This is a real thing. This is like the American version of Japanese ingenuity.
Sadly . . . I’m intrigued.
This is a real thing. This is like the American version of Japanese ingenuity.
Sadly . . . I’m intrigued.
I was a Wiener Clerk at the Wiener Factory back in the early 70s. “We may be contumacious, but we’re never revocatory.” “Tell us how long you want us to hold the onions.” The owner wrote every bit of graffiti in there . . . and the moderately risque stuff in the toilets out back. I think my favorite dog was the coleslaw and cheese, though a good old fashioned kraut dog still hits the spot when I’ma cravin’.
I worked there throughout my first year of law school, 1973 to 1974. It was a decent job at the time. The owner, whose first name—Gene—is all I remember, was a former English teacher and stockbroker. He was a bright, somewhat tortured guy, but he treated his employees with respect, which is frequently not the case.
We used Gulden’s mustard, which we thinned just a bit with pickle juice, adding a significant bit of extra flavor. I often wonder if anyone actually noticed. I think the hot dogs were Vienna’s natural casing wieners, and we got the knackwurst and one other type of sausage from a small sausage maker in Burbank. Alpine sounds about right. We used fresh egg buns, which we steamed before serving so they were nice and soft. We also sold a shitload of German potato salad. I don’t think we had fries, but I just don’t remember.
Flooky’s made a damned good hot dog as well, and I was sorely disappointed a couple of months ago when I was returning to Simi after an appointment at the W.H. Kaiser Med Center. I was planning on having a Flooky’s hot dog (or two) only to find out they had gutted the place. I don’t know if there’s a Flooky’s left in the SFV.
I still crave a good hot dog probably a lot more frequently than is healthy for me, but I was raised on the damn things. I love a good, kosher, natural casing wiener with gulden’s mustard and a hearty sauerkraut on top of that. I also love mustard, relish, and onions, as well as mustard, chili, cheese, and onions. Hell! I’ve been known to slice one lengthwise and eat it between two pieces of rye bread with some mustard. It’s just a mini bologna, after all.
I think I was introduced to chocolate-covered, frozen bananas about sixty years ago, when we used to spend a few weeks each summer on the Balboa Peninsula of Newport Beach, CA. The Fun Zone is still there—at least it shows up on a map—though I haven’t been in that neck o’ the woods for several decades. This recipe looks faskinatin’.
PS – I tried it yesterday and I think I had the wrong kind of chocolate morsels, as they refused to melt properly. I’ll have to soldier on and figure out what happened. This may be the last you’ll ever hear of it.
Love bananas and chocolate? Try making these delicious Frozen Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Banana Bites! They are super easy to make and can be kept in the freezer until you get a craving for a bite of something sweet and chocolatey. Feel free to use any type of nut butter you’d like.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I spent a few years in the business of helping others, shall we say, adjust their perspective. In the late seventies and early eighties I lived in Playa del Rey, California, a small town with an inordinate number of bars squeezed into a couple of blocks less than a quarter mile from the beach.
I frequented one of them more than the others, as it was almost literally across the street from my front door and, in the business I was in, I only needed to be able to get home quickly once in a while. The bar is still there and, if you watch TV, you may have seen it in a few shows. It’s called “The Prince O’ Whales.” I practically owned a stool there and had asked them to carry The Glenlivet when I first started frequenting the place. They were kind enough to oblige me and I have no idea how many cases I personally went through in the few years I spent much of time there.
However, this post has precious little to do with where I lived, how I survived, and how much Scotch I drank in my thirties. It’s actually about an article that was printed in the November 12, 1981 edition of Rolling Stone. It was written by P.J. O’Rourke. If you were an adult around that time, and you’ve not encountered this before, you may really enjoy it; it’s quite funny . . . and mostly (reasonably close to) the truth.
I have searched high and low for a reprint or a .pdf or URL where I could find the article in its entirety, but it doesn’t seem to exist online. Fortunately, I had made a copy of the pages and recently I took the time to re-type the entire article. I thought it was excerpted from his book “Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People,” but it appears the first edition of that book was in the late eighties. Regardless, I have always found O’Rourke’s sense of humor—at least on this subject—pretty damn entertaining. Enjoy!
Beyond cocktail coquetry.
Cocaine and etiquette are inseparable; they go together like cocaine and, well, more cocaine. But why should courtesy be so important when “Sinus highballs” are passed around? Why shouldn’t we behave the way we behave with other drugs—burrow stupidly in the refrigerator as though we’d smoked marijuana or run naked through the streets killing policemen as though we’d taken PCP? There’s no firm answer: In fact, cocaine would make killing a policeman easier, since he’d be much less likely to turn into a 9-eyed moon demon while we’re trying to wrest the gun from his holster. Yet such behavior could not be less appropriate to the ingestion of “Alkaloid Chitchat Flakes.
Cocaine demands gentility from its partakers, perhaps because it’s such a sociable drug. MDA is a sociable drug, but it makes people so sociable they’ll screw a coffee-table leg. That’s not good manners if the table has an expensive lacquered finish. Or it may be the price of “Talk Talcum” that inclines us to courtliness, though heroin, too, is costly, and repeated use of that turns people into Negroes (Reagan administration statistics clearly show.) Most likely it’s the special magic cocaine performs upon us all that ignites our civility and refinement. Cocaine makes us so intelligent, so quick, witty, charming, alert, well-dressed, good-looking and sexually attractive that it would be unthinkable to be rude under its influence. True, there are exceptions. Cocaine doesn’t always do that to you. But it always does it to me. And that’s plenty of reason for people to behave.
THE FUNDAMENTAL NEED FOR SELF-SACRIFICE . . . AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IMPORTANT PEOPLE
The most important thing to understand about cocaine is, no matter how wonderful it makes us feel or how interesting it makes us act, it is bad for our bodies. This is the basis for all etiquette surrounding cocaine use. And this is why it’s never bad manners to go off alone and fire some “Nose Nikes” and not share them. To risk your own health while protecting the well-being of others is the only honorable thing to do. For the same reason, when offered someone else’s cocaine, you should Electro-Lux as much as possible for their sake. If there isn’t any left to take, they will be less inclined to destroy their mucous membranes, become psychotic, suffer heart palpitations or die from an overdose.
However, for reasons unknown to medical science, there are people cocaine does not harm. Important people who might be able to help someone’s career are never injured by cocaine, no matter how much they’re given. Neither are famous writers or actors or other personalities with whom many people would like to be friends. Also unaffected are extraordinarily good-looking, sexy people. In other words, the type of person reading this article seems to be immune to cocaine’s deadly consequences.
The detrimental effect of a “Cerebellum Blizzard” on others, though, cannot be overstated. There was a washed-up musician who hung around a well-known New York nightspot mooching drugs. He turned into a dangerous psychopath and tried to bore several people to death. My own younger brother took too much of my cocaine, and the result was a painful bloody nose. Another unfortunate case involved a vendor of the item itself. He had, no doubt, sampled too much of his own wares and began to threaten people with violence just because they owned him small sums of money . . . well, relatively small. A mysterious informant—who, honest, felt really bad about it—was compelled to turn him in to the police. (Jail is a famously discourteous place.)
THIRTEEN COMMON PROBLEMS OF ETIQUETTE EXAMINED
1 – How to Serve
Nothing is more awkward than taking out a vial of “Granulated Money” in a bar or restaurant and having everyone you know expect to get some. If you try to pass the “Powdered Trapeze Act” to some people and not to others, you may get hit over the head with a bottle. And that’s bad manners. Instead, excuse yourself inconspicuously, saying something like, “Well, I sure have to go to the bathroom, and so do Robert and Susan and Alice, but Jim and Fred and Bob don’t have to go.”
Parties present the same problem. In the past, such secluded spots as coat closets and dark corners of the butler’s pantry were used for spontaneous lovemaking. Nowadays, these nooks and crannies are crowded with people taking drugs. But there is still charm in an old-fashioned excuse. If you would like to give a “Peruvian Speed Bump” to Eileen, an attractive woman who’s a power in the entertainment industry, but not to her unemployed boyfriend, Mark, you can always say: “Excuse me, Mark, I thought Eileen might like to blow me in the laundry room.”
2 – When to Serve
One of the delights of an “Adenoid Snack” is that it’s appropriate at any time of night or day, often for several days and nights in a row, though perhaps everyone’s favorite moment to take cocaine is right after a great deal of it has been taken already.
An increasingly popular time to make your snout play “Selsun Blue” with the “Dandruff of the Gods” is before an elaborate dinner. This brightens table talk, lets guests enjoy staring at the food and arranging little lumps of it in patterns on their plates, and gives the hostess many valuable leftovers. (An oyster souffle, for instance, can be reheated and fed to the pets.)
Another favorite moment for an “Inca Pep Rally” is the second the dealer arrives with the gram. However, some people find it difficult to figure out when that will be. This is because cocaine dealers operate on Dope Dealer Savings Time, which is similar to Daylight Savings Time. Just as Daylight Savings Time is one hour later than Standard Time, Dope Dealer Savings Time is one hour later than you could possibly imagine anyone being.
3 – What Implements Should Be Used?
There are any number of devices on the market for taking cocaine. Some are amusing or even useful in carefully measuring portions to make sure everyone gets too much. But most sophisticated drug users still prefer the rolled-up $100 bill. Better yet is a $100 bill folded over and placed inside a wallet. If you have a great, great many of these, people will find a way to get cocaine up your nose.
4 – What Else Should Be Served?4 –
Most people enjoy a couple of thousand cigarettes with their “Face Drano.” Other mix “Indoor Aspen Lift Lines” with multiple sedatives to achieve that marvelous feeling so similar to not having taken drugs at all. But everyone, whether he wants to or not, should drink plenty of whiskey or gin. If you smell strongly of alcohol, people may think you are dunk instead of stupid. (Whatever you serve, overflowing ashtrays, wads of bloody Kleenex and empty Valium bottles can be arranged to make an attractive centerpiece.)
5 – Who Pays?
There’s considerable debate about this. Some say the guest should pay for cocaine as a way of saying thank you to the host. Others say the host should pay for cocaine as part of the entertainment. Most people, however, believe society should pay for cocaine by having to watch maniacally self-indulgent movies, fragmented TV sitcom plots and fractured and pathetic live performances by brain-broiled comedians and pop musicians wound up tighter than a Hong Kong wristwatch.
6 – Topics of Conversation
. . . one of the things you’re really getting into is cable TV which is going to be like the rock & roll of the Eighties because everybody’s going to be hard-wired into 240 channels and there’s this huge market for software already which is why you’ve got this programming development deal together that right right now is a class at the New School but is almost sold to Home Box and is going to be an hour a day that’s part news but like part entertainment too like this New Wave group that you’ve already done three minutes on with mini-cam on quarter-inch but you might turn that into a documentary plus maybe a docudrama for PBS because it’s this sound that’s sort of Western Swing but punk but ska which is all in the interview you got with the bass player that you’re going to publish in this magazine you’re starting which will be all the complete cable listings for all of New Jersey with public access stuff that isn’t listed anywhere plus like interviews too and . . .
Just because your mouth is moving much faster than your brain is no reason not to carry on an engaging conversation.
7 – Romance
If you have taken too much cocaine and are unable to become aroused, try talking into your partner’s genitals. This gives a fair imitation of oral sex. However, if you have taken even more cocaine, try not to rape anyone you know.
8 – An Important Question
If a man gives cocaine to a woman, is she then obligated to go to bed with him?
9 – Another Important Question
If a woman gives cocaine to a man, is he then obligated to go to bed with her?
Jeeze, I didn’t realize it was this late! I’ve gotta run—gotta get up and go to work in the morning. Plus I feel like I’m coming down with something. Mind if I do another line before I go?
10 – How is a Dealer Introduced?
It can be a problem knowing how to introduce your dealer. Is he a friend? Is he an employee? Or is he a dead pumpkin if he sells you another load of Dexamyl cut with Portland cement? In fact, there’s no proper way to introduce your dealer socially, because no one ever deals cocaine. They just have a little extra. You see, a very special friend of theirs—who was in Peru on different business entirely—brought back, as a personal favor, some incredible rocks, which are also pure flake and happen to be crystals, too (unless this gram-ette of alleged narcotics is so hopelessly filled with muck that it’s indistinguishable from Nepalese temple hash—in which case it will be given an exotic name like “Mudlark of the Andes” and a spurious history having to do with Spanish conquistadors and Indian headhunters). So no one ever deals cocaine, but they’ll give you this little extra they’ve got, for you know, what they paid for it, which is unfortunately $150 a gram, but really, man, this is special stuff, like the Indians used to get by rubbing a coca bush between two Spanish conquistadors’ heads.
11 – Is It Polite to Refuse?
It’s probably not bad manners to refuse cocaine. It might even be very gallant to turn down a spoonful of “Platinum Maxwell House,” but it’s hard to be sure, because, so far, it’s never been done.
12 – What to Wear
Many people believe it doesn’t matter what they wear while taking a dose of “Brain Tabasco.” Some people even take it in the nude (not counting a gold Rolex). But, as in every other social situation, clothes do matter. Richard Pryor is an example of inappropriate cocaine dress. If he had been wearing a nice, conservative Brooks Brothers suit and an oxford-cloth shirt, he would have escaped most injuries. Unfortunately—as is so often the case in today’s increasingly informal world—Mr. Pryor was wearing a polyester sport shirt decorated with Jamaican bongo drummers and dyed in colors visible only to bees. This went up like a torch. Wool, long-staple cotton and other natural fibers have superior flame-retardant qualities.
13 – What is the Polite Way to Refer to Cocaine?
Never call it “tootski.”
I wanted to check out the new Black Bear Diner here in Simi, so I took Alyssa there for lunch today. I had checked out their menu and was a bit blown away by how calorious most items were, but knowing they serve cinnamon roll French toast kinda tugs at my very raison d’etre.
Unfortunately, when we arrived, it appeared the parking lot was full and there were lots of people waiting outside. Alyssa, who isn’t exactly shy, noted that all the people waiting appeared to be considerably overweight. She did not want to eat there, as she’s long been concerned with eating healthy and wants to eat more of a plant-based diet.
We ended up eating Vietnamese food at the Bamboo Cafe. She had chicken with lemongrass over vermicelli. She struggled with the veggies, but I admire her doggedness. As for me, I’m definitely heading there for breakfast soon. I’ve got to try that cinnamon roll French toast, probably with a side of bacon . . . and coffee, of course.
I’ve been blogging now for at least 13 years. My first post on this blog was on January 8, 2008. Prior to that, I had a Blogger presence I called The Cranky Curmudgeon, where I mostly vented about things that pissed me off and that I thought might piss off others as well. Those posts still exist. You can find the first of them, which I posted on February 23, 2006, right here. Some of them I reposted here in “Systems Savvy.” Prior to that I had another site on Blogger called “A Muse Me”. I can find the reason I said I was starting the blog, but I can’t find any posts and I have no recollection of writing—or deleting—any of them.
I had many reasons for blogging. Prior to starting my own blog, I was blogging internally at Rocketdyne and wanted to test my voice outside the firewall. When I retired in 2010, I realized there weren’t very many people my age who were active bloggers. I reckoned, in addition to offering my thoughts on Systems Thinking, social media for business, religion, and lots of politics, I thought I might shed some light on what it’s like as one ages and approaches the end of life. Not in the way folks have blogged about their terminal disease (as I don’t yet have one), but rather about the aging process when one can only guess at how it’s going to go . . . and the evidence keeps changing as time rolls by.
People who have followed this blog site for a while no doubt know that I have had surgery to have a melanoma removed from my lower back, as well as a few lymph nodes taken from my arm pit and my groin. I spent an awful lot of time out in the sun as a boy and young man, when the only thing anyone wore for protection from it was zinc oxide. When I used to surf we put it on our noses and lower lips. Otherwise it was things like Coppertone or baby oil with iodine in it. We were enamored with being tan, which meant we were “fit”. Little did we know just how damaging being out in the sun so frequently was.
When my family used to go for three and four-day weekends to Palm Springs, which was generally the only kind of vacation we got, I would invariably get a really bad sunburn on my shoulders and back, which required me to wear a t-shirt in the water for the rest of the time we were there. I remember my skin peeling in sheets and thinking how cool it looked, never realizing the damage I was doing to myself.
Fast forward to today. I was going to start this post off by using the term “chicken skin” because that’s what I thought people called what happens to human skin when one reaches a certain age and it becomes a bit parchment like. It’s also referred to as crepe skin. I am fortunate in that, even at almost 72, I have virtually no wrinkles on my face. I do, however, have a lot of wrinkles and other weird things happening to my arms . . . especially my arms, probably because they’ve received more sunlight over the years than any other part of me.
I mentioned this to my dermatologist and he said it’s just normal, aging skin. Nevertheless, the transformation is something I find fascinating, especially when viewed at through the magnification available with my iPhone XR. Below are two photos. Actually one is an enlargement from the other. I was sitting in my car, waiting for my younger daughter to get out of school when I took this pic of my arm. I actually used the magnifier, took the pic at the high magnification level, then pinched out to the whole photo, both of which I saved to my phone. Note the first one looks pretty normal, at least for a man of my age. Yes, it’s a bit wrinkly, sports a few freckles and moles, and may be a bit dry, but still pretty normal.
This second one, however, is (for me) a mind blower, especially when you look at my skin in juxtaposition to the cloth of the shirt I’m wearing. BTW – this is an enlargement of the inner elbow from the above photo. Even looking at my arm as I’m writing this, it doesn’t look anything like it does in this enlargement. I think it’s a combination of the magnification and the angle of the light hitting my skin. I still can’t get over how weird it looks, though.
So . . . any of you out there who read this and are in your thirties, forties, or fifties, here’s something really exciting for you to look forward to. You’re welcome!
I smoked my first cigarette when I was five years old. That’s right. Five. I didn’t inhale; didn’t even know that was an option back then. My best friend, Jim, had “liberated” a cigarette from his father. It was either a Camel or a Lucky Strike. This was in 1952 and the first filtered cigarette to be successfully marketed – Winston – would not be available for another two years.
Jim and I sat on a merry-go-round similar to the one below, though nobody bothered to paint them back then. We used to hang out at Panorama Park, just north of where I attended Kindergarten, Chase Street Elementary School. A couple of weeks later, Jim managed to snag a couple of rolling papers from his dad.
We went to the Thrifty Drug Store on Van Nuys Blvd., in “downtown” Panorama City, and walked out with a can of (“Well . . . let him out!”) Prince Albert tobacco, then absconded to the east end of the parking lot, where there were lots of bushes to hide out in.
Five-year-olds do not have the manual dexterity to roll cigarettes by hand. I’m not sure we could have done it with a machine. We were unsuccessful and, dejectedly, had to settle for “borrowing” cigarettes from our fathers; his the Camels or Lucky Strikes, mine Pall Mall.
It would be another three years before I actually inhaled my first cigarette, an act from which I would not look back for quite some time, and which I now look back on with some remorse.
Look. I’m not trying to justify or celebrate smoking. When I first set out on that path, the only negative thing I can recall hearing was that it stunted your growth. Nobody mentioned cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, etc. Nobody! Smoking was permitted everywhere, at any time. And it was so cool! Cooler than Elvis’s sideburns, which I could not grow at nine years old to save my life.
It wasn’t until I was 15 and, through a combination of teenage hubris and stupidity, almost burned down our modest suburban home, that my parents gave up and decided it was better if I smoked in front of them, rather than had to continue covering it up and, maybe, killing everyone.
By then I had become, like my father before me, a Marlboro “man” and within a few years was smoking about a pack and a half a day. I cut down somewhat when I started smoking pot in the late summer of 1966, mostly because tobacco tasted funky on top of the taste of weed. I didn’t stop.
It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I managed to stop smoking for fourteen years. During that entire time I never said I had quit smoking; only that I had stopped. I knew I was a hopeless addict and, in the intervening years (I’m now 70), I have stopped and started numerous times.
Each time I stop I go cold turkey. Generally, it’s only taken me a day or two, at the most, to get over any physical craving for tobacco or nicotine. Unfortunately, I never get over – only manage to control – the ingrained rituals and habits of smoking.
I’m bringing this up because last Friday, after over a year, I stopped again. In a few hours it will have been a week since I last inhaled tobacco smoke. I took advantage of a trip to the Bay Area for a memorial service and didn’t take any tobacco with me and I had no plans of purchasing any while there. I was traveling with my oldest daughter and wouldn’t dream of smoking where she could breath it second-hand. In fact, in the last twenty years, of which I’ve probably smoked for about six or seven, I have either not smoked in the house, or did it under the stove’s exhaust fan set to high, very carefully blowing my exhaled smoke into the updraft created by the fan. And that was only on the bitterest and coldest of days, which are few and far between here in SoCal.
So, after a day or two, I had no cravings at all for nicotine. I do still have to fight the habitual affectations that went along with my smoking; the numerous breaks one takes in the course of a day to grab a couple of “hits” in between whatever you might be doing. I’ve also gained a couple of pounds and my next challenge will be continuing not to smoke and still get back to the weight I believe I should be to be as healthy as possible.
I don’t ever want to smoke again, but I’m aware of my proclivities toward tobacco and just can’t honestly rule out a cigarette or cigar at some time in the future. If I’m strong, I can probably make it through what remains of my life without shortening it even more. That’s what I have to keep reminding myself.
A little while back I received an email from a woman who had come across this blog and, specifically, had perused posts tagged with the word “retirement.” She wrote me that “a combination of my father being downsized in his 60s and my mother falling ill have combined to seriously affect their financial planning for retirement and has exacerbated their health problems. They have inspired me to write a guide for seniors and their families about the most common causes of financial stress, how it affects the person, and provide some coping strategies.” She provided a link to the guide she wrote and asked if I would consider posting it, along with an intro she wrote for it.
I said I would be glad to consider it and she wrote back with the following introduction, which I’m just pasting in, below. I’ve gone over the Guide she wrote and am providing her info here as a service to anyone considering or preparing for retirement, or for anyone who just might be interested in what to expect and, perhaps, how best to plan for one’s eventual exit from the workforce. What follows come from Ms. Jenny Holt.
PS – I will offer one observation. The site her link points to is called “Reverse Mortgage Alert”, which I have to admit raised a red flag for me. I’m not a fan of the concept, at least not as I’ve learned it is frequently practiced. However, after reading some of the info provided there, I do believe what they have to offer is useful information. They are not “pushing” reverse mortgages. Rather, they seem to be intent on providing useful information that anyone seeking to make a major investment move, especially with the home they’re living in, should take into account. If you have info that proves this wrong, I’d really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.
With more limited access to financial services and often post-retirement, a money problem for seniors can be magnified more than for other age groups. While many have saved or invested in property and pensions, there are common causes of financial issues for the over 55s. These include:
Job Loss/Reduction – 51%
Healthcare – 29.5%
Other – 21.6%
Unpaid Taxes – 12.7%
Divorce/separation – 8.2%
Bankruptcy – 6.7%
Foreclosure notices – 5.7%
The onset of stress can cause a range of emotional and physical problems which may exacerbate any health-related financial issues. These include insomnia, headaches, chest pains, anxiety, and depression.
However, it is more than possible to mitigate these issues. Of course, finding a solution to the financial problem in the first place is preferable. That being said, clearer and more focused decisions can be made with the right approach. Many seniors find stressful situations easier to cope with by combining a better diet with more exercise and meditation.
There is more to learn about this issue and more information can be found in the full Senior Financial Stress Coping Guide.
Nine years ago I had a nice chunk of flesh removed from my left lower back to remove a Melanoma. They also took a couple of lymph nodes from under my left arm and the left side of my groin. Tests all proved negative and, save for becoming a vampire, I’d put it mostly behind me.
This morning I went for my yearly dermatological exam and had to have another small chunk taken out of the middle of my back and sent for biopsy. So . . . I’ll know in a week or two if I have to undergo another surgery.
Compared to many people, including a number I know, my experience was a walk in the park. No chemo, no radiation, just scoop that shit right out of my body. I’d rather not have to do anything other than eat healthy and exercise, but if I have to go through this again, I’ll take heart from my past experience. Given what others have gone through, I refuse to call myself a cancer survivor. I was never sick and the entire episode took less than three months from discovery to excision.