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 category “College”

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking”

Throwback Thursday 3

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”

Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”

Indy 1946

Indy 500 – 1946

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.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “What Is This Stuff?”

Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “What Is This Stuff?”

What Is This Stuff?

faber1TO QUOTE THE FOUNDER OF THAT GREAT INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING – FABER COLLEGE, “KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD.”

Knowledge is that which is universally agreed upon to be really good “Stuff”. And it is better to go through life with good “Stuff”.

“Stuff” can be just about anything, but some “Stuff” is better than other “Stuff”. For example – faber3It is good to know that your message will be clearer if you don’t use the same word three times in the same sentence (See Above).

Knowing “Stuff” can be profitable. I once knew enough “Stuff” to get on a couple of Game Shows and I walked away with a lovely selection of “Parting Gifts” and some cash. I would have done better if I had known some additional “Stuff”, but “Hey, Stuff Happens!”

“Stuff” accumulates in your brain as you go through life. You learn “Stuff”. You forget “Stuff”,
but there is always more “Stuff” just around the corner. In fact (Fact aka “Stuff”), there is a stuff_logo_hoopstore in Kansas City called “Stuff.” They are open 365 days a year. There is never a lack of demand for “Stuff”. “Stuff” carries a lot of “Stuff”, but most “Stuff” enters our life through the brain.

I have always held to the theory that the brain is like a garbage can. We start out with an empty can and over time we toss in a lot of “Stuff”, some good, some bad, some obligatory. By the time we reach our teen years we think we know everything and have all the “Stuff” we need. Not true. It is during those years that we turn over our cans and dump out all of the “Stuff” we have amassed. Thankfully some “Stuff” sticks to the sides in our can. That is the “Stuff” we will need to survive those teen years when we do all of our thinking with our pants.

The “Stuff” that sticks in our can is called “Knowledge.”

After a few years “Life” (Reality) intrudes and we begin to start gathering “Stuff” again, faber4refilling our garbage cans. What “Stuff” we choose to reject and let bounce off the lid of our can ends up becoming The Congressional Record.

I made the mistake this morning of Googling “Stuff” and I was instantly overstuffed like my Aunt Nellie’s favorite chair. “Stuff” is worldwide. It is not a phenomenon or a movement. It is just – “Stuff”. It seems that the Internet is an attempt to organize “Stuff”. It is an obvious failure, otherwise how would one explain the existence of Facebook?

Much “Stuff” is useless except in emergencies – like first dates and tax audits. However, other “Stuff” can be worth its weight in…“Stuff.”

Knowing how much rice to cook is a bit of important “Stuff.” I know that 2 cups of rice will feed more people than I know.

There are some people who really think that they know all of the “Stuff” there is to know. That, I believe, is both a physical and capacitorial impossibility. How can someone know all that “Stuff?” In the time it took you to read and understand that sentence a whole boatload of new “Stuff” has been added to the pile. One could never catch up.

The world is moving at the “Speed of Stuff.” If somehow you were able break the “Stuff Barrier” you would hear a booming, “What the heck…?”

I don’t see that happening anytime soon. There is just too darn much “Stuff” in the way.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Cereal Killer On The Loose”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

TOO 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.

Coupons 1

Earlier this week he told me of his latest trip to Kroger’s to buy some breakfast cereal. He had some coupons in his hand.

When he got to the Cereal Aisle he saw that the object of his hunt was also being discounted. He smiled I’m sure, bordering on a leer.

Many of the “discounts” on the store shelves are as phony as a politician’s promise – The item sells regularly for $1.49, they change it to $1.79 and slap on another tag reading, “Marked Down to $1.49!” Instant Non-Discount.

Sometimes the discounts are real – usually because a buyer screwed up and they are stuck with ten truckloads of the stuff. Of course, some discounts arise after a news report says that the product can make your kids grow extra thumbs or decide to go to college and major in “Organic Bongs of Medieval Japan.”

Back to my tale of Nuclear Couponing in the Cereal Aisle.

In addition to your garden variety discount was another tag offering even bigger markdowns if you bought the cereal boxes 10 at a time. The buyer must have really screwed up. My Friend The Shopper felt like he had just found the Lost Dutchman Mine. He made a trip to chat with the store manager to verify that everything, as he saw it, was kosher. The Manager said that he was entitled to all of the posted discounts – plus – another “Instant Coupon” that would be given to him upon checkout. The coupons he walked in with were those super-duper double coupons and all of this back and forth with the store manager meant that he was getting into some serious high finance negotiations with Kroger’s. For a guy with a degree from Columbia University and a resume that includes a lengthy stint on Wall Street, this was heaven.

Cutting to the chase!

This man, who just wanted to buy some breakfast cereal for himself and his daughter, ended up walking back to his

triple

car with 48 boxes of Post and Kellogg cereals – and a bottle of cranberry juice.

He hadn’t really wanted the cranberry juice, but after the dust settled at the checkout cash register, the store owed him $1.79.

The Manager was concerned that the Home Office in Cincinnati might pop an aneurism if the transaction showed up as a negative cash flow. To circumvent this he grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice off the shelf that cost $1.79 and they called the whole deal a push.

When I heard him tell this story my first thought was, “I hope you and your daughter really like cereal, because you’re going to be eating it every day for a year.

As he told this story I could see a fire in his eyes. This experience has spawned a monster. He said that he has found a cable TV show all about serious “couponing” and “It’s really interesting.”

I told him that I thought it all seemed like something that ended up with a very cult-like fanaticism.

If he keeps up with this “couponing”, I half expect him to shave his head, move to Battle Creek, and start banging a tambourine at the airport.

“Om, mane pay me coupon om.”

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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Steps Must Be Taken

I’M GENERALLY PRETTY AGREEABLE. It’s easy to get along with me and I try not to be too grumpy. Unfortunately the world does not always cooperate.

For example: Stairs.

Stairs and I do not agree. I want them to not be there, but stairs demand that I go up or down. I end up just trying to avoid the situation altogether. I would prefer a one level world.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – 

 

Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Angry gifMY OFFICE IS CROWDED TODAY. Of course, “my office,” also doubles as a corner table in the Starbucks a few blocks from home. I can usually shut out the hubbub and foot traffic around me, but today, for some reason, it is all getting on my nerves.

Most of the people in here at this time of day are college students. This location sits almost exactly halfway between two schools. On most days they have their noses deeply buried in either textbooks or computers, but not today. Today must be a day after they have gotten their grades or test scores back. It sounds like they all did well.

Rather than studying the majority are socializing (read: putting the moves on somebody) and trying to look and sound like they can read and write in cursive. I’m seeing short hair being combed and patted to keep it in place and long hair being tossed and flipped, almost as punctuation marks.

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Thanks For Asking

WHEN I GALUMPHED OUT TO THE MAILBOX THE OTHER DAY I noticed that mixed in with the usual bills, ads from politicians and “You may already be a winner!” junk was a card from my old Alma Mater.

At first I thought it was another begging notice asking me to include them in my will. Lotsa luck on that. This card was something else – it was an invitation. I was being asked to come to my 50th college class reunion. Considering that I had never gone to any of the previous reunions I think that this invitation was a real long shot.

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All Hail The Fighting Sycamores!

 

ONE ADVANTAGE TO LIVING IN A “COLLEGE TOWN” is all of the activities that are open to the “Townies” – That’s us. There are Concerts, Plays and Recitals all the time. And Sporting events too. It’s the last item there that has just swung into action.

Football Season is here!

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “When It Comes To Wasting Time I Am Self-Taught”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – 

 

When It Comes To Wasting Time I Am Self-Taught

Kite with keyWHILE HANGING TEN OFF MY KEYBOARD today I bumped into a tidbit of info that is, perhaps, the most Obvious, Redundant, and Dumb As a Sackful of Hammers thing I’ve seen in quite a while.

The University of Pennsylvania, Department of English, is offering a course with the title of, “Wasting Time On The Internet.”

Well, yeah. And your point is…?

I’m guessing that the course is being offered through the English Dept. because Kenneth Goldsmith, the alleged instructor, either lost a bet or was so strung out of Red Bull that it seemed like a good idea at the time – or even just an idea.

I would think that such a course would be truly inter-disciplinary. It could easily fit in the Depts. Of Philosophy, Economics, Gender Studies, Computer Sciences, Phys. Ed., and/or Early Childhood Development. I stopped there because I realized that it could probably fit anywhere except the Library and the Student STD Clinic.

It is also fitting into the Tuition Billing Statement sent to Parents each term. One look at Junior’s course load and Daddy is likely to suffer a TIA episode and start calculating the drive-time to the nearest Community College.

The course is described thusly: “The class will, ‘Explore the long history of recuperation of boredom and time-wasting.’”

There is a more “in depth” (aka “piled higher”) description, but I’m not going to type it all out. I tried, but my Spell Check began to giggle. http://www.english.upenn.edu/courses/undergraduate/2015/spring/engl111.301 

Upon clicking on the Instructor’s link I learned, in spite of it all, that he has also taught another course called, “Uncreative Writing: Robotic Erotica/Erotic Robotics: Scribing a Non-Expressive Sexuality.”

(Batteries extra?)

Why am I not surprised by this?

His Bio blurb says that he has published ten (count ‘em 10) books of poetry and has a list of credits that provide a comfortable living.

I don’t begrudge it to him at all. To paraphrase another showman – a fellow named Barnum – “There’s a new one born every minute.”

“Wasting time on the Internet”

I’ve always thought of it as something that one does by instinct, not needing to be taught. Even as I’m writing this I am getting the feeling that I am doing it quite well. And I’ve never had a lesson in it in my entire life.

Maybe I should start freelancing a bit and teach others to do what they already know how to do. I could expand my course offerings to include:

“Breathing 101: How to Inhale and Exhale on a Regular Basis.”

“Recognizing the Differences Between Up and Down.”

“How to Lie Down – Without Holding On.”

I wonder if Mr. Goldsmith ever took the class called, “The Difference Between the Tenure Track and the Railroad Track.”  One can take you somewhere and the other can run you over. It can be tricky telling them apart sometimes.

The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1749. One of the more clever and witty men of his age I think he might be amused by “Wasting Time on the Internet.” He might even sign up to take the course. Maybe, but he was also a very practical man who might read the description of the class and turn to Mr. Goldsmith and say, “ Next time you’re trying to fly a kite in a storm– learn to let go of the key. It’ll reboot you something fierce.”

The Wall

 

I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to be on the campus of Indiana State University. I was lost. The campus is a mish mash of one way streets, dead ends, and lots of “No Parking” signs. A great place to get an education if you are on foot.

After what seemed like my freshman year all over again I saw a legal parking space and I couldn’t let it go. It’s like stooping over to pick up that dime you see on the sidewalk – you don’t really need that dime, but you can’t pass it up. I hadn’t planned on stopping, but what the heck.

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Se Habla Coffee Aqui?

 

THIS MORNING I DISCOVERED ONE MORE ADVANTAGE to being a retired old Geezer. I am no longer fraught with the problems of making career decisions. All of that is behind me in the far distant past – and in a galaxy far, far away.

I came to realize this about myself early this morning as I was getting my coffee from a young (23) barista down at St. Arbucks. The young barista has recently finished college with a degree in Spanish. With that degree her job opportunities in Terre Haute (That’s French for “No habla Español aqui.”) are rather limited unless you had a minor in burrito making. So, this pleasant young lady has to make some hard choices – either move someplace for a job that can utilize her skills and education or get used to wearing an apron and a plastic name tag.

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What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

NOT LONG AGO I WAS CHATTING with one of the younger members of the family. She is in the sixth grade and turning into an interesting human being. She is past that Baby stage and is thinking about her future.

I asked her if she had given any thought to what she would like to be when she grows up. She answered me. 

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Now He Belongs To The Ages

Pizza! Food of the gods! A seven course meal all on one slice! The Ultimate Survival food for when the Zombies attack!

But who can eat just one slice? Nobody I know.

Last night the whole Texas clan gathered around the dining room table and ate like there was no tomorrow. There was Meat Lovers Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, Pepperoni Lovers, and Chicken with Bacon and Buffalo Sauce Pizza.  That was good for starters. Along with the big square boxes there were other boxes filled with Garlic Breadsticks, Cinnamon Breadsticks, some rather odd Potato thingies, and some little apple pie-like pastries. Oh, yeah, and two gallons of iced tea.  Gotta love those “Meal-Deals.”

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – 

Grumble, Grumble, Mutiny, Mutiny, Mumble, Mumble

Angry gifMY OFFICE IS CROWDED TODAY. Of course, “my office,” also doubles as a corner table in the Starbucks a few blocks from home. I can usually shut out the hubbub and foot traffic around me, but today, for some reason, it is all getting on my nerves.

Most of the people in here at this time of day are college students. This location sits almost exactly halfway between two schools. On most days they have their noses deeply buried in either textbooks or computers, but not today. Today must be a day after they have gotten their grades or test scores back. It sounds like they all did well.

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No, No, It’s Too Soon

HAVE YOU SEEN THEM? I HAVE. It has already started – the Christmas Shopping Season/Frenzy. The Ads are already showing up on TV.

Ye gods and little fishes! We just had Halloween!

I’m going to have to put fresh batteries in the television remote unit because it’s going to be getting a real workout. It just eats up those batteries when I have to hit the mute button several hundred times a day. I’m not opposed to the ads I’m just not ready for the repetitive onslaught that is to come. I don’t need to see the same ads over and over again, day after day. I really don’t.

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I’m Planting Seeds

IT IS BARELY 6:30 AM AND PEOPLE ARE ALREADY ARGUING WITH EACH OTHER. I’m not sure what they are arguing about but they sure have their BP numbers going north. At this time of day I cannot imagine what could be so important to warrant turning purple over.

Maybe it’s me. I find that there are very few things worth arguing about at any time of day. Most arguments don’t accomplish anything positive – unless you are a Paramedic or an Undertaker.

I’m sitting across the room from the verbal combatants and I can’t hear them well enough to determine the topic.

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I Don’t Want To Know The Score

“O, HAIL THE MIGHTY SYCAMORES!” At home along the banks of the Wabash. There, that sounds majestic enough. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense though when you’re talking about a football team.

The Indiana State University football team goes by the fearsome name of “The Fighting Sycamores.” Doesn’t that just put a tremor loose in your heart? No. Me neither.

Their football stadium is about a minute away from our front door. We can hear the bands at halftime and the oohing and ahhhing of the crowds. When the Fighting Sycamores score a touchdown they fire off a cannon in sheer delight. We haven’t heard the cannon much lately.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

 

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St. Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

That’s My Cue

BE WARNED. I’VE GOT ON MY THINKING CAP.

When that happens the dogs howl, babies cry and milk goes bad on the “Best if used by…” date. And I usually end up with my neck in a wringer.

What triggered my lobes into action was a feeling, a nostalgia, perhaps. I got an email from a local theater group that is holding auditions for their next production. I have no interest in that particular play, but it hit a responsive chord in my heart.

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