All posts by Jim

Murphy’s Law

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Fagin’s Rule on Past Prediction: Hindsight is an exact science.

Goofy guy’s corollary to Fagin’s Rule on Past Prediction: Foresight in not just an inexact science, it is nearly always wrong.

Murphy’s Law

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

The Fifth Rule: You have taken yourself too seriously.

Goofy guy’s amen to The Fifth Rule: This morning, an older couple took their dog for a walk around our cul-de-sac. One of our neighbors is a conservative. Since i am a contrarian, the neighbor and i agree on some things and disagree on others. We are good friends. He has a “Trump” sign in his front yard. The woman sees my neighbor at his side yard gate and immediately launches into a tirade against him and his political views. Her husband finally tells her to “let it go,” and she finally does. My neighbor to his credit never said a word. This easily could have happened to a neighbor who is a liberal . What has happened to civility? And that is not a political statement. Wonder what the dog thought? 

Addendum to “Fit for a Goober”

It has been noted by a couple of Heights cadets there was another term bandied about in those days of yore, which i omitted. While the senior school cadets called the junior school cadets “Goobers,” they modified the term to label themselves as “Geebers.” The town boys (also a term used to describe us’n’s who did not board but also the term for non-Heights cadet boys), i.e. Lebanon High School males, did not distinguish and called us all “Goobers.”

i hope this explanation muddles it up more for the uninitiated.

But i tried to explain. i really did.

Fit for a Goober

This might get a bit confusing. There are, according to my Merriam Webster, Unabridged Dictionary, thirty-four definitions of fit.

Nah, i’m not throwing one, a fit that is. There are times i would like to throw one. But i’ve come to realize in my old age, it does absolutely no good and has some negative impact on my digestive system, not to mention this old man’s blood pressure.

And this “fit” ain’t addressing my wardrobe. It couldn’t because damn near everything doesn’t fit anymore. i’ve been needing to lose about 20 pounds (more actually, but i’m not going to admit it), but i don’t run six to fourteen miles four or five times a week anymore and a three-mile fartlek at old man speed won’t get it done, especially when i’m wolfing down Maureen’s chef quality food and sneaking out for burgers occasionally.

The “fit” i’m talking about is related to that running mentioned above. But it was a long time ago before i really started running “running” after i bought a pair of twenty-dollar Adidas running shoes at J.C. Penny’s in College Station, Texas around 1977 — i ran in those shoes without socks until the soles were about ninety percent shoe goo; i might still be running in them, except someone inexplicably stole them while i was in the sauna, jacuzzi, and shower in the Diego Garcia gym in the middle of the Indian Ocean in 1981. Guess the thief was impressed with the shoe goo and the smell since they had never been washed — and after i bought those shoes, i finally figured out i wasn’t supposed to sprint. That’s when i began running almost every day. i was never really fast and never ran a full marathon, but it became something that was extremely rewarding.

i miss it.

As old men do, i was thinking about earlier times and realized i had run quite a bit, long before i started running “running” on my own.

It was Castle Heights. For four years, i was probably the most “fit” i have been in my life. It began with pre-season football (even pre-school) two-a-days, always concluding with an interminable number of forty-yard sprints until the end of the season. Then for the first three years, it was B-team basketball. And in the spring, baseball wasn’t super fit exercise, but Mike Dixon and i, along with most town boys at one time or another played pickup  basketball games almost every day, weekends included, and Mike and i were known to play one-on-one after baseball practice  and would have until the cows came home, but Mrs. Fahey would kick us out because her apartment wall abutted with the gym proper wall, or we would realize it was past time for supper at home — and that’s when my mother was “fit” to be tied.

However, one thing i remember about “fit” back then in the dark ages was after JV practice had ended. Frank North was a football man, assistant coach to Stroud Gwynn. He also was our B-team basketball coach. We sort of played the way we wanted to play, and Frank would yell at us if we messed up — Pretty much the same in baseball, and i never understood why Jimmy Allen wasn’t the head baseball coach from the beginning. Now Frank was a nice guy who believed in us being “fit.”

Our practices began at two after the lone post noon-mess class — i must confess i don’t think i ever went to a 2:00 to 4:00 drill on the drill field. Football, basketball, and baseball practice always conflicted. Practice ran about forty-five minutes. But did we call it a day and either go home or back to our barracks? Nope. Frank had us running. There wasn’t a great deal of places to run during basketball season. As the varsity took to the court, we climbed the stairs to the fans’ seating area.

Now i loved that old gym, but it was not conducive to large crowds. Seats were one long bench across each side and about four rows of the same bench seats in the west end zone, all in the balcony. There was only a wall on the east end of the court, no balcony. In big contests, cadets sat on the balcony floor with their feet hanging over the edge. i’m guessing the capacity probably topped out at less than one hundred.

But that balcony was a good place for Frank North to have us run. And we did, all the way through varsity practice. We ran in a single line. When we got to the east end wall, we would turn, jump up on the bench seat, run around to the other wall, turn and jump down from the bench seats to the balcony floor and repeat. Lap after lap.

i don’t recall ever really being tired from those runs.

i was fit.

The most fit (not fittest as some folks believe) i’ve ever been.

Now when i get up from a chair, i often think about how fit i was. Didn’t smoke until i graduated. Didn’t drink. Didn’t even drink coke. That stuff would cut your wind, they said. Just ran and played some kind of ball nearly every day.

Until the cows came home.

Note: For those who aren’t from Lebanon or younger than fifty, “Goober” may not be understood. At Castle Heights Military Academy, the senior (high school) cadets called the junior (elementary school) cadets “Goobers,” i.e. peanuts. Somehow, i guess, some Lebanon High School boys decided “goober” was enough of a derogatory term and began using it for all of the Heights attendees. As we did in those days, we didn’t take umbrage unless it was detected the issuer of such a label was mean in intent — as the Virginian said, “Smile when you say that” — and it became a term we laugh about and simultaneously take pride in still today. We don’t whine about “Goober” needing to be eradicated from history.


Mea Culpa

i am trying to find an email concerning a service i bought i now wish to cancel. This has led to a long morning of cleaning up my emails.

i quickly noticed i had not responded to a number of recent comments on my website posts (still dislike the term “blogs). i have been preoccupied with a number of things and just flat didn’t answer.

i do not like my lack of response. i have tried to respond to all of the comments, and have done a fair job until the last several weeks.

i apologize and will try to be more responsive and responsible from here on in.

Thanks to all of you for your comments.

A Fable

It turns out in 1970, i was already a pocket of resistance. i was in the South China Sea about half-way between Pusan, Korea and Qui Nhon, South Vietnam. It was around 2030, GMT+8 time. The seas were relatively calm. i was relaxing in my cabin at the aft end of the 03 level.

i was executive officer of the military unit aboard the USNS Upshur (T-AP-198), She had been planned to be a luxury cruise ship for American President Lines by the New York Shipbuilding Company before she was requisitioned by Maritime Administration and configured to be a troop and dependent passport for military personnel. The cargo holds had been converted to troop berthing, about 1500 of them and the dining room and all above the main deck had been kept in the cruise liner configuration, where my cabin was located. By the time i got there, the “troop and dependent” bunch had turned into Korean troops and officers. My detailer had told me they would still be U.S. personnel and dependents, the reason i accepted the tour. i wrote him a nasty letter pointing out that the passengers had morphed into ROK troops and officers and all the major ports in the Pacific were Sasebo, Pusan, Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang.

This particular evening, i had completed my nightly pinochle game with the two doctors and the chaplain. Outside my porthole looking aft were Republic of Korea troops chattering, laughing, and swapping smokes, the variety of which i did not wish to know.

i wrote nearly every night, mostly letters back to folks back in the states. i frequently taped a rather horrible cassette to family or friends — i know they were really bad as i have since had several returned to me and listened to a couple for as long as i could stand, something just over a minute. Rather than write, i was reading a book, probably Vonnegut because i was really into his stuff at the time, and listening to something from the pile of records i had purchased in the Navy Exchanged in Sasebo, Japan, our logistics port for the twenty-two day round robin sail. But on this night, i just got this urge to be whimsical. Don’t know why. It just came upon me.

i took my seat at the fold-out desk with the clothes bureau underneath, lit up a Pell-Mell, and just started.

This early morning fifty years later, i woke long before first light for an inexplicable reason other than i am officially an old geezer (and proud of it). What i wrote back then kept popping up in my head for some other inexplicable reason, or perhaps the same one. So i found it in my files and decided to share it again.

It is pure whimsy. i suspect only the older crowd will catch all of the silliness involved, and those so engrossed with the new, slick, graphically enhanced version of super heroes might get confused.

i would like to think there are some things one might learn from it, but i don’t know. i don’t know. 

As with nearly all of my dealings with folks nowadays, i’ll let you decide.

A Fable

Raga Muffin, the half-Indian, half-British scholar, fought his way through the crowd only to find the bloody carcass of his cat (his reincarnated pet cow).

“What happened?” he asked tearfully.

“A covered wagon driven by a little old lady from Pasadena ran over him,” Billy, the young newspaper boy, informed him.

“From whence did it come and where does it head for?” Raga implored in his best pleading tone of guttural Dutch.

“To the gold rush, obviously to become a tenant farmer raising grapes and sheep in an apple orchard,” Billy said wisely, then added, “I’ll cut her off at the pass and bring back her golden inlays.”

With that, he said “ZHAZAM” (or however it was spelled, and what did those letters stand. for anyway?). Captain Marvel dashed into the sky, barely missing a Boeing 747 returning from a test flight and completely covered with pigeon dung. Later, the runway of La Guardia bloomed petunia and porky pigs because of the extra fertilizer. Even later, the ancient mariner, complete with an over-fed albatross closely resembling a young Jimmy Durante, stubbed his tow on one of the petunias when he wandered onto the airfield after mistaking it for the red poppy field located about two blocks from the city of Oz.

Several weeks after the cat died, Raga received a note sent via pony express through LA. There was no return address, but the typewriting was definitely in Billy’s hand.

Found the good life. Tony B. sings it on Columbia records. Caught her at a pass. We were married in a small mosque, two doors down from the local Salvation Army brewery, by the JP from Ontario. Settled in Death Valley. Traded in twenty mule team for some Dial soap and wish everybody did. Disguised the Conestoga as Apollo 13 and converted it into a streetcar cafe selling pork and beans to Navaho. Her gold inlays were prefab, and she turned out to be Tricia Nixon. I go to RVN as ambassador next month.

Love and Kisses,
Capt. Ima Marvel
Israeli Air Force

Raga chucked the intellectual bit and now lives as a hermit on 95th and Park Avenue, eating only banana peels and used gypsies. Marvel eventually made a fortune by turning his old newspapers into paper mache models of Batman and Robin, without tights. The cat is alive and well in Nova Scotia, but it came back as a Brylcream advertisement because a little dab will do ya. The sacred cow, once Raga’s pet, never made it to the rodeo but fell in love with a mink stole in Sears window. The stole stole away with Phinnias T. Bluster during a rain squall over Honolulu, 74 degrees and cloudy.

Mesopotamia rose again under the leadership of little orphan Annie and was aided considerably by Xerxes and Damon Runyan.

Heracles left for Homer as soon as he heard the news. All of them denounced Raga as the original instigator of the plot, and he was picked up in the Bronx for littering.

Moral: A rainy day brings a little sunshine into everyone’s life, but bicycle spokes do not good guitar strings make.

Your local terror firmer
South of the North Pole
Midnight, two minutes past sex (dreams of)
Wednesday named after Tuesday, 1970

Murphy’s Law

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

First Law of Procrastination: Procrastination places the responsibility for completion on the authority who imposed the deadline.

Goofy guy’s admission concerning the First Law of Procrastination: Since i must be the authority on imposing the deadline for posting “Murphy’s Law” daily, i haven’t been responsible for about a month, and neither has the goofy nut who is supposed to post them…or some lame excuse like that. BUT i am an excellent procrastinator.

Rambling On, And On…

After my rambles yesterday, we sat at home trying to be cool and continue to observe energy conservation to avoid rolling brown or black outs (i don’t guess you can have a “white out” except in company of the not so polite of which i’ve been included for a large portion of my life). Between three and nine post meridiem on a rare day where the thermometer reached 101, Southwest corner residents were urged to keep the air conditioning up to 78: no problem for us as we only have a small portable one which we turned off, to minimize water usage because of the power required to run the pumps, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed (hmm, wonder who leaves them open?), turn off pool filters (again no problem: we don’t have a pool), and turning off all unnecessary lights off: guilty as we left several on to read and walk safely.

We never really got hot. Of course, we weren’t too cool either.

We were a bit worried about wildfires, and one lit off about three yesterday afternoon. Jatapul Valley is about twenty miles northeast from us. As i write, the “Valley Fire” has burned 4,000 acres with no containment yet, primarily due to the rough hill, mountain, and dry terrain makes access difficult, especially in heat reaching well over 100 degrees in that neck of the woods. Mount Miguel blocked my view from seeing flames reaching 80-feet high yesterday, but i saw plenty of smoke, dark menacing clouds rising above the crest of my Mount Miguel.

We are safe for now. The winds are blowing north to northeast, away from us. Our home is situated where a wildfire would have to be weird and huge to get to us. Nearly all of these conflagrations start in the east and move westward. It would take some powerful gymnastics for embers to leap from the east to our home due to all of the houses and infrastructure between us and a fire from that direction. We have open space, high desert vegetation (a culprit to abetting these fires) to the west but any fire would have to do some very strange things to get to our property. It could happen, but it’s not likely.

Today is a repeat of yesterday, supposedly cooling down will begin late this evening. Fire season is upon us.

A danger to put up with in the Southwest corner, and a lot of California.

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While in this keep-cool stage, Maureen found a Netflix movie last night. i was reading and writing but stopped to watch. The Way brothers directed the documentary, “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” the story of how Bing Russell, an actor known mostly for his “Bonanza” role as Deputy Sheriff Clem Foster and the father of Kurt Russell, created the Portland Mavericks, the only independent baseball team in the country at the time (1970’s).

The story is captivating on its own. i kept shaking my head as it kept demonstrating the greed and pomposity of Major League baseball, something i’ve been ranting about for several years.

It is also heartwarming with a sad ending and then a good victory before the actual conclusion. i won’t divulge too much here because i think all of you should watch it. In addition to bolstering my complaints about MLB, it just flat made me feel good, it actually happened. It also is pretty much a commentary on how we operate today in our country.

However, i will point out the Sonoma Stompers (wine country, get the name?) are in the mold of the Mavericks. i sure wish i was watching them today with Alan Hicks and our score cards.

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To get some exercise and not melt on the road, i went for my run/walk a.k.a. fartlek (i love that name) early this morning. It was pleasant. But it also made me scratch my head.

The neighborhood watch bunch decided to run a contest for the area’s most beautiful yard. They have put up signs in the yards of “contenders” for the final award at the end of the month. We were already aghast when a home on our cul de sac sported a “contender” sign. We have always considered it garish and looking fake.

Then on my journey this morning, i took stock of the contenders. At least 90% of the contenders sport artificial turf: you know, fake grass. Those without the fake stuff boast plants not native to the area and certainly not in keeping with water conservation. There are no contenders with native plants or drought tolerant (called “xeriscape” around here) landscapes.

Now we happen to have drought tolerant landscape. i think it’s beautiful, naturally beautiful. i really don’t have any beef about fake grass, it is a good way to conserve water (and mowing). But to me, it still looks fake.

i’m just amazed that these judges think fake is beautiful. It seems to be the wave of taste today in many things.

Guess i don’t fit in, but if they had put a “contender” sign on our yard, it would not likely last more than a couple of minutes.

Curmudgeons rule, at least among some old folks.

And i is one.