Flash Fiction #145

AirBnB

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Watch My Tongue

Well, their trip to London had been worth the saving, and every dollar they’d spent. They’d enjoyed the Harry Potter Experience, ridden on the London Eye Skywheel, watched the changing of the Guard, scarfed down real fish and chips, drunk full-bodied (if room-temperature) British ale, played darts, and met some really nice people.

Perhaps not worth every dollar….  Somebody at AirBnB was going to get an earful.  Their broom-closet lodgings didn’t look anything like the grand, airy rooms that she’d viewed online. Caveat emptor – ‘buyer beware’ indeed – somebody else would beware after they got the side of her tongue.

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

***

The late Archon was a little busy last week with the wife in hospital for three days, and then in recovery from her second knee-replacement surgery. Too late to attach this attempt to last week’s group output, I still thought it was worthwhile to publish.  There may be another one in a couple of days.  Please stop back then to see.  😀

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Flash Fiction #7

 

Stepping Down, Stepping Up

jennifer-pendergast4

 

 

 

 

He still couldn’t believe the amount of work and planning that had come together to allow him to study at this prestigious little English college.

His marks were quite good and he would graduate next spring and return to America to begin his career. He particularly liked the panoramic vista from the entry arch.

He had begun to think of it as his exit arch.  College staff had taken down a sign some wag had put up, reading, “Watch the first step.  It’s a doozy.”  How prophetic, his first step out of here, after his graduation, would indeed be life-altering.

 

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

 

What I’ve Learned

What I’ve learned is….there is a lot of shit on the internet. There’s a lot of shit I never suspected existed, and there’s a lot of shit I wish didn’t exist. What I’ve learned is that I’m getting better at locating and accessing information I need and want, but I’ve learned that I have to keep learning how to find it better.

I am not particularly good with computers and the internet, because I am not a child of technology. That’s because I am not a child! If you want a program installed, or uninstalled, or your Kobo unbricked, give it to a 14 year-old. If you want your computer defragged or debugged, let the 14 year-old do it. His/her 16 year-old brother/sister is already a bit behind the curve, and the 18 year-old neighbor is as puzzled as I am.

I can usually find what I’m looking for on the internet through trial and error, lots of trials, and many errors. Tenacious sounds better than stupid stubborn. I used to complain that search engines were too literal and precise. If each and every word wasn’t spelled just right, and the punctuation wasn’t exactly correct, they had no idea what you were looking for.

The programmers have changed all that, but not always for the better. Now the search engines make guesses, sometimes wild guesses. “Did you mean Popsicle sticks?” No! I was looking for a recipe for apple cobbler. “Well, it did say to pop it in the oven.”

I was looking for a place called Cheney, ON the other day, and gave it to MapQuest, which shrugged its shoulders, but listed places like Cheney Plumbing in Chatham, ON. My little hometown has a Wikipedia page, which I just emailed the Promotions Committee to make a correction/change to, so I handed Cheney, ON to Google. The first page of results were all Dick Cheney, on Bush, Dick Cheney on defense spending, Dick Cheney on shotgunning a friend. Did you notice that the O and the N in my request were both capitalized, indicating a location, and yours weren’t. ??!

I gotta remember to put quotation marks around my search terms, although I’m not sure that would have helped, above. If I ask for Angelina Jolie, so that I can get information about her knife collection, the first responses are always about Angelina Jolie. I asked Google about a young English actor by the name of Lee Ingleby, and the first response I got was from some New York State blogger who took a road trip, and met a guy named Lee, in Ingleby, PA.

Ingleby’s been working for about fifteen years, and he’s been busy! He has to be. Unlike American actors, English actors are paid shit, which is somewhat odd, because the pool of English actors is so small. We often see the same actor in two different British shows, broadcast the same night. An English actress stated that she had played every female role, from ingénue to witch – in one movie, two different female characters, and in another, a society doyenne – and the butler.

British shooting schedules are not as long, or as tight, as American.   Lee has done both movies and television, as well as BBC radio. In a couple of cases, while he was doing a series, he also did a movie or an episode or two of another show. He had a minor part in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but that’s inevitable. Daniel Radcliff said that the pool of actors was so small, and the crowd scenes were so huge, that every British actor, not actually filming, was dragooned onto the lot. Guys from the caterers, or just delivering bottled water, wound up waving a magic wand.

I searched the name Ingleby at surnamedb.com, and it claimed it was a locational name, the “ingle” meaning English, and “by” meaning a small town, therefore, “a person from an English village.” I believed that, for the second it took me to realise that a name site is not a dictionary site. They’re all English villages.

I went to dictionary.com, which told me that an ingle is a fireplace, or the fire in it. An inglenook is a small bench built into the corner of a fireplace where one could sit to do chores and keep warm. The place-name Ingleby then, means a small town, prosperous enough that there are a number of homes with stone fireplaces.

When you ask the dictionary site for a word meaning, you get not only the meaning, but a display similar to a set of Google responses. There are several words ahead of, and behind, the one you just typed in, and there is a list of related search topics. Of course, there are always a couple of commercial listings at the top. They have to pay the bills somehow.

The top listing on “ingle” was for dryers-loaders-blenders.com, a company which sells plastic-handling equipment, similar to what the son’s employer uses. They sell a number of manufacturers’ machines, but concentrate on stuff from the Inglis Corporation. Ingle to Inglis is a bit of a stretch, but, that’s business!

The second listing was for “Clases de Ingles online”, with a link to openenglish.com. English as a second language for Spanish-speaking immigrants, this Ingles means English. Below that was a reference to a character in the classic movie, Casablanca. Other than Rick, Ilsa, and Sam the piano-man, I don’t remember anyone else’s name. Then came a listing for a Supreme Court case of Ingle vs. Schmoe. That one I got.

The final four entries still baffle me. They were for Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, and cappuccino toppings. I read page after page, on each of these links, and never saw the word “ingle.” The only guess I can make is that there is a company named Ingle, which manufactures cappuccino toppings, and these three supermarket chains carry them. Any of you guys want to make a guess??! They’re three for a buck.

 

 

Syke Haul Oh Gee

Psychology is most plainly described as using language to persuade others to think, feel, say and do what you’d like them to.  Not necessarily what is best for the masses, but what is best for the manipulator.  Merchandisers, ad-men, politicians and religious types do it all the time, causing you to buy anything from cars to cults.  We even use psychology on ourselves, to convince ourselves of something, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

The son and I went out the other day, to visit two adjacent stores.  The outside temperature was right at the freezing mark, but it was easy for us to convince ourselves that we were only going from house to car, from car to store, we wouldn’t bother with jackets.  We received some very questioning looks from other shoppers, especially the little old lady bundled up in the Eskimo outfit, but we felt fine.  When we exited the first store, it had started to snow.  With no change of temperature or wind, I convinced myself that, now I felt cold.

I find *Believers* to be problematic.  If they *believe*, in anything, they’ve probably stopped thinking.  It’s almost impossible to see the scope of a problem or situation, when you’re inside the box.  Believers don’t just think that believers in other things are wrong, they often believe that no-one but them and their viewpoint exists.

Stories exist of Christopher Columbus’s first landing.  A tribe of natives at the shore, instead of being excited about the three ships, totally ignored them until confronted by Columbus and his shore party.  Three great sailing ships were outside their envelope of experience, and couldn’t exist until the acceptable men proved it.  A hundred years ago, a circus played a small Kansas (?) town for the first time.  The locals watched in amazement as things were unloaded.  Upon seeing a cage with a rhinoceros, a local rube sniffed and walked away, declaring, “Ain’t no such animal!”

Ignoring their own senses, those who have been psychologised continue to deny the existence of opposing opinions, and that’s all belief is, an opinion.  Even if millions, or billions, share it, it’s not necessarily the truth.  Worse than being ignored, is having the ego-damaged believers attack.  Using good psychological groundwork, they demonize those who are not like them, to justify their (pick one) imprisonment, punishment, forced conversion, ostracism, or even death.

There were already a dozen brands of de-alcoholised beer which had been quietly available in supermarkets when Molson decided to spend money to advertise their entry into the market.  Excel was flogged for about three months.  A woman in Toronto beseeched the Toronto Sun for help in saving her 12-year-old daughter and others from sin and depredation.  They had both *become aware* of Molson Excel.  Her daughter had gone to the corner store and bought and consumed one.

How dare this store sell such dangerous stuff to a child?  How dare the government not protect society by banning its open sale in stores?  It says right on the can that it’s “beer”, what else could it be?  Ignoring the other dozen brands of non-alcoholic beer, ignoring the dozen brands of non-alcoholic wine and spritzers, ignoring the fact that root beer says “beer” on the label, and ginger beer says “beer” on the label, and ginger ale says that it is “ale”, she had managed to convince herself that this innocuous fluid was somehow a valid threat.  A brother-in-law had trouble with his 18-year-old son sampling beer and whiskey at family gatherings.  With considerable misgivings, they allowed him some of these drinks.  He managed to grow up a reasonably well-adjusted non-drunk.

The gun-control group, most of whom are gunbanning people, claim that guns only have one purpose, to kill people.  Really?  Only kill, and only people?  There are a dozen reasons for the possession of firearms, from hunting to pest-control to target shooting to just the satisfied thrill of owning one.  They rail that there are three-hundred million guns in America.  And on one recent fateful day, the only one causing a problem was illegally accessed by a mentally unstable young man.

Nobody needs to own an assault rifle!  No, and nobody needs to own a car that can do 180 MPH, but a rich few of us do, and most of them drive at the speed the rest of us do.  High-capacity magazines allow higher numbers of dead!  And then a Chinese man, where firearms are tightly controlled, breaks into a school, with two knives, and kills 23 eight-year-old students, and teachers, and wounds eighteen others.

Guns kill people!  The number of people killed by cars is twenty times the death rate from guns.  But they only die in small numbers.  Yeah, sure!  A nearby van crash killed nine people.  A bus fell off a mountain in Colorado and killed 28.  But, they own a car, and maybe ride the bus, so they’ve convinced themselves that vehicle deaths are acceptable.  They don’t own a gun, and don’t think anyone should.  They see guns in the hands of careful, trained, legally licensed owners as evil, and dangerous.

When the first Harry Potter books and movies came out, I didn’t see the basis for the fuss that the Good Christians raised.  They are a work of fiction.  Even if magic were real – and it would take a gullible fool to believe it is – God created everything.  That would include magic, so why the heat and wind raised about it?  I found out that the theological hair-splitters considered themselves God’s representatives on earth.  God may have created magic but, if they couldn’t perform it, those who do, must be allied with Satan.

We convince ourselves and others of so many things, and allow others to make us believe many things.  Sadly those doing the convincing often have ulterior motives.  Even those with pure motives can be in honest error.  As usual, I advise thinking, objective thinking.  Don’t blindly believe.  Doubt everything!  It may feel comfortable to you, to just accept, but try to foresee the ills you can cause undeserving others.

Tony

I was desperately trying to rub two brain cells together to produce a spark of inspiration for a theme for my next post.  I read KayJai’s blog about a death and a near-death of people she knew and how they had influenced her life.  Then I checked my emails, and found I had received a couple from Tony, and I knew I had my blog subject.

Tony and I worked together for almost twenty years at the auto-parts plant.  He was already employed there when I arrived.  Almost twenty years older than him, I was 45 when I started, so he was in his late twenties.  Like my own kids, who are near his age, I watched and helped him when I could, through some life stages.  I watched his daughters go to school and grow up.  I sympathised when he went through a divorce.

He put up a facade of hard-shell smart-ass, but inside, he was a nice guy.  When I was a newbie at the plant, he and his other friend took me under their wings.  Perhaps it was that I was intelligent, able to think, good with the English language, and full of opinions, just like them, and unlike many other co-workers.  Maybe it was just that they were both friendly people, willing to offer a little support.

In a plant where storage lockers were at a premium, they approached me, to offer to share space in a locker they were already splitting.  They provided conversation, support and advice on the line and invited me to sit with them at their table in the lunch room.  Soon, we were playing Euchre together.  The fourth person needed, changed over the years, but it was the three of us, till the second friend had increasing union business intrude on his time.  Tony learned to play Solo, and moved to a different table.  It’s crazy, I comprehend the principals of string theory, black holes, and quantum entanglement, but I just never got, Solo.

It’s not that Tony abandoned me.  We still spoke often.  We had beers after work.  We traded books back and forth.  Tony suffered from the same thing that Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter had, cluster headaches.  Not migraines, but debilitating pain, sometimes for weeks on end.  He went through two years of medical experimentation.  Three, four, five different drugs at once, change the dosage, add a new one, take one away.  Finally got it under control, and hurt his back.  He had to take a medical leave just as the shit was hitting the lay-off fan, and I was let go.

When Tony got divorced, between job retraining and more alone time, he became very proficient with a computer and the internet.  I haven’t seen him or spoken to him now, for almost five years.  I sent him an email about a year ago.  My memory fades, but he still remembers me.  When I finish this draft, I really need to send him a catch-up email.  There’s not a week goes by that he doesn’t send me something interesting, educational or amusing.  I never know what it will be.

He forwarded a study that says margarine is not good for you because it’s only one molecule away from plastic.  I don’t eat much marg, and plan to have myself cremated, so the flames will burn hot.  He showed me how to put myself on the do-not-call telemarketing list long before it became common knowledge.  Suggestions like always having the remote key-fob for your car out, and your finger on the alarm button, especially for females, if you have to get to your car in a parking area at night.  If you are attacked, you should have a split second to make the car raise a ruckus, and cause the attacker to leave.

He has sent me pictures of strange vehicles, strange buildings and strange weddings.  I’ve received pictures of sunsets and cuddly animals.  Despite the cynical shell, he’s a real softy underneath.  He supports the troops, if not our military involvements.  He sends me *I like you.  If you like me, send this back, but forward it to five other people*, emails.  I get notices to hug my kids and remember to send my mother a birthday card.  I’ve seen an open letter to immigrants who refuse to assimilate and insist the country should change to suit them.  I’ve read the story of an Arizona sheriff who took the inmates of his small prison out to live in tents, wear pink jumpsuits and do roadwork.  No TV, no A/C, no library, don’t like it, do your time and don’t come back.  He says that BrainRants, and the rest of the boys in Afghanistan have it worse, kwicherbichin!

KayJai said that the occurrences near her have reminded her to keep breathing and enjoy each day and the people who are in it.  This is what Tony has done for me for years, and continues to do.  No matter how silly or educational the next email, it reminds me that there is someone out there who cares for me, and to whom I still have at least a tenuous connection.  Tony has been, and still is, a formative part of my life.  He reminds me to keep enjoying it.  I should get off my lazy, forgetful ass and tell him how much I have appreciated it.

Gotta go now.  I have a big, long, breezy, remember-when email to compose.  Do you have someone you should send one to?