A Christmas Rescue

Published without the authorized permission of the Waterloo Region Record – but with the best of intentions.  Credit Record staff – Robert Williams

The snow is piling up, burying our car deeper and deeper into the snowbank.

Deb Dooling-Westover pulls out her crackers, cream cheese, and roasted red pepper jelly, and offers some to her husband, Mark Westover.  In the back seat, a hitchhiker takes a few for himself.  He’s on his way to Listowel for his daughter’s first Christmas, with a bagful of toys and a few spare clothes, but his taxi ha long turned around and left him on Line 86, just outside Wallenstein.  The back seat of the Westovers’ car is his only chance at warmth for the night.

The car is not moving.  The snowbank has made sure of that, and the trio are settling in for a long, cold night.  Snowplows can’t get to them, and there’s no way in or out of this country road. The Westovers – Deb, 63, and Mark, 71 – and their hitchhiker – a young man of about 30, are trapped.

They’re talking, but their eyes dart nervously at the fuel gauge, that’s slowly ticking lower.  The snow is piling up the windows, and they’re equally worried that someone may come piling in behind them.  It’s Christmas Eve, and a winter storm bringing heavy snow and wind gusts of 100 km/h has shut down much of the Province on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

On this rural road, 30 kilometres north of Kitchener, it feels as if nothing and nobody is around you.  It’s a vast rural area. Dotted with Mennonite farms and sprawling fields.  The Westovers are on their way from Ayr, to spend Christmas with friends in Wingham.

They spent the morning checking the weather, to make sure that the roads were still open when they left, just before noon.  The farther they drove, the worse the conditions got.  Eventually, on a long stretch of farmland between Wallenstein and Macton, there is no going any further.

There are a few other cars stuck in this area.  As the winds pick up and blow the snow in blankets across the farm fields and over the road, it gets harder to make them out.  Each car is an island, and the snow is gobbling them up.

After a few hours sitting inside the car, Deb looks out of the snow-covered window and rubs her eyes to make sure she’s not hallucinating.  A man with a pair of snowshoes has emerged from the snowbank.  He knocks on the side of the car, and she opens it up to him.

“Do you have food and water?” he asks.
“Well, we don’t have a lot of food, but we have some water and Diet Coke in the cooler.” she tells him.  “My car is behind my husband’s.  I only have a quarter tank of gas.”

The Westovers had filled their two cars with presents, and they were hoping to do some work on Deb’s fuel tank, once they got to their friends’ house.  She had been following Mark the whole drive, but both of their cars were now stuck in the huge snowdrift.
“Don’t worry.” he says. “I have lots of gas.  I’ll come back for you later.”

An hour goes by.  It’s dark now.  With the wind-chill, it feels like -27 C.  The snow continues to fall, and the wind is howling.  A roar starts up behind them, and Deb jumps out of the car to see approaching blue and red lights.  Their man in the snowshoes has returned, this time with a tractor.

He gets Deb back into her car, pulls it out, and then pulls out Mark and the hitchhiker.  By this point he has already pulled out some of the other cars as well.  Once they’re all safely back on the road, he asks the occupants of all the cars – about six in total – to follow him about a kilometer down the road, and up a long driveway, where they all stop at a farmhouse.

The group walks into the house to find the man’s wife peeling carrots in the kitchen, with two young boys bouncing around the house.  They are a modern Mennonite family, and the farmhouse is equipped with power, heating, and a functioning telephone.

“I’ve never spent any time with a Mennonite family, or been inside a (Mennonite) house before.” Deb said later.  “And I have to tell you, these are the most beautiful people I’ve ever met.”  Deb joins the woman in the kitchen, helping to peel carrots.  Then she watches as she puts potatoes through a food processor, throws them into boiling water, and mixes them with cream and butter to make mashed potatoes.  Then she begins cooking summer sausage, as more people start piling into the farmhouse – there’s about a dozen of them now.

The family has some table extensions, and by the time dinner is served, it’s a feast for nearly 16 people, each with a spot around the ‘harvest table.’  They say a silent prayer, and dinner begins.
“I was literally crying.” says Deb.  “It was the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen in my life.  There we were, thinking that we were going to freeze to death.  We really thought we were going to die.  And now we were all seated around this table, warm, and having dinner at this farmhouse.”

Around the table, the different groups recount their stories.  Each talk about watching the weather advisories, checking to make sure the roads were open, and eventually finding themselves stuck in the snowdrift with no way out.  But something still doesn’t add up.  How did this man know to come and get them?

One of the women at the table speaks up.  While she was waiting in her car, she noticed a name on a nearby mailbox.  She called her son in Listowel, and he started calling every number in the area with that last name.  Eventually he got through to their rescuer, who threw on his snowshoes and headed into the storm to see if he could find them.

Not wanting any unnecessary attention, the family has asked to keep their name private.  “I don’t want any honors or glory.” the man told The Record.  “It’s just the Lord’s glory and we did our Christian duty.”  After dinner is over, the family leads Deb and Mark to a spare bedroom to hunker down for the night.  It’s cold in the room, but thick blankets keep them warm.  The rest of the travellers are spread out around the house, sleeping on makeshift beds and couches.

In the morning, Deb runs out to the car to grab some peameal bacon she had purchased on Christmas morning.  Many of the others do the same, bringing in what food they can contribute to the feast.  Like the night before, they cook up a big meal, each sitting around the table to enjoy a Christmas breakfast.  When the meal is finished, they clean up together, and start getting back in their cars, each bound to family and friends.

None of them know each other.  After they say their goodbyes and wish each other luck for the journeys ahead, all they’re left with is a handful of first names and memories of faces, warmth and a reminder of good people when tragedy strikes.

The Westovers’ Wingham friend said that they did their final checks, but I guess they were just in for an adventure.  They eventually reached their final destination.  The gifts that they had piled in their cars made it to the friends and family they had planned to see.  As they sat around the Christmas dinner table, they told the story of a snowy country road, and a man on snowshoes who appeared out of nowhere, and took them to safety in a farmhouse with his family.

Deb said, “I have to tell you, it was the most beautiful Christmas ever.”

😀  😀

’22 A To Z Challenge – R

 

 

It’s said that the Inuit have 19 different words for snow.  Not to be outdone, the British have at least that many words for the concept of

RAIN

I use the word ‘rain’, loosely and generically, to depict moisture in the air.  Each word is a hairsbreadth away from its mates, in describing the exact level of cold, damp, and discomfort produced.  Fog can be from light enough to safely land an airplane, to Pea Soup, which is so thick that you can break your nose, walking into a lamppost.

As the water particles become larger, and more likely to descend as precipitation, the British lexicon progresses from fog, to mist, to mizzle, to drizzle, to showers, to rain.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Brits variously describe their rain as, downpour, drencher, soaker, toad-strangler and kerb-cleaner.

Not to be left out, the Scottish language has generously donated the word

RAWKY

which means foggy, misty, cold and dreary.  If you’ve watched the James Bond movie Skyfall, when he retreats to his family’s Scottish estate, you’ll have caught a glimpse of it.  During this past summer, the BBC, and the police, received a spate of panicked calls from concerned citizens who had witnessed a strange glowing orb in the sky, and feared they were being invaded by space aliens.  They were reassured when told that it was merely the sun.  It does come out and shine – occasionally.

***

Any too-brief post about R, can only benefit from the inclusion of a reference to my Mountain Ash-tree strong GREAT-grandson

ROWEN

He, and his wardrobe of knitted clothes, and his vocabulary, and his curiosity, are all growing by leaps and bounds.  Like many other young lads, he appears to have only two settings, a squirrel-on-meth, Nature’s version of a perpetual-motion machine, and, like a switch was thrown, a somnolence, a catalepsy so swift, that he can fall asleep while putting food in his mouth – at which point, at least one grateful parent often joins him in a brief nap.

Tune in again in a couple of days for Smitty’s Bible-Study seminar.  Remember to bring your King James Version, and fasten your seatbelt.  👿

Fibbing Friday – V

I’m not saying it’s her fault.  I’m just saying that I’m blaming her.  With the reluctant agreement of Pensitivity101, here’s another list of questions looking for entertaining answers.

  1. What is a skiff?
    A skiff is a lie that Environment Canada tells us. We’ll have a skiff of snow overnight. Meanwhile, I’ve still got six inches of yesterday’s ‘partly cloudy’ to shovel off the driveway.


2. What is a liner?

Liner is the stuff that drag-queen, RuPaul, paints on above his eyes, to confuse naïve, Radar O’Reilly-like corn-huskers who didn’t get to watch the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ movie in sex-education class.
3. What is a ferry?

See above – if you don’t already have your hands over your eyes.
4. What is a destroyer?

It’s a fat, arrogant, French-Canadian, wearing a Speedo, at any of the beaches in the southern United States.  Talk about having your hands over your eyes….  😳  Smoking like it’s mandatory, always complaining about some nit-picky detail, getting regular treatment and attention, but always demanding more – and in difficult-to-understand, heavily accented English.  COVID has been a boon to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.  If that hadn’t occurred, Americans might have re-elected Trump, just to demand that he build a wall across the Quebec/US border.
5. What is a cruiser?

It’s a guy like my co-worker, Bob.  If you’re not going to have sex, you might as well get married, and not have it at home.  I think he has eye problems, or maybe ‘I’ problems.  There is not enough tequila in any bar, to drink this man sexually attractive.  He’s been turned down more times than the beds at Holiday Inn – and probably by the same women.  He said that he was thinking of signing up for the Bill Cosby School of Charm.  😈
6. What is a galleon?

A galleon is what I used to have someone else pump into my car to make it go, back before we went metric.  I lost Imperial measurement, but apparently gained an unpaid job of pumping my own gas.  It’s been 40 years, and I still don’t know how much I put in.  I just know it costs more.

When things go metric, prices rise.
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise!!
7. What is a pedlow?

Any one of a disturbing, disgusting group of Catholic priests who think that ‘pump-organ’ is not what the church music director plays.  They mistakenly believe that they are school teachers, and if sex education of altar-boys and choir girls is not on the curriculum, it’s on the agenda.
8. What is a kayak?

A kayak is an Eskimo sport-ute.  It’s what the Inuit use in the drive-thru at the Aklavik Tim Horton’s.  They have to be careful to hold the hot coffee with one hand in their fur-lined mitten, while they paddle away with the other.  Most kayaks are not yet fitted with cup-holders, and they can’t just set it down on any ice-floe, because it will melt right through.
9. What is a schooner?

As the most interesting man in the world, I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I want a king-can of dark ale in a schooner fresh from the fridge or freezer.  In my tourist haven home-town, where I first drank draught/draft beer, it was served cold!  That’s what I got used to.

I once met a man from Kitchener, ON, my current home, who claimed to have conducted a scientific experiment.  He drank beer at every watering hole from here to Tobermory, 3-1/2 hours drive, at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.  He claimed that the hotel bar in my home town served the coldest beer.  Much as I’d like to, I’ll never get the chance to visit England/Scotland, and try some great, but warm, beer.
10. What is a coracle?

She was a fortune-teller who lived in the Temple of Apollo, near the city of Delphi, in ancient Greece.  She was known as the coracle of Delphi.  The temple is a ruin now, but even back then, it had a leak in the basement.  It was built over a volcanic vent, where hot gases filtered up through a layer of soil containing crude oil.

She would sit on a stool over the vent, inhaling the fumes and chewing a laurel leaf – which was mildly psychoactive – like an Hellenic Eight-ball.  It was sort of like modern kids who huff model glue, or propane.  Then she would make crystal-clear, absolutely true predictions, like – If you drive a Jeep Rubicon, and vote for Trump, a great empire will fall.

Actually, there was a whole string of these coracles, like a tiny temporal armada – because constantly perching on a hot petroleum spill gave them the average life expectancy of a Madame Curie.  😯

Smitty’s Loose Change #13

I just won the jackpot – and I don’t even gamble.

I notice things.  I find money, because I look where people will lose money.  The $100 bill that I picked up from a grocery store checkout line floor, had been stepped on by the two customers in front of me.  I check the overflow chutes of the coin-counting machines found in many grocery stores.  I found 40 pennies in one, before Canada stopped minting them.  I still find the occasional few, because the machines have been set to reject them.

I recently left my neighborhood store, and glanced at the chute as I passed.  There were coins in it.  Not just a couple of pennies, or a bent dime, or a foreign coin that I could add to my collection.  The chute was full.  I bent over to see what they were…. and they were Loonies and Toonies – Canada’s, one and two dollar coins.

I quickly looked around, to see if there was someone cashing in a machine receipt – someone who would yell, “Get away from there!  That’s my money!”  No-one was paying me the least attention.  I took a large handful and dumped it into my shirt packet – and another large handful – and another large handful.  I scraped the last of it together and poured it into my pocket, affecting an off-the-shoulder look as I scuttled out.

I hoped to beat my $100 dollar record.  When I got home, I sorted it out.  21 Toonies = $42, 33 Loonies = $33, and 4 quarters, totaling $76.  Not a bad reward for just paying attention.  The next day, I only found two dimes.

***

Newspaper article headline
Should Kitchener aim to end all traffic injuries?

Nah!  Let’s maintain the ‘Run Em Down’ protocol we’ve always had!

Duh.  While that headline may seem rather silly, what the article was (delicately) asking, was, how much tax revenue can we afford to spend, for how much reduction in injuries.

***

How can you tell when a Christian Apologist blogger is lying?
That’s a trick question.  They’re always lying!
The liars are the majority, who won’t enable comments.  They make strawman claim after special pleading claim, but won’t engage in debate, or allow Atheists to offer counter-arguments.

The ones who are even worse than this, are the ones who edit out comments they don’t like.  I found a Christian trivia post which asked, “Who did Paul say should not be allowed to continue to Cyrene, because he had left the group?”

Knowing what would happen, I gave two answers.  Howard Stern?  Ray Comfort, because he went out for more bananas?  (If you don’t get the Ray Comfort joke, Google it.)  Sure enough, when I returned the next day, I had been excised.

***

I heard a TV weather forecast during the cold snap around Christmas.  The announcer warned not to travel to Canada’s Prairie Provinces, because the temperatures could go down to Negative 35.  I’ve never heard that expression used before.  It sounds like we owe somebody some weather.  Technically, it’s correct.  Plus and Minus are mathematical terms which indicate actions.  Five, minus (take away) three, equals two.  Have any of you ever heard a weather forecast which included the term “negative” temperatures.  My new online friend from Kenya is exempted.

***

After claiming victory over an infestation of rats, Oh Rats!, they came back for a second round.  I tried to turn the central air-conditioner on, and found that they had chewed their way in through the tiny hole that carries the tubes to the outdoor unit…. and the control wire.  😯  😦  After that repair, I sprayed the hole full of expanding, hardening plastic foam.

I had replaced the flexible dryer hose with another plastic one, because the path the tube takes from the machine to the outside vent is quite twisty, and complex.  To prevent another attack from that direction, I hired Dryer Vent Wizard to install solid, aluminum tubing.

The installation tech was, indeed, a wizard.  When he moved the dryer, leaving a hole in the floor, to the basement, Mica, my Fred Astaire-dancer, Bengal cat showed up to supervise.  Workers like this now all take pictures with their smart-phones, as proof of work done.  We didn’t even know that Mica was there.  He leaned up, took a photo, showed it to us when he finished, and sent it to us by email.

Christian Humor – No Joke

Drivers Licence

A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your bible a little and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.”

After about a month the boy came back and again asked his father if they could discuss use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where his father said, “Son, I’ve been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied your bible diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut!”

The young man waited a moment and replied, “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know, Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair….”

To which his father replied….”Yes, and they WALKED everywhere they went!”

***

What’s the difference between a cult, and a religion??
In a cult, there’s a guy at the top who knows it’s a scam. In a religion, that guy is dead.

***

A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 100 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.”

When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note. “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.”

***

Terri asked her Sunday School class to draw pictures of their favorite Bible stories. She was puzzled by Kyle’s picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent.

“The flight to Egypt,” said Kyle.

“I see … And that must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus,” Ms. Terri said. “But who’s the fourth person?”

“Oh, that’s Pontius-the Pilot.”

***

Our pastor, an avid golfer, was once taking part in a local tournament. As he was preparing to tee off, the organizer of the tournament approached him and pointed to the dark, threatening storm clouds which were gathering.

“Preacher,” the organizer said, “I trust you’ll see to it that the weather won’t turn bad on us.”

Our pastor shook his head. “Sorry,” he replied. “I’m sales, not management!

***

Did Jesus pay for our sins with cash or credit card?
He used praypal.

***

A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination, and looked at the old pages as he turned them. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible, and he picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree, that had been pressed in between the pages.

“Momma, look what I found,” the boy called out.

“What have you got there, dear?” his mother asked.

With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered: “I think it’s Adam’s suit!”

***

The Letter

A minister was opening his mail one morning. Drawing a single sheet of paper from one envelope, he found written on it only one word: “FOOL.”

The Sunday he announced, “I have known many people who have written letters and forgotten to sign their name. But this week I received a letter that someone signed but forgot to write the letter.”

 

Church Whisper

A mother took her little boy to church.

While in church the little boy said, “Mommy, I have to pee.”

The mother said to the little boy, “It’s not appropriate to say the word ‘pee’ in church. So, from now on whenever you have to ‘pee’ just tell me that you have to ‘whisper’.”

The following Sunday, the little boy went to church with his father and during the service said to his father, “Daddy, I have to whisper.“

The father looked at him and said, “Okay, just whisper in my ear.”

….This is why moms and dads need to make sure they’re on the same page!  😆

 

Something Old, Something New, Something Stolen, Just For You

Garter

“Some scientists now believe that Jesus Christ had a wife. They also believe that Jesus’ nephew called Jesus’ wife the “Auntie Christ.’”

***

Three blondes died and are at the pearly gates of heaven. St. Peter tells them that they can enter the gates if they can answer one simple question. St. Peter asks the first blonde, “What is Easter?”

The blonde replies, “Oh, that’s easy! It’s the holiday in November when everyone gets together, eats turkey, and are thankful and stuff…”

“Wrong!,” replies St. Peter, and proceeds to ask the second blonde the same question, “What is Easter?”

The second blonde replies, “Easter is the holiday in December when we put up a nice tree, exchange presents, and drink eggnog.”

St. Peter looks at the second blonde, shakes his head in disgust, tells her she’s wrong, and then peers over his glasses at the third blonde and asks, “What is Easter?”

The third blonde smiles confidently and looks St. Peter in the eyes, “I know what Easter is. Easter is the Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus and his disciples were eating at the last supper. Then the Romans took him to be crucified and he was stabbed in the side, made to wear a crown of thorns, and was hung on a cross with nails through his hands. He was buried in a nearby cave which was sealed off by a large boulder.”

St. Peter smiles broadly with delight.

The third blonde continues, “Then every year the boulder is moved aside so that Jesus can come out… and, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

***

If you’re singing Christmas songs on your neighbor’s lawn at night with your church group, it’s called “caroling.”

But if you’re doing it alone with no pants on, it’s called “drunk and disorderly.”

***

How come writing your lover’s name in the sand is considered romantic, but if you write her name in a snowbank…. Ew, ew, ew!

***

My wife has this red ‘Christmas’ lingerie with faux fur around the neck and cuffs and it comes with a little Santa hat.

“I hate this outfit,” I said when she walked into the room.

She replied, “Then why are you wearing it?”

***

A daughter said, ‘Mom, how many kinds of ‘willies’ are there?’

The mother, surprised, smiles and answers, ‘Well dear, a man goes through three phases.’

‘In his 20s, his willy is like an oak tree, mighty and hard. In his 30s and 40s, it is like a birch, flexible but reliable. After his 50s, it is like a Christmas tree.’

‘A Christmas tree?’

‘Yes — dead from the root up and the balls are just for decoration.’

***

A new survey found that 81 percent of parents admit to stealing Easter candy from their children. While the other 19 percent of parents don’t think it counts as stealing if you bought the candy in the first place.

Flash Fiction #183

Retirement Village

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

RETIREMENT VILLAGE

Wuz anybody famous ever born here? Y’alls gotta be jokin’! We wuz gonna have Thoreau Theodore, thuh weather-forecastin’ prairie-dog, but thuh little varmint wouldn’t come outta hiz hole. Wouldn’t matter if’n he seen hiz shadow or not, we’d jest git ‘nother six weeks of whatever’s outside.

Some Eastern dude retired here. Place useta be called Nowheresville – motto, “Civilization’s Thataway ->”. Folks renamed the town after him. Think he wrote a book – sumpin’ about fishin’ at some pond, ah think. Doan know why ennybuddy with a pond ta fish in, would come to a place like this, drier than a popcorn fart.

***

Click to hear ‘Wild Horses,’ Canadian Gino Vanelli singing about parts of the US where the population density is so low, that you can be, “a hundred miles out of town.”

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Ruler

Canada became metric in 1973….  Or did it??!

So, there was Canada, wedged between England and the United States.  We measured things with the Imperial System – all except where the British 160 ounce gallons, the 40 ounce quarts, and the 20 ounce pints became the wimpy, American Lite 128 oz. gallons, 32 oz. quarts, and 16 oz. pints – and except where you bought a pint of beer, and it was only 12 ounces.

In “Metric” Canada, you can’t buy a pound of butter; you get a 454 gram block.  The wife’s Not-Legally-Pint and Quart glass canning jars are 473ML, and 946ML.  A 12 American ounce can of Pepsi is 355ML in Canada.  At least Canada is not alone in this No-Man’s-Land.  I recently found that the serving ‘Standard’ for beer in Australia is 256ML – or, an 8-ounce cup.  The only time an Aussie bar ever serves just 8 ounces, is to some opal-miner’s 10-year-old daughter.

The weather forecast on the radio doesn’t say that we’ll get an inexact 2 to 3 centimeters of snow, it says that we’ll receive 2 ½ centimeters, because the old guy at Environment Canada still says that it’ll snow an inch.

I thought that all this back and forth might confuse immigrants who are thoroughly embedded in the Metric System, but the Polish women at the EuroFoods store seem to be just as capable of dishing out 300 grams of sliced salami, as they are ¾ of a pound.

We’ve only been at this Metric thing for 45 years now, and with typical Canadian lack of determination, we still haven’t fully committed to it.  This is about the softest conversion that I’ve ever seen.  I wonder if there’s some type of Metric Viagra that could firm things up a bit.  😆

As usual, I hope to see you here again in a couple of days.  Now, let’s see.  In Metric, that’s….  😳  Oh well, come back whenever you like.

Complete And Correct

Calipers

Used properly, the English language is one of nuance and precision.  Used as many of the great unwashed do….it’s a wonder that even the pizza order is correct.

I have quoted Mark Twain’s admonition that “There’s a mighty difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.”

I recently stumbled across a blog post about euphemisms;

Euphemisms are generally used to change something icky into something more palatable. As George Carlin said, “Sometime in my life—no one asked me about this—toilet paper became bathroom tissue. The dump became the landfill. And partly cloudy became partly sunny.”

I heard Carlin’s debut album, shortly after it came out.  It was funny.  His later work – not so much.  It’s difficult to be funny for 40 years.  He began to make fun of the English language.  I didn’t find it terribly funny, because it was neither complete nor correct.

None of the above are euphemisms.  Early toilet paper was paper….like pages from a Sears catalog.  It beat using a corn cob. Soon, it was transformed into soft, absorbent tissue, used all through the bathroom, for applying skin cream, removing makeup, blotting lipstick, (a single square is faster and cheaper than an entire Kleenex) blowing your nose, or as emergency feminine hygiene material.  It is no longer paper, used only on the toilet.

We used to just dump and abandon garbage – hence, DUMP.  Nowadays, waste is shredded, some is incinerated, compost starter and soil is added and mixed, and the lot is bulldozed and landscaped into a re-usable landfill.

Media weather language is precise.  There are seven words to describe skies – from overcast, to cloudy, to partly sunny, to scattered (clouds), to partly cloudy, to sunny, to clear.  Partly sunny is 10% open sky.  Partly cloudy is 10% cloud.  They are not even vaguely the same.  One did not turn into the other, no matter what George falsely claims.

George lost me as a customer when he claimed that there were 3 words – flammable, inflammable, and non-flammable.  “Why 3??  Either it flams, or it doesn’t flam.”  Just a minute George, flammable means that something will burn.  Inflammable means that it will immediately, vigorously burst into flame.  A block of wood is flammable.  An open pail of gasoline is inflammable, so, there are 4 words, flammable – non-flammable, inflammable – non-inflammable.  If you’re going to bitch about something, even for comedy, it really helps your credibility if you know what you’re talking about.

I was in a medical center the other day, where an information station was set up under an umbrella. Emblazoned on the umbrella were the words SERVICE AMBASSADOR. I find nothing distasteful about the word INFORMATION, but I am entertained by the thought of a group meeting to find a supposedly better (and definitely more pompous) description of the services offered under that umbrella. SERVICE AMBASSADOR: Do you suppose the, ahem, ambassadors who staff that desk need congressional confirmation?

Like ‘toilet paper’, above, ‘Information desks’ have developed to provide far more services than mere information.  Every English-speaking country in the world has Ambassadors.  I can only hope that it was a vain attempt at humor, and not narrow-minded American provincialism that she felt any of them require U S Congressional confirmation.

Loblaw’s food chain came forward, and admitted to price-fixing on bread.  A letter to a newspaper complained that their fraud conviction was ironic.  1 – By voluntarily admitting wrong-doing, they received immunity from prosecution – so, no conviction.  2 – The bread was exactly as advertised, just too expensive.  What they did, was price-fixing, not fraud.  3 – What is ironic, is that the guy who complained, hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about.

Come on people, Stop, Think, Understand!  English is a beautiful, accurate, expressive language.  Please learn to use it correctly.  That’s what I ask for.  What I’ll probably get….is that guy’s Hawaiian pizza.  😯

’17 A To Z Challenge – R

Challenge2017

The word ‘Roundhouse’ has two, very different but connected meanings, so, for the letter

letter-r

I’m going to tell you about them.

Roundhouse Slang. A punch in which the arm is typically brought straight out to the side or rear of the body and in which the fist describes an exaggerated circular motion.

This is a type of punch that is usually not thrown until a jab or a hook has stunned an opponent, and his defenses are (slightly) open, because it opens the defense of the fighter who is throwing it. The large circular motion is necessary to accumulate speed and striking power.

At the height of his career, I saw Bruce Lee demonstrate, what he called ‘A One Inch Punch.’ He stood before a sparring partner, tightly clenched his fist and held it 1 inch from his opponent’s chest.  He then wound up his ‘punching muscles’ while holding back, like a dragster revving the engine, but standing on the brakes.

When he had achieved maximum dynamic tension, he suddenly extended his arm, and the victim went stumbling backward. But that was not a punch! That was a push, a powerful push, but a push.  Even a dragster cannot achieve its top speed in its own length.  A punch requires time and distance to amass its total potential

Roundhouse II

a building for the servicing and repair of locomotives, built around a turntable in the form of some part of a circle.

My home town was the end of a railroad line. Another spur on the other side of the peninsula extended all the way to the northern tip.  Train engines can push backward, as well as pull forward, but pulling is more efficient.  Normally, at rails’ ends, and any other place where locomotives have to turn around, roundhouses are used to give them a 180° spin.

My town though, grew up because it was a Great Lakes Port. Besides the river docks, a long stone pier was built out to the offshore island, offering storm protection.  The railroad was used to carry freight from Lake Huron, to Toronto and Lake Ontario, before the building of the Welland Canal, to get past Niagara Falls – grain to flour mills, lumber to the factories, iron ore to the steel mills.

As the railroad came north into town, a spur line branched off, and ran west, out to the end of the dock. The spur line branched back, and joined the main line ending at the station, forming a giant Y, with an empty triangle inside it.  The engines and cars which needed to be reversed, were merely backed up, and run forward around the Y.

We never needed an expensive and maintenance-intensive roundhouse. We did have a big railway building that was large enough to house a couple of locomotives, and cars which needed repair, out of the weather.  We called it ‘the roundhouse,’ but no engines ever got dizzy on a roundabout.

Now, the trains are all long gone, the tracks ripped up, the right-of-way is a hiking trail, and all that’s left are my fond memories. That feels like a roundhouse punch.   😦  😯