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 – 2021

Archive for the category “Nonfiction”

WELL, AREN’T YOU A SIGHT TO SEE?

 

 

WE ARE NOW IN OUR FOURTH HOUSE AND OUR FOURTH AND FIFTH WEEKS IN IRELAND. After this week we will begin the process of closing the book on Ireland and begin to get our thoughts on heading home.

For the first three weeks we were tourists and tour guides. We were blessed to have our “Alaskan Cousins” with us. They had never been here before and we wanted them to see the parts of this island that has brought us back time and time again. We may have run them a bit ragged, but with us they saw more than those tourists who saw the country from inside a rolling tour bus.

Before we left Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Guinness does go well with chocolate.”) our itinerary would have had us on the go about 36 hours a day. We’ve done it before and we thought we could do it again. Reality threw a pie in our faces on that idea. The first time I came here I was 60 years old and Dawn was…a mere yute. This trip has defied my experiments with time travel and tore too many pages off our Calendar. When we all landed in Dublin the age range of our group went from 73 years down to 62. We were not being mistaken for Hostelling Students on Holiday.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “It Is Time To Cut The Cord”

 

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 –

“It Is Time To Cut The Cord”

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RIGHT NOW I AM BEING STRANGLED BY A BUNCH OF SNAKES. At least that is how it feels. There are power cords, headphone cords, charging cords, HDMI cords, and they’re coming for me! AIEEEEEEGH!

I’m beginning to feel like Samuel L. Jackson in that movie “Snakes On A Plane,” – which is, by the way, one of the funniest dramatic films ever made. I don’t think they planned it to be that, it just turned out that way.

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My current situation is that the high-tech monster needs constant feeding. Everything needs to be plugged in somewhere. They are all on life support. Laptops, Netbooks, tablets, Kindles, Nooks, Cellular phones, and a few things I can’t even identify are reaching out with their snakelike cords to be fed. And what do they all need to be plugged into? A Power Strip which itself needs to be plugged into a wall socket.

Whenever I get up from my chair to cross the room these snakes reach out to trip me. They loop themselves around my ankles hoping that I’ll hit the ground so that they can pull a Burmese Python move on me. I have to be very careful. I tell you – I think that technology is out to get me. I’m almost afraid to go to sleep lest they come for me while I am sawing logs.

When computers began to appear in our offices and homes in the mid – 1980s the prediction snake4was that they would relieve us from many tasks, giving us more free time to take up ballroom dancing or whatever. In the same way that we were all going to have “Paperless Offices”

That didn’t happen either, did it?

The reality is that in most offices the need for copies of any report expands to meet the capacity of printers and copiers to produce them. Offices are buried under an avalanche of paper – 90% of it pointless duplications of out of date information.

But I digress.

What can I do to solve my very personal Samuel L. Jackson situation?

I need to be fed, but so do the array of gizmos. I can understand that part of it. But I don’t need to be attached to my food by some long cord. I can take my food with me and devour it snake6wherever and whenever I wish.

While doing some browsing on a technology website, hoping to find an answer, I saw that there are now “Charging Stations” where you just plop your gizmo onto the Charging Station – no cords – except for the cord coming out of the Charging Station itself. It’s not a complete answer, but it’s a start.

I’m hoping that someday soon all of our electronic thingys can operate while cordless and be rechargeable the same way. If things can progress to that state it will eliminate miles of cords that snarl and tangle their way around our feet. I’ll tell you – that day cannot come soon enough for me because I’m getting tired of all these *#$$@&&ing cords on this *#$$@&&ing floor.

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It Was Not A Close Shave

 

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS STRICTLY BECAUSE THEY NEED DOING. Things that are not fun. Things that are more of a bother or inconvenience than anything difficult.

Like shaving.

I have had a beard for most of my adult life. I grew it the first time while I was still in college. We’re talking the late 1960s here. I grew it for a play I was in. I forget which one. All that’s important is that I was brilliant and the beard was scruffy looking.

Over the years, decades now, the beard has come and gone with fashion, day job rules and what show was being cast. Now that I’m pretty much a retired geezer the beard is there out of habit and as a way to cut down on the need to shave. If I didn’t have a beard I would have to shave at least twice a week. Otherwise I’d look like Yasser Arafat the late Palestinian terrorist leader. Not a good look for me. It wasn’t for him either, but he always looked like it was Day #3 on his face. I don’t know how he did it. But he’s dead. Moving on.

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ALDI La La La

 

I LEARNED THE IMPORTANT THINGS AT MY MOTHER’S KNEE. Unfortunately, I am currently in Ireland and my Mother’s knee was Lithuanian. That uh-oh of geography has left me in a quandary when it comes to grocery shopping in the Emerald Isle. What works in Terre Haute, Indiana (That’s French for “Don’t put the ice cream on the Hob.”) does not necessarily work in Portshannon, County Clare, Republic of Ireland.

We are staying here in this house for two weeks and since we have become accustomed to eating we must also go grocery shopping, but trying to do that in this wide spot in the road village is futile we have to saddle up the old Kia SUV and go to a wider spot in the road.

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I Am A Creature And I Want My Comforts

SOMETIMES HAVING THINGS DIFFERENT IS GOOD…SOMETIMES NOT SO GOOD.

I’m a person who likes his creature comforts. I like being warm when it’s cold outside. I like to take a shower with hot water. I want to have the toilet flush when I push the handle. Am I asking too much?

I am in much of Ireland it seems.

It looks like there are different standards of expected comfort. In every place we have stayed in Ireland, not just on this trip, but over the last 13 years of my personal experience.

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What? That Makes No Sense.

IF THERE IS ONE THING I CAN SAY ABOUT IRELAND IT IS: “WHAT? THAT MAKES NO SENSE.”

I don’t mean that as any kind of insult or disrespect. I would never do that because I am a quarter Irish myself and if I did say something insulting I know too many Irish folks who would bury me in the peat bog.

No; when I say, “What? That makes no sense,” I am reacting to something looks out of place. Incongruity is something I find very entertaining. It is the bedrock of Comedy in my not so humble opinion.

The “What? That makes no sense,” in this particular Irish case is strictly horticultural.

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “Trick Or Treat!”

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HALLOWEEN IS HARD UPON US and five times a day people are asking me what I’m doing for Halloween. They don’t like it when I tell them.

If I was nine years old today I would do what I did then in 1955. I’d rub some burnt cork on my face for a beard, make an eyepatch from a piece of fabric from my mother’s sewing supplies, and tie a red bandana around my hear – Instant Pirate!, and then I’d go annoy everyone in the neighborhood for some candy.

But I’m not nine years old, so my plans are different.

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Our American Cousins…Kinda, Sort Of

THEY WERE HERE A MINUTE AGO…BUT NOW THEY’RE GONE. For the last three weeks we were a quartet, but now we are duet. Our Cousins from Alaska have left for home. They have abandoned Mountshannon, Ireland for the balmy weather of Anchorage, Alaska.

They were only going to be with us here for three weeks anyway, but it seemed to fly by. I’ve had weekends that lasted longer than their time with us. Dawn and I will spend these last two weeks in this house before we too pack up our bags and fly home.

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Notes On Cliffs

 

YOU WOULD THINK….AT LEAST YOU WOULD…I MIGHT NOT about what would be the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland. When I was asked that question the other day by one of the Alaskan cousins I had to stop and do what passes for thinking in my world.

“What is the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland, Cousin Krafty?”

Knowing these people as I do I immediately became suspicious. Was this a trick question? Was there a gag hidden in there somewhere?

“Biggest?” Did they mean the physically biggest attraction?

“Biggest Tourist?” Did they mean the attraction that would appeal to tourist who is the biggest? What would appeal to that 600 pound guy I’ve seen on TV?

“In all of Ireland?” Are they trying to trick me with world “All” in there? Do they mean the Republic of Ireland or are they trying to slip one past me by using “all” to include the counties of Northern Ireland?

Do you see my problem here? They are family and because of that I am almost obligated to be suspicious of them.

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I Got It! I Got It!…I Ain’t Got It.

I’LL ADMIT IT – I’M EASILY CONFUSED. If it involves mathematics of some sort I am almost assuredly baffled. It doesn’t have to be Inter-Galactic Hypersomnambulistic Digital Train Schedules or anything. Grocery store coupons tie me in a knot. Going from Metric to Whatever it is we use might as well be done in a dark room wearing a blindfold while listening to chalk on a blackboard, naked.

And then there is Daylight Savings Time. Uhhhhh. OK.

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How To Spot A Pregnant Sheep

SHEEP! THERE ARE SHEEP EVERYWHERE. There are more sheep than people on this island.

And the sheep know it.

As we drive along the Irish country roads we have to be alert because around any curve of the road we might be met by a sheep, ten Sheep, or fifty Sheep. They might be crossing the road or, more likely, walking down the road stopping to graze on roadside grasses. As they are doing this they will take an occasional in our direction – not with any animosity, but to send us a message.

“We were here first, so chill.”

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “I’ve Decided To Not Think”

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PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ASKING ME what I think.

“What do you think about the election?”

“What do you think about the Baseball Playoffs?”

“What do you think of this, that, and the other thing?”

I don’t answer those questions directly. I have become very adept at giving non-answer answers.

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Enlightenment Is Not Always There

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT IT GETS DARK, RIGHT? You have no idea what dark is until you’ve been in a power failure sitting on a cliff looking out at the Atlantic Ocean at night.

Last night there was a real doozy of a very windy storm here on the northwest coast of Ireland. The sheep on the hillside were holding on for dear life. One wrong step and they would be airborne all the way to Scotland.

It was at about 8 PM when things began to get strange. The wind was already blowing and our lights started flickering. They would throw us into darkness for just a second or two then come back on. That was enough to turn off the TV and make the Alarm System twitter and flash. This happened three times until, at almost 11 PM straight up, the lights went off and didn’t come back on.

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“Let Me Get You A Wee Map”

IF THERE’S ONE THING I CAN SAY ABOUT THE IRISH PEOPLE it’s that they are friendly and very helpful. They all seem to be working as unofficial Ambassadors of Goodwill for their country. If they spot us as being from overseas (The U.S.) they will do two things.

First they will tell you that they have been to “The States” and where. Almost always they have been to New York City, Las Vegas, and Florida. Florida can be translated as Disney World.

Secondly, they will ask if they can help you in any way. And they mean it.

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Let’s Play A Game

 

HERE WE ARE PERCHED HIGH ON A CLIFF overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. The view is a panoramic vista of rocky crags, enormous cloudbanks and the ocean out to the horizon. So what are we doing? We are enthralled watching the British version of The Game Show Network.

Can we vacation or what?

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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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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “I’m Glad I’m Not Dave.”

star1THIS MORNING I WENT TO ST. ARBUCKS EARLIER THAN USUAL. I figured I could get some time to write and calmly sneak up on the day.

It didn’t work out that way.

I should have known that things weren’t going to work out for me.

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This Is No Way To Treat A Nervous System

 

IF THERE WAS ONE THING I COULD SAY ABOUT IRISH ROADS IT WOULD BE THAT ONE THING IS NOT ENOUGH. I NEED MORE.

Much like the roads back in the U.S. most roads in Ireland have a number designation, but they also have a Letter attached and that is where the story really gets told.

At the top of the bill are the “M” Roads. The “M11” or the “M7” as an example are super-duper ultra modern divided highways. In Ireland a divided highway is called a “Dual Carriageway.” These roads are in much better condition and better laid out than anything on the American Interstate System.

A slight notch below the “M” Roads are the “N” Highways. These are also excellent roads where you make good time at 120 kph or about 70 mph. They are a good way to travel about the country.

Now, it is on the “R” roads where everything starts to fall apart.

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Rolling After The Rock

MAYBE I AM GETTING OLD, BUT GETTING UP AND WALKING JUST ISN’T AS GRAND AS IT USED TO BE. I had that change pushed in my face this week.

We loaded up the car on a fine Irish morning (That means it wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night.) and headed out from Enniscorthy to play tourist. Our destination was about a 90 minute drive away. We were going to revisit “The Rock of Cashel,” an ancient Royal Castle perched high on a hilltop with a commanding view of the countryside. Anyone with plans of conquest would come around the curve in the road and see that humoungus Fortress Castle up there and think, “Perhaps we should forget this and just go to the beach. We could get a shrimp roll maybe.”

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Connecting All The Way To Disconnect

OH, SWEET JESUS, I DON’T KNOW HOW THEY DID IT. 

Our traveling companions arrived more or less on schedule, but it was a schedule that appears to have been designed by the travel agency of the Marquis de Sade…on a bad day…when his feet hurt.

The “Cousins from Alaska” were coming to Ireland for the first time trusting us and our judgment as to the best way to get from Anchorage, Alaska to Dublin, Ireland without going mad.

No matter how you slice it if you live in Alaska going anywhere takes some serious planning.

For them to get to Dublin their itinerary read something like this: Fly from Anchorage to Seattle. Just about all flights from Anchorage go through Seattle. A layover in Seattle of several hours. Then fly from Seattle to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Several hour layover in Minneapolis. The next leg was the biggie. They then boarded an Aer Lingus plane for the trip nonstop to Dublin overnight. They landed in Dublin at 8:45 AM local time. This made for an amassed time change of NINE HOURS. Their internal alarm clocks must have been screaming by this time.

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