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 “Nonfiction”

Who Knows Where Or When?

EVERY TIME I HAVE TO FILL OUT A FORM that asks which State I am in I have to fight the temptation to write in “Confusion.” That’s where I seem to be spending most of my time. Yesterday was a perfect example.

According to my calendar I had a Doctor’s appointment at 9:45 AM (Be there 15 minutes early, bring your insurance card and co-pay.) My calendar also said that I was scheduled for a Colonoscopy today at 10:00 AM…and also at 9:15 AM. I seriously doubt that I would or should be getting two Colonoscopies that close together. I think that might cause some terrible butt cheekal distress.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Hey, Butterball!”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –

 

 

Hey, Butterball!

Brace yourself, America! It’s that time of year again when,a39f71f4-51bf-4f24-8b9e-4fe70b5801cb all across the country, people will be preparing Thanksgiving Turkey Dinners by the millions.

For most it will be a joyous chore to feed family and friends, but for many it will be a challenge comparable to trying to fly to the moon in a lawn chair powered by some helium balloons from the dollar store.

Despair not, help is available!

This year, as it has for the past 34 years, the fine folks at Butterball will be running their Turkey Hotline to answer questions and help salvage those Thanksgiving dinners for the less than expert chefs. Not everybody can be Julia Child – nor would you want to be – she’s dead.

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Can I Offer Some Advice?

 

A few days ago I bumped into something online that snapped me back to my youth. Well, not my youth specifically, I never read the “Ladies Magazines,” but my mother did.

In 1958 McCall’s Magazine, which billed itself as “The Magazine of Togetherness,” published an article that if printed today would have activists marching in the street and people being fired at the magazine.

“129 Ways to get a Husband”

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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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I Am Being Productive…Honest.

WELL, HERE WE GO AGAIN. It is 6:30 AM. I have my coffee in front of me and my pen is in my hand…and I haven’t the foggiest idea of what comes next. I know that I should have glowing prose spilling from my brain onto the page. But, as I stare at the empty paper in front of me all I can think of is, “I’d rather be back in bed.”

It took me only five minutes to turn on my phone and check my overnight mail. Most of it was junk. There was one very nice note from a new reader praising a post from last week. That’s always a nice way to start the day. It is certainly better than having some disgruntled insomniac telling me how wrong I am about everything and that my writing style sucks like a ten year old Hoover.

Take a number and get in line. Our Complaint Dept. opens at 9 AM – after my coffee and meds.

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Buying The Box

BEING A FRIEND IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. At times it can be downright macabre (For those of you with a public school education post 1960 – Macabre = spooky.). At other times being a friend can be…indescribable.

Let me explain.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “Attention Shoppers!

Throwback Thursday From November 2015

Attention Shoppers!

Black Friday Gif

 Boo!

There, now Halloween is officially over – the Pre-Season, if you will. It is time for the professionals to take the field. We are into the Big Time, Serious Holiday Season.

When we move past Halloween and we are down to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year it becomes time to put away the cutesy costumes and put on the armor.

At least that’s the way a lot of people see it. The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving is Training Camp with “Black Friday” being the kickoff of the game where it is eat or be eaten.

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Reblog – From David Kanigan Live and Learn – “Flight AA2632 to DFA”

Flight AA2632 to DFW. And Dreamin’ of Just One Time.

 

 

Flight AA2632 to DFW. And Dreamin’ of Just One Time.

Flight AA2632 to DFW. And Dreamin’ of Just One Time.

Photo: Alex maclean – on roll (via The Cosmic Inspiro-Cloud)

5:15 A.M. Monday Morning.

Terminal B LaGuardia Airport. Not America’s finest example of its greatness or its Might. Dark. Dingy. Beyond Stale. Earning its status as the Worst Airport in the Country. Dead last in surveys. Sad, really.

Lines are backing up at Security, including TSA pre-check.

One hour and 5 minutes to boarding: Flight AA2632 to DFW.

I clear security.

And I walk.

  • AA2126. Boston. 6:00 a.m. Sit in the stands at a Red Sox game.
  • AA4752. Washington. 6:00 a.m. Sit on the steps at Lincoln Memorial.
  • AA4527. Atlanta. 6:05 a.m. Lounge in the Georgia Aquarium.

What if. Just what if. Just one time. You call it in sick. A Sick Day. What’s that? You walk back out of the terminal, stroll up to the American Airlines ticket counter, pull out your credit card, pay full price for a ticket and…take off…to…anywhere else. Like take a day trip. By yourself. To anywhere else. Turn off your cellphone(s). And disappear, for one day. Off Grid. Just one time.

  • AA3803. Raleigh Durham. 6:29 a.m. Sit in a diner and read Murakami’s new book, uninterrupted.
  • AA3549. Portland, Maine. 6:29 a.m. Sit on a bench and watch the leaves turn.
  • AA349. Chicago. 6:29 a.m. Walk Michigan Avenue. 
  • AA2510. Miami. 6:50 a.m. I pause here. South Beach. Beach chair. Cool drink delivered. Long Nap.

I approach my gate.

  • AA2632. Dallas. 6:59 a.m.

And here it comes.

To Do’s. Commitments. Responsibilities.

I walk up to the Gate attendant. “Good morning Mr. Kanigan. You are seated in an Exit row. Are you willing and able to assist in an Emergency?”

Exit. Now. Do it. This is your last chance.

I smile. “Yes. Yes I am.”

I walk down the jet bridge. And I note that the heaviness lifts. Peace.

I get comfortable in my seat, 24E Exit.

You Need This. Murakami’s ’emotional morphine.’ 

You just couldn’t have it any other way.

Maybe I Need A Hobby

IS THIS THE FUTURE? ARE THESE THE THOMAS EDISONS OF TOMORROW?

I was flipping through the 237,812 channels on our TV the other day. There I found much to be ignored. I suppose that someone, somewhere, on some combination of medications might find some of these channels entertaining or informative. Me? I really have my doubts that “Ancient Aliens” built everything from the Pyramids of Giza up to and including the Astrodome.

But I did find one program that was both fascinating and appalling at the same time (Other than the Evening News). It was something called “Battlebots” or “Robot Wars,” or something like that.

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I’ve Done My Part

 

I DID MY CIVIC DUTY TODAY. I VOTED without going stark raving mad and trashing the joint.

My wife, the lovely and civic minded, Dawn, and I did what they call “Early Voting,” which is like going out to dinner and eating in the kitchen before the restaurant is really open.

Given the state of local politics here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Call the prison and see what’s for lunch.”) there is no assurance that the winning candidate won’t be in jail on Election Day. I think that the ballot should list Names, Party Affiliation, and the number of indictments each person is under. It’s just a suggestion.

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All You Really Have…

 

“All you really have, in the end, are your stories.”

– – Burt Reynolds on the TV drama “Burn Notice” 2010

We are born; we live our lives, and as we see the final curtain beginning to come down our material things become meaningless. Most of the people we have in our life become exasperating as they can’t understand where we are and where we are going.

What is left?

We have our memories and even those begin to fade away. What can we do? We take our memories and we speak them aloud or write them down. We tell our stories. We move them from the fragile causeways of our brain to a place outside ourselves.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “Halloween, Schmalloween”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 –

 

Halloween, Schmalloween

OK. 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?

I haven’t gone “Trick or Treating” for years. I finally figured out that people don’t like to part with their Snickers when the bag is being held by a guy with a white beard – a real white beard.

Nowadays I wear a costume when I’m handing out the goodies at the door or when we go to a party. Neither one is as much fun as hitting up the neighbors for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

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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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Hey, Herbie! Look Behind You!

 

I DON’T DO SELFIES. I ALREADY KNOW WHAT I LOOK LIKE. Why compound the issue? There is a big enough supply of pictures of me out there floating in the ether.

A few years ago my wife, the lovely and much more photogenic, Dawn, and I toured the National Parks of the Southwest. We took pictures of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and the rest. We did not take pictures of ourselves. I saw her there and she saw me – that was proof enough.

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The Light Of A Thousand Suns

 

THIS MORNING WE GOT WORD THAT A FRIEND OF OURS HAD AN ACCIDENT while visiting England. She is fine, just a cut finger that netted her two stitches and a visit to a British ER. She was lucky. Very lucky compared to Anatoli Bugorski.

Anatoli Bugorski, now retired, was a high powered Russian Scientist who, in 1978, had an accident of his own. For him two stitches in his thumb weren’t going to make it “all better.”

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Watching On An Afternoon

AH, YOUNG LOVE, WELL, MAYBE CLOSER TO MIDDLEAGE LOVE. The two people had to be in their forties, maybe a bit more. But looking at their eyes and body language they could have been teenagers

If there is one thing St. Arbucks is good for, other than filling up that empty lot on the corner, and the odd cup of coffee, it is that it is a good spot for People Watching. And that’s what I did yesterday afternoon.

I was out and about taking care of some errands and I stopped in at the Chapel on 25th Street for a nice iced tea. I sat over in my usual corner, the better to watch the world.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”

What Am I Looking At?

eyechartSOME DAYS YOU HAVE TO GO OUT HUNTING for something to write about. Some other days it walks up and sits down in front of you. Today was one of the latter.

Let me preface this by saying that I have the utmost respect for and hold in high esteem the members of our Armed Forces, both present and past.

But this morning I witnessed something that just flat out bothered me.

I was finishing up my coffee down at St. Arbucks, chatting with a couple of the Usual Suspects when I noticed a tall fellow in Army garb crossing the parking lot. Trailing him by a few steps was a rather scruffy looking young man, arms dangling by his sides and his eyes cast downward.

I said out loud, “Here comes the Sergeant with a new recruit in tow.” I was joking, I didn’t even know if they were together, but – they were.

When they came through the door the Army guy led the younger man to a table near us, sat him down, and handed him a small bundle of papers and a pen.

“Here, fill these out. What are you drinking?”

I watched the young man look over the papers then take out a pair of glasses. When he put them on I could see that they were what we used to call, “Coke Bottle Glasses,” thick, heavy lenses in black frames.

Even with the glasses on he still had to bend over the papers until his nose almost brushed on the table. This did not bode well for his time on the firing range.

The kid (Anybody under forty is a kid to me) worked diligently filling in the blanks. His tongue stuck out periodically to help with the tough parts.

After a couple of very long minutes The Recruiter came back to the table carrying one short cup of hot coffee and one huge Frappuccino topped with whipped cream. As he passed by our corner he glanced at us and smiled. His smile spoke volumes. It said –

“Yes, this just what you think it is and I know that you know.”

He set the whipped cream drink in front of the young man, still busy with the paperwork. Then The Recruiter sat back and began to text away on his phone, smiling all the while.

I turned to my Partner Suspect and said, “This sucks. Would you want to be in a foxhole with that kid? He can’t see worth a darn.”

“Nope. Yup.”

When the new and unshaven Guardian of Freedom reached page three he paused. He lifted his head from the table and located the man sitting across the table from him.

“What does this mean?”

Not to let anything foul up his “Catch of the Day,” The Recruiter got up and, looking over the kid’s shoulder, took the pen and said, “Here, let me help you with that.”

Not surprisingly, the rest of the paperwork went quite quickly.

It took no more than two minutes for every blank to be filled in and every dotted line signed and dated before the two of them were heading out the door. The kid clutched his Frappuccino, but the small hot coffee sat where it was from the start. He had never touched it. It was strictly a prop.

I can’t see how this kid could ever pass the Army induction physical with eyesight like his. I doubt that he could read the big E on the top line of the eye chart.

I understand that the recruiters have quotas to fill, but really now – taking this kid into the Army isn’t doing anybody a favor – except Starbucks, if he keeps bringing his enlistees in to fill out the papers and slurp up the whipped cream.

Clean – Up In Aisle Seven!

IT USED TO BE THAT EVERY TOWN HAD A “FIVE AND DIME” STORE. Well, inflation took care of that. Now we have “Dollar Stores” which vainly attempt to be what Woolworth’s and the others used to be. Until the Dollar General puts in a lunch counter I will not accept them as the worthy heirs.

While there may be a number of Dollar Stores in every town, village and wide spot in the road in the country they are little more than Garage Sales with a neon sign. Much of their merchandise carries labels that I do not recognize – and that does not induce confidence in me. Sorry, but I don’t like “gummi bears” anyway.

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I Can Do This By Myself

I HAVE A BEARD. I have had a beard for most of my adult life. I grew it first for a show while I was in college and, except for short periods, I have kept it.

Over the years I have had it longer, then shorter, then just a goatee, then full tilt boogie again. When I first grew it my beard was dark, now it is white. It gives me that “I have to go feed the reindeer look.”

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