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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follow-up

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In order to garner a little sympathy , I am offering a couple of snapshots of the dying lavender plants along the side of the neighbors’ house . They’re gonners , as you can see ; but the weeds are doing well . Why they went out and bought them I don’t know , just to let them wither . Well , to each his own , I always say ; but , still .

Meanwhile , my friend Joe read my IRS post and sent me a link to a news item that his wife Susan found . Apparently the feds are catching some of the IRS scammers out there . They’re not all in India or Nigeria , either . They’re in Minnesota .  That makes me want to drop a few pounds of cynicism and report the scammers the  next time I get the call . Oh , it’ll come along sooner or later .

I don’t use a cell phone , and I hear that the scammers don’t contact cell phones as a rule.  So , I conclude ,  I’m it . Since there  are only a few hundred of us around the country , I think , who still use land lines ,  all the scammers have to come to us . That guy with the Indian accent who wants to fix my computer called again yesterday . He’s busy . He’s very concerned about me , too . Microsoft has detected a problem with my computer, he said  . Again . He’ll guide me through a process to fix it , though . I’m not to worry :  ” Just go to your computer…………………….”  

Ada keeps this guy on the line for awhile . She asks him how he got her number . She tells him thank you for the information and she’ll have her computer person look into the problem . She explains that she won’t need his help ; she’ll have her expert investigate the problem . She discusses the issue , calmly , at length with the guy .  Eventually the guy gets frustrated with her and hangs up . And there he was , calling us up out of the blue , again,  only trying to help .

I’m including in this post , also , a snapshot of a stolen recovering lavender in it’s plastic pot . random shots 013

You will notice a difference from the non-stolen other ones .

” And let me remind you , also , that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue “. —Barry Goldwater

I put this Goldwater quote in here for the benefit of an old friend , Tony , who commented on Goldwater appearing in my previous post about stealing the neighbors’ plants . Yeah , who knows who or what might show up for any of my  posts !  I’m as surprised as you are , half the time .

MULTIPLE CHOICE QUIZ :  Who said this :  Everybody’s business is nobody’s business , and nobody’s business is my business .

a. J . Edgar Hoover

b. Clara Barton

c. Wyatt Earp

d. all of the above

I’m not going to give you the answer . Sorry , but they say it’s the questions that matter and not so much the answers . I think they say that . Someone says that . Maybe it’s they . I will say , in passing , the answer is not (d) .

I’m a little distracted as I write this . The man on the phone wants to get me rebates for just about anything : painting , yard work , solar panels , heating and air-conditioning , dog walking , home security ………………………………….   I’m considering getting all of the rebates since he’s so nice and simply wants to do me a favor  ; but I’ve got to get him off of the phone soon because I’m expecting an important call from the IRS .

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(quiz hint)clara barton

 

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kiss my IRS

I get calls from the IRS , sometimes seemingly routed through India , threatening calls . First of all , no one likes to get unsolicited calls from the IRS . I don’t like to get mail from the IRS either . It’s bad enough having to deal with the IRS once a year . Now they want me , by the way , to check in on a quarterly basis  ; but I ignored that letter from them . Once a year checking in with the IRS is enough for me  .

And now , for a few  months , the calls .

One of the (recorded) calls informed me that the IRS was proceeding with a court case against me unless I avoid the problem by  calling the number given  and that , otherwise , a case  would be filed against me at the nearest county courthouse  . Someone , I think , should tell the IRS that they are a federal agency  and so any case would be at the federal courthouse .

Well , they can’t seem to decide where they will file the case against me if I don’t call their number . They have given various alternatives over the last few months . Unfortunately it’s always a recorded voice , so I can’t ask any questions , like ” What time is it in Nigeria now ? Isn’t there a nine -hour time difference ? “luck

I was dealing with the real IRS this year and we , old acquaintances that we are ,   traded a few letters back and forth . It seems , oddly enough , that they believed that I owed them more money than they had yet received from me . I tried logic to argue my position . Arguing with the IRS is always intriguing , I think . Logic isn’t really the currency used in such transactions. I suspect that they have a host of astrologers there , wherever their offices are , who consult the stars before declaring payers delinquent , or in arrears , or whatever language they use . Always there are late penalties plus interest , too , of course . Unfortunately , it would do me no good to threaten them with late charges and penalties for their delinquency and delay in returning to me what they owe . But such is life .

A friend of mine told me to report the IRS phone threats to the Secret Service . That’s who you report those calls to , she said . I’ve been delinquent in doing so . I figure the Secret Service , or the local cops , or the real IRS have enough to do without this little extra irritation . Maybe I’m thinking wrong on that . Maybe I should immediately report the IRS calls  . Next time they call , maybe I will .

I had almost abandoned my negotiations with the IRS about our difference of opinion regarding 2014 taxes , when I , sort of out of the blue , received a check from them . I checked my records and found that their check covered , give-or-take a few bucks , the entire  debt that I had been telling them that they owed me . And they had added , on their own , interest for all of those months when they were dragging their feet . I guess that I should have demanded they pay penalties , too , but it is too late now . So , you see, miracles happen . I suppose the team of IRS astrologers woke up one morning  to find Mars ascending , bright lights in the southern skies , the planets wobbling , or something , and knew that they needed to send me money .

It gets better , though . Another call from the IRS came in ; threats to take me to court again , and by coincidence I get another check from the IRS that same day . The astrologers must have seen something pretty ominous in the night skies . I won’t tell you how much this check was for , but it was big , and , after all , found money is found money . I considered , for about an eighth of a second , sending it back to the IRS ; but , then I realized that the IRS doesn’t seem to appreciate me questioning their decisions .

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stealing plants

I don’t claim any special power with plants . Ada tells people that I have a green thumb , but that’s an exaggeration . I like to garden , though , and by trial and error over the years , I know something about it . We live in a climate where it’s not difficult to get things to grow . The weather is mild and forgiving . The soil is usually good . We need to water things , though .flowers yard april 2014 017

And, that’s where my story starts. It’s a confession , really . Good for the soul , perhaps . Bless me reader , for I have sinned .

My neighbors built themselves a huge house where the old little one used to be . The pretense is always that the construction is  ” a renovation ” because one wall is left standing , usually propped up with a two X four . In this case , the propped- up wall came down a couple of times and then was propped back up again  , no doubt for the benefit of the city inspector . That way , the inspector could share in the “renovation” fantasy . Well , that’s neither here nor there  . This post is about the theft of a couple of plants .

The neighbor bought several plants with the intention of landscaping their front yard . A few of them he and his wife planted , but several of the pots were put along the side of the house . Weeks passed . The plants began to dry up and  die , one after another . There were ten or twelve lavenders in gallon plastic pots , all dying of thirst . When only three or four were still alive I decided to act . I had  watched them dying there on a daily basis  because they were lined up near my driveway .cats 009

Just call me Plant Saver !  I took one , moved it to my backyard , and watered it . That was a few weeks ago .   It’s out there now ,  thriving . Green thumb ? No . How about keeping  plants watered ? It’s not rocket science .

I know ; I know ; you’re going to say , ” How come you didn’t just ask the neighbor if you could have the plants ? ” 1.  Because it’s easier to apologize , if necessary , than to ask permission . 2. Because my neighbors work long hours and are seldom home to ask . 3. Because , to tell you the truth , I was irritated at the shabby treatment these plants were getting , the neglect . The neighbors are nice people , but  plant abuse is just not right . What was it that Goldwater said ? : ” Extremism in the cause of liberty is no vice ” , or was that something else he said ? He wasn’t talking about plants , of course ,  but you know what I mean .

Ada was surprised and perhaps a bit shocked that I had absconded with the neighbors’ plant . I explained to Ada that it had been more of a rescue mission  than a theft .

So , time goes by.  More weeks pass . Now , yesterday , only one of the neighbor’s plants is still hanging on to life . So , yeah . I snatched it.  ” Liberated ” it , as people used to say . Stole it . Swiped it , as we used to say before ” swipe ” took on a whole different meaning .  When someone in a store nowadays says ” Swipe your card ” the expression still strikes me as odd .The old meaning was better , in my opinion .

” What happened to your bike ? “

” Jimmy swiped it .”

Now Jimmy swipes credit cards all over town . Maybe the new chip in American credit cards will make swiping them obsolete . If that happens , it’ll be one less thing for me to worry about .

When the lavender plants  grow up a bit , I could offer to give  them back to my neighbor . That could happen . I’ll spill the beans at that point  about my actions   , throw myself at his and her mercy , apologize for my thievery , say that I don’t know what overcame me . Channeling  Flip Wilson for a minute, I might announce  : ” The devil made me do it ! ” That could happen . I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you bet on that ;  but the world is unpredictable , so who knows .

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday to Paul Brady – Irish Folk Icon!

Irish Folk Icon .

The Immortal Jukebox

Paul Brady will be 69 this week. Here’s a tribute from the very early days of The Jukebox many of you may have missed.

Bard: A tribal poet – singer skilled gifted in composing and reciting verses of satire and eulogy on heroes and their deeds.

‘Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake’. (Richard Sennett)

‘Some guys got it down …. Paul Brady …. Secret heroes’. (Bob Dylan)

Paul Brady harbours and husbands extraordinary talents. He is a great singer of traditional ballads in the Irish and American traditions able to breathe life into ‘set texts’ through his exquisite instrumental and vocal control and his natural discretion.

These craft skills allow him to reveal the often buried wit, vigour, romance, tragedy and flat out strange power of those remarkable works composed by the great ‘Anon’.

He is also an…

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sticks and stones

I like to scroll through Facebook posts . It’s kind of an observation of the state of the country done the easy way .Coupon and road sign 005

There’s the guy who posts pro-Assad in Syria stuff . He tends to get way too un-American at times , too , for my taste , so his legitimate points get swamped in all of the propaganda . There’s the atheist who spends his time regularly posting anti-religious stuff .  I hope God’s got a sense of humor . Maybe she does . Then there’s the pseudo- moralist , who dangles salvation dressed in misconception , hate , and intolerance . And the cute animal videos are everwhere, of course . And the police-related posts here and there . And the politics .

In those political posts I’ve been called so many names on Facebook that I should take offense. Today’s was a mild insult : ” the attention span of a gnat ” .  Oh , yeah , I’ve been paying attention ; but my dad told me ” Sticks and stones can break your bones , but words can never hurt you ” . Thanks , Dad . It’s not at all true , of course , in the adult world , but it’s a good little saying to fall back on when the political posters hurl the insulting names out at anyone who doesn’t share their foxhole .  It’s a better fallback than : ” I’m rubber ; you’re glue ; it bounces off of me and sticks to you ! ”  Little bit on the aggressive side , that one , valid as it might be .getty museum 007

Oh , I don’t take it personally , the nasty labels and the insults and the put-downs . I just sort of make a mental inventory of the mood and direction of the country , the little bit I can view of it on Facebook.  No , I don’t base my examination of the world wholey on my Facebook observations , and , of course , I don’t blame Facebook . I sure don’t want Facebook , who is a legal person as far as I’ve heard , to have any hurt feelings . That wouldn’t do .

I’d better get to the point of this post before my attention span of a gnat quits on me : There should be more civility in society . There should be more tolerance and respect for one another . There should be more common purpose . Making a better country won’t be achieved by those who hurl the nastiest insults  and/ or  come up with the stickiest put-down labels , or by those who consider adversaries always enemies .

If you disagree with me , you’re  just a  rotten worthless pile of warm worm puke .

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death valley kilns

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Go up into the Panamint Mountains to about 7000 feet in elevation , using a good road until the final mile or two , or a few , which has become  a dirt road  , and suddenly there are ten of these odd stone structures , all lined up . They look , to me , like tall stone beehives ; but they’re not , of course . They’re charcoal kilns .DEATH VALLEY 2016 197

What’s a charcoal kiln ? , you might say . Never seen a charcoal kiln ?  It’s where they made charcoal . Swiss engineers designed these ones and Chinese laborers built them and did the work . Each kiln held four cords of pinyon pine logs which were burned for a week to make charcoal for a silver smelter in the area . The kilns were built in 1877 and operated for only two years because the smelters closed down in 1879 .

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The  kilns are up in Wildrose Canyon in Death Valley National Park . DEATH VALLEY 2016 177

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May 8 – V-E Day

I reblog this post from a very well researched and interesting blog: Pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Pacific Paratrooper

The Queen Elizabeth returns troops to NYC The Queen Elizabeth returns troops to NYC

On May 8, 1945, millions of people around the globe took to the streets to celebrate the World War II surrender of Germany on what came to be known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. At 2:41 a.m. local time the previous day, representatives from the victorious Allied nations met with German officials in Reims, France, to sign the official surrender documents but, in accordance with an earlier agreement between leaders in the United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom, the news of the end of hostilities on the continent was withheld for 24 hours and announced simultaneously on the 8th. In London, spotlights in the form of a “V” for victory were turned on over St. Paul’s Cathedral—although it took some time to get them working again after nearly six years of wartime blackouts. In the United States a newly…

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