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 “History”

How Did They Do That Without Fred And Barney?

NO MATTER HOW MUCH I TRY I have trouble relating to things that are 5000 years old. There aren’t a lot of those things around, at least not in my neighborhood. I’m as close as it comes. It was just the other day that my ability to relate to things older than Sophia Loren was put to the test.

One of those places that everyone should visit if you are coming to Ireland is Newgrange. It is a U.N. World Heritage Site and is only about an hour north of Dublin. Once there you will be greeted by something to make your jaw drop. 

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I Think I Forgot To Remember

PEOPLE COME AND PEOPLE GO. Over the course of a lifetime how many people drift through our consciousness to be seen, meet, stay for a moment, and then disappear back into the fog.

I was thinking about that last night. I saw someone on TV who had the same name as a person I knew briefly some forty years ago. It was not the same person. It could have been a relative I suppose, but just that momentary memory bump had me thinking about both of the people who shared that name.

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Ch – Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

 

BRACE YOURSELF – A CHANGE IS ON THE WAY! It is a temporary change to be sure, but a change nonetheless.

Starting in about a week or two…or three you will notice that the Monday through Friday (Excluding Thursday) postings will be coming from Ireland. We are heading off for another excursion to the Land with Forty Shades of Green.

This will be our fifth trip to Ireland since 2006. We will be there for five weeks returning to the States in early November. By that time I will be completely exhausted, chilled to the bone, and not at all in any kind of “Holiday Mood.”

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It Is A Matter Of Time

TODAY IS A DAY THAT HAS BECOME WRAPPED IN SADNESS.

I can understand how that can be, but I choose to not give in to that. There is enough sadness in the other 364 days, more than enough to make anything on this date – excuse the expression – overkill.

Instead of spending today in what has become a sort of morose celebration I have made a personal decision to take the memory of the events and aftermath of 2001 and put them all into a long term perspective. A very long term perspective.

Things happen in Time. Time has been going on for quite awhile now – long before you or I showed up on the scene. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, it will continue on for a few years longer. We may not be around until the bitter end of Time, but Time doesn’t care.

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There Is No Time For This

A FEW DAYS AGO I SAW a small news item in the local newspaper about an old building that was being renovated. As they were working on the foundation the workers uncovered a Time Capsule. For those of you with no sense of history let me explain about time capsules.

It used to be the practice when public buildings such as Libraries, Government Buildings, and other large structures were built to place a box into the foundation corner stone. In the box they’d put things about the town, their lives, and times. The box would stay hidden until the building was torn down sometime in the future.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks”

 

I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A FEW OBSERVATIONS about Ireland. Of course, none of these are all that important and not meant to denigrate Ireland or its people. It is all just things my warped mind has noticed.

 

I have noticed that wherever we have stayed there are modern, state of the art appliances – except – for the microwave ovens. We have washer/dryer combos that you need to be a NASA physicist to understand and really neat convection ovens that double as Bessemer Furnaces for making steel. When it comes to microwaves it is like stepping into a time warp back to the 1990s. They work fine, but, seriously, when was the last time you used a microwave where you had to set the time and power level with dials.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

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Throwback Thursday from February 2016 – Don’t Blame Me

Throwback Thursday from February 2016 – 

Don’t Blame Me

 

IT’S NOT THAT I’M NOT A ROMANTIC – I am. I blame it all on the vagaries of the calendar. Is it my fault that Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this year? I was perfectly satisfied with the old calendar, but back in 1582 the powers that were in Europe decided that changes had to be made – and came up with the Gregorian Calendar. I was not consulted. Some people really took umbrage with the change. Turkey held out in a significant snit until 1927. Booking a hotel room in Ankara must have been a real crapshoot.

Only marginally better was the British Empire (including the American Colonies) which clung to the older Julian Calendar until 1752. Seeing that France jumped onboard in 1582 I can speculate that the French and Indian War may have been nothing more than a severe scheduling conflict.

However…

I have had people ask me why I have not posted anything about Valentine’s Day. The short and artificially sweet answer is that I FORGOT! It is a busy world and, being retired I have the time to look around and see it. Add on top of that my Kroger Runs for the Victuals of Life, the never ending appointments with a collection of Indian physicians, and Cable TV, and you can see that some things are going to fall through my temporal cracks. I completely spaced out and missed part of the Super Bowl and National Croissant Day. I think I need a personal assistant.

I feel bad that I missed Valentine’s Day, valid excuses or not. Missing it goes against my grain as a Card Carrying Romantic. I can get all mushy inside while watching the Hallmark Channel. I can even tear up in public if we are watching a “Chick-Flick,” like “Taken 3.”

There are some people out there who would condemn me for this chronological slip-up. To them I say, “Go bite yourself.” My credentials as a Romantic have a flawless pedigree. I went to see Lily Tomlin’s “Search For Intelligent Life” stage production. I read “Love Story” without becoming diabetic, and I do own a Josh Groban CD. It don’t get no bettah than that, bro.

I don’t feel distraught over messing up and losing track of one day when I think about the people around when the Big Calendar Change took place. Can you imagine trying to plan your days when, all of a sudden, your calendar jumps from October 4, 1582 to October 15, 1582. What the f… You just lost 11 days and you’re not getting them back. If you had a birthday in there – too bad, so sad. Gone. If your payday was supposed to be on October 8, 1582 – tighten your belt peasant. No pay for you! So you can see why I’m not all worked into a lather about this Valentine’s Day boo-boo. Blame Pope Gregory XIII. It was all his idea. This may be the reason you never see the Pope on any Valentine cards.

I propose that, when something like Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday, all of us verifiable Romantics be allowed to celebrate/honor/participate on the following Monday without punitive grief. I think that Hallmark and Mrs. See’s/Fanny Farmer’s Candies wouldn’t object. And I don’t care what Pope Gregory XIII thinks. So –

“Happy Day After Valentine’s Day!!”

 

Throwback Thursday… From Dec. 2015 “Houston, We’re Cool – No Problems Here”

Today is Throwback Thursday… From December 2015

“Houston, We’re Cool – No Problems Here”

 

I’M WRITING THIS IN LONGHAND, on lined paper, in cursive, using one of those so-calledspace-shiba-inu-astronaut “Space Pens.”

The makers of this pen used to advertise all over the place when the pens first came on the market several decades ago. Now you have to do a Google search to find them. At least I did.

They called them “Space Pens” because; on some early NASA space flights they discovered that your basic, every day ball point pens didn’t work very well. Everything was weightless, including the ink inside the pen, and it wouldn’t flow onto the page. Apparently, in those early days of space travel, the Astronauts took a lot of notes. Or maybe they whiled away the long hours in orbit by connecting the dots or doing crossword puzzles.

Faced with this dilemma the brilliant minds set to work hunting for a solution. They found one.

The “Space Pen” is like other pens, with a reservoir of ink, but it is different in that the ink is in a pressurized capsule so that, no matter at what angle you hold the pen, the ink will flow. It even works in the weightlessness of space. Hence, the super-duper nifty advertising idea to call them – “Space Pens.” I’ll bet that name was coined by a graduate of the Wharton School of Business.  

I remember having a Space Pen decades ago. I think I got as a gift from some relative. It must have been a gift; because there was no way I was going to spend the money for one. When they first hit store shelves these pens were going for both an arm and a leg. I honestly don’t recall the actual figure, but it would have meant no lunch for a long time. No lunch? Not this boy!

It was like when the small electronic digital calculators hit the stores. I remember dropping close to a hundred dollars for one. (I was working by then and thought I could afford the calculator AND lunch. I was ultimately wrong.) Now you can find those calculators being used as give-aways to kids, or if you want to actually spend money for one, you can find a nice selection at your local Dollar Store. You can get one there that has the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it if so desired.

Those cheap calculators put the slide rule manufacturers out of business. Those gizmos are museum pieces now. When I was in High School we had a Slide Rule Club – a group even Dorkier than the Audio-Visual Club.

There was never a Space Pen Club. When you get right down to it, the Space Pen is — a pen. It can do whatever one can do with a pen and do it at whatever angular orientation you choose. But it is still — a pen.

The odds that I will ever get the opportunity to test out its efficiency under weightless conditions are pretty slim. NASA doesn’t actively recruit Astronauts my age, unless you are a Senator or something equivalent – like a member of a popular, yet aging, Boy Band.

Why did I get this Space Pen in the first place?

Idle curiosity and access to the Internet. What brought it to mind in the first place is beyond me, but I did a search and, Eureka! – They are still on the market. The prices have dropped by about 99.9999%, so I figured, why not?

I am proud to say that I am the owner of three Genuine, blister-packed, patent and copyright protected. honest to Alan Shepard, “Space Pens.” It was four blister-packed pens, but I had to take one out of the pack so I could use it to write this.

Don’t you feel like you just rubbed eyeballs with history? Just a bit, maybe?

alan-shepard

Reblog From The Koolkosherkitchen “Immersion Pie”

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s blog is originally from the Koolkosherkitchen: A blog that is about both Food and Life. I am sure that you will enjoy it – even if you don’t take the recipe into your kitchen.

Enjoy!

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Immersion Pie Featuring Freud, Elephants, Polar Bears, and Noah’s Ark

This story was shared by Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson, a fantastic public speaker with a great sense of humor. A renowned psychologist was giving a lecture on his theory of the flood. According to him, a myth about the flood of catastrophic magnitude has been present in every culture and religion in the world. He postulated that it was primitive people’s way of expressing their insecurities and fears for the future. He unequivocally stated that there has never been an actual flood. One of his listeners asked permission to comment.

“And what if there really was a flood? What if it isn’t a myth?” he asked.

A stunned silence enshrined the audience of professional, highly educated men. After a prolonged pause, the lecturer replied, “My teacher Zigmund Freud would ask who is stronger, elephants or polar bears. He would then answer that it is impossible to judge as they never meet; they exist in different climates. You and I, sir, are an elephant and a polar bear; we exist in different climates: you allow that the flood might have happened, and I don’t. We will never meet.”

Mount Ararat and the Yerevan skyline in spring (50mm).jpg

There are several different locations where Noah, a righteous man in his time, supposedly parked the Ark when flood waters receded. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt, among others, claimed that he found the remains of the Ark and some artifacts to prove the veracity of his findings. His discovery has been highly disputed, but the location is spot on: Mount Ararat, as it is identified in ParshasNoah (the view is from Armenian capital Yerevan). The following video is shot by a drone flying over Wyatt’s discovery.

Take it with a grain of salt, if you will, but today hardly anybody disputes the flood itself. “Now the earth was corrupt in G-d’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11), He got outraged, and set out to obliterate everything. It was a total immersion: “The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth… and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” (Genesis 7:18 and 7:19). We can’t help but reflect upon the Biblical flood as thousands of people in (sic) Huston are trying to cope with a disaster of the same nature, torrential rain that flooded the city, leaving its inhabitants, human and animal alike, homeless and in need of help.

 

 

160817142359-08-la-flooding-0816-exlarge-169

Among many photographs of immersed buildings and drowned cars, there are quite a few of “modern Noahs,” righteous among the people of our times, boating four-legged friends to safety. As the waters are receding now in Huston, and relief is pouring in, this Immersion Pie might serve as a reminder to love and care for each other and all His creatures.

Blu Imm Pie 1.jpg

The idea is to imitate earth boiling under torrential water, so there is no crust. You mix spelt or gluten free flour with soy or almond milk,  add some brown sugar and cinnamon, a little baking powder, and a pinch of salt.

Blu Imm Pie 2.jpg

You can immerse any berries or diced fruit, but blueberries are still in season, huge and juicy, so first I immersed them into a mix of vanilla extract and brown sugar. They should sit and contemplate their fate, while you are mixing the rest of the stuff. After all, Noah spent 120 years building the Ark, to give people a chance to abandon their corrupt ways and make corrections, so give your blueberries a chance for 10 – 15 minutes.

Blu Imm Pie 3.jpg

Since my first rule of dessert clearly states that it’s not a dessert if it doesn’t have chocolate, I also mix in unsweetened cocoa powder. It looks like mud already!

Blu Imm Pie 4.jpg

The process of immersion is about to start! Melt Smart Balance or any butter substitute of your choice and pour it into a pie baking form. Pour your mud – batter, that is! – into it and spread it evenly. Empty your blueberries, juice and all, on top of batter and also spread them evenly.

Blu Imm Pie 5.jpg

Let it bake at 350 F for an hour or so, and the immersion will occur naturally while you are not even looking – the batter will rise and cover most of the berries. There is another, much more positive meaning of the term total immersion. It is one of the most effective methods of language acquisition: drop a person into target language environment where nobody speaks his native language or any other language he knows, and, according to S. Krashen’s Natural Language Acquisition theory, he’ll start communicating in target language. It’s a sink-or-swim method, and Krashen is right: in about three months, give or take, they start swimming, i,e, talking. By the same token, I choose to believe that dropping a person into a loving environment full of kindness will force him to acquire the same behaviors. From there – Existence Precedes Essence! – is only one step from behaviors to attitudes, and from attitudes to values!

Blu Imm Pie 6

So sprinkle some more cocoa powder on top – the more chocolate, the better! – add some crushed walnuts, if you like, and cut yourself a nice juicy piece of the Immersion Pie – total immersion in love and kindness!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup fresh berries or any fruit cut into small chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup spelt or gluten free flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ cup soy or almond milk
  • ¼ cup Smart Balance or other butter substitute
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder plus more to sprinkle
  • Optional crushed walnuts

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • Mix berries with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and vanilla extract, put aside for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon,  add soy or almond milk. Do not over-mix.
  • Melt Smart Balance, pour into the bottom of baking pie form. Pour batter over melted Smart Balance, spread evenly. Spread berries, including juice, on top of batter, spread evenly.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and crisp around the edge.
  • Remove, sprinkle with cocoa powder and crushed walnuts. May be served warm or cold.

Enjoy!

 

Look! Up In The Sky!

WHAT? WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Wait a second until the Blue Angels pass over the house. They are beautiful…and LOUD.

The Navy Blue Angels Aerobatic Team was in town for the 2018 Terre Haute (That’s French for Awesome.”) Air Show.

I love Air Shows. They are a living display of Aviation History, the Present, and a peek into the Future. In the air before your eyes are planes from the World War II era, the aircraft defending this nation today, and the cutting edge technology like the F-22 with Stealth capabilities.

It is a History lesson that should be taught to everyone because our History is the best way to understand and prepare for the future.

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Patent # 3, 387, 396

 

SOME PEOPLE LABOR ON IN OBSCURITY while others bask in the spotlight of eternal glory. And then there is the guy who mixed both into a legendary invisibility: Edward Walker – The Inventor of the Lava Lamp.

The Official History of Eddie and the Lava Lamp goes back to the mid-1960s. When else could it be, eh?

The other night we were out with some friends having a burger when, out of the blue, someone asked if anyone still had a Lava Lamp at home. What gave birth to that question I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

To end the suspense – none of our group fessed up to still having a Lava Lamp in their pad.

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Picture Me As “Superfly”

 

LAST WEEK MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND EVER OBSERVANT, Dawn, and I were driving around town taking care of some errands when she asked me a question that made me go, “Hmmm?”

Her question: “What ever happened to Whitewall tires?”

Indeed.

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Who Wants Seconds?

 

LET’S HAVE A SHOW OF HANDS. How many of you have eaten in a restaurant this week?  (Pause while I count digital hands)

OK, that’s about average. According to my in depth research I have learned that approximately (statistical wiggle room) 58% of us eat out at least once a week. The other 42% are still waiting for a table at the Texas Roadhouse.

I have to admit that we eat out more than we should. It is expensive, time consuming, not always healthy/nutritious, and leads us all into eating more than we should. But it is fun and I think that is why we do it so often. Let somebody else do all the hard work and the cleanup. Oh, yeah.

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A Few Days For Ourselves

LOUISVILLE – WHICH IS NOT PRONOUNCED “LOUIE-VILLE,” is where we have been for a nice long weekend. 3 ½ days is not long enough to really qualify as a real vacation, but you take what you can.

This long weekend is our first real time just for ourselves since our Ireland trip last year. For this trip we had no meetings or family obligations.

 We had not made any plans for our trip beyond Sleep, Eat, Nap, Eat, Sleep, etc – plus two actual things to do that would require putting on our shoes.

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I Want All Or Nothing

THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ECLIPSE in this part of the world soon. I plan to skip the event. Why? Because here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My eyes! My eyes!”) it is not going to be a Total Eclipse. The TV says that it will be 85% here. In my book 85% is a “C” – OK, maybe a “B” if you’re grading on the curve and you have a room full of Bozos. If I am going to go through the trouble of getting those special dark glasses I want the Full Monty – so to speak. I don’t think I’m asking too much.

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Today Is For Remembering

TODAY IS JUNE THE 6TH, A TUESDAY. It may be just one more day out of the 365 we will experience this year, but it also has some significance for me.

Being of a certain age this date is a reminder of a major event during WW II.

June, 6, 1944 was also known as “D – Day.” It marked the Allied invasion of the European continent leading to the defeat and destruction of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe. That all came to a conclusion a little more than one year prior to my birth in July 1946.

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Looking Back 

Throwback Thursday

1I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A FEW OBSERVATIONS about Ireland. Of course, none of these are all that important and not meant to denigrate Ireland or its people. It is all just things my warped mind has noticed.

I have noticed that wherever we have stayed there are modern, state of the art appliances – except – for the microwave ovens. We have washer/dryer combos that you need to be a NASA physicist to understand and really neat convection ovens that double as Bessemer Furnaces for making steel. When it comes to microwaves it is like stepping into a time warp back to the 1990s. They work fine, but, seriously, when was the last time you used a microwave where you had to set the time and power level with dials.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

This is not our first time in Ireland and the Irish are friendly, helpful, and very understanding of our American quirks and I try to do the same with their idiosyncrasies and ideas.

3

Famine Museum and Cafe

One of the most traumatic and history changing times in this nation’s life were the years of the Great Famine. Just before the potato blight destroyed the economic and social structure of Ireland for the first time in the 1840s the population was over 8 million people. A million people starved to death, another million fled to other countries, the U.S. taking in huge numbers. Even today, 175 years after the first famine hit, the population of Ireland has not recovered – sitting at about 6.5 million souls.

The reason for this short history lesson is that the other day my wife, the lovely and ever on top of her history, Dawn, and I visited the National Museum of The Great Famine. It is located in Strokestown on the grounds of the former British Lord who had his plantation and large numbers of sharecroppers and land lessees. When those Irish workers were unable to turn a profit for the Lord or pay their rents to him he evicted them, destroyed the shacks where they slept and left them adrift in the midst of the road. With others, he sold them (there is no other word) onto emigrant “Coffin Ships” bound for American shores.

So – today 135 years since the last total crop failure – the Famine is a sensitive issue.

And that is where My Observation enters –

There we were at The Nation Great Famine Museum and taking all of this in about starvation and cruelty, and what did we do?4

We sat down with a seriously overloaded plate, filled to overflowing, with turkey with bacon, carrots and three scoops of potatoes with gravy. There was enough for at least two people on my plate alone.

I just found this lunch, and the idea of a café at all, as a part of the Great Famine Museum, to be in questionable taste (no pun intended), and ironic to the Nth degree. But who am I to argue – it is their country and their history.

The turkey was excellent, by the way.

My last observation is not nearly as important, except on an intimately personal level.

5I have noticed that the Irish are really into conservation, making things have multiple uses, and recycling. I’m cool with that, but I think they may have stepped over the line when you have Irish toilet paper that can also find service in the woodworking shop as the business end of your belt sander.

Belt_sander

Yearning To Return

LAST YEAR WAS A TIME OF TRAVEL FOR US. Our seven weeks in Ireland was followed by about 10 days in Detroit, then a week in Texas. That was all squeezed into the period from early April to early July.

This year promises to be more sedate, but hardly comatose. We’ve already done one trip to Texas with another booked for Mid-July. In between there will be another 10 day sojourn, this time to Georgia near Atlanta. After that the calendar looks empty as far as travel is concerned – until the Holidays late in the year.

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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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In This Sign You Shall Fluff Dry

I POPPED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD LAUNDROMAT the other day to take care of a few of my “nice and frilly” things when I saw a handwritten sign taped to the wall,

“Free Wi-Fi! Enjoy your time with us.”

Well, I thought that was the most sociable thing I’d ever seen in a laundromat. Most of their signs are of the “Do this” or “Don’t do that,” variety. I remember seeing a sign in a laundromat years ago that said,

“Do not put children in the dryers!”

Always sound advice I would say.

While I was waiting for my things to finish drying I overheard a woman speaking with the young lady behind the service counter. The woman had also seen the sign on the wall and had a question.

“What is this free ‘Wee-Fee’ and how do I get some?”

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