Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tom's Election Coloring Book


Three cheers for the red, white and blue.

On November 4th, we'll pick a whole bunch of "leaders." Never mind that most of them will be lame opportunists, looking out for themselves--they DO make a difference, especially for your children and grandchildren. So pick your poison, red or blue, print these maps, get out your crayons, prepare your snacks and watch it on TV. It's more exciting than a Superbowl, if you ask me.

The colored areas on the map represent the places where there are no elections, so the "leaders" in these places will stay in place for at least the next two years. Fill in the blanks on November 4th, red for Republican, blue for Democrats.

For those of you who daydreamed through geography lessons, here's the cheat sheet:



Voting is the best you can do. After that, the best you can do is to have fun with it.

Crayons rule!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bachelor Kitchen Tips: Save Money.



Always save your leftovers for the next meal. In a pinch, when you absolutely can not tolerate another bowl of macaroni and cheese, you can freeze it. Later, it may not taste like Mama used to make, but it will keep you from eating your marijuana plants to stay alive. Throw all this crap into a frying pan or pot of water, and it can be surprisingly tasty.

That's how the Irish invented their famous stew, which tastes like a water-logged potato, half an onion, one carrot, and a few meat shavings from the bones of a skinny rat (In the days of the camel caravans, all those great spices from the Middle-East and Asia never made it across the English Channel to teach those people how to cook, so that, across the generations, their taste buds atrophied into nothing more than little food-grinder-helpers for the teeth. To them, a boiled potato taste the same as a jalapeno popper).

Of course, you don't want to eat anything poisoned by bacteria, but testing leftovers is easy. I always go by my father's scientific technique: Look, Sniff, Taste. If it looks good, smells okay, and tastes okay, it's good. Shut up and eat it. If you detect a sour odor from the milk carton, it's only from the film of milk on the inside of the carton getting overripe. Bottoms up.

The result of many years of such fatherly training is a stomach that could digest a bowling ball spiced up and heated to a temperature of 350 degrees without so much as a hiccup.

Never throw out leftovers unless the growth on it reaches a height of one-quarter inch. Mow the growth off and heat the remaining lump enough to kill all living things. Let cool and eat.

I have more tips, but I'm anxious to get to my "Recipes" chapter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Goody Two Shoes.



I love exploring, even if the object of exploration is only insect life under a rock. That's why I'm reading this book about Polar exploration. It's amazing what those guys went through, frostbite, starvation, scurvy, gangrene and death, yet they kept going back for more, again and again.

None of that for me. I was heading for San Diego on vacation, no icebound ship, no freezing and, most importantly, no dying. And I could even travel with my trusty partner, Gayle, plus see my long lost brother, Jim.


My brother, who's been living in San Diego for many years, dropped us off at a beach in nearby La Jolla. "Follow the beach around the point, and I'll meet you with my RV at the grass hut on the other end of Windansea Beach. You can't miss it," he said.

So Gayle and I strolled south along the beach, which very quickly turned into rock-hopping and raging surf. And it only got worse as we went along. A concrete wall loomed to our left, protecting the beach houses twenty feet above. Gayle stopped atop a rock and stared at the treacherous-looking rocks and surf up ahead. "I'm not going there," she said.

"Come on, it's an adventure. We can explore a place we've never been--the thrill of discovery!"

"Right. I'm gonna take the street around to the grass hut."

"Come on! I'm taking the surf road, the road to adventure," I said, trying to entice her.

"See ya," Gayle waved, picking her way across the rocks in the other direction.

Okay. This was a challenge, and I was up to it, so I pushed ahead carrying my shoes in one hand. I had to wait for each wave to recede before I could find the negotiable rocks to hop along, until I met a young guy on the rocks going in the other direction who pointed at the surf with his swim fins. "Have you ever seen it this bad," he asked?

"Uh, no, I'm from New Hampshire."

"I've been walking this beach for twenty years and never saw it like this. There's a storm out at sea. Normally, you can walk on beach sand all the way around the point to Windansea Beach."

I looked at the mess ahead--nothing but raging white water and rocks. Here's a picture of Windansea Beach I found, taken after a big storm:


My exact location would be somewhere behind that white water, on my way to the nice beach sand which usually occupies the foreground.

"There's a staircase in the wall ahead," my rock-traveling compadre suggested. "You might want to try that."

I made it to the stairway, but not before gouging my bare feet all over old piles of concrete and rough rocks, then, being bashed against the wall by raging white water that splashed off my back and over my head, soaking me and my highly valued cigarettes.

The stairs were steep and slippery, with an ominous black iron gate at the top. I crawled up to the gate and untwisted a wire that apparently held the gate closed, though it seemed to be stuck. I wanted both hands to grip the gate, so I threw my shoes through the bars, one at a time, clinging for dear life and shaking it as much as I dared..

But the gate wouldn't budge, so I peered around and discovered that there was a padlock on the backside (the "thrill of discovery")--those rich folks were protecting their beach houses from all intruders.

I looked south to the point and decided that I'd never make it, so I looked forlornly at my shoes on the other side of the gate--I'd never find them in the private yards among the blocks and blocks of beach houses over my head.

I had to go back, so I fought my way back over the rocks and walked around the point through the streets as the hot sidewalks burned my feet, limping and wondering how Gayle found her way, wondering if she was okay. At the other end of Windansea Beach, I found her, gazing placidly at the blue Pacific.



"I was worried about you," I said, still wet and nursing my aching feet.
"I'm fine," she said, "What happened to you?"
After I told her my story, scolding her for abandoning me, she nodded in satisfaction. "There are good choices, and there are bad choices."
Sure, she was fine, sitting there in her dry, comfy white sneakers enjoying the view--like the rest of the Goody Two-Shoes, like the ultimate Goody Two-shoes--Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who, with a click of her heels, could conjure up beautiful sky and water and fresh breezes without a single thought of the sharks and sting rays and poisonous jellyfish out there.

Where were MY two goody shoes?

"What are you laughing at?" I demanded.

"There are good choices, and there are bad choices," she intoned again in a sing-song voice.

I grimaced in fear at her words, fear that some night soon, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming at the echo.
"There are good choices, and there are bad choices. There are good choices and there...."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bachelor Kitchen Tips: Leftovers.


If opening the refrigerator door stinks up your whole kitchen, you may have to do a thorough search of its interior. Wear latex gloves if possible and rummage carefully--you may run into things that could not only spread disease but also make a mess, of which you have enough already.

If you remove the lid from a pot stored way back on a shelf to take a sniff, and your head jerks back violently, there's your problem. The contents will be mysterious and soft, but whatever it is, you can easily scoop it into the toilet with a large spoon while you hold your breath. Flush immediately, but don't throw out the pot. They're expensive. Leave the lid off and push aside leftover debris to make room for it on your counter for a few days--so that the contents dry into a harmless solid crust, then clean the pot thoroughly.

Use a power drill with a wire brush attachment if necessary.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God and Golf.

Golf is a very pleasant sport. You can get some fresh air, stroll through some of the world's finest manicured landscape, slam little responsive balls that sail incredibly through the air, and actually keep score to see how you're doing. Plus, if you're too lazy to hike the course, you can grab an open car, drive to your ball, smoke cigarettes and explore a cooler filled with all sorts of mood enhancing liquids.

It's fun, unless you're with my brother-in-law, Bob, when he gets into one of his mischievous moods, probably influenced by one trip too many to the cooler. He will help you find your ball, and the ball may turn up in unimaginable places, maybe brought there by a hole in his pocket, down his pant-leg and over his ankle and shoe top. And he's very convincing. It makes no difference to him whether your ball turns up in a good spot or a bad spot. Win or lose, it's all fun to him.

Which brings me to the time God and St. Peter played a game of golf one Sunday morning, which I didn't witness, but I believe must be true, considering my brother-in-law, Bob.

On the first hole, God drove the ball into a water hazard, but the waters parted and God made an easy chip onto the green. On the second hole, God actually plunked the ball onto the green with an impressive drive. Suddenly, there was a little earthquake and the green tipped enough to roll the ball into the cup. On the third hole God's drive sent the ball into a sand trap. A little ocean appeared nearby and started an evolution. Microbes turned into fish, fish turned into reptiles, reptiles turned into mammals, and one of these furry little mammals ran up, grabbed the golf ball in his mouth, then ran to the cup and dropped the ball in.

St. Peter looked at God and said, "You wanna play golf, or you wanna fuck around?"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Class of 1964, Before You Were Born.

I just got my pre-invitation to my 50th high school class reunion, just as I was thinking that it's been an amazing 20 years since I graduated.
We had a big class, so I'm not surprised that most of the names on the list of graduates are unfamiliar, but I can't find one person I'm anxious to get reacquainted with. Most of my good buddies were members of the class behind me.
I've never been to a class reunion, and the thought of attending strikes me as ghoulish without an old buddy to share some private jokes about the characters at this particular geezer gathering. I'm sure some perfect stranger would walk up to me smiling with his hand out saying, too enthusiastically, "Hi, Tom, do you remember me?"
Uh... no, I would stare.
Then, he would reveal his identity as if waving a colorful flag which didn't impress me 50 years ago and still doesn't.
"You don't remember me, do you?"
"Oh, yeah. Yes, I remember you."
Yes, I might remember him, except that I don't remember him looking like he had shrunk three inches, swallowed a cow and fell asleep with his head in a clothes dryer.
"Good to see you," I'd lie, meaning that seeing him is better than dropping dead, while I'd be hoping someone would interrupt.
Then, the strange woman would approach, lacking the finer points I appreciated 50 years ago, and tell me I was really cute back then.
"Oh, yes, I remember you. Didn't you marry Joe Jockstrap?"
"Yeah, we divorced a long time ago. Actually, I'm on my fourth marriage."
"Really," I'd say as my eyes searched for one of those bright red EXIT signs--maybe somebody would yell "fire" and we could all pile out to the parking lot and disappear under cars.
Just to cheer us up, the reunion committee, whoever these people are, included a list of deceased persons in our reunion package. The only cheerful part is that I'm not on the list. Out of 328 class members, 57 are confirmed dead, including a few bozos I appreciated in the third grade. That's over 80% of us still kicking. This is not a bad score, considering our ages. With all the problems of modern health care, we've fared quite well with the medical miracles.
But--nah--I'm not going to this reunion. I'm going to wait for our 75th, when we can get the whole crowd around one table at Cheers, and I won't have to make much conversation.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Curse of the Catheter.



                                                                                                                                             
I underwent major vascular surgery in my pelvis last week, huge stents in arteries to both legs. Now--I understand they had to thread a catheter up my penis so I didn't accidentally pee all over the doctor's gown during the operation.

     But--the operation was over, I spent an hour in the recovery room, ate two meals, had a decent night's sleep, and not even a drug addict would be peeing all over himself on the amount of drugs I had in my system. It was high time this catheter came out. I told the nurse and she agreed to make it her first request when the doctor showed up.

      Okay. But I had periodic burning sensations, and I thought the tube to the urine bag might be twisted or kinked, so I plucked the bag from under the bed and switched it from hand to hand as I untangled the tube with the other hand. The tape holding the tube against my thigh came off so that my penis stood up and followed the tube around like a bird dog on the hunt (a pointer), a very unpleasant sensation--when it didn't involve a woman.
        
      Finally sick of the process, I carried the bag into the bathroom (just in case I squirted when I yanked out the tube), and gave the tube a healthy pull.

       Yow. That hurt. And the evil tube stayed in place. Something was holding it in, so I went back to the chair in my room and tried to be patient. But, the burning sensations kept coming around and I couldn't tell whether I was peeing or not. Where the hell was the doctor? Where's the nurse?

        Fed up again, I went back to the bathroom with gruesome determination. I grabbed my penis in one hand, the catheter in the other and pulled firmly in opposite directions. Aha, I observed, I could see the tube exiting the end of my penis, so I kept going and it looked like I was making progress. But, ow,ow,ow, no undocking. The only thing I accomplished was to compress my penis into a little stub of wrinkles resembling a small stack of coins (about $3.50 in quarters). At that point, I wanted to go into the hallway and howl like a coyote until relief arrived.

        Luckily, the nurse came. I gave her a grim look and said, "This catheter has to come out."
        She almost smiled when she conceded, "Okay, I won't wait for the doctor."
        She had me lay on the bed and started to manipulate the catheter.
        "What's the trick?" I asked, after confessing that I had tried to pull  it out.
        "Oh, you can't pull it out. There's a balloon on the end of it that has to be deflated."
        A balloon!
        "Are you ready? One, two, three...."
        Ahgggrrrr...relief!
        
        I have never been to a hospital anywhere, at any time, for any purpose, for anyone when I didn't think the nurses were angels. Thank God for the angels, and may my penis rest in peace.