Zero to Sixty

Like most old farts, I have multiple topics that I could bitch and moan about, but I’m going to tack my ship of rants in a different wind for a change and share a fond memory from 1967.

You see, once upon a time a zillion years ago, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was a cub reporter at a daily morning newspaper in Huntsville, Alabama.

Though I usually wrote feature stories, penned obituaries, or reported on local high school sports, my editor charged me one night with proofing the classified ads because the usual proofreader was out sick.

The typesetter, a prankster with a mean sense of humor, typed in a classified ad for a car: “It goes from 0 to 60 as fast as you can shit.”

Yes, he purposely left out the “f” to see if I’d catch the error and fix it while proofing. He knew if the error wasn’t noticed and corrected the proofreader would be in for a tongue lashing from one of the bosses.

Keep in mind this tale I’m telling occurred back in the day before computers, before word processing, before auto-correction, and before all the other modern stuff that more often than not makes life harder these daze than life was in the good old days.

Well, given my eagle eyes for English errors and typos even at the ripe age of 20, I did catch the mistake, but… given my own appreciation for pranks and fun, I didn’t fix the error because I thought it was hilarious.

The next afternoon when I came in for work, I was not only chewed out by the editor but was also called into the publisher’s office. Both of my bosses were already familiar enough with my sense of humor as well as my almost OCD approach to words and writing to suspect I’d probably let the ad run as typeset.

They were right, of course, and because I’d grown up guilt-ridden and honest as Old Abe, I owed up to my bad decision, confessed without breaking into a laugh, apologized, and swore that would be the last time I’d let “shit” pass for “shift.”

Consequently, I got off pretty lightly with only two minor ass chewings.

And that’s a fun memory that bubbled up in my fevered old brain this Wednesday afternoon for no apparent reason other than perhaps neurons misfiring between my ears this fine spring day.

Happy Hump Day, dear friends!

No Fool Like an Old Fool

Due to an abiding fear of being cancelled and kicked off the internet for good, I’ve never posted a word about politics, but I’m going to break through my fear and write briefly on important news recently regarding the House of Commons.

For the uninformed, poorly educated, or simply ignorant, the House of Commons is a key legislative body in England. England is a country which isn’t physically attached to Europe but close enough to France for a really good spitter.

With that background, we smoothly transition to the news that captured my attention and inspired this little rant:

You may not be aware of this since it didn’t make the network shows (though it certainly should have given its importance), but British Member of Parliament Neil Parish, 65, has resigned his seat after admitting he had been watching PORNOGRAPHY on his smartphone in the august chamber of the House of Commons!

Apparently, MP Parish’s smartphone is pretty freaking dumb for not reminding him PORNOGRAPHY is best viewed in the privacy of one’s locked closet or bathroom, and preferably late at night after the wife and kids have hit the sack. (Important disclaimer: I make this “best viewed” suggestion from a common sense perspective and NOT from personal experience!)

Speaking of hitting the sack, when was the last time the bottom of your grocery bag split open out of the blue, dumping your eggs and bottles of Geritol and Dulcolax Saline Laxative onto the asphalt? I had that happen to me when I was 71 a few years ago, and I got so mad I actually hit that sack over and over again.

Kapow! Kapow! Almost split open veins in my old knuckles from the forceful blows before I regained my senses and chilled.

I mean seriously, plastic grocery bags are supposed to be more difficult to rip apart than telephone books. And here the lousy sack holding my eggs, Geritol, and Dulcolax Saline Laxative gave way on nothing but a whim.

Speaking of whims, you probably thought Neil Parish, 65, logged onto a PORN site on a whim in the British House of Commons instead of listening to boring details about important legislation, but if that’s what you thought, YOU ARE WRONG!

You see, according to the story I read, Mr. Parish, 65, said he was trying to look at a tractor website, but stumbled into a porn site with a similar name and watched it for “a bit.”

Yeah, I bet.

With that kind of sensible explanation don’t you agree with me that it’s almost impossible to believe Neil Parish, 65, isn’t a member of our own House of Representatives? Lord knows he’d fit right in with many of our hallowed politicians who present us with equally believable explanations regarding their own rare lapses of judgment.

I don’t know about you, but I visit a website informing me of up-to-the-moment news about tractors on a daily basis. If I don’t do this, I start going through withdrawal.

I mean, seriously, old dudes like me and Neil Parish, 65, could end up quivering on the floor with a brain hemorrhage if we don’t get a regular fix of what’s going on in the tractor world.

I will give MP Parish credit, however, since he, according to the AP story confessed to the BBS: “My biggest crime is that on another occasion I went in a second time. And that was deliberate.”

Perhaps the moral of this sad tale is to not go in a second time?

Or maybe the moral is more simple.

To wit, there’s no fool like an old fool.

Drier than Pretzel Sticks

Gosh, 2021-2022 has been such an odd winter weather-wise here in rural North Carolina with me wearing shirt sleeves one day and a heavy parka the next.

For example, I wore my favorite muscle shirt (yes, I still enjoy showing off the python-like biceps I was known for back in the day) this morning when my little dog Cricket and I walked a mile between showers, but that was about it because the clouds were threatening more rain, and my umbrella wouldn’t cover both of us.

You’re right. I should feel guilty for staying dry under the umbrella when my four-legged companion gets soaked. But I don’t feel guilty enough to cover her with the umbrella while getting soaked myself.

This selfish behavior is no doubt something I’ll have to answer for in the Great Beyond when it’s time for my life review, a phenomenon reported by those who have undergone near death experiences. I don’t know whether or not to believe the NDE reports, but I do find them comforting in some respects.

Of course, because I hate to think humanity is alone and the only intelligent (ha, right!) species in the gargantuan universe, I also used to find alien abduction reports comforting, at least the ones with the friendly alien encounters and not the creepy outsiders from the Ring Nebula or certain reptilian DC politicians who stick needles in the abducted on weekends for fun.

Good Lord, I believe I just lost track of where I was going… could this be an early sign of cognitive disintegration?

You see, I was going to write an extended treatise about the odd winter weather so far in 2022, but, actually, I don’t know enough about meteorology to expound on the topic.

And, yes, now that you mention it, you’re right: I would never write about climate change because of my deep fear of being cancelled by social media pests and insane influencers who would disagree with my point of view.

That’s not to say that I have a point of view regarding climate change, but I mean, seriously, at age 74 I can’t take a chance at cancellation.

No kidding, I need friends more than ever.

Do you know how many old men living alone fall down every year and end up drier than pretzel sticks when somebody finally finds their withered bodies seven months down the road?

Do you know how many geezers I’m talking about are found each year in this tragic condition?

Well, I don’t know either, but you can be damn sure it’s a lot.

So hold tight to your friends and don’t say or write stuff that pisses them off because in these crazy times you can end up ostracized just for refusing to reveal your gender pronouns to an inquisitive stranger in the grocery store checkout line!

Believe me, you’re going to need friends one of these days when you’re older than dirt.

Of course your friends may be older than dirt too, and if that’s the case they may not have the strength to help you up when you fall, so I’d counsel making pals with some younger folks too, just in case.

Speaking of cases, have you been following Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the New York Times? It was postponed, you probably read, because Sarah came down with Covid and then found herself photographed eating without a mask at a restaurant.

From what I understand that image was published in over 326 newspapers world-wide.

Eating without a mask on.

Can you imagine?

Jeezuz, the gall of that woman!

Oh, that reminds me… on the subject of gall, my good friend Bill Beachy during a memorable poker game one evening in the late 80’s (or maybe it was the early 90’s) suddenly went all in with his winning hand and stake of $2.73.

Weirdly, as he raked in the pot of almost five bucks he happily started lecturing on how Gall was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. He informed us that it was inhabited by Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany, particularly the west bank of the Rhine.

But I digress. For those interested in more knowledge about this region of Western Europe, you can call Bill or else visit Wikipedia. Call Bill. That’s funny. Ha ha ha, it makes me think of Better Call Saul. Hmm, now I’m wondering if Saul rhymes with Gaul?

I know, I know. I know it’s hard to believe, but there may be one or two of you still reading this mess who are wondering where I’m going with this latest bit of nonsense.

I understand, believe me, because I’m wondering where I’m going with it too.


Well, rather than trying to crack the nut of this difficult conundrum, I think I’ll restrain myself and go downstairs and plop this week’s laundry in the washing machine.

I actually enjoy doing laundry these days.

Do you?

If you don’t, give it a try. Putting stinky muddy clothes into the machine isn’t all that much fun, but, gosh, there are few things in life more satisfying than taking the warm laundry out of the dryer, hugging it close to you on cold winter days, and then folding it on your tightly made bed.

You did tightly make your bed this morning, didn’t you?

If you didn’t, I’ll gently share with you what my dear old dad, a former Marine, used to tell me: “If a dime won’t bounce six inches in the air when you drop it on your tightly made bed, you haven’t made it right.”

Good old Dad. He had more wisdom than Ronald Reagan had jelly beans.

Speaking of jelly beans, I went to order some this morning on Amazon and learned that that bastard Jeff Bezos is jacking the yearly price of Prime membership up by 17%.

Seventeen percent!

Can you believe the greed of that guy?

I mean, seriously, I understand how difficult it must be to exist with only $175,000,000,000 in the bank, but for Pete’s sake, give the little guy a break and don’t bump the Prime price through the ceiling

And Bezos should do something about his warehouse employees who don’t have enough time to take a bathroom break during work hours.

I mean, honestly, who wants to take an old orange juice container with them to pee in at work because there’s not enough time to run to the bathroom in one of Amazon’s huge warehouses?

And no, I’m not exaggerating about the size of Amazon warehouses. If you don’t believe me, you can confirm on Wikipedia this quote about Amazon’s largest warehouse: “As of September 2021, [it’s] the Wilmington, Delaware, at 3.8 million square feet. That’s large enough to fit 66.6 football fields inside. The five-story warehouse has a footprint of roughly 640,000 square feet on the ground, which is nearly 14.7 acres.”

Can you imagine having a full bladder when the urinal (or hopefully clean ladies’ toilet) is 66.6 football fields away?

I mean, yikes!

Well, now that I have that little rant about the world’s second richest man out of my system I guess I’ll stop and pull my clothes out of the dryer.

I wish you a happy weekend with friends and family.

And be sure today to tell those you love that you love them.

How to Slow Down and Meditate

I received an email recently from a blog reader who said he was having trouble slowing down enough to meditate. That the time he spent meditating was no fun because it went so slowly.

That’s a common problem for beginning meditators, especially those practicing breath counting or mentally repeating a mantra or phrase.

I have a suggestion for this…

Simply do your best to not let it be a problem. Just devote twenty to thirty minutes each day to sitting and do it, no matter how long it feels like it takes. If your experience parallels mine, a happy day will arrive when your sitting sessions go so quickly you won’t believe that 20 to 30 to even 60 minutes passed like a snap of your fingers. 🙂

Important point: when you meditate (and during your non-meditating time, too), just be.

Breathe in; pause for a few seconds and note the stillness; breathe out; pause for a few seconds and note the stillness. That’s it. Everything you need is right here, right now.

Especially in that deep silent pause between each breath.

Until next time, meditate every day and let it all go.

Breathe in Absolute Freedom

For this week’s meditation, we turn to Dogen (founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism), who wrote:

The human mind has absolute freedom as its true nature. There are thousands upon thousands of students who have practiced meditation and obtained this realization. Do not doubt the possibilities because of the simplicity of this method.

During the coming week, while you’re meditating, breathe in absolute freedom and breathe out true nature.

Do not think or conceptualize about absolute freedom and true nature while you’re sitting and breathing.

Simply breathe in absolute freedom and breathe out true nature.

Wet Socks Remedy for Colds and Flu

The Wet Socks Remedy is an interesting and useful treatment for all sorts of infections and inflammations in the upper body. It is simple to do and you don’t need anything but some socks and some water.

The wet sock treatment is best if repeated for three nights in a row if you’re suffering from any of the following symptoms: sore throat or any inflammation or infection of the throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

To do the wet sock treatment, you’ll need:

1 pair white cotton socks
1 pair thick wool sock
A towel
Warm bath or warm foot bath

With the above items in hand, here are the directions:

Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with ice cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip

Warm your feet first. This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. Warming can be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes or taking a warm bath for 5-10 minutes.

Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.

Place ice cold wet socks on feet. Cover with thick wool socks. Go directly to bed. Avoid getting chilled.

Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.

This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat.

It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment.

This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.

The Cold and Wet Sock Remedy is said to be an excellent treatment for early onset of a cold or flu.

A New Orleans Ghost Story

I’ve embedded at the end of this post a picture of the house my beloved late wife Ellen and I lived in for our first seven years in New Orleans, starting way back in 1973.

This classic house had four apartments. Two on the first floor and two above. Our crib was on the second and third floors on the right hand side of the house.

Ellen and I enjoyed really good years in that old place.

Some hopefully interesting details about the house:  The landlord said it was built in the 19th century by a rich sea captain for his beautiful young wife. At the time (and still true today after checking Google Maps) this was the only house in the surrounding area with three stories, and the captain included the “widow’s walk” balcony outside the third floor so his beloved could watch for his ship coming up the Mississippi River when he returned from whatever voyage he’d gone on.

As legend would have it, the captain raised a special flag to the top of the highest mast of his ship upon getting close to New Orleans so his wife, who must have spent a lot of time on the third floor balcony pining for his return, would know he would arrive home soon.

I don’t know if she would then rush to the kitchen to prepare red beans and rice with a side of gumbo. Maybe so, maybe no.

Ellen and I couldn’t see the Mississippi River from the third floor balcony when we lived there because the area had been developed to a point where the view was blocked, but The Father of Waters was probably about, maybe, a half mile directly in front of the house. 

I swear this next part is true, though it might sound like a writer’s fabrication.

During our first month in this apartment on Tchoupitoulas Street, Ellen saw the ghost of the captain’s young wife in the middle of the night, standing over our bed and staring down at us, visibly angry.

Ellen was frightened and physically shaking when she woke me up to tell me what she’d just seen, that the captain’s wife was practically in a rage that we were in their bedroom.

That she held her pale white arms over her head, her hands twisted into angry and shaking fists!

“Her eyes were pinpoints of hatred,” Ellen explained. “I’ve never seen anyone so angry.”

Geez, I’m getting goosebumps right now revisiting this memory.

That was the only time anything that might have been supernatural occurred, thank goodness, but our apartment often seemed to vibrate with ancient memories from all those who had lived in it before us.

Almost fifty years have flown by as I type these words, and now I find myself alone with ancient memories.

I still occasionally dream about this apartment, a small but truly wonderful place for a young couple to call home in a crazy and fascinating city.

Oh, one more thing. At some point, the owner of the apartments in this historical home in New Orleans converted them into four condominiums, and the last time our little apartment of 960 square feet was up for sale at few years ago I vaguely recall the asking price was around $411,000.

We paid $175 a month rent in 1973, gradually going up to $250 when we moved right after Ellen got pregnant with our first son, Josh.

A buck sure doesn’t go as far as it used to, eh?

Ellen and I lived in this wonderful house for seven years in the 70’s
Click here to see 3D movable map of the apartment and surrounding “shotgun” houses.

A Fish Story

Back in 1977 when my beloved late wife Ellen and I were living in New Orleans my visiting uncle stayed at our house for the weekend after a long spell of fishing for tuna off the California coast. A deep sea fisherman his entire life, he was tired that day, but not so tired that he couldn’t tell an interesting story.

Since I’ll soon be older than dirt, I decided to share this tale rather than taking it to the grave with me. So, without further preamble, here we go…

“Twenty some year ago, when I was 28,” my uncle said that long ago weekend, “I was working off the California coast on a tuna boat. We lucked into a fabulous school of fish, and we were hauling them in as fast as we could move. I’d gotten married a week before and was wearing a heavy gold wedding ring my new wife purchased for me. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet had time to get the jeweler to resize the ring, which was too big for my finger. Downright loose, in fact.”

My uncle sighed before continuing. “It was raining that day and my hands were slippery with fish slime. We were working furiously. So I snagged a tuna with the grappling hook, and my wedding ring slipped right off my finger and fell into the ocean. I was tempted to jump in after it, but it was already too late. I knew from the weight of the gold that my ring was on its way to Davy Jones’s locker.”

“Gosh, that’s awful,” I said. “Did you tell your wife?”

“Oh, of course I did. She was upset, but she knew that accidents happen on fishing boats, and she told me we’d get another one after payday.”

Uncle Lance took a sip of a cold beer and sighed again. He shook his head, and it was obvious his mind had drifted back to the day he lost that ring.

Though I was anxious to hear the next part, I didn’t say anything.

A few moments later, my uncle came back to the present, smiled the biggest smile I’d ever seen, looked at me, and said: “Chet, I bet you can’t guess what happened last week when we were fishing the same area and happened on another large school of tuna.”

Anticipating something incredibly cool, perhaps even unbelievable, I told my uncle, “I don’t know. Tell me.”

“Well, after we had a good ten dozen fish onboard, it was time to clean them. I picked out the largest one — gosh, it was a gargantuan blue tuna, must have been at least thirty years old — inserted my knife, started cutting, and, mercy, you’ll never guess what I found inside.”
“You can’t be serious. You found your wedding ring!”

My uncle smiled more broadly and said, “Nope. I found Jimmy Hoffa!” He then slapped his knees with his hands and laughed until I thought he’d have a heart attack.

The Still Voice Within Meditation

For this week’s meditation, we turn to Soen Shaku.

At the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, Soen Shaku turned heads when he made the first public presentation of Zen to the West.

Here’s an observation from him that I like…

Religion is not to go to God by forsaking the world but to find Him in it. Our faith is to believe in our essential oneness with Him. “God is in us and we in Him” must be made the most fundamental faith of all religions

During the coming week, seek God (or Source or Presence or whatever fits your point of view) in the world and in yourself.

Quiet your mind down enough while meditating, and you’ll open yourself to the small still voice within.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi also has good advice for this week’s meditation:

No more words. Hear only the voice within.

During the coming week, while you’re meditating, focus on your breath intently enough and open yourself to the voice within.

Drop in the Ocean Meditation

For today’s meditation, let’s turn to Kabir, an Indian weaver and mystic poet born 1398 AD, who writes…

All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath. Hold for a few seconds. Exhale slowly. Repeat until you’ve slowed down, decreased your thinking, and deepened your awareness.

Visual a single drop of water.

Watch the drop fall into the ocean.

Feel the ocean merge into the drop.

You are the drop.

You are the ocean.

Breathe and be at peace.