Sunday, October 29, 2006

Things You Learn When You Tune Out The Noise - Volume 2

I don’t usually single people out in my blogs unless I am going to ruthlessly trash them because I have found that an endorsement from me can often get someone offhandedly discarded as being someone like me. It sounds rather rude or self centered to assume that but again I like to remind people of the quote from Dennis Miller “When I was a member of that other party the people in this party treated me a hell of a lot better than that party treats me now,” which is how I have come to know my opinions to be. I could give a shit if someone likes me or likes what I have to say, but the thought that who I am and what I believe is enough to create collateral damage to anyone who knows me has never been an easy thing to take. It’s pretty much why the Clinton theory of “don’t defeat, destroy” works so well actually since my conscience has never really been able to handle what happens to those around me, even if what happens to me is merely something to be laughed off. Here’s a person though that I want to bring up though because he is doing some amazing things that you won’t read about in the news, and unfortunately it is because it is a good thing, and that is so often under-reported in this country it actually does make me ill at times.

I’m sure everyone remembers the show “Cheers” when it was on. It was a hard show not to like because it was a rather light hearted comedy that basically made fun of itself for such a long time that it became part of the American Lexicon, as well it should have because despite the total lunacy that many of the cast members of that show have gone on to involve themselves in, the show itself managed to stay far away from it all. We’ve seen Ted Danson tell the world that certain political parties are indeed trying to do the outrageous things that even Tom Clancy wouldn’t put to paper. Woody Harrelson has probably done far worse. Kirstie Alley and her on again off again weight issues amongst other things, tend to bog the news now and again. George Wendt and another failed sitcom here and there, as well as Kelsey Grammar’s drinking issues despite how huge his show managed to become. The show itself was rather distant from all of these things and I thank God that they all managed to get over the top after the series was finished so not to turn it into a circus and a laughingstock long before it had seen it’s final episode. Instead we texaschainsawmassacre Sam Malone left alone with his bar as the final lights went out and that is the impression of “Cheers” that we were left with. There actually are people though who left that show and simply flew under the radar making a good living and actually helping people, yet we don’t think about them and this is where John Ratzenberger comes in.

Of course being a single father with three little evils’s scrambling around, I know that John Ratzenberger is still entertaining people frequently with his voice over’s in various children’s movies, and it is rather funny that the kids don’t know why I get an extra chuckle out of things when he brings that “Cliff Clavin” charm to a cartoon role. I also remember the funniest commercial I had ever seen with several seagulls {or maybe they were pigeons} chasing after a Nissan with the music to “Top Gun” playing in the background with the voice of John Ratzenberger playing out the scenes from “Top Gun” in the attempt to dirty the new Nissan. What I didn’t know about until I was listening to him on the radio last night was that he is a different type of activist, and listening to his passion and bravado about the things he cares about brought me to his website http://www.ratzenberger.com/ where I got to read more about his “Man About America” tour that he has been doing. The concepts and ideals that he is talking about are absolutely refreshing, and the fact that he isn’t doing it for anything other than making AMERICA better almost made me cry.

The basis of what he is trying to do is to teach children how to actually do things with their hands again. The menial, the overlooked, and the things that require actions to create your goals, are what he is talking about, as well as reminding children, that it does give you a sense of accomplishment in the end. He had so many good points that I had never really pieced together lucidly and had been complaining about for a long time, but unlike myself and most people he has some legitimate solutions to it all. He seems to blame the same things that I do in a lot of these regards from what I gathered, which would include the instant glamorization’s of “Those that can play a guitar” without the reminders that someone still had to “Make that guitar” and what he has been doing is going around the country encouraging those that are in the “mainstream” to remind people that it took others to get there. His star power, of course is a big plus in his ability to initiate a lot of his ideals, but the fact that he is using it is also a plus. The best part still is that he isn’t just using his star power to effect outcomes of things that he isn’t doing the footwork on himself. He isn’t petitioning government or elected officials to change things, he is walking between those that can help, and those that need help and doing it in a very logical manner. For all of this I commend him whole heartedly. The “guitar” quote that he used was from when he speaks one on one with Rock Stars and asks them to simply give a plug to the people that got them where they are “I’m happy you like the way I play this guitar but I want to remind you that the real hero’s are the ones who can make this guitar!” and has been getting a lot of people on board with this.

The possibilities are limitless of how it intertwines us all into more positive communities. His first really big endorsement of his ideas was from a major guitar manufacturer that loved the idea of giving away the parts to a guitar to those that can’t afford them, provided that they build it themselves. The notion that they could be creating either the next Eddie Van Halen, or the next Vic Firth, with the same gesture, while at the same time teaching the kids the appreciation of actually building their guitar and not just playing it is electrifying when you hear it being told by someone with John Ratzenberger’s passion. He was after all born in a very blue collar section of America {Bridgeport Connecticut} that is very slowly pulling itself out of the hell hole that it had become when the industries in that area all left. It’s actually a much larger problem then people understand as the manufacturing jobs are heading overseas at a rapid pace, but instead of blaming it on our government and cheap labor, we should place the blame in other places as well. John nailed this one as well and I almost wet myself when he did because I like everyone else get into those ruts where I believe that nobody thinks like me. A lot of the blue collar jobs are leaving this country because they are beneath us, or children today actually don’t have the manual dexterity to do them. Take it from a life long industrial worker, that is a very underestimated issue that nobody likes to talk about.

I’ve been watching the steady decline of industry in this area {a bit north of Bridgeport mind you} totally based on the fact that you can’t hire enough people to support your industry anymore. A lot of factories close up and move to Mexico or Asia because the people in Mexico and Asia can actually do the work. We have entire generations of children now that play video games, and sit on their computers with the television going, that reach the age of 18 now without ever learning how to put together or fix a bicycle {he managed to get bicycle manufacturers to donate bicycle pieces, and maintenance training videos as well to his effort} which was something that was very common when I was a kid. Children don’t play in a sand box anymore, and learn how to create things with the most rudimentary of materials, and as I said you can actually go bankrupt just trying to teach the younger generations today how to actually operate a wrench. I go through this every week with the new batch of workers and inevitably I HAVE to take the immigrant worker {legal mind you} to take the job because they can do it! This has nothing to do with pay as the company I work for pays in the 13 – 20 dollar an hour range regardless of what country you were born in. I realize that most people think it is moot because it is better for these kids to go to college and I agree, but people still have to build the computers they are going to use {yep he has that one covered too} and at this rate almost none of those are being built here either.

This country is at far less of an employment rut then people factor in and I thank God that there are people out there that are beating that drum. You may find it amazing that almost all of the Japanese cars are made in America. Toyota and Nissan have invested huge amounts of money to develop their work forces here in America where the labor force is able to complete their tasks and at a rate of pay that is very competitive with the rest of the world. The only car companies with a Japanese name that are building elsewhere realistically are those that have been bought by the American car companies. More and more of the American car companies are closing and moving to other countries based more on their poor financial structures and their backs being broken by unions than anything else. Other foreign company’s would love to tap into the American work force believe it or not as most of the factories I have worked for have been owned by interests outside of America. In every scenario that a company that I have been employed with has closed it has been based almost entirely on the lack of work force. Kids today won’t stand at a table and screw in bolts but Indians would be excited too. They all learned how to do it in school even, as they see it as their way out of poverty. Our insistence that these things aren’t good enough for us are what is working us into it. ;8o)

If you have the time please go check out John Ratzenberger’s site http://www.ratzenberger.com/ and see if it doesn’t energize you as well!

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Nothing that was printed here was intended to offend anyone, and if it did, screw ya, you begged for it. If you believe that there are some measures that can be taken to change me, then please feel free to pray for me, and while you are at it yourself, because you read this far, and if you hated every minute of it, then you are an idiot, not me, or the other people who like what I have to say! .. Jeremy

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