Monthly Archives: April 2017

letters to ed

Criticism , that fine flower of personal expression in the  garden of letters.–Joseph Conrad

My plumber left a phone message when Ada and I were away .   ” This is your plumber . Good going ! I assume you’re the same  guy who wrote the letter in this morning’s Times  .  Nice job . “George Orwell

It’s always good to get a compliment now and again . Somehow it was especially heartwarming to have my plumber be the one offering a little praise . Some other friends had seen the letter , too , as it turned out , but they hadn’t bothered to comment on it until after I asked if they’d seen it . So it goes .

I haven’t noticed that the world changed because of my little letter .

Over the years I’ve had several letters to the editors published and , to be perfectly honest , I ain’t  never felt the earth shake later because of any of those letters . I never seen any observable world-changing trend afterward neither . Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention .KutaisiTblisi 2016 743

One letter years ago directly pointed out the absurdity of some new school district policy imposed by the new superintendent . I won’t go into details , but the principal of the school where I worked called me into his office  the next morning .  ” Sid Thompson ( the superintendent  ) called me up today , ” he said .  ” He read your letter and I’m supposed to have a talk with you , ” he said .

I my opinion I was never intimidated by higher-ups . I guess that I was never enough of a striver to spend any effort being  careful  not to make waves , to tow the line , and all of that falderol , in  some vain hope of climbing  the next rung of the professional ladder . ( ” I coulda been somebody .  I coulda been a contender .”  ) I knew the principal pretty well , too , at the time , so I said ,   ” It’s good to know that Sid Thompson reads ” . The principal let that bit of snarkyness pass .

I waited for the required , ordered-from-above , chewing – out .   ” Consider this our talk , ”  he  said instead , having literally done his duty , and sent me back to work .

I used to write a lot of  letters-to-the-editor  about school issues . This latest one , however , was more international in scope . I keep my letters  succinct and to -the- point . I try to include a special word or two to show that I have put some education and sophistication into the effort . That word or two sets the letter apart from others , I always hope , and catches the editor’s eye . Maybe , anyhow . schoolchildren

Okay , maybe the President , his cabinet , the Congress , the Pentagon , the NSA , CIA , and all of those spy agencies , or just some dumb unforseen  boo boo will get us into a war with North Korea anyway , despite my latest letter .

Can’t say I didn’t warn you , though .

My plumber understands , and he agrees .

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flights

I’ve just returned from another long flight across the Atlantic . The flight dropped at least two hours behind schedule  because , as far as I could overhear and  observe , the loading ramp cables were screwed up and couldn’t be adjusted or repaired until the fix-it technicians arrived and the ramp couldn’t be used until then.

Either that or the flight crew was desperately trying to sober-up the pilot in time for the flight .

Meanwhile , all of us patient passengers waiting at the gate were abruptly herded out of our seats ( most of us had seats ; some didn’t ) and chased out into the main hall . A couple of security officers then spent five or ten minutes searching our now-vacated seats near the gate  , on , under , and around , as if we might have hidden our weapons and explosives under the seat and not kept them in our pockets or in our  carry-on luggage . Could it be that terrorists’ main goal is to destroy waiting rooms and not , as previously thought , aircraft ?

This has happened to me before . Last time , before they allowed the passengers to resettle in the waiting room near the gate , they called a few names . They called mine . I am generally , I guess , an optimist , and so I thought that maybe I would be seated onboard first for some reason . It could happen . Ada , more down-to-earth , said no , that’s not going to happen .

Instead ,  they escorted me into a small security office  and searched my carry-on bag .  In there I had some of Ada’s clothes . I also had an empty green duffel bag which was unfolded carefully as if it might accidentally and suddenly detonate at any moment . I had a pair of my dirty socks and boxer shorts in there too . The security official , to her credit ,  caught her breath and hesitated  for only  a couple of seconds , made no rude comments , and then released me . I would have given a penny for her thoughts , however . She might have been thinking : some kind of a weird sicko , but no terrorist .

So here we go again . I explained the procedure to an American guy standing next to me .   ” And then they’ll check a few of us , ” I said . He whined about going through several security checks already . ” And , we’ll have to wait again , ” I said .

” Sounds like you’ve been through this before ,” he said . Yeah , but only in Oslo . Last time the security people  explained to us that this curious procedure was ” required by the Americans ” ( the flight would be headed to Los Angeles )  I wonder . Wouldn’t doubt it .

In passing , I might note that  being two extra hours in Oslo airport added to the scheduled three hour layover , I decided to have a beer . In Scandinavia there is plenty of beer  but most people need to take a second mortgage out on their house to afford it . Not like in Poland where I had just come from ,  where beer is still cheap ( and so am I , so it’s a good match ) . I put my car and my  cat down as collateral and bought a beer in a plastic cup at the little snack shop in the secure area of the Oslo airport . Sometimes a person has got do things he/she wouldn’t ordinarily do under normal circumstances.

Despite the recent rash of airline abuse of passengers , I am not afraid to fly . Looking at it practically , of all of the millions of customers , the airlines only beat up and drag off a few . There was a woman on an American flight who was hit with her baby’s stroller by an employee , of course , but how often is that likely to happen ?  The incident that troubles me most , though , was the man on the Delta flight who was kicked off of the flight for having to use the toilet when the plane , instead of taking off , taxied around the tarmac for a long period of time . I put myself right in that guy’s place .airplane in hand

Dragging a guy down the aisle and clubbing a woman with a stroller , well , that’s bound to happen once in awhile in the normal course of business . Right ? Like losing   a bag here and there . Nobody’s perfect .

But not letting a person pee is  going too far if you ask me . These airline folks like to sternly announce when the restrooms are about to be locked , too , toward the end of flights .  I wonder if they lock the First Class toilets at the same time as the economy class ones .  I suspect that the crew have their own secret toilet , anyway , behind that locked door off the galley and they use it any time they feel the need  , especially when the passenger toilets are locked up tight and that assigned steward or stewardess is sitting on that little jump seat and staring  at the economy rows of peons  and showing  that insulting little patronizing smirk most of them seem to have  . Staring down the huddled masses is  a little incentive , I suppose , a little  extra  perk that the airline business offers to their employees , I imagine .

And another thing that irritates me in flight is the recorded description about what a marvelous aircraft this is , how it has several restrooms  some fore , some aft , some centrally located . ( The recording doesn’t mention the  subsequently announced  warning not to use toilets  ” out of your class ” , however , or other restrictions , or the toilet lock-down  ) , about how the overhead bins have been redesigned and enlarged and made so roomy  to make all of the carry-on baggage comfortable in flight . Meanwhile , we economy passengers are crammed tightly and uncomfortably into our tiny travel spaces , sharing hard plastic armrests with fellow victims , being jabbed and rocked by the  person  sitting behind us as he or she attempts to settle somehow  into the tiny tuna can space . How about redesigning this , and treating passengers with a lot more respect , instead of counting only corporate profits .

I know the next profit-maximizing plan is to charge a fee even to use the toilet . You think I’m kidding ?  That might be  when I stop flying , but  I expect the typical airline  customer to say , well , that’s the way it is now . What can you do !

 

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lost in translation

BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 011Correct me if I’m wrong if you want , but I think that the meaning of the Polish word “bar” has changed somewhat over the last several years . It used to mean an inexpensive cafeteria , but now it also means more and more what the American meaning of bar is . Not being an expert in the Polish language  ( or American lingo , for that matter ) , I am ready to take your more informed criticism of my analysis , if you feel it is warranted . What must be must be .

But that is neither here nor there for the petty purpose of this potentially paralogizing post . I don’t mean to pettyfog , either , no way , or to mire us down into inconsequential goop . I have got one simple point to make . Well , perhaps it’s not a point , now that I think of it  , but it’s an observation .

I think that we get caught in our own linguistic canards at times . How about that ? Do I hear an argument ?  That being said , can we move on ?BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 001

I  came upon this Polish bar called BarFit . Had it been my decision to name the place , I would not have named it that , for reasons obvious , I think , to the average American . Again , someone went ahead and named the place , and no one even asked me first . That kind of thing seems to happen quite often . BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 003   Well , actually , had someone asked me , I may have accidentally said , ” Yeah , that name sounds okay .” After all , the best entrepreneurs know when to ignore sage advice , and you shouldn’t  base your decisions on the advice of those who don’t have to deal with the results . Besides , good advice is never cheap  and cheap advice is never good .

Besides , there is  evidently  a dog food called Barf . Maybe it’s a British thing . I glanced at it on the internet . If Barf is good enough to feed to dogs , then BarFit  might be okay to name  a food place . Too late now , anyway . Done is done .

BAR FIT Szczecin 2017 006

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while my guitar gently leans

If I’d had good discipline , I might have gone into music .

——Clint Eastwood

There was a time when I thought I’d learn guitar .

At some point I went over to  McCabe’s Guitar Shop and paid $250 for a pretty good guitar . Two hundred and fifty dollars in those days , remember , was like nine million dollars today .  I fooled around with it , learned a few chords from friends . I asked my friend Joe to give me a few lessons . Joe tried to explain how guitar chords were mathematical , he explained  harmonies , chords , what notes have to do with it , and  blues progressions . I tried to comprehend it all , see the sense of the dynamics of stringed instruments , tried to learn a few more chords , to manage and massage  the strings , determine frets ,  play a few simple songs .guitar playing woman

Joe politely told me , after a few frustrating lessons , that maybe I should stick to wind instruments . Joe had brought the hammer down , struck the gavel and pronounced judgement . And , I knew even then and since then ,  Joe was probably right .

I picked up my flute again and toodled . I bought a used clarinet and learned , a little , how to play without exhaling so much  air that I’d pass out , although Benny Goodman I definitely wasn’t . I even  bought a used saxophone but quickly sold it to a friend .   I put the guitar away for the time being , sat back down at the drawing board , reassessed my stringed thing potential , brooded .  It was as if the music God had said , ” Dan , there’s only one thing I don’t want you to do . Don’t try to learn to play guitar   ”  like it was  the forbidden fruit .

So , inevitably , the guitar challenge worked on my mind , needled me , nagged me .  There the long-necked thing  was , after all , right there in the room , leaning against the wall , taunting me , that great guitar ,  tempting me to try again  .

Probably months later , after the lessons , I bought the Easy Way To Learn Guitar  books and got psychologically ready to try again . I eased in to it .  Paced myself . I practiced chords . I had problems stringing the chords together . I couldn’t make sense of the guitar , still . I tried .  But , week by week , month by month , no breakthrough , no encouraging riffs were ever heard from my apartment .

You just pick up a chord , go twang , and you’ve got music .

——Sid Vicious

I was reading a post called Monday Memories and Music from a fellow blogger who was in a little bit of the same boat as I was in with a guitar , but she with a piano .  She was at the  book buying stage . Her post prompted this one . Brought back old memories .  

Learning music by reading about  it is like making love by mail .

——–Luciano Pavorotti

Writing about music  is like dancing about architecture .

——-Martin Mull

Years later I took another stab at learning the guitar .   I thought that I gave it a good shot and , once again , got not very far .  Meanwhile I was getting mildly interested in photography . One of my sisters had a nice camera . She seemed to be playing the same game with a camera as I was playing ( pardon the presumptuous expression ! )  with the guitar .  So we agreed to a swap , camera for guitar .  She was working at the time in Florida . If the camera didn’t work out for me , or the guitar didn’t work out for her , we agreed that we would swap back .

When that time came that I thought , once again , that I should take up the steel stringed thing again for another try , I called her to suggest a re-swap .   But , it was not going to happen . The guitar had moved on . A boyfriend had taken  it with him to Chicago ,  she said .  And the boyfriend never came back , as it happened . That’s the way thing go sometimes .

I have a borrowed guitar , as I am writing this post .  It is  leaning against the lawyers’ bookcase in the back bedroom . Near it , on the writing table , are the  Learn To Play Guitar  books , good ones , and an electronic tuning device . I tried . Believe me , I tried . Once again . The plan was to , finally , learn the instrument well enough this time to encourage me to , once again , go out and buy a good guitar .

But , I may have to admit that Joe was right all those years ago .  The only reason that I haven’t returned the guitar to my generous friend is that I hate to give in once again , to give up my guitar playing ambitions  , to capitulate again , to drop again ( temporarily ? ) my recurring guitar-playing dream , to again throw in the towel 
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Most people live and die with their music still unplayed . They never dare to try .

——-Mary Kay Ash

Oh , I’ll try again . There’s no rush , after all , is there ?  I’ll rest up a bit for the next bout .

Where words fail  music speaks .

—-Hans Christian Andersen

To all you striving musicians , piano players , guitarists , banjo pickers , tuba tooters , accordianists ,  and yodelers : Keep the dream alive ! Music rocks ! Otherwise , all is lost .

This land is your land , and this land is my land , sure , but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.

—-Bob Dylan

bob dylan

One more quote that may apply :

He has Van Gogh’s ear for music .

—-Billy Wilder

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ideas ?

This is a fungus growing on an oak tree out in the backyard .

Bill says it sucks the life out of the tree , that there must be something wrong inside the tree .There’s the wisteria in bloom just outside the back door .

This is Ada with the lemon tree and roses .

This is the mineshaft out in the backyard where I go to get my ideas for this blog .

Here I am getting ready to go into the idea mine .

Here I have gone too deep into the mine and/or been in there too long .

There have to be more ideas deeper into the pit . 

It bugs me sometimes . Ideas must be right out there in the open . Wouldn’t you think ?

There’s an idea ! [ Not mine ] .

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agony and jesus again/Happy Easter

One of my sisters told her husband a long time ago that I started this blog in order to exorcise Sister Agnes out of my brain . At that time I was writing several posts critical of the old religious gal , a former teaching colleague and  thorn-in-the-side of mine . I don’t believe that any of those old posts were untrue or unfair ( if one can put aside the old advice to never speak ill of the dead )  but they did , at times, skirt the general neighborhood of being on the mean side . I wrote and then discarded a couple of the more nasty posts , me not being a mean-spirited soul . Or so I will continue to believe .

I read a comment today to a recent post on this silly blog that got me thinking . The comment  was written by a regular reader of mine who knows better  . (Well , people say ,    ” He/she should know better !  ”  , so I think that this guy does . ) At any rate , his little light-hearted comment got me thinking again about Sister Agnes , my past nemesis ,  aka. Sister Agony  .cartoon devil in long coat

My  post had discussed Jesus . No offense to the man , to the Savior and all that , but Jesus can be a troublesome topic to discuss . The thing is , people are touchy about talking about Jesus . More likely , by the way , people would be touchy , I think , talking to Jesus were he to come on down and show up at the breakfast table , or in the waiting room , or at the table in the staff lounge , or  sitting on the next bar stool over , or even settled into a nearby pew in church .

Jesus might just ask, he being somewhat confrontational ,  several pointed questions to the  folks about just what has been going on around here since he was incarnate ( I was going to say : “since he was hanging around” ; but I thought better of it . I’d be headed straight to hell in the minds of many if I wrote such an uncouth thing , especially in the brain  of Sister Agnes , where ever she may be ) . Jesus might repeat his one overall admonition , that thing about loving your neighbor . He might be tempted to call some of us Pharisees , hypocrites , or who-knows what . It might get ugly .

I have a couple of atheist friends………………………. I’m saving their issues for another time . No use getting too deep in this post about such things . It’s Easter time , after all .

We have some Easter eggs here that the grandkids and I colored . Ada then took the kids  to an animated movie about Easter bunnies .  I wonder if those atheist friends of mine surround themselves with that kind of Easter stuff . I’ve never thought of it before .  Maybe yes ; maybe not .Randon mountain-Prescott etc. 072

Anyway . No , Sister Agnes would not have appreciated my freewheeling chatter about Jesus . She was , after all , a  nun  officially married to Jesus ( that’s the way we used to hear it , anyhow ) ,  and she would have been quite stubbornly and angrily repulsed by my seemingly disrespectful words . But , to be honest , she was a little too stuck in a holier-than-thou mindset , if you were to ask me .Api and LACMA Oct. 2015 042

I have no doubt that there are some readers right now who are upset with my insouciance , too .  Shouldn’t talk about nuns and Jesus like that ! Heathen !

Well , at least I don’t post atheist propaganda  day after day on Facebook . Yeah , buddy , you know who you are ! Sister Agony would not have cared for your godless endeavors  much  . Maybe she would , at least , have prayed for your soul   , but I have to say that I’m not entirely sure about that . God only knows .Poland 13 2016 030

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Was Jesus Wrong ?

jesus stained glass kneelingI saw a Facebook post from a New York friend of mine  which cooly  said that  proof has recently come in that Jesus was married .  I admit that I don’t stay current on Jesus news . I’m willing to go with the marriage conclusion . I only know what I read on Facebook .

It could just be that the guy wearing the beret who came in to the Assistance League counselling center years ago when I was the security guard was a Jesus descendant . That has not occurred to me until today . He had flown down from San Rafael ( CA ) , he’d said , and he was GOD . The secretary at the agency had listened to him for a minute or two . When he said he had just flown down from San Rafael she asked him on which airline .  ” No , I flew ,” he said , and flapped his arms . Oh. You never know .

I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t Jesus who coined the phrase : ‘My way or the highway’ .  I have heard something about him casting the moneylenders out of the temple .  I don’t think , though , that he hated moneylenders .  I suppose that he didn’t have much need for money , as it happened  . (His wife may have had a different opinion , though . )When he had a crowd for dinner he multiplied loaves and fishes . On other occasions he changed water into wine . And he seemed to wander around the countryside a lot , sleeping under the stars , I guess .  But , from what I know about Jesus , he wanted people to love one another . I think that was his number one rule . ” Above all else …..” he said , I think .

I’m not sure Jesus had this world pegged right , as it happens . I think he may have been a little too John-the-Baptisty , a little too idealistic , too much of a dreamer .

Did he have a sense of humor ? That would be important information , in my book . I’ve only met a few people with no sense of humor . People gotta have a sense of humor . Jesus should have seen a little more humor in life , I think , maybe . Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t .

And this sacrifice thing . ” Forgive them , for they know not what they do ” , or something like that . Right ?  What was GOD dad thinking then ?  Right at that moment .  Like : The good die young ?  Like : Holy ghost !  Like : O.K. , no more Mr. Nice Guy, Roman dudes; your empire’s toast !   Or , was the old man watching from up there in heaven and just shaking his head and mumbling  : ‘ Jesus Christ ! ‘

Which reminds me of what I’ve heard of old GOD up in heaven supposedly  punishing groups of people for sinning against HIM , ie. gays , Muslims , abortionists , etc.  But , of course, I’ve also heard at the same time : We are all sinners .  There’s a disconnect .  Houston , we have a problem . Cake and eat it , too , time ?  god book  Let the one who is among you who is without sin be the first one to cast the stone .——–J. C.

I wonder if God’s split personality is a problem . Three people in one ?  Maybe HE could get into a therapy group . Holy Spirit should go , too . Jesus , although way too busy , should make time to participate , too . There’s still hope . My opinion .

So if Jesus married then  maybe he had kids . They may have had kids. Then they may have had kids . Etc. , etc. , etc.  Finally , in a Hollywood counseling clinic , in walks GOD , namesake of the original one , having flown down from San Rafael , California .

Jesus Saves ?   Maybe he died with that belief in his heart . GOD the father should have clued him in . The Holy Spirit could have whispered a hint to him , clued him in to reality . Just my opinion . Hey , open a newspaper . Listen to Congress .  I’m not GOD , of course . What’s the opposite of omniscient ? That’s me .   But , man , look around !   Saved ?

He maybe should have stuck to carpentry . Joseph would have taught him , I’m sure . Honest work . He could have minded his own business , supported his family , argued once in awhile with dissatisfied customers . Maybe he could have designed cool furniture or gone into the home renovation industry .  It was his choice . God wouldn’t have minded , I suspect . Everyone has , I’ve been told , free will .

But , no , Jesus had to try to save the world .

I wonder what his wife was like , if he was married . Maybe he felt an urge to go out with the boys from time to time , wander around , speak his mind . Maybe the kids, if he had a passel of them ,  got on his nerves . Maybe his wife  tried from time to time to talk sense into him , too , on the other hand .jesus

” Stick with the carpentry , J , a little while longer ; a few more years . Quit hanging around so often with that gang of drifters . It’s only going to lead to trouble . ”

Maybe he didn’t listen to his wife and maybe he should have . She probably watched him wander off with those apostles  , shook her head back and forth sadly , and  mumbled…………..well , you know .

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