Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There Be Magic Here

Like a late summer morning mist that comes with the dew,  the Little Wizard glides smoothly along the low land of the room.  It makes the sounds of one who is contented - of past deeds or a deed yet to come, who knows?  A bubbling hum.  A contented hum. 

The little Wizard glances at you but also at something else, something shiny on the ground.  Too many distractions.  The focus wavers.  The Little Wizard seems to falter in its purpose - shiny or you.  You are not shiny.  You are known - you are the one who is always here.  But this shiny thing is new.  Or is it?  

The Little Wizard scans and thinks.  Ah, but I've seen this before.  Recognition then instant focus to something else.  The rustling Wizard turns to you again and says something that could only be gibberish.    

No, not gibberish, really.  Gibberish is the ability to phoneticize.  No, this is a trill mixed with a hum mixed with a gurgling.  The Little Wizard presses on with her incantation.  It takes awhile to formulate the combination of need, of thought and of sound.  Finally, the Little Wizard raises her hands like a maestro bringing the orchestra to attention.  What follows is the power of a magician to command, perhaps beckon, the elements about to the Will of the Wizard.  

But wee Wizards sometimes fail in the quest to put definition to Will.  Purpose to plan.  While their majesty is great, their function is young.  This Little Wizard has learned that patience and practise will eventually win the day.  Her power is present but the formula's escape her in the mist of newness and distraction.  The Little Wizard moves away to new conquests, new sights, new awes with a simple lesson left for her subjects:  All Great Things Do Not Always Start Out Great.  It Takes Practice, Patience and a Beginning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

Remember a couple weeks ago I told you about this Roush I spotted in the parking lot here at Waterboard?  I'd never heard of it and after some research discovered a company founded by Jack Roush in 1995 modifying Mustangs and Ford F-150's into performance machines.   

Of course you remember: my readers have instant recall on all the fascinating subjects I bring up.  Anyway, I stalked the owner (actually Alfred and I were strolling the parking lot) and had a chat with him.  First off, he is a very approachable and likeable fellow, easily stalked.  He was more than happy to talk about his car and handled all of my questions superbly.  He also told me the car was under water and he and his wife just had a baby girl.  He mentioned it may have been bad timing to get the Roush.  

And, ready?  He said he is insured "inside and out" and offered to let me drive the thing.  At first I was quite ready to take him up on his offer.  I told him maybe for Christmas.  If he offers again I'll take the ride but he can do the driving.  


A week ago I went over to ABC Bicycles in St.Pete where I bought my bicycle when I first moved down here and was stolen at Bedlam.  I was checking some out to see if I wanted to buy another one, and after the browsing the current Mrs. Blythe, Miss Norah and myself had lunch at one of our old favorites.  It just so happened that it was 

Great place to get a sandwich or platter of fish and then grab some to take home.  Because it was a special occasion they had a guy at the keyboards entertaining the patrons.  It was fun to see Norah and the he flirting and exchanging smiles and giggles.  She even got to go up and draw a name out of a hat for winning one of the hourly prizes.


This is for longtime reader Tom up in G-Burg and Probation officer extraordinaire.  He is fond of our furry little friends in the trees.


Upstairs window decorations for the holidays.  So delusional.  So sad.  Endless blue skies.  Endless warm days.  This is no place for snow worshippers.


Not sure about Northlandia but down here some McDonald's are sprucing up for the Holidays by putting lights all over their buildings.  It's pretty cool looking.  Sorry about the above picture, it was taken on the go from the road.


Thanksgiving at Kenzie's.  The boys above went out for a coupel beers then back home to romp with the kids.  Note:  No one was hurt in the making of this picture and this should not be done at home without proper vigilence.

By the way, the young man above is being propelled to new heights by Brendan.  He is Liam and is the son of his girlfriend.  


This was handed to me recently by its author.  I have added it to my other sentimental keepsakes in my wallet.  By the way, it translates to :"Because I Love You So Much".  And it was not done by the current Mrs. Blythe but rather Miss Norah.  


CNN's round-the-clock coverage of Castro's death is embarrassing.  He hasn't been a player in a decade or longer, his brother is firmly in control and the guy he has appointed to succeed him will be just the same.  The idea that somehow this is the end of Cuban socialism is ridiculous.  CNN is myopic in its news coverage.  I only watch them now for news if I have no alternatives.


This is to remind you I will be in Northlandia soon for a couple weeks.  I will not be posting next Monday through Friday.  While I am gone you can either reread all of the over 2500 posts or just handle your withdrawal tremors with alcohol, ice cream or go out and protest something.    

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Odd and Bizarre

Specialty shops aren't new down here:  surf shops, organic groceries,  tropical plants, you name it. Somewhere in this vast maze of stop-and-go dullery you can find about anything.  And what you can't find you can get on Amazon or Ebay.  But last week I was amazed at this strange little brew of a place in not too far from me.  

I'm not sure the name truly does it justice.  Let's take a look.

As you pull in you are greeted by the police-style mock up outlines in the parking lot.  But you are still in "normal-ville".  But beware, you are about to leave city limits.

Bottles of medicines, some were known by me, many were not.  This old used bottle of Mercurochrome brought back some memories.  This was the miracle ointment every mother used back in my time before Neosporin.

Trays of dental equipment that most likely inflicted pain of some degree on its victims.

Denture plasters.

Here we have a priest's traveling communion case.

Shower sign in a military oriented corner.

A young person's straight-jacket. 

A human skull made up to resemble a certain German fuhrer.

A barrel of old radio transistors.  If I could figure out what I'd do with them I'd get some, just for the hell of it.  Maybe Christmas gifts?

A prosthetic leg.

An unsettling piece of art.  If anyone must have this for their collection of let me know and I'll run over at get it for you - I suppose it is still there.  

I'm simply not sure.  

This brought back memories of "Frida the Frog Baby, She's No Ordinary Baby" of Mercer County Fair  fame back in the day.

This wall hanging was intriguing just because those rascally ancient Egyptians were a pretty fascinating bunch, but then I looked closer.  

This looks to be like one of those medieval devices where you were placed for some type of punishment.  I'm not sure what they are called.  And I am happy about that.

Outside amongst the larger items was this wind chime-thingy hanging around.  Art?  Nightmare?  Everything is for sale here.  

It was a bizarre experience and I felt a little voyeuristic walking around.  But I got over it.  A strange little shop that certainly was worth stopping by.  A little different from Bath and Body.  I'm still haunted by that Egyptian thing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  The day means different things to people.  Certainly a day of feasting on good food is up there as is the meeting with family.  Football, maybe a beer or two and the fact we have a day off is part of the joy as well.  The entire staff here at BFE including the CEO,  General Manager, editorial staff, sales department, secretarial pool and maintenance workers wish you all a very happy day.   Remember, contrary to other lists, there are only three keys to personal happiness: 



Doing The Things We Enjoy

See those turkeys above?  They don't have smiles on their beaky faces because they don't have the above components.  See the turkey farmer above?  He has a smile on his face because he does have those three facets.  That proves my thesis.  Now, go have fun.

Oh, and by the way, we'll be taking the rest of the week off, returning on Monday.  That wiped the smiles off your faces, didn't it?  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

Firstly, I plan on being back in Northlandia on December 3rd.  Secondly, I'm not the least bit worried about the maintenance and aging fleet of Allegiant Air.  Thirdly, maybe I should  be.  

  • Allegiant has 86 planes.  42 of them broke down at least once in-flight last year.
  • Allegiant planes have had at least 77 forced landing due to serious mechanical failures.
  • Allegiant suffered 39 engine failures between January 2015 and September 2016.
  • Allegiant repaired important parts of their planes only to have them break down again 18 times last year.
  • Allegiant's planes are, on average 22 years old but only had mechanics at 11 of the 118 airports that give it hospitality.
  • For every 10,000 flights, an airline will have on average 3 unexpected landings.  Last year Allegiant had 12.

When Tampa Bay Times reporters asked Allegiant execs about this, they agreed with all the facts.  Even the CEO said it was unacceptable.  They talked of airline operations being under pressure.  And yet last quarter Allegiant's net profits were 56 million.  

(From Tampa Bay Times Investigative Report dated 11-1-2016.  If interested in more info go to TBT's website and type Allegiant in Search box.)


Bob Dylan is an ass for not attending the Nobel Awards ceremony.  He says he has a prior commitment:  what on earth is more important?  Geez.  What a jerk.  Definitely does not pass the Barstool Test. 


Remember when Facebook was people-oriented and a nice little platform to keep in touch with friends - to let them know what you up to?  


The UN military force was a bust in the Congo situation in the 60's, the Rwandan massacres in the 90's, and is a total failure today as 100 kids die a week in Aleppo.  Scrap it and start over.


My Cabin in the Woods.  

Since the election I have been like a crazed moth to a flame regarding TV news.  I sit, rapt, waiting to see what the Hell will happen next.  However, up in the cabin I have no cable, no DISH, or other means for 24 hour news.  I don't know what kind of withdrawal I will experience, but I am contemplating keeping busy: maybe building a house or writing a novel or becoming a neurosurgeon.


I got my flu shot last week, with no help from my insurance provider (boo Aetna).  If I get it and am hospitalized guess I get to forward the bills to them.  Morons.  Idiotic American healthcare.  And by the way, I am amazed at the number of people who do not get their shots based on erroneous information/myths.  


Last week I mentioned my irrational fear of having a nest camera trained on my livingroom/hallway.  It's night and I wake up and turn on the Nest to just check things out and I see something or someone coming don the hallway toward my bedroom.  I then mentioned that I turned the camera outside so I can see the weather.  This is what I found when I checked in this past week.  Some enterprising person or persons with too much time on their hands now that they aren't farming planting this "Scream" mask in front of the camera.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.   


Last Sunday I went to Serb Fest then didn't feel like returning to the cell quite yet so drove over to the Sports Shack for a couple beers.  

I'll be posting more on Serb Fest next week but it was wild:  English was not the primary language and this cassock-wearing Robert DeNiro look-alike holy man was wandering around.  I wonder if he was giving me a blessing?

My stop at the Sports Shack was nice, too.  It had a nice cool breeze rustling through the palm fronds, and beer I could pronounce.  The Bears game was on one of the dozen TV sets they had and was crushed when they lost.  Just crushed.   Then, reluctantly, moved on to the Waterboard to close out the weekend.  


And Finally, 

Found while going through some stuff I found at the old institution I was at, Bedlam.  Please Floridian parents: make education a priority.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Strange But True

A while back I was diagnosed with nasal polyps and got my nose reamed by Dr. Phlegm.  It was one of those in-hospital jobbies, two hours, put out by anesthesia and the whole works.  It was a first for me. 


I'm still using a steroidal flush and spray and so far they haven't returned as they are wont to do on occasion.  That's the good news.    The bad news was the cost.  I had costs to the Palms of Pasadena hospital, Dr. Phlegm and the anesthesiologist.  Total cost was around $89,000, so you can kind of get a feel for my costs with insurance.  Yeah, uh huh.  So I got the hospital and doctor paid off and then I got the anesthesiologist's bill, let's call him Dr. Gasbag.  It was for $2,432.   

By now I'd had about enough. The bill said something about paying $800 which was what I would normally have to pay if insurance had covered it, but since Dr. Gasbag wasn't in my network I owed the entire $2400.00.   I sent him $800 then contacted my insurance company.  I also became an opponent of Obamacare.

After about a 9 months of pleading to my insurance company about this I received this letter from United Healthcare which was a CC to Dr. Gasbag.  In essence they called him a crook - "In other words, our payment to you was higher than the amount charged by 90% of practitioners for these services in your geozip."

Okay, I was able to save a couple thousand, but what about all the other families out there who didn't or can't.  We need to get healthcare costs down where people don't have to choose between pills or food.  Until someone smarter than me can explain it with some clarity I am a fan of the universal system favored by most western countries.  All except us.  Somewhere along the way we handed it all over to our insurance companies.  These are the same companies that have denied coverage of my steroidal medicines prescribed by my specialist.   I have to get my elixir from some back alley pharmacist in Miami not covered by insurance now.

Now, I'm no insurance genius.  But it seems to me the cradle-to-grave plans of other wealthy Western nations would be at least something to consider.  We Americans are so insular.  We wave our flags and blindly recite the "USA, USA" mantra and think we have everything figured out.  Truth is we pay more money for healthcare than any other Western Industrialized nation and get the least for it.  According to the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation started in 1918 to promote better healthcare for Americans says that of the following 11 nations (Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and England, the United States ranks LAST in areas of 1) Healthcare system quality, 2) efficiency, 3) access to care, 4) equity, 5) and healthy lives.  I repeat - last. 1 

When I worked at the Mary one of the things we did with regularity was to visit other state detention centers and probation departments to find out how they did things - perhaps utilize other methods to improve our methods.  Too bad we think we are so perfect - we might learn something from someone else.  Oh, my! Can't do it like the Brits or the Canucks - it's Socialism.  (Psst - so is Social Security, Medicare, Education subsidies, farming subsidies, Medicaid, G.I. Bill, Veteran's Benefits, Pell Grants, Unemployment Insurance, Home Mortgage deduction, Food Stamps, Child and Dependent Care Tax credit, and I can go on and on.  We are neck deep in social programs.  Don't need any of them, then count yourself among the blessed.  If you do, well,  it can make a world of difference.  We are all hanging by a thin thread that can snap at any time.  Be thankful we have a nation that devotes such resources to our fellow citizens.  But until we can control and manage our healthcare system we will be a poor nation in spirit.   

Let's hope that Congress has some plan that will save the American families from outrageous healthcare costs.  Otherwise we'll be getting letters from attorneys handling our bankruptcies.

How's that for starting off Thanksgiving week?    



Friday, November 18, 2016

Flashback Friday - Iliff Part 2

I was going through a baseball cap phase at the time and a lot of the pictures of me in those 2 years have me wearing one.   Country music was all the craze and being in the most important consumer demographic of 18-15 year-olds, I readily joined in.  Along with my baseball cap I also wore bib overalls and no socks to really look like the Midwest hayseed I was.  It was a crazy big country music boom that influenced me until I wised up and shed all that craziness.  Freddie Fender's Wasted Days and Wasted Nights was one of my favorites and on some nights, with a little beer, was able to do a pretty good karaoke rendition before there was such a thing.

The classes were all pretty conventional and a continuation of themes I took at Iowa Wesleyan.  Ethics, philosophical movements that relate to specific periods,  and the theology of philosophy were all the types of stuff I took that first year.  In fact the first four classes were: 

History of Philosophy - Dr. Templin
Foundational Ethics - Dr. Wilbanks
Development of the Theological Personality - Dr. Spangler
Philosophy Colloquium - Drs. Bloede/Bossart

The classes were small.  A lot harder to get lost in them.  Generally speaking I am a back row kind of guy, and when your Professor enters the room and tells us to get in a circle, my heart generally sinks.  I also wasn't much for interaction.  I knew my stuff but didn't necessarily want to participate in group crap because I have learned in school that there are three types of students:  first is the suck-up type that wants only to impress the teacher and hear themselves prattle. The second is the one who will interact if they have to and don't feel they have to do more or less.  And the third are those who would rather have molars extracted than put their necks out for student number one.  I was student #3.  Always was - way too introverted to put a target on my back.  Another story from my days at IWC was in one of Dr. Khan's philosophy classes.  All those dickhead thinkers who couldn't find the time to devote a minute for cogent thought because they were tripping to impress Khan, I aced them all on a test at one point and the good Doctor made reference to it and the "shy boy in the back" in his clipped Pakistani accent.  I remember they all turned around to see this progeny they'd never heard from and all I did was raise an eyebrow.  

My first year they put me in a little single studio type apartment in the dorm above.  They had two dorms - one for us single students and then the other for all the married ones.  The first I discovered was there was NO partying of any kind.  Coming out of IWC we all found time to party fairly hardy if not during the week (which would have been rare) then certainly on the weekends.  I found out that grad school was a different animal and so I spent a lot of time that first semester in my room.  It was a corner studio on the corner so I had views of both main streets.  I was on a strict budget so I'd hide my smokes at various places, even the kitchen light that hung down from the ceiling.  It was a way to temper my need to smoke more than I had the funds to replace them.  

Cooking was a new thing, too and I'm not sure what I fixed.  I do remember a new cake that you could buy that was called Stir and Frost.  It was all self-contained, requiring nothing and all it needed was baked.  It also came with its own frosting.  It tasted like warm mud and is no longer available, thank heavens.     

This is the only photo that I have of my day-to-day living space.   On the wall are my fraternity group photos that appear to have been hung way too high.  My good old TV set back before cable and all that stuff.  Yes, Virginia, TV was free once a long time ago.  I got the main stations around town and cable was just beginning to catch on.  

As you can see the bed is unmade.  Sorry about that.  I don't know when I became a stickler about that but apparently it hadn't happened yet.  My baseball cap, a cardboard box for a table, newspapers and a bathroom sink full of clothes.  My transformation from slop to pseudo neat freak proves some kind of evolution.

Down the road real soon I would meet Jennie who was in one of my classes and we palled around that first semester.  Good humor, lots of fun and always ready to go out and do things.  After I came back from Christmas vacation I discovered she had fallen in love with a girl and she dropped out of school and moved away.  Then just as quickly I met Jan and she would be my buddy the rest of the time I was there.  I think there is a post that goes into somewhat more detail (February 13, 2015) about Jan if you want to use the side history dates to look it up.  I would also eventually meet the Calhoun boys, Eddie Valverde, David and others, and the place all of a sudden wasn't so lonely.  

And so, for the first time in my life,  I was in a big city alone.  A lifetime of having a little twerp next to me in some way was 1500 miles away.  I won't lie and say it wasn't tough.  But I had my studies, my classes.  One day I decided to find a project for the weekend.  The University had a great bookstore and I picked up some art materials and canvas and did a little something to while the time.  It is an endeavor and hobby that has stuck with me ever since.  Overall I survived that first semester and although I was a bit homesick I toughed it out.  

I didn't go out much, driving was still a bit of a terror, but I would occasionally hop in my VW and go fairly close to places or, even better, walk.  It would take Jan to really get me out but that was later.  By the way, my Fall semester GPA was, on a 3.0 scale, 2.33 and Winter's was 2.25 (B+), so not a bad start at all.  More on Iliff in a couple weeks.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Seaton Not Always In Black And White

From my last stay in Northlandia, these pictures of my hometown.

From the East End looking uptown.  Note the shadows on the road.  It was a full moon.

My grandparents house on the left.  The church down the block.

The fire station.  We had community plays as kids in this place.  Now it has the occasional pancake breakfast.

City Hall and Library.

The old Masonic Hall building.  Now it is a private residence.

Main street in front of the bank looking east.  When I was a kid the entire downtown block was filled with buildings and businesses.  Now all it has is the post office and restaurant.

The weigh station at the grain elevator.  Spent many hours here as a kid, then as an employee.   One of these days I may write a post on all the things that happened here.  

My house was on the left.  The painting I'm working on now features the street light on the right and how we used to spend time there at that corner.  It was a place we neighborhood kids congregated during the summer.  It gave us a sense of freedom while still under the watchful eye of a parent.  At the end of the block on the right was Frey's house.  I ran away from home (complete with stick and belongings in a red bandana like a hobo) once and got that far.  Evelyn gave me cookies and let me watch TV until I was ready to go back home.  The lot on the right also had Doc Kingry's mini pony for awhile.  The little gravel road that heads right under the streetlight is the way to the Levine's: Dot, Don and Lance.  Dot and Lance are still there.  The memories flood.