Tuesday, May 31, 2005

For Everything There Is A Reason...

I went to a fellow blogger's site this morning. We have had a couple of conversations back and forth between comments and e-mails. We have some common interests in food, philosophy and other topics. It turns out, I used to live quite close to where he is now, in Lambertville, NJ. Small world. He is a genuinely good and caring man.

Frank is a Baptist minister and quite the food expert. He lost his father suddenly, on May 26. No matter what your profession, this has got to hurt. Fortunately, his faith will carry him through, but, no matter what, there is still tremendous pain. My guess is that they were extremely close.

All I ask is that you visit his site and if the spirit moves you, write a little message to him in the comment section. Every kind word has got to help a little. You can click on the title of this post to get there. Thanks.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Opening Doors

In the early eighties, I worked for an ad agency. A woman, Linda, who worked with us was, and I'm sure still is to this day, a staunch feminist. Now, I have nothing against the ERA and all that. My only problem was that she just did not like men. She wasn't a lesbian. She actually was married to a really nice guy. He was a police captain, but, she managed to turn him into a veritable milquetoast. You could ask her about the weather, a seemingly innocent topic, and she would somehow twist it into some kind of warped discussion about how most meteorologists are men and how much women have suffered because of male meteorologists. Any topic. So, as a male, you couldn't expect to have a conversation with her without somehow feeling guilty about yourself. She hated Republicans, yet she was registered as one. I sensed an inner confusion.

Another woman, Terri, worked with her in the same room. She was seemingly normal, in a sense that she didn't feel as compelled to destroy the male id. One day, at lunch time, we all kind of poured out the front door at the same time. As I walked out, Terri scampered up behind me. I held the door open for her. She said, in a rather bitter tone of voice, "You don't have to hold the door open for me." I let go. Bam. Caught her off guard. She was so caught up in her contempt she never saw it coming. I said, "Terri, I would hold the door for anyone behind me, whether male or female. It's just the polite thing to do." I mean, heck, I slow down for squirrels in the street. I had this gut feeling that Linda had brought in one of those body snatching pods and it had taken over her body and mind. A few days later, she apologized. She said she was wrong and it was totally out of character for her. Of course, I said I was sorry for letting go of the door, too. She said, no, it kind of opened her eyes. You work with a person, day after day, year after year, bent on indoctrinating you to some cause, it's got to have an affect on you. Terri never showed an ounce of disdain, nor acted impulsively again.

I think that most people aren't always afraid of change with regards to whatever movement arises and sustains itself, whether social, political or religious in nature. I think people are more apprehensive due to the militant nature of so many of the proponents. They just scare people off.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Science Fiction Writer

Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
This is my uncle, David A. Kyle. He is recognized in the science fiction community as the elder statesman, certainly to the older generation. I don't know about present day fans. He still goes to many sci-fi conventions around the world. He is now 86 and to this day, has no trouble hopping in his car and driving down to Orlando from Potsdam, NY. Way upstate. He is married to my mother's sister, Ruth. His mind is as sharp as it was 50 years ago. Back in 1980, he was authorized by the late E.E. 'Doc' Smith estate to write further adventures in the 'Dragon Lensmen' series. He has written other books and many years ago, was an author and illustrator for detective, fantasy and sci-fi pulp fiction magazines, such as Analog, and was the founder of Gnome Press. Years ago, he and my aunt owned a radio station up there, WPDM.

I remember, when I was four, going to their wedding in New York City. I sat with my grandmother and great aunt in the front row. During the ceremony, I looked up at the stained glass windows. It was an Episcopal church, The Little Church Around the Corner in midtown Manhattan. Quite ornate and somewhat gothic, if I recall. The moment was very silent. Pointing upward, I blurted out, "Is that God?" And I meant 'was that really God?' It reverberated throughout the whole church. The congregation roared in laughter. I guess I had my 15 minutes of fame rather early in life.

When I was young, probably from around nine to fifteen, they used to fly me up to spend summers with them. Mohawk Airlines. DC-3s back then. Sometimes, they'd entertain guests for dinner. Earlier on, it meant nothing to me to dine with Isaac Asomov or Robert Heinlein. A close friend is Forrest J. Ackerman and not far behind is some guy named Arthur C. Clarke, like anyone would know who he is. Being famous was not part of my vocabulary back then. About the same age, my father took me to a midget or sprint car race in Flemington, NJ, where I'm from. "See that guy out there?" he asked. "That's A.J. Foyt." "So?" I responded. I knew who Superman was.

My uncle has always had a very vibrant and creative mind and a keen, dry sense of humor. He still does.

Every winter, he and my Aunt Ruthie try to come down, to escape the brutal and long winters of the north country.

If you are familiar with him, would you drop me a line? I'd love to pass along any stories to him, especially since he can be the consummate storyteller, himself.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wart Tree

Ming Aralia
Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
In the late seventies, early eighties, I owned a restaurant called Weiner King. I know, it's funny, but I did. The restaurant originated in Flemington, NJ. There were several franchises. One in Warminster, PA, one in Morristown, PA, and mine in Whitehouse Station, NJ.

There was a nice lady who came in at least twice a week to eat. One afternoon, she came in during that slump time beween the end of the lunch rush and before the dinner crowd. The girl who worked with me that day, Lauri Goodell, was studying biochemistry at Rutgers University. I had this plant on a window sill that spanned the front counter and into the service area, on a side wall. At that time, there was no one else in the restaurant. After our hellos and how are yuz, she walked toward the plant with her arms extended to touch it.

She asked, smilingly, "What is this plant? I've been admiring it for quite some time now."

"It's a wart tree," I responded. I don't know where the thought even came from, but it was too late. I said it.

"A WART TREE?" Her arms quickly retracted.

I had to think fast. "Yes, a wart tree. Lauri goes to Rutgers and is majoring in biochemistry. You know how warts have seeds in them?"


"Well, someone she knew had a plantar wart and she took them and cultivated them into what you're looking at here."

"You're kidding."

"No," I said. "Ask her."

Lauri collaborated my story and went into some kind of microbiospeak that neither of us understood.

She bought it, or it seemed like she believed her. The poor woman composed herself, even though she had a perplexed look on her face, and ordered food. I think she asked for it to go.

I think when her husband got home from work that day, she told him about the wart tree. He probably told her there is no such thing, all the while laughing.

Well, I never saw that woman again. She was either afraid of the tree, warts and all, embarassed by her gullibility, or too mad at me to ever come back.

I guess I probably shouldn't have done that, but, Lauri and I sure did get a laugh. Working 80 hours a week will do that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Road Trip

Tim is home! Yup. Back from Kirkuk, Iraq. We must have sent a thousand e-mails to each other.

When I arrived in Houston on Sunday the 24th of April, with my best friend, Stew, we went to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to see Bud. At that point, he was pretty healthy. He had the transplant the Tuesday before. By Thursday, he was pretty sick. The doctors told him and my sister that it was just a reaction to the chemo he had to prep him for the transplant. His white cell count was only .2% at that time. We left that weekend. On the way home, Maggie called me and said his cell count was on the rise, which meant the new bone marrow was starting to do its thing already. By the time I got home, it had gone up to 2.9% and that was good news. He is very tired and weak, but, so far things are looking up for them. It better continue that way. He's not even close to being anywhere near the edge of the forest yet. The doctors did allow him to go home to their apartment for the weekend, so that must have lifted his spirits. One interesting thing. The doctors say that any type of fungus is deadly to him. Kill him outright. I would imagine that would include mold and mildew. Don't know why, but I'll try to find out.

On the way there, we stopped in Rayne, Louisiana for the night. Did you know that Rayne is the frog capital of the world? I didn't think so. Stewart spoke with his wife the next morning. She's pretty gullible. He told her that when we got to the hotel, they only had a room with one bed, but, don't worry, one of us slept above the covers and one below the covers. But we had to share a pillow. I think she believed him. We went through the gambling district in Biloxi, hugging the coast. Pretty interesting. Jefferson Davis had a home there, which is now a museum. A lot of shade trees with spanish moss. Then we went on through Bay St. Louis, which is a very nice little community. From there we went into the French Quarter in New Orleans and took some pictures. As soon as he e-mails them to me, I will post some at my Flickr site. We went to one of the above ground cemeteries with all the mausoleums. St. Louis #1. Very interesting. The rest of the drive was rather boring to look at. Lake Charles to the west is nothing but a giant chemical town. Next door is the town of Sulphur. I looked for Birthdefect on the map. I thought it would be nearby.

Houston itself is pretty big. There is one good sized downtown and clusters of others. The medical district alone is just about the size of downtown Orlando. Bud's hospital is big. Four floors are for leukemia only. The staff is dedicated to that disease and the care is impeccable. He says the food's pretty good, too.

Stewart wanted to go to Galveston. Maggie said it's nothing to see. Don't waste your time. I said, hey, you drove all the way out here and you want to go to Galveston. Let's go. So we did. The three of us. We all actually enjoyed it. It's a nice place. We went on an oil rig museum. We walked through the gaslight area called The Strand with shops and restaurants and second floor iron railings, like in New Orleans. A nice place to escape the city. That night, back in Houston, my sister took us to a restaurant/bar for happy hour called Benjy's. Certainly a good place to eat and drink. Everyone we met in Houston was very nice, but I wouldn't want to live there.

When we left for home, we spent the night in Tallahassee. Little did we know that FSU graduation was going on and virtually every room was filled. We did find the last one at a La Quinta at exit 99. Nice little area. The next morning, back on the road, Stew talked to his wife An, and told her that we did have two beds this time. Good, she said. Then he told her that the air conditioner was stuck on the lowest setting and wouldn't go off. We had to sleep in the same bed to stay warm, but we did have separate pillows. "I'm leaving you!" she screamed. Pretty funny, but she should know better. I don't lean that way.

One thing we really did notice. EVERY exit on I-10 had a Waffle House.

Every exit.

Well, except for the bayou.

And we only saw one cowboy in Texas. Horns on his Ford truck.

It's fun to travel.