Friday, December 23, 2011

The Geezer: Time for Mark's Holiday posting, 2011

The Geezer: Time for Mark's Holiday posting, 2011

Time for Mark's Holiday posting, 2011

Well, goodness, that time of the year again, when the Geezer reflects on doins’ and dealins’, then takes electrons to fingertips to blather those observations and obfuscations.

So, sit back, and learn from my wit and wisdom. This should not take long, and no brain cells were destroyed in production of this spew.

This has been a four star year for me again. Most are, life is too short not to have it so.

This isn’t all commentary, but I have an idea to get our country moving. If you don’t have strict budgetary restraints, buy American! Be optimistic. Help your neighbors who may be suffering. Lastly, you have heard it before from others, but I am about ready to toss all the incumbents out! The politics around continuing the payroll tax cuts, the renewal of unemployment insurance, and the Keystone pipeline about tip the old Geezer over. Two months does not allow enough time for anything on UI and payroll tax cuts. The resistance to the pipeline is nutz, sends jobs overseas, increases dependence on “foreign” oil, and you greeners, are you nutz? You would rather have petrol refined in China, with no environmental regs, instead of Houston/Port Arthur where we have some. You ever see pix of the air in China?

Be mindful of what you read and hear. New unemployment apps being down is good, 100,000 new jobs is not, because it takes 140,000 just to absorb new entrants to the job market. Methinks it is a plot to protect the re-election of the guy I heard described as “a cross between Erkel, and the guy from MAD magazine (Alfred E. Newman)”

Holey-moley. ‘Nuf said.

The thing that was most often a consideration for me this year was that annoying schmooge on my vocal chord.

I was going to go to Dr. Zappem (Upendra Parvathenini) but the review physicians in Baw-stone said I should get surgery instead. So, ended up with Dr. Slicem’ (Tanya Meyer) who is about my kid’s age. Sheesh. But what an artist she is. The pics taken right after the four hour surgery showed nothing. I mean, nothing. You couldn’t tell anyone was in there slicing and dicing, at all. Truly amazing.

That was the good news, but she couldn’t get it all. So, back to Dr. Zappem and his magic machine and crew. 35 treatments, one a day, twice on Fridays! It is like a huge radio broadcast tower, RF energy. Folks, now I know why they don’t want you climbing up on those towers. At the end, the front of my neck had no skin on it, just white flesh. Yowsers. See it here

I was only concerned about it getting infected, but it didn’t and now is back to normal, as is my voice, save for the kewel “permanent tan” where there was no skin for a while.

Doc said, prior to last treatment, we got it all, interesting, because I thought they were not to speculate, and it takes a new CAT scan to confirm. He is going to confirm that next week in any event.

Cancer is really oversold, IMHO. It is sold on a scare basis, and this treatment place says they are the best another says they are, etc. etc. All accompanied by soothing music, and the soft verbiage delivery. Truth is, most of it they can get rid of these days. Really. Do you research, have a plan, get the best crew you can, and they fix you right up.

My technicians were nothing but the best, folks of good spirit. My dietician was a sweet young thing, worried about me losing weight, which is still a puzzlement to this day. Me, losing weight. Not on this planet. And the Oncology nurse was an ornery old cuss, who I called Nurse Rached, to her face. She took that well, and her colleagues chuckled and nodded their heads in agreement when I referred to her so. She is a weird bird and I think, mean. Found out she was a retired Lt. Colonel in the Army, so I changed tactic, and started calling her Colonel. After that, she seemed to like me better, go figure.

It never hurt; in fact, I can’t even say it was irritating. More like just an annoyance, like getting the goo they make you put on there on the collar of your t-shirt.

What did I do for fun? The annual pre-father’s day trip to Spokane. Went to Colville and took in a Washington Coalition for Open Government schmooze, put up the big letter M in front of the Sherman Pass camera, which is circled here:

Went up the Aenas valley on a forest/BIA road that was, uh, interesting. Including the creek that ran down the middle of the road for about 50 yards. No impassable trees across it, but it was, uh, interesting. Came out on the Sanpoil River, over the mountains to Welpinit. Across the excellent BIA furnished, Colville tribal run FREE ferry across the Columbia, which was a very slick setup, all mechanized docking, nice chat with the deckhand, a displaced logger and tribal member. It is so nice to talk with someone who really, really likes their job, even in zero degree weather with the wind blowing. Then on to SCC where we had our annual Father’s conference, with the usual suspects. Lots of good news there, most notably the DSHS program to have first choice of placement when a kid is taken from a home with their FATHER, which had not always been the choice before.

Another trip to Whistler with my road trip buddy, Pat, where I got up close and personal with one of the “resident bears” See the pix here:

They are sooooo cute, and friendly, from a distance. And no, there was no telephoto on when I took that pic.

Went on an adventure, trying to find this provincial park, only 6 km. the sign said. Only trouble was the forks in the road weren’t marked. I took the most ‘straight ahead’ and obvious branch but the road deteriorated greatly. However, soon there were “street signs”, very nice ones, along the way. After pondering a bit, I figured out I was on the cross country ski trails, and the signs were for the skiers. One place, well, it wasn’t quite like a Jeep commercial, but I did comment, we are committed now, no way am I backing up this hill. My road-trip buddy heard me say that before, a couple of years ago.

Oh, and even in mid-August, there was way plenty of snow left up there, see the pic here:

Yes, that is me, and I am 6’2” on most days, depending on what convenience store or bank I am leaving. (Props to Ron White for that line)

At the end of my treatment, another road trip to Spokane for a weekend. Stayed at Louis Davenport’s place. Do you know that the Davenport Hotel once had the largest PBX (telephone private branch exchange) north of SF? Or that the Crab Louis was created there and named for Mr. Davenport? Went up to my friend Jennifer’s place, met her boyfriend WE (gotta have a better word for male friends over 65 than boyfriends, methinks) I call him WE because I hear “we this”, and “we that”, and since her bro-in-law that lives across the street is named Steve also, like he is, I call him WE.

Never saw the place with the garden working in the summertime. Stuff sure grows fast over there. Her turkeys are—make that were (now eaten) -- funny, when the Rottweiler goes in the pen with them, they follow him around like he has food for them or something. Funniest thing I saw in a long time.

Not being employed is less than high fun. Doing OK, but Christmas presents are uh, modest this year, sorry gang.

El Gato is getting a bit older. Still jumps up fluidly, but sometimes walks like an old man. Still a faithful kitty, loves to snuggle with his daddy when I take a nap, and we watch O’Reilly with a bowl of ice cream each night, prior to bed.

The Evergreen State Fair which is actually the Snohomish County Fair, but don’t tell anyone, where I am on the board, had its best year ever, taking in max money, with great weather. Very proud of that. JP Patches did one of his last shows for us, well attended.

I am advising a new Domestic Violence accountability group on media, public records, and dealing with politicians and bureaucrats, the Washington Domestic Violence Commission, whose goal is to insure true victims get services, and to monitor the courts and their hangers-on who work hard (and spend your tax dollars) to separate good loving parents from their kids without justification while providing a good living to themselves and their consorts. So far, we have a Kingco judge on record calling one fellow “deranged”. Geez, I thought judges used to be lawyers, and they know better than to make records that can come back and bite them. We are having high fun keeping them accountable. Next up, we involve the She-riff (Sheriff Barbie, aka Susan Rahr) by making her investigate all the questionable accusations which all have sworn attestation that a crime was committed. I called the Barbie yesterday and gave her a heads up on that plan. When you don’t have power, and the other folks do, you have to go with guerilla tactics, and she understands that.

I wonder if that book I bought her for Christmas, or the following comment on her website that I made had anything to do with it? “Put Sheriff Barbie's pic back on the front page of your website. She is sorta hot, for an old broad.” You can put a uniform on the girlie, but you can’t take the grrl out of the uniform. For those of you who don’t know her, her pic can be found here:

Her reply was “How will I ever maintain my humility…” Flattery works, boyz.

Can’t finish without a shout out to my WSDOT friends. They said “no one will miss the viaduct”. Of course, they got it wrong again, I LIKE the viaduct. So, Travis Phelps, the viaduct teardown spinmeister, gave me a piece of said structure, inscribed “To the Geezer, for keeping us honest”. That I do.

I could tell more stories, but I won’t. It does remind me of the question……why do these folks keep doing business with you, when you always give them grief? Indeed, I just must be a charming cuss……or something.

Best to you all, thanks for reading, and look forward to another spew and blather next year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two stories for you for Christmas

Somewhat unlike other years, I want to share with you some messages that I was fortunate enough to get.

The theme is basically this: Maintain hope, things will get better. Be kind to your fellow travelers on planet earth.

Miracles will happen.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did.


Understand that things happen for a reason

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.
On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.
On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.
She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.
Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria .
The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten “The Tablecloth”. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria .
When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.
The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.
One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?
He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.
He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

Christmas at the Gas Station

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front.. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer..

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."