Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Does It Seem Like Things Are Speeding Up ?

In his 1970s book “Future Shock”, Alvin Toffler notes that if you were to take the time that human beings have been in existence (about 50,000 years) and divide this time into 62-year average lifetimes, you would get 800 lifetimes.
Of those 800 lifetimes:

* 650 of them have been in caves.
* It is only in the last 70 lifetimes that humans have been able to communicate across generations.
* It is only in the last 6 that there has been the printed word.
* It is only in the last 4 that we have been able to measure time with any accuracy.
* It is only in the last 2 that there have been electric motors and gasoline engines.
* Most of the technology that we are so familiar with has been brought into existence in our lifetime.

I had a chance to see this rapid transition first-hand in the late 1960s when my newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, sent a reporter and a photographer (me) out to interview a man whose son - Astronaut David Scott - was training to walk on the moon.

When the father was born, the Wright Brothers had not perfected controlled powered flight and - within one lifetime - his son was going to be the 7th man (of only 12) to walk on the moon. As Commander of Apollo 15, Scott also drove Lunar Rover-1. Yikes.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Back In The Saddle Again.....

As Robin Williams would say, "Maybe I went too far."

In a recent posting I showed a picture of my sweet genteel Mom posed with a yard of ale and implied she was drinking a beer. Hardly.

She doesn't drink anything and certainly not beer from a glass almost as tall as she. My bad. Let me apologize and show an ACTUAL situation that happened at the Fair in Ladson.

Mom was in a rehab facility after taking a fall at home (nothing broken, thank Goodness) but we wanted her to recover in a caring setting with physical therapy and professional treatment.

They called to alert me that my Mom had signed up to go on a day trip to the Fair.

"Huh?" I said. In the 10 years I have looked after her, she never had mentioned any desire to go to the annual Fair. "If you approve, we will keep her under watchful care," they assured me.

Well, sure. If Mom wanted to go and be wheeled around the fairgrounds and maybe have a cotton candy, sounds good.

The staff came back exhausted.

Not only did she eat from the moment they got there (a corn dog!?) when they placed her in a safe and comfy seat on the Merry Go round, she asked to be moved and helped up on a horse.

"That one over there," she suggested. "It looks lively."

They shared pictures with me - and the menu of what she ate - and just a few days later they called to say they thought she was physically fit and ready to come home.

Mom will turn 92 in March. I just hope I can keep up with her.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Cars And Cameras ......

You ever have one of those days when you just know there is a hidden camera waiting for you to do something stupid?

I had called on a client and walked back to my car, opened the back door (that's funny, I thought I had locked the car?) and started to place my briefcase on the back seat but there was one already there. (When did I get a second briefcase?) So I leaned in further and looked around inside the car and nothing looked familiar.

Stepping back, I saw that the next car over was my car. And .... it WAS locked.

Driving in fairly heavy traffic on another day, I saw a small sign in the rear window of the car in front of me and I crept closer to see what it said.

It would be funny if it had said "If you can read this, you are too close,"but that's not what it said.

Here's what it would look like if the Jeep was inverted and the sign was easy to read.

Of course, by this time, I was driving with my head twisted to the right at a crazy angle and the Candid Camera would have caught me again.

At least I was not talking on my cell phone.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

"...and Yards To Go Before I sleep."

A "Yard of ale" glass originated in Merrie Olde England when a pub person would hand up a "tall beer" to the coachman driving the carriage.

These weird-shaped glasses still exist today and are a wonderfully funny concept now that we don't ride in or drive coaches and open beer is seldom allowed on the streets. Well, except in Savannah or in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Pictured are a couple of my newspaper buddies back in the 1960s the night we discovered this British contribution to World peace.

What we didn't realize was that at one point, when the glass is raised high and the beer is racing down the narrow tube toward your waiting lips, air enters the bulb and you hear a loud "GLUG" that makes you laugh in surprise.

At the same moment that your mouth is distracted, the beer arrives at Mach 2 speed and you get a beer facial and spots on your clothes. It usually takes 2 or 3 glasses to master drinking a yard of ale.

A few years ago I started going to Backstage Deli on the Market and reintroduced myself to this long-handled stein. The owner and I got to know each other and when he opened in North Charleston, closer to my home, I became a regular there.

He started a "Hall of Foam" and, after drinking 60 different beers, you won free meals, a t-shirt and other prizes.

After I had gone through the 60 beers several times, I suggested one of his yard glasses would make a good prize. He agreed and soon I earned one.

One sunny afternoon as I was taking my Mom out for a drive, I suggested we stop there and I'd have a beer. She agreed and, when Mom commented on the unusual glass, I posed a picture of her pretending to drink. The glass was almost as tall as she was. Around us, we heard the chant of "go Granny, go!"

His people used to break several of these each week as they tried to wash them and the bartenders collected your drivers licenses to ensure patrons did not leave with the unique glasses.

Eventually they were all gone and half-yards of ale were the norm.

When Guy decided to shut down his bar, he took me aside and gave me two other glasses that now are displayed at home. The "Foot" size is smaller than the Half-Yard and the smallest of all - holding just over an ounce - is the "Toe" glass. All are sitting in their distinctive wooden racks.

I don't know of any place in Charleston that serves these "tall beers" now.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Caution ..... High Clearance

Going back to my days in the 1960s working for a newspaper in San Diego, here's a sign on a new section of freeway that made me exit, turn around and go back to take a picture.

About the only time you EVER think about how high the clearance under something is when you're driving a rental moving van and you have to think about driving somewhere that might hit the top of the oversize truck.

I once drove a borrowed VW bus into an underground parking garage and scrapped the top. I just wasn't used to being that tall when I drove.

This highway clearance sign was a joke put up by the guys who had worked on the new freeway. I have never seen a vehicle on the road that would not clear - easily - an overpass that loomed ahead with "only" 76 feet to spare.

How WIDE would that vehicle be??

(Click on photo to see details.)

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

This Will Lead Nowhere ...

My cat is easygoing and affable. Well, as much as a cat decides to be.

Recently, on a trip to Washington, D.C., I saw a man walking his cat on a leash and the cat seemed ok with it. I had not ever seen that before.

But, as they started across Dupont Circle - and cars appeared - the cat stopped and would not walk, even though they both were in the crosswalk and legally had the right of way. The man simply picked up the cat and finished crossing, put the cat down on the sidewalk and they walked out of view.

Hey, bet my cat would like to do that. I was almost right.

He doesn't mind the lead slipped around his neck and it slides along behind him as he roams around, from room to room. He ignores it. Just as I thought ..it's NOT a big deal.

That is, until I pick up the end and suggest we go where I would like to go. He stops. He balks. He becomes a 13.1 pound door stop. He looks up at me in a pitying manner and sucks his teeth, muttering "Tsk, tsk."

I wonder how long it took the guy in D.C. to train his cat to stay inside the painted lines of the crosswalk?

And look both ways.

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