455. Part 2: The Block of Ice

Image result for block of ice delivery picturesWe set about hooking up Sheila with Joel’s funereal ice block using old fashioned block and tackle, fully realizing that we had a diminishing product on the runway. As jets buzzed overhead, Joel was literally melting away in front of us. We had to get him to a freezer, a grave or a marble slab pronto or be left with, ugh, it’s just too terrible to think of the thawing corpsth that we might stthheee. As we finished the attachment process, a strangely familiar voice was heard uttering partial words, “Et me out ah ere”. I thought of my old Latin classes or Shakespeare’s “Et tu Brute?” Funny what heat and stress and jet noise can do to a guy’s mind. Related image

Then we all heard a distinctive “Ahhhchooo”. Each of us said, “Bless you” in a circle until it came back to me. “I didn’t sneeze”, I said. The other Nationalistas said the same thing. “I didn’t. Did you?”  “No. It wasn’t me.” “Steve?” “No, need a tissue?” “That’s weird.”

Image result for wet u.s. flag picturesJust then the stars end of the flag began to move as if a baby possum had wedged itself between the flag and the ice. At once we all called out, “Joel!”

“Of course it’s me, you damn fools. I’m stuck in this cube and can’t move. I feel like a horizontal bobble head doll. Get some boiling water, just get me out of here.”

We were all so pumped up at this Lazarian moment that we had to celebrate. Josh shot his 9 mm again. Gary whipped his favorite singlet over his head like he was at a Queen concert. Doug started a pun. Steve put him in a full nelson. I applauded but felt hurt by the impending loss of the Spyder. And then Verushka snapped her whip.

Image result for runaway horse wi th wagon picturesAway charged the confused and terrified Sheila across the runway, still attached to Joel’s ice cube. She zigged and zagged as jets landed and took off around her, leaving a water trail behind her, Joel’s icy tomb melting quickly with him screaming like a man frozen in ice with just his gray bobble head bobbling at one end. The Marshalls came charging out of Gate G 21 again, firing warning shots into the air. The scene moved from bizarre to total chaos. Everyone chased the ice coffin on foot, as Sheila chased safety and sanity, and the Marshalls chased us. Lance and Gary joined arms to make a human shield to stop Sheila. She plowed through them like a train going through a wall of diet whipped cream.

Image result for people running across an airport runway picturessMany voices shouted out cacophonously (see Rob Kearns for pronunciation). “Stop. Whoa. Look out. Fuel tanker. Plane. Baggage cart. Septic truck. Pigeons.”

Meanwhile Sheila cut a figure 8, then a figure 23, then a figure Pi to infinity. Tragedy was seconds away when Sheila finally broke loose from what little remained of the ice block and galloped west toward Middleburg, Virginia. Our eyes trained back from Sheila’s dust  trail to Joel’s dripping visage, literally wrapped in the soggy U.S. flag like a patriotic burrito. Image result for patriotic burrito pictures

We rushed as one to greet him and shake his hand, inspect his crampons and parka, and try to unpack this trans-Atlantic mystery. Sputtering wildly, everyone spouted at the same time….

“Joel, it’s unbelievable.”

“A miracle.”

“Defies science and logic.”

“Better than the Human Fly and Houdini wrapped into one.”




Elated but dumbfounded and found to be dumb, we experienced magic.

“Give me some room, fellas. Let me stretch. Whew! Oh, that didn’t quite go as I expected.”

“You mean you planned this debacle?”

Image result for motel 6 images“I can explain. I found myself without a return ticket on Saturday morning Reykjavik time. You see, I’d been so excited about Iceland that I’d forgotten to book the return ticket during the half off discount window of opportunity period. I’d flown over on points I’d accumulated on other free trips I’d been on with the Foundation and the Bank Board, so it slipped my mind until the last day while I was packing to come home. ‘I don’t have a cheap return ticket!’  Now I’ve never paid full price in my life, mind you. It’s something I gleaned from my father who would drive fifty miles from a Motel 6 in order to save a buck and stay at a Motel 5. In those days we stayed at hotels with pay toilets and no towels. You had to rent them at the front desk. Heat and air conditioning were coin operated, as was the shower.”

Image result for poisoned romeo pictures“Anyway my keen lawyer’s mind began to hatch a plan. I knew if I appeared as a corpse, I’d be shipped home for practically nothing by the authorities, according to international law. I toyed with using a temporary paralyzing toxin that had a short half life, but they had sold the last bottle at the Apothecary when I arrived. Then it hit me: the answer was right under my feet. I could stage a fatal hiking accident and get a free ride home. I knew the Nation’s Supreme Leader would figure it out somehow and come meet my ice coffin, and you did. Bless you, Burrito. I did not expect Sheila and Verushka to be here, however. They are an added bonus.”

“How did you pull it off, Joel? This may be the greatest escape artist trick ever– no handcuff key or black screen. This was awesome, man.”

Image result for iceland glacier pictures“Well, it was ingenious if I must say so myself. I took the complimentary hair dryer from my hotel room out on the glacier and melted a bathtub size pool that I knew would refreeze in hours. I hopped into the freezing water and tossed the hair dryer aside while it was still running hot. It broke apart and shorted out, throwing the hotel into blackness. I figured the staff would look for a short circuit cause, and when they did, they would find my extension cord, then the hair dryer, then my frozen body. Worked like a charm.”Related image

“It was like a locked door murder mystery. Only who would ever figure out this non murder caper?  Only the Burrito Man.”

“Really, it was nothing, Joel. De nada.”Image result for sherlock holmes pictures

454. A block of ice, pt. 1

Image result for pictures of icelandI received sad and wretched news three days ago from the Icelandic Embassy in Washington from its Reykjavik command post:  Joel’s body was found frozen solid in a glacier he was exploring fifty kilometers north of the city. The details were sketchy and yet very gruesome, but I feel I must convey them without excess drama, as Joel would have wanted it done, with a light touch and great decorum.

Image result for pictures of man frozen in iceHe had apparently just begun to explore the glacial ice flow. His crampons were attached. There was no sign of a fall or foul play. Mysteriously, however, a hair dryer was found near his entombed body with a thousand feet of extension cord running all the way back to his hotel room. Could it have been an electrocution? Was he that vain that he needed to blow dry his hair alone on a glacier? Did he fail to read the warning label, “Do not immerse in water, steam or ice”?

The authorities said his eyes remain open as well as this mouth, as if he is trying to say, “Get me out of here.” Strangely, his round tortoise shell glasses remained intact. I made arrangements to meet his frozen remains at Dulles Airport with a delegation from Coffee Nation. Because of the strange circumstances, Icelandic authorities thought it best to ship Joel in the block of ice; then, if the U.S. coroner had any questions, his/her office could thaw out the body and investigate. Plus, shipping Joel as a checked bag cost only $25 instead of the $600 coach fare. I insisted on his ice cube being draped in a thick American flag, wool and polyester blend, something thick to keep him frozen. After all, he was a veteran.Image result for single flag draped coffin pictures

My first thought went to the Spyder. Finally I could take exclusive ownership of the expensive sex magnet machine and go on long rides through the countryside in Joel’s honor. I will get a stuffed orangutan to ride on the back seat facing backwards with a sign that says, “Joel loves you”. On the other side of the sign will be another message reading, “Nobody else does”. I will play Steppenwolf’s greatest hits loud and

proudImage result for silver spyder motorcycle picture “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure with whatever comes our way….”

Then I called the committee of Coffee Nation for a formal reception of the frozen consiglieri of our nation. I knew they would show up as ice pall bearers. I asked Josh for a gun salute. And for the others to have a few prepared words when we received the ice cube from the Icelandic Embassy undertaker/diplomats. I called out to Arizona and had Sheila the mule shipped east to pull the ice casket. I knew Joel would have wanted one more ride with Sheila. It also hit me that he’d want someone from his river cruise adventures to represent that experience, so I called up Verushka, Joel’s Slovakian dominatrix, to accompany us at Dulles. She flew in on the 2 pm from Prague, looking so dangerously haughty and naughty in her knee high black leather boots and whip.woman in latex with whip photo

We assembled there on the super heated tarmac at Gate G 21, waiting for the belly of the huge 767 to be unloaded. Two Icelandair baggage handlers wheeled Joel’s flag draped, ice cube coffin onto the tarmac and onto the horse trailer where Sheila waited sadly to be reunited with her favorite human. Two representatives from the Icelandic Embassy spoke crisp English to us and had me sign a release for the body. I thanked them and shook their meat cutter cold hands. They then re-boarded the plane for the return flight to Reykjavik. Our flag was sopping wet from the heat’s impact on the ice block below it, dripping on the asphalt. The temperature of the tarmac had to be 110 degrees Fahrenheit.Image result for people on a hot airport runway picture

In a semi circle we surrounded the horse trailer with Old Glory on ice. “Let us say a few words now about our fallen barrister, Joel. Lance, would you like to begin?”

“Yeah, sure. I mean I liked Joel’s fashion sense and his officious air.”

“Did you say ‘delicious hair’?”

“No, man, you got me wrong on that, Bro!”


Lance, “Hey, I wasn’t finished. I wanted to talk about his physical fitness and fine haberdashery choices… don’t do me like that with ‘delicious hair'”.

Image result for annoyed black man face

“Silence! Your turn is over.”


“Joel, you were a good guy. I like how you matched your socks. You helped bring a certain civility to the Nation of baboons. You will be sadly missed. Maybe the Supreme Commander will give us Spyder rides in your honor. I’d like that, buddy.”

Image result for tall thin bald men with glasses pictures

“Thank you, Steve.”


“Joel, I was gonna bring my .17 with the bull barrel, but I had to settle for my 9mm with a 21 shot clip. Here ya go… Pow!Pow!Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow!Pow! Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow!”

Image result for yosemite sam images

As the gun’s report reverberated all around us, seven U.S. Marshalls  ran toward us with guns drawn. “Drop the weapon, sir. Do it now!!! Turn around. Put your hands behind your head and walk backwards to my voice.”

“Officer, my friend was giving our veteran Joel a 21 slug salute”, I said. “We are law abiding citizens, each of us. Lance, talk military stuff to them.”

Image result for hijacked airplane surrounded by troops images

“Dude, it’s cool. I was armored infantry in the Army, drove an Abrams tank…”

“Shut up. We’ll do the talking here, Dude. Hey aren’t you Lance the Barber?”

“Why, yes I am. Now I see you are a sensible and cultured gentleman…”

“You’re the dude who makes hair delicious, right?”

“No, man. Don’t do me like that!!!”Image result for ice t the actor p i ssed off pictures

“Doug, tell them a painful pun groaner.”

“Okay, you fellas know why diarrhea is genetic? No?  It runs in your jeans.”Related image

“Stop it, funny guy. That wasn’t even funny. My grandpa told me that joke forty years ago. It wasn’t funny then. Shut up or I’ll shoot you too.”

I tried to kick my high level mediation skills into high gear. “Gentlemen, can’t we all just get along? I mean Gary over here is a former instructor from the Citadel. Any of you graduate from there?”Image result for come, let us reason together images

“Yeah, two of us. Me and Jimmy Bo, over there with the Ruger. You taught at the big C?”

“Sure did. I wore the singlet proudly. What’s more, gentlemen, the man under the flag is a decorated soldier who served in the Vietnam era. He is or was a revered member of the bar.”Image result for wrestlers in singlets pictures

“Aw shucks, we didn’t know that. Sorry man.”

Verushka, “Fellas, vould you do dis for me? I am getting so hot and bothered with all zeese veapons drawn out. EEff you put dem down, I can make you so happy you deed. Yes? You vant to kees me all over?”

“All right, then. Gulp. We’re gonna run some checks on you guys. Put the gun down. Shut up. No more guns or puns. What’s your phone number, Miss?  And forget we ever met, okay? Can you do that?”

All of the Nation, soberly, “Sir, yes, sir.”

The air marshalls holstered their weapons and walked back into the air conditioning of the terminal. Meanwhile more of the ice had melted into a puddle on the steaming black macadam.Image result for mule picturesShelia brayed in grief.


**feel free to comment on the veracity of this fictional fantasy

453. Fireflies on the longest day of the year

Summer solstice at StonehengeToday is the longest day of the year, folks. June 21, the meteorological start of summer is on us. More sunlight than any other day compels us to move, smile, dance, sing, and enjoy the free bonus light. Logic tells us that it is also the shortest night of the year, which seems odd because these tender summer nights go on forever. These nights don’t seem short when they are filled with the wonder of swooping bats, and fabulous cloud patterns, velvety shadows and the sparking of glow worms, aka, lampyridae, aka, photinus pyralis.

Image result for fireflies picturesWe are excited at my house because tonight is granddaughter Leah’s first meeting with the ephemeral lightning bugs that flit and blink across our back yard and the wide farm fields that rise to the western horizon behind our back decks. Large maple and evergreen trees we planted thirty five years ago stand as bushy black inkblot guards around our yard, cutouts against a midnight blue sky filled by twinkling stars and sparking fireflies. It’s a glorious sight that makes one think God has a very whimsical nature at times. How cool is it that little black insects can turn a humid summer evening into a pointillistic masterpiece? Pretty darn cool, I think, and His canvas is the globe we live upon. Sometimes when the psychic dots connect like this, it takes my breath away… I expire with an exhale and then inspire with a deeply satisfying inhalation. Try it at home, my fellow art lovers. Feel the joy saturate your toes and fingertips until you can taste joy in the mustard on your baloney sandwich.

Image result for glow worm toy picturesFunny connection is that when my granddaughter was born, I held her on my chest for long quiet hours as she simply breathed in and out in sweet baby breaths. I called her my little glow worm, and naturally sang the old Johnny Mercer song covered by the Mills Brothers “Glow Little Glow Worm” to her, never imagining any future applications. Way back in the archives, I’m sure there is a four year old post on those precious moments.

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer,
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer,
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer,
Hey, there don’t get dimmer,
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love!

Image result for girl on grandma's lap pictures'So here we are with an excited four year old sitting on lovely grandma’s loving lap, waiting for the sky to darken. Leah has been given parental dispensation to stay up later than usual to hunt lightning bugs. Grandma has a clear acrylic storage container at the ready for capturing live fireflies. Leah is so excited she can hardly sit still. She scans the clouds for wild animals. “There’s a shark. And that’s a dolphin right above it.  Wonka, see?” I saw and watched the sun’s last glare fade.

Image result for clouds at sunset summer images

Grace joined us. “Leah was so excited after her bath. She complied in a finger snap.” She snapped her fingers as she said this. “Got in her jammies, brushed teeth, and couldn’t wait to come out and catch fireflies. We didn’t have them in Tucson.”

Image result for little girl dancing in yard pictures

Leah pranced and swirled dervishly in the darkening back yard. Grace recalled her firefly memories. “Do you remember the time I was Leah’s age, maybe 5 years old? Kayla Messinger spent the night here. We slept on that white pull out couch, remember, when you guys had those white curtains in the living room? We caught a bunch of fireflies and were watching them in the dark. After everyone else went to sleep, we thought it would be cool to let them out to fly around the living room. So we did and it was magical as they flew around and landed on the lamps and curtains. Then it hit us this wasn’t such a good idea. So, quiet as mice, we went around recapturing all the loose fireflies. I think we got them all, but we had to stand on the top of the couch to get the ones on the curtain rod. Funny how life repeats the little pleasures… and treasures.”  Sigh.

Image result for fireflies picturesI smiled recalling the innocence of her childhood which was being relived in front of us by Leah. Time felt like a thick rope that ran from our living room through Grace and me and connected to Leah.Related image

“There goes one. Did you see it?”


“Over there, under the cherry tree. Here. Take your container.”

Related imageIt was on. The light was fading and the fluttering glowworms were blinking on and off all around the yard. Even better they filled the air over the cornfield behind our yard with low level lime light. Such whimsical beauty!  My breath paused as Leah captured her first firefly.

“I’ll let her go in a couple of days”, she said. After collecting four or five, she named them– “This one is Hannah. That one is Eliza. This other one is Heady. Annnnnd that one issss, uhhhmmm, Jasmine.”

“Okay, let’s say good night to the fireflies you didn’t catch.”

“Good night.”

and from way over the hills comes the Mills Brothers’ silky tones….Image result for mills brothers pictures

Glow, little glow-worm, glow and glimmer,

Swim through the sea of night, little swimmer,

Thou aer-o-nau-tic-al boll weevil,

Il-lu-mi-nate yon woods primeval;

See how the shadows deep and darken,

You and your chick should get to sparkin’,

I got a gal that I love so,

Glow little glow-worm glow.

452. Old School

Image result for old chambersburg high school building photosFolks toss that term around freely, Old School. What exactly does it mean?  Depends on when and where you were born, I think. “I’m old school” uttered by someone from the Midwest in his 80’s might mean “I beat my kids when I was parenting… and they are all the better for it.”

Image result for parris island drill sergeant picturesWhen an old Marine says it about his Paris Island boot camp, he means that he and his fellow Marines were  physically assaulted by drill sergeants who took pride  in being as evil as they could dream of behaving. “I’m old school Marine Corps. No women, no gays, no mercy. No problem. When the DI knocked our teeth out, we’d say, ‘Thank you, sir’ through a gurgle of blood.”

Image result for high school students at recess pictures from 1960'sOld teachers talk at retirement banquets of the days before the consolidated school districts when kids played handball with their teachers over the lunch hour break, when the nearby kids walked home for lunch with their stay-at-home moms. “Kids were good then. They had respect. Said the pledge and prayed every morning.”

Implied in these nostalgic vignettes is the superiority of the Old School to the modern or New School approach to anything moral or social. You don’t hear folks claim to be Old School when it comes to technology.

Rotary Dial Telephone Rectangle Magnet

Gramps. “I love dial up.”

Grankid. “You mean you still use dial up for your computer, Pops? That’s annoyingly slow.”

Gramps. “No, I mean dial up as in rotary phone.”

Grandkid. “What the fig is a rotary phone, Gramps?”

Image result for party line imagesI lived through the Old School. I’m here to tell you that it was not better  Take the infamous party phone line for example. I don’t know how it worked exactly, but back in the day you shared a hard wired phone line with various neighbors in order to save money. (Privacy was and is still expensive, my bloggidos.) You would have to pick up the land line phone cradle to see if anyone was already engaged in a conversation,  yep, back in the Old School. Sort of like today’s public toilets– you have to physically inspect the stall before you drop your privacy and engage. It was slower and less secure, as you can imagine. Only an audible click announced someone joining the party line… which could lead to cheap entertainment or fun stories… or a beating.

Image result for stupid drunk driving imagesOld School, as I recall, allowed spousal and child abuse to quietly go onward as a family matter or a tradition. It was none of the neighbors’ business if a kid was bruised or a wife had to hide for days as a black eye healed. A solidly naive Old Schooler could say that such stuff did not happen back in the golden years of the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s because it was not reported. Heck, it wasn’t even a crime then. This is circular logic. Similar to saying that kids did not smoke cigarettes because that was illegal. Or there weren’t as many DUI’s before breathalyzers and the harsh drunk driving rules since MADD came along.  Absurd. Not keeping statistics is not the same as having no statistics to keep. That’s a triple negative, if you are  wondering why it’s hard to decode in one reading.

Related imageI recall that drunk driving and alcoholism in general were the source of jokes back in the Old School. There was the one about the drunk guy who thought he put his Olds 98 in reverse down at the Huntington Crab House; he dropped it into drive, but since he was looking behind himself, he accelerated across the sidewalk and through a plate glass window, finally stopping at the table he had just exited after two pitchers of beer and a pair of back fin crab cakes. Seems he forgot to leave a tip. He ponied up a couple of bucks and put it in reverse all the way home with a ketchup dispenser stuck on his hood ornament.

Image result for pictures of parents abusing childrenWe were aware of other kids whose parents beat them, not just a corrective slap or paddling, but a full body, bruising beat down.  Gary King and Duane Beattie come to mind, but so do lots of other kids. Eric Emker’s screams flew out of his open windows in the summer when his military father knuckle punched him for opening up the house to us neighborhood boys and making baloney sandwiches for each of us. There were lots more stories from the Old School, not so pretty or inspiring nostalgia. Hey, it was not our family’s business now was it? No cops were called. No name was given. Domestic violence had not been coined yet. Abuse was euphemistically called discipline back in the Old School.

Kevin Morris Sr. mugshotThen there was Mr. Reynoldo the pedophile who lived on the sharp hill of the Parkway with his invalid mother. He molested boys whenever he could. Everyone in the neighborhood knew it. We boys talked among ourselves and to our parents. The parental advice was, “Don’t go around that man.” We ignored such passive consent to evil. On snowy nights we would pound his house with snowballs from the undeveloped hillside across from his den of sodomy. On Halloween it was eggs. He’d come lurching out in a rage and we’d laugh the nervous laugh of adolescent vigilantes as we ran like foxes across the cedar spotted field behind us. He only caught the slow footed and slow witted boys.Image result for snowball attack on a house images

Ah, the Old School. Same as the New School, Fool.

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution

Smile and grin at the change all around

Pick up my guitar and play

Just like yesterday

Then I’ll get on my knees and pray

We don’t get fooled again

Don’t get fooled again

No, no!Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss

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So be true to your school now

Just like you would to your girl or guy

Be true to your school now

And let your colors fly

Be true to your school

Rah rah rah be true to your school

451. Wreck Ya, Vick

Image result for elder sean connery last crusade picturesIt’s time again to check up on The Intrepid World Traveler, Joelini Aspercremey. Initialized and read backwards, his label spells out T.W.I.T., but there is a strong chance that I am projecting again, i.e., I am the twit. He is a regular character in my blog due to the fact that he is a regular feature in my daily coffee shop ritual. Just like Catholics dip their fingers in holy water and bless themselves upon entering church, so too do I salute Joel reverently each morning at the Java Point, where desperate lives intersect with chaos theory. It’s every man for himself in the effort to avoid that universal evil effort commonly known as WORK.

Image result for adam and eve in garden with apple picturesAs the faithful among us know, WORK was a curse given to mankind due to the premature harvesting of one special apple. We were forever condemned thereafter to orchard working and redundancy, tree by tree, row by row, like migrant fruit pickers on Groundhog Day. Endless repetition, repeating endlessly for eternity or a long time, whichever comes first. Imagine if you can, E.L.O.’s Evil Woman song on a loop for ever….Image result for elo images

You made a fool of me, but them broken dreams have got to end.

Hey woman, you got the blues, cos’ you ain’t got no one else to use.
There’s an open road that leads nowhere, so just make some miles
between here and there.
There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in,
You took my apple and played to win,
Ha Ha woman it’s a crying shame,
But you ain’t got no one else to blame.

[Bad grammar, bad poetry, just bad. Blame Dems. (D.J. Trump, POTUS)]
Related imageAnd the entire time instead of rolling a boulder uphill like Sisyphus we are condemned to pluck Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious and York apples by the tonnage. That’s work, my friends. Thank you, Eve.  Eeeeeevil Woman.
Image result for random imageryMy intro is intentionally random today because Joel had the audacity to comment on the appropriateness and restrained quality of my last post. He even moved his crisp summer straw hat off the chair opposite him for me to sit down. I will not tolerate such obsequiousness, plus I just wanted to use that word. The root word, “sequins” refers to shiny circles used on feminine articles of clothing to accentuate female features and to create a state of alluring shimmeriness, implying divinity. Thus, by derivation, obsequiousness is the state or quality of not being that way, i.e., servile.
Image result for public baths in iceland picturesI knew he was on his way to Reykjavik, Iceland soon for another bucket list adventure. No river boat excursions this year since he is still recovering from his Blue Danube hostage experience last year in the Czech Republic. Instead, Joelini plans to take hot baths with as many Reykjavikians as he can during the summer solstice celebration while eating dried codfish sandwiches.  It’s a Nordic thing.
Related imageThe Nords were a well dressed people from the North who founded Nordstrom’s after Global Chilling killed off the Vikings in the sixth century A.D. when the oceans froze solid for fifty years. It was during this time that the Nords literally walked across the frozen waves to what is now Iceland. Because of the geological equivalent of irritable bowel syndrome, Iceland remained unfrozen during this little Ice Age. Legend says that the Norse gods Thor and Woden battled hotly below the surface of Iceland. Thus it only made sense for the Nords to migrate there to thaw.  What they thaw along the thea became their thagas and legends.
Image result for sweaty viking picturesRaw power and bold courage still attract world travelers to the capital of Iceland. The raw thermal power fuels the Icelandic economy without any pollution beyond chalky steam. Courage drips down Icelanders boldly like baseball size beads of sweat. They don’t use deodorant; instead they take pages of dark, existential philosophy and wipe their armpits out with such discouragement twice daily. It is this sort of psychic hygiene that prevents them from invading Norway or Russia.
Image result for the most interesting man in the world picturesThis is where Joelini comes in, I suppose. Like Jared Kushner, Joelini is multi-talented in law, real estate, college and bank management, coffee shop story telling, and unorthodox self defense. He is a universal solution in search of problems worthy of his skill set. If not the most interesting man in the world, he at least has the highest interest rates.  He can’t  talk openly about it, but I believe Joelini is working with the Icelandic government on all of the above issues.
Just one story should seal the deal, and trust me, Joelini knows stuff, way more than this tale.  In a bankers conference a week ago in Charleston, S.C., he and his fellow bank lords were breakfasting at an expensive strip of real estate in the historic section of Charleston. I believe Joelini had eggs benedict and two strips of bacon with fresh fruit and a five grain bagel. Nearby a local thief was busy robbing the Gucci store of an armload of expensive accessories.
Image result for thief running with merchandise picturesAs Joelini retold the story, “I heard the store owner yell ‘THIEF” and saw the young man sprinting toward us like a gazelle. I was standing next to a high-backed armchair, envying my banker friend’s french toast with whipped cream and raspberries. I saw the thief sprinting toward us as he looked over his shoulder to spy on the short, fat shop owner’s progress. I went into action immediately. I was  in the Army Reserve as you recall during Nam. I kicked the armchair out as the thief passed by us a mere three feet away. He tripped and fell face down onto his stolen articles, trapping his hands beneath his stomach. I jumped onto his back and held his neck immobile as I directed Big Vick, who describes himself as ‘a biscuit shy of 300 pounds’, to sit on the thief’s legs. Together we made a Hell of a Swat team.”Image result for tag team wrestlers pictures
“In one minute the local police showed up and smiled admiringly at our precision take down techniques.”
All of us gasped. “Such raw power and bold courage, Joelini. What happened next?”
“The chief of police, Gunnar Gustafson, stepped forward with a copy of Sartre’s Nausea; tore out page 163 and wiped down Vick and then me. He gave us each an aluminum badge with the words Wreck Ya, Vick on them and pronounced us honorary Icelanders. It was the pinnacle of my life’s work. The owner of the Gucci store kissed us on the cheeks as I heard Tom Petty singing on the harbor breeze…
“you wreck me, baby
You break me in two
But you move me, honey
Yes you do”
“Wow”, we all gasped. “How very tenuous and yet tantalizingly tedious.”

450. Ahhhcupuncture

Image result for spinal imagesAs long time readers of Burritospecial already know, I’ve had back problems sporadically since 2003 when I ripped a muscle in my lower left back. That pain led me to pass out later the same night of the injury, which led to my head bouncing off the tile bathroom floor, which led to a seizure, which led to an ER visit in the middle of the night. Which led to an EEG and medication to prevent further seizures. As a result of all these facts, I retired early from teaching English and started a counseling practice in 2004. Off and on over the past 13 years I’ve had some brief periods of back pain that laid me up for a week or ten days per episode. Resting, heat, and ibuprofen usually took care of the flare ups.

Image result for lumbar spine imagesBack in December I was jogging on the treadmill in the mornings and going for brisk walks in the neighborhood. I felt good, foolishly good. One December day I was scrubbing the bathtub while leaning over and the next day I decided to scrub the grout on the tile floor. Tweak! Something went way wrong. A flare of pain shot across my lumbar (low back) region. It felt like a sharp knife slid in between my vertebrae, L4 and L5 to be surgically precise. Aye ya yie!! This was different from the old muscle rip. Heat, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and rest over time did not help much. This was different, as I was to learn painfully over the next five months.

Image result for severe pain faces imagesRiding a bike or lying flat did not provoke pain. Dancing, sitting, leaning, or bending over did. Why?  My disk was bulging onto my sciatic nerve. Eventually I reported to my primary care physician. Thanks to our genius managed care system, he had to go through the insurance company’s protocol. Physical therapy was first. That had helped with my original injury, but this one was different. The muscle based exercises only seemed to make my disk pain flare up. After three unproductive sessions I returned to my pcp. Time for an x-ray and vicodin. Okay, the vicodin did take some of the sting out of the $278 copay for my x-ray.  Then a referral to the Pain Management Clinic followed.

Image result for man in a hot tub picturesMore vicodin and an MRI, $2500 worth of MRI. I crawled through a few weeks until my first cortisone shot was scheduled. By that time I was going to the fitness center daily for hot tub soaks and pool walks. They helped but did not last. The cortisone shot lasted four days and then the pain came back. I was scheduled for my next cortisone shot a week after the first one; however, I had also fortuitously scheduled an acupuncture appointment for the Wednesday of the same week, a day before my second shot. Well, I drove the ninety minutes to Hershey Medical Center and met my Chinese doctor. She listened to my tale of pain and woe, and then stuck me with 15 needles in my neck and back and left leg.  That needlepoint was followed by an electromagnetic heat lamp treatment for 30 minutes. After that half hour she returned and plucked the needles out.Image result for acupuncture needles in back pictures

“Stand up now. What’s your pain level?”

“Uh, zero.”

“Good, good. Now do the hula.”

“You mean the hula hoop hula?”

“Yes, yes. Good. Bend over. Good, good.”Image result for hula hoop pictures

“You got pain?”

“No. None at all.”

“Good, good. Now this needle hurt.” She probed the exterior of my right wrist with a needle, sticking it in and wiggling until I gave a guttural noise of pain.

“Good, good. It hurt more?”

“Yes, yes!!”

“Do hula.”Image result for hula hoop pictures

I complied and felt an electric storm pass down my back, across my butt muscles, my thighs, knees and ankles. Boom!!

Dr. Xu pulled the needle out and told me that all my muscles had just released from their formerly rigid positions. I believed her. I hulaed again and hallelujahed. I felt like I’d been on a stage participating in a magic show. It was magical. Nearly six months of a grinding, fatiguing pain that shot down my low back and exited in my left sole was gone like an old Neil Young song.

“I’ve seen the needle and the damage done

A little part of it in everyone

But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun”

Well, I was not a junkie and the song references a different sort of needle, but it still hit me down in a deep wormhole in my amygdala.

Image result for neil young junkie pictures (And you thought you’d seen it all. “The colors on the street– red, white and blue. People shufflin’ their feet; people sleepin’ in their shoes. But there’s a warning sign on the road ahead, there’s a lot of people sayin’ we’d be better off dead.  Don’t feel like Satan but I am to them. So I try to forget it any way I can….keep on rockin’ in the free world. That Donald, he’s a hand puller.)

“Okay, you come next week. I do one more treatment.”

Now if you think Trump and Neil are an ironic match, chew on this irony: the one treatment my insurance does not cover at all is acupuncture. So Dr. Xu was a happy $100 out of pocket expense. I’m thinking the total cost of traditional Western medicine’s approach ran around $5,000 for nothing. That, my friend, is not a good value for the consumer.Image result for pictures of money on a scale

I was not expecting a follow up to the magic, but I agreed to keep coming, quietly wondering where I’d be if I’d begun with her chi and meridians. If I understood her correctly, my chi was constipated by the injury I had suffered 14 years ago. The meridian highway was closed by the muscles in my back and hips clinching tightly. The recent tweaking of my disk was the result of an uneven torque on either side of my spinal column. This made sense to me. I pictured the Leaning Tower of Pisa as my spine, though I know it leans due to soft foundational soil. The end result is the same, however.Image result for leaning tower of pisa pictures

So, the takeaway lesson? If you cannot find your answer in the West, look East, my bloguerons. And if you can’t debate an honest health care policy, sneak it in around midnight before the summer recess. In either case be sure to smile while you stick it to them.

Bullfighter fighting for life after being gored four times in first ever tournament

449. Meanderings among far things

Image result for old books picturesI don’t recall all the stories I’ve written in the previous 447 posts.  It’s challenging enough to write out the next one, let alone having some grasp on the previous 400,000 plus words and their various combinations. Bits and pieces of the past do connect, though, and I continue to entertain them or re-entertain, as the case may be.

Image result for telegraph road and kings highway intersection fairfax county virginia picturesI was thinking of the disparate things we found as kids in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. in the 1960’s, where our childhood fiefdom was defined by the convergence of S. Kings Highway and Telegraph Road and the steep hillside above Berkshire Drive. Maybe I was just obeying gravity’s pull, but 90 per cent of my childhood evolved there on the various sloping streets and yards, open play areas and random woods of Virginia Hills.

Related imageEarly on we boys found birds or baby squirrels that had fallen out of their nests. Of course we’d bring these creatures home and beg our parents to allow us to adopt them. That never worked, as I recall. They objected on perfectly rational grounds that we could not understand… rabies, wild animals, diseases or parasites, or the basic unsustainability of it all. Then we became proficient in finding and capturing rusty lizards, skinks, and little ring necked snakes. Turtles and frogs were regular shopping items as well. At one time or another we had aquariums filled with fish and terrariums stuffed with other animals– hamsters and other little rodents were favorites for a while. I think my conservative Catholic parents hoped that we’d learn how animals reproduced by watching our captured animals and spare them the “birds and bees” lesson. Nope. Human sexuality is a bit more complicated than one cartoon filmstrip in junior high health class or the mating of animals behind glass.

Image result for south kings highway 1960's fairfax county virginiaIt was a safe time, at least we thought it was safe, if you discount the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Kids would leave in the morning light of a summer day and not be seen till lunch or dinner, and from then not until dark. Nothing nefarious about the arrangement; it was a win-win for kids and parents, if not for creatures of the streams and woods. We’d wander deep into the woods or walk alongside Kings Highway collecting returnable soda bottles worth a whopping 2 cents each at the 7-11 store over a mile away. Most of the time two boys could easily collect 10 or more bottles on the way to the store, thus earning each boy 10 cents for a pack of gum or a candy bar. On hot days we’d drink from the creeks along the way, thus ensuring our intestines immunity from bacteria for life. Imagine that offer today: “Hey, kid, would you like to walk two miles on a hot summer day and drink polluted water for a pack of Juicy Fruit?” We all know the answer to that one. Today’s snowflake kids would simply dissolve in such scenarios.Image result for 1960's soda bottle pictures

In hindsight I realize that we picked up many invisible items as well as the dirty soda bottles. When we took our adventures and explored those few square miles of Fairfax County, Virginia, we gained a certain knowledge of and mastery over the environment. We knew where the lizards lived, sure, but we also knew where certain fragrant trees and vines like wisteria grew. I remember digging up dogwoods and pine seedlings to transplant back to my parents’ yard. Like the baby birds and rodents, they did not acclimate too well. The forest floor was dark and damp with lots of dead leaves to fertilize saplings. By contrast the barren red clay of our sun-baked yard was like a quarter acre concrete parking lot where vegetation withered up and died.Image result for dead tree in yard picture

As very little, yardlocked kids we’d walk between cool damp sheets on our mothers’ clotheslines. That was my first taste of air conditioning. After digging in the clay with various silverware utensils, we might sprawl on the grass and watch an airplane drone overhead, far away, bringing focus to our cloud gazing eyes. Of course, honey suckle vines and rose of Sharon bushes called to us, as well as the ultra feminine mimosa blossoms that wafted on airy Asian branches, like something between butterflies and peacock eyelashes. Unfurling roses invited our noodling noses to visit.  All things sweet and perfumey went immediately to memory…and bonded deeply; so deeply that 55 years later it remains fresh in my mind.Image result for honeysuckle imagesI had no watch, really, no watch until I graduated college. (I lost that one, which was a gift from my parents, on the night before I got married, when Bruce and Sam took me out to get me drunk but only managed to get themselves totally stupefied. I last saw them on Broad Street extended or was it Izzat’s?  The difference is merely academic. I went home relatively sober.)  Time mattered very little in the endless days of childhood. Light and heat and wetness mattered more. Telling time is greater than reading the numerals on a clock, by the way. Following the path of the sun across your home terrain is a much greater skill than following a clock’s hand point to a number. Feeling the humid summer air shift to cool and dry meant it was time to sprint home ahead of a gully washing thunderstorm, for instance.Image result for thunderstorm pictures

Smells do linger across decades, whether it’s the unforgettable odor of a decaying copperhead or the earthy smell of moist taupe clay that turns blue black against your new shovel’s blade. They stick and transfer to permanent memory as if a tattoo gun were exploding against your cerebral cortex… never forget me– sassafras root, leaf mould, snapping turtle mud, possum stink.  I have not. I can not.

Image result for beautiful casserole imagesAll these seemingly disconnected random inputs congeal into a psychic childhood casserole, gently drizzled with honey, dusted with ground cinnamon, and flaked with sliced almonds. It makes no sense until it explodes in one’s unconscious mind decades later pure and simple. Delicious.


448. Paperback Writer

Image result for paperback writer imagesOkay, the Beatles song is playing and I’m between tasks wondering what to do with my life, at least the next ten minutes or so. I like writing. Not sure why. I am far more faithful to blogging than billing for my business, which says a lot, I think. Some folks lose themselves in a novel for hours. Others swim for two hours in a movie. We all have a thing. I write. It’s therapeutic. I enjoy my own company most of the time and the slightly psychedelic fishing trips I some times take on the banks of the Cyber River.

Image result for wacky facesWhen my future son-in-law suggested that I try to monetize my blog rants, I paused; took it simultaneously as a compliment and a mad statement. “Maybe you could make YouTube videos of your routine when you come home blathering madly and comically. I’m sure folks would watch it, like a cult following kind of thing.” Uh, I like the little privacy I have, and I don’t trust myself to be consistently appropriate. Like the other night over dinner, my daughter asked what I’d like for dessert. I said, “How about an Oxy 80?” due to severe back pain. When my 4 year old granddaughter asked, “Mommy, what’s a Oxy 80?” I got the “I’m so disappointed and annoyed and don’t know what to do with you” look from Grace. “Leah, it’s one of Granpa’s made up words, like Bambooomba.” That word got me uninvited to her next three birthday parties.

“Granpa needs a filter, Honey.”

Image result for fishing imagesHmmm where to fish?  Fiction or non fiction or some mashup combo? What sort of fish am I looking for? That would be my imagined audience. Am I writing for folks who know me, or for strangers? Is my message slightly hostile, sarcastic, facetious, inspirational, cautionary, etc.?  How heavy should my gear be– tone, vocabulary, rhetorical tricks, figurative language, imagery, etc?  What should I use for bait?  You know, the lead in, the teaser paragraph, the set up, the pacing that keeps a reader snapping at the purple worm of suggestions?  Then there is the wrap up, the gotcha, the laugh line,  the smack down. Hopefully that last paragraph nets the fish I sought to snag. Sometimes, okay often, it is an un-nettable non sequitur’s non sequitur, like an eel that slips right through the mental mesh.

MRI ClaustrophobiaSo here is a random grouping of oddities in my week. On Tuesday at 7:00 am I got my MRI at the hospital. It was pretty empty at 6:30 when I arrived. After 25 minutes in the tube listening to classic rock that I did not like, to drown out the jack hammer noise of the super magnet, I felt like I was walking through a Star Wars corridor in an out of body experience.

Sweeeeeeeeeeet emoooooooootion            (In an MRI tube)
Tra tra tra tra, uhuruhuruhur tra tra tra tra
Sweeeeeeeeeeet emoooooooootion             (In an MRI tube)
Tra tra tra tra, uhuruhuruhur tra tra tra tra
Image result for steven tyler screaming images
You talk about things that nobody cares         Ting ting ting ting ting
You’re wearing out things that nobody wears     Tra tra tra tra tra
You’re calling my name but I gotta make clear    Ting ting ting ting ting
I can’t say baby where I’ll be in a year            Tra tra tra tra tra ta trup
When some sweet hog mama with a face like a gent  Boom, boom, boom
Said my get up and go must’ve got up and went          Spit, spit, spit
Well I got good news, she’s a real good liar                  Boom, boom, boom
‘Cause the backstage boogie set your pants on fire    Bodaboppbop bop, bodyabop 
Image result for dazed facesWhich collection of noise was worse? I guess it was a tie. Other forgettable songs played, one about blood, in a hospital play list? C’mon. I wandered back to my locker and could not get it open… then I realized that I had the key in my hand. Truly disoriented. Anyway on my way out the empty hallways,
Related imageI heard a voice call out  “Burrito”. I was at the intersection of two long empty hallways, but I could see the chapel ahead and daylight pouring through the double doors next to it. “Yes, God?” I was ready to genuflect like a good Catholic school boy in the confessional when I turned around to see Bill, a nurse friend from church men’s group. Relieved, sort of, I chatted with him for several spine tingling moments. Whew! that was close.
Image result for psychedelic spirals out of a man's head imageOnward I drove–> home rather than directly to work, in an attempt to get out of my out of body experience. Strange how a little Vicodin slows you down a step. The day was a bit backwards and mixed up. I went to my endoscopy doctor later for an intake type meeting. They gave me a form that had all the same questions on it that had been asked of me on the phone chat. The receptionist gave me the same list of questions to answer on a different sheet of paper. I gave it back to her completed. An assistant lady took my pulse and blood pressure and asked me some of the same questions. She left me  in room 4, assuring me that my nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant would be right in.  After 40 minutes of solitary confinement I told the receptionist to reschedule me.
“We’re so sorry.”
“Me too.”  Not really. I can wait another ten years for a colonoscopy.
Back to the office in a rush to make my 2 pm appointment, hungry for missing lunch.  I heard an unexpected clatter on the steps. I knew it could not be my very fit and trim 2pm guy. And I as correct. It was next week’s 2pm arriving a bit disoriented a week early but right on time. We chatted and I explained the situation to her. Unfortunately, my fit 2pm guy was a day late for his appointment so I had time for bad tacos at Checkos.
But it all worked out. For the good or bad, things work out. And that is my whimpy hook end that even a minnow could spin off of.  Things work out.