Book Review #14

spacehounds-of-ipc

Edward Elmer E.E. (Doc) Smith is arguably the father of the Space Opera genre of science fiction.  His protagonists are the biggest, strongest, fastest, smartest and bravest.  I didn’t use the term ‘heroes’, because he didn’t write them like that.  They might simultaneously be all of the above, but there was always a touch of, “Shucks Ma’am, ‘tweren’t nothin’!”

In one book, the lead captured a rival who had kidnapped his fiancée, and attempted to kill him. At one point, he armed the rival with two .45 caliber automatics; so that they could fight their way through a roomful of someone else’s armed thugs.

Later in the book, the rival warns aggressive underlings not to try anything against him, “Unless you can sneak up behind him with a cannon. He was the one who kicked the door in, and still got off three shots before I fired once.  He was shooting 4 to my 3, and hit every time, where I missed once with my left.”  Even his Japanese valet was described as, “Chain lightning on greased wheels.”

Smith strongly resembled his characters. He got the nickname ‘Doc’ honestly.  He was a food engineer who worked for years for Kellogg’s of Battle Creek.  Aside from his prolific writing, when he wasn’t formulating breakfast cereal that would stop teenage boys from masturbating, he developed a process to get materials like powdered sugar and sprinkles to adhere to donuts and muffins, later giving rise to the likes of Krispy Kreme and Tim Horton’s.

He was a friend and mentor to Robert Heinlein. A line could be drawn from Smith, through Heinlein, up to Gene Rodenberry, who gave us 50 years of Star Trek space opera.

Some of his characters had ‘perception,’ the ability to ‘see’ when eyes couldn’t. Heinlein asked for help in buying a used car.  Doc took the wheel for a test drive.  At one point, he hunkered down and put his ear to the door post, to listen for any suspect vibrations.  He drove several miles without seeing the road, and Heinlein swears he must have had ‘perception.’  He okayed the car, which lasted for years.

The book: Spacehounds Of IPC

The author: E.E. (Doc) Smith

The review:

This is one of Doc’s earliest sci-fi stories, and the one that he was most proud of. It was originally released in 1932, and then re-released again in 1947.  The paperback version I have is from Ace Books, and sold about 1965.

This is the book where he developed what he would use in later series. All space action takes place within the Solar System.  Gravity on space ships is provided by acceleration or deceleration.  No scientific usage was, or has been, proved impossible.

This is where he first wrote of ray-cannons, deflector shields, tractor and presser rays, guillotine planes, and the absorption of attackers’ weapons output and eventually cosmic radiation into massive capacitors, for re-use. He describes a 10-foot flying lizard-being from Jupiter’s South Pole, which became an interstellar race in his later Lensman series.

Like several other authors, he was terribly prescient about technology. This 1930s book describes hand-held walkie-talkies, electronic calculators, computers and direct-beam radios (albeit with vacuum tubes), and view-screens that he identifies as televisions.

It’s a soft, nostalgic look at science and society of almost a century ago. It’s all black and white – us vs. them – good against evil.  The language is upscale technical, and archaic, even for a coot as old as me.  Nothing is OK (or okay); everything is ‘all-x.’

Even among fellow-scientists, relations are somewhat formal, and a young, unmarried couple, stranded alone on Ganymede for six months (but with no guarantee of ever being picked up) managed to keep their hands off each other. Not at all like Captain Kirk, who couldn’t keep it in the Galaxy, much less his pants.

Not as a suggestion, but merely as a question from Jim Wheeler about whether I ever re-read books, I have dug out and am reading stories I first read 40 and 50 years ago. The passage of time has not only changed Society, but matured my outlook and opinions about many things.  Some of them have been quite….interesting.

Smitty’s Loose Change #2

Smitty's Loose Change

Extra Extra

NEWSPAPER HEADLINE

Caller to distress line gets recorded message

SUB-CAPTION

‘It’s fortunate I wasn’t in crisis’

Then why in Hell were you calling the distress line? To find the time of the next bus??!  When I saw the headline, I thought it referred to the 911 line.  When I read it, it turned out to be a suicide prevention hotline, and I cut a little bit of slack.

Still, like idiots who overload the 911 line with complaints that McDonalds didn’t put onions on their Big Mac, if you call a suicide hotline when you’re NOT in crisis, somebody with a bottle of pills, or a car running in the garage can’t get through, and gets the recorded message that you complained of.

***

RECENTLY-READ BLOG-POST OPENING

If Batmans parents are died how can he be here? The writers didn’t think this threw.” With a picture of Superman, that he’d captioned, “I got to get out off this planet.” (signed) Capt. Darkfeir

Well, if Superman’s going, I’m going with him. I know that this is probably a gamer-boy, still living in his mom’s basement, but, if we’ve got people so lazy and dumb that they can’t/won’t read the back-story to a comic book, society is doomed.

It didn’t occur to him that Bruce Wayne was already 10, when he witnessed his parents’ murder, but he believes himself so smart that he’s spotted a contradiction that no-one else has noticed for 80 years.

I almost left the planet when I saw his ‘parents are died’ construction, and ‘threw’ for ‘through’ usage.  The Superman caption needs some work, although maybe he wants to be Capt. Darkfeir, instead of ‘fire.’

***

A local man is a powerful bicycling proponent. He rides his bike everywhere in the city.  Recently, his 18-year-old daughter was on her way to school.  She rode her bike without a helmet, on the wrong side of the road, and failed to stop at an intersection.  She was struck and killed by a turning car.  Now he is demanding that some level of government ‘train all young cyclists in bike safety.’

Another man took his 3-, and 5-year-old sons into a busy Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop and ordered a tea. The clerk placed it on the counter in front of him.  Too distracted to pay attention to either his tea or his kids, the tea somehow got knocked over onto the 3-year-old, severely scalding him.  Now he’s whining about, “Why did Tim’s make the tea so hot?”  After that dumb bitch cooked her crotch some years ago, see warning on all cups, “Caution! Contents may be hot.”

When, oh when, will asshats like Bicycle Bob, and Koffee-Shop Klutz, take responsibility for their actions and offspring, and not try to palm it off onto government or business?

***

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Last year I mentioned that there was about a 200 square foot portion of my back yard where the grass had been supplanted by millet, from seeds that birds had spilled from a feeder. The above photo shows what that section of lawn(?) looked like, just before the first mowing this spring.

***

That’s all the random rants for the moment. We now return to my regularly organized confusion.  😉

 

Big Adventures In A Small Town

Red Roof  Standard Red Roof

We can always see the ‘same-old’ at home. When most of us go on a trip, we hope to see and experience something new.  The city of Batavia, NY did not disappoint! CHINESE KARAOKE!  Did that catch your attention?  It caught mine.  I’ll explain below.

First of all, there are two Batavias.  The City of Batavia is completely encircled by the Town of Batavia.   On the western edge sits Batavia Downs, a well-known, completely-enclosed, indoor harness racing venue.  Three hotels sit nearby, just past the tollbooths off I-90.

Rich Red Roof  My Red Roof

Justifying my claim that hotels are forever changing names, my Red Roof Inn has had five names. Until two years ago, it was a Travelodge.  Unlike most ‘standard’ Red Roofs, its room doors didn’t empty out into the parking lot and the weather.  Instead, it had a central hall, interior doors, and quieter rooms.  It also had a small bar, and a dining room that was used as a karaoke club.

About five years ago, a developer bought up and paved over acres and acres of property surrounding the race track. Soon, businesses like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Applebee’s, Tops and Target popped up, giving the race fans (or their wives) someplace else leave their money.  Three new hotels went up just north of the Interstate.

Many of the people who work at these new businesses came from somewhere else. Five years ago, the City of Batavia had about 9000 residents.  Nowadays the population is pushing 16,000.  The night clerk, a 22-year resident, is outraged.  There are now two McDonalds, and two Tim Horton’s in her town.

Tim Horton's  Tim Horton’s c/w drive-through

I don’t think she quite believed me when I told her that in Southern Ontario, I could pass two Tim Horton’s on the way to pick up my mail. The son uses a four-lane regional road to drive 9 Kilometers (5+ miles) across town to go to work, and passes 4 Timmies along the way. There are probably another dozen scattered around town.

Back to the Karaoke…. Through the summer and fall, groups of Chinese couples arrive in the USA, possibly landing in LA, or San Francisco.  They are flown to Las Vegas for a couple of days, then flown on up to a regional airport just north of Batavia.  A Chinese driver picks them up with a Mercedes Sprinter van, and installs them at the Red Roof.  The next day they are driven 60 miles to Niagara Falls.

There are always two groups, one a day ahead of the other, filling 10 to 15 rooms. A local DJ offers Chinese Karaoke on Saturday night, in the dining room.  First they belt out the lyrics to Chinese songs, but quickly change over to modern North American pop songs, which they attempt to sing phonetically.  It’s amusing.  Most of them can’t speak a word of English.

On Sunday morning, the drunk who couldn’t speak English, is hung-over, but loudly spewing O Solé Mio phonetically in Italian into the parking lot at 6 AM. I knew that Japanese are renowned for taking lots of pictures.  These people took photos and videos of everything, including two crab-apple trees, and the crab-apples on the ground by the entrance.

Because regional airports are favored by folks like smugglers and terrorists, there was a significant Homeland Security building right across the street, and the county sheriff’s office was just beyond the neighboring hotel. Unlike our trip two years ago, to the ‘hood’ in Detroit, this time there was no need for armed security patrols.

The telephone booking clerk told me that I was getting ‘just a plain room’, so we took along the Koolatron – only to find a refrigerator in the room. We took food for breakfasts – to be told that the hotel provided a hot breakfast – eggs, sausage, cereal, bagels, bread, juice and fruit.

One of the non-Chinese diners stopped the night-clerk and asked her if she remembered a Sorel Boot plant out where new plaza now sits. I cut parts for Sorel Boots for the hometown Kaufman Footwear, until they went bankrupt, and I had to find a new job in ’85.  I didn’t know they had a plant in Batavia.  I guess it got torn down and paved over.

The City of Batavia has some old and interesting buildings, which I took photos of. (So there, you Chinese tourists!)  If you’d like to come back in about a week, I’m going to post a mostly photo-blog.

This trip was enjoyable, entertaining and educational for me. I hope you got a little from it also.

Housecleaning Memories

This post will be a sort of guest post from Granma Ladybug.

Recently she has assisted me with our Fall Housecleaning.  She has been reluctant to do so, not because of the labor, or the allergies, but because of the need to divest ourselves of many things which bring back strong memories.

Some years ago, when she was downsized out of a job, she took advantage of a government grant to return to school and upgrade her computer and English skills.  To assess incoming students’ language abilities, the English teacher asked them to write a one-page essay.  She recently came upon a file with hers, along with some other submissions.

The prompt was, “Write about something which strongly affected you, hopefully pleasantly.”  Her mother died when she was only three, and she was raised by a succession of older sisters and an evil sister-in-law.  When we engaged, my mother took her in like her own.  Read how this affected her.

A SUNDAY AFTERNOON DRIVE DOWN THE
SOUTH SHORE OF LAKE HURON

“Welcome to Bruce County!”  This is a sign that, over the years has come to mean a homecoming to me.  Unfortunately, this spring my mother-in-law had a stroke that affected her short-term memory, and she had to be placed in a nursing home.

Every trip home means visiting my father-in-law, who still manages to live at home, and fitting in three visits with Mom over the weekend.  This trip home, my husband and I decided to take Mom out for a Sunday afternoon drive.

After getting Mom settled in the car, our first stop was The Chip Shop, for French fries which we could enjoy during the drive.  Our journey took us down the main street to Lake Huron, and a view of Chantry Island.  We then travelled along Huron Street, taking a right onto Adelaide Street, down to Lake Street, left on Lake Street past the tennis courts, and another right to Beach Street.

Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

At the end of Beach Street is Chantry Park, where the Long Dock was.  You can still see the rocks which made up the dock, stretching far out into the water.  We then continued down Front Street, which turns into Harmer Street, then becomes Harmer Road, paralleling Lake Huron.

Lighthouse II

 

 

 

 

 

The road winds along the shoreline, curving to accommodate Mirimachi Bay, where a lower water level reveals mud flats with pools of murky water that house bulrushes, and other aquatic life.  We pulled over to the side of the road and watched two sailboats rounding Chantry Island, the sailing conditions being absolutely perfect.

mini-railroad

 

 

 

 

As we continued down the shore road, the brightly shining sun made the calm water sparkle with diamonds….almost too brilliant for the eyes.  On we meandered, past the miniature gauge railroad tracks in the lakefront park, past Port Elgin’s marina, up to the main street and to the Tim Horton’s, to pick up Timbits for Mom and her roommate, Christina Eagles.

Returning Mom to the nursing home was very difficult for Mom and us; however, Christina was glad to see Mom, as she has become very attached to her, and is frightened to be left alone for too long.  We brought out the Timbits, which are Christina’s favorite treat, and had a small party to celebrate the end of an enjoyable day.

While it was pleasant to take Mom out for the day, it brought to mind past years when Sunday meant putting on a roast and loading the car with grandparents, parents and children, to take a tour of the Bruce Peninsula.  We have, in past years, gone to the flea market at Mar, seen the spring and fall colors at Lion’s Head, and investigated many, many garage sales that dot the countryside during the fine summer weather.

Outings that were taken by the Smith family include a litany of small town names such as Chesley, Tara, Allenford, Wingham, Oliphant etc.  These were memories in the making, something to bring out later, and to let the remembering heal the hurt that adverse changes can bring.  To make pleasant memories is a very important detail.

This was the bitter-sweet last time we were all able to enjoy such a get-together.  Mom remained in good physical condition, almost until her death from a virulent case of flu when she was 92.  Soon after this day though, the mental light in her eyes faded, and there was almost no spark of who she’d been.

While we may be forced to jettison some of our physical things, we hold our memories dearly.  They remain almost as bright and strong as the days they were created.  They take no room to store and, not only can we pull them out and enjoy them at any time, but we can share them with others.   😀

Stoned

 

I should have mentioned earlier, that I’ve become a new Grandpa, well….adoptive.  Earlier this spring, another of my pet rocks had a baby.

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This is Momma Stone.  We took her in when we found her, pregnant and abandoned.  You can probably tell, from her patient demeanor, how she’s been able to put up with me for years.  She just sits quietly at the corner of the garage, enjoying the warmth of the sun when she can, and reporting to me, the amount of rain and snow we’ve had.

One of her daughters, a nice little egg, has been hanging around out on the back deck with a few other teenage stones.  I convinced them, when they’re not busy tweeting and texting, to hold down a plastic cover on a small table.

This spring, when I wanted to put the cover out again, I gently picked her up, and found that Jack Frost had sneaked into the back yard and slipped a little moisture into her.  She gave birth to an even smaller stone, right in my hand.  Mother and child are doing well.

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SDC10623

 

 

 

 

Inclusions like this happen millions of years ago, when erosion breaks off chunks of the original granite of the Earth.  They roll into stream or oceans, and are tumbled around and abraded till they are smooth and rounded, and finally are covered with fine sand, lots and lots of sand, and then, piles of water.  Over millennia, the pressure of the water compacts and solidifies the sand into sandstone, and these little Easter eggs are often concealed forever.  It was only luck that gave us these two.

****

Speaking of becoming the parent of a small stone….On a recent Friday, I had agreed to take the daughter, LadyRyl, and her friend, and three of the friend’s cats, to a veterinary, fifteen miles away, in the next city.  While daughter and I waited, her cell phone burbled.  Since grandson only works till noon on Fridays, I suspected it was him checking in.  She shook her head and handed the phone to me.

The wife told me not to be any longer than necessary returning home.  The son, Shimoniac, works midnight shifts.  He had gone to bed at 11:00 AM, but had wakened about 1:30 with pain and nausea.  After throwing up food he ate three days ago, and then nothing but brownish bile, it settled into a sharp, grinding pain in the lower right quadrant.

Getting the two gals and three cats back into the car, and home, was like….herding cats.  Finally accomplished, I got back home to find son in the recliner, with an ice pack on his abdomen.  It can’t be his gall bladder; they took that out 20 years ago.  The wife had her appendix rupture when she was a child, and was worried about that possibility.

Get some outdoor clothing on, grab your Ontario Health Card – and off to Emergency we went.  Like every other place, hospitals have gone electronic, and do-it-yourself.  You touch a screen to print your admission form.  You get to sit with a triage nurse, but you swipe your health card to prove that the Government will pay, and to enter basic information.

There was a large flat-screen monitor on one wall, displaying the Emergency Department page from the hospital’s website.  It gave driving and parking directions, paying special attention to the road work that shuts down several local streets, right outside the hospital.  It also showed that they were currently treating 23 patients, with 18 waiting, and an estimated wait time of 3.5 hours.  It’s 4:00 PM.

Pleasantly, surprisingly, they called him at 6:00 o’clock – only a two hour wait, but the hard part is still ahead.  Not knowing if or when I might get supper, I got a hot chocolate and a toasted bagel at the in-house Tim Horton’s.  I read parts of an abandoned newspaper, and filled in the crossword puzzle.  At 7 PM, just as I was going to ask about him, they informed me that I could go in and see him.

He had had his blood pressure taken, had blood drawn for testing and, despite being dehydrated from the vomiting, had managed to provide a urine sample.  They were going to do an ultrasound, but decided that a CAT-scan would provide better information.  They were going to inject him with an organic dye for contrast, but, for what they suspected, didn’t need it, and decided against it.  They were also going to inject a pain-killer – but the CAT-scan was free right now, so off he went.

I went for another walk to combat stiffness, and he got back around 9 PM.  He got his pain shot, and we waited.  Usually stoic like me, he doesn’t often complain about pain.  When the admitting nurse asked him what it was like, on a scale from 1 to 10, he told her that it was a solid ten!  The pain shot soon had it down to a throbbing three.

The son had been treated by a Doogie Howser MD-young Canadian doctor, named Robert Beaver.  He was accompanied by his resident minion, an even younger oriental Doogie Chen, who does all the scut work.  They returned just before 10:00 PM, and told him that he was the proud parent of a 5 MM kidney stone, which was about half-way down the tube to the bladder.  5 MM is the size of lead in a mechanical pencil.  It’s amazing how something so small can cause so much pain and internal upset.

In and out in just six hours, it wasn’t the best day either of us ever had, but, all things considered, not bad.  He should pass the stone on his own, if he drinks lots of liquids.  He was be contacted by a urologist about a week later.  If the problem has gone away, he won’t need an appointment.  If not, we start talking about lithotripsy, to break up this tiny stone with guided sound waves.

Until either of those occurs, he gets to exist with the help of the same high-octane pain pills that I recently received.  Ain’t life fun??!  😕

P.S.  Two Mondays after, the hospital just called to confirm a Tuesday morning ultrasound appointment that the doctor’s office *forgot* to tell him he had.  Wish him luck today.  😯

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!    😉

Seinfeld Rerun II

The solution to the crossword clue, “Many blogs”, the other day was, “Rants”.  I’m glad to know I’m holding up my end of the bargain.

I’m also glad I caught a clue from BrainRants’ site last February, and started putting my posts in a Word file.  It has reduced tension and evened out my publication.  I pound out three, thousand-word treatises in 36 hours, then go into suspended animation for 8 or 9 days.

Lady Ryl has been diagnosed with type-II diabetes.  It should be to her to announce this, but she hasn’t felt well enough to post since the end of March.  Added to fibromyalgia and mobility restrictions from two damaged knees, this just increases her burdens.  It was caught early enough, that diet and medication should control it.

Her doctor got the blood-test results on a Friday, and wanted her to come in on Saturday, but she was already committed to the Cherry Park festival, where she had a good time, and made some sales.  The trip to the crazy cat lady was delayed a week, and I took her over on Sunday.  A male, and a female, doctor share the office.  Neither wishes to work a full week.  Her lady doctor is in on Tuesday and Friday.  The man she saw, is in on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, providing clinic-like coverage.

In my post about names, I mentioned Laurie Embro, and her sister-in-law, Lori Embro, who both worked in the same plant with me.  Recently, “Laurie Embro” turned up as a search term.  I hope I didn’t say anything derogatory.  Speaking of names, a local female executive carries the surname of Bodkin, so rare that the surname website doesn’t even list it.  In my May 12/13 post, You Don’t Say, I explained that a bodkin is a pointed tool, somewhat like a naval marlin spike, used to work on leather, canvas and rope.

Almost a year ago, on July 26/12, I posted the story of how I got into collecting foreign coins, titled, “A penny, lira, peso, etc. for your thoughts.” It got the usual 40 or so views, and disappeared.  Suddenly, about a month ago, I started getting, “A lira for your thoughts” as a search term, and usually 4 or 5 views of that post, each and every day.  The views come from countries all over the world.  Pleasantly puzzling!

While many of the larger auto-parts firms have left the area, it is still possible to get a job with some of the smaller ones.  The Workforce Planning Board held a meeting of HR executives recently, and, among other things, the topic of strange applications came up.  These are definitely not the usual ones, but they include an applicant showing up for an interview in a hoodie and baseball cap.  Mark Zuckerberg can get away with wearing that to a board meeting, but not a job applicant.

A candidate who had been granted a $17 dollars/hour, 40 hours/week, 9-week summer job, then wanted three weeks vacation in the middle.  Applicants tell HR reps that they’ll only work days.  They don’t do afternoons or night-shifts.  It is not appropriate for parents to call to set up an appointment for their child, nor is it appropriate for them to call, and follow up after an interview.  A parent showed up at one plant and asked to submit a resume for the son who was sitting out in the car.  Who wants the job, the kid, or the parent??  One mother even came to her son’s performance review, and fielded questions for him.

I recently took the wife to a local rheumatologist for a cortisone shot.  The building is filled with doctors, including one of her nephews.  Every door has two signs, “Leave all wet footwear outside.” and, “No food or drink allowed in office.”  Dr. Tom’s door has a third one added.  It says, “This includes Tim Hortons!”  This just shows how Canadians regard Timmie’s.  This stuff isn’t “food and drink”, this is Canada’s lifeblood.  It goes where we go!  Rrrrolll up the rrrimm on the large double-double, eh!

California became the first state to ban the Pray-The-Gay-Away repair therapies for minors, to change their sexual orientation.  These therapies have driven teens to depression and suicide.  Gay rights groups have labelled them as dangerous and abusive, and claim these practices have no basis in science or medicine and have been relegated to the dustbin of quackery.

I saw a man pursuing the horizon,

Round and round they sped.

I was disturbed at this.

I accosted the man.

It is useless, I said,

You cannot….

You lie! He cried, and ran on.

I checked my stats today, and found that Akismet had protected me from 3,333 spam comments, such an interestingly round number.  They included a new one from Mona@bogusemail.uk, who wished me a happy belated birthday, and said she loved my wrinting??  I treasured it so much I could barely delete it.

My brother phoned to tell me that he had lost his job as a bank guard.

I said, “That’s awful.  What happened?”

He said, “Well, a thief came in to rob the bank.  I pulled out my gun and told him that if he took another step, I’d let him have it.”

Mesmerized, I asked, “What happened then?”

He replied, “Well. He took one more step, and I let him have it.  I didn’t want that stupid gun anyway!”

Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.  Coming soon to a blog near you, posts that make much more sense than this one.