The economy is in the tank.
Our troops are still in Iraq.
And it's been pretty darn frosty outside here in the Sunshine State.
Still, it's time to give thanks, and I have plenty to be thankful for.
Politicians. Corporate executives. Average Joes.
Not the plumber.
These are the folks who make it easy to whip up a feast of rants year-round.
They are the stuffing for my turkey. The giblets for my gravy.
With Thanksgiving upon us, here are a few things that get me riled up:
Cell phones. Yeah, I know, this is just too easy. But I'm going to skip over the woman driving the hulking Chevy Suburban while chatting away. I'll go beyond the guy screaming into his phone at the restaurant. The real champs are the driveway dialers, people who are on the phone even as they back their Chrysler Caravan out of the garage.
Oil companies: The price of gas has fallen. No complaints there. It's the price differential between the grades of gas that has me scratching my head. Mid-grade gas is 10 cents more than regular. Premium is 10 cents more than mid-grade. The difference was the same when gas was a buck. The spread was identical at most stations when regular was more than $4. And now that gas is under $2, the difference remains 10 cents. Does anyone remember when it wasn't 10 cents? Oil costs more than it did two decades ago. Labor costs have increased. Insurance premiums have skyrocketed. But we're supposed to believe that the production of mid-grade and premium gas has escaped inflation? Sounds pretty gaseous to me.
Political signs: Whenever I get down, I turn to politics and pick a rant to cheer me up. One of my favorites is yard signs, a misnomer if there ever was one. They show up everywhere but yards — in medians, on light poles, at intersections, along the approaches to the Howard Frankland Bridge. Yard signs don't belong on public property. I'm not sure how many are illegal, but I'd wager it's most of them. Why are the people who write the sign ordinances so willing to ignore them when it suits their needs? Oh wait — when it suits their needs. I get it. But what really chaps my behind is that today, more than three weeks after the election, we still have political signs dotting the landscape. Many are larger versions, a sort of mini billboard on wooden posts, anchored in empty, overgrown lots. How long before this political litter is removed? And who is going to pay to remove it?
The Big 3: Executives from Ford, GM and Chrysler headed to Washington recently, hat in hand, asking for a handout. We hear a lot about how they can't compete with foreign automakers because of union contracts and retirees' benefits. We hear about executive pay, bonuses and corporate jets. But can anyone name the last technological innovation that was developed in Detroit? If it was up to the Big 3, cars still wouldn't have seat belts. They have a history of resisting new technology. If the Big 3 would concentrate on building a better car, based on better technology, Americans would flock to their showrooms.
The Christmas season: Don't go calling me the Grinch. I really like Christmas. (That's "the holiday season" to you purveyors of PC speak.) I just wish we could limit the celebration to December. Stores began putting up Christmas displays in October. A local radio station instituted a Christmas carol format earlier this month, while comedians Stephen Colbert and Larry the Cable Guy have aired their Christmas specials. Salvation Army bell ringers are already nursing sore muscles and we have yet to reach one of the busiest shopping days of the season. The advertising execs have succeeded in stretching the "Christmas season" to get us in stores sooner. But can't we wait until after Veterans Day? I remember when Christmas in July used to be a party at a bar. How long before it signals a sale at the mall?
The American public: Another never-ending fountain of reasons to rant. Today we'll concentrate on our short memories. Just three months ago, when gas was $4 a gallon, people slowed down to save gas. We conserved, the demand for gas went down and so did the price. But now that gas is under $2, we're driving pedal to the metal again. Didn't we learn anything? Are we shortsighted? Are we stupid? Maybe it's none of the above. Maybe, as we head down the highway in our Toyota, we're simply distracted by Christmas carols on the radio as we dial up code enforcement on our cell phones to report junk political signs on the way to the mall for a pre-Christmas sale.
Times staff writer Kyle Kreiger rants about the serious and silly with one question in mind: Why? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns, click on his name at the top of this rant.