Friday, February 29, 2008

Yearly Car Inspection

I realized yesterday (the 28th) that my car has to be inspected this month. Fortunately for me, although Caesar Augustus was vain enough to take one day from February just to make his month longer than many others, we needed to add a day now and then to make up for the fact that although the Pope is the Pope and supposedly is right about everything, the Pope named Gregory still needed an extra day every four years except in years ending with zero except in century years unless the End of the World happens, which takes precedence.

But I digress. Today’s blog is about getting my car inspected, not about Popery.

Anyway, I thought of it on the 28th and the place where I have my car serviced said they’d take care of it on the 29th, no problem. I dodged the bullet that time.

Actually, since the bulk of my driving is at night, the coppers would never be able to see the wrong-colored, wrong-dated window stickers. It would be my luck to have God strike me down for such duplicity by being pulled over on my way to church Sunday morning.

I didn’t need an emissions test, because I didn’t drive the required 5,000 miles this year. Not the first time; I think my little heap gets off every other year. Maybe I can run a little bet on the side with someone and see if I can go five years in a row with an under-5,000 mile emissions exemption.

If you see a rust-red Cavalier, RHV88-5, give a wave. “RHV” are the initials of my radio show and “88-5” is where you will find it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It All Started Right * Here

Yup, right where that asterisk is. But tiny, tiny, tiny. Smaller than an atom; the size of a sub-atomic particle. “It” refers to the universe, everything in creation: the 300 billion galaxies we know of, with their hundreds of billions of stars and who knows how many planets. All the heavy metals that make up those planets. All that was, is and will be came from a sub-atomic particle that has been described as infinitely dense and infinitely hot.

One fine day, it blew up. That was 13 billion, 700 million years ago. If you want to hear the explosion, tune your FM radio to an unused channel and listen to the hiss. That’s the explosion, 13.7 billion years later, now in the radio range.

A lot of people, probably nearly all of them in the astronomy field, would love to know exactly where that heavy, hot particle was when it blew. It was, of course, nowhere; there wasn’t anywhere in those days. But when it blew, it created “where” in rather short order. We’d like to know if we can find the middle of “where,” generally described as the middle of the universe.

All the galaxies are rushing away from us; are we at the center? Or are all galaxies rushing away from each other, each thinking they are the center? Suppose you are on a really ancient galaxy out near the edge … do you see nothing before you and everything behind you, thus giving you a hint that maybe you are at the head of the line? Or is there some remnant of that initial ultra-violent blast we may someday find? Will it be God, as a kid, with a chemistry set saying, “Oops”?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blew It, Big Time

Four students, all of age, got busted for busting windows. While the cops were in the area investigating something, they heard glass going down and students running away.

When you get arrested in this country, whether drunk or sober, it changes several things in your life that you may not have thought of at the time you were planning your self-considered little pranks.

I suspect you can forget about being a teacher, a cop or a lawyer. When you fill out an application for any sort of job that asks, “Have you ever been arrested?,” the potential employer really doesn’t care what for. There are more people than jobs and why take a chance with someone who has a record?

Your family going to Canada for vacation? Have them send you a postcard, ‘cuz you ain’t gonna cross the border. When they check you out, they can tap into our crime database and they don’t like people with records, no matter what for or how far back. Eighteen or older, arrested for anything, turn around and go back.

Is any of this fair? I don’t know; I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on the radio. But I do know that lots of things in this world aren’t fair. I also know people don’t like to take chances when they are hiring and it’s easier, if not safer, to take someone with a clean record, rather than a person who the cops felt was enough of a jerk to be taken in, booked, fingerprinted and entered into the Book of Doom. Or something.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Your Stomach, Your Electricity

It has been said (Oh? And by whom, may I ask?). Anyway, as I was saying, it has been said that we never notice our stomach, or pay it any attention, until something goes wrong down there. It just sort of sits inside us, doing its job, until we get motion sick, morning sick, the norovirus we call “stomach flu” or we try to lean against a wall and find somewhat of a bulge in the way.

It has also been said (please, don’t interrupt me) that we never notice electricity until it goes out. As in Florida. As in today.

No tv, no radio, no fridge, no home health machines that are vital to little things like keeping grandma alive. Most people do not have generators, so they are SOL, as the saying goes. That’s “Out of Luck,” and you can figure out what the first letter stands for.

Maybe if grandma is hooked up, it might do well to keep a small generator around just in case. You never know.

Everybody has a story.
Ralph Moharsky passed away last week. “Upon retirement, Ralph drove the courtesy shuttle for Valley Chevrolet, where he would partake in one of his favorite pastimes – talking.”
Joseph Doyle also passed recently. “His ship, the USS Twiggs, was sunk in a Kamikaze raid in 1945.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Magically Disappeared

We had an eclipse (or “ee-clipse,” as people in the sticks call it) of the moon just the other day. Or night. Seems as how the moon came over the horizon just as the sun was going behind us and, we being in the way, our shadow blanked out the sun’s reflection.

Or Mel-Roy, the moon god, cast his magic cloak over it until we gave in and acceded to his demands.

I being interested in astronomy, the first explanation seems the better of the two.

Anyway, the moon sort of went real dark for a while, then came back to full-moon strength. All was well once again in the heavenly realms.

The last lunar eclipse I saw was out in the Atlantic Ocean, where there is little ambient light to take away the thrill. What there was came from the ship and it was easy to block it out. The moon just hung there, looking oddly enough like a white cue ball that had turned a bit reddish.

With no moonlight above us and no lights around us, we could see stars remarkably close to the moon which would otherwise be lost in its reflected light. Quite a show for those of us who spent time out on the deck.

I don’t think we will have another one in this country for a few years, so get ready.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

That's Sure A Funny Name

It’s Sunday, the Christian day of rest – although everyone else has picked up on it, in one way or another. Maybe not the “rest” part, but a day off from work to do other things. The Jewish people had Saturday as their day, but we moved it ahead to Sunday.

The Catholics are supposed to attend Mass on Sunday, but for some reason, they can do it on Saturdays after 4:00pm. It’s the Jewish practice that the new day begins at sundown, so “Jewish legally,” it’s Sunday for the Catholics at four in the afternoon.

French fries are very popular here; I saw a tv program that showed how potatoes are planted to come out long so they would make more efficient fries. I wonder if there are French fries in Paris?

We have Turkish towels here, big thirsty things that dry us out and keep us warm. Are they popular in Turkey?

I also wonder about German measles. Is that really a German import? Or is it as badly-named as “the French disease,” which we will discreetly not mention in detail here.

Up here in the north, people probably are not aware of a Dutch Husband and I am occasionally (not often) curious as to whether people in Holland know what these are.

I’m sure there are “American” things in other countries we’ve never heard of.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Weekend Act Of Faith

They (PennDOT, a/k/a/ the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) just lowered the weight limit again on the Eighth Street Bridge, about ten minutes upriver from us. On a scale of one to a hundred, its safety rating is a two. I guess that means it will crumple slowly enough so we can get across it before the entire bridge collapses into the river.

It’s the way I get to Exeter, which I do twice a week. Why not, for instance, take the Pierce Street Bridge, right here at the foot of the hill by my house? Well, I like the quiet road up this side of the river with its near-total absence of traffic lights. You just sail along, lost in thought, and before you know it, you’re at the bridge and ready to appear on The History Channel’s “Engineering Disasters” series.

The other way, using the Pierce Street Bridge, has traffic, traffic lights, multi-lanes and you have to keep your mind on what you are doing. Also, it lacks the chance that you might end up on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

So I perform my twice-weekly act of faith in PennDOT’s assurances that the bridge is safe. Is it faith, or stupidity? Confidence, or unthinking loyalty to a quiet road? When they keep lowering the weight limit, is that supposed to reassure us? How much should we believe this “it’s ok” stuff when they give it a 2 out of 100 for safety? Exactly how long will it be before we can only ride bikes across it, and one at a time?

It’s got steel trusses all around, like a cage. Try swimming out of that.

Friday, February 22, 2008


White stuff, comes from the sky in the winter. Piles up, makes driving difficult, you can slip on it and fall on your @. Never seen it before?

Well, one person I lived with for several months never did. She was from Australia; exactly what part I don’t know, but it was one of those parts that never sees snow. We showed her how to make snow angels and she asked us to photograph her so she could show them to her parents who, I suppose, had (a) never seen snow and/or (b) had never seen their grown daughter lying in the snow flapping her arms and laughing.

Each of our cats had its “first snow” experience. The stuff would fall overnight and we’d let the critter out in the morning, where it would romp around in the backyard for a while, then come in and stretch out before the nearest radiator.

I was thinking about this the other night while walking over to the newspaper. Or maybe driving; I forget. Anyway, it was in the context of my cruise three weeks ago and what this snow, sleet and ice would be like for the average citizen of the sunny Caribbean. How would those people handle it?

We, rather unconsciously, walk differently when there are a couple inches of snow on the sidewalk. We can spot the slight differences in regular snow, packed snow, snow that might have ice under it; our Carib friends would be flat on their backs, no doubt calling down the wrath of their island gods upon us and our weather.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Four To Eight

I pity the local tv weather people. This is a hard area for them to give snowfall predictions. We have the Valley, the “higher els,” not to mention “North of 80” and “South of 80” (why Interstate 80 is the great dividing line for weather we may never know, but it is and you can count on it). We will get practically nothing while, just on the other side of the nearby Rock Cut’s elevation, there could be several inches. South Scranton never got much snow until a hill was cut away for fill to extend the airport’s runway.

“They’re never right!”

Ok, you try it. Tomorrow, the aforementioned weather folk tell us we will be on the receiving end of 4” – 8” of Mother Nature’s best, followed by sleet and other assorted weatherly junk. Four inches where? Eight inches where? Four down here, eight up there? Eight here and who-knows-how-much up there?

It was easier when I lived in the Midwest. There were miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. No hills, no valleys. True, tornadoes loved all that flat geography and we had them, but it was easy to predict snowfall without having to factor in elevations.

One little problem we had was “lake effect”: The tendency of wind pushing Chicago’s pollution over Lake Michigan’s evaporating water and dropping it as snow right about where we lived. “Tomorrow, we expect about six inches of lake effect.” Or, “Lake effect all this week with a total accumulation of about one inch.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Clip, Snip, File For September

I don’t bring books on cruises. (a) The ship’s library has plenty, (b) You have to bring them back when there is less room in your bag, (c) You’ve read them, so why bring them back?

I can’t read all the interesting articles in the New York Times every day. Not the news stuff, but all the columns that could be looked at any time; today, tomorrow, in September.

Solution to both problems: Clip them, sort them in four or five basic categories and bring them on the ship, to be discarded as I read them. They’re short, they’re things I find of interest and they are not dated. Great for looking at while I’m having a mug of tea in the Lido buffet restaurant at a table overlooking the water. Just before I fall asleep in the sunlight.

There are usually two or three pieces in the Times every day: an article about life in some remote country, maybe a book review (always interesting to me, if nonfiction), other pieces that are relatively short. Sunday’s Times also has several articles that end up in the file, including a longer book review.

So I want to read book reviews this afternoon. All I do is grab the book review file and head for the Lido. Make some tea, head for a window table and leisurely read about a book detailing the life and times of someone or something. No, I don’t get to read the whole book, but I do get a sampling that increases my knowledge.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

First, The Sun Blows Up

Well, actually not. Ours is too small for something like that; it takes a larger star than what we have to end its life by collapsing and then exploding so violently that it can be seen by telescopes at vast distances. Or, occasionally, even in the day with no help at all.

If our planet is going to be fried, I guess the best way would be by a supernova, a gigantic exploding star around which we have been revolving for billions of years. The thing runs out of fuel (hydrogen), it suddenly collapses and then blows up and takes all its planets with it. Now you see us, now you don’t.

In our case, it’s going to be a much slower process. The sun will slowly run out of fuel and shrink. Then it will grow outward and eat up Mercury and Venus.

In case you’re not sure, we’re the third planet out. After the late Mercury and Venus.

Fortunately, the sun’s gravity will have lessened and we will orbit further out than ever before. Temperatures will be lower at that distance than where we might have been. Perhaps in the hundreds of thousands of degrees, rather than millions. Or something like that.

Obviously, life will have been burnt to a crisp. We won’t have to worry about balancing our checkbook, wondering if we will have trouble getting up our steep road in the winter, or almost anything else. Not even global warming.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Professional Driver

They go together like, well, like a car commercial and the small words, “Professional Driver On Closed Course.”

How do you get to be a professional driver? My mother ran her next-to-last car’s odometer to 180,000 miles; the one before that to 150,000 miles. Much of those miles were on the crowded and wild Connecticut Turnpike (a/k/a Interstate 95, Bridgeport to Greenwich) on a daily basis. My money says she has more miles under her right foot than the professional drivers in the commercials.

I also wonder about those closed courses they mention. As far as I know, it’s a road on which no other vehicles are presently (or ever) allowed. But one day I saw an ad which featured a professional driver on a closed course, unlike any I’ve seen before.

The closed course was a country road, way out in a flat unoccupied area. With a stoplight. I forget exactly what the professional driver did, but I think it was something to do with an action that could be performed before the light turned green and the P.D. on the C.C. could continue along.

The little notice on the bottom of the screen may also have warned us, “Do not attempt.” I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I’m on a country road with nary a car in sight.

Written by a regular driver on a public road, without film editing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spring Break In Quebec

It runs in the family, this genetic thing about humor, about finding humor in rather odd places, in situations where others would only complain and be in a foul mood.

It all began when my brother moved to St-Jean Chrysostome, Quebec, Canada. It’s about three towns southeast of Quebec City, the place where they grow snow and ship it to the States. Generally, they can do three or four cuttings per season; this year, it looks as if they might be able to get six.

Anyway, there has been something like twelve feet of the stuff so far and that’s pretty good news for the Snow Exporters. We haven’t had much around here, as the demand has been elsewhere and our ski slopes and municipalities have not wanted to pay the shipping costs for really good snowfalls.

People in the Quebec area who aren’t in the business are not that happy, because they have to get rid of the stuff around their houses and (in my brother’s case) from their roofs so they don’t cave in. After a while, you need to stop and take it easy; he sent me a photo of him doing this today, a real photo which I will send to anyone who wants it.

His large snowblower is there, along with his snowshoes, and a very large fall of snow. In the cut-out bank is a little hole with his bottle of beer. He is sitting in a deck chair, straw sun hat, sun glasses, shorts, just stretched out and enjoyed a few minutes off. The photo is titled, “Spring Break In Quebec.” As I said, some things run in the family.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The Chinese Year of the Rat began last week. In our society, we think they could have chosen something better; in their culture, it’s a bit different.

In Chinese, the Rat is respected and considered a courageous, enterprising person. People born in the Year of Rat are clever and bright, sociable and family-minded. They have broad interests and strong ability in adapting to the environment and able to react adequately to any changes.

Rat ranks number 1 in the 12 calendar animals. There is a related story for children: Once the God of Heaven wanted to choose 12 animal names as the sequence of the calendar. He announced a race to determine the order. When the racing date was close, Cat forgot the time and asked Rat the schedule. The alert Rat gave Cat the wrong time on purpose. Smart Rat stayed on the horn of Ox while crossing the river, then jumped over the bank to reach the final line to be the champion. Cat missed the racing time and swore to kill Rat for generations. That's why Cat always chases Rat forever.

Who was born in various years of the Rat? Write Charlotte Bronte; actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Lauren Bacall; everyone’s favorite villain Lucrezia Borgia; gone with the wind Margaret Mitchell; sultry spy Mata Hari; and sultry singer Olivia Newton-John.

I’m a Year of the Horse person, myself.
Information for this post came from various Internet sites and was inspired by some Chinese friends of mine.

Friday, February 15, 2008

President Chevrolet

President’s Day on one calendar, Presidents’ Day on two others. I’ll go with the majority on this one, although I thought it was much better when George and Abe had their own days. Of course, the Washington’s Birthday car sales must have made Lincoln’s Birthday seem rather flat, as I don’t remember anything commercial happening on that day.

So now it’s the Presidents’ Day sales. A little kick in the economic booty to help us get out and spend during an otherwise slack period of time, retail-wise. When I worked in a gas station, we never did much repair business then.

The guy who thought up this Cinco de Mayo business was a genius. Take a minor Mexican holiday that’s not even celebrated in most of the country, whoop it up among the Hispanic culture in the U.S. as their own special holiday, and put in the earplugs so you don’t get deafened by the cash registers all ringing together.

Kwanzaa, which is supposed to be a period of reflection on cultural and family values just before the New Year begins, is turning commercial. You’d think the Christmas and New Year’s sales would be enough and this serious week could stay as its originator designed it. But someone came along and said, “Hey! Let’s market it! Lots of blacks out there to make us rich.”

Let’s hope we can keep Martin Luther King Day free of cards, trinkets, gotta-haves and other such things designed to make $$. Look what’s happened to our presidents.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Give Us This Day

Snack time here in the world headquarters of Things At King’s. A mug of hot, steaming tea and a piece of toast topped with … well, I’ve quite a choice.

Skippy Natural Super Chunk, which is great stuff, except that those super chunks tend to get stuck in the space between two teeth. I’ve been favoring Skippy ever since I saw the ads on “Your Asked For It,” a viewer request show with Hugh Conover’s quiet commercial pitches twice each program.

There’s a Canadian product, Great Value Soy Butter, which ordinarily I would not have run into, as it’s marketed in this country by Wal-Mart Stores, a place I’ve yet to patronize on principle. Someone bought it, knowing I was looking for a peanut butter spread that was healthy. Turns out, this is excellent for people who have a peanut allergy. It’s too bad the product is not carried by other stores, as well, for those of us who feel uncomfortable supporting Wal-Mart.

The same person who bought that also got me Naturally More, which appears to be healthier. Oddly enough, although the container says, “Refrigerate after opening,” the company’s web site says, “Does not have to be refrigerated.” I never do, anyway.

Richfood Peanut Butter is a large jar of “feed ‘em and send ‘em outside” family peanut butter, made by Supervalu. That’s a company in Minnesota which markets under store brands everywhere; I found eighteen chains using the same stuff.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Final "Jeopardy!"

So you’re doing well all during the game: you are walking all over the other two contestants, confidently ringing in ahead of them. You’re ahead of them, but they have also done reasonably well. Then Final Jeopardy comes along and all bets are off, so to speak. Up to this point, people have been ahead, been behind, even been into the negative figures, but right at the end of the program, given three circumstances (what you know, how fast you ring in, how much you wager), it can all change very unpredictably.

So, instead of three game-show contestants, we have three political candidates. One was running out of cash, not doing well in the polls and falling behind everyone except Mickey Mouse. Now he’s heading toward being his party’s candidate in the general election. Something sure happened to change a loser into what may well be a winner.

On the other side, we have two unlikely candidates, when you think about the first time for race and gender. Will either of them end up in the White House? It sure would be a first, and some intelligent people are saying the race/gender issue is still big.

But we can’t eliminate Final Jeopardy from this.

Three candidates who, just a few years ago, would have been in the negative column, are campaigning with much success for the Office of the Presidency. “Much success” meaning, for the Democrats, they are close; for the Republican, that he is still there at all. Alex Trebek is lucky: he is told which people have the right answer. We have to wait.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weather-Related Accidents

Snowing today; freezing rain, sleet and ice due tonight. As they say, whoever "they" are, "It's not a fit night out for man nor beast." Not for women, either.

Last week at this time, I was in the British Virgin Islands where there are no chimneys on their houses, leading me to conclude they have no furnaces. They don't have to worry about little things like horrid driving conditions. Too many people here don't worry about that, either.

Tonight, on the news, we will hear of weather-related accidents. Some will be minor, while some might be the sort of things that change lives and families for years and maybe forever.

"Weather-related," they are called. "Driving too fast for conditions," the police will note.

If it were sand coming down through the day and evening, we could drive as fast as we wished. Snow, freezing rain and sleet are different; they tend to be slippery little things and turning or stopping our vehicles on them become problematic in very short order.

The signs that say “35” or “45” or even “60” are not commands to be obeyed in every circumstance. They are upper limits in the best of all possible situations, to be modified as necessary. One of the necessaries would be, well, during a snowstorm when you decide if you want to get there late or not at all.

Monday, February 11, 2008


IM. Magic letters known all over by people on the Internet. And that accompanying sound, which tells everyone else at work you are chatting with a friend when you really should be doing something else.

I’ve seen college students with four IM boxes going at once on their screens. Possibly I’ve done that myself, but it’s lost in the mists of time; on the Internet, two years is back in the mist. Ten years, dinosaurs were roaming the earth sending e-mails to stegosauruses.

When your brother lives 600 miles away, as mine does (and, not so coincidentally, so does his), e-mail is fine, but for an afternoon or evening chat, nothing is better than IM. Well, a phone call is better, but that burns up the quarters rather quickly, while typing on the screen is free and you can see how the conversation is going.

What a friend of mind finds odd is how the screen conversation is usually a line off. That is, my brother will ask a question while I am commenting on something he said a line before. Then I will answer him while he replies to whatever I said a line earlier. I told her, “You get used to it.” Sometimes we chat in order, other times we’re a line or two apart; we understand what we are saying.

There is a sound for when he comes online, another for when he sends a message and a third for when he leaves. Even one for when I send something to him, which I silenced because, oddly enough, I know when I sent it and don’t need to hear a “bee-doop.”

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Editor Of My Own Page At The Newspaper

The then-publisher of the newspaper where I write a music column thought it would be funny to make me the Religion Editor. So he put my name in the Editor & Publisher yearbook and the mail started coming in.

“Why me?” I asked. “I’m your music columnist, I’ve nothing to contribute and, besides, we don’t have a religion page; it’s just full of small ads for churches.”

“I felt like doing it,” he said. “All you have to do is open the mail addressed to the Religion Editor and throw it away.”

This memory was brought to you by yesterday’s blog about the old lady who died at the age of 108, nurtured by a can of Coors Light every day.

Opposite her story was the religion page, just loaded with church ads. When I looked through the phone book, I became sure of three things: death, taxes and we have at least one of every church that exists. Everything from the omnipresent Roman Catholic Church to the Chapel of Hope in the Family Dollar Plaza.

We have Pastors, Ministers, Reverends, Monsignors (“My Lord”), a couple of places with two pastors, which should be interesting, and others with interpreters for the hearing impaired, nurseries, a motto “Without Sunday We Cannot Live,” and typefaces you can hardly see. But nary an inch for me to be editor of.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Living In Three Centuries

In the end, it was the beer what did her in. Nobody knows, and them that does know ain’t talking. But it had to be the beer. After all, they gave her a case of it on her birthday and she went through it with determined regularity.

Alberta Kreig is the gal’s name and she swore by Coors Light, frequently credited it as the key to her longevity. “Coors Light keeps me young,” she said in a recent interview, on the occasion of her 108th birthday.

Yeah, 108th. Her family gave her a case of suds for the occasion. She said that having a can a day was good for her and, apparently, she was right. Good genetics, good health and a can of Coors Light on a daily basis made her part of a unique club.

She was one of a very few people who have lived in all or part of three centuries. Born in October of 1899, she made it to February, 2008. Regardless of how she did it, and whether the daily infusion of hops and barley made a difference, she is a member of a club that admits people only once every hundred years. There may be only a few left in the country, with entrance books for the next one closed as of December 31, 1999.

If you have children born on or before that date, tell them to eat their vegetables, don’t smoke or do stupid things and maybe they can be in that most exclusive of groups. Live to be just over a hundred, having been born at exactly the right time, and you can say you lived in three centuries.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hey, Mon, We Laid Back

World’s Hardest Job: Getting going again after a vacation. It was 82 the other day and now we’re looking at temps in the single numbers; it was sunny and now the snow has been blowing. I’ve been lying around watching the ocean and the islands floating by; now I’m back to doing radio and getting up the energy to blog daily.

Actually, it’s getting up the energy to do anything.

With apologies to Tony Bennett, “I left my heart on the m.s. Noordam.” Sitting there in the Lido buffet, next to the windows, sipping tea, writing notes for my cruise ship message board daily posts, occasionally falling asleep. You’re going to hit the ground running after that? Not very likely.

[I’m actually writing this post-midnight Sunday and haven’t fully unpacked yet. See what I mean?]

It’s pretty cold out there and I have to be out there for a while in a few minutes. My pity for the lady on the island of St. Vincent (18 degrees north latitude – not that much above the Panama Canal) who complained the other day about it being cool that morning. I’d guess she was talking about 60-65 degrees. Not bad for the middle of winter. Live with it, hon; I walked to school in 60 degree weather, but it was 60-below windchill and one day the ‘chill was 85 below.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Vacation's Over

For twelve days, someone showed me to a dining-room table, another person pulled out my chair and put a napkin in my lap; a third filled my water glass, while another brought me decaf coffee and a fifth took my order; yet another brought pastry.

On the thirteenth day, I poked around to see what was in the fridge and made myself a mug of tea. The party was over, the staff was gone and I was on my own until the next time.

I’d think it was a dream, except for having my room card and baggage tag with reach, and an online thread at the cruise site. Yes, I really was there. I saw some happy Caribbean islands and, mostly, poverty-stricken islands where we wouldn’t consider their standard of living to be living.

“Vacation” is somehow related to the word “vacate.” Get out, scram, empty the place. When I left an answering machine message, it was something like, “I’m away until February 7 and I do not check my messages while I’m on vacation; that’s what vacations are for. So don’t leave any; call me when I get back.” I’ve received some earlier that said, “Just in case you check your machine…” Hey, I’m away and I don’t care, because there’s nothing I can, or want to, do about anything.

So, I’m back and the place has gotten along pretty well without me. I’m not surprised; most homes and jobs can exist without us for a short while. If they can’t, we may be too hands-on for anyone’s good.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Vacation's Over And We Are Back

"Things at King's" will resume it's daily schedule today, but first I have to start unpacking. See you in a few hours.