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 “Ireland”

Is That Too Much ?

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. After two weeks in Texas I’m back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “There is nothing in the fridge.”) and trying to sleep through the night again after being in a strange bed.

The luggage hasn’t had the chance to cool off and plans are underway for the next test of my ability to digest the food and water of another part of the globe. This time the passports are aimed at Ireland for a five to six week stay.

Do I enjoy Ireland? Very much. Do I enjoy being away from comfortable and familiar surroundings? Not so much anymore. Somehow I have suddenly become an old man and my adventuresome spirit has dimmed. There was a time when I would go anywhere at any time with less than a moment’s notice. Now I have a need to sit in a chair that knows my shape and sleep in a bed where I can be warm and where I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death

Lag 2QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

OK – let’s try to answer the question before the assembly – “What is the difference between JetLag 4 Lag and Death?

It is said about Death that “You can’t take it with you.” The same thing can be said about Jet Lag – in particular if you are flying with United Airlines. You may check two pieces of luggage, but you can’t take them both to your destination. Two bags checked in Dublin with Aer Lingus, the Irish national air carrier, sent to Washington DC along with our bodies. In Washington, however, is where United enters the picture – they get one bag, but for some reason the second bag, that looks just like the first one, mystified them to the point that they left it in the bowels of Dulles Airport while putting the bag number one neatly in the cargo hold of our flight to Indianapolis.

It took us two and a half hours to get through security in Dublin. They even photographed our bags and got them to the correct plane. I suppose that the one hour layover in Washington and the task of taking both bags from one plane to another was too vexing for them. Oh well, after luggage_large_1xfiling the proper missing luggage report with “Untied” Airlines we received an email from them celebrating the fact that they have found our bag – in the bowels of Dulles Airport – and that they will be delivering it to our home today. They are going to have someone drive to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “We don’t need no stinking baggages.”) to deliver our wayward suitcase. And Wall Street wonders why airlines suck as investments.

Still trying to find the differences between Jet Lag and Death.

Well, how do I feel today after 8 hours of flying and a five time zone shift? I feel disembodied. It is as if I am seeing the world from about three inches to my left and nothing seems to fit into the frame.

Never having died I cannot truly compare the two on this aspect. Death is the ultimate in being “disembodied,” of that there can be no doubt. Yet here I am feeling the way I do in addition to the fact that my feet hurt today. I’ve never heard of that being a side effect of Death, but who knows? Not me. Maybe the late Dr. Scholl knows, but he’s not talking.

We arrived home from our trip at about 10 PM. It had already been a 22 hour day. I went to bed. My eyes popped open (something else that rarely happens in Death) at about 5:45 AM and I knew that attempting to roll over and go back to sleep would be futile. So, I did the perfectly normal thing – I got up, dressed, made out a shopping list and went off to the Kroger store. After Lag 3seven weeks there was nothing left in the fridge that anyone wanted to eat.

There I was tooling around Kroger’s at a little past six in the morning detouring around clerks who were trying to stock the shelves. Shopping at that time of day is surreal – or at least it was for me in my altered state. While looking over the “Jams and Jellies” selections I wondered if this was what Purgatory was like – looking for Peach Jam, but finding nothing but Apricot. Eternal browsing and perpetual frustration.

After rereading the above I am beginning to arrive at the rather sketchy conclusion that there just might not be any substantial difference between Jet Lag and Death. Maybe Jet Lag is like a Temporary Death and Death is like a state of Neverending Jet Lag. And behind it all is United Airlines playing Hide and Seek with our luggage. I’m going back to bed.

Lag 1

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Spending a week or two in a foreign land is one thing, but going for seven weeks changes the way you see and do things.

Being in Ireland brings to mind an old quote from, I forget whom – Maybe Mark Twain, maybe Winston Churchill, maybe the Spice Girls,- that noted that, “The U.S. and the U.K. (forgive me if I lump Ireland into that mix) are two great nations separated by a common language.” I say this because, just as at home, there is more than one accent in play. It all depends on what part of the country you are in and your social status.

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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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A Decision Has Been Made

I THINK I SHOULD START SHOPPING. We are going back to Ireland this Fall and I don’t have a thing to wear. I don’t want to arrive in Dublin looking like the poor American relative who is showing up hoping for a handout.

We are planning on being in Ireland for about a month. If you are going to go that far you might as well stay awhile. This is not just a weekend jaunt to pick strawberries – this is an ocean-crossing, ancient ruin exploring, pub crawling, trip to the Old Country. Pack an extra pair of socks.

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips”

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips”

THIS MORNING IS ONE OF THOSE MORNINGS that the Irish call “A Soft Irish Morning.” That means that it is chilly, a bit rainy, along with some fog.

I’m not complaining mind you, but looking out through the window and seeing all that, the word “Soft” is not one that pops immediately into my thought. But you know the old saying, “When in Belturbet do like the Belturbeters do.” It’s only polite. Read more…

Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “I’d Like To Propose A Toast”

2

SOME DAYS THERE IS NOTHING BETTER than keeping things

simple and uncomplicated. Today is one of those days. Yesterday was too and I don’t see any changes coming in the next few days.

I wake up – a simple, uncomplicated and most grateful beginning to my day. If I don’t wake up I know (or will know) immediately that something is seriously wrong. Complications will be abundant.

But, let’s assume that I have survived to another day. Now what?

Something to eat!

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Drive On The Left

IRELAND FEVER HAS STRUCK AGAIN! Pack your bag, update your passport, and practice driving on the wrong side of the road. Well…maybe you can skip that last one until you get to Ireland.

What has triggered this relapse into the need for tea and Pub life? Let me tell you.

Last night my wife, the lovely and a daughter of the Old Sod, Dawn, received an email message from one of her brothers down in Texas. It seems that he and his lovely wife are contemplating a trip to Ireland next April. That alone is enough to start the engines up here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I won’t eat Black Pudding.”).

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We Need The Real Thing

IN AN ACT OF SELF-PRESERVATION I have decided to start thinking about where, when, and how Dawn and I might squeeze out some vacation time this Summer.

It has been a while since our last true vacation. Our last vacation was a real doozy to be sure – seven weeks in Ireland, but that was then and this is now.

I know – it seems like we have been going to and from Texas every other day, but those trips don’t qualify as vacations. Those are family visits. I’m not complaining. They are all wonderful people, but visiting with Family is no vacation. We need the real thing.

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Throwback Thursday From 2015 “One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib”

Throwback Thursday From 2015

“One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib”

SOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny online mention of no import.

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

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Throwback Thursday -June 2015 “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

Throwback Thursday – From June 2015

 

QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

Lag 2I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

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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

Throwback Thursday from Ireland May 2016 – “I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…”

Throwback Thursday

1THERE MAY BE AN INVESTIGATION. For the last two days we have been blessed with clear blue skies and warmer temperatures. In Ireland? Two days in a row. I think it must be Aliens.

For the first week here it was like living inside a really bad carwash. Now, all of a sudden it feels like a day at the beach might be in order.

 

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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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Throwback Thursday from April 2016

Throwback Thursday – Ireland

 

Carrying On About Carry-On

7WHEN THEY SAY “CARRY-ON” LUGGAGE I don’t think that they mean luggage that has so much stuff in it that the Airline Cabin Crew, other passengers, Customs people, car rental people, and me start to carry on about it.

I must admit that my carry-on is just that, but in the same way that a 30 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer on wheels can be considered “portable.”

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016

Throwback Thursday – from Ireland

Grocery Shopping Can Be Fun

supervaluYOU CAN EVEN SURPRISE ME once in a while – and that’s not easy anymore. After being so long on this planet one sees most things and the variations on those things that crop up along the way.

While I make no claims to any superpowers. I barely have any skills at all other than an active imagination and decent powers of observation. I do notice things.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “Dialogue With A Daschund”

Dialogue With A Daschund

dog tilt 2HAVE YOU EVER TALKED WITH A DOG?

I mean, sat down and had a face to muzzle conversation with a dog? If you have you know that it doesn’t take long to see that, aside from their name, and a word or two like “bacon,” or “down,” they really don’t know what you’re talking about. The movement of your lips might keep their eyes focused on you, but deep down you know that nothing is really getting through.

I get that same feeling when I try speaking with some people.

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods…

fam1FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.

Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “One Person’s Trivia…”

One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib

mcd firstSOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny mention of no import.

 

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

KAZAKHSTAN.mcd kazak

I do have to admit that my knowledge of Kazakhstan is rather limited, but as a McDonald’s stockholder for the last 30+ years I feel obligated to learn what I can. So, here goes.

Mcd pres

Nursultan Bazarbayev

Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked nation on earth (ergo: not much of a navy).

It has a population of about 18 million souls, and now, 1 McDonald’s.   The Capital city is Astana. The President of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Bazarbayev. He is generally considered to be an authoritarian ruler (read “dictator”). It is unknown at this time whether or not he likes the McRib mcd mcribSandwich.     

That’s it. That’s all of the relevant information about Kazakhstan I could dig up.

McDonald’s, with its new restaurant in Kazakhstan, has well over 36,000 sets of Golden Arches worldwide. They employ 1.9 million people. I would wager that most of them are either teenagers, senior citizens, or people who were just not Taco Bell material. I may be wrong, but my personal observation of the McD’s here in Terre Haute (That’s Kazakh for “Where’s my Shamrock Shake?”) tell me that I’m not wrong.

In my own personal experience I have been in McDonald’s all over this country and in Ireland. I have no intention of trying to visit all of them. There are people who try to do that, traveling all over the map in a quest to visit them all. These are people who will eventually work at McDonald’s. Who else would hire them after looking at a resume with a twenty year gap during which they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner next to Ronald the Clown.

In an effort to gather information for this snippet of reality I went to the McDonald’s Corporate website to learn more about their worldwide operations. Fascinating.

mcd irelandMcDonald’s has blanketed Europe. There are more than 50 Mickey D’s in Ireland. While I’m there (leaving for Dublin in just a few days) I may visit one to satisfy my need for fries (chips), but I think we will eat at home most days.

I learned that there are 11 McD’s in Lithuania, ancestral home of my mother’s side of the family. Europe is definitely well served.mcd lith

The one glaring gap on the world map is on the continent of Africa.

There are about 23 McDonald’s in Egypt – more than I expected.

There are 200 stores in South Africa. That is way more than I would have guessed.

That’s it. Egypt on the north coast of the continent and South Africa at the other end. In between – nada.

If you live, let’s say in Burkina Faso (another landlocked country) and you have a craving for an order of Chicken McNuggets – you are SOL – Snack Out of Luck. You are going to have to hoof mcd burkinait across the Sahara to Egypt or, if you’re not in a hurry, pack a sandwich and head south, way south.

 

I admit that I have not delved deep into the subject to determine if there might be a Burger King or even a Subway (Sans Jarrod) in Burkina Faso. If there is – all I can say is “You deserve a break today. Boy, do you ever.”

mcd nuggets

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

What’s In A Song?

Columbus 4.gifA COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO my wife, the lovely and thought provoking, Dawn, posted a question on Facebook that made a lot of people stop and think.

She asked for, “Songs / musical pieces that bring you to tears or grab you and won’t let go.” 

That was not as easy a request as I first thought.

I am a music lover. My tastes range through just about every genre that you can think of. What I have playing in the car could make you scratch your head. I have Hard Rock, Opera, Country, Oldies, Jimmy Buffett, Broadway, Blues, Pop, Classical, Jazz, and even a Folk number or two. I usually have it going in a Random Mode, but if one song or artist hits a nerve I slide into Repeat Mode.

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