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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for June, 2012


Are you, too, getting older…and poorer?

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I’m pretty good at math, so I did some the other day. I wanted to figure out where I stood, retirement-wise. It turns out, I won’t be standing, but sitting right here in front of the computer monitor working. Social security and our meager savings will not come close to allowing us to live comfortably here in The People’s Republic of Massachusetts. And with our first grandchild due next month, I’ve abandoned all hope of convincing Martha to move.

As it turns out, though, we’re not alone. Lots of others are facing seniorhood with less-than-stellar financial resources, too.

5 Steps to Greater Retirement Self-Reliance

Poverty rates have been rising for older Americans. They’re not alone, of course. The meager recovery from the recession has left millions of us worse off. Younger people can at least hope for a rebound when things get better. But it is hard to find a silver lining in any of the clouds that hang over older folks.

Tax rates are set to rise. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are under the gun. Federal and state spending will be under pressure for years, if not decades. And the flood of aging baby boomers promises to intensify demand for senior health and safety-net programs, just when it’s clear that the money for any expanded efforts is just not there.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) recently took a look at poverty rates among people age 50 and older, and how they changed between 2001 and 2009. Looking at four different groups of older people, here is how their poverty rates have changed:

Ages 50 to 64: from 9.1 percent in 2001 to 12.3 percent in 2009

Ages 65 to 74: from 8.4 percent to 9.4 percent

Ages 75 to 84: from 8.8 percent to 10.7 percent

Ages 85 and older: from 15.9 percent in 2001 to 14.6 percent in 2009

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Number 3 on the list, delaying retirement, is not even an option for me. It’s a necessity.

Even if I do delay collecting Social inSecurity until I’m 70, we still won’t have enough to live on comfortably. So the bottom line of my math exercise is, barring a  big lottery win, I’ll be working until I die.


What’s your situation?

If you’re approaching “that age,” will you have enough to retire comfortably?

If you’re younger, do you have a concrete plan to generate enough savings to retire?

And how do you feel the nation’s ongoing shift to socialism will affect you?


So…what will Congress next decide to tax you for not buying?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

By now you’ve heard or read that the Supreme Court essentially upheld Obamacare. They did it by first telling Congress they can’t force you to buy health insurance or anything else. But they can tax you for not buying health insurance.

See the difference?

No. I don’t either.

By converting the mandate to buy insurance into a tax for not buying it, the Court told Congress they can tax you for not doing something Congress wants you to do.

Apparently, five of Justices thought this was a perfectly reasonable interpretation of what the Founders intended when they penned the Constitution.

What’s the next thing we’ll be taxed for not buying?

Let’s look at some hypothetical future taxes Congress could well decide to impose:

$$$ Any adult citizen who does not own a late-model, General Motors automobile or truck will have to pay an annual tax of $500. Late model is defined as less than six years old.

$$$ Anyone who does not buy a pair of Nike sneakers each year will be taxed $130.

$$$ All adults who don’t own a smartphone will incur an annual tax of $690

$$$ All taxpayers who do not purchase at least one round-trip airline ticket annually must pay a “non-support of the airline industry” tax of $999.

$$$ All families that cannot provide per-person proof of purchase of 1460 servings of fruit and 1460 servings of vegetables will incur a healthcare offset tax of $1500 per family member.

I could go on and on and on, but you see the point.

The Supreme Court essentially declared freedom of choice dead in America. Or maybe not dead, but taxable.

Can’t you just see all the heads in Washington spinning with visions of all the taxes they can impose, now that you can be taxed for not buying something…or anything?

The conversion of America to socialism, which FDR began in the 1930s, is nearly complete, now.

Comments? Or not.

Does it really matter anymore what any of us “little people’ think?


Would YOU Hire This Nanny? Michael says no. I say yes and why.

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite talk-show host is a local guy named Michael Graham. He deals in The Natural Truth, as he calls it, and it’s rare occurrence that I disagree with his take on issues. But today is one of those rare days.

I’ve reproduced one of his blog posts below. My comments follow.

From The Maestro’s Mailbag: “Would YOU Hire This Nanny?”

From my email:

Dear Michael, my wife has had four interviews with our prospective nanny named Sheri and we want to hire her even though she is a little young (21). 

She is also very attractive.


But here is the problem.  She is from Florida and so I googled her and found a picture of her looking exactly like THIS.  EXACTLY.  In fact she has a few series of pics like this.

Needless to say, we are very concerned even though I think she is the best interview (out of about 20) and she is extremely qualified CPR, working on early childhood degree etc)

Is there any way I, as a married man, can hire this girl?

Thanks, Eric

My reply,

Dear Eric,

No.  Huh-uh. There is no way you can hire this woman as your kids’ nanny…assuming, that is, you want to stay married.

First, if you tell your wife “let’s hire her!”, you’re screwed. Your wife will, I assume, immediately begin divorce proceedings/hit you with a claw hammer/both.

Option two is for your wife to hire her.  But if you’re married to a woman so clueless that she’d but that [see pic above] in your house with you, five days a week, you’re probably doomed, anyway.  What sane married woman would let that happen?

Then there’s option three: Somehow this woman does end up being your kids’ nanny: hanging around all day, babysitting at night, maybe coming on a family trip…

If you’re going to hire her, Eric, let me save you some time: Just go ahead and hire the divorce lawyer now.

Sorry, but that’s the Natural Truth.


Michael Graham

I think Michael’s analysis is only party correct and pretty sexist. He assumes that if a young, attractive woman is around, the guy will not be able to stop himself from doings something stupid and/or that his wife will inevitably fall prey to uncontrollable jealousy or suspicion.

Now, I will grant you that in many cases, that is exactly what would happen. But is it really inevitable?

Are we really going to tell attractive young women they cannot use their intelligence and hard work to get ahead in life; that jobs in their field will not be open to them because other people can’t behave like adults? Or maybe we’ll tell them, “Sure, you can be a nanny, but only for single moms with no boyfriends.”

Sorry, Michael. I hope you were just trying to be funny with this post, because as a guy, I’m insulted you assume I can’t keep my hands to myself and that my wife can’t control her imagination.

Many people look with disdain on young women who rely on looks and their bodies to make their way through life. Are we now going to condemn them simply for having good looks and bodies?

I said above, I think Michael is partly correct. I would leave the decision up to my wife and hope that she is secure enough in our relationship not to be threatened by an attractive nanny.

Of course, we’d not be hiring a nanny at all, since we both believe one parent or the other should always be caring for children, even if that means working different shifts. But that’s something for another day’s blog post.

So…ladies and gentlemen, what would you do in the writer’s place? Hire the woman or not? Who decides?

Gents, if she’s hired, will she inevitably become a temptation you will not be able to resist?

And ladies, if she’s hired, will you always be comparing yourself to her…wondering if maybe hubby likes her better…etc.?


Truth? Facts? Innocence? What do they have to do with anything?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Truth? Facts? Innocence? What do they have to do with anything? Apparently nothing when there is political hay to be made, as in the case of George Zimmerman.

In case you were in a coma and missed it, Zimmerman is the guy who shot and killed Trayvon Martin a few months ago. Despite all reported evidence indicating Zimmerman told the truth about the incident, including that Martin attacked him as he was walking away and had him on the ground where he feared for his life, Zimmerman was arrested, forced to post bail even though he was not a flight risk, and has been systematically vilified by much of the media and the likes of race-pimps Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Now it appears there is even more evidence indicating Zimmerman’s innocence — a lie detector test Zimmerman passed and prosecutors had before they decided to bring charges.

George Zimmerman Passed Police Lie Detector Test Day After Trayvon Martin Killing

Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman

A day after killing Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman passed a police lie detector test when asked if he confronted the teenager and whether he feared for his life “when you shot the guy,” according to documents released today by Florida prosecutors.

According to a “confidential report” prepared by the Sanford Police Department, Zimmerman, 28, willingly submitted to a computer voice stress analyzer (CVSA) “truth verification” on February 27.  Investigators concluded that he “has told substantially the complete truth in regards to this examination.”

Zimmerman, the report noted, “was classified as No Deception Indicated (NDI).”

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Why is this purely political prosecution of Zimmerman going forward despite all the evidence he’s told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from the moment the police arrived on the scene?

Because Zimmerman is half-white and half-Latino while Martin was black.

From the very first moment, this case has not been about a crime, but about race, about the opportunity to brand a “white” guy as racist.

Here’s something odd — if being half-white is enough for Zimmerman to be considered white, how is that half-white Barack Obama is considered black?

Would Zimmerman be facing trial if he was black and Martin was white, or half white? Or if Zimmerman was only a quarter white, or an eighth?

Based on what I’ve read about the case, I believe Zimmerman confronted Martin that day because Martin was a black kid in a place where Zimmerman did not think he should be. But I also believe Martin attacked Zimmerman and was shot as a result. Perhaps there exists evidence to the contrary to which I’m not privy. But so far, not one shred has emerged.

I say it’s high time the political harassment of Zimmerman ended, this whole case was closed, and we move on to something more important, like getting that white guy out of the White House.

What do you say?


What does this Democrat elite really think of the American people? You decide.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Brian.


As I was looking around last week for cartoons for my  Sunday Truth in Toons posts, I came across this one by liberal cartoonist Jeff Danziger.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it. Check it out, first, then I’ll explain.

So…clearly Danizger wants to convey the justifiable reality that those in the Democratic party are seriously worried. Things have not been going well for them lately and left-leaning cartoonists have been pounding the newspapers and other media with pretty much anything they can make up, perhaps hoping their ‘toons will somehow turn the tide.

When I first read the above ‘toon, I dismissed it as just another liberal calling the American people stupid because they don’t agree with his politics or worldview. But then I started thinking about how he did it –repeating the line about the basic intelligence and fairness of the American people — and I began to wonder if Danziger has begun to realize it is, in fact, that basic intelligence and fairness that has been driving the growing shift away from the liberalism of the left toward the Tea Movement and other conservative groups. It sure seems like many on-the-fence and other liberals are abandoning the party of empty promises for something with more subsstance.

Perhaps he understands that more and more of the American people are waking up from their hope-and-change-induced euphoria and are actually using their basic intelligence to examine what the Democrats have wrought these past few years under the leadership of their no-experience socialist dreamer and his cabal.

Maybe he, too, has figured out that “Yes we can” really meant “Yes we can use the power of government to tell you how you will live your life, or else, because we’re so much smarter than you.”

Perhaps he’s beginning to see just how many folks have stopped falling for the platitudes and empty promises and  how many have begun reading up on real issues, like why the housing market and the economy tanked, and are discovering the truth…the very inconvenient truth the D party desperately does not want their formerly loyal voters, to know.

I don’t know.

I’d like to think Danziger is beginning to see the light, but my gut tells me my first impression was correct.

What do you think he’s saying in the ‘toon?


Waxing? Egads!

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Last Thursday, as they do every almost every Thursday, my daughter and her husband and my son and his wife came over for dinner and a movie. His wife somehow managed to miss an incredible number of classics, like Meatballs and Ghostbusters, but that’s a subject for another day.

For most of the day, Martha did what women do when company is expected – she cleaned the already clean house whilst I slaved away at the keyboard. Or maybe it wasn’t already clean. I can never tell. To me, if nothing impedes my progress from point A to point B, and there are no insects in residence, the house is clean. Thankfully, Martha has somewhat higher standards. But I digress.

As the hour of their arrival drew near, it was time for us to get ready. So, having just showered, I was standing at the sink shaving when a word I won’t repeat here slipped out. You should know that I hate shaving. For twenty years, I sported a full beard, not because I thought it was fashionable or I thought I looked especially good, but only so I would not have to shave. It came off as a temporary gift to my lovely bride, who always hated it, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, and when everyone started remarking that I looked ten years younger, I figured she’d endured prickly kisses long enough. But I digress again.

So the word slips out and through the shower curtain she asks what’s wrong.



“I really hate shaving.”

“You should wax it. Then it would take a long time to grow back.”

“Yah, right. That little patch on my leg I did that time when Cathy used to do it hurt quite enough, thank you. No way I’m doing that to my face.”

“Oh, it doesn’t hurt that much and only for a few seconds. Women get bikini waxes all the time. If they can stand it down there you should be able to stand it on your face.”

“But you’re forgetting one thing.”


“Women are crazy. They’ll do almost anything if someone tells them it makes them look better.”

Let’s just say the conversation deteriorated from there until kids and spouses arrived. But my point was a valid one, despite Martha’s protestations to the contrary.

What women will do to impress other women goes beyond all reason. And it is mostly to impress other women.

Sure, we guys appreciate it when you slip into that silky black dress with the spaghetti straps. And we appreciate it even more when you slip out of it, if we get to be in the vicinity. But we’d have appreciated jeans and a t-shirt just as much. Which brings me to my point.

Ladies, guys really don’t care what you wear. We don’t care if the jeans make your butt look too big. Or too small. Or too flat. We don’t care if your shoes match your handbag. We don’t care if you even wear shoes. We don’t care what color stones or metal you stick through your ears or hang around your neck. We don’t care if you spend hours layering on makeup so it looks like you’re not wearing any. Save yourself the hours and don’t wear any! We won’t even notice.

As for bikini waxes, just thinking about it causes our analogous area to recoil in horror.

The truth is, all we really care about is that you’re willing to be seen with us in public and that you don’t run screaming from the bedroom when you wake up next to us in the morning. After that ladies, it’s all gravy for us.



Truth in Toons: Economy Edition

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?











The most arrogant — and desperate — man in the world

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Two related items today concerning Our Dear leader.

First up, The Smartest President Ever® and his handlers appear to be getting desperate for donations. Apparently, the big bucks from Hollywood and other 2008-campaign sycophants is not rolling in this time around now that everyone has seen what their money bought them the last time. So Obama & Co. decided to appeal to the little people. And what kind of appeal did they come up with? Here it is, straight from the official Obama-Biden blog.

That’s right! Obama and his ilk think you should celebrate your 21st birthday, your 50th anniversary…even your upcoming wedding by directing those who will celebrate with you to give him the money they would have given to or spent on you as a gift.

Talk about the audacity of hope!

It seems there is no limit to the man’s arrogance, to his cluelessness, to his shamelessness.

What’s next?

Will he and his cabal be telling you to forgo you children’s birthday parties and send him the money you would have spent on that, too?

Or maybe he’ll be looking for your vacation money…or trying to convince you you really don’t need new shoes.

Heck, as his wife likes to remind everyone, lots of us can afford to skip a few meals. Will he soon be telling us to only eat once a day and give him the rest of the grocery money?

If you’re of a mind (or more properly, out of your mind) to actually fall for this scam, click here for the official Obama Event Registry sign up page.

Next up, a one minute video that says it all about Our Dear Leader’s arrogance.


What do you think of this latest reelection campaign twist?

Will you be sending him your birthday gifts? Or anything else?



Sorry, but life isn’t fair, so get over it.

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I had to check the date at the top of the newspaper this morning to make sure I hadn’t slipped into a time warp and landed on April Fools Day.

US judge rules Netflix subject to disability act

A federal judge in Springfield has ruled that Netflix and other online providers that serve the public are subject to federal disabilities laws, a decision that could require TV shows and movies streamed over the Internet to include captions for the deaf or other accommodations.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Michael Ponsor rejected Netflix’s argument that it is exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. He declined to dismiss an ADA lawsuit against Netflix for failing to provide captions on much of the content it streams to subscribers.

Web-based businesses did not exist when the disabilities act was enacted in 1990, the judge wrote, but the US Congress intended the law to adapt to changes in technology, and it should apply to websites.

The complaint was filed by the National Association of the Deaf, the Western Massachusetts Association of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, and Lee Nettles, a staffer at the Stavros Center for Independent Living in Springfield.

Nettles said Netflix discriminates against the hearing-impaired, forcing them to to avoid its streaming service and pay for more expensive DVD rentals to ensure the movies and TV shows they rent are equipped with captions. “It has to be equal accessibility to all people using it,” he said. “It has to be 100 percent equality.”

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

100 percent equality. Think about that for a minute.

If everything in life has to be made 100 percent equal for everyone…

— Professional sports should be forced to change their rules and practices to accommodate overweight couch potatoes who want to play pro basketball, or baseball, etc. Instead of choosing players based on ability, we should have random drawings from a pool that includes everyone who wants to play.

— All bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers should be unisex.

— Movie producers should be forced to provide “descriptive service” (essentially, a verbal description of what is happening onscreen from moment to moment) for every movie. And all old movies on DVD should be recalled so both subtitles and descriptive service can be added to accommodate those who are blind as well as those who are deaf. For that matter, they’ll also have to figure out something to accommodate those who are both deaf and blind.

— Comedians should be forced to take time to explain each joke after they deliver it for those humorously challenged, or too slow, to get it.

— Websites should be forced to provide descriptive service for each of their web pages. No matter that it would effectively bankrupt many of the companies behind the sites.

— We should eliminate elections entirely, since the ability to smile and raise money and lie come easier to some people than to others, which makes the election process inherently unfair. As with sports, each position should be chosen at random from a pool of people who want the job. The same with judges and all other public positions. It should not matter that a person has no experience with electricity. If he or she wants to be an electrical inspector, he or she should have a fair shot at the job. And there’s even precedent for that since that’s the standard we applied in the last presidential election.

The only thing I think would have to be exempt from the 100 percent equality rule is reproduction…unless scientists can figure out way for women to impregnate men and for men to carry and deliver babies. But everything else should be fair game for it.

Yes, I know how stupid all that sounded, but it is no more stupid than forcing Netflix to do things it determines will not be profitable just to accommodate a small number of subscribers.

The plain, simple fact is that life is not fair. If it was, I’d have a voice like Frank Sinatra’s, looks like Matt Damon, a physique like David Beckham, a bank account like Bill gates, and be hung like a porn star.

But life is not fair. It never was and never will be. And these efforts to force fairness are absurd and destructive as well as being unreasonably costly in many cases.

I’m sorry that some folks are deaf or blind or have mobility issues or are intellectually challenged or anything else that hold holds them back. But my disability should not create an obligation on you or anyone else to do anything. I believe we should help in any way we can if we are so inclined, and I believe the vast majority of Americans would do so willingly, but forcing everyone to pay for other people’s problems is what lay at the root of the decline of America and most other nations in the civilized world.

Life is not fair. It’s time we all accept it and get over it.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable again?

What other things would have to be “fixed” to accommodate 100% equality?


What tools does a woman need for her first home?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Busy day today, so I’m shamelessly sharing Peter Hotton’s  Handyman on Call column from Today’s Boston Globe. I’ve learned a lot from Hotton over the past few decades, and his advice here is as good as always.


Q. As a woman who just bought her first home, what would you suggest I buy for tools to do fix-ups and repairs on my own just to have in the house?

LISA, in Hotton’s chat room

A. Anyone’s first house is a monumental undertaking, and the right tools are a girl’s best friend, so I will begin with this: Don’t fall for those pink ladies’ kits they sell. That pink color is a chauvinistic ploy to waste your money on cheap or underweight tools.

Start with the basics:

1. A 16-ounce hammer, wood- or steel-shanked. Anything lighter will never drive a 16 penny nail.

2. A set of various-size slot screwdrivers and another set of Phillips head (shaped like a star) drivers. You want a variety of sizes to make sure the driver fits the screw. A bad fit can strip the slot and star from a screw very quickly.

3. A hacksaw for cutting metal, and nails that never yield to pulling.

4. Regular pliers and needle-nosed pliers.

5. A saw or two; one small handsaw for little jobs, and a Japanese saw, my favorite, with a long handle (not a pistol grip) that might feel uncomfortable but is really not. Such a saw has teeth on both sides of the blade, which is flexible enough to cut something flush from a wood floor or other surface without damaging the surface.

6. Various prying tools: A cat’s paw nail puller. A flat bar, small but versatile. A pinch bar, a 2-foot-long monster that can pry a house off its foundation — almost.

7. Nail set, for countersinking nails.

8. Safety items: Light canvas gloves (for comfort, mostly). And plastic goggles, especially when working with power tools.

9. A square for measuring and marking material for cutting. One, called the Speedy square, is triangular and easily used.

10. Caulking gun, to hold cartridges of caulking, adhesives, and other stuff that comes oozing out of the nozzle.

11. Fasteners, including many kinds of nails, and screws, too. Buy only what you need. Also, buy hot zinc dipped galvanized nails; they hold much better than the bright, ungalvanized nails. When you buy screws, specify solid brass. They won’t rust.

12. Various-width chisels. Be careful with all hand and power tools. A sharp chisel can cut flesh quickly and deeply.

13. Sandpaper. Various grades, ranging from fine to coarse. You will learn by experience what grade to use.

Enjoy your projects. I’ve enjoyed my projects for 54 years, and haven’t stopped yet.

So, ladies and gentlemen, is there anything you would add to Hotton’s list, particularly if it relates to a specific need or situation in your part of the world?

I would add a set of crescent wrenches.



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