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 “Travel”

Is That Too Much ?

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. After two weeks in Texas I’m back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “There is nothing in the fridge.”) and trying to sleep through the night again after being in a strange bed.

The luggage hasn’t had the chance to cool off and plans are underway for the next test of my ability to digest the food and water of another part of the globe. This time the passports are aimed at Ireland for a five to six week stay.

Do I enjoy Ireland? Very much. Do I enjoy being away from comfortable and familiar surroundings? Not so much anymore. Somehow I have suddenly become an old man and my adventuresome spirit has dimmed. There was a time when I would go anywhere at any time with less than a moment’s notice. Now I have a need to sit in a chair that knows my shape and sleep in a bed where I can be warm and where I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

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On This August Occasion

My Name Was Augustus. My Finger Hurts.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT GET TO BE AUGUST ALREADY? I just got the Christmas decorations down and now I have to start shopping for Halloween candy. I’m certainly not going to give any of it away to those grubby little kids who’ll come knocking on my door, but if you want to get any of the really good candy you’d better start shopping early.

August is one of those “in-between” kinds of months. It doesn’t have any big holidays to speak of. Oh, sure, the third of August is “National Grab Some Nuts Day” and on the 8th we all celebrate “National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day,” but Hallmark doesn’t put out a line of special cards for either holiday, do they?

In July the whole country goes up in smoke with the 4th of July shindigs and in September kids go back to school and millions of parents celebrate until they get so smashed that they make little brothers and sisters for the kids who are already in school. August just doesn’t have anything to compare to that.

I rest my case.

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It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

 

SEND OUT THE SEARCH DOGS I THINK I’M LOST. My surroundings look familiar, but different. Nothing is where I know it should be. I have never been as disoriented as I am on this trip into an unfamiliar supermarket. Help me!

I am so comfortable in my own personal Kroger store. I could find my way through that store blindfolded, but when we are down south in Texas I am sent figuratively naked and afraid into the Terra Incognita of the local H.E.B grocery store.

(For those of you residing outside of Texas – “H.E.B.” are the initials of the founder of the chain of stores strewn across the state. They don’t stand for anything like “Hellaciously Evil Brotherhood.”)

Trying to find my favorite bagels or canned soup in the H.E.B. is beyond my ability. The odds are somewhere on the side favoring me finding the Ark of the Covenant first. It can’t be done. They don’t carry the brand of bagels that I like anyway and in the soup aisle nothing looks like anything I want in my favorite Hopalong Cassidy bowl at lunchtime.

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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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A Mistake On The Lake No More

THINGS CHANGE OVER FORTY YEARS. Me? I know that I’ve changed.  I’m more handsome – Dashing even. Of course, my eyesight has deteriorated a bit over the years as well. I must rely on the opinions and observations of others…mainly family, friends, and people who are paid to say flattering things; barbers, tailors, and car dealers.

Cities also change. I moved out of Cleveland in 1978 and my recent visit proved to be like going to a city I’ve never seen before. I recognized street names, but in the intervening decades those streets have been rerouted, shortened, lengthened, and built up beyond my ability to remember anything at all.

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Screaming In The Rain

IF THERE IS ONE WAY TO SPEND A DAY that can make you contemplate several versions of crimes ending in “icide” it is driving from Terre Haute, Indiana (That’s French for “Road Work Ahead”) to Cleveland, Ohio. I’ll save you some time here – its 391.8 miles according to Google.

The most direct route from Point TH to Point C is via Interstate 70 to Columbus, Ohio, and then by Interstate 71 north to your final destination – The Marriott Whatchamacallit in Cleveland. There is only one – no – make that two flaws in that plan.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death

Lag 2QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

OK – let’s try to answer the question before the assembly – “What is the difference between JetLag 4 Lag and Death?

It is said about Death that “You can’t take it with you.” The same thing can be said about Jet Lag – in particular if you are flying with United Airlines. You may check two pieces of luggage, but you can’t take them both to your destination. Two bags checked in Dublin with Aer Lingus, the Irish national air carrier, sent to Washington DC along with our bodies. In Washington, however, is where United enters the picture – they get one bag, but for some reason the second bag, that looks just like the first one, mystified them to the point that they left it in the bowels of Dulles Airport while putting the bag number one neatly in the cargo hold of our flight to Indianapolis.

It took us two and a half hours to get through security in Dublin. They even photographed our bags and got them to the correct plane. I suppose that the one hour layover in Washington and the task of taking both bags from one plane to another was too vexing for them. Oh well, after luggage_large_1xfiling the proper missing luggage report with “Untied” Airlines we received an email from them celebrating the fact that they have found our bag – in the bowels of Dulles Airport – and that they will be delivering it to our home today. They are going to have someone drive to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “We don’t need no stinking baggages.”) to deliver our wayward suitcase. And Wall Street wonders why airlines suck as investments.

Still trying to find the differences between Jet Lag and Death.

Well, how do I feel today after 8 hours of flying and a five time zone shift? I feel disembodied. It is as if I am seeing the world from about three inches to my left and nothing seems to fit into the frame.

Never having died I cannot truly compare the two on this aspect. Death is the ultimate in being “disembodied,” of that there can be no doubt. Yet here I am feeling the way I do in addition to the fact that my feet hurt today. I’ve never heard of that being a side effect of Death, but who knows? Not me. Maybe the late Dr. Scholl knows, but he’s not talking.

We arrived home from our trip at about 10 PM. It had already been a 22 hour day. I went to bed. My eyes popped open (something else that rarely happens in Death) at about 5:45 AM and I knew that attempting to roll over and go back to sleep would be futile. So, I did the perfectly normal thing – I got up, dressed, made out a shopping list and went off to the Kroger store. After Lag 3seven weeks there was nothing left in the fridge that anyone wanted to eat.

There I was tooling around Kroger’s at a little past six in the morning detouring around clerks who were trying to stock the shelves. Shopping at that time of day is surreal – or at least it was for me in my altered state. While looking over the “Jams and Jellies” selections I wondered if this was what Purgatory was like – looking for Peach Jam, but finding nothing but Apricot. Eternal browsing and perpetual frustration.

After rereading the above I am beginning to arrive at the rather sketchy conclusion that there just might not be any substantial difference between Jet Lag and Death. Maybe Jet Lag is like a Temporary Death and Death is like a state of Neverending Jet Lag. And behind it all is United Airlines playing Hide and Seek with our luggage. I’m going back to bed.

Lag 1

Searching For The Saint

ON THE MORNING OF THE THIRD DAY – in Adrian, Michigan a small open window of opportunity presented itself. From about 9:30 until Noon I was free to pursue my main personal goal for this trip. I was determined to get myself a decent cup of coffee…and maybe do a little writing on a story I’ve been wrestling with for a month. From 9:30 until Noon, two and a half hours, 150 minutes. Not much time, but better than a kick in the chronograph.

How was I going to achieve this lofty goal?

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “A Starlit Night”

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “A Starlit Night”

IT IS ALMOST MIDNIGHT AND THERE IS STILL LIGHT IN THE SKY. 1The horizon is sharply dividing the ocean from the sky and the crescent moon is reflected off of the water.

The last few nights have been overcast here in Glencolumbcille in County Donegal, but not tonight. Tonight the clouds have melted away and we have our eyes looking upward, taking in the blanket of stars.

6

Our home in Glencolumbcille

Jupiter is large and bright, and untwinkling. It stands out like a lantern among the shimmering stars around it. The Big Dipper points the way to Polaris, The North Star. Castor and Pollex stand in line, but Orion and his belt are still below the horizon.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Spending a week or two in a foreign land is one thing, but going for seven weeks changes the way you see and do things.

Being in Ireland brings to mind an old quote from, I forget whom – Maybe Mark Twain, maybe Winston Churchill, maybe the Spice Girls,- that noted that, “The U.S. and the U.K. (forgive me if I lump Ireland into that mix) are two great nations separated by a common language.” I say this because, just as at home, there is more than one accent in play. It all depends on what part of the country you are in and your social status.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks”

 

I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A FEW OBSERVATIONS about Ireland. Of course, none of these are all that important and not meant to denigrate Ireland or its people. It is all just things my warped mind has noticed.

 

I have noticed that wherever we have stayed there are modern, state of the art appliances – except – for the microwave ovens. We have washer/dryer combos that you need to be a NASA physicist to understand and really neat convection ovens that double as Bessemer Furnaces for making steel. When it comes to microwaves it is like stepping into a time warp back to the 1990s. They work fine, but, seriously, when was the last time you used a microwave where you had to set the time and power level with dials.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

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No Thanks For The Memory

YANJAA!

Some assembly required.

Say what?

Yanjaa is my new hero. Yanjaa is a young lady born in Mongolia (isn’t everybody?), raised in Kenya (but of course), educated in Sweden (the next logical step), and now living in Texas (Y’all).

Her full name is Yanjaa Wintersoul and I don’t believe that either. Not any more than I believe that her hair is naturally that lovely magenta color.

Why is she my new hero? Because Yanjaa, using her extraordinary talents has memorized the entire IKEA catalog.

Why? I don’t know. It’s the “How” that I find most amazing.

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A Decision Has Been Made

I THINK I SHOULD START SHOPPING. We are going back to Ireland this Fall and I don’t have a thing to wear. I don’t want to arrive in Dublin looking like the poor American relative who is showing up hoping for a handout.

We are planning on being in Ireland for about a month. If you are going to go that far you might as well stay awhile. This is not just a weekend jaunt to pick strawberries – this is an ocean-crossing, ancient ruin exploring, pub crawling, trip to the Old Country. Pack an extra pair of socks.

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Mangia, Y’all

 

IT WAS A FESTIVE OCCASION LAST NIGHT. We all decided to venture out and try the “new restaurant in town, that Italian place.” In this small town in South Texas a new restaurant opening up is a major event. Make that new restaurant something other than BBQ or Mexican cuisine and it is time to stop the presses!

This town where we are visiting family has a population of about five thousand souls, seven bail bond storefronts, and three donut shops. And now it has an Italian restaurant.

When we arrived the Greeter/Headwaitress asked if we had reservations. The answer was “Yes,” but under my breath I mumbled, “Yes, but we came anyway.” Sometimes I can’t help myself.

The place was crowded. Something new draws attention.

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I Don’t Want To See Any Pictures

 

SOME DAYS I WONDER. I know I’m not alone in that. What am I wondering about?

Us. You, me and all the others out there every day who are doing the darndest things that defy logic, common sense, and threaten our status as the tippy-top of the food chain. I’ve got to stop looking at the online news in the morning before I’ve had my coffee and my meds.

Just this morning I was mentally assaulted by stories that dragged my brain lobes around like they were Fisher-Price pull toys.

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To Boldly Go Where No Member Of My Family…

THE OTHER DAY I BUMPED INTO A LITTLE FACTOID. It was about you, me, and everyone else on Earth. Unless you know something I don’t know all of us are natives of this planet. According to that factoid you and I live here on Earth which is one planet in our Solar System, which is part of our Galaxy – The Milky Way – and that our Galaxy is off by itself in the emptiest and most remote part of the visible Universe.

To the rest of the Universe we are off in the desert.

How did that happen? Do we have B.O.?

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Ooh, That Feels So Good!

 

THE FIRST OF MARCH. NO MORE FEBRUARY and I am glad about that. March is the month when spring officially starts. It is when Baseball Season begins. All of that nicely wrapped up inside the fact that it is the end of Winter. YAYYYYYYYY!

There is that zoological adage about March, “In like a lion, Out like a lamb.” I think of it more like, “In like an Ice Tray, Out like a Wet Mop.” I agree that the “Lion and Lamb” thing is more poetic, but mine is more realistic and I never claimed to be a poet. I am just a semi-literate Geezer with bad knees.

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It Looks Like A Cow Chip To Me.

FOR THE LAST WEEK OR THREE I have been seeing stories about this Scientist from Harvard named Abraham Loeb who believes that an object that recently entered our solar system might, and he is heavy on the MIGHT, have been an Alien Space Craft (no relation).

To be honest… there was an object that came in from Interstellar Space. It was headed our way. Beyond that… I got nothin’.

After an exhaustive five minutes of research (Which is more than I do for almost everything else here.) I have learned a few tidbits of information – most of it confusing. I was a Liberal Arts Graduate. Having a B.A. in Theater doesn’t prepare you for dealing with Interstellar Space, unless you plan on playing a Klingon on Star Trek.

Here is some of what I have uncovered.

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Buenas Dias from Thailand

IT WAS JUST THE OTHER DAY as I was driving down the avenue when I noticed that the neighborhood Taco Bell was undergoing some remodeling. I don’t know if they were merely repainting or going full tilt and adding a branch of the Poison Control Center.

While I am not a fan of Taco Bell (I prefer Mexican Food) they are very popular worldwide. The latest figure I could find said that there are 6, 849 Taco Bell restaurants strewn about the globe.

Doing a little (very little) follow-up research I have learned that the number of Taco Bells has grown by one. Last week the first of a planned 40 Thai restaurants opened in Bangkok. And it was a rip roaring success.

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Icy Roads And Hot Soup

OH, SWEET JESUS IT IS GETTING UGLY. Last weekend that was a phrase I said several times. I said it usually right after I looked out of the window. Weather conditions were deteriorating at a rapid pace.

I did not like that.

It was Friday evening and the predictions from the various weather networks, websites, and TV Weather Dudes told us to expect snow and ice – anywhere from one inch to two feet. Don’t you just love such precision?

These predictions of doom and gloom had been coming all week. The forecasts were all over the place. One person would say that it was going to be nasty in northern Maine, but not bad at all in Indiana where we are. The next person would say that Indiana was going to be wiped from the face of the earth. The third source was saying…Somewhere in between.

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