Archive for the ‘flotsam & jetsam’ Category


July things…..

June 30, 2014

COPD, the cat, and things that go bang in the nite….

My usual morning routine involves getting up before the birds….not necessarily because I want to, but because that’s when the cat may be found sitting on my chest, facing south, and swatting my face with his tail. If he is being especially intuitive, he’ll move down a bit to straddle the general area where my septuagenarian bladder will have been crossing its metaphorical legs for an hour or so.

Today was no exception to the norm. I arose, visited the Room of Relief, and meandered to the kitchen (my navigation system doesn’t kick in until after 0530 and two cups of coffee the consistency of pudding) where I opened a can of that sun brewed road-kill they call “cat food”, and once the feline alarm clock was duly bribed, I then fed Mr. Coffee.

The morning news and weather report were next on the agenda, so my coffee, and the cat, accompanied me to the living room where the cat and I attempted to occupy the same spot on the couch and I won (paybacks are a bitch).

The weather report this morning was not that good, at least not for me. It sounded like the humidity was going to be more suited for gargling than for breathing and the temperature was going to be doing chin-ups on the ninety mark. Let’s face it. Those weren’t ideal conditions for someone who started hiding a pack of Lucky Strikes in his sock at thirteen, didn’t give up the game of respiratory roulette for forty years, and who will earn his Masters in Pneumonia on the next go-around. I decided that any domestic farming chores would just have to wait. It was stacking up to be a fool around on the computer day, with the A/C cranked, of course.


It was. (hot and humid)

I did. (park my butt in the house)

Tomorrow is to be a ditto. Welcome to July

The only thing on my schedule tomorrow is a trip to the fireworks store to pick up some “amusements” for the holiday.


Speaking of things that go bang in the night, a large number of years ago, I had the opportunity to be on site for the launching of one of the biggest aerial displays to ever leave the ground in Maine. The Fourth of July event took place at a small town airstrip near here, the same one where my brother in law kept his ultra-light in more recent times as a matter of fact. I’ve got lots of bird’s eye view photographs of our house, but not once did he catch me mowing the lawn. Anyway, on that Fourth, some 25-30 years ago, people came from all over the state to see this thing go up and then go off.

This was no freakin’ bottle rocket, let me tell you. I forget the details, so allowing for some small margin of error to cover potential embellishments, I seem to recall they had to dig a hole some eight or ten feet deep which was then lined with an industrial strength “Sonotube” and backfilled to form a vertical cannon of sorts. As with the old Naval battleship guns, the projectile was helped on its way by several bags of smokeless gunpowder, but I don’t know how many.

I remember sitting in the car on the tarmac among several hundred other carloads of folks who enjoy seeing things blow up, swatting mosquitoes and waiting.

At about nine o’clock, the show began, so people exited their vehicles and stretched out on the roof or hood if they hadn’t brought lawn chairs. The introductory displays were fun, continuous, and exquisitely loud, but would prove to be mere flea flatulence compared to the Grand Finale.

Eventually, there was a long pause in the action and the crowd became quiet.

And then it happened. You know how it sounds when they set off the bank of aerials at a Fourth of July fireworks show? Off in the distance one can hear a rapid series of sounds like “Foom! Foom! Foom! Foom!….” and then spiraling trails of sparks soar up into the night sky before suddenly being replaced by gigantic showers of colored fire in a variety of configurations. It was like that, but not quite.

There was one…big…


…..and one could feel it as well as hear it. And then the blackness was divided by one, big, fat, pillar of white sparks reaching for the clouds. The package at its peak, carrying all of the appropriate chemicals and explosives, was said to have been eighteen inches in diameter. Whether it was or not I can’t say. But what I can say is that I have never witnessed a blast like that. The entire airfield was lit up for a second, and if I had been fast enough I could have read the newspaper by it. Instantly spreading out to the 360 degree points of the compass from the mini-sun overhead, the multi colored cascade of fire reached for the horizons. For the briefest moment, it was like being under a dome. And then it was all over. That promised to be a tough act to beat.

So far, nobody has managed.


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The dog….

July 2, 2013

The dog…..

via The dog…..


Insight regarding hindsight and foresight…..

June 24, 2013


I finally get to the age where I really DO know everything, and I FORGET it….!


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The bottom line….

June 7, 2013

….and other idioms of note

I’ve been told that if my orations were a walk around the block, one would have to buy a new pair of shoes before the circuit was complete.

Long before I acquired the art of verbal diarrhea for myself, I had recognized the affliction in selected others. I grew up with “the bottom line” as a reference point, a milestone thrown in to let one know that there may actually be a point developing out there somewhere. I was grateful for the idiomatic yellow light. The bottom line was, I could basically ignore them while they prattled on, until I heard the impending “bottom line” announced. Then, I could pay appropriate attention.

The advent of “blogging” tended to globalize the behavior into a written format by providing an undisciplined environment wherein hoards of self-anointed latter day Nathaniel Hawthornes, William F. Buckleys, and James Joyces could spew eloquent, or at least voluminously. I was a bit embarrassed to realize that I am guilty of producing opaque word salads myself, but defend my behavior by acknowledging the clear difference between mere performance and actual competence. Brevity may be more academically correct, but a concise bull’s eye isn’t nearly as much fun as an intellectual scavenger hunt. Think of it as chumming without bothering to fish.

Now, however, though not extinct, “the bottom line” seems to have become not quite replaced by, but certainly interchangeable with, “at end of the day” for signaling if not an approaching salient point then at least an exit ramp as welcome at that great big RESTROOMS ONE MILE sign on the Interstate highway. Everybody says it, and just as “the bottom line” could make one wonder whether the speaker-writer was opining or preparing a profit and loss report, “at end of the day” begs the question what about the beginning of the day. How about lunchtime, for that matter?

I make no claim to writing anything of any particular importance and confess that I play with words as I played with blocks as a child, simply because it amuses me. I suppose many bloggers have similar needs and write primarily for their own entertainment, but will gladly accept kudos and applause when offered.

When it comes right down to it, though, I do eventually get around to….or back to….whatever it is that I am trying to convey, as do most with compositional and conversational ADD.

When all is said and done, however, at the end of the day, the bottom line is, all things considered, I have to mow the lawn.


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March 2, 2013

how are YOU today…..?

I had a weak moment this afternoon and when the phone rang I answered it without checking the little window thing to see if it was friend, foe, or some organism of an undetermined nature.

“Hello, is this Jeff…?”


“How are you today?”

I could almost see the anatomically impossible toothy grin wearing a headset greeting me with the enthusiasm of a puppy at five o’clock that has been left alone all day. I wondered if the sonofabitch sitting in that cubical somewhere was peeing in his chair as he spoke.

I can’t imagine having to make a living that way. I like people, but not enough to pretend I give a toot about their well being if I don’t. If I ask someone how they are faring, usually a family member or a good friend, it is because I care. There are limits, of course. For example, it doesn’t matter who you are or how fond I am of you, I really don’t give a healthy hairball about such things as butt zits, menstrual issues, head lice, or what you and your opposite sex amusement park (wink-wink) did last night.

…all of which must have been running through my mind as I answered the phone this afternoon.

After a moment of silence, my new, albeit anonymous, BFF repeated the question….

“How are you today, Jeff….?”

I couldn’t help myself. I have no idea where it came from, but it was immediate, and I actually was able to feign a rather impressive presentation of sincerity if I do say so myself. I began to unroll a seemingly endless recitation of the most undesirable and offensive emergent medical and psychiatric misfortunes I could conjure up. I touched on leaking colostomy bags, talking spiders, and sexual aberrations first, just to go easy on him before transitioning to the Big Guns, which would be unmentionable here, of course. Trust me.

The Aesopian point of the whole story is, if you don’t want to hear my answer, don’t ask the question. I’m not required to consider your needs if you auto-dial me while I’m making a sandwich, enjoying my rocking chair on the porch, or sitting on the can, and you then open by asking me a phony personal question as if we are bosom buddies or lab partners in a sleep study.

I enjoyed the whole shtick, to tell you the truth. I have no idea what he was selling or collecting for, as we really didn’t share a typical interaction. He managed to utter “Uh…” a couple of times, along with a nervous chuckle.

He hung up on me.

Now, there’s a switch.


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Ten things I don’t give a northbound rat’s south end about…..

February 25, 2013

or, the world’s smallest digital violin….

1- Horse meat. It’s meat. Get over it. Unless someone labeled it as such, or a bunch of people are walking back and forth carrying signs in front of the restaurant where you’re chowing down on a hamburger, chances are you won’t know the difference. Personally, I’d rather have fish anyway.

2- “Ten things you must do before you retire”. The clown who writes this shit should probably get a real job. That would be a good start. As for me, I don’t give a toot because I retired five years ago. Or was it four? I forget. As for those with time left on their ticket, those who will actually enjoy the kind of retirement such articles encourage one to emulate…you know, the Caribbean beach, the 72 virgins, and all of that stuff….they figured it out all by themselves years ago. Those who didn’t have enough sense to figure it out all by themselves years ago still don’t, and some refurbished mid-twentieth century supermarket tabloid hack isn’t likely to generate any last minute epiphany just in the nick of time. Remember the old chick in curlers and too much makeup parked at the magazine rack with a Chesterfield hanging out of her mouth? Nothing’s changed, except the nursing home won’t let her smoke.

3- Knowing who wore the most expensive gown at the Oscars but still looked like they’d have felt more at home in pajamas at WalMart.

4- The Oscars.

5- The sex lives of star athletes. The important thing, for those enamored of a particular sport, is how the athlete handles the ball, not who he’s balling.

6- “Reality TV”. There is nothing real about it, as far as I’ve been able to figure out from the promos. I’ve never actually watched one of those things. I’ve never run into a “real” housewife anything like those obnoxious street walkers who supposedly represent the Real McCoy of one major city or another….not even on the detox or the psychiatric unit where I used to work. And who wants to watch some obese middle aged gum snapper terrorize her five year old daughter because she wont wear the sequined thong on national TV like she was told?

7- Telling my doctor about anything, as the ads instruct. First of all, he gets paid to tell me stuff, not the other way around. I guess the drug companies figured out they could dump the salaried Detail Men and get the patients to do the pitching themselves for free. No more golf junkets, fishing trips, and bottles of booze at Christmas time to pay for anymore. Furthermore, from what I’ve seen, everything they advertise on TV that they want me to blow in my doctor’s ear about is a hell of a lot more dangerous than any malady I might need to treat. They say so themselves!

8- The new luxury cars that can powerslide at triple-digits and still get 25 miles per gallon. Pffft…. I had a four cylinder Chrysler LeBaron Coupe almost twenty five years ago that could do that. Besides, power slides and triple digits tend to annoy the local police, and if I’m only going to get 25 MPG, I’m not going to pay $50,000 for the privilege.

9- Testosterone booster. Y’know, I kind of feel sorry for those middle aged guys and those trying to Limbo under the Senior Citizenship Entry door that (allegedly) line up to buy that crap. Perhaps they were short changed all along but just didn’t realize it until Last Call. It must be sad to have to look back over all of those years and have nothing to thank their lucky stars they got away with sans an ass-full of buckshot, creepy-crawlies, or having to stand in front of a Judge.

10- People who want to save my soul, and the Pyramid Sales approach to salvation where somebody gets to wear a special lapel pin in Heaven if they get me and fifty others to sign on. My soul is fine, thank you very much, but where were all these Cheshire cats when I needed my ass saved down through the years?


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Rachel from Credit Card Services …..

February 21, 2013

….. still at large, and still Public Enema Number One…

We’ve got to get our priorities straight.

One of the political mother lodes today is immigration, and I agree, it is a problem. But then, I look at it this way. Every Mexican who swims across the Rio Grande so he or she can spend dawn to dusk picking produce in 100 degree heat for Spartan wages takes a job away from some bona fide American sitting on his ass drinking cheap beer while someone else feeds and clothes his random spawn and sends his former breeding stock to college.

Quite frankly, I’d rather we spent the money tracking down our latest Public Enema Number One, Rachel from Credit Card Services, the Tokyo Rose of the twenty first century.

While answering telemarketing calls isn’t exactly America’s Favorite Pastime next to Baseball, it is a legitimate industry, no less than the Fuller Brush Man and other door to door salesmen from the not too distant past. The Rotten Apple principle applies, however, and the incessant robo-calls of “Rachel” must certainly have a negative impact on ethical marketing organizations (no, that is not an oxymoron) who have an actual product to sell or service to offer. Thus, I imagine Rachel and his-her-its-their ilk steal jobs, too, not to mention the peace and privacy of millions. Such pre-recorded, automatic calls are illegal, and the FCC has said they have cracked down on them. Bull funky.

If some government employee can sit at a console, push a button, and send a smart bomb through a specific window of a specific building a half a world away and drop it on the specific desk of a specific persona non grata, I should think we would have the wherewithal to locate and permanently pull the plug on “Rachel” right here at home.


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I first commented on the Rachel issue January 27, 2012 (half-way down the page) on my other blog, marching to the beat of my own crayons