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 “Government”

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 – More Questions Than Answers

Throwback Thursday from Oct. 2015 

More Questions Than Answers

bear in carTODAY IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE POSTS about the strange behavior of the human animal. If you have already heard or read about this please feel free to talk amongst yourselves or go get a piece of cake.

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.giphy

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Be Nice And Bring Money

IT TAKES A LOT TO MAKE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD. If you want to sit in a room that is really quiet just be there with 50 comedians who are listening to another comedian perform. Those 50 comedians will be nodding their heads or looking around the room, but they won’t be laughing. They are sitting there analyzing what they are hearing – tearing it apart down to the last molecule of wit. I’m kind of like that too. I’m not THAT bad, but something really has to set off an alarm to get me to guffaw and chortle. It is even harder to do if it is something in print. Then I’m really a tough audience.

I laughed out loud this morning.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

inverted JennyABOUT EVERY SIX MONTHS or so we get a piece of mail from the Postal Service touting their “Stamps by Mail” service.

This Postal Service program supposedly can save us time and gasoline by sending postage stamps directly to our mailbox on the front porch. There would be no need for us to get out of our jammies and drive all the way (four blocks) to the Post Office to buy stamps.

OK, I get the concept, but with the advent of the internet there are now millions of people paying their bills online, communicating with friends and family online, and sending birthday cards, etc. online. Currently I write an average of two checks per month that require me to use postage stamps.

I’d wager that since the demise of the Columbia Record Club (look it up) that the number of stamp bearing mail items has diminished greatly. Almost all of the mail that we get is catalogs and other pointless junk mail – and virtually all of that is metered mail with no stamps at all.

We still get the “Stamps by Mail” advertising thing, but let me tell you the real reason we don’t bother signing up.

About a year ago an old friend told me this story and I believe him.

He runs a small business and thought that the “Stamps by Mail” thing might be a good time saver for him. So- he signed up and anxiously awaited the delivery of his first load of postage stamps from Benjamin Franklin’s favorite government service.

A week or so later when my friend toddled out to his mailbox he discovered one of those little pink slips of paper telling him that there was a parcel waiting for him to pick up down at the Post Office.

He told me that this was not unusual, so he got out of his jammies, put on some adult clothing and fired up his car to go get his parcel.

Of course, when he got there he had to wait in line behind the usual collection of people sending sweaters to their grandchildren in Florida and manuscripts off to publishers who will never read them or will just slide them under a table leg to take care of that annoying wobble.

He had to wait about fifteen minutes to get to the head of the line. He presented the pink slip to the clerk who then disappeared into “The Back” for another five minutes. When the Postal Service clerk returned he handed my friend an envelope which would have easily fit inside the mailbox at his home. He took the envelope over to the empty counter out by the P.O. Boxes and tore it open. Inside was another envelope proudly announcing that it contained his delivery of “Stamps by Mail!”

What a time saver.

When my friend first told me about this I too was skeptical. It was just too – too – Post Office for even the Post Office to do.

He swears that it is a true story and as time passes and I read of other Masterpieces of Governmental Ineptitude my skepticism fades into a head-shaking “I’m surprised they didn’t send it to him “postage due.”

It Is All In The Statistics

THERE IS AN OLD SAYING about Truth and Lies. That goes something like, “There are three kinds of deception – Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.” The clever wag that coined that must have worked for either a Government or an Internet company.

I’m not accusing anyone of telling lies! OK? I’m just saying that some things are very hard to believe – particularly in the area of Statistics.

This morning I was tiptoeing through the statistical backwater of this blog and I saw some numbers that made me stop, wipe the sleep from my eyes, and down a fresh cup of coffee.

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Read Your Rights

TODAY IS FRIDAY, THE GATEWAY TO REAL LIFE. I sat down this morning to write something brilliant, moving, hilarious, and earth shattering. After about 15 minutes of staring at a blank page I downed half of my coffee in one gulp and started looking through the detritus of links I’d saved on my phone. After another couple of minutes I came across a link that made me down the rest of my coffee.

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Cornbread And Puffer Fish

SOMETIMES YOU SEE OR HEAR SOMETHING THAT JUST TICKLES YOUR RIBS and makes you laugh out loud. I’m not talking about hearing a comedian on TV, but something that comes out of somebody’s clever imagination. Something that you weren’t expecting that reaches out and hits the proverbial nail right on the head. I had one of those yesterday morning. A friend posted a comment on Facebook that hit me as so unusual, so out of literal context, but so right in its imagery that it stopped me in my tracks.

The general context was a discussion about a person’s irrational (read cuckoo) thinking about things when my friend posted this picture.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 36 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 36 Continued

pull-tijuanaOutside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.  

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This Is Not What I Had In Mind

THERE ARE MORNINGS WHEN I WISH HAD OVERSLEPT. If I was still unconscious I would blissfully miss things that, if awake, I would later end up regretting. Today I was up early.

As I sat there slumped over my coffee trying to find inspiration I was slowly surrounded by several members of the “Usual Suspects” who haunt the chapel of St. Arbucks. Normally, I could ignore them as they carry on, but this morning they snagged me.

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The Latest From Unalaska, Alaska

YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME. Today I found out that I became a loser.

Several times over the last couple of years I have posted excerpts from the Official Police Blotter of the metropolis of Unalaska, Alaska – a fishing port far out in the Aleutian Islands.

When I logged in last night to check on the latest doings up north I learned that they weren’t going to be posting the blotter on line “For some time.” Someone up there was upset. That broke my heart. There have been times when I would read the blotter just to cheer up myself after a rough day.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 34

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Four

 

pull-molinas-bldgIn the darkroom at Ernesto Molina’s photography studio a new person was being born. Years of experience in creating false documents for many of the Earth’s most dangerous people had made Molina a very wealthy man. His home was an opulent, yet tastefully decorated, house by the ocean, near Rosarita Beach. This cheap-looking studio was a place to do his work undisturbed. He owned the building.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 33

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Three

 

pull-taxiTomás wheeled his cab back over to the frontier and parked in the large lot right by the border that is reserved for taxis only.

“Señor, I am confused,” he asked Davis.  “What are we doing here?  What are we looking for?  Are you and the Señorita in trouble?”

“Yes, Tomás, but we’re not criminals.  It’s just that some people are looking for us.”

“Say no more, Señor.  I think I understand.  After all, I too, have in-laws.”

Davis let it go at that.  No sense in scaring him away.  Laura had already paid him for the full day.

“Tomás, I’m going to move up a bit closer and take a look around.  Don’t leave.”

“Señor, of course not.  May I come with you?”

“Sure, why not?  Come on.”  Another pair of eyes couldn’t hurt, Davis reasoned.

After Tomás locked up his taxi, the two of them walked up the ramp that crossed over the northbound highway leading to the Customs station.  Every few feet a young peddler approached them, offering a variety of last minute shopping opportunities.  Tomás shooed them away with a blast of rapid-fire Spanish obscenities.  Many of these merchants were ten years old or younger, and were often the biggest earners in their family.

From their vantage point Davis and Tomás could look into the plaza on the U.S. side of the border.

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On The Road Again

WHILE THE CIRCUS IN WASHINGTON CONTINUES I find that there are smaller side shows going on that I find both interesting and entertaining.

Example: While we were down in Texas, visiting family and avoiding nasty northern weather there was a great story on the TV about two Congressional Representatives from The Lone Star State who felt the need to get back to Washington and actually do their jobs. The problem for them achieving this end was that the entire northeast, including D.C. was getting blasted by a late winter snowstorm and airports in the area were closed down.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 32- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Two

 

pull-taxiThe cab was festooned with bobble-head dolls of Elvis, The Beatles, and Ricky Martin.  The Virgin Mary held the place of honor in the center of the dashboard.  Red and gold dingleballs circled every window and lying on the rear window deck was a three-foot-long crucifix.

The cab driver, dressed in a crisp yellow shirt, was doing his standard sales pitch to yet another pair of Yanqui tourists.

“Buenas dias.  Let Tomás be your guide for the day.  Only two hundred dollars—well  worth the price.  Tomás knows all the best restaurants and shops.  And I can get you the best seats for the bullfights.  My cousin is a matador.  Deal, okay?  Best price in Tijuana.” His accent made him sound like a parody of Cheech and Chong.

Davis looked at Laura, who was still holding the brochure outlining the benefits of membership in the San Diego Skyscrapers.  She shook her head.  This was a business trip.

“No, not today,” said Laura.  “Just drop us up on the main drag.  Maybe next time we’ll get the tour.  Okay?”

“Okay, you the boss, but, I can show you where to get genuine Armani suits for three hundred dollars, with free alterations.  Best price in Tijuana.”

“Another time, my friend,” said Davis.

Laura pulled a piece of paper from her pocket.

“Say, do you know any good photographers?” asked Laura.

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I Kinda Like The Idea

“IT’S GOOD TO BE KING!” – Mel Brooks

Even in a world with very few Monarchs who are anything more than figureheads being a King still sounds like a good job. The days have passed when mobs of peasants used to storm the Palace with torches and pitchforks. Very few people have pitchforks anymore and I don’t recall ever seeing anyone carrying a real, honest to goodness torch. Yes, I think that might be the job for me – “King Krafty.” That has a nice ring to it.

There are only a couple of obstacles in my way.

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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”.

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Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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What’s Done Is Done

feb1TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY – at least I think it is – let me check.

(Brief Pause)

Right! Today is definitely the last day of February which means very little unless you were born on February 29th. But it is still winter.

I know. I know, but you’re wrong. This is not going to be another of my diatribes against snow and cold. No. This is going to be a scholarly discourse on why the Calendar needs adjustment and realignment.

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And Now – The News!

news1WHILE I SEE MYSELF AS A TRENDSETTER I am also the kind of guy who sometimes latches on to the latest fad. I’ve had Mood Rings, Roller Skates, a Pet Rock, and a Hula Hoop. And now I’m going along with another fun fad that is sweeping the nation. It’s in the News every day! 

Allow me to present –

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 29- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

escherHorton Plaza looked like the love child of Rube Goldberg and M.C. Escher.  Seven levels high with a hundred and forty shops, restaurants and touristy boutiques, all connected by stairs, escalators, ramps, and glass elevators.  The entire structure was painted in a full palette of pastels, with multicolored banners, flags, and flowers fluttering in the soft ocean breezes.

High up on Level Seven, in a choice corner location, was The Captain’s Table restaurant.  It had everything that a family on vacation from Nebraska could ever want—a  six page menu offering seafood delicacies named for every exotic locale on the globe, several tons of nautical-looking adornments made in China, and decals on the front door promising the acceptance of all major credit cards.

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A Quiet Morning – Screaming Comes Later

quiet2ON A QUIET MORNING LIKE THIS ONE WHEN IT’S JUST ME AND MY COFFEE I can feel the tensions of Life sloughing off like frost off the car’s rear window.

It is 16° degrees outside, but I don’t mind it right now because it keeps some people at home and away from me.

These days it seems like most people are screaming – at one another, at the government, at the world, at themselves. When things don’t go the way they like they start to scream thinking that will make things better – “Better” being the way they want things to be. It doesn’t work of course. It never has, it never will.

Self-Delusion is so much neater than Reality.

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