Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Travel”

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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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “Some Call It Courage”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – 

Some Call It Courage

20150818_204155THERE ARE A NUMBER OF DIFFERING DEFINITIONS of the word “Courage.” Some call it “Grace under pressure,” while others say it is “Being scared, but acting anyway.” I think that, in many cases, what is called courage is simply not paying attention to what is happening around you.

I heard someone once say that the most courageous person in history was the first person to eat an oyster. How hungry must that person have been to consider eating that thing? If I was faced with that dilemma today I would still hold out for something better.

“I ain’t eating that. There’s gotta be a Cracker Barrel nearby.”

I would even eat a tuna sandwich from the Marathon Gas Station Mini-Mart before I’d pick up that raw oyster and say, “Pass the hot sauce, please.”

Last night my wife, the lovely and highly courageous, Dawn, and I attended the SF Giants vs. the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game at Busch Stadium. There were a number of people there arrayed in Giants shirts, caps, and attitude, but we were nowhere near them. We were surrounded by about 40,000 Cardinals fans, yet we never felt in peril. There was good natured ribbing going on, but being a Giants fan there never required courage – except maybe when I got in line to get a hot dog. Getting a ballpark hot dog always requires a modicum of courage. There is always a smidgen of that “first oyster” memory lurking in the background with ballpark dogs.

After downing our hot dogs we moved to our seats to enjoy the game. It was there that we witnessed the most courageous act since Bruce Jenner decided to have his eyebrows plucked.

Allow me to set the scene –

Here we were, in St. Louis – in Busch Stadium – looking across the field at the largest Budweiser sign in the galaxy – with every vendor in the park yelling, “Cold beer! Get your Bud Light here!” – And, seated in front of us was a young man of indeterminate intelligence, time/space awareness, or survival instinct wearing a shirt bearing the message, “Miller Time.”

This was a fellow who had either lost a serious bet or was trying to commit “Suicide by Brewery.”

Going anywhere in St. Louis wearing a shirt saying “Miller Time” would be comparable to opening a Pulled Pork restaurant in downtown Baghdad, while dressed as Uncle Sam and wearing a Yarmulke.

I’d like to think that this fellow, pictured above, just lives in his own private Idaho and is protected by the Fates who must have one doozy of a surprise waiting for him down the road sometime in the future.

Perhaps this guy will be selected as Joe Biden’s running mate, or Donald Trump’s barber.

I think that the fact that he was able to get out of the stadium alive is a testimony to the kindness of St. Louis-ians. In most other cities he wouldn’t have made it past the old guy selling scorecards before being turned into a crime statistic.

Personally, I didn’t really care. I’m not a beer drinker. My only concern was that we might fall into the category of “collateral damage” if things didn’t go well for Mr. Miller Time. I don’t want my death certificate reading, “Cause of Death: Jackass shrapnel.”

Maybe this guy is one of those people who are considered, “Thrill Seekers.” You know – the kind of person who skydives using a parachute packed by someone with the nickname of, “Better Luck Next Time.” – Or who jumps into shark infested waters carrying a Rare Sirloin Steak in his back pocket.

The most common phrase one hears in reference to “Thrill Seekers” is, “Oh, yeah, I remember him.”

So, whether it be wearing a shirt that doubles as a bull’s eye, or being the first person to eat a raw oyster, it takes something special, I just don’t know if I could call it courage.

I’ll reserve that word for folks in the Armed Forces and anyone who would marry a Kardashian.

But…But…I Love You

 

HERE I AM SITTING IN A SMALL TOWN when I know that my fame and fortune lies in the Big City with Bright Lights. You know, some place like Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Albuquerque, aside from being the only city with two “Qs” in its name, seems to be a really “Happening” place. After all, wasn’t the hit TV show “Breaking Bad” set there? And so is “Better Call Saul”- my personal favorite. Albuquerque seems to be the place to be. It is also the home of a World Record Holding Crazy Person.

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It’s Either Time Travel Or Weed Pulling

I WANT SOMETHING. Actually, I want a number of things, but none of them are very big. I want a nice lunch. I want someone to pull up some weeds for me. I wouldn’t mind it if I could figure a way to eliminate stairs.

See, the things I want are simple and don’t require a big honkin’ commitment from somebody else = except maybe for that weed pulling thing. Not everyone is like me. There are some people who want things that call for another person to put it all on the line – even to the point of risking their life in the process.

Kind of like dating a Redhead.

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They Are All Disappearing

I SAW A NEWS STORY THE OTHER DAY that made me get all misty-eyed and nostalgic. A wonderful piece of my life was disappearing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I got my first VCR back in the early 1980s in the days of my callow middle-age. I wanted a quality machine so I bought a really nice Betamax VCR. After I got it hooked up to my Sylvania SuperSet I had everything I needed for countless hours of cinematic pleasure…except for one thing. That was where I had to fire up the car and head out to – BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO!

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Beware Of The Gaboon Viper

I LOVE TO TRAVEL. I JUST DON’T LIKE GOING PLACES ALL THE TIME. A luxury trip to see the Taj Mahal is one thing. Going to the Dollar Store is something else.

That I can do without.

We are down in Texas, home of the Alamo, the Houston Space Flight Center, and lots of good Barbeque, but am I penciled in for a trip to any of these places? No. I’m being scheduled to be a Bearer on a safari to the Dollar Store.

This whole thing is being presented to me as something special, something once in a lifetime. Really? Yes – because this is the BIGGEST Dollar Tree Store in existence. That must mean that it has Two Aisles with Party Favors and Unknown Brands of Chili Con Carne. That’s my first thought anyway.

Let me compare and contrast my options.

  1. I could go out in the 97°/94% humidity and walk around the largest Dollar Store on Earth – or
  2. I can stay inside with a cool beverage and either get some writing done – or
  3. Sleep

The jury has returned with a verdict!

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“This Is Not Raleigh”

 

I BLAME IT ALL ON THE AIR CONDITIONING. Going from 97 degrees outside into a nice hyper-chilled building makes the brain transform into a head of lettuce. Spend some time in an Airport and watch it all turn into the Produce Section.

We just got back from another one of our visits to Family in Texas. The average temperature down there was a little cooler than molten lava. Of course it wasn’t much different than Indiana/Kilauea. Our flight from Indy to Houston took off during what I like to call “Lunchtime.” That is anytime after breakfast and before supper. I hate eating on an airplane and my attempt to do so on this latest flight didn’t change my opinion. 

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It’s In The Bag

 

LET’S SEE – SOCKS: TWO PER DAY. Nicey-Niceys: One per day barring unforeseen circumstances. Hawaiian shirts: One per day with extras for any formal occasions that might pop up. Pants. That should cover it. Boots and metal-free cheap airport friendly travel shoes are a given.

I travel light. If I do it right my suitcase will weigh about six pounds. My Carry-on might come in at seventy pounds, but the main bag will be like a feather.

Point of Order! Point of Order!

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Life Is Full Of Dusty Buttons

SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT ALONE. That’s another way of saying my personal motto: “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you should.”

Would you pick up a stick of Dynamite with a short lit fuse? You could I suppose, but it wouldn’t be a good idea. Would you go up to every stray dog on the street and try to pet it? You could, but again – not a good idea.

“Oh, look, Harvey, he has foam all around his mouth. He must have been getting a shave.”

Yeah, right.

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This Has Not Been Fun

 

WE ARE BACK FROM CALIFORNIA where everything was sunny, bright, and cold. Every day it was mostly in the 60s where we were and I was toddling about in a Hawaiian Shirt designed for the 70s and 80s. Naturally the souvenir I brought back was a head cold.

Summer colds are the worst. While the outside temperatures might bump into the 70s or higher I am already running a fever and battling the best of Corporate America’s Air Conditioning.

We are in Indiana and it is Summertime. I am still feeling chills and fever so I am wearing a sweatshirt and drinking iced tea. It’s just not making any sense.

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Where Was Sacagawea When We Needed Her?

WE HAVE BEEN SPENDING A FEW DAYS OUT IN SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA. It is a lovely city with a great climate. I was, however, feeling a serious lack that needed filling.

My wife, the lovely and actively involved, Dawn, and I have been attending an annual church meeting/conference. While she is working hard I am here mainly to serve as “Arm Candy.” I can handle that.

Because my function is not really needed in Meetings, Seminars, and Committee sessions I have a fair amount of time on my hands. That is when things began to go south in a figurative sense. I needed some coffee and I was a stranger in a strange land.

Google Mars told me that there were several oases of coffee nearby – one of them a scant 0.2 miles away. One of the other conference attendees said that she walked there in 9 minutes – and she uses a cane.

I stopped at the front desk of the Marriott Something Hotel and asked for directions. The young lady on duty smiled constantly as she gave me specific instruction to steer me to the 0.2 miles away Starbucks.

“Just go out of the front door here and turn left. It is about a 10 minute walk. Would you like a cup of coffee right now?”

She must have had one of those Yeti gizmos stashed behind her desk. I took a raincheck on her offer. I wanted the real thing. All I had to do was to remember to “Go out of the front door here and turn left.” I could do that. I am a college graduate.

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Throwback Thursday – From June 2015 – “Four Corners”

Four Corners

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THERE IS AN ODDITY of cartography that draws thousands of people to a dusty, flaming hot and remote spot on the desert land of the Navaho Nation.

I really can’t tell you what state it is in because it is, and it isn’t, in four different states simultaneously.

This spot of dusty Navaho land is called “The Four Corners Monument” and it is where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico meet in a pinpoint of bureaucratic, “I’ll be darned.”

For some reason, thousands of people every year drive out into the desert, fork over the price of admission to the Navaho land, and the pose for pictures while trying to stand exactly on the spot of congruence.

I was there myself not long ago. It was a hellishly hot day and there was no shade. There was a line of people (couples, families, bikers – I don’t understand that one either) all waiting to have their pictures taken.

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You Didn’t Know I Could Dance

 

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. With the start of good warm weather and some rain all of the flowers are blossoming and the lawns are green. I have noticed that when Nature begins to spruce up and make itself more attractive and clean looking the people around town start making efforts to do the same.

For example – I noticed this morning that the local Starbucks has replaced the window with the bullet hole. I’d say that is a big step forward.

In our neighborhood things are looking up as well. We have a new roof on the house; the little old lady across the street has planted a lot of new flowers and trimmed her shrubs.

Another major improvement is that our neighbors next door are moving to Florida. (Let us all stand while we play “The Hallelujah Chorus” and do a little dance.)

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No Chafing Allowed

THE PLANE LANDS AND WE GO HOME. Our luggage arrives the next day. That seems to be part of a more frequently occurring pattern lately.

Yup, this is a follow-up to a post from last week.

Sometimes it is our fault. Sometimes it is the airline’s fault. Sometimes it is beyond anyone’s control. It is Fate, Kismet, Dumb Luck.

Being mere human beings, we are flying around in defiance of the laws of physics, gravity, and some guy named Murphy things are bound to go wrong every so often. All we can do is to try to prepare to sidestep the inevitable.

This brings us to why I have underwear in my carry-on computer bag.

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Krafty Pops A Wheelie

 

HOW ABOUT A LIFE HACK that, while it isn’t exactly wrong, it isn’t exactly kosher either?

My wife, the lovely and aeronautically savvy, Dawn, and I have just returned from another excursion to Texas AKA The Surface of the Sun. When the temperature would hit 95 degrees people started saying, Oh, good. It’s beginning to cool off.”

We were ready to fly home as soon as we dropped off our rental car – a Kia “Soul.” (BTW – it is a Kia “Soul” not “Sole” because nobody with soles or feet would ever fit into the back seat. Double amputees only could ride there.)

Our scheduled flight from Corpus Christi to Houston was delayed for more than an hour by bad weather in New Orleans. Once it arrived we had a quick 35 minute hop to Houston, but our once planned 75 minute layover there was now reduced to ten minutes. Uh, Oh.

We landed at Gate 25 and our plane to Indy was sitting at Gate 51. In Houston that is a distance similar to that of the Earth to the Moon. Big Uh, Oh.

This is where the “Life Hack” comes into play.

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“Little Krafty Sunshine”

 

EVERY SUMMER I ENJOY SITTING OUTSIDE in the sunshine even if it is hot and humid. Call me crazy. OK! OK! No need to do so with such enthusiasm. It was a rhetorical thingy anyway. A simple nod of agreement would have been sufficient.

No matter your opinion, it is a fact – I like the hot and humid days of summer. Do I sweat? Sure I do, like a nun in a whorehouse, but all I can tell you is that it all feels good on my skin. It physically feels good.

I have mentioned this to my Doctors and they just look at me and shrug,

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Packing Luggage Is An Art

WHENEVER MY WIFE, the lovely and transportationally adept, Dawn, and I go anywhere we are faced with a dilemma – What should we pack and what should be left at home.

Some things are obvious – Socks. I need socks so I make sure that I pack them. Other things like….oh, the refrigerator, stay at home. A notebook and extra pens go with me. My Giants beach umbrella with the built in beverage cooler stays at home too. Other things are not so easy to decide about.

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Theoretically Speaking

 

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF JUNE. I’m sorry, but didn’t this year just start a week or two ago? How can we be closing in on the halfway point already? I know that time can slip away if you don’t pay attention, but I have been keeping my eye, both of them actually now that they are cataract-free, tightly focused on both the calendar and the clock.

Hmmm? Is something fishy going on around here?

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “Baaad, Baaad, LeeRoy Brown”

Throwback Thursday from May 2015 

 

Baaad, Baaad, LeeRoy Brown

manandgoat1WE HAD A VISITOR TO TERRE HAUTE (That’s French for “Care for a donut?”) a few days ago. Actually, it was two visitors – a fellow named Steve Westcott and LeeRoy (His spelling, not mine) Brown, his goat.

Mr. Westcott is from Seattle, undoubtedly heavily caffeinated and trying raise money to help build an orphanage in Kenya. He has the goal of walking all the way to Times Square in New York City. Why he is taking the goat with him remains unclear.

Making these treks across country to raise money for various charitable causes is not new. Taking a goat with you is a unique twist, however.

Mr. Westcott has a webpage about all of this:

http://www.needle2square.com/

He even has a blog running about it, but it looks like he hasn’t added to it for several months. The goat hasn’t said much either.

I looked at a number of his blog entries and my first reaction was, “Who’s crazier, the guy with the goat or the people he meets along the way?”

Blog date: 9/1/2014

Place: Denver, Co.

“Now, as I am walking down 16th Street about five blocks I was surrounded by four motorcycle cops.  No joke!  The first thing they said to me was, “Hey man you were told not to bring your llama down here.”  I said, “I am sorry, I don’t have a llama.” 

“You can’t walk on 16th Street.  You need to go over to 15th Street.”  

Now, I get towards the edge of 15th Street. There is a 7-11 and I want to get myself something to drink.  I tie LeeRoy to a flag pole out front, I come out and there are people all around. This lady comes out of nowhere in a full head to toe peach pant suit. She is yelling, walking up to me screaming about llamas.  She says, “You were told by the police not to bring your llamas down here!”

I start yelling back.  I say, “LADY, IT’S NOT A LLAMA!” I tell her, “I am trying to leave!  You are in my way! I am trying to leave!  It’s not a llama!”  I finally just start yelling, “IT’S NOT A LLAMA, IT’S A GOAT!  IT’S NOT A LLAMA!”

I would have thought that the people of Denver would have a better understanding of what a goat looks like. Obviously not.

Mr. Westcott has reported that he and the goat can cover anywhere from four to twenty miles a day – depending on the attitude of the goat.

What must the goat think of all this? They have been walking for more than two years. LeeRoy has to be wondering about Mr. Westcott’s sanity.

I really do doubt that the goat appreciates the goal of building an orphanage in Kenya. After walking across country for two years I doubt that I would appreciate anything but a hot tub and a cold drink. I know that I would NOT appreciate Mr. Westcott and as far as LeeRoy Brown is concerned – I’ve eaten goat before.

I do wish them both well on their journey. I am concerned that when they get to New York City things might get dicey for LeeRoy. The coyotes that live in Central Park might see Mr. Westcott leading LeeRoy up the street and say to themselves, “I didn’t know that we could get food delivered here.”

Well, Mr. Westcott and LeeRoy – Bon Voyage, bon appetite, and, remember, New York doesn’t want you bringing in any llamas either.

UPDATE

To bring everyone up to date on this saga – I have learned that the goat “LeeRoy” died before they got to New York. The cause of his death wasn’t reported, but I suspect it may have been a suicide.

John

I Think I’ll Take The Bus

 

“HOLY LIABILITIES, BATMAN!” Yet another reason to stay off of Interstate 70 has just reared its ugly head. The first “Driverless Car” has come to Terre Haute (That’s French for “Who is your insurance agent?”).

Maybe it is a coincidence or someone is making a sly statement, but the headline on the story in the local fish-wrap reads thusly: “First Driverless Car Hits the Market in Terre Haute.” Given the recent problems with this new technology “Hits the Market” may be more prescient than they think.

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