Flash Fiction #134

Pop Can Tabs

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Sheldon

TANSTAAFLUrban Myth

Save all your pop-can tabs. Someone will donate a power wheelchair.

Mr. Cynicism said, “Who? Why?”

Like a child’s paper-clip necklace, I pulled it apart, one link at a time. Daughter said, “Mom told me.  Didn’t she mention it to you?”  The wife named a sister. That sister blamed an older sister. She said the yenta was a bowling team member.

Bowler identified a man in her trailer park.  “He’s got his; we’re trying for another.”  Wheelchair man nailed them, upside down, to slabs of plywood, and sold them to supplement his meager disability allowance.  “They’re great muddy shoe scrapers.”

***

TANSTAAFL is a term credited to the author, Robert A. Heinlein. It cynically/realistically means, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

The trailer park man’s wheelchair was not donated.  It had been supplied by the government. He was not aware of any group giving away free wheelchairs.  Pop-can tabs are pure aluminum.  There was a group who collected entire aluminum cans, crushed them and turned them in for rebate at the scrap dealer.  The money was added to a fund which aided handicapped people.

BELIEF is when Hope is substituted for Facts.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Advertisements

Ish Kabibble

Queen

During one of my many trips to London, I became
friends with a very wealthy, yet very modest,
Jewish chap named Hyman Goldfarb. On one visit,
Hy told me that because of his large donations to
charities through the years, the queen wanted to
knight him, but he was going to turn it down.

“That’s a great honor,” I said. “Why would you
turn it down?”

“Because during the ceremony you have to say
something in Latin,” he said. “And I don’t wish
to bother studying Latin just for that.”

“So say something in Hebrew. The queen wouldn’t
know the difference.”

“Brilliant,” Hy complimented me, “but what should
I say?”

“Remember that question the son asks the father
on the first night of Passover? … ‘Why is this
night different from all other nights?’ Can you
say that in Hebrew?”

“Of course,” he said. “Ma nishtana ha leila
hazeh. Thank you, old sport, I shall become a
knight.”

At the ceremony Hy waited his turn while several
of the other honorees went before the queen.
Finally they called his name. He knelt before
Her Majesty, she placed her sword on one shoulder
and then on the other, and motioned for Hy to speak.

Out came “Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh.”

The queen turned to her husband and said, “Why is
this knight different from all other knights?”

***

Did you ever stop to think – and forget to start again?

***

Why do men fart more than women?
Because women don’t shut up long enough to build up pressure.

***

A customer walks into a pharmacy and asks an
assistant for an anal deodorant. The assistant
explains that they don’t stock them. The man
insists that he bought his last one from this
store. The assistant refers the man to the
pharmacist, who explains that store has never
stocked such an item. The man explains he bought
his last one from this store only weeks ago and
has done for several years. The pharmacist asks
man to bring in his last purchase and he will try
to match the product.

The following day, the man returns to the
pharmacy and shows the deodorant to the
pharmacist. The pharmacist asks why the customer
thinks this is an anal deodorant, when it is
obviously of the underarm stick variety.

The customer explains that instructions on
the back state, “Push up bottom to use.”

***

I often wonder: What do people mean when they say,
“The computer went down on me?”  😯

 

Ginter Gardens

Hello there. Do you have lung cancer? Does anyone you know have lung cancer? Then you probably hate Lewis Ginter without ever having met him or knowing who he was.

On the other hand, if you love flowers and plants and gardens and landscaping, you might possibly forgive him.

Ginter 6

Hi there! This is Archon, your unpaid  😦  travel advisor again.  I know it’s already a bit late in the summer, but I have another place I recommend to go. Perhaps keep it in mind for next year. My wife, the gardening guru, and I, enjoyed a lovely day there a few years ago. I’m talking about the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, in north Richmond, Virginia.

Ginter 2

Born in 1824, of Dutch ancestry, originally from New York, Lewis Ginter moved to Richmond when he was 18. He made a considerable fortune, first through retail merchandising, then manufacturing, real estate development, and investments during the Civil War

After the war he got into tobacco and cigarettes. At one time he had a plant with 1000 young women rolling cigarettes. Other manufacturers started using mechanical rolling machines. Ginter designed and had built, even more efficient machines, making him more money, and producing more smokers.

Ginter 7

He was a philanthropist, donating money, often anonymously, to many charities. He created quite a development, outside of the north end of Richmond, for the privileged rich. He had a stream dammed to create a lake for paddling, and had trees and flowers planted. When bicycling became popular in the Gay 90s, he built a cycling club.

Ginter 3

The area around his property, Lakeside Estate was constantly beautified with the addition of flowers, trees and landscaping. When he died in 1897, he left it to a niece to continue his work. She renamed it Bloemendaal, Dutch for ‘Blooming Valley’, in honor of their heritage. She established a progressive farm, and built an orphanage for homeless Richmond children.

Ginter 1

Later she expanded the garden aspect and named it the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. It has six different garden types and areas, including a water garden, and a Japanese garden. It’s a beautiful place, and the sights and smells are enthralling.

Ginter 4

His (later, her) mansion is still standing. There is a magnificent Ginkgo tree, and an olive tree almost as big as an oak. Its huge branches are held together with steel cables to prevent it splitting. We were allowed a partial tour of the inside. I had a small, silent chuckle when the tour guide described the niece’s old age. In the year 2000, the word ‘slaves’ could still not be used, and even ‘servants’ apparently caused some consternation. She finally spluttered out, ‘the people who helped her’, all of whom I imagine were Negro.

Ginter 5

It’s quick and easy to get to, right off I-85. The entry fee is reasonable. Food and drink are available, or, you are allowed to bring your own and have a picnic. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful place to spend a day if you can get there. Click the link above to the Gardens’ website for hours of operation and maps, or access Wikipedia for Ginter Gardens – and post pictures after you get back.

Ginter 8  Stony Man’s younger brother

#496

Gun Safety vs. Gun Control

 

Colt 1911

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Government;

Please roll me up in bubble-wrap, and put me in a big box full of non-toxic packing-foam peanuts, so that nothing – not even a bad word – can hurt me.

***

Recently, some Idiot (a woman, as it turns out – just to disprove female claims that all Idiots are male.), managed to get herself shot to death in an American Wal-Mart, when her 2-year-old son reached into her purse, beside him in the shopping cart.

She was described in local papers as “an atomic scientist.”  She was a chemical technician who worked at a power plant.  This is not Big Bang Theory!  She was an ‘atomic scientist’ in the same way a homeless panhandler is a “Charitable Donations Canvasser.”  Still….

In an outpouring of telling others how to run their country and their lives, a Toronto area man sent the following letter to the Toronto Sun, titled More Gun Control:

I just read about the tragic death of a 29-year-old mother in a U.S. Walmart.  She was shot by her two-year-old after the youngster pulled a gun out of his mom’s purse.

I can’t think of any reason why it would be necessary to bring a loaded gun to go shopping.  What a waste of life, not to mention the emotional scars this child is going to have to deal with the rest of his life.

The NRA and its lobbyists need to be muzzled and better gun controls in the U.S. are long overdue.  There’s been too many of these senseless events for far too long.

I agree that it was a sad and preventable occurrence, but this writer leads a far too protected life, and uses way too many hysterical mistakes and lies to justify it.  Even the term “loaded gun” is a loaded term.  Can he think of a reason to bring an ‘unloaded gun’ shopping?  The title is another flag to show his bias.  He doesn’t advocate ‘Greater Gun Safety’.  He demands ‘More Gun Control.’

Through lack of forethought and research, I recently spent a weekend in a dangerous part of Detroit.  This was near Eight Mile, where the white rapper Eminem got street cred by growing up in a tough Negro area.

My motel had an armed security guard patrolling after dark.  My place was quiet, but the downscale motel directly across the street was well known for gunshots and police and ambulance calls.  The pizza shop on Eight Mile had floor-to-ceiling, half-inch thick, bullet-resistant Plexiglas.

The ‘Trade Center’ (more like a cheap flea market) that we went to on Sunday, had signs on the doors which read, “All hoods must be removed on entering”, and “We will provide a security escort to your vehicle, but we will not carry merchandise.”

As an unarmed Canadian tourist, I was very careful where I went, and when.  I can understand and sympathise with local residents who feel the need to carry firearms to protect themselves from gangbangers and drug dealers.

If even the Trade Center management feels the need to provide protective escorts, there must be a good chance that there might actually be someone in the parking lot to protect from.  I might not need a handgun while I’m shopping, but if there’s someone out there who wants to rob/rape/kill me before I get to my car, then I might need the gun when I leave the store.

Just what further “gun control” does this conservative Canadian feel Americans need?  The woman in question underwent a background check, and endured the 10-day waiting period.  She paid for, and enrolled in, a concealed weapon carry permit training session.  She was psychologically stable, and the weapon was duly registered.

Sadly, stupidity still carries the death penalty, and she’s posthumously (there’s no other way) enrolled in the Darwin Award hall of shame.  While she might have been intelligent enough to work at a nuclear generating plant, neither training nor legislation can instill common sense.

To have a loaded gun is one thing.  To have a loaded gun with several children around, including a busy, curious two-year-old, is something else entirely.  The story does not say if the purse was open, but even if it was closed, she was not paying sufficient attention to the child and the gun, sitting side by side.  The gun was not merely loaded, but almost surely must have been cocked, and the safety off.  Little two-year-old hands can’t do these things.

Just what ‘senseless events’ is he referring to, the accidental shooting death of a mother by a young child?  I don’t ever remember hearing of another!  Perhaps he could worry less about the NRA’s somewhat overzealous desire to preserve the legal right to possess firearms, and vent his indignation on gangs and druggies and other criminals who make carrying them seem like a good idea.

And that’s a view on Gun Control vs. Gun Safety from a grumpy, old, unarmed Canadian, north of the border.

That’s Gratitude For You

Once upon a time, long, long ago, and far, far away, there was a great king, who ruled over a large kingdom.  He was a good king, who ruled fairly, and well, but there are always malcontents, and so there were in his kingdom.

There arose a plot to have him assassinated, and replaced by one of the Noblemen from the court.  This man wanted desperately to be King, and convinced three of the other Counts to abet him in his nefarious scheme, telling them he would make a better King.

He hatched a plan whereby the other three Counts would kill the King, while he was out of the country, so that no suspicion would fall on him, and the people would accept him as the new King.

The plan failed, however, and the three Counts were captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.  The King decided to give them one last chance though, and went to see them in prison.  “I know that you three are not the ones responsible for this plot.” he said, “So if you will tell me who the ringleader is, I will set you free if you swear never to try such a thing again.”

The nobles steadfastly refused to say a thing, so they were marched out to the headsman’s block.  One by one, they were placed on it, and each time they were asked for the ringleader’s name, they stonily remained silent.  Two of them met the blade without a word.  The third man was placed on the block.  Just as the axe descended, he shouted, “I’ll tell!  I’ll tell!” but it was too late, and the King never learned who was plotting against him.

The moral of this story is; Never hatchet your Counts before they chicken.

 

MY  MOM

St. Mary’s Home for the Aged

Kitchener, Ontario

February 30, 1967

 

Dear Gentlemen:

I want to thank you very much for the lovely gift of the table radio.  It’s just wonderful that absolute strangers such as yourselves remember people like us.

I am a lady, 86 years old, and have been here at the home for 25 years.  They treat us well, but the loneliness is sometimes difficult to bear.

My room-mate, Mrs. Finney, is a very nice person, but the lady is very stingy.  She has a table radio, but she won’t let me use it.  She even turns it off whenever I come into the room.  Now, thanks to you, I have my own radio.

My son and daughter-in-law are very nice, and they come to visit me once a month.  I do appreciate that, but I understand their sense of obligation.  This makes your gift all the more wonderful, since it was not given from a sense of pity, but from a feeling of compassion for a fellow human being.

Today, Mrs. Finney’s radio went out of order, and she asked me if she could share your wonderful gift, and listen to my radio.  I told her to go fuck herself.

Again, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Smith

 

 

THE RULES

 

  1.  The Female always makes The Rules.
  2. The Rules are subject to change without notice.
  3. No Male can possibly know all The Rules.
  4. If a Female suspects that a Male knows all The Rules, she must immediately change some or all of The Rules.
  5. The Female is never wrong.
  6. If the Female is wrong, it is because of a flagrant misunderstanding, which was a direct result of something the Male said or did.
  7. If Rule 6 applies, the Male must apologise immediately for causing the misunderstanding.
  8. The Female can change her mind at any given point in time.
  9. The Male must never change his mind without specific written consent from the Female.
  10. The Female has every right to be angry or upset at any time.
  11. The Male must remain calm at all times, unless the Female wants him to be angry or upset.
  12. The Female must, under no circumstances, let the Male know whether or not she wants him to be angry or upset.
  13. Any attempt to document these rules could result in bodily harm.
  14. If the Female has PMS, all rules are null and void

Smiles everyone!  Smiles!

Fruit Salad

Not to be confused with White Lady In The Hood’s poke salad, this is just an excuse for another little serving of a bit of this and a bit of that, with some humor dressing.

If KayJai goes back to Chatham, Ontario to visit friends and family, she’s going to find that she’s got some new neighbors.  A Fundamentalist Jewish sect from near Montreal, has been ordered to surrender 14 children, from two months to 16 years of age, to Child Welfare Services, on charges of neglect and abuse.  Instead of doing so, 200 of them moved 500 miles west, into a new province.

The newspaper article does not say how many families are involved, but 14 children were from only two families.  Even more so than our local Mennonites and Amish, they wish to do things the modest, old-fashioned way, a claim validated by photos, black clothing, hats, ankle-length skirts on girls, clunky shoes, adult females swathed in black blanket-like wraps, covering half their faces.

Most of the members speak only Yiddish and/or Hebrew. Despite this, and their declared dedication to a simple life, they have an English-language website.

The son has a young male temp at his shop who is white.  Not an albino, but the guys agree that he looks like he lives in his mom’s basement and eats chalk.  He is as white as the Elf, Legolas, from the Lord of the Rings movies.  If you built a child’s toy blocks replica of him, it would be a Lego Legolas.  If you broke the bottom off the figure, it would be a legless Lego Legolas.

The son insists that, if you read and inflect the following eight words correctly, they form a coherent sentence.  Anybody want to try? Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo; buffalo buffalo buffalo.  Translation provided upon request.

The local Traffic Department seems to have been working overtime to further F**k things up.  There are two spots, one a mile to my east, another, a mile to my west, where small subdivision streets come out to meet the main thoroughfares.  In both cases, they do so at a tee intersection, and at the top of a hill.

The Works Department has installed a (partial) set of lights at each.  The main road faces the lights, but there are none on the side streets.  With reduced sightlines, it is surprising enough to have someone make a right turn in front of oncoming vehicles, but panic can ensue when lines of traffic are rushing up the hill, with a green light and the right-of-way – never faster than the 40MPH limit of course – and have some asshat little jackrabbit driver perform a perfectly legal, but highly unsafe, left turn, in front of four lanes of traffic.

Many bus stops were located just before intersections.  Apparently there has been much complaint about drivers not being able to make right turns on green lights, so, with agreement from the Transit Department, many of the stops have been moved to the other side of the intersections.  Now, the buses go through the lights, and immediately stop – and traffic backs up behind them, right across the intersections, despite regulations about not entering unless you are sure you can clear.

Even after the lights turn red, and there is no following traffic, the sheep refuse to pull out and pass the bus, and just sit there and wait for it to proceed.  Thanx Traffic Department, I see how this new system is so much better.

A local city councillor has chosen a strange hobbyhorse to ride.  He was quoted in the paper recently, railing against the proliferation of used clothing donation bins around the city.  I agree with most of his rants.  They are everywhere, beside corner stores, in mall parking lots, sometimes two and three, side by side.

They’re often overflowing.  There are often boxes of wet books and magazines, broken toys, even old black and white TVs, beside them.  This guy wants to licence and restrict them.  (Doesn’t every politician?)  He wants to get the names and addresses of all these charities, so that they can be notified and held responsible for cleaning up the mess.

I’m with him through most of that – right until he gets to the word “charity.”  Just because the word “donation” appears on these bins, doesn’t make them the property of any charity, except for the odd Salvation Army one.

Almost all are owned and placed by commercial companies.  They take the used clothing that you throw in.  They sort it out, and anything worth reselling is shipped to a third-world country.  When your raw material is free, even sorting, shipping and sale at pennies on the dollar means you can turn a tidy profit.

The next time you see some kid on television after the tsunami in Malaysia, or typhoon in Bangladesh, wearing an AC/DC concert tee, just like you used to own, it doesn’t mean he’s got the same shitty taste in music you do.  That’s your old shirt!  The unsalable balance is ripped to pieces, and winds up at places like my son’s plant, in fifty-pound bales of rags, again, turning a further profit.

If you’ve been putting clothing in these boxes, thinking it goes to underprivileged kids, or homeless people, you may want to think again.  Then again, maybe not.  We occasionally donate used clothing and other household goods to either Muscular Dystrophy, or Juvenile Diabetes.  They call us and tell us when they’ll be in the neighborhood with a truck for pick-up.

Okay, the meds are kicking in.  You may want to take some now – or a three-martini lunch.  I hope you’ve all had a good Christmas, and we look forward to New Years.

10 Q

tagged

to Benzeknees for sharing these four blog awards with me, and 10Q to the rest of you who have stopped around to read my silly posts.  Hands up, those of you who figured out where I was going with the strange titles.

This is the last acceptance speech, for the final (for now) award.  Keep those hands up!  Stop all that clapping!  This is the “I’ve Been Tagged Award.”  Benze tagged me, fair and square.  I hope this is for a writing award.  I’m too weak/tired/out-of-shape to be wrestling.

What book are you reading right now?

The old man with no attention span is reading three books at the moment, Wretched Earth by James Axler(?), Fire Ice by Clive Cussler, and Sinai Secret by Gregg Loomis.  I read a chapter of one, and then go blog, a chapter of the second and feed the cats and dog, and a chapter of the third, and help with supper.  Repeat, ad infinitum!

What mini-vacation (0-100 miles from your home) have you particularly enjoyed within the last year?

I took the wife and grandson to Detroit for a weekend last October, and the son to Detroit again just a couple of weeks ago.  The excuse was knife shows, but there was lots of other stuff to do and see.  I just finished posting about the most recent trip.

What is your favorite form of entertainment?

Old Mister No-attention-span flits from one diversion to another.  Reading and writing blogs has cut down on my book-reading a bit, but I still seem to average a book a week.  We watch 2/3 hours of TV on weeknights, Bones, Castle, Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, NCIS-LA, Body of Proof, Criminal Minds, CSI, Elementary, Poirot, Lewis, Dr. Who, Midsomer Murders, which is about to end its season and be replaced by Miss Marple.

Of what accomplishments are you the most proud?

My various deficiencies have prevented doing much that I am “Proud” of.  Getting through over fifty years of working with (barely) enough to retire on.  Almost 50 years of marriage to one woman.  Raised two intelligent and well-mannered kids, and am helping with a similar grandson.  I regard my blog-writing as prosaic, but receive the occasional accolade from some readers who should know.  That pleases me!  The wife insists that I tell you that I taught her how to tat (make lace).  It involved an eight-foot, heavy, black plastic telephone cord, and I had no idea what I was doing.

Who has been most influential in your life in the past year?

No one person, although I’d like to mention my first two followers, BrainRants and H E Ellis.  They, along with many other bloggers have greatly improved my quality of mental life.

If you were raising money for a favorite charity, where would you direct our checks?

On a small scale, I’d recommend the Archon Family Improvement Foundation.  Both the semi-handicapped wife and daughter could use some assistance with mobility, medical procedures, housing, transportation, in-home support.  A few thousand directed toward that might allow me to pay off my still-mortgaged house.  On the big scale, money could be directed to medical research, including stem-cells.  Our love of animals would ensure payments to Humane Society and SPCA.

If you weren’t doing the work or career you are in, what would you like to be doing?

I’ve worked long and hard to become retired, and I want to continue in that, hopefully healthy, mobile and reasonably pain-free.

If you could have named yourself, what would your name be and why?

Unlike many others, I am happy with my complete name.  It’s a good, solid, unpretentious, 1940s’ name.  I was to be “George John Smith” but the first-name-last, last-name-first form confused my mother, and I accidentally became “John George Smith.”  Still works!  In effect I have renamed myself by adopting the blogging cognomen of Archon.

What would you most like to tell your children, or important young person in your life but haven’t?

Something I haven’t told someone??  Not likely to happen!  You can’t get me to shut up.  I’m just full of unsolicited advice and opinions.  My youngest child is 42.  My grandson is 21.  The only thing I tell young people these days is, “Get off my damned lawn!”

How do you change your mood when you are grumpy?

Change my grumpy mood??  Whatever for?  I’m a carrier, like Typhoid Mary.  I spread it around.  I revel in it.  Everybody gets to share.  When someone or something bugs the shit out of me, that’s when I do my best thinking.  Then, out comes the blog, and another pissed-off post gets published.

What particular skill could you teach us on your blog?

My resources and abilities are severely limited.  I could let you talk to my highly creative and productive wife and daughter if you’d like.  I could demonstrate logical thought, concern for others, respect, even good English usage/composition ability, but, if you don’t already know these things by the time you read my blog, it is unlikely that I can teach, those who will not learn.

I would like to throw out another big Thank-You, especially to Benze, for honoring me with all these awards and giving me the chance to open my heart and mind.  I would also like to thank all who came here to read, and comment, and like, and support me, by putting up with my silliness.  The grumpy old dude will return soon.