Construction Ahead

I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my Dad. And I’m sure my children would like to take this time to thank him for the inside joke that I constantly throw out, even though they weren’t even born when the joke originated, and it’s one they don’t really “get,” but they laugh along with me anyway. Of course, their laughter is likely just a way to placate their eccentric mother since we’re always in the car with me driving at the time of said joke, and they do have their safety and well-being to consider.

I’ll share a bit of nostalgia with you and let you in on the inside joke – there are actually two. And which joke gets repeated on which outing depends entirely on which road construction sign I happen to see at the time.  I know, I know, make jokes about construction signs, you say? Who on earth can come up with jokes about road construction signs?  Well, my Dad can. And little did he know they would drive off into the future at full speed to infect his grandchildren.

I have no idea if these happened all on the same long family trip, though I think they did. I think my Dad just happened to be on a “roll” during this one lengthy excursion with a Great-Aunt in tow – honestly, it all happened so long ago that I can’t remember exactly.  There are a great many parts of my childhood that I remember only in fragments, not getting the whole picture, but rather just fractured bits. I believe on this particular occasion, we were taking my Great Aunt Bunny to West Virginia with us, and both the long drive and the looming visit itself would have made her an anxiety ridden nervous wreck, such things always did. Which would make sense – IF that’s the trip I’m remembering – because my Dad would have been doing what he could, in his own silly way, to ease my Aunt’s nerves. The jokes I’m going to tell you about, however, those stand out in my mind.

The trip to West Virginia from our house back in those days took a solid 8 hours, and more often than not, there was road construction along the way. Going through an area of construction, with all of its delays and issues, during an already 8-hour trip – with two pains in the ass children, can never be an easy thing, but on this particular trip in question, my Dad decided to take his comic show on the road, as it were, and lighten the mood.

Coming upon a section of road construction that required rerouting of the lanes, there was a safety sign duly posted informing all and sundry of a “flag man ahead.” Now most people would slow down, follow the “flag man’s” direction and just move on, right? Not my Dad. He stopped, rolled down his window (this was in a time when you really did roll down a window) and cheerily greeted the guy: “Hi, Mr. Man!”  After we drove on, and I suppose due to the looks of confusion from all of his passengers – except my mother, I don’t even what to know what look she was giving him – he says, “Well, I don’t know him well enough to call him Flag!”  Rolling eyes and groaning laughter ensued. And the joke has lived on into infamy. Although, my version keeps the window tightly closed, with me just shouting through the glass, but in a good way, not like when there is an errant jaywalker or a driver who has apparently never heard of a turn signal.

The next sign that encouraged my Dad to act was a bit more hearty and enthusiastic, or rather, his reaction was at any rate. For seemingly no reason whatsoever, and certainly with no warning, my Dad threw out his hand and grabbed my mother by the top of her head. I wish, for the life of me, that I could remember the look on my mother’s face at that instant, but what I conjure (based on personal experience with the woman), it would’ve been a hoot, and not exactly a look of adoration towards my father either. In his defense, he pointed to the “Stop Ahead,” sign we were passing…I mean, he was only following directions, right?

My kids are 25 and 18, and I kid you not, they know exactly what is going to happen when we pass construction or road work that has one of these signs posted. Oh, they may forget in the moment as they text or watch videos on the phone, but whoever is in the front passenger seat is sure to have their head accosted, or to be startled into thinking we’ve seen someone we know, each and every time…and when they search the surrounding area for the sign and find it, they smile a pacifying smile and then go back to their business.

It makes no difference to me if my kids don’t share in my joke. I think it’s hilarious and sometimes, dammit, I just do things because they amuse ME, not necessarily those around me. And more than being amusing, it reminds me of family, of times gone by, and while I can’t grasp the full memory of that road trip from so many years ago – only bits and pieces remain, what does stick in my head is the fact that my Dad was on a comedic roll for the entire drive. Who knew his Dad jokes would get passed down through the generations? I guarantee you that while they may not repeat the jokes themselves, till their dying day, my kids will never be able to pass road construction without at least going over those wisecracks in their head. And maybe, just maybe, when they have kids, this bit of Dad-silliness will live on.

So, thank you Dad…it’s not enough that you’ve had my back since I was born or that you constantly watch out for me. Your casually tossed out pieces of comedic genius have stayed with me over the years and have been the source of great joy, in so many ways. Here’s to family road trips from back in the day. Here’s to lasting memories. Happy Father’s Day! I love you.

dad in his element

What Did You Say??

I was watching a Hallmark channel love story this past week – one of their typical “June wedding” movies.  And as I usually do, I had the captions on because, having the attention span of a gnat, I don’t always catch the dialogue of t.v. shows and the captions help. Usually. But in the case of this destination-wedding themed bit of escapism, the captions let me down. Big time.

I can’t be the only one to have noticed. I mean, I realize these movies cater to a very particular niche, but nonetheless, I’m sure they have a somewhat broad audience who, like me, partake in the weekly guilty pleasure. You’d think with the revenues generated by the romance industry, especially considering it’s Hallmark of all people, that there would be a higher quality of closed-captioning available. Well, you would be wrong.

Now, I realize that most captioning is mechanized these days and with automated translations come massive translation fails, especially when the actor on-screen is speaking a language the captioning program doesn’t understand.  I’ve seen some very good, high quality movies or shows where the caption states “Jane Doe speaking Vulcan…” or “John Smith speaking in High Valyrian,” which demonstrates an obvious programming flaw, but at least in those cases, even the caption program realizes, hey, I need to be respectful here even though I can’t make heads or tails of whatever it is they’re saying. If we’re really lucky, the movie’s internal production system kick in and the translation appears via subtitles built into the movie. Sadly, that’s not always the case, as proven by my foray into the wilds of Hallmark movies previously mentioned above.

So, as I said, the plot was centered around a destination wedding set at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico, complete with white sand beaches, turquoise water, the obligatory romantic tension between completely dissimilar people, and Spanish-speaking locals…you know how they do…in Mexico. With such a heads-up as to the setting of this movie, you’d think that a strategy would’ve been put into place to cover and possibly translate any oh, I don’t know, Spanish dialogue. But there, you would be wrong again.

I’ll set up one of the scenes in question for you – zoom in on a beachside table at which sits the starring couple, who just happen to have perfect teeth and great tans, and who also just so happened to be in love years ago though it didn’t work out because they were completely unsuited for each other and who now reluctantly find themselves thrown back together while planning the wedding of a friend and whilst doing so forget that they’re completely unsuited for each other and eventually fall in love all over again – but, BUT before they realize they are once again besotted with each other, it is time to try out different foods for the dinner aspect of the aforementioned wedding they are planning – hence sitting beachside, surrounded by food. Enter one Spanish-speaking local who, apparently flustered by the couple’s nitpicking at each other, does his nervous best to describe the food he has prepared – and the results are these impressively awful captions.

 

 

I don’t think that means what you think it means…

I pretty much had the same look of utter confusion, though admittedly my teeth aren’t nearly as perfect. So. Yeah. I’m hoping before Hallmark releases another movie with bilingual dialogue that they sort of up their game on the whole captioning thing — on so many levels. One can only hope, but in the meantime, I won’t hold my breath.

 

Always Sunny Greetings

My lovely daughter is 18 years old today – no longer my baby, at least in her eyes. I would beg to differ. At any rate, this is how we roll in our house with birthdays: an Always Sunny cake and Starbucks. With chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight, and Wonder Woman on the schedule for tomorrow, life is good. Happy Birthday Sarah!

 

 

 

Day Drinkers Club

There is a café in my town that recently expanded from a simple coffee shop to more complex food choices. It started with some fancy sandwiches, but quickly grew to have a fairly expansive menu. They offer breakfast, lunch, and even serve ice cream. Overall, the food is pretty decent. They’re not going to get a Michelin star anytime soon, but what they offer passes. The atmosphere is nice and it’s great to have someplace to spend time that isn’t McDonald’s or Starbucks. The prices are a little high for what you get, but outside of that I really have no complaints. I’m glad they’ve gotten enough business that they can branch out and offer more as time has gone on.

What’s puzzling is that in addition to breakfast and lunch they also just got their liquor license and are now serving alcohol. Shouldn’t seem too puzzling, I know. Most places that serve food also serve alcohol because sometimes you just want a glass of wine with that grilled cheese sandwich. But it’s not just wine. They have a sign espousing their wide variety of Irish coffees and they also serve cocktails.

The thing that vexes me is their hours. They close at 3pm every day.  Every. Day. There’s no dinner menu, only breakfast and lunch. Even with such an early closing time they still felt the urge to go through the hassle of getting that liquor license which isn’t exactly easy around here.

My question is, what kind of drinkers do they think we have in this town? Obviously, the day-drinking afternoon brunch variety. The kind that wants to tie one off in the early afternoon and then go back to work or home or wherever they might be headed, because come 3pm they kick you out.

I realize the need to add to your services in whatever way that will increase revenues, but it makes me wonder about the people in my town. How many of them have a buzz on when I’m passing them in the aisles at Walgreens after work? Who wouldn’t be able to pass a breathalyzer test by the time Ellen comes on? The hell with “it’s five o’ clock somewhere.” Come 7:30am all bets are off.

Jimmy Buffett should visit my town. He would be proud.

 

Midsomer Lifestyle

Have any of you ever seen the show Midsomer Murders? It a great show from England about two detectives, The Barnabys (first there is Tom, played by the incomparable John Nettles, who lasted for 14 seasons and then Tom’s younger cousin John, played by Neil Dudgeon, who takes over when Tom retires) and their varying Sergeants who assist in their crime-solving routines. If you haven’t seen it yet here’s the basic premise: Set in the fictional county of Midsomer, the Barnabys take on and solve murder cases, which are never in short supply given the area’s shockingly high murder rate. I. Love. This. Show. I’ve been binge-watching (or rather, re-binge-watching) this week to my daughter’s dismay.  To say she isn’t into languid, picturesque British detective shows is an understatement.

the cousins Barnaby

The villages of Midsomer — many named Midsomer something, as in Midsomer Florey or Midsomer Worthy, or perhaps something as delightful as the jaunty Badger’s Drift — are so tranquil and charming that I don’t see how anyone would be angry enough to commit murder there. But murder they do, and the perpetrators never seem satisfied with just one, either – more often than not, there are multiple per show.  It’s like potato chips with these people. There was only one episode in the history of the series that had zero murders, and from what I understand, fans were outraged with that singular murder-free storyline…go figure. Who knew there were such rabid viewers addicted to rampant violence running amok amid an idyllic backdrop?  If you’re a fan of fun crime dramas this is for you. There’s no shortage of material. The show started in 1997 and as of right now 19 seasons have already aired.

If you’re a fan of breathtaking English countryside, this is also the show for you. The locations in which they shoot are always beautiful, historical, and quaint little hamlets. They’re so quiet and comfortable-looking that I’ve daydreamed about buying a little cottage in one of these villages and living that Midsomer country life. You may be asking, “But what about, you know, all the murders that happen there?” I’ve thought about it and while it would be a disadvantage if my neighbors were getting iced all the time, it just might be worth the view. These towns are REALLY pretty. And you know, the violent crime rate does give everyone something to talk about down at the local pub. So there’s that.

Amazingly enough, while from the outside, these locations seem about as far away from modern technology as one could be, everyone (in the later episodes of course) have a laptop and a smart phone. Flip phones were all the rage in the earlier shows. It’s not just the “old-money” rich, either, in their truly opulent homes, and who seem to outnumber the middle-class residents of the area by a landslide. No, everyone from the farmer down the lane to the Lord who renovated that castle up the street have electronics that make me envious…and the data to back it up, despite nary a cell tower cluttering up the landscape. I mean, I can’t even get service in my local grocery store, let alone when travelling between towns on our rural backroads.

Outside of the steady flow of homicide, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to live in Midsomer. If it existed, that is. With the lovely to-die-for (ha!) scenery AND the possibility of unlimited data, I think I could ignore the rampant carnage.

Seriously though, how is Wi-Fi not an issue in Midsomer? That’s the real mystery I think the Barnabys should spend some time investigating.

Campus Security

So, my daughter has been considering which college to fly off to in the Fall and in so doing, she’s been researching them, visiting, all of the things you do before making such a life-changing decision.  As it stands, she does in fact have some decisions to make, because on one hand, she’s only a couple of courses shy of having her AA degree – prior to graduating high school – at the local college, and she’s been accepted at all of the universities to which she has applied, with varying degrees of financial aid and scholarships awarded. However, this entry is not about decision-making, or being a proud parent – which I am, or the thought of empty-nest syndrome, or even the stress of coming up with tuition. I’m not exactly a parenting blog, not one that extols the virtues of “good” parenting anyway – and this isn’t that type of blog entry. No. This blog entry is about campus security. Even that isn’t right. It’s more a contemplation on the unexpected.

As I was saying, we’re researching colleges. A recent visit was going well, the campus was lovely, the people extremely friendly and helpful. However, there was one odd thing that really stuck with me. The windows. At least, not the windows per se; the windows were regular windows, just glass panes with a frame, but they had these weird locks on them. Not like regular window locks, although they had those too, no, these security devices were placed over the locks and handles to completely stop someone from opening the windows. From. The. Inside.

it’s screwed into the frame and attached to the window pane – a permanent fixture

Now at first, I thought this was just a security thing, keeping the kids safe by making sure access was limited. You have to give them credit for that right? You want a college that’s all about security. But the more I thought about this unusual hardware, the less sense it made. I’ll reiterate the cause for my confusion. The devices were on the inside of the window. The INSIDE. If it’s not to protect the students from the world, is it meant to protect the world from the students? Well, no that doesn’t make sense either, because there were still doors to the outside. I mean, I’m assuming the students have free run of the campus and aren’t kept locked inside like in some horror movie classic.

And here’s another strange thing, it’s not just dorms or classrooms that have these locks, it’s every window. Every. Single. Window. Admissions office, counselors’ offices, student centers, every window is completely closed off to the outside from the inside. It’s regardless of floor, also – because I thought perhaps they wanted to keep people from opening the window in a drunken frenzy and falling out, we all know what college kids are. Nope, they’re all over the ground level floors as well.

Of course, this got me thinking even more. There must be a reason behind this peculiar security measure. Right? I can’t be the only one thinking that. There just has to be a truly interesting backstory to explain away this scenario.

But honestly, what weird circumstance could have happened on this mundane campus to make the Administration decide “You know what, we just have to lock every window on this campus,” to which the Security Office no doubt readily replied “Well, yeah, duh. Every college does that. It’s common sense.” To which Administration responded vehemently “No, no, we must completely block off ALL access – no open windows anywhere on campus, I tell you! We can’t have a repeat of what happened an indeterminate number of years ago!”

Except…what the hell happened? What prompted such decisive action? Were a lot of kids climbing out of the windows and causing damage? If so why? Boredom? Alcohol? I can think of a lot of other ways to have fun – that require much less effort – than climbing out a window when there is a perfectly good door right there that swings open. Of course, that’s just me. Is it zombie prevention? In which case, it’s an utter fail, because you’re sort of trapping them inside and who the hell wants zombies trapped on the inside?

Or maybe they had students sneaking people in and if so, isn’t the Admissions Office kind of too out in the open for that sort of covert activity? And if that’s what was happening, I really want to hear that story, cause those students obviously just don’t give a shit. Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s not meant for the students at all. Maybe there was a mutiny and the professors at the end of their tether tried to leave en masse, and if that’s the case, well, the school sure showed them, didn’t they?

It could be for something as easily explained as sheer practicality.  “Shut that door (or in this case, window), were you raised in a barn?” comes to mind. As does “What are you trying to do, air-condition the whole neighborhood!”  Maybe the school’s administration is simply contending with a rash of students whose parents never taught them the fine art of climate control.

Whatever the reason, it remains a mystery. I never asked and there doesn’t appear to be anything in the campus literature – I looked. If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears.

Close Encounters

Have you ever been out in public and you see someone acting or looking really weird, yet also notice that they have on a wedding ring? That guy who walks down the street in a kilt talking to a cockatoo perched on his shoulder? Wedding ring. Okay, that may be a bad example – a kilt AND a cockatoo?  That’s my kinda guy.

But what about the man in khaki shorts who wears black knee socks with his sandals and still rocks a phone clip on his belt? Wedding ring. Or the woman tap dancing on the street corner every morning wearing a chicken costume? Wedding ring.

The old adage holds true — there’s someone for everyone. Odd as it may seem, no matter how unhinged a person might be, there’s another person out there in the world who says, “Yes. I will sign up for that. That is my person right there. They’re perfect.”

Which is good news for the woman in Australia who claims not only to regularly visit alien friends she’s made over the years, but who also has apparently become half-alien herself. Yes, you read all that correctly.

Meet Judy Carroll. She claims to pal around with aliens known in pop culture as the “Greys”—and who happen to look exactly like the aliens depicted in Hollywood movies and TV shows for the past three decades—so often that when they abduct her for hangout sessions she now describes their visits as ‘normal.’

In fact, she likes being with them so much that she ‘upgraded’ her DNA to include some of their genetic material. Although to be fair, she made that decision before she was born, so you know. Kids these days. They’re just crazy, aren’t they?

Thankfully, I guess, her husband supports her in her claims. I’ll be honest. When the article mentioned that she’s married, that’s when my brain really went off the deep end. And my brain doesn’t take that leap easily because I take pills for that shit.

I admit that it baffled me that someone who has such a…hmm, what’s a safe word to use here…different view of reality than I do — yeah, that’s good — has a life partner adamantly standing by her side. But then again, I know nothing about this man. Perhaps he’s been a firm believer of alien visitation since he was a teenager. Who knows? There are massive alien conventions held all over the world with thousands in attendance so it’s not like Judy is the only woman in the world who thinks Greys treat our planet like a Meetup group.

I was also a little tripped up about the half-alien blood mingling thing. In the article, she states that she underwent the transfusion because she “believes she had made the choice to be half-alien before she was born.” Prometheus theories notwithstanding, how does one even go about that?

Of course, her choice doesn’t come without a cost – Mrs. Carroll stated she has suffered health issues (a tight jaw??) due to her half-alien lineage. I know, I know, I wondered too. Apparently, Greys don’t have movable jaws. There. That’s something you know now.

Regardless of all the huge holes I see in this woman’s story, I have to admit that, whether she’s crazy or not, she definitely looks happy. And why not? She’s making good money off the books she’s selling about the crazy shenanigans she and the Greys get into. She’s got a family that supports her, a husband that loves her. So, I say good for you, Judy! Way to have a positive outlook, despite what others may say (myself included). We should all be so many Judys.