Going Back Home

“Driver’s License, please.” A few minutes and a number of keystrokes later, lights flashed, a tiny machine whirred, then gave birth to the object of my desire. My very own library card. It was like getting a book of E tickets at Disneyland, only without the long lines, screaming kids, or that chewing gum you just stepped in. Underneath my calm adult face, I had a smile as wide as the Mississippi river, like a kid on Christmas day.

The library in my old hometown was a two story affair. Upstairs was the adult library, with imposing dark aisles of books that seemed to reach to the sky, and tables filled with serious looking grown ups, none of whom were smiling. Not to mention the fearsome Dewey Decimal System (abandon all hope ye who enter here). Downstairs, however, was the brightly lit children’s library. It was a magical place, filled with adventures to exotic lands, puzzling mysteries, epic wars, and more. Captivating stories that would draw you in and wrap you up in a warm cocoon, as you lost yourself in the words. Time stood still in the outside world while you traveled in a different time zone across the flipping pages.

I still remember one of the captains of this ship, a grandmotherly lady called Mrs. Martin. Pearl framed glasses, grey hair and properly dressed, she was THE librarian. Always welcoming, smiling and friendly, she was fantastic in suggesting books for us to read. Encylopedia Brown, The Pushcart Wars, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were just some of the jewels unearthed. My brother and I would leave the library clutching our stacks of books, eager to get home and dig into our piles of treasure.

As I got older and moved into junior high and then high school, I progressed up into Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, action and murder mysteries, and a ton of books on WW II (always fascinated me for some reason). An afternoon on the couch buried in a good book was still one of the great pleasures in life. By the time I reached my 30’s and 40’s though, it seemed like somewhat a forgotten pleasure. Life always seemed busy, with little time to read a book, unless I was on an airplane or sick. The internet and TV didn’t make things easier either.

From time to time, I’d hear people talking about a good book they’d read, or sometimes about quite a few books they’ve read. I’d be thinking “Where do they get the time to read?”, and I have to admit part of me was jealous. The other part was enveloped in regret, as I realized I was missing out on something special. Then this spring, an epiphany surfaced, like a lone plant through a barren field. Carpe diem, it was now or never. So off I went last month, and got my card. Paradise, here I come, I’m coming back home….

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Here’s the Beef

Ran across an interesting article back in 2011, about how they were beginning to use DNA and tracking systems to keep track of where beef came from as it moved through the food distribution network. The technology was more widely used in Europe than in the US, but that appeared to be changing. Originally touted as a means to cut recall times down to hours instead of weeks, it was also going to start being used for marketing purposes. So here’s a peek at what future menus will have:

RALPH’S STEAKHOUSE IS PLEASED TO OFFER THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS:

TEXAS TENDERLOIN:

A monstrous cut of beef, since it’s a fact that EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas. Our cattle are raised on individual farmer owned land. No government handouts, no government regulations, no big corporation pinheads in fancy suits. Our beef is tough, raised out on the open range with no fancy pants barns, and kept lean with our unique Friday Night Football games with local schools. Sure, a player may get gored occasionally, but that’s life, and that’s Texas.

When it comes time to slaughter the beast, Joe Bob gets in his 73 Chevy pickup and hits the open range. The kill shots are delivered by Joe Bob at 200 yards, with one arm tied behind his back and with a blindfold on. From there it may be the chain saw and Bowie knife, or in extreme cases a stick of dynamite for a really tender burger.

CALIFORNIA CUTLET:

From the moment a new calf arrives in our low light birthing room, surrounded by running waterfalls, aromatic candles, and indigenous rain forest music, it is wrapped in a loving, caring process that will help it achieve its full potential. All young cattle are closely monitored for any signs of aggressive behavior, bullying, or unresolved emotional issues with their parents. We have trained counselors available at all times. As the calf develops, we surround it with love no matter what the gender, faith, color, body shape, or heritage it has. Transgender surgery is available if needed.

When it comes time to say goodbye to our dear, loving friends, then all staff members gather in the Farewell Room, to view a slide show celebrating our guest’s life, deliver the final goodbye hugs and kisses, and achieve closure to this very painful, emotional moment. Then our guests are given a final vegan meal with a strong sedative that lets them achieve that final sleep that they so rightly deserve.

KANSAS RED BEEF:

Here in Kansas, we consider ourselves a Red state through and through. We don’t go for any of that Sodom and Gomorrah Blue state stuff. Our cattle are bred from our “Certified Heterosexual Cattle” parents, and raised on good Christian ranches. We prohibit our cattle from accessing the internet, to protect them from all that porn and filth. Each Sunday, all ranches conduct Sunday Services, using bullhorns to deliver that day’s sermon to the animals.

On the day of their Dispatch to Heaven, the animals arrive at our House of Worship, where they are given a chance to confess any sins and re-affirm their faith in the Lord. Then they are dispatched to the World Beyond, unless we have any heathens or homosexuals to dispatch first.

NEVADA BLACKJACK BEEF:

Every 21st package of beef comes with a $1 casino token hidden inside, perfect for starting your vacation fund. Double bonus if that annoying mother in law gets it caught in her windpipe and your inheritance arrives earlier than expected. All beef cuts are stamped with our unique red or black playing card imprint (except for the Clive Bundy Beef, which is red only, no black allowed). In limited distribution areas, we offer our Area 51 beef, which glows a wonderful soft green in the dark. Any E coli contaminated beef is limited to our unlucky 777 beef packets, which seem to be popular gifts to give to the aforementioned mothers in law, as well as rude co-workers, nasty bosses, and those pesky neighbors with the noisy leaf blower.

Our slaughterhouses have a unique feature. As the animal proceeds inside, they step on floor plates that will spin an adjacent slot machine. Should all cherries pop up, the blade swings down, dispatching our friend to their destiny. Any other combination on the machine will let our friend proceed to the next plate. Oddsmakers display odds of the Grim Reaper arriving, and all betting and video is accessible from our Vegas casinos.

WASHINGTON DC BEEF:

Our beef is unlike any other you will find in any other state. Your first surprise will be when you bring it to the cash register, and find your $4.99 package of beef has ballooned up in cost to $345. Next, upon opening it at home, you will find it to be a small piece of beef that is laden with pork. Lots of pork. Pork with the names of your neighbors, fellow citizens, and a few large corporations stamped in it. Once you find the specific piece of beef with your name on it, you will find you paid $345 for an ounce of beef. You also find you owe $35 in beef consumption tax (as listed on the inside of the wrapping), and by unwrapping the package you have inadvertently agreed to send the title on your car and the deed to your house to our Washington Beef headquarters.

When it is time to dispatch our animals, they are ushered into the production facility and met at the door by one of our impeccably dressed and coiffured Congressional officials. Declaring “I’m from the government and I am here to help you”, they proceed to dispatch the animal before it has a clue as to what is happening.