I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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lights , action , Santa

I’m not sure what happened this year on our street . I put up Christmas lights and Ed, next door, did too and a  little while after that Don and Marie had someone put theirs up .  One more house across the street has some , too . But the rest of the street is dark . I mean , really dark .

Even that plastic inflatable Santa ( or is it a snowman ? ) that the family across the street always puts out on their front lawn is missing . No little sleigh either . Maybe he’ll show up later .  I doubt it , though .

My Christmas lights follow the rain gutters along the edge of our roof . I used to have icicle- type lights dripping , but hey , this is So Cal , after all . This is L.A.  We haven’t seen snow down here in the basin since I was a kid .  Icicles ? Snow on the roof and/or the front lawn ?  Who’s kidding who ?man 1923 florida

I added a few lengths of lights , too , maybe just to counter -balance the rest of the street . It all came out a little funky , slightly weird .  It has the  air of  chaos about it , a crazy look , an oddly formless configuration .  But , well , Ada didn’t object , and, as I always say :  it is what it is .  It’s unique , at least .

I’d never set up a lighted wire reindeer , maybe with a head that bobs slowly up and down . I’d never buy one of those pumps and put an inflatable Santa on the roof , or on the lawn . I don’t mind watching yours for a while  ; but , I’ll leave those pre-made projects up to you . Good luck !

Two streets east of mine is 5th Street in Monrovia. They , all along 5th , customarily , go all out at Christmas . The whole place is lit up and Christmas decorations and lights crowd the lawns . Plastic or wood Santas kneel at the feet of  mangers  where  plaster babies  Jesus rest . Nutcracker soldiers guard the fringes of the lawns . Reindeers hover , of course , and snowmen and elves and angels ; and,  for some reason,  brown bears do too . Well , bears  do wander Monrovia occasionally , so I suppose that’s the reason . Rather an  un-Christmasy  idea , but it makes sense .camel

I haven’t checked for wise men , but maybe I should . I’ll look tonight after dark . Maybe those dark -bearded Middle Eastern guys are intimidated this year , wary , and thought it wiser to keep a low profile . I’ll let you know .

Usually on 5th Street there is one , or maybe there are  two  houses that don’t decorate . But , this year , I noticed ,   there are several dark houses . What happened ?  No Christmas spirit ? Could Fox News have been right that  there has been a War on Christmas ? Have the Forces of Darkness taken over ?

Have the Chinese instituted an embargo on Christmas decorations and no one told me ? Isn’t that where most of the Santas and reindeer come from, after all  ? Shouldn’t the American government have started rationing Christmas lights and giant Santa sleighs already  ? How long can Americans make their inflatable snowmen last ? Are we not being told the truth ?

Can it all be blamed on President Obama ?    His weak response to North Korea ?  How dare he criticize Sony for not standing up to terrorism ! Shouldn’t we do a George W. on that corrupt Asian dictatorship ?  On the other hand , though , Sony is a Japanese corporation . Maybe Japan should step up to the bat on this one . We could have Santa , the real Santa , drop ” The Interview” DVDs all over North Korea . That’d  no  doubt punish the North Koreans  sufficiently for being such jerks .

But I digress .

Christmas started this year even before Thanksgiving . Santas were in the stores even then . Black Friday seemed even to almost have been a straggler .   Hordes of shoppers apparently forsook Thanksgiving to save a few bucks . Were they buying Christmas presents ?  I heard the local news  media make that claim .  I can’t think of anyone I know who went out that day to shop , though , so I won’t hold my breath for that giantly wide-screened  TV .

I guess , mainly , I’m just waiting for the after-Christmas sales . That’s when the real bargains come along .  Don’t tell the Black Fridays shoppers that , though . Let them find out for themselves .  What will I expect to get then for bargain -basement prices ? Should I tell you ? O.K. : Christmas decorations ! But please keep it under your hat .  These days , no information is safe .




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time and time again

I confess . I do not believe in time .  —– Nabokov


   At Virgil Middle School the bells sounded at odd times . Instead of 10:30 , for example , the bell would sound at 10:32 . No bell ever sounded at the hour , or at the half hour , or at the quarter hour . Always 10:32 , or 11:36 , or 3:14 . Better have a clock handy . The reason for this was that the state of California requires specific number of minutes taught in each subject per year and , so , the school system divides it all up and fits it into a schedule . A silly schedule , I think , but , a schedule . 

We all live on a schedule , I suppose . Some of us fit our minutes in one way , some of us in another .clock gothic wall 

    I’ve been thinking about time , lately . Big subject . Endless . There’s not enough time to cover the subject adequately . 

     My 94 year-old neighbor , Don , says he’s lived long enough . He says maybe he should have gone to Doctor Kevorkian instead of his regular doctor . But , Don’s mother lived to be 100 . I know that because I asked Don about it as soon as he mentioned Kevorkian . I guessed that Don’s  family probably have long life spans . I figured they did .  ” Just barely 100 ,” he told me . My guess held water . ( Held water ? ) I think Don has got some more time to go . 

     I had a neighbor , once , named Max. Max was an old guy who used to hobble slowly along  the city sidewalk a mile or more to a synagogue  every day and then back again . One day I was walking  Max across the street and I asked him how old he was . 

  ” I’m ninety-eight , ” Max said . 

  ” You gonna live to be a hundred ? ” I asked . It wasn’t rude , I hope . Just asking . 

  ” I hope not , ”  Max said . 

    He did , though , I think . A year or so later his daughter took him away from his apartment . No more living on his own for Max , I guess . That was thirty years ago or so . I think Max is gone now . I hope so . He’d hope so , too . 

I went to a restaurant that serves  ‘ Breakfast at Any Time ‘ .  So I ordered French toast during the  Renaissance . ——–Steven Wright queen of hearts

I saved two minutes yesterday . I have them in a clean glass bottle . Tight lid . Some day I’ll take them out and use them when I need a couple extra minutes . Maybe the school district should have done that , and then changed their   10:32 bell to 10:30 . But , I guess it doesn’t really matter . A bell schedule is a bell schedule . You can quote me on that . 

It takes a long time to become young . —— Pablo Picasso

       I’ll admit that I haven’t  dived into this  ‘time’  subject very deeply . Just a few amorphous rambling thoughts showed up . I’m sorry if I’ve wasted your time . I haven’t spent much time analyzing it all yet . I need to save some more time , put several more saved minutes into  my little bottle ,  so I will have enough time some day soon  to spend on the subject of time .

It all started when my dog started getting free rollover minutes. ——Jay Londonclock grd 2

     Maybe it doesn’t work that way , though . Maybe time can’t be saved . We have all these great and wonderful time-saving devices . What do we do with the time saved, though  ? We schedule other things . Then we sometimes wish that we had the old more carefree times back again . I’ll rethink this ‘time saved’  notion . I’ll open my bottle , check to see if the minutes are still any good . If they are , I’ll let you know . I’ll have some more  time , so I’ll  do that . 

How did it get so late so soon ? It’s night before it’s afternoon . December is here before it’s June . My goodness how the time has flewn ! How did it get so late so soon ? —-Dr. Seuss

clock 22



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The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once . —-Einstein


art pattern    I was reading a blog post today at No Facilities about …….about ……….    I was reading a blog post today . I’m not sure what it was about , but it brought to mind a variety of things : the old ‘good old days’ idea that things used to be better ;  Southern expressions ; technology developed to a point of near uselessness .  It was thought-provoking . It inspired me  to discuss time today . Stay with me , if you have a few minutes .

When I was a kid  we  “went out to play”  after school , as in (mother ) : ” Go out and play !”  We had to be back home for dinner , and dinner was at 6:00 . Don’t be late ! I don’t remember ever being late . But between about 3:00 and 6:00 we kids were on our own . “Playing”.

Sometimes we played Little League Baseball . Sometimes we organized impromptu  football or basketball games ,  or kickball games with all the neighborhood kids on the street near the Dolans’  house .  A little kid named R. J. Royce Chesum the Third lived in a house across the street from the Dolan house . I wonder what ever happened to R. J. Royce Chesum the Third . I wonder what ever happened to Mike Dolan , too .  Last I heard he was , I think , selling insurance .house robert bruno lubbock texas 1946

None of us had watches in those days . That gets to the point of this post . How did we judge time ?  How did we know it was 6  o’clock ?  Time didn’t matter at all until about 6 o’clock . Dinner .

My mother , in the earlier years , had a dinner bell that she would ring .  Maybe she only used it once , or maybe she used it for years ; I don’t remember ,  but I remember that bell . Our play range  had to have been smaller to remain within bell range , although the bell was pretty loud . Old Mrs. Ludke must have loved that bell , now that I think of it . Mrs. Ludke lived two doors down , and she didn’t like noise . She came out , no kidding , with a can of 3-in-one oil and oiled the kids’ tricycles so the wheels wouldn’t squeak so loudly . She would say that she  didn’t mind the noise , but it bothered her husband . I’m not sure that I ever saw her husband. He was always inside the house . Maybe he was a figment of ………….

Bells aside now , how does a kid tell time ?  We kids must have been able to do it , in the old days , without watches . Nowadays kids don’t generally have watches either , but they know the time if need be . They consult their smart phones . Easy .

In my case , there was sometimes an early warning system : Mr. Dolan would come home from work about 5:30 . The Dolan kids had a standing order that their  homework needed to be done by dinner time , which was soon after he got home .  When Mr. Dolan’s car turned the corner up the hill the Dolan kids would race into their house , hoping not to be spotted by their father . I’m sure that their  arithmetic problems or spelling words were spread out on the table by the time Daddy  opened the front door . Mike was probably making a show of helping his younger brother and sister with their work . Maybe Mike  was developing  a little initial sales talk as he  persuaded his father that all was well . Early practice for selling insurance later on ?

At other time , when we played in the canyons , for example , I think now that we must have just guessed at the time , knew the time pretty well from the look of the sky , the feel of the changes in the air , from natural clues . We told time from familiarity with the day , as farmers are able to . We used to could do that . Maybe . How else did we get home in time for dinner ?

When I began teaching , a colleague of mine , Joe , argued passionately for the elimination of school bells . No need to regiment children , he said .  ” Don’t you have an alarm clock that gets you up in the morning ? ” the principal asked , in rebuttal to the no-bells argument .  My friend said , no , no he didn’t . And that was true . But ,  Joe  lived near an oil refinery and , he told me later ,  the factory whistle woke him up every morning precisely at 7:05 .

I don’t like to go out , nowadays , without a watch on my wrist . As I think of that now , I am a little sad and disgusted . Joe was right . Why should we have to regiment our lives down to the minute ? Life as a kid was better with it’s lack of watches .

Well , maybe the school bells , even then , taught us regimentation and ruined our natural freedoms  after all !  We, most of us ,  ended up such slaves to schedules ! Damn bells ! ( Not yours , Mom. )ENGLAND sept 2014 201




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Improved to the Point of Useless

Dan Hennessy:

So so true .

Originally posted on No Facilities:

jarsI wish manufacturers would realize that some things are good enough as they are. I don’t mean to be so hard on those guys; I’m sure that it isn’t easy to keep a product competitive these days. I also realize that that some bad ideas are a step along the way to something truly remarkable, like the condiment jars that you can stand upside down in your fridge. Yeah, I am easily impressed. For today though, I’m sticking with my opening statement, some things are simply good enough and should be left alone.

A couple of months ago, for no apparent reason, the power unit of our central vacuum system started malfunctioning. The symptoms were pretty frustrating:

First, the power unit wouldn’t start when we inserted a hose into one of the outlets.

We checked the outlets, the visible wiring and the breaker but everything looked fine and tested correctly.

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December 9, 2014 · 9:15 pm

Sassy Soul Sisters!

Originally posted on The Immortal Jukebox:

Four in the morning. The last train is long gone and the night bus isn’t going your way. The streets glisten with the remains of last nights rain and a sheen of the incoming dawn’s dew. There’s a cold moon lighting up a cold clear sky. It’s going to be a long walk home.

But you don’t care! However hard the pavement beneath your feet it might as well be a deep pile carpet. Because you have been dancing for hours and hours in the club to the sounds of Memphis, Detroit, Philadelphia and Miami. You are floating, floating – almost flying home.

As you pace out the miles you relive the sounds of the records that held you enthralled; that lifted your heart and spirits so that a dark dank tubercular winter evening in England became a glimpse of Eden.

Listening, as loud as you dare, to those records…

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year in and year out

canterbury talesczech dolls


I play pool every Thursday with three other guys . Bill wasn’t there last night because he had a knee replaced . Good enough excuse this time . Willie had eye surgery yesterday morning ( Thursday morning ) . Cataract in his right eye .  He said that he was bored at home after the surgery and would like to play . He would have had a good enough excuse to bail , too , but he showed up .

Willie played better than ever . He beat Daniel E. and I easily . Strange . Inexplicable . We asked him for the name of his doctor .

chech dolls 1946

I started playing at our pool place ( “pool hall” would sound a little too disreputable ) about fifteen year ago , I guess . My friend and then tenant Todd and I used to go there once in awhile . Then Willie joined us . Eventually Todd dropped out . After he did , the  bar girl ( “bar girl” sounds disreputable , doesn’t it ? ) told us : ” Best thing you guys did is drop the other guy”.  Well , as Willie said , the “other guy” might have been one of our brothers for all she knew . It was , after all  , a bold statement .  Todd was a good guy , overall .

The pool place used to be a Penny’s Department Store long ago . I know it was around in the 1920s . The ceiling over our table is in bad shape . Plaster drops like dandruff onto the green felt .  If we ever do get much rain around here there might be big trouble on Thursdays . One day the whole ceiling will come down .

Bill tries to tell the owner , Tim , that he needs to invest in roof repairs . Save him loads of dough in the long run . Bill is a surveyor . He knows construction . ” That’s what I do ,” he tells Tim  . The guy  listens , nods .  Does nothing . Years go by .

Bill knows pool , too . We brought him in ten years , or so , ago , to help us improve our game , to teach us a few shots .  But , over time , we haven’t improved much . Instead , yeah , Bill’s game has gone down .  He shouldn’t really have hung around with us so long . Ruined his game . He gets a few good shots in here and there , but nothing consistent .  He used to be upset about his weak performance and about the  lackadaisical attitude Willie and I seemed to have . We did entirely too much laughing and Guinness- drinking to suit Bill . He was there to win !

But Bill got over that silliness . Or , should I say , seriousness .  It was tough for him .  Eventually , nevertheless , he settled down to the idea that we were there simply to have fun . I don’t remember how Daniel E.  got involved in our Thursday enterprise . But he fits right in . He’s calm . Good sense of humor .

I guess there are unwritten rules .  Check your egos at the door . Hope the whole ceiling doesn’t come crashing down. Tease the place’s owner about the plaster flaking off , and about this , and about that . Tim  teases  us right back about this , and about that . He practices his golf swing in the back corner when the place is not busy . And we play. Same table in the back near the bar . Year in , and year out .

Ada still asks : ” What did you guys talk about ?”   Our  pool game  , of course !


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tiki take on sunny southern california

backyard 018   We experienced an odd event yesterday . Water fell from the sky . I’ve seen it before , I think . Rain . People call it rain . Newscasters here call it torrential downpours , but it’s rain . I’m pretty sure it’s rain .backyard 015

backyard 016

We’ve been drying out here for a few years . The surface of our state , the Golden State , has been sinking little by little . Lakes have dried up . Farmers’  wells have dried up . Wineries , and others , who can afford to sink deeper wells can stay in business . Others can’t . Entire cities in California have dried up .backyard 014

Now that we’ve got some rain we wait for the expected mud slides . Mud slides traditionally follow the brush fires . The brush fires burned the vegetation whose roots  might have held the dirt in place .backyard 011backyard 013

Shall I go on ? Want to hear about earthquakes ?backyard 006

I consult the tiki about all of this . I also mention the troubles in Ukraine  and parts of Africa and the Middle East . Sometimes I do , but the tiki doesn’t seem to focus on my concerns . The tiki , I suppose , has to watch the garden , to focus on what is at hand . I know the tiki knows all about those other events . But , the tiki is settled . The tiki is stoic within a context of  rising tendencies to stir the anxiety stew .backyard 009


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