Saturday, April 30, 2016

Getting Back to Work Tomorrow

Well, my little vacation is over. In the morning, I get back to work on my manuscript. I at first took off to refresh my brain, but then bad weather and other considerations kept me from returning. Time is very important to me, because I am naturally slow. Most people know that Margaret Mitchell would not work at her novel, except when her husband pressured her to get busy. Otherwise, Gone With the Wind would have just been her imaginary novel, nothing more. I am nearly that bad. If I had an agent and a million in sales at stake, I think I could be more productive. 

Retirement Projects

When I retired for good, a year ago, I decided to make wooden stuff to sell. After looking around, I discerned that dozens of guys were making furniture of reclaimed cedar. Several already were on the side of the road, selling birdhouses and Texans logo plywood cutouts (copyrighted stuff, too). I did not see a possibility of cutting into an overcrowded niche. Quite a few years ago, I was the first one in my part of town to make plywood Christmas cutouts, of Santa, sleighs, snowmen and the like. At the time, they sold as fast as I could make them. Then came competition and the shifting public tastes and the market became extremely tight. Last two times I tried restarting, I failed to make any important sales.

I googled photos of horses and scaled a full size horse on plywood. This I used for a pattern. I laid out treated fence pickets and traced the horse shape on them. The idea was to have what appeared to be a fence section that just coincidentally made the outline of a horse. I made two complete and cut out the pieces for a third. Tried to sell them on Craig's list, along with a few similar ideas, such as a full size Headless Horseman, for Halloween and The End of the Trail (an Indian on a horse). Nobody wanted them.

I built a work platform about three feet off of the ground and built an octagon shaped picnic table on top of it. The platform served to keep me off my bad knees and worked so well, I never once had to kneel down while at work on the table. Again, nobody wanted one.

I gave up making things. I had lost my touch. My daughter did take the End of the Trail. I took one of the horses and stood it before my house, and made a trellis to stand before it. Made two plywood cacti to put before it, and planted an ivy to climb the trellis, then put some flower boxes there. I am still experimenting with it.

Despite the fact nobody would buy a horse, when all the traffic from the tornado passed through, I saw the horse being photographed and people told me they like my horse. I feel almost vindicated, but will not make further efforts to promote this stuff.

The octagon table? I stood it on edge and rolled it to my front yard. We don't use it much, but it looks good there.

I guess the working with my hands days are about over.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Before we had TV

Random observations of early TV and the Golden Age of Radio:

I grew up with radio. I was twelve years old before I got to watch a television program. After my mother would spend the day listening to country music (KRDU in Dinuba, CA; dj: Johnny Banks) and soap operas (Just Plain Bill, Oxydol's Own Ma Perkins), we would begin tuning in our favorite programs. My earliest memories were of Inner Sanctum, Gang Busters, Fibber McGee and Molly, Beaulah, The Great Gildersleve, The Life of Riley and Our Miss Brooks. Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, The FBI in Peace and War, Suspense, The Whistler, The Hermit's Cave, The Lux Video Theater, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy, The Shadow. We didn't need pictures to see The Lone Ranger and the Cisco Kid. Or Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Superman or the Green Hornet. There was Arthur Godfrey. Lum and Abner. The folks didn't seem to care for Amos 'N' Andy. I love a Mistery, Boston Blackie, Richard Diamond; that was our stuff. When Straight Arrow came out of his secret cave, screaming to his horse, "Ka-ne-wa Fury!" we were settled back to hear how he got the bad guys, then miraculously reverted to being this white rancher with his good buddy Packy. Red Ryder and Hopalong Cassidy; Tarzan and Dick Tracy.

Richard Crenna. On radio he was Walter Denton, a student of Our Miss Brooks and then he was a character named Bronco on the Great Gildersleve. He finally graduated from playing goofy kids when he signed on to The Real McCoys, a t.v. series.

We went to the drive in movies about two or three times a month. I recall listening to SUSPENSE on the radio on the way over there. It was maddening to pass under the power lines and miss a good part of the story. Stories like Inner Sanctum were fun to listen to and the subject matter never made me nervous. However, there was a commercial that made me hide my head under the covers. This chorus of voices would whisper-chant "Bromo Seltzer, Bromo Seltzer, Bromo Seltzer." Terrifying.

Most early t.v. series owed much of their content to radio. I recall a time when Dragnet was so popular it was broadcast three times a week on radio and two times a week on t.v. In reruns it was known as BADGE 714

I was raised on western movies and western radio shows. Naturally I watched the ones on television avidly. Sure, I knew as soon as the newcomer entered Southfork each week that the Rifleman, his son, or the town marshal were about to be terrorized and that the Rifleman would shoot the newcomer dead in the final scene - But it was a mythology and a rite that I still love.

The first T.V. I watched was a Sylvania cabinet model. It had a flourescent looking light all around the rim of the picture, I believe to lessen the eye strain. Many shows were boring and repetitive, but we found a number of favorites anyway. I have already mentioned DRAGNET. My Mom loved Lucy, who jumped from MY FAVORITE HUSBAND on radio to the hit t.v. show. The after school shows were my favorites - BEANY AND CECIL, FEARLESS FOSDICK, THE RANGE RIDER, WILD BILL HICKOCK, and the like. Some of my all time favorite shows over the years have been HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, GUNSMOKE (early half hour shows only), HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, TWILIGHT ZONE, ALL IN THE FAMILY, M*A*S*H*, DISNEYLAND, SIENFELD, THE WESTERNER, COSBY, STEVE ALLEN, THE REAL MCCOYS, PETER GUNN, BANDSTAND. There are others, but that's enough to mention for now.

First time I ever heard of television, I immediately thought of seeing movies just like the ones at the theaters on one. I told my Mom, I wish we could have a television. She replied, "Who would want to watch people sit around and talk to each other all day?" About a year later my step father went to San Jose to visit his mother. He came home reporting seeing Hopalong Cassidy on hers. From then on I knew what lay in store some future day.

I spend more time looking for something to watch on t.v. than I do actually paying attention to any specific shows these days. Speaking for myself, I would love it if radio programming of old could be revived - bearing in mind that much of the programming was repetitive and the organ music often played to signal scene changes and such could be irritating.

When I was a kid and they switched Hal Peary for Willard Waterman in the roll of The Great Gildersleve I felt it was an improvement. Now that I listen to the series from an older person's perspective, I believe Hal Peary gave the better performance. Each actor had very nearly identical delivery and sometimes WW's internal dialog was funnier, but HP gave more to it than that. He often invoked a moralist's judgement, making the character poignant from time to time. I recall HP closing one show by making an editorial plea for more funding to build more schools. In California at least, the school was so crowded where I first attended that I had to leave at lunch time for the next class to come in for the afternoon.

As a kid I avidly listened to The Story Lady, and Big John and Sparky, and Bobby Benson's B Bar B Riders every day, before going outside to play. 
The story lady played records, many from cartoons, some from comedic kids' entertainers, such as the guy that played Mr Greenjeans on TV. He did one skit called Little Orly and the Cabbage Worm. 
Next, Big John was the host and he did the voices for a stable of characters, incuding Sparky, the little elf who wanted more than anything else to be a real live boy.
Bobby Benson was a kid on a ranch. He sang a song called Amigo, to his horse. One character on there, Wendy, was played by Don Knotts.

My alltime favorite radio shows are, Gunsmoke, The Whistler, The Great Gildersleve, and X-Minus One. Close seconds are Lone Ranger, Cisco Kid, I Love a Mystery, Life of Riley, Ozzie and Harriet, Dragnet.

There were kid shows on TV when I got home from school. I didn't see over a few episodes of Howdy Doody, and that was before we owned a TV. Same with Buster Brown Show. What we did see were puppet shows and later, westerns. Fearless Fosdick characters were puppets on strings. The Beanie and Cecil show featured hand puppets. We didn't watch Kukla Fran and Ollie or Mr Rogers. These shows gave way to The Range Rider, Wild Bill Hickock and Annie Oakley. Don't recall where the Lone Ranger fit in. I didn't like the TV show. I guess I was fourteen or even fifteen by the time Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear came along.

I got to watch grandma's TV, when we visited her. I think the first station came to Fresno about 1955 or so. Three networks on a single channel. Endless car advertising during the day. Don't recall when we got a TV of our own.

Memory sharpens. After we moved to Fresno, the old man bought a used Zenith. I begin to recall, because, it was when Walt Disney made it known he was launching his TV show, to coincide with the opening of Disneyland. A clip from one of his cartoons would play, then a voice announce, "Walt Disney is up to something big on ABC TV." To me and Sam, Walt was still god. Our impatience knew no bounds. Three days before the Disneyland show premiered, the TV's tube flat lined. We ended up listening, but not watching. When later, we got to watch again, at my aunt's house, she would suddenly jump up. "No wonder they call it Dizzyland," she'd say. "I can't take any more." And we ended up watching a detective show.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


My phone woke me at 4:45 AM. A few minutes later, the entire house shook, followed by a brief downfall of heavy rain. Then, silence. I went back to sleep. Then, not long after, my daughter, who had to hop two gates to do it, beat violently on my door. Turned out, my street was full of news cameras, tree cutters, fire engines, cop cars, electric company, carpenters, sight see-ers, and so forth, beneath the drone of helicopters. This lasted from dawn until nearly dusk. My dog ran himself ragged at the fence, becoming covered with mud and splashing same on my daughter's car. We walked down and viewed the damage. For eighteen years I had dreaded the inevitability of such a scene right here. It is by a mere whim of fortune we were not victims at my address.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

James Garner

I only just learned that James Garner is dead. He was in his eighties and had a stroke a while back. It was to be expected, I suppose. I first noticed him on the Maverick TV series. I had seen him not that long before, in an episode of Cheyenne, but did not realize it was him, until summer reruns. Like most of the TV viewing public (the ones that liked westerns, for sure) I fell in love with his acting and the character of Brett Maverick. I used to spend the whole week in anticipation of the latest installment. When he retired from the series, I quit watching most of the new episodes, so profound was my disappointment. Jack Kelly was valiant, carrying on, but he was a victim of the backlash. It did no good to run in Roger Moore, as Beau Maverick, because, no matter how many shows he appeared in, he just was no Maverick.

I did not see that much more to enjoy from Garner, until, in 1964, the movie, The Americanization of Emily, was released. This became my favorite movie by him. With Julie Andrews and James Coburn. During WWII, his character supplied the luxuries to the Admiral. He was safely riding out the war. He met Julie's character and after he overcame her loyalty to brave men dying for the cause, they eventually became lovers. The Admiral was sick. His cognitive failure was taken advantage of by James Coburn's character, who convinced the Admiral to have a film made capturing the first dead American service man on Omaha beach, as he bravely died. It worked out, that Coburn manned the camera while chasing Garner with a gun, filming him, during the invasion. Well, if you have not seen it, maybe you ought to.

I did not really care for his later TV work. I did like the movie, Support Your Local Sheriff.

Anyway, in fond remembrance - Goodbye James.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What's a Kout?

Sometimes, the devil gets in me and makes me play horrible jokes (other times, just be plain obnoxious). There was the time I called my brother on the phone, and asked, in all seriousness, "What's a kout?"

Slim was all eager to be of help. After a few minutes of sounding it out and making associations, I told him, "And they are always free."

We went on like this for several minutes before I gave it away, by telling him, "They are always free, as in free kout (freak out). He hung up on me and didn't have much to do with me for a long while.

Ah, me. I can be such a bastard.

I don't really harm anyone. Like the time Slim lay resting, his back to me, and, I, tired of the show on TV.  There was a can of spray deodorant nearby. I picked it up and began spraying Slim's butt. Would have emptied the can, too, but he turned over and gave me this long suffering hurt look and I slunk away, to dispose of the  can. No harm, yet, a true foul.

What are brothers for? Particularly, when the devil is possessing your very soul.

My half siblings' side of the family gave nicknames for everything. Some stuck. Some didn't. I wondered what was the magic combination to make these usually insulting labels stick. I decided to give Slim a new nickname, just to see if there were any clues in how it was received. I looked at him: tall, slim, freckles, brown hair. "Hey, Antlers," I said. He looked both angry and hurt, so I backed off. Unfortunately, two of the halfs heard it and used it, occasionally, for years afterwards. I gave up the speculation and have always felt sorry for sticking that label on Slim.

I should point out, before I wrap this up, that Slim and I normally were the best of friends. It's no fault of his I am at times an ass.

Monday, April 25, 2016

An Old Timer's Music Collection

In 1958, I bought some Jerry Lee Lewis 45 singles, Whole Lot of Shakin' and Crazy Arms, and two Harry Belafonte albums, Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean and Belafonte. This was the start of a collection that at one time numbered in the thousands of albums and dozens of eps and singles. I never did know the exact number. When I loved an artist, such as Buddy Holly or Chuck Willis, I watched for new songs from them and tried to buy as many as I could. Living on the road, as I did, much of the time, I lost some along the way. In the 1970s, my first wife loaned half of them to somebody she barely knew and he vanished with them.

One day, in 1965, I saw The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, in a record store. The credits showed him to have written most of his stuff, including Blowing in the Wind and Don't Think Twice. I figured, "Anybody that can write those songs has to be good," and bought it, unheard. After catching his show in Long Beach, CA, I vowed to follow him as an artist the rest of my life. The same thing happened to make me a fan of Judy Collins, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Leonard Cohen, except I never got to see them.

I bought all of Harry Belafonte, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buffy Sainte-Marie's albums through their most fertile times. And, still have most of them.

Some that I loved then have me wondering, now, What was I thinking? Frank Zappa's records hold no interest whatsoever, but I was collecting and listening to him for a long time.

Country music? Lots of it. Hank Williams was my first ever favorite artist, when I was ten. Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakum doing Streets of Bakersfield. George Jones. Don Gibson is my favorite country singer.

Ray Charles. Georgia and I Can't Stop Loving You, in particular.

Nat King Cole.

I miss being able to listen to vinyl records. The sound is so much more rewarding. I bought a couple of rubber band driven turntables, but they are garbage. One day I hope to get a nice direct drive model, something that really works.

I no longer go through old records at resale shops, but there are still some nice ones to be had. One of my last and best such acquisitions was a wonderful collection of all of Fats Domino's hits.

I am editing to say, I culled many albums over the past ten years, due to space limitations and the thought I will never listen to certain ones again, anyway.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Getting Scoped by Mudbugs

Along the easement in front of my home, I see constant signs of Crayfish activity. No place but there. Possibly, the fact my yard gradually slopes higher, all the way to the back fence that borders a cul de sac, in a separate neighborhood, makes it inhospitably dry for them. I run the lawnmower over the hills they build, each time scattering dust over a wide patch, and they build new ones any time they want.

Earlier today, I did some work on my water pipes. This necessitated dipping out water from the past several days' rains, from the meter box, and scooping out lots of mud so I could get to the cutoff valve. As I worked, two crayfish kept running out to see what all the hubbub was about. Each time my hand approached too closely, they ran and hid. Cute little bastards.

When I worked at the apartments, monsoon rains sometimes drove crayfish out of the ground and I would find them on the concrete drive, because they fell there and then could not scale the curb to return home. I never failed to rescue them. They are surprisingly alert and quick, considering they spend their lives in holes, underground. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Saving Space on the Computer

I am having a little break from my novel writing. Am turning out a short story, before getting back to the salt mine. I decided to conserve my computer storage by composing it on my blog, in the unpublished drafts. That way it gets stored on line. This works fine for a short story, but I would not recommend trying it with a novel.

Chicken Little Comes Home to Roost

As we progress into 2016, I want to say thanks for the educational emails that I received in 2015. I am totally messed up now and have little chance of recovery.
I can no longer open a bathroom door without using
A paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in
My ice water without worrying about the bacteria on
The lemon peel.
I can't sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can
Only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.
I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been
Driving because the number one pastime while driving alone
Is picking one's nose.
Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I
Can only imagine how many gallons of Trans fats I have
Consumed over the years.
I can't touch any woman's handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public toilet.
I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo
In the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet
Sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.
ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for
The same reason.
I can't have a drink in a bar because I fear I'll wake up
In a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys gone.
I can't eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible
Mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.
I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
Thanks to you I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
Because of your concern, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
I no longer buy fuel without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.
I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes
Seven different types of cancer.
And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water
In the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face,
Disfiguring me for life.
I no longer go to the cinemabecause I could be pricked with a
Needle infected with AIDS when I sit down. Don't forget about the bed bugs!
I no longer go to shopping centersbecause someone will drug
Me with a perfume sample and rob me.
And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask
Me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with
Calls to Jamaica , Uganda, etc.
And thanks to your great advice I can't ever pick up a
Dime coin dropped in the car park because it was probably
Placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over.
I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten
By the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in
The next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land
On your head at 5:00 p.m. Tomorrow afternoon, and the
Fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you
To grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it
Actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's
Ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's
Oh, and by the way...
A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study,
Has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity
Read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse.
Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.
P. S. I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because
I was told by e-mail that water splashes over 6 ft. Out
Of the toilet..

(I have no record of where this list came from)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

If at first you can't secede, but still don't get it, you might be from Texas

Especially if you don't know not to spell succeed for secede.

Bubbling along, just beneath the surface of actual noteworthy Texas events is the crusade to make Texas once again a sovereign nation. Despite the Lincoln four year war that ended in a resounding, "No way," there are large numbers who cling to the notion that it could be doable. Multiply the occupation of an Oregon park's consequences by many thousands and that's your rebellion in a nutshell.

Besides, most of us would just ignore the new government and continue to pay taxes and fly the US flag anyway.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Tribute to Mort Mills - Indulge me; I'm Old

When I was much younger, I lived to see my westerns, whether series or theatrical. The Saturday matinee played my favorites, Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry. On the radio, William Conrad as Matt Dillon and Brace Beemer as the Lone Ranger. We eventually had TV. Then there opened up a floodgate of westerns. Disney's Davy Crockett seemed to lead the way. Of the westerns shown on TV, from the late Fifties and deep into the Sixties, my favorites were Have Gun Will Travel, with Richard Boone and the original half hour episodes of Gunsmoke, with James Arness. There was a whole galaxy of character actors that we learned to recognize and look forward to. Some began in the movies but gravitated to TV. Lee Van Cleef did that, then returned to the movies. Others seemed to freely work between movies and TV, including Strother Martin. Some of these character actors became huge stars. James Garner, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson -

Over the past few years, the old westerns are being rerun, to my everlasting gratitude.

Seeing so many episodes, day after day, I began to notice one unsung character actor. He seemed a stranger to me, but I discovered he acted in dozens of my favorite shows, without ever being noticed by me. Mort Mills seemed to always be an outlaw or a sheriff and he was as good as the other character actors.

This from Wikipedia

 Mort Mills (born Mortimer Morris Kaplan; January 11, 1919 – June 6, 1993) was an American film and television actor who had roles in over 200 movies and television episodes. He was often the town lawman or the local bad guy in many popular westerns of the 1950s and 1960s. From 1957-1959 he had a recurring co-starring role as Marshal Frank Tallman in Man Without a Gun. Other recurring roles were as Sergeant Ben Landro in the Perry Mason series and Sheriff Fred Madden in The Big Valley. In 1958, he guest starred as a particularly greedy bounty hunter who clashes with Steve McQueen's character of Josh Randall in the CBS western series, Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Though Mills did much television work, he also found regular work in motion pictures. He played the suspicious highway patrolman who follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho (1960). A few years later, he worked again with Hitchcock, playing a spy in East Germany under the cover of being a farmer in Torn Curtain (1966).[1][2] Mills also appeared with Charlton Heston in Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (1958).[3]
In 1955, he appeared as Samuel Mason on ABC's Disneyland miniseries Davy Crockett, starring Fess Parker. From 1957-1959, Mills co-starred with Rex Reason in the syndicated western series Man Without a Gun.[4] He portrayed Marshal Frank Tillman. Reason played his friend, Adam MacLean, editor of the Yellowstone Sentinel newspaper. In the 1965 Three Stooges film,The Outlaws Is Coming, Mills played Trigger Mortis.[5]
Mills was a regular as police Lieutenant Bob Malone in Howard Duff's NBC-Four Star Television series, Dante (1960–1961), set at a San FranciscoCalifornianightclub called "Dante's Inferno". He appeared in eight episodes of Perry Mason, seven of them as Police Sgt. Ben Landro between 1961 and 1965.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sitting High, Watching the Neighbors Flood

My home of eighteen years sits on a long, long, slope that makes it practically impossible to flood. So we endured a night of terrible rain, punctuated in the beginning by hail and a tornado watch, later the revealing of a tiny roof leak, while so many people's homes and neighborhoods filled up with water. An eight inch tide swept across the yard, but my home sits nearly three feet above the ground.

We watched mostly Channel 11's all day coverage, felt bad about the drowned horse, rued the five person deaths. I stayed mostly indoors, because the water on the ground was higher than my shoe tops. I wish I could be wise and say just the right words to make sense out of all this. But we live on a planet that in the end could sweep us all away at a whim, any time conditions arise. No amount of wisdom can top that.

I found a drowned toad by my shed. Hoping it might revive if I placed it where the water could drain out, I left it for an hour or so, before putting its body where the dog could not get at it. That poor animal somehow symbolizes the flood for me.   

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rebellion versus Holding the Status Quo - Election 2016

Today I am venting about voting and the people we interact with during an election season - all from a personal perspective. Remember, I am not telling you who to vote for. Although you likely will be able to ferret out my druthers from the words I put down here.

I don't recall this much animosity in an election my entire life. And, I have seen some doozies. I have never had a friend or relative turn against me for my political convictions before this season. And I have voiced the same convictions since about 1965, never keeping it a secret. I thought, this year, of all years, it ought to be more than obvious the choices we need to make. Apparently not.

First to dial me out over politics were inlaws. The politically committed ones shun me like the plague. Which I can live with. I don't want to spend my days hearing them pine for Ted Cruz. So it's a win/win with the inlaws.

Next, two sisters. One is for Trump 125%. The other does not seem to know who to support, but she prays to god we get a Christian in there this time. Since she hates Clinton and Sanders is a Jew, and she told me she does not want Cruz and does not want Trump - Well, she is truly confused. Both also avoid me like the plague.

My online acquaintances who are Republican, through and through, vote down my posts like Pavlov's pooches. The Clinton supporters are a vicious breed this year. I suppose they feel guilty for choosing Obama over her. They attack me with more ferocity than the Republicans, even.

To me, the issues, in an abbreviated condensed nutshell, are warmongering, corporate greed, minimum wage, infrastructure, restructure incarceration and policing, education, stopping TPP type trade agreements, voting rights, universal health, protect Social Security and other stuff I may be overlooking. The Republican base is mad as hell, because they sense many of these same things, but blame the wrong causes and vote for the very people responsible. The Democratic stalwarts want the status quo. I want Bernie Sanders.

I truly don't believe compromise is in the offing. The only way to carry the day, politically, is to beat them at the polls. So far, it is not encouraging.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Thank You Letter on Retirement

 When I retired from working, I wrote the following letter to the staff and owners (edited here, just a little):

These apartments, while technically not mine, were viewed by me with a sense 

of proprietorship the entire 22 years of service there. Tony, George, 

and the rest of them, I considered as only passing through. I was home. The 

work I did I performed with the same attitude I have when I do it for myself.

I loved the residents and staff and only wanted to be of help. As I

approached retirement, I could not leave, in good conscience, until there 

was an office and maintenance staff good enough to maintain the high 

standard that you expect. And it magically came together, in the persons of

xxxx, xxxxxxx, and xxxxx and xxxxx. I hold xxxx in the highest esteem

and xxxxxxx is the best maintenance man I ever worked with. Overall, for 

this great experience, I can take only a little of the credit. Without the final 

critical ingredient of the scenario, the owners, none 

of it could have happened. You both gave me support when I needed it,

even in the roughest times. For that I am forever grateful and I thank you.

                                                                              - Arlo   

Saturday, April 16, 2016

When it shows Dark instead of Funny

When first I began the rewrite of my rough draft, I felt there was something wrong with Chapter One. But it seemed the wrong time to recast it, so decided to wait. Which is good, because I had no clue which way it ought to move. So, I have been steadily slogging through the rest of the book. Today, because of a PC restart, I opened the ms. at Chapter One, and read it over.

Time gave perspective, and now I see the problem. Fixing it may not be so easy, but it can marinate, until I get finished with the other forty five chapters.

The book has a dark beginning, and, in this introduction to the central character, he does something that likely prejudices the reader against him, right away. I don't think they will want to follow him through an entire novel, after this dark action, in this particular setting.

I did not intend the darkness. My thoughts were along the comic, but words betrayed me. No wonder people just give me looks when I try to be funny. Anyway, I will have to rewrite about half of it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Forum Websites

I occasionally go browsing, in hope of discovering good forum websites, but rarely find one I can fit in. A week or so ago, I registered on one that I found on Google, because it had lots of categories and people post there, daily. There were rules posted, such as, Be Considerate of the ones you address. I thought to try the writers at first. No real writers responded, but I got a number of friendly responses. And I did one post about racism elsewhere. Next step, I decided to post my better poems and lyrics in the poetry section, with the admonition I was well aware that some would be poor in quality, while I felt proud of others. After the third poem/lyric got posted, I saw there were readers, but no replies. I put out the notice that so long as I had readers, I would continue to post there. Next day it was flooded with snarky crap replies. So, another forum site to cross off my list. I would truly like to find a few good ones. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Poison Ivy, Thorny Vines, among the Tall Pines

. When I was a boy in California, I was plagued by poison oak. My brothers and I would often go hiking and I invariably developed a rash as a result. I had but to approach within several feet to catch it, it seemed. More than once I had to stay home from school, because of great scabby patches on my arms. Here in Texas, I escaped its ravages for most of my life here. But, where I live now, my back yard is laced with poison ivy and it is a big yard. Along with that those thorny vines. For a number of years, I just kept a trail open to my storage shed and let the back grow at will. Any Texan can imagine the forest that grew among the tall pines back there. Thorn vines growing everywhere and climbing the trees. Poison ivy growths everywhere and sharing the trees with the thorn vines.

Not so long back, I decided to clean it all out. Being retired, I had lots of time to do so, leisurely. Since I am one of those nuts who does not like breathing smoke from the neighbors' fires, or my own, I made two piles of brush and left them to nature, for the time being. I cut out the yaupons to ground level and they kept growing back. But I finally could mow most of it and finally the yard became fairly habitable. I had to treat my skin constantly for poison ivy outbreaks and the thorn vines kept popping out as fast as I mowed over them.

Last summer I began digging up the thorn vines' roots. There were two kinds. A common root that ran for great distances beneath the soil for one, and they grew in clumps, similar to potatoes for the second. After months of diligence, all but some stragglers have been uprooted.

The poison ivy becomes mostly inactive, during the winter season. This past winter, I began digging it out by the roots, one plant at a time. As the weather changed into spring and the poison ivy became active, I found myself scouring the yard, daily, uprooting dozens of plants. Sometimes they grow off of roots that are many yards long; sometimes they appear to be a single unit. Every time I think I may have it all out, I discover whole new patches to work on. I am determined that this will be the year in which my yard has been tamed. Being in Texas, it will always be susceptible to reverting to forest. But, not on my watch.

A related thing I wanted to write about is, I have learned how to beat poison ivy rashes. It is so simple, I don't know why I didn't hear of it sooner. My next door neighbor got shots for it last time. Now, each time I start feeling a slight poison ivy itch, I wash all suspect areas with Dawn dish soap. After I have rinsed away the soap, I get a clean wet wash cloth and scrub all suspect areas. Without the rag and the scrubbing, it does not work. I change clothes if I think they have been affected and I don't let the clothes or wash cloth touch anything, except the bottom of the clothes washer. Since I learned this, I have not had a single outbreak.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Storage Woes

When I finished working on my manuscript for the day, I found Works unable to save either the original or the revised version. "Your computer may be full," the message box said. I decided to experiment with saving the original, since it is already printed on bond paper and also stored on a disc. The new one was only partially protected like this. My first effort was to minimize the original. But, when I clicked on the button, the original vanished, all but the title. Lost, but not a disaster. This may have freed up some space, because I was then allowed to save the revised version in my documents. Now I save every change more than once in a session, on disc, just to make sure this never happens again.    

Monday, April 11, 2016

Grisham the Writer

Grisham is the sort of writer I find inspiring, as in A Time to Kill, but unworthy of my time, as in Runaway Jury. I found the former as wonderful, in my lexicon, as To Kill a Mockingbird, but gave up in exasperation, less than halfway through the latter.

It is not my mission to kill your interest in reading any of his books. Reading is personal and ought not be guided by critics. Perhaps I will one day watch the movie of Runaway Jury, just to see if it changes my perception of his story.

I am assuming that most readers of books are familiar with Grisham. Here is a list of his books, just in case you missed out on any.

  • 1989 - A Time to Kill - Grisham's first novel, a legal thriller, dealt with race issues in the South.
  • 1991 - The Firm - The Firm increased in popularity when it was turned into a movie starring Tom Cruise.
  • 1992 - The Pelican Brief - With The Pelican Brief through The Brethren, Grisham continued to produce legal thrillers at the rate of about one per year, tapping into his experience as a lawyer in Mississippi to create characters who faced moral dilemmas and dangerous situations.
  • 1993 - The Client
  • 1994 - The Chamber
  • 1995 - The Rainmaker
  • 1996 - The Runaway Jury
  • 1997 - The Partner
  • 1998 - The Street Lawyer
  • 1999 - The Testament
  • 2000 - The Brethren
  • 2001 - A Painted House - Grisham took a break from legal stories with A Painted House, a small town mystery.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Food Food Food

There is a song from the film, Popeye, that is titled Food Food Food. 

Everything is food, food, food
Everything is food to go
Everything is food for thought
Everything you knead is dough

It is food
Everything is food

Everything is meat, meat, meat
Careful what you put on your feet
Once it lived on an animal
Now it walks along with you
It could be food
Food, food, food

It is food
Everything is food

Everything is upside down now
Everything is sunny side up
It's ubiquitous
Enigmatic and
They can't trick us
With no hot dogmatic

It is food, food, food
And it's full of flavor
Food, food, food
It's so good to savor

Everything is food, food, food
Everything is upside down
Everything is sunny side up
It's ubiquitous
Enigmatic and
They can't trick us
With no hot dogmatic

It's food, food, food
Make no mistake about it
Food, food, food

Never ever doubt it
Food, food, food
Everything is food

 The lyrics may be crudely written, but it gives me food for thought (heh heh). Virtually everything on Earth can be a source of food, from bacon and okra, to minerals, sun and water. The energy of life. All lives are part of the process, and it is both exhilarating and terrifying to contemplate, how today's living can be compost for the future living. The Earth is like an idiot's garden, but even an idiot can sometimes come up with masterpieces.   

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Update on PayPal problem

I sometimes buy products from a company in Ecuador. My bank charges a ten dollar fee if I pay by Visa. So, I have been ordering via PayPal. For several years, this has worked fine and will work as well in the future. But, last month, I changed my habit in the paying process, by, instead of logging into PayPal first, clicking on their logo in the body of the email. It logged me in and took my money out of my bank, but, the intended recipient told me it had not gone to them. From the sixteenth of last month, until the sixth of this month, I tried different methods of getting the money properly paid, to no avail. Turned out, the icon in the email was a link to an old and inactive account of the same company. So, now, they have been paid and my stuff should soon get here. H'ray?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Bacteria "Talks" to other Bacteria

How do bacteria communicate?

Let's say you're coming home after a long day of work. The house is quiet, but the lights are on, so you call out, "Anybody home?" Your kids respond with joyous shouts, and your spouse greets you from the kitchen. In this way, you have accounted for your family members. You've also gotten a sense of their needs -- if your spouse had been trapped beneath fallen furniture, he or she would have cried out for help. And if your kids had observed your arrival by asking if you'd brought home pizza, then you would know they were hungry.
You've probably heard animal noises that indicated some form of communication, but it wasn't until fairly recently that we learned that even some of the smallest organisms on Earth, bacteria, can communicate with each other. In the 1960s, researchers observed that bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri exhibited greater amounts of luminescence as the bacterial population grew. Emanating a glow takes a lot of metabolism, and the scientists determined that the bacteria were able to preserve their energy until they realized that there were enough of them to make a really good glow. Researchers called this phenomenon quorum-sensing -- the bacteria communicate to determine the size of their community.

But how? It turns out that the bacteria emit autoinducers, or signaling molecules similar to pheromones. The concentration of autoinducers in any given area indicates the size of the population. But bacteria don't just communicate with their own kind -- in recent years, scientists have determined that bacteria have a receptor for species-specific autoinducers, as well as a receptor for the signals sent out by all other kinds of bacteria. Not only does this indicate that many species of bacteria beyond the bioluminescent ones have the capability to communicate, it means that all bacteria in close proximity are probably chatting it up. Much like we account for our loved ones at the end of the day, the bacteria are taking roll as well.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hit the Road, Jack

Have you ever gone over a hundred miles hitch hiking or copping a ride on a freight train? Did you have anyone waiting for you at the end of the line?

It used to be my principle transportation - both rail and hitching. It began to get a little hairy near the end. I finally lost my nerve after about six years of it. I began riding buses and selecting places to live having good public transportation (Brooklyn and San Francisco, for instance).

One time I was picked up on the highway between L.A. and San Diego by a Mexican in a very fine, very large auto. I climbed in the back, as he already had a passenger in front. The other rider was also Mexican. He and the driver were arguing and actually shouting at one another, all in Spanish. Abruptly, the car halted and the front seat passenger got out. I ended up on the front seat. The driver was friendly and I thought probably a nice guy. He said, "You are wondering how a Mexican can have a fine car like this." The thought had not occurred to me at all. He went on: "I play guitar with Trini Lopez. He pays me lots of money." Well, the ride went on like this until we got as far as the San Diego city line. Then I found out why he and the other fellow had been arguing. They had set out for L.A. but went in the wrong direction. I got out right there and the angry cursing musician turned around and sped off toward L.A.

Another time, as I approached Las Cruces, a carload of high school girls picked me up. They told me that some guys from Las Cruces were making a habit of picking up hickers and beating them half to death. They were getting me out of harm's way. I wish I knew where these angels live today so that I could thank them all over again.

 My last two trips were very dangerous. One of them, I got a presentament about midway between L.A. and San Diego. I desired to turn back, but felt I had already committed, and so went ahead. I caught a ride with a fellow who averaged 110 mph coming out of San Diego. When we got to the high point over the mountain range the wind caught us broadside. The car began hopping sideways. Fortunately we were hopping away from the edge of the cliff. Unfortunately we were about to get smeared like a bug against the side of the mountain. The fellow cooly accelerated from 110 to 120 and we pulled out of it. After I had already given myself up for dead. About parallell with San Luis, Mexico, the engine locked up and we split up to hike on alone. The next driver ran a stop sign and collided with a pick up truck. As I began walking to the edge of town to resume the journey a German shepherd dog came at me. I held my traveling bag between us; it ripped a hole in it with its teeth. What to do? Maybe the dog will back off if I show I am not afraid. I looked into the dog's eyes very sternly and told him to get out of here. This of course stirred the dog to a greater frenzy. Finally the owner came around the corner and called the dog off. I heard two observers comment on my escapade. "I wouldn't give him a ride," one asserted. The final trip I was threatened at knife point by one driver and so took to the rail again. I froze my feet so badly in the California mountains I could not walk for a week.

For the most part, however, I had a grand time; I don't regret a minute of it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PDiddie's Brains and Eggs Blog

His facetious name notwithstanding, the man hosts a mostly serious blog from somewhere in Houston, Texas. It is politically oriented, but you can find mention of sports and a few other things, now and again. He concentrates largely on local happenings, but he also promotes awareness of the Republican clusterfuck that runs Texas and operates with varying degrees of influence throughout the nation, while leveling vocal barrages at the Democrats with equal honesty and ferocity. I hazard a guess that he is neither, but is an Independent. I never fail to learn something new when I open the pages of Brains and Eggs.

I have met PDiddie, once, but it was for lunch, and nothing substantial was discussed. I assessed him that day as genuine and I like to call him 'friend.'

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

You Know It's One of Those Days, Doncha?

For instance, this morning I picked up the dog's bowl and put it by the sink so it could be washed. I then proceeded to fill said bowl with Cheerios and milk for my own breakfast. Fortunately, I recognized by the feel of the bowl that I made a mistake and dumped it without eating after the dog.

Then there was the time I put a carton of milk in the cupboard overnight.

When I was a remodel contractor, I developed a habit of carrying keys and trash in the same hand. I don't need to say where the keys invariably wound up. I spent many an hour digging in dumpsters and retracing my footsteps. I'm smarter now. I carry the keys in a separate hand.

Don't say it's my age, because my mother called me The Absent Minded Professor before I became a teen. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Unfriended Becoming Old Hat

I saw a woman who had not been in the same neck of the woods as I for a number of years. During much of this lost time, we used to like each other's posts and even comment, now and again. Then, she vanished from my Facebook notifications. I did not think a great deal of that, as I knew she had a lot of tribulations to deal with at the time. But. She had once complained in a post that she was thinking of leaving Facebook, because someone belittled her for an expressed political opinion. I posted, telling her I hoped she would not leave. "You have the right to say what you like, even if I or somebody else does not agree." Shortly after that, she posted or liked some Teaparty quality comments and I expressed my counter opinion. It was after several like exchanges that she disappeared from my notifications. As she informed me, when I met her, the other day, it was for a posted political opinion she unfriended me. "I did not want to read such garbage." "It's okay," I replied. "You are not the only person at this gathering to have unfriended me. I am used to it."

In truth, I had no notion she had unfriended me, before this. Anyway, getting unfriended is not such a big deal. It can happen for reasons much more trivial than the one I just wrote about. I have lost contact, for reasons great and small, with some persons I still care about, but, mostly it comes from people whose negative ratio far outweighs the positive. Internet conversations turn into arguments with turns to the fierce and unforgivable more often than face to face conversations, due to the lack of body language and the tendency to back off from physical confrontations, which is totally lacking on a computer.

There is a forum site I spend lots of time on, apart from Facebook, where my longtime acquaintances, including some I consider dear friends, have in large part quit posting on my threads, because of politics, even when the threads are not politics related. I have put some of these friendships on hold, until after November. After that, we shall see how it goes, from day to day.