Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Memed Agayne, Mortimer. Memed Agayne!

One: Link to the person who tagged you. Mary Soderstrom.

Two: Post the rules. That's what I'm doing right here.

Three: Write six random things about yourself.

Before 1950 my family lived in an interrupted subdivision next to the IC mainline near Chicago. By interrupted, I mean one that got planned and stared prior to WWII but was only finished in the fifties. My elder brothers played harem scarem games in the installed but unused sewer pipes that threaded beneath the prairie grass which the fire department burned periodically. I preferred to play in a declivity in the sand dune across the street. Think of a sand box about fifty feet by seventy five and a story tall on one wall. A wonderful place to develop a sense of design while constructing intricate highway systems.

In high school I took a shop medley course which visited wood shop, machine shop, auto shop and blue print reading. The auto Mechanics Teacher became a mentor and friend. He it was who advised me: "Shift for yourself, young man." When I wondered about transmissions. He also asked me why I, obviously bound for college, wasted my time in a shop course. In my career (if it may be so dignified) as theatre designer, nail maker, book store owner, furniture builder, and general roustabout, that class has come in handy more times than many another.

In the full bloom of 20 I once made the mistake of inviting a sixth grader to belt me in the stomach. How hard could he hit? I wondered. A lot harder than I expected. Somehow I toughed it out. That impressed the kid sufficiently to calm him down enough to actually learn something at camp. So did I. I do not recommend this technique.

The school district paid us once a month in the middle of the following month. The schoolcamp year began the fourth week of September. That meant that I was paid fifty dollars for September in mid October and had to make it last until mid November when October's pay appeared. The school camp provided room and board from Monday noon to Friday noon. So my co-worker, George, and I clubbed together to survive the weekend. He had a friend, Danny, who worked at a Hermosa Beach hotel as a bellhop. We crashed in his room the first weekend. The second he rented a garage apartment on 99th street less than a block from Normandy. This put us inside Watts the fall before it blew up. That Friday we pooled our cash. We had $3.84 to eat with. Outside the store I asked George "What should I buy?" "The biggest, cheapest, loaf of bread, and the biggest, cheapest, jar of peanut butter," he replied. So I did. "What did you get ?" George asked. "The biggest, cheapest, loaf of bread, and the biggest, cheapest, jar of peanut butter I could find," says I. "Oh, no!" said George. "I was kidding! I hate peanut butter!"
Somehow we made it to Monday morning. After that the camp kitchen gave us left overs. It was many a year before I could tolerate peanut butter. Even now I prefer to make my own almond butter.

My first job out of college was teaching at a Catholic prep school in Connecticut. The salary was tiny. So we looked for rental housing in Bridgeport. The realter pursed her lips as she scraped the bottom of the barrel for a place we could afford. "You understand," she informed us, " that this is an integrated neighborhood?" What she didn't mention is that we were the integrating factor. And in more ways than one. Every house in that neighborhood -- except ours -- had two dogs. A big guard dog for the yard and a little birf dog for in the house. We had cats.

"Why don't you tell horror stories about the depression?" I asked Earle.
"I don't have any to tell" he said. "I worked all through the thirties after I left school." From that I comprehended that statistics always come with a minimum of two sides. If 12% of the workforce was out of a job, that meant something entirely different to the 88% with a job than it did to the 12% without. The trick is to comprehend all sides before shooting my mouth off. Maybe next time.

Four. Tag six people.
John McKay at Archy
Tim Abbott at Walking the Berkshires
Tobias Robison at Precision Blogging
Rob Hunter at A Rain of Frogs
Two presently unknown souls who, tired of merely floating in the zeitscheise, now kick forward to take some initative by what ever slippery handle comes to paw.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Translating Olde English:

Bring out your debt!
Bring out your debt!
Bring out your debt!
Can't you do anything about this vista bill?
(looks both ways -- clouts bill)
Bring out your debt!