Rainey days and Monday.

It was a Monday.

It was a Monday like almost every Monday in Hawaii. Deep blue skies, puffy white translucent clouds, and off at a distance a light rain shower with the ever-present glorious multicolored rainbow.

Yes, we were living in Hawaii on the main island of Oahu. Our home was a townhouse on the edge of Pearl Country Club just up from the eleventh Tee. From our back lanai you could look down in the ivy ground cover and see easily a dozen brand new lost golf balls. Looking further out you can see the grassy expanse of the golf course dotted by tilted palm trees with fronds flagging in the wind. Beyond that a full panorama of Pearl Harbor including the Arizona Memorial, Ford Island, very tall shipyard cranes, and dozens of gray navy boats both big and small. A magnificent view. A view but now sadly occluded by several recently erected and very tall hotels and apartments. However, you can still see the lost golf balls in the ivy.

But back to this Monday thing. It was a Monday when a neighbor in our townhouse complex came carrying a kitty. A kitty colored with most Siamese like markings and color. But obviously not a full Siamese. Our neighbor, knowing we had a three-year old daughter assumed we needed this cat. It had been wandering about her front door for several days and brought it to us thinking our daughter needed a kitty. I tried to wave her off but she kept insisting our three-year old needed her very own cat. Once again it was a Monday. So I relented and took the cat not knowing what the future would bring in owning a kitty cat. When our daughter came home from pre-school she was surprised and elated. Jumping and giggling. Then she asked what the kitty’s name is? Don’t know but since we got her on a Monday let’s name her…Monday. How about that? So she was good with that. A kitty named Monday.

Then we quickly had to go buy cat food, litter box, kitty litter, and a few kitty toys. It was a little girl and her first kitty. Both seemed to get along with each other.

A few days later while daughter was at her preschool I had decided to take the cat to the vet to have it ”fixed.” Is it spay or neutered? Not sure which.

I carried the kitty into the Vet’s office and handed the cat over to the vet assistant and she took it back to the vet’s “fixing” room. So I sat down and was about to grab a magazine and the vet himself quickly came out to me and handed the cat back. He told me under no ambiguous terms, “This cat is going to deliver tomorrow.” Take her home and get ready. You should have teeny baby kitties by tomorrow evenings. He was absolutely right. The cat delivered the following evening. Big time. Certainly a learning experience not only for our daughter but all of us. I wondered why the cat was so fat. Now we know for certain. Whew!

How to train a dog to fly.

This is an article I submitted several years ago and published by the Chicago Tribune in their Sunday Travel section. Three different guidedogs flew with me at different times over the years.

Flying with the Dogs

By Me

February 8, 2004

A helpful American Airlines employee escorts the two of us down the jetway for pre-boarding. Finding our seat, I quickly stow my bag and buckle in for the
flight from San Francisco to Dallas.

Soon after we board, a river of passengers streams onto the jet with laptops and rolling carry-ons–and at least one parent with a child in tow. “Look,
mom!” she exclaims as she passes, no doubt noticing Rickles sitting at my feet.

Rickles, of course, is a dog. But not just any old dog or kid magnet. This blondish looking, 70-pound, 2 1/2-year-old male yellow Labrador retriever with
his own picture I.D. is a professionally trained guide dog–my walking, hiking and flying partner.

Even for a blind person, who is allowed by law to bring a guide dog aboard a scheduled flight at no extra charge, flying with a dog is not something one
just willy-nilly decides to do. In 12 years of flying with guide dogs (Rickles is my third), I have refined my flying techniques. But there will always
be a few hoops a dog and partner must first jump through.

It starts when calling for plane reservations. Besides informing the airline I am blind (I have retinitis pigmentosa–commonly known as RP) and may require
some special assistance, I tell the airline I am flying with a “service dog” and request a bulkhead seat.

Sometimes, of course, there are no such seats available (or they are in an emergency-exit row, where by law I and anyone else who can’t assist in an emergency
are prohibited from sitting), in which case I’ll just have to take my chances when I get to the airport.

I also check what kind of plane is used for a flight and, when possible, will change my schedule to avoid flying on small “regional” jets or turboprops,
which may be too cramped for a guide dog.

Then, for the flight itself, I limit Rickles’ food and water intake about 12 to 18 hours before departure time. This is to reduce the possibility of an
embarrassing “doggie accident” either onboard the flight or while at the airport. But, just in case, I carry paper towels and plastic bags.

When I arrive at the security area I alert the attendant that I am blind and this dog assisting me is a professionally trained service animal.

From that point we walk to a station so I can remove my shoes and then hand over our carry-ons, in which I place my belt and any metal items from my pockets.

Since the metal on Rickles’ harness is likely to trigger the alarm, we do not go through the metal detector together. I send him through first.

Almost every time, in the recent past, the security person wants to pat-down Rickles, despite my puppy’s innocent looking face. Sometimes the security people
crouch down on their knees and get so close to him that they receive a surprise wet lick across the face. Oooo, yuk! Doggie terrorism!

Now let’s consider where a blind person and his puppy sit on an aircraft. The reason I request a bulkhead seat when making a reservation is because bulkheads–the
seats behind the partitions dividing seating sections on an aircraft–offer a guide dog and partner more leg-room and comfort. I also prefer a window seat,
so Rickles has less chance of being stepped on.

When bulkhead seats aren’t available in advance or at the gate, the flight crews usually go out of their way to find suitable seating.

So far, even when I haven’t been able to get a bulkhead seat, I’ve always gotten at least a window or an aisle seat. (Here I must give an unsolicited plug:
Legroom in Coach is better on American Airlines’ full-size jets than on most other carriers–though the airline is now cutting back space on some planes.)

Sometimes I have to fly through an airport “hub,” with a change of planes and/or a layover. If time allows, I will ask for an escort to the outside to locate
a convenient “potty” area for my pup.

But that isn’t always possible. One time, Axle, my first guide dog, and I were flying on a famous discount airline from Los Angeles to my home in Tulsa,
and I didn’t realize how short the layovers would be. We quickly flew to Phoenix, where there was only time to disgorge our Phoenix-bound passengers and
then take on new boarding passengers. The same thing happened in San Antonio. And Houston. And Dallas.

We were on the plane for well over five hours, but Axle’s bladder control was quite heroic, and we made it home without incident. This despite the fact
that two grade-school boys, sitting across the aisle from us and flying alone, threw up every time we took off or landed.

During a flight, I monitor my dog closely. I do have some peripheral vision, but no central vision. I see no color. I see some light coming from bright
windows and some shapeless forms while looking sideways out of the corner of my eye. In the close quarters of the seating area, any sudden movement of
my dog’s torso or head is certainly noticed by me.

But my primary means of knowing how my dog is behaving is through direct contact. When other people are boarding or getting off the aircraft, I usually
have my hand through a leather harness strap that goes around his back and chest. If my dog is in a “sit” position I always have my hand on him or have
him on a “close” leash.

I most certainly have to check my dog’s every move to keep him out of licking or sniffing situations. The harness my dog wears is very stiff, so even when
holding the harness handle I can often tell if his head is turned right or left.

A wagging tail is also a dead giveaway. When my dog’s tail is banging the bulkhead, he is obviously being observed by a solicitous person.

I also get verbal cues from my fellow passengers. When I hear “Dad, he’s looking at me!” or “His face is so adorable!” I can assure you they are not talking
about me.

Each of my three guide dogs has had a different traveling style, ranging from “don’t wake me until we get there, please,” to high anxiety, including body
shakes.

Axle was the “cool guy,” with his laid-back style. Once onboard, he wasted no time claiming his territory, quickly curling up into a snoring fur ball and
remaining that way until the wheels hit the runway.

Darber, my second guide, reminded me of a self-admiring little boy. He seldom remained “seated,” but spent most of the flight standing or sitting up, looking
around to see who was looking at him. He also liked to look out the cabin window, perhaps to check for ice forming on the wings or to look for any passing
UFOs. At times, if he could, he would edge out to inspect the aisle.

Rickles is the nervous one, but he, too, is discovering it’s okay to fly. Early into a recent trip to the West Coast, Rickles was a little shaky. To help
suppress his jitters, I whispered over and over in his ear his most favorite word, “FOOD.” A little back massage helped as well.

As for me, guide dogs provide their own kind of in-flight entertainment. What can be most amusing is the attention my dog receives from adoring flight attendants.
If I had a hundred miles for every time an attendant knelt down on all “fours” and stared in my dog’s sweet face, I would have enough miles to fly to the
moon. With, of course, Rickles at my feet.
Copyright (c) 2004,

The next time I eat out, I’m bringing my own food.

Eating out has become more complicated.

With the pandemic taking toll on restaurants, servers, back room crews, and worst of all tipping; all of this tosses a very big wet blanket over everything. Causing the hungry and in some cases the ‘food-preparing-inept to’ stop and think twice before eating out.

Because of the pandemic some eateries have closed down. Some restaurants have gone to take out only with a reduced menu. Some, due to a server and cook staff shortage have gone to a slow-down mode. Telling customers without much apology there will be a thirty minute wait or longer. It’s just today’s reality. Get use to it.

But here is my take on eating outside the home. The pandemic aside, there were too many restaurants and fast food businesses to begin with. More eating establishments than could be adequately staffed. Pre-pandemic you would often see Help Wanted signs out front on many fast food establishments. Food venders with high turn-over paying minimum wage. Plus food workers staying home and still in fear of contracting Covid-19. Ending up with a staff shortage. And to exacerbate all that many eaters have discovered how to cook at home. Pass the ketchup please.

Now here is my observation and suggestion. A suggestion that possibly could reduce the number of remaining restaurants by ten or fifteen percent. If restaurateurs want to help the customer while helping the wait staff and backroom staff, pay them all a livable wage. Plus get rid of the tip system. As it is now wait staff are pay by the restaurant owners or managers between $2.50 to $4.50. Expecting the generous customer to make up the difference with a big tip. Then the restaurant owner insisting the wait staff ‘tip-share’ with the cook staff. But anyway the customer is forced to subsidize the restaurateur’s business. A practice which I think is unethical. But resulting in higher prices per meal and in some instances could cause the eatery to shut down. Go out of business. Probably just as well.

Now, one would sometimes see up at the fast-casual order window a “tip jar.” Beckoning the customer to have a heart and tip a person who has nothing to do with the food preparation, clean-up, and delivery. But now these days either the cashier will ask would you like to include a tip or the computer screen left at your table will include a suggested tip amount. Some will even ask you to include a cash donation amount for a local non-profit. All to put the customer on the spot to quickly make a decision in the waiter’s presents. Leaving the customer angry or embarrassed. Giving the customer reason to never come back.

You can take your gratuity and shove it.

In conclusion, get rid of the tip system, pay the wait and cook staff a reasonable wage, and eat out less often. Go buy a frozen pizza or a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and a box of Ritz crackers. Happy repast.

Splish, splash. I was taking a bath.

Only on a Saturday.
The end of the week. We would be outside early evening playing hide and seek. A very large and old sycamore tree was home base. My older brother would count to three and we all would shout as loud and fast as we could, “not-it!” Whoever was the last or slowest to say not-it was ‘it ‘and the seeker of hiders. the rest of us were the hiders. So, the seeker would lean up against the home base tree and cover his or her eyes and count up to one hundred while the hiders scattered about hiding behind whatever we could hide behind. Never mind the seeker counting by fives…five, ten, fifteen etc. But anyway, we kids hid on the other side of my dad’s car, up on the porch behind the porch low wall, behind the front yard hedge, or wherever we could hide. Well never mind. You know how it goes. We would play hide and seek until dirt and sweat rolled down our arms and necks. Becoming most odorific. All in all, an activity our parents were thankful for getting us out of the house. Even just for a brief moment of peace and quiet. This respite Gave my dad time on Saturday evening to watch his favorite country swing band led by the fiddle playing Spade Cooley on our old Sears black and white TV. Cooley who later killed his wife in a drunken rage.
But anyway, again it was Saturday evening in East L A. And for we Okie kids it was bath night. Yes, bath night. For my brother and youngest sister and myself, this was the only time in the week we took a bath. However, when our neighbors and church folk discovered our once-a-week bathing, my mom insisted on a Wednesday bath as well. Remember we were Okies and Okies only bathed once a week on Saturday in a large galvanized tub near the wood burning stove. Much too much trouble to heat up water for the bath time and repeat one or two times later in the week. So, just one bath a week. At least until my folks moved to California. There we succumbed to cosmopolitan customs and the folkways of sophisticated Angelinos. My mother took up the habit of using deodorant and strong-smelling perfumes. So, we were slowly acclimating to the societal ways of metropolitan Los Angeles. Forget the third world southern rural Oklahoma with just one bath. Even my dad was introduced to Old Spice cologne. All in all, our social value came up a notch or two after bathing two or three times a week.
Plus, our membership status improved while attending church the next morning after a soapy Saturday night’s bathing. I sat with my mom and dad on the front row of pews. We became somebody. Sophisticated and converted Californians. Where’s my bar of Ivory soap?

Oh sure, it’s just a roller coaster.

It’s only a roller coaster.

Before there was a Disneyland in Anaheim and before Magic Mountain was created in Southern California, there was “The Pike” in Long Beach at the water’s edge. A place most often visited by restless and sometimes rowdy sailors from the nearby Long Beach Navy station. An amusement park suited for the reckless spending sailor on shore leave and his quest to experience and find his basic needs and wants. Tattoo parlors, bars, girly shows, freak shows, and more. All down the Pike’s main midway

However, the Pike was also visited by locals in the Los Angeles area. Local families and their children off in a separate zone just for families. Families frequently coming for a day’s fun and amusement rides. Looking for cotton candy and a hot dog or two. There also were bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, kiddie rides, fun houses, adult rides and the most talked about and rode in ride, the Cyclone Racer. Never mind the house of mirrors and its maze. One could easily bang his or her face making the wrong turn and bumping into yet another mirror. Even the diving bell going under water to observe Pacific sea life couldn’t equal the excitement of the Cyclone Racer.

The Cyclone Racer came with legend and lore. What we are talking about is a very tall white wooden framed roller coaster. At the time the tallest roller coaster west of the Mississippi. The main drop well over ten stories high. The coaster extended out over the ocean’s edge to add to the thrilling ride. And as legend has it, according to my older brother, “not too long ago one or two coaster cars flew off the track with its screaming riders and plunged in to the waters depth. Since that day long ago the screaming riders were never found or the coaster cars recovered. All according to my brothers prattlings. Never mind it would have dropped into only ten feet of tide water. Which after some careful thought a few years later, I wisely conjectured the ‘lore’ was fake. A freaking fake story promulgated by my mischievous older teenage brother.

But being the wise grade schooler I decided back then to never ever ride the Cyclone Racer. No! Never. Not me. Until my brother challenged me to ride the freaking thing. I shouted no and I don’t have the fifty-cents to ride in the dumb thing anyway. No matter what I said to him he still called me chicken and said he would pay for the ticket for me to ride. Plus he said he would sit in the same car with me. “Come on chicken, he spoke directly in my face. I thought to myself I’m only eleven years old and too young to die. But for some dumb reason I shouted yes back at him. I wasn’t going to let my stupid freckle faced brother call me chicken.

When you come into the Pike from the main gate and parking lot certainly you see the coaster running up and down and all around. It’s the most dominant thing on the horizon. Huge, noisy, filled with screaming kids, and slowly click-clacking up the first rise. What I didn’t understand is why when the coaster reaches the summit everybody aboard the roller coaster held their hands high in the air. What is that about? But when the string of cars was in its downward trajectory, traveling about 65-MPH screaming had grown more intensity and volume. Plus most hands were still held in the air. That was absolutely nuts. Crazy! Then when the coaster was about to hit its low point most hands were tightly clinging on the metal lap bar. Then the coaster would hit bottom and shoot back upwards and take a sharp right turn and disappear into a maze of twists and turns while pounding heads on the high padded backs and sides. And yet screaming still being heard clear across the amusement park. All the while I’m thinking, “Is this fun?” Really. Is this supposed to be fun?

But anyway, my thrill-seeking teen brother and I finally stepped down into the padded coaster car and the metal lap bar was locked in place.

Then we began to move. The coaster started upward. Slowly. One click clack at a time. Slowly headed towards the summit. You could look down and all around at people on the ground. Like multicolored bugs looking skyward at us as if viewing a public execution. The coaster car in front of us was beginning to level off. My hands had a death hold on the metal lap bar in case we flew out into the ocean. My brother shouted to let go and put your hands in the sky. You be chicken if you don’t. I chose chicken over sudden death with my hands with a white knuckle grip on the bar. Then it happened. We shot down a gazillion miles per hour straight down and seeing the track go straight up again.
Forcing me downward with a thousand G force. At that point my stomach was in my throat. My head suddenly had no neck. We shot back upward and made several sharp right then left then right turns and banking at least a 45-degree bank. All the while bouncing my head against the tall padded back and side. Coaster then turns sharply an almost at a 90-degree turn. Then this torture repeated over several times. Then the coaster looped out over the water somehow and miraculously didn’t fly off the track. Then after making a few more sharp turns and dives we cruised in slowly to the boarding platform. Before I knew it, my brother jumped out of the coaster car and merged into the crowd of people exiting the roller coaster ride. Had he stayed put I would have choked him.

Back in 1968 the Cyclone Racer roller coaster was dismantled and sent to a theme park in Ohio. About ten-years before that the Navy base closed down causing the Pike to lose business and close. But now there is Magic Mountain with its multiple roller coasters just off the 5 freeway in the foothills north of Los Angeles.

It’s just a roller coaster ride. Hang on. Don’t be a chicken. Yeah right!

Maybe I could stop paying taxes as well.

Paying Taxes.

I have filed taxes since I was seventeen. However I am tired of paying taxes for the rich. My tax money has been used to pay for filling potholes in my little town and to buy M-1 Army tanks and railroads for America. Taxes also used to build vast ribbons of Interstate highways we all use. The same highways the very rich ride over in their luxury custom built buses and Silver Cloud Rolls. They also receive benefit of flying in private jets controlled by federal aviation. The same agency I pay taxes into. Except the rich pay very little or nothing at all. So why do I and many other pay for these government agencies And the rich pay nothing. Usually scoffing at the idea of paying taxes. Often poo pooing the notion and demeaning those lowly schmucks who do pay. And the lowly schmucks meaning you and me.

So yes! I want to tax the rich! They have no exclusive right to keep all their own money just for themselves. Everybody should pay and happily so.

Now here is the dirty little secret. Where do the very rich get their money. Yes, from you and me. Through products, services and investments. It’s all our money. TAX THE RICH!!!

Fuzzy yellow baby chicks.

So do you remember those Easter egg hunts? Finding plastic eggs with little toy fuzzy yellow chickies inside? However, my personal favorite was a chocolate Easter egg.

But speaking of fuzzy chickies, back when my family lived in East Los Angeles in the early 1950’s had a back yard full of Rhode Island Reds. A red russet colored chicken. Somewhere between fifty and a hundred chickens at any given time. Never the less, my dad would go to our local feed store in East L A and when buying a fifty-pound bag of chicken feed would received 25 little fuzzy yellow baby chicks. So without the plastic egg we had our little fuzzy yellow chickies. Easter and year around. Peeping and scratching. Given to him in a wooden orange crate. Our job was to keep the peepers warm. So we covered the wood crate with an old dish towel and placed the box full of fuzzies in front of our house’s only heater. A stand alone gas heater set back into our fake fire place in the living room. The houses only heating source. You must recall this was southern California where a sixty degree night was a bit of a chill. But anyway we kept those peeping fuzzies in that wooden box in front of the gas stove for about a week. Never mind the noise and the smell.

Then when the orange crate became a bit crowded we released the chicks into the chicken yard. A middle yard between our houses grassy backyard and the garden yard. The middle yard had a chicken coop where all chickens went to roost at night and lay eggs. Plus the chickens provided fertilizer for the three large peach trees. Peach trees that bore softball size peaches. To back up, my parents had moved from Oklahoma in 1941. Moving away from a dusty red dirt farm. So, having a herd of chickens was most normal.

Then finally came a notification in the mail from the county health department instructing my dad to get rid of the chickens. Possibly creating a health hazard. My dad conjectured one of our neighbors filed a complaint. Noise and smell. Fortunately not far from our home was a poultry rendering business that sold fresh dressed fryer chickens. So away went all our chickens and left our three peach trees to survive on their own. So, no more little yellow fuzzy chicks. Happy Easter.

A woman’s voice.

I am a sexist.
When it comes to listening, to someone deliver the news with authority on the radio or TV I prefer to hear a male with a medium range resonant voice. Someone with a bit of urgency that commands the listeners attention. A guy’s voice that cuts through the background noise. Someone you could easily hear on the radio while driving in traffic. Never mind my hearing loss. A female voice just does not have the frequency range that registers in my hearing devices. Yes devices. I have a bilateral cochlear implant. My processors just do not catch the female speaking range. Especially if she tends to speak softly.
I need Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntly or Dan Rather. Katie Couric never registered. She was more of a conversationalist not a news deliverer. Paul Harvey in his prime was perfect.
It also takes a bit of flair and panache. Peter Jennings of ABC news comes to mind. Robin McNeal on the PBS news hour was another.
There is this lady on NPR who presents the news during Morning Edition. Corva Coleman is her name. She comes pretty close to being a very good newscaster. Gets right in to the news without pretense of drama. However also on Morning Edition is a woman named Leila or Leala or Lulu. Not sure. I can barely understand her she has a very soft voice and ends of sentences seem to quickly fade. Leaving one to wonder what she just said. She is probably a very nice person and news writer but not a newscaster. NPR needs to put her somewhere else.
So there! I am a sexist. I have the right to be one. To prove my point, one would never expect Lady Gaga to become a Sumo wrestler. Right? So there.

Bang or Benoodled?

Bang or Beseech?

The Big Bang theorist claim the Creationist has no proof of the creation. The Creationist says the Big Bang theory is not provable.

Neither theory had any reporters documenting the extraordinary events or photographs taken at that time. No witness? No theory. Neither ten thousand years ago nor 500-million years ago.

Radiocarbon dating is only good up to 15K years as admitted by Bangist. All the Creationists have is Dead Sea scrolls.

So who is right? And how is it proven? Neither one is proven by empirical evidence. Just by conjecture or lore.

I suggest both should shut-up and learn to get along with each other. Both camps should concentrate on what we already have and how to make it better.

Instead Bangist tries to disprove the existence of God. While Creationist says Carl Sagan never really existed. He was just a PBS prattling quack. Fade to black.

Call the bum out.

It was a really nice mild spring evening 1962. My friend Ron and I were at Dodger Stadium to watch an early season baseball game. What a beautiful ball park the Dodgers have. The outfield grass trimmed nice and even with a lush field of green. Dirt infield raked and smooth. All just right for a weekday’s major league ball game. So the home plate ump yells “Play Ball!” Then the defensive players nine took the field, the pitcher threw a few warm ups and the ball was thrown around first to first and then to second and out to the left center and right fielders. And the batter was up to bat scratching around the turf at home plate. Then schoowop. Strike one. Then shoowop again. Ball one strike one. .

Then after a few innings of play a commotion began to erupt in the stands. A teetering man in a very drunken wobble began to slowly shuffle his way down the steps of our deck level. Yelling at the top of his lungs, “Free peanuts!” The man obviously bought the entire venders tray of roasted peanuts. Including the tray with shoulder strap and was tossing willy nilly peanuts to everyone. Free Peanuts! He yelled at the top of his voice. What a sight to see. A middle age man drunken and wobbling from side to side. But uh oh, here came the stadium police. Two of them and grabbing the drunken peanut tosser and escorted him out of the stadium. But after several visits to Dodger Stadium such an occurrence was not all that abnormal. Other crazy things had happened. I often wondered how that was described by the radio play-by-play announcers. If at all. Cue the stadium organist. Take me out to the ballgame. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks.