Category Archives: uncategorized

2 ships damaged at Pearl Harbor

Both launched in 1914 .
USS OKlahoma  USS Oklahoma

USS Nevada

USS Nevada


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ghost band

civ war sax horn playerciv war bugle playerciv war drummerguitar playing womanillustration15one xx 20man with violin

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a heartless gas

goodwill storeSomeday I might need gas money to get to Texas , too . You never know .  I’m too old to pretend to have a baby with my wife waiting  in the car . Why Texas ?  I think it was a sick , or dying ? , father down there . And no gas to get there . And , of course , no money .

I should give you a few dollars because you asked ?   I guess  if you don’t ask ,  you probably won’t get anything .

Decades ago , when the Hari Krishnas , and the Moonies , and the Born Agains , and others , infested the L.A. airport , I was there with my old friend Fred Kail .  Why we were there I don’t remember . Neither of us had any money in those days  to fly anywhere . We must have been there to pick someone up . Doesn’t matter .

All of these  askers-of-money seemed to be dressed  well , in crisp white suits and polished shoes ,  and they carried clip boards  ; even the Krishnas ; even the Moonies . Well , at first the Krishnas wore their orange robes , enraptured smiles , and , maybe , occasionally , hopped a little . But , I suppose , that wasn’t working for them  . Some head  Hari in charge maybe talked to a marketing guy . Get a crisp white suit , he must have said ; maybe a fedora hat to cover the shaved head ? ; and don’t hop ……    and  don’t mention Rama or white rice .   The Moonies got on board , too  :  white suits  ; clipboards .

They all looked like they may work for the airport . What is it , a survey ? An airport promotion of some kind , or a security check ?  They would approach just-arrivers  , especially foreign people arriving with confused expressions , and begin their hurried spiel  , holding the clipboard as if it should be respected , as if the confused traveler were being spoken to in some official capacity . Was it Customs ? The airport broadcast continuous announcements : These solicitors don’t work for the airport . You don’t have to give them anything .

Fred and I were walking into one of the terminals when we were approached by one of these anonymous beggars shrouded in white . This one was a cute girl . Maybe in light of that Fred reached for a bill to give her . I tried in that brief moment to dissuade him . He had a fiver in his hand . What , are you crazy , Fred ? A weak moment ?  She’s a Moonie , man !  He held the five dollar bill  out to her .

” Most people give ten dollars , ” she said .

Wow ! Yeah . Pushing her luck just a little bit . Fred instantly flicked the fiver back into his pocket . ” I’m not most people , young lady , ” he said . And we were off . I was reassured . At least old Fred hadn’t completely lost his mind .okies

So , I’m pumping  twenty dollars worth of gas yesterday  into my car in the mid-day heat  , minding my own business , when a young guy , maybe twenty-two , twenty-three , walks over . I’ve seen  him approach a couple of other gas pumping people on his way across the lot . ” Meaning no disrespect …..” he says to me . His opening gambit .

I’m not in a good mood that day , you should understand . Too hot . I’m looking at his tatoos . He’s evidently covered with tattoos . How much do those cost , buddy ? , I’m thinking .  Maybe you could have saved the tattoo money for your needed gas  . He looks healthy , strong ,  despite the hang-dog expression , the ” Meaning no disrespect , sir … ”  ploy .  What , are we in the Army ? Sir ?  That’s supposed to sound respectful , to impress me ?  Melt my stone-cold heart ?  I’m supposed to be awed by this guy’s pathetic circumstances . Now , it’s my responsibility to buy his gas ? Why would that be ?

I’d rather have the fruit seller on the freeway off ramp ,  or the beggars with the cardboard signs : ”  Veteran God Bless You anything helps homeless ”  Once in a long while I hand them a dollar , although I’m not under an illusion that the dollar helps . I think the homeless veteran god blesser should go to a social agency or an established charity or a church and get the help that will keep him/her off the roadways with the scribbled bullshit  cardboard signs .

So I told the gas station beggar  , a little too firmly , that I wasn’t going to give him any money .  He walked away . He’ll find some sucker soon enough . I stepped around the other side of the pump and asked some man with a Volvo , ” Will you pay for my gas ? ”  He didn’t laugh . I could see his little ‘crazy person’ antenna immediately go up . He shook his head solemnly  and looked away . I could see that he didn’t know if I was joking or not . Can’t be too careful these days.

Maybe I wasn’t joking . Maybe I should start asking . Ask and you shall receive . If you don’t ask you won’t get . It’d be easier for me just to canvass the people at the gas station when I go for gas . Won’t someone pay for my gas ? I have to get home . My cat’s sick and I need to replace the front garden hose .  I’m trying to upgrade the modem for my DSL . Anything helps .  I want to get to Oregon next fall .  Need gas desperately . Sir . How about a few dollars  ? Meaning no disrespect .

I was walking , once , with my Danish friend , Ivan , when someone asked for money . ” You’ve chosen your lifestyle , ”  Ivan told him ,          “not me . I’ve chosen my own lifestyle . ”  The poor guy was listening . Ivan speaks authoritatively .  ” I don’t ask you to finance my lifestyle , ” Ivan said . ” You shouldn’t ask me to finance your lifestyle . ”  And we walked away . At least the  guy didn’t call us ‘sir’ and make something up about needing to get to Texas .  Or dress up in a crisp white suit and carry a clipboard .


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1 balloon to lighten your day

balloon 1


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nitwit house

In Cambria , California , there is an  odd house upon a hill near town . It’s called Nitt Witt Ridge
Morro Bay Oct. '13 167

Arthur Beal bought the hillside in 1928 and began building his house . Beal was the garbage collector in Cambria in the 1940s and 1950s and used some of the collection to construct the house on  Nitt Witt Ridge .

Morro Bay Oct. '13 169

Cambria is a beautiful little town of about 6000 people  on the central coast of California . Median income per household is about $70,000+   and the median house price is about $700,000 . Average rents run above $ 1000 a month .  It’s a very touristy town . Lots of hotels on the beach  and antique shops in town .

I asked three locals for directions to the Nitt Witt house . I knew that it is  close to town ; just up a hill . None of them knew just where it was . One guy pointed me in the opposite direction , although he knew , at least , that  it was on a hill . Wrong hill .  Another said he and his wife had recently moved to Cambria , only a few months ago , and they didn’t know many of the local sites . No , they weren’t just putting us on . I think it’s typical of locals everywhere often not  knowing the local places of interest . They’re not tourists , after all  ; they live there . Why should they pay attention to tourist spots ?

But Ada and I  wandered around hilly tree -lined streets for a few minutes until we found it .

Morro Bay Oct. '13 175

Creativity . Ain’t it great ! Someone with an idea who makes it happen ! Beal was called Der Tinkerpaw .
Morro Bay Oct. '13 168The Nitt Witt House is for sale . It could be yours !


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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


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This one’s a little late for Mother’s Day , but here it is anyway .


Harry Truman’s mother during the Depression offered a hobo some food and coffee . The guy complained that the coffee was not hot enough . She said , ” Oh , give me the cup ,” and took it  into the house . She returned with a shotgun and told the guy to get the hell out .


I once was reading  about  the WWII aid that the USA was giving to the Soviet Union when the two countries were allies fighting Nazis . . An American cargo ship  skipper was being bullied by an ever-present  Soviet commissar on the Atlantic crossing . The freighter was full of American -made  airplane engines . The commisar may have been whining that the engines were not adequate , so the American skipper had his crew ostentatiously toss one engine overboard and prepare to dump another .  ” If you don’t want ’em , you don’t need to take ’em , ” the skipper  may have  told the  arrogant Russian . The commisar backed off and was quiet for the rest of the journey  .russian bear


During the Battle of the Bulge in WWII , American Brigadier  General Anthony McAullife  and the 101st Airborne were surrounded in the town of Bastogne , Belgium . The Germans  issued  a surrender ultimatum .   McAuliffe sent a one word response :  ” N U T S ! “.101st bastogne 101st emblem


Success is the child of audacity ——–Benjamin Disraeli









party with jim 005

My mother and Ada .










ada in bed 005Possible caption  : ” You should see the other guy ! “

Excerpt from a college letter of Mom’s , after she’d been offered a university job : ” The university doesn’t have enough money to get me to work for that old scarecrow .” 


So ,  please have a wonderful ( and feisty ) Mothers’ Day !


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