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 – 2021

Archive for the tag “Nonfiction”

I’ll Be Calling You…Ooo…Ooo…Ooo…Ooo.

SOME THINGS ARE INEVITABLE. Some things are expensive. Some things are inevitably expensive.

That was a big part of my day yesterday. I went cellphone shopping. I didn’t want to. I had to.

I have to admit that this shopping excursion was overdue…several years overdue. My phone was, literally, held together with Scotch Tape. About six months ago it had started to disassemble itself. I never knew that the two parts of the plastic shell were held together with glue. I know it now.

Over the years (about five at least) I must have dropped that phone a dozen times. There were so

many cracks in the glass screen that, in the right light, it looked like a street map of Houston – or like my eyeballs on the Monday morning of a three day weekend. People who saw my phone were asking me what it was. When I’d tell them they would LOL all over the place. Something had to be done. It should have been done a long time ago, but I don’t like cellphone shopping. Nobody does.

The coup de grace dropped on me two nights ago when I tried to order a pizza.

The speaker had been doing no more than mumbling for some time, but when I called the Pizza Hovel I could hear the young lady on the other end but she could not hear me at all.

My cellphone had become just a “Cell,” no longer able to be a real phone. That was the straw that broke Alexander Graham Bell’s back. I had to go shopping. I could no longer avoid the issue.

The second thing yesterday morning (Coffee came first) I headed off to “The Phone Store.” As soon as I walked through the door I could see that this was going to be fun …not. I was the only customer in the store and there was only one other person there and she was “The Manager.” She took one look at my pitiful piece of gear and said, “Oh, my God, what happened to it?” Rather than tell her the long story I just said, “It’s old.”

I did explain to her that I wanted to get a new gizmo and move everything from my phone to the new one. That’s really all I wanted for sure …that and the ability to order a pizza. She logged in to my phone and said something positive. “Fortunately, you’ve backed up almost everything so, even if I can’t move your files from this piece of trash you have them in the cloud.”

She showed me a couple of different phones and explained the features of the dohickey and of the packages available to me. I was actually going to save money and have unlimited data. I like that. According to The Manager I was lucky that my decrepit phone hadn’t dissolved itself into a pile of plastic and silicone. Who was I to argue?

Now I am at home trying to figure out what is what and how to make my new thingamabob do more than tell me the time. I think this is going to take me about a week and a few phone calls to 611 for help. I’ll do what I have to. I’ll beg. I’ll listen. I may even whimper if it might help.

You Gonna Eat That?

This is a throwback from a few years ago about food, health, and some other stuff.

“FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!” WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT and, all too often we can’t live with it. We eat too much. We eat the wrong stuff and there are people who eat, yet are starving.

We have TV shows featuring the lives of people who have hit 600#, making themselves into virtual prisoners in their homes. Following that show will be another about Anorexia. In between there will be ad after ad for dubious products to help us slim down or bulk up. I can’t keep it all straight in my feeble head. I need to think about food on a small scale.

No matter what I might donate to help feed the starving it would never be enough. I have to start with myself

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She Just “Sort of” Robbed The Bank

Today’s post is an “Oldie But A Goodie” from September of 2015.  It is one of my personal favorites and, as bizarre as it seems, I assure you that it is completely true.

 

I WAS CHATTING WITH THE USUAL SUSPECTS the other day when the topic of bank robbery came up. Sometimes they scare me. This bunch of Geezers couldn’t rob the Food Bank, let alone an actual – “Money in the vault, Can I see some ID, please,” type of bank. This group would be called the “Don’t forget to take your meds gang.” Even so, they would be a bigger threat than a person I once knew who really did try to rob a bank.

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Crunchy Lunch Anyone?

As I have mentioned before my wife, the lovely and talented, Dawn, and I have been watching a lot of cooking shows recently and we have had some really tasty dishes cross our table as a result. I think part of these new and delicious meals is an attempt to expand my diet beyond frozen Mexican food and Manwich.

Inadvertently, I think that I may have killed that golden (and crispy) culinary goose.

Can I help it if I mentioned a news story that has been voted an appetite killer in our home? Yes, I suppose I can.

“After spending almost two decades underground, Brood 10 cicadas are due to appear in U.S. states between Georgia and New York this spring…”

And Indiana, and a bunch of other states.

It wasn’t so much that I mentioned this story about these pesky bugs, it was that I reminded Dawn about a visit to an Indiana State Park we enjoyed (up to a point) a few years ago.

We had rented a cabin in the Park and were just kicking back and relaxing when the State Park Rangers announced that there was going to be a presentation open to all Park visitors…a presentation of recipes on how to cook, eat, and theoretically enjoy, the millions of Cicadas that were infesting the Park.

If you are unfamiliar with Cicadas allow me to inform you about them.

They are a truly ugly, noisy, and prolific species of insect. There entire purpose seems to be to hatch from their buried eggs by the millions, fly into the trees, bushes, and any place they can. They then start making a loud and annoying mating call (up to 100 decibels). They mate. Then they bury their eggs underground, and then they die. Their ugly little corpses pile up until they are eaten by other critters. Actually, that’s a lot like the life cycle of Hollywood Starlets and some Comedians I’ve known.

The very thought of cooking and eating them is enough to make my body trigger a number of unpleasant reflexes. We did not attend the Park Ranger’s presentation. We’ve never even been back to that State Park.

Now I am seeing news stories about this year’s expected inundation of the ugly little bugs. There are different kinds of Cicadas that have different hatching schedules. Some hatch every year while others stretch it out as long as seventeen years. That’s the bunch we are going to get this year. Billions and Billions of noisy seventeen year old teenagers. Thank God they don’t drive.

Even though the very thought of eating Cicadas does not appeal to me I know that there are some people walking the streets like zombies for whom a Cicada Sandwich sounds tasty. I don’t care if they are crunchy, low carb, and gluten free, I’m not going there. I’ll stick to my frozen burritos and Sloppy Joes.

For those of you who are interested in chowing down on Cicadas I am including some disgusting information for you.

Ordinarily I would wish you a cheerful “Bon Appetit,” but in this case all I can come up with is “Save Yourselves!”

Here is a ten hour loop of Cicada Sounds. Pleasant dreams.

Cooking With Cicadas

Groundhog Day Redux…And A Few Days Early.

This is the last Friday in January. Groundhog Day is officially next Tuesday and I have no intention of doing anything on that day that might be considered work. So…

Here is a repeat of a Groundhog Day post from a few years ago. It was a tragic and bloody day. Everyone knows that Groundhog Day makes sense only in a small town in the hills of Pennsylvania – not in New York City.

HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY!

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

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Merry Christmas! 

 

Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

christmas

 

 

 

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

We Have Ways Of Making You Jolly

Throwback Thursday – 12/31/14

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PART OF VISITING family for the Holidays is going to drop in on those relatives you don’t get to see very often. We devoted part of yesterday to that.

I must admit that Rose and Ray are the only people I know who actually live in a “Gated Community.”  Well, that is, if you exclude from “Gated Community” those places where the gates are topped with razor wire and all the residents have colorful nicknames. Rose and Ray don’t have colorful nicknames and I didn’t see any razor wire. But there was one disturbing element, not counting the fact that all of the homes inside the gates cost more than some U. S. Navy warships. Let me explain.

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A Little Face In The Crowd

I find that the older I get I spend more time, while sipping my coffee, thinking about my younger days. It doesn’t take much to get me wandering back to the days of my life when I lived in a narrow valley in Western Pennsylvania.

These days my time is filled with thoughts of hi-tech computers and low-tech viruses. Neither of these are the sort of things that make for lingering memories. The things that did, do, and will continue to generate memories involve the people I’ve known and the places I’ve been. Today and tomorrow interest me less than the thousands of my yesterdays.

When I woke up this morning and turned on the TV in the bedroom one of the first images I saw was of a classroom. It reminded me of one in the elementary school where I was introduced to the world outside of my family. St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School was already old when i was enrolled in 1952. The school was started in the 1870s.

I was born in 1946 smack in the middle of the first wave of the Post-War Baby Boom. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers returning home from the horror of World War Two were thankful to be alive and they celebrated by starting families. My father was too old to be taken into the military, but he  got caught up in the spirit of the day and there I was six years later sitting in a classroom alongside 59 other First Grade Boomers. I sat there with the others, all of us staring at Sister Avila standing by her desk in her black and white nun’s habit.

You read that right. There were 60 kids in my first grade classroom and there was another classroom just as full across the hall. We were packed into our rows of little wooden desks like sardines in a can.

And we learned.

We learned how to sit quietly with our hands neatly folded on the desktop. We learned to stand up every morning and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. We learned how to read. We learned how to write in cursive. We also learned how to get along with 59 other kids.

We learned how to be the good kids everyone expected us to be.

That expanding bubble of Baby Boom kids continued all through my school years and it is still there even now. Now, however, all of us who sat in that crowded first grade classroom are hitting 75 years of age. We are the Senior Citizens who are filling up the hospitals, nursing homes, and cemeteries.

Today the desks at St. Mary’s are occupied with a new generation born in this century. The classes are smaller now. There isn’t a rush to build new schools like there was in the 1950s. The old schools that had been filled to the walls with the sons and daughters of the returning veterans are being torn down and replaced with Health Clubs and Organic Food Stores.

My generation – The Baby Boomers are now fading from the scene. The nation’s population is still growing but at a slower pace. There might never be another classroom with 60 little kids squirming in their seats and practicing their penmanship. Today’s teachers are horrified when they are faced with more than twenty curious faces staring at them.

In 1952 our stern-faced nuns in black and white struggled through the turmoil and managed to have most of those 60 youngsters turn out just fine. If there was one most important thing we learned in those crowded classrooms it was how to work together and not be afraid to ask questions. Those skills have served us well over the years.

Thank you, Sister.

 

 

 

 

News From The Police Blotter

Sometimes I wonder.

I wonder about the nature of all sorts of stuff. I wonder about Life, the Universe, and Everything (I know – the answer to that is 42), but most of the time I wonder about People. Of the roughly eight billion souls on Earth almost all of them just go from day to day taking care of business and struggling to put food on the table. They don’t have time to roll around in Stupid Stuff.

But there are those people who, despite their need for food, lodging, and Pay Per View still manage to find time to get into some truly dumbass trouble.

For example: I saw on Facebook this morning a news item from right here in Indiana – Home of Biscuits and Gravy for Sunday Dinner and where Auto Racing and High School Basketball are considered Religious Sacraments.

And I quote… “INDIANA MAN FOUND PASSED OUT NAKED ON A TRACTOR”

Now THAT is a Headline!

The Story unfolded with the facts – just the facts. The names will be changed to protect the unbelievably stupid.

“A 43-year-old Hoosier may have just accidentally inspired a country song.

Just 25 minutes North of the famous Southern Indiana town of Santa Claus you’ll find the small community of Huntingburg. This tiny town is now on our radar after a confused and naked man was arrested according to the Tristate Homepage.

43-year-old Michael Blithering was arrested after police responded to a report of a naked man passed out on a tractor in Huntingburg Monday morning.

The streaking suspect was able to avoid the police for a little white until he was seen running across US 231. That is where officers found the man in his birthday suit hiding in a wood line near some local apartments.

Michael Blithering was charged with public intoxication with a controlled substance and public nudity after he was discharged from the hospital.”

As I read this story I wondered to myself “When was it that this naked man realized that he might be in trouble and should run for it?” I suspect that it may have been somewhere between his 12th beer and his third Meth hit.

When somebody dropped the dime on him and called the police they reported that Mr. Blithering was both naked and unconscious as he rode on the tractor. Unless the tractor was in motion I don’t see where any harm was being done. He may have just finished getting his “Back Forty” plowed and was just taking a break. It has been quite warm here in Indiana lately and perhaps his decision to go “Au Natural” may have been based on his exposure of his John Deere. I doubt if he will remember much when he sobers up and or comes down.

This morning when I went to my daily Playgroup – a gathering of a half dozen Geezers who meet for coffee and chitchat – I asked if any of those native Hoosiers knew where Huntingburg, Indiana was located. I was not surprised when one of the gentlemen said, “I grew up there.

I read them the account of Michael Blithering’s naked run in with the Law. They shook their collective heads as if to say, “Not again.” It was implied. The man who had lived in Huntingburg, Indiana spoke up. “I know that man’s family.”

Indiana is just one big Small Town when it comes to stuff like this.

It Is Time

TIME PASSES. TIME ALSO ARRIVES. AND TIME HAS ARRIVED HERE.

This blog has been going since November of 2014 with well over 1500 postings of varying quality and meaning to be sure.

But now I feel that it is time to pull the plug. Today will be the last day for this blog.

I am tired. My mind is tired and my body is not as cooperative as it used to be. I feel unable to sharply observe the world around me and I don’t really have anything left to say.

To those of you who have been with me on this excursion from the early days – I thank you for your mysterious loyalty and the countless comments you have launched in my direction.

So, as I wrap up this chapter of my life, I urge you to love one another.Tell people that you love them. Hug them often. Don’t let them feel lonely.

Thank You and Goodbye.

John

The Habit Of Love

IN ANSWER TO A NUMBER OF REQUESTS FROM READERS WHO WANTED TO READ THIS ONE MORE TIME. 

FROM JULY 3OTH 2019

 

THE HABIT OF LOVE

I WAS IN A DISCUSSION THE OTHER DAY ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY HABITS. There was talk about eating the right things, seeing your Doctor regularly, and getting enough exercise. I can’t really argue with any of those things. They all come under the heading of “Duh!”

As this discussion went back and forth with people offering up their own special dietary favorites and exercise routines I sat on the sidelines. I was taking it all in, but not offering anything of my own. I was thinking. That can take some time. My brain has to warm up first. Trying to come up with an idea too soon and I could pull a lobe.

While I stood by listening to the others I noticed that all of their “Healthy Habits” had to do with the heath of their physical bodies, but none for their spirit or soul. That concerned me. My physical habits are generally pretty crappy so I try to take care of my Soul/Spirit/Being – whatever you want to call it.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “I Have Not Done This Well”

new2OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.

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We’ve Made It This Far

 

OH, MY GOODNESS! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

It’s Christmas Eve already? The calendar says so, but I never completely trust those calendars anyway. Those are the crazy things that claim that March 21st is the First Day of Spring and I can usually look out of any window and see a foot of snow.

No, I realize that this is Christmas Eve by looking around this old house in Texas and seeing all of these people (half of them kids) gathered about awash in gifts and wrapping paper. That, not a calendar, tells me that it is Christmas Eve in Texas.

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“Gramma’s House.”

 

WE ARE BACK IN TEXAS AGAIN. We come down here every Christmas as the entire family gathers at the Family homestead.

Everyone calls it “Gramma’s House.” Married in 1941 just before the start of the Second World War the house finally got built in 1947 when the chaos subsided. It was a small house, but when the first baby arrived it was obvious that expansion was needed. When babies #2 and #3 showed up in 1949 and 1954 it became time for some serious additions to the original floor plan.

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Feuding And Fussing

FAMILY FEUD? OH, YEAH, LET ME GET ON THAT ONE FOLKS. Heh, Heh, Heh. I’d make Steve Harvey lose control of his… Oh, never mind. It ain’t gonna ever happen. It sure wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

I remember when that show first appeared on the scene with Richard Dawson as the Host. He was a British Actor/Comedian best known in the country from his regular stint on “The Match Game” (another game show) and the TV show “Hogan’s FAMILY Heroes.” For you younger readers “Hogan’s Heroes was a rollicking Sitcom set in a Nazi Prisoner of War Camp – a place always known for its laughs.

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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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Are You Being Served?

 

HERE WE GO AGAIN. We are now in the throes of the Christmas Shopping Season. The online vendors are doing business at an astounding level and Shopping Malls are hanging on by a slender thread.

The Retail World is changing…Again.

For thousands of years the individual merchant did business one customer at a time, one sale at a time. The customer went to the merchant’s shop to find what they needed. Then in the late 19th Century we saw (Well, not me personally) the rise of the Department Store.

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Searching For High Quality Trash

 

HOW SOON AFTER GETTING UP IS IT ALLOWABLE TO TAKE A NAP? I think I may be pushing it a bit, but I got up at 7:30 this morning. It is now 11:10 AM and I’m seriously considering a little nappy-poo. I know that sounds nasty but…I don’t care.

It is now 3:37 PM.

It was a good little nap. I agree with you. A four and a half nap does border on a coma, but I felt it was also somewhat medicinal. Take a pill or two; lay down for just a minute…BOOM! Its late afternoon. I had plans. So much for them.

It is time to go on to Plan B. Get up, put on pants, and go buy a couple of souvenir T shirts. It’s obligatory in Florida. There is probably a law on the books here, “Don’t buy a cheap T shirt and we feed you to the gators.” People disappear all the time down here. They vanish forever or just show up at the Mayo Clinic. “I was standing in the buffet line when, all of a sudden, I blacked out and woke up in Minnesota.”

I’m going out to hunt for cheap T Shirts. Wish me luck.

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Throwback Thursday From December 2016 – “The Name Game”

f0bf7e046eb40ca7200c68cb9f6c806bI TOOK MYSELF ON A LITTLE FACT FINDING MISSION the other day. It was inspired by seeing a picture of the actress Tuesday Weld. Most men my age remember her from the TV show, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” She played the gorgeous blonde Thalia Menninger. After she left the show nobody cared about it any longer.

My research topic had little to do with the lovely Thalia, but more to do with Tuesday – and Wednesday and Thursday, etc.

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By The Sea, By The Sea

 

GUESS WHERE I’M AT? NO. NO. NO, NOT THERE EITHER. I AM IN FLORIDA -The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Area. What am I doing down there when there is a perfectly good winter going on in Indiana without me? Well, for at least a few days, that is the idea.

Ever since our five week visit to Ireland I have been cold – freezing even. I needed to do something or I was afraid that I would not survive to see another Springtime. The cold feeling exhausted me. I was empty Physically, Emotionally, Creatively, and even Socially. I felt like I was an empty shell with freezer burn. I hated feeling like that and I don’t think I was very good company for anybody. I was either silent or snapping at everyone – and that’s just not like me. Going to where it was still warm so I could thaw myself was the solution. So here I am in Florida.

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