WOW #49

Dandle

I’ve got another old-fashion-y word, as this week’s Word Of the Week. It’s

DANDLE

verb (used with object), dan·dled, dan·dling.

to move (a baby, child, etc.) lightly up and down, as on one’s knee or in one’s arms.

to pet; pamper.

Isn’t that a lovely old word, as warm and nutritious as Scottish oatmeal; as enfolding and supportive as a flannelette blanket? It’s not officially extinct, but it went on the endangered species list in the 60s or 70s.

Nobody dandles babies anymore! There’s no time! Instead, fit, young, Spanx-clad, Bluetooth-sprouting mothers race past, with bewildered, wind-burned children in $4000 Kevlar and Carbon-Fiber walkers, on their way to enrol the kid in pre-pre-pre-kindergarten, or snaffle the last spot in some preppy Day-Care.

I believe that I may have found a preventive for, at least some of, the multiple-killing gun violence. Perhaps if Mom (Or grandma – she remembers how) dandled her child more, he would be more likely to grow up to return love for love, instead of being estranged from society.

Please note that the word is dandle, not diddle. 😯 The Catholic Church seems to finally be getting the word, and that pedophile, Epstein has taken himself out of the game.

Stop back in a couple of days for some more comedy, and the beginning of my (hopefully) final dash for the 200th Flash Fiction milestone.

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Involuntary Loner

Grumpy

I lost my brother recently. Thanx for the condolences, but he’s still alive. I just don’t know where the Hell he is.

I am content to be surrounded only by immediate family, and a tiny group of online friends. This is a cautionary tale about seniors growing older, isolated and alienated from society. (Visit your Grandma in the home!)

My grandson is getting married, and we tried to invite my brother to the wedding. His landline number had been disconnected, and his cell phone number had been assigned to someone else.

My daughter contacted his daughter through Facebook, and a sad, protracted tale of woe came to light. He had turned into a grumpy old man with no friends, although it wasn’t clear whether he was grumpy because he had no friends, or had no friends because he was so grumpy – perhaps a bit of both.

His wife left him and divorced him some years ago. He moved 25 miles, to a small village, to be near his older daughter. Within a year, she disappeared, moving out without telling anyone where she went.

The younger daughter admitted that she had been preoccupied with kids going into teenage-hood, and a small, retail business that she runs. His old buddy, “24 beers in a case/24 hours in a day” Norm, hadn’t stopped in to see him in over 5 years. We didn’t improve things, because, despite the wife’s nagging gentle reminders, I hadn’t phoned him in almost 3 years.

He had a lady friend-with-benefits for several years, but he was retired, with time to drive to Florida, and spend some time there in the winter. She had just started a home-cleaning business, with a growing list of clients, who she couldn’t leave hanging, so she also left him.

He had a guy that he’d gone to school and worked with, who would split on gas and motel rooms to attend curling bonspiels in Ottawa, and North Bay. But he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and brother finally called him a God-damn asshole, and dumped him.

There was a pair of male twins his age who used to give him some time, but neither one was interested in curling, and no longer wanted to car-pool and drive 500 miles to watch a NASCAR race. He never read, and he didn’t own a computer.

There was mention of “some trouble with a neighbor” (or neighbors), and apparently what passed for a village council, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, solve his problem. Suddenly, one day, he put his house on the market, sold it and just moved away.

His younger daughter says that she knows physically where he is, and has a telephone number. When she found out about his decision, she tried to contact him. He felt betrayed and abandoned. He said, “Screw all of you! If you weren’t there for me when I needed you, I’m not going to be there for you. The Government knows where I am. The rest of you can go to Hell. I don’t want to be bothered. Don’t give my contact information to anyone.”

My Mother used to say, about his sulking moods, “He just wants to go out in the garden and eat worms.” I am sorry that he feels betrayed and abandoned, and the situation that he’s in. He and I have led very different lives. For obvious reasons, we were never close, but I’ll still miss him.

’19 A To Z Challenge – Kludge

Calipers

Three Laws Of Practical Engineering
Force to fit
File to hide
Paint to cover

At the steel fabricating plant where I once worked, the difference between a welder, and a welder/fitter, was a ten-pound sledgehammer. Those storage tanks always fit.

Kludge

Noun – a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task.

Verb – the atypical act or action of achieving such a goal

Coined 1960/65 by American author Jackson W. Granholm.

Too often, ivory-tower engineers design things for the perfect, optimum conditions, and ignore reality. If you design something to be foolproof, someone will design a bigger fool. As James Bond said to Q, in one of the movies, “There’s a lot of wear and tear goes on out in the field.”

The concept of ‘Kludge’ indicates an open and adaptive mind, instead of one bounded by unchanging rules and regulations. Larry the Cable Guy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you have to admire his Git ’er done philosophy.

I got this challenge done, and I’ve got a couple more, ready to post soon. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Book Review #19

The Psychology Of Time Travel

The Book – The Psychology of Time Travel

The Author– Kate Mascarhenas (?)

The Review – Let’s start with the author’s name. It’s really Kate Flynn, but the name on the cover is Mascarhenas. That comes from the same base as ‘mask’, and ‘mascara.’ It’s a Portuguese-language nom de plume, which means “nom de plume.”

In the book, she includes the words ‘quango’ and ‘lanugo,’ neither common, even in Britain. They are valid English words, but seem as if they should be peeking out of a Romance language, like Spanish, or Italian. I’ll properly introduce you to them later.

This is a book – by a woman – for women – about women. It includes the description of an 8-year-old girl’s birthday party, where, “Her blonde ringlets hung down to the tops of her puffed sleeves, and her lacy skirt stood out straight to the side whenever she twirled around, which she did, a lot.”

The story is inhabited almost entirely by females. The only men who show up, are a male police detective and a journalist, who provide information and clues to the young woman investigating a locked-door murder.

The British authoress works in a commentary on racist attitudes in England. Our hardy, mixed-race investigator came to England as a child, from the Seychelles Islands, where she viewed herself as white. Having recently graduated University as an Engineer, she is working for the time-travel Conclave as a volunteer, but the female police constable who interviews her, regards her as colored, and assumes that she is the cleaning woman.

As usual, I was hoping for some temporal paradoxes to be solved, or some Back To The Future III suspense and manoeuvring, to prevent them. Didn’t happen! I was not surprised to not be given, even a vague hint, at how the time-travel process was accomplished, but it was invented by four women.

As a linguist, I was pleased to read that the process was powered by a newly-discovered, transuranic element called Atroposium, aptly-named after Atropos, the Greek Goddess who cut the thread of fate of mortals’ lives. Apparently the stuff was so safe and stable that it could be carried around in charcoal briquette-sized lumps, wrapped in lead foil.

While not described or explained, the time-travel process is so simple that it is used to produce a child’s toy, a Rubik’s-cube-sized box with a hole in the top. Children put candy in, and it disappears, only to return a minute later. What would happen if they stuck their finger in?

The “psychology” of the title is really just the mental stress felt by (female) time-travellers, caused by experiencing history in a non-linear way. Travelling to the past, they meet people that they know are dead. Travelling to the future, the see death certificates and gravestones for people they know are alive.

The detective/heroine goes back several times, to visit her father, who died when she was young. To her, the visits are weeks, or months, apart. I see, from his perspective, that she shows up twice the same afternoon, or on successive days. This grown woman is not his 8-year-old daughter. ‘Go away lady, you’re bothering me.’

I was expecting nothing when I ordered this book, and that’s what I got. No real time travel. No real psychology. It’s a good thing that I got it for free from the library. It had all the panache of a ‘Nurse Jane’ romance novel, full of ‘feelings.’ I feel disappointed and let down. I feel that I’ll need to read and review something with a little more OOMPH. Stay tuned; I’ll see you later.  🙂

WOW #47

Telephone

The Word Of this Week is a word that we all know – or should; it’s

Phishing

Phishing Trip

Ring……..ring……..ring……..
Son – Hello
……..(one second……..(two seconds)……..(three seconds)……..(four seconds) click
(Boiler room – 50 voices in background)
Strike one!
Paki – Hellooo….is this Mr. J. Smith?
Phone is in the wife’s name – Mrs. J. Smith
Strike two!
Son – Yes
Paki – This is the security Department of Visa (Sure it is 😛 )
There are three credit cards in the house, and they are all MasterCards
Strike Three!
Paki – There has been suspicious activity on your Visa card. A few minutes ago, there was a $600 transfer to Western Union. That is often a sign of online fraud. Did you make that transfer?
Son – What are the last four digits you have on that card?
……..Click Yerrr Out!

Sorry! The suckers aren’t biting today – and tell your cousin, the Prince of Nigeria, to stop sending us those get-rich-quick emails.

Remember, folks – TANSTAAFLThere Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – and there’s always someone ready to try to take away a lunch that you’ve already paid for.

Be alert!!
We need all the Lerts we can get. 😉

You’ve been selected to receive money – Sure you have

You’ve won a prize – in a contest you don’t remember entering

Buy a ticket for this foreign lottery – they just change your dollars to rials before they steal them

You’ll get a bonus or gift if you buy now – see TANSTAAFL

They aggressively claim that you owe money on your taxes – no civilized country’s tax department would approach you in this way, or demand payment in prepaid iTunes cards 🙄

The phone rings once, then hangs up – if you have call-display, do not call an unfamiliar number back. It will direct you to a pay-per-minute site

They say that you’ve been the victim of a fraud (see above) – they’re just after your banking information

They offer to fix your computer – they will download all your financial information

They’re selling an extended warranty on your car – talk to your dealer, face-to-face, rather than some unknown on the phone

They won’t answer your questions (see above) – don’t let them deflect or refuse. They have all the answers…. until you ask an inconvenient question

They’re collecting for a charity you’ve never heard of – then why would you donate?? Real charities don’t demand your credit card number over the phone.

They threaten to have you arrested – There are laws which prevent governments and organizations – even collection agencies – from doing this. Just hang up

They want personal information, like Social Security numbers – for identity theft and fraud. If they called you, never give it out.

They’re collecting a debt you don’t remember – you have the right to a mailed copy of any claim. Demand one!

They claim to have kidnapped someone you know – Some scammers now use social media to find the names and whereabouts of your friends and family members, and use that information to impersonate kidnappers and demand ransom money. It may sound terrifying, but it’s most often fake. Definitely don’t pay them anything. Instead, contact your friend or relative immediately, and report the call to the FTC/CRTC or the police.

They want you to invest in something – Unless it’s someone you know, they get no dough!

They just want to confirm your debit or credit card number – this is the fastest way to get defrauded

They want you to make an immediate decision – even if it’s something you want, pressure = fraud. Hang up and do your own research.

The call looks like it’s coming from your own phone – hackers claim that they’re from the phone company, and just want you to verify those magic numbers. Don’t do it!

They’re too friendly – It’s nice to talk to nice people….until they steal you blind. Beware of unknown callers who seem really, Really friendly.

It’s a jungle out there. Keep your eyes on your fries – and your wallet, and online data. 😳

The Day I Almost Went Over Niagara Falls

Niagara

Dear (un-named deity), how did I ever survive childhood, to become the Grumpy Old Dude that I am today??

Early in the 1960s, my Father took our family to Niagara Falls. We rented a little cabin in the village of Chippewa, 5 miles above the Falls. I don’t know what it’s like there now, but back then you could stroll along the Canadian-side bank of the river, like a continuous park. Having been told of a picturesque picnic area, one day we set off downstream to take advantage of it.

If I was 6 or 7 years old, my brother was 3 or 4, and my Mother was busy holding or carrying him. Dad was laden with a box, full of food and drink, and I wandered along behind them. About halfway to our destination, there was a gnarly tree, growing out of the bank at a 45 degree angle, out over the river.

Someone had tied a rope to a branch, and a group of 13/14 year old boys were using it to swing out, and splash into the river. One lad would climb/walk up into the tree, and flick the end of the rope up to his compatriots. One by one they’d launch themselves, swim back, and one of them would take the spot in the tree.

I had a tree at home. It had a rope in it. I liked trees. I liked ropes. I liked swinging. 😯 When all had plunged into the river, I asked the kid in the tree if I could swing from the rope. Sure! And he flicked the end up to me.

I launched myself off the 8-foot high bank, and enjoyed a magnificent swing. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 14. When I reached the extent of the outward swing, I realized that I couldn’t let go – a little late! Holding on for dear life I swung back in, but the arc of the inward swing is never as long as the outward one, and it was nowhere near long enough to put me back up on that bank.

Actually, the point nearest the bank would have been the best time to let go. I’d have smacked into the clay and rock, and would have been able to scramble up the bank, dry and safe, but my Grade 1 brain was busy trying to figure out the physics of this whole thing.

Back out I swung. These guys wanted their rope back, and were shouting, “Let go! Let go!” Once more I swung back inward, this time again the arc becoming much shorter. As I reached the inner apogee – right or wrong – I let go…. and splashed down three feet from dry land.

I was used to a well-mannered Lake Huron, where you could walk out 100 feet before it got chest deep. In this river, three feet out put me in chin-deep water. Still, I scrambled out, and rejoined my family. If either parent noticed that my shoes, shorts and tee-shirt were drenched, neither of them mentioned it. Only later did I realize that I could have climbed up the rope, and down the tree, safely. At the time, I was a bit too busy to think of that. What do you think?? A young fool became an old one??  😕

’19 A To Z Challenge – J

330px-Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano

My little home town was dying, as I was born.

The word that I want to discuss, is

Jubilee

the celebration of any of certain anniversaries, as the twenty-fifth (silver jubilee), fiftieth (golden jubilee), or sixtieth or seventy-fifth (diamond jubilee).

the completion of 50 years of existence, activity, or the like, or its celebration:

Lighthouse

IN THE BEGINNING,
among other things, my home-town was a Great Lake port. A dock was built, almost a mile out into Lake Huron, to an island, to provide calm moorage. Small, sail-powered lake freighters brought wheat from the prairies, iron ore and timber from Northern Ontario. Before the existence of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, these goods were shipped by train to the Toronto area, below Niagara Falls.

The availability of cheap lumber encouraged the establishment of three furniture factories, and later, a plywood plant. There was money to be made – money to be had, and local tax revenues allowed the town to pay for many civic projects. Even today, it is the smallest town in Ontario, with a hospital.

In 1897, Queen Victoria celebrated her 60th anniversary as ruler of the Empire – her Diamond Jubilee. The town had recently foreclosed and seized the property of a sulkie racetrack, half a block wide, and two blocks long, just above the downtown area. Some namby-pamby toph who had not done market research, found that he couldn’t get enough paying customers from dock-wallopers, train crews, and factory workers. They might have watched horses that actually ran, but not swishy ones that only trotted, and dragged a cute little cart behind them.

The town filled in the track and manicured a baseball diamond and outfield. They put up a safety screen behind home plate and built a set of wooden stands. The 8-foot whitewashed wooden fence and ticket gates from the racetrack remained. To honor Victoria, and her achievement, they named it

Jubilee Park.

Then, times and technology changed. Lake freighters became larger, built of steel, and motor-powered. They could steam all the way to the mouth of the Niagara River, and the now-common trucks could move freight faster and cheaper. It is well for the town that, as its freight industry died, the tourist industry burgeoned. There are more summer cottages, paying year-round taxes, than there are residents’ homes. Still, the bloom was off the rose.

By the time I was born in 1944, the plank seats of the bleachers had become wowed, dried and splitting. As a child, for years, I wondered about the purpose of a decrepit, cabin-like construction beneath one end of the bleachers. When I finally thought to ask, I was told that it was a long-extinct concession booth.

Later, smaller, steel-framed stands were built down the first- and third-base lines. Perhaps being too lazy to walk any distance, many men parked right behind these stands. Many a pop foul sailed over the bleachers, to dent fenders and break mirrors and windshields. The attraction of small-town softball is long gone. The town has built a children’s playground in what used to be the parking area. I have not been back in years, but it would not surprise me to find that USB ports have been added, to recharge kids’ electronic devices.

Time relentlessly marches on, but us old-timers can only shuffle along, muttering, Remember when?”