Monthly Archives: August 2017


Just to assure you from the outset as we wander into politics for a moment :  I’m a red-blooded American .

First , I’m an American . I can show you my passport . It’s not a forged one either . I know that because when I went through Passport Control in Belarus , the official checked it out extremely carefully . She had a magnifying loop that she used to scan all the secret stuff embedded in a US passport that should be embedded in a US passport . Evidently it was all in there . (If I had an extremely good forger , however , she failed to uncover that .) We’ll just move along like there’s no problem and just go about our business  . After a few tense moments she did just that , the uniformed protector of her nation , and my passport passed inspection .

I know about my blood being red because anywhere I go nowadays I tend to bleed . When  I work in the garden for awhile , inevitably I reenter the house with a long , by then dry , trail of blood usually on my arm , sometimes on my leg , from some tiny , usually imperceptible wound apparently inflicted from snagging a thorn or a branch or bumping against a this or a that . It’s annoying .

Just call me Alexei  Nikolaevich . You know , the Czar’s son ? No ? Okay , forget it .

Anyway , while in Belarus I was speaking with a young woman a bit about politics . She asked me what Americans really  think about President Trump .  That kind of a question in that kind of a setting kind of puts a guy on the spot . I tried to be representative of all Americans . That’s not so easy , but I had to do it anyhow .V-E Day in NYC

Rest easy . I told her the truth . I threw in my opinion too , of course , but I labelled it as such . She told me that their press is not censored in Belarus , that she can get any and all world news over the internet . No problem . But she wanted to hear from a real honest -to-god American the inside story . Well , as I said , the rest of you Americanos were at that moment at my mercy . I tried to do you all justice . Rest assured . (Well , a third of you might disagree with my analysis of the country even though it was  in my opinion a fair one  , but that can’t be helped).

She told me that the president of Belarus ( a true dictator )  continually asks the people of Belarus to compare themselves to North Korea , as if to say : At least we’re better than them ! She thought that his proffered comparison was a bit weird . Somewhat defeatist too , of course ,  we agreed .

And now I’ve been hearing our White House using the same kind of  arguments to defend Mr. Trump and his bumpy  ride through his presidential term . Their talking points , voiced by every Trump supporter lately , try to blame the Clintons and Obama , and sometimes Bush II and even Bush I and others for being more corrupt , or colluding more with the Russians , absconding with more money for themselves ,  making bigger blunders , or spending more money more foolishly , or whatever .

Trump  pardoned Joe Arpaio , for example , for what critics say is a no-good reason , but Clinton , the Trump folk reply , pardoned so-and-so for no good reasons too , and so , and so , what’s the problem !

What have we come to ? I used to hear this kind of stuff on the playground when kids got in trouble .( I wonder if Truman’s sign “The Buck Stops Here ” is still on the desk in the Oval Office ? )   It’s a childish tactic , at best —- from children , but  we’re hearing it from adults in the government . It’s an admission : I’m bad , but s/he’s worse !

That’s not a good argument . It’s like the North Korea comparison .

And then there’s the eternal  argument over who’s a real red-blooded American ? Who’s more patriotic  ? Who loves the country more and who doesn’t love the country at all ? And all of that . Most of it is flack  fired  into the turbid skies of worry , just in case , just in case , just in case the enemy is on the way .

The Belarussian gal asked me what is the one thing I like best about the USA .( She had one in mind for Belarus , quickly , right on the tip of her tongue . ) I gave her my answer after a moment’s consideration .  I wonder what some other Americans’  answers would have been .


Filed under humor

hater/ or /you scratch my back I Old Scratch yours

OldScratchI went over to the Ralphs supermarket a few days ago to see if they had any self-confidence . I looked around for awhile and didn’t see any . They changed their signs a year or so ago , and they don’t help at all .

  I need to get more scratch too . I haven’t been making anything from scratch lately . Sometimes it’s hard to find . Ah , someone will have it . Lots of people still make things from scratch , so it’s got to be sold someplace .

When you’ve got both of those , self-confidence and scratch , and maybe also a little bit of imagination , then the world could be your oyster .

Speaking of bivalve mollusks ………………………………..No , no , I’m not going to start talking politics . Or religion .  Or hate . Well, maybe hate .

Speaking of hate , as long as we’re on the topic , I was accused , I guess , of being full of hate , or trying to spread hate . I’m not quite sure , because the short and pointed  FB rant against a comment that I had posted on someone’s blog was a rather poorly worded and confusing response , with some non-words (meant to be words , I’m sure) . Anyway , my comment that this response provoked had been  , even if I do say so myself , totally lacking in hate .

Usually , I believe , you reap what you sow .

Anyhow , I touched a nerve with this responding woman bent on showing me the error of my ways .BELARUS TRIP 2017 208

Well , against my better judgement , I had responded to what I considered an ignorant statement made with the best of intentions by someone I’ve known long since the cows came home , from way past the twelfth of never , for an eternity , not only for a month of Sundays but for a year of Sundays. I’ve known this person for a long long time . Sometimes the urge overcomes me , the teacher in me perhaps , and I have to intervene when I see someone I know go way too far into the weed patch of blatant error .man newspaper chair 1880

I try to ease into my criticisms , nevertheless , but  even honey can taste bitter when it’s used to hide the taste of medicine . And on Facebook , of course , serious discussions that fly  without condemning those opinions of others who don’t fully  agree with the going batch of batter  are rare birds , indeed . That’s why it is ordinarily my staunch position to avoid being sucked into any of those discussions on FB.poland-xmas-2017-009

Every once in awhile , though ,  I just can’t help myself . I comment even though it’s  against my better judgement . You know the drill , I’m sure . You’ll regret it later .

Maybe I just like to spread my hate around . Maybe that’s it . In a way , I was glad that I got the kind of angry response that I did from a person who doesn’t know me from Adam , calling me out for my anger , bitterness , and hate . It’s my own damn fault anyway that I stuck my nose into what , after all , was a closed slap-on-the-back session , as most of them seem to be , of like-minded zealots .BELARUS TRIP 2017 329

I think that I should hang out from now on  only with my own fanatic  group of like-minded zealots   . We hate the rest of you , you should know ,  for not belonging to our group , because you’re just  a bunch of stupid haters who don’t know Shinola from a hole in the ground .

And , while I’m at it ,  to the guy who blocked me from his  FB posts a couple of years ago for posting a few critical comments :   Sorry , it must have been my hate again showing it’s ugly head when I posted those comments .  Let’s try again .  How about this reflection  by way of clarification and reconciliation  : You can lead a horse down the garden path , but you can’t teach an old dog  new tricks.  So , former FB pal , can’t we hash this out ?  Let’s get together . I’ll bring the scratch (   Old Scratch )  .haters


Filed under humor


weiner wagon 2   There was vacant land next to my elementary school way back last century  when I was in primary school .  (   Or was it Grammar school ? My friend Joe and I had a discussion about the use of those terms : elementary vs. primary vs. grammar school . )  A Hughes Market grocery store was built there . Now it’s a Ralph’s Market . Most of the space , or half of it at least , is now the parking lot , of course .  But that’s irrelevant to my story , so let’s get on with it .

Another random memory ,  emerging now  from my brain bunker  where I keep them  , uncatalogued , forgotten for decades , came back to light suddenly . I had gone to Berlin , saw a wurst stand , and began , I guess , to ponder wieners ( The name comes from Vienna , by the way , I hear ) . Unknown things trigger memories sometimes . We’ll just leave it at that . I can’t better explain why the memory came  . Doesn’t matter .

Anyway :

One day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled up and parked on the vacant land next to the school .  The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile ,  a 1930’s idea of one of the Mayers , was a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun .  It was driven by   ” Little Oscar” , who  was a little person dressed in a chef’s outfit , traditional high chef’s hat and all .  The nuns ( Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School  ) took the entire school out to see the Wienermobile .  Why ? How that happened ?  Your guess is as good as mine . Stranger things have happened , I guess . Perhaps . Wienermobile 6

Well , this event was memorable . Who knew there was such a thing ? Who knew that hot dogs were cooked by little happy chefs in high hats ? Who knew ?

When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world ( Same holds  true now — a little less so ) . From time to time little bits of it would show themselves , surprising things , good or bad things . The Wienermobile was one of the oddest things to come along . Now that I think of it , it’s still an odd piece of the reality puzzle . I know that there are odder things ;  but for a seven-year-old , a Wienermobile with a small chef inside with wiener whistles  for everyone —- that was something !

Yeah , to top it all off , Little Oscar handed out little plastic wiener whistles to every student and we all whistled like crazy out there in the open ,  and then we got to play with the silly things  for a few minutes back in the classroom .   Amazing ! weiner whistle

Wiener whistles are available on eBay . Get a vintage one for $ 3.75 !

There are , evidently , eight Weinermobiles  still in operation . The drivers , recruited from the ranks of college students , are called hotdoggers . A hotdogger blog hides on the world wide web , telling of hotdogger exploits .

I had forgotten all about that old Wienermobile and my wiener whistle ( which probably broke that same day ) , and Little Oscar the happy hot dog chef .  I never missed them , I have to  say ; but ,  it made a nice break  in  that long-ago day  from reading , writing , and arithmetic . weiner wagon chef


Filed under uncategorized


I missed the eclipse . I was looking forward to viewing it up close , but my internal gyroscope was wobbling , I suppose , and I miscalculated the month . Ada and I were in the air on a WOW Airlines jet coming back toward LAX from Iceland when the eclipse was happening . Well , silver lining at least , my eyesight is just fine .

I’m glad I missed it , actually . Isn’t it a little like a Disneyland ride , where you wait in a long line ( people like to use the English ‘queue’ these days , I’ve noticed. Sounds much more sophisticated , I suppose . I’m proud to say that I’ve never waited in a queue in my life , though . I’ve never ever queued or queued up . Ever . I haven’t missed anything I think . But , on the other hand , I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in line . UCLA was good for that . I almost said ‘wasted my time ‘ in line ; but , one makes of their time what one makes of it . One man’s waste of time is another man’s observation opportunity . Or , something like that . )  and then the ride is so brief that the thought nags you from then on that the wait just wasn’t worth it ?  Why go all the way up to Oregon for a one or two minute show , anyhow ?

I know . I know. Sour grapes !

Anyhow , this post is about something else entirely . If I knew what that might be , I’d be straightforward and tell you ; but the topic of the day has temporarily drifted away . Maybe if I go into the same room again where I was thinking about it ……………………………..   .     It happens . My mind is not a steel trap .

Which brings me to the story of the old guy sitting on the fender of his Bentley and crying . Someone approached him to ask what was the problem . ———– Well , you know the joke . I can hear Ada right now in my mind’s ear saying : “Yeah . Yeah . I know that one !”  with a tone that clearly says she wouldn’t like to hear it just one more time .  If friends are around , then she’ll probably add : ” I’ve heard Dan tell this  joke 1000 times , and he still laughs his butt off when he tells it . And if someone else tells a joke , he just sits there with a straight face ; but then when he retells their joke later on he laughs his butt off . ”

Oh ! I know . I intended to write about the heat wave that is scheduled to hit our area this weekend . Monday will be the hottest day : 104 degrees in Arcadia . I’m pretty sure that Monrovia will be the same . I’ll check with the guy who lives in the house behind mine when I hear his sixties music wafting over the fence. He’s in Monrovia ( …. but I’m pretty sure it’s not his fault . He seems like a nice enough guy despite being Monrovian . Who knows how these things happen and what might be the unique exigencies in his existence ? We should all learn to get along , despite another person’s circumstances ) .

I don’t know what 104 F   would be in Celsius . I just got back from Europe . I don’t know if you know this , but they talk a different language over there  :    ” It’s gonna be 24 today ; up to 30 maybe by the weekend .”  Okay . How hot or not is that , really , in good old red blooded American Fahrenheit ? They must sell cheat sheets someplace . My friend Tom can accurately do the calculation of conversion in his head . I saw him do it once . Tom won’t go to Europe , though ,  because he can’t stand the thought of not smoking his Camels for such a long time on the airplane . So what good is his talent , I ask you ? Life is weird !achie bunker

We don’t have air-conditioning . At one time I put a couple of window units in and they cooled the bedrooms pretty well ; but Ada likes fresh air and doesn’t care for the noise of the air-conditioners . The window units are gone , or out back in the shed perhaps . I’ve snuck in a couple of portable fans that I will use this weekend . 103-104 degrees Fahrenheit calls for a fan , at least . Ada will be poo-pooing my fan usage .

Ah ! , but the ceiling fans she’s taken to using sometimes nowadays, I’ve noticed  . Southern California living just spoils a person ! That’s all there is to it .



Filed under humor

you can’t take me anywhere

I go through life trying not to be a klutz . Really . I’m a big guy but I walk around the house like a James Fenimore Cooper Iroquois in a pre -Department of Agriculture forest , softly , deftly , and making as little disturbance as possible  trying my best not to draw attention .

I’m not saying that I’m a delicate dude , but I usually try to be polite and cause no trouble . Doesn’t always work out that way , though .

Ada and I were over at Sister-in-law’s home having dinner a few nights ago . Cousin Mirek and his wife were there . Everything was going along swimmingly until I stood up at one point only to see a chocolate stain on the cream-colored armchair upon which I sat . It kind of stood out , no — more than that  ;  it announced itself in a definitely embarrassing-to-me way to Sister-in-law , who was sitting on my left , and to Ada , who was on my right .

At first I thought that the spot must have been there before I sat down . Really . I even asked Sis-in-law if it had been there . I heard a definite ” Certainly not ” , luckily with no anger attached . Ada poked the rear of my black jeans a bit as I was standing . She declared no chocolate there . Cousin Mirek was entertained , I noticed,  and Sister-in-law began the  ” Don’t worry about it at all ” protestations.

When I checked a little more carefully in the bathroom I could see that I had indeed sat on some chocolate. It was that chocolate mousse that Sister-in-law served . Actually , I had dished myself a helping , so I had to have been the one who had plopped a bit on the chair and then rubbed it around before I caught on that it was there . How I had done that I have no idea . Things happen .

I don’t know what it might be with sisters-in- law , but years ago Ada and I went to Easter dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s newly re-decorated house in Newport Beach , CA . All the furniture seemed to be ultra-white fabric .

Do you see this one coming ?

No sooner had we arrived and I had sat myself down on the new white sofa , than my niece who was sitting next to me , said , ” Uncle Dan , you’re bleeding ! ”  She said it just loud enough to get everybody’s undivided attention . I looked down and a circle of red about the size of a dime glowed right under my arm . Some tiny cut on my wrist had bled just enough and just long enough to ruin the new decor . It was a small spot that shone like a bright red beacon in the previously spotlessly white room .TALL SHIPS Szcz. 2017 117

Sister-in-law came rushing over . Who knows what might have been going through her mind . The   “Don’t worry about it at all ”  protestations had already begun .  ” I can get it out ,” she assured everyone . And maybe she did get it out ; but I doubt it . I think that red spot was there up until the day they sold the Newport house . I’m not going to say that that’s the reason they sold the house ; but , who knows ?

And then the bottle of perfume  at Sister-in law’s apartment in Paris . I accidently shattered it one night , trying to open the bathroom window a bit . How did I know the bathroom window sticks and an expensive bottle of French perfume was sitting on the little crowded table next to the window ? I simply wanted a little air . That’s all .

Well , I’ll replace the perfume  . Accidents happen .

Ada thought that I was blaming someone  for putting the costly bottle of stuff out in an exposed and precarious place near the defective window on a rickety table with a lot of other stuff when maybe such an expensive item like that shouldn’t have been there so exposed in such a vulnerable position at all at all as if it were some kind of a booby-trap , a ticking time bomb , set just for me  ; but I wasn’t .

I go through life trying not to be a klutz. Sometimes  it just doesn’t work out as planned  . So send me the repair  bill . It’s okay. These things happen . Better yet , think twice about inviting me over . That might work. Or , on the other hand , I could carry along a drop cloth to spread over the furniture — just in case . Hide the expensive items . POLAND 2017 with Frankie and boats 047







Filed under humor

beer and boats

Once again , time to relax down by the river , sip a beer , and watch the river traffic pass by . I could’ve , instead , decided to do greater things , but hey……………………… poland 2017 020boats poland 2017 001

boats poland 2017 008POLAND ships 2017 001


Filed under humor

cowboys in poland

KARPACZ 2017 002So we went to Karpacz on what Ada assured me would be a luxury bus . Eight hour trip . [ I started this with the word  “so” because I’ve noticed that it has become the going thing these days for media folk to begin their reports from the field with : ” So………….” . I don’t like it ; but , then again , I’m sort of a stick-in-the-mud on change .  So , let us continue. ]


So this luxury bus had a toilet  but it was locked . Only for extreme emergencies , the driver told Ada when , on my behalf , she asked . Instead , we paid two and a half zloty for a pee when the bus stopped . I think it stopped three times . Reminded me of the Greyhound bus stops when I was younger ; but they seemed more frequent at the time in life when I needed them less , and we never paid for a pee in America. That’s un-American !  That’s the kind of freedom we still have in America . So far .

So we eventually arrived in the beautiful Sudeten town of Karpacz , which is Polish but was German until WWII . It’s a ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains . I might post some descriptive stuff about it sometime . It’s near the Czech border , but there’s a mountain in the way . There’s an Irish pub there , too , with an Irishman attached . There are Irish pubs all over creation , even in Shanghai ,  but most don’t seem to have an Irishman . When I found the Shanghai Irish pub there was a Chinese owner and German customers drinking Guinness , but no Irishman .  As Nancy Mac would say : Just saying !

This town has a place called Western City nearby . It’s like Tombstone , Arizona , or like Knott’s Berry Farm in California  used to be before it got too corporate —–  old wooden cowboy -town buildings , periodic shoot-outs in the street , wandering cowboys , etc.  In Tombstone , Arizona the cowboys are as likely to be from Germany as not , I noticed. I guess Germans are into that sort of cowboy play-acting thing . But Poles ?KARPACZ 2017 178


So it was fun . The cowboys looked like real true movie version Wild West cowboys . The accents weren’t so authentic ………. but , hey ! Ah , just kidding .

The Indian doing the war dance did a good job , I think , had the right moves , although his complexion was a little pale . It was probably good that no Arapaho or Sioux were nearby to object , though . It would be hard to find a true-blooded native American in Karpacz  I would guess ; but then , who knows ! Jack R. suggested that maybe part of the Lewis and Clark expedition got sidetracked and ended up in Poland .  Stranger things have happened.

So there was mechanical bull riding , lasso throwing , horseshoe tossing , bow and arrow shooting , gold panning .  The horse shoe tossing was from about three feet away . That made me laugh a little . The participants were almost close enough to drop the shoes over the metal peg , but they were all having fun , and experiencing some real true Americana . I guess .


So there was a bullwhipper , too , showing off his skills .KARPACZ 2017 779

And a fast draw , gun twirling demo too . So .KARPACZ 2017 769

KARPACZ 2017 911


Filed under humor