’20 A To Z Challenge – Folly

A To Z ChallengeLetter F

snow folly

HANNIBAL WAS CROSS

‘Tis folly to be wise

Call it Climate Change.  Call it Global Warming.  Call it Shit Happens.  Call it anything you want, but Charlie was beginning to believe some of the stories that Grampa told about growing up in this little mountain hamlet.

Yes sir, I had to walk 5 miles to school –each way – uphill both ways – against the wind…. And in the winter??! – snow was as high as an elephant’s….

Eye, Grampa??

Asshole, boy!  Asshole!

I had to make skis out of staves from a pickle barrel, and use icicles for poles.  Snow was so high I had to climb out the attic window.

There’d been no elephants in mountains, until Hannibal crossed the Alps, and They didn’t run through Montana.  As a site-designer, he was happy to ‘work from home’ after graduating, in the village he’d been born in.  Mom hadn’t even gone to the hospital in Helena – just popped him out in a sterilized bathtub.

The smart ones had been those who moved down with friends and relatives in the foothills, when the snow really started piling up.  When the Pastor/Mayor/Police Department had been notified that the plows weren’t getting through, and officials had no idea when that might happen, he suggested that everyone bring all their food to the church.

They’d rigged a flexible plastic tube from the air-conditioner vent, over the cliff.  That, and a small fan pointed up the spire gave them and the small generator enough air to breath.  The village weirdo geek had rigged a repeater/router to the lightning rod.  The cell tower further up the mountain, was only up to its knees in snow, so they had phones and internet.  The snow had drifted up and over the church, until only the steeple protruded, like a FOLLY.  It helped to insulate it, even as it locked them in.

It was a cozy little group of 14, although, if someone didn’t pry young Billy McCabe and the Winchell girl apart, there’d be 15 by the time they were released.  There were worse ways to spend a winter.  Guess the best thing to do is what Grampa suggested.  Just close the log cabin door to the snow, and don’t come out till spring.

WAIT!  WHAT??  Log Cabin??  I thought you said that you climbed out an attic window.

Don’t be a smart-ass, boy!  Nobody likes a smart-ass.  😳

Small Town Reality

Small Town

A recent humor post about small towns elicited some comments, questions, and not-necessarily-good memories. For those with curiosity, or defective nostalgia, here’s the real low, down.

Baskin-Robbins only has three ice cream flavors.

Corporate America has still not reached my little Canadian town. There used to be a couple of independent, Mom-and-Pop convenience stores that hand-dipped ice cream, before pre-packaged treats became available. Now they subsist by selling lottery tickets to folks dreaming about having enough money to get out.

You had to step out of the village limits in order to change your mind.

That’s a trick question. Nobody in my town changes their mind.

The nickname for the city jail is amoeba because it only has one cell.

Hah! Our town jail has two cells. One for drunken white men, and another for drunken Indians from the adjoining reservation.

McDonalds only has one Golden Arch and the nearest one is 15 miles away.

The nearest one is in the next town, 5 miles closer to the nuclear reactor, and the only source of employment left in the area.

Instead of a 7-11 they have a 3.5 – 5.5.

See ‘no corporate America’ above. 3.5 X 5.5 refers to metres – 20 by 30 feet sized convenience stores.

The New Year’s baby was born in April.

With all the screwing that’s going on, some of it even by people who are married – to each other – you’d think this would happen earlier in the year. All praise free birth-control information on the internet.

The “Welcome To” and “Thanks for Visiting “signs are front and back of the same sign.

The town has a lot of long-term summer residents – rich city folks who own expensive cottages. Neither they, nor the residents, really want transient, stay-at-a-tourist-camp visitors. There is no ‘Welcome’, or ‘Thanks’ sign. It was left to the Department of Highways to identify where drivers were with a generic sign.

You have to go to the next town to find 2nd Street….

At least there’s nothing as bland as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Street in my home-town. We have a British-type, High Street, which I was born on, as well as street names like Morpeth, Anglesia, Grosvenor, Grenville, Landsdowne, Breadlebane, and Augusta.

A “Night on the Town” only takes about ten minutes.

There are bars in two hotels on High Street, a block apart. White folks drink at one. Indians drink at the other. If you drink too long at either, your ten-minute ‘Night on the Town’ could stretch to 72 hours in the appropriate comfortably-appointed jail cell.

The Subway restaurant that serves foot-long sandwiches cannot fit within the village limits.

See ‘no corporate America’ again. There is a French-fries/hamburger/ hot-dog take-out building on the highway, behind the bank. It limps through the winter months, and produces retirement income during the summer.

You do not bother using turn signals because everyone already knows where you are going.

Laid out by British surveyors, the town has good sight-lines, and broad streets. It is one of two towns in Canada with a 100 foot-wide main street – most have 66. If you do manage to cut off a local resident, they feel free to tell you where to go.

Big social events are scheduled around when the high school gym floor is being varnished.

The local Legion is big enough to handle most ‘big’ social events. The local high school was closed in 1955, because of lack of students. The couple of dozen per year are bused five miles to the 350 student ‘District’ high school.

You call a wrong number and the person who answers can give you the correct number for the person you are trying to call..

While this was once true, the internet has become a boon, since the big Don’t-Give-A-Damn epidemic hit town.

There is no point in high-school reunions because everyone knows what everyone else is doing anyway.

This is true of those too dumb to get out. The ones who leave, just tend to disappear.
“Do you remember Bob?”
“Bob who?”
“We went to school with him.”
“You mean Rob?”
“Maybe….”
“I got no idea where he went.”

School gets canceled for Provincial sporting events.

No-one in my town was good enough at any sport to qualify for Provincial meets. Senior elementary classes are sometimes bused to District events.

It was cool to date someone from a different high-school.

It had to be from the same ‘District’ high school, but at least you could date someone from a different town – or a farm girl, who could show you alternate social uses for the hay-mow in the barn.

The golf course had only three holes.

There’s a quite-nice golf course, 2 miles out of town, where the old highway wisely bypassed this social morass, a century ago. More recently, a developer included a tournament-worthy course as a perk with his new housing subdivision, on the other side of town, right next to the Indian reservation, whose residents are wisely not allowed to be members. They are both 18-hole courses. Amusingly, just 2 miles away from my current, big-city house, is a course that the city has grown out and surrounded. It is a par-3 course.

Anyone you are looking for can be found at either the Dairy Queen or Wal-Mart, over in ‘The Big City’.

I remember when I thought that it was the cultural center of the Universe, with all of 10,000 residents.

Directions are given using the one and only stop light as a reference – after they finally installed one.

Even after they redirected the highway through the town, instead of past it, the intersection with the main street was a 4-way stop until the Department of Highways insisted on a traffic light in 1955. It’s still the only one.

Weekend excitement involves a trip to the grocery store.

1955 was a year of excitement. A Canadian-based supermarket came to town to challenge 3 little independent grocery stores. While considerable excitement can be had with bananas and cucumbers, the entire town was agog when they imported coconuts.

Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.

My Dad was a Johnny-come-lately, carpet-bagger, non-native. My Mom left in her early teens during the dirty-Thirties, and returned as an adult. None of the teachers had been inoculated, or developed a resistance to me.

The best burgers in town are at the four-lane bowling alley.

Our bowling alley had the best burgers and 8 lanes, but was an unheated summer-only, beach bowling alley, only open from the end of May, till Labor Day. The next town down had a year-round, 4-lane alley, but no lunch bar. The best burgers were next door at the owner’s A-frame, chalet diner.

Tell us about your tiny home-town…. or the unfortunate section of big city that you grew up in.

There Was A Crooked Man

Who walked a crooked mile
And when I tell his tale
We get a crooked smile.

Facepalm

The Back-to-Jail Special

Two men decided a back-to-school event at an office supply store would be the perfect time to do some shoplifting. After all, store clerks would be busy helping an influx of shoppers. The sale happened to coincide with the annual ‘Shop with a Cop’ day, when about 60 police officers show up to help children pick out school supplies.

Burrito Patrol

Adan Juarez Ramirez had it all figured out—he could be a cop without having to take the boring test. But he was arrested in Grapevine, Texas, after pulling over a driver in his pickup truck, outfitted with flashing lights. He even had an ID badge, which he’d made by blacking out a restaurant gift card and etching in the word ‘POLICE.’ However, he’d kept the restaurant’s logo, a jalapeño pepper surrounded by the words ‘Chipotle Mexican Grill.’

The Case of the Returned Merchandise

A Target store in Augusta, Georgia, agreed to take back a printer from a dissatisfied customer. Then the clerk noticed some work the customer forgot to remove from the machine: Counterfeit bills.

You Mean It’s Not Scout Night?

Two machete-wielding men barged into a Sydney, Australia, bar demanding money. They didn’t know the club was hosting a bikers’ meeting at the time. One of the robbers ended up in the hospital, the other hog-tied with electrical wire.

Hampered by Stupidity

In Mesa, Arizona, a home break-in was foiled when the burglar jumped through the bedroom window—and got trapped in a clothes hamper. Cops took it from there. (That definitely wasn’t the kind of clean getaway he had planned.)

Worst Customer Service Ever!

Joseph Goetz’s alleged attempt to rob a York, Pennsylvania, bank met with some snags. Cops say the first teller he tried to rob fainted and the next two had no more cash in their drawers. Fed up, Goetz stormed out, threatening to write an angry letter to the bank.

To: idiot@jail.com

A German bank robber sent mocking emails to local police, ridiculing their efforts to arrest him. First he let them know they had his age, build, and accent wrong. Then he corrected their announcement that he’d escaped on foot; no, he had a getaway car! The cops got the last word in, though, when they arrested the guy a few hours later. They used his email to trace him.

The Case of the Clean Intruder

After a man kicked in the front door of a Texas home at 3:30 a.m., the resident fled and called police. When cops arrived, they were surprised to find that the intruder hadn’t stolen a thing. Police found the man in the bathroom, enjoying a warm bath.

Fish Tales

Robby Rose lost his first-place medal and was charged with a felony after it was discovered that he’d cheated in a Texas fishing tournament by stuffing a one-pound weight down the throat of a bass he’d caught. Officials became suspicious when they placed Rose’s fish in a tank and it sank to the bottom.

Banana attack

According to the bus driver, it was a brutal, unprovoked attack. A woman got on his bus and assaulted him with a half-eaten banana. ‘I had banana all over me,’ he insisted. ‘On my tie, my shirt, and my eye.’ The woman explained that the driver had almost hit her car and that when she entered the bus to rationally discuss the matter, the banana slipped … right into his tie, his shirt, his eye … The court may not have believed that, but it did believe her when she argued that it was ‘unreasonable that a banana could cause this much damage.’ They slapped her with a fine of only about $100.

You are gonna regret that tattoo

Police in Pico Rivera, California, had an easy time pinning a four-year-old murder on Anthony Garcia. That’s because he pinned it on himself—with an elaborate tattoo on his chest, depicting the killing. Cops noticed the incriminating ink when taking Garcia’s mug shot for a petty crime. The tattoo revealed all the details of the night, from the Christmas lights and bent streetlamp near the liquor store where the body was found to the image of an angry helicopter—Garcia’s nickname was Chopper—machine-gunning the victim.

Lincoln on the money

James Rhyne of Memphis was charged with forgery after he handed a waitress a $100 bill. The waitress knew something was funny with the money: Instead of the portly visage of Ben Franklin, it was the star of the $5 bill, Abe Lincoln, who was staring back at her.

11/11 Remember!

With the exception of a little explanation here at the top, and some added notes at the bottom, this will be a republication of last year’s November 11th post. I may not have said it the best that it can be said, but I’ve said it as well as I can say it.

remembrance

No matter what you call it, this is a little reminder that tomorrow is Remembrance/Veterans Day. Take two minutes at 11:00 AM to stand quietly and remember, respect and honor those in the Armed Services, past and present, who have given so much, so that we can have peace and security.

Take some time tomorrow – Hell, take all day if you want, and take a bit of time any other day, whenever it’s possible – to shake the hand of a veteran, or current Serviceman. Smile, and say, “Thanks!”

Canadian Flag

veterans

Times, and social situations change. Wars are no longer only fought by going to the other guy’s country and shooting him, or just blowing up his shit till he stops being an asshole.  In addition to the Vets and current Armed Services personnel, mentioned above, we should also remember to thank and think of (because of the job they do, and the way they must do it, they’re invisible, but invaluable) Intelligence and Internal Security Officers, as well as the folks building SkyNet, who feed info to them, so that they can keep us safe from gas attacks, poison and biological assaults.  They also prevent attacks and loss of service to our increasingly technologically-dependent Internet lifestyle, with their Ninja-like handling of all those little 1s and 0s.

poppy-flower-red-remembrence-day-artificial

2017 A To Z Challenge – O

Challenge2017*

I am an Optimist.  Not a cockeyed optimist.  Not a naïve, ‘everything will turn out right’, optimist.   Not a wide-eyed, slack-grinned, Pollyanna, ‘everything is great’, optimist.  Not a Little Orphan Annie, ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ optimist.  Not even one of those Optimist guys who goes to monthly urban-improvement meetings.  I just always hope for the best from people and society.

letter-o

On the other hand, I’m also a flint-hard-minded, cynical realist. I hope for the best, but expect the worst from people, and I’m seldom disappointed, Trust – But Verify.

The optimist thinks that we live in the best of all possible worlds.
The pessimist fears that that statement is true.

During my childhood, alone in my neighborhood, I sometimes reached out to other children (guys) living blocks away, to show them things I’d discovered during my solitary explorations. Almost without exception, whatever was not stolen, was destroyed, preventing further enjoyment by them, me, or the rightful owner.  It’s still an all-too-common attitude in the world today, which I just don’t understand!  😯

I would like to believe that, with the information age, and increasing education and technology, the world is slowly rising to be a better place.  Certainly, within the more civilized sections, torture and arbitrary executions have mostly disappeared.  Then I see militant Islam terror attacks against Christian countries, and one type of Muslim killing and driving out another.

Islamofascists are trying to control/prevent the dissemination of information and concepts that they do not approve of, especially via the internet. That genie (if you’ll excuse the expression) is already out of the bottle.  I hope that the tipping point has been reached, and, no matter how many AK-47s or Semtex explosive they use, knowledge and social freedom will still continue to spread.

In the western world, it seems restricted to acts like a local LGBTF-friendly church recently having its entryway sidewalk graffitied, “The Church Shall Remain Holy.” Since they are welcoming the same sort of social rejects that Christ did, they feel that they are holy, and plan to have another artist ‘frame’ the graffiti, and seal it with a transparent coat, turning it from an act of hate, to an inclusive act of love.

So much of life has become polarized – Blue States vs. Red States – White Supremacists – tear down historical statues – Fundamentalists trying to drag society back into superstitious days.

I hope!
I hope!
I hope!

I don’t think that I will live long enough to see very much total improvement. I’d like to say, ‘Two steps forward – One step back’, but often it seems like 12 steps forward, 11 steps backward.  I hope that progress will continue.  I hope that my children and grandchildren will live in a better world than the one that I did.  I am optimistic!

***

This is the closest that I’ve finished a blog composition before posting, since I wrote my first 13 directly into WordPress. It was completed only a half an hour before my self-imposed schedule said that it was to be published.  I don’t even think it was because of my procrastination – more like, I just couldn’t organize my thoughts, and decide where it was going.  Since I’m supposed to have three, in a Word file, ready to go at all times, I’d better get going at P, Q, and R.  😳

Five Long Years

calendar

That’s what Colin James says my blog has been.

FIVE LONG YEARS
(click above, to hear him say so)

Five years ago, to the day, on November 21, 2011, I first dived into the blog-pool. I had no idea what I was going to say, or how often I would say it.  I finally calmed down enough to casually mention when I reached post number 600.  This one is number 687, reaching toward number 700.  I’ve accumulated 878 followers, (Now I’ve got 879.  Do I hear 880?)(Okay!  I’ve got 880!  Anybody want to go for 900?)  and had 9400 visits, for 32,000 views.

For me, everything is still the same, and yet, everything is different. Society is different.  Politics is different.  The Internet is different.  My writing and posting are different.  Some of that is good.  Some of that, at best, is questionable.

While some of my favored blog-sites from five years ago have shut down, or atrophied, many newer ones continue to entertain, amuse and educate me. I continue to do my best to do the same in return.

The traditional gift for a five-year anniversary is wood. I already have a solid block-head, and I possess several wooden nickels, and even a wooden quarter, so I guess all that’s left for you lovely readers to do, is to commend me for not dying, and not shutting up.  Many thanx to all who visit, like and comment.   😀

Flash Fiction #115

lanterns

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Light was the first thing to be lost when “The Wave” rolled through. Electricity stopped flowing, technology disappeared and we reverted to the lives our ancestors had endured, hundreds of years ago.

No-one knew what had caused it, but it was the end of civilization as we knew it. The superstitious called it ‘Magic.’  The religious claimed that it was the wrath of God.  Who knew what scientists called it?  All media, including the internet, had winked out of existence!

The Third World countries scarcely noticed it, and Survivalists suddenly had more friends and followers than any Kardashian ever had.

***

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

Alabama Internet

monitor

A POST WHERE WE FIND OUT WHERE SUPPORTERS
OF DONALD TRUMP GET THEIR INFORMATION

Bible Belt Computer Lingo

Log On – make the wood stove hotter
Log Off – don’t add no more wood
Monitor – keep an eye on that wood stove
Download – gettin’ the wood off the pickup
Floppy Disc – what you get from tryin’ to carry too much wood
Ram – the thing what splits the fire wood
Hard Drive – comin’ home from the bar after the KKK meetin’
Prompt – throw another log on the fire
Window – what to shut when it’s cold outside
Screen – what to shut in fly season
Byte – what flies do
Bit – what flies did
Mega Byte – what big flies do
Chip – munchies while monitorin’
Micro chip – what’s left after you ate the chips
Modem – what you did to the hay fields
Dot Matrix- ol’ Dan Matrix’s wife
Lap top – where kittens sleep
Software – them dumb plastic knives they give you at Golden Corral
Hardware – real stainless steel knives an’ forks
Mouse – what eats the grain in the barn
Main frame – what holds the barn up
Enter – fancy city talk for, “Y’all come on in now”
Web – the thing spiders make
Web site – where the spiders make ‘em
Search Engine – what you do when yer car dies
Cursor – somebody who swears a lot
Screen saver – a repair kit fer the torn screen door

I think about half of these are deplorable. C’mon Election, before more of these pop up!   😆
***

The wife and I are invading the Excited States again, and won’t be back for a few days.  Enjoy a few laughs on my tab while I’m gone.  I’ll be back with some real live comments, and perhaps a Flash Fiction soon.

Flash Fiction #97

Telecommuting

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

FULL PAST – EMPTY FUTURE

I’m not sorry I’m retiring tomorrow. This train station used to be a bustling, interesting place, a social hub, full of people coming and going to actual places, meeting and talking to other, real people, doing the same.  Train travel was interesting, exciting, educational.

Then, along came the Internet – and telecommuting, work-from-home, and stay-cations. It’s no better over at the bus terminal.  Nobody actually goes anywhere anymore.  They all just sit at home, in front of a different idiot-box, staring at pictures that somebody else took of all the great things that this country has to offer.

I’m outta here! 😦

***

Here’s a YouTube link to Arlo Guthrie’s song, The City of New Orleans, an elegy for the passing of a time when trains were so important that some of them even had names.

***

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

 

Insanity

Straitjacket

Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your children.

I was doing some research the other day, and stopped off at Bible.org.  Anything scientific, modern or technological is automatically suspect, so I wasn’t surprised when my eye spotted the headline of an article which read, Psychiatrists Have Been Torturing Insane People For 500 Years.

As a compulsive wordsmith, that caught my attention. A quick check revealed that the word, and occupation, psychiatrist, only came into existence about 125 years ago.  Previous to that, there were men known as psychiators, untrained, unlicensed and uncontrolled.

Driven by self-righteous ego, they were usually interested in power, self-aggrandizement, and enforcing what they viewed as acceptable social norms – shades of The Inquisition. They were often church men, good Christians, and it was they who tortured people who often were not insane, but merely free-thinkers, independents, and weirdoes, marching to a different flautist.

Insanity

As in my post on torture, you could be snatched off the street, or from your home, at any time, for any reason – or none. Might made right.  Cross an undrawn line, and a husky man or two would do worse than sell you into slavery.  Tell your father that you wanted to work at a newspaper, rather than learning how to make gloves; tell your mother you didn’t want the arranged marriage to the fat old farmer; ask your boss for an evening off to go courting, and just see what happened.

Have a look at the list of ‘insanities’, above. Any of these could get you involuntarily committed to an insane asylum, and resisting and insisting that you weren’t insane, was proof that you were.  The list-makers did seem to be fixated on masturbation, in all its variations.  I think they needed more psychological help than the unfortunate wretches they abused.  And I’d like to know how an 1880s nut-house got an Internet address.

Despite the implication that the bad treatment was all the fault of those evil Psychiatrists, these often-self-appointed Guardians of Conformity used many well-known methods to break the will and minds of their charges.  One was wet-sheeting, where they wrapped you tightly in cold, wet linen, and left you on a bed, unable to move, sometimes for days.

Drugs were now commonly available, and widely used. They could be included in what little poor food you got; you could be held by attendants and have it forced down your throat, or directly injected with the new hypodermic syringe.  They included diuretics, which caused you to wet yourself, emetics, which would cause you to vomit, purgatives that roiled your gut, and made you shit yourself, and opiates that suppressed intelligence and will, and blurred reality for you.

On the physical side, beyond the restraining wet-sheeting, one of the favorites was the chair.  You were strapped into a sturdy wooden chair with arms.  Four ropes were attached to the corners, and then those were attached to a single strong rope, suspended from a high ceiling.  Loaded with some of the above drugs, you were then spun round and round – and round, while also swinging back and forth.  Fifty spins in one direction, then forty in the other, then thirty the first way, then twenty, etc, etc!

When the ride came to a stop, you were Inquisitioned. “Admit that you were insane.”  “I was never insane! I am healthy and normal!”  “Wind him up again boys.”  “No, No more! I admit that I was insane.  I am better now and will behave well.”  Caning was common, as well as pitch-black sensory-deprivation solitary confinement.

One facility even built a giant wooden wheel, two feet in thickness, and twelve feet in diameter, its axle sitting on tall posts. An offender was shoved in through a small port, the door latched, and then left for up to 36 hours.  There was no light, no food, no water, and no toilet facilities.  What little air, was redolent with the reek of previous tenants’ leavings.  Like a hamster, you could walk, but that only rained feces and almost-dried vomit on you.

An open mind can always stand a closed one, if it has to – by making room for it in the general picture. But a closed mind can’t stand it near an open one without risking immediate and complete destruction in its own terms.  In a closed mind, there’s no more room.

Gordon R. Dickson, author – Tiger Green – 1965

The 1889 date above just about matches the time when Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and others, began humanely treating mental disorders, which most of these poor souls did not have. Sadly, these propaganda pits did not die out.  As late as the 1950s, white women with non-white boyfriends or husbands could be snatched and incarcerated till they ‘learned better.’

At the same time, unwed mothers could be permanently locked away in places like the Magdalene Sisters homes, where their delivered babies were quietly buried in the back yards, and the women were forced into 16 to 18 hours a day physical labor, to pay for their unwanted keep, while those darned Psychiatrists were busy torturing folks. Insanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.    😦