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Archive for November, 2018

The following is a letter I sent to friends and relatives in January 2010. It is followed with my Journal entries for the period described in the letter. 

My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.

This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.

Joe…

PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house in which I now live. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, along with the house and the school circumscribe the limits of my life here in Chiang Mai.

——————————————————————-

FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010

Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way, since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed choked and mosquito infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).

A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.

At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.

The school contains a main building and several small attractive adobe like out buildings.

After seeing him off I searched for the cafe for a latte. At first I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.

I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot in the subdivision. I left and walked home.

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For the past week, I have been forced to forgo my normal writing schedule (emails, novels, journals) and succumb to pressure to complete a number of children stories by next week when Hayden returns from Bangkok.

I got started on this because I ran out of children’s books to read to Hayden at bedtime. When my daughter Jessica was a child, often before bedtime I would make up stories to tell her. Unfortunately, long before the story was finished, much to her dismay and amusement. I would fall asleep. In order to avoid inflicting that trauma on another child, I decided to write down the stories so that we can read them together. I chose to use Google Images to illustrate the stories with cartoons and photographs to add interest. Once it got out that I was doing this I began to receive demands and deadlines to produce new stories, not from Hayden or other children who could care less, but from their parents. I am under the gun to finish one of the stories by Thursday of this week for parental review.

One group of stories are a series of detective tales staring Hayden and his stuffed animal friends “Snaky the Snake”, “Buddy the Bear”, “Whitey the White Tiger” and other creatures of his bedroom menagerie. Also appearing in the stories are some of the creatures living in the gardens and empty lots around the house. They include “Feral Kitty (one of the feral cat pack that lives in the lot next door), “Boo-blue bird”, “Francis the Fraidy Frog”, “Clarence the Cross-eyed” the king of the cobra’s living in the lot next door (yes, we have cobras as neighbors in the lot that I have dubbed the “Wild-lands) and in Bangkok “Ratty the Great, King of the Rats, the 10347th of his Line” and others. The humans in the story include me “Pookie the Old”, Nikki the Pilot” and “Pi Newan.” Pi Newan is the name of the maid and is usually the heroine of the adventures while Nikki and Pookie prove to be pompous and mostly useless. In addition to the Prologue, the first three tales are, “The Case of the Missing Breakfast”, “The case of the Monster of the Wild-lands” and the Case of Close Encounters of the Rat Kind”. The latter I have to finish by Thursday or suffer the consequences.

Tomorrow is Hayden’s 5th birthday. Today’s photograph is of the small party we held before he left for Bangkok.

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My Home in Chiang Mai Thailand in 2010

It has been and interesting last few days, at least for me it has. On Saturday my sore throat and coughing had gotten so bad that I had to seek medical assistance. So, I went off to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics, anti-congestion medicine, and some little red pills to suppress my cough reflex. The package seems to be working. It cost me $9 for the doctor visit and $33 for the medicines (That’s the Farang [white people] uninsured costs); not as good as Medicare, but not too bad either. They also call me to ask how I’m doing and if I am taking my medicine.

Everyone must know by now my feelings about the American fundamentalist missionaries inhabiting the neighborhood. Of course it was destined that Hayden would make friends with the son of a missionary couple. They (the parents) have become as close to friends as I have here. I comfort myself with the delusion that they are the proletariat of the missionary class. Those that labor in the fields of the lord so to speak.

He, (I will not give their names to protect them from the risk of an Auto-da-fe) and she are employed by the Southern Baptist Convention and come from the US South. Her father is an ex-hippy guitarist now survivalist who retreated into the mountains around Eugene Oregon (where else) after having spent his best years in good old SF during the 60’s fathering an impressive number of children including our missionary.

He is assigned to brave the murky Muslim-Hindu waters of Bangladesh teaching modern emergency medical care to the inhabitants of the remote villages and picking up the odd soul here and there to add among the elect.

We try to avoid theology and instead meet in the “gosh ain’t it awful” field of human communication with our mutual antipathy for hierarchy.

It seems there is a developing rift between the “Mythologists” as he calls the workers in the field and the administrators and seminarians. The Mythologists are pleased whenever they locate someone who recognizes a similarity between their tradition and the so-called “Peace” message of the New Testament. The “Seminarians” appear to be only interested in the number of baptisms for that quarter. The wife added “and we don’t agree in buying baptisms either.” I immediately could see where they were out of the mainstream of American theological thought and needed the protection of anonymity.

He then told me that one of his students went back to research the Vedas and found passages that indicated that the supreme deity or Poo-bah (A Hindu word) indicated that he would send someone to bring peace to the land. I agreed that was a terrific insight and suggested that we create a new religion where we jettison the Old Testament and its dyspeptic homicidal god and replace it with the Vedas and the New Testaments as the revealed books. My suggestion was ignored.

He did come up with one item if information that I appreciated. I had gone off on my rant about the evils of hierarchical organizations, whether public or private, that reward those in management who produce little of value to the organization when compared to the laborer (white-collar or blue) and suggested management positions should only go to those willing to take a pay cut. He pointed out that his organization pays everyone at the same rate, increasing it only based on seniority. “How un-American, socialist, and unchristian” I thought.

My missionary friend told the story that he had asked some Bangladeshis how it was that Muslim would kill Muslim as they did during the revolt of Bangladesh from Pakistan.


They explained that the Pakistani soldiers were told they were killing Hindus and therefore they had no problem. However, when the soldiers lifted the tunics or whatever of the dead they found they were circumcised. They then realized that the people they had killed were not Hindu but were either Jew or Muslim men (women did not matter) and while it was all right to kill them if they were Jews it was definitely a no-no if they were Muslims. In either event, they understood that they had been lied to by their leaders and refused to fight anymore. And that is how Bangladesh became the independent, economic and social basket case it is today.

Anyway all this kumbya was ruined when he mentioned that since it was Sunday he had to get to a church service. To my annoyance he invited me to come along. He said it would be a unique and unusual service in that they would sing a few songs, then read a few verses from scripture and discuss how they apply to their lives. There would be no minister but the most knowledgeable there would help the individuals in their self-analysis. I told him It sounded a lot like Hill-el developed 2000 years ago when he and his followers created Rabbinic Judaism. His smile turned into a grimace. “Maybe next time” he said, picked up his guitar and piled his family into their SUV and went off.

As Hayden and I walked home, I wondered why the mere mention Judaism would produce that sort of reaction. After all, unlike the other people of the book, Christians and Muslims, who run around the world-beating each other on the head and demanding join each other’s men’s club (and men’s clubs they are) or they will kill you, Jews don’t even want you to join their club and certainly do not want to join ours.

When I got home and took my nap and had a biblical dream that I will not relate here for fear of offending everyone. However if anyone would like to hear my revelatory dreams drop me a line. They are titled “Successful camel breeder and brewer forms new mens club and almost kills son in process” and “Oh my God” squeal the women of Jerusalem as Jesus of Nazareth tips the scales on Paul of Tarsus”. Needless to say I woke up in a cold sweat.

That night I invited my missionary friends, Jerry the New Zealander and his wife Choti who is the principal of the school, two New Zealand taxi drivers and their girlfriends who were visiting Jerry, Mac’s father, whose name is Oo by the way and the 4 and 5-year-old children of the various guests. We ate at the outdoor street end restaurant run by the shriveled up lady that I mentioned in a previous post. The total meal for everyone cost me $30 half of which was for the beer and wine.

The mysterious building pictured in my previous post is a crematorium. It was in use today as I passed. It looked like a Thai biker gang was sending off one of its members into the joy of re-incarnation. The superstitions of the Thai’s fear of ghosts depressed the prices of the land near the crematorium enabling Choti, the principal of the school to get the land on which it is built, at a low price.

Entrance to the School
The School Yard

.


FROM MY DIARY LEADING UP TO POST:

FRIDAY MARCH 19 2010 3PM

Hot again. Lying on bed sweating. Rain brought a morning’s respite from the air pollution but my throat is feeling its return this afternoon. No exercise, just lying in bed. Typing at times, sleeping mostly.

SUNDAY MARCH 21 2010, 9:30 PM

Interesting few days. Went to Hospital yesterday for relief of my sore throat and coughing. Dr cost about $9 and 6 day antibiotics, decongestant/expectorant and cough suppressant $30.

Hiromi deposited $2766 Tax refund into my account. I removed about 20,000 baht. Deposited 12,000 into Thai account (What Happened to the remaining 8,000?).

Last night Hayden told me some interesting things that I relayed to Nikki. See email.

Spent morning with Micah’s parents. Southern Baptist Convention Missionaries. Husband spends most of his time in Bangladesh teaching emergency first aid and trying to convert muslims. Wife daughter of hippie father. Conversation mentioned a Bengali telling H. Veda seemed to suggest need for a JC. I suggested that maybe that is a good reason to throw out the old testament.

H. invited me to attend a what he termed an unusual Sunday service in a house to discuss bible passages and their personal meaning. I mentioned that it sounded a lot like a traditional Jewish service.

When I got home and took my nap I dreamed of something like this:

I saw old Abraham in his tent drunk on fermented camel’s milk surrounded by his sons. Outside the tent his wives, concubines and slaves tended the cook fire and drew lots to see who would sleep with the smelly old bastard that night.

Old Abe was raving about the rejection of his application to join the Babylon Men’s Camel Dung Rolling Club. That’s when he realized the truth. “O my God I must be Jewish”.

“Why would I want to join their damned club anyway” he shouted “they could not be very exclusive if they would allow someone like me living in a tent join”. And with that antisemitism and jewish humor were born.

“I will form my own club and will not let anyone join. I will show them real exclusivity”.

Isaac, a pimply faced overweight adolescent, feared this could lead to the end of his sneaking out of the tent at night after the old man passed out for some action with the sweet-smelling Babylonian girls leaving him only with the camel herding women his dad preferred, protested. “We can’t do that we don’t have a membership card or anything.”

Abe stared at Isaac who he dislike and surmised was probably gay. He thought “maybe I should kill him now before he gets a chance to breed”.

“We will make our own membership cards”. “Clay tablets” Abe announced.

Everyone groaned. “No you’re right, too heavy. It will break the line of our tunics. Tattoos” he exclaimed “No, everyone’s got tattoos nowadays”. “I’ve got it” he exclaimed “We’ll cut off the ends of our dicks. Nobody will have membership card like that”.

“You got to be kidding” cried Isaac.

With that Abe grabbed his knife jumped over the fire grabbed Isaac by the shirt and said “I’ve had enough of you, you little shit, prepare to die.”

In good biblical tradition Isaac thought quickly and lied. ” Wait” he said “I see the hand of God what’s his name staying your hand from killing your son because he and all your sons submit to the will of what’s his name”.

With that Abe relented killing Isaac. Instead he cut off the end of every male present’s dick. At the moment of initiation each one screamed “Yowee that hurts”.

When it was all over Abe rested. He looked at all his sons writhing in agony on the floor of the tent and said, “You know, I like that. Up to now whenever the guys hung out talking about their gods it was always Ishtar this and Baal that. They would all laugh when I mentioned the god whose name could not be uttered. From now on in recognition of this event whenever we utter we shall utter that the name of our all-powerful creator, “Yowee”. What do you think?”

In my dream I wondered how they were able to identify one another as member of the men’s club. Groping under each others tunic was a little more obvious than a Masonic handshake Maybe they originally had their meetings in the health club shower.

Anyway my dream fast forwarded to 33 AD (although they did not know it at the time, thinking it was 3000 years or something since god rested) and the throng (We no longer throng today, we crowd, what a loss) was pressing forward to enter the temple on the sabbath, the day people thronged to the temple, a building that replaced the health club showers .

The guard at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem stopped one of the throng who happened to be Jesus. “Hey you. Only Jews allowed to enter the temple. You Jewish. You don’t look Jewish with that fruity double-pointed red beard”.

“My good man”, said Jesus (he was a Rhodes Scholar and had studied in England) “of course I’m Jewish, I speak Hebrew as though I never learned Aramaic”.

“Anyone can learn Hebrew” responded the guard. “Whip it out and put in on the table.”

Now Jesus had no problem with whipping it out given all the time he spent with the ladies and all that lying of the head on the breast and that sort of thing and he was quite proud of his membership card. So he whipped it out and everyone getting a look at it exclaimed “Oh my God”.

“That’s right” said Jesus, “Now all of you get out of my fucking temple”.

Now where Jesus was quite proud in his membership in Judaism, Paul was less so. Where they all marveled at Jesus Membership ,they all laughed when Paul whipped his out. So Paul went to the Apostles (Jesus’ biker buddies) gathered in Jerusalem (Apostles “gather” they do not “throng or “crowd”)and said to them “This membership card thing isn’t working. It’s too hard to get anyone to join and tithe. Since we’re the new guys (and guys we are) we need a new card. Besides aren’t you all a little tired of having to show your card every time before you give a sermon”

“Good thought Paul” said Peter who although not afflicted by the results of being kicked by a horse on the way to Damascus as was Paul, was a shy man. What should the new membership card be?”

“Faith shining through their eyes” said Paul.

“How would anyone know” questioned Peter.

“We will know. Besides if the light shines through everyone’s eyes what difference would it make”.

And the rest is History. And I awoke

11PM

Earlier today I went to the Bank withdrew 30,000 baht from BOW acct. Deposited 20,000 in BKKB pers. acct. Kept 10,000.

Hosted dinner party with missionaries, Choti and Jerry two NZ tourists and Thai girlfriends, Mac’s father and assorted children 950 baht. About $3 each including wine and beer.

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TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

On Friday we left for Mendocino and the celebration of my sister Maryann and George’s 40th wedding anniversary. Despite my illness, the drive from Sacramento to Mendocino was pleasant enough. It was made more tolerable by listening to an audio disk of a book. A book that I had read before and perhaps have even written about here.

It was the first novel in the Arthurian Trilogy by Bernard Cornwall called, The Winter King. Listening to the narrator drone on helped the time pass rapidly. The trilogy is set in the latter part of the Fifth Century about 80 years or so after the Romans had departed Britain and the indigenous inhabitants had begun their devolution into rural barbarism. During this time, raiders from the area around Denmark eyeing the land now made empty by the Roman retreat arrived and settled in the East. They were, at the time of the novel’s setting, driving the Britons before them off the fertile lands and into the mountains. History records a British warlord named Artur active then. Also, there is evidence of a series of battles at about this time between the Saxon invaders and the British won by the Britons that halted the Saxon advance for about 40 years — a fairly long time by the standards of history. The author places the medieval legends back at this time but provides the shining heroic characters with a more gritty and less exalted story than the Medieval bards did.

Anyway, we arrived in Fort Bragg in good order checked into a motel, settled the dog comfortably and left for the Anniversary dinner.

The dinner was held at the Noyo Harbor Inn an attractive fairly newly remodeled hotel overlooking Noyo Harbor.

In addition to members of the family friends of Maryann and George from the East Coast were there also.

Fred and Ellen

F

George and Mary made speeches about the happiness of their marriage and George gave Mary a ruby ring to celebrate their 40th Anniversary.

The following day Naida, I and Boo-Boo went for a walk along the beach and the bluffs.

We then set off to Mary and George’s home for a Barbecue. When we arrived, I was amazed at the additions to their house that had been completed since the last time we were there. They had constructed an all-new patio and garden enclosure at the front of the house. It seemed to bring the house into the garden or the garden into the house I could not tell which.

The Barbecue featured meat and a lovely salmon prepared by Quinn, Katie’s intended.

Several of our friends from Mendocino joined us — Nancy and Duncan, Ester and her husband and a few others who despite the relatively few times were have visited each other, I feel have become as close friends as I have ever enjoyed. There was even a hedgehog who joined us that night. I never really met him in person (in hedgehog?) before.


The next day we returned to The Enchanted Forest. I decided to try driving down Highway 101 and up 80 since on paper it is the quickest drive. Alas, as I feared, the traffic, especially as we approached Petaluma was horrendous.

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

Monday was my birthday. My daughter sent me three interesting books. Hayden surprised me with a nice gift. Many friends sent me their best wishes through email and social media. Even my grandson Aaron texted me. Naida took me out for one of my favorite things, a root beer float. We went to Mel’s. They even put a candle on it.

Happy Birthday Pookie

Some additional notable events that occurred on my birthday, October 15, during the 16th and 17th Centuries:

1552 Khanate of Kazan is conquered by troops of Ivan Grozny.
1581 Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet “Ballet Comique de la Reine” is staged in Paris
1582 Many Catholic countries switch to the Gregorian calendar, skip 10 days
1598 Spanish general strategist Bernardino de Mendoza occupies fort Rhine
1641 Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve claims Montreal
1654 Prince Willem III appointed viceroy of Overijssel
1655 Jews of Lublin are massacred
1660 Asser Levy granted butcher’s license (kosher meat) in New Amsterdam
1674 Torsåker witch trials begin, largest witch trials in Sweden, 71 beheaded and burned

All and all, except for Asser’s butcher’s license, those were not very good or notable days.

Note also, on the day I was born in 1939:

1939 LaGuardia Airport opened in NYC
1939 Yeshiva of Mir closed after 124 years

So on my next birthday raise a glass to LaGuardia (The mayor and the airport) and shed a tear for the Yeshiva of Mir.

For those of you over 70 and well into the great decline, you probably already experience this. Even as my body weakens, the voice in my head that talks to me all the time seem always to be as young as it was when I was a teenager. Oh, a bit more cynical perhaps, but every bit as vigorous as ever when I feel I have done something that rises to the level of the barely adequate, letting me know how foolish I really am. One would think that at this age that voice would give up and feebly warble, “I no longer give a damn. Do what you want. Who cares?”

The remainder of the week drifted off to same old, same old. Sitting at home playing with the computer, watching old movies on TCM (not much to write about there) and reading the novels Jessica sent me (One was by JK Rowling using her nom de plume, Robert Galbraith. It was a mystery and quite good). I also went to a few pre-op examinations. And, of course, attended to the needs of Hayden and The Scooter Gang.

Speaking of H, he recently acquired a new mountain bicycle to replace his other mountain bike that he said was inadequate. (He was insistent that I understood that the old bike was an “off-road bike” and not a “mountain bike” — Whatever.) It was quite something — complex hydraulics on the seat and well as the front and back wheels. He recently joined the school mountain bike team along with several other Scooter Gang members.

Hayden and His Mountain  Bike

On Tuesday, I had a stress test in preparation for my operation. A stress test for those who have never had one is where you fast for a day and dive to the lab where they the load you full of radioactive substances, lie you on a cot under great machines that make odd humming and clicking noises and then tell you to relax for the next hour or so. I was stressed out.

And so the week played itself out. Finally, after many phone calls, I managed to arrange an appointment with my surgeons. The growth in my neck seems larger and more uncomfortable. The Scooter Gang has begun to evidence teenage bravado and male aggressiveness. So it goes. Most days I sit in the studio with the Mac on my lap watching Naida tap away on her computer editing her memoirs.

The weekend also passed by quietly. On Sunday N decided to bake a pumpkin pie the way the Native Americans taught the illegal immigrants coming ashore a Plymouth or Jamestown — baking the pie in the pumpkin.

It did not turn out that well because, while emptying the pumpkin of its seeds, we inadvertently punctured a hole in the bottom and much of the custard filling drained through during the baking. It tasted pretty good nevertheless. I wonder if the colonists faced that problem.

On Tuesday, I meet with the surgeons.

Have fun. Be cool. Keep warm. Stay hot.

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Since Hayden was four years old, almost every night I have been with him, I have told him an ongoing bed-time story regarding a little boy about his age and his pony Acorn (the name of the pony H rode at Naida and Bill’s ranch). The stories concerned Danny and Acorn’s adventures with their friends: the White Knight and his horse, Blackey-whitey; the Black Knight and his horse, Whitey-blackey; the Knight of the Burning Toilet; the Monster that Lived in the Closet; the Wizard that lived in a Castle on the Mountain; and Prince Sammy who lived in a palace in Rivertown with ten princesses whose names were, Brandy, Cindy, Candy, Fannie, Ginnie, Mandy, Sandi, Tammi, Winnie and Abigail Fort and Go Braugh. (I sometimes would forget the names, but Hayden had them memorized and would correct me if I did.)

Danny lived in a small house with a barn for Acorn located next to THE DEEP, THE DARK, FOREST (said in a deep scary voice), in the center of which lived, Grandpa Pookie.

It seems that on the last night before I left two months ago, I had begun an adventure about Zeekie a small green creature and Three Giants. I did not finish it that night. Instead, I promised him I would do so when I returned. Of course, by the time I got back, I had forgotten all about it.

On my first night upon my return to in El Dorado Hills, he took me into the bedroom and asked me to finish the story. After I admitted that I had forgotten what it was about, he nodded sagely, went to a drawer in his headboard and took out a piece of paper. On it, he had written out the entire story I had told so far. The words were all phonetically written but understandable.

This surprised me. When I had left only two months ago, I thought he could not yet write. It amazed that he had taken the time and effort to write it down and had the insight to realize that I would probably have forgotten it all.

That night I told him the rest of the story. It wasn’t bad as those stories go and it even had a moral with a twist at the end. The implications of the twist concerned Hayden a lot.

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I was 79 years old on October 15, 2018. Thanks to the internet, that was not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye or imagination when I was born, an old man my age on the day I was born would have been born on the day 11-year-old Grace Bedell writes to Abraham Lincoln telling him to grow a beard.

Other notable events that happened on October 15 over the past 2000 years are:

  1. Byzantine general Belisarius makes his formal entry into Carthage, having conquered it from the Vandals.
  2. King Henry VIII of England orders bowling lanes at Whitehall
  3. Asser Levy granted butcher’s license (kosher meat) in New Amsterdam
  4. 1st American fishing magazine, American Angler published
  5. “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams is published by Harper & Brothers
  6. Shelley Taylor of Australia makes fastest swim ever around Manhattan Island, doing it in 6 hours 12 minutes 29 seconds

So, if you want to celebrate my birthday, grow a beard, conquer some Vandals, go bowling, eat some kosher sausage, go fishing, have a swim or write a book or at least read one and above all VOTE.

On my birthday this year, my estranged son, among other more sordid invectives, called me a “political hack.” While some of his more scurrilous accusations may be true that certainly is not. I “was” a political hack, now I am just an old hack with regrets.

Some additional notable events that occurred on my birthday, October 15, during the 16th and 17th Centuries:

1552 Khanate of Kazan is conquered by troops of Ivan Grozny.
1581 Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet “Ballet Comique de la Reine” is staged in Paris
1582 Many Catholic countries switch to the Gregorian calendar, skip 10 days
1598 Spanish general strategist Bernardino de Mendoza occupies fort Rhine
1641 Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve claims Montreal
1654 Prince Willem III appointed viceroy of Overijssel
1655 Jews of Lublin are massacred
1674 Torsåker witch trials begin, largest witch trials in Sweden, 71 beheaded and burned

All and all, not very good or notable days.

Note also, on the day I was born in 1939:

1939 LaGuardia Airport opened in NYC
1939 Yeshiva of Mir closed after 124 years

So on my next birthday raise a glass to LaGuardia (The mayor and the airport) and shed a tear for the Yeshiva of Mir.

For those of you over 70 and well into the great decline, you probably already experience this. Even as my body weakens, the voice in my head that talks to me all the time always seems to be as young as it was when I was a teenager. Oh, a bit more cynical perhaps, but every bit as vigorous as ever in letting me know how foolish I really am whenever I feel I have done something that rises to the level of the barely adequate. One would think that at this age that voice would give up and feebly warble, “I no longer give a damn. Do what you want. Who cares?”





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Pookie and Hayden

A few years ago, while I was sitting at the table one evening doing little more than staring at the wall, I noticed Hayden writing away in a notebook. This was a very unusual thing for him to do. He typically spends the evenings watching television, building Lego Cities, running around the house screaming for no discernible reason and, just before bedtime, completing his homework. I asked him what he was doing. He said it was a secret and continued to diligently attend to whatever he was working on. When he finished he came over and showed me the notebook.

A few nights previously, I had promised him that we would write a short comic book together entitled “Hayden Without a Hat.” Each evening thereafter he asked me if I was ready to write the story with him and each night I gave some excuse or other. The notebook contained the following (everything is as he wrote it including the punctuation, except for the quotation marks which I added). I promised him I would “publish” it. So here it is:

     “Story for little boys, girls!

        

     Hayden Without a Hat

          Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Hayden Without a Hat.            

          “Oh, no!” says Grandpa Pooky. “Oh no!!!” Grandpa Pooky says “You need a hat.”

          “A hat…” says Hayden, “a hat.” “Let me think. Hmmm, ok” Hayden says. “I do need a hat!!!! “Hey, we can go to the hat store.”

          So Hayden picked out his favorite hat. It was just like Grandpa Pooky’s hat.

          Remember kids always have a hat!!! And mom’s and dad’s.”

I told him that I also sent a copy to his mom because it would make her so proud of him. He said I should not have because she would make him do it again and again until he got bored.

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