Monday, July 31, 2023

A Bad Day Post Script

After posting my blow by blow breakdown of last Friday's Day from Hell, I sat back totally spent, but pleased I had purged myself of the infuriating moments I had suffered through. It was a wasted day of 11 hours and over 100 miles my truck and I will never get back.

History is not just about moments from our past. History is what the Present and the following Future are built on. Without a Past, there would be no Present and certainly no Future. Our path it seems, needs all of them to cleanly move us from cradle to grave.

As much as I wanted to forget last Friday ever happened, I could not get it out of my mind. It didn't help that Saturday, I decided to begin deleting the 5000 emails I had cluttering the storage capacity of the In Box. Like clockwork, once every couple of years I attack the back log.

I was surprised that the last email I received was from the Toyota dealer who had tortured me for 4 hours last Friday. The email contained a breakdown of what my $75 dollars (1/2 hour) worth of analytics had found. There were several things they tagged as "Needs Immediate Attention"; including $330 bucks for more diagnostic time. The total for everything listed would set me back, $1675.82.  And the problem I took the truck in for initially remained unfixed.

The truck only has 8300 miles on it. It is the only vehicle I have ever purchased new for myself. Gotta say, not very impressed with Toyota Service at the moment.

Okay, okay, reading the email was causing my blood pressure to spike again, so I set diagnostic report down and tried to forget it. I could not forget it. Goddamned Car Dealerships. I have never had one treat me right. I think that is one of the founding rules found in the latest copy of "Car Dealerships for Dummies". 

Sunday, I re-read the email. One of the problems the diagnostic mentioned was "AC blower motor full of mice mess". I googled the problem and punched up a DIY video. One of the first things the tech in the video said, "This is an easy fix- good for beginners."

He proceeded to show where the blower was, how to access it and then what I should find. Of course he was using an empty blower cavity without a filter in it. He emphasized twice, not to turn on the blower while fingers were in it.

It looked simple. It was simple. But it took forever to clean out the "Mice Mess". I left the filter in as I cleaned it to mitigate the amount of mice mess that might fall into the blower motor if the the filter was not there. Leaving the filter in cut back on the space to stuff my stubby fingers into, but eventually I think I got most of it. I filled a bucket 3/4 full.

I wondered, like I always do, how do critters from the neighborhood manage to find their way into any of my vehicles. This time was no different until I looked closely at the cover, I noticed chunks of it were missing from both ends.. The little bastards had chewed their way in. The next question is how did they pack in some of the debris I pulled out. There were several sticks over six inches long. Yeah, I wondered long enough to realize it didn't matter how they did any of it. So I stopped worrying and moved on with my life.

Besides the filter, I am going to have to also replace the cover. This means it will cost me twice as much for parts, yet still be cheaper than the cost of buying the just the filter from the dealer. And I saved the $155 labor rip off, the dealership over on the coast was going to tag me with.

Parts should be here soon. Maybe by Wednesday. It doesn't matter. Just knowing I was able to fix it empowered me a tad and my anger at Toyota has disappeared. Now I am just disgusted. Some might call that a step forward.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .................................................


Just what kind of tune would dovetail into a post about "Mice Mess in the Blower"? I am pretty sure that particular problem has never inspired any song writer anywhere, at any time. So I let my ears take a walk and listen to covers of  "Fat Bottom Girls" originally by Queen. It is one of my all time favorite tunes.

I listened to quite a few versions, finally settling on a cover by who I thought were going to be the "Red Hot Chili Peppers". Imagine my surprise when the first sounds I heard were bag pipes. I didn't know the Red Hot Chili Peppers had done a bagpipe tune. But then it was an instrumental and the only people featured were kids and men in kilts. It was not until I had listened to it twice when I noticed that band name on one of the drums was "Red Hot Chilli Pipers", not Peppers.

Anyway, enjoy this Scottish version of a great song. I included the original also because it deserves a spot. Loud and proud is where its at.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

A Day to Make Me Appreciate All the Others

It has been a long time since I had as shitty of a day as I had yesterday.

The one thing I needed to get right was being on time for a 10:00 AM doctor's  appointment in Kittery. There were no glitches. The hour drive was uneventful. I was 15 minutes early. I sat in the lobby and eagerly awaited the upcoming poking, prodding, and bloodletting. I was finished by 11:00 AM. 

Because I had been promising myself for over a month to get a haircut, I made an appointment with a barber on the same road. I have never made an appointment for a haircut before. I probably won't ever again. The appointment was for 12 Noon. The barbershop was half a mile from my doctor allowing me to be early twice in one day. I thought about marking the date with an asterisk because even small victories seem fewer and farther between than they used to.

This is when my day turned to shit.

I decided to get some lunch first as I had been fasting for the Doc since the previous night. I hit the drive thru at Mickey D's out on Route 1. I munched on a Quarter Pounder and listened to some music. I was successfully seated in the barbershop waiting room with 1/2 hour to spare ........... 

Yeah, that's right, the barbershop had a "waiting room" with 2 kinds of magazines neatly spread out on a honking big coffee table.  One row featured Guns, ammo, fishing and hunting mags. Oddly, the other row held an equal number of Wine appreciation periodicals. .......... 

Only on the coastal side of the Turnpike would this occur. Out my way in Acton, miles from the coast, there are probably local ordinances banning wine appreciation magazines being allowed out in public spaces. Wearing sweaters smartly draped over shoulders and loosely tied, while not illegal, are seriously frowned upon. 

My hair cutter, a bubbly young lady, bumped my appointment for a client who had missed their appointment earlier. My 12 Noon appointment became a 1:00 appointment. That created a smidgen of attitude on my part, but I was civil.

While I cooled my heels waiting for the haircut to happen, I remembered I had been wanting to stop at the Toyota dealer who sold me my Tacoma in 2019. It seems that when a battery dies on one of the newer Toyotas, simply charging it up is not enough. When I started the truck after charging my battery up, several of fancy "perks" I never used or planned to use decided to warn me in no uncertain terms with a constant loop of flashing reminders that they may of been no use to me in my past, they were now , without a doubt, not going to ever work even if I wanted them to. The basic functions of the truck worked fine. The flashing lights irritated me and the online fix was useless. I decided it was dealer time after a dozen attempts to change the outcome of the previous 11 failures to launch.

I called the dealer 20 minutes north just off the Maine Turnpike a few miles. They told me they could work me in at 2:15 PM. It was 1:20 PM. I had almost an hour, but I figured that a Friday in the summer anywhere near the coast could be a challenge to navigate, so I jumped on the turnpike immediately and headed north for maybe a minute before the 3 lanes heading north ground to a halt. Traffic was backed up over 15 miles. I made my car appointment with only minutes to spare. It was around 2:10 PM

And still the real fun had not really begun yet.

Up front, the repair rep, a skinny little long haired fellow with the worst effort of a goatee I had ever encountered, told me it would be $75 to run the basic diagnostic to find the problem. 

"The truck only has 8200 miles on it. Shouldn't that be under warranty," I asked.

"No. Sorry, your warranty is only good for 36 months or 30,000 miles for this kind of problem. Your warranty ran out 4 months ago."

Temperature is rising, but I held my tongue and agreed to the $75 charge. They take the truck into the garage and I park my butt inside the dealership at a Wi-Fi desk and begin roaming the World Wide Web on my phone. It is 2:30 PM

After an hour I grow antsy and asked at the service desk for an update. 

"Sure thing sir, I will check right now". He disappears through the door to the massive multi-bay repair area.

Around 4:00 PM, he shows back up and tells me the repair rep with the long hair and the worst goatee in New England will be with me soon. 

4:30 PM; my repair rep comes back to tell me that they have not found what the problem is yet and it will probably cost me another $300 (2 hours) of diagnostic time to find the solution.

I knew I was close to losing it, but again, I held myself in check. In no uncertain terms I let him know what I thought of the dealership and their scamming ways.I was civil but in his face. I think he now had an inkling of just how pissed I was as I informed him I would not be throwing anymore good money after bad into their scamming pockets.

The waiting room was full of people turning in our direction now. Yeah, I turned some heads, but I had been civil, just in a louder than the usual civil tone that ensured everyone within earshot got an earful. 

Repair Rep seemed to shrink in front of me.

"Well sir, I am going back to the garage and tell them you want your truck back without taking advantage of the service  suggestions offered up by that first 1/2 hour diagnostic."

Then he disappears back into the deeper, darker parts of the dealership. It was 5:15 PM before I got out of there with my problem still not fixed and now my wallet had a $75 dollar hole in it. 

Before I drove the 45 miles home, I called my wife at her office. Good. She was still there. I Suggested that I stop in Biddeford at Firehouse Subs to pick up dinner and meet her at her office for a take out dinner. 

The Biddeford Firehouse Subs is nestled in a small cluster of new-ish attached storefronts where the back of the buildings face the road, Rte 111, and the front doors are in the back facing a parking lot hidden from the road. I pull around and I do not see many cars parked. I actually am able to park in front of the sub shop. I can see it is dark, but I get out to read the hastily handwritten sign taped awkwardly to the inside of the door:

"Closed Due to the Sinkhole"

That was all it said. I looked around the almost empty parking lot. No sink hole in sight. Looked into the darkened spaces of the sub shop and saw no sinkhole. .... Hmm

Because my day had been so full of disappointment, I accepted the truth of that sign immediately. Somewhere nearby there was a sink hole and these people were either afraid of it or closed their doors to go rubberneck near its edge. Regardless, the lights were out and nobody was home.

My mouth had had 20 minutes to wrap it's mind around a foot long "Hook n Ladder".  And now it, like me was totally dejected, rejected as our shoulders slumped in unison when I gave the doors a token rattle , just to make sure they were not fooling.

Okay, so another change to another Plan B. By now on this day, I was used to the inevitable disappointments, bottle necks and and undeserved happenstances I was forced to deal with. I called my wife and said it was going to be Wendy's, but I would add two small chocolate Frosties.

At Wendy's in South Sanford, the drive thru line is tied up almost back to the road. I was barely able to get off South Main St. and in line. As congested as the line was, going inside would be worse. The drive thru was always faster at that joint.

A few minutes into my wait for the line to perform the stutter movements as each car orders and then moves forward, a Road rage incident unfolded between the car in front of me and the car in front of them. Yes, the idiot two cars up was not keeping a tight formation with the others in line. When he stopped there was always a bus length space between him and the next car. The guy in front of me finally laid on his horn. 

A car door was flung open and the space waster got out looking punk ass mean. He began telling the horn honker in front of me how he was going to kick his ass if he honked his horn again. He stood there, hands on hips and a punk-ass scowl on his face.

The door of the car in front of me opened slowly and the biggest man I have seen in a long time extricated himself from his car. He aped the other guy's posture and 30 seconds of what looked like a showdown was about to unfold came to a whimpering conclusion as the space waster slithered back into his vehicle.

Meanwhile, all three of us then moved up quickly in the space created during the stare down. I ordered the grub and headed north on Main St. 

I had one more obstacle to overcome. Apparently there was a parade, a celebration of some sort, or Sanford just closed the street in front of Town Hall so young couples with strollers, babies in slings, and old farts using their walkers could strut around in the middle of the street. I never did find out what it was. This added more minutes to the trip to Springvale, I arrived at my wife's office with cold grub and 2 milkshakes instead of 2 Frosties.

My 11 hours of Hell was finally over. Some days it definitely does not pay to get out of bed.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...................................


I decided a tune about a bad day was just me wallowing even more in my own self pity. So, here is an interesting cover by Steven' Seagulls of Metallica's, "Nothing Else matters". It is damn good in my opinion. The silly presentations aside, Steven' Seagulls are serious about their music.

Enjoy. As always, louder is better than the alternative.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Executive Order 9981

It was 75 years ago today that President Harry S. Truman (D) initiated Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in all of the US Armed Services. From what I can tell, this was one of the first nails pounded into the coffin of the Jim Crow Era.

I know, I know. Many people think Jim Crow never died. He just hid deep inside the intractably inbred stagnant back waters of what has now evolved into our current version of White Supremacy. They are probably right, but what we have today is a far cry from the Jim Crow of the mid 20th century.

Current manifestations of Racism today are more insidious, and systemically embedded than ever before. It is harder to root out than the worse chauvinistic and racist attitudes paraded around during the so called "Good Ole Days" of Jim Crow.

July 26, 1948 was the date. I was born four years later into a career military family. I knew nothing of segregation as my first years on the planet were desegregated years.I was rudely awakened in the years immediately following my father's retirement in 1960. Yeah, 1960 is probably when I began realizing the "Leave it to Beaver" world I thought would continue as before was over. The perfect life I had enjoyed as a wee one was done. I would have to get used to the harsher realities of the civilian world going forward. Those next four years in Florida ensured I would be brought up to speed about some of the worst ugliness that existed in everyday civilian life here in the USA.

I remember a conversation with my father, "the General", when I was twenty something and he was an old fart like I am today. We shared most of a bottle of Old Grand Dad and talked. It was one of more than a few alcohol infused conversations I had with him in his last years.

We talked of many things. One topic we shared were recollections of our time living in Florida. 

I admitted to him I had defied his and Mom's order to not go anywhere near an upcoming civil rights demonstration and march. I went anyway and was witness to just how ugly the fight for civil rights could be. 

On a back street near the Capitol in Tallahassee, blacks were prepping to join the demonstration.  I watched, as a group of white thugs swarmed around them and beat them with bats and big sticks. Meanwhile on the same street white cops turned their backs, leaned on their cruisers, sucked on toothpicks and had genial conversations with each other like nothing odd was going on further down the street.

My father admitted he had dropped the ball when it came to preparing me for some of the realities that would be part of my life going forward. But he did not apologize. He told me that there really is no good way to prepare anyone for Mankind's ability to be evil. Talking about it means nothing compared to witnessing it first hand.

So, here is a tip of my hat to Harry S. Truman (D), who struck the first positive blow in the fight to bury Jim Crow. It was possibly the first step in turning the Democratic Party away from being the Party of Jim Crow and moving it to the Party for Civil Rights. 

What pisses me off about all this is we should have moved on from the divisive bullshit of Racism many, many years ago. Many of us white people thought it was. I was one of them for a long time.

I began to realize 30 years ago Racism was still there like a nagging headache that would not go away. I also began to realize that the autocratic, capitalist enclave that really has us by our short hairs do not want to lose Racism. The divisiveness it creates keeps us off our game and thus easier to control. Keeping us at each other's throat is an easy old school, been around forever tool by which to control the drooling masses. Give them someone to hate and they won't hate you.

Anyway, Happy First Desegregation Day.


I immediately considered Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" as my musical choice.

There must be fifty million ga-gillion covers of "Blowing in the Wind"  by fifty ga-gillion musicians since Bob first recorded this tune in the early 1960's. It was a song that set the tone for many protest songs that came after. In my opinion, this song may be the greatest protest song of all time. 

I made the mistake of listening to too many covers and could not decide which one I liked other than Bob's original recording. So here is a short list of some of the versions I listened to:


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Now & Then

Today I am parked in front of my computer, sitting in my own sweat and trying to find my voice again. It's hard to think when the sweat runs like piss. But I finally remembered why I sat down. ............

Hot enough to breed sheep temps and what many fellow Mainers consider blistering , Hellfire weather from the Satanic hinterlands further south. 

While in Florida, many may claim it's not the heat, its the stupidity; here in Maine, it is definitely the humidity. Unlike Florida being permanently stuck on stupid, the stupidity  here 'bouts comes and goes.

Yep, a nasty sweat dripping summer has a clenched grip on our short hairs here in Vacationland of late. Life passes us by in the Slow Lane most days. With this imported heat from away, my pace has slowed to an middlin crawl. I know I would like to see the pace pick up some. Lookin forward to Fall, I'll tell ya.

I would like to look somewhere, anywhere in America for some sympathy. I can't do it. Not with a straight face anyway. I am pretty sure I have it better than most. Matter of fact, given how dire some situations are currently, I have no reason to complain.

Everyone anywhere, near and far from the everywhere we all suffer together in, are trapped into what appears to be our new normal instead of the old, odd and seldom seen weather. Those "storms of the century" are now occurring every year somewhere.  No one it seems, has escaped some version of extreme climate conditions. Large populations of suffering bastards from coast to coast are feeling the sting of Mother Nature's wrath.

It didn't have to be this way; ..... No,......... but that's all I'mma gonna say.

The Music Library that came with my trusty Windows 7 PC so many years ago has been dying in fits and starts. I believe it is not long for this world now. The missing and dead parts have overwhelmed its ability to do anything more than play from the lists I created and the CDs already ripped into its gulliwots.

One more reason to replace the PC with that rejuvenated and jacked up Windows 10 tower I have had gathering dust for I guess, a year or so now. But, I hate switching to a new computer. Takes forever for it to get used to me. .... Hmm, I guess workin wounded doesn't make much sense either. ..... We'll see.

The great music crash in my PC has left me with over 7 hours of unnamed music stuffed into one folder the computer has decided to label "Unknown". I opened it and found some of the playlists I had lost. They were intermixed with no discernible plan or organization. What was worse, most of the tunes were only marked with a number; no name or titles.

I decided that I was still recuperating from the last weekend or maybe even the one before, so I sat down and began to play each song and type in the appropriate names. The first song up was "Old Folk's Boogie", by Little Feat. If I had to pick only one CD to take with me to a desert Isle, it would be the Little Feat Live album. I always liked "Old Folks Boogie", only now I not only like it, it has more meaning for me than ever before.

So I am happy happy as I begin writing this post and listening to the mish mashed 7 hour playlist from Hell. The 10th song came up. It was and still is my favorite song of all. No equivocation, no doubts, "Willin", by Little Feat was my inspiration when I was young and numb. I stopped typing and just listened...... Then I listened to it again.

It occurred to me that "Willin" and "Old Folks Boogie" were appropriate tunes to define my path from the cradle to the upcoming grave somewhere, sometime when I least or maybe will expect it.

When I was twenty, I could, would was "Willin" to take on any challenge; 

... if you give me; weed,whites,  and wine

And you show me a sign

I'll be willin', to be movin'

And now days, "Old Folks Boogie" says it all.

  ... you know that you're over the hill

When your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill


Please enjoy this Little Feat "Two-Fer".  One is about the past coming back and the other represents the in my face Present.

Oh, Turning them up to WOW is mandatory as long as you have the room to tap your feet.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...................

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

D. Hard Swallow

Last Saturday, I went to the 8th Annual "Jeezum Crow Festival" at the Stateside Amphitheater located at Jay Peak Ski Resort up yonder in northern Vermont. It was quite a road trip for me as I have made it my goal to not wander far from my home toilet in recent years.

All I had to do was make it to my daughter's house and the rest of day and night I was allowed to be as loose as I wanted. Mr. Man and Lis took over and baby sat. It was great. They were great, I was grateful. The Day was one of the best of my life in recent memory.

We arrived around 2:00 PM. The first act, "Soulshine Revival" were into the back half of their set. We found our spots to set up the chairs. We sat down and enjoyed 8 hours of truly fine Bluegrass-ish, Country-ish, and Blues-ish picking and grinning. There was not a band I did not enjoy. 

While the second band, Sicard Hollow was setting up, my daughter turned to me. Because of the ambient noise that is part and parcel of events such as this, combined with my old fart ears failing to clearly hear, what I heard actually shocked me for a moment.  My daughter is no prude and has an expert grip on the complete range of obscenities that float through and around the American lexicon. But when I heard her say "Dick Hard Swallow", well, that rudely brought me out of my Pot edible/alcohol haze. 

I asked her, "Did you just say 'Dick Hard Swallow' "? 

She busted out laughing. And maybe she was also a little surprised that I also said those words. She was just telling me the name of the band that was setting up at that moment. Their name is "Sicard Hollow", but from now on until the end of time, they will be "Dick Hard Swallow" whenever I think of them. They are very good and don't deserve such a name, but well, sometimes its a cross a band has to swallow.

It was a great time. Once I sat down around 2:00 PM, I didn't move for 8 hours. I was hoping to not have to hit the head and I almost made it. But around 10:00 PM, I knew I had to hit the toilets ASAP.

My growing insistent call of nature had finally turned into an ugly inner turmoil of panic and promises from within that should I forego use of a toilet, things would most definitely get ugly. I stood up, stepped around my chair and almost fell backward down the hill. People jumped to save me and I imagine some jumped to escape. But as it turned out, my body was only fooling. With a smile and a "I got this"gesture, I stumbled up the hill to the ski lodge where the toilets were. I am sure the folks downstream from me had they known of the horror show of what might have been, would share my relief that I did not become a boulder with arms and legs gathering steam as I crushed and left them in my wake. .... You're welcome.

Damn, getting old sucks.


Because I had fun mangling their name, I figured I should hi-lite "Sicard Hollow" with a musical number of theirs. Here is their tune live in Nashville, "Grass is Greener"

These dudes rock! ............ But to me, they forever will be "Dick Hard Swallow".

Sorry dudes. 

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Jeezum Crow

My daughter and my son in law, Mr Man, are taking me to an outdoor concert in Vermont at the end of next week. More than a few acts will be taking the stage. Lis offered to get tickets because Charlie Parr is on the venue.

The 8th Annual Jeezum Crow Festival is a two day event kicking off Friday evening with a couple of acts. The bulk of the acts are playing on Saturday. Charlie Parr is scheduled to hit the stage at 4:30 PM. We hope to be there by 12:30 PM when the doors open so we can possibly sit on real seats ....... Hmm...... Now that I think about it, might not those wonderful folding chairs I bought a couple years ago be more comfortable than hard arena seats? ....... I'll have to bring this up with the Kid.

Charlie Parr is one of my new-ish favorite musical artists. He has been on my A-list for some time now. He is primarily a solo act who plays and sings songs of Regular Folk and their Blue Collar lives. A little country, some Bluegrass, and a healthy dollop of folk with a some blues tossed in for good measure. 

I struggled at first deciding what genre folder I would put Charlie's music in. He ended up with two folders, one was Blues, the other was Folk. Neither one pinned him down. Then this morning my daughter texted me with the name of one of the other groups at the concert in Vermont. 

"The Devil Makes Three" is their name and they hail from California.  They are scheduled to play around 10:00 PM I think. Hope I can hold it together that long. They are really good also.

Their claim their music is in the "Americana" genre............... I had never heard of the "Americana" genre, but as soon as I heard the term and then their music, I knew Charlie Parr would slip right into that "Americana" genre bucket. Both artists compose and play music rooted in the music of the heartlands of our grand country. 

Existing on the fringes of the established, for profit music industry, both bands have enjoyed success during their time in the smaller limelights. They exist successfully on the fringes of the establishment music industry. They don't pack stadiums or arenas. They play smaller venues usually and that suits me just fine. They have very dedicated fan bases.

It has only been in the last 10 years that I have become acquainted with the new Folk, Hipper bluegrass, and bygone Blues spiced up with new twists. Every week or so, I find new artists from the fringes who are playing wonderful new music that can still take me back to the days of concerts in fields and the sun baking my brain as a joint and a bottle of wine was passed around.

Of course, the loose dog festivals from back in the day when not many rules applied, well, they are long gone now. Nothing more than myths, tall tales, and drunken recollections left now. 

Can't bring a bota bag filled with Boone's Farm wine now days. Certainly,  there will be no passing of joints accompanied by stoner mumblings. And ferchrisakes, don't bring Fido. It's a new age and a new culture with rules that will not be broken.

 That's okay, I always find ways to break rules I don't agree with. Its part of the fun of livin.

Please, if you can't keep it on the road, at least...........

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................................


A two-fer with this post -

Looks to be an alcohol connection here. It was, as I used to say when I was small, a Cwinky Dink. Arbitrary, did not plan it.