A To Z Challenge – Q

april-challenge

Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.  I’m stalking shelves.  😯

letter-q

I think, basically, that most of my life could be defined by the word Question.’ not,

Verb (used with object)
1: to ask (someone) a question; ask questions of; interrogate. 
2: to ask or inquire.

although there was a lot of that going on, too. I was a curious child, in more ways than one.

Why is the sky blue? How high is up?  How long is a piece of string?  How far can you run into the forest?  Only half way! After that, you are running out.

I don’t know what made me an unbeliever. I was raising and selling cynicism at a profit, when I was as young as 5 and 6-years-old.  For me, ‘Question’ was always more,

3: to make a question of; doubt:
He questioned her sincerity.

4: to challenge or dispute:
She questioned the judge’s authority in the case.

5: a point at issue
a difficulty or uncertainty 

I ‘questioned’ almost every assertion – parents, preachers, politicians, teachers – usually silently, internally at least, until they’d been verified, but….doubt, doubt, doubt. See above: I am uncertain.  I have difficulty blindly accepting the point at issue. 

“You can’t possibly expect me to believe that without proof! I can’t possibly believe that you believe it.

Once, in the arrogance of my youth, (You know, just after I turned 40, had my mid-life crisis, and bought my first motorcycle) I even thought that I was qualified to teach a course at one of the local Universities on ‘How To Think: 101.’  All I had to do, was train these fresh-faced, gullible impressionable young minds to “Question Everything.”  “Here’s your diploma. Thanx for the tuition.”

As I grew older and grumpier wiser, it wasn’t long before I finally realized that most of the flock of sheeple, refuse to question anything.  They want their lives easy and uncomplicated.  They want to be told what to do, how and when.  They want to be told what to believe, and they don’t want to go to the trouble of thinking about it themselves.  They don’t even want to question the obvious contradictions.

It is the failure of individuals and whole populations to question, which has brought the world the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito, Pol Pot, Mugabe, Khadafy, Hussein and bin Laden.  Now, the only question that the public seems to have is, “How could such a thing have happened?”

My question is, how many more letters are there, and when will this all end?

There are 9 more letters in the alphabet and, if I schedule my posts correctly, the last will be published near the end of April, 2017, just in time to start a new series. Stop back in a couple of weeks to see if I write about Rock And Roll, or Retirement.

😆

COOL!

cool

You are no longer “cool” when …

 

  1. You find yourself listening to talk radio.
  2. You daughter says she got pierced and you
    look at her ears.
  3. The pattern on your shorts and couch match.
  4. You fondly remember your powder blue leisure
    suit.
  5. Your wife buys a flannel nightie and you find
    that sexy.
  6. You think Tragically Hip is when a middle-aged
    man gets a new sports car, hair piece and a 20
    year old girlfriend.
  7. You criticize the kids of today for their
    satanic suicide-inducing music, forgetting that
    you rocked to Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath.
  8. You call the police on a noisy party next
    door instead of grabbing beer and joining it.
  9. You turn down free tickets to a rock concert
    because you have to work the next day.
  10. When grass is something that you cut, not
    cultivate.
  11. When jogging is something you do to your
    memory.
  12. Sex becomes “All that foolishness”.
  13. Getting a little action means your prune
    juice is working.
  14. All the cars behind you turn on their
    headlights.
  15. You remember the “Rolling Stones” as a rock
    group not a corporation.
  16. You bought your first car for the same price
    you paid for your son’s new running shoes.
  17. You actually ASK for your father’s advice.
  18. When someone mentions surfing, you picture
    waves and a board.

***

The hipster was out, driving his new car around, with his arm hanging down the side of the car. A truck coming the other way, crossed the line and sideswiped him, crashing him into a ditch.  When a police officer arrived, he was out of the car, walking around it, moaning, “My new Porsche – my beautiful new Porsche!”

The cop said, “You shouldn’t be worrying about your car. You should be worried about your arm.”  The hipster looked down at a bleeding stump that ended at the elbow, and started moaning, “My new Rolex – my beautiful new Rolex!”

 

 

Flash Fiction #37

Mansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Grace Under Pressure

Once, it was enough if you could sing, dance or act.  Those who did it better than others became stars.

In the turbulent, rebellious ‘60s, Elvis Presley became a superstar, not for his less-than-stellar abilities, but because of those of his agent, who promoted the Hell out of him.

Paul Simon, another performer with perhaps as much talent, but less marketing, sang of going to his mansion, ‘Graceland.’  Decades after he died, Presley’s estate still makes more in a year than I did my entire life.

And so I am here, willingly, foolishly, adding my money to theirs.

 

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

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Nine

 

  Day 5 – Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig

After meeting with, not one, but two fellow bloggers, blowing the exhaust system off the car, getting seriously GPS lost –twice – and attending a disappointing knife show, it might seem that the adventure was pretty much over.  We just intended to head for Detroit, and do a bit of shopping before slipping back over the line, to quiet Canuckville.

Prison

 

 

 

Fortunately for my publishing stats, fate still had a couple of (hopefully) interesting things in the wings. As we motored north on I-77, we suddenly passed a State Prison.  We came up over a rise, and there it was, right beside the road on our left.  I assume that the place with the concrete buildings, double twelve-foot high chain-link fences with razor wire on top and a ten-foot kill zone between them, was a prison, not a chicken hatchery.

We drove near one years ago, near Lapeer, MI.  For miles there were signs beside the highway, warning, “Caution Prison!  Do not pick up hitchhikers!”  This place – not so much.  While not near any urban area, I was surprised that it was so near a major highway.  Don’t they put prisons in places like Alcatraz, miles from anywhere?  I guess guards don’t like living in the middle of nowhere, delivery trucks don’t like driving there, and prisoners have the right to quick medical transportation.

As we came north, we reached a secondary road branching off the Interstate, which would angle northwest to Toledo, saving us several miles of driving, and a couple of dollars of road toll.  Northwest Ohio should be flatter and straighter than the Southeast corner, but my ass was still sore from being bitten by ‘Ohio 23’, so we drove on up north, to the Lake Erie shore, passing close to Kent State University, where CSNY sang of Four Dead In Ohio.

Cleveland Rocks!  Cleveland Rocks!  Even if we didn’t see Drew Carey, or the Rock and Roll Museum.  We did see the section of Ohio that Chrissie Hynde lamented had been paved over, by a government that had no pride – from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls.

After rolling through the concrete jungle of Cuyahoga Falls, and Cleveland, we climbed on I-80, the Ohio Turnpike.  We grabbed a ticket, and headed for the toll booths at Toledo.  For the entire length that we drove, the east- and west-bound traffic were separated by concrete, K-rail, Jersey Barriers.  Not all of Ontario’s high-speed highways are completely supplied, to prevent crossover accidents.  Our local ring-road bypass, The Conestoga Expressway, still has open areas, despite 6 deaths in the last five years.

Every mile, the ends of two K-rails were offset, to allow police and emergency vehicles to U-turn, and for cops to hide, while watching for speeders. The right lane was crowded with trucks, including a number of triple-trailer transport-trains.  I was keeping up with traffic at the legal 65 MPH limit, in the middle lane.  A half-mile ahead, I saw the nose of a cruiser sticking out from one of the gaps.  In my mirror, I also saw a couple of bumble-bee cars, zipping in and out of the left lane, and rapidly overtaking me.

Just like the old cliché, they passed me like I was standing still.  Then, the guy in the lead spotted the cop, and piled on the binders.  The guy racing him didn’t see anything, and almost piled into the back of him.  Suddenly driving very slowly, they cut in front of me, and all the way over to the right lane, ending up ahead of, and behind, an overloaded half-ton, but I saw the cop pull out.

Cop Car

 

 

I told the wife that he was chasing the speeders.  “Who?  Where?”  “Those guys.” – pointing.  “But he’s waving at you??”  “Me?  What did I do?”  I looked out my window, and sure enough, he indicated for me to fall back.  He could hit the lights and siren, and force his way in, but it might set off a dangerous chase, and one or both could get away.  I eased back.  He eased in, right beside them, and turned on the lights.  They both looked chagrined and resigned as they pulled over.

I had hoped to gas up once we reached Detroit, but pulled off I-75 at Gibraltar, 25 miles short.  Just as I reached the bottom of the ramp, a dash chime sounded, and the ‘Fill Me’ light came on.  Already overfed, and eating less because of old age, we skipped the steak and baked potato at The Outback, and supper was a ‘Blooming Onion’ and a small loaf of pumpernickel bread from their takeout, taken back to the motel.

The next morning, we purchased another 25 pounds of Michigan beet sugar, the wife could not find any suitable tops which fit her, we topped up the gas tank again at the Meijer’s store, and had brunch once again at a Denny’s, before heading for the Ambassador Bridge.

Ambassador Bridge 2

 

 

 

 

Ambassador Bridge

 

 

 

Construction on the second bridge has not yet begun, and won’t be complete before we hope to travel here again, but is sorely needed.  Two-lane, bumper-to-bumper backup from the Customs booths started at the middle of the bridge.  When I finally reached the bottom, I was facing South, (check your maps) into the bright sunshine.

I thought, “When I get to pull into the shadow at the booth, I need to remember to take off my sunglasses.” – and then that thought flew south with the Canada geese.  I handed out our Passports, and the female officer, who was wearing purple rubber gloves, imperiously reminded me.

The new Windsor bypass is almost complete, and quickly whisked us five miles out, to the end of Highway 401….where we encountered a roundabout??!  Way to go, Ontario!  Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of vehicles a day, at least half of them trucks, headed for the US, across the most heavily-traveled US/Canada border crossing….  and it all comes down to a roundabout??

I need to rest my brain.  We’ll be home soon.  😀

 

Change

I took the wife to a nice hotel for a change and a rest.  The bell-boy got all my change, and the hotel took the rest.

The reason I originally came here for a job, was that, for 150 years, this area has been known to be in the forefront of industry – insurance companies, breweries, distilleries, and all kinds of manufacturing jobs, often with companies that were on the cutting edge for their time.  While I bemoan the passing of the manufacturing jobs, the region continues to reinvent itself in the service, and technology theaters.

Despite over 80% public disapproval, the mayor and several councillors continue to midwife the birth of an ego/memorial, street railroad.  They want to be remembered as the visionaries who breathed life back into a downtown area which has been moribund for 30 years, although their project may be years too early.

Even though my taxes will go up, it seems to be working.  New, upscale restaurants and clubs are already opening, down the main street, and an old, ex-Sears store has been converted to apartments.  A block below my auto-parts plant, at a major intersection, the main plant and head office of my bankrupt shoe company has been converted to condo lofts.  Yuppie acceptance was so avid, that move-in dates were delayed for over a year, while they built two more stories on the old four-floor building.

Between the two buildings, a new bus/train/LRT station is going in.  Across the corner, a U-Haul office was torn out, and a ten-floor apartment is being built.  On the final corner, the Community College has erected their School of Optometry, and School of Pharmacy, where the chiropractor’s son is studying.

Up the hill behind them, and over the railroad tracks, across from my old workplace, the owner of the strip-mall property has just announced a complete rebuild.  Gone will be our tacky watering-hole bar, and a Tim Horton’s outlet which died after our plant closed, because of poor access and parking.  Built before drive-throughs, it moved two blocks up the street and took over a failed Wendy’s.

Research In Motion, also known as the RIM Corporation, was founded in our sister city to the north, and made BlackBerry Phones, until the company name finally changed to BlackBerry.  When they had almost as much money as Carlos Slim, or Oprah Winfrey, they endowed a think-tank known as CIGI, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, who try to show political entities all over the world, how to run their fiefs cheaper, smoother, fairer.

RIM Corp also created the Perimeter Institute, a collection of mathematicians, cosmologists, theoretical physicists and quantum mechanics experts, guys with really tiny wrenches.  Supported by BlackBerry, they’re busily trying to develop things like FTL space-drives, teleportation systems, and quantum computers.

It’s been visited by the likes of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who is bringing Carl Sagan’s Cosmos back to TV.  Steven Hawking has stopped by to bless and anoint it, and is returning this spring.

After RIM/BlackBerry became rich and famous, the two inventive, innovative founders were eased out by the shareholders, and a bean-counter administrator was hired to run it.  Run it he did – almost into the ground.  While it was in its death spiral, he grabbed his $55 million Golden Parachute and bailed out.

The latest CEO seems to be turning it around.  A 3000 unit order by a major US police department is not enough alone to revive it, but is a vote of confidence which may have caused Ford Motors to decide to put BlackBerry technology in their cars.

When they were carving BlackBerry’s tombstone, Panasonic moved into my old auto plant.  Merely a marketing and R&D office at first, they soon made it clear that they were willing to purchase real estate that RIM was selling off and use it to manufacture Panasonic Smartphones locally.

A couple of years ago, Google opened an office in a rehabilitated tannery, a block beyond the new pharmacy school, sharing space with automation and robotics firms.  The area is so promising that they have decided to expand, moving up the street beside Panasonic, into a space where I used to make Jeep parts.

When I started working there, my favorite local radio station played good, solid, baby-boomer Rock and Roll.  Over the years it changed to Soft Rock, and then to Pop, and finally to Bubble-gum, not fit for anyone over 22 to listen to.

A young man at the plant introduced me to his station.  Coming from just at the edge of clear reception, 35/40 miles away, it loudly and proudly called itself The Hawk.  For years it played only Classic Rock!  Sadly, commerce and changing demographics forced it also to change to Soft Rock, and finally Pop, under the inspiring moniker, More Radio.

I don’t think I was exposed to Justin Bieber, but I heard his girlfriend, Selena Gomez, and the entitled and irritating Taylor Swift, who I never, never, ever want to have to listen to again.  One evening recently, the son wanted More information about the ex-Hawk station, so he accessed their website.  He came rushing out of his room and turned the stereo in the living room on.

Apparently, at 5 PM on a Friday evening, without any hoopla, or even a warning announcement, they quietly changed to All-Country, all the time.  I have become my father.  The radios in the house and car have gone silent.  It’s all right though.  If any of you have words of consolation for me, I can’t hear them.  I took a screwdriver and poked my eardrums out.

Some of it’s good.  Some of it’s….meh.  I’d settle for a lot less, “Plus Ça change,” and a bit more of “la même chose”!  Alas, woe is me!    😉

I Got Your Number When You Walked Thru The Door

Did anyone but me get the reference to a 1980s, two-hit wonder band called Sugarloaf?

If Mankind was not “Created” or “Intelligent Design”-ed, we developed our survival skills through evolution.  People are just great at seeing patterns, even where no such pattern exists, and almost always in one direction.  We see faces in clouds, but never clouds in faces

The caveman who saw a sabre tooth tiger in the grass a thousand times when it wasn’t really there, had nothing to answer for.  The fool who didn’t see it when it really was there, only made that mistake once.  He who frights and runs away, lives to fright another day – and sire children.

None of which has any actual bearing on the post I’m about to publish.  I just have a bunch of figures spiralling in toward the event horizon of the black hole of my intellect.  Some of them are vaguely related, but, if you can see a pattern, you’re a better man than I, Charlie Brown, even if you’re one of the impressive ladies who read my posts.

First, there was that little bump to the ego, and sideswipe to the self-esteem when I hit the age of 69.  That little internet birthday party helped buff out the worst of the damage.

Next – the blog is coming along nicely.  The second last award I was given, The Liebster, is only given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  A lovely crop of newcomers has recently shown up and pushed my numbers to 215, so I shouldn’t receive another of those, although Sparklebumps is well over 200, and recently had a Liebster thrown at her.  She had the presence of mind, not only to catch it, but to do what I have never bothered to do, translate it, basically, respected or beloved.

If all the numbers added up on the same day, or even within a week, I’d claim a pattern, but they’re too strung out.  Perpetually calm and cool, I don’t ever remember being strung out.  My views recently exceeded 10,000, and my comments are rapidly approaching 3000.  I know that’s not terribly exciting to those among you whose follower counts equal the population of Colombia, or the number of drug dealers in the U. S.  (Wait!  Aren’t they the same thing?)

I was given another lesson in humility recently.  They arrive unannounced, and usually unwanted.  AFrankAngle offered me a link to one of his older posts – March 2009 – not even back to his “In the beginning”, but long before I could spell blog.  He’s published almost every day, and often as loquacious as me, for over five years.

I, on the other hand, still have a bit of paranoia about where my next semi-lucid idea is going to come from, and limit my posts to every three days.  I still compose the occasional non-time-specific post, and tuck it away in a Word file, to be pulled out if I have a bout of brain drought.  This post should go up about number 250, and there seems to be almost 50 more, hidden away, so I should reach at least 300.

The wife jokes (At least I hope she’s joking.) that I could die today, and she could keep pulling them out and publishing them for six months to a year.  If it weren’t for a shortage of smart-ass, inane comments and replies, you guys might never notice, or miss me, and John Erickson being back, yet again, isn’t going to help.

I’ve done 450 on-line crossword puzzles since the last time the computer was initiated.  I had my average time-to-solve down to 8 minutes and 46 seconds, but hit a few real puzzlers and drifted up to 8:52.  The more puzzles I do, the more seconds I need to shave off to affect the average, but I’ve pushed it back down to 8:48.

I told Benzeknees about a local couple who didn’t think they could afford to pay for a marriage ceremony.  Her mother alerted her, and she entered a contest to win a free wedding at a local marriage chapel, and won.  They were wed on the 11th month, the 12th day of the 13th year, at 2:00PM, the 14th hour, at 15 Queen Street.  Any numerologists in the crowd??  What does that signify?  I should know.  I have CDO!  It’s a lot like OCD, but the letters are in the proper alphabetical order!

My numbers for watching The Tonight Show are in a countdown.  I have until Feb. 6, 2014.  I’ve watched the show almost every night since we were married, almost 47 years ago.  The first large segment of that was the Johnny Carson Golden Era.

I’ve seen a few of the original Steve Allen episodes.  He could be giddy, and uncontrolled in his humor.  I’ve seen a few of the Jack Paar editions.  He could be so cerebral; it was like watching paint dry.  Johnny Carson was the perfect mix, a bit of magic, a wide range of humor, good guests, great interviews, and very little ego.

I sent a letter endorsing Jay Leno as his replacement, and a submission for his “Headlines” bit.  I got back a nice letter, and an 8” X 12” autographed photo.  I’ve watched a bit of Jimmy Fallon, who will replace him, but have decided I’m just too old to “get it.”  I could learn how to run Netflix, or just read and blog more.

The anonymous and never questioned They, say that one volunteer/hero is worth a thousand unwilling conscripts.  I feel that the small, but steadily growing circle of continuing, concerned, conversational, commenting, dedicated readers, is worth a showroom full of tire-kickers.  Thanx for stopping by.  🙂

The Rewards Of Radio

When I was a child, we had a radio, AM only, an old Stromberg/Carlson with a large crack in the top of its one-piece Bakelite plastic case.  It had a loose connection, and sometimes stuttered or cut out.  A good whack on the top usually got it going again, but obviously someone had been a little too enthusiastic with a thump.  It had a copper wire which ran out a window to a steel stake in the ground, to use the earth as an assistant receiver.  We even paid a “radio licence fee” for several years, for the right to listen to free, open broadcasts.

Since my father was a part-time entertainer, he listened to it a lot, to hear songs he could use in his once-a-week act.  Later, we got a better radio/record player combo, and I heard much Big-Band sounds, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, The Ames Brothers, and soundtracks from musicals.  As the Fifties wore on, Rock-and Roll replaced Swing.  Dad listened to radio less, and I listened to it more.  By the time I got married in 1967, Canada’s Centennial Year, we owned a radio which was turned on as soon as someone reached the living-room in the morning, and didn’t get turned off till we watched TV, or went to bed.

I didn’t “listen” to radio, so much as absorb it.  Hear the same song by the same artist a thousand times, and I could soon “Name That Tune” in two notes.  Radio stations began running phone-in contests, to prove to advertisers how many people listened to them.  Finally, my head full of useless trivia became useful.

Actually, the wife was the first one in the family to win something from a radio station.  Pre-Tim Horton’s, a local small doughnut chain offered a dozen high-quality doughnuts to the first person to tell how they were invented….and we were off.  As addicted listeners, we were often able to take a shot at a radio contest.  Sometimes you had to be the correct-number caller, but if we got through, we usually had the right answer.

A brash young DJ came to town, and started on the over-night show.  I often called him at the station, to alleviate his, and my, boredom.  I was the one who called him to show where the mistake in Billy Joel’s song, You’re Only Human, was.  The first Friday night I let my son accompany me on my security job, the young DJ jokingly held a “Guess The DJ’s Lunch” contest, at three in the morning.  My son’s phone-in stab wasn’t even close, but it was amusing enough to get us the chance to meet him in person, for a restaurant breakfast in the morning.  We showed up at a store-opening remote broadcast, and he named us on-air, and described us as “the two-man motorcycle gang.”

The local station was supposed to have run a series of give-aways of tickets for the premier showing of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie, Commando, but forgot to schedule it.  On the Friday afternoon, they suddenly revealed on-air that they had 20 four-packs, for the first people who showed up at the station.  My motorcycle zipped me downtown, and parked easily, while I ran upstairs.  The four of us got to see Arnie mash, crash and bash.

 I was mowing the grass in the backyard one afternoon, when I saw the son hanging out the French door, with the phone to his ear with one hand, and waving frantically to me with the other.  The radio station was offering free tickets to the Michael Keaton, Batman movie, to anyone who knew where Bill Cosby went to university.  The son didn’t know, but he immediately dialled, because, as a Cosby and comedy fan, he knew that I knew, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.  I never stopped cutting grass as he won a night out for us.

As interested in music and radio as I am, the son attended a broadcast-arts course at the local community college, just in time to see automation and syndication scuttle his chances for work in the industry.  He doesn’t even remember what the contest was about, but does remember calling the local Pop AM station one day, and winning a VHS tape, and 12-inch action figure (It’s not a doll.  It’s for boys.) of the kids’ movie, “Indian In The Cupboard.”  Not age-specific for him, he turned them over to his appreciative nephew.

I called in and won an evening for four at a newly opened water-park on the edge of town.  That semi-conscious music osmosis came in handy again, although the question wasn’t really that hard.  The guy who won his four-pack the day before I did, said that the song they referred to had the phrase, “Sorry Baby” in it about ten-thousand times, so that’s what he guessed.

After contaminated water killed 7 people in Walkerton, ON, a benefit concert called Watershed was organized to help survivors, and raise awareness.  On the fourth and last year it was held, I managed to win two tickets, and drove the son 75 miles, to roast in a ball park for an all-day show.  There were a total of 11 acts, the third last of which was Teri Clark, a well-known female Canadian Country singer.  She was followed by Joe Cocker, who was older than I was, but pumped out more energy than I ever could.  We wormed our way right up front to see Joe.  The finale act was the great Canadian rock band, The Guess Who, who made an afternoon of sunburn well worthwhile.

As my grumpy-old-dudeness ossifies, I understand why my Dad turned off his radio in his later years.  “They haven’t written a decent song since before Disco!!”  “What’s Disco Grandpa??”  I used to haunt the second-hand record, and then CD stores.  “Have you ever heard of the Greg Kihn Band?”  Now, what little music I listen to is available for download from the net.  Excuse me; I have to turn my hearing aid….ah, Assistors, up.