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December 31, 2008

My Cold, Dead Hand


“My Cold, Dead Hand"

“Hello, this is the Compaq Service Center.”

“Yah, see, I bought this Compaq laptop from Office Max six weeks ago.  Along with a four-year extended warranty.  Last night, the hard drive on the computer failed.”

“Did you call Office Max?”

“Yes, three times.  They told me to call you. This 800 number.”

“OK, please give me the computer’s serial number and……”

PHONE goes dead.Dialing. Redialing.  Busy signals.  Redials.

“Hello, this is the Compaq Service Center.”

“OK, someone there just hung up on me.  (Repeats story.)”

“Let’s see how we can help you.  Now from what you say, your Compaq laptop  is on warranty.”

“Warranty?  The thing’s six weeks old!  I have a four-year service agreement.  I HOPE it’s on warranty!”

“Well, just give me those computer serial numbers again, Sir, and your credit card number. It’s simply and easy: You take out the defective hard drive.  Send to us.  And we’ll send you a new hard drive in the mail.

How’s that?”

“What da ya want my credit card number for?”

“For the ‘hold.’”

“’Hold? You wanna put a ‘hold’ on my credit card?  For what?  How much?”

“Just to be sure you send us that old hard drive.”

“How much is the hold?”

“Hmmmmm.  I’d don’t know.  Can you hold two minutes?  Thank you.”

(18 MINUTES LATER, cell phone against my ear; probably getting ear and brain cancer from the radiation.”

“Hello?  Hello?  Yes, sir, that hold on your credit card will be for $299.95.”

“Compaq man.   That’s almost more than I PAID for the laptop.  You’ll have to pry that credit card out of my cold, dead hand.”

"Well, we wouldn't want to haf ta' do that, ha. ha, now would we, Sir?  Didn't work for Charlton Heston."

December 22, 2008


WanderWoman and ‘Starting Over’


I write another blog...on a newspaper site.

And the site "posts" a photo that runs with all your entries. 

I started using the following photo as I.D. awhile back.  Not sure why.  It's nearly 40 years old....found in a box of photographs, rummaging through the closet recently. 

Bloggers started asking me questions about the photo.  Who’s the woman?  When was the photo taken? Am I wearing a Navy uniform? Why do we look so sad?, one asked. 


blog post photo

(Photo, San  Francisco airport. June of 1969. )

       Anne (woman in the photo) and I had been college sweethearts.  And I got leave from the Navy – before heading for Vietnam – to go back home to Kansas City for a few days, so Anne and I could get married.

Which we did.

Through Anne’s brother, who lived in the San Francisco Bay area, we’d arranged to rent an apartment in an old hillside house not far from Twin Peaks…and half a block up the street from where Janis Joplin lived and caroused.  (Which is another story).

Having almost no money, Anne and I could not afford a U-Haul type rental truck to drive and move from Kansas  City to San Francisco. 

So we gave furniture to relatives and most of our clothes, and packed up the remainder in about 8 large boxes; shipping them cheap as “excess baggage” on our flight to the West Coast.

This photo was taken by a passerby in the SF airport.  Shortly after the plane landed and we’d collected our 8 boxes of clothes, books, records, dishes, pots and pans.

If I look upset (which bloggers tell me I do), and we both look tired…for good reason.

For starters, the San Francisco airport was not a very "friendly" place for people wearing military uniforms in 1969.  Everyone under 30 who walked by made a point of giving us The Peace Sign. 

And here we were: in the airport.  

With all the boxes. 

Moving into an apartment. 

Only 5 days before I would leave for Vietnam. 

And the Car Rental Agency at the airport would not rent us a car because I did not possess “a major gas company credit card.”  (Other ones.  But not a major one.)

So we were wondering what in the hell to do, when this photo was taken.

After about 4 hours, one of the Car Rental Agency people, who got tired of us sitting in the nearby baggage claim area, took pity on us.  And rented us the car to transport all the stuff.

We made it to the apartment. I made it to my ship. 

Anne soon got a job in a medical laboratory.  And we had many good times over the next three years, in Japan, Hawaii and San Francisco,  when I was home on leave.

Returning to San Francisco from a final Tonkin Gulf deployment,  Anne meet me at the Naval Air Station Alameda pier when the aircraft carrier came in.

I got off the carrier.  Hugged her.  And she broke the news.

"Jim, we need to talk.  I want you to meet the love of my life," Anne said, gesturing to the young woman standing next to her.

All in all, a rather strange homecoming from the military service.

Anne and I soon divorced. 

She eventually moved back to Kansas City. 

And my career took me many places, eventually to Battle Creek.

But we would see each other for coffee, when I came to Kansas City to visit my parents.

In 2003,  I was in Kansas City to attend my Mom's funeral.  After the service and cemetery, I sat in my car on a bitterly cold morning; waiting for my car to warm and the drive back to Michigan.

Suddenly, Anne tapped my driver's side window.  And asked if we could talk for a few minutes.

We sat in the car and she explained that she'd "changed lifestyles" and that "perhaps we could start all over."

We had a nice chat.  But, I said it seemed a little late for starting over.....

In 2005, I tried to call Anne in Kansas City.  Her sister, Deborah, answered the phone. 

"Sorry, Jim. Anne died two days ago of breast cancer," Deborah said.


December 21, 2008

Playing for Change

Playing for Change: 'Stand By Me'


Turn your speakers up, and enjoy. 

And the lyrics are true, aren't they?


Merry Christmas everyone.

-- Jim

December 06, 2008

When Choices Suck

Ok.  All this doom and gloom stuff sucks.  

 Washington sucks.

Wall Street sucks.

 My last hair cut sucked.

 My bank account sucks. 

So, why not take a deep breath about Detroit's Big Three,  have a laugh, and move forward, I say?

For that laugh, watch this classic, "Loafing" by Abbott and Costello:


And Listen to The Parodox of Choice, why our phone number has seven digits, and a reminder that having too much can sometimes be, too much. 


December 03, 2008



The past few weeks, I've been driving a friend's ancient Ford F-150 truck.

Its speedometer has rolled over the max mileage at least once; because if this four-wheel banger and belcher has only 16,000 miles on it, well, I'm Donald Trump's best buddy and heir apparent.

My friend is an Ironworker.  He's about 6'7....and you wouldn't want to fool with him.  Nice guy, or no nice guy.

His talents as an Ironworker, and all round handyman, are also evident with the truck.  He's welded patches, here and there, like a quilt across the truck's body -- giving it an electic, but also, 'don't screw with me' look.

So, here I am.... 5'6" on a good day, driving this big, semibad a*s truck.

Now the wife or girlfriend might pat you on the head or rub your shoulder, as you sit on the edge of the bed in the morning, and reflect "Oh, sweetie.  If it was good for you, it was good for me.  You know SIZE doesn't matter."

But let me tell you.

Truck size matters on the road.

And I like the feeling.

All the AngerManagement Class flunkees STAY out of the way, far away from F-150 BlackTruck. 

No turning in front of it or me. 

No honking when I sit thru a yellow light.

No tail gating when I go 35 in a 35 zone.


I may be a truck guy, after all.