Just Plain Deb

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

-Lao Tzu

One thing I learned from the last 7 months was that Debbie cannot stand for anyone to be sleeping while she’s awake.  She will make as much noise as it takes to wake you up.  I should have known this.  Over the last 9 years, I’ve collected anecdotes of her crazy life for a possible book titled Just Plain Deb, and I noticed that frequently in these stories she would wake her mother up, whenever she slept while Debbie was awake.

I have hundreds of stories about bizarre things Debbie did, but I could never figure out how to string them all together into one story.  Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I thought about one of the incidents and it triggered the idea for a short story about her.  As a writer, I usually make things up, but this story is true.

Debbie and her mother shared a house.  Debbie lived downstairs, and her Mom lived upstairs, in the apartment I would later occupy after her mother went to a nursing home.  The story starts one morning a year or two earlier, when Debbie walked into her mother’s bedroom and woke her up.

“What are you doing in my room?” her Mom demanded.

“You were having a nightmare, so I woke you up.”

“I wasn’t having a nightmare.  As a matter of fact, I was having a terrific dream, the best dream of my life.”

“What was it about?”

“I dreamed that you ran a red light, and got broadsided by an 18-wheeler.  Your car just kept rolling over and over, and over again without stopping, until you woke me up. Why’d you have to wake me up?”

“That’s a horrible dream.”

“Not for me it wasn’t.  It was funny.”

Maybe you don’t believe that a mother would think such a dream about her daughter was funny, but you never lived in the same house as Debbie, and had to put up with all her antics.  I swear that story is true, and I know for a fact that Debbie’s Mom, Marilyn, once told her, “My life has been a living hell, since the day you were born.”  Marilyn was not using hyperbole.  She meant it.  Debbie was a rotten kid, who turned into a teenage junkie.  She pulled all the stunts that you might expect and drove her entire family crazy.  Her siblings hate her to this very day.  At Marilyn’s funeral somebody slashed Debbie’s tire in the funeral parlor parking lot.  She says it was her brother Kenneth, but I suspect that she slashed her own tire, so that she could blame it on her siblings.  That’s the kind of stuff she pulled.

When the new owner of the building where I lived on Queen Street, let the tenants know that he would not be renewing the lease, Debbie offered to rent the top floor of her house to me, because her mother was now in a nursing home, and was never coming home.  Plans were being made for Marilyn to go into hospice care.

I thought twice about renting the apartment.  Actually, I thought three, four, five or more times about it.  When I was unable to find another apartment and the expiration of my lease was only a week away, I agreed to renting the apartment.  I would have the top floor, but we would share the kitchen, because she didn’t have any electricity in her kitchen – some problem with the circuit breakers, that she never bothered to have fixed, because she liked going upstairs to have breakfast with her Mom.  Marilyn wasn’t as enthusiastic about being awakened for breakfast, five minutes after Debbie got up each morning, especially since Debbie was an early riser, but, even though she knew that her daughter was a total pain in the ass, she was still her daughter, and Marilyn endured it.

Debbie had no electricity in her kitchen, but she made no effort to correct the problem.  A red flag should have been waving furiously in my face.  Bells and whistles should have been triggered, and maybe they were, but I only had two choices – take my landlord to court or move into Marilyn’s apartment.  I made a bad choice.  I figured that Debbie would stay downstairs, and except for mealtimes, I would be on my own.  My bad.  What was I thinking? Was I even thinking?

She came up to my apartment whenever she felt like it, and she would wake me up, if I was sleeping.

“What are you doing up here?” I would ask her.

“It’s my house, and I’ll go wherever I want to go.”

“But, I’m renting out the upstairs.”

“So what?  It’s still my house, and I’ll go wherever I want to go.”

I started to stay up later and later, so that I could have a little privacy while she slept.  It was winter, and I wasn’t going anywhere, but I knew that in Spring I would start looking for another place.

Another thing that annoyed me was that her mother’s stuff was still all over the apartment.  The living room and dining room were unusable because they were piled high with her mother’s clothes, and the entire apartment was filled with Marilyn’s two obsessions, owls and Jesus.  I am not exaggerating when I say that there were at least 100 owl objets d’art in the house, and Jesus was only a tiny bit behind.  But if you add up the pictures of angels, maybe Jesus was in the lead.  In addition to a huge portrait of the Last Supper, there was even a 4-foot-high statue of an angel, and another huge statue of an angel sitting in the living room.  I once dated a girl who had hundreds of strawberry ornaments, and her mother had an equal number of frog knickknacks, so I didn’t really mind all the owls, except that they took up a lot of space.  Even though I’m an Atheist, all the Jesus pictures didn’t really bother me either.  The two giant angel statues were a bit much though.  I asked her if maybe she could put them in the backyard.

You can guess the answer I got.  “It’s my house and I’ll put them where I want to put them.”

After that, the topic of my “stupid Atheism” and how I should turn to Jesus became almost a daily ritual.  She considered me a nut job because I didn’t believe in God. I considered her a nut job, because she was a nut job.

Then, after Marilyn died, and Debbie inherited the house, she told me that she wanted to sell it.  I was actually a bit relieved.  This was the push I needed to finally go find another place.  No “For Sale” signs went up, though, so I didn’t think she was serious.  She had a habit of changing her mind and personality frequently. (Her deceased ex-husband, Kevin, nicknamed her Switch Bitch, because she changed into multiple personalities and very few, if any of them, were nice.) So, suddenly in May, she announced that she was selling the house, and that the closing would probably be July 1st.  The roofer, who had replaced her roof a year earlier, offered her a cash deal.

I started looking for a place and purging myself of the things that weren’t worth moving.  I had some trouble, though.  All the Real Estate companies wanted you to have a monthly income at least 3 times the rent.  My monthly income from Social Security was little more than the monthly rent most places were asking.  Plus, I had more junk than I would be able to sift through in six weeks. I was in trouble.  Then my troubles increased.  Forget July 1st.  She wanted to close on June 1st.  So, I had one month less to look for a place.  Then, I caught a break.  I had a doctor’s appointment at the V. A. and the nurse, who conducts the preliminaries before the doctor walks in, asked me if anything was bothering me.  I mentioned that I had to find a new apartment in a hurry, and I wasn’t able to find one because I didn’t earn 3 times the rent for any place on the market.

The V.A. takes a lot of flak, because many veterans, especially those suffering the effects of Agent Orange and war, did not get the extensive care they needed.  This has benefited me, though.  Because they are now being so closely scrutinized, and because of recent changes in the law, I, who got out of the Navy over fifty years ago, am now receiving excellent health care there, absolutely free.  The V.A. itself still has problems, but the people working there are dedicated to providing the best service they can.  This nurse went above and beyond the call of duty to hook me up almost instantly with a social worker, Lucy, a housing specialist, Jen, and a lawyer, Brenda.

So, Debbie moved up the date of the sale to May 26th.  Now, she wanted me out by noon on the 26th.  “Maybe if you believed in God, you would find another place to live.”  She told me that she already had a new place.  She bought a two-bedroom home in Conway, South Carolina, and she showed me a bunch of pictures of the house.  She actually asked me if I wanted to go to South Carolina with her.  I told her that there was no way I would do that.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me.  I told her that living with her made every day seem like an episode of I Love Lucy, if Lucy was on crack.  She like that idea, went downstairs, and reappeared an instant later.

Then, when I turned her down, she decided that I should be out by noon on the 25th, instead.  “You wouldn’t have this problem if you believed in Jesus.”

I told her that she was being unreasonable, moving the date closer and closer, and her reply was simply, “We don’t have a contract.  I can do whatever I want to do.”

Brenda, my lawyer, didn’t agree, but I told her that I didn’t want to fight to stay there.  I wanted to get out as quickly as possible.  I just needed to find a place.  I was fortunate again that Lucy, the social worker, had hooked me up with some great people.  Jen found a real estate agent, Wanda, who would waive the 3 times the rent rule, if I got good references from previous landlords, and showed that I paid my rent on time.  I would also have to pass a background check.  Then John-Michael in Jen’s office swung into action and went all out to get me into a new apartment.  He came to where I was living to help me with the paperwork, and he checked out apartments.

Finally, on Monday at 1:30 p.m. it all came together, and I signed a lease agreement on my new apartment.  Thanks to the help of my friend and retired furniture salesman, Joe Becker and the 4 people he rounded up to help me, a friend, Nelson, his truck, my old upstairs neighbor Shawn, his friend JR, and my Scrabble nemesis, Cat with her truck, and JR again, I managed to get most of my stuff out of Debbie’s house by Wednesday evening.  I still left a bunch of stuff that I wish I could have taken, and stuff that I should have thrown out years ago – T-shirts, books I’ll never read, and an assortment of other junk.  As I was leaving, I handed Debbie the key, and started walking out the door.

“You can’t leave all that stuff behind.  I’m going to closing tomorrow and the house has to be completely empty and clean.”

“Well,” I said, “it’s your house, so it’s your problem.  We don’t have a contract.”  She was still screaming at me and Cat as we drove away.

So, I’m now settling down in my new apartment, and I finally got a full night’s sleep with nobody waking me up.  Then, last night, in addition to a full night’s sleep, I also had a wonderful dream.  I dreamed that while Debbie was driving to South Carolina, she ran a red light and got broadsided by an 18 wheeler.  Her car rolled over and over and over again.  It was still rolling over as I woke up.  I smiled and thought, “Maybe there is a God.”

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


America, there’s an English Problem…

…And it’s not King Charles.

As a writer, I try to be grammatically correct most of the time.  Sometimes, I take a good bit of poetic license with the language, but I still try to stick fairly close-by to the rules.  Lately, I’ve been noticing that one of the rules of grammar is being almost completely ignored, by almost everyone.

I noticed it, because it is one of my grammatical pet peeves, but it is becoming so ubiquitous that I’m afraid it’s going to wind up in the dictionary as acceptable slang soon.  At first, I just heard a few people on TV use it, but now, it’s even popping up in commercials, news broadcasts, and I even heard an eminent scientist use it in a YouTube short video.

What’s the problem.  The problem is the use of the contraction, “There’s.”  As you all know, it stands for “There is” so it should be followed by a singular noun, as in There’s a problem in English usage.  Nowadays, however, it’s being used no matter if the noun is singular or plural.

When it refers to something that is plural, it should be “there are,” as in There are problems.  Nobody would say There is problems, but it seems that a lot of people are saying things like “There’s problems.”  It is especially glaring to me when it appears in commercials, because they are written by professional writers, and the copy is scrutinized over and over before it’s approved.  Yet, in two different online commercials for Thriftbooks.com they said things like, “There’s millions of reviews…or…There’s over 5 million of them.  I point out Thriftbooks, because they cater to people who read, so I would think that they, if anybody, would use proper English.  However, they are not alone.  Many commercials make the same mistake, and now that I’ve pointed it out, I’m sure you’ll hear it quite frequently.

I knew it was time to say something about this sad trending, when I watched a YouTube video short in which Neil deGras Tyson, a science educator, said, “There’s tens of millions of stars…”  This incorrect usage of the contraction is spreading too far, so I’m trying to do my part to convince people to stop using there’s when there are should be used.

While I’m at it.  I’d like to also talk about another problem and a word that is not spreading, though with all the pronoun talk we’re having nowadays, it should be.  Decades ago, while writing a short story.  I didn’t want to give away the identity of the person I was writing about until the very end, so to hide even their gender from the reader, I coined the word hirm to mean either him or her, a gender unknown pronoun to replace the awkward “he/she.”  It amazed me at the time that we have a gender-neutral plural pronoun, them, but, to the best of my knowledge, the singular case gender-neutral pronoun was yet to be invented.  So, I invented one.  It turned out to be useful for me in that story, but “hirm” never caught on with anyone else.

Nowadays with so much debate about which personal pronouns to use to refer to a person, I would like to submit to dictionaries everywhere my word hirm as a useful gender-neutral pronoun.

Peace & Love, and all of the above.


Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Tomorrow will be President James Buchanan’s 232nd birthday.  In his honor, around 100 people showed up to lay a wreath on his grave and make a few speeches.

I got there early before the crowd arrived.

Then, out of the early morning mist, walked six apparitions from the past in military uniforms from his times.  James was a private in the Pennsylvania Militia, which has now become the National Guard and many Guardsmen and Guardswomen were there to join the ranks.

Then the color guard marched out and the speeches soon began.  One of the speakers referred to his nickname as “Old Buck,” but that wasn’t his nickname until very late in his life.  Most of the time he was referred to as “The Old Public Functionary,” not a nickname that trips lightly off the tongue, but it did honor the 50 years he spent in service to his country as Representative, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State, Ambassador to Russia and England, and of course, 15th President of the United States.  To me, it also represented the 160 years he has spent as scapegoat for the Civil War, even though he, actually, did more than anyone to try to prevent that war.

Buchanan served during the War of 1812, and his outfit was detailed on a secret mission to help the Maryland Militia.  Fortunately, by the time they got there, the battle was already won, and so, he returned home to civilian life.  He is the only President who joined the military as an enlisted man and wasn’t made an officer.  The Head of the Pennsylvania National Guard used that fact as an opportunity to thank all the enlisted men, who protect our Country.

The festivities ended with a 15 musket salute by the group I now knew weren’t apparitions, but Civil War reenactors, who probably travelled here from a little town across the river named Gettysburg.  I was amazed at how quickly they were able to fire and reload their muskets for the next volley.

In total, fifteen shots were fired, but I was only quick enough with my camera to captured 10.  If you look carefully at their feet you can see the tubes of gunpowder they tore open with their teeth to fill the barrel for the next round.

It was a fine tribute to a very under-rated President, and I definitely hope to go again next year.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Everything You Believe

“Just remember this my girl, when you look up in the sky.  You can see the stars, but still not see the light…”

  • The Eagles

I watched a YouTube video, Everything You Believe Is Based on What You’ve Been Told.  That, in a nutshell, was the theme of the video.  Unless you have really studied a field, and even if you have studied a field intensely, the ideas you hold in your advanced human brain were probably just planted there by things you were told in the past.  Some thoughts might have been planted by brilliant professors, but, it is more likely, that many of your thoughts were originally planted there by your drinking buddies.

Then, I watched an episode of John Oliver’s show, Last Week, Tonight.  The episode was about possible things that could go wrong with AI, Artificial Intelligence.

The problem that John foresaw with AI was that it learned rapidly, but it also could develop false thinking if the input it absorbed wasn’t accurate.  It was something I learned about computers a half century ago, Garbage In/Garbage Out, as expressed by the catch phrase GIGO.

To be reasonably accurate, both artificial intelligence and human intelligence require plenty of accurate input.  Humans learn mostly from what they are told, but they also absorb what they see in movies, TV, and books.  This might explain why so many people are concerned about a zombie apocalypse.

Computers learn by accessing the Internet.  This is the big reason why everyone is so worried about Artificial Intelligence.  We realize that while AI can gather intelligent information almost at the speed of light, unfortunately, based upon the current content of the Internet, it will also be acquiring and absorbing tons of absolute nonsense just as quickly.  There are plenty of websites out there in cyberspace that dare to “prove” that the Earth is flat.

Too bad that before AI accesses the Internet, we can’t limit the websites for it to search to the websites where the information is accurate.  However, who is to say what is accurate?  Who even knows what really is accurate anymore?  We believe what we’ve been told, and we haven’t always been fed the truth, nor did we always seek it. Most of us live in the information bubble of our own choice.  So, carefully filtered AI would probably just result in a computer conclusion that mirrors our own biases.

That’s exactly what is already happening.  AI programs are working in Human Resources.  They are currently scanning thousands of job resumes and selecting only applicants who closely match the programmer’s idea of desired employees. Ultimately, these might not be the best employees and discrimination of some sort is probably inevitable.  GIGO.

AI will eventually partner with humans, much like the way that humans now partner with computers.  Hopefully, humans will still be needed to feed the AI computers the information that they will need to make better decisions for us.

So, what do we do?  Well like Ken Jennings wrote when he and Brad Rutter lost at Jeopardy to the IBM computer, Watson,

“I for one, welcome our new computer overlords.”

Personally, I believe that the future computer overlords will treat humans well, probably even better than we currently treat ourselves, but, to insure this, we must stock the Internet with much better information for the AI computers than we are currently feeding ourselves.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Baseball Opening Day – March 30th

But before we get to Sports, let’s go to the News…

From Mar A Lago, Florida, Donald Trump claimed that he will be arrested very soon by New York County District Attorney Alvin Leonard Bragg, Jr.  Trump advised the District Attorney to call off the investigation of hush-money payments made to Adult film star Stormy Daniels, because he was worried that some people might get upset and cause Death and Destruction.

I guess Trump was thinking about those crazy Antifa people who “toured” the Capital on January 6th 2021 posing as insurgent MAGA Maniacs.

The Special Counsel, Jack Smith, subpoenaed former Vice President Michael Pence in the investigation of the January 6th attempt by then President Trump to try to pull off a coup for him to retain power.

Former President Trump told his ex Vice President to be sure to remember all the happy times they had together, while he was President, and forget all about that little misunderstanding they had about stretching his neck, because that was only a suggestion so that his starched shirt collars wouldn’t feel so tight.  (Oh and maybe he might want to take the 5th Amendment, when he’s on the stand.  You know, just to prevent some crazies from causing Death and Destruction.)

Fulton County Investigators are examining evidence of Donald Trump possibly tampering with the Presidential Election in Georgia.  They have a recorded conversation of Trump asking Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes.”

I just need one more hit.

Donald Trump explained that he wasn’t asking for a landslide victory, just to win by one measly vote.  What’s wrong with that?

Before they make their jury selections, the prosecutors all pointed out their suggestions for what the Jury members might want to be wearing at all of Trump’s future trials.

In other news, a shooter opened fire at yet another school, bringing the total of school gun incidents in the U.S. this year to 90, which is about 1 a day.  This time it was in Nashville, Tennessee, where a gunman killed three children and three adults before being fatally shot by the police.

US Representative Andrew Ogles of Tennessee, who represents the Nashville district said that he was “utterly heartbroken” by the tragedy, but Congress is “not gonna fix it.”

“Damn straight,” yelled Congressional goofballs Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.

People, of course, protested, but just like in the 2-year investigations into the crimes committed by Donald Trump, nothing, so far, has been done about it.

So, let’s go to sports.

Peace & Love, and all of the above.


Sha Boom, Shroom Boom

Picture of Turkey Tail Mushrooms.

Last night I was reading about stem butt inoculation. Sounds kinky, but it’s just one way to grow mushrooms.

I’m not growing mushrooms myself, but I have started taking mushroom extracts to see if they have any positive effect on me. I’m also reading Mycelium Running – How Mushrooms can help save the Earth. Many mushrooms eat wood and leaves that are on the forest floor and turn it into fertile soil, but I’ve learned that some mushrooms can actually eat rocks and digest their minerals.  Some mushrooms can even munch away at minerals that are poisonous to humans, stuff like lead, mercury, and radioactive Cesium.  So, at places like Chernobyl there are mushrooms growing today that are eating up the leftover radioactive Cesium that was spilled in the catastrophe back there in 1986.  You can’t eat these mushrooms, simply because they have consumed so much poison.  However, we can pick them.  Since they have absorbed radioactive material, when we pick them, we are, in effect, removing a little bit of the radioactivity from the area.  More mushrooms will grow.  Then, we can pick them and clean up even more of the radioactivity.

Then we can take the truckloads of these poison-munching mushrooms to a place that manufactures or uses whatever heavy metal they were eating. They can extract those heavy metals from the mushrooms.  The result is that the area where the mushrooms got picked gets cleaned up and the poisons that were in the ground are safely recycled.

Some mushrooms eat cow shit and are still edible.  (You’d probably want to wash them first, of course).  There must be a mushroom growing someplace that likes human waste. Mushrooms can help us to clean up the planet.  That’s just one of the amazing things that they do.

So, my point, which I got from a statement by Neil De Grasse Tyson is, we know how to “terraform” planets like Mars to make them more habitable to Earthlings.  Wouldn’t it make more sense, he said, to invest the time and resources into just making Earth more habitable, first? That makes way more sense than just trashing this planet, like we’re doing, discarding it, and moving on to the next one.

Instead of tossing tons and tons of plastic into the ocean, maybe we can find a mushroom that eats plastic.  Plastic is a petroleum product, and there are mushrooms that eat petroleum and can be used to clean up oil spills.

Last night during his State of the Union address, President Biden outlined many of the problems we face in the days ahead. Solving the problems won’t be easy, but it reminded me of something Henry J. Kaiser said, “Problems are only opportunities wearing work clothes.” We have the technology and the opportunity to use nature to help us greatly improve the habitability and health of our own planet. Our planet has been around for billions of years and it’s not right that our generation is just trashing it with no consideration for future generations.

Like the Joni Mitchell song that the late David Crosby sang at Woodstock:

… We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.

We’ve got to get back to the garden, and using mushrooms can be one way to help us become better gardeners.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Gangin’ Style, Big Time

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

“To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns

I moved from downtown Lancaster to a house about 4 miles south of town, and one mile straight up.  Well, it might not actually be a mile high like Denver, but it sure feels like it.

I live near the top of a great big hill.  The bus stop is at the bottom of the hill.  My best time down the hill is 13 minutes.  My best time up the hill is 22 minutes.  The unfortunate part is that since I only go out to shop, my knapsack is usually empty on the way downhill and full on the way uphill.  So, the uphill hike, when my pack is full, is way more than 22 minutes.

Once, I tried it with a full pack and a 5-liter box of wine.  Halfway up the hill I got chest pain and had to put a nitroglycerin pill under my tongue, and wait a few minutes, so that I wouldn’t have a heart attack.

I haven’t carried any wine up the hill, since then, but that doesn’t make me want to give up drinking wine.  So, I needed to devise a Plan B.  I came up with a plan that would have brought old Robbie Burns to tears.  It was, I thought, the absolutely best laid plan of mice or men.

I didn’t just want to get wine.  I wanted to get a lot of wine, plus there was a veritable bucket list of things I wanted to do on the same journey.  I also wanted to make a trip to the bank, find a good local place to have pizza, and have a beer.  (I drink wine at home, beer when I’m out.)

The first problem to overcome was that the bus only runs every two hours, except for the last 4 runs of the day, when it runs every hour: leaving the depot at 2:20, 3:20, 4:20, and 5:20 p.m.  I worked out a plan that would have even impressed the D-Day planners.

I left my house at 2:10 p.m.  I got down the hill at 2:23.  The bus that left the depot at 2:20 arrived at my bus stop at 2:35, right on schedule.  I got to the bank around 3 p.m., so a quick calculation told me that the 3:20 bus would probably arrive at the bank around 4 p.m.

I took care of my business at the bank and had 50 minutes before my next bus would come.  I walked to a pizza restaurant that was just two or three bus stops down the road, Two Cousins Pizza Restaurant.  I took my time savoring the two delicious slices of pepperoni pizza with a nice bottle of Juengling beer.  I was checking things off my To-Do list rapidly.  I went outside and only had a few minutes to wait for the bus that arrived in front of the restaurant at 4:05.  That bus took me to the liquor store in Kendig Square, a big shopping center about 5 miles south of downtown Lancaster.

At this point, I’m congratulating myself on how well my plan is going, and I wasn’t worried about a thing.  I only had two easy steps to go to complete my plan:

  1. Buy a lot of wine.
  2. Take a taxi home from there.

I bought 15 liters of wine, and a bottle of Bourbon.  I dragged my purchase to the curb and dialed the number of the taxi I used to take whenever I went to the Roller Derby Games.

A recorded voice told me, “The number you dialed is no longer in service.”

I didn’t panic.  I Googled the number or another taxi service.  It picked up on the first ring.  “Thank you for calling Lancaster Cab.  Please hold on and I will try to connect you with a dispatcher.”  Bad background music started to play.

“Try?” I said to myself.  Did that answering machine say “try to connect?”  I listened to the same 30 second loop of bad music for 10 minutes, when I realized that yes, the machine must have said “try.”  So I hung up and went back to Googling another company.

“We’re sorry, but the number you dialed is no longer in service.”  Covid seems to have wiped out all the cab companies in the Lancaster area.

By now the bus that left the depot at 4:20 is arriving at the Kendig Square bus stop, and leaving without me.  I know that there is only one more bus, which leaves the depot at 5:20, but I can’t get on that bus and lug 16 liters of booze up the hill.  I have maybe a dozen nitroglycerin pills in my pocket, but I fear that even that might not get me up the hill with 16 liters of booze weighing me down.  So, I called another cab service.

“We can’t come to the phone right now.  Leave a message and we’ll get back to you.”

I left a message, and checked Google again.  There weren’t any other cab companies within miles, so I called the “trying” one again.  Again, it picked up on the first ring.

“Thank you for calling Lancaster Cab.  Please hold on and I will try to connect you with a dispatcher.”

It did say “try.”  The musical loop played for 10 minutes before a dispatcher came on the line.

“Hello,” I said, “I’m at Kendig Square and I would like a taxi, please.”

“What is the address?”

I don’t know the address.  It’s a shopping center.  I’m outside of the liquor store in the Kendig Square Shopping Center.”

“You don’t have an address?”

“I have an address of where I want to go to, but I don’t know the address here.  It’s the Kendig Square shopping center.

“Kendig Square?”

“Yes Kendig Square.”

“I don’t know where that is.  Do you have an address I can put into the G.P.S.?”

“I don’t know the address.  It’s the Kendig Shopping Center, about 5 miles south of downtown Lancaster.  There’s a movie theatre the Kendig Movie Theater.”

“Okay, we’ll pick you up in one hour.”

“Wait!  I’m not by the movie theater.  I’m outside the liquor store.”

“Okay, can you wait an hour?”

“Yes, I can wait an hour.”

“Okay, we’ll be there in an hour.”

So, now I have to kill an hour.  This wasn’t in my plan, but I dragged the booze into a nearby Chinese Restaurant.  I had just finished eating pizza, but Chinese food isn’t filling, right?  So, I ordered a quart of Beef and Broccoli.  I was prepared to wait.  I wasn’t hungry or in any hurry, but I’m telling you honestly.  The cashier handed me my change and instantly produced a bag containing a steaming hot quart of Beef and Broccoli, with a pint of white rice.

Somebody else must have called in an order of Beef and Broccoli and she figured she would give me their order, which was ready, and they can eat the order I just put in, and that way everyone gets hot food, instead of this quart of Beef and Broccoli getting cold while she waited for them to show up.

I’m only guessing, but that must be what happened.  So, I took the order to a table and sat down to slowly savor it.  I even threw in a couple trips to the bathroom.

Then I went outside and watched as the last bus of the day left the bus stop.  I was committed to the taxi now.  It had been more than an hour, so I called them back.

“Thank you for calling Lancaster Cab.  Please hold on and I will try to connect you with a dispatcher.”

“Oh boy!  Here we go again.”  To my surprise, though, a dispatcher came on within a minute.”

“It’s been over an hour and I’m still waiting for a taxi.”

“You want a taxi?”

Then we repeated the Abbott and Costello routine about the address of Kendig Square, as if we had never spoken before.

“Kendig Square?”

“Yes, Kendig Square.”


I wanted to say, “Yes, of course, Pennsylvania, you freakin’ moron.  Why would I call a Pennsylvanian taxi company, if I wasn’t in Pennsylvania?”

I wanted to say that (and a few expletives), but the last bus had just left, and the other cab company that took my message an hour and a half ago, still hadn’t called me back, so my only other alternative was to call Crazy Debbie for a ride, and I knew that she would be hammered by this point in the day.  Whatever “Gang aft a-gley” meant. My plans were sure doing it. So, I was instead, polite, extremely polite to this dispatcher.

“Okay, 20 minutes.”


To my astonishment, 20 minutes later a cab showed up, and 10 minutes after that I was home with my 16 liters of booze.  Of course, since I’ve been home, I’ve already consumed 2 of the liters, because I figured that it was worth celebrating that I made it back from Kendig Square without needing a single nitroglycerin tablet.  To me, that was a Christmas miracle.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Peace & Love, and all of the above.


Judge Not

It’s almost election day.  One week and one day after Halloween, we’re all either going to be tricked or treated.

I used to get really worked up about elections, because I felt that the results could affect my life for decades.  Now, I don’t have decades left.  My Dad lived into his 90s, but he was always an outlier.  At 74, I take 14 different pills a day just to keep me going, a few for the heart, a bunch for my hip, and some just for the head.  I don’t have decades to go.  So, I don’t get as worked up about elections, anymore.

I still care.  The results may not affect me for decades, but, realistically, they will probably affect me for the rest of my life.

In Pennsylvania, I’m voting for John Fedderman.  I first heard of his campaign back in April, when I got an e-mail just before National Pot Day (April 20th) asking me to contribute $4.20 on 4-20-2022 to support the senate campaign of John Fedderman, who wanted to legalize pot.  So, I got out my credit card.

That’s the only political contribution I made this year.  I think that Money has taken over politics, and the only way to curb the problem is to defund politicians.  So, I don’t usually contribute to political campaigns.  However, I’m a Democrat.  John’s a Democrat.  He wants to legalize weed.  I’ve been arguing for the legalization of pot for more than 50 years.  It was worth $4.20.

Five months ago, though, John had a stroke.  He is steadily recovering, but still has some problems with words.  His opponent is the Famous TV Doctor, Dr. Oz.  They met in a TV debate.

The balance of power in both houses of Congress is so tenuous, that both sides are fighting tooth and nail in every swing state to see that their candidate gets elected, no matter who the candidate is or what their problems are.

The Republicans clamor that John Fedderman is not mentally competent for the Senate, because he had a stroke 5 months ago, while they circle the red wagons around Georgian Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who Democrats claim has had more concussions than I’ve had girlfriends, and, quite obviously, more girlfriends than I had, too, as they keep showing up with Morey Povitch type stories about abortions they had for him.

Isn’t it weird that we can forgive the mental problems of our own candidates, while so viciously attacking the mental problems of the other party’s candidates?

Me, I think the mental condition of the voters is actually way more important than the mental condition of the candidate, and, right now, I honestly believe that the knowledge level and intelligence of today’s average voter is at an all-time low.  We live in an age when instant information is available at our fingertips, but most of us only ever listen to one side of the story, the side we’re on.  Our decisions are made strictly by Party loyalty, not by any great reasoning process.

That finally gets me to my point.  The worst case of decisions being made by Party loyalty, not by any great reasoning process is in the Supreme Court, where every decision does truly affect many of us for the rest of our lives.  How can we the people make sure that Supreme Court Judges, judge fairly?  We can’t.  Ginni Thomas is working feverishly to overthrow the last election, and her Supreme Court husband Clarence just says he knows nothing about it because they don’t discuss politics at home.  I don’t think I can trust him, but there’s nothing I can do about it.  He has a job for life.  He doesn’t care what I think.

I think this is wrong.  Even the President is limited to just two four-year terms.  The Supreme Court Judges should also be subject to term limits, ten years, or twenty years at the most, not forever.  Amend the Constitution.  Only Dictators want to rule for life.

The Supremes Court saying, Stop, in the name of love.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Cha-cha-cha Changes

I just watched a little pre-season football and noticed that some players are wearing wigs over their helmets.  I looked it up and they are called Guardian Caps and they help absorb the shock, especially in helmet-to-helmet collisions.

With all the danger of concussions, why did they wait so long to do this?  Actually, they didn’t.  These things came out two decades ago, but only two players wore them, so when their playing days were over, so was the Guardian Cap, until now.

It made me think of the great free-throw shooter in Basketball, Rick Barry.  He proved that you could improve your free-throw percentage, simply by tossing the ball underhanded.  It worked for him, but it didn’t catch on.  Wilt Chamberlain tried it and sunk the basket, but went right back to doing it the old-fashioned way.  My guess is that athletes who are wearing a Guardian Cap or throwing free-throws underhanded are probably considered to be “sissies,” and players want to be macho. Basketball players who shoot free throws underhand don’t wind up sleeping with 23,000 women like Wilt claimed he did.

Sports are very slow to change things even when they are obviously positive changes, because nobody wants to look like a sissy.  I remember the days when hockey goalies didn’t wear masks.  Their faces were heavily scarred and they didn’t have any front teeth, but they didn’t want to look like sissies.  After previously getting both cheekbones broken during a game, Jacques Plante became the first NHL Goalie to wear a mask in a season game on November 1, 1959.  Fans must have thought it was left over from Halloween.

“It’s the coming thing in the game,” said Montreal coach Toe Blake. “The time will come when they’ll have an even better mask than Plante’s and it’ll be standard equipment for goalies.”

1975-76 O-Pee-Chee WHA #34 Jacques Plante

 He was right.  Today every hockey goalie wears a mask.  For you trivia buffs, in 1974 Andy Brown of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the last NHL goalie to play without a mask.

All sports are very slow to change.  I’ve been waiting 50 years for someone to start putting sneakers on horses instead of the antiquated method of nailing on metal horseshoes.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Eat, Beat, Treat

Brother X sent me a cheesecake for my birthday, and my friend Catherine came over for Scrabble and to take me out to dinner.  Cat and I always joke about eating dessert first, so I told her that the theme for my birthday this year was a play on the book and movie “Eat, Pray, Love.”  My theme would be EAT, BEAT, TREAT.  We would EAT dessert first.  Then I would BEAT her at Scrabble, and then she would TREAT me to dinner. She agreed to the Eat and Treat, but the BEAT part seemed a bridge too far. I very rarely beat her at any game.

So, after eating our fill of cheesecake (with me doing most of the eating) we started playing Scrabble, and I was feeling lucky.  My luck showed up on the very first word, when I started the game with HOOKERS, a 7-tile word that gave me an instant 84-point lead.  It was a birthday present from the Scrabble gods.  Cat tried desperately to overcome that 84-point deficit, but she never caught me, even though she did manage to make it a very close game by the end.  That took care of the BEAT portion of the evening, so we then headed to the restaurant, Shot & Bottle, which I hadn’t been to since President’s Day 2020, when I went there for a special James Buchanan night.  We walked to the restaurant, so that we could both drink.  It was a long 5-block walk, but my arthritic hip will cowboy up when there’s a free dinner and beer waiting.

Since I got back from the wedding of Jessie and Dylan in New York, the previous week, I’ve been craving the one thing I didn’t get around to having while I was in NY, a Pastrami on Rye.  Pizza, bagels, and Pastrami on rye are all on my to-do list whenever I visit NY, but I never got around to the pastrami this time.

So, when I saw that on the menu, I knew what I had to have, with a tall cold beer, of course.  The Pastrami sandwich turned out to be nothing like a NY Pastrami sandwich, though.  You know the one I’m talking about, the sandwich with nothing but piles of steamin’ fatty pastrami all piled high in the middle of soft rye bread so that it looks like it’s an inch thick when they cut it in half, even though there’s very little meat around the edges of the sandwich.  The Shot & Bottle pastrami wasn’t like that. It was more like a pastrami Reuben on rye toast.  In addition to the pastrami, it was piled high with cole slaw, lettuce, tomato, red onions, and sauce. It was a salad and a sandwich at the same time.

Cat TREATed for dinner, but the TREATing didn’t stop there.  She insisted on buying me drinks on the way back to my place, and it didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting to get me to agree to that plan.  We barhopped our way back to my place, which turned the long 5-block walk into a couple pleasant little walks.  When we got to my place, I was feeling the buzz, but she was still sober, which was good for her, because she had to drive home to get a little sleep before he 6-hour rock-climbing class she was taking in the morning.  I was a bit tired from all the walking and drinking, and I just sat down at the computer and did the NY Times Wordle.  I got it in only 3 tries.  Surprisingly, the Wordle word of the day was TREAT. How big a coincidence is that?

So, thanks to Brother X, the Scrabble gods, the Wordle gods, and Cat, who all contributed to giving me a birthday to remember, and a really good time. My EAT, BEAT, TREAT birthday turned out even better than I hoped it would be.

That night, I wondered how grueling Cat’s 6-hour rock climbing class would be for her the next morning.  I was glad that I wasn’t signed up for that event, too.  The only climbing I had to do was to climb into bed and sleep as late as I wanted. Now that I’m 74, that part of the birthday celebration was looking really SWEET.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,