CSotD: Saturday Mix

Some days, I take Wallace the Brave (AMS)‘s cheerful outlook on things, other days I adopt Spud’s dour viewpoint.

Today will be a mix of both, though perhaps a bit more on the Spud side of life.


F’rinstance, Lee Judge (KFS) makes a pun out of Cost of Living Allowance and cola-as-in-soft-drink, but that’s about what the new 5.9% COLA for Social Security recipients is going to amount to: The ability to get a soft drink when you’re thirsty.


The average SS recipient gets $1513 per month, and, out of that, pays $148 for Medicare and, if they’re smart, another $158 for some sort of Part B coverage.

If you are lucky, and if you’ve stayed in one place for a very long time, and if you didn’t take a second mortgage when your kids started college, then your house may be paid for, though you’ll still have property taxes.

If you’re still making payments or paying rent, you surely aren’t running down to the convenience store very often for a soft drink on an income of $1513 a month, or, after health benefits, $1,207.

I covered a meeting once between school board and town council members in a rural district whose school building had critical shortcomings. It was interesting because, while the school board members knew a lot about what the school needed, the town officials had a broader knowledge of their citizenry.

So when the board members said their proposed improvements would only cost $XX in increased taxes, the town people were able to put that in the context of a retiree’s total income.

The new COLA should amount to about ninety bucks a month. So — Huzzah! — a large soft drink every day!

Assuming you don’t piss it away by heating your house, filling your car’s gas tank or buying groceries.

And assuming the price of a large soft drink, like the price of everything else, remains the same.

Reminds me of this 2006 Between Friends (KFS).


Story Arc of the Week


(Non Sequitur – AMS)

There have been any number of cartoons pointing out that we follow mandates about things like speed limits and driving on the right side of the road, but Wiley Miller takes things a peg lower to point out that we have grown up with “mandates” all our lives.

This is one you might want to go ahead and overthink, because there were all sorts of kids who chafed against school mandates and, while some of them turned into nonconforming genius wunderkind millionaires, the bulk of them simply chafed, and today are either sitting at a bar somewhere complaining about never having had a break or else they are living in their parents basement madly keyboarding their frustrations out into dark echo chambers.

Still rejecting mandates.

The funny — well, peculiar — part being that they complain about spoiled kids who get participation trophies and how strict their parents were and on and on, all about what harm our lack of discipline is doing and how much better our kids would be if they were treated more harshly, the way it should be.

Because you can see how well it worked out for them.


And then there were the kids like the hapless fellow in this Man Overboard, who obeyed every mandate at school, at church, at home, then took the right job, married the right person, moved into the right house in the right neighborhood, drove the right car and lived the right life according to all the rules.

Only to discover the truth of what the professional athletes say: Father Time is undefeated.

And that, as Robert Frost put it, “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”

Or as another favorite poet wrote

i know that i am bound
for a journey down the sound
in the midst of a refuse mound
but wotthehell wotthehell
oh i should worry and fret
death and i will coquette
there s a dance in the old dame yet
toujours gai toujours gai


Meanwhile, deep underground

Looking at life, in my particular case, readily leads to the current arc in Frazz (AMS), which concerns pasties.

I first encountered these little meat pies on a trip to Butte, Montana — copper-mining country — but, when I sang their praises to my parents, I was met with a shrug.

Like Jef Mallett, my dad was a native Michigander, as were his parents, and pasties were something with which he, as a Yooper, had grown up.

I might as well have “discovered” hot dogs.

But pasties have a more humble, and therefore more exalted, history.

My grandfather had spent time underground, and he told a few stories of the Cousin Jacks he worked with, though he never happened to mention the savory meat pies they packed in their lunch pails.

He’d been lucky: When he dropped out of school to help support his family, the mine captain and the school superintendent put their heads together and said “Not this one.”

They persuaded him to come back and finish high school, then found him an engineering scholarship to Wisconsin, at which point his work underground became strictly a summer job.

He did, however, tell me an earlier story about when he was about 10 years old. He and a buddy were lying on the ground in his friend’s backyard, talking about life, and he said that one day he’d go out into the wider world.

His friend said, “And leave here?”

He said he picked up his head, looked at the barren red soil of the yard and the raw, sand-blasted walls of the house behind them and said, “Yes.”

True enough, he left pasties and poverty to his pals back home.

But he never forgot where he came from, and he was a far better manager — and a far better man — for it.

Here’s to you, Cousin Jack.


(Look for the pasties at 1.25)

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Saturday Mix

  1. Nicely done, Mike. As always. One small edit from this Michigander — it’s “Yooper.”

  2. Great job as usual. After I read it, I was struck by the influence and impact of the mine captain and school superintendent had on your grandfather and his lineage … including you. I too had not one but two of like influencers. The serendipities of life are both amazing and deadly frightening at the same time. I often think where I would have ended up without mine.

  3. Having seen it spelled both ways but never lived there, I defer to those who are geographically more qualified. Change made.

  4. Y’know Mary, those are the only pasties I’ve ever heard of.
    When Nancy mentioned empanadas then I knew what was what.

  5. That opening cartoon takes me back almost fifty years to my tenure in the United Steelworkers while working at Erie Malleable Iron. COLAs we’re kind of new back then, and it was a favorite illustrative teaching joke to the members who were a bit slow on acronyms.

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