February 05, 2009

Summer Wind

It was 6 am on a Sunday morning in 1966 and I had been out all night wasting what little money I had in many of the fine strip clubs of Norfolk. It was the height of the Viet Nam war and sailors in uniform were never carded.

I was in no hurry to return to my ship in Little Creek so I walked in to a greasy spoon near the Y and ordered a cup of joe. I had two quarters left in my pocket. I paid the tab with one. The other one went in the jukebox.

Sinatra was 51 in the fall of of '66 when he recorded this song. To a punk kid of 18, he was ancient but I became a fan that day.

Funny how the smell of wine can bring back memories of an old black dog and a boyish prank. It is the same with an old tune.

Posted by roadapples at 07:04 AM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2006

father's day card

On the table beside the plate of pancakes and bacon my daughters made for me this morning, was a Hallmark card they picked out. I was so taken with it that I had to share it with you.

Happy Father's Day to Paul, Kim, Greg, Fred, Euclid, Strode and all the other fathers out there.

I will be spending the day watching and burning old movies from Turner Classic Movies on the new DVD Recorder my family gave me. I have to be careful; this new toy is quickly taking over my life. Got to go - Abbott and Costellow Meets the Mummy is on!

Ten Things We'd Like To Hear Dads Say

1. Could you turn your music up louder so I can enjoy it, too?
2. Curfew is just a general time to shoot for. I'm not running a prison!
3. I don't mind air-conditionaing the whole neighborhood! Leave the door open!
4. Holding this remote is such a burden. Somebody else take it for a while.
5. Looks like we're lost. I'd better stop and ask for directions.
6. Make all the racket you want. I can sleep through anything.
7. My tools are ylour tools. Help youself.
8. Your taste in clothes is quite remarkable.
9. While I'm gone, please feel free to invite all of your fiends over.
10. Your chores can wait. Go have fun!

Posted by roadapples at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2006

hemingway: a short conversation


I did not want to believe it. I could not believe it. Hemingway in drag - impossible. But it was true.

My son Steven, a journalist and music critic for a newspaper in a city not far from Milwaukee, and I were having a nice discussion about two weeks ago when the subject of favorite writers came up.

"You know dad, I read that Hemingway's mother dressed him in girls clothes when he was young and that is why many people believe he was so adamant about being perceived as a man's man."

"No, it is not true. I never heard of such a thing", I protested.

Steven is not one to give up a debate easily especially with his old man, but it was my birthday and he felt charitable. He let me have the last word and I felt uneasy. Steven was too sure of himself. The conversation haunted me until I could stand it no longer.

I found evidence that Hemingway's mother dressed him in girls clothes like his twin sister but this seemed to have stopped by the time he was three. He was such a complex individual; it is difficult to say that this alone shaped his character. When he was once asked what he felt was essential to a writer’s career, he replied, "a rotten childhood".


When his mother died, he refused to go to her funeral and, many times, he stated that he hated his mother's guts. Did this cause the depression he suffered late in his life?

Why did he decide to blow his brains out with a shotgun in 1961? Did his father's suicide have a fatal attraction to him? Hemingway asked his brother to send him the pistol that his father used to kill himself. Many of his short stories has a morbid tone where the main or one of the main characters dies a violent death.

Hemingway's unrully schock of black hair and confident swagger in the graduation photo from 1917 is gone by the time he writes The Old and the Sea in 1951. Instead we see the brooding cynical face of a man who looks much older than his years. The beginings of his long alcholic aided slide into deep depression is very evident in the cover photo from 1952.

No one will really know the cause for his madness but one fact remains. He was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. I read his short stories over and over again. My favorite is "My Old Man".

Posted by roadapples at 01:27 PM | Comments (3)

April 26, 2006

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!


Slimy sycophants and putrid parasites have invaded my wobbly web site. I don't think they even come here in poison. They just send robots or webbots by to attach horrid comments replete with links to disgusting sex sites.

I had comment monitoring turned on but they left their disgusting graffiti any way. The stuff never showed up on any of my posts but it was time consuming just removing them from my database and it was so annoying. As a defensive measure, I turned off comments on all my posts including this one.

I am hoping they will go away and leave me in peace if they can not attach themselves to my rudder for a while.

Posted by roadapples at 06:19 AM

March 23, 2006

old kitty


There is a bullentin board on the wall in my Mother's apartment. I must have walked past that bullentin board a thousand times and never really looked at the things she has attached to it. Last night I had a few minutes while I was waiting for my mom to do something - I don't remember what exactly. Every thing she does takes her three times longer than it use to do. But on this eighty-three-year-old's woman's bullentin board was a very profound statement told by a children's fictional character. It kind of says it all and I am retelling it here for you. I did not see any copyright so I hope I am not stepping on anybody's toes.

The Cat In The Hat On Aging

I cannot see
I cannot pee
I cannot chew
I cannot screw
Oh, my God, what can I do?

My memory shrinks
My hearing stinks
No sense of smell
I look like hell
My mood is bad -- can you tell?

My body's drooping
Have trouble pooping
The Golden Years have come at last
The Golden Years can kiss my ass

Posted by roadapples at 05:52 PM | Comments (15)

January 23, 2006

free candy bars today

Attention Deficit Disorder is a real problem here in Milwaukee Public Schools and I suspect else where also. No one is sure what causes the disorder but there are researchers working with owls trying to figure it out. It appears that the ability to focus vision in the direction of sound is fundamental to all vertebrates.

The brain can be selective with sounds. That explains why when I say "turn your book to page 67" in a loud voice no one seems to notice. But if I whisper "free candy bars today", I have no trouble getting the attention of everyone in the room.

All teenagers, husbands, and government workers have selective hearing to some degree and it is normal. Attention Deficit Disorder is an extreme condition. Those afflicted with it can not seem to focus on only one sound or activity for very long before being distracted. Teachers and moms reading this post already know of which I speak.

I have a student that can not do her class work by herself. It is not her intelligence but her ability to focus. I sit with her the whole time she is here and keep her on task. When she becomes distracted, I start asking her questions related to the material she is working on. I listen to her read and follow along with a copy of the material. When she looks up, it is important for me to be there in her field of vision focused on what she is doing. Every time she answers a question in any activity, I must respond with a positive comment or she starts to lose interest.

She was always lost in regular high school settings. Here in this school, she is responding well to one on one attention. It is tedious and I get nothing else done while she is here for two or three hours but it seems to be paying off. Her attention span is increasing.

I found the article below in Scientific American. It provides a rudimentary explanation of the research using owls to try and understand the mechanism that controls sound/vision synchronization. Said another way, the researchers are trying to understand the basic way all vertebrates including high school students go to a state of attention. It is a very short and fascinating read.

Owl's Ability to Link Sight and Sound Could Be Key to Treating Attention Disorders

Posted by roadapples at 12:49 PM | Comments (2)

January 21, 2006

blog tips for me

John Steinbeck

Good writing is not an easy thing - at least for me. Mathematicians are not known for their great prose. Ever read Mathematica Principia? If you ever have trouble sleeping, curl up in bed with that great masterpiece. Yeah, I know. It was not meant to be read for enjoyment by a layman. But a nice funny story here and there by the authors wouldn't hurt to liven it up a bit. No?

Since becoming an at-risk teacher three years ago, I have been obliged to teach other things like creative writing. I found I needed a lot of practice in the subject to hone my barely existent skills. I have a few authors that I use for guidance to help understand writing technique and style. My favorite is John Steinbeck followed closely by Earnest Hemingway. I also search the blogs for examples of good writing. I add them to my Blog Links as I find them. I started the following list of tips that I use when I write a post.

1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White: buy it, read it, do it.

2. Less is always more. Don't keep writing the same thing over and over.

3. Don't write a stream of consciousness. Don't write every little detail. Most readers like a little mystery.

4. Write as often as possible. The more you write, the easier it gets.

5. Never stop searching for examples of good writing. You will know it when you see it.

6.Last but certainly not least, don't write for your audience. Write what you enjoy and are passionate about and your audience will find you. If they don't right away, don't give up.

Posted by roadapples at 08:12 AM | Comments (5)

January 04, 2006

coal miner's worst nightmare

President Truman, 1948

"Miners found alive" the headlines of the local morning paper screamed. This is a headline that will surely go down in national media history. But unlike the funny headline to the left reporting Dewey's presidential win in 1948 by a landslide no less, this will go down in press history as the saddest.

I can not even imagine how the families of the Tallmansville, West Virginia coal miners must feel right now. This is another case of media frenzy, greed, misplaced competition to be the first, and downright maleficence.

Posted by roadapples at 08:39 AM | Comments (2)

January 01, 2006

creatures great and small


Charlie Brown was sleeping so peacefully under the tree we hated to wake him. But it was New Year's Day and time to pack away the ornaments, lights and tinsels for another year. Don't worry, he will move upstairs to our bedroom to finish his nap in his usual slumbering spot under our bed. Charlie Brown, or Chuck for short, is a Bichon Frise with a wonderful temperament. They make wonderful pets for families. Chuck meets each family member at the door with such warmth, affection, jumping, and friendly growling that you'd swear he/she had been gone for years. We have a "Beware of Mean Dog" sign on the front door but it is mainly to scare away the burglars. If some one were to break in, I am certain Chuck would give him the same friendly treatment he gives Grandma. Heck, Chuck might even help carry out the loot.

Charlie is the best and most wonderful pet we have ever had and we have tried them all, just about. Lizards, gold fishes, turtles, hamsters, white rats, rabbits, and one pet rock have entertained our children through the years. Except for the rock, they have all been a pain in the pitute for the care givers, mom and dad. Turtles don't show or give a lot of affection in return for their bed and breakfast. I mean no offense to you turtle lovers out there.

We had a tom cat once. His name was Binks. By the time he was 6 years old, he was so mean that he made a better watch cat than our watch dog. He had a regular habit of biting every one in the family on a regular basis. When my youngest daughter, Erin, was only 7 or 8 she was petrified of him. Before entering every room, she would peek around the corner to make sure the cat was not there. He went to his eternal reward in cat heaven or the other place more likely.

There is one caveat. Bichons do not shed any hair; they must be brushed every single day without fail. If you don't, their coats will mat in very short order.

Posted by roadapples at 09:28 AM | Comments (6)

December 25, 2005



Here we sit Christmas day in our jammies watching this marvelous little toy my wife received in the post from our son Paul. It scampers across the floor and whirls around. It sounds like one of those remote control cars I bought my boys when they were youngsters. It has a little robot sound when it starts up and it has lights that blink and it can back up when it runs into something.It reminds of the song, Marvelous Toy, written by Tom Paxton and recorded by many artists including John Denver. The refrain goes like this:

It went "zip" when it moved,
"bop" when it stopped,
and "whirr" when it stood still.
I never knew just what it was
and I guess I never will.

We sit and watch it for hours and there is even a bonus. According to the literature that came with it, this marvelous little robot vacuum cleaner picks up dirt from the floor as it travels along. Yes ladies, I said vacuums the floor. My wife is absolutely giddy with joy. It is called a Roomba. I will post more when I discover what else it can do. I am hoping it will do windows and cut the grass in the summer. Click here for a video clip (4megs).

My wife gave me a bottle of cologne for Christmas. It is called Polo and my daughter tells me it smells like old sweaty horses; finally, I have a fragrance befitting a man.

For those of you still curious about the song, Marvelous Toy, and would like to listen to a short piece of it, click here (760kbs).

Posted by roadapples at 11:09 AM | Comments (7)

December 11, 2005

wooden santa


While tramping through the woods of a local Christmas tree farm searching for the perfect Christmas tree this year, we came upon this wooden Santa. After selecting a six foot balsam, we went for a hay ride. If you click here you can go along for a few seconds. Hang on though because it was a bumpy ride through the woods. You can clearly hear the sound of the old Ford Model 8N tractor as it pulled our wagon. We were nice and cozy sitting snuggled together on old blankets. We stopped at the chicken coop and you can hear the roosters crowing. It is 8 megs long, so if you have dial up connection you might want to skip it. Sorry. The tree farm is Christmas on Indian lore road near West Bend, Wisconsin.

Click photos to enlarge.

Posted by roadapples at 06:25 PM | Comments (2)

December 09, 2005

snow day?

Milwaukee school kids don’t never get no stinkin’ snow days and neither do their teachers. Yea I know I done wrote a double negative. I meant too. I am on strike! I refuse to write good grammar today and I refuse to spill good too. So don’t be sending me no comments ‘bout it chill pee. We done had us over five inches of snow in the last week. If I was in the desert, I’d be havin’ at least one day home with the Playstation havin’ a good time with my homey’s but noooooooo here in Milwaukee we need a foot of new snow between the hours of midnight and 5 am just for the school superintendent to even think about givin’ us all overworked teachers, uh I mean school kids a day off.

I snapped the photo above on my way to work at my high school in downtown Milwaukee. The Milwaukee River runs right through the heart of Milwaukee and empties into Lake Michigan. At this time of the year when the first good cold snap sprints across the Midwest and collides with our big pond, the air is much colder than the water in the river or lake. The steam you see is not evaporation from the river but condensation from the cold air above the water. It can be so dense that a hazard sometimes occurs at this crossing of the river in to downtown.

This bridge like most bridges over the river in Mill Town, are draw bridges. They go up for river traffic so they are made as light as possible. The road surface is metal grating that one can see through down to the water below. If you look closely, you will see the condensation coming up through the grating in the bridge.

Last spring when the river was swollen and very swift after a very heavy rain, two young school kids, 6 and 8 years old, fell in while playing near the water. The kids never had a chance. They found their bodies wedged below this bridge. Sometimes I remember them as I cross this bridge and it makes me very sad.

You can click on the photo for a larger view.

Posted by roadapples at 08:59 AM | Comments (4)