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Saturday, February 13, 2010

The captain

    When my father was alive he had a Chrysler New Yorker. My father was a guy that grew up in Brooklyn, it was apropos. I often wondered why it took so long for a car to be named after the Big Apple, but then after seeing all the traffic, I can understand the hesitation. In a big city you can catch a cab, more easily than drive the few blocks to the next destination. And do not get me started on the parking. However, a car called the Los Angeles, would be stupid and probably very green, given the amount of smog in LA.
    All digression aside, the New Yorker was a fine car, with all the bells and whistles afforded from its era. I believe it did not have leather seats, but fine velour. Complete with numerous cigarette burns. It even had a lighter and an abundance of ashtrays which also had lighters. Every smoker in the car could light up and smoke. Ashtrays in a car now are mainly a place to keep change. And fewer cars have lighters, but they have a plethora of lighter shaped “convenience outlets", because, heaven forbid that your cell phone is not charged so you cannot keep abreast of all the tweets and texts. Also, Sheila can give you her particular brand of misinformation even if you forgot to plug her in.
     The New Yorker also had the captain. Not the greatest captain in all of sports history, Steve Yzerman, nor the second greatest captain, Nick Lidstrom. The New Yorker’s captain was a computer voice that my mother gave the moniker of “The Captain.”
    The Captain kept track of all kinds of things that the average driver of such a car might not have forefront in their mind. For example, he would say “The door is ajar.” in his Max Headroomesque voice. ( ). Actually, it is not a jar, it is a door, my mother would remind The Captain, and soon anyone that rode in the car would as well.
     For the elite non-driver types (holders of Operator licenses as in the state of Michigan) of the world, this little voice probably helped them to navigate thru the often confusing world of operating a car. Or it was someone’s idea of what this voice could be. That someone had to think this was a good idea. I do not know who would agree that a computer voice command, ordering you around, would make the driving experience more enjoyable. I would suspect that is the same person that suffered from all kinds of other social inadequacies. (People even more nerdish than me….I know they are out there, just like the truth). Probably the same people that brought us Sheila. 
     Unlike Sheila, The Captain had no mute, so if you wanted to drown him out, you had to crank the stereo. However, the stereo was never balanced and faded correctly. In this car it was more like the “MONO” My father did not understand the intricacies of the burgeoning stereophonic era. The speakers were always left balanced and faded full rear. ("back and to the left") Basically one speaker of the four was usable to him. But then again, AM radio and talk shows did not need stereo. And The Captain had his own speaker, he did not TALK thru the “MONO”
     If your seat belt was not on The Captain, would insist that you, “Please, Fasten your seatbelt.” Yup, it was a car in command. It like to tell you what, where, when, and more what. When we were all in the car, my mother would then implore my father, “Ed, put on your seatbelt.” He would usually reply that a GD  car was not going to tell him what to do. Eventually he just left the seatbelt fastened and sat in front of it.
     The Captain would comment on the fuel range and say, “XX miles to empty” and “fuel is low.” That would mean that my father would have to take the car and put gas in the tank, because my mother did not have a clue as to how to fill up the tank. She had to learn after my father died, or find a full-serve gas station, which is even rarer than a cigarette lighter for lighting smokie treats in a newer car. Sometimes she would say to The Captain, that he could go fill up himself. But, she always seemed to answer back. I think that it was a game to her.
     I inherited The Captain, a few months after my father died. My mother did not like the memories attached to the car. I parked it in my side yard for a while. We drove it occasionally. Eventually, I traded it and some cash for a new electrical service in the house in Cedar. For some reason there were about ten sets of keys for this car, and it took me two trips to the new owners house to hand them off. I said goodbye to The Captain.
     The other day as I was leaving my car I thought about The Captain. My truck now has some bells that remind me that the lights are on. There is a different sound for keys in the ignition. I do not know which sound is which. I really do not care. Until I lock my keys in the car, then I may care a little more. Like at the Easttown Post Office. For some reason I ignored the bell that said the keys were in the ignition. I pushed the lock down manually, instead of hitting the button. Then I shut the door. And then I realized what that dinging meant. Uh-oh....The Captain would have sounded the alarm.
     I looked to the other door. Please be unlocked! Please! Please! Please! be unlocked. If it was not magic, it was something else. The door was unlocked. The Captain would not have let me get that close to catastrophic lockout. But alsa, The Captain is no more. Maybe it was the ghost of The Captain that kept me from simply hitting the catastophy button, as i do 99.99% of the time. If it was not The Captain, maybe it was the ghost of my father...

Just another day in paradise

Monday, February 8, 2010


     The world is small, but not small enough. The world is close. I can reach many things without leaving the seat in front of the computer. Virtual reality and cyberspace are REALLY big, but still very close. Cable television makes distant places seem very close. I have seen close to one million sharks on television since I started watching the history channel a few years back. And really close up. I love shark week. It should be a national holiday. You can play along at home during shark week by drinking everytime they show a close up of a shark. Better have some Advil and water near by the bed, you will get REALLY drunk and may need the hangover rememdy.
     We have become a world of close counts. It used to be just in horseshoes and hand grenades. That and Lawn Jarts and bocce ball. Well, I guess in atomic warfare as well. And of course close enough for Rock-N- Roll. Actually, in a lot of things close is good enough. In a world of close calls I guess that should be okay.
     The Colts came close to winning a Superbowl. (Go SAINTS) the WHO came close to looking like they were still alive. The Mighty REDWINGS came close to repeating as Stanley Cup Champions. The Lions came close in more games than two. Matt Millen was ohhhh so close to building a winner, before he got fired.
     It seems that a penny short is okay. I have news for you, a nickel short is not close enough. Thanks Jackass for taking all the pennies, so I have to break a dollar.

Close is okay.

    No it is not. Close is not okay. Coming close to avoiding jail is not the same as going to jail. Coming close to avoiding an accident is not the same as a near miss. Being close to be able to pay most of your bills is not a good thing. Getting your taxes in after, but close, to April 15th is not acceptable.
     Nearly catching the beer bottle before the floor is not good. Abusing alcohol is bad at any time. Sacrifice your foot, head, arm, any body part or the guy next to you, but do not let that bottle hit the ground. Avoid party fouls. If you drop a can and it is un-opened, put it back in the cooler towards the front and watch the excitement when the next guy grabs a beer. A neat kind of beer roulette, for grins and giggles. This is not a party foul, if you get to laugh at someone else.
     Just last Saturday, I was driving thru the parking lot in Meijer, getting ready to purchase some consumables for the big holiday that is Superbowl Sunday. It seems I did not have enough of the important things, like chips, taco sauce, munchies, and booze. I had to park about 7 kilometers from the front doors. (I do not know how far it was in miles, but I did the math by converting the number of steps and multiplying by 3.28.Thank God for Chisanbop) In this case close would be nice. (Seriously, you REALLY think I did any math?)
     I walked to the doors, and was nearly exhausted from trekking thru the parking lot, where the close to 1,000,000 idiot drivers coming close to running me over was commonplace. I think at one point I started to jog. (Take that Fat Bruce). Seriously, I did not jog; I didn’t want my cigarette to go out. I think I managed to smoke close to half a pack before I crossed the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, er I mean, the Meijer parking lot.
     If you want to talk about close, the entire store was close to full. Oddly, it was more men than women, and it seemed everyone there was ready to party like it was 1999. Or close to it. Close to a million beer cans and booze bottles were in the close to thousands of grocery carts. It was very close to nuts to butts. My Tourette’s Syndrome was close to making its presence known.
     When I finally made my way to the check out lines, and got close to being checked out, the guy CLOSE..,.D the check out line. Oh, so close. As I looked around at the close to ten thousand people all deciding to exit the store at the exact same moment as I decided to and I knew there were only two solutions. “One”, I could ditch the groceries and run like Forrest Gump. (Amazingly, Norman the spell checker, knew this name, and corrected me.) Or, “b” I could get to the self check-out. There was only one small problem; I had over the 12 item limit. Such a dilemma. I opted to do the latter, and justified my decision by re-counting my items. If I considered all the two-fer’s, I was close to 12 items. Close counts.
     On the way out of the melee that is Meijer, I hiked back to the truck. I watched in amazement at the close to tens of thousands of Meijer lemmings all setting their carts close to the cart coral. And by close I mean ALL OVER THE f-ing PARKING LOT. I came close to hitting a few carts. And a few people. Close, but not close enough. Close.....ENOUGH....
Just another day in paradise