DON’T BLAME SANTA!

“I’ve never liked traveling during holidays. I come down with more crud at Christmas and New Year’s than any other time. “

Covid 19

In December, my wife decided to visit our three grandchildren in Minnesota. Joleen really missed them, and because of such our daughter sent a surprise airplane ticket. I elected to remain behind in Arizona and care for the pets.

I’ve never liked traveling during holidays. I come down with more crud at Christmas and New Year’s than any other time. Because of such, I become a hermit where visiting stores and public gatherings are concerned. Rarely do I venture into crowded places until the holidays are over.

Joleen’s trip was to be 5 days. On Thursday – December 12th, she took a shuttle van from Lake Havasu City to Las Vegas where the flight was to originate. ‘Simon the Pekingese’ and I saw her off at 5:00 that morning. He went through his usual separation anxiety cries.

For the next three days I stayed at the house working on several story compositions, including putzing around the garage. Joleen told me that things were going fine over there. She felt great even though it was much colder in Eden Prairie.

On Sunday -December 15th, I begrudgingly decided to make a Walmart run. There were basic food items needed and I wanted to pick them up before Joleen returned. She was set to fly back to Las Vegas on Monday evening.

When I got to Walmart their parking lot was full. Being so close to Christmas shoppers were out in force. Soon after walking through the door I heard and saw a man coughing mere feet in front of me. He made no attempt to cover his mouth.

I immediately hit the brakes and went a different direction. There were only a few groceries to get so I was not in the store long. Late Sunday evening, I began feeling sick . I was sweating and starting to cough. Medical places weren’t open at that time other than the hospital emergency room.

First thing Monday morning, on December 16th, I drove myself to Urgent Care. By then I was coughing badly and had a 101 temperature. I told the nurse practitioner I thought I was coming down with bronchitis. She diagnosed it as such and gave me a Z-Pak (azithromycin) plus some codeine cold medicine. The woman warned me not to drive while using the cough syrup. She didn’t know how bad I drove without it.

That afternoon, Simon and I headed to Vegas. Having taken a couple of the antibiotics beforehand plus downing water by the quart, I was starting to feel better. I knew I was on the road to recovery.

Picking Joleen up at the airport, she said that she was very tired. Thankfully we’d made plans to spend the night. Early Tuesday morning my wife woke up with a severe cough, aches and pains, plus feeling like she had an above normal temperature. After eating breakfast we started the two and a half hour drive home.

Once back in Havasu, on Friday the 20th, I took my wife to one of the local walk-in clinics. It’d been her idea to wait. I advised her before going in to to ask for a Z-Pak, as I thought she exhibited signs of bronchitis.

“Yes, Dr. Hankins.”, she sarcastically muttered.

A nurse practitioner on duty briefly examined her proclaiming it was a cold and nothing more. When Joleen returned to the car with a prescription for an inhaler to help her breathing I was a bit miffed.

By the following morning she was coughing relentlessly and was so tired she could hardly get out of bed. I told her she needed to go to the ER, but against my wishes she insisted on waiting a few days to see if things got better.

Because she hadn’t shown any improvement, on December 22nd, I took her to another walk-in clinic. A nurse practitioner on duty there diagnosed her with Influenza type-B flu, saying that the previous clinic had not properly tested her for such. This nurse told her to pick up some Tamaflu along with a bottle of cough syrup. Joleen asked this person about perhaps getting a Z-Pak, but the woman said it’d do no good. We stopped by Walgreen’s and grabbed her meds on the way home. I had a bad feeling at this time about how things were going.

A few days later, on the 26th, Joleen was so weak she could hardly rise. Again, I wanted to take her to ER but she was defiantly against such. Joleen insisted on seeing her regular doctor instead. A call was made to that office, with a woman at the front desk evidently sensing urgency in her voice. Thankfully, this medical professional squeezed my wife in.

After a thorough examination, Joleen was given a steroid shot, along with a prescription for a Z-Pak antibiotic and stronger cough medicine. Over the next several days she slowly got better. It took a full four weeks before she was back to normal strength. By this time the novel coronavirus was still practically unheard of in this country.

I definitely caught my illness from a simple Walmart trip as I’d not been anywhere else. One reason I believe I knocked it out it so quick, is because I started a regimen of azithromycin (Z-Pak) less than 24-hours after coming down with the junk. I’ve learned not to mess around when I get sick. Over 30- years ago I tried to tough out a bout of bronchitis and ended up with pneumonia. Never again!

Joleen developed all the symptoms of Covid 19 plus some. Medical facilities in Lake Havasu at that time did not know how to check for it. Testing has now improved considerably.

Joleen said she was in the company of a large contingent of Chinese Nationals while at Las Vegas McCarren Airport. She thought they were heading back home. Joleen believes this is where she picked up the bug. On the other hand, I think she got it from me. We’ll never know for sure and does it even matter?

There are now ways to detect if a person had Covid 19. Neither of us are interested in going in for the test. Perhaps six months from now we’ll change our minds when things hopefully return to normal.

Friends and family knowing exactly how sick my wife was, believe she definitely had Covid 19 and kicked it. Being a cancer survivor with a weakened immune system it was only through the Grace of God that she did. Finally getting that Z-Pak helped as well.

Since that time, many people living in Arizona and other states are claiming they had Covid 19 before it was first reported. If such turns out to be true, the stealthy virus was making rounds long before Kris Kringle hit town.

Regardless on who’s responsible for bringing it to this country one thing’s for sure,

“Don’t blame it on Santa Claus!”

ALL ABOUT ME

“Hey man, it’s about freedom!”

Spring breakers ignore Florida social distancing rules.

Since Covid-19 came along I’ve become more of a people watcher than ever before. I’ve noticed that a selfish nature in some people is running more rampant than the Kung-flu. This egotistical haughtiness surfaced faster than an enemy submarine. I sincerely believe all about me people view the world as revolving around them.

My wife had to have blood drawn the other day. I sat outside the lobotomy lab in our car while she went in. A sign on the door advised people to follow CDC guidelines which include wearing a mask. For the most part everyone did including Joleen.

A Jeep with out-of-state (not California) plates rolled up and a young lady wearing no safety protection stepped out. Into the building she strolled with purse in one hand and cell phone in the other.

When Joleen returned I asked her about that. She said that the woman was advised to put a mask on yet refused. An employee told my wife that people have become belligerent over such. Her company wasn’t pressing the issue. A simple sign on their front door proclaiming: No Mask – No Service would’ve solved the problem.

I see such at supermarkets. Most all grocery employees in Lake Havasu City wear masks and gloves. These same all about me folks much like that gal at the blood lab saunter in void of PPE (personal protection equipment). In their way of seeing things they aren’t going to get the crud. Clueless as they are, these folks don’t think for a second that they could be asymptomatic, and are spreading the virus to those around them.

When spring breakers invaded Florida beaches they were basically ordered to practice social distancing. That went over like sour milk. Eventually, the Florida governor closed all beaches but not before several students came down with coronavirus. They took it back home infecting innocent people along the way. When one partygoer was interviewed and asked why he defied rules, his answer was curt,

“Hey man, it’s about freedom!”

I would’ve loved to been there. My heckle from the sidelines would be just as short and cute,

“No man, it’s all about you!”

That might’ve started a physical confrontation. At my age, such confrontations are best to avoid although there’s nothing wrong with a literal one. In a literal confrontation you don’t have to dodge fists, but you do have to duck obscenity-laced hand grenades. That’s where thick skin comes in handy.

I’ve yet to have someone toss that freedom word my direction when discussing Covid-19. With so many people having a care-free and lackadaisical attitude about the flu, I’m sure it’ll ultimately happen. When that day comes I have a polite response already on tap,

“Your freedom? Yea, tell me about it should you tragically end up hooked to tubes and wires stuck inside a hospital ventilator machine!”

I highly doubt such an individual would get the message!

We’ve all met one of these people

FAKE, SHAKE, ‘n BAKE

“One day when she was at work, I grabbed some Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and ground them up along with a concoction of various herbs and spices.”

Shake ‘n Bake

I remember when Shake ‘n Bake first came out. Mom tried it and we were hooked. Problem at the start, is that grocery stores couldn’t keep the stuff in stock. You rarely hear this name anymore. There are so many alternative coatings for meat.

After I married, my wife continued using the product. Her family grew up eating Shake ‘n Bake chicken just like mine. There was no way to mess up chicken if you used this product and carefully followed directions. Hey, even I can make Shake ‘n Bake.

Somewhere down the road, Joleen was given a recipe by a friend on how to mix up a batch of chicken coating from scratch. The main ingredient I recall was corn flakes. My wife frowned on trying it but I was game.

One day while she was at work, I grabbed some Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and ground them up along with a concoction of various herbs and spices. Succulent chicken breasts were rolled around in this exotic blend and popped into the oven.

Things might’ve turned out okay had the corn flakes not turned black within minutes. What wasn’t mentioned on the recipe was not to use corn flakes with a sugar coating. By the time my chicken was done the breasts were black as coal. We ate the birds by peeling off smoldering blankets of burnt topping.

I love Shake ‘n Bake chicken. There’s no better way to make it other than using the original product. Why fix something if it ain’t broke?

Fake ‘n Bake is something I was introduced to in Alaska. I’m a fair-skinned guy and turn red instead of tan. Joleen and I were going on a trip to Hawaii and someone recommended I spend a few hours in a tanning bed. This was years before the things were deemed hazardous.

I made an appointment at a tanning parlor close to our house. It was strange lying underneath what appeared to be a device for pressing clothes. At first I was claustrophobic yet eventually fell asleep.

When an employee shouted that my time was up, I crawled out expecting to see in the mirror a bronzed, Mr. Universe. Instead, I was red like a Jonathan apple. Ultraviolet light didn’t agree with my skin pigment. I flew to Hawaii looking and feeling sunburned way before hitting the beach.

Years later we made another trip to the Aloha State. This time a friend suggested I try some spray tan that’d just come on the market. The spray had an opposite effect. After rubbing it on my face and arms, I turned a soft orange hue.

My eye sockets remained pale as did palms and fingernail area. Photos of me on that trip are safely tucked away.

I’ve learned many important things over my 66 years and will share a couple:

“Shake ‘n Bake helps make chicken great!”

“Friends don’t let friends Fake ‘N Bake!”

Fake ‘n Bake

GOT GOUDA?

“On many occasions, a good laxative or enema was needed by weekend.”

Smoked Gouda cheese

I’m a cheese connoisseur. If simply eating cheese makes a person an expert on the subject, then I proudly wear that crown. Not to brag, but I know my way around grocery store cheese-coolers better than most supermarket managers.

My love of cheese goes way back to school days. Before my brother and I headed out the door, mom put slices of pasteurized American on white-bread, and then added bologna before sending us us off. Contained within a hot lunch box until noon, the golden-yellow-cheese melded to perfection with mayonnaise and processed meat. This popular cuisine had a unique aroma which I can still noseulize today.

Often times for dessert, classmates rolled portions of sandwich bread into dough balls with bits of American cheese inside. It’s a delicacy that most kids of this generation haven’t sampled. On many occasions after eating this stuff, a good laxative or enema was needed by weekend. Mom usually had me eat prunes or drink prune juice to ease the pain.

As I grew older, I began to appreciate the more exotic blends of cheese. Dad insisted that we always have Parmesan in the refrigerator for spaghetti. A can didn’t last long in our house. My brother and I sprinkled it heavily on buttered toast. Judging by the name, Parmesan cheese most likely originated in France.

Mozzarella was mom’s number one choice in making homemade pizza. This Italian-bred cheese has a unique stickiness that binds all other toppings together, much like a glue trap. Years ago, I bit into a freshly baked Calzone finding that the mozzarella was still at molten stages. The roof of my mouth shed skin for a week. I haven’t made that mistake twice.

Velveeta. What can I say about this luscious loaf of savory cheese! There’s nothing sweet’a than a box of Velveeta, especially in Mac-n-Cheese. Melted, it works well on nachos but please don’t add any Jalapenos. The unique thing with Velveeta is that it seems to last forever. There’s evidently some secret ingredients that keep it from molding.

Pepper Jack is another favorite. This cheese hasn’t been around as long as others. Swiss is perhaps the oldest. I recall the unique holes in Swiss cheese going back to my earliest years. Some boy once told me the holes came from mice. I believed him for several years. To this day, I still don’t know how they get there and really don’t care.

My cheese of choice at the moment is smoked Gouda. I absolutely crave chunks of smoked Gouda on Cheez-It crackers. The combination makes for a double-cheese-whammy as they say in the south. When I’m on the computer writing junk, I generally have a small plate of Smoked Gouda within arm’s reach of my mouse.

The last time my wife went to Smith’s grocery store, for reasons known only to her, she came back with Low Fat Provolone. That supposedly healthy cheese isn’t on my list of favorites. I jokingly scolded her,

“You should’a got Gouda!”

I’ve been told that eating too much cheese is probably not good for a person. I don’t know if that’s truth or fiction? An advertisement I came across the other day claimed that cheese is a good source of calcium for older people. I’ll definitely agree with that.

One thing that nutritionists don’t have to tell me, is that if you eat a lotta cheese, make sure and leave room for da prunes.

My mama taught me that years ago!

Rich in fiber prunes

BLACK CATS, CHERRY BOMBS, M-80’s, & PUNKS

“The explosion resulted in the crapper being blown to smithereens.”

Black Cat firecracker package

As a child, I grew up in an era when there were no warnings about sticking your head into a 5-gallon bucket of water. Child seats were unheard of. Cribs weren’t ‘safety tested.’ Kids eagerly drank out of garden hoses each summer. Pocket knives were allowed in school. Some fireworks had the power as a quarter-stick of dynamite. In spite of all this, I’m still kickin’.

There’s valid reason for government stepping in and making rules and guidelines to protect children. Child seats are perhaps one of the best. Many young lives have been saved since infant and child seats in cars and trucks became a requirement in 1985.

For the most part, only baby boomers like myself know of the steps taken by government and state officials to tamper down the danger of fireworks. I was either fortunate, or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it, to have grown up during the time fireworks had unrestrained power.

Black Cat firecrackers manufactured prior to 1968 are of a different breed than those of today. The earlier version contained substantial more flash powder. Because of such, the bang was louder and the chance of injury to little fingers greater. Black Cats are still available although they’re not the same powerful cat as they once were.

Cherry Bombs are still out there yet in name only. The Cherry Bomb’s of yesteryear held approximately three-quarter more black powder than those being sold today. A full-strength Cherry Bomb could easily annihilate a large anthill. They could also remove small fingers.

Farmers and ranchers used them quite often in Texas to take out large colonies of red ants. We did the same, oftentimes finding a small crater where the explosive had detonated. The concussion was enough to blast downwards into an entry hole destroying most if not all of the pests.

My father warned my brother and I early on about the dangers of fireworks, especially Cherry Bombs and M-80’s. It seems strange that neither Jim or I was injured by the more powerful devices. The only hurt ever coming to me that I remember, was being burned by the hot wire of a sparkler. This was after the sparks died. It only happened once.

M-80’s are perhaps the most dangerous firework of all where losing fingers are concerned. I read archived newspaper account after newspaper account where children and adults had tips of fingers, or complete fingers blown off. Death caused by these powerful explosives was not unheard of as well.

Cherry bomb

By 1959, some states were outlawing Cherry Bombs and M-80’s. Alaska must’ve been the last to follow through because they were still legal in 1968. There was a fireworks stand located across the road from where I lived in Alaska. Cherry Bombs and M-80’s could be purchased there for twenty-five cents a piece. That was a bit steep, as advertisements in 1960 show them selling at, three for a quarter. Regardless of price, my paper route profits supplied me with many.

An M-80 could blow a tin can a hundred feet in the air or more. We used them as propellant for homemade mortars. A perfect-size round stone was placed into a thick pipe on top of a lit M-80. When powder exploded, the rock would quickly go sailing out of sight. This homemade weapon had the power to shoot debris directly through soft tissue. Thankfully that never happened!

M-80’s wrapped in mud could be tossed into a pool of water. The firework would sink before an explosion sent water flying upward. What’s amazing to me was the ability for an M-80 fuse to burn underwater.

I know of kids in Alaska fishing with them. When thrown into Chester Creek, they’d explode often times resulting in a salmon floating to the surface. The fish would be quickly scooped up before regaining its senses. The terrific concussion caused them to surface.

I recall a student in junior high flushing one down a toilet. The explosion resulted in the crapper being blown to smithereens. M-80’s were that powerful. Yes, it was a good thing that authorities eventually stepped in and banned them.

M-80

Last but not least are punks. Folks not accustomed to firework lingo, will believe I’m referring to juvenile delinquents misusing fireworks.

The punk I refer to is a bamboo and sawdust stick that’s lit by a match or lighter. A punk will burn for several minutes and is used to light firecracker fuses. Punks were generally given free to customers with their fireworks purchase.

As I mentioned earlier, dad taught my brother and I the safe way to use fireworks. He advised us to always have a water hose or a bucket of water close by. One thing that he never mentioned was,

Never stick your head in a bucket!”

He must’ve figured we had brains enough not to do that!

These punks…
…not these punks!

Black Cats, Cherry Bombs, M-80’s, & Punks

“Some student at Clark Junior High flushed one down a toilet. The explosion resulted in this crapper being blown to smithereens.”

Bucket warning

As a child, I grew up in an era when there were no warnings about sticking your head into a 5-gallon bucket of water. Child seats were unheard of. Cribs weren’t ‘safety tested.’ Kids eagerly drank out of garden hoses each summer. Pocket knives were allowed in school. Some fireworks had the power as a quarter-stick of dynamite. In spite of all this, I’m still kickin’.

There’s valid reason for government stepping in and making rules and guidelines to protect children. Child seats are perhaps one of the best. Many young lives have been saved since infant and child seats in cars and trucks became a requirement in 1985.

For the most part, only baby boomers like myself know of the steps taken by government and state officials to tamper down the danger of fireworks. I was either fortunate, or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it, to have grown up during the time fireworks had unrestrained power.

Black Cat firecrackers

Black Cat firecrackers manufactured prior to 1968 are of a different breed than those of today. The earlier version contained substantial more flash powder. Because of such, the bang was louder and the chance of injury to little fingers greater. Black Cats are still available although they’re not the same powerful cat as they once were.

Cherry Bombs are still out there yet in name only. The Cherry Bomb’s of yesteryear held approximately three-quarter more black powder than those being sold today. A full-strength Cherry Bomb could easily annihilate a large anthill. They could also remove small fingers.

Farmers and ranchers used them quite often in Texas to take out large colonies of red ants. We did the same, oftentimes finding a small crater where the explosive had gone off. The concussion was enough to blast downwards into an entry hole destroying many of the pests.

My father warned my brother and I early on about the dangers of fireworks, especially Cherry Bombs and M-80’s. It seems strange that neither Jim or I was injured by the more powerful devices. The only hurt ever coming to me that I remember, was being burned by the hot wire of a sparkler. This was after the sparks died. It only happened once.

M-80’s are perhaps the most dangerous firework of all where losing fingers are concerned. I read archived newspaper account after newspaper account where children and adults had tips of fingers, or complete fingers blown off. Death caused by these powerful explosives was not unheard of as well.

From a 1966 Missouri newspaper

By 1959, some states were outlawing Cherry Bombs and M-80’s. Alaska must’ve been the last to follow through because they were still legal in 1968. There was a fireworks stand located across the road from where I lived on Muldoon Road. Cherry Bombs and M-80’s could be purchased there for twenty-five cents a piece. That was a bit steep, as advertisements for these things going back to 1960 show them selling for, three for a quarter. Regardless of price, my paper route profits supplied me with many.

Cherry bomb

An M-80 could blow a tin can a hundred feet in the air or more. We used them as propellant for homemade mortars. A perfect-size round stone was placed into a thick pipe on top of a lit M-80. When powder exploded, the rock would quickly go sailing out of sight. This homemade weapon had the power to shoot debris directly through soft tissue. Thankfully that never happened!

M-80’s wrapped in mud could be tossed into a pool of water. The firework would sink before an explosion sent water flying upward. What’s amazing to me was the ability for an M-80 fuse to burn underwater.

I know of kids fishing with them. When thrown into Chester Creek, they’d explode often times resulting in a salmon floating to the surface. The fish would be quickly scooped up before regaining its senses. It was the terrific concussion causing them to surface. I doubt there are any salmon left in that stream.

I recall a student at Clark Junior High flushing one down a toilet. The explosion resulted in this crapper being blown to smithereens. M-80’s were that powerful. Yes, it was a good thing that authorities eventually stepped in and banned them.

M-80’s

Last but not least are punks. Most folks not accustomed to firework lingo, will believe I’m referring to those juvenile delinquents misusing fireworks.

The punk I refer to is a bamboo and sawdust stick that’s lit by a match or lighter. A punk will burn for several minutes and is used to light fuses. Punks were generally given out free to customers with their fireworks purchase.

As I mentioned earlier, dad taught my brother and I the safe way to use fireworks. He advised us to always have a water hose or a bucket of water close by. One thing that he never mentioned was,

Never stick your head in a bucket!”

He must’ve figured we had brains enough not to do that!

These punks…
…and not these punks!

Living in the Past

“Why you shouldn’t share recipes on Facebook immediately garnered my attention.”

Recently I posted some vintage family photos on Facebook. A good friend immediately came back saying I evidently liked living in the past. I knew she didn’t mean any harm by her statement and none was taken. It was easy for me to understand why this lady thought such.

Over the years, I’ve shared many old photographs on the site including newer images as well. As a writer, my digging back into personal history often results in a good story being uncovered.

These days, I use Facebook more as a bulletin board than anything. I can post something, and then set my auto-delete to take it off at a predetermined date and time. This software isn’t free but it’s worth the price to me.

Several years ago my daughter advised me not to post political junk. I’d pretty much figured that out on my own. I found it interesting that whenever some folks became offended at one of my political posts, they’d immediately stop liking all my things. I told my wife it was a flashback to grade school.

In fifth or sixth grade, a classmate and I had a playground scuffle. We’d always sat at the same large table during lunch before the fight. Afterwards, friends siding with George sat on one side, and those agreeing with me on the other. This separation lasted perhaps two days before we were all pals.

Over the years I’ve observed one obvious thing associated with Facebook. Posting religious viewpoints ruffles the feathers of some. That hasn’t stopped me from doing such and never will.

According to a blog article I just finished reading, it’s best to not attach pictures of new items that you purchase such as cars, trucks, boats, etc. A poll taken with many Facebook members shows that they consider such as bragging. The last new vehicle we purchased was in 2011. I posted an image of it recently with no negative feedback.

On the flip side of things, according to this fellow’s blog article, photographs showing older vehicles sometimes indicate to select Facebook viewers that the owner is in financial dire. I have no problem with friends thinking that. I’d be more than happy if one of them started a GoFundMe® account for a new Dodge Charger.

Other things you should not post according to this blog author include: thoughts on how to lose weight, medical ideology, moral questions, obscenity, sexist remarks, passwords, job complaints, personal attacks, photos of your kids or your friend’s children, travel plans, humble brags, too much personal information, your actual location, attention seeking posts, gossip, financial investment advice, and recipes. That doesn’t leave a lot to work with other than humorous memes and GIF’s.

Why recipes shouldn’t be shared on Facebook immediately garnered my attention. Evidently online feuds have developed when a recipe was shared, and the dish didn’t turn out as planned.

I found one such case where a person misread steps in a recipe and their cake flopped. They blamed their Facebook friend who posted the instructions for wasted money on ingredients. I jokingly told my wife she’d better be careful in this area.

Perhaps off subject just a bit, but I get asked quite often why my wife, Joleen, and I aren’t Facebook friends. We were for a while until we mutually agreed to defriend each other.

I’m more of an open book on fb while she’s quite reserved. These two traits often clashed. We found it best that she didn’t know what I disclose, although I do generally tell her afterwards. I’m wise enough to not put classified or highly personal data on there.

Going back to that Facebook friend that accused me of living in the past. Well, this is what I wrote her in return,

If living in the past is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!”

I put a smiley face at the end of my statement 🙂

*At the time, my remark seemed a perfect thing to have told that friend. Several nights after writing this I woke being led to what I should’ve said:

“If reliving the past is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!”

Oh, what a world of difference one small word can make!

HEY MAN – IT’S DOPE

“But Mr. Hankins, whiskey and tequila are far worse on the body than cannabis.”

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong

I recently read an article saying that some towns and cities are now allowing curbside sale of “cannabis products” during the Copid-19 pandemic. I had to laugh because this is nothing new.

Dope dealers and snake-oil-salesmen have been peddling their wares on street corners going way back. What’s even more humorous is that marijuana’s now referred to as cannabis. That’s a more politically correct definition. Back in the day, comedians Cheech & Chong referred to marijuana as grass, weed, and yes, dope.

Crafty marketing experts under the protection of new decriminalization laws, tout cannabis CBD oil as the cure-all for every ache and pain under the kitchen sink. One television commercial shows a person having an aching shoulder and neck. This young woman smears on a bit of reefer oil (CBD) and she’s magically healed. I’m surprised Flex-Seal guru Phil Swift hasn’t hawked this liquid as a spray on lubricant for loosening tight knee and elbow joints.

In Needles, California there’s a popular place where addicts legally get their product. The parking lot’s generally filled with patrons. A red-light in front of the joint (pun intended) allows me on occasion to briefly sit and observe lingering clientele. I see the same stoner crowd going in and out of the place that I remember from high school and college days. If a politician or some highfalutin citizen needs a marijuana brownie or a fix, I suppose they send in a flunky to make the purchase.

Advocates claim that cannabis products are badly needed by folks having cancer and other debilitating ills. I’m not saying it isn’t. Medical doctors along with certified pharmacies should be the folks doling it out. What we have though are shady businesses calling themselves of all things, dispensaries. Some even go so far as to refer to things in a medical capacity; generally a red cross highlighting their ad.

Those unfortunate folks having serious illness are but a very small percentage of citizens actually in need of weed. On the other hand, as my late father-in-law often said,

“Potheads will always be potheads!”

When I give my thoughts on this subject some pot advocate will invariably bring up alcohol.

“But Mr. Hankins, whiskey and tequila are far worse on the body than cannabis.”

These reefer experts conveniently avoid the marijuana word.

I have a well-rehearsed reply for them and it goes like this.

“We aren’t talking about alcohol, we’re talking about dope!”

That always lights their fire. I could add serious panache’ by finishing off my statement with the words, “you dope”, but thus far have held back.

A friend of mine recently purchased CBD oil to try on his aching back. The manufacturer guaranteed this salve would not register positive should a drug test be administered. My friend turned in an application for employment at a local prison after using the product. His drug test came back positive for THC. Tetrahydrocannabinolis, or THC, is the agent in pot that gives users their high.

Unfortunately, he was turned down for employment. When my pal reached out to the manufacturer about what went wrong, an agent told him he must’ve been drinking beforehand. The man doesn’t drink alcohol. What does alcohol have to do with testing positive for THC anyway?

Had he asked me beforehand about trying a marijuana derivative I would’ve said,

“No way Jose!”

Billions of dollars are being made in the cannabis industry. That’s one of the main reasons politicians allowed snake-oil peddlers to sell it. The other reason being, some people in this world have substance abuse problems, and persistent lobbyists went to work for them; at a steep price of course. Making dope legal to purchase and use keeps these folks out of jail.

I once had a young woman tell me to take a hike Mike when she heard my opinion on legalizing marijuana. I had similar parting words for her.

Sadly, there’ll always be people needing some kind of addictive substance to get them through the day. Yes, marijuana is addictive. If it wasn’t, Willie Nelson would’ve quit years ago.

I don’t like to judge cannabis users one way or the other. That’s their decision to make. I would like for them to admit one thing. What they smoke or toke is indeed dope.

Cheech & Chong will agree!

Snake oil salesman

ICERS INVADE ICELAND

full story in the works

In 1994 the Anchorage Icers Midget Hockey Team was invited to play in a tournament at ICELAND in Paramount, California. There photos are from that trip. As soon as more data is compiled a full story will follow.

Coach Lee Van Ness
Jack Knue and Ronnie Jones
Ronnie Jones
David Jones
David Jones
Ken Hickman wrote this to Joleen because she was unable to make the trip.

Since 1940, Iceland has been a practice facility for many well-known skaters including Sonja Henie, Richard Dwyer, Peggy Fleming and Robbie Robertson, just to name a few. Many of its skaters have represented Iceland’s skating clubs in National, World, and Olympic competitions. The Arctic Blades Figure Skating Club members have excelled and won medals for many years and tragically the Club was also represented by five of its members in 1961 when an airplane crash claimed the entire United States World Team in Brussels Belgium. The DeMorra Speed Skating Club has also had exceptional skaters in National and International events. Bill Disney won a Silver Medal in the 500 meter event at the 1960 Winter Olympics and many members have won medals in other competitions. Iceland has gone through many renovations since its opening in 1940 and while it celebrated its 60th birthday in 2000, its appearance is modern and its amenities are designed to appeal to today’s customers.

Bucket of Lard

“At dinner that evening, our server told us it wasn’t wise to venture outside the hotel after the sun went down.”

Washington Plaza Hotel

I was a decent speller throughout my school years. Most likely it came from reading lots of books. There were several times I won our classroom spelling contest. That’s as far as I ever got.

My son Gunnar took after his old man. Not only did “G-Man” win his classroom and school competition, but he went on to compete at the ACSI National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. I was the lucky parent going along as chaperon.

“G-Man” is a nickname we gave him. His mother and I also call him “Mr. G”, and “Big G.” It has to do with with the first letter in his name. The “Big G” moniker most likely comes from lines in a Cheerios commercial,

“Big G, little o, means Go Power!”

I’m sure my son is more than elated his name doesn’t start with o.

Our daughter also has a unique nickname. Miranda to this day is called, “Panda Miranda.” Joleen nicknamed her after a bear and not Panda Express. Pardon me for drifting off subject. Time to get back to the spelling bee.

The year was 1992. Gunnar and I flew from Anchorage International Airport to Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan National Airport). I recall walking to a taxicab loading area, and seeing all kinds of expensive cars lined up in a reserved parking lot. There were BMW’s, Jaguars, Cadillac’s, Lincoln’s, you name it. I assume those vehicles belonged to politicians away on business. That left a bad impression on me.

Our taxi ride was another unsettling experience. The man driving the cab wore a turban. That in itself is not unusual. What was discomforting was that he was one of the most unfriendly people I’ve met.

I tried to start a simple conversation, yet he offered nothing in return. It was easy to see that he either didn’t care for his job, or he resented us. I’m a pretty good judge of people and this guy put me on edge. When he glared at us in the rear view mirror, I made it a point to stare his direction as well. I’d been taught that eye to eye contact is good. In this case it eventually stopped him from watching us.

The route this man took to our hotel had me mortified. We drove past parks and derelict buildings where inebriates lined the street. Some of them lay on benches while others were propped up against walls. Garbage was everywhere. The picture was not pretty. It definitely was not something I expected to see in Washington, D.C.

Our cabbie dropped us off at the Washington Plaza Hotel. This was the designated hotel for all spelling bee participants. I made sure to tip the guy in spite of his rudeness. The Washington Plaza Hotel is a great place to stay. Everything was spic and span, with grass and foliage well taken care of. Compared to the Motel-6’s our family generally stayed in, it was quite fancy.

Gunnar and I checked in and were taken to our room. I wasn’t used to anyone carrying my bags. This was the first time I’d come across such. Once again tip money came in handy.

“Mr. G” goes to Washington, D.C. – 1992

That evening we ate a specially prepared dinner with other students and their parents. We were given tickets to ride a bus the following day to areas of interest.

Gunnar and I chose a bus taking us to Arlington National Cemetery. While at this place of homage, we visited President John F. Kennedy’s grave site and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From a distance, I could see Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s stately mansion called, “Arlington House.” Large white columns were visible in foreground. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take a tour.

“Arlington House” from a distance (photo by me).

After several hours at Arlington, our tour bus took us downtown to the Smithsonian Museum. Gunnar was most thrilled in seeing their space display along with aviation exhibits. “The Spirit of St. Louis” hung from a ceiling. This was the airplane that Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in 1927.

What caught my interest out of all the displays, was the SWAMP RAT XXX dragster that drag racer Don Garlits drove to NHRA victory in 1986. I knew this car was at the Smithsonian, yet didn’t realize it held a spot of such provenance at the front door.

On top of the dragster’s cowling were the following words in large letters, GOD IS LOVE. There’s a poignant story a to why Garlits has that saying painted on each of his race cars. This bit of information comes from the Museum of History website:

“The dragster carries a Christian cross and the words “God is Love.” This reflects Garlits’ experience in 1959 when, after an accident, his system could not handle pain-killing drugs. In severe pain, he cried out, “Lord help me,” and his pain ceased.”

“Swamp Rat XXX.”.
I took this photo a the Smithsonian – 1992

Seems I’ve drifted from the story line once again. I’ll try to keep things on my son traveling to Washington, D.C., to participate in the ACSI National Spelling Bee a bit more on track.

After a full day of visiting historical places including the Smithsonian, we returned to our hotel. It was starting to get dark, yet we decided to go outside and walk across the street to a corner pharmacy. While inside the store Gunnar and I received strange looks. A couple of rough looking characters seemed to quietly ask,

“What you doin’ in this ‘hood?”

Purchasing our goods, we hustled back to the hotel entrance.

At dinner that evening, our server told us it wasn’t wise to venture outside after the sun went down. We’d already figured that out.

Saturday morning was the beginning of competition. Gunnar seemed more interested in a female competitor than he did the bee. He’d met her during a group get-together that first night. I believe she was from Washington State.

When it was his turn for a word I was as nervous as anyone. I could see my son was too.

The announcer carefully enunciated,

Firkin.”

Gunnar was allowed a repeat pronunciation including an explanation of meaning. He asked for both.

Firkin. A pail or tub used in measurement purposes, such as a ferkin of lard.”

My son paused a second before attempting to spell the word. There was unsteadiness in his voice,

F – E – R- K – I- N?”

I’m sorry.” the announcer said. “The correct spelling is F-I-R-K-I-N.”

We flew home the following day. Gunnar was bummed but also happy in having made the trip.

I told him that I’d never heard of a firkin.

“My grandparents called a bucket of lard a bucket of lard!” I informed him.

Joleen’s Grandpa Schweitzer had a shockingly funny description for another bucket filled with different material, yet I kept that one to myself.

Firkin of lard

I saw enough of Washington, D.C. to last a lifetime. Other than not getting to step foot in Robert E. Lee’s home, I was happy. I truly appreciated the unlimited history of the place. What I didn’t like was the feeling of evil lurking within. I get this same queasiness each time I visit Las Vegas.

Ironically, some 24-years later, Gunnar moved to the Washington, D.C. area on a job assignment at the Pentagon with his wife Kaye, and their children, Kevin & Grace. The family, along with my wife in tow, were able to take a tour of Robert E. Lee’s home. I stayed behind taking care of our animals. The description Joleen gave me upon her return to Arizona was more than enough to satisfy my curiosity. I have no reason to go back unless of course, one of my grandchildren should qualify for the spelling bee.

*written mainly for my grandkids

“F-e-r-k-i-n?” No, this isn’t Gunnar. I didn’t get a good one of him up there.