Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lessons Learned

 (This is a version of a post from ten years ago. With the Labor Day Holiday coming up I was reminded of the Tinley Park Fall Festival. It was a great time when I was a kid, and I learned many things from going to that carnival.)

It’s amazing how children are over-protected these days. They have to wear helmets when they ride their bikes, competitive games in gym class are discouraged. Parent’s think they’ve protected the kids from porn with computer programs and V-Chips, but trust me, they are like little Einstein’s when it comes to getting around things like that. I think you have to let kids have some leeway so that they learn things on their own. When I was a kid I learned not to ride my bike at breakneck speed around a corner with gravel in the middle of it. I slid twenty feet on my face and side through that gravel and learned a lesson. I learned about porn in the 1950’s, from Paul, a neighbor kid down the street. He apparently knew all of his dad’s hiding places. I’ll never get over the deck of porno playing cards, especially the joker. From that I learned some people are quite agile.

You can’t protect your kids from outside influences if they don’t want you to. The biggest event in Tinley Park when I was a kid was the ‘Labor Day Fall Festival’, or the ‘carnival’ as we called it. It included carnival rides, a parade, and fireworks. One year they also had ‘ladies wrestling’. My best friend at the time, Arthur along with his dad, made plans to go see the lady wrestlers and invited me to go along. At first my mom said no, but I worked on her for hours, telling her all kinds of reasons she should let me go. I then tried my dad, who for some reason thought it was a fine idea for me to go see ‘lady wrestlers’, and so my mom was over-ruled. 

We pushed our way up front to the side of the wrestling ring which was set up in the middle of the carnival. In the ring were two of the meanest and hardest women I had ever seen, and would never see again until I met some drag queens. The bell rang, and I stood there totally mesmerized at the scene unfolding before me. I was totally impressed with how one woman, after being almost beaten, came back and kicked the ass of the other. The fight did include hair pulling, which I considered totally fair and in hindsight should have realized doesn’t work in a real fight.
You see, I was so impressed, I figured I could do exactly what that woman did in a fight and beat anyone. To test my theory a few days later, I challenged a kid in my class to a fight. The kid I challenged, I thought, would be an easy mark. He always seemed sort of meek and quiet, also he had red hair, which for some reason I associated with wimps. At the appointed time, at a location halfway between school and my house, we met to fight. There was a pretty good crowd of kids anticipating a good fight. They didn’t get one. I didn’t even get one punch in, because as I was going for his hair to pull it like I saw at the ladies wrestling match, he punched me in the face. I fell straight to the ground and he jumped on me and proceeded to beat the living crap out of me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Put it Down

In Illinois it is illegal to drive while using a handheld electronic device. Yet every time I drive down the street, at least one third of the morons in the other cars are texting, talking, or simply looking at their smart phones. I would rather deal with a person who has had two or three drinks than some idiot with a phone in their hand. At least the drinker is actively trying to pay attention, blurry but trying. For some reason the Chicago Police do not enforce the handheld ban. Seriously, if I can see it as we drive down the street, if I can see the asshole driving ten miles an hour and drifting into my lane, why can't the cops? Think about the income from fines. The police could fund their enormous pensions with the fines from these jackholes. Just yesterday morning, as I was taking Chandler out for his morning stroll, I saw a woman blow through the stop sign at the end of the street without even slowing down a bit. She had a smart phone propped up on the steering wheel and was staring down at it while she poked the screen. Probably texting her girlfriend "will be at dunkin donuts in one minute. get me large hazelnut macchiato 😃"

Put the goddamn phones away people. Humans have been on this Earth for thousands of years without needing to immediately respond to a jingling slab of electronics. And remember, the Illinois law says 'electronic devices'. So if you must stop at the local Pleasure Chest, or whatever the sex store in your town is called, leave that vibrating toy in the package until you get home.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Alan Cried

I can get weepy at times. I try not to shed a tear in public, but once in awhile I can't help myself. I cried when we visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Mark thought it was strange that I cried and wanted to tell everybody he saw that "Alan Cried." Yeah, I know. What a dick. 

I found myself starting to get choked up while watching the news yesterday. Seriously, I almost went into an all out sob. I was watching old people in a nursing home sitting in water up to their chest. I saw people being plucked from homes that were nearly underwater. Kids sitting in a huge gymnasium like building waiting for it all to end so that they could go home, not knowing that they can't. I cried because I have an inkling of just what they're going through. It is one of the biggest reasons I left Florida for the much safer streets of Chicago. Hurricanes, I hate them. The hurricanes I went through in Fort Lauderdale were nothing compared to Harvey. Katrina, Wilma, Andrew, and some lesser hurricanes all hit us to some degree. The worst was Wilma. We went without electric for two full weeks. No water for five days, and when it did come back on, we were supposed to boil it. No telephone service for over a week. So what we had was heat and humidity without air conditioning. Toilets full of nastiness that we could only sort of flush with a bucket of water from the swimming pool. No phone with which to call people and whine about our lot in life. Long lines over at the gas station waiting for our turn to fill two gas cans. More long lines across the street at the bank where they were giving out water. The stink, the heat, the darkness at night without any illumination was disheartening. It was right then and there, while the electric was still off, that I decided that I was leaving. No way was I going to deal with hurricanes as I got older. No way did I want to be one of those old folks sitting in a nursing home while water swirled around me. At least I had my older brother from Orlando who came down to lend a hand. Even with that, I was miserable. Watching those images on the television, I can imagine just how horrible it must be to actually lose everything. So I sat and cried as I watched those poor folks down in Texas and I understand just a little bit about the horrors that they are facing.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Corn is Green... or Maybe Too Brown.

I am a sorry excuse for a gardener. All summer I have been waiting for the sweet corn to be just right, waiting for the peak of its sweetness. All I could think about was how it tasted when I was a kid. Corn on the cob, slathered with butter and lots of salt. It was my favorite vegetable back then. Yes, I know that it's not a vegetable. Corn is a grain. A sweet, juicy grain with deliciousness. Over the weekend I picked four ears off of the stalks that are growing along the fence. On Sunday I grilled two steaks, cooked up some onion rings, and steamed those ears of corn. The steaks were fantastic, the onion rings crispy and tasty. The corn that I have been looking forward to all summer, sucked. They were mealy, starchy, and had no flavor. I either picked them too late, or maybe I was just expecting too much. Possibly, I thought, it could be the city dirt that I planted them in. After all, we do live right under the O'Hare flight path. All that jet exhaust from landing planes might have tainted things. But it wasn't really any of that. After the fact, I Googled, "When is the right time to pick sweet corn?" I read Google's answers and It seemed very complicated. You have to pull back the husk and check the kernels for plumpness. You have to be sure the silk tassels are just right. The articles all talked about squeezing the kernels to check the juice. Not too watery, not too milky, not too this and that. I never knew corn was so damn complicated. I suspect I waited too long to pick the corn. I assume that all the other ears out there in the garden are also past their prime. But all is not lost. At least Mark will have some dried corn stalks for his Halloween display in a few weeks. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Agony of Defeat

I had plenty of time to take photos
I had a nine o'clock appointment at the podiatrist, so I left at eight in the morning. I had to allow for the rush hour traffic. Knowing that it takes around twenty five minutes to get there without rush hour traffic, I left early. There was no rush hour traffic. I don't know what the hell was happening yesterday, but I got to the doctor's office in twenty five minutes. So now I had to sit there for thirty five minutes until it was my appointed time to see the doctor. Fifty minutes later the door opened and a young man (Intern? Student Nurse? Tech School Graduate?) called my name and ushered me into room #1. "Sit on the table there, remove both shoes and socks please. I'll be back in a few minutes." Fifteen minutes later, after I had checked my Facebook, checked my email, and started to text my sister Mary Beth, the young man came back in. He started asking me questions about my feet, why was I there, what hurt. Well hell, I thought, isn't it all right there in my chart? This was a follow up visit. Moments later the real doctor came in and we discussed my problems. Neuroma nerve stump in my right foot. Possible chipped bone in my right ankle. Neuropathy in all the toes. But mostly I was concerned about my left foot. I have Plantar Fasciitis in that foot and it has been terrible. I can't walk the dogs, I can't mow the lawn, I simply cannot walk. However, Mark still makes me go shopping with him.
"I could shoot you up with some cortisone. It will hurt like hell, pardon my French, but after the hurt it should ease the pain somewhat."
"Then do it. I can take the pain. When I had cancer, they took bone marrow from my hip bones and they hit a nerve going in there. I don't think there's another pain on Earth that can hurt that bad. So go ahead... oh, and 'Pardon my French'? Doc, this is Chicago. Everybody curses."
He stopped and gave me a look for a moment, and then he and his minion left the room. About five minutes later they returned with the doctor explaining things to the young man, who never was explained to me. (Intern? Student Nurse? Doc's boyfriend?) I know, I could have asked. Anyway, the doctor pulled out a gigantic needle. He first sprayed some kind of stuff on my heel that made it very cold, almost frozen. Then he jabbed that goddamned needle deep into the flesh of my heel. For about thirty seconds he pushed that crap into my foot as I tried desperately not to squirm, scream, or kick him in the face. Remember when I mentioned them taking bone marrow from my hips when I had cancer? Remember when I said that there's not another pain on Earth that can hurt that bad? Well apparently there is.