A to Z Challenge –D

April Challenge

I definitely have descended to D in this challenge.  Now I desire a designated word.  Nothing too common, I think it will be….

Letter D

Dastard: a contemptible, mean, sneaking coward.

***

Dastard Dan they called him….when they were being kind and generous, which wasn’t often.  He was more likely to be described by other epithets that involved a horse’s hind-end, or a steaming pile of male bovine organic fertiliser.

Not ‘bastard’, although that word was also bandied about a lot.  Everyone knew who his parents were, and they also were a pair of loud-mouthed, know-it-all, shit-disturbing assholes.  He came by his talents honestly, although some believed that he attended Graduate School and got a diploma.

There wasn’t a pot he couldn’t stir, a rock he couldn’t turn over, a sacred cow he couldn’t gore, a scab he couldn’t rip off. A nosy gossip, he ferreted out everybody’s secrets, and spread them to the winds.  No confidence was sacred.  No reputation was safe.  He delighted in the distress of others.

If there wasn’t already a reeking chamber pot, he’d provide one. He would sidle to the far end of his plant, and stop to talk to Bob, who didn’t really want him there.  He’d say, “I was just talking to Bill, at the other end.  He don’t know sheepshit from cherry stones.  I think he’s a real asshole, don’t you?”

Bob would nod absently, hoping he’d just go away. He would then ooze back up the floor and tell Bill that Bob had called him an asshole.  Wanting power and adoration, he ran for area Union Steward.  He got elected by people who wanted him on union business, and away from production lines.

He spread a rumor that the company had lost a contract, and that 50 workers would be laid off, just to see the fear and worry on co-workers faces. Dastardly film villains tied helpless maidens to railroad tracks.  Most trains had been phased out, but there was talk of reopening a spur line, just for him.

He could count his friends on one middle-finger salute. When he died, his wife and three of his four children were at the gravesite.  He often blithely spoke of going to Heaven, but I think Satan’s got him as a Union Steward.  They deserve each other.

 

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Serenity

 

MAY THE LORD GRANT ME:

THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THOSE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE.

THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THOSE THINGS THAT I CAN CHANGE.

AND THE WISDOM TO HIDE THE BODIES OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT I HAD TO KILL,

BECAUSE THEY REALLY PISSED ME OFF!!

****

 

It Pays To Advertise

A woman about seven months pregnant got on a street car and sat down.  She noticed a man opposite her was smiling, so she indignantly moved.  This time, the man’s expression changed to a grin, so she moved again.  The man seemed even more amused.  When, on the fourth move, the man burst out laughing, she complained to the conductor, and had the man arrested.

The case came up in court, and the judge asked the man if he had anything to say.  He said, “Well Your Honor, it was like this.  When the lady got on the street car, I could not help but notice her condition.  She sat under a sign that read ‘The Gold Dust Twins Are Coming Soon’, and I had to smile.  Then she sat under a sign that said ‘Sloan’s Liniment Will Reduce The Swelling’.

Then she placed herself under a sign that read ‘Williams Big Stick Did The Trick’, and I could hardly control myself.  When she moved the fourth time and sat under a sign that read ‘Goodyear Rubber Could Have Prevented This Accident’ I laughed out loud.”

THE JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE!

***

 

Break Time

Four union workers were discussing how smart their dogs were.  The first was a United Auto Worker, who said his dog could do math calculation.  His dog was named T-Square, and the owner told him to go to the blackboard and draw a circle, a square, and a triangle, which the dog did with no sweat.

The United Steel Workers member thought his dog was better.  His dog, named Slide-rule, was told to fetch a dozen cookies and divide them into 4 piles of 3, which Slide-rule did with no problem.

The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers member said, that was good, but he felt his dog was even better.  His dog, named Measure, was told to go get a quart of milk, and pour seven ounces into a ten-ounce glass.  The dog did this with no problem.  All three agreed that this was very good, and all the dogs were smart.

They all turned to the Teamsters member, and said, “What can your dog do?”  The Teamsters member called his dog, which was named Coffee Break, and said, “Show the fellows what you can do!”  Coffee Break went over and ate the cookies, drank the milk, and screwed the other three dogs.  Then he claimed he had injured his back, filed for Workers Compensation and went home on sick leave.

***

 

As we get older, we need to be more aware of medical terminology.

MEDICAL DICTIONARY

Anally – Occurring yearly

Artery – Study of paintings

Bacteria – The back door to the cafeteria

Barium – What doctors do when treatment fails

Bowel – Letters like A, E, I, O and U

Caesarean Section – An area in Rome

Cauterize – Made eye contact with her

Colic – A sheep dog

Congenital – Friendly

D & C – Where Washington is

Diarrhea – Journal of daily events

Dilate – To live long

Enema – Not a friend

Fester – Quicker

Fibula – A small lie

G.I. Series – Soldiers ball game

Grippe – Suitcase

Hangnail – Coat hook

Impotent – Distinguished, well known

Medical Staff – Doctor’s cane

Morbid – Higher offer

Nitrate – Cheaper than day rate

Node – Was aware of

Outpatient – Somebody who has fainted

Pap Smear – Fatherhood test

Pelvis – Cousin of Elvis

Placenta – Christmas flower

Post Operative – Letter carrier

Prostate – Flat on your back

Protein – Favoring young people

Recovery Room – Place to do upholstery

Rectum – Damn near killed ‘em

Rheumatic – Amorous

Sear – Rolled tobacco leaf

Secretion – Hiding anything

Seizure – Roman Emperor

Serology – Study of Knighthood

Tablet – Small table

Terminal Illness – Getting sick at the airport

Tibia – A country in North Africa

Tumor – An extra pair

Urine – Opposite of yer out

Varicose – Located nearby

Vein – Conceited

Book Review #7

The Author – Eric Flint

The Book – 1636  The Saxon Uprising

The author, Eric Flint, is a history buff, who enjoys spending hundreds of hours researching various areas and time periods, and then writing alternate-history books about them. His favorite time and place is Europe, during the Thirty Years War.  He started a series of books back in 2001, named Ring of Fire.

He studied the major players till he knew them like family, the Swedes invading the Germanies, Emperor Gustavus Adolphus, Baner, Oxenstierna – the Germans, John Georg and Wilhelm Wettin – Cardinal Richelieu and the French king’s wily brother, “Monsieur Gaston.”  Then he wondered what would happen if an impish group of intergalactic aliens moved a Virginia coal-mining town back in time and space to Thuringia in 1632  What changes would be wrought by fore-knowledge, education, critical thinking and technology?

They popped out in the middle of a campaign, and 700 Croat cavalry, attempting an attack to the Swedes’ rear, suddenly came upon the defenceless town. Fortunately, two young men, driving near the event horizon, got back soon enough to warn the residents.  A Percheron can’t keep up with a Mustang.

Coming out of the forest, the cavalry formed up in a meadow at the edge of town, with lance and sabre, to find themselves facing 40 or 50 bloody-minded Appalachian hillbilly miners.  Used to mercenaries armed with inaccurate single-shot muskets, they expected to ride over a grease-spot, or a hole where their opponents broke and ran.  But these were mountain-men, protecting their wives and daughters and their homes.

Armed with very accurate pump shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, and quickly-reloaded pistols, they taught the Croats the first new rule of warfare – Rate Of Fire – click-click, boom, click-click, boom.  This was their home!  They did not break, they did not run!  They put out a sleet-storm of high-power projectiles, quickly piling up a wall of bodies, both horse and men.  In all, they only killed 40 or 50 cavalry, barely their own number, but the horsemen had never experienced this, and it was they who broke and ran.

Next it was a favor for their new ally, the Swedish emperor, an impregnable fortress which would cost him thousands of lives to take.  They gave the job to an 18 year-old cheerleader with an eagle-eye and a sniper rifle with a telescope.  See that guy on the parapet with the plume in his hat?  Yes sir, BANG.  The guy who was beside him with the fur collar on his fancy cape?  Yes sir, BANG!  Shoot out the eyes and brains, and soon the rest want to leave town.

Not all changes were wrought through violence.  The de facto leader of the town is soon the young, miners’-union president.  Most of the aristocracy is off, playing at war, and the administrators who are left are soon faced with militia and activist groups organised on union lines.

What can five thousand uptimers do to change five million Germans, much less Swedes, French, Spanish, Italians, Dutch and English?  Like a drop of oil on a puddle, the result is quickly wide-spread and colorful.  The Thirty-Years War was fought largely because it was time for change, and the ruling classes tried to hold on to their power and privilege.  In these books, the Americans precipitate changes intentionally, and simply by existing.

As the commoners gain more strength, and the likelihood of lethal consequences for nobles in battles increases, war as a sport and an ego salve greatly reduces.  The ruling class enjoy some of the changes, but definitely not others.  Soon democratic elections are being held, medical treatment and hygiene cut deaths from plague, iron rails are cast, and VW Buses become engines for narrow-gauge railways.

Torture is officially frowned upon, Jews are set free from ghettos, and become more accepted in society, and witchcraft trials and burning at the stake fade into the past.  In a Steam-Punk way, many high-tech things are redesigned for the lower-tech capabilities.  Crude gasoline engines are assembled, Wright Brothers-level planes are built, and hot-air blimps begin transportation.

With their history books, and greater knowledge of psychology, the Americans often outthink their belligerent opponents, providing disinformation to spy networks, and doing things in unusual, non-customary ways.  Ah, so easy in books!  If only it were this easy to bring peace and harmony to the real world.

In this book, when the emperor is injured, and out of action for a couple of months, his number-two decides to take a big chunk of Germany for his personal fief.  Our union boss has been made a general in the army, so Mister Ambition assigns him and his loyal troops to subduing Poland.  He imprisons the newly-elected Prime Minister, threatens the Emperor’s daughter, and besieges the German city she’s in, thinking that there will be huge civil unrest, which he can “put down” to seize control.

The Citizens Committees keep the population angry, but under control.  The tyro general uses American organization and supply systems to provide warm clothing, boots, food and sleighs for an unheard-of winter march.  Then, to compensate for a smaller army and less battle experience, he uses walkie-talkies to direct his forces during a battle in a blinding snowstorm.  While the Swedes are away from the siege-lines, the city militia sallies forth, and takes away their fall-back position.

And they all lived happily ever after – except for the occasional beheading.  Definitely not the history expert that Flint is, I know just enough about this period to be entranced at the possible influences modern American sensibilities could exert on real live (well, actually dead) historical figures and occurrences.  Not really “science-fiction”, these books are more like historical romance/action tales, and well worth a good read.

What’s In A Name?

I don’t believe in magical qualities, but, there are names we take and hold to ourselves, and names we let others know us by.  Many bloggers hide behind some sort of pseudonym, myself included.

Fake or changed names are very common within the entertainment industry.  Frances Gumm became Judy Garland, and Marion Michael Morrison got to be John Wayne.  Norma Jeane Mortenson emerged from her chrysalis as Marilyn Monroe.  Singers like Cher and Madonna get by with a single name.  Gowan did it for a while, but finally became Lawrence (Don’t call me Larry!) Gowan.  Eileen Edwards re-invented herself as Shania Twain, and Reginald Kenneth Dwight legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John, and let’s not forget Meat Loaf.

At my son’s plant there is an Andre, and they just hired an Andrej.  You can see the difference when you read it, but whenever anyone is referring to one – which one?  I had a woman named Laurie Embro at my plant. Her younger brother had a girlfriend named Lori, whom he eventually married.  When times were good she applied to the company for a job and got hired.  Fortunately they placed her down the street at Plant II.  As times got tight, they amalgamated the two plants.  Now we had Laurie Embro, and Lori Embro – which one are you paging?

In a plant of 200 workers, three of them were Smiths, no two related.  Tony seemed to be the most common male first name.  We had six.  Of a three-man part-forming team, two of them were Tonys.  One time, a Tony on another shift traded places, so, for a week we had a crew of Tony, Tony, and Tony.

When we got new union cards, there were two names that had problems.  One was a Newfoundland fella named Junior.  Not Robert Jr. or anything like that, just Junior.  The union phoned three times to verify that.

The other guy’s first name was Chuck!  Again, not Charles anything, CHUCK!  He was a huge, foul-mouthed buffalo biker.  When he received his union card, it read Church.  “Do I look like a f*%#in’ church??!”

Number three Tony, above, was another Newfoundland boy. He named his two sons Robert Russell and Michael Russell and never noticed the duplication until Tony number two pointed it out to him.

I went to school with a girl named Venetia – venn eeh sha – didn’t seem difficult.  I ran into her at a plant I worked at.  It must have been more difficult than I thought.  Now she was addressed as vanessa.

I’ve admitted the Scottish lad is saddled with the English name of Smith, even if it is really German.  My half-sister was born a Hepburn, but changed to Smith when Mom remarried.  She went out and married another Smith, not related to us.  She was throwing a Christmas get-together one year.  There were my parents, the other set of parents, the sister and her husband, myself and my wife, my brother and his wife, and my two adult nephews, each with a wife.  The phone rang, and a telemarketer asked to speak to “Mrs. Smith.”  “Which one do you want?”  We got a snotty, “How many do you have?”  Seven in the room at this moment.

My first name isn’t John, but for the sake of this post it is.  I’ve come to know about a lot of local John Smiths.  The wife and I were watching a late movie one Saturday morning around 2 AM, when the phone rang.  “Hey.  This is Guido.  I’m checkin’ in!”  Who in Hell is Guido and why is he calling me?  Seems there’s parole officer named John Smith.  Shouldn’t Guido have his contact number?  Did he lose it?

I got an angry call from some guy promising to come over to the house and punch my lights out.  Why would you do that?  “I got half way to the next town and my transmission fell out.”  Again, so?  “Well, ain’t you John Smith of John’s Transmissions?”  No, and next time take a business card.

When I first came to town, I took an adult retraining course from the community college.  A ten month course took me sixteen months to get out of because I worked as acting office manager for three weeks, and taught a class to others, for four months.  I got a tentative call one evening.  Is this John Smith?  Yes. From Adult Education?  How do I answer that?  It’s been years.  Turns out there’s a new teacher named John Smith.  We finally decided to put the phone in the wife’s name, listing only her initials.

I went to the nearby dental clinic for work on a right, lower molar.  The technician stuck a freezing needle in on the upper left.  Another John Smith had moved into the neighborhood, and picked the nearest dentist.  I got his anesthetic shot, and then I got my own.  I walked around for the rest of the day with my face falling off the front of my head.  Since then I’ve learned to double-check birth date and/or address before any procedure.

Once, I lived downtown, five blocks off the main street, where there was a bank on the corner.  Since it was handy, I opened accounts there.  Two old century-houses directly across the street were torn down, and a ten-storey apartment building went up.  John Smith from Kingston, five hundred miles away, came to town to find work and moved into an apartment.

My street number was 250.  His was 251.  He went to the nearest bank and opened accounts.  Our checks and deposit forms both had account numbers in magnetic coded ink at the bottom, but the tellers would scratch them out.  If I made a deposit, they put it in his account.  If he wrote a check, they took it out of my account.  Despite promises to straighten the mess out, they bounced my rent check three months in a row, and couldn’t understand why I went to another bank.

Smith is an easy and common name.  I once worked with a girl from three hundred miles away, by the name of Kauffeldt.  She met, here, and married, a 42nd cousin from the same area, also named Kauffeldt.  Talk about not having to change the initials on the towels.  I’ve got it under control now, but, for a time I thought of taking my little buddy’s name, Bftzplyk, and just pronounce it Smith.