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 “Nonfiction”

Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

IT SEEMS THAT EVERY DAY THERE IS A NEW INVENTION OR DISCOVERY that changes the world. I recently saw that scientists have discovered proof of “Gravitational Waves” that were mathematically theorized by Albert Einstein decades ago.

While that may rattle the tea cups of the scientific world, it really doesn’t impact our daily lives. Gravitational Waves are something on a Cosmic scale that may, at some date in the future, affect how or where people live. But, so far, it doesn’t alter what I’m having for lunch today.

With a minimum of research on my part I have uncovered one of those seemingly “little things” that are almost universally present, yet are virtually unseen. The Toothpick.

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I Would Like A Blizzard

IF ANY OF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A JOB – come see me. I know of a very special job opening that calls for a very special person.

Dairy Queen is Hiring!!!

Imagine being behind the counter at Dairy Queen with access to everything – Blizzards of any size and flavor at your fingertips. All of that and, to top it off, you are living in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Put cheese on it!).

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Comrade Cotton-Eyed Joe

PARTIALLY DUE TO THE INCLEMENT WEATHER and the seemingly endless weeks of battling bugs of varying virulences we have been watching a lot of TV.

My wife, the lovely and the ultimate Amazon Prime Minister, Dawn, and I have gathered up blankets, Kleenex, and hot tea so we could do some serious binge watching.

With Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap we settled ourselves down for a long winters Ripping Yarn. Dawn had been scouting the terrain and had come up with a series that had six years of episodes in the can. We figured that should hold us until Spring. Well… After one week we are halfway through Season Four. Spring better arrive soon.

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Don’t Insult The Dog

 

IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYDAY THE HEADLINES ARE FILLED with the nefarious exploits of criminal sorts who – how shall I say this – think big? Not content with knocking over a bank they pull off a multibank swindle for hundreds of millions of dollars. Then there are the Bernie Madoff sorts who just feed on the greed of those people who think there are “Something for Nothing” ways to Riches and Rodeo Drive. These are Big City News stories, but I think that there is nothing that can compare with Small Town News. In the Small Town newspapers you are going to find stories that would never make the pages of the New York Times.

Where else are you going to learn about the woman who was arrested for barking at a Police Dog?

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Set It And Try To Forget It.

YOU CAN TELL THAT THEY MUST HAVE SKIPPED BREAKFAST. All those guys wanted to talk about was food. They started out comparing restaurants and moved on to recipes. These guys are eaters, not cookers. They could easily kill themselves if they went into the kitchen. They would either poison themselves or blow the house to Kingdom Come.

The thing is – they are making me hungry and I’m stuck with them, sitting in the corner at St. Arbucks.

I think that part of this discussion of theirs has its Genesis in their desire to break out their backyard grills and destroy some perfectly good meat while they are popping open enough beer to get them all arrested for BUI – Barbequing Under the Influence.

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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!!”

 

I’ll Never Do This Again – Until Next Time

WHAT WAS I THINKING? I know better than to behave like that. Alas, I will end up paying for that the next day and for several days after that. It was stupid – legal, but stupid.

Just about every Sunday we – my wife, the lovely and theologically eloquent, Dawn, and I go out for lunch with friends. After church we gather our amiable selves and head off to the preselected dining destination of the day. Our Sunday choices range from small neighborhood cafes where the chef looks like everybody’s Grandmother and no two plates match up – all the way to those Monster All-You-Can-Eat Buffets that always charge too much.

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I Think I Remember…

PASSWORDS – LOVE ‘EM, HATE ‘EM, CAN’T REMEMBER THEM. All I can do is forget them.

The discussion this morning at my Play Group (St. Arbucks morning coffee) was all about computer passwords and all of our problems with them. One of the Usual Suspects who shows up every morning for coffee and pointless conversation was wrapped up in mind numbing problems remembering his computer passwords. The ones he could recall were no longer in use and it was bringing his life to a screeching halt.

I tried to help. He’ll get over it and resume speaking to me eventually.

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Words? I Know Dozens Of Them

 

Oh, The Creative Process. It’s not as simple as those three little words might indicate. It is a delicate and fragile thing – a lot like a soufflé, one jarring moment and it all falls as flat as a three week old Dr. Pepper.

On a good day I can sit down and knock out enough to fulfill my daily blog requirement in less than an hour. I try to keep it between 500 – 700 words. That is enough to make my point (If I have one) or at least get to the punchline. That’s all I ask. I don’t try to push my Muse too far. Of course there are those other days when it all hits the wall like wet spaghetti.

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Buenas Dias from Thailand

IT WAS JUST THE OTHER DAY as I was driving down the avenue when I noticed that the neighborhood Taco Bell was undergoing some remodeling. I don’t know if they were merely repainting or going full tilt and adding a branch of the Poison Control Center.

While I am not a fan of Taco Bell (I prefer Mexican Food) they are very popular worldwide. The latest figure I could find said that there are 6, 849 Taco Bell restaurants strewn about the globe.

Doing a little (very little) follow-up research I have learned that the number of Taco Bells has grown by one. Last week the first of a planned 40 Thai restaurants opened in Bangkok. And it was a rip roaring success.

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Throwback Thursday from February 2016 – Wal-Mart Metropolis

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Wal-Mart Metropolis

 

I WAS WANDERING THROUGH WAL-MART the other day and I was surprised at the number of people in there who looked like Hell warmed over. I’m not talking about the choice of clothing, if you could call it that, but their faces and the look in their eyes.

There is a line from an old Steppenwolf song about a man walking around, “With tombstones in his eyes,” and that’s what I was seeing in the aisles at Wal-Mart.

Maybe it’s a product of the mid-winter blues, or post-holiday letdown, but there were a surprising number of people pushing carts around who looked like they were ten minutes away from either collapsing or going zombie. They looked unfocused and exhausted with a look in their eyes that said, “Why bother.” I found it unsettling.

Not that I’m full of pep and energy, but these folks looked like I should try to recall my CPR training.

What caused this, and is this something new or have I just been out of the loop? It all reminded me of a scene from the classic silent film, “Metropolis,” with the legions of human drones slouching off to their next hopeless day.

I know that the economy is struggling. It is tougher here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Try again tomorrow.”) than in a lot of places and that can suck the life out of you. Is that it?

Not everyone in the store looked like that. There were a lot of other people there, dressed the same, filling their carts with the same items, who had Life just beaming from them. Seeing them all, side by side, made the contrast even sharper.

The idea that I was seeing a large number of people who were all stoned on drugs did cross my mind, but this was different. The eyes of the drug user have a certain agitated undertone that I wasn’t seeing in these folks. Here in their eyes there was a veiled weariness. I could almost hear a sigh of surrender.

When faced with bad times, personal tragedy, or a flat and empty future on the horizon some people fold up like a road map. I’m not saying that as a criticism of them, just as an observation. Others, faced with the same set of circumstances, find a steel that keeps them upright and moving forward. I think I was seeing both of these being manifested that morning at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is one of those places, like airports, sidewalk cafes, and sporting events, that is great for people watching. Just stay in one spot long enough and all of humanity will walk past. Unconsciously, I think that I was people watching as I walked through the store and I noticed the little differences in my fellow shoppers as they rolled past. Without urgent destinations or activities covering their facades the masks were down and how they were really feeling came to the surface. I got a peek behind the curtain.

What I’ve put down here is my interpretation of what I saw – or think I saw. Of course, however I might interpret what I saw is filtered through my own thoughts and feelings. Who knows what they thought when they looked into my eyes.

Here I am trying to describe what I saw there that day and it is not easy. At its root it’s a case of trying to describe what isn’t there rather than what is.

Paint me a picture of emptiness.

 

I Dare You

WHAT IS GOING ON? LIFE IS CHALLENGING ENOUGH. I don’t need people, most of whom I don’t know or couldn’t pick out of a police lineup, sticking their surgically modified noses into my world with “Challenges.”

The latest thing I’m having pushed upon me are these “Ten-Day Challenges” to convince me to eat better, exercise so that I too can have six-pack abs, or to transform me into a “World Citizen” – whatever that means.

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I Won’t! I Just Won’t!

 

THERE ARE SOME THINGS IN THIS WORLD I WILL JUST NOT AGREE TO DO. I have standards – they’re low, but they’re mine. A lifetime of making the decisions  that have kept me alive this long have proven to me that, as unlikely as it may seem, I must be doing something right.

For example:

No matter what the political climate I will not run for any elective office – not now, not ever. As far as I’m concerned the only office I relish is the corner table at St. Arbucks where I sit and write these…these…these things whatever they are.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Am I Religious?”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Am I Religious?

WHAT KIND OF A QUESTION IS THAT TO ASK? Before I’ve had my coffee even? After all, what makes a person “religious?”

If there was to be a survey taken I couldn’t accurately predict the outcome. Yeah, well, maybe I could, but it wouldn’t really matter.

You see – God and I have this arrangement. Actually, it’s the same arrangement He’s made with all of us. All that God asks of me is that I give Him a respectful nod for who He is and what He has accomplished and that I try to get along with the guy who lives next door. I mean, is that too much to ask? I think not. It is simply worded without any “whereases,” “wherefores,” and “party of the first part” stuff to gum up the works. Neat. Clean. To the point. No trap doors. I think it all boils down to, “Don’t be a jackass.”

I do go to church on Sunday, although that is really just a one day a week expression of an everyday thing – but with music and lunch afterward.

Another thing that is part of my “Arrangement” is that I try not to make too many demands on God. After all, I am not the only person who has His personal number.

There have been times when I have said, “God, please let that guy score from third base. It is really important.” It is at times like that when I am reminded of the meaning of the word “Important.” It will be three days later when that guy on third base finally scores, when the score is already 17 – 0.

It is then that I look up and say quietly, “God, I don’t want to complain, but why couldn’t you have helped out three days ago when I asked?” And God says to me, “Three days ago? I was busy, and besides, your batter can’t hit a slider to save his life. Some things are beyond even Me.”

So much for that.

The world being what it is, I’m sure that there are some people out there who will complain that I refer to God as “Him” or “He.” Why do I do that? Because that is what I have done all my life and God has not told me to change it. Also, it is less cumbersome that saying, “He, She, It,” each time I refer to Him. See? There, I did it again. If you are offended, outraged, or miffed that I do that – all I can say is, “Is that the biggest fish frying in your pan? Get over it. If you want to call God, “She” or “It,” – go right ahead. It’s no big thing to me. Take your complaint upstairs.

Marvin the Martian

If there are beings living on some other planet I’m sure that God has made His presence known in one form or another. He may have even helped that guy score from third on their world.

So, am I religious? I think so, sort of. There are a lot of people who would disagree, but that is their problem, not mine. Some of them I would not want living next door. I have my arrangement with God, and, so far, He seems to be OK with it too. I try to give Him that nod of appreciation and recognition, and I try to get along with my fellow humans. It’s not always easy. Can we agree on that?

All in all, I think my biggest challenge in keeping up my end of the Arrangement is this: “Don’t be a jackass.” God help me.

Icy Roads And Hot Soup

OH, SWEET JESUS IT IS GETTING UGLY. Last weekend that was a phrase I said several times. I said it usually right after I looked out of the window. Weather conditions were deteriorating at a rapid pace.

I did not like that.

It was Friday evening and the predictions from the various weather networks, websites, and TV Weather Dudes told us to expect snow and ice – anywhere from one inch to two feet. Don’t you just love such precision?

These predictions of doom and gloom had been coming all week. The forecasts were all over the place. One person would say that it was going to be nasty in northern Maine, but not bad at all in Indiana where we are. The next person would say that Indiana was going to be wiped from the face of the earth. The third source was saying…Somewhere in between.

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Oh, Deer Me!

WINTERTIME IN INDIANA – ICY COLD, SNOW UP TO YOUR VASECTOMY SCARS, AND DEER EVERYWHERE. You can’t do much about the cold temperatures and it is pointless to worry about the snow. It is all of those deer that make things scary. They are everywhere and they all seem to be part of a suicide pact.

Maybe all of the 87 million deer within the Terre Haute (That’s French for “Look out, here they come!”) city limits have reached their own personal breaking point and have decided to end it all by leaping into traffic.

The number of deer/motor vehicle collisions around here is just plain ridiculous. The result is measured in bent metal insurance claims and venison hot links.

Zero wins – Two losses.

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…Everyone Would Be In Love With Me.

HOT DOG! HOT DIGGITY DOG EVEN!

Don’t tell anyone, but I am seriously considering coming out of Retirement. Why you ask? Because the job of my dreams has opened up and I think that I am the ideal candidate! If I work things right and put my best foot forward I, your friend and charming as all get out dude, might just be the next “Hotdogger” driver of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile! Oh, yeah!

Eat your heart out.

The official job title for the lucky person chosen to drive the Weinermobile is “Hotdogger” and it is not a term to be taken lightly – at least not in my world. You can call me “Mister Hotdogger.”

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Siss – Boom – Baaaa

HERE WE ARE IN LATE JANUARY and, strictly by coincidence, I have not seen any football – College, Pro, or local High School, this year. Some people might interpret that in terms of over-extended Socio-Economic-Historic-Politico-Religious opining.

Nah.

I’ve just been either sick or busy. Mainly sick. Sick of being busy too. I don’t mix Sports and any Politico-Etc. ideas I may harbor. The Sports part is much too important.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Some Days I Wonder”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

 

Some Days I Wonder

FB_IMG_1444318071823SO FAR JANUARY HAS HAD MORE THAN IT’S SHARE OF ODD.

The other day, in the illustrious Tribune-Star newspaper, there was a story about a fellow being sentenced to 69 years in the slammer for shooting and killing his “Buddy,” as the story called him.

It was said that both of these lads had been out drinking and were approaching a flammable state when the “Buddy” started feeling blue. He turned to his friend and said, “Just shoot me and put me out of my misery.”

So he did.

There’s not a lot I could add to that, except that it did appear in the Trib-Star, a newspaper not known for the accuracy/spelling/grammar/anything else one would expect. So, I suppose that it is possible that they’ve made a few errors and this story is actually about a meeting of the Garden Club’s Petunia Sub-committee.

In other January news flashes there was a story about my favorite baseball team – The San Francisco Giants – signing up a new outfielder.

Denard Span, aside from having an interesting name, is a good player and should be an asset to the team. The fly in this ointment surfaced during an interview after the contract was signed and Span was paraded before the media. It turns out that the new Giants outfielder has a serious phobia: Birds.

This could be a problem. Having been to many ballgames in San Francisco I can verify that, starting in about the 7th inning, the seagulls arrive at the stadium. They are there looking for a free meal among the dropped hotdogs, peanuts, pizza, and other leftovers. They arrive by the hundreds and take over the bleachers and even land in the outfield. I’m afraid that Mr. Span is going to be increasing his dosage of Anti-Anxiety meds.

These seagulls are big, bold and not afraid of anything. I saw one snatch an ice cream sandwich from the hands of an infant in a stroller. Swoop! Snatch! Gulp!

I wonder if the Giants will pay for his therapist? He’s going to need one or he will turn into Jimmy Piersall right before our eyes. (Look up “Fear Strikes Out”)

Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Biscuits and Gravy – Breakfast of Champions.”) got its first real taste of winter with snow and bitter cold. There’s nothing truly unusual about that, but the NBC affiliate TV station saw things a little differently than the rest of us.

 I really hate it when we have to deal with “Blowing Snot” on the roads. I was afraid that my windshield would never be the same – until I replaced the Window Washer Fluid with Mucinex.

I guess that the BIG story of the month has been the Power Ball Lottery jackpot going over a billion dollars. It is a serious amount of money and provides easy stories for the media.

I was watching the Today Show when they did a puff piece about “what if” the prize was paid out in one dollar bills. (Can NBC do hard news, or what?) In singles, the prize would stack up X number of miles. If laid end to end, blah, blah, blah. It was pretty easy to ignore until he said, “It would weigh…” At that point my caffeine dependent mind leapt ahead of him and finished his sentence.

“It would weigh” – “slightly less than Rosie O’Donnell after six months on the Atkins Diet.”

I should talk. I once brought up the idea of having my stomach stapled. My doctor suggested, “That in your case, I would recommend spot welding.”

The odds of winning the billion-plus dollar prize are beyond astronomical, but it will happen (if it hasn’t already by the time this posts.) and someone will gain more previously unknown relatives than anyone in history.

Sudden wealth can present problems, but I’ve dealt with the problems of not so sudden poverty most of my life. I’d like a crack at the other end of that financial Mobius strip.

If you notice that I start writing about the goings-on of Tahiti instead of Terre Haute you’ll know that something big has happened. Tahiti (That’s French for, “Guess what happened to me.”)

Reblog from The Whirly Girl – “look, they’re not extinct”

Today I have the pleasure of presenting a Reblog of a recent posting from the clever and creative mind of:

the whirly girl

: look, they’re not extinct :


Quite the contrary. The trusty old thesaurus ¹ is alive and well and a popular fixture on bookshelves the world over.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for Peter Roget, creator of this masterwork, he died (perished, croaked, met his maker) in 1869. A compiler, sorter, and compulsive list maker, Roget titled the 1852 edition of his classic reference book Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition.

Yikes, well, what can you say? The guy was wordy (long-winded, verbose, a gasbag). And we celebrate his yattering brilliance yet today, January 18th, known now and forevermore as Thesaurus Day. Get out the pointy party hats, my huckleberry friends, and let’s blow the roof off this dump.

Yay, words!

copyright © 2019 the whirly girl


¹ Yes, in answer to the age-old question, there is a synonym for thesaurus: wordfinder.

NOTE: This is a revised and updated reblog from some time ago. I don’t remember exactly when and I’m too lazy to check, so we’ll never know for sure. I adore the thesaurus, though, and get trapped in its pages regularly, dashing from word to word to word for hours on end, like a hummingbird on speed. It deserves a day of glory and, as I’ve already alluded, I’m shiftless — a reblog is effortless.

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