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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on the odra





























We decided to ride on over to the Baltic port city of Swinoujscie for the day. It’s a 3 1/2 hour ride by water . Weather predictions were that the weather was going to be warm . Ada packed some snacks and we brought light jackets just in case , and we met the Odra Queen at 8:00 am on the river .

We had planned to go a day later , but river traffic for Sunday was cancelled because an unexploded WWII mine was sitting out there below the surface somewhere in the river waiting to be removed . I read about an unexploded bomb in a German river that had been detonated recently . Those things are still an ongoing hazard in this part of Europe .

Szczecin had been a German city . The Germans built ships here and so it became a major bombing target for the allies , especially in 1942 and 1944 , and every year on Hitler’s birthday . Szczecin in relatively near Berlin , and Hitler fortified Berlin especially strongly on his birthday , drawing some anti-aircraft guns and crews from neighboring areas —- like Szczecin , so the allies saw their opportunity and took it .

I know this bit of trivial information due to a tour of the main WWII bomb shelter in Szczecin. It’s under the train station . Frankie , my grandson, and I took the tour a few days ago . I also learned that the Germans built submarines in Szczecin shipyards . To get to the sea the subs traveled the same route we were about to take on the Odra Queen.

Unfortunately I hadn’t anticipated the wind that swept the open deck of the Odra Queen . My previously slight head cold became a major problem and has laid me up for three days now . Maybe I should not have gone , but hindsight is 20/20 , as they say . At any rate , I have no wish to suffer twice , once in reality and then again in reminiscing . I met a nice guy on the boat . He heard Ada and I speaking English and he turned around to say hello . To unashamedly generalize , I have to say that Poles don’t do that . Poles are warm and friendly and engaging people , the many I have met —- but not in public. Sometimes I slip up and say hello to someone passing on the street . Ada asks me if I know that person ; tells me that I probably put a momentary fright into the poor soul minding his own business . The culture is changing , though , so I say give it another fifty years or so and the public face of Poland will most likely be a little more relaxed . Maybe they should put up CHILL OUT posters around town . Might help . I mentioned this line of thought of mine to my new friend on the Odra Queen. He attributed much of that attitude to the Communist era . Maybe . It is what it is .  

Oh, the river boat friend had worked in the Szczecin shipyard when he was young and he had been in the Polish Navy on the river later . Now he lives near Toronto , Canada . He has ridden his Harley throughout 35 US states , has sent all three of his kids to good universities , and has just retired . His mother lives in Szczecin . Okay , anything else you want to know ?

I’ve got to take a nap and hope that tomorrow is a better day .


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szczecin 2019


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in Poland

[ Note: knap: the crest of a hill ]

Today we’re headed over to the small city of Police for the opening of a chess tournament. It’s an international event that a friend of ours organizes every year . The major of Police shows up and a few chess dignitaries too and some short speeches are made just before the chess champions begin to play .

Police , by the way , was a German town where the Nazis made synthetic airplane fuel with the use of slave labor . The ruins of their wartime factories are still out there in the woods outside of town . The allies bombed the place repeatedly , evidently fairly unsuccessfully . More bombs fell on houses that on the factory buildings , as I heard the tale .

The big industry in the now Polish city of Police nowadays is chemical production . There is a huge industrial plant . Ada’s cousin works there . Ada used to live in Police , too , on the top floor of what was once a German house . Not far away is the teachers’ club where the chess tournament will take place .

My big decision today will be whether to wear short pants or long pants . There are various complicated factors involved in that decision , only some of which I will take time to mention now .

The first big one involves the weather . You just can’t rely on Polish weather . It looks sunny outside but it may well be cold. Yesterday was cold so I dressed warmly but then the weather changed abruptly so I was too warm . I know , I know : dress in layers . So , should I carry a knapsack to carry a sweater , etc. , or not ? If I wear shorts , should I tuck a pair of blue jeans into the knapsack or not — just in case ?

[ Note: I amaze myself for using the word “knapsack” . I would ordinarily use the word “back-pack” , not “knapsack”. Something got into me , I guess . Marines carry knapsacks , not me . Funny word : knapsack . Maybe on the east coast it’s common ; easterners traipse around with knapsacks . Uh oh ! There’s another one : ” traipse “. I don’t traipse , and I don’t use that word . Never have . I would never admit , either , to traipsing anywhere . Well , we’d better stop here and move on before this all gets worse . ]

I talk to my friend Bill once in awhile about the difference between how we used to travel as younger guys and how we travel now . I used to put a tooth brush and an extra T-shirt in a bag and take off for a week or two . Nowadays ain’t quite the same . Even a half -day trip requires major decisions by my internal Joint Chiefs of Staff , a detailed review of strategy plans and of all contingency plans with emphasis on supply route security and such .

No , I’m not going to bring that pair of blue jeans in my backpack . I’ll throw all cautions to the wind ( hoping that there won’t be too much of it ! ) and wear shorts . Backpack ? Yeah , I’ll throw a sweater in there , and maybe some sunscreen , and some antacid tablets , and lip balm , and a couple of cookies just in case , and a camera , of course , and my cell phone , and a wool cap in case the weather takes a nasty turn later on , and a bottle of water , and ………………………………………….


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I thought that my pockets were empty. I really did. As a matter of fact , I’m a little obsessive about it because I don’t want to attract any extra attention when I travel . ” Keep a low profile , ” my friend Jon always used to say .

I checked my pockets at least twice for any stray items . Maybe three times. Maybe there would be one stray coin stuck in the coin pocket of my blue jeans . There wasn’t.

I went through once of those body scanners . Most of the travelers did ; but some didn’t , I noticed. Some went quickly through one of the older scanners that a person walks through but doesn’t have to hold his/her arms up . Some people get by with easier things easier . Good for them , I say ; good for them . It gives the rest us us something to look forward to .

I held my arms up , following the silhouette sample , sure that there would be no problem and the scanner began its move . I was wrong , as it turned out . There was a problem .Three or four TSA personnel took me aside .

” What do you have in your back pocket ?”

” Nothing .”

And I checked just one more time to confirm to myself that my first two or three checks were true and accurate . I found a tissue — one thin Kleenex tissue . I’d missed it .

” Just this tissue,” I said .

This response wasn’t going to get me very far at all .
” That’s something !” the supervisor said . He had a whiney little voice that immediately irritated me . They caught me with a single facial tissue in my pocket , but they weren’t taking it lightly . I have to admit, nevertheless , that I didn’t feel like Jesse James , you know , or Dillinger ,or those Enron guys , or………………..

The man who administered the pat-down body search seemed very professional , I thought . He explained to me in detail the procedure , the invasive probes that he was about to make with his gloved hands , how many times and the manner he would feel across my buttocks , for example , how he would feel my pant legs and up my thighs . He checked for whatever it was very thoroughly . He checked my waist for whatever it was I might have hidden along with the tissue . He did a chemical test on my hands to finish it all up , just to be sure . . After all , a guy who tries to smuggle in a tissue past security might well be the type who was making explosives in his garage that very morning .

The one about to do the search asked me if I wanted to go into a more private area . He gazed back , somewhere , I assumed toward the more private area . I looked him in the eye and told him to do the search right there . I thought : let the hundreds of people who were lined up removing shoes , taking belts off , being shouted at by TSA officials about lap tops and electronic devices, chucking various belongings into plastic bins —- they should be allowed to see the pat-down of a fellow traveler brought on by a single Kleenex tissue not put into the bin .

I didn’t mind the search , to be honest . Better safe than sorry . If TSA thinks it’s important to pursue such small events , then all power to them. It’s the Broken Windows theory of law enforcement. I get that . Let one guy smuggle in a tissue and next thing you know people are doing it as a general practice. Next thing you know some people might even bring in a couple of them in their pockets . And whats’ next ? Hankies ?

I do kind of resent the little weenie supervisor who said , ” That’s something ! ” in his snide little way , though , as if he’d caught me in my evil scheme . He seemed like one of those people who consider their area of authority to be their little professional kingdom . They have to show who’s boss of their often measly little fantasy empire . Ada says let it go , but I can’t just forget it so quickly . My friend Ivan reminded me recently that I hold grudges . Of course I do . I told him I’ll have Irish Alzeimer’s : I’ll eventually forget everything but the grudges.


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I’m sitting in the library writing this in Prescott, Arizona. I drove out here today . We travel straight along Interstate 10 until we get a few miles beyond Quartzite , AZ . Then we take the 60 , which cuts the drive by several miles .

This part of the 60 passes by several small agricultural towns just barely hanging onto life : Salome , Harquvar , Wenden , Gladden , Aguila . There’s a place called Hope , too, which seems to be a small crossroads that consists of a small police station , an RV park , and a bible church . There’s a sign at the edge of town which says : You Are Now Beyond Hope .

That sign seems to about sum it up . If you have chosen to live your life out in one of these sun-bleached desert towns , amid crumbling and abandoned buildings , a multitude of battered sheds and a few run- down motels , well maybe you are indeed beyond hope .

I know , I shouldn’t be so judgemental . A big city boy’s prejudice , I suppose . Along this highway there are scores of Trailer/ RV parks full of expensive recreational vehicles . A few of the parks have nice-looking general stores nearby. There are a few cafes , too. It would be , though , pretty much a middle-of-nowhere life. Obviously some people like this life . Good for them , I say .

For now , I’ll pass .


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this and that; just a short vent

My neighbor .

He dug a trench across my property a couple of months ago ( without permission ) to channel rain water that comes down from the hill across the road . I’m not up on the mountain on weekdays but he is .

I did go up a few days after the trench incident , though , to meet the sheriff . This neighbor has pulled stunts like this one before , always when Ada and I are away , so after this one I called the cops . A deputy came up from down the hill and I explained the ongoing problem with my neighbor to him .

Well , see, I have this neighbor up on the mountain where we have our little cabin who is a work of art . No , he’s an artist . No , what I mean is he’s a piece of work .

The deputy rang the guy’s doorbell and knocked and rang the doorbell again and knocked and knocked . After a few minutes of that he gave up and walked on back to his vehicle , which was parked in front of my cabin .

” He’s in there , ” he told me . I told him sure the guy’s in there . I got the same treatment when I went over to talk to him about the trenching a week before . Sure he’s in there , I assured the deputy . His vehicles are parked out front and his bicycle is there too .

The deputy made out a report . I told the deputy that the guy knows he’s been reported to the cops and that in and of itself should be enough of a deterrent for awhile .

Oh , and I strung red twine across the boundary of the properties from survey pin to survey pin . My red line .

” I don’t want any violence” , the deputy told me. ” Just call the station again if there’s any further incident .”

I’m not much of a violent person , I told him ; but this is America , after all , if you know what I mean . He knows what I meant . I’m not a mountain man ; I’m what most of them up here call a flatlander , or more pointedly , a citiot — but these mountain dwellers all have their weapon arsenals — just in case . You know what I mean . It’s an American thing . Second Amendment . Don’t tread on me . All that. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps . What else ?

A couple of summers ago , when Ada and I were in Poland , this neighbor decided to build some kind of a beautiful fountain where the rainwater would cascade down . Besides the pragmatic problem that his beautiful artwork would be inundated on the first rain with mud and pine needles and other debris —- it was all on my property . To top that off he e-mailed us in Poland and hinted that we should finance this bizarre project . Other neighbors were e-mailing us , too , saying that they assumed he had our permission ; that our land looked like a parking lot ; that pickup trucks delivered rocks and then parked there for the night .

No. No permission.

I used to be friendly with the guy , but no more. Good fences make good neighbors . Bobby Frost said that .

He decorates his house with artificial flowers and plastic ivy . It’s up on the mountain , in the piney woods . ” Chinese container junk ,” my friend Ivan calls it . I say : To each his own — as long as you don’t cross that red line with your plastic ivy .


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Once a soldier, always a soldier.

Robert in Szcz. 2015 102

ARMY Gallivan stuff 027

eisenhower in tunisia


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