Monthly Archives: January 2013

That new-car feeling

We’ve been car shopping for the last couple of days.  As you may already know, we have a new grand-baby in the family, living in faraway Charlotte, NC, and we have made a few trips to that part of the world, with more in the offing.  She is the daughter of Joe & Erin Green.  Kate’s son Josh will be living in the Charlotte area by the end of the month, and he and wife Jessica are expecting a child in a few months – see the pattern here?  Road trips!

We needed something better for these upcoming trips – the Ford Focus was just too cramped and wasn’t that good for highway cruising, so we decided it was time for an upgrade.

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So, we went out to do the dreaded car-shop thing.  Usually that’s a painful, stressful exercise, but not this time!  The main reason for doing this blog post is to tell you what a nice experience we had while purchasing this car.  We had done a little shopping at other lots but wound up at  John Jones Chevrolet-Chrysler in our home town of Corydon, Indiana.  Our salesperson was Brad Montgomery, who proved to be a true gentleman.  He was courteous and helpful throughout the process, and made us feel comfortable and that we were not under any pressure. It was a pleasant change from other purchases made in years past.  When it came time to sign the papers and talk about the financial end of things, Brad showed us to Bryan Kidd’s office, where the excellent treatment continued.  Brad took care to see that we understood every step of the process, and again, we did not feel pressured in any way.  As an aside, I had occasion to make use of their service facility for my Silverado I had purchased there, and was totally pleased with the service end of the business.

Bravo all round to Brad, Bryan, and the service folks.  Good job, John Jones Dealership!

p.s. Thanks, Brad, for laughing at my silly jokes  🙂

Storytime – The Future, maybe?

Image It was only fifty years ago, but it was soooooooo long ago, too. It was difficult to get used to, of course, but it was certainly welcomed.  Now that it was no longer necessary to work, we all had the complete freedom to do anything we wished. And, the agent of change has been the robot, in the home and in the factories.

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I know, I know, some of you don’t believe it.  Those of you too young can’t imagine what it was like to spend at least a third of each twenty-four hour weekday in the workplace.  Because the cities were so spread out, we had to drive long distances to arrive at our places of employment, and then periodically, when we received payment for our servitude, the government took a large slice of the money to support the necessary (as well as the unnecessary programs) under its management (mis-management?).  Day after day, week after week, long years spent away from our homes, shackled to desks, to machines, to serving counters – and, for the most part, it was mind-numbing work.

Now, of course, none of that is required.  We don’t have to go to workplaces because everything is provided without cost, so no money is needed.  All of the wealth was put exactly where it was needed – in the hands of the robots that now took care of our needs.  Can you imagine being on the operating table under the knife of an actual human surgeon?  Of course not – robots do it effortlessly, never tiring, never making a mistake.  We have to convalesce, just as in the old days, but now robot nurses staff the hospitals.     At home, our food is provided, all vegetable, as you know, harvested by large autonomic harvesters, cooked and packaged in shiny stainless prep rooms (I almost used the word ‘kitchens’ – another archaic term).

Years ago, we longed for travel and leisure.  It’s available for everyone now, not just the wealthy.  Our fusion-powered vehicles take us down safe corridors wherever we want to go, automatically driving our like-interest groups (I almost said ‘families’ here – archaic, again) to any destination.  Air travel is even simpler, now that we have aircraft that can land anywhere without need for an airport.

I know I’m telling you things you already know, but it’s worth reviewing.  So many of us can’t appreciate just how wonderful our lives are.  For instance, do you think you’d really enjoy raising your own children?  Of course not!  And, since there are fewer and fewer children every year, the robots are getting even better at arranging the schedules and activities of the young people.  It’s nice not having the little people underfoot, isn’t it?  Also, I’m not sure childbirth is something we want to continue.  The scientists think that just maybe there’s another way – we’ll see.

Our lives have been eased and better-structured in so many ways.  Our clothing comes from automatic factories, no cleaning required since we just discard them every day.  It once was necessary to visit ‘stores’ to gather items to take to our houses, but the tube-delivery system allows everything to be auto-delivered right to our houses.  Actually, there’s very little reason to go anywhere, now that I think about it.  Video conferencing to simulate social events, automatically prepared foods, twenty-four hour entertainment pumped into our houses… what more could we want?

One disturbing thing – there are rumors of Luddite groups springing up.  They say they are driven by boredom.  What can that mean?  How can we be bored?  Isn’t this what we wanted?

Storytime – Dark Sea Adventure

This is my start to a “Round Robin” writing exercise.  I wrote this first part, then another member of our writing group will do part 2, while I go on to do part 2 of someone else’s story.  Sounds like fun, yes?  🙂

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Dark Sea Adventure – Part 1

Paul was pacing the floor, fists clenched, trying to convince Edward to join him in this one foray into crime.  He said, “Edward, you must surely see the necessity of this.  We are entirely out of funds.  We have no way to return to England, and we can no longer continue our lives of debauchery with no funds.  We can hardly afford a bottle of wine to share!”  Paul’s entire appearance was that of an unmade bed.  His hair was uncombed, his waistcoat was not buttoned, and he strode back and forth in stocking feet.  His eyes were red-rimmed, and a shave would certainly be in order.  Paul was only five feet tall, but his strong personality made him seem somewhat larger than life.  His curly red hair made him seem pugnacious.

Edward hemmed and hawed, trying to squirm away from the duty Paul was trying to place before him.  He knew full well that they were out of money, but still demurred.  “Paul, you can’t be serious!  Have you not heard any of the tales about the conditions in the prison here in Cherbourg?  And, since we are not even French, they’ll likely be quite harsh with us.  We’ll be incarcerated for the rest of our lives, surely!”  He sat in the only chair they owned, elbows on knees, head in hands.  He massaged his temples, hoping to erase the headache he had been given by his roommate.  Edward was taller, blessed with a handsome face, a beautiful mane of lustrous dark hair, and a mellifluous voice, but his chin was weak, which perfectly mirrored his indecision at this moment.  He stood, doing his own pacing, said, “And why must we waylay this bank courier?  Couldn’t we just get regular jobs?  It’s 1912, there are factories, and surely there is work to be had for industrious fellows.”

Paul shouted now, “Edward, Edward, use your head!  We’ll have to work twelve hour days for a pittance.  Is that how you wish to spend your life?  I don’t think so.  The fellow in the bar said that the courier is not armed, he is not escorted, and he even told us where to lie in wait.  The work of a few moments and we’ll be set for the rest of the year, at least.  Come, be reasonable.  Just do this one thing for me, yes?”

Edward said, “Alright, we’ll do it.  But, no killing, I insist.  We knock him in the head, grab his satchel and be on our way.  Agreed?”

Paul was overjoyed, and was literally dancing around the room.  “Yes, tomorrow is the big day, and we’ll have our fortunes renewed.  Shake on it, my friend!”  He extended his hand.

Edward took his hand, hesitantly.  “I hope it goes as you say.”

*   *   *

   Now, three days later, Paul was hiding among the shipping crates alongside the dock.  Edward was dead and there was nothing to show for it.  The courier had been unarmed and unescorted, as they were told, but the gendarmes appeared from nowhere, swinging their batons.  Paul saw Edward go down, bleeding profusely from the side of his head.  Paul ran and ran, never looking back.

From his hiding place he saw a table set up nearer the water where they were hiring on seamen to ship out.  That might be just the thing.  Work for a few months aboard ship, then jump ship when they arrived in a friendly port.

He approached the table, then was relieved to find that the hiring man was speaking English.  “Sir, are you still taking on men for this voyage?”  Paul held his breath, waiting for the answer.

“Aye, laddie.  Sign here, and you can board right away.  We’re short several men and will hope to fill ship’s complement at the next port, in Ireland.”

Paul quickly signed the paper, glancing furtively around but seeing no one who might be after him.  He strode toward the gangplank, but then stopped for a moment and asked, “By the way, what’s the name of my new ship?”

“Why, it’s the Titanic, laddie, the Unsinkable!” the man shouted at him.

Storytime – Holmes at the Elephant and Castle

Keywords to include in the story: gumball   accubation   ubiquitous

I lounged, almost in a pose of accubation, in the Elephant and Castle, awaiting the arrival of my dear companion, Doctor Watson.  I entertained myself by browsing the Daily Telegraph, seeking the unusual, the arcane.  This daily rag of the bourgeoisie seemed bulging with adverts for things common, as well as things apparently found only in the homes of carnival denizens.  What the devil was a gumball machine, anyway?

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Ubiquitous among these adverts were the brazen claims made by the purveyors of patent medications, purported to cure all the ailments of gullible, frail, hypochondriacally crippled people with loose monies to spend on panaceas. Oh, the folly!

Half-past, and still no Watson. Deucedly irritating!  Perhaps he had been detained by one of those hypochondriacs, himself.  This was not the first time he had been late due to the demands of a woman who was distressed by the changing appearance of her aging body, or perhaps by the entreaties of a gentleman hoping to achieve those levels of performance remembered from years past.  Gad, what fools we mortals be!

As I gazed upon the patrons of the Elephant I practiced my powers of deduction, seeking only the smallest of details which would lead invariably to the revelation of their backgrounds or fields of employ.  Here was a somewhat nicely dressed man of means, regaling his companions with his tales of conquests in the marketplace.  As he spoke, I glanced at his hands, those revealing appendages which told many things about their owners.  His were stained perceptibly black at the tips, suggesting labors at the presses rather than as the top publisher he claimed to be.

Also at his table, seated next to another braggart, was a woman clothed in finery, sparklingly bejeweled.  Something about this Kensington courtesan did not ring true, and it took me but a moment to discover the clue.  The reflected beams of sunlight captured by her earrings did not display the correct levels of radiance expected from true diamonds.  I had written a monograph on this very subject and therefore knew that these baubles were not genuine.  Further investigation revealed that her gown was rather crudely stitched across the shoulders, indicative of manufacture by the new lock-stitch machines, rather than the fine stitches produced by a seamstress of quality and experience.chatelaine-2 Finally, I noted that her chatelaine was of very poor quality and was at the point of failing, thus to release her trinkets upon the floor.

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Across the room was another gathering of men, surrounding a man who was holding forth on the marvels of manufacture that could be seen at the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park.  And, although he had been exposed to many miracles of the Industrial Age, his attempts at explanation of these marvels bordered on the laughable.  Unfortunately, his voice carried well across the public house and I could hear all of it, much more than I desired.  According to him, some of these new mechanisms employed principles never mentioned in any physics textbook.  It was all I could do to keep from rising to my feet and take him down from his pedestal by use of pure logic.  And yet I restrained myself.

“Holmes, are you well?  You seem quite distracted,” said Watson, arriving at last.  I rose to shake his hand, delighted to welcome him to my table.

“Dr. Watson, you have delivered me from boredom once again!  How wonderful to see you!  Any news of further investigations to be made, new mysteries to solve?”

We sat down together to plumb the depths of human foibles.