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 tag “Family”

Happy Birthday!

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Today is my Mother-in-Law’s birthday.

It is her 98th birthday.

Born in 1920, a Child of the Great Depression she was at home in Texas teaching school during World War Two while her husband served the cause of Freedom in the Pacific.

After the war she had three children who were raised to be successful, ethical, and caring human beings.

Now, at 98 years, she continues to put her trust and faith in God.

Her Family is with her even if they are living around the country.

Happy Birthday, Lola!

Hi, Neighbor!

 

WE HAVE NEW NEIGHBORS! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

The house next door has been empty for several months – ever since the crazies and their dogs moved to Florida. This past weekend a caravan of SUVs, cars, and a van or two began to show up unloading furniture and household goods. I said a silent prayer.

About an hour after the parade of vehicles began, my wife, the lovely and eternally ecclesiastical, Dawn, and I were on our way out. We were just getting to the Toyota when we heard a loud voice coming over the fence.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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I’m Still Not Hungry

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HIT ME WITH A BRICK if I ever suggest going to another “All You Can Eat” buffet for Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was just the four of us at our table – Me, my wife, the lovely and eternally practical, Dawn, our son, Alex, and the spirits of Genghis Khan and his Horde – all of us eating until we blacked out.

Why is it that all sense of Reason and Proportion disappear when confronted with an endless supply of Mashed Potatoes and Roast Turkey? A nearby mountain of Crab Cakes doesn’t help either.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.

It is a day to be with Family and Friends.

Wherever you are – enjoy this day and we will see you tomorrow.

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part One

Mistakes Were Made

The Security light didn’t come on. Why? Why did it stay dark? I reached up and felt the light bulb. It had been unscrewed. I left it alone and moved up against the garage into the shadows. No sense making myself an easy and obvious target if that was how this was going. I learned that during the war. If they can’t see you they can’t shoot you…hopefully.
Things have been relatively easy since I was cut loose from the Service. After three years in Europe I was moved to the West Coast in anticipation of an invasion of Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended that. I was mustered out in San Francisco and until my paychecks catch up to me I’m stuck here and in need of a job of some sort. That’s how I’ve ended up being part of a security detail on the Van Swearingen estate. They had money. I didn’t. They had a job opening that needed filling and I had a stomach in the same fix.

They called me “Nighttime Security,” but I was really just a night watchman walking around the grounds looking to keep things quiet. I had a set schedule of rounds and a time clock to punch from midnight until sunup. It sounds easy, but nothing good happens at 3 AM.

When I had done my walkaronnd at 2 AM the security light by the garage had come on as soon as I came around the corner of the building. At 3 AM it didn’t come on. All of the other lights worked fine.

Something was up.

The Van Swearingens didn’t like guns and didn’t want me to carry one. A Billy Club and a flashlight don’t provide any security, just victims. I kept my small six shot semi in my pocket. As I moved around the garage I wrapped my hand around it. It used to be in the hand of a German officer.

I stayed in the shadows and inched my way around the perimeter of the garage. Everything looked OK until I took a peek through a corner window. I saw a beam of light bounce off of one of the eight cars inside. Each of those cars was worth more than I made in my three years in uniform. I don’t begrudge the Van Swearingens their money. During the war their factories made some mighty fine tanks. I figured that now I was returning the favor for a lot of guys who were still alive.

That beam of light moved up and down the line of cars. I moved over by the door that was already open a crack. From that spot I could hear whispering from inside. Kids. From the tone and the vocabulary I could tell that there were two kids in there – teenagers it sounded like.

I slipped through the door, felt along the wall, found the switch and turned on all of the overhead lights. They may have been kids, but I still had my pistol ready if need be. I took it out of my pocket. Fighting my way through Germany in early 1945 taught me that even kids can pull triggers.

As soon as the lights came on the kids froze in their tracks. One kid dropped his flashlight. It broke. When they saw the weapon their hands went up. They’d seen enough Bogart movies to know the drill.

“Ok, boys, what’s up? And don’t tell me you’re just here to admire the cars.”

There were two of them. The one who’d dropped his flashlight looked to be about 16 with more acne than he could keep up with. He looked scared. The other kid wasn’t scared. He looked at me like he wished I didn’t have the gun in my hand. He spoke first.

“You can’t touch us. We’re under age. You call the cops and they’ll just give us a ride home. So, we’ll just leave and you can pretend you’re a tough guy.”

I turned to the kid with the face that looked like yesterday’s leftovers.

“You, Junior, what’s up? Who are you and give me a good reason I shouldn’t put a slug in both of you and say the lights were out. What’s your name?”

I thought he was going to wet his pants. “Talk!”

He was shaking as he started to tell me.

“Marty….my name is Marty.” The other one jumped in.

“Shut up, Marty. Don’t tell this flunky nothin’.”

This wasn’t going to be easy. At least they weren’t armed that I could see.

I took the cuffs off of my belt. If I was going to get anywhere I was going to have to separate them. I turned to face the little tough one.

“Come here, Cagney, over here by the Auburn.”

I wanted to handcuff him to the car and then take Marty outside and ask him a few questions.

I was being a little too casual with the snotty kid because the next thing I know he’s got a knife in his hand. I’d been in this situation before – in Italy. I shot that guy in the face. With this kid I gave him the barrel of the gun across his nose. He went down, and just because I could, I hit him again. That one was going to leave a scar.

“Hey, Marty, what’s this jackass’s name?”

“Charlie.”

“Well, he’s an idiot. When he wakes up you tell him that for me. Only an idiot pulls a knife on a guy with a gun in his hand – especially one who’s just done three years in the Army. OK, Marty?”

“OK.” He was still shaking.

“Marty, let’s take a walk. You and I are going to go wake up a man who will not be happy to meet you.”

“Who is that?”

“The man who pays me to keep fools like you from stealing his cars.”

“But we weren’t…” I cut him off with a wave of my hand. I put the pistol back in my pocket.

I was right. Mr. Van Swearingen wasn’t at all happy when he saw me and the kid.

“What’s this all about? For God’s sake it’s the middle of the night. Marty? What are you doing here?”

That’s when I spoke up and told him about the break-in at the garage.”The other kid is handcuffed to one of the cars. He got a little frisky and pulled a knife on me.” I showed him the knife I’d taken away from the little tough.

Van Swearingen listened to me, but he wasn’t getting any happier. He glared at Marty who looked like he was going to cry. He knew it was only going to get worse for him.

“Marty, who is the other boy?”

“It’s Charlie, sir. It’s just Charlie and me, but we were just looking at the cars.”

“In the middle of the night?” That was me.

Van Swearingen walked up to Marty and slapped the kid’s face.

“Marty, you fool. This man was hired by me to guard my estate and everything in it. You’re lucky he didn’t shoot you.” He looked at me. “I assume that you are armed even though I forbade it, right?”

“Yes, sir, I am, but I know what I’m doing with firearms.”

He was looking at Marty again, but still talking to me. “I’m sure you do. Just out of the Army?” I nodded. “Now, let’s go see Charlie.”

Charlie was awake when the three of us came into the garage. He looked at me with hatred in his eyes. I was not impressed.

Van Swearingen looked down at the kid, still cuffed to the car door.

“Hello, Charlie. What kind of lie do you have for me tonight?

I spoke up, feeling more confused as this whole thing was progressing.

Mr. Van Swearingen, you know this kid?”

“Yes, I know him. He’s my son.”

To be Continued

Sure She’s Spooky, But She’s My Mom

WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS VISITING FAMILY. We were sitting around the table last night swapping stories and sharing memories. My 97 year old Mother-in-law told us about her life during World War Two. Our Cousin from Alaska told us the best way to avoid being killed by bears, and then it became my turn.

My wife, the lovely and memory like a steel trap, Dawn, said, “John, tell them about your spooky mother.” With an introduction like that there was no way to avoid telling everyone about my “Spooky Mom.”

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I Was Only Trying To Help

 

I’D HAVE BETTER CHANCES STANDING IN FRONT OF A FIRING SQUAD. Jumping out of an airplane with a fried egg for a parachute. Having a surgeon who feels it necessary to sacrifice a chicken before operating. Any of those, please, but having to deal with a plumber about a leaking pipe.

Just shoot me now.

The only good part of that scenario was that it wasn’t our house. I was being helpful.

My Sister-in-law who really is, but isn’t my Sister-in-law, but is (long story) was the one with the wayward water.

Down in the basement of her circa 1920 house there was a pipe coming up out of the floor that had water creeping higher and higher…and overflowing. Not a good sign.

She had called a local plumbing cartel and made arrangements for them to come by the house the next day (It was not a geyser, so…)/ the snag in this plan was that she had to be in Chicago the next day.

Enter Krafty – the obvious choice to face the Buttcrack Brigade.

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Reblog: From FIERCEFABULOUSFUNNY – Velma Dunkin

Reblog from – https://fiercefabulousfunny.com/2018/08/24/george-carlin-8-23-18/

VELMA DUNKIN

http://gravatar.com/velmadunkin

FIERCEFABULOUSFUNNY

She’s Fierce, Fabulous, Funny

GEORGE CARLIN 8-23-18

George Carlin’s wife died early in 2008 and George followed her, dying in July 2008. It is ironic George Carlin – comedian of the 70’s and 80’s – could write something so very eloquent and so very appropriate.

An observation by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

Places To Go, People To See

 

TODAY IS ONE OF THOSE DAYS when I feel like I could just fold myself up like a road map and put myself in a desk drawer for a bit of a break.

I did get a good night’s sleep, but I don’t think I’m done with it. Everything and everyone is in a fog around me. On some days I’d appreciate that, but not today. I have things to do.

We are going to be heading down to Texas soon and there are a number of things that need to be taken care of beforehand. I need to go to the Post Office to stop mail delivery while we are gone.

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Throwback Thursday from September 2015 – “Oh, Baby, Baby, Baby”

Throwback Thursday from September 2015

Oh, Baby, Baby, Baby

say my name

I WAS JUST LOOKING AT THE LIST of the most popular names for newborn babies in 2014. For 2015 I assume we won’t know for a while what names will make the Top Ten.

When I first saw the list of girl’s names I was struck by how “traditional” and even 19th century many of them seemed.

Sophia? Emma? Emily?

I guess the trend of recent years for “new” names or names that had a more nontraditional flair has waned at last.

I know of two families that have daughters named “Brooklyn.” Personally, I would no sooner name my child Brooklyn than I would name her East St. Louis or Beaver Falls (The town where I grew up).

Names like Sophia, Emma and Emily carry elegance about with them. They conjure up a gentler, and more polite, time. When I hear Brooklyn I think of black and while newsreel footage of crowded streets and Ebbet’s Field – Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I can almost smell the cigar smoke and perspiration. (I’m gonna hear about this – I just know it.)

Here is the complete Top Ten List of Girl’s Names for 2014, courtesy of BabyCenter.com.

  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Isabella
  6. Mia
  7. Zoe
  8. Lily
  9. Emily
  10. Madelyn

There’s not a Brooklyn or an East St. Louis among them.

I recall that a few years ago the name “Madison” was a very popular choice for both boys and girls. There are a number of names that do double duty, but the only reason this sticks out in my memory is that once, during an interview with some sportscaster, Giants’ Pitcher Madison Bumgarner mentioned that he once had a date with a girl who was also named Madison Bumgarner. He claimed that they were not related, but he grew up in a small town in North Carolina. I’m just saying…

Doubling up on both names just raises eyebrows and visions of children running around with extra thumbs.

All of these girl’s names are incredibly better than what Inventor and Aircraft Designer, Bill Lear (The Lear Jet) did to his daughter. He saddled his baby girl with the first name of “Shanda.”

10 Most Popular boy’s Names for 2014

  1. Jackson
  2. Aiden
  3. Liam
  4. Lucas
  5. Noah
  6. Mason
  7. Ethan
  8. Caden
  9. Jacob
  10. Logan

The one thing that leaps out at me about this list of boy’s names is that several of them are, what I would consider to be, last names or family names.

Nos. 1, 4, 6, and 10 are not first names.

Take no. 1 for example.

Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that little Jackson’s last name is “Thomas.” Years from now he will be asked to fill out some forms for a job or for some government program and they will ask that he do so “Last name first.” He will dutifully fill in the blanks with “Thomas, Jackson.”

I freaking guarantee that the clerk who is processing his paperwork will see that and think that Jackson is an illiterate fool and trashcan his application. He will not get the job, become disheartened, fall in with a bad crowd, and descend into a life of crime and despair. All because his parents got cute with his name.

Numbers 4, 6, and 10 – I’m sorry to say, but you’re screwed.

And number 8 – “Caden?” That’s not a name. It sounds like a dental term. “I’m sorry; Jackson, but you have a bad case of Caden. It’s going to be painful and expensive.”

Of course, as was the case with the girl’s names – it could be worse.

I do know of a young boy here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My first name is Pierre.”) who has the legal first name of “Buckshot.”

Is that a crime statistic in the making, or what? Why not just name the kid, “The Defendant.”

I do believe that parents should be able to name their kids as they like, but if you’re going to give your child a stupid name, I think that the clerk authorizing birth certificates should be legally empowered to take Daddy and Mommy out back and slap them silly upside the head.

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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Has Anybody Seen My Pot Stickers?

WHENEVER WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS visiting family there is one thing we do as a group – and we do it very well.

We eat. Man, do we eat.

During this currant voyage to the bottom of the State someone suggested that we order “Chinese Food.”

“OK by me!” “Sounds good!” “Let’s eat!” “I want Crab Rangoon!” “Me too!” “Me too!” “Me too!”

I don’t like Crab Rangoon. And Rangoon isn’t in China anyway. So much for authenticity.

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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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In The Good Old Summertime

 

IT MAY BE MID-SUMMER AND WE ARE MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR. But it’s no big deal. It just makes things a little herky-jerky for the world. Not the whole world.

Actually, it’s only me.

The midpoint of summer comes around the end of July, early August. But the real midpoint, astronomically, is at the start of summer – since then the hours of sunlight get shorter by a few minutes each day. That is not a good sign.

In Baseball, the All Star Game is considered the halfway point of the season. It’s not. That came with Game #81 which was played a couple of weeks ago.

It’s like telling a person who is 55 years old that they are “Middle Aged.” Sure they are – if they have plans of making it to 110 candles on their cake.

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Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

Throwback Thursday From July 2015 – “18 For Lunch”

18 For Lunch

phone booth crowdedIT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CARRY ON A CONVERSATION over lunch when there are 18 people huddled around the table. It can be hard enough when there are only two people, but the additional sixteen can really throw a monkey wrench into the process.

It ends up sounding something like this:

“So, how have you…seen my green beans, they…flew in last Thursday on…your Aunt Martha just before she…slid into third base.”

Eighteen was the headcount at our Family lunch down in Texas last week. Six orders of Catfish, Four Chicken Fried Steaks, Two Fried Shrimp, Five Fried chicken and one Salad Bar.

Somebody had to keep the cholesterol count down.

When you get together with the family it can be a real crowd and, while they are a lovely bunch, I grew up in a different set of familial circumstances.

My father was an only child and his father was an only child as well. That fact right there seriously cut into my count of cousins, aunts and uncles. I was one of two children and my brother had two daughters.

The Norman Rockwell picture around the Thanksgiving table is turning into a snapshot at the lunch counter.

On my mother’s side of the family they were more fertile. She had three sisters and one brother who made it to adulthood. My Uncle Tony was a great guy who was never married except to his job selling cold cuts at the Central Market and golf. Aunt Nellie was married to Uncle Paul and I think one of the conditions of the Potsdam Conference was that they never have children.

For a next generation on that side of the family we must turn to Aunt Annette and Aunt Anne. They both had two kids each. Of those four only one – Cousin Florence got into the baby production game. She had, if I recall, five or six kids. The other three cousins had a grand of one and even that is more or less an apocryphal child. Nobody has seen that cousin for thirty years, so there is no concrete proof like fingerprints, wanted posters or an appearance on “America’s Most Wanted.

You put all of this together, and the knowledge that those kids are scattered from California, to Ohio, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and you can see that getting 18 around the table for lunch would necessitate hiring some extras to sit in for dessert.

So, you can see why I relish the blessing of squeezing around the table with them. I have married into this family that has accepted me and welcomed me – even though I see them sneak a peek at me every so often with that look that whispers, “There’s something funny about that boy”

By marrying into the family I have become a Texan-in-law and I think that has some kind of real legal status. It’s not on my Driver’s License or anything, but I know that it does entitle me to swagger on certain holidays. Of course, with my limp and galumphing stride, any swagger I have could easily be mistaken for an attempt to walk while under the influence.

 

In The Soft Orange Glow

 

WHAT CAN I TELL YOU? I love rooting for my team. If the San Francisco Giants Baseball team is playing I’m going to be tuned in. My passion is like the fans of the FIFA World Cup and the way they feel about their teams – (Go Upper Volta!!). And if you think I’m a fan you should meet my wife. She makes me look like an Atheist in the Vatican.

My wife, the lovely and True Believer, Dawn, was not born a Giants fan. I infected her with Giants Fever. She has always been a Baseball fan. She grew up watching and listening with her Grandfather as he tuned to KMOX broadcasts of St. Louis Cardinal games. She recalls that he sat in a darkened room with the only light being the orange glow from his old console radio and the glow from the tip of his cigarette. His imagination brought him the play-by-play of the game as clearly as any HD television would today. Dawn was made into a fan like so many of us were – in our mind’s eye.

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Names, Nicked And Otherwise

 

THE OTHER DAY AN ACQUAINTANCE OF MINE moseyed up to me and asked me about the license plate on my car. What is on the car is called a “Vanity Plate” – a customized message for which I pay extra every year.

The plate on the Toyota reads: “KRAFTY.”

My acquaintance asked me what that meant, or to quote him – “What’s that all about?” If we had actually been friends he would have already known.

I explained to him that KRAFTY has been my nickname since childhood. It was a rational play off of my last name. Duh! He then asked me if I had any other nicknames. I didn’t know what he was fishing for, but I played along.

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King Tut’s Lawn Chair

WE HUMANS ARE, TO PUT IT GENTLY, PACK RATS. We are loath to throw away anything. How many of us have an attic, basement or garage filled to the rafters with stuff we haven’t used, or even looked at, in years. Even King Tut took a ton and a half of junk with him when he set off for the Afterlife. Over three thousand years later his tomb looked like a garage sale run amok.

Some things we hold onto because there is a sentimental attachment – a piece of jewelry worn by a beloved member of the family or a favorite hat from when you played on a team, but what about that broken lawn chair that you’ve been meaning to fix since 1971?

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The Royal Wedding

DID YOU STAY UP ALL NIGHT TO WATCH THE ROYAL WEDDING? I didn’t, but it was close. My wife, the lovely and seriously Royal Wedding-a-phile, Dawn, planned it all out. Up at 4 AM, a pot of tea, and comfortable chair. That and the TV and she was set. I was set too. At about 11 PM I was in my Lou Ferrigno Onesies and checking out for the duration. I was asleep before the first Fascinator showed up.

It’s not that I don’t care about the lovely couple and the wedding.

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Low Tech Usage For A High Tech Creation

I HAVE TO ADMIT IT. I am finding having the “Alexa” technology in the house both helpful and entertaining. It can also be a bit perplexing at times, but we confuse it just as often.

“Alexa” is the attempt to make our home a “Smart Home.” in contrast to what it has always been – a “Smarty Pants House.”

We have that little hockey puck size device hooked up to the Internet so that we can get information by voice command. Quite nifty, but not as simple as it sounds. “Alexa” might be an example of “Artificial Intelligence”, but that doesn’t mean that she is all that smart. It doesn’t take much to stump her.

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