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 – 2020

Archive for the tag “Life”

Throwback Day After Thursday From 2015 – Let’s Play, “Spot The Flaw In This!”

What with all of the Fooferaw lately about the Postal Service  it brought to mind a Blog Post from 2015 about an old friend of mine. So, here is an encore posting of:

“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.”

And The Beat Goes On

 

While most of the world has been staying home this year we decided to not let it all tie us down to one place. We are, by nature, people who love to, want to, need to, travel. We are not going to let reality get in the way.

I can’t prove it, but there were rumors in the family that somewhere in the obscure and leafy branches of the Family Tree there were Gypsies. Gypsies who came and went leaving behind the gene responsible for Wanderlust.

It is Wanderlust that has people moving from one part of the world to another. It had some of my ancestors leaving Lithuania and ending up in Cleveland. Wanderlust did that and the fact that my grandfather was a deserter from the Czar’s Army. The Czar frowned on things like that in the 1890s. He didn’t like it when you stole his horse on the way out of town.

I was born with a double dose of Wanderlust and it has had me on the move all my life – and I never stole anyone’s horse (Don’t believe the rumors!).

Dawn’s ancestors must also have had a genetic run-in with those Gypsies somewhere along the line because she can match me Wanderlust for Wanderlust.

Unfortunately, with the current state of the world being a true mess, traveling is not easily done. My wife, the lovely and also Wanderlusty, Dawn and I like to travel a lot. We get to visit family in Texas several times a year and other trips both in the States and abroad have me frequently filling out those “Hold Our Mail” cards at the Post Office.

Not this year. This year we are forced to take mythical vacations.

I know that I posted a blog back a few months ago about this, but we have not slowed down. Our Pilgrimage has continued.

For example: In our minds and online we have traveled to china, Japan, Russia, France, England, and just about everywhere else. I think the only continent we haven’t been to is Antarctica and that’s too cold for me. Don’t believe me? Well, we have pictures to prove it.

Here is a picture of us in London visiting the Royal Family.

And the Pope. He has a nice view from his balcony.

Earlier this year we even managed to visit the International Space Station. It has the best views of anyplace.

This doggone Covid-19 virus has brought about some profound changes in our day to day lives. We have all had to make adaptations and this is the one that we have chosen. Putting these pictures together has required itinerary planning, Selecting the right clothing, and scheduling time to take our photos.

As our Around The World Journey has continued we had met some interesting people and seen some glorious sights. It was just a week or so ago when we were  in Italy and checked out the Leaning Tower. Its still leaning and so am I at the end of a long day on my feet.

Just the other day we flew off to Argentina because we had the urge to dance the night away and what dance could be better for that than the TANGO!

Can we dance or what?

Who dares to tell me that I have two left feet?

 

 

 

Summer is turning into Autumn but that is not stopping us. We have taken a short breather at the request of some magazine publishers. We are going to appear on a number of popular magazines. That one up at the top, the National Geographic, is pretty nifty looking. Don’t you agree?

Why have we done this? Why have we cut ourselves loose from the insanity around us? Why have we insisted on our Freedom? Here is why. The words of Sojourner Truth.

 

The Angel Is In The Details

 

“People come and go so slowly here.”

It wasn’t the Cowardly Lion who said that and we are certainly not in anyone’s Oz. In fact, it seems that we are stuck in an opposite place – “Bitter Reality Land.”

The strange reality of the last month and more has created a new world. I’m not saying that it is one that I enjoy or even understand completely. It is…different – Different in a number of ways that are unfamiliar in my experience and I feel sure is unfamiliar in our collective experience as a nation. It is all rather upsetting. Stores that I like are closed. Restaurants are reduced to drive through lanes and forget it if you need a haircut. And then there are the masks.

“Who was that Masked Man?”

The doors at my bank are locked and you can enter by appointment only. Inside everyone is wearing a mask, including the person who handles mortgages and the like. That masked man is known as The Loan Arranger.

I know that I am not alone when I say that I do not like wearing a mask. I find them uncomfortable and they make my glasses fog up. The Where and When I am supposed to wear such a mask is revealed daily by a variety of contradictory “experts” who can’t seem to agree on anything. They don’t exactly inspire confidence and confidence is what people need right now. I do…and I’m people too. I can prove it. I watched all of Game of Thrones.

Things have changed while we are living, and in some cases dying, with this virus business. But change is a nonstop thing and, in time – long or short – we will start to rebuild our daily lives. Like any reconstruction project the target of the restoration will be different than what it was before no matter how hard we try to make it an exact copy.

As we restore our personal lives we will make changes big and small intentional and accidental. My question is how do you think your life will be different – post virus? Will it be better or worse? How do you want it to be different? This is something I think that we, each of us, have to start thinking about now! Think about it now when, like it or not, most of us have plenty of idle time on our hands. I know how I’m going to approach this.

How I intend to plan my life, however long or short that may be, is to carry around a small notebook and a pen so I can jot down my own personal thunderbolts of wisdom. I know that I want there to be changes. There will be changes in the things that I do and there will be changes in how I respond to other things as they affect me. There will probably be some big changes, but most will be so small that I will be the only person who will notice them. I’m cool with that. After all, in the larger scheme of the universe, I am nobody else’s business. I have no desire to control anyone else and I certainly don’t want to be someone else’s android.

I R2 D-etermined to allow that to happen.

I’m going to start planning my new Chez Krafty today. I will not be caught in a New Life without have a set of detailed blueprints. This brush with a planetary scare has made me realize that I have spent most of my life just drifting. I have drifted from one career to another, from one hometown to another, from one relationship to another, and from one set of standards to another.  But from now on I will be controlling the tides. Many, if not most of the things and people in my life will remain – but there are going to be changes. If there aren’t any changes it would prove that I just haven’t been paying attention – and trust me –

I have.

Weather Or Not

 

We are in that awkward transitional time of the year. It’s not really Winter any longer, even though there are mornings when we awaken to find snow on the ground. It is not really Springtime either. There may be a robin or two scouting for worms in the yard, but their red breasts are still shivering in the cold.

This is that spot on the calendar where we don’t know how to dress. Should I put on the old college sweats that have always kept me warm or should I try on that new short sleeve shirt I was given at Christmas?

These are the days when we don’t know which way to turn.  What should we do to be comfortable? What makes sense? Don’t ask me.

I find this time of year to be transitional in more ways than just the weather. It is really the start of the time when we make life decisions. It is our Intellectual Springtime as well. Do we make that move to a new job, a new home, a new life? Or do we drag out the old and the comfortable for one more year? Do we try something new or do we postpone everything? For how many years can we mimic the weather patterns of being neither this nor that and being unsatisfied with both? Eventually we either have to make those choices and move on, or we must retreat into our closet and move to the rear where we keep the clothes we can’t bring ourselves to throw out.

The weather outside my window right now is at 51 degrees with a cold wind and showers threatening. Inside it is me in an old sweatshirt wondering what I should do about a dozen different things. Not all of those questions are life altering. Some are, but most are as simple as “What should I have for breakfast?”  Coming up with “French Toast” is not as earth shaking a decision as choosing to change careers, become a Parent, or to “Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out” as many of us considered in the 1960s. Facing the simple questions is easy, but there are some that are soul wrenching.

Whether or not the Weather pleases us is really a temporary situation. No matter what it is like right now outside of my window I won’t have to wait long before it changes. On this planet Winter does give way to Spring and then on to Summer, Autumn, and then back to Winter again. We can choose which season we like the best but we can’t speed up its arrival or slow down its demise. We have to deal with what is in front of us now.

Our Life is different from our place in the flow of the Weather as it transitions through the year. We can be happy with our life or not, but if we are unhappy we can also do a great deal about it. We have Choices. We can choose wisely and enhance our life bringing us joy or we can choose poorly and send our life careening through the years like an out of control car. Often we can’t recognize the wisdom or the errors of our choices until time passes and there is no going back. Life rarely gives us a “Mulligan.” All we can do is think, learn, pray, and do our best when we come to those crossroads.

Whether we live through the Weather of our life enjoying our days, or we grumble and complain about everything is really our Ultimate Choice.

In this world there are Happy People who always seem to have a genuine smile on their face and then there are Unhappy People. Those are the ones who may also have a smile for the world to see, but are never content no matter what their station in life. They could be fabulously wealthy and famous, but they never have “enough.’ These are the people for whom the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  

While the Weather outside my window is not to my liking I know that better days are coming and that is what keeps me going. I know for a fact that there will be warmer days when my body will not be so rebellious. The sun will shine and it will put a pleasing glow on my face. All I have to do is be patient and wait for it to arrive. Complaining won’t make it come any sooner. It will get here Whether the Weather today is warm or not.

 

Here Comes 2020….Duck!

THIS IS GETTING RIGHT DOWN TO THE WIRE. Today and Tomorrow and that’s it – a new year and a new decade.

2020? That doesn’t even look real. It looks like a date out of a bad Science Fiction movie.

“It was 2020 on the Third Moon of Zoltar.”

It may sound and look cheesy, but it is real and I’m sure it will take me until Mid-May before I stop writing 2019 on checks and other things. I tend to be a little behind the curve on those things. It will finally start to register in my brain when I start getting complaints from my bank.

2020? Doesn’t it seem like it was just last week that we were fussing and fuming about “Y2K” and how

the world was going to shut down? That didn’t happen, did it? I’m not sure.

2020? I’m not sure that I’m ready for it. 2020 sounds so…permanent, like it means business and isn’t going to take any more guff from people like me.

2020 sounds like a date doesn’t even need a New Year’s Eve to get people ready for the change. If you are not fully prepared for it 2020 will slap you around until you quit whining.

2020 sounds like a Mixed Martial Arts kind of a year – anything goes and you better protect yourself against those kicks to the groin. It reeks of, “I’m rough. I’m tough and I have a secret Sleeper Hold if you get out of line.”

2019 Going Down

If we can get through 2020 we will then bump into 2021. That year, on the other hand, sounds like a misstep, a stumble on a crack in the sidewalk. 2021 will just fill up a space in time. It’s 2020 we have to watch out for.

The term 20/20 also has a meaning referring to supposedly ideal vision. Since my cataract surgery two years ago I now have 20/20 vision, but it is far from ideal. I can now see more clearly the things that I cannot afford to have.

2020 is different things to different people. I have already received a new 2020 calendar and within thirty seconds it gave me a nasty paper cut.

I can take a hint.

Survivors!

WELL, I’M GOING TO ASSUME THAT, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU ARE STILL ALIVE. In some cases I know that that may be a bit of a stretch, but it does look as if you made it through another Christmas.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas Dinner – and then there is a day of Christmas Leftovers and Batteries not included. That seems to be the Order of Battle

For me that day after Christmas usually involves multiple trips to the supermarket for a can of this or that and a Dollar Store Safari for batteries of the size I failed to buy before Christmas. How was I to know that nothing uses “D” size batteries anymore? If you ever find that you need some “D” batteries let me know because I have a boxcar load of them out in the garage. Most of them may be thirty years old, but they can be yours at a reasonable price.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “Welcome To Whine Country”

giphy-3IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT REALLY TICKS ME OFF about my fellow human beings it is listening to them whine.

When I hear a grown person whining about anything I just want to walk right up to them and slap them silly. That would give them something to really whine about.

I know I can’t do that, but I can dream can’t I?

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Taxes On The Spin Cycle

 

THE WORLD IS MADE OF PEOPLE, THINGS, AND EVENTS. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell one from another. Which is it? Am I reacting to the person, what I am seeing, or what is going down? I guess the reality is that, in most cases, it is a combination of the three.

Such is one unusual thing that happened to me in, of all places, the neighborhood laundromat. The laundromat is not my usual haunt. I don’t think I have any “usual” haunts just a bunch of verifiably “Unusual” ones.

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It Warms My Cockles

 

OH, THAT FEELS GOOD!

It may be 33 degrees outside, but I am roasty-toasty warm inside. The furnace is on. I’m wearing three layers (not chickens) and I have my electric throw plugged in and I have a Hunter’s Hand Warmer in my pants. I’m warm and I like it.

I would never have been a great Arctic explorer. Amundsen and Byrd would have pushed me overboard when they caught me trying to convince the crew that Miami was close enough to the Pole.

“Let’s all stop here and have a hot toddy.”

When the thermometer begins its slide into the range that causes talk of things like “Wind Chill” and “Antifreeze,” I break out my Thermal Thongs.

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I Got It! I Got It!…I Ain’t Got It.

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

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

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There’s Something Funny About Him

SOME PEOPLE ARE FUNNY. Of course there are two kinds of “Funny.” There are people who are Funny (Ha! Ha!) And then there are people who are Funny (Uh, Oh). Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart.

What is it that differentiates these two flavors of Funny? I think it all has to do with their sense of humor. They both have that sense of humor, but it gets displayed differently. An Example:

For Mr. Funny (Ha! Ha!) – A joke. “Why did the Dragon take some Pepto-Bismol?”

“Because he ate someone who disagreed with him.”

That’s it. Simple and to the point. Now that same joke told by Mr. Funny (Uh, Oh)

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “What Drives A Person To Do That?”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “What Drives A Person To Do That?”

 

What Drives A Person To Do That?

A1I HAVE MADE A NEW FRIEND HERE IN TERRE HAUTE, (That’s French for, “Is he housebroken?”). He comes into St. Arbucks almost every morning on his way to work. He is also there whenever I drive past the place. I think he has a cot in the back room and that he actually lives there.

When he says that he is on his way to work and drives off I wonder… what does he really do? He is wearing a uniform that has, in bold letters across the back, “Animal Control.”

I think he is The Dog Catcher.

A2

When I go to St. Arbucks and he is there reading I sometimes go over to chat with him. We talk about what he is reading – mostly nonfiction, 20th century history – never anything about dogs.

Lately I started asking him about the bat infestation of a local school and what was being done. To me he pleads complete ignorance about it all.

“Not my area of responsibility,” he says. He must be a Specialist. I didn’t know that one could be a Specialist in the Animal Control field. I guess he knows dogs, but bats? Not so much.

Of course, his claims of non-involvement fall on deaf ears when it comes to me. Every day for the last two weeks I have been asking him for “Bat Bulletins,” and he keeps telling me, “Not my area of responsibility.”

I know that I shouldn’t keep after him like that, but – he’s the Dog Catcher – one of the most hated job titles in Post-Renaissance Earth. The Dog Catcher is reviled only slightly less than A7Human Organ Thieves, Schoolyard Drug Dealers, or Members of Congress. You never hear of a kid aspiring to grow up and become the Dog Catcher. Most parents would rather have little Johnnie or Susie announce that they want to become Cannibals or Circus Geeks.

I would never say anything to him about the stigma that goes with being in “Animal Control.” He seems to be a nice guy and I’m sure he’s had to deal with a hostile society. Plus, I don’t want him to key my car in frustration if he can’t find that missing Rottweiler he’s been chasing.

A year or so ago the two dogs who live next door took off for a little doggy “stay-cation” around town. I asked my friend what he would have done to apprehend them.

“Nothing, unless someone complains.”A3

He has got a sweet deal going.

His shirt says “Animal Control” instead of “Dog Catcher.” A wise choice. “Animal Control” is not so obvious a target. It sounds so benign, so soft and cuddly, like the bartender on Noah’s Ark.

I have no idea what he did before the Animal Control phase of his life. Being the Dog Catcher (by any name) is not a career. One doesn’t go to college to become the Dog Catcher.

“Yes, I went to Indiana State University where I majored in Dog Catching, with a minor in Squirrels.”

 Whatever he did before he must have truly hated it. What job is so bad that you would leave it to become the Dog Catcher? Selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door to the Suicidal? Bulletproof Vest Tester? Blogger?

I’m sure that I’ll see him again tomorrow. I’ll have to ask him how they are doing with the bat problem at the school.

A6

The Game Moves On

 

THIS PAST SPRING AND SUMMER have been somewhat of a disappointment – and this Fall isn’t looking much better.

When it comes to the bits and pieces of Life things have actually gone well. It’s the big stuff that’s got me down. By BIG STUFF I mean the things that get me up in the morning and keep me up late at night.

You know – BASEBALL.

Baseball this year has been a tortuous exercise. It has been even more upsetting because I cheer for the San Francisco Giants and I live three time zones away. That means that more than half of the games don’t even begin until 9 PM or later. That can make for some extremely late nights and my aging body gets it’s revenge the next day. I do not recommend grocery shopping after an extra inning game from the West Coast.

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That Kid Looks Old To Me

 

IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO when I had those dreams about what I wanted to be when I grew up. At least it seems that it wasn’t all that far in the past. But, now when I look at with a calendar in my hand I realize that it was the better part of a century ago.

My God, where have those years gone?

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You Don’t Have To Be A Druid To Have Rituals

 

WE’RE INTO A TIME OF SEASONAL CHANGE so I have begun to undertake the sacred seasonal rituals. Not wishing to offend the minor gods of calendar page turning I started getting into these rituals today.

I got a haircut.

As I have begun aging from being a responsible adult down the slippery slope into Geezerhood I have noticed that my hair does not grow as quickly as it used to. I also noticed that there are fewer hairs to cut than there were back when. At least the thinning of my cranial forest is evenly distributed. I’m not waking up, looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a clear cut landing site on my skull. Thank heaven for small favors.

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It Is A Matter Of Time

TODAY IS A DAY THAT HAS BECOME WRAPPED IN SADNESS.

I can understand how that can be, but I choose to not give in to that. There is enough sadness in the other 364 days, more than enough to make anything on this date – excuse the expression – overkill.

Instead of spending today in what has become a sort of morose celebration I have made a personal decision to take the memory of the events and aftermath of 2001 and put them all into a long term perspective. A very long term perspective.

Things happen in Time. Time has been going on for quite awhile now – long before you or I showed up on the scene. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, it will continue on for a few years longer. We may not be around until the bitter end of Time, but Time doesn’t care.

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Such A Question

 

SUCH A QUESTION TO ASK SOMEONE.

“How do you think you will die?”

Unless you make your living as the ever so attractive target in a Las Vegas knife throwing act the answer to that question is strictly speculative.

Who knows?

I don’t know.

There are seven billion people on Earth and there are likely to be seven billion different answers.

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Don’t Drop The Soap

 

ONE THING IN THIS WORLD that never ceases to amaze me is the seemingly endless creativity that spills out of the human mind. There is always something new coming from just around the corner. It has never stopped from the Dawn of Time when the first human picked up a stick, hit it against a tree and said, “That sounds good. I’m gonna start a band.”

Back in the late 19th century the Head of the U.S. Patent Office sent his resignation to President McKinley and urged that the Office be closed because, “Everything that could be invented has been invented.”

Could he have been more wrong?

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I Try To Be Fair

NOW…I’M NOT A FUSSY PERSON who lets every little thing get under my skin and bother me… (Pregnant Pause)…OK, that’s not true. I am a fussy person and I do get all worked up by the little things that most people wouldn’t even think twice about. Truthfully, I’m still growling about not getting to see the “Tall Ships” that toured the Great Lakes during the Bicentennial Celebrations. That was in 1976 and I’m still miffed.

I try to keep that under cover and under control because no one wants to see me grumbling and muttering about something the world regards as trivial, but that I hold to be the key to the survival of Western Civilization.

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Look! Up In The Sky!

WHEN YOU GOTTA GO…

Half of the Internet, it seems to me, is filled with photos and video clips of the most extraordinary things: mysterious creatures that look a lot like ET, time traveling people from the future all using cell phones in 1920 and UFOs here, there, and everywhere. I look at these things and I am filled with enough doubt to float Judge Judy. Seeing all of this nonsense makes it really difficult when I – me – myself see something that makes me say to myself, “What in the name of Robert Stack is going on here?”

I am currently down in Texas (AKA The Surface of the Sun) lollygagging about in the 99+ degree heat with humidity somewhere above 700%. Conditions like that can easily induce a Trance-Like State (Other than Nevada) where you might see things that aren’t really there. Such is the situation where I find myself these sunlit and heat distorted days.

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