Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Earth Day!

Yesterday, Sunday April 22, was Earth Day. I didn't even realize that though, until after I told Jen this story about what happened to me.

Yesterday (Sunday) I got back from Tony's bachelor party. Jen and I hung out during the day and then we went out to run a few errands around dinnertime. One errand was that Jen had to pick up a prescription at CVS, so while she went in to do that, I waited in the car in the parking lot.

At one point on Saturday, the day before, when Bendt and I were driving home from the golf course, we saw some guy blatantly littering and we started talking about how stupid people look when they litter. I told him that if I ever saw someone littering, and if could ever get the nerve up, I would pick up the trash, hand it back to them and say, "Excuse me, you just dropped this."

So while I'm sitting in the parking lot of the CVS, this older guy comes out of the CVS and climbs into his convertible. He had bought cigarettes and his wife had just come out of Starbucks with two drinks. They climb into their car and the guy unwraps his cigarettes and drops the plastic wrapping and the bit of foil/paper from inside the cigarettes out his window. As soon as I saw that, I knew that this was my chance. I jumped out of the car and I picked up the bit of paper and said, "Excuse me sir, you just dropped this." I held out the paper to him. He turns and looks at the paper, then looks me right in the eye and says, "No I didn't."

I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT! Make no mistake: he didn't misunderstand what I was getting at or accusing him of. He was blatantly defiant and had immediately switched into a-hole mode.

I said, "Yes you did" and I put the paper into his hand. He takes the paper and says, "Oh OK" and throws the paper on the ground again, right at my feet. I was livid at that point.

I pick up the paper again and said, "That's a pretty nice car you've got there - you should get a trashbag for it." His response to this is, "Yeah, well, you should go to hell." At that, he puts his car into gear and drives away. Of course I couldn't leave it at that, so I yelled after him, "F you, a**hole!"

Can you believe that?

What I should have done differently (i.e., "Jerk Store" moments):
  1. I ended up still having that bit of paper in my hand after he drove away. I don't know why I didn't just toss into his backseat as he drove away.
  2. This was Jen's point. In a situation like that, I didn't address his wife and she certainly didn't pipe up either in his defense or mine. In retrospect, I should have engaged her. I should have asked her if she thought her husband was acting reasonably and if she knew what a huge jerk he was. I may have gotten farther that way.
  3. Before anyone asks, let me just say that, yes, I know you have to be careful about who you confront these days. But it was daylight, and there were plenty of people around. I actually took a split second to think about this as I was jumping out of the car.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut, 1922 - 2007

(check out the image at vonnegut.com)

Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday, April 11th, 2007. He was a master of satire but even more, he was an exceedingly clever man. I'm certainly not a numerologist, but I noticed that not only does his death date rhyme, but his birth date (11-11-22) adds nicely. Very clever, sir.

Originally, I had typed up this portion of Deadeye Dick on another blog that I used to maintain.

"Deadeye Dick," like "Barnacle Bill," is a nickname for a sailor. A deadeye is a rounded wooden block, usually bound with rope or iron, and pierced with holes. The holes receive a multiplicity of lines, usually shrouds or stays, on an old-fashioned sailing ship. But in the American Middle West of my youth, “Deadeye Dick” was an honorific often accorded to a person who was a virtuoso with firearms.

So it is a sort of lungfish of a nickname. It was born in the ocean but it adapted to life ashore.


There are several recipes in this book, which are intended as musical interludes for the salivary glands. They have been inspired by James Beard’s American Cookery, Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook, and Bea Sandler’s The African Cookbook. I have tinkered with the originals, however – so no one should use this novel for a cookbook.

Any serious cook should have the reliable originals in his or her library anyway.


There is a real hotel in this book, the Grand Hotel Oloffson in Port au Prince, Haiti. I love it, and so would almost anybody else. My dear wife Jill Krementz and I have stayed there in the so-called “James Jones Cottage,” which was built as an operating room when the hotel was headquarters for a brigade of United States Marines, who occupied Haiti, in order to protect American financial interests there, from 1915 until 1934.

The exterior of that austere wooden box has subsequently been decorated with fanciful, jigsaw gingerbread, like the rest of the hotel.

The currency of Haiti, by the way, is based on the American collar. Whatever an American dollar is worth, that is what a Haitian dollar is worth and actual American dollars are in general circulation. There seems to be no scheme in Haiti, however, for retiring worn-out dollar bills, and replacing them with new ones. So it is ordinary there to treat with utmost seriousness a dollar which is as insubstantial as a cigarette paper, and which has shrunk to the size of an airmail stamp.

I found one such bill in my wallet when I got home from Haiti a couple of years ago, and I mailed it back to Al and Sue Seitz, the owners and host and hostess of the Oloffson, asking them to release it into its natural environment. It could never have survived a day in New York City.

preface, Deadeye Dick, Kurt Vonnegut

This is pretty good too. From the short story: “Welcome to the Monkey House” (1968)

“If you go back through history, you’ll find that the people who have been most eager to rule, to make the laws, to enforce the laws and to tell everybody exactly how God Almighty wants things here on earth – those people have forgiven themselves and their friends for anything and everything. But they have been absolutely disgusted and terrified by the natural sexuality of common men and women.”

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