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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get out the Lube!!

It's Insurance Time!!! Yes indeed, it is time once again, to pay that mandatory extortion money to the wonderful auto insurance company! Can you tell I'm so freakin' thrilled!!? The lobbyists have made it so that not only do you HAVE to have insurance on your vehicle in order to drive on public roads and to register your vehicle. Failure to have coverage will result in fines, license revocation or suspension, and possibly even jail! You know that when I say "the Lobbyists" I mean that they have lobbied the state legislature successfully to enact these laws.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against the "security" that insurance gives us, to not have to pay out thousands of dollars more if we were to get into an accident or be involved in such by no fault of our own. However, what I am against is the constant increases in premiums even though I have not had a claim, let alone a violation, that should affect my rate in nearly 20 years. The only ticket that I have had since 1990 is a seat-belt violation 5 years ago. ( In the passenger seat of a van that was so beat up that I couldn't FIND the seat-belt!) The closest that I have come to a claim was denied in 1996 when my dad dropped a 5th wheel on the bedrails of my truck, and they denied me the $750 repairs. I drove the truck with those dents for 9 years! ( I did get a new set of tires out of it though since dad felt so guilty! LOL )

SO here is my proposal, Let's all get together and petition the Federal Government for a redress of this Grievance thus: make it so that after 5 years without a claim or a moving violation the insurance premium goes down by 20%. Each year for the next 5 that you remain free of violations and claims your premium will be cut by this same amount ( The amount of the original 20%, not 20% of the new premium), resulting in a $0 premium after an accident free 10 year period. Any violation or claim will reset the clock and you will once again be back to paying your full premium.

The current system sucks and barely benefits the public that it is meant to protect. Trying to get payed for a claim takes a team of lawyers, and sadly they end up with a part of your payout so your screwed at the start! You just can't win it seems that the system is set up so that the rich get richer and we little peons continue getting screwed in the ass by the corporations.

We need to Organize against the Tyranny!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

who's a grown-up?

When are you a "grown-up"? It doesn't happen over night, and it seems that some people achieve this milestone at a later time than others. Am I a grown-up yet? I really can't say for sure. I'm responsible, in that I have a job and I pay my bills. But I am not responsible for anyone but me. Does being a grown-up mean that you have to be responsible for someone other than yourself?

Sometimes I feel like I'm finally to the point in my life where I feel like I'm an "elder", a Grown-Up, someone who people should listen too. But then I sit in a room with my own elders and man I feel like a kid all over again. I have never introduced myself to anyone as "Mr." anything and when kids call me "sir" I have to look around to see if there is someone behind me who might be old enough to be called "sir". Or perhaps a knight?

I am so much aware of what I don't know and what I haven't experienced, that I wonder if I will ever consider myself a grown-up. Probably not, but someday maybe I will have the chance to teach a new generation how to be a grouchy bastard just like me. Someday I will be the oldest generation. Someday I will be in a nursing home where the speakers pump out Metallica and AC/DC just like they pump out Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington today. In a few years they will be swaying with the sounds of Motown to get the Baby Boomers in the mood to get their walkers in motion and down to the shuffleboard room. In a couple generations the nursing homes will have kicker bass so that the Millennials will be able to feel the music that wasted their hearing! That makes me laugh! Can you imagine the senior citizen buses in the future? Coming down the road thumping away. ;-0) I hope to be dead by then, because I would take the chance and really start shooting then!! End up with a life sentence...

I guess if that stuff still pisses me off I will still not be a grown-up!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Verbal ticks and other piss-me-offs!!

I have noticed lately that people are more and more writing their verbal ticks into their correspondence and blogs. While I understand a "character" writer using this technique to show the personality of the character, when you are writing as yourself and everyone already knows your character and you're trying to at least seem intelligent, why? Words like "gah" and "meh" and even "like" and "ya know" are becoming more prominent in the written language, and they are a pain in the eyes. They drive me nuts as much as other grammatical bad habits. I can understand certain regional things, but a verbal tick is just insane to accentuate in your writing.

Verbal ticks were recently brought into the mainstream consciousness by no less than the Daughter of Camelot, Caroline Kennedy. In her failed bid to be appointed to Hillary Clinton's vacant senate seat, she was interviewed for a broadcast news show and her verbal ticks became the fodder of the critics for weeks. So much so that it actually made her rethink her wishes to get into politics. She is smart and well written, but when she speaks she has her crutches. Nobody who has read the things that she writes would have expected that in a one-on-one unscripted interview she would come across sounding like an ill prepared teenager, " like... ya know?"

Another Piss-me-off lately that I have been noticing more and more is people saying, "All the sudden..." Where did they learn English? The phrase is, "All of a sudden..." , or "suddenly" I have no idea where or when people began saying, "the sudden", but I remember taking note of it sometime in the last year, because I thought it sounded odd. Then I heard it a few more times and I began to pay attention to it, and I find it more and more in common usage. It sounds like someone who never understood song lyrics, trying to repeat what they have heard. It's a "bad moon on the rise.", not a "bathroom on the right." and Jimmy says, "Excuse me while I kiss the sky!", not "Scuse me while I kiss this guy!"

A few weeks ago I brought up the use of the article "an" in front of the word "historic", and I have figured out the reason for this. Grammar gurus like to remind people that the correct usage is to use "a" in front of a consonant, and "an" in front of a vowel, but when the consonant is silent such as is the usual usage for words like "herbs" and "homage" the usage should be the same as the vowel lead. Historic is a HARD "h" sound!! written or spoken in should be "A historic..." , however the "a" sound should be the long sound as in "pain", rather than the short "a" sound as in "sofa".

Freaking Geniuses!! Good thing there is a freedom of speech.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Such a loser!

Well, I guess it all depends on how you are defining loser. In many ways I find that I am a pretty lucky or if not lucky, well positioned, individual. When I refer to loser here I am referring to nothing less that the NY State Lottery and specifically the multi-state game Mega-Millions. I saw the other day that the jackpot was up in the $70 million range and I decided to spend 2 dollars on a dream. I didn't win, but I did match the mega-ball so I got $2 that I used for another ticket. This one got me nothing, but oddly enough I had a bunch of numbers that were just one-off, and the pot has now grown to nearly $150 million. That's a stimulus Package! Needless to say I'm gonna go buy another ticket . I just feel lucky!

What is my dream? Nothing less than winning the whole freakin' thing all by my lonesome! Yeah baby! What would I do with that kind of money? I have thoughts and ideas, and I am sure that they change with the wind. I can say that there are a few small things that I would do immediately and without fail. Depending on the size of the Jackpot I won, ( I am DREAMING here!) I would set up a trust fund for each of my nieces and nephews. It would be contingent on either a college education, or a real job with a future, and the possibility of a career. With college I would ask that they at least try to attain a masters degree, but would offer a bonus for Doctorate. If they forgo college for the work route, the funds would be available to them in a few different ways. I would first give them the option of using them as an annual "bonus" that match their annual income for that year, ( I would set it up so that they would receive, free and clear, the sum that is equal to their annual gross pay ) Without their knowledge I would put some extra bonuses in there for certain milestones, but they would only be informed of these bonuses after they had met the preset requirements, they would not be "trying" for them.

Each person in my immediate family would get some sort of gift, dependent upon the size of the jackpot. It would be a One time thing. I will give them the amount of my choosing, and that will be ALL. They are still family and I will of course help them in the future if they need it, but as for monetary packages, it will be a one time thing and it will be their responsibility to invest or squander it. Little Brother would most likely be the one to use it in some way to make money, and Sis would be sure to stash a pile and use it sparingly. I would set up Pops for his retirement. Wherever in the world he chooses. He has given me a great life and upbringing and I am grateful for all that he has give and taught me. Both of my Mothers would get something too. It would be a discussion though. I don't have a set amount in mind, and I think each of them would be a different case.

Now I have done stuff for the family, what about my friends? It all depends. It is hard to say that I would definitely do anything for anyone else that is not a blood relative or married to my next of kin. Now, what about myself? Again it depends on the size of the Jackpot. I think that if I had a couple Millions left after spreading the winnings through the family economy, I would live one of my biggest dreams which is to travel. I would see the world. I would do my motorcycle trip through Europe. I would make a home for myself in Ukraine where I have fallen in love with the people, the country and especially the women! I would spend a few years studying languages so that I could travel anywhere, understand and be understood. If I only had 1 million or so to work with, I would build my house, and buy the land around it that I have been wishing for, then I would travel occasionally.

There is much evidence that winning the huge payout can ruin ones life, and there is also evidence that it can change one for the better. I think that it depends on the type of person you are in the first place. I actually know someone who won a jackpot and he's now in prison. Why? He was an asshole to start with, and the money gave him the feeling of invincibility, and he found out the hard way that he wasn't. After 3 DWIs inside of 5 years, he did some prison time, then he got out and decided to use his prison contacts to become a pot dealer. Not the brightest bulb on the tree. Anyway he got caught, and he went back to prison. Dumbass! I know another guy who won one of the "Win For Life" pots, his is $1000 a week for the rest of his life. He has used it to his advantage. He invested the entire first year of payouts. Then he began using 1/4 of the payout, while depositing the other 3/4 in the investment account. Now after 15 years he lives easily off of the interest of the invested amounts, while still saving the weekly payout. He has done well for himself and he is still the decent levelheaded guy he always was. I hope that I would have the good sense if I ever have the good luck to win a huge pot of gold.

The odds of getting hit by lightening are almost twice as good as winning the Mega-Millions jackpot, but people keep winning. There are people out there who have been hit by lightening more than once. You ever say to someone, " Ah hell, it's a one in a million chance!" ? So is this, but someone is going to win eventually, why not me?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Save the taxpayer, save the world!!

Funny thing, I was watching "Heroes" this evening. ( last nights episode on DVR) and when I was too busy to get to the ad zapper button, I heard that line, in a Turbo Tax commercial. The play on the line from the first season of "Heroes", "Save the cheerleader, save the world." The "dumb" guy in the ad, Gets happy and says, "Save the taxpayer, save the world!" and the "smart" guy replies, "that doesn't even make sense." But it really does make sense.

I have been saying almost exactly that for the last few months about these bailout /stimulus packages that have been going around and through the Government like shit through a goose. While we the Taxpayers sit home worrying about paying our bills on what little money we get from unemployment, or praying like hell that we can hang onto our jobs, the Dopes that we put into office year after year, continue to forget about us and send our ( and our childrens', grandchildrens', and great-grandchildrens') money to corporations and banks that have squandered billions of dollars, and look well poised to squander billions more.

I think that the part of this whole thing that really drives me crazy is that even while all of these banks and credit issuers are going under and being bought and sold left and right, WE are still expected to continue paying our bills. The companies have changed hands three or more times and the letterhead on the statements changes each time, but we still have to write a check to the new company. It pisses me off to no end, that corporations can trade OUR debt like a commodity. It seems to me that when the original company that we made our original agreement with goes under for whatever reason, our debt is erased with the name on the letterhead. And they are not allowed to keep the name on the letterhead when the company is acquired by a bigger company just so they can continue to take our money. I have to believe that the trading of debt as an asset, is one of the reasons that we are in this mess in the first place.

One of the points that still gets my goat, but is being addresses by some new legislation, is that the credit companies can take your payments every month and apply them to the lowest interest rate first. This allows them to keep the highest interest balances collecting interest for the longest time, thereby keeping you in debt forever. Or until you win the lottery or die! Sometime in the next couple years it will become illegal for the companies to do this, they will be obliged to apply payments to the highest interest debt first. And believe it or not this legislation was passed before the changing of the regime!

Anyway, if we the taxpayer had this money we really would probably save the world. It is the consumer who brings about the growth. Giving us the money to pay our debts, will give the economic boost to the banks and credit industry, it will free up our cash to use for purchasing new cars and for other luxury items. Sadly, it will be much similar to giving the money to the corporations in that the largest amount of people will just dig the same hole that they were just pulled out of, but there may actually be enough of us who have learned something from this mess and once we get out of the hole, we will do our level best to live within our means. Sometimes it's nearly impossible, but we sure try. I was just thinking that it seems that the harder I try to save money, the more likely it is that something comes up that requires me to spend way more than I really can afford. Whether it is truck repairs, clothes or a hospital bill, somewhere I always end up with some extra bill at the exact worst time for it. Murphy really was an optimist!

SO, that's my rant for today. Not really hot, but I guess I have to continue beating this dead horse! Maybe someone will pick up the cry and take it to the steps of congress and make themselves heard.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tired of winter....

Yeah, Yeah, I know, I live in Western NY and I may as well get used to winter because it's pretty much here until the end of March. Truthfully we have already had a few little tastes of the spring weather that is to come. A few days where it was actually warm enough to walk outside without a coat, or at least a heavy coat. The sun is shining more these last couple weeks too and it is a lift to the spirits to see it and to feel it on the face, bright and warming.

I look forward to the days when I can walk outside without my coat or shoes. I want to sit on the back porch and listen to the frogs in the woods and look at the stars without losing the feeling in my fingers and nose! I want to be able to pull my motorcycle out of the garage and go for a ride. I am even willing to swat some skeeters as long as the weather is warm while I do it! Spring is nice because the nights are cool and I can build a fire from the fallen limbs I pick up from the yard. Spring sucks because there seems to be mud everywhere! Spring is cool because the flowers are coming up. Spring sucks because the damn rabbits are eating my tulip tops!! Spring is cool because things start turning green. Spring is cool because it smells so sweet in the air, but it sucks because I live in farm country and this is when they clean out the slurry pits. PeEEE U!!!

It doesn't really matter how I feel about the weather, it will change when it's ready and not one second before. Oh well, Life goes on I suppose, like it or not!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gentlemen Start Your Engines!!

It's NASCAR season once Again!!!
Yes, in case you haven't guessed, I am a Race fan. And when I say a race fan, I am not really a picky race fan. I will watch snails race if there is nothing better to do!! Ok That's not really true, but I have watched lawn mower races. LOL Sometimes a guy just needs to see something interesting. There are many people who don't consider motor racing to be a sport, but I'm not one of them. A sport defined as follows :

(1):
a source of diversion : recreation b: (1): physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2): a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in

4 a
: sportsman b: a person considered with respect to living up to the ideals of sportsmanship

So by this definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Racing is a sport and the drivers and pit crews are sportsmen.

I guess that I am something of a sports nut after all. I am not a hardcore fan, ( I miss summer races all the time) I am however a long time fan since I have been a race fan as far back as I can remember. I used to watch the races when they were on TV sporadically back in the 70's. I would watch the highlights on The Wide World Of Sports. I watched the Daytona 500, The Indy 500, the Charlotte 600, the Southern 500, Darlington and Rockingham and Bristol and Martinsville. These were the races of the days when the Allison's and the Petty's ruled the track, when guys had a beef and they got into fisticuffs in the pits, they swung for teeth and later that night popped a beer together and laughed about it. They weren't called into the hauler and told how to behave in front of company. These guys were mechanics as well as drivers and they knew the wrench as well as the steering wheel. The last of these guys are still running a few races, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin. They haven't had to turn a wrench in years, but they still remember the days when the driver split time with the crew chief driving the hauler to the next race. Now most of the teams have dedicated employees for every aspect. Drivers for the haulers, tire changers, jack men, Tire carriers. There is a guy whose entire job is to run a stopwatch. So It really is a team sport.

I watched the stock cars and the open wheels and the Grand Prix and the road rally's. It was sort of in my blood though because there was a time when my pops used to race snowmobiles. I loved going to the races. I got to be in the pits and to see all the guys. This was way before the days of the corporate sponsors and if you had a little bit of factory backing you were in the top echelon of the sport. Pops quit racing the year that one of his closest friend was killed on the track. It was the final straw for him, besides the expense of getting to and from the race sites, there was the upkeep of the machines and the other related equipment. Then when his friend was killed it lost some of it's appeal. I was only 6 years old, but I remember seeing the accident that killed Curtis Beam. I won't describe it, but suffice it to say that I will probably remember it for all of my life. Even so, it is a risk that every Driver takes when they decide to compete. This past week the Extreme Motocross world lost Jeremy Lusk. In 2001 NASCAR lost Dale Earnhardt Sr. There are so many names of Drivers who have died on the track doing what they loved to do. I couldn't come close to listing them all. And not only drivers but the crew members as well. Pit guys, and track guys and rescue guys and even in some cases fans. It happens, and we understand this. Maybe we have a little bit of the macabre and we hope to witness one of these crashes. We all want to see some carnage, but we really hope that everyone walks away. There is nothing like the cheer in the stands when there is a spectacular wreck and then the driver gets up and walks away from the wreckage. We like the excitement, but we want the human to live on.

If your not a fan of racing, you will never understand the appeal, and if you are a fan then you know what I'm talking about. Root this year for Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip. Mark because he is racing a full season and making a run for the cup, one more try before he retires. He is one of the best drivers in the business but he has never been a series champion. Mikey because he needs a good season to keep his teams and his sponsors. Gentlemen, Here's To you! May yo have a great season and I hope you rund a great Race on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

America the babysitter...

So it seems that our wonderful federal government is once again coddling the lazy masses. Since last summer, June or July I believe there have been commercial on the TV about the "Digital TV Transition." In case you have been living under a rock, this is when all American broadcast TV stations will change their signal from analog to an all digital signal. This will require that people using older TV sets with rabbit ears, or a rooftop antenna antenna will need to be sure that they get a digital converter box so that they can continue to watch their favorite shows. This transition was originally scheduled to take place on February 17th. This has been advertised HEAVILY for more than 6 months. Closer to a year. The date was specific. Everyone has been informed and yet there are enough procrastinators out there whining and crying that they didn't know . Not only was there a solid advertising campaign, but the Government even has been providing coupons for FREE Converter boxes. People have still not stepped up to take care of themselves. So the wonderful government steps in and says, "It's ok if you have put it off, we will move this deadline back another 5 months and give you more time. " Who wants to bet that when the new deadline gets here ( June 12th 2009) there will still be a huge segment of the population who are not ready and they will cry and whine again that they have not had enough notice or help?


Is it any wonder that the American public can't think for themselves?


Love our Government. They can screw up a steel ball and then blame it on someone else.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What to do when your bored, and other weird thoughts...

Found a news story today from the Associated Press, by Danica Coto, telling about a woman named Jennifer Figge, 56, who swam across the Atlantic Ocean. These are the quick Highlights of the story... "left the Cape Verde Islands off of Africa's west coast on January 12th swimming for 19 out of 25 days battling waves up to 30 feet. The distance from Cape Verde to Trinidad is roughly 700 miles." Yes the first time she set foot on ground was in the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. She still plans to swim from Trinidad to the British Virgin Islands. I always wondered who does these things, is it just because you need to prove that it can be done, or do you do it for the fame? Or is it that you have talked about it so much to your friends and family that they finally tell you to either do it or shut up about it!! More power to the people who actually put up, rather than shut up.

Now on the knucklehead front. Ice Fisherman.... I don't think that they are in general abnormal, as ice fishing is not such a bad thing most of the time, as long as one exercises some brains! Another news story this week is about 100 or so ice fisherman who had to be rescued from the ice of Lake Erie after their fishing spot broke off of the main sheet and floated out into the lake. The rescuing departments ( sheriffs and fire depts. plus the US Coast Guard) used Helicopters and airboats ( hovercraft?) to rescue the trapped fisherman. Leaving much of their equipment and transportation out on the ice. So there are ATV's and snowmobiles floating on the ice of Lake Erie. Hmm? What happens if/when that ice melts or gets broken up by the wind? Of course it won't be on the order of the Exxon Valdez, but it still isn't good for the Lake Biosphere. The Agencies have informed these men that if they are dopey enough to need another rescue this season they will be billed for the service. The first one was on the taxpayer tit.

Then I ran across a letter to the editor that really struck a cord in my mind. Why is it that so many people live by the moto, "It's Not My Job.", rather than "Let me help you with that."? I guess that it has as much to do with litigation as it does with simple greed and laziness. The letter is actually about the honesty and integrity of people and their jobs. It was brought about by the pilot of the plane that landed in the Hudson River. This man did his job as best he could and everyone on the plane survived. He did what he had to do under extremely difficult circumstances and he remained calm and collected, which if you think about it is exactly what he is payed to do. He flies the plane and when the plane malfunctions for any reason, it is his job to make get it on the ground ( back to earth?) the safest way possible. His point was to reprimand the corporate CEO's and Other business honchos who have wasted billions of dollars in company funds and resources and yet still feel entitled to their huge bonuses and corporate vacations and golden parachutes at the cost of the taxpayer through the Government bailout/stimulus packages. But I read something else in there as well, Honesty in our workers. There was a story about a State Employee in NY who was collecting a salary of $94,000 a year while he did nothing. Why did he do nothing? Apparently this was retribution by other state officials for stepping on some toes (By suing the governor 10 years earlier). So to punish him they withheld his duties. How was this punishment? Sure he may have suffered from Boredom, but for that kind of money, I would be happy to suffer some boredom. I guess that he needed to continue to collect his money to make the point that he had a job, even if there was nothing to do there. Honesty and integrity are sort of intertwined, and anyone who has to work in other peoples house can tell you this in a huge way. We have all been accused either directly or indirectly of sticky fingers. And sadly there are some who do steal, and they make the honest ones look bad too. So we have to fight that much harder to keep our reputations.

Anyone from the meter reader to the cable guy, the appliance repair man to the exterminator has a reputation to protect. Not only that they do their jobs well, but that they do not use their access to peoples most personal places for dishonest activities, like thievery or spying. Of course temptation can surface in many ways from a lonely housewife looking for a little fun, to raiding a medicine cabinet for some prescription drugs, but a true professional will do their job and leave temptation in the wind. There is also a different kind of honesty, it is one of owning up to ones mistakes. An honest person will see and forgive an honest mistake.

Having worked in an industry where I have been allowed into peoples homes for many years, I have learned that some people are forgiving and others are total assholes. The total assholes will freak out about the smallest thing and cause a problem 100 times the size of the mistake. While the forgiving ones will truly be understanding of a human error and will allow you to make up for your mistake in anyway that you can but only for equal amount of your mistake. The Assholes will end up making you get a lawyer, because that's what makes them feel powerful, while the forgivers will recommend you to all of their friends. The forgivers understand when something is beyond your control, but the assholes will never understand that you aren't 100% responsible for everything that has come before you or after you, from original hidden problems to acts of nature.

The sad part is that these assholes are usually the same people who will squander the resources of big business and then claim that it isn't their fault. It is these people who are most likely to run business into the ground and then hold their hands out for government assistance in bailing themselves out. They are the people who will lay off the workers who make and buy their products so that they will still have enough money in the bank to pay their own salaries even as the companies falter. The people who will declare bankruptcy to escape creditors and skate away with a huge personal bank account that is completely free from the the business obligations that they should be liable for. It has been said that the crook will have the best burglar alarm and will make the biggest fuss when he is ripped off.

As our government once again prepares to stimulate the economy by giving money to big business who will once again squander the resources, I am left with my impotent rage at the lack of thought that goes into this mess. The billions of dollars sent out to the business that hide their wealth in off shore banks and build their new facilities in China and Mexico and Malaysia, it is insane to think that this is going to stimulate the economy. The American Taxpayer, who has worked his or her ass off so that the government can take their money in the form of taxes and then give it to the people who have raped and robbed them for generations, watches helplessly as their money does nothing. If this money was given not to the big corporations but to the working men and women of America the economy would flourish. There is no denying that if you put $50,000 in the hands of every taxpaying citizen in the United States with a net worth of under $500,000, the economy would jumpstart in a hurry. They would be able to pay off their debt, and start new debt. They would be able to buy new cars saving the auto industry, they would be able to go shopping and save the retail, industry, and they would be able to put money in the band and save the banking industry. They would need goods made in the foreign countries stimulating world economies as well. Pay us and watch the economy get stimulated and let the failing business fail if their management is so poor. It is what a free market is all about. But please don't just put good money after bad again and again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Huh? What was that?

Ever talk to someone and wonder if they know how they sound? Do you hear your own accent? Does a Texan know he sounds like a Texan? You know the girls sound different from the guys, I don't know why, but they do. I have the opportunity to talk on the telephone to people from every corner of the country and it is funny how some have the quintessential regional accent, and then there are others who seem to have worked very hard to shed the accent, and yet it is still trickling out. Then there are the transplants who have their original accent but "tainted" by their new location.

A lot has been made about Madonna and her British accent, which she shouldn't have since she is from Detroit. What most people will never understand is that as a woman, a singer and a musician she was destined to pick up the British accent. It was completely unavoidable unless she refused to interact with the British people that she was living around. Why do I say this? Well, it has to do with my own experience, it seems to be a natural mechanism of women to adapt to their surroundings and part of that adaption is to absorb the local accent. I'm sure that there is an anthropological reason such as the need to find a mate or some such, and it makes sense. By blending in with the local population it makes the task of fitting in and finding a mate much easier. There are those accents that may never be lost such as the Bronx, or the real deep southern drawl. And sometimes a national accent such as German or Russian may be very hard to shake, but if the ear is good then it is very likely that the accent will be pretty near indiscernible after some practice. A great example of this is The model Heidi Klum, I was recently listening to her give an interview, and although she learned English later in her life, she has nearly no accent to her English. Most people would not be able to hear even the slightest lilt to her English, but to those of us with a good ear can still pick it out.

Musicians and Singers are great at picking up an accent and blending in to a new area. I always wondered why I had the ability to pick up an accent, and then while talking to some other friends of mine who happened to be musicians they made the point that having an ear for music makes it easier to hear lots of other things. Consider that half of the British singers sound American when they sing, it's because they were influenced by so many of the old blues masters who were American. From New Orleans, to Memphis to Chicago the Blues brought American music to the world and the influence gave so many singers an American accent, at least when they sang.

Since I have been studying languages I have found that if I can listen to a native speaker, I can blend right in with the rest of the natives, at least when I speak! I try very hard to learn as much as I can from Native speakers of what ever language I am studying, when I was learning Spanish I listened to Colombians, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans, when I wanted to study French I listened to the French Exchange student in my school, when I study Russian I listen to the Ukrainians that I know, because that's the accent that I want when I speak Russian. I will worry about Ukrainian later.

One thing I have learned while studying languages is that the more you learn, the easier it gets, and the more you want to learn. I agree with the idea that if you are going to live in America you should be able to speak English. I don't think that one need to be fluent the second they set foot on the ground, but at least make the effort to learn and understand. My belief also is the reason that I study languages, because I also believe that if I wish to visit someplace in the world I should be able to speak that language. Maybe not fluently, but at least enough to be able to go grocery shopping and to get around the city without getting myself in a pickle. They say that Americans are often treated rudely in foreign countries, but I think it is not because they are American, but because most Americans don't make any effort to learn about where they are going. When Americans encounter foreigners who have no English skills, all too often they treat them with the same rudeness. It only takes a little effort to learn a few key phrases in a different language, and just the fact that you are trying makes all the difference. When I was in Ukraine, and looking for a store, I asked for directions, first in my terrible Russian, and then the person I was asking realized that I spoke English and they wanted to practice English! So we made a little team for a few hours, I would practice my Russian, and they would practice their English. It was a great exchange and later I found that as long as I tried the Russian first, I got smiles and all the help I could ever need when I needed it. Sometimes I would resort to sign language, but more times than not whomever I was talking to would know enough English to understand my Russian and I was happy to be understood.

Learn a language. It's fun and you may find out that you need to learn better English. It's amazing how many English words come from Other languages and how much we already know from our own mongrel mess of a language. I once read that a child is born with the capacity to understand and emulate as many as 500 different sounds, and as they develop their language skills they lose those that they have no use for. A child will learn what it hears. Let them listen to the Foreign TV stations , rather than plonking them in front of the cartoons that you understand. Expose them to as many languages as you can. it's good for them, and you may be surprised at how much and how fast they learn.

I wish I had that chance when I was a child.