Scraps from the Pocket Notebook
-Fred Stock

          Time for spring cleaning (very late, as always – heck, it’s a tradition!) of the little notebook pages that ride around with us as we stumble through daily chaos. Gotta have that sort of thing if you want to capture those little pearls of wis… well, maybe not wisdom, but, anyway… pearls that jump on you at the most unplanned unexpected moments. For instance…

          Being a cover girl is ok, and perhaps being a model would be fine, but I’m not sure I would want my daughter to be featured on the front of a package showing her beautiful face and full head of perfect hair, and the words, “Nice And Easy”. (Good grief! Good thing we had only sons! {Double standard, I know. Leave me alone, you brute!} Yikes!!)

          Announcement on an old Lawrence Welk re-run; “Be sure to join us and all the Champaign-ah Music-ah Makers-um for our next show, when we’ll feature gangster rapp and hip hop.” Notttt!

          Why is it that the little timing thermometer thing on my screen jumps up and slowly goes across the screen while a number below it says. “Time remaining 11 minutes” then immediately changes to 4 minutes, then 13 minutes, then 7… Great Goobajooba! Somebody actually spent time and money figuring out how to do that! Why? Didn’t it say at the beginning of Computers 101 text book, “Computers do only what we tell them to do. Exactly what we tell them to do and nothing else.” As the song says, “somebody lied!” Come to think about it, nowhere in that class did they tell us to expect things that go “ka-bong” and pop notes up on the screen demanding we save, correct or adjust something, and refusing to do anything else until we do! Only what we tell them, indeed!

          I have a new TV annoyance to report, in addition to the volume settings where the movie is so quiet that you crank it up, and the commercial so loud that it wakes you up! The new notable is the growing number of ads which not only have the pounding pulsing screaming sound (see any Toyota ad for the last 12 years) but now they have flashing screens – black with white lettering, immediately changing to white with red lettering, then Christmas-green with yellow and often overlaid with a car screaming, skidding toward you in a cloud of dust. The flashing often is timed to the pounding “music” which I have already muted! Blam! Flash! Boom! Explosion! Pulse! Yah, that’ll make me run out and buy your truck, buddy! That’s just how I drive on my way to the post office every afternoon. Yah, right!

          Does anybody actually look at those coupons and ads on the back of the market or drug store receipts?

          How can I get excited about health food when it has stuff in it that sounds so… clinical, chemical, comical… whatever. Besides things like calories (which I learned in nuclear power school are a measure of heat energy) and things you count like proteins and carbohydrates (yikes!), they include stuff like wheat germ (infected wheat?), yogurt (I make that sound when I choke) and something that says on the carton “living culture”. (I once wanted living culture in my life, but I discovered heavy classical music and old German literature don’t turn me on.) But we digress. One of the main ingredients in this health food is apparently something called tofu. For those who have not discovered tofu, it looks like a block of colorless modeling clay, you can boil it for 15 or 20 minutes without changing its appearance or texture at all, and it has no taste whatsoever. It probably works by plastering shut anything inside you which has a sore, a pore or an orifice of any kind. (Probably just as well, since at this age, I may start to leak at any moment!) Besides, its name sounds awful. Reminds me of bare feet for some reason. You know, maybe health food is another plot by the pharmaceutical companies to make me sick and then offer me something expensive to cure it. Yah, that sounds right!

          Ever notice? Everything in your life takes on an adjective as you age! What used to be our car now is the big car or the little car. What once was a chair is now “my chair!”. (I want my chair!) Our grandson now has a love blanket, his little cousin has a huggy bear. I own a fat guy shirt. We have morning medicine, lunchtime meds, evening pills. In private I wear my rippy shorts, and in public my old guy shirt. The VA has the Big Hospital and the Little Hospital (PD Clinic). Hmmm! Does that means everything is “modified” as you get older? ) (Get it? Modified? Adjecti…) (I apologize.)

          Was making a mental list of the things that go on and off by themselves. It seems to be a symptom of the times… not just the air conditioning and sprinklers, but the lamp in the living room and the vent on the roof. The telephone answers itself. The fax takes messages. The websites makes sales while we’re asleep! The coffee can make itself, and the computer can check it’s own security settings and status once a week. The refrigerator turns on and off at will. Then I realized, if I were suddenly snatched from the planet along with my wife by some UFO alien – beam me up, Scotty - the house would water the lawn and flip light switches for weeks to come until either Con-Edison shut off the power for non-payment, or the grass-cops came knocking on the door because the lawn had morphed into a jungle. Only the wild birds would notice that their food weren’t being replenished, and they’d just go somewhere else to eat! Think about THAT! Note to self: Next mental lists will include things you hit repeatedly – coke machines, traffic signal crossing buttons, escape buttons on the keyboard, elevator buttons – things like that. Sub-note to self: Why would you spend time on this, you knucklehead?

         Oh, Barbara and I Have discovered something that restores your musical faith, after trying so hard to enjoy the current sounds that pass for music. Go to YouTube and call up Declan Nerney or Kieran McGilligan. They are playing today what music used to be here, but better! And they’re in Ireland, Scotland, the British Isles, on the other side of the pond! Maybe we’ll move there. -fhs

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          What follows is more notes from articles which also gather random thoughts and sidebars and create the similar state of confusion.

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        from 2004... Bits & Scraps - Wisdom On A Spike?  Notes from the little scraps on the nail at the corner of the desk.

       License plates can do with drivers what many dogs and dog lovers do, they become like each other. We saw a car today, driven by a grouchy frowning lady. Her license plate began with 4PMS... what does that tell you? Then there were the two scrawny shaved-head teenagers with the rings in their ears, in the old rusty Firebird. Their plate said 2WMP... Trying to back out of a diagonal parking place at the post office was a task because the slot next to my little sedan was occupied by an SUV about the size of a small building. I noticed the license plate said 1WAL... Saw a pickup truck with a huge flag on the back, driven by a very old man with a beard. He had patriotic slogans on the windscreen and bumper-stickers. The license plate was 4FTR... Guess he was one of the originals!

       Next, on to miscellaneous notes on no particular subject. Play with each one as an individual random flash across my static-electricity-filled synapses. These are the lucky thirteen!  1) Why is the truck with the sign "Environmental Technologies" the one that belches blue smoke?  2) My Dad tells me that "retirement" is really just a time to put on new tires and start a trip! He said that from the seat of his motorcycle.  3) Words you don't necessarily want your children to use when they write an elementary school paper about their parents: Mitochondrial, Incarcerated, Serological, Redirect, Obfuscated, Redacted, Abducted, Indicted, Remanded, Possibility of Parole. You also don't want them to look for your photograph for their homework assignment on the website of America's Most Wanted. 4) Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. 5) I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.  6) What if there were no hypothetical questions?  7) If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?  8) Non-weird people are just boring. Being weird is a gift! Jaimy Lynn Stock,  Age 12.   9)  If a deaf person swears in sign language, does his mother wash out his hands with soap?  10)  A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 square foot house 4 inches deep. Think about that, then go look for your kid, quickly! 11) Ever wonder about those little handout racks on the real estate signs? What do you find in there if the place has already been sold, and the "In Escrow" tag is up? The note says, "Why would you pick this up when the place is already gone? Put it back, Doofus!"  12) Sign on the door of a place frequented by the young exposed-belly-button and plumber's-cleavage generation: "Shirts and Shoes Required, Trousers Optional"  13) Sign in the Riverside Casino Bingo Room in Laughlin: "Bingo Players Do It Until They Black Out!"

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from  2006

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We worked with a man that loved to use fifty dollar words, above and beyond the call of sanity. He would dress a sentence in the most outrageous costumes. I asked him, “Ray, when you are working with one of our customers, could you please be clear and concise?” He replied, “Oh, you mean perspicuous.” I don’t believe I have this kind of an attack too frequently, but this time it fit perfectly! “Yes, I mean acutely lucid, explicit, precisely intelligible, un-mistakenly unmistakably plainspoken, correctly definite and effervescing with clarified exactitude.” He was a bit taken back, but managed to say, “My, how loquaciously glib and effusely declamatory of you, let alone redundant.” OK, I was impressed a little.

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There was a not too swift athlete that had just won the first ever gold medal for his tiny country. He was so proud of the medal that he went and had it bronzed.

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          This from a local newsletter some years ago. Announcement on the speaker upon touching down at the local airport; “As you exit the plane, please make sure you gather all your personal belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave any spouses or children.”

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          From an internet e-mail forwarded many years ago. The symphony orchestra was performing Beethoven’s Nine Symphony. In the piece, there is a long passage, perhaps twenty minutes long, during which the bass violins have nothing to do. Rather than just sit there, some of the bassists decided to sneak off stage and hit the tavern right across the street for a quick one. After slamming down several beers in quick succession, one looked at his watch and exclaimed , “Hey, we’d better get back. “No problem,” one of the musicians said, “I already handled it. I tied up the last few pages of the conductor’s score with strings he’ll spend some time unknotting!” A few moments later they staggered back to their chairs. About that time a lady in the audience noticed how agitated the conductor was getting, fiddling with something on the lectern. She pointed it out to her companion, who looked carefully, and told her, “No wonder! I’d be edgy too if it were the bottom of the ninth, and I were up there with score tied and the bassists loaded!”

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          A sign posted as you enter California reads, “Welcome to California , the golden state!”  If you look back as you pass, the folks going the other way see this; “Now leaving California . Resume normal behavior.”

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A hand-written sign in a small California post office read, “NOTICE”, ”If you’re missing any pots, shoes, or hand tools, please call 123-4567 for Ziff Paranowski. I don’t steal, but my dog does.”

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          Talk about the luck, someone who loves me named a star for me, and registered it with the International Star Registry just to make it official. I went to the planetarium to see my star and the curator told me that star just got sucked into a black hole. So I guess I can say there’s a black hole out there with my name on it, right? First one on the block too! It’s nice to be so important! Do they register that? Who should I call?

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Thirteen one liners about aging gracefully: 1) Maybe it’s true that “life begins at fifty”, but it’s at the same point where everything else begins to wear out, fall out or spread out. 2) Someone said you know you’re getting old when you don’t care where your spouse goes as long as you don’t have to go along. 3) Work becomes a lot less fun, and fun becomes a whole lot more work as you reach maturity. 4) National statistics show at age seventy, there are five women for every man. Isn’t that a heck of a time for a guy to come up with those odds? 5) You know your are getting old when the girls in the office start confiding in you. 6) By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too feeble to take one. 7) Getting old means you have finally learned to avoid temptation, just to find that it is avoiding you! 8) Getting old could be slowed way down if it had to work its way through Congress. 9) Old means you have stopped growing at both ends and started growing in the middle. 10) Old means you are sitting in a rocking chair but you can’t get it started. 11) If your wife decides to give up sex for lent and you don’t notice until July, you may be getting old. 12) You are working on getting old when you wake up with that morning-after feeling and there wasn’t any night before!  13) You realize it’s hard to be nostalgic when you can’t remember anything.  One bonus line: (your senior discount); You know you are getting old when “getting a little action” means you don’t have to take a laxative. Here, here!