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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one mutual friend or another

I dedicate this post to that person I may know who shares that “one mutual friend” with me on Facebook . I gotta tell you , however , sometimes that one mutual friend mentioned isn’t such a great friend of mine after all if we want to keep this real . Might be , possibly , just a casual acquaintance I may have known ( whom I might not even have especially  liked ) through work or someone I ran into on FB through some once-known mutual friend .

Lots of those old work colleagues of mine were friends , but some weren’t . Bill A  from Virgil Middle School used to say : Remember : These are not your friends ; these are your colleagues . He had a point there . We ordinary people don’t have to feign the formalities of Congress , for example , who begin their long-winded scathing criticisms of other Congressmen’s points -of-view  : ” I rise in response to my good friend the esteemed Senator from the great state of  ……….. ” . What was it that Will Rogers pointed out ? , that they will say  :  “my good friend” when what they actually mean is  ” that polecat ” from the great state of wherever .

Anyway .   I seem to be finding more and more people I  “may know”  presented on my Facebook page . Half of them have a mutual friend  listed . Sometimes two mutual friends . Half , however , are people I don’t know , have never known , with not even one measly mutual friend listed to give some rationale to it all .

Maybe I just don’t understand how this Facebook thing works . BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 011

I know , of course nevertheless , that if I open up one of these nebulous contacts , then the Russians are instantly on to me . They’ll sell or trade my info to the Chinese and the North Koreans , and one of those evil entities will subsequently be hacked by the CIA or the NSA or the Chamber of Commerce or some elusive Slovenian or that fat kid in New Jersey . And then I’m done for ! Next thing I know , all the teenaged hackers in the world will have my number , and they’ll be trading my info like baseball cards or stock secrets .

I already know that my laptop is infected and hacked . I do no financial business on it at all and I try not to share much personal  info .while on-line .  Not that any foreign nation is much interested in my secrets . It’s bad enough that American corporations already flood me with ads appropriate  ( they think ) to my situation , thus making it obvious that they’ve already hacked me and have been for a hell of a long time .  Some of their annoying ads might be appropriate to my situation , but most are not —- just to let those know-it-alls  know . Are you listening , Google and all of you other guys ? You’re not the boss of me !

Anyhow.  Kirchner 1919

Happy Birthday !  , by the way , to all of you people with birthdays !  I never got your invitation to the party in the mail , but that’s really okay .  By the way , you never send anything to me in the mail , snail or electronic ; but that doesn’t bother me much . I know that when I push “like” you’ll be happy that I was thinking about you on your special day . Or Google was , anyway , and Google told me what’s going on . Or Facebook did . (You know , of course , that those government techies in Pyongyang have known way before I knew  . Just keep that in mind . So , what else do they know about you ? Where you went to dinner on your birthday , no doubt , and what you ate and drank too . Maybe you posted pictures of those french fries and the mai tais ? Just a reminder : Be careful ! )

man newspaper chair 1880

Well. Okay. Sorry I missed you as a friend this time around . Maybe in the next life we’ll meet and have a virtual beer or a burger together . Meanwhile I’ll think briefly about our mutual friend(s) if and when my curser moves in that direction ;  and if I see them around town or on FB , I’ll say hello for you . Well , more likely I’ll simply push “like” to their post , but you know what I mean .

Everything and everyone is connected , and we all have a vital part to play . Keep it real ! Tap on !


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an old baseball memory


Taft golfingSorry. I don’t follow sports . I know , that’s somewhat un-American ; but , that’s the way it is .

There was a guy at my work years ago who knew that tidbit of information about me but he seemed to like me anyway . At some point we developed a sign-in routine each morning , and  when we’d see one another   I’d say , ” Hey , did you see that game last night ? ” .  He would , of course , answer in the affirmative  and we’d begin to throw around a few nutty statistics and mention rugby , jai alai , or lawn bowling , or horseshoes to awe and bewilder our colleagues . Some of them eventually caught on to the joke , and others are probably still wondering after all of these years about those two guys who followed those particular sports so closely  .

I played baseball as a kid , though . I played some games as an adult , too , usually on the 4th of July . I might still play if a game came up and needed another player , but that hasn’t happened lately .

Take me out to the ballgame .- Tony Martin

Put me in , Coach , I’m ready to play ! Centerfield –John Fogarty .

When I was a kid I played little league baseball . I liked baseball . But , one year , I sat most of the year on the bench . The coach’s son pitched every game and his friends played every inning of every game . Another kid and I were not part of that group , and so we sat on the bench game after game . This was the coach’s fault , of course .

When baseball is no longer fun , then it’s no longer a game .     Joe Di Maggio

So , my friend Bobby D. and I sat out most games . If the team was far enough ahead or too far behind by the eighth or ninth inning , then the coach would put us in , or put one of us  in . Usually I’d hang out in right field during the last inning of the game hoping that I might have a chance to get up to bat before the game ended . Sometimes I did get to bat ; sometimes I didn’t .

Baseball is 90 % mental , and the other half is physical.     Yogi Berra

In the middle of the season I decided to skip a game . I was finally fed up and I had by then  had enough .

The phone rang shortly before game time , though . The assistant coach told me that the teams  were on the field but our team was short one player . He told me that it would be my fault if the team  had to forfeit the game and that I should  get over to the park right now . I told him that I had decided to skip the game because I always ended up just sitting out the games  . He assured me that I would play this entire game because I was needed to fill out the roster because they were short one player without me .

Against my better 10 year- old’s judgement , I hopped on my bike and rode as fast as that bike would go over to the park .  By the time I arrived there fifteen minutes or so later another boy , one of the regulars , had arrived.  He took his position on the field . Need I say more ? Again I ended up on the bench and I sat there for the entire game . Thanks , Coach !

Then came the final game of the season .

This final game wasn’t going to decide the season for that team one way another , so the coach let Bobby and I play . Well , I’m not sure that Bobby D. had hung in there as long as I had or that he was even there for that last game . Hopefully Bobby had more sense and self-awareness than I had and had bailed on the team before that . Maybe he wasn’t even there that day . I’m not sure about that , now that I think of it . Good for you , Bobby , if you weren’t !

To make a long story short , I got up to bat four times during the game . I hit a home run , two triples , and a double . When I threw the ball in to the catcher during beginning warm-up from deep left field I could see that the ball had stung his hand when he caught it . ( I had a good throwing arm in those days . Not no more ! )   My throw had come in low right over home plate , too . The coach was standing next to the catcher when the boy took off his glove and waved his stinging hand in the air .


After the game I went to the restroom and when I was walking back to the diamond to pick up my stuff the coach approached me . He put his arm on my shoulders  and complimented my performance during the game .

” Next year , I’m going to put you in first string , ” he said .

” Why would I play on your team next year ? ” I said . ” I sat on the bench all year , ” I said . I looked him in the eye when I said it .  I hope that I did , anyhow .  ” I’m switching teams next year .”

I put a season’s-worth of suppressed anger and humiliation into that statement .  The coach seemed surprised . My declaration  may not have done that heartless s.o.b. coach any good ; but it sure  did me some good , and it still does when I think back on it .

To succeed in life you need three things : a wishbone , a backbone , and a funny-bone .   Reba McEntire

I always wanted to be somebody , but now I realize that I should’ve been more specific .     Lily Tomlin








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szczecin sights #2

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June 16, 2017 · 1:11 pm

szczecin sights


June 15, 2017 · 1:31 pm

almost a river cruise

We had some fine weather here in Szczecin and my friend Willie was visiting and so I thought it would be a good idea to catch one of the hour-long tour boats . They cruise up the river enough to see the area from another perspective , the old shipyard , tugboats and freighters , various birds including cormorants and an occasional eagle . Willie agreed to my little plan .

The usual tour boat was not in service . I communicated to the man aboard in English and Polish and he responded in Polish and German . Willie chimed in with a couple of German phrases and we discovered that his boat wasn’t going out that day , but that there was a larger boat further along the wharf that was in business . We walked along the riverfront to the Captain Cook . A girl with  carrot-colored hair was standing on the dock selling tickets .

She spoke to us in German , too , and a few words of English. We bought two tickets and climbed aboard . A few German tourists were already aboard , all ready with glasses of beer and cameras in their hands . Loud obnoxious sea shanties were playing on a P.A. system until  , mercifully  , someone eventually turned the volume down .

The appointed time for departure came and went . Willie pointed out to my attention that the German tourists had begun nervously checking their watches . A couple of minutes later one fat guy started anxiously pacing from one side of the boat to another .

Willie grew up in New York City . After ten minutes he leaned over the side of the boat and reminded the carrot-haired girl that it was time to go . It was ten minutes past time . I heard her response , ” Yes . Yes ” .

New Yorkers don’t take no for an answer , however , even when it sounds like yes . ” Five more minutes , ”  Willie called down to the girl , ” and if we haven’t moved by then we want our money back .”  It wasn’t a negotiation . It was New York come to Szczecin . She said they were waiting for a group . ” That’s not my problem ,” Willie said .

And so those next five minutes came and went and we asked for  our money back from the ticket girl . She offered no resistance at all , saying again that they were waiting for a group . We thanked her and walked away .

I had a Plan B , of course .

I took Willie over to the nearby ferry boat landing and told him that for two zloty round trip ( about 30 cents ) we could go over to the nearby island and walk around the flower gardens for awhile . I told him that the ferry came across every half-hour on the half hour . IMG_7432

I must have been wrong , though . Maybe every hour on the hour ? No ferry boat arrived . We joked about our luck and laughed a little and eventually decided to leave . At that point I wasn’t  sure when or if the ferry would come. We saw the ferry boat over there across the river , a blue boat tied up at the dock . Willie took pictures of pigeons and  I tried to ask an old lady who had come along what she knew about the ferry times , but I didn’t get very far .

We wound up at a nearby cafe and each of us had a beer sitting at an outdoor table and watching small boats sail by . ( No , the beer was not sitting at an outdoor table ; we were sitting there . ) It was now almost an hour since the Captain Cook had been scheduled to depart . A large group of school age kids had arrived and gone noisily aboard . The Germans were gone by then too as the boat slowly pulled away from the landing with the group , evidently , that they had been waiting for for so long  . I say : What a way to run a railroad !Poland 1 2016 June 020


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old friend

A friend of mine came to visit me in Poland for a few days . He flew in from Switzerland where he was playing several gigs . He lived there for several years and developed a following and a knowledge of the music scene there . He is a musician , you see .

Nowadays he lives in a small town in Connecticut , having emigrated north from New York City . He grew up living on 5th Avenue , if I got that right . I don’t know New York City at all at all . I’ve only been there once .

This friend of mine used to come out to LA every year . He’d stay with me in my various LA Basin domiciles and he’d always invite me to visit him in New York . But , you know how it is : I never had the money or the time , or the time and money together , so I never went . Over 25 years or more , I never went .

He had a small pad in Greenwich Village for decades , paying rent-controlled rent and at some point living in Switzerland , and playing in places all over southern England , and generally not being around Greenwich Village much . The landlords get irritated at that kind of stuff . They salivate at the rents they could otherwise be charging fresh tenants , and they jump at the opportunity to find ways to squeeze the long-time and especially absentee tenants out .

Eventually my buddy suspected that the tide would soon turn against him , and that they’d convert his pad into a condo , or the building owners had finally found a local political pal who’d institute a residence rule that would kick absent tenants out , or some such thing , so my friend  accepted a buy-out payment and he invited all of his friends to a good-bye apartment party at his Thompson Street pad .

I got off the phone with him then thinking that the good bye apartment party was a cute idea and I was appreciative of the invitation , but I never really thought I’d go . All the way to New York for a party ?  Mama H didn’t raise no fools !

When I told Ada about the invitation she told me that I had to go . She insisted . Can’t miss it , she said . So I went .

I think I got two hours of sleep that party weekend . I slept at his little place . His brother was there , too , and a few others  shared the digs for the weekend . We weren’t there much , though . Maybe we slept in shifts ; I can’t recall .  We walked all over the area , the Village , and I saw some of that part of the city . We ate Chinese food in Chinatown . We attended some kind of an art party with trendy artsy people with accents and cool haircuts , and we hit some of the local bars . New friends of mine , fellow apartment -party people , gave me a New York necktie as a gift . It had a picture of the twin towers on it . I still have it somewhere . dan and suzanne vega

It was a wonderful weekend , but I’ve felt like an idiot since then —- all of those years I could have gone and visited New York City , had a place to stay and a tour guide too ! Oh , well . One of the missed opportunities in life . Let’s not dwell on that too long or make a list of missed opportunities . It might be a little disconcerting if we were to do such a fruitless thing .

So , anyhow , I’ve visited this guy in Switzerland and in England and in Connecticut and he’s continued to visit me in California , although not nearly as frequently as he did in the old days .

We were walking along a Szczecin, Poland  street a couple of days ago searching for a blue purse as a gift for his wife . She likes blue . He found a good one , I think . He thought so too , but we two guys were on our own at the time  so what , really , do we know about purses ? Luckily , Ada verified the goodness of the blue purchase when we got back later to the apartment . His wife is in Connecticut , so he’ll have to wait for her opinion . dan at ferry stop

Ada went off to do her errands and my old friend and I went down to the river to take a one hour sightseeing cruise . That didn’t work out too well ,  but that’s a story for another day . We went to plan B . I always have a plan B , but plan B didn’t work out either , so we had to devise a plan C right there on the spot . Usually a plan B is enough .

I hope I’m not getting to a point in life where I always have to have a plan C  too , because  the world seems to be  getting crazier , or more scatter-brained and unpredictable , where plans A and B may no longer suffice . Or maybe it’s just me .

I think when you have old friends , though , you’ll be okay . You can come up with plan Cs together without much of a problem , and just let the world spin .


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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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