Challenge – Be Bored For A Week

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I tried to be bored, but the voices inside my head wouldn’t let me.

Bored

Actually, I really didn’t try, because there was only one voice inside my head – and it was mine.  I gave it a shot, but quickly found that any time I stopped thinking about everything/anything, I wound up back at my Gravatar description, researching something else that would do me no good at all, except as blog-fodder.

I tried some of that mindless Yoga contemplation – didn’t work!  As soon as I stopped thinking about blog-posts, and useless trivia, into my head popped Spring Byington.  She was a C-grade actress who only had one television series, called December Bride.  It ran from 1954 to 1959.

She played a middle-aged, divorced woman, living with her grown daughter, and everybody was trying to fix her up with another husband.  A (relatively) young Harry Morgan played the intrusive neighbor.  The gimmick was that, like Howard Wolowitz’s mother on The Big Bang Theory, his acerbic wife was often heard, but never seen.

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In researching a trip to Detroit, MI, I found that there are several other Detroits in the US, including Detroit TX….which is near Oklahoma City….which reminded me of the Jim Croce song, Rapid Roy, where he sings about transporting illegal moonshine, “Runnin’ from the man in Oklahoma City, with a 500 gallon tank.”

How much would 500 gallons of white lightning weigh?  Hmmm – almost 4400 pounds!  Certainly not something to be carried in a stripped-down, hopped-up sedan, or even a pickup truck, and definitely not while trying to out-speed or out-maneuver State Police vehicles.

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Almost as soon as electric rice cookers became available, the wife had to have one.  Six months later, they “New and Improved” them, by adding a tray in which you could steam things like the frozen dumplings that she likes to add to her homemade chicken soup.  Recently, on Facebitch, someone offered a new Black and Decker unit with the steamer tray, for $15.

When we went to pick it up, the irony was that it was offered for sale by a young Chinese-Canadian woman, still living with her barely-speak-English immigrant parents.  On the drive home I relaxed – and the voice in my head said ‘taffeta.’

There may be more than one of me inside, what I thought was, my empty head.  Almost immediately, the same/different voice said, ‘I’ll see you the taffeta, and raise you organdy and sateen.’  They’re all thin, bright, shiny fabrics, often used as decoration on women’s clothing.  Why would I even know that they exist, much less bring them up to myself during a car ride??!

It’s a wonder that I ever get any particular project completed, with all these odd thoughts and factoids caroming around at strange angles inside my brain, like a bumper car ride.  I’ve proved that I can’t bore myself.  I just hope that I haven’t bored you.  Stop back soon for a ham on rye post – something with a little more meat to it. 🙂

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Invasion USA

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Recently Chuck Norris the wife and I executed a quick little raid into American territory for cultural observation and retail therapy.

We were barely outside the city limits, when trouble first arose.  It wasn’t long before there was a knock-down, drag-out, cursing and swearing, screaming and yelling, hair pullin’, eye-gougin’ match going on over in the passenger seat, between the wife, and Ethel, the snotty GPS.

The last little village we went through before getting on the Superhighway, was Roseville, ON. Our destination, north of Detroit, was Roseville, MI.  When the wife tried to enter that, Ethel insisted, “You’re already there.” The wife finally punched Ethel in the button that read ‘Change State or Province.’  Suddenly, Ethel knew all about Roseville….California.  No! No!  No!  I finally suggested adding the Michigan ZIP-code, and the fight ended with no serious injuries.

The Windsor/Detroit crossing is the most heavily-used border point between Canada and the US, and the one we’ve been using for years. Security is strict.  Since we were going well north of Detroit, we chose to cross from Sarnia, to Port Huron, MI, and work our way south.  Between a less-busy crossing, and the passage of 15 years since 9/11, it was quick, easy and almost informal.

Our border guard was a young, white male, who wasn’t suffering from testosterone poisoning from listening to Donald Trump speeches. When the wife volunteered that we were staying three days, he replied, “I don’t care how long you stay, as long as it’s not more than six months.”  When he found that we were going to strew cash into the economy, we got waved through before The Donald could collect enough Mexican pesetas to erect his wall.

Hotels/motels and restaurants cluster around Interstate exits. The better ones are usually right up front, while the Eats Diners huddle a little further back.  Right across from my Red Roof Inn, was a Days Inn, while the Victorian Inn was half a block south.

Red Roof

While searching for a Taco Bell, on the next main road over, and a block north, we drove past the Alibi Inn….because apparently the name Divorce Depot was already taken.  They oughta warn a fellow about things like that.  Trying to drive a car while giggling hysterically, looks a lot like DUI.

We went to a Wal-Mart to get some work jeans for Shimoniac, in his ‘big and tall’ size that Ontario Wal-Marts no longer carry. The first one we tried was down towards Eminem’s Eight Mile, surrounded by ‘houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same,’ occupied mostly by melanin-rich folks.

It wasn’t dirty, but had the feel of dowdy, and unkempt.  In the Men’s Wear section, there were shelves and shelves of jeans.  Regular fit, Boot cut, Relaxed fit, Carpenter style and Flex-waist were all inter-mixed in the same piles, as well as waist sizes from 28 to 48, and inseams from 30 to 48.  After 20 minutes of frustrated searching, we managed to find one pair.

We then drove north and west to another Wal-Mart. Soon the homes were $500,000+, with gated drives and manicured lawns.  The area mall shone like Xanadu.  I’m surprised that we were allowed in, and disappointed that they didn’t have valet parking and shuttles to the shops.

This store gleamed. In the Men’s Wear section, all the styles were carefully kept separate, and sizes ran from smallest at the top, to largest on the bottom.  They have a much-different clientele.  It took only 30 seconds to find another pair of jeans, leaving the wife time to peruse the ladies’ sweaters.

You know you’re having an interesting vacation when you look out your motel window in the morning to see a State Trooper putting his steel battering-ram door opener back into the Police sport-ute.  He didn’t have to use it.  A local woman rented a room for a couple of visitors.  They partied too rowdy.  Instead of calling the front desk, who would have had to call the Police anyway, the outraged neighbors called the cops themselves.

While I was gabbing with a room-clerk, a young man came in to get another keycard. “I didn’t mean to pull the door all the way closed.”  Fortunately, he didn’t do it while dressed only in his Calvin Kleins, ‘cause she wanted ID.

The motel leaves a printed sheet, reminding guests to flip the ‘privacy’ switch on the inside of the door, so that no-one can enter, even with a keycard. While doing my usual wandering around, I found a keycard which someone had dropped just outside their door while entering.  I turned it in at the office.

At the wife’s suggestion, we ate supper the first night at Taco Bell. Michigan stores offer nachos Bel Grande that Ontario outlets don’t have.  We followed that with Cracker Barrel, and then The Outback, finishing off the last morning with brunch at Denny’s.

The Cracker Barrel wasn’t really busy, but in our section, the Negro waitress stood around talking to a Negro friend, while the white waitress took orders, delivered food, and cleaned tables. When she finally rushed over to serve us, she apologised for taking so much time.

The wife assured her that we were in no hurry, “You’re busy.”  We had till closing time, and told her to take her time.  You could just see the stress flow away.  “Not a lot of people are like that.”  We each got two corn-meal biscuits.  I, of course, ate both of mine.  The wife ate one.  When the bill arrived, I asked for a bag to take the biscuit home in.  When she returned, the bag held three more fresh biscuits, “So that you’ll both have two for breakfast, and there’ll be no fight.”  Quid Pro Quo!

Finally, well-fed and happy, we headed our mule-train loaded with beet sugar and new clothes back towards the land of maple syrup, socialized medicine and good manners. I’m sorry if that offends any Americans.  Please accept my apology….and come back soon.   😉

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Six

Old Jalopy

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Lost In Thought – And Other Places

The muffler shop manager holding our car for ransom, called early. After trading retirement financial security for a ride back to Canada, we had our treasured transportation back to the motel by 10 AM.  Now we were ready to attend the knife show, at 1 o’clock.

The drive to the knife show was 44 km/26 miles. Halfway there, work crews had two matching bridges down to one lane each.  With the usual assholes rushing up as far as they could, before cutting someone off, by the time we got there, the two-lane, bumper-to-bumper backup on the Interstate was five miles.  By the time we returned from the show, the parking lot was ten miles long.

Cracker Barrel Sign

 

 

 

 

The wife decided that we needed some sustenance before reaching the venue. She had been eyeing Cracker Barrel signs since Erie, PA.  At the exit before ours, there was another one, so, up we went.  Little Miss GPS was not happy.  RECALCULATING!  Turn around. Turn right, now! Get back on the Interstate or I’ll smack you.  We turned her off, and wound up having lunch at Denny’s, saving Cracker Barrel for supper.

Residents either knew exactly where we were from, or couldn’t point to Canada (and maybe even Ohio) on a map. Our server at Denny’s had both her maternal grandparents come from Paisley, a little village of 900, 80 miles north of Kitchener, where my brother lives.  He probably bought their old house.

We had seen TV promos for a movie called Ouija, where the game pointer is inhabited by a malevolent spirit. I didn’t believe in such silliness – until Ethel the evil GPS struck.  Perhaps she was angry because she was ignored, and turned off while we lunched.

When we turned her back on, she quickly got us to the next exit. The ramp comes up to a T-intersection.  My memory from a trip there almost ten years ago, said that we turned right, but Ethel insisted that we turn left, and drive 6.7 km.  Turn left on this highway (?), then turn right on this county road. (It’s a farmer’s lane!)

I knew we were in trouble when we passed under the Interstate, and were south of it.  Turn off the paved road??! We left pavement for gravel road, and ran off gravel onto dirt road.  We finally looped around, right back to where we started, and she insisted that we turn left again. Oh no you don’t! We turned her off, and I turned right.

I drove for several miles, but now I was spooked. I didn’t see the Civic Center.  I did see a gas station, with a State Trooper, so I pulled in and asked him.  I admitted that I was a dumb, lost tourist, and where was this venue?  He leaned to his left, and pointed just past the big tree, around the bend.  Damn!  Damn!  Damn!!  I gotta get these glasses retreaded.

After recovering from our adventure in the wilderness, the knife show was a dismal failure. AFrankAngle didn’t miss a thing.  Apparently the Ohio Knifemakers’ Guild had a little schism, and the clique responsible for advertising and promoting the show, took their toys and went home.

Two of the makers were amazed that I’d even heard of it, in Canada, and drove all the way to attend. One maker packed it in at the end of Friday, and refused to return Saturday.  Only about half the expected displayers showed up, not including any of the fancier makers.

The show was about half-size, and so was the paying-customers crowd(?). There were a few ‘purveyors’ – collectors with a display of other people’s knives they were anxious to unload.  There were a few Suppliers, with grinding wheels, sanding belts, and handle materials – and damned few makers to sell them to.  There was only one ‘rusty jackknife’ display.  One maker was selling para-cord bracelets that his kids had made.  One maker’s wife had added some small knitted items, and etched drinking glasses, to expand the display

There were to have been door-prize draws, every hour, on the hour.  There was one, just as we arrived at 2:20 PM, but I didn’t hear any others before we left, a couple of hours later.  With so few ‘good’ knives, I took only a few photos.  They include a dagger with dyed, stabilized Maple-wood handle, and a couple of shots of a Japanese-style Katana.

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Battle Horse Knives is a production team of a husband, his wife, and a friend. Using production-line methods, they had dozens of well-made, but uninspiring, hunters and skinners, suitable for the local outdoor crowd.

Since the guys work with wood for the handles, they’ve also acquired enough carpentry skills to build an 8 foot long miniature battlement to display their wares. Like my Rapunzel post, they included a tower with hair streaming down.  I thought it might have come from the center of the V-shaped beard on the friend.  The wife told me that it cost her a knife at the Atlanta show, but she got it from a 12-year-old girl attendee – with her parents’ knowledge and permission.

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One artisan – not maker – took factory-made knives and removed the handle material, and replaced it with the State stone, Ohio Flint. Cute, but so what?

Back to the motel, a home-style supper at Cracker Barrel, a little shopping at the plaza, and a good night’s sleep to rest up for the Erickson Expedition. Wanna know how it turns out?  You know where the Archon’s Den is!  See you soon.  😀

A Penny For Your Thoughts

 

Quick!  Take the offer!  The penny won’t be around too much longer­.

BrainRants did a post about a week ago, about the American government considering stopping production of the penny.  Like the flying cars that we would all be driving, I’ve heard that story every six months or so, since the late 1950s.  I got so used to it never happening, that the announcement in the paper, that the Canadian government had actually made the decision, came as a complete surprise.  Look to the Americans following suit soon.  Perhaps they’ll even try replacing the one-dollar bill with a coin.

In Wednesday’s paper, it was front-page, front-section News.  There was a photo of 30 or 40 pennies.  Side by side were a 1978 penny, and a new, shiny 2012 penny.  As a coin collector, I haven’t even seen one of the ‘12s yet.  I occasionally get pennies older than 1978 in my change.  Very occasionally I still get the odd, pre-1952 penny, with the head of Elizabeth’s father, George.  I haven’t seen a penny in change with his father, Edward, for 15/20 years.  The 1978 to 2012 range was fairly representative of what’s out there.

By Saturday’s paper it was just a business story, with another, different photo.  This one shows only eight pennies, but interestingly, two of them are American.  I’d have thought to check the pile, but then I’m a numismatist, Plus, I can think.  A local company had a quarter-page ad a while back.  Save big bucks with us, with a picture of a fan of bills, all of them American.  I called them up and suggested that the next time they pulled something off the internet; they might try harder to make it Canadian.

There’s another difference between Canadians and Americans.  American coins circulate with Canadian, probably about one in fifty.  Two, in a pile of eight, is a little heavy.  Canadians will accept American bills, almost anywhere, close to the border or not.  They might not allow the same rate of exchange as a bank, but they will let Americans spend them.  Americans, even those in border cities, still react as if we were trying to spread Ebola.

I went into a little shop in Kissimmee, and saw two pennies sitting on the edge of the cash register.  Looking closer, I realised that they were Canadian.  I thought perhaps someone was saving them, but the almost-hysterical clerk insisted that somebody had STUCK them with these two man-eating monsters, and nobody wanted them.  I offered to exchange them for two American pennies, but she wouldn’t even have that.  I should please, just take them away.

In my youth, I had a summer friend from Windsor.  He and three of his buddies wanted to bar-hop with some Americans they’d played baseball with.  Back then there were no debit cards, so they went to the bank, stocked up on U.S. cash and crossed the bridge.  At the end of the evening they wanted to have one for the road, but he’d run out of American money.  He asked the bartender if he could pay with a Canadian five, and the guy agreed.  I mean, he could almost see his house, across the river.  Just as he was finishing, he got a hand on his shoulder.  The bartender had called the cops.  Not merely a local Smoky, this was state trooper.

Tall, dark and retarded wanted to charge him with COUNTERFEITING.  Even if the bill had been a counterfeit, it would have been a Canadian counterfeit, produced in a foreign country.  A case of fraud might have been applicable, but not counterfeiting.  Without “resisting arrest”, he argued with the trooper for over fifteen minutes.  The guy’s hat was on so tight, he just didn’t get it.  Finally my friend insisted that he call his Sergeant, who finally arrived and set both the trooper, and the bartender straight.  I could see this reaction in Arizona, or even Kentucky, but, Detroit??

Zero tolerance also means zero thought applied, zero consideration, zero actual work done and one hundred percent cover-your-ass.  Establish a policy and hide behind it, and you’ll be able to piss customers off without ever having to make a decision again.

A Canadian man returned from a trip to Mexico.  He had promised to get his eight-year-old daughter a present, but had forgotten to do so before he left.  He had to land in Toronto, and take a connecting flight to Nova Scotia. While he was in the airport, he went to the gift shop and purchased a horse-shaped piñata.  When he attempted to board his plane, an Air Canada flight attendant confiscated the piñata, claiming it was a security violation.

The piñata was bought inside the secure area of the airport.  The attendant claimed that it had been soaked in kerosene.  Kerosene is what fuels the plane; piñatas are papier-mâché, newspaper and glue, just like the newspapers or books on the plane.  An Air Canada spokesman, in charge of Cover-Your-Ass, announced that airline personnel consider passenger safety first, when carrying out their jobs.  I don’t think any consideration at all was given in this case.  I think a PMS Princess, angry at her boyfriend for forgetting her birthday, took it out on the first convenient passenger, and instead of admitting that maybe someone had made an error, or been a little over-zealous, Air Canada just started waving the Passenger Safety banner.  Feel safe yet??!