flying

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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mustache

man bearded old 3The  beard that I’ve worn for most of my life started out it’s career as a mustache when I was 18 . I was working part time at Redman Van and Storage . I worked with the warehouseman , Roy , inside the furniture warehouse and out on the yard where the trucks came in .  Up at the front of the place facing the street were the offices , full of guys ( one woman ) wearing suits , who parked their GTO’s and red sports cars  out back . They’d walk through the warehouse on their way to and from their alter egos , holding their breaths , I think ,  hoping not to pick up any grit or slime on the way , because those suits were expensive .

After I’d worked there for a time , anonymous notes began appearing , tacked to the walls near the loading dock and against the freight elevator . The author spoke in brief angry phrases about dirty hippies and Communists , and red-blooded Americans . I was so dumb then that Roy had to clue me in . I was no hippie and I was no Communist and I was no dirtier than I had to be working in the warehouse around the furniture ,  so Roy had to tell me what’s what .

” They’re about you ” Roy said . Really ? Dirty hippies ? Red-blooded Americans ? Evidently I was cast as the former , not the latter . Because of the mustache .

” The difference between a tart , a pie , and a quiche are a blur “.

Roy was my buddy , but I think he knew  the person who was posting the angry messages. It had to be one of those suited guys in the front offices , no doubt , too cowardly to confront the issue directly . There was  only Roy and I  working  in the back , and the drivers who came in and drove out  would have told me to my face if there was a problem .

I was too dumb to even realize that there was an issue . Bent out of shape over a mustache ?  Really ? But , it was those Vietnam War Love-it-or-Leave It  days , that stretch of American time before ol’ Willie Nelson grew his stringy locks long and made hair not such a reliable  loyalty oath test any more  . Had the angry fool secretly posting the notes  not been one of Roy’s front office bosses , I figure , Roy would have torn the things down .

” Do the best you can , and don’t take life too serious “.

[decades pass]Dandy man

When I got older and my beard turned white , I trimmed it down to a goatee , as older men tend to do , because I was uncomfortable with the Santa Claus look . Eventually I noticed that so many of us older guys sport those goatees I began to think of it as a requirement for membership in the old man club . I finally shaved the thing off a few weeks ago . Took the mustache off , too .

” Always do whatever’s next “.

I don’t care who the person was who posted the notes way back when . I didn’t care back then , either . Maybe it was old man S. , who had hired me . He never liked me . He had wanted to hire my brother Tom , but Tom had gone off to Officer Training School that year , I think , and I was the pinch-hitter .

It could have been any of those guys in the front offices . They were all snooty . It warms my heart , in a way , to know that whomever it was  had assigned himself something important to worry over and to fret about .  Hopefully , he twisted and turned and lost sleep over the fact that  I worked there three more years and  never shaved off my mustache .

” Things never go the way you expect them to . “

That dude is , no doubt , dead now , because it was a long time ago , and the mustache conniption  is merely another faded memory of mine . I do hope the poor guy got to heaven , though ,  got to meet God , and that God has a long bushy beard and a thick  and  unruly  mustache .god book

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Memorial Day

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Easter Eggs For Hitler 10-3-1945

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  6. pershing square, downtown 012

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old men wearing beards

There was a time

when beards were oh so establishment . Maybe President Obama should try growing a beard . See what happens . Everything’s

gone to hell anyway .That’s what I hear , anyway , although I don’t keep up on it all . So what’s the big loss ? Maybe it will rekindle a vibrant spirit among people in the nation . It didn’t hurt Honest Abe , it seems , when a little girl wrote to him that he should try it , and so he did .  general crookman beard old 2

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7,000 words worth

airplane in hand

man bearded old

Ford track 1921

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Negro in a hatFanny Brice 1922

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One Word Photo Challenge : HOT

Here’s my entry for Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge .

110_1006On the sand dunes in Death Valley , near Stovepipe Wells . The sun is going down and the shot was taken in November . It’ll be 130 degrees in the summer . You’ll have to read between the lines , I guess .

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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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english again

My daughter-in-law saw me with a dictionary and was shocked . ” What are you doing ?” she asked , almost as if she had spotted me decapitating the cat . It seemed obvious to me what I was doing . No cards were up my sleeve ; everything was right there out on the table . What was I doing ? I might have been spell-checking in the pre-internet manner , or looking up a meaning of a word . Nothing wrong with looking up a word now and again .July 4      4

She has a little bit of an excuse . I should give you a little bit of the backstory . She is Polish ; lives in Poland . She earned a degree in English with a focus , specifically , on American  English . I’m the first American she met , though . In her term , I’m a  Native Speaker , and , as it turns out , that’s a huge responsibility . Being the one and only Native Speaker encountered , I had to represent America , the American lingo . I should have paid better attention when we were diagramming sentences in grammar school  way back when , I guess.July 4   parade

I’ve tried to tell her several times that she must have missed the day in class when the professor must have mentioned that  Americans don’t really care  much about slip ups in grammar or awkward bouts of poor usage , not to mention curious accents and slippery pronunciation .  Hell, everyone has an accent in These United States and , generally , we like that . Makes life more interesting .  Daughter-in-law  wasn’t hearing any of that , however .  She intended to learn the lingo right , come hell or high water .

I did run into another woman over in Poland a few years ago whose son attended Oxford . We were talking about language , the English and the American styles of the language . I tried my little joke about that day in class when the professor must have said that Americans don’t really care much about perfect grammar . My point was that we are a tolerant bunch , effective communication is the key , and that precise points of grammar are not prerequisites to American membership .

Well , this woman , whose son was attending Oxford , whose boyfriend was sitting across the table , went off on America , on Americans , on the whole bunch of us , for being sloppy and slovenly with the language . ” That’s what’s wrong with your country ! ” she said . She got fired up in a rude kind of a way . Heck , I’d never met her before in my life .  I began to feel that I had to stand up for my country and my countrymen , maybe throw a few good American curses out at her and toss a drink in her face . Tell her she’s all wet . Go on , fighting fire with fire , and say that it’s her attitude  what’s wrong with Europe , anyhow . Go toe-to-toe with her and protect the good name of the USA . Of southern California , at least . . But , you know , it wasn’t worth risking another world war over verbal assaults on the American lingo although she had used those attacks on the  language as a springboard to condemn the whole country . Bunch of lazy bums , we are , I guess , according to her .  Never make anything of ourselves . As my English buddy Willie might have said , facetiously : ” It’s sad , really . ” And so I  left it at that .The Midway Punch, Sheboygan Press, 9 June 1942

My friend Bill uses the word   ” gargantuous “. Gargantuous is not a word. He could say garantuan or something ; but instead he says gargantuous . Bill is an educated guy . He grew up in southern California . He’s  traveled the world . I’ve even mentioned to Ada over the years Bill’s use of gargantuous . 

It came out last week at Thursday’s  pool  game . I don’t know why . Bill used the gargantuous term again and I called him on it . I’ve been listening to gargantuous  for years without comment . But , enough is enough . Now I struck .

” There’s no word  gargantuous ,” I said . Maybe it was the Guinness speaking.

” I know , ” Bill said . ” My vocabulary is so great that I have to find new words and play with the language ,”   he said .

” Like James Joyce , ” I said .

” Exactly ! ,” he said , ” Thank you for noticing ,” he said . ” Not too many people understand  , ” he said . Then he took another shot and sunk the eight ball in the corner pocket and we were done .IMG_0703

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