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”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Cereal Killer On The Loose”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

Coupons 1

Earlier this week he told me of his latest trip to Kroger’s to buy some breakfast cereal. He had some coupons in his hand.

When he got to the Cereal Aisle he saw that the object of his hunt was also being discounted. He smiled I’m sure, bordering on a leer.

Many of the “discounts” on the store shelves are as phony as a politician’s promise – The item sells regularly for $1.49, they change it to $1.79 and slap on another tag reading, “Marked Down to $1.49!” Instant Non-Discount.

Sometimes the discounts are real – usually because a buyer screwed up and they are stuck with ten truckloads of the stuff. Of course, some discounts arise after a news report says that the product can make your kids grow extra thumbs or decide to go to college and major in “Organic Bongs of Medieval Japan.”

Back to my tale of Nuclear Couponing in the Cereal Aisle.

In addition to your garden variety discount was another tag offering even bigger markdowns if you bought the cereal boxes 10 at a time. The buyer must have really screwed up. My Friend The Shopper felt like he had just found the Lost Dutchman Mine. He made a trip to chat with the store manager to verify that everything, as he saw it, was kosher. The Manager said that he was entitled to all of the posted discounts – plus – another “Instant Coupon” that would be given to him upon checkout. The coupons he walked in with were those super-duper double coupons and all of this back and forth with the store manager meant that he was getting into some serious high finance negotiations with Kroger’s. For a guy with a degree from Columbia University and a resume that includes a lengthy stint on Wall Street, this was heaven.

Cutting to the chase!

This man, who just wanted to buy some breakfast cereal for himself and his daughter, ended up walking back to his

triple

car with 48 boxes of Post and Kellogg cereals – and a bottle of cranberry juice.

He hadn’t really wanted the cranberry juice, but after the dust settled at the checkout cash register, the store owed him $1.79.

The Manager was concerned that the Home Office in Cincinnati might pop an aneurism if the transaction showed up as a negative cash flow. To circumvent this he grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice off the shelf that cost $1.79 and they called the whole deal a push.

When I heard him tell this story my first thought was, “I hope you and your daughter really like cereal, because you’re going to be eating it every day for a year.

As he told this story I could see a fire in his eyes. This experience has spawned a monster. He said that he has found a cable TV show all about serious “couponing” and “It’s really interesting.”

I told him that I thought it all seemed like something that ended up with a very cult-like fanaticism.

If he keeps up with this “couponing”, I half expect him to shave his head, move to Battle Creek, and start banging a tambourine at the airport.

“Om, mane pay me coupon om.”

What Kind Of Class Is This

 

UH OH, HERE IT COMES AGAIN. It seems like it was just last week or maybe five years ago. I’m starting to get ticklers about another High School Class Reunion. Aren’t these people satisfied that I show up once every fifty years?

I do admit that I sort of skipped over the first forty nine years worth of reunions, but I had a good excuse: I didn’t want to go. I broke down when it came to number fifty and I admit that it was a pleasure seeing some of the kids (now Geezers) that I went through grade school with. The thing is that I don’t remember them from High School all that well. Either I was in a fog or they were. They looked a lot different than I remembered them from 1952-1960.

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Bum Voyage!

I CHECKED TWICE TO MAKE SURE that I was reading it correctly. Unfortunately I was.

“Frenchman to float across the Atlantic – in a barrel.”

Me: “Geezer to get up and to not spill coffee.”

That Frenchman has his challenges. I have mine.

Some people just have more ambition I guess, but some of those people also have more in the way of daily medications.

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Putting On The Ritz Or Something Like That

I’M NOT SAYING THAT I AM A BUSYBODY, well, not full time anyway. Let’s just say that I have prehensile ears that can pick up snatches of conversations all by themselves without any effort on my part. I think that skill is a remnant of some prehistoric survival thingy where I could be hunting that big Mastodon, but my ears pick up the purring of a Sabertooth Tiger in the weeds. That can certainly come in handy.

These days in the middle of Indiana there are few Sabertooth Tigers around, just a few Insurance Salesmen and the odd Blogger. I think I did actually see a Mastodon by the Deli Counter at the Kroger last week. It was buying some Pastrami.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “The Last Biscuit Protocol”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

 

“The Last Biscuit Protocol”

BY AND LARGE we are a polite society. Of course, the exceptions to that are loud, obnoxious, and to be avoided at all costs – particularly around dinner time.last biscuit

Whenever the family gathers, like at Christmastime, or other major events, we can have a considerable number around the table. And, for the most part, they are members of that polite society. But that politeness can lead to some interesting observations. Let me explain.

Around our table food can vanish quickly. Platters are moving clockwise at a dizzying speed and serving forks and tablespoons are dueling. But, when that part of the action stops and the serious eating begins, one observation can be made – nobody has taken the last biscuit. Sitting all by itself is one solitary biscuit, probably feeling like the last kid to be selected for the touch football game.

It might be that biscuit, or a slice of bacon, or last spoonful of that green bean casserole, but no one will finish it off. Why, I ask myself? Does everyone think that they have been playing Russian Roulette with the food and they have lucked out, leaving the loaded biscuit behind?

Perhaps they are so self-conscious, not wanting to be seen as being so hungry that they would actually snatch that last biscuit away from someone else.

I can’t believe that everyone’s appetites have been completely sated just one bite shy of an empty casserole dish.

Come on! I’ve seen this group go through a potluck supper like Sherman’s Army through Georgia. I have seen people around the table looking longingly at the last slice of pie, resisting the urge to pounce on it like a leopard on a wounded gazelle. If eyes could drool the tablecloth would be wet, but “The Last Biscuit Protocol” takes precedent and the pie remains, alone and abandoned.

I do know that before the evening is over that last slice will miraculously vanish from the refrigerator, leaving an empty pan behind. I’m thinking we should set up one of those cameras that zoologists use to count wolves or Yetis in the wild. Then we would be able to find out who scarfs down that remaining pie, or sausage link or biscuit.

All in the name of science, of course.

I’m sure that this phenomenon happens in other families, around other tables, and around the world. I’m sure that in Sweden there is “The Last Lutefisk Protocol,” and “The Last Monkey Brain Protocol,” holds forth in some remote Asian or African village. I do doubt, however, that there is a “Last Taco Bell Breakfast Menu Item Protocol,” anywhere, at any time. I have no proof of that. It is just a gut feeling – that feeling being a cramping sensation tinged with a need to escape.

I’m sure that we will continue to be polite and that the last biscuit will continue to die a lonely death on the plate. There is nothing I can do about it, and don’t expect me to be the culture-buster who reaches out and snatches it away with everyone else watching in horror. They already look at me funny as it is. I don’t need the pressure – and I sure don’t need the biscuit.

 

There’s No Place Like Home After The Holidays

 

We are just back from Texas and our Annual Christmas Extravaganza and Food Riot. Everything went well. There were about 28 people around that tree – just like last year. Next year we anticipate the number to be at least one baby higher. The little ones from last year are a year older, bigger, and more frantically active. Two Twin Two-Year Olds in Non-Stop Motion. Picture a crowded room and in the middle of it is a Perpetual Motion Machine on Overdrive.

Katie, bar the door!

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OK, So I’m Whining.

 

WHINE, WHINE, WHINE.

Excuse me while I whine.

WHINE, WHINE, WHINE.

There! I feel better now.

What am I whining about? I’m whining because it’s January and I miss Baseball.

I miss the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and their collective gasp as the ball arcs through the air into the Gap. Ahhh, the sensual glory of The Game.

The Sights, the Sounds, and the Smells are all a vital part of the Baseball experience. Without reveling in these basic sensations the game might as well be on television.

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What Ever Became Of Her?

 

Alleged Nigerian Princess

HERE IS A QUESTION FOR YOU. Now, this is a bit of a throwback. It wasn’t that long ago when it seemed that every third e-mail that I received was from a “Nigerian Princess” who needed my help in unlocking a huge bank account in Africa…And for just a few thousand dollars of “Good Faith” money I would be given a payment of 67 Gazillion Dollars. I never answered her pleas. But now, several years after the fact I’m beginning to wonder – What if she was for real?

What if…?

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Hello I Must Be Going

 

LIFE CAN BE NASTY, BRUTISH AND SHORT – depending on your neighborhood and what you eat. Even if you eat right, work and play well with others, and don’t take up burglary for a hobby, you are going to die. There is no escaping that fate – unless you know the same secret that George Hamilton knows. I think that he is about 300 years old and still looks pretty good – better than me that’s for sure. But at some point in the future even George is going to buy the farm.

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At Least You’re Getting Paid

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES!”

Today is that day when we really start the New Year. It is time to put away the Aspirin bottle and the Ice Pack. Get dressed in something other than your Snuggie and Hospital Footies. It’s time to get back to work – like it or not.

For me today is just a Wednesday. The only thing that could be considered “work” for me today is that I will have to take the trash down to the curb tonight. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about that. For just two people we sure do generate a lot of trash.

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Let Me Know If You Plan To Drive Tonight

WHOOP DI DOO! YIPPEE KAI YAY! Happy New Year and all that. 2019 begins shortly or not, depending on when you read this. Or – possibly taking into account the amount of alcohol you’ve already consumed – 2019 began some time ago. If you are an NBA Basketball player – welcome to 2027! You are coming out of your coma!

It has been a long time since I have been awake at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I just cannot stay conscious that late any more. I guess that makes me a true Geezer. Not being able to stay awake until midnight is one of the official symptoms and qualifications for Geezerhood.

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Too Much Time?

 

I HAVE, IF YOU BELIEVE WHAT SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING, A SMALL PROBLEM. They are saying subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, that they think that I have too much time on my hands.

I don’t think so.

And since I have only one good hand in operation my time, extra or not, is somewhat limited in its disposal. The time I will take to type up this blog posting will use any temporal overage I may have. When I am at the keyboard my fingers (all five of them) are flying across the keys at a blistering 5 – 6 words per minute. That apocryphal group of typing chimpanzees is faster than me and often more creative.

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Throwback Thursday… From Dec. 2015 “Houston, We’re Cool – No Problems Here”

Today is Throwback Thursday… From December 2015

“Houston, We’re Cool – No Problems Here”

 

I’M WRITING THIS IN LONGHAND, on lined paper, in cursive, using one of those so-calledspace-shiba-inu-astronaut “Space Pens.”

The makers of this pen used to advertise all over the place when the pens first came on the market several decades ago. Now you have to do a Google search to find them. At least I did.

They called them “Space Pens” because; on some early NASA space flights they discovered that your basic, every day ball point pens didn’t work very well. Everything was weightless, including the ink inside the pen, and it wouldn’t flow onto the page. Apparently, in those early days of space travel, the Astronauts took a lot of notes. Or maybe they whiled away the long hours in orbit by connecting the dots or doing crossword puzzles.

Faced with this dilemma the brilliant minds set to work hunting for a solution. They found one.

The “Space Pen” is like other pens, with a reservoir of ink, but it is different in that the ink is in a pressurized capsule so that, no matter at what angle you hold the pen, the ink will flow. It even works in the weightlessness of space. Hence, the super-duper nifty advertising idea to call them – “Space Pens.” I’ll bet that name was coined by a graduate of the Wharton School of Business.  

I remember having a Space Pen decades ago. I think I got as a gift from some relative. It must have been a gift; because there was no way I was going to spend the money for one. When they first hit store shelves these pens were going for both an arm and a leg. I honestly don’t recall the actual figure, but it would have meant no lunch for a long time. No lunch? Not this boy!

It was like when the small electronic digital calculators hit the stores. I remember dropping close to a hundred dollars for one. (I was working by then and thought I could afford the calculator AND lunch. I was ultimately wrong.) Now you can find those calculators being used as give-aways to kids, or if you want to actually spend money for one, you can find a nice selection at your local Dollar Store. You can get one there that has the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it if so desired.

Those cheap calculators put the slide rule manufacturers out of business. Those gizmos are museum pieces now. When I was in High School we had a Slide Rule Club – a group even Dorkier than the Audio-Visual Club.

There was never a Space Pen Club. When you get right down to it, the Space Pen is — a pen. It can do whatever one can do with a pen and do it at whatever angular orientation you choose. But it is still — a pen.

The odds that I will ever get the opportunity to test out its efficiency under weightless conditions are pretty slim. NASA doesn’t actively recruit Astronauts my age, unless you are a Senator or something equivalent – like a member of a popular, yet aging, Boy Band.

Why did I get this Space Pen in the first place?

Idle curiosity and access to the Internet. What brought it to mind in the first place is beyond me, but I did a search and, Eureka! – They are still on the market. The prices have dropped by about 99.9999%, so I figured, why not?

I am proud to say that I am the owner of three Genuine, blister-packed, patent and copyright protected. honest to Alan Shepard, “Space Pens.” It was four blister-packed pens, but I had to take one out of the pack so I could use it to write this.

Don’t you feel like you just rubbed eyeballs with history? Just a bit, maybe?

alan-shepard

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

 

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. People all over the world are busy making New Year’s Resolutions – you know what those are – lies we tell ourselves about things we should have done years ago.

At least half of the world makes the same resolution every year: Lose Weight. The other half of the world makes a different resolution: Don’t Starve to Death.

I’ve not made that Lose Weight resolution for years, decades even. Not that I don’t need to shed a ton or two, but I don’t need to try to embarrass myself into it. I have enough of that elsewhere in my life. If you’ve ever performed onstage you’ll understand.

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Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

 

christmas

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

Christmas Eve – Brace Yourself

Christmas Eve – one of the most magical days of the year – if you are a child. If you are an adult it is a night when you are exhausted, frustrated looking for those darned scissors, and suffering from paper cuts.

The Christmas Tree is up and decorated, gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and that bottle of Christmas cheer is getting low.

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Caveat Emptor, Dude

I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR IDEAS. I have so few of my own that I am constantly scouting for the quirky, arcane, and “Gee Whiz” things outside of my own experience. It is a big world and, at any given time, half of the eight billion people on Earth are awake and up to something.

For the last week or so my wife, the lovely and universally interesting, Dawn, and I have been doing a bit of Binge Watching.

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Throwback Thursday from 2017 – “A Head On Crèche”

Throwback Thursday from 2017 – “A Head On Crèche”

ISN’T CREATIVITY A WONDERFUL THING? At this time of year the Muses are just busting through the doors and inspiring people in all sorts of ways.

I wish they would stop that.

Every year people with Inspiration, but no talent, go down to their local Crafts (No relation) Store armed with a credit card and an idea. What they “create” is then foisted on the rest of us.

I will now present a collection of the Christmas Season’s crop of horrible bad taste masquerading as Art. In absolutely no particular order.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2017 Weird Nativity Scene Art!

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171,476

 

I LOVE LANGUAGE and it use, misuse, and ability to be twisted and return to its original shape. It’s a lot like Silly Putty.

There are so many times that I hear words come flying from the mouths of relatively sane people that I have to stop and listen just to make sure that it’s not my hearing that is cuckoo. Words will go wherever we point them.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary there are 171,476 English words in current use. Most of us don’t know and use more than a tiny fraction of that total. Personally, I feel comfortable with dozens of those words.

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I Refuse To Accept Just Any Old Reality

THERE IS ONLY ONE THING THAT I DON’T LIKE about this time of year: The Cold; The Snow; The Icy Roads; The Crowded stores; The Nonstop Ads on TV; The Crowds at the Airport; and The Cold again.

Not that I’m complaining mind you.

I stepped out of the back door this morning and was greeted by a blast of cold air and sixty-two million snowflakes coming by at a 90° angle. That was not in my plans for the day. I was all set for it to be 85° and sunny. The fact that it was Mid-December in Indiana notwithstanding.

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