Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Throwback Thursday from 1/28/2015

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A Visit To My Alternate Universe

SF Coffee

 

I HAVE OPTED TO SKIP my usual visit today to the Chapel at St. Arbucks in favor of going to the “other place” in my neighborhood.

With the impossibly cute name of Java Haute, (we’re in Terre Haute and they serve coffee – AKA Java.  Get it? Get it? Clever, huh???) it is a hangout/study area for students from the nearby engineering college. Ergo: this joint has a higher geek population than most places this side of your local Best Buy store.

I’m here because I got an email from them announcing that this week at Java Haute was “San Francisco Week.”

Whatever.

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Come To Indiana For A Slice

Pie 1ALL CULINARY INFORMATION COMES FROM THE AUTO CLUB.

Every month I can count on our “letter carrier” cramming the Auto Club’s magazine into our mailbox along with the usual mass of catalogs, political drivel, and other ads – and the occasional letter.

A week or so ago the latest edition of the Auto Club magazine had an article called, “Indiana’s Pie Trail.” It listed seventeen places in Indiana where you could get a good piece of pie. None of these places were in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Would you like some pie?”). I’m sure this is taken as a personal slur by the folks who run a café here called, “The Pie Company.”

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What Can A Person Say?

Noir Sax PlayerSOME DAYS THERE’S NOTHING GOOD YOU CAN SAY.

We were in Texas for Christmas and New Year and less than three weeks later we were back. This time it was not for a celebration or holiday. This time it was for a funeral.

A phone call on a Saturday with the news that a niece had passed away – very suddenly and unexpected. And on Monday we start on our way back to Texas.

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Some Days I Wonder

FB_IMG_1444318071823SO FAR JANUARY HAS HAD MORE THAN IT’S SHARE OF ODD.

The other day, in the illustrious Tribune-Star newspaper, there was a story about a fellow being sentenced to 69 years in the slammer for shooting and killing his “Buddy,” as the story called him.buddy

It was said that both of these lads had been out drinking and were approaching a flammable state when the “Buddy” started feeling blue. He turned to his friend and said, “Just shoot me and put me out of my misery.”

So he did.

There’s not a lot I could add to that, except that it did appear in the Trib-Star, a newspaper not known for the accuracy/spelling/grammar/anything else one would expect. So, I suppose that it is possible that they’ve made a few errors and this story is actually about a meeting of the Garden Club’s Petunia Sub-committee.

In other January news flashes there was a story about my favorite baseball team – The San Francisco Giants – signing up a new outfielder.

Denard Span, aside from having an interesting name, is a good player and should be an asset to the team. The fly in this ointment surfaced during an interview after the contract was signed and Span was paraded before the media. It turns out that the new Giants outfielder has a serious phobia: Birds.Sf seagulls 2

This could be a problem. Having been to many ballgames in San Francisco I can verify that, starting in about the 7th inning, the seagulls arrive at the stadium. They are there looking for a free meal among the dropped hotdogs, peanuts, pizza, and other leftovers. They arrive by the hundreds and take over the bleachers and even land in the outfield. I’m afraid that Mr. Span is going to be increasing his dosage of Anti-Anxiety meds.

These seagulls are big, bold and not afraid of anything. I saw one snatch an ice cream sandwich from the hands of an infant in a stroller. Swoop! Snatch! Gulp!

I wonder if the Giants will pay for his therapist? He’s going to need one or he will turn into Jimmy Piersall right before our eyes. (Look up “Fear Strikes Out”)

Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Biscuits and Gravy – Breakfast of Champions.”) got its first real taste of winter with snow and bitter cold. There’s nothing truly unusual about that, but the NBC affiliate TV station saw things a little differently than the rest of us.FB_IMG_1452430465108

 I really hate it when we have to deal with “Blowing Snot” on the roads. I was afraid that my windshield would never be the same – until I replaced the Window Washer Fluid with Mucinex.

I guess that the BIG story of the month has been the Power Ball Lottery jackpot going over a billion dollars. It is a serious amount of money and provides easy stories for the media.

I was watching the Today Show when they did a puff piece about “what if” the prize was paid out in one dollar bills. (Can NBC do hard news, or what?) In singles, the prize would stack up X number of miles. If laid end to end, blah, blah, blah. It was pretty easy to ignore until he said, “It would weigh…” At that point my caffeine dependent mind leapt ahead of him and finished his sentence.

“It would weigh” – “slightly less than Rosie O’Donnell after six months on the Atkins Diet.”

I should talk. I once brought up the idea of having my stomach stapled. My doctor suggested, “That in your case, I would recommend spot welding.”

The odds of winning the billion-plus dollar prize are beyond astronomical, but it will happen (if it hasn’t already by the time this posts.) and someone will gain more previously unknown relatives than anyone in history.

Sudden wealth can present problems, but I’ve dealt with the problems of not so sudden poverty most of my life. I’d like a crack at the other end of that financial Mobius strip.

If you notice that I start writing about the goings-on of Tahiti instead of Terre Haute you’ll know that something big has happened. Tahiti (That’s French for, “Guess what happened to me.”)Tahiti 1

Cereal Killer On The Loose

Coupons 2TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

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Throwback Thursday “OK, So I’m Not A Poet”

Throwback Thursday from 1/21/15

OK, So I’m Not A Poet

poetry lovers

 

I’VE BEEN CREATING STORIES since I was a kid. I remember writing a Cowboys and Indians epic and showing it to my teacher, Sister Mary Something-or-Other. She was not impressed.

When I got to high school I signed up for all of the creative writing and journalism classes I could. My teachers told me that I could really spin a yarn, but…

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Paranoia Can Be Rewarding

IT’S GOOD TO BE HOME AGAIN.airlinerr take off 1

For the week between Christmas and New Year we were down in Texas – visiting family, watching the youngsters (read Great-Grandchildren on the Texas side of the family) enjoy Christmas, and not being able to stay awake to see the New Year come in. I couldn’t stay up that late at gunpoint – unless there was an S.F. Giants game being played on the west coast.

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And The Winning Numbers Aren’t !

Lottery 6ALONG WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS WE CAN SAY THAT WE DIDN’T WIN THE LOTTERY.

One and a half billion dollars – whew! What a pile.

We did have a ticket and the way I figured it our odds were 50/50 – we either would win it or we wouldn’t. That didn’t help much.

Some other folks won the jackpot, so the pressure is off. Let those other guys deal with all the attorneys and accountants. Let them figure out what to do with all of those previously unknown relatives that will be popping up like mushrooms after a rain. I hope they can feed them all. I recommend casseroles.Lottery 3

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Fiction Saturday – “Bad News Travels Slow” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – The Conclusion of “Bad News Travels Slow”c91e9acb-c52d-460a-81ba-d8db2fedab4e

The three of us going out to storm Dinwiddie’s Bakery/Fortress felt like the Three Stooges hitting Omaha Beach, but we had to do something. George Sweet wouldn’t last much longer.

The only things we had in our favor were the Chief’s official car and the element of surprise. Oh, yeah – and the fact that I wanted a chance to meet up again with the goons who tossed me out onto the concrete at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

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Looking For Logic In All The Wrong Places

EARLIER THIS MONTH OUR CAR WAS STOLEN. Pack Rats 1ANot by Bonnie and Clyde or Don Corleone, or even Bernie Madoff, but by a couple of ##$@&^’s with the inability to decide what they actually wanted to steal.

When our car was found, about thirty minutes after I reported it to the Police, a bunch of stuff was taken from the car – and a bunch of somebody else’s stuff was left behind. It’s like our car was taken by pack rats.

Fast Forward to yesterday evening.

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Throwback Thursday “The Last Biscuit Protocol”

Throwback Thursday from 1/9/2015

 “The Last Biscuit Protocol”

BY AND LARGE we are a polite society. Of course, the exceptions to that are loud, obnoxious, and to be avoided at all costs – particularly around dinner time.last biscuit

Whenever the family gathers, like at Christmastime, or other major events, we can have a considerable number around the table. And, for the most part, they are members of that polite society. But that politeness can lead to some interesting observations. Let me explain.

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Lunch

Lunch 3

I’M HUNGRY. It’s time for lunch and it calls upon me to make one of the bigger decisions of my day.

How hungry I am is not a factor in my choice of what I’ll have. I try not to overdo it for two reasons: I don’t want to feel like an overstuffed sofa and I will be having dinner with my wife, the lovely and always tasteful, Dawn, in just a few hours. So, I usually have something “light” for lunch. What I have also depends on what condition my digestive tract is in. There are days when anything even remotely spicy would start a full-scale intestinal rebellion.

Lately, I have been having rice for lunch. It is not spicy and it does not trigger an internal Mt. St. Helen. It allows me to have an afternoon in places other than the bathroom.Lunch 1

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Fiction Saturday – “Bad News Travels Slow” – Continued

Noir hat gun lamp

The outside of the Central Police Station, where the Chief had his office, looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in decades. The men and women who fought to protect the city from people like Dinwiddie were forced to work in squalor.

“The Chief?” The Desk Sergeant was incredulous. “Really? Well, his Capital ‘O’ office is up on the third floor, but his real office is in the back booth at Daquila’s bar down the block.” He checked his watch – 9:47 AM. “Yeah. He should be there by now.”

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

20160107_131631ANSWER: EVERYTHING.

Our car was stolen last night.

During the night some knucklehead, with a key, got into the car and took it out of our driveway. I noticed it was gone this morning at about 8:15 AM.

I called the Terre Haute Police Dept. and spent 11 minutes and 24 seconds listening to a fine man try to type my information, one finger at a time. After that I really needed my morning coffee. So, I headed to St. Arbucks for a sip and a prayer. I used the SUV that my wife, the lovely and as mystified as I, Dawn, drives.

I ordered my usual and before I could even sit down – my phone rang.

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Throwback Thursday – from December 30, 2014

I’d Like To Know The Rest Of The Story

deer eating popcorn

 

GETTING OLDER IS NOT for sissies. It takes guts and imagination. But it also demands that, as Dirty Harry Callahan hissed in one of his films, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

I know that I can no longer play golf like I used to, and that is a blessing, because I was a terrible golfer. People always claim that it is such a sociable game. Well, the way I played it I was always off by myself somewhere. So – No more golf, no great loss.

A lot of the things that I can no longer do, I really don’t care about: golf, tennis, tap dancing (scratch that. That’s a lie. I never tap danced in my life).

I have had to use my imagination to add things into my life that give it spark and entertainment value while eliminating the need for special equipment – This blog being one of those things. Another being high-impact people watching.

Being a writer, in one way or another, I have always been a people watcher, but now I do it with the enthusiasm of Michael Phelps looking for a fresh bong.

This trip to Texas has presented me, the people watcher, with a target rich environment – The Airport!

Ain’t no place better for people watching than big city airports.

 This trip has us wading through airports in both Indianapolis and Houston.

Just recently, on Christmas Day, I witnessed literally dozens of people who had decided to travel while wearing antlers. I assume that, if I came back to the airport in July, the numbers would fall – I hope.

I saw one fellow who looked like Santa, wearing a gaudy Hawaiian shirt, standing in front of the Arrivals/Departures monitors, looking decidedly undecided. Mrs. Santa was nowhere in sight. She may have been out antler shopping in the gift shop.

I can understand that airports can be bewildering. But, Santa? After circling the globe in one night spreading joy and happiness to billions?

Must have been some righteous Jet Lag for the old guy.

 He should have brought along an elf or two to help him out.

While Santa and the Antlered Ones made for an interesting visual diversion, it was while we were waiting to board in Houston that I heard the following announcement come over the Public Address System.

“Will Mr. Johnston, please return to the Ticket Agent Desk for Southwest Airlines. You are in Houston – not Dallas.”

Now, I’ve gotten a bit confused myself, at times, but even Santa couldn’t top that poor fellow.

I wish that we could have waited around to see how this all played out, but our flight was boarding. We knew that we were in Houston and that we were going Corpus Christi. Mr. Johnson could not confidently, say the same.

I bet his antlers were too tight.

A Newspaper Published By The Illiterate

Attention Burglars

HERE IN BEAUTIFUL TERRE HAUTE(That’s French for, “This will be on the test.”) we are blessed/cursed with a newspaper that is unclear on the concept of literacy.

The Tribune-Star publishes seven days a week – whether you like it or not. Most days it is “Not.”

A week before we flew to Texas to spend Christmas with The Family I called the “Trib-Star” to have delivery stopped while we were gone. It’s a good idea and shouldn’t be too difficult a task. SHOULDN’T BE.

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Am I Religious?

God 1

WHAT KIND OF A QUESTION IS THAT TO ASK? Before I’ve had my coffee even? After all, what makes a person “religious?”

If there was to be a survey taken I couldn’t accurately predict the outcome. Yeah, well, maybe I could, but it wouldn’t really matter.

You see – God and I have this arrangement. Actually, it’s the same arrangement He’s made with all of us. All that God asks of me is that I give Him a respectful nod for who He is and what He has accomplished and that I try to get along with the guy who lives next door. I mean, is that too much to ask? I think not. It is simply worded without any “whereases,” “wherefores,” and “party of the first part” stuff to gum up the works. Neat. Clean. To the point. No trap doors. I think it all boils down to, “Don’t be a jackass.”God 2

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Another Year To Conquer

Treadmill accidentWELCOME TO 2016

To those of you who have survived New Years Eve and the ensuing recovery I say “Congratulations.” To those of you who did not survive – all I can say is – Can you see anything from there? Did your relatives meet you? Can I have your parking space?

Now that I know that I have succeeded in making the jump in 2016 without major injury or pending court action, I have to decide what happens next.

The most important things are easy: Love my wife and family; don’t do anything overly stupid; and try to make the most of whatever time I have left on my meter.

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“Bad News Travels Slow” – Continued

Fiction Saturday presents, “Bad News Travels Slow

“And where do you think you two are going?”Noir man at big windows

I was really learning to hate the sound of Dinwiddie’s voice. When I turned around I could see that he had three of his muscle-bound “bakers” with him. They moved to flank me – as if I could get out of there dragging Sweet along like a sack of potatoes.

Dinwiddie had asked me a question, so I figured I might as well answer him. “I think we might make a couple of stops – the Hospital for Mr. Sweet here, and then I think I’ll go home and take a shower to get rid of the stink from coming here. And maybe I’ll stop by the FBI office and chat with them. I’m sure you’re cookie factory is breaking some federal regulations – you know, rats like you running around…”

I didn’t get to finish the sentence because one of the gingerbread men  gave me a smack to the side of my head. I dropped Sweet and I fell on top of him.

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