Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Surprises in the Mail Box!!! Pornography?

As I have said before, having a common name like "Mike Roberts" has some advantages that those of you with more unusual and sophisticated names would not know. When, I was growing up in Naples, Texas (population 1500) there were two Mike Roberts' in town. Of course one was me, in the seventh grade at the time; the other was actually Michael F. Roberts, aged about 23 at the time. One of the greatest things I remember about the other Mike Roberts was that he had a subscription to the hottest magazine around in the 1960's; you guessed it Playboy Magazine.

On occaision, the Rural Mail Carrier would get things mixed up and I would be the lucky recipient of this month's edition of Playboy. Man this was a big deal. You knew it was something special because it came wrapped so that you couldn't actually see what was inside. After I got the first one, I tried to be first to the mailbox everyday. These things were very hard for us to get back then, there was only one place in town that you could even buy them. Obviously, these were considered "dirty" magazines and that is why they came wrapped the way they did. Now that I think about it, I never said thanks to Michael F. So, here it is, thanks Michael F. Roberts for accidently sharing your Playboy subscription with me.

Today, I got a strange package wrapped in black in the mail. Nancy brought it in, and I couldn't help but thinking that there might be someone else here in Cordova, TN named Mike Roberts. In my opinion, the Playboy Magazine's of the 1960's were an art form compared to some of the smut you see today - even on Television. I wondered what sort of perversion would come in a black bag these days? Here's a picture of this strange mail piece I got today. Kind of suspicious looking wouldn't you say?

As has always been my habit (since the seventh grade) I opened the package very carefully. Didn't want to damage any of the potentially "important contents".

Friends you won't believe the filth that this package contained. At the risk of embarrassing many of my colleagues - I am putting a picture of just the cover of this smut here on the pages of the prestigous Let Go Journal. And here you have it.....
I kept the image small here on the journal so as not to embarrass those of you who work for "the company". That's right - the dirty magazine I received this month is the International Paper annual report. The only "indecent exposure" in this document was the financial exposure that those of us shareholders experienced as we rode this pig down from $40 a share down to it's current level of $8. You know what.......I appreciate why Chairman and CEO John Faraci wanted this sent out in a black bag - it is truly embarrassing. Not that IP's performance was bad this year - it's usually bad - IP has performed poorly for two decades. The embarrassement is if your collegues, friends and neighbors were to find out that you were stupid enough to invest in this company. Thanks for your consideration and the black bag Mr. Faraci.
Honestly, I wish I had gotten this month's Playboy instead.
All the best,
Mike Roberts

Monday, April 20, 2009

Free Beer and Nickle Kisses!

These days it seems like if one political party was giving away "free beer and selling kisses for a nickle, I am sure that someone from the opposite "side of the aisle" would be arguing for "free kisses and selling the beer for a nickle. Working to reach consensus or agreement on anything just seems to be passe. The media contribute mightily to these arguments, by offering "news", that is actually entertainment and rife with "opinion" rather than facts. This country could really use a true news station like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Today, I got an email entitled "The Real Scoop". I am not going to dignify this writing by even posting it on my blog, but the gist of it is "Obama, screwed up the way he handled the recent situation with the hostage situation and the pirates in the Indian Ocean." The email alleges that the President took too long to act.

So, we have a daring sea rescue, where the Navy executed it's job to perfection, the President appears to have given the correct order - and somebody wants to say "Obama got it wrong - he was too slow". I am surprised that someone hasn't come out and said the Navy should have "used different caliber of weaponry" - so that it would have been more environmentally friendly.

These days it seems that someone has got something crappy to say about everything anyone tries to do. Even when we should be celebrating, some cynic, who probably has a pathetic outlook on life - has to find something negative to say. Here's a little reminder of what a real American, Theodore Roosevelt had to say about these types almost exactly 99 years ago!

"The Man In The Arena"
Speech at the Sorbonne Paris, France
April 23, 1910

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt

I'll bet old Teddy, would grab some of today's pundits by the scruff of the neck if he heard the kind of bi-partisan muckraking, mudslinging, obstructionist crap that is thrown out by the media and many Americans today. Honestly, much of what we see today is disrespectful and uncivil. You really should read most of the speech which I excerpted in its entirety you can find it here:

I could never have said it as well as Teddy did in his Man in the Arena speech but having thought today about what Theodore Roosevelt said, I am going to try and be less critical and take a more positive attitude about things. I guess, I'll probably quit watching any of the news on TV for a start.

All the best,


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Letting Go - Lowe's Hardware and Credit

Here on my desk are all 32 pages of my credit report from Experian. There is really only one blemish on this credit report...... it is from Lowe's - the hardware store.

I got my first credit card when I was sixteen - that's about 38 years ago. My Dad, believed in the importance of establishing a "good credit rating". For all of these 38 years since - I have paid every bill I owed - and probably 99.99% of them on time. I've paid mortgages, student loans, credit card bills, medical bills, dental bills, car loans, boat loans, motorcycle loans, paid Gambling Debts, paid off loans for other people.....I've paid them all! But still I have a blemish on my credit because of Lowe's. Now that is Lowe.

Worse yet - it isn't even for very much money - about $300. You know in Texas - we have a saying that says if you're going bankrupt - GO BIG! No use in going down over $300 - might as well be for $3 million. What a damn shame - blemished credit over only $300? Damn, that is Lowe.

How did this happen???

Well back in December - somebody stole the mail at our local post office. This included, the check which Nancy had mailed to Lowe's for the full amount of $300 and something $. The tricky part here do you know if someone stole the mail from the post office. The answer is you don't - until you find out that all of your bills - that you mailed - never got to the people you sent them too. Finally, you go to the post office - and they say -" uh yeah - somebody stole the mail!" We even have a letter saying that someone stole the mail - from the Local Post Office. Stealing the damn mail - that is lowe.

Anyhow - Lowe's sent us another bill in January - on 22nd. It had a penalty for non-payment. Well that's OK, I guess. Lowe's actually called Nancy on the 28th of January - and Nancy paid the bill right then and there - over the phone. Ah, but alas, the damage was done. Lowe's ever vigilant credit department - reported us as 60 days overdue. That is damn Lowe.

During the last 18 months we have spent well over $15,000 with Lowes - primarily remodeling "down stairs". Each month - we paid the full amount of the bill. Eight of those 18 months the balance at the end of the month was zero! None of this mattered - we have been reported to the credit agencies - and what otherwise - should be a near perfect credit rating - has a blemish.

What does one do when one's credit has been blemished? First, you waste a couple of hours trying to figure out what happened. Then you talk to Lowe's credit card people - who have you figured for a lying dead beat from the start. Then you write a letter to the CEO with this picture attached. Then you take a few more minutes and post this entire incident to the always well read "Let Go Journal" so that everyone can see what a risk you take when you open an account with Lowe's.

Wanna bet if I can get Lower than Lowe's??? In the word's of Admiral John Paul Jones "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

R.O.B.E.R.T.S and Reefer Madness

As I mentioned in one of last week's blogs - I usually only get called R.O.B.E.R.T.S!, when I have really screwed something up or taking something farther than I should. But what the hell, as my old Uncle Ronnie always said, "anything that is worth doing, is worth overdoing!".

So in the tradition of overdoing it.... I had my first job out of college working at Texas Instruments in Dallas. What an exciting time! The first hand held calculators had not been out long and T.I. had developed the LED wrist watch. I wasn't making all that much money, as a new college grad, but I was working in one of the most exciting industries you could name...."Semi conductors; making computers out of sand." Keep in mind that in Texas the correct pronunciation is "SEM-EYE-Cun-Ducterz".

To help buy a house that I wanted; I took a second job as a security guard. This job was in a pretty rough part of South Dallas, paid minimum wage, and you could work just about as many hours as you could stand - including weekends. Being a guard on nights and weekends didn't require much skill - keep your eyes open - walk the rounds - and call for help if anything actually happens. There were two great fringe benefits with working this job - aside from the little bit of extra money. First - it gave me a lot of quiet time to study for the CPA exam. I'd sit there on those long nights and weekends with my accounting books - and study for hours at a time. Looking back on it, this was the only way I ever would have passed the CPA exam - when there is nothing to do but stare at an accounting book - eventually some of it will soak in.

The second great benefit of being a security guard was you got a really great looking uniform. I mean the whole get-up; Officer's Hat, Badge, Big Black Belt, Epaulets on the Shoulders of your shirt, and military looking pants with a stripe down the outer seam. Honestly, you had to get really close to read that the badge said "security" and not Dallas Texas Police Department. See the picture on the right - I was lean and mean and didn't look a whole lot different than the guy in the picture. With this uniform / costume - I looked the spitting image of a Dallas cop! Even as I was driving to work, I could point at people who passed me or cut me off - and it would scare the crap out of em! Probably, thought I was an off-duty officer. If I had only had a DPD Patrol Car, I could have really had some fun.

My buddy Dave McGrady lived down the block from me in the same apartment complex I did. As I mentioned in one of the last posts - David had gotten pretty involved with marijuana smoking. In fact, David had started growing a really big marijuana plant in his apartment. The thing had gotten to be about 4 feet tall, and looked pretty healthy from what I could tell. For those of you who may not have seen marijuana growing, it is really a pretty nice looking green plant. So anyway.....

Saturday morning, I am getting dressed to go to the security job and spend the day being a guard and CPA student - when Dave calls just to chat. Dave worked in the audit department for Pepsico - and travelled about 80% of the time. He'd just gotten back from another exciting trip to Beloit, Wisconsin (Pepsi owned Wilson Sporting Goods at the time and their was a factory in Beloit that made footballs - I think). Anyway, so Dave is filling me in on how his week was and I asked Carol (my wife at the time) if she'd like to talk to Dave. They began chatting and I headed for the door.

I went running down the street and upstairs to David's apartment. I could hear him inside still talking to Carol. I knocked on the door pretty hard and in as stern of voice as I could said "Police - Open UP! I lowered my police officer cap over my face, as David's room mate Linda looked out. I could hear her say, David, I think it is the police. For the next three minutes, it sounded if a cattle stampede was going on in Dave's apartment. You could here footsteps going back and forth and a whole lot noise going on. If I had been a real cop, I'd have been "real suspicious". Anyway I banged on the door again - just to give them a good scare.

When the door did finally open up, there stood my buddy Dave, wearing a pair of purple boxer shorts and a "wife beater" t-shirt. His eyes were as big as saucers and his face was pale. I had kept my hat down so you couldn't see too much of my face.....Dave just stood there frozen. Finally, I said "Dave, are you alright?" (See purple boxers on right - still etched in my mind)

Dave finally screamed "R.O.B.E.R.T.S!, I am going to kill you". But before he killed me he went back in the apartment, left the door wide open, sat down on the sofa and just covered his head. I followed him in and sat down on the sofa with him. It was quiet for a few minutes, so I asked Dave, where was the Marijuana Plant. He said I'll show you - and he called me a name that rhymes with "other trucker". Anyhow, Dave took me back to his bedroom closet. At first I didn't see anything but Dave's dirty laundry. Unfortunately, that is where Dave had hid the plant.....crushed down under his dirty clothes. Sadly, the plant was ruined. (See picture on right - dirty laundry and the death of fine green plant)

This is probably the meanest joke I have ever played on anyone. But maybe it worked out for the best. Dave quit smoking, quit smoking pot, quit growing pot, and went on a health kick! Started running marathons. I guess the last three sentances were pure B.S., I think this incident scarred David for life. I'm just glad that he didn't go ahead and throw my Joker-Ass-Self off the balcony that day.

I've had a hard time thinking about how to end this story. So here I go - David McGrady, where ever you are - I am truly sorry for this "prank" that went too far. Further, I promise, David, that I won't ever do anything like this to you again. I truly hope you can forgive me.
On the other hand - the rest of you had better watch out! You never know when I might go overboard again!

All the best,


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Religion, Alcohol, and New Products

Although the above topics may seem a little odd for some of you, I am going to share with you some observations from my weekly pilgramage to the liquor store. But first,

Most of you are probably aware that;

Catholics have never really acknowledged Judaism as a proper religion. This is not so bad, since Catholics don't acknowledge Baptists as a proper religion either. The worst part of this whole deal is that Baptists won't even acknowledge fellow Babtists when they meet in a Liquor Store.

That's a little off my primary subject, but I thought I should throw it in anyhow. So here we go with the new discovery stuff. While I was making my weekly pilgramage (Saturdays) to the local liquor store. I notice a new product there that has a lot of potential for spicing all kinds of things up, "Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka". As I see it.... this product offers all kinds of are some basic ideas.....

1. Serve up a fresh pitcher of Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka and see what Granny may tell you that she left out before.

2. Serve up a 20 gallon cooler of Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka at the next Baptist picnic and see what happens.

3. Serve up a 20 gallon cooler of Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka at the next Roberts' Family reunion, and take bets on who will need the first ambulance.

4. Use the name "Sweet T" and become rap recording artist and make a lot of money with no talent. You could also become the spokesperson for Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka.

Which idea do you like best? Or better yet submit your own ideas ......the possiblities are endless.
Have a Great Week,


Bad Combo - Marijuana and El Fenix

Most of you know that I don't smoke pot. HOLD IT! Stop The Presses... the previous statement is not true. Actually many of you, if not most of you, may actually suspect that I have been smoking pot for years. Honestly, I don't smoke pot and am reasonably happy to pee in the cup when called on, just to prove it. But, and this is the important part - I don't smoke pot because I am against it - actually I am a big believer that marijuana has potential medical use, can be very relaxing, and should be a legal herb that anyone can grow in their backyard. The only reason I don't smoke pot is that I can't smoke it without getting completely stupid.

Back in the day, when I would attempt to smoke pot the same thing would happen every time - I laugh till tears were running down my face, fall down (sometimes in public places), and eat like a starved hog, until I can't even swallow one more bite. Imagine the problem this causes when you bring me into the All-You-Can-Eat Mexican Resturant in Dallas "El Fenix". For those of you who have not been there, El Fenix on Web Chapel Road in North Dallas, operated cafeteria style. For about $2.99 you could get all the Tex-Mex you could eat. My buddy, David McGrady introduced me to this place and when we went there we measured our success by how many "full plates" of Tex-Mex we ate that night. A "full plate" as we measured it, had to be completely covered on the bottom of the plate and stacked above the rim of the plate to count. Couple this fine Tex-Mex feast with a couple of frosty mugs of Cerveza - and you were all set. So as to set the record straight ....I believe that Dave holds the record with 4 and 1/2 "full plates". We were dangerous anytime we went there.

One particular evening, David and I loaded up our little bong-pipe (with the big bowl) and got ourselves loaded before we went to El Fenix. By the way - the name of our bong was "Bubble E. Tokes". David and I were partners in this fine piece of equipment - we each paid half for it, both of us were just out of college - and we didn't have much money. The picture on the right is similar to the pipe David and I had.....only I think our was better. I think we paid $20 bucks for it and it had a double circulating cooler that the smoke wouldn't burn your throat. As Bongs go, Mr. Bubble E. Tokes was top of the line. Dave and I barely knew how to use it, but we would put wine and ice cubes in the bottom to make it even "better". This was a real ritual.

Somehow, after we fired up "Mr. Bubble E.", Dave was able to drive us to the El Fenix Tex-Mex place in Dallas. I can remember stumbling through the parking lot and seeing the 12 foot hand-carved Spanish Oak Doors of El Fenix. But I was already getting shakey. Once again, everything seemed just toooooo funny. The picture to the right is one of the Dallas, El Fenix resturants - but not the one Dave and I were at this nite. In any case, there was about a 20 foot hallway, you walked down and on the other side of it was the long cafeteria line, with steam trays full of tacos, enchiladas, beans and rice, chalupas, you name it. As always, the nice Mexican Ladies were at the line prepared to serve you anything you wanted. They spoke little english, and if you wanted just kind of nodded at them and said yes or si'.

Here's where my difficulties started. All at once, I glanced at the Mexican ladies in the serving line, and they seemed to transform themselves into my grade school and middle school teachers........worse yet, I could tell that they knew I had been smoking pot. I also knew for sure I was going to the principal's office next.....and I simply couldn't bare to go down the cafeteria line with Ms. Canant, Ms. Mooreland, Ms. Maxine, Ms. Maydell, Ms. Davis, Ms. Cole and Ms. Loretta Griffin all giving me the eye. I started laughing so hard, I fell down in the corner of the resturant. (See picture on left of a cafeteria line..I am down in the far corner). Now everyone was really staring.....which made my problem with laughing even worse. Luckily for me, David was able to pick me up off the floor of the resturant and get me to a table. He brought me a glass of water - I was still laughing.

David went back and brought us both a "full plate" of good El Fenix Tex Mex food - and we had our usual feast and fiesta. Dave helped me get back to the car and drove us home.

So as Ringo sang in the "no no song"....

"No, No, No, No, I don't smoke it no more,

I'm tired of waking up on floor."

No thank you please,

A Beer is fine for me.

All the best,


Thursday, April 2, 2009


Most of the time, my friends just call me Mike. Short, simple, fairly easy to remember. Kind of a friendly name I like to think. Kind of like "old buddy Mike". My Grandma Dean used to call me "Mikey Me Boy" with kind of an Irish lilt. I always liked the name, particularly the fact that it was easy to spell...the easy spelling helped me through my early years of grammar school.

On the other hand, when I screw something up ROYAL, which I have done on occasion, these same friends and family members... will, without doubt, scream "ROBERTS!". They don't usually spell it out, but they kind of yell it out - which has always left a lasting impression on me. When you analyze what I have done to cause some of these "ROBERTS!!!!! responses, often times you will see there is a good reason for it. I am going to break these down into several examples, to avoid what could be one of my longest pieces.....there have been numerous occaisions where "ROBERTS" was yelled - many of them deservedly so.

The first time I remember hearing "ROBERTS' screamed at me was in the first grade, and it was kind of a double barrell scream at that. My buddy, Roy Johnson, and I were on the teeter-totter (see-saw) on the play ground when the meanest girl in the first grade came along and started to attack Roy.

Roy had kind of a rough start in life, he was the youngest of 5 of about the meanest brothers I could ever imagine. At one point, before Roy entered first grade, one of his brothers jammed a stick into his neck - and it messed up his vocal cords somehow. Anyway Roy had a very raspy voice to begin with. His hair was white - and I mean white - almost everybody called him cotton because of his hair. I figured his hair turned that way from having to deal with his older brothers who, honestly were meaner than a nest of rattlesnakes. So anyway, it is Roy and me on the teeter-totter, when Brenda Mills (meanest girl in the first grade) started attacking Roy.

Brenda was grabbing at Roy's arms when he is on the upside of the see-saw; but when I let him down she is kicking Roy in the legs with her cowgirl boots. All the time Roy is yelling in his hoarse voice "hep me, hep me, hep" . I didn't know what to do. If I raised Roy up, she was grabbing at him, if I let him down she was kicking him with the boots. All the time Roy is yelling with his poor hoarse voice "hep me, hep me, hep".

Finally, I get Roy where he is up (I am down on the see-saw) so she can't kick him anymore. But she grabs Roy's arm and pulls him over so that he is hanging upside down by his legs on the see-saw. Roy is still yelling "hep me, hep me, hep".

What else could I do? I am sure you'd of done the same. I jumped off my end of the see-saw to help save Roy from Brenda's savage attack. When I did, Roy dropped like a rock - head first on the ground. Luckily, I hadn't killed him....he yelled out in that hoarse voice "ROBERTS", and at that time realized what I had done. Dropped my buddy head first to the ground from several feet in the air. Luckily, Roy was tough and it didn't kill him.

Unfortunately, the first grade teacher Mrs. Brown saw part of the incident, and got the idea that I had planned this out to drop poor Roy in the dirt. She screamed "ROBERTS, you and Johnson" get inside.

Long and short of it....I let Roy down. And we both got a butt whoopin.

I still hate to hear that word...that way... "ROBERTS". But honestly, if I keep on living...I'll probably have to hear it some more.
God Bless You Roy Johnson...wherever you are.

All the best,