Unreal checks in with an outstanding older worker, dusts off our Commontary feature, catches up with an olfactorily obsessed blogger and solicits your cougar questions

Unreal knows (most of) you work hard for a living, and the more hamsters on the wheel, the better, right? Well, Sullivan resident Jean Hines is one old hamster. The 83-year-old was recently named Missouri's 2008 Outstanding Older Worker by Experience Works, a nonprofit organization that provides training and employment for "mature" members of the workforce.

Sullivan works as a finishing supervisor at Carden Machine Shop Inc., a small manufacturer involved in the building of badass aircraft such as the F-18 Hornet, the Osprey helicopter and the F-23 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter. Sullivan was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to speak with Unreal.

Unreal: They call you the "Mean Jean Machine." Why?

Jean Hines: I've had that hung on me for a long time. I was a supervisor for a number of years. If you have someone who comes in late a few times a week or is sick, after two or three times you write it up and send them to the office. They know the rules and regulations.

Did you ever imagine that you would be working at 83?

No sir, I didn't. But I've been doing one thing or another all my life. My first job was milking cows and slopping hogs. I was a waitress when I was sixteen and that was back in the late '30s and early '40s.

What was it like to be named Outstanding Older Worker?

In September, we went to the event in Washington, D.C., and there was an elderly person from each state. The third night everyone got dressed up and we had dinner. The lady that won the big trophy was from Nebraska. She was 100 years old and still working 30 hours a week.

How did you stack up next to, say, Idaho?

I think most of them were in their late 70s or 80s. I was kinda middle-aged compared to those people.

I imagine your résumé is quite long at this point.

Oh, well, yeah! First I got married and had five children and stayed at home for seventeen years. Then I worked at a die-casting company for 36 years. Well, business was bad and they downsized. I came here to Carden in 2000. I was 76 and didn't think I'd get hired. I had a pretty good résumé, but I didn't look 76 so I don't think they looked at it very close. But I'm in good shape. And I haven't missed any work and haven't been late.

Do you mock your friends for being unemployed?

I don't visit much with anybody except my kids. My husband passed away at 76. After I do my laundry and my groceries and work 40 hours, my time is pretty much taken.

How much longer do you think you will keep working?

As long as I can get in my honest day's work. If I can't do it, then I can't. 

It's kinda taboo for an entrepreneur in a customer service-type business to be outspoken during a presidential campaign, but Cindy Brenneke, owner of IronWorks Fitness, did some serious public flexing of her muscles in support of John McCain at the gym, which is located inside the Metropolitan Square building downtown.

A true maverick, Brenneke went even further on October 27 when she published a memo to members entitled "Cindy's RANT," excerpts from which (edited to correct typos) constitute this week's Commontary:

I've had two Democrats quit the club because I went out on a limb to tell people what I thought. Because I CARE ABOUT MY COUNTRY, and I worry about the future of Americans. Even if it means others quitting, I will continue to share my thoughts, only because the success of the country and its people is more important to me than money in the bank.

My vote is NOT based on color, but qualifications. Had Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell ran [sic] for president, they would have gotten my vote.

I want more than a promise of "change." I need a move in the right direction. Many who support Obama can't give me one reason to change my vote. All I hear is "I want change." Sometimes I feel the same thing about my own life. If I lost a leg it would guarantee "change" to my life, but that's not the "change" I would want.

[...] I wouldn't support McCain if his list of friends included the leaders of white supremacy groups. Nor do I support anyone who is friends with terrorists. I would much rather have a leader who fought for our country.

[...] I don't want to see everyone on the same level. Obama wants to "spread the wealth," bring everyone to the same level. I thank GOD that there are others who have much more than I will ever dream of having. If everyone were at my level the US would be a very horrible place to live because I would not have the money to invest on improving neighborhoods or schools. I barely have enough to support me. WHY would I want to drag others down to this level? I'm not that stupid.

Ever get the urge to jump up and ____ this damn town? Tell Unreal about it! [email protected].

Local Blog O' the Week
"Truth Against the World"
Author: Jamey Stegmaier
About the blogger: Jamey's 27 and is the operations director for a local nonprofit. He writes prolifically but has not been published (except on his own blog). He has a cat, Baby Bok Choy.

Recent Highlight (October 22): Now You Can Smell Like I Want You to Smell
A little while ago, I posted an entry entitled, "The Secret to Being an Attractive Runner." The entry was targeted at women who jog in the park near my condo. Statistically, ever since I posted that entry, 93% of those women are moving their arms when they run (up from 15%), 68% have stopped trying to win the race, and 87% have focused on running forward instead of all wily-nily. Clearly this blog is making an impact on the world.

Thus I present this entry on how you, women, can smell like I want you to smell. And not just me — potentially other guys as well. Although, to be honest, this request is going to sound a little weird.

There are three smells I enjoy more than any others in the world: Popcorn, campfires, and Angel, by Thierry. Many other smells narrowly made this list — like hot chocolate, the coffee aisle at the grocery store, garlic bread in the oven, plain chapstick — but those are the big three. As you can tell, only one of them is a perfume. Here's how you can smell like the other two:

Popcorn: This is easy. Put some popcorn in the microwave, make sure it doesn't burn, and then rub it all over yourself. Wait until it cools a little bit, because those kernels get mighty hot.

Campfires: Before you go out to party, build a campfire in your apartment or yard (a leaf fire will do in a pinch) and envelope yourself in the smoke and fumes. The smell will make guys hearken back to a grittier, simpler time, a time when all meat was prepared over fire. You'll literally make them salivate.

Or you can just go out and buy Angel.

I'm sure you're asking wondering right now, Jamey, if you were approached by three identical women, one of them wearing popcorn grease, the other campfire ash, and the last expensive perfume, who would you be more drawn to?

Great question. It would probably depend on my mood, but in general I'd have to go with campfire girl. Damn I love the smell of campfires.

Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to [email protected]

Ask a Cougar
Unreal is preparing to launch our long-awaited advice column, "Ask a Cougar and a Fundamentalist Pastor." After much deliberation, we've settled on our resident Cougar, Sage Feline. As for our Pastor, Chris, let's just say it wasn't a crowded field.

Look for the first installment of "Ask a Cougar and a Fundamentalist Pastor" soon. Meantime, hit us with your questions. No topic too sensitive, no question too stupid!

Direct your questions via e-mail to [email protected], with "ASK A COUGAR" in the subject line.