measure.  As I walk by him again, I am not lonely though I am alone. I just left my monthly peer group breakfast book share. The six of us old guys had a lovely time and talk together, discussing David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. Good stuff. Good community, like a good cup of coffee, is so rare among men, regardless of the content covered, becomes awesome when layered over with the cream of a good book.Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay

My peer group is composed of retired therapists– one MD/PhD, three PhDs, and two MS guys. Average age is mid sixties. I’m the only one still working and barely still in my fifties, (okay, 59) and they thank me for paying toward their Social Security and Medicare programs. And you know what?  I find it a privilege to keep these old geezers going. There is a lot of experience and wisdom in those other five noggins that is freely shared because of their gracious spirits. I deeply enjoy the camaraderie and know we share a mutual appreciation. (And I’m not sucking up since they don’t read my blog, okay? Why you gotta be like that? Sshheeesh!!)

One thing I am sure of– these men are not lonely nor are they putting their hopes in lottery tickets or some other unlikely probability. They have been delayers of gratification, putting off the pleasure of the moment for the greater good in the distance. All served others professionally with disciplined grace. On top of all that they managed to make a decent living in the human services. That’s a pretty big deal by itself, but what is more impressive in my book is that these dudes are retired yet still sharpening their wits and expanding their horizons. Who does that? Only rare birds. I want to be like that when I grow up and out of the buzziness of the working world.

In his book Brooks proposes two states of man or Adam. Adam I, the resume man; and Adam II, the eulogy man. Achievement and competition come from Adam 1. Character comes from the second Adam as he soldiers through suffering. As Greg said, “There are so many pithy comments in these pages… here’s another.”  Page 15, “Adam 1 aims for happiness, but Adam 2 knows happiness is insufficient.” The Adam 2 folks Brooks describes learned to quiet themselves in the valley of humility. That’s a big valley, but as I recall my trek through Sabino Canyon, it was a humbling experience feeling like I was in between God’s majestic fingers. Yeah, humility came over me like a storm cloud raining torrents of gratitude.

My prayer was not for more or a lightning bolt of happiness to hit me. No. I was in the moment of joy, connected to the Creator via His creation. Luck had nothing to do with it as I sat in the shade of a mesquite tree with hummingbirds flitting over me. Not luck but blessings showered over me so much that the molecules buzzed like minute grateful cicadas. Blessings do not leave one lonely since they come from a relationship. Luck on the other hand is a piece of cold statistical probability.  Mr. Scratchoff could be a winner if 12 million other players lose. At the end of the day he will remain alone and outside a relationship with his material winnings.
“I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time”

Perhaps more tragic is when someone like Mr. Scratchoff does hit it big, like the big game hunter who knocks down a rare lion only to have it devoured by hyenas as he stands by helplessly, he winds up emptier than when he began. What is not earned is lost almost as soon as it appears, my blogerras. So scratch it now– all or nothing– or wait on faith to get somewhere incrementally, no, sacramentally.

184. Gold Miners and Wise Men

King Midas, Rumpelstiltskin, and the Goose that laid the Golden Egg– these are myth and fairy tales that speak to gold and greed. There is a long association between the two. In these stories the pursuit of gold led to heartbreak, death, or an ironic killing of the gold machine. Some sort of destruction followed greed.  Storytellers and writers have valued these stories enough to keep them alive for centuries. Like Neil Young’s singer kept searching for a heart of gold, a miner for a heart of gold. I’m not sure if he ever found it. There’s the literal and the figurative, the fact and the fantasy.  By post 184 you are well aware of my preference.

Image result for gold mining reality tv show picturesThere are several reality shows on television based on gold seeking. They celebrate the  pioneer spirit of Americans who are chasing the rags to riches story in our highly technological world. It’s ironic that gold remains central to our economy and technology after thousands of years. It seems to exist in the exact right proportion to be both essential and difficult to come by in relationship to humankind’s ever expanding wants. It would not surprise me if the next mother lode is discovered on Mars and that Martian gold would draw humans deeper into space just as it drew explorers to the New World in the 16th century and Americans to California in the 1850’s.

Families carry their children while they toil for free in mercury-poisoned pits to pan gold in Ghana. Photo: Lisa Kristine, Lisa Kristine ©Gold seems to bring out the best and worst in humans. On the one hand its beauty, malleability and conductivity have been creatively exploited for many good purposes in art and technology and medicine. On the other hand its undisputed value as hard currency has fueled man’s greed for millennia. Gold has been used to glorify God in cathedrals, but the greedy human pursuit of gold is a story of blood, death and enslavement. For instance, African gold today is evidence of modern slavery. It is extracted from that tragic continent by imprisoned miners under the  hardened gaze of armed guards.  It makes me cringe to think that the value of this metal is held so much higher than the human lives expended to obtain it. I don’t even like to consider how much human misery was compelled by the production of my wedding band or my wife’s jewelry.

Image result for nelson mandela picturesBut I’m not focusing on real gold mines today. Rather, I’ve been thinking about the golden veins that run through the wrinkled gray quartz of our minds.  Jackpot memories and associations that wind about in the neural wire mazes of the brain contain some of the same gold qualities that are in play here– purity, conductivity, beauty, malleability. Which brings me to Nelson Mandela, a gold mine of a human being. (He was the same age as my father, who would have been 95 this year. ) Why would a white kid from the suburbs of D.C. care about a Black African political figure?  Probably for the same reasons that I cared about Martin Luther King, Jr. domestically. He was another gold mine in my mind. Something was wrong in our world, not just a little wrong, but drastically wrong like raging cancer.  It had to be amputated from the body of civilization or else a limb, a tribe, a continent would die. And these two men stood up to it with truth and light and laser faith, like skilled miners in the depths of the earth. They were underdog Davids versus monstrous institutional Goliaths. They operated surgically with words as their scalpels, cutting up the well defended giants who had every advantage.

A five year old could see the injustice of apartheid but a fifty year old could not… because that older man had grown up in the soupy illogic of inherited racism. If you cook facts under a steady low flame of ignorance, over time all the elements will cook down and mix together into something else, which I believe is institutional racism. Isms become so familiar and warm and sticky, they are as hard to get rid of as pine sap on one’s hands. Turpentine can cut the grip of it, but the smell, like the smell of blood, lingers.

Image result for mandela speaking to congress picturesBoth wise men avoided  cooked down political soup slop, and instead deconstructed the garbage they were fed by the authorities of their day. They bored through the  walls of inequality, discrimination, and apartheid on separate continents with similar intensity. They never met, though MLK tried to get a visa to visit South Africa in the early sixties. No surprise, he was denied access…the light was not permitted in the darkness by those invested in the darkness.  By the time Mandela spoke to the U.S. Congress in 1990, Martin Luther King, Jr. was long dead…killed by that same low flame of ignorance. Branded as a communist, an anarchist, a rabble rouser, a puppet of darker forces. Funny how villains of propaganda become heroes in truth. Propaganda is fool’s gold; truth is real gold to the wise.

It always seems to be that tragedy polishes and refines the gold in our lives. A worm eaten frame of injustice around a haloed saint seems to make that halo brighter. A dark veil makes you squint all the harder for the rays of light that pierce the crosshatched fabric behind it. Then quite dramatically one day the veil burns to ash. Freedom is all the sweeter and brighter and glorious after a long absence. The Berlin Wall crumbled under the sledgehammers of free people.  Two systems had met on that line– democracy and totalitarianism, messy truth versus controlled lies. It always seems to go this way… when our love of truth and freedom is not held responsibly, in rushes fear driven deceit and ever escalating control. When that totalitarian control is finally shucked off, what glorious joy the newborn truth radiates.

Wise men don’t wait for injustice to celebrate the truth. They don’t require any prison term to enjoy their freedom. No, with each breath they inhale truth and exhale joy, following God’s star.

173. Have you tried the new Pope pate?

The new Pope is unlike the old Popes. He speaks more clearly it seems. His head is not stuck in books up a spiral staircase in an ivory tower. His tongue is not stuck to the roof of the Vatican Bank. His feet are not stuck in expensive hand made ruby red leather Pope slippers. His hand, so it seems, is not stuck in any cookie jar of carnality or greed or pride. It’s refreshing. Maybe. I’m concerned for his liver, though.

I remember Jimmy Carter was a fresh wind that blew into Washington in 1976. He walked down Pennsylvania Avenue during his inaugural parade. He put solar panels on the White House and didn’t drink a lot of liquor. He held firm on the military’s budget. (Unfreakinfogivable!) He seemed awfully humble, which was toxic to the coyote/hyenas known as the “Beltway Bandits”. Eventually the career politicians and lobbyists devoured him, and Ronnie Reagan rose like a dust storm, sandblasting the skin off the middle class in America. Corporate America settled in. Lobbyists, like plutocratic bishops, weeble wobbled around D.C., syphoning off tax breaks and profitable legislation for their constituents. Jimmy was ground to a powder and blown away beyond the Beltway. The fresh wind turned fetid. Which is why I’m concerned for Pope Francis.

I remember when Lindsay Lohan was my daughters’ favorite star and Britney Spears was a virgin. And you can add any fallen celebrity you wish to this list of infamy. I don’t blame these folks. They lived briefly at the edge of a cultural whirlpool that is driven by money and lust. They danced along the edge of the abyss for a few years, their innocence in stark contrast to the bubbling cesspool below. And then they fell into the magnetic excrement. It’s not simply the character flaws of these individuals; it’s the jet engine system that sucks them in, shreds them, and spits them out vaporized…thank you very much. Next chump. Washington and Hollywood operate on the same jet engine system.

I’ve never had the rock star experience, where others want to get close to you, drive your car, open your doors, do your laundry. Sycophants who get between you and your money… endlessly pampering your ego until you are the human equivalent of a caged goose with a super-fatty liver…so tasty as pate. The slaughter waits at the end of the tunnel of false love. I suppose that’s the gift of any addiction– false promises and feel good moments delivered (Oh, don’t get up. I’ll answer the door for you) on the way to the slaughterhouse. The British sent opium ahead of their invasion of China. Our U.S. cavalry softened their Indian targets with alcohol. It’s not just Hollywood that greases the skids with drugs for the young and beautiful, the rich and powerful.

Image result for fat goose pictures

And what drug or addiction is softening up the U.S. population nowadays? A legion of indulgences cage us as we gobble down kernels of our destruction and our livers swell into gourmet gourds.

2269 Americans have died in the Afghan War as of this week. The cost of the war is estimated to be between $4 and $6 trillion, or a third of our national debt. Not to mention war costs in Iraq…

“Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, have stated the total costs of the Iraq War on the US economy will be three trillion dollars in a moderate scenario, described in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War and possibly more in the most recent published study, published in March 2008. Stiglitz has stated: “The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions…Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.” Oh, and around 4500 U.S. soldiers died.

A 2013 updated study pointed out that U.S. medical and disability claims for veterans after a decade of war had risen to $134.7 billion from $33 billion two years earlier. Do you think that might increase even more?

Here’s the scoop… according to the U.S. NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK, the Outstanding Public Debt as of 11 Oct 2013 at 02:37:43 PM GMT is:
$ 1 6 , 7 5 0 , 4 9 3 , 0 0 1 , 3 6 7 . 2 4.

The estimated population of the United States is 316,823,868.

So each citizen’s share of this debt is $52,870.05. But not every citizen works. Roughly 2/3’s of our population is employed, so the actual cost per working man or woman is greater than this figure.

Image result for empty pocket pictures

In addition to this travesty it is estimated by Bloomberg News that the true cost of the Wall Street meltdown/bailout of 2008 cost U.S. taxpayers $12.8 trillion. “According to a team at Bloomberg News, at one point last year (2009) the U.S. had lent, spent or guaranteed as much as $12.8 trillion to rescue the economy.” Hmmmm. Funny how the three figures above add up to just around our total deficit. I know it’s not this simple, but war and Wall Street greed have real consequences to the empire we live in. But wait! There’s more.

Consumer credit, for instance, surged past the $3 trillion mark in the second quarter of 2013 and continues on an upward trajectory, according to the most recent numbers from the Federal Reserve.

At $3.04 trillion, the total is up 22 percent over the past three years. Student loans are up a whopping 61 percent.

Total household debt, according to the Fed’s flow of funds report, is at $13 trillion, nearly back to its pre-crisis level in 2007.

Image result for millstone around neck picturesIs there a trend here? Our materialism is a mighty stone around the stiff neck of our imperialism. We want it all on the micro and macro levels. Our USDA inspected livers are saturated and ready for the harvest. Pope Francis, don’t put on those bloody red slippers. Like Dorothy from Kansas, we put them on and went to Hell with our hand basket stuffed full of dinner rolls and butter. The enemy is not at the door but in the mirror.

We can barely estimate our losses, costs and debts. My question is this: Silly geese, what have we gained?

Image result for stupid geese pictures