Saturday, March 24, 2018

What's Your Pleasure?

What’s Your Pleasure?
     You gotta be kidding me?  I live 99 minutes away from the Columbus Metropolitan Heliport (CMH), a.k.a the airirport, and my flight departs at 0700.  Strapping a plane to my buttock for the better part of the day could have started at a more reasonable hour right?  Nope, not this time.  Off to the 29th Bataan Memorial Death March held at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.  As a five-time veteran of the march, I’m truly looking forward to the breath-taking view of mountains, and the desert vista stretching out for miles upon miles. The sand so white one can see it from the moon.  Not having been to the moon, I’ll take COL Glenn’s word for it.
      As I boarded at 0644, my Motus Operandi remained the same; find my seat, stow my gear, and pass out for the first thirty minutes.  I don’t even hear a word of the safety briefing before I’m sleeping like a baby, a log, the dead.  The plane could get hit by lightning, do six complete barrel rolls, and take a 62-degree nose down dive into the dirt and I wouldn’t notice.  Seriously, I’m lights out.
     What happens around me during this blissful 30 minutes?  Not a clue.  What I do know is when I awake, the prickly heat of stares is upon me.  Not that I care, because I’m refreshed, feeling good, ready to get to work.  However, I do have to wonder…was I snoring, drooling, talking in my sleep?  Unless someone has their phone out filming, I’ll never know.  Which brings me to my precise point.
      Countless Souls and I have spent numerous hours flying around the globe together leading me to one realization; we all fit loosely into one of the below airborne slumbering categories...

 Ya gotta pick one, because you know you fit in.  So, What’s Your Pleasure?

 The Fly Catcher?  Now this dude is a modern-day miracle.  Totally slack jawed, mouth gapping wide, preparing to catch any fly, insect, or piece of dust floating around the cabin looking for a home.  Now this may be me, but I tell ya, there are times on the way to the bathroom, I could perform minor dental surgery.  Counting molars, crowns, cavities, false teeth, is a favorite pastime.  I’m always tempted to drop a few peanuts or pretzels into the awaiting gob of the person looking most like a baby bird waiting for the first spring worm.  Amazing.

The Rubber Neck?  This individual is just too painful to watch.  My family just loves America’s Funniest Home Video’s and what’s an episode without a hilarious sequence of infants with their heads lolling about, falling asleep in their mash potatoes, birthday cake, or a plate of spaghetti?  Now fast forward to the average age of an airline passenger, and 1/3 of us fall into this category.  No way could they bend their necks at such obtuse angels while awake.  Those masseuses who rent a place at the airport and give the 15 minute neck and back rubs will never, I repeat NEVER be out of work as long as I'm around.

The Snort-asaurus?  One of my most favorite!  You can just tell sleeping beauty is semi-conscious, knowing he snores like a freight train at home, not wanting to spill the beans in public.   Well, too late, as an incredibly deep, loud, most often sharp SNORT echoes throughout the cabin.  If pigs could fly it’d get their attention!  Now this dude has scared awake anyone slumbering within three rows and they are tryin to figure out what hit the plane or what part just got ingested into the engine.  Heart rates begin to slow as the Snort-asaurus relaxes back into his gasping rhythm…  

The Space Invader?  This species is most often found on flights departing Las Vegas.  After a hard night of making sure what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas, this bachelor party veteran is ready for the sack.  There’s a method to his madness; The invasion starts slowly on the arm rest while his seat-mates are still awake.  The plan breaks ground, levels off and then phase two commences.  The unlucky seat-mate finds his stale alcohol exuding BFF snoring gently on his shoulder.  The human pillow adjusts slightly, leans toward the window and gives up more space not wanting to interrupt such an awesome nap.  Phase three…  total muscle relaxation.  The slumbering individual now fully leans on his neighbor, shattering all socially acceptable definitions of personal space.  If it's a trip back to Boston the Space Invader may take the liberty of laying down in their new buddies lap like a four year old with his Momma.  AWKWARRRRDD!

The Puddle Maker?  Now this is just gross.  But ahh yes, it happens, especially to those of you who use your tray as a pillow.  The Puddle Maker is hard at work as he dreams away, leaving you wonder just how much salvia a person can manufacture.  Seriously, where is all this drool coming from?   Worst waking nightmare?  This torrential downpour dangles from the tray over the line of demarcation into your space.  Then what do you do?  Seriously, What do you do??  Best part though, is when PM wakes up.  Totally unaware of the St. Bernard worthy string of white frothy gunk hanging from his lower lip connecting him to his shirt, pants, tray, or all of the above.  Then he  realizes he's done it again and tries to figure out what to do the newly formed lake under foot.   A Classic to observe!

So we all fit into a category people.  What’s Your Pleasure?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Traveling Abroad?

Traveling Abroad?  You Better Know Your $#!^! 
     Contained in the following paragraphs is my sagely advice gathered from 35 years of traveling all over the world in my current job, with the military, and on several vacations.  If you’re interested in help with a check list, we’ll, this isn’t the article for you.  
     What I can offer is the only thing you’ll really need besides a valid passport and perhaps a visa.   Anything you forget on the kitchen table or in your bathroom you can buy at your destination, or something relatively similar.  This critical advice you can’t pack in a bag.
     The bottom line?  Knowing your $#!^ before you have to take one.  No joke!  There is no moment in a foreign country filled with more anxiety than the first time you saddle up to the commode.  And depending on the country, the second, third, and fourth times can be as equally harrowing!  As you can guess, yours truly, being of the male species, won’t take my own advice before traveling to a foreign land.  Which is…  Watch YOU TUBE, ya big dummy!
      If You Tube existed back in 1983 when I ventured to The Peoples Republic of China, I may have known my posterior would be precariously perched over a smelly hole in the floor with two painted foot prints straddling the target ensuring pin point accuracy.  These outlines were certainly not measured for western folk as they were much, much too narrow.  Perhaps the clue appeared moments before while I was snapping pictures on my Cannon 35mm Camera of the indigenous people comfortably crouched like Johnny Bench behind the plate, happily smoking and chatting about the weather, politics or the screaming hot spices in the local Szechwan noodle shop.  No way could I assume that position without a lifeline to hang onto, no way.  The savvy traveler would have started prepping his knees months before the 18 hour plane ride for this agonizing squat.  This, my friends, was my first painfully anxious experience into the world of international toilet protocol! 
      Let’s jump to 1986, right after college, as I landed at the Amsterdam airport to continue my hockey career.  Have imbibed in various spirits in flight, I had a few things to take care of prior to transitioning through customs.    My first challenge was deciphering which commode to visit.  I guessed right and went for the stick figure without the skirt on.  Not that that would have mattered in some parts of Amsterdam.  Finding the configuration of the apparatus relatively similar to those stateside, I commenced to commencing and finished up in short order.  Then came the final step, the wake-up call, the paperwork if you will.  I glanced to my right, you know next to the ashtray, and noticed the grade of paper available.   Seriously?  I could get softer sand paper at Lowes!  This gray no-ply stuff was brutal!  My Mother would have taken extreme offense to the Dutch wanting her baby boys touché assaulted with such material.  Once again, not having done my homework, I signed up for the new adventure and vowed never again to depart the shores of North America without a soft cloudy “Square to Spare”.
     Did I learn?  Nope!  It was off to Egypt several years later for some military training.  As my feet hit the Saini my Army issued parachute enveloped me and the 13 hour flight ended.  Having some necessities to take care of the conversation went something like this…
“Hey Sergeant Walmsley, I gotta go.” 
“No worries Dean, just use your entrenching tool and cover the hole when you’re done.  Hey, and don’t forget to check for Scorpions.” 
“Yea Man, they’re everywhere and are drawn to the heat.” 
      You gotta be kidding me!  No way was I going to be the first injured on this deployment.  Talk about something that doesn’t brief well?  Being Medevac’d for a scorpion bite on the rump would never be lived down.  Ever!
       Are you starting to get the drift?  If not, you need to.  Because the little drinking fountain next "Der Toiletten" in Germany isn’t for dehydration purposes.  It’s for hydrating your birthday suit.  And please, please don’t forget toilet paper doesn’t go down the chute.  It gets wadded up in more T.P. and tossed into the little garbage can by the baby wipes.  The baby wipes?  Yup, one of five critical steps in the procedure.  And a procedure it is, especially if you’re trying to figure it out on the fly.
      My last piece of advice originates from my most recent business swarray  to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.  On a trip to the world’s largest  and most amazing indoor mall in Dubai, I found it was that time.  I was honestly taken aback when I walked into my first public bathroom stall to find the floor looking as though my Yellow Lab had shaken himself dry after jumping into the Ohio river.  There was water all over the place!  As I broached the immaculate porcelain potty, I saw the hose.  Now this apparatus, in this setting, was new to me.  Minimal paper in the stall, but a bright shiny silver hose, like the one by the sink where you might wash your hair.  Except you don’t wash your hair…  Good thing I had Wranglers on or the full on sprinkler effect on my trousers would have been noticed immediately.  Still trying to figure out the methodology here… 
      Please tell me you’ve figured this out.  I pray my close calls from Caracas, to Xian, back over to Cairo and then onto Pristina have made your lightbulb go on.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  Put You Tube and Google to work.  If your load isn’t too heavy already, pack a little pack of Western pleasure.  Just for some piece of mind.  Happy Trails!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

8 Pounds of Memories

8  Pounds of Memories in a Can

My beloved wife left me this weekend...
     She left me to watch a multitude of young Collegiate wrestlers in the prime of their lives (and singlets) compete for the opportunity to represent their Conference, their Team and themselves at the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland.
     Her absence left me with two dogs, three cats, four horses and myself all standing around in our skivvies staring at each other wondering how much beer we could consume, war movies we could watch, and openly debating if pizza was a three meal a day option.
     Before the nine of us could cut loose the “Honey Do” list had to be dealt with.  We all saw it lurking there on the frig beckoning to us like the dreaded chores on an early Saturday morning.    
      I laid waste to the horse waste, I beat the weeds into submission, the mold on the lower deck got the green power washed out of it.  I systematically scratched off item by item on said list seeing my plan coming together nicely. 
     Ol Righty, one more task and I can order the heart stopping, colin stretching, meat lovers Chicago style extra large pizza and hit up Dish for this weekend’s MMA fights. 
     Number 8  on the list looked innocent enough…
“Put decorative handle on refinished night stand.”
     No worries!  This will take ten minutes tops!  All I needed was a bolt and a nut...
     Quickly skating out to the garage in my stocking feet, seeing myself as Tom Cruise in "Risky Business", I arrived at my beloved tool bench.  The multitude of stickers from years past always welcoming.  
     Sizing up the requirement, I reached to the bottom shelf for... You guessed it!  That “Chock Full of Nuts” coffee can containing every sized screw, bolt, nut, washer, and those multi-colored hubalators that go at the end of the electric wiring.  In fact, some of this treasured collection was left to me by my Dad and maybe even his Father's Father.
     Holy Cow!  My family heirloom has anything this modern day world may need (or want).  And then some!
“Ahh, throw it in the can, never know when you’re gonna need it”, my Dad’s words echoed.
     Hoisting the treasure chest onto the bench, I winced under its sheer weight.  One of the dogs tilted his head wondering what the grinding popping sound was.  Yea, it was my back.  That sucker must go eight to ten pounds at least!  I've caught tournament winning bass that weighed less.
     Knowing exactly what my project called for, I began digging through the first layer. 
Then it happened...
The Cans magic had me.
It drew me in, right then and there.
I was under it’s spell.  Time became a mere concept.
     In the next 90 minutes the entire garage floor was strategically covered with ever article of hardware that Can had to offer.  
     I sorted them alphabetically by size, diameter, application, and relevance, creating a sheer Masterpiece of organizational efficiency.  Next time a project required anything known to man, I knew exactly where I could find it!

So did I find the right sized screw and bolt?  Of course not!  

     I’m sure I had only used it the week before.  But the inadvertent stroll down memory lane was well worth it.  Finding bits and pieces of my daughters 4H bird feeder, the angle iron from my son’s homemade pool table, and a bit of wood from the first book case my wife and I ever refinished.
     Who would have thought so many memories would be held in a 12to 18 pound collection of stuff?  
     But there they were, laid out in front of me beckoning to continue my leisurely stroll.  And I did…
     When the incantation wore off I realized I had totally missed my pizza/ fight window and may have a herniated disk.  I slid into the truck venturing off to Loews for the mythical bolt and nut to complete #8 on the list.    
     I grabbed a “Hot n Ready” pizza at the Little Caesar’s and headed back to the ranch. 
     Upon arrival to my famished animals I saw my wife’s car in garage.  
     “How could that be?”  I had my hardware jig saw puzzle laid out on that very floor!
     Skidding to a halt, I labored out of the truck to see my wife coming out to meet me.  
     “Hey Honey,” she beamed, “The tournament got done early.”
“I put all that stuff back in your Dads Coffee Can for you....”

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hail to the Golden Girls

Hail to the Golden Girls!  By that I mean, Hail to the 2018 Winter Olympic Gold Medalist!  USA, USA,USA!  As a former Division I hockey player, and one who played overseas, I hesitate to call my experience professional as it was marginal play at best.  I marvel at how far the Women  have ventured in not only four years, but in my personal experience of 54 years. 
     Not totally giving away my age, I was present at the inception of the Pembroke Pandas hockey program, which in turn become the Brown University Women's team.  The home of several ECAC Championships and several Olympians.
     Knowing that not all of you are hockey buffs or even fans for that matter, I wanted to tie a few things in here by letting you know how much of a role hockey played in my life and the lives of the Co-eds I fell in love with back in 1966.
     Slight right turn here, so stay with me...  My Dad ran three retail stores (Ashby Dean’s LTD.) on Thayer St. in East Providence, RI.  He was gladly an initial sponsor, being one who greatly appreciated the fairer sex.  Now, in 1966 their skills were still developing but many played with brothers and friends on frozen ponds, and the vast majority had figure skating backgrounds.  I vividly remember the hand-me-down equipment and beat up sticks the Panda’s started with.  But the fire was there, they were Pioneers by God!  Dad's store was three blocks from the rink so I lived at Meehan Auditorium, watched the men and women practice daily and had the fortune of several of the women babysit on occasion.  "You kidding?  She knows who Bobby Orr is, shoots pucks, and smells great?  What's not to Love?"
     The game was very different at that point not at all what we witnessed several weeks ago in a phenomenal showcase of talent, heart, and dedication.  The skating, stick work and strategic aspect of the game was absolutely first rate.  A true pleasure to watch!
      Much like these young Athletes, and the thousands more.  Hockey was my life.  "Why?" you ask?  At the tender age of six it was my source of validation, confidence, and hope.  Man, my Squirt team was awesome…  Winners of several State/ New England Championships, numerous tournament wins, and yours truly was one of the lead dogs.  Many teammates went on to Collegiate and Professional careers.  Like most great power houses we all came together at the tender age of around six.
     That athletic validation was critical.  My budding dyslexia was showing up even at that point.  I couldn't tell my Left from my Right so as a Right Winger, I had to wait for everyone to line up so I could figure out where to go.  In the classroom I was being pulled aside with a few others  who were struggling with basic skills.  God forbid anyone should ask me the months of the year.  I didn't unscramble those till sixth grade.  Hockey was my savior.
     These two worlds collided when I had to read a small speech at our New England Championship Banquet.  45 years later, I can still remember standing in front of everyone staring at the words.  Extremely painful.  But now?  I’ll speak in front of any crowd, You name it! 
     So what in tarnation does this have to do with the 2018 Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medalist?? Well, in both our cases I’ll apply the 1968 tobacco slogan targeting Women…
“You’ve Come a Long Way Baby”!
A Heart Felt Congratulations to all the Players, Staff, and Families of the Reigning Women’s Ice Hockey Olympic Gold Medalists!