Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Heinous Attack

Another savage early morning attack on innocent tissue....

Fortunately, this time the surveillance camera gives us a tiny clue to the identity of the perp. Let's see, this eliminates quite few species from our long list of suspects. Definitely not Sara the pit bull next door... And why would someone set a security camera in such a spot?
And what, pray tell, is happening to all the shoe boxes? They just don't hold up like they used to. It's as if they were exploding from within. Very mysterious.Our dedicated security staff has vowed not to rest until this mysterious menace has ceased to terrorize us.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pt.18 Morning in Arles

Follow this grand adventure from the beginning:
Link to Pt.1 of this series

Day 5 — Sunday, August 23, 1998

@#$%#!!! Cold Water Shower!
I woke up early the following morning. The sitzbank was a pretty good place to sleep. I like a firm mattress, and this one was like a concrete slab. In the shower, I didn’t know how to work the hot water, so I had a rather cold shower. I didn’t really try that hard to get the hot, I just assumed that the ship had run out, because of the excursion leaving at 8:30, and everyone trying to get breakfast before leaving, and a shower before breakfasting. I used some of the soap from the dispenser, and some shampoo from the Nikko hotel, because the ship of course had not provided any.

Since Joyce was not yet up, and we had until 9:00 a.m. to get to breakfast, I took “Elvis, Jesus” up on the deck to read for awhile. I was the only one up there, and I set down in a deck chair facing the shore side, and between reading and watching the shore excursion busses loading and departing, it was a most pleasant hour. The road we had dragged our suitcases acrosse the day before was now bumper-to-bumper at freeway speeds, now. "Too Bad, Pierre! You gotta work and I'm on vacation!" The shore excursion would leave, then the boat would leave for Arles. The shore excursion would rejoin the boat at Arles.

Der Loccch!
Heading for Arles, the boat was required to descend in a 25-meter lock. Frau Helga said “Ja, jetzt kommen wir im Schleiss”, or Loccch, as she said it in English. No mater what language it was in, she always made it sound dirty. As Frank the Englishman remarked, “If you’ve seen one lock, you’ve seen them all”. True enough, they were all of identical design, and we would be traveling through 22 of them. Except for today, which was a round trip downriver from Avignon. In the coming days, all the locks would be taking us up, a total of 200 meters in elevation.

Before Frau Helga’s announcement, I thought it was a fueling stop, and then noticed that the pier seemed to be going up, and that the walls of the pier were covered with a dark oily substance. Turns out that we were going down, and the “oily substance” was just the wet walls of the lock.

How the Other Half Cruises the River
We arrived at Arles — apparently, pier space is at a premium at Arles, because we had to disembark over the deck of the Cezanne, which was on the same route as our ship. Once we “accidentally” went through the lobby of the Cezanne. It was a much better-appointed ship than MS Arlene. I bet they even had washcloths on board. The railings and trim were all natural wood, the deck was astro-turf color instead of the garish blue-green of our deck, and the ship looked newer.

Van Gogh's Home Town
A quick look around Arles in the one hour before dinner, revealed that they had a Monoprix, but because it was Dimanche, Sunday, it was closed. We went through a very old, very heavily fortified gate, and into a village tourist area, with cafes, Tabacs, and merchants with wares in the street. We purchased some post cards, which were priced between 2f and 5f. We wouldn’t find any below 2f until our final day in Paris. This was the city where Vincent Van Gogh lived for many years, home of the famous Cafe painting, home of those trees (poplar? The ones in Starry Night), and the Bedroom. It wasn’t until after dinner that we would be biting each other’s ears off.

We stopped in a newsstand, and bought post cards. I was looking for a London Times to score points with the Boys from England, who said that they were looking for one, but found only Das Bild, a German tabloid, with a very sarcastic front page of Clinton, Monica, and the Middle East. “Hast es alle im Griff?” (Can he handle it all at once?). I was rather hoping that there would be no terrorist reprisals or changes of power in Bubbaville until we got back, mainly because I wanted to see the Clinton Scandal first-hand, rather than the terrorist reprisals. (TEXT NOTE - 1/23/10 - this article was written in 1998 - we got home in plenty of time) We didn’t see the Coliseum on that trip, only because we hadn’t travelled the two blocks it took to get there. We were planning on returning in the afternoon, after lunch. We went back to the ship, and the boys were surprised that we had already been off to town.

At lunch, professor Jack said that he was going on the shore excursion to the Camargue, the delta of the Rhone, which he would have compared to the Mississippi Delta, but he couldn’t remember the name of the Mississippi Delta..

The Other Half - Second Look
After lunch, we headed out back through the Cezanne, got yelled at for crossing inside the boat, but we wanted to see it. It was better than ours. MS Arlene was definitely the schlepper boat of the damned. Joyce remembered that the Cezanne cruise cost the same as the Arlene cruise, but the travel agent recommended the MS Arlene, not from first-hand experience, I’m sure.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a second opinion...

Since last December, I've been on the verge of a toothache. The whole spectrum - from "whoops better not bite on that just now" to "HOLY #$%^ WHERE'S THE IBUPROFEN!" So, finally, right after Christmas, I went to my regular dentist, Dr. C.. He used to have a little office above a bank, close to where I work. I've been his patient since he first started out in 1984. Times have improved for Dr. C., and now he has built up his little bicuspid bistro into a multi-tentacled molar mega-mart in the suburbs. After X-rays taken by one of the scurrying assistants, a perfect stranger offered me her opinion. The suspect tooth had "no evidence of infection", but to eliminate any doubt, she recommended removing the metal cap, re-drilling the root canal, and replacing it with a new cap. $2300.00. Considering that i'm still operating on an economic down-turn of a reduced work-hour schedule, and no dental insurance, I got a good laugh out of that. I stood there under the spacious cathedral ceiling of the Patient Waiting Lodge, with one wall dominated by a huge Oprah Whimpery on a huge flat-screen TV, and I thought to myself: "Perhaps a second opinion would be in order." Oprah could not be reached for comment.

So, I remembered the recommendation of my General Practitioner, whose usual answer to any pain was "What T'Hell? You're getting old!" He said to try Dr. F. in South Milwaukee. So, I made an appointment, and did a little comparison. Here are my findings:

Dr. C
Dr. F

Available for Appointment

"Emergency? Well, if you're really in constant pain, we can work you in by the end of next month."

"What are you doing tomorrow morning, say, 9 am? I was going on vacation, but the flight's not till 6 tomorrow night."


For diagnosing that there was "no infection evident" and implying that I was imagining waking up in the middle of the night - $98.00

We don't charge for estimates, and the body shop doesn't fix teeth!

Lobby entertainment

Huge wide-screen TV, game room for the kids, with its own TV. People spend lots of time waiting here.

National Geographic and Home Handyman Magazine. TV is bad for kids.

Furnishing - hallways

Muted tone wall fabric, soft energy-efficient recessed lighting. Out the tinted windows, a wooded suburban residential lot.

Wood Paneling and Windows overlooking the swingset in the neighbor's yard

Chair-side music

XM satellite radio, soft speakers or headphones.

has the radio on, playing Lady Gaga and Abba

What to watch while Dr. is hard at work

TV in ceiling, pointed down for easy viewing in the chair, close-captioned, of course.

Red, white and blue snow-man cutouts taped to the fluorescent fixtures.


Takes new Xray almost every time, $80 / pop, and I'm radiated enough that I don't need the remote to change channels any more.

Asked if I could bring Xrays or duplicates from Dr. C. I asked Dr.C's office, and they sold me duplicate prints for $10 ea. Suitable for framing!

Computer monitoring

During any work, Dr. has multiple computer screens displaying Xrays, dental records, and Hi-Res photos of teeth to guide him.

Dr. F. relies on the older time-tested method of looking at the actual teeth in front of him. They're right there. I brought them in!

Payment Options

There is an in-house finance office with a full-time finance officer ready to write up a re-finance or reverse mortgage, payment plans to last a lifetime!

No credit cards. Cash or check. 10% discount for paying immediately after your service.


For removing, re-drilling, and replacing a cap - $2300.00*

*note, i didn't go through with this recommendation, BECAUSE...... >>>>>>

For finding the actual cause of the toothache was in the next tooth over, and replacing the leaky filling that was causing the problem - $117.00

If anybody doubts any of these details, I'LL BITE 'em!

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Five and Dime Beginnings

One of my first jobs in high school was as a stock-boy in Woolworths. At $1.40 per hour, I knew that I had made the right choice quitting the $1.10/hour hamburger place. I'm still haunted by this delightful nostalgic dream-world - i can still hear the creaky floors, and smell the intoxicating combination of lunch counter, candy counter, and pet department.

4th & Main, Five & Dime in Watertown, Wisconsin, Fronted by the canonical curved red background with gold letters and diamonds. The front of the store had a red and white striped awning, The manager cranked it down in the morning, and I cranked it back up in the evening. But that was just one of my duties....

The F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 cent store had departments competing with every other store on Main Street. We had hardware, housewares, men's and women's clothing, fabrics, paint, pets, candy, & toys. At Woolworth's while Evie was cutting your window shades to custom lengths, Esther could tint you a gallon of paint to just the right shade, and Betty could notarize your documents, while you relax at Merla's lunch counter for an incomparable home-cooked meal. Then wander over to Angie's candy counter for a handful of those Brach's maple nut goodies that look like mushroom caps. Get the latest Simplicity patterns in Lorraine's department up in front, and then go to Gertie's department to get the fabric to implement the pattern. There were greeting cards, phonograph records, books, parakeets, cacti - simply everything you'll ever need was right there.

But I was a dweller in Woolworth's underside. The entire basement was a dark maze of rough wood shelving, arranged in the same layout as the upstairs, with many mysterious side passages. Items entered the Woolworths System through a door which opened up in the sidewalk. Cartons slid down a metal chute into the basement. If the cartons jammed up on the way down, Roger the Baptist was sure to mention it to me as soon as I arrived. Roger never wanted to get dirty. He would check the merchandise in, and stock it on the shelves in the basement. The ladies picked their restock orders off of these shelves, and laid them in the aisle in cardboard trays called "X-90 boxes" (i hope i don't get in trouble for revealing this inside terminology). I brought the X-90 boxes up the creaky wooden stairs, each to its proper department, and the ladies would price and restock the items. Nearly everything upstairs had its counterpart downstairs in backup stock. One thing you never heard at Woolworth's : "If you don't see any there, we don't have any."

There are many stories, and I will tell them as best I can in upcoming installments.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52