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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beer and boats

Once again , time to relax down by the river , sip a beer , and watch the river traffic pass by . I could’ve , instead , decided to do greater things , but hey……………………… poland 2017 020boats poland 2017 001

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cowboys in poland

KARPACZ 2017 002So we went to Karpacz on what Ada assured me would be a luxury bus . Eight hour trip . [ I started this with the word  “so” because I’ve noticed that it has become the going thing these days for media folk to begin their reports from the field with : ” So………….” . I don’t like it ; but , then again , I’m sort of a stick-in-the-mud on change .  So , let us continue. ]


So this luxury bus had a toilet  but it was locked . Only for extreme emergencies , the driver told Ada when , on my behalf , she asked . Instead , we paid two and a half zloty for a pee when the bus stopped . I think it stopped three times . Reminded me of the Greyhound bus stops when I was younger ; but they seemed more frequent at the time in life when I needed them less , and we never paid for a pee in America. That’s un-American !  That’s the kind of freedom we still have in America . So far .

So we eventually arrived in the beautiful Sudeten town of Karpacz , which is Polish but was German until WWII . It’s a ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains . I might post some descriptive stuff about it sometime . It’s near the Czech border , but there’s a mountain in the way . There’s an Irish pub there , too , with an Irishman attached . There are Irish pubs all over creation , even in Shanghai ,  but most don’t seem to have an Irishman . When I found the Shanghai Irish pub there was a Chinese owner and German customers drinking Guinness , but no Irishman .  As Nancy Mac would say : Just saying !

This town has a place called Western City nearby . It’s like Tombstone , Arizona , or like Knott’s Berry Farm in California  used to be before it got too corporate —–  old wooden cowboy -town buildings , periodic shoot-outs in the street , wandering cowboys , etc.  In Tombstone , Arizona the cowboys are as likely to be from Germany as not , I noticed. I guess Germans are into that sort of cowboy play-acting thing . But Poles ?KARPACZ 2017 178


So it was fun . The cowboys looked like real true movie version Wild West cowboys . The accents weren’t so authentic ………. but , hey ! Ah , just kidding .

The Indian doing the war dance did a good job , I think , had the right moves , although his complexion was a little pale . It was probably good that no Arapaho or Sioux were nearby to object , though . It would be hard to find a true-blooded native American in Karpacz  I would guess ; but then , who knows ! Jack R. suggested that maybe part of the Lewis and Clark expedition got sidetracked and ended up in Poland .  Stranger things have happened.

So there was mechanical bull riding , lasso throwing , horseshoe tossing , bow and arrow shooting , gold panning .  The horse shoe tossing was from about three feet away . That made me laugh a little . The participants were almost close enough to drop the shoes over the metal peg , but they were all having fun , and experiencing some real true Americana . I guess .


So there was a bullwhipper , too , showing off his skills .KARPACZ 2017 779

And a fast draw , gun twirling demo too . So .KARPACZ 2017 769

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The Immortal Jukebox

Let’s remind ourselves what’s A1 on The Immortal Jukebox and why!

Some songs have a brutally simple primal perfection.

Usually these songs are recorded at the very beginning of an artists career before they start to look into the rear view mirror and become conscious that they do indeed have a career, a legacy and a reputation to protect.

These are records that come at you full bore and demand you listen now!

Think of the primitive perfection of the last song recorded on the day the Beatles recorded their first LP.

You want to know what The Beatles sounded like in Hamburg? Listen to the raw bleeding magnificence of John Lennon’s vocal on, ‘Twist and Shout’ and the eyeballs out commitment of Paul, George and Ringo.

There was no way a second take could top that!

Think of the stupid beauty of the Undertones debut single, ‘Teenage Kicks’ –…

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A Polish Connection

I am reblogging this from a fine military writer’s well-researched blog . Here I am in Poland , so this particular post fits right in . Enjoy :



Merian C. Cooper was born in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. He was the youngest of his siblings and at the age of six, he started to dream about exploration and adventures, a common dream among future aviators. Then he studied at the United States Naval Academy, but didn’t finish it and became a journalist. It […]

via Merian C. Cooper, extraordinary life of a hero of 2 nations and King Kong — Pacific Paratrooper

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Tall Ships Festival (2)

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Tall Ship Festival in Szczecin

There is a four day festival in the city . Several tall ships from around the world have arrived after a regatta . Thousands of people are here . One estimate I’ve heard is that one million people are expected .

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As that old salt Jack Riley would say : “Wooden ships and iron men” .

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We spent five wonderful days in Belarus , most of them in Minsk , but one day we drove out to the village of Kolozuby to visit Raisa’s father , who still lives in the house that he and his son built about sixty years ago . Raisa grew up there and attended the school  just across the road but which is now closed and abandoned .BELARUS TRIP 2017 586

The old man lives out there alone now , tending the garden and living a bachelor life . His wife died some time ago . He had been trained as a shoemaker and he had been a soldier in the Great Patriotic War , a sniper in the Soviet Army . His house and plot of land is surrounded by vast fields that were collectively farmed in the soviet system . At one time he had kept a bull , chickens , and a dog . The dog house is still there but no dog . The last chicken had been eaten by a fox . As he and I looked out behind his house he spotted , with his old farmer’s/sniper’s eyes , a fox in the grassland . I didn’t see it .


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