One of the things that I used to write about rather frequently in this blog (Pre-Virus) was my early morning Playgroup at St. Arbucks, AKA – “The Usual Suspects.” It was my wife, the lovely and always welcome, Dawn, who named this gathering of Geezers as my Playgroup. I came up with “the “Usual Suspects.” I think her choice is more accurate.
We are a bunch of mainly retired gentlemen who get together to get out of the house and give our wives some peace. Our ages range from early 60s up to the mid 80s. Some of us were teachers while others were Chiropractors, Store Owners, and Whatever I was. We have one fellow who is still working. The rest of us look down on him. We had one female member of our group, but she wised up and moved out of state.
Almost everyday of the week we meet over coffee to discuss just about any topic except politics. We have that restriction as a health measure to avoid heart attacks and assault and battery issues. If one of the crew does start to bring up something political I will loudly interrupt with, “How about them Cubbies?” just to change the subject.
During this time of restricted social gatherings and face masks our normal meetings inside the nearby Starbucks were seriously disrupted. An alternate solution was called for.
Fortunately our Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) is located adjacent to the parking lot of a Strip Mall that can accommodate several hundred parked cars. Each morning we would get our coffee via the Drive-Thru Lane and then move over to the larger parking lot. We circled our wagons (SUVs and Sedans), pulled some lawn chairs from the trunk, and carried on without missing a beat. On most mornings we had a circle of 5 to 7 vehicles. The only problems that ever arose with this arrangement were the occasional rain and swarms of gnats that found us much too attractive.
Actually there was one other problem that plagued our Parking Lot Playgroup. One of our noble Geezers had a real hearing problem and maintaining a good Social Distance caused a lot of shouting of “WHAT?” It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had remembered to put in his hearing aids. His hearing was bad, but so was his memory. Too many mornings he would leave his hearing aids at home on the kitchen table so everyone ended up shouting at him over their coffee.
A couple of weeks ago our prayers to Juan Valdez were answered and we were blessed when the Starbucks reopened the doors to their cafe. So far the weather has been pleasant and we have been meeting on their outdoor seating area. The lawn chairs are back in the trunk and the gnats haven’t found us. As far as I’m concerned this arrangement has an even better positive aspect: By ditching the Drive-Thru lane and ordering inside I am getting my iced coffee free refill once again. That’s all that is really important.
Life as we know it on this planet will continue.
I’M FEELING IN A MAGNANIMOUS MOOD TODAY.
I feel like reaching
out to my fellow bipeds and seeing if I can be of help. So, I have declared that today is officially:
FREE BAD ADVICE DAY!
For today – and today only – I will be dispensing free bad advice on a wide range of topics.
Let the games begin!
I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately on our illustrious Interstate Highway System. It’ll really be nice once they are finished with it. It seems that no matter where I go or in which direction I am faced with long slow moving lines of cars all wedged into one lane.
The System was started back in the 1950s. President Eisenhower, a career military man, saw the maze of roads as a way to quickly transport troops across the country in case of an emergency. It’s a good thing that there was no call to do that because, if today’s roadways are any indication, we would be in deep doo-doo (Technical term meaning ‘Uh Oh’).
THIS MORNING I FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED in the middle of a conversation that went from confusing all the way to positively incoherent.
The morning started out quietly which is all I ask for until I have evidence of a stable heartbeat and access to coffee.
I got to my usual spot in the corner at the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) and began my climb to bipedal humanoid status. There was only one lone member of The Usual Suspects present. He was there when I arrived, so I assumed that he had slept there overnight. He was a half step ahead of me toward the ability to speak in a recognizable language.
I’M GOOD AT GROCERY SHOPPING. I’M NOT GOOD AT DANCING.
Everybody has those little slices of life where they excel and others where they stink like the next morning in a fraternity house. No matter how hard we try to master a certain skill it evades us.
Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”
AUTO RACING IS BIG, VERY BIG IN INDIANA. This year it is even bigger.
“Why, Oh, why?” I hear someone ask.
The reason is that this year is the 100th edition of the Indianapolis 500 race. This year, as in every other year, 33 cars will tear around the 2.5 mile track for 500 miles – turning left the entire time.
Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”
I WAS SCANNING THROUGH THE PAGES OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL the other day. That’s not something I do all that often. If I want financial information anything in The Journal is at least a week old. That would be like wondering if your tub is overflowing, but waiting a week to check on it. By that time your ceiling may be collapsed and the parakeet drowned in its cage.
What I did see that tickled my interest was an article about how the future was going to be different than today. Really? I didn’t know that Carnak The Magnificent worked for The Journal.
Obviously the article was written by someone right out of college who has been living in a Reality Bubble until last week.
Of course the future will be different than today. Otherwise Time would be one long Today. I suppose that it would eliminate the need for things like the TV Guide and the expiration date on my milk carton.
As yesterday moves into today so will today trickle into tomorrow. Things change as New Ideas coalesce in fertile brains. Technology will continue to make “The way it has always been done” into a memory, and I will throw away that leftover Mac & Cheese that has suddenly turned blue.
When Daimler had coffee with Benz, and Ford and the Duryea brothers made their first automobiles the Buggy Whip makers of the world got nervous. They could see the future
staring them in the face. The Future did them in and someday, maybe tomorrow, it will be the same for the car makers of today. Some bright and curious person will come up with a way to make, “Beam me up, Scotty,” a reality. “And while you’re at it, bring the dog in too.”
It will happen. Of that there is no doubt. It may not be “Beaming.” It might be something simpler, like faster cars unusable by drunks, teen drivers, or pizza delivery guys.
Personally, I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m hoping that it is different that today. Today? Been there, done that. Tomorrow offers an unlimited range of opportunities, amazement, and giggles.
I guess that some people might be afraid of tomorrow, any tomorrow. Well, I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but there is no way you can avoid it without permanent repercussions and probably ruining your clothes
It is vital that the Future be different from Today. Without that difference there would be no progress of any kind. Of course, the Future being different doesn’t mean that it will always be an improvement over Today. We hope it will be better, but History has shown that there are no guarantees. You win some, you lose some, and some – you break even. For every “I Love Lucy” there is a “My Mother the Car,” lurking in the shadows.
I guess that the writer for The Wall Street Journal has not yet experienced a sufficient number of tomorrows to notice that the future is always different. He seemed so surprised in his writing, as if no one had ever told him about it before. He’ll learn and I’ll find something else to read.
If the Future wasn’t different then every weekend would be just as unpleasant as Mondays and that is not acceptable.
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.
IT HAS BEEN TEN MONTHS SINCE I HAD CATARACT SURGERY ON MY BABY BLUES. That is not a completely accurate sentence. My eyes are not blue. They have been black on occasion, but never blue…and where else but on my eyes would I have cataract surgery? In fact the only accurate part in that sentence is that it was done ten months ago.
Now that we have that squared away I will move on. I just went back for a follow-up exam with the doctor.
Throwback Thursday from October 2015 –
The dateline on the news item, and I use the word “News” very loosely, was Yekaterinburg, Kazakhstan. We’re talking Central Asia here, a place where I might think that isolation from – everywhere else – can play practical jokes with your brain. The gist of this story was something that the AAA magazine would never have printed I am sure.
It seems that motorists hurrying on their way to other parts of Kazakhstan saw a guy driving down the road with a live bear sitting in the backseat of his car. Up at the start of this posting is a picture of the bear in question hanging out of the car window, possibly asking for directions to the nearest asylum for the Seriously Wacky. I have to admit that if I was driving along and saw a bear in the car in front of me I would also try to get a picture – just to give to the driver’s family, in case things didn’t end peacefully, and the bear had lawyered up.
To give due credit to the local Kazakhstanian police, they did pull the guy over. One peek into the backseat and I’m sure those cops were wishing that they were going up against terrorists, drug-crazed bank robbers or even Mary Kay Sales Reps instead.
Cut to several steps closer to the chase – the Kazakhstanian CHiPs sent the guy on his way, along with his bear, but without any kind of traffic citation ticket.
It seems, that according to Kazakhstanian Law it is perfectly legal to drive around with a live bear in your car – provided that the bear is wearing a seatbelt – and the bear in the backseat was, indeed, wearing his seatbelt.
This whole thing brings several questions to mind.
How in the heck did the guy get the bear buckled up without being mauled into an early grave?
Since the bear allowed itself to be put in the backseat and properly belted in – I’m guessing that this was not the bear’s maiden voyage in a car. Just by the fact that the bear was in the backseat tells me that the guy wasn’t driving a Mini Cooper.
Was driver training next on the agenda?
Does this sort of thing go on in Kazakhstan often enough to warrant such safety conscious legislation?
Nowhere in the news item did it ever mention if anyone bothered to find out why the guy had the bear in the first place and where were they headed. I can’t imagine that there are too many spots one can go with your bear tagging along. I know that such places would be limited here, so I can imagine there would be fewer in, say, Yekaterinburg, Kazakhstan. At least I hope so.
In more local Terre Haute news (That’s French for “Bears under 100# must be in an approved car seat.”) bears have recently been spotted in northern Indiana. There is no word on whether or not these bears are émigrés from Kazakhstan or simply bears from the Detroit area looking for work.
WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. Some are pretty obvious from the outset. With others it can take some time before we realize that we have stuck our foot in it. I have been collecting a few examples of some wildly errant boo-boos that deserve retelling.
One of my favorites dates from 1959. The fine folks in Ottawa, Ontario were gathered to celebrate the grand opening of a new modern terminal at the Canadian Capital’s Airport. Everyone was having a great time…until it all fell apart.
Throwback Thursday from August 2015
I THINK I SAW EVIDENCE OF A MIRACLE THIS MORNING.
I was driving down Wabash Avenue, heading toward home after morning services/brewing at St. Arbucks, when I stopped at the red light. It was then that I saw it.
Across the intersection at the crosswalk, leaning up against the light pole, I saw a single aluminum crutch. “Shades of Fatima,” I said to myself. “Right here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What the heck is that?”).
Nobody would absentmindedly forget that they were using a crutch and just walk away and leave it there. Nobody would think that they didn’t need the crutch and just abandon it at the corner. It has to be a relic of a recent miraculous event.
Picture if you will – an injured, ill, or otherwise disabled soul galumphing down Wabash Avenue using their new aluminum crutch for support. What was it that happened at the corner of Wabash and Brown? There were no reports of miraculous visions, cosmic phenomena or angelic choruses in the area. Whatever happened must have been extremely private.
Our Hobbler got to the corner and had to wait for the green light when something happened that caused him/her to become restored to full bipedal status. Was it a vision, an apparition that delivered a cure or merely a warming glow that entered and told him/her that it was time to ditch the crutch?
How in the heck would I know?
I saw the crutch leaning up against that pole and I knew that it couldn’t be accidental – no matter how much you’ve been drinking. In fact, the more you would drink the more you would rely upon the crutch to get you home. And besides – I didn’t see any drunken bodies lying there on the sidewalk.
Ergo: It has to be a miracle.
OK – I admit that another possible explanation or two exist but, really… does anyone think that the crutch may have been placed there as a gag? Or was the crutch thrown there from a passing car? If that had happened, the fact that it landed upright, neatly leaning on the pole, would be yet another miracle.
No – the only logical answer is that Divine Intervention took place at the corner of Wabash and Brown today – and the beneficiary of that intervention is toddling around town and doing just fine, thank you.
Miracles like this don’t happen every day, especially at the corner of Wabash and Brown. If such miracles did happen every day more people would notice and there would be crutches leaning up at almost every intersection.
Of course, what the future holds for that intersection remains to be seen. Who knows if there will be more miraculous events there and that a devout following will turn it into a place of pilgrimages? If that happens the Mobil station at the opposite corner will see their mini-mart business really take off – Soft drinks, snacks and little plastic crutches made in Korea. It could turn into another Fatima or even a Super Target.
This isn’t like those people that see the face of Jesus on their taco or grilled cheese sandwich. This is a real, tangible aluminum crutch standing up at the corner. Those things don’t just walk there all by themselves. Somebody in need had to have gotten that far and then said, “Oh, I suddenly feel better. Aw, screw it. I don’t need no stinking crutch. I’m outta here.” Not poetic or very liturgical, but what do you expect at a busy intersection?
Today – one person leaving a single aluminum crutch.
Tomorrow – a shrine to Our Lady of the Crosswalk.
It could happen.
AS I WAS GETTING INTO THE CAR YESTERDAY I accidently dropped my car keys. Five minutes later, as I was straightening up after that long trip to the ground and back, I took a close look at that mass of metal I called my key ring.
I must have had fifteen keys and other junk hanging there. The problem was that I couldn’t identify what half of them were for. What did they open?
For how many years had I been lugging around these chunks of metal that were absolutely useless in my life? Over coffee this morning I decided to try to make some sense of it all.
OK, let’s see…
I LOVE TO TRAVEL. I JUST DON’T LIKE GOING PLACES ALL THE TIME. A luxury trip to see the Taj Mahal is one thing. Going to the Dollar Store is something else.
That I can do without.
We are down in Texas, home of the Alamo, the Houston Space Flight Center, and lots of good Barbeque, but am I penciled in for a trip to any of these places? No. I’m being scheduled to be a Bearer on a safari to the Dollar Store.
This whole thing is being presented to me as something special, something once in a lifetime. Really? Yes – because this is the BIGGEST Dollar Tree Store in existence. That must mean that it has Two Aisles with Party Favors and Unknown Brands of Chili Con Carne. That’s my first thought anyway.
Let me compare and contrast my options.
The jury has returned with a verdict!
THIS MORNING AS I WALKED into the Friendly Confines of St. Arbucks for my morning coffee I saw that The Usual Suspects were already deep in prayer, or whatever you want to call all of them talking at once.
When I slid into my pew it became obvious that they were all worked up about the Kroger store – just a Molotov Cocktails throw across the parking lot.
It seems that a number of early shoppers had been parking in the Fire Lane and the Handicapped (Gimp) Parking spots illegally.
“HOLY LIABILITIES, BATMAN!” Yet another reason to stay off of Interstate 70 has just reared its ugly head. The first “Driverless Car” has come to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Who is your insurance agent?”).
Maybe it is a coincidence or someone is making a sly statement, but the headline on the story in the local fish-wrap reads thusly: “First Driverless Car Hits the Market in Terre Haute.” Given the recent problems with this new technology “Hits the Market” may be more prescient than they think.