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 “Uncategorized”

I Would Never Lead You Astray

DESPITE MY CURMUDGEONLY REPUTATION I really do try to be a helpful sort of person. Like yesterday afternoon when a stranger asked me for directions. He was passing through town and wanted to have lunch at his favorite restaurant – “Chili’s” and he needed help finding it.

I was proud that I could give him simple and accurate directions. Follow my directions and an imbecile could find that restaurant.

“Just go down this road. When you get to the big courthouse-looking building, turn left. Keep going for a few minutes, then go under the Interstate. Keep going until you see their sign. It’ll be on your right.”

Simple, not too complicated, and absolutely accurate.

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Steps Must Be Taken

I’M GENERALLY PRETTY AGREEABLE. It’s easy to get along with me and I try not to be too grumpy. Unfortunately the world does not always cooperate.

For example: Stairs.

Stairs and I do not agree. I want them to not be there, but stairs demand that I go up or down. I end up just trying to avoid the situation altogether. I would prefer a one level world.

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A Hundred Years Ago

WHILE THE CALENDAR SAYS THAT IT IS NOVEMBER 12 we in this country are thinking of today to honor and remember November 11th.

November 11, 1918 at 11 AM – that was when the fighting stopped by the terms of the “Armistice” marking the end of World War One.

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Gorillas In The Airport

NOT LONG AGO WHILE KILLING TIME waiting for a plane in Houston we were seated near a family – Mommy, Daddy, and three Kids. The kids were glued to their phones, oblivious to anything else. Daddy was sitting there engrossed in a book, but Mommy was busy keeping an eye on her brood and doing her best to keep her Hubby looking civilized.

She was combing his eyebrows.

I’d never seen anyone do that to another human being before. It must be something that they do a lot in that family. Mommy was combing Daddy’s eyebrows, but he never missed a beat with his book. He kept right on reading while she did her eyebrow thing.

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. Some are pretty obvious from the outset. With others it can take some time before we realize that we have stuck our foot in it. I have been collecting a few examples of some wildly errant boo-boos that deserve retelling.

One of my favorites dates from 1959. The fine folks in Ottawa, Ontario were gathered to celebrate the grand opening of a new modern terminal at the Canadian Capital’s Airport. Everyone was having a great time…until it all fell apart.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

Meet The Candidates Then Rinse.

HOORAY FOR ME! I’m getting the chance to be a loving and supportive husband tonight. I’m going with my wife, the lovely and involved, Dawn, to a “Meet the Candidate Night” here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Vote for me. I can smile.”)

My wife trusts me. She knows that I will behave myself in public and not truthfully answer any questions asked of me by the candidates.

We have gone to events like this before. I smile and I shake hands with people I wouldn’t ordinarily touch without wearing a Hazmat Suit. I quietly sip at my plastic cup of Diet Coke.

I’m a good husband.

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“Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries”

 

TODAY’S POSTING IS A BIT OF A DETOUR from the usual stretch of pavement that is this blog. On most days I just write about the speed bumps in my life and my encounters with people who either fascinate, entertain, or appall me. Today I am going to talk about a book I am reading. How exciting, No? A book that really doesn’t rely on pictures, Super heroes, or the secret to quick elimination of Belly Fat. It is a book filled with and about Words. I love it.

To oversimplify it “Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries” by Kory Stamper is about how Dictionaries are written and it is not as simple as one would think. I would classify this book as a Love Letter to Language.

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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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Last One In Is A Samsung

“THANK YOU FOR NOT MAKING ME FEEL LIKE A DUMMY.”

Those were the words that greeted me this morning when I went for my usual coffee transfusion.

One of the Usual Suspects spent ten minutes bemoaning the fact that the day before he had jumped into a swimming pool with his cellphone on his hip. Goodbye cellphone.

It is a sure thing that ten minutes in the pool will kill your cellphone. Putting it in a bag of rice won’t do anything except suggest what to have for lunch.

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Sailing On Lake Starbucks

 

WELL, I STARTED OFF TODAY IN FINE FORM. No sooner did I set my coffee down on my sacred corner table than I hit the straw and flipped the whole thing into the air and created Lake Starbucks on the floor.

What a dump.

I guess I’m off the Bomb Squad.

The Barista who had handled my transaction was quite pleasant, jovial even – not an easy trick at 6:30 AM. Her twinkling eyes and lilting voice disappeared when she was pushing that mop around trying to clean up my mess. So much for good customer relations. The look she shot in my direction when she finished mopping up my coffee could have melted plastic. I have a feeling that I am now on her “Spit in his coffee” list.

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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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Lord, It’s The Flies

FLIES! I HATE FLIES! FLIES HATE ME! We have a mutual Destruction Agreement. I try to kill them and they try to drive me bonkers.

With the advent of warm weather the fly population has skyrocketed. It’s either that or they are being imported from elsewhere to torment me.

Something must be done and yet some people say that it is my own fault. There are those who put the blame on the way I dress. I disagree. Flies are not attracted to my Hawaiian Shirts. Just because my shirts are brightly colored and floral looking doesn’t mean that flies are drawn to me. Hummingbirds maybe, but not flies. I could accept their theory if I was wearing shirts that looked like rotting meat or cow dung, but not a bunch of Hibiscus blooms.

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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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It’s A Fine Line

 

WE HAVE BEEN WATCHING A LOT OF THE OLYMPICS LATELY. Well, not a lot – “some” would be more accurate. “Some” of the Olympics, the part that involves watching people slip, slide, and fall over. I can do that, but nobody offers to give me a Gold Medal.

I’m lucky if I can get a helping hand to get up from the ground. When I slip, slide, and fall over people either laugh and point or pretend to ignore me. I have yet to hear anyone say, “That will cost him at least one and a half points.” I’m just thankful it doesn’t cost me a broken hip. At my age when you break a hip the world starts to measure you for a pine box. Maybe I’d get more respect if I started to wear some Spandex and too much Make-up.

Maybe a little glitter.

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A Milestone

By the way…

Today’s posting is number 1000 here at Down the Hall on Your Left.

A Question


DON’T YOU JUST LOVE FACEBOOK? It has enabled anyone and everyone to speak their mind – regardless of how ill informed, mistaken, or just plain dim they may be.

These are my people.

This morning I saw a posting that read, “If we are descended from monkeys why are there still monkeys?”

That’s a fair question even though it is a lot like, “If my grandfather was an only child and my father didn’t like to eat chicken, why do I still wear a wristwatch?” There’s a lot going on there.

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Three

 

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

 

 

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

 

 

 

She slept through the rest of the night deeply and motionless. When she awoke, the morning sun was coming over the treetops in Buena Vista Park across the street from 1298 Haight Street. Apartment Number 6 was warm and this newcomer to the California Dream knew that there were things to do, memories to be created.

The floors in San Francisco are as hard as anywhere else. One night sleeping on the whiskey colored wood was enough to establish the purchase of a bed as priority number one.

The next night she would sleep on crisp white sheets with soft new pillows and warm blankets to enhance her peaceful dreams.

Her alarm clock on her second morning on Haight Street was a chorus of sharp cries and squawks from outside the bay window. She opened her eyes and slowly focused on the world just in time to see streaks of red, green and blue flash across her field of vision.

She learned later that, years ago, no one remembers exactly when, a number of parrots kept as pets either escaped their cages or were abandoned by shortsighted owners. These parrots soared into the palm and eucalyptus trees of San Francisco and sired new flocks throughout the city. In the mornings and at sunset they spread pallets of color in the air as they soared and glided across the urban landscape. St. Francis would be pleased.

With the morning sun washing through her windows, Marlee drifted lazily in that creamy pool between asleep and awake. Dreaming still, but becoming aware of the world around her. Sounds and motions incorporated into those last minute dreams and cozy never felt so good. The transition from the one world to the other became a luxurious slide of absolute sensory perfection where everything was as it should be and there was no need to hurry.

1298 Haight Street was an old building by San Francisco standards. Built just before the 1906 earthquake and fire that redrew the city map, the pale pink stucco and terra cotta tiled roof made an imposing presence on the corner of Haight and Central. Four stories tall it dominated the corner of Haight and Central. It marked the start of the commercial section of the Upper Haight neighborhood. For the next seven blocks there were shops and galleries that catered to the tourists who were looking for traces of The Summer of Love to take back home to where that Summer was only 1967.

Inside apartment #6, standing in front of the long mirror hung over the bathroom door, Marlee combed out her hair. She had let it grow out to shoulder length, straight and pale blonde, almost white. When taken with her translucent skin it made people think that she was Swedish, but her ancestry was Welsh. Welsh, with some Viking invader blood 1000 years old in the mix. Her eyes were green, almost the shade of the ocean just before it drops off into the deep.

5’8” tall and slim, “boyish” her 10th grade Phys. Ed. teacher had called her. It was never a figure that made men turn their heads as she walked by. Her fine blonde hair and the music in her hips did that.

Her wardrobe was distinctly Midwest Rust Belt plain. It was excessively Earth-toned for a young attractive blonde in California, but she perked up her look with a vibrant scarf and some jewelry. It would do, she thought, as she opened the front gate, set to meet her new neighborhood.

Taking her time, not wanting to miss anything, Marlee window-shopped and ambled into the eclectic commerce of Haight Street.

She considered the latest Rave fashions on the rack at “Housewares”, all to the driving techno-beat from the in-house disc jockey. The iguanas sunning themselves in the window didn’t seem to mind.

She laughed out loud as she looked through the Anarchist Collective Bookstore. Their display of pamphlets and political screeds loudly denounced the capitalism at which they were so dismally failing. Signs trumpeting a “Half-Price Sale” and “Clearance” were everywhere, alerting the three lost-looking teenage browsers that they too could join the Revolution at a discount.

Showing that The Haight sold more than recycled bad ideas and hipster fads, there was “Kids Only.” A sunlight filled shop that catered to the families in the neighborhood with plush toys and dolls sweet enough to melt the heart of any six year-old and probably Mommy and Daddy too.

Marlee also saw the casualties of The Haight’s decades long war with the mythology of drugs. Young men and women, some of them really children yet, stumbled up and down the sidewalks with tombstones in their eyes.

“Spare change” was their mantra. Most were runaways or throwaways living on the street or in nearby Golden Gate Park. Their daily objective being to get the cash to buy a slice of pizza and a sufficient dose of heroin or crack or crystal meth to get them through another fearful day and night. If the money was tight the pizza would wait until tomorrow.

This part of her new neighborhood bothered her, but she knew that her spare change would only end up, eventually, in a zippered body bag.

She quickly adopted the long-time resident’s defensive stare that set her apart from the more vulnerable tourists. “See the young druggies, but do so with disdain.” Today was to be a day for happy exploration. She decided to not be drawn into anything that would ruin that idea.

At the “Haight Street Grocers” a sidewalk display of fruits and vegetables fanned out with colors as vivid as any tie-dye in the window of the nearby T-shirt shop.

Passing on her many opportunities to buy shiny black leather and metal studded clothing; she ended up at Stanyan Street. Here the urban gave way to the bucolic wonder of Golden Gate Park, a horticultural masterpiece of nature-defying greenery that extended all the way to the ocean.

Marlee crossed from the world of the hip, the hopeless and the California Dreamers and entered a more gentle land where manicured lawns, rhododendron groves, and lawn bowlers dressed in white, lowered the adrenaline level of life.

She was enjoying the feel of the sun on her face. She knew that she would be pink in minutes. Sunscreen was added to her mental shopping list.

In a city of surprises she was getting used to the unexpected. Just a two minute walk from one of the busiest streets in the city she found herself sitting on a wooden park bench listening to children squeal with delight as they swooped down a corkscrew sliding board and scaled a three-dimensional plastic maze.

The centerpiece of the playground was a carousel with hand carved and painted fantastic animals going around and around to the tinny music that comes from only the best carousels. It was a glorious piece of 19th century America still enchanting the children of the 21st. Marlee hugged the slender neck of the grinning giraffe as she whirled inside an eddy of flashing lights and laughing babies. This was starting out to be a very good day.

 

It’s A Good Day To Play It Safe

HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY!

Unless you live in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania today is just another Friday. If you do live in Punxutawney, Pennsylvania then this is the one day in the year that anyone gives a hedgehog’s patoot about your town. Today is the day when the Network Morning Shows will give you a 90 second live cutaway to see the annual Groundhog ceremony…and then that’s it until next year.

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Rules Are Rules

IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT ME it is that I’m pretty open minded when it comes to how people want to live their lives. As long as you don’t scare the horses or foul the footpath I’m not going to complain. I’m not saying that I might not shake my head or chuckle a bit, but that’s what I do six days a week.

I actively disapprove of few things. If you are an adult and have the sense God gave a ham sandwich go ahead and live your life. I won’t try to stop you. I won’t try to stop you from making a fool of yourself either. There is an entertainment factor that I find quite valuable in the wacky behavior of others.

Which brings me to today’s excursion down “You gotta be kiddin’ me Boulevard.”

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