Monthly Archives: June 2014


No one can drive us crazy unless we give them  the keys . —– D. Horton


I’m not unusually concerned with locks usually .  When Ada and I  rented a house in Sierra Madre from Tom we never had a key . Tom lost the key years before we showed up , when he was living in the house . Our friend Willie lives there now . Still no key . The no -key era spans at least twenty years so far . Of course , all the locks could be changed anytime , but no one really considers that possibility .

When I was a kid that’s how things were . I don’t think that my parents ever locked the doors at our house unless we were going on vacation. People are much more cautious now . And , we were in the suburbs .

I’m in Poland now . I’m in the city , so attitudes are different , no doubt , from suburban attitudes .  Locks .  The  doors have two or three or four locks . All are deadbolts , for what’s  the use of other locks ? People use all the locks , too , when they leave their places . Can’t be too careful .

A couple of years ago my stepson rented us a place in the city to stay . It was up the stairs , no elevator , on the trillionth floor . God lived just on the next floor up , I think . But , maybe we were on the top floor , now that I think of it , so God must have been somewhere next door . Maybe he was the guy playing the loud techno  music . I don’t know . Anyway , we were way up there . I don’t think any self-respecting thief would even climb so high . By the time he carted his loot down the stairs he’d be collapsed on the ground ready to give up to the cops , exhausted .

The place had  deadbolt locks . One of them stuck . You would have to turn the key three or four times and hope for the best . Five or six  turns , maybe . Sometimes the lock would click open on the second or third or fourth turn . Maybe not . We might spend five minutes trying the lock .

No one seemed concerned about this except for me .  Why have to turn the damn thing so many times , hoping for a winning turn ?  One of these days it might not even open . I asked that the landlord be contacted about this problem . Well , it had been like that ever since anyone could remember . What’s the big deal !WD 40

I went down to a shop and bought a small can of WD40 , sprayed it into the lock ; sprayed a little more for good measure . Then I turned the key : Click !   The thing opened on the first turn . Opened from then on on the first turn . Easy . Problem solved .

This year , in  a different place , we have three keys to contend with . They all look the same to me . One  opens the front door of the apartment house . Two others open our apartment door . I fiddled with those keys trying to find the right one for the right lock . No one seemed concerned but me . Well , don’t you see the picture on the one key ? No , no I don’t . With my reading glasses on given enough light I can almost see the picture .  Is it a bull ? So , I am now  fiddling with my glasses as well as the three keys . Frustrating !  I could go off the deep end one day trying to figure these keys out . Which key for which lock ? They all look the same .

Now , I won’t even go into the one turn or two turn Polish  lock thing . I’ll leave that little conundrum for another day . Suffice it to say here that that’s another of my Polish lock problems which , again , no one seems concerned about but me .

I went looking for those cheap plastic key covers in different colors to fit onto the top of keys so that I could tell one key from another . Nothing . No luck . Maybe a locksmith would have them , Ada suggested . ” What about nail polish ? ” she suggested . ” That’s what we used to use . ”   Yeah . Great idea .

Turns out Ada had no nail polish . We went looking for nail polish in the shops . No luck . Then  I spotted some outside the REAL store . Ada and I made our move . ” I’m not buying any of this !” she said . Too high-priced , I guess ; or not her colors . While the clerk was occupied Ada tried two or three different colors , a spot of each , applied neatly to each of my keys . I had to air them for a few minutes as we walked calmly away . I felt a little girlish as I held my nail-polished keys out into the air ; but , whataya gonna do !KEYS 002

Problem solved for now :  Blue gets me into the building ; green opens  the top lock ;  use red near the door handle . Easy . I may not go completely crazy today , unless I have to go down into the building basement storage room ; but ,  let’s fight one battle at a time .

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The Immortal Juke Box A5 : Toussaint McCall Nothing Takes The Place Of You

Borrowed from The Immortal Jukebox .

The Immortal Jukebox


It’s dark when you set off for another shift at the plant and it’s dark when you get back to this dark room in the boarding house held together with flaking paint. Your overalls are stuck fast to your back and your body holds on to the ache reminding you that there are still some things you can feel.

The radio doesn’t work anymore and the TV is filled with smiling fools selling dreams no one believes in any more or pictures of boys who could be your sons dying in Vietnam for a reason you never could get.

Outside there’s someone shouting at someone something about something that never mattered anyhow. The rain’s begining to fall and the moon stares silently down promising to keep the worlds secrets for one more night.

You stopped off at the corner to buy a bottle that’ll take you through till sleep…

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women war workers 1940s

Hap Arnold and Jimmy Doolittle June 27, 1942:Hap Arnold and Jimmy Doolittle June 27, 1942


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woman 7Marine gliderswoman 8woman 9woman 10woman 11woman 12 woman 14woman aircraft worker 1942woman aircraft worker 1942  (2) woman worker P-51 Mustang fighter plane woman worker 3 woman worker 4woman worker 6WOMEN aircraft workers 1942 (3)women worker 2

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around Szczecin town

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down by the river , Szczecin

Oh. The Odra . Poland house and neighorhood 035


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shouted store greetings

Just a short comment here :

It used to be only Japanese sushi joints , I think , where the employees would shout at you when you walk in .   Sort of a Banzai greeting , I guess , Japanese style . Well , cultures differ . Who am I to judge . I’m not a sushi guy , nevertheless,  so I wasn’t bothered at all at all with this curt cultural quirk .clara bow hat 95 cents

Until recently . Have you noticed that more and more stores have climbed onto the band wagon .  Young clerks yell something , often muffled and incomprehensible , when I walk into the store . Even when they are dealing with another customer , or working the cash register , even when chatting with someone :  ” WELCOME TO WORLD MARKET !” ; ”  WEOM A WALLGIN ; ” WOOME  TA ______________ !”    Now , isn’t that a rude custom ?  And , half the time , I can’t get what they said , anyway . It sounds like they’re shouting a sharp quick curse , spitting it out at poor innocent shoppers as they  walk in . They don’t want us to shop  here , or what ?

If I’m the only customer in your store , sure , greet me . Maybe say ” hello” or “welcome” , or even ” welcome to __________ ” . But , you really don’t have to shout it at me in a quick sharp -sounding banzai-style burst .  I wonder if stores in Japan  even do this sort of thing  , the aggressive so-called greeting . Maybe . Maybe not .Metro April 2014 034

CEOs must have gone to conferences and heard that these verbal assaults are good for business . But maybe it’s just a Japanese practical  joke being played on them .  I know that when a clerk is cashing me out at the register I just love it when he/she suddenly turns and shouts at some unsuspecting poor slob who’s just entered the store . The clerk then immediately turns back to me and my purchase , blank expression, having immediately forgotten the other customer entirely , leaving this new shout victim to wonder what that odd verbal burst was all about . Was it aimed at me ? Did I do something wrong ?


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Poland house and neighorhood 064The apartment in Poland changed from gas to electric. I should say the apartment house quit gas . Maybe the city quit gas . I don’t know. I’m a tourist . No more gas. That’s what I know .

Unfortunately , the cook top in our Polish apartment is gas . We can’t heat anything up on it . No more gas .Poland house and neighorhood 071

My job was to measure the cut -out for an electric cooktop. Easy .  Do it metrically , of course . How about installing a new electric cooktop  ? Easy , eh ? It just sits in there ; plugs in .  So Ada and I went shopping .

Well , of course I forgot to bring along the measurements . We checked out a couple of models . I was concerned about voltage . Oh , no no , they’re all standard 230 , the clerk said . No problem . Well , they’re not . One must be sure to get the right voltage . The one we wanted uses higher voltage . We had to rethink . We picked an Italian-made model . Good deal . But the store guy couldn’t connect to internet . The dimensions were unknown .Poland house and neighorhood 065

I needed to remove the gas cooktop . No problem . No tools , though . That’s a problem . We asked Jurek , our upstairs friend , and he brought me an adjustable wrench and a couple of screw drivers . I had some WD40 from my last visit to Poland , when the door lock stuck and was driving me crazy ( but  only me , apparently —-we  Americans !  )  I loosened the clamps holding the cooktop to the cabinet ,  but had a struggle getting the gas pipe loose . Moments of doubt attempted to overcome me , but I wasn’t giving up . I’m retired , old gas pipe , and I have all day , all week . I’ll win . So , being sensible ,  it gave up and came apart . Gas pipes aren’t dumb. Besides , it’s not really a gas pipe anymore . No gas .  I give credit , not to me , but to the WD40 . Thanks , WD40 !

There the problem occurs . I was thinking that the electrical cord was unplugged . I decided to cut the cord just below the cooktop . BOOM !  The power in the entire apartment quit . Shorted out . Dead . Woops !Poland house and neighorhood 073

I’m not familiar with Polish circuitry .  There seemed to be a circuit breaker box on the wall . I flipped switches to no avail . We had to call the electrician. I should say Ada had to call the electrician . Polish Language is a superpower I just don’t possess .

A short little guy arrived in a couple of hours . I think it took him five minutes , or two , to assess the problem and fix the thing . He had to go out to his van for a ladder .That took the majority of his time .  He fixed it . No charge .  Seemed to me that he got into a fuse box outside the door in the hallway . He didn’t charge us anything . Nice guy . Probably thought : ” Stupid American ” and left it at that . Ada gave him a ten zloty tip . Everything works again !  O.K. , fuses . I’ll get one for future emergencies , I thought , when I figure out the capacity .Poland house and neighorhood 070

Ada was happy that I didn’t electrocute myself . Me too . That would have been awkward . What the hell am I doing messing with this stuff in Poland , anyway ? I have trouble enough in the States .

But , as it happened , that wasn’t the end of the story . Ada was out shopping and I went to heat some water for tea . Electric kettle . No juice. No juice anywhere  in the kitchen . I thought we would need to call the electrician back . I mulled that one over for a half hour . Then I decided to try the breaker-box-looking thing on the inner wall near the ceiling ,the thing that hadn’t been of any help before .

I heard the purr of the refrigerator .  Then I heated my water but decided to have coffee . Ah . Don’t panic .Poland house and neighorhood 013This is me carrying pillows from the shop on the other side of the park in the middle of the morning. Retired guys can do that if they want . And then, maybe ,  a beer .  Don’t panic.   Everything will be o.k.


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