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 – 2018

Archive for the category “Blogging”

The Games People Play

 

THINGS ARE GETTING COMPLICATED. Most mornings I go and get my coffee at St. Arbucks. I need that coffee to sustain life, but I am not up to playing all of the games that are wiggled in front of me.

Win! Win! Win!

St. Arbucks’ web site has all sorts of online games, based on purchases and/or “collecting game pieces” that promise to winners that they will get “Starbucks For Life!” If you purchase six million special coffees and a cookie you might be a winner! I just can’t keep up.

Points! Points! Points!

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Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Six

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Six

Being an unwelcome visitor I was given the Five Cent Tour of everything I’d seen before. When I inquired about some areas I had never seen I was given a cock and bull story about it either being closed off for remodeling or just a storage area. I knew different.

I ended up in my office having seen nothing, learned nothing, and made to feel as welcome as an angry skunk at a wedding. I shuffled papers around for about thirty minutes just to cool down and to let the goon parked outside my door to fall asleep. I was determined to look behind some of those closed doors.

When I could see that my baby sitter had nodded off I crept past him and headed into the plant proper. I went straight for that “Storage Area” that made my guides nervous when I tried to go there before. I could see that there was light coming from under the door. I could hear voices from inside. “Storage Area” my Aunt Nellie.

I turned the knob as quietly as I could and stepped inside. There were about ten men huddled around a work bench. I’d never seen any of them before. They had some piece of equipment in broken down into parts on the bench. One man was taking pictures of the parts. Another man was talking, like he was explaining it all to them. I couldn’t understand him. He wasn’t talking in English.

It didn’t take more than thirty seconds before one of them noticed me standing there by the door. They all froze. The guy who seemed to be in charge looked at me and smiled. I don’t think it meant that he was glad to see me.

“Can I help you?” he asked me.

“That’s my question,” I said. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” Two of the men started moving toward me, flanking me. I was by the door, but I felt like I was being cornered. I wished that I had my sidearm instead of just a fountain pen and a badge.

The head man stopped smiling. “This is a High Security Area, young man. You have no business here. Who are you?”

Now it was my turn to smile even though my situation was deteriorating.

“High Security Area, huh? Lucky me, because I’m the Head of Security for this entire company. Now – who are you – and all your playmates here too?”

I don’t think I got an answer because the two men moving on me rushed and… the next thing I remember was waking up, tied to a chair, with Van Swearingin looking me in the face.

“Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, What’s going on here?” He looked beck over his shoulder. “Will somebody untie him for God’s sake? Tim, I’m sorry for this. Blame me. I didn’t have you meet everyone, our consultants and scientists. I should have. You were right to question them.”

My head was clearing. It ached, but I was only seeing one of everything.

“Scientists? Those two thugs that ‘jacked me didn’t look like scientists to me. More like Steel Workers.” Another strange character untied me.

“Why don’t you go back to San Francisco and take a couple of days off, Tim, and relax?”

I wasn’t going to be given the Bum’s Rush on this. I’d been rolled, tied to a chair, and now being told to pretend it didn’t happen and go ride the cable cars. I was hot.

“I don’t need a couple of days off to relax. What I do need is to know who those guys were, what they were doing there, and why were they kept secret from me. I’ve gotten nothing but the runaround here and at the other facilities.”

Van Swearingin was looking tense. “I’ve already told you; they are scientists, consultants on some new projects. They weren’t being kept ‘secret’ from you. Again, that’s my fault. I apologize for how you were treated. You didn’t know them, they didn’t know you. Things got out of hand. And you are not being given the ‘runaround’ at all. You’re new on this job and it’s bound to take some time until you are fully in tune and see everything. Trust me. This won’t happen again.” He looked around the room. There were five other people there – the three man welcoming committee and the two guards from the front gate. “Do you all understand me? This won’t happen again.”

xxx

Was I in over my head and just needed time to get a handle on things? Or was I being set up to be the Patsy? I needed to talk with “Pops” Mulroy. I knew what his answer would be. He thought that Van Swearingin is selling us, the Big Us, the Country us, out to the Russians. I thought I believed him after our previous talk, but then that all seemed too unbelievable. But now, after my run in with those “scientists” – I just didn’t know.

I took a long walk to think. I ended up down at the Ferry Building, sitting in the same phone booth as before.

A little kid answered the phone.

“Can I talk with your Grandpa?”

“Who?

“Your Grandpa, Gramps, Paw-Paw, whatever you call him. ‘Pops’.”

“Oh, ‘Pops’ – Why didn’t you say so?

“Hey, ‘Pops’! Telephone!”

I could hear some mumbled speech in the background and the kid dropping the phone on the floor. The mumbling turned to shouting as the phone was picked up and “Pops” started to talk, loud and fast.

“If you’re selling something, I ain’t buying. I won’t take your poll, and I gave at the office. Now – your turn and make it short and sweet. Go!”

“’Pops’ – Is that you? This is Tim in San Francisco.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

“Jesus H. Christ. Tim? I haven’t heard from you. I was afraid that you’d either gone over to the other side or got yourself some concrete boots. How are you?”

“I’m OK I guess. No, that’s not completely true, but this is all getting crazier by the day.”

“Talk to me. What’s happened?”

For the next ten minutes I told him everything I could remember; the strange hiring behind my back, the remote locations with “consultants” speaking other languages, and… “A few days ago I got the stuffing beat out of me by a couple of them when I interrupted one of their little secret meetings at the plant down the coast. I can take care of myself hand to hand, but those boys took me out like I was a cripple. I woke up tied to a chair.”

“Sweet Jesus, are you OK I ask you again? Does Van Swearingin know about this?

“Know about it? He was right in front of me when I woke up. He sent me home for a few days to ‘relax.’

“Tim, you’re lucky to be alive.”

That didn’t make me feel any more secure.

“Young man, you’re in over your head and what’s going on there is bigger than a couple of Rumble Seat Cowboys like you and me can handle. It’s time to hand this over to the Professionals.”

“You mean the FBI?”

“Yes, before you end up dead. Van Swearingin brought you in because he didn’t think you would actually try to do anything but look into your pay envelope, but now that you’ve seen and heard what you just told me about… you have become dangerous and…Tim, there is a lot of empty desert out there.”

Collecting a pay envelope was all I really did want in a job when all of this started and now I’ve got Russian thugs working me over and “Pops’ is telling me that I have a good chance of nothing but bad ahead of me.

“‘Pops,’ I want out. I’m no G-Man. All I want is to grow old and fat. I’ll walk over to the FBI office, tell them everything, and then I’m getting the first train out of town. That’s it. All Aboard. Over and out.”

My head was spinning as I hung up the phone. I didn’t want to hear any more about my life expectancy from “Pops” or anyone else. I looked in the phone book and found where the FBI was. I didn’t bother to write it down.

The Federal Building on Larkin Street wasn’t too far. I wanted to run, but I forced myself to walk. The FBI was on the fifth floor.

– To Be Continued –

Buttons

SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO INSTINCTIVELY KNOW HOW TO PUSH MY BUTTONS. I wish two things: That they didn’t know how to do that, and that I wouldn’t keep running into those people. There is enough aggravation in everyday life that I don’t need any unsolicited donations.

But Life doesn’t work that way.

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Today is Throwback Thursday… From 12/9/2014

 

Throwback Thursday… From 12/9/2014

I Should Buy Some Purple Spandex

Baskin Gym

I LIVE VERY CLOSE TO MY favorite gym. It is only about a five minute walk from my home, but, of course, I don’t walk there – I drive.  It has all the latest equipment and a highly- trained staff that can help design for you a really healthy and vigorous workout program. You can also get top notch diet and nutritional planning advice there as well.

I don’t care about any of that crap.

It’s my favorite gym because it is right next door to a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store. I can just imagine myself doing a really healthy cardio workout in the gym and then zipping next door for some hand-packed peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I’m never going to do that, but I can imagine it. I’m so glad that the two places are so close. Talk about your city planning! I should send a “Thank You” card to the zoning board. They got something right for a change.

I really do love going to that gym – really, I do. I just stand outside, with my ice cream cone and watch the folks inside sweating and grunting. Every once in a while someone comes outside and joins me. I think they realize that I’m having a better time than they are.

One time some yutz came out from the gym and started to berate me for my dissipated lifestyle. That was his phrase – “dissipated lifestyle.” – And how he was a much better person than me. I licked my cone and nodded, but didn’t say anything. That really fried his Twinkies.  He flexed his muscles and got right up in my face and said that when we both get to 50 years of age I’ll probably have already dropped dead and he’ll still be healthy. I told him my guess was that he’d stroke out on his Stairmaster long before reaching 50, and that, anyway, I’m already way past 50 years old and “you can lick my Rocky Road.”

Happy Birthday!

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Today is my Mother-in-Law’s birthday.

It is her 98th birthday.

Born in 1920, a Child of the Great Depression she was at home in Texas teaching school during World War Two while her husband served the cause of Freedom in the Pacific.

After the war she had three children who were raised to be successful, ethical, and caring human beings.

Now, at 98 years, she continues to put her trust and faith in God.

Her Family is with her even if they are living around the country.

Happy Birthday, Lola!

Please, Don’t Let It Be The Squirrels

 

WELL, I KNEW IT HAD TO HAPPEN EVENTUALLY, but I was just hoping it wouldn’t make an appearance for a few more years.

The Toyota is starting to have “Issues.”

I guess you could call it “Mechanical Problems,” but the car is running and moving OK – I just better not try to go anywhere if it is raining or snowing heavily.

The wipers stopped working in Mid-Drizzle yesterday.

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Gift Wrap This

 

HAVE YOU FINISHED YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING YET? If you have I raise a glass in your honor. Please understand that “Finished Shopping” doesn’t mean getting a bunch of Starbucks Gift Cards on Christmas Eve. Serious shopping means getting down into the trenches at The Mall or the big Wally World type stores. “Shopping” isn’t shopping unless you’ve had your feet stepped on at least twice and had a possible gift ripped from your hands by a wild-eyed, liquor-fueled, grandmother. Shopping in The Mall isn’t complete until you’ve seen some little rugrat puking all over the Temp Agency Santa Claus.

Ahhh, the Holiday Season.

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Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Five

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Five

“Everything you see and hear that seems funny. Write it all down,”

The first thing that I wrote down that seemed funny was: Why in the world did he hire me? I have no real experience. I’ve never been in charge of a unit as large as the one I have now. The Boss, Van Swearingin, has men with thirty years of experience and he is dumping them like yesterdays coffee grounds and bringing in a collection of new people who look like they either worked for Al Capone or Herr Shicklegruber. And I’m supposed to be their “Captain.”

I figured that I had better keep this journal to myself. Me and “Pops” Mulroy were the only two I felt I could trust. I had to hide it somewhere in my office. Something I remembered from a radio detective show was that the best place to hide something is in the open, the last place anyone would expect, so I slipped the journal onto a bookshelf between two other books the same color.

For the first three weeks on the job I went around to meet all of the men who were my new “troops.” I broke them down into eight hour shifts. Midnight to 8 AM – The Red Shift, 8AM to 4 PM – White Shift, and the 4 PM to Midnight the Blue Shift. I expected there to be some grousing about the assignments, but there was none. Not a word complaining about being put on the Red Shift. Whatever unit I’ve been in there has always been some complaining and whining about working Graveyard, but not from these guys.

At Van Swearingin’s request, which is as good as a direct order, each man working security was to carry a sidearm and a billy club. A shipment of brand new Smith and Wesson .45 caliber 1911 Model semi-automatic pistols was delivered to my office a week later.

I picked out a few men who had some MP or Shore Patrol experience and made them my Sergeants. I needed a level in between me and the men. I couldn’t be everyplace all of the time. These NCOs set up and ran training schedules for each Shift Unit. They kept them busy until everything was up and ready to go. As a Unit came online, able to function, the old Security men were “retired.” To be honest – most of them were going to have trouble finding any jobs other than Night Watchmen or School Crossing Guards. They were either too old, too fat, or 4-F rejects who were turned down even by a world at war. A bunch of girl scouts would have been an improvement.

As I traveled between San Francisco and the facilities in Utah, South Texas, and about California, taking that DC-3 too often, I felt like I was living in a different world. What was going on in the factories, what they were making, was a mystery to me. The Plant Managers tried to explain it, but it was all too Buck Rogers for me. It sure wasn’t washing machines.

Each plant was out in the “Sticks,” away from main roads and big cities. There was a perimeter around each facility that had to be patrolled. I nixed the suggestion that we buy dogs to help guard the site. That would have made every plant look like a POW Camp.

I made some notations in my journal every so often. There were some unusual things that didn’t look or smell right. In each plant I overheard some of my “new” men huddled in a corner and talking in some foreign language. As soon as they saw me they’d switch to English. And again, no complaints – about anything.

They are suspicious of me and I can’t blame them because as more time passed I became more suspicious of them. That’s the kind of situation that makes my sleep somewhat restless.

When I was away from my San Francisco office my hours were from about 9 AM until the middle of the Blue Shift at 8 PM. That gave me a look at only part of the picture. I needed to see what things were like overnight.

I checked the Main Gate activity reports and I could see that there was more traffic in and out after midnight than at any other time. I didn’t know if that was unusual or not. I asked my Boss, Mr. Van Swearingin, during one of our weekly meetings.

“Oh, that’s not at all unusual, Tim. We have raw materials and parts coming in almost every night and finished product going out the same way. There is less road traffic that time of night and fewer curious eyes. Don’t worry about it.”

But I did worry about it. It’s in my nature. Nothing good happens at three in the morning. I was going to have to see for myself.

Surprise visits by the Brass were not at all unusual in the Army, even in the middle of a combat action. I figured it might be good for me to do the same.

It was a little after 2 AM when I drove up to the Main Gate at the plant outside of Fresno in the Central Valley of California – an area almost exclusively agricultural. Surrounded by Walnut groves and fields of Asparagus the Van Swearingin Ball Bearing Production Plant sat there looking like an abandoned Elementary School with all of the windows blacked out.

A large unmarked truck was pulling out as I pulled up to the barrier by the Guard Shack. I had my I.D. badge ready.

“This is private property, Bub. Turn it around and scram.” Not exactly a professional way to deal with visitors.

“Here is my I.D. Maybe you don’t recognize me, but I’m your Boss. And where is your name tag? You’re supposed to be wearing that at all times while on duty. Now – lift the barrier.”

The anonymous guard squinted at my badge like he’d never seen one before. Then he backed away from my car and consulted with the other guard in the shack before lifting the barrier so I could drive up to the building. As I drove off I saw in the mirror the guard picking up a telephone. He was letting someone know that I was coming.

I pulled up by the building. My headlights showed me that there were three security guards waiting for me. A reception committee in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I got out and walked up to the Ritz Brothers by the door.

“Good evening, Gentlemen. I figured I’d just pay you all a little visit.”

“Well, I wish you’d let us know you were coming.” None of them looked very pleased to see me.

“If I had this wouldn’t be much of a surprise visit, now, would it?”

– To Be Continued –

The Captain

 

IT HAS BEEN AWHILE SINCE I HAVE GONE TO MY OFFICE (St. Arbucks) in mid-afternoon. I’m usually there before sunrise and back home a little after 8 AM. The other day was a little different.

Despite the cold weather some grocery shopping had to be done. I volunteered and after picking up the basic building blocks of modern life (Dr. Pepper and bagels) I dropped into the Chapel of St. Arbucks – the Patron Saint of Jittery People, to say a little prayer and have a cuppa.

In the afternoon it is an entirely different population slumped over the tables. There are a number of students from Indiana State University and a few stragglers from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The kids from Rose-Hulman will end up ruling the world. The ISU kids will be asking them if they want cheese on their burgers.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “There Is Music In The Air”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –

 

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

Yesterday morning, when I went down to St. Arbucks for a gallon or two of coffee, I was met by a collection of the Usual Suspects who were allowed out unsupervised. And I made the mistake of asking, “What’s new?”

Suspect #1 spoke up, saying that he had been shopping at the Kroger’s Supermarket the evening before at about 8 P.M. so he could find some bargains and/or rain checks. He is a financial wizard.

While prowling through the store he witnessed a disturbance near the front of the store. On the pathway toward the checkout area is where one can find bins filled with CDs and DVDs at bargain prices. This time of year it is mainly Christmas music and warmed over Hallmark Channel movies mixed in with a few oldies that are in the Public Domain.

Our Suspect #1 was nearby and saw a youngish man going through the CDs and DVDs, opening the boxes, taking out the shiny discs, and then snapping them in half and flinging the pieces into the air with great glee – all the while yelling incoherently.

It sounds like the Holiday Season has arrived in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I don’t want a colorized version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ dammit”).  

Behavior such as this young man was exhibiting in Kroger’s would indicate to me that one or more of several things were going on in his mind.

His meds were either wearing off or just kicking in.

His meds were accidentally left behind on his home planet.

He had convinced his Meth dealer to take a check.

He was the new film critic for the local newspaper.

(Personally, I doubt that this last one was it because the only film reviews they do are of the occasional student film that was created by the offspring of somebody who buys a lot of ad space, and you won’t find any DVDs of those in the Kroger’s Bargain Bin.)

When I used to live on The Left Coast events like this one were not at all unusual in the Supermarkets – especially after dark. I think the moon may have some effect on those who are pharmaceutically enhanced.

I once visited a now defunct market late one Saturday night. I ended up in the checkout line behind a guy who was deep in the throes of the Midnight Munchies. As his desperately needed supply of Ruffles, Little Debbie Cakes, and Pickle Loaf moved down the conveyor belt something either very good or very bad happened and he passed out and hit the moving belt with his face. The clerk didn’t miss a beat as she rang up his purchases. When she got to his head she stopped, bent over and asked him, “Paper or Plastic?” That was enough to rouse him.

“Plastic, man.”

Usual Suspect #1’s story about his visit to Kroger’s brought back that old memory to me from long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Suspect #1 finished his story telling us that it ended as it had to end – the Terre Haute Police came and escorted the disgruntled shopper from the store. I’m sure that, when the officers wrote up their report it carried the Code “5150” – Involuntary Psychiatric Hold.

Some things you just know are going to happen.

It is episodes such as this that have me doing our shopping no later than 6 P.M. unless it is an emergency pizza and soda run. I’ve seen too much, stepped over too many people slumped in the checkout line, and ducked too often to avoid flying pieces of the Johnny Mathis Christmas Album.

I can handle another, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” but I dread hearing someone again saying, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

Toe The Line

I AM SO GLAD THAT I AM MARRIED. I don’t think I would fare well in the Dating Game today. I find it a bit scary. No…I find it a lot scary.

This morning I was in line trying to get my opening blast of coffee at the Chapel of St. Arbucks. If I had been a little quicker I would have been at the head of the line but my old and out of warranty legs didn’t carry me fast enough and I was stuck behind a young woman who was ordering something for everyone in the Western Hemisphere. I wish I’d brought a snack. Because the young lady was ordering everything on the menu I had a lot of time to coyly observe.

The woman in front of me was about an inch or two taller than me. She had long blonde hair that framed a very nice friendly face. She was dressed casually, but neat. She had her look together.

That was about it – until she dropped her credit card. When she stooped over to pick it up off the floor a whole new world opened up in front of me.

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It’s A Calling

 

I SPENT A HEALTHY PORTION OF YESTERDAY AFTERNOON being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of the Best Buy Electronics store.

I bought a new phone and now I am completely out of touch with the rest of the world and poorer by a few million dollars.

It really wasn’t in my plans for the day to be going phone shopping, but my old phone had other ideas. When I say my “Old Phone” I’m not just casually tossing around words. My phone that I had comfortably tucked in my little belt holster was a Samsung 4. That was a “New Phone” back sometime in the Carter Administration or thereabouts. I had that phone a loooong time and it was starting to show its age.

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Hi, Neighbor!

 

WE HAVE NEW NEIGHBORS! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

The house next door has been empty for several months – ever since the crazies and their dogs moved to Florida. This past weekend a caravan of SUVs, cars, and a van or two began to show up unloading furniture and household goods. I said a silent prayer.

About an hour after the parade of vehicles began, my wife, the lovely and eternally ecclesiastical, Dawn, and I were on our way out. We were just getting to the Toyota when we heard a loud voice coming over the fence.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Four

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Four

A couple of more flights in that flying coffin and I’d visited all of the Van Swearingin plants and offices. I hope that I don’t have to do that too often. Give me a car and I’ll drive to wherever I need to be.

I was bothered by what “Pops” Mulroy said to me during that plant visit in Salt Lake City. He said that his “retirement” wasn’t his idea, that he was being forced out, after almost thirty years on the job. He didn’t seem to be holding it against me. He told me to finish my “Grand Tour” of the other facilities, keep my eyes open, and then to call him. He slipped me a piece of paper with a phone number on it.

“Call me when you get back. Call me collect, but don’t call me from any phone owned by Van Swearingin. It ain’t only the walls that have ears.”

I went to every Van Swearingin property with the Boss, met a lot of people and never saw anything that looked like a washing machine. Most of the things being built didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen before. Some of the workers were wearing special suits like something out of Buck Rogers and behind thick glass shields.

When I was introduced to the Security Units at each plant I was given the same story. The older, more experienced people were all being replaced with younger men. They were all roughly my age and carried themselves like professionals. I didn’t get to talk with all of them. Some of them avoided me, keeping to themselves. They may have been soldiers, but some of them didn’t look like Americans. They had a look in their eyes. I can’t explain it, but they looked like some of the Russian and German soldiers I’d seen near the end. Hardened by the war and, I don’t know how else to say it, soulless.

Even though the plants were all over the place the HQ, the Headquarters, was in San Francisco. My office was on the fourteenth floor. I had a secretary I didn’t know what to do with, and a desk the size of an aircraft carrier. When the job applications started coming in they passed over my desk even though they were already marked “hired” or “rejected” before they got to me. I went over the applications and some of the “rejects” looked good to me: Former MPs or Shore Patrol, military police, who already know the ropes.

A few of those hired by somebody above me had spent time in the stockade or were discharged at the same rank they had when they went in – Troublemakers. That made no sense to me. Most of those guys would have a hard time getting hired to carry bricks anywhere, but they were now part of my new Security Unit.

I needed to talk to “Pops” Mulroy. I called him, Collect, from a phone booth in the Ferry Building down by the San Francisco waterfront.

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Sieg Heil, Kemosabe!

I LIKE TO START OFF MY DAY IN SLOW MOTION. I do not want or need to be jarred into actual thought before I have had my coffee. Before that first influx of caffeine into my system I am not capable of digesting information or spatial-temporal incongruities.

That is why I am in recovery today after a surprise challenge to my cranial lobes the other day.

One of my early, early, early morning rituals is to slowly crawl into consciousness with the TV lighting the way as I try to figure out how socks work. My heart is beating sporadically and my brain is clicking away at an invertebrate level. I don’t need surprises.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Do We Need More Performance Art?”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – 

 

Do We Need More Performance Art?

I HAVE BEEN SURVEYING THE WORLD OF PERFORMANCE Aperformance art2RT.
It’s not hard to do –just look in your local newspaper for listings under “Live Entertainment and whenever you see something that boasts only one person doing the show, you’ve found it. But beware and tread carefully.

Most of the “Performance Art” solo performers that I’ve met over the years have been solo because nobody else in their right mind would get on a stage with them. Would YOU want to share the stage with a guy smearing ice cream all over his body? Not unless you brought the chocolate syrup and a spoon. But that would also call for a very low passable sense of culinary hygiene.

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We Are Not Amused

 

WE GOT OUR FIRST TOUCH OF WINTER TODAY. About ¾” of a slushy snow and ice fell overnight – and today our schools are closed. Today is a “Snow Day.”

Gimme a flippin’ break.

A “Snow Day?” It’s more like a “SnowFLAKE Day.”

The local Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Class Dismissed.”) School Board has a new person leading the charge and he is not under indictment unlike his immediate predecessor. This Newbie is from out of town and seems to be somewhat Snow-a-phobic.

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I Would Never Lead You Astray

DESPITE MY CURMUDGEONLY REPUTATION I really do try to be a helpful sort of person. Like yesterday afternoon when a stranger asked me for directions. He was passing through town and wanted to have lunch at his favorite restaurant – “Chili’s” and he needed help finding it.

I was proud that I could give him simple and accurate directions. Follow my directions and an imbecile could find that restaurant.

“Just go down this road. When you get to the big courthouse-looking building, turn left. Keep going for a few minutes, then go under the Interstate. Keep going until you see their sign. It’ll be on your right.”

Simple, not too complicated, and absolutely accurate.

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I’m Still Not Hungry

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HIT ME WITH A BRICK if I ever suggest going to another “All You Can Eat” buffet for Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was just the four of us at our table – Me, my wife, the lovely and eternally practical, Dawn, our son, Alex, and the spirits of Genghis Khan and his Horde – all of us eating until we blacked out.

Why is it that all sense of Reason and Proportion disappear when confronted with an endless supply of Mashed Potatoes and Roast Turkey? A nearby mountain of Crab Cakes doesn’t help either.

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Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Three

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Three

 

“Think about it.”

That’s all I’ve been able to do. Here I am a newly reborn civilian whose only real job experience is those three years of trying to kill the other guy first. Oh, sure, I had some jobs before the war = delivering newspapers and mowing lawns. Now, pretty much out of the blue, some rich guy, a war industry all by himself, offers me a job for more money than me, my old man, and his old man ever made altogether. Think about it? Darn straight I thought about it.

Everybody knew the name Van Swearingin. He and his factories made more tanks than anybody. They saved a lot of lives, killed a lot of Nazis, and freed up a good sized portion of Europe. He was rich before the war making washing machines. Then the war came and now he is considered one of the richest men in America.

“War Profiteer” – that’s what some people called him. Making tanks and making millions of dollars doing it. I don’t begrudge it to him. His tanks saved my backside several times. Lots of people made lots of money off the war. That’s just the way it is. And now that the war is over they’ll be making washing machines again.

One thing I don’t understand though is if they’re going to be making washing machines again, why does Van Swearingin need a 180 man Security unit? Why does he need me? Does he think that the Russians are out to steal his washing machine secrets?

He gave me a week, with pay, to think over his job offer. He said that he wants me to update and reorganize his Security people, all 180 of them. If they are like most guards and night watchman types I’ve seen the mice could have robbed him blind. During the war I’m sure there were armed G.I.s watching over his factories, guarding against saboteurs and 4-F thieves, but now, transitioning back to washing machines – Grandpas and a new fence should be enough.

Why does he want me to turn his 180 men into what we had at Anzio and Iwo Jima? What was he expecting? That Sears-Roebucks was going to outflank him?

Could I do it? Sure. Any guy who spent three years in uniform could put a decent company together in his sleep. Uncle Sam paid me $40 a month. Van Swearingin would be giving me a heck of a lot more.

If he was willing to fill my pay envelope every week I’d be a fool not to take it.

I guess I’ve made up my mind.

xxx

It was only Wednesday when I called the number Van Swearingin gave me to use when I had decided. He answered the phone himself.

“That’s great, Tim! Welcome aboard. What I need you to do now is come here to the house tomorrow morning at 9 AM. Pack a bag because we are going on a tour of all our facilities – your new responsibilities, so you can get a feel for things. Is that all OK with you?”

“No problem, Sir. Everything I own is in my duffel. 9 AM? I’ll be there.

“Wonderful, Captain. That’ll be your new rank – Captain. In time most of the men under you will be other returning soldiers and they will be used to their boss having rank on them. So, I’ll see you tomorrow morning – captain.”

xxx

I’d never flown before. Busses, trains, then troop ships, and on foot have been the only way that I’ve gotten around. That and a variety of old jalopies.

I was glad when we landed in Salt Lake City. Crossing the mountains and then the emptiness of Nevada made me uncomfortable, almost ready to vomit. Van Swearingin took it like he did it every day. Maybe he did with factories and offices in three different states. He’d almost have to fly to cover that much ground. He had his own private DC-3.

I hope I don’t have to do a lot of this.

West of the city, in a chauffeured Cadillac, we came to an area called the “Salt Flats.” Out there, in the most desolate place I have ever seen with nothing around for miles, was a huge, black as night building. It was one level with no windows. There was a rail spur at either end and one narrow dusty road snaking up to the building.

“Welcome to Van Swearingin Industries, Tim.”

We followed the dirt road toward the building. As we approached a large loading dock door opened and we drove in. There were at least 150 other cars parked in there.

“No sense giving some curious eyes any idea how many people work here,” said my new Boss. “During the war there was a Guard Post back up the road a piece. If anyone who didn’t belong tried to get too close they would have been…let’s just say that they wouldn’t have tried that again.”

That was the way things were.

“What do you make in here, if I may ask?”

“Before V-J Day it was Norden Bomb Sights. Now, we are developing the next generation of Radar units. You’re familiar with Radar, Tim?’

“I’ve seen them being used, but I never got a close up look.”

“Well, we can scan a flock of birds and tell you which ones are going to be laying eggs. I’ll give you a tour later, but first I want you to meet up with ‘Pops’ Mulroy, the current Head of Security. You’re replacing him. He is looking forward to retiring so he can get back to Colorado and his grandchildren.”

“Pops” Mulroy was about the same age as Van Swearingin, but in tip-top physical condition. He may have been in the first war, but he looked like he could have held his own in the Second. Most men called “Pops” look like they are a hundred years old and half dead.

Introductions and handshakes taken care of, Van Swearingin said he had to go.

“I’ll leave you in ‘Pops’ hands to get the Big Picture around here. I have some other things that need taken care of. I’ll rescue you in a couple of hours.”

It was just me and “Pops.” I tried to break the ice.

“You must be anxious to retire and get back to Colorado, is it, and your family?”

“Pops” looked at me. He wasn’t smiling

“Retiring? It ain’t my idea, kid, but there ain’t too much I can do about it.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I must have misunderstood,” I said. What is going on here?

“I’m retiring all right. It was my job, now it’s yours. That’s called retirement around here.”

To Be Continued

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