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 – 2021

Archive for the month “February, 2021”

Does This Answer Your Question?

NOT LONG AGO SOMEONE ASKED ME A QUESTION.

They wanted to know where I got all of my ideas for my Blog. After more than 1500 postings since 2014 I had to think about it myself. Finally I came up with an answer.

Question: Where do I get all of my ideas?

Answer: I dunno.

Most days I just sit down at my computer and start typing. That doesn’t require much concentration so while my fingers hit the keys my brain wanders off like a stray cat looking for a free meal.

Some days my fingers produce something vaguely interesting – Some days Most days not. That is when I have to start doing some research. I don’t like doing research. All that data gets in my way and I don’t believe half of it anyway. I did a lot of research while I was in school. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t. I prefer to just spell out my reaction to what I see in front of me and as long as I’m awake there is no shortage of stuff there for me to see.

I guess you might call me a “Knee-Jerk Writer.” I see something, I react, my fingers start twitching and there you go – another blog goes online. There is not a lot of Creativity involved there, but since my Muse is usually a cup of coffee. That’s how it happens.

God knows enough people have shortened “Knee-Jerk Writer” to just “Jerk” over the years that I no longer take offense.

I recall one blog post from a few years ago that was the perfect example of that.

I was in my usual pre-viral place at St. Arbucks trying to come up with something witty, interesting, or at least cogent. I was having no luck at all. My coffee was getting warm (I get iced coffee year ‘round) and people were beginning to stare. My solution was to get a refill and hit the “Off” switch on my brain.

That day I had been trying to write in one of my cheap Dollar Store notebooks. The computer was at home. I was hoping a more manual approach might help.

I sat back, let my eyesballs roll to a nice bloodshot white, and sipped at my coffee. My pen took over. For the next twenty minutes my pen wrote about… itself. When I eventually looked at the notebook there was a good 500 word essay about my pen and how well it worked.

Who was I to argue?

When I typed it into the blog lineup for publication I added a few pictures and corrected my spelling, but other than that I left it alone.

I started doing this blog ,“Down The Hall On Your Left,” in 2014. For five years it was a six day a week project. By the end of 2019 I was exhausted and after a short hiatus I kick started it up again as a weekly thing. There have been more than 1550 postings since 2014, some of the quite good if I say so myself. The one when my pen wrote about itself was not so hot in my opinion, but blog statistics have shown that particular post to have been in the top five most read entries.

Go figure.

(https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/houston-were-cool-no-problems-here/)

(In case you are interested, the most popular post was the one about the dead deer by the side of the road with a “Get Well Soon” balloon tied to its leg.)

(https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/get-well-soon/)

Pop Goes The Wall

 

I know that this will hardly come as a shock to you, but…

THERE’S A LOT OF STRANGE STUFF IN THIS WORLD.

One small example of this has been all over my Facebook lately. There have been daily, sometimes more than daily, postings by someone I don’t know myself who has been cluttering up the world with updates on the medical woes of her pet pig.

If this had been about her child or some other human relative I might cut her some slack, but IT’S A PIG FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!

I know…there are some of you who are thinking that I am an insensitive lout. I’m not. I have my own emotional support thing. Mine is a frozen burrito. It gives me comfort and pleasure, but I’m not going to pollute the internet posting pictures of it spinning around in the microwave on its way to becoming my lunch.

OK… I will now step down from my soapbox…my emotional support soapbox.

“Now for something completely different” – Monty Python.

Well…it is different, but in some ways it has some similarities. It is about one thing that has served in more than one capacity, but just not very well.

During the past year our ability to go out shopping in real brick and mortar stores has been seriously impaired by this virus foofaraw. Everyone has turned to shopping online and having stuff delivered right to our front door. It works surprisingly well and has made that Bezos fellow very happy.

With every package that UPS or the Post Office drops off at our place it is a safe bet that our purchase will come swathed in Bubble Wrap. Even if it makes no sense there is Bubble Wrap. Did that book need protective Bubble Wrap? I ordered some socks from Amazon and they came in a large box filled with Bubble Wrap.

Bubble Wrap. All around my socks. It’s like being on a crowded bus surrounded by fat people.

I felt the urge to waste some time and learn about Bubble Wrap.

Circa 1957 there were two grown men: Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes who collaborated to create what would come to be known as Bubble Wrap. They were nice guys I guess who created something but had no idea what to do with it. It was like coming up with a cure for a disease that doesn’t exist. When they did come up with a niche to be filled by their creation it was…stupid. They tried to market it as…Wallpaper. Wall Plastic to be more accurate. They were clever inventors, but lousy Marketers.

They got patents and formed a company – “Sealed Air.”

Sealed Air muddled along on the verge of bankruptcy until 1971 when an outsider was hired to run the company.

BINGO!

A fresh pair of eyes launched Sealed Air into the Center Ring. Today, Sealed Air is a Fortune 500 company with sales of more than 4.5 BILLION Dollars and 15,000 employees.

Some people create Bubble Wrap while other people spend their time documenting the ups and downs of a sick pig.

I’m going to go have a burrito.

Mipissssissippi, Misippiss, Mippiississ,…Texas

SOME DAYS THINGS WORK OUT FINE…and then other days – well…

Mipissssissippi, Misippiss, Mippiississ

I do believe that we have become “Snow Bunnies” of a sort. Consider that we have made three – count ’em, Three trips since October from our home in Terre Haute down to south Texas. It is only a two and a half hour flight, but we have done these trips earthbound. In these days of Nasty Viruses we feel better avoiding both Airplanes and Airports.

Driving to and from Hoosierland to the Coastal Territory near Corpus Christi, Texas is about 1200 miles each way. I say “about” because it depends on your route. You can save a few miles by driving through Arkansas and squeezing your nervous system through Downtown Houston. We have done that a couple of times and I will do almost anything to avoid doing it again. On this last trip to see the family and to NOT see Midwest ice and snow we followed a different route. It added about 100 miles each way, but it lowered my blood pressure and my heartbeat significantly.

Rather than drive through the Arkansas Pinball Machine of Route 40 where Big Rig Semis outnumber cars 25 to one and the speed limit is restricted only by Einstein’s Theory about the speed of light. Instead we cut straight south and went through the lovely State of Mississippi border to border.

Interstate 55 in Mississippi is my new favorite stretch of highway. It is well maintained, not overly busy, and goes through some beautiful countryside. They also had a Road sign that made my feeble mind drag up some old cliches and stereotypes. Hopefully, nobody will be offended, but if they are…too bad. I can’t let a joke get away from me so easily.

This is the sign that we saw posted every few miles.

What caught my jaundiced eye was the part about throwing trash on the highway. I read that and my twisted sense of tacky and tasteless humor kicked into high gear. It was a good thing that we made no stops inside Mississippi other than the obligitory rest stops to… relieve ourselves, shall we say.

As we plunged southward through the Magnolia State (As I learned from another sign) my mind concocted this short monologue.

“We were driving through Yalobusha County, heading south, when I saw a sign along side the road. Do you see that sign? The one about there being a $250 Dollar fine for throwing trash on the highway? Well, I saw it and it has brought back a sad memory that still haunts our Family to this day.

Seeing that sign made me remember about that unpleasant day when our beloved, though hard to live with, Cousin Billy Bob Beaureguard ran afoul of The Law. It was not that he hadn’t done the same thing dozens of times, but this time he got caught doing it in front of that State Trooper.

Billy Bob was caught up in a technicality when he was driving along and got into an argument with his youngest son, Jasper, and threw him out of his truck while driving down the highway just outside of Coffeeville. That boy, Jasper, was no good to begin with and everybody knew it. The Judge knew it too and instead of charging Billy Bob with any ‘Attempted This or That” he nicked him for that $250 dollar fine because everybody knew that boy, Jasper, was trash.”

You can see why I would not want to say that out loud in front of any Mississippians. They might either be offended by the cliches or upset that I was airing the Families dirty laundry in public. I thought of it and we wisely chose to continue driving until we were across the State Line.

(We are just skipping Louisiana here. I’m in enough trouble.)

 

 

 

 

 

Krakatoa Christmas

DON’T CALL ME SCROOGE, but I am glad that the Holiday Season is over. It’s not that I don’t enjoy getting together with family and friends, sharing good memories, and hopes for the future. I truly do love all of that. It is just that I find it all so very exhausting.

The “Holiday Season” starts with Halloween (Like it or not.) and doesn’t end until after the New Year’s Day festivities. For some people the end doesn’t come until the Super Bowl. Personally, I could not care less about that. I might care if the Cleveland Browns were in the game, but I‘m not holding my breath on that.

For over two months everything is in a whirl of shopping, eating WAAAAY too much, traveling, being pleasant with everybody, and wading through the tons of catalogs that overflow the mailbox. I find it all more than I can deal with calmly, maintaining a clear brain, and a digestive tract that doesn’t resemble Krakatoa West of my Liver. By the time the New Year starts I am a shambles. This year was even more difficult. I think I now know what all of those discarded Christmas trees feel like after a ride through the wood chipper.

This year we spent most of December in Texas. We drove there and back. Let me do the math for you – that was a round trip of about 2500 miles.

Ho Ho Ho

We split The Going and The Coming into three days each way. I can no longer do those marathon drives of 700 miles in a day. My butt just can’t take it anymore. Fifty years ago I could have made the Texas trip in two days, but no more. Back in 1970 I drove from Bar Harbor, Maine all the way to the Washington D.C. burbs in one day. That was about 750 miles in one day! I was young and foolish.

I’m not young anymore.

After traveling like that I need several days to recuperate. I can’t get up at 7 AM, make tea and coffee, and be a sociable breakfast companion. I need to stay in bed unconscious and eventually be a passable lunch companion.

I think what I need to start doing as the Holiday Season approaches again is to go into training as if I was going to compete in the Olympics.

I’ll start in July. I will spend hours sitting in an uncomfortable chair. I will start practicing on my Christmas present wrapping skills. This year everything I wrapped looked like it was done by an arthritic Orangutan.

Another area I’ll need to work on is Eating…Holiday Eating. That means eating too much, doing so at odd hours, and having a severely unbalanced diet. Cookies will become one of the major food groups. Did you know that there must be twenty different kinds of Oreo Cookies?

So you see…it’s not that I don’t like the Holidays. It is more like the Holidays have passed me by. I find that all of those things I took in stride in my youth now require some serious preparation. I’ll be ready when this year’s Holiday Season rolls around. I don’t want to face another year with my intestinal tract taking no prisoners.

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