Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Government”

The Latest Joy Killers

 

THE LATEST ATTACK UPON HAPPINESS AND JOY IS UPON US. Two “Food Scientists” as they call themselves, (Actually two Dweebs from Seattle) have announced to the world that they have created a “Beanless Coffee” that tastes, they say, “…the way coffee should taste.” In other words these two morons have reinvented “Postum.” (Look it up)

          An article from NPR comes close to orgasm lauding this bit of nonsense.

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What Are The Odds?

 

SON OF A GUN! WELL, I’LL BE… GOOD GOLLY, MISS MOLLY! It looks like we are going to get a Casino here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Where are the nickel slots?”)

Maybe.

The Indiana State Legislature, AKA “The House of Hoosier,” has given approval for there to be two new Casinos opening in the State. It has taken decades for that approval to be granted.

The only possible roadblock in the way is that there is to be a local referendum vote this fall or next spring at the latest. Local opposition is what has screwed the pooch in the past. This time it looks like the odds are much more likely to favor the Casino than ever before.

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Anyway…

I SAW A LITTLE NEWS ITEM TODAY that caught my attention and actually set me to thinking.

Not an easy thing to do.

Most things that I read bring my thinking to a screeching halt or make me hungry.

Anyway…

This news item was an announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation along with the Federal Railroad Administration. I never knew that there was a Federal Railroad Administration. I knew about Lionel and American Flyer, but the Federal Railroad Administration? Never.

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When The Revolution Comes…

I HAVE ARRIVED AT AN IMPASSE. I’m not sure anymore that I can define between what is Reality and what is a poorly written Situation Comedy. I watch what is going on around me and I keep waiting for things to cut away to a commercial for a “Wait! There’s more!” infomercial. Let me tell you what is going on here in lovely Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Run that past me again.”) and then you decide if I am in a real place or in a hallucination.

No names will be given because…just because, that’s why.

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Yes! No! Maybe! No! Yes! I Don’t Know!

 

BY AND LARGE TERRE HAUTE (THAT’S FRENCH FOR, “I CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND.”) is a quiet town that lives life one day at a time – except when it comes to making decisions. The civic power structure of this town can never make up its mind about anything. I’d hate to go to lunch with Terre Haute; it would never be able to pick what to eat.

Whenever the City and its elected officials, are called upon to make a decision it must first go through a lifetime of hemming and hawing. They will make up their minds and then immediately reverse themselves and go back to square one. It is as if the City is being run by a collection of squirrels who are trying to cross the street.

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Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – The Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – The Conclusion

“Where is everybody?”

That was a good question. Ten minutes ago it looked like “Pops” Mulroy held all the cards, but now…? Now it looked like he was “all-in” and holding a dead hand. His two gigantic thugs certainly were. His eyes darted around looking for help. There wasn’t any. It was time for me to show him what I had in my pocket. Now Charlie and I were holding all the Aces.

When “Pops” saw the pistol in my hand it was if all the air went out of him.

“Timmy, is that necessary?”

“I hope not, but I don’t know what’s going on here either and you might be our ticket out of here.” The man I had trusted slowly shook his head.

“That gun won’t get you – or me – out of here if things have fallen apart. We are all expendable.”

“Then let’s keep walking and find out,” I told him.

I looked over at Charlie who had put away his knife and was holding two Russian semi-automatic pistols, one in each hand. He had a deadly serious look on his face.

“Those big boys don’t need these pieces anymore and they might come in handy if things get nasty.”

I was coming to really like and trust that boy.

It was me, “Pops,” and Charlie standing there all alone. No one else was visible and the plant was dead silent, but that sure didn’t mean that everyone was gone. You can’t hide that many Russians quickly – and what about my men, my Security Team? I knew from the FBI that at least two of them were moles.

And where was Van Swearingin?

If I was going to get any answers we had to get moving to Van Swearingin’s office.

“Ok, let’s keep moving…and one more thing. “Pops,” if you try to call out to your Comrades or get stupid on me – I. Will. Shoot. You.

We moved on through the plant. I was hoping that the Boss would be there in his office – in handcuffs, but I was also hoping that he and everybody else was gone. I didn’t care where. I was one man with a snub-nosed five shot .38 caliber handgun. That’s not much. Not much at all.

There were only two places in the plant where you get everybody together at one time: the Loading Docks or outside. The Loading Dock area would be crowded unless they opened the large bay doors – and then you were outdoors. I wanted to avoid either place until I knew more.

When we got close to Van Swearingin’s office I could see that the door was wide open. I’d never seen it like that before. I had Charlie and “Pops” stay out of the office while I slipped through the door. The Receptionist’s area was empty. The door to Van Swearingin’s private office was ajar. I looked into his office. Van Swearingin was sitting at his desk, his back to me, looking out of his window, the only window in the entire building, onto the desolate landscape of the Salt Flats. I walked in.

“Hello, Tim.” He didn’t turn around.

“Boss? What’s going on? Where is everybody?”

“You weren’t supposed to be here today.” He turned his chair around. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. He was pale and his eyes were lifeless. His hands were empty, but there was a shiny chromed .45 caliber pistol in his lap. I didn’t like that. “Why don’t you give me that weapon, Boss?”

“No.”

I couldn’t reach it and I didn’t want him to start shooting that cannon. We just looked at each other for a few moments. If he was going to say anything I’d have to start the conversation.

“What’s going on, Mr. Van Swearingin? One minute this place is crawling with…” He cut me off.

“What’s going on, Tim? A lifetime of mistakes coming back at me is what’s going on. I trusted people I shouldn’t have. I let them stay even when I knew I should have gotten rid of them. They took my son as a hostage. I didn’t have the courage to fight them. I let my own personal weakness and greed allow me to betray my country. What’s going on you ask me?”

“Where are the Russians?” I insisted. His self-pity didn’t interest me at this moment.

“The Russians? I think some of them are dead by now. I hope so. The FBI stormed in here twenty minutes ago. They must have taken out the guard post before they could warn them here at the plant. A couple of your Security Detail opened fire when the Russians started to fire at the FBI raiders. You trained them well, Tim.”

“Those men were FBI from the get-go,” I corrected him. “I didn’t even know which of my men they were. I have one more question for you.”

“What’s that, Tim?”

I hollered back out of the office.

“Charlie, bring him in here.”

Charlie came into the office walking behind “Pops” Mulroy. He had one of the Russian’s pistols up against the back of “Pops” head. I had no doubt that he would have pulled the trigger if the old traitor had attempted to run or resist.

“Hi, Dad, What’s new?” His voice was as cold as the desert at night.

Van Swearingin looked up at his youngest son like he had never seen him before. “Charlie? Put down that gun!”

“Sorry, Dad, no can do. I had to kill two of your Russian flunkies to get it and this other big one too. Besides, if I put it down your friend here might do something stupid.” He rapped his prisoner’s head with the gun barrel. “Ain’t that right, Grandpa?”

“Easy, Charlie, the FBI has taken control of the plant and I think they’ll want Mr. Mulroy with his head intact. I’m sure they’ll have a lot of questions for him.” I turned back to Van Swearingin. He couldn’t take his eyes off of his son. “I imagine they will have a few questions for you too. But I have just one.” He looked at me and closed his eyes. He was on the verge of collapse.

“Mr. Van Swearingin, You trusted me with your son, why didn’t you trust me enough to call in the FBI, or the Army or whoever, to end all of this before people had to die?

“I had no Trust left. Everyone I trusted ended up betraying me.” He picked up the pistol from his lap. I reached out hoping he would hand it to me.

“Mr. Van Swearingin – don’t! Give me the gun. Please.”

“No. Hear me out. I’ve made some terrible mistakes, horrible mistakes. I’ve caused a lot of pain to people who didn’t deserve it. It’s too late for me to make amends to some of them. I hope that someday they will be able to forgive me.” He closed his eyes as a tear ran down his cheek.

I thought we were out of the woods, but he opened his eyes before I could reach for his gun. He raised his hand and fired one shot across the room and into the chest of his lifelong friend, employee, and ultimate destroyer “Pops” Mulroy.

XXX

I deposited my last pay envelope and then closed my bank account. I bought a train ticket to Maine. I’d never been there, but it was as far from the west coast as I could go and full of green trees. I’d had enough of the desert Salt Flats.

I read in a newspaper that they put Van Swearingin on trial, but he had caved in on himself and ended up in the crazy house for the criminally insane. I don’t know how long he survived. I never read another word about him.

The End

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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Pass Me The Crayon

 

THIS PAST TUESDAY was Election Day around here. All sorts of people running for all sorts of governmental offices. As usual, the voters stayed home in droves. Primary elections are really just political party love fests. The various party leaders decide who they want as a candidate for the November General Elections then they hold these Primaries to move the cards around on the table to let you try to pick the winner. It is sort of like a Three Card Monty game with lawn signs.

On Tuesday afternoon my wife, the lovely and politically enthusiastic, Dawn, and I went to vote. That is when the curtain slipped a bit and The Wizard became visible.

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The Same Old News

THIS MORNING’S NEWS FROM OUR CORRESPONDANT IN ASIA carries two related items.

It seems that the air pollution in Bangkok has reached such dangerous levels that the citizens are being advised to breathe only when necessary. The report says nothing about tourists. I guess any visitors to Thailand are on their own breath-wise.

The second alert, also from Bangkok, is that Thailand’s roads are the most dangerous in the world. Given the opaque quality of the air I am not surprised that driving can be a thrill a minute.

Put these two tidbits of information together and if you are in Thailand you are in the middle of a real mess. The only place I can think of that is even more screwed up is Washington D.C. when Congress is in session. Talk about pollution.

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Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “People are SO Suspicious”

squinting jack-elam

Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “People are SO Suspicious”

 

 

 

I’VE BEEN WORKING on a sequel of a novel I wrote a couple years ago and I’m trying to gather some technical information about cell phones to use as a plot device. You’d think I was asking for info on how to construct my own H-bomb.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

inverted JennyABOUT EVERY SIX MONTHS or so we get a piece of mail from the Postal Service touting their “Stamps by Mail” service.

This Postal Service program supposedly can save us time and gasoline by sending postage stamps directly to our mailbox on the front porch. There would be no need for us to get out of our jammies and drive all the way (four blocks) to the Post Office to buy stamps.

OK, I get the concept, but with the advent of the internet there are now millions of people paying their bills online, communicating with friends and family online, and sending birthday cards, etc. online. Currently I write an average of two checks per month that require me to use postage stamps.

I’d wager that since the demise of the Columbia Record Club (look it up) that the number of stamp bearing mail items has diminished greatly. Almost all of the mail that we get is catalogs and other pointless junk mail – and virtually all of that is metered mail with no stamps at all.

We still get the “Stamps by Mail” advertising thing, but let me tell you the real reason we don’t bother signing up.

About a year ago an old friend told me this story and I believe him.

He runs a small business and thought that the “Stamps by Mail” thing might be a good time saver for him. So- he signed up and anxiously awaited the delivery of his first load of postage stamps from Benjamin Franklin’s favorite government service.

A week or so later when my friend toddled out to his mailbox he discovered one of those little pink slips of paper telling him that there was a parcel waiting for him to pick up down at the Post Office.

He told me that this was not unusual, so he got out of his jammies, put on some adult clothing and fired up his car to go get his parcel.

Of course, when he got there he had to wait in line behind the usual collection of people sending sweaters to their grandchildren in Florida and manuscripts off to publishers who will never read them or will just slide them under a table leg to take care of that annoying wobble.

He had to wait about fifteen minutes to get to the head of the line. He presented the pink slip to the clerk who then disappeared into “The Back” for another five minutes. When the Postal Service clerk returned he handed my friend an envelope which would have easily fit inside the mailbox at his home. He took the envelope over to the empty counter out by the P.O. Boxes and tore it open. Inside was another envelope proudly announcing that it contained his delivery of “Stamps by Mail!”

What a time saver.

When my friend first told me about this I too was skeptical. It was just too – too – Post Office for even the Post Office to do.

He swears that it is a true story and as time passes and I read of other Masterpieces of Governmental Ineptitude my skepticism fades into a head-shaking “I’m surprised they didn’t send it to him “postage due.”

On The Road Again

WHILE THE CIRCUS IN WASHINGTON CONTINUES I find that there are smaller side shows going on that I find both interesting and entertaining.

Example: While we were down in Texas, visiting family and avoiding nasty northern weather there was a great story on the TV about two Congressional Representatives from The Lone Star State who felt the need to get back to Washington and actually do their jobs. The problem for them achieving this end was that the entire northeast, including D.C. was getting blasted by a late winter snowstorm and airports in the area were closed down.

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The Untied States Of America

queen1IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE CHAOS and bitterness of the recent election season I came across one little item that, while not true, sounded plausible and not a bad idea.

Some clever Wag, I’m not sure if he or she is from the US or England, floated a big news story that Queen Elizabeth II had made a proposal.

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I’m Afraid Someone Will Win

vote1THIS WILL BE MY ONLY POSTING ABOUT THE UPCOMING ELECTION. If I do this properly you will not be able to discern my personal political preferences. If I don’t do this properly I will either lose 50% of my readers or I will gain 50%.

After having listened to the candidates speak and watched 37 million ads on TV all I can say is, “Make it stop!”

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Murder Most Foul

CrowsTHEY’RE BAAAAACK!

Every year for the past decade or so Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I need to wash the car again”) has been the winter camping ground for upwards of 10,000 Crows. When the weather begins to get a bit nippy and the leaves start turning lovely shades of red and gold this city is invaded by a sky-blackening horde of these bad-attitude flying versions of Chase Utley (for non-baseball fans: look him up, then give in to the urge to wash your hands).

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So That’s Why The Aisles Were Crowded

Grocery MoonwalkDATELINE: TWO DAYS AGO  —  ELECTION DAY.

Just as in towns and cities across the land it is Election Day in Terre Haute (That’s French for “This ain’t Chicago. One to a customer”).

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Halloween, Schmalloween

costumeOK. THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE CYNICAL, I SUPPOSE. I’m not against Halloween or anything like that. It’s just that it paints me into a corner every year. What kind of costume should I have?  Should I buy something or make it myself? Should it be in good taste or just the usual?

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More Questions Than Answers

bear in carTODAY IS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE POSTS about the strange behavior of the human animal. If you have already heard or read about this please feel free to talk amongst yourselves or go get a piece of cake.

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I’m Exhausted, But Looking Good

wolfman-animotionIT IS NOT EVEN NOON AND I AM EXHAUSTED. This has been a busy morning. My internal alarm clock woke me up at 6:30 AM instead of the usual 7 AM. I don’t like being surprised like that.

Before I had even picked up the morning paper from its hiding place in the hedges, my wife, the lovely and standing erect, Dawn, was up and awake. This was getting spooky. The next thing you know lions will be lounging about with lambs and Marie Callender’s Banana Cream Pie will be a diet food.

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Fifteen Yard Penalty For Roughing The Pontiff

TinyTownTHE TV HAS BEEN FILLED TO OVERFLOWING this last week with every moment of the Pope’s visit to the United States. Regardless of one’s faith or lack thereof, this was a Big Deal for millions of people.

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