The 💩 experiment.

August 16, 2017

I just read that it’s possible to register emoji-friendly domain names such as 💩.to (which, unfortunately, is taken).

That got me curious about at least creating a blog post with an emoji-friendly web address, and upon completing my experiment, I can conclude that not only is it possible, but it also opens up a whole new world of possibilities albeit a world best visted on occasion to avoid the darkened shadows of annoyance.

When continents collide.

August 15, 2017

I once read that the continents of North America and Asia are slowly drifting towards each other. The following scenario came to mind.

The people stood silently along the shores of California, facing the ocean and preparing for the worst on this potentially fatal day. For now, they could see just the vast water reaching out towards the horizon but they knew that it wouldn’t be that way for much longer.

Then they saw it. Tall buildings began to rise from the horizon in the distance as whimpers of fright began to circulate among the terrified crowd. Taller and larger the buildings became as the coast of Japan came racing closer and closer towards the shores of California, the result of a dramatically accelerated continental drifting caused by tectonic plates gone berserk deep underneath the Earth’s surface.

Faster and faster Japan approached, but there wasn’t anything anyone could do. There were warning signs of this happening decades ago, but everyone ignored them, hoping they’d go away. But they never did. And here it was, unfolding before their very eyes, and all they could do was stand and watch.

By now, Japan was so close to California that the people standing while screaming along the California shoreline could now see the people standing while screaming along the Japanese shoreline. And then it happened, the most horrific sound of all, the coconut-like bonking of thousands of heads in collision as the two shorelines finally met.

But it was only the beginning. The two coastlines continued to collide, not only throwing cars in commute from Japan onto the highways of California, but also cars in commute from California onto the highways of Japan. Much confusion ensued with the addition of additional highway exits.

Countless buildings and houses from the two countries were suddenly mixed together along with the streets on which they resided, creating unprecedented levels of chaos. GPS devices malfunctioned with endless divide by zero errors, causing millions of drivers to lose their way and disappear off the face of the Earth. The load on the GPS satellites was so great that they simply exploded while in orbit.

Book publishers too chose to disintegrate rather than undertake the ambitious task of updating their maps and atlases to reflect the dramatic changes along the Pacific coast. Fierce debates erupted on what to name the merged coastline region as it was no longer California nor Japan. One side insisted on naming the region “Japafornia” while the other side felt that “Calipan” was a more fitting name.

And then it finally stopped, as quickly as it began. The tectonic plates had eased their grip and the continental collision suddenly ceased. There were now millions of people standing outside of their homes, surveying the results of the merged neighborhoods and roadways along with an endless mixture of signs in both English and Japanese. However, a most striking sight awaited them all, the sight of Mount Fujiyama just behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thoughts on travel logs.

August 14, 2017

I admit I was hesitant to post the travel log of my second trip to Chicago. Funerals are never fun to write about, let alone read about, and I’m sure it adds a depressing mood to this blog. But the good news is that I have just posted the last of its sad words.

The bad news is that I have no more travel logs to post.

Along with the logs from my trips to Chicago, I also have my trips to Montreal covered with descriptive summaries of the day’s events along with miscellaneous thoughts and observations. I posted that log on this blog, which you can find by doing a quick search.

When keeping a travel log, I have to use the humor it contains. Years from now when I re-read my logs, I’d rather be amused by these bits of humor instead of yawning through boring bits and pieces of what I did during the trip.

In my Montreal travel log, I created a separate section for my comedy bits called Stuff du Junk that had fictitious anecdotes such as this one that fortunately never happened during the flight:

We all got a bad scare then the oxygen masks suddenly dropped from the ceiling. As the passengers screamed and struggled to put the masks on, the captain announced on the intercom, “Sorry, my bad. Why the hell did they put the coffee dispensing button so close to the oxygen mask eject button?”

I also have a section called Thought Nuggets With Honey that I used to put in observations of life in Montreal.

Gilligan’s Island is enjoying reruns here, however, there are French voice-overs. By the way, Gilligan is pronounced “Geeley-GAHN”.

Adding sections like these to your own travel logs will spice up their pages, no matter where you may roam.

Another funeral in Chicago, Part 6.

August 14, 2017

Screaming Brats On A Plane

Flying home at last. Our mission is complete, Oma laid to rest and now we can fly home and resume our normal everyday lives. Now would be a good time to write any remaining thoughts on this trip.

I don’t even want to think about the state of Oma right now. Lying in her casket, same pose and facial expression, except 6 feet under soil. Every day she… that I’m sure you can figure out.

This has been one sad trip. I was right. After Ida’s funeral, the next trip to Chicago would be even sadder. And it was.

It just dawned on me that I truly will never set foot in Oma’s house again. I salvaged what I wanted and left the house for good before the closing. Too many items left behind, possessions of Oma and Opa, their fates up in the air. Truly, I think this is the last time I will ever visit Chicago.

This is it. Get me out of Chicago. NOW.

What reason is there to visit Chicago anymore? No more Grandma and Grandpa, no more Oma and Opa. They have all gone and so are the reasons to look forward to coming here again.

We can turn on our handhelds now.

Ta ta.

“Excuse me, do you know about dance in the hall?” – Man on the El

Getting ready to take off from Atlanta. On TIME?! Unreal.

Last flight home before my life returns to normal. That’s enough funerals for now. I mean seriously, 2 funerals in 14 months? C’mon. I don’t want to have to write a third travel log on going to a funeral.

Think about this. Yesterday, just yesterday was Oma’s funeral. That was a sad sight, my family standing by the casket weeping, but me, I was trying to stay strong. Not even thoughts of her being in a better place free from suffering could console me. I have no grandparents left.

We are getting ready to take off. Not quite on the runway but not quite at the gate either. Either way, we’re not moving.

Now we moving. I have left behind the sad city of Chicago, probably never to return. The only reasons Chicago was fun were my relatives, and they’re gone now.

There’s something fishy in the numbers.

1920 – Oma born.
1941 – Oma marries.
1951 – Oma moves to U.S.
1981 – Opa dies.
2001 – Uncle Vic dies.
2013 – Oma dies.

10 years between Oma getting married and moving to the U.S.

30 years later Opa would die.

20 years later Vic would die.

12 years later Oma would die.

Just looking for patterns.

Can’t think of anything else to write. I think I’ve got all the bases covered, Oma, Chicago, not coming back, death, the afterlife.

Unbelievable. Just months ago I visited Oma at the nursing home and now, she’s gone.

Now’s our turn to take off.

WHY THE LONG FACE, DIALER? FINDING IT HARD TO CONTINUE HOLDING THE CALLS FOR ME? WELL, GIVE THEM TO SOMEONE ELSE!

Yeah, tomorrow I go back to work. Back to making courtesy calls for AT&T for very little pay.

Why haven’t we taken off yet?

Can’t take off at 1 mile per hour. Yeah. It may save on gas but it doesn’t give us the lift to clear the runway.

Now we taking off.

Goodbye, Chicago.

Goodbye, Oma.

Goodbye.

Please don’t let there be a third funeral log.

The End

Another funeral in Chicago, Part 5.

August 13, 2017

Good morning. Nice day for a funeral, innit?

Got another line to cross. Not the Line Of Anxiety but not exactly smooth sailing either. So I’ll draw the Line Of Uncertainty. I can get through but not without a tight squeeze.

Today’s date is July 22, 2013, the time is 8:07am and I am dressed in pallbearer attire. Here’s the Line Of Uncertainty. See you on the other side…


Here’s the other side. Turn the page, please.

Our last night in Chicago. As I write this, Lisa and Rachel are sleeping but with the light on. I feel bad because I need the light on…

…to write.

Very, very emotional funeral for Oma. The pastor stressed the need to let her go because the body she once occupied is no good for her anymore. So she’s gone now. The very essence of Oma is gone, leaving behind the empty shell that occupies the casket. It all makes sense now. There is a next stage of life after this but the body I’m in right now is no good for this next stage.

Now Oma’s at rest next to Opa, the funeral is over with and we can all carry on with our lives. And yes, I touched Oma’s hands one last time before letting her go. I will not worry about her suffering in pain. I will miss her.

I’m guessing somewhere along writing these words, I’m going to start crying. But I don’t feel the urge to. Not that I’m not sad Oma’s gone. Of course I’m sad. But I’m staying strong. Just like Oma would have wanted. She really looked like she was at peace in that casket, even with her ear looking like it was pale from death. She’s gone now, but not from inside me. Time to get some sleep so I can be up and ready to fly home. More to follow after this intermission from Dreamland. Surely Oma will pay a visit…

Good night.

To be continued…

Galilee revisited.

August 13, 2017

“Stop!” said the chain link fence. “Who would cross the Chain Link Fence of Doom must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.”

Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

August 12, 2017

Not far from where I live in West Palm Beach is the newly opened Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which serves as training camps for the Washington Nationals and the Houston Expos. I decided to venture over there during my bike ride.

On one side of the parking lot is a big red W, no doubt marking the entrance to Nationals territory.

And on the other side is a white H for Houston.

One thing I really like about the park is the sidewalk that runs behind the fields along the north side. One end starts at the entrance on Haverhill Road and runs to the other side on Military Trail while bypassing the traffic. Nice.

I really wanted to get a picture of one of the fields from outside the fence, but the fence was nearly covered with a screen-like fabric except for a bare section close to the ground. So I kneeled on the ground behind the fence, held the camera between the chain links and got this shot.

After taking this picture, I continued riding along the sidewalk when I saw a police car, also on the sidewalk, driving towards me. Did the officer see me kneeling behind the fence? The police car passed me by without incident so maybe this was just a coincidence. Either way I took nothing but pictures.

I’ll have to come back for another visit when the teams are in town. I’m also curious what goes on here during football season. In any case, I shall return.

These pictures were taken with a Samsung Galaxy On5 phone, with some of them taken in panorama mode.

Dream Weaver.

August 12, 2017

Have you ever heard a song that had such an impact on you that you still remember where you were when you heard it for the first time?

My family had just moved to Oklahoma, where my father was transferred on assignment. One day I was in my room standing in front of my stereo, tuning around the radio while looking for music to record. When I tuned to KATT, a rock station from Oklahoma City, “Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley was playing. I liked that song, so I pressed the record button to capture its last few minutes before the next song began playing. This next song was unlike anything I ever heard before and I instantly fell in love with it. I kept playing it over and over. It would be years later, long after moving back to Florida, when I would finally learn that the name of that magical song was “Dream Weaver” and I bought the CD at Sam Goody not long afterwards. Goody got it indeed.

Another funeral in Chicago, Part 4.

August 12, 2017

It is 7:02. No problems getting up this morning of July 21, 2013. The sun was shining in the hotel room. Time to start getting things ready for the day ahead. Remember, the wake service is TODAY. The funeral is TOMORROW. I can’t wait when all these events become YESTERDAY.

After breakfast at Les Brothers, we went to Oma’s house. Doesn’t matter it got sold, it will always be Oma’s house. I was told I could take anything I wanted. Nothing from the kitchen, but I did recover the magnets from the fridge. I also practically emptied out one of her drawers containing office supplies.

For the first time in years, I went to the hot attic. Nothing there I wanted.

Then we went downstairs to the basement. It was messy down there and the air smelled musty. I was curious about the workshop in the corner and wondered if Opa’s jacket was still hanging in the corner. It wasn’t. I opened the door to a small cabinet and saw a strange bundle of weights attached to copper wires. When I picked it up, two wires fell down to the floor. I picked them up and put them back. Remember that.

On the way up I picked up a dirty penny bearing the year 1974. Later when I went to Vic’s old bedroom, I picked up a penny there with the year 1968. Remember. The 1974 penny came from the basement and the 1968 penny came from Vic’s room.

Then we had lunch at Jimmy John’s. Actually we got some sandwiches to go and ate them at the room. Oh yeah, we went to the cemetery to visit Ida and my other relatives’ graves. Curiously the ground above Grandpa’s grave was cracked. Is he trying to get out? Or has he already escaped?

Then we picked up Lisa and Rachel and now we’re back at the motel after an episode in which I could not enter the room due to a latch lever that had descended on the door, needing the services of the handy man in order for us to gain access to the room.

Now we are getting ready for the wake service. I will now draw a line that borders my anxiety and relief. That means as I write this, I am anxiously anxious and nervous. When I come back from the wake, I will be much, much less anxious.

So let’s draw that line now. I can’t wait to get to the other side.

Here we go.

I’m standing at the line now. How do I cross over?


Ah, so this is what the other side of the Anxiety Line looks like.

On the way to the funeral home, we stopped at Oma’s house one last time to give Lisa a chance to grab anything she needed. I pounced at the chance to grab something from the attic but didn’t find anything. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to.

I grabbed a few decorative objects from the dining room but for me the biggest find of the day was in the basement. I found a dirty ping pong ball on the floor by the ping pong table. Surely this was the same ball Opa used. I grabbed it and put it in my sports jacket. Truly, the biggest find ever. When I come home I need to put Oma’s stuff in a section by itself so I can relive her memory each time I pass.

I need to describe the smell of the dining room. When the air conditioning turned on, the scent of the nearby potpourri dish begins to circulate around the room. A nice floral smell but one that adds a very uneasy mood. Think about it. A house once inhabited by Oma whose wake service was to take place later that day? I smell the uneasiness in the air.

My heart was pounding of course when we got to the funeral home. Once I got accustomed to the sight of Oma in her casket, I crossed the line of anxiety and could finally relax. Oma really looked at peace in her casket. Oh wait, not Oma herself. The very essence of Oma is gone, not even in the room occupying her remains. She is free now, no more suffering, no more pain and no more dementia. Before leaving, I pounced on the chance while alone with her and touched her hands. The last of my anxieties vaporized. I sense Oma really liked that. I’ll do it again tomorrow but first I needs ta gets some SLEEP.

To be continued…

My Top 10 songs of the week.

August 12, 2017

I have an account on Last.fm that I use to keep track of what music I like to hear. During the week I listen to my music on my iPod and if there’s a song I really like, I will play that song more than once. When I’m done listening, I synchronize the iPod with iTunes, which in turn reports the data to Last.fm.

Here are my most-played songs for this week.

1. Gary Wright — Dream Weaver
2. King Harvest — Dancing In The Moonlight
3. “Weird Al” Yankovic — Lasagna
4. The Chipmunks — Alvin For President
5. The Chipmunks — Alvin’s Harmonica
6. The Chipmunks — America The Beautiful
7. Bobby McFerrin — Don’t Worry, Be Happy
8. ZZ Top — Rough Boy
9. ZZ Top — Sharp Dressed Man
10. Rodrigo y Gabriela — Tamacun

Yes, I listen to the Chipmunks and no, I am not ashamed.

If there’s enough interest I’ll make this a weekly feature on my blog. If not, then this will be the last time you will ever know what songs keep me sane. EVER.