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


Filed under uncategorized

my cat

I’m not really a cat person , but I have a cat . Well , I’ve always had cats since I’ve known Ada . Ada is the cat person , apparently .  Show her a kitten and she’s a goner .

My cat’s name is Cosmo and she’s old and a little too fat and  she’s lazy . She doesn’t get that from me , I should say right off the bat , so you won’t get the wrong idea and come to egregiously erroneous conclusions .  It’s just a coincidence that the beast and I  share a few common traits . I used to have black hair like hers , too , by the way , and I was also never very enthusiastic about chasing rats , either . And we both like chicken .cosmo in box

Ada was in Europe several years ago when Cosmo was , for whatever reason , out in the backyard about 4:00 am and  was attacked by a coyote . I heard the loud agonized screech and went running out . I almost stepped on Cosmo ,  who was lying on her side in the dirt,  bleeding . The attacker had had her in his mouth . I could infer that because there were deep wounds on either side of her .

I saw the coyote walking away , looking back at me with what seemed like a disappointed and spiteful  scowl . Coyotes are , as you may know , generally cowards . Sure , you get them in a pack and they show  a  dab of audacity , but  a wolf , as far as I know , or a bear , or a raccoon , or even most squirrels would have undoubtedly challenged me for the bloody meal , but not a lone coyote .

I thought  Cosmo was a goner for sure , and I waited for the final moment ; but she continued her weak and shallow breathing hour by hour . As soon as the vet office opened up that morning I was there with my dying cat .

I’ll skip all of the details about the vet experience for now and spew them out at another time ,  perhaps , and  for the moment I will , as they say , cut to the chase . [ What  does that expression come from , the old cowboy movies ?  Was the chase at the end , just before the hero kisses the girl , but you don’t ever see the kiss because he always holds up his hat to block our view ? ]   Cosmo came so close to dying over the next couple of days that  she was within a hair’s breadth of giving up the ghost  { note: not within a hare’s breath ; that would be a whole different discussion } .

Now , notice that I say  “my cat” , rather than “our cat” , even though Ada is the real cat person . Why is that ?  Will the real cat person please stand up !  She’s not going to like me to say this , but I’m going to let the cat out of the bag  anyhow , so to speak : Ada doesn’t really like Cosmo much . Ah , we could go into why or why not some other time , talk about having two women in the house , things like that , discuss jealousy issues , etc . ; but , the fact remains . The feeling may be mutual , for that matter ; I don’t know . Cats’  thoughts , as everyone knows , are  a little tough to suss out .

During almost the entire day Cosmo ignores the both of us , Ada and I , but it’s my chest that Cosmo the cat sits on at night when Ada and I hit the sack . I think the cat , deep down ,  knows that I was the one there nursing her when she was struggling to draw each  breath , that I syringed that medicine down her throat and was there to take care of her . I didn’t think she’d make it , to tell you the truth ,  but she somehow survived .

  Cosmo , aka Coyote Fighter . And now , since then , for all of those years since that experience , she just sits around the house , doesn’t wander , and takes life easy , sleeps a lot , glad to be alive , I suppose .  She may well be dreaming ( sleeps most of the day ) of fighting coyotes and then afterward  having a nice chicken dinner  . Or not . hen-man-costume


Filed under humor

call security

A bill arrived by mail a few days ago and it didn’t specific what the charges were for . Ada’s credit card , and Ada is in Europe . She called and asked me to check it out . I don’t like this kind of stuff , so Ada handles almost all of it ; but she asked me to call . She gave me the secret codes . I didn’t share them with the Russians , but she provided them to me over an unsecured phone , so I’m pretty sure the NSA , Macy’s , Amazon , Google , and an assortment of other interested parties were listening . That’s the world we live in .russian ambassador

The first person I talked to at the credit card company ( no doubt a fellow in India ) asked for mother’s maiden name . Ada’s , not mine . And the credit card number, of course . You might think that’s no big deal , but Ada’s mom is Polish . Have you seen some of those Polish names ? I dare you to pronounce them .


” And who am I speaking with ? ” he asked . The husband , I answered . Same last name as the card holder ; same address ; same phone number . Co-holder of the secret security codes . Polite , moderated speaking voice .

No dice . Sorry , he told me . He had to be speaking with the person whose name is on the card , he said .  Security reasons , he said . He wouldn’t budge . I was done .

So I called right back ; same customer service number. This time I’m pretty sure my call went to the Philipines . I gave the same story ; same information . When she asked ” who am I speaking with ? ”  I told her “Ada” .  You’ll never gain anything if you’re not willing to take risks .  I didn’t try to disguise my voice . ” This call may be recorded or monitored ” the recording had said . Good .

She keep slipping over calling me ” Mr. ______ ” and immediately changing that to ” Mrs. _______ ” . The poor woman didn’t know how to address me . Man’s voice but a  woman’s credit card . These days , who knows , anyway . Right ?  I felt for her a little bit , struggling with how to address me.the-hat-1961

It didn’t slow her down for a second , though , on spilling the beans about the credit card billing . She hadn’t asked me , by the way , any security question , like mother’s maiden name , or what was the name of my first dog , or what’s my favorite flavor of jelly bean . Nothing . If the call really were monitored , I hope the woman still has her job today , but I’ll never know . To me she is  just a random voice encountered for a few brief moments and then lost in the wide wide world forever .

When I hung up the phone ( although phones don’t actually hang any more these days , we still hang them up , I think )  I wondered how much I should grieve over the lack of security that I’d just encountered with the credit card company . I know , small potatoes . The Chinese , after all ,  are hacking into the Pentagon as I sit at my keyboard ; the Russians………………well, we all  know about the Russians…….. ; the North Koreans hacked Sony ………………….. ; a multitude of other players from other places are  right now hacking whomever ,  Yahoo even , and no one even talks much lately about the three hundred pound guy lying on his bed in New Jersey ! Apparently ,  he might be a big problem .  It’s a spy’s paradise out there !  Bad !KutaisiTblisi 2016 551


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I’ve had limes ripened  on the dwarf tree out back for the last few weeks . Sometimes I’ll split one and put a slice in my beer ( purely in an effort to use the limes , you understand ) ; but there are only so many beers a person can consume . I have a friend who will use part of a lime in his gin and tonic, and I’ll give him as many limes as he needs  ; but , likewise , he only has a gin and tonic on rare occasions .lime-tree-002

I decided to buy some cod and make ceviche with it , using a few limes . Ceviche ingredients include fish , tomatoes , onions , peppers , salt , pepper . I added some garlic too. It’s usually served with tortilla chips , I guess , around here . It’s especially good for an outdoor party , maybe with some beers or margaritas . I envision a sunny day out on the back patio , kicking back and taking life easy .lime tree 001.jpg

So , I would expect a lime to have the common sense to ripen during the summer , wouldn’t you think ?  , or at least sometime in late Spring . Wouldn’t you naturally assume  that’s how things should be if all were right with the world ?  Why these guys decided to ripen in January and February is beyond me . Something just isn’t right . We’re living in strange times .

My lime tree is a young thing . Just started producing limes a year or two ago . I never noticed when the limes arrived last year . It had to be that they ripened at the same time of year , I suppose ; but I never noticed anything then odd or out of place . Well , last year we living here in what the local news people call  “the southland” ( southern California ) maybe wouldn’t have noticed much difference between winter and summer last year , or for the last several years of severe drought .

This January and February it’s been raining , and raining , and raining again . Very un-southern California -like , if you ask me .  Well , as people around here say , we need the rain . We don’t necessarily need so much all at one time ; but that’s another story . Somebody’s house slipped down onto the road in the Hollywood Hills a few weeks ago . Lots of hills around Los Angeles , and mudslide is a familiar term . Usually the standard  formula is : brush fires , then mudslides . Evidently the brush fire ingredient isn’t always needed for hillside residents to worry about mudslides , or for mudslides to do their damage .

My trouble , I admit , is a lot less important than dealing with  mudslides . I’ll state it anyway :

Margaritas just aren’t so enticing  in the rain . Sitting out on the back patio , also , just doesn’t seem so pleasant with rain beating down on the corrugated aluminum roof of the porch covering . I mean , it does have it’s attraction , sitting there listening to the clatter of the raindrops . There’s also the minor intrigue of waiting for that little leak where a roofing nail is missing to start dripping water onto the table . It’ll happen . Maybe sooner ; maybe later .

It’s not the same experience in a winter rain as sitting there on a hot summer day , though , with a cold glass of beer , or an icy margarita , with friends ( no one in their right mind will join me , it seems , in a rainstorm ) , and maybe with a bowl of delicious ceviche and another bowl of tortilla chips to dip into the ceviche .lime-tree-004

I can tell the lime tree to produce in summer . It’s young and maybe it just doesn’t know yet what’s what . I can try . I’m not especially persuasive , but I can give it a shot . I’ll try to be diplomatic . It likes the rain , though . I can tell . I’d better get on the internet first and find out how to talk to lime trees . They might be as stubborn as lemons , but I doubt it . lemon


Filed under humor

union rep

Hull came down the hall and asked me in hushed tones ,” How do you join the union ? ” In those days a teacher had to join the union to be an official member and not many wanted to join and pay union dues . The union represented teachers in collective bargaining if they were member or not .  I happened to be union representative for one year .

I told him how to join the union . Then I asked him what happened.

” I’ve got a conference with the principal after school today . I grabbed a kid .”

I took Hull aside and told him that I would go with him to the conference if he wanted . Yeah , he did . He told me that ” This asshole kid kept pounding on the door , several times throughout the period , so finally I opened the door and grabbed him and pushed him away .”

I stopped him there and gave him some union rep advice : Don’t use the incendiary language . He didn’t grab the kid ; he took hold of the student and directed him elsewhere . I told him to keep his mouth shut as much as possible . The principal would have to put any accusations in writing and Hull could then respond in writing .

” Try to keep your mouth shut , ” I advised him .” Just answer the questions matter-of-factly .”

” Okay,” he said .

When the conference started the principal asked Hull if he was aware that a student had accused him ……………”

” That little asshole ! ” Hull jumped in  ,” I had to grab the little jerk and………………..”

He was dead in the water in the first two minutes . Dr. Marshall , the principal , was a fair-minded man . He kept a poker face as he continued with Hull , but I know that his eyes were rolling back in their sockets behind his principal mask. Mine were doing the same thing .

At some point Marshall dismissed Hull . After the teacher walked out of the office Marshall looked over at me and asked ,” What do we do with that ? ”

What I did with it was contact UTLA headquarters and get some suggestions . With  official backup from the union I worked out a deal with Marshall that Hull could remain teaching if he entered an anger management program of six Saturdays . Dr. Marshall was bending over backwards to go for this deal . He had to sell the agreement to his supervisors .

” I’m not crazy !” Hull said when I laid out the plan to him . ” I won’t do it . ”

I tried to talk him out of his refusal but he wasn’t going for it . It had taken me quite a lot of cajoling  to get the agreement for him but he’d rather lose his job than sign up for anger management classes because he thought they would make him look ” crazy”. I had to slink back into the principal’s office and tell him that the deal we had hammered out over the last week was out .

” Maybe it’s better that the guy’s out of education ,” Marshall said .

” Yeah ,” I agreed .


Filed under humor

passing hat thought


big hatMy grandfather used to talk about people talking through their hats . Hats . That was long ago when men wore hats , before John Kennedy went to his inaugural and didn’t wear the hat . Maybe that’s what started hats going out of style for men.  There was old Ike Eisenhower in the traditional top hat sitting next to him  and Kennedy with no hat on his head at all . Out with the old .men in top hats

With  politicians  ” She/he’s talking through her/his hat ! ” often applies , even though she/he may not be actually wearing a hat . Here in the digital age we can easily throw up ( pun intended ) examples of their saying one thing here and another there ; or one thing then and another thing now ; or of promises made during campaigns and from then on mysteriously set aside as if…

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on markets and mark twain

conserve for war 1943 posterIt’s nice to be reminded from time to time that our plight in this world , for better or worse , is most likely shared by plenty of others .There’s comfort , somehow , in that . What is it ? Misery loves company ? Whatever . Mark Twain said : All generalizations are false , including this one . 

I was reading the latest post written by another Dan , over at his blog No Facilities , about markets , and shopping , and marriage , and life , and college , and cooking . Yeah ; all of that , and no doubt scads of other stuff , too ; but I’m a sloppy reader and miss lots of detail . I’m not a detail guy ; by no means a perfectionist . That’s just the way it is . So , sue me . As Mark Twain said : ” You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus .

cafe sign

Dan’s post , as his posts often do , in their unobtrusive manner , sparked a few scattered long-missing memories in my functional but slothful mind about this  and about that , and a little about  these and those . Funny how that works .  No Facilities  often inspires me to tap out another post of my own . The mental mud is stirred up just enough , I guess , to get a few bits in the murk spinning . So , I’ll get to it . As ( yeah , you guessed it ! ) Mark Twain said : Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow . So here goes .

I , unknown to many , got my professional start in the food industry . First real job with or without a work permit and I don’t recall which . I was fourteen and ready to make my mark . As ( well , what’d you expect ? ) Mark Twain said : To succeed in life you need two things : ignorance and confidence .  I washed coffee cups and dishes at the Town Talk Cafe . I remember writing about it before . The German owner must have escaped and evaded for all those many years after escaping certain post War punishment for her Nazi past and now she was hiding out as the owner/operator of a little local coffee and donut , bowl of chili and piece of pie food joint . What they used to call a Greasy Spoon .

Well , the spoons weren’t greasy when I was on the job . Not that the Nazi noticed . She yelled at me for bending the flimsy handle of the cheapo glass-washing brush . She yelled at me for getting dirt ( her Greasy Spoon dirt ) on my apron . She yelled at me that I was putting too much bleach in the rinse water . She yelled……….Well , you get the picture . She was a nut case . As Mark Twain might have said ……………………………no , not again ? . Well , okay : Mark Twain said  When we remember we are all mad , the mysteries disappear and life stands explained .liberty bell

However , this is not a post about what Mark Twain said . This is a post about a post about food and education and marriage and shopping and the Men’s Aisle in the supermarket , and …………whatever it was . 10 things not to do . Buying butter , etc.minuteman statue

Ada and I have had our fights discussions about buying butter . First , I should state the obvious : rule for women : Never send a man to the market to shop . With or without a written list — doesn’t matter . He’s there all alone and totally unsupervised . A little pang of FREEDOM thumps in his chest . The Liberty Bell rings somewhere far away in the still recesses of his male psyche  . Maybe he sees  a deal on butter , for example . Or maybe he sees that he can get two or three margarines for the price of one butter . He doesn’t know that some butter is unsalted and that’s the kind you wanted . Okay , it’s written on the list but the word UNSALTED slides by as he checks out the colors of the packages and the prices . He simply doesn’t have enough training . They didn’t teach that in Army boot camp , or in college , or even in high school shop class . His mother didn’t teach him , evidently , either . When you send a guy to the market with a specific job to do , well Mark Twain said : Everything has its limit ; iron ore cannot be educated into gold .July 4 4

I was pretty sure that I had learned the system . I’d stick to the list . I learned not to be so shortsighted as my blogger pal apparently was once when he tried to substitute another brand for the required one ( a no brainer ;  buy the one on the list : Duh ! ) But I saw a sale on butter and I bought a package even though it wasn’t on the list . What was it ?  $!. 65 ? I don’t remember now . No one would have to change their kids’ college plans over the cost of it .

When I got home All Hell broke loose ! ( Ada , no doubt , remembers it differently . But , as Mark Twain said : It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble ; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so . )

Ada : ( sotto voce , but in the voice of the German cafe woman ) We already have butter .

Me: But it was on sale .

Ada : You ALWAYS have to check . We already have butter .See ? ( She holds the ice box door open for emphasis ) . kitchen (old)

Me : It was only  $1.65 .

Ada : We don’t  NEED any more butter . You NEVER check to see what we have . Why don’t you check first ? You ALWAYS have to check first . And then stick to the list .

Me : It will get used .kitchen old 2

Ada : That’s not the point !

And , that wasn’t the point , of course . My blogger friend , exactly as in my case , pretty much gave up cooking and shopping for all the reasons I did , too . His wife’s a better cook , for one . But the main reason is that he and I are just sure cause for chaos in a woman’s world . I might have learned the lesson as a child ; should have , but I didn’t . My mother would announce : Get out of my kitchen  ! ( key word: ” my” .)  God made kitchens for women and barbecues for men . So saith the Lord .

Some of us are  just not wired for list -shopping ; have never really been trained properly . Sending us shopping might be a lot like releasing a rat into a maze , with little or no pre-conditioning , and hoping for the best . How did guys ever live on their own without proper supervision ? It’s one of those unsolved mysteries of life . It’s no mystery , however , that  ” he,he,he ” equates with laughter . As Mark Twain once said .queen of heartstwo men near train (old)


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ten slang slung plus one

clinger : a female dancing very close to her partner (1890)

cossack : a policeman (1850s)

pull the devil by the tail : to take a risk of ruin (ca. 1750)

the devil’s guts : a surveyor’s chain  (1670s – 1700s)

flicker :  a drinking glass  (1700s)

good as good : extremely good ( 1850 )

head-rails  : the teeth (nautical ; 1785)

lash : violence ( Australian ; 1916 )

queer the pitch : to spoil a deal (1901)       tulip and palm 004

scammered : tipsy ( 1840 )

slang-tree : a stage (1850-1950)

Lilly-slang-tree : ( I made this one up ; no meaning ; 2013 )


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