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 “Writing”

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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Throwback Thursday from December 2015

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Keep Yer Wheel. I’ve Got Something Better

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SOME SAY THAT THE WHEEL IS THE GREATEST OF ALL INVENTIONS. Others say it is fire, or the printing press. I disagree. I think that the greatest invention in the History of the Human Species is The Dollar Store.

Let me explain…

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I’ll See You On The Wabash

I’VE GOT AN IDEA! I’ll be the first to admit that it might be a bit…Progressive, on the cutting edge even. Yet it has been done on a smaller scale for hundreds – thousands of years even. So, my proposal is both classic and avant garde. Kinda, sorta.

Let me give you the Big Picture. I’ll leave the details to people who have something better than a Liberal Arts Degree. I know what I want, but the nitty gritty of how it’s done is beyond me. I get baffled trying to fold a donut box.

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One Stop Holiday Shopping

 

I LIKE TO EAT. I DO IT EVERY DAY. There are times when I do it too often and too much. My most dangerous times are the Holidays. I don’t mean just Christmas and Thanksgiving – those are holidays that have become celebrations of Gluttony. I’m talking about other holidays. I can do some serious eating during the festivities around Groundhog Day and the Commemoration of the Founding of the National League.

I don’t need much of an excuse.

One of the things that I really like (and in some cases dislike) are those special dishes that are only ever prepared for a specific holiday. I like Turkey and dressing in November. I do not like it in July. In July I like Hotdogs and Bratwursts. I do not want them at Christmas. I do not enjoy that quivering jellied mass of cranberry sauce (Which is not a sauce!) at Thanksgiving. It is an abomination and should be dropped into the depths of the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

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The Next Noel!

 

BRACE YOURSELF. WE ARE INTO THE HOME STRETCH: DECEMBER. This is the last month of the year…and the decade. It is also our last chance to go deeply in debt and get sick before 2020.

Such fun!

We have had snow and we will be getting more. It is unavoidable if you stay here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What happened to my ice scraper?”). I will, therefore, be in a bad mood until late March at the earliest.

The existing plans are to head for Texas again for Christmas. The airports will be filled wall to wall with other disgruntled travelers and their screaming kids.

Such fun!

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The Big Brushoff

 

I GOT A BIT OF A PLEASANT SURPRISE THIS MORNING when I turned on the TV. Most mornings when I turn on the tube I am inundated with infomercials of all sorts and reruns of Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. I don’t mind the last two, but nothing great.

This morning however I was greeted by a blast of something both fascinating and cultural. On channel 198 here I bumped into a show that I had been watching while in Ireland. On what is called the Ovation Channel here was a program called “Portrait Artist of the Year.”

“Portrait Artist of the Year” is a painting contest. I know what you’re thinking, “Boy that sounds as exciting as…as…as watching paint dry.” But it is fascinating in my diseased mind.

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I Don’t Have Gas

SOMETIMES I JUST DON’T KNOW WHO TO BELIEVE. I hear somebody say something and I automatically take what they say as truthful. It’s not long before “WHAM!” I find out that the Truth is more elusive than a Penguin at the North Pole.

What gets me thinking about this was my recent experience of trying to buy fuel for the Toyota. It made my head spin.

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So It’s Reusable. I Am Too

WHAT IS WITH THESE PEOPLE? It is 5:45 in the morning. It is still dark and there is a line out to the door at St. Arbucks. Is it the End of Times? Has a fleet of UFOs begun to attack Earth? Has Godzilla been spotted coming out of the Wabash River?

Something is afoot at St. Arbucks my coffee and writing refuge.

Oh, I get it now! It is some sort of Holiday Season Promotion and they are giving away decorated reusable plastic cups with the purchase of some overpriced beverage creation.

Whatever.

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It’s All In The Back Story

 

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. No, I’m not imagining that I’m Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or any of the countless other singing cowboys of my youth. I’m strictly feeling the approaching rut of doing the same things every day until I get run over by a train or shot by an unemployed mortician.

Even though I took my computer with me to Ireland and I did keep up with this blog I didn’t get much done as far as writing some new fiction is concerned. I had hoped to get off to a good start on a novel.

I got nothing.

Not one word.

I barely got any thinking about it done. I spent more time eating and shivering. I was really good at those things while there.

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Why Am I Awake?

 

NOW THAT WE ARE ALL BACK ON OUR FAMILIAR SOD the next trick is to get reacclimated to the Eastern Standard Time Zone. Five hours is a lot of time to readjust to – at least for this old geezer.

It didn’t take long to get comfortable going the other way. That part of the journey took only a day or two because on the flight over I slept most of the way. I wasn’t the pilot so I felt fine with dropping off to sleep even before the wheels left the ground.

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Throwback Thursday – from November 2016

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Two Lobes, No Waiting

I’M FEELING IN A MAGNANIMOUS MOOD TODAY.

I feel like reaching

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out to my fellow bipeds and seeing if I can be of help. So, I have declared that today is officially:

FREE BAD ADVICE DAY!

For today – and today only – I will be dispensing free bad advice on a wide range of topics.

Let the games begin!

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I Don’t Need It. The Chickens Don’t Need It

TODAY IS OUR LAST FULL DAY FOOTLOOSE IN IRELAND. Tomorrow we turn in the car and spend the night in a hotel near the Dublin airport. On Sunday morning we climb into the big silver bird and fly back across the ocean. It is also the day when the Christmas shopping madness begins. I don’t think the two are really connected, but you never know. At just the time all of those online bargains appear I am quickly closing in on flat broke, busted, disgusted. My wallet can’t be trusted.

It’s a good thing I had no plans on buying anything more costly than a cheeseburger. No fries.

I am getting inundated with the ads, online and on TV, for all of those wonderful things I have no intention of buying. Sure, I’d like a big and fancy new computer, but I don’t need one. My computer is working just fine and does what I ask it to do. It has been doing so for close to ten years now and as long as it does my simple chores I will not tinker with my financial status quo.

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Looking Out Of The Window Until Spring

WHY DO I FEEL THAT THERE IS A GAP, AN EMPTY SPACE, IN THE WORLD? Oh, yeah, I know why – I’m in Ireland and the World Series is over. I didn’t watch any of it live on TV. It didn’t start until a little after 1 AM and I do need my beauty sleep.

This is the first time in my memory that I have not watched the World Series on TV. Regardless of the teams involved I have always made it “Must see TV” every September/October…and in a few cases dribbling over into November.

This year the two teams battling for the big ugly rings and big trophy were from Washington D.C. and Houston. I didn’t really care all that much who would emerge victorious, but I leaned ever so slightly in favor of Houston. Why? Because I had a couple of Houston players on my Fantasy Baseball team. That was the sum of my “fandom” this year.

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Saving Time For Something

 

EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE IN SUCH A HURRY THESE DAYS – even me who is a retired geezer and has a minimum of deadlines and other important urgencies in my life. Saving that extra three minutes seems to be critical even when the time saving actions have a lowering of quality along with the few saved ticks and tocks.

I’m not saying that saving time is a bad thing. It is just one way to have more time available to, hopefully, enjoy doing something else.

Like breakfast.

When I get up in the morning one of the first things I do is put on a pot of tea for Dawn. After that I head out in search of coffee. Until I have my coffee my day has not officially begun. Before I pour that first cup or two down my gullet everything I do is strictly muscle memory.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “Going Back For Seconds”

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “Going Back For Seconds”

 

turkey1A CRISIS HAS ARISEN. For a number of years we have gone out for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. With just the three of us doing it all at home seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.

When we dined out we headed to a local hotel that put on a buffet worthy of the Roman Emperor’s Palace. There was enough of everything edible there that it would make the Front Line of the Chicago Bears faint dead away.

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During the course of the day several hundred hungry Hautians (not Haitians) would show up and eat until they embarrassed themselves. I heard that the Chefs and Bakers were on the Weight Watchers hit list. (But that was just a rumor.)

I must admit that we did our part in this Festival of Gluttony. We gave thanks for all of the usual things, plus the fact that it came only once a year. Any more often and they could have just shifted it all to the nearest Emergency Room.

The hotel did put on a buffet for Easter, but it paled in comparison. It was like trying to compare two squirrels fighting over an acorn to World War Two. The hotel Thanksgiving buffet had become a family tradition.

turkey3But now…

The Hotel Corporate gods decided that our hotel needed renovation and expansion. Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Get me some carrot cake.) has a number of really fine hotels. The universities and larger businesses have a lot of people coming in and out of town all the time. In late May there is the Indianapolis 500 auto race and the Terre Haute hotels fill up with racing fans.

With the announcement of the coming hotel renovation our hearts began to flutter. How long will the hotel be closed? What about the buffet? It turned out that it was to be a two year long project. They pared the hotel down to the structural steel skeleton – no buffet.

Time to Panic!

Wherever shall we go? Whatever shall we do?turkey5

For our family the immediate solution was obvious – we got an invitation to dine with friends. That was last year. That invitation won’t be coming again this year. They are out of town, the clever devils.

What are we going to do? The local options are not up to snuff compared to The Buffet.

Some of the possible alternatives that have been discussed are:

  1. The Red Lobster – Thanksgiving must have turkey. Sorry.
  2. Taco Casita – Now, that’s not funny! Sorry.
  3. Bob Evans – I don’t know. I…
  4. Help!

So, you see our dilemma. I suppose we could put together a very nice Thanksgiving dinner at home. After all, we are bright, creative, and fully capable people, but it just wouldn’t be the same. After all, the hotel buffet has become our tradition.

I’m going to put on my Thinking Cap and investigate further.

If anyone has any ideas, short of going out and shooting a turkey, they would be appreciated. We do want to have our family dinner – and Marie Callender is not part of the family.

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It Warms My Soul…And My Knees

I’M NOT TERRIBLY SURE THAT I HAVE A VIABLE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM. Then again I’m not sure if it is really a problem that needs to be solved or just a condition that must be endured.

I’m cold. I have been cold ever since we landed in Ireland and now that we are heading home soon I don’t see a change in the offing. We are returning to November. November does not hold much promise as a time of warm weather. It’s just not part of its makeup. That looks to be the prognosis until, at the earliest, late March/early April. And I’m putting a rosy glow on that idea.

Right now my backbone feels like it is made of permafrost, tundra, and out of work Snowmen. I have tried standing in front of open fires and all that has done is singe my sweatshirt. My spine remains icy cold.

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Farkle!

GAMES – THEY CAN GET BLOODTHIRSTY AND GO ON FOR DAYS. Like those poker games that show up in the movies every so often.

Poker, Blackjack, Farkle, they’re all the same.

We are here on the Northwestern coast of Ireland along the “Wild Atlantic Way.” So what are we doing?

We are playing Farkle. And we are doing it until we are seeing spots in our eyes and losing the ability to do Third Grade Math.

For those of you unfamiliar with the noble game of Farkle – let me give you a thumbnail sketch so you can fully appreciate it, or understand what you’ve gotten yourself into.

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Let There Be Lights, Dang It.

IT’S SATURDAY MORNING. IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE, BUT, “HEY?” IT’S DARK INSIDE TOO. I flipped the switch on the bedside lamp…nothing. The power is out.

THE POWER IS OUT!

Oh, Man, what’s next – a plague of locusts?

Never before on our four previous trips to Ireland have we had this many Snafus, Breakdowns, and Fubars. Over the earlier visits to this island with forty shades of green things had gone smoothly and we were able to relax in comfort. This trip? No way, Paddy. On this five week trek back and forth across this beautiful country we have had little irritations (The neighbor’s cats getting into our house and not wanting to leave), to maddening annoyances (A slow moving toilet that needed 20 minutes to be ready to go), up to the Wrath of God blowing in off the ocean knocking out the power to our whole neighborhood. All of that was just the opening act for our fourth and final rented house.

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WELL, AREN’T YOU A SIGHT TO SEE?

 

 

WE ARE NOW IN OUR FOURTH HOUSE AND OUR FOURTH AND FIFTH WEEKS IN IRELAND. After this week we will begin the process of closing the book on Ireland and begin to get our thoughts on heading home.

For the first three weeks we were tourists and tour guides. We were blessed to have our “Alaskan Cousins” with us. They had never been here before and we wanted them to see the parts of this island that has brought us back time and time again. We may have run them a bit ragged, but with us they saw more than those tourists who saw the country from inside a rolling tour bus.

Before we left Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Guinness does go well with chocolate.”) our itinerary would have had us on the go about 36 hours a day. We’ve done it before and we thought we could do it again. Reality threw a pie in our faces on that idea. The first time I came here I was 60 years old and Dawn was…a mere yute. This trip has defied my experiments with time travel and tore too many pages off our Calendar. When we all landed in Dublin the age range of our group went from 73 years down to 62. We were not being mistaken for Hostelling Students on Holiday.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2016 – “It Is Time To Cut The Cord”

 

Throwback Thursday From November 2016 –

“It Is Time To Cut The Cord”

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RIGHT NOW I AM BEING STRANGLED BY A BUNCH OF SNAKES. At least that is how it feels. There are power cords, headphone cords, charging cords, HDMI cords, and they’re coming for me! AIEEEEEEGH!

I’m beginning to feel like Samuel L. Jackson in that movie “Snakes On A Plane,” – which is, by the way, one of the funniest dramatic films ever made. I don’t think they planned it to be that, it just turned out that way.

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My current situation is that the high-tech monster needs constant feeding. Everything needs to be plugged in somewhere. They are all on life support. Laptops, Netbooks, tablets, Kindles, Nooks, Cellular phones, and a few things I can’t even identify are reaching out with their snakelike cords to be fed. And what do they all need to be plugged into? A Power Strip which itself needs to be plugged into a wall socket.

Whenever I get up from my chair to cross the room these snakes reach out to trip me. They loop themselves around my ankles hoping that I’ll hit the ground so that they can pull a Burmese Python move on me. I have to be very careful. I tell you – I think that technology is out to get me. I’m almost afraid to go to sleep lest they come for me while I am sawing logs.

When computers began to appear in our offices and homes in the mid – 1980s the prediction snake4was that they would relieve us from many tasks, giving us more free time to take up ballroom dancing or whatever. In the same way that we were all going to have “Paperless Offices”

That didn’t happen either, did it?

The reality is that in most offices the need for copies of any report expands to meet the capacity of printers and copiers to produce them. Offices are buried under an avalanche of paper – 90% of it pointless duplications of out of date information.

But I digress.

What can I do to solve my very personal Samuel L. Jackson situation?

I need to be fed, but so do the array of gizmos. I can understand that part of it. But I don’t need to be attached to my food by some long cord. I can take my food with me and devour it snake6wherever and whenever I wish.

While doing some browsing on a technology website, hoping to find an answer, I saw that there are now “Charging Stations” where you just plop your gizmo onto the Charging Station – no cords – except for the cord coming out of the Charging Station itself. It’s not a complete answer, but it’s a start.

I’m hoping that someday soon all of our electronic thingys can operate while cordless and be rechargeable the same way. If things can progress to that state it will eliminate miles of cords that snarl and tangle their way around our feet. I’ll tell you – that day cannot come soon enough for me because I’m getting tired of all these *#$$@&&ing cords on this *#$$@&&ing floor.

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