Flash Fiction #181

School

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Skool Daze

The two grade 11 lads were fascinated to see a tiny bit of pure sodium violently react with water in a lab sink, the heat generating hydrogen, and skittering it across the surface.

One day they were given the lab as a study room. The two monkeys students dropped a much larger piece into the water. Its weight sent it to the bottom, where it produced a large bubble of hydrogen, and the heat to set it off.

The resulting small explosion doused them and the lab, wiped out overhead fluorescent fixtures, and blew a pencil case through a window.

***

Rochelle’s reminiscences about teachers, reminded me of this fact-based bit of high school hi-jinks. Go to her Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

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’18 A To Z Challenge – Flood

Challenge '18

Letter F

Unless the Mayan calendar apocalypse comes to pass, my little home town, situated where a river meets a lake, will never have a flood.

Lake Huron’s levels are closely monitored and controlled by the St. Lawrence Seaway commission, the geography is stable, and it would take something larger than a falling Chinese Space Station, to cause a tsunami.  The land quickly rises, so that most of the town is 50 feet above water level.  My birthplace house is more like 70’.

The closest thing to a flood is the spring ice-breakup in the river.  It starts 3 miles upstream, below the little rapids.  The thin ice breaks, pushing downstream against the thicker and thicker layers, partly impeding the water flow, until finally it lets loose.  Suddenly, thousands of tons of ice blocks, 2 – 3 – 4-feet thick, and as big as buses, thunder down the canyon, scour the harbor docks, and spew into the lake.

I’m told that it is an awe-inspiring sight and sound, but silly little things like education and employment have never allowed me to be present.  In late fall, the docks are cleared.  Ladders for swimmers and boaters are unbolted.  Fishing boats are winched onto the concrete, and placed well up on the banks.  After the cascade, ice that’s in the way is bulldozed back into the water.  Blocks that aren’t, are still melting beside the little park, well into June.

***

When we made our pitifully few visits to the lower United States for vacations, we were usually fixed on getting to our destination as soon as possible, and took the Interstates.  Humming along steadily for hours, at 110Kmh/70MPH, the extra distances were made up for by not having to follow some farm tractor, or stop at every stop sign and red light in every goober little town.

The time we took our On Top Of The World trip, we decided that we had the time, not to go 100 miles from Buffalo to Erie, PA, to get on I-79.  Instead, we took State highways down and back, from Buffalo, through Pennsylvania.  The entertainment and education justified the decision.

We passed through Du Bois, PA, named after W.E.B. Du Bois, a 19th century Negro civil-rights pioneer.  Both names are pronounced ‘due–boys’, rather than the French ‘due-bwah.’

We found a small PA town that clings to a mountainside so steep, that the northbound lane of the highway/main street, is 8 feet above the southbound lane, with a guardrail to prevent cars from falling in.  The industry in another Pennsylvania town was a Weyerhaeuser paper mill.  We could smell that one 3 miles before we got there, and 3 miles after we left, and rolled the windows down to clear the stench.

Rolling into one town we were faced with 6 or 7 truck-docks, at the back of a large plant.  Each dock seemed to be a different color, red, green, orange blue, purple.  When we got closer we found that it was a Pittsburgh Glass plant, and what we’d seen was hundreds of pounds of broken bottles and other glass, all sorted by color, which had fallen below the docks as it was being brought back in for melting and reuse.

As we were coming back north, we reached a spot where a secondary road met the highway at a T-intersection to our left.  Suddenly, in the middle of Nowhere PA, miles from any town or city, I was faced with the first roundabout I’d ever seen.

Like the 1942 song That Old Black Magic says, “Down and down I go.  Round and round I go.”  Round and round the roundabout I went, missing the northbound, uphill highway.  Instead, I continued ‘round, and exited onto the westbound, downhill road.

Six miles this steep, two-lane blacktop weaved its way down and down, with not a sign of a turnoff, another side-road, or even a farmer’s lane, to turn into to turn around.

Finally, after losing hundreds of feet of altitude, we reached a sign that said, “Welcome To Johnstown PA”.  Johnstown??  Like in the Johnstown flood??  Sure enough, there was the Conemaugh River, before we started our long trek back uphill.

In 1851 a dam was built 14 miles upstream, to provide water for area industries, and for a barge-canal system.  Later, trains replaced barges, so the dam was sold to a railway company.  The Railway Company wasn’t in the ‘dam’ business, so they didn’t maintain it, even removing and selling piping that could lower water levels behind it.

In 1889, a ‘Century Storm’ dumped 12 inches of rain in the mountain valley in two days.  The dam finally failed, and the flood roared through several small towns and Johnstown.  It caused $17 million 1889 dollars worth of damage, almost $500 million today, and killed over 2200 people.

I quietly drove back up to the highway and home, to compose this happy tale for you.  Stop back again later, when we visit The Rockies and talk about avalanches.  😯

Childlike Grace

Bible

When I was a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Blogger Barry, in a recent post, said that he’d halted on his path to becoming an Atheist. He does not say that it was because he was taught that Atheists are evil, nasty or sinful, but that is the reason that many ex-Christians won’t admit that they have become Atheists.

Tired of the judgemental, accusatory, denominational bureaucracy and hypocrisy, he still wished to identify as ‘spiritual.’ It is quite possible to be spiritual, without being a member of any Christian sect.  His last stop before getting off the Christian bus, was at Mormon.

He still visited Atheist websites, and admitted that he had remained a Christian. He was amazed at the vehemence of some militant Atheists, who insisted that any and all religions were harmful.  He admitted that, being ‘inside the box,’ perhaps he did not understand the claim.  He asked, if he was not harming himself, or anyone else, how could his being a Christian be harmful?

When we tell small children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist, are we harming them, or society in general? Probably not, or only a minuscule amount.  However, when children get to be 7, 8, 9 years old, we tell them the truth, and show them reality.  To allow them to grow into adults who still believe in things like the Tooth Fairy, can cause harm in a variety of ways.

If an individual or sect is allowed to treat their particular and peculiar superstition as reality, then both the believers and society are harmed. It also inserts the thin edge of a wedge.  If one is, then all religious opinions must be accepted, no matter how strange or unreal.  The more people there are, who treat fantasy as fact when dealing with life and the general public – the fewer people who cannot and/or do not, deal with secular reality – the more harm is caused, both to the believers and to society.

Critical thinking is incredibly hard, but also incredibly important. We can’t learn and grow without it.  We have to question our own ideas and motivations, so that we don’t get stuck on there being only one correct, acceptable idea.

Next comes the slippery slope. Once strange unprovable beliefs are allowed, the holders quickly try to turn acceptance into licence.  If politically powerful enough, they try to pass laws enforcing membership in their sect, and making disagreement with their views into heresy and apostasy.  Kindly old George H. W. Thousand Points Of Light Bush once said that Atheists should not be allowed to be American citizens, or patriots.

My opinion of Blogger Barry’s intelligence and mental strength, based only on reading a few of his posts, is that he is not, and probably won’t ever be, directly harmful to society. Sadly, he’s one in 10,000 – or maybe a million.  There are countless hordes, who are only too willing to use their religion as a justification to inflict physical, mental, emotional, social, or financial pain and damage to countless other victims.

God is for the wise. Religions are for fools.  If only more people would grow out of the childish need for an imaginary friend to protect and guide them, and become adult enough to face the universe and life as it really is, and not just how they wish it were.   😦  😯

2017 A To Z Challenge – N

*Challenge2017

Our Canadian Postal Code is N2N 3B4.  When asked for it, to prevent mistakes due to misheard pronunciation, we tell people that it is, “Not too new, three before.”

For the letter

letter-n

I downloaded these prompts;
negotiate, no, new, news(papers), notes, not my problem, Niagara, night, name, nothing

In no particular order;                   

I have already composed and published a post about ‘It’s Not My Problem’ here, for anyone who wants to (re)read it.

I live about an hour and a half drive from Niagara Falls, Ontario.  It’s an unusual year that I don’t take the wife, the son, or both, for a day or a weekend there.  I published a 100-word Flash Fiction about it here,  including a great photo of the night-time colored lights on the American side, buried in the comments.

I’m so old that nothing is new anymore.  I’ve seen it all, done most of it, forgotten a bunch, and been caught at very little.

I’ve written about my lack of memory, a problem that I partially solve with copious notes.  See – prompts, above.

I’m sure like many others, my wife is addicted to the word no, and doesn’t even realize it.  (and I’m not gonna mention it)  The first word of response to any question or request, is likely to be, “No.”  Maybe it comes from raising children or grandkids. “Do you want me to put the rest of this stew in a Tupperware container, and put it in the fridge?  We could have it for lunch one day next week.” “No.  I want to save it for a lunch next week.  Put it in a Tupperware container and put it in the fridge.”

For no reason, other than that I never have, I continue not to reveal my first name on my blog-site.  I kinda discussed this back on M’s misidentification post.  Call me Ishmael Archon.

Several years ago, the Waterloo Region Record newspaper switched to being a ‘morning’ paper, guaranteed to be to your house by 5:30 AM.  When it was an afternoon paper, it was delivered by reliable school-kids after class.  Now, it is delivered to me by a Jamaican Negro in an old truck.  Since the son works midnights, he has the car, and the driveway is empty.

Rasta-Man rolls down the hill in neutral, rolls up our slanted driveway and puts the brakes on, flings the paper out the driver’s window left-handed, and rolls back out of the driveway. He’s only touched the house with the paper twice in that time.  Once, it landed on my porch roof, and the other time he pitched the heavy Saturday edition through the porch railing, snapping one of the support spindles.  I have found it in two different gardens, stuck up in our magnolia bush and so far under it that, like the porch roof delivery, I had to use a broom to get it.  Often it lands at the garage corner – right where the eave drips after a rain, or a snow melt.  Fortunately, they come in a plastic bag, although I’ve had to defrost an ice-coated paper.

Last summer, he must have taken vacation. On the first Monday, I called circulation because I didn’t get my copy.   Someone drove one out to me.  We don’t get mail home delivery, but I have a mailbox for things like newspapers.  Tuesday, as I went out to look, something made me look in the box.  Sure enough, there were Monday, and Tuesday’s papers, and so it continued for two weeks.

One time, at the auto-parts plant, I was invited to join the Labor team who would negotiate a new contract.  I politely declined.  It takes a particular type of person, and my boredom level is quickly reached.  Diplomacy is also defined as tact, or restraint, or good manners.  Like diplomats, people who negotiate Labor contracts have to get used to repeatedly saying ‘nothing’, for days, weeks, even months, until finally someone cracks.

One year, we mistakenly elected a big ‘Buffalo Biker’ as union president, to lead the team. We thought that he would frighten the opposition.  He screamed and yelled and stomped around the room, and pounded on tables….but, that’s not the way you successfully negotiate.  It was the worst contract we ever attained.  😳

Flash Fiction #131

University

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

WASN’T THAT A PARTY?

They say that university is a place to learn things. Well, he certainly had!  He’d learned that, next school year, he and his friend Henry would share a little, one-bedroom apartment, instead of living dorm-style, with 8 guys stuffed into a three-bedroom.

The increased individual cost would still work out to less than their share of the damage deposit that they would never get back on this one. No sir, the pizzas were on the ceiling when we moved in.

It had been an epic St. Patrick’s Day bash.  Not many Irish, although there had been some really green faces.

***

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

***

Click on the YouTube title link, to hear the Irish Rovers tell just what the party was like.

 

Indoor Golf

Golf Pin

Golfers might want to ‘brush up’ on the rules:

  1. Each player shall furnish his own equipment
    for play, normally one club and two balls.
  2. Play on course must be approved by the owner
    of the hole.
  3. Unlike outdoor golf, the object is to get
    the club in the hole and keep the balls out.
  4. For most effective play, the club should
    have a firm shaft. Course owners are permitted
    to check shaft stiffness before play begins.
  5. Course owners reserve the right to restrict
    club length to avoid damage to the hole.
  6. Object of the game is to take as many
    strokes as necessary. When the owner is
    satisfied, the play is complete. Failure to
    do so may result in being denied permission
    to play again.
  7. It is considered bad form to begin playing
    the hole immediately upon arrival.
    Experienced players will normally take time to
    admire the entire course, paying special
    attention to well formed mounds and bunkers.
  8. Players are cautioned not to mention other
    courses they have played or are currently
    playing, to the owner of the course being played.
    Upset owners have been known to damage players
    equipment for this reason.
  9. Players are encouraged to have proper rain
    gear, just in case.
  10. Players should not assume that the course
    is in shape to play at all times. Players may be
    embarrassed if they find the course temporarily
    under repair. Players are advised to be extremely
    tactful in this situation. More advanced players
    will find alternate means of play when this is
    the case.
  11. Players should assume their match has been
    properly scheduled, particularly when playing a
    new course for the first time. Previous players
    have been known to become irate if they discover
    someone else is playing what they considered a
    private course.
  12. The owner of the course is responsible for
    the pruning of any bushes, which may reduce the
    visibility of the hole.
  13. Players are strongly advised to get the
    owner’s permission before attempting to play the
    backside.
  14. Slow play is encouraged, however, players
    should be prepared to proceed at a quicker pace
    at the owners request.
  15. It is considered an outstanding performance,
    if time permitting, to play the same hole several
    times in one match.

***

Sexual Innuendo