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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fringeville Edition #69, March 15 2012

I worked at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for sixteen years. I usually find myself there a couple of times a year visiting family and friends who are hospitalized.

I'm ambivalent about these little journeys.

On the one hand, I worked there a long time. I know a lot of people who still work there. It's exciting to see them again and touch base.

On the other hand, I worked there a long time. I know a lot of people who still work there. And sometimes I get brain freeze and forget their #%$$^! names.

I was there today, and it was an "on the other hand" kind of day. I found myself face-to-face with someone I worked with almost every day. And I had a brain freeze and forgot her name. It was one of those gawd-awful embarrassing moments we all have and from which there is no graceful escape.

I worked in patient Escort Services. She worked in the Recovery Room. When her patients were ready to go to their rooms, she'd pick up the phone and call Escort for an aide to help transport the patient. Probably four or five times a week, I was that aide. I worked directly with her thousands of times. We have mutual friends. She worked with my sister. My best friend's sister cuts her hair.

When I saw her, she asked the dreaded question: "You know who I am, don't you?"

"You worked in the Recovery Room, right?" I asked stupidly (because that much I already knew).

"You better remember my name," she said, knowing full well I was in a state of brain freeze.

I panicked, of course. I started mumbling about the pitfalls of knowing so many people, which just dug me deeper and deeper and deeper into a hole.

How was I going to climb out??

I started thinking of women's names alphabetically: ...Amy ...Alva ...Anne ...Betty ...Bella

By the time I hit the 'D' names I knew I was in deep trouble. She was rightfully getting annoyed.

In desperation, I changed tactics. I imagined myself walking into the Recovery Room on any given day seventeen years or so ago. Who would I see? ...Cathy ...Barb ...Sally ...Diane ...Kim ...Vera.


"Vera," I sighed.

"You're lucky," she replied.

I really do know a boatload of people. I don't forget faces. But the names ...well that's when I get brain-freeze. Sixteen years working in a hospital; sixteen years in food service; thousands of people I met when I ran a door-to-door campaign for office, plus all the usual vast lists of people we all know from church, school and every place in between ...well it's no wonder I occasionally get frozen gray matter.

It's episodes like this, however, that leave you feeling incredibly stupid.

Vera was graceful, and probably wouldn't have beaten me too severely if my brain hadn't thawed. But this was a day for a good dose of humble pie, and I had me a big-ass piece of it.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fringeville Edition #68, March 14 2012

So ...after I wrote my tongue-in-cheek post earlier today about Dick Cheney's fear of Canada, the god of all things bizarre did me one better.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Afghanistan today to speak with Marines at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

Earlier in the day, an Afghan civilian stole a truck at Camp Bastion's airbase and drove it onto a runway before crashing into a ditch. The man, who ended up on fire, jumped onto a vehicle full of soldiers before he was subdued and extinguished. It is suspected this was a failed suicide attack.

On that same runway, not far away, sat the airplane carrying Secretary Panetta, who had just landed.

Yes, that's bizarre, but it gets far more bizarre than that.

When Marines went to hear Panetta speak, they were ordered by Major General Mark Gurganus to lay down their weapons before entering the tent. The official reason was so that American troops wouldn't be the only troops armed. The request did not come from Panetta or his folks.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems to me that Panetta should have been surrounded by as many armed, locked, and loaded Marines as possible based on the earlier incident.

Panetta: Potential victim of Niedermeyer Syndrome?

Why would Major General Gurganis disarm our own troops shortly after an attempted terror attack on the Defense Secretary? Was he concerned about Niedermeyer Syndrome? (Please rent Animal House to learn more about this devastating affliction.)

Surely Panetta has nothing to fear from our own troops, despite his feelings that Congressional approval for any possible military action in Syria is apparently unnecessary? International approval is all we need, and then Congress would be informed. Eventually. After that night's episode of American Idol.

Some of these troops are on multiple deployments, endangering their lives for their country (not the U.N.) again and again and again and again. And this is how they're treated.

I've said this before, but you can't make stuff like this up. Bizarreness rules.

There's no bullets in that airplane, right? Right??

* * *

Fringeville Edition #67, March 14 2012

Witch makes me wonder...

Why do I write fiction? Because the real world is just too bizarre these days.

Let's start with the Nepal. In February, a woman from a village in Nepal was murdered by a mob in front of her nine year-old daughter. They thought the woman was a witch, so they beat her and burned her alive.

Incidents like these remind us that we haven't moved very far from the caves. We can build nuclear weapons. We can explore space. We can investigate the fundamental nature of the Universe as we search for the elusive "God particle."

But on any given day, we're burning witches. Or beheading in the name of religion. Or forcing children to run until they die.

When I write my "serious" fiction, I write about damaged people. Hopefully, by the end of a story, they've begun to heal. In the end, I like to think that no matter how somber the story there's a justification for my readers to continue hoping. They certainly won't get that inspiration reading most headlines these days, where the very worst in human character is on display.

* * *

...I can hold off those crazy Canucks with this.

Speaking of bizarre, how's this?  Dick Cheney is afraid to go to Canada. Keep in mind, Mr. Cheney visited Iraq in 2008. But he won't visit Canada these days due to "security concerns." Possible mortar attacks in Iraq? No problem. Suicide attack in the Green Zone? Bring it on. 

Just keep him the hell out of Canada, they might pelt him with that yummy round bacon.

* * *

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fringeville Edition #65, March 10 2012

At Amazon NOW!

It's here: Patience, my third Kindle e-book.

Available at Amazon by clicking here

No Kindle? There are free reading apps at Amazon ...have at it!!!

(I am, of course, plugging the book shamelessly. I'm broke. Can't buy wings. Need da dough!)


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fringeville Edition #64, March 04 2012

For reasons that will become apparent to everyone soon, for the foreseeable future my "Fringeville" posts are going to non-political.

Most of my posts aren't political anyway (chicken wings, Penn State, humor, family life, chicken wings) and there are many other far more talented and knowledgeable blogmeisters to post on politics. (Most, however, avoid posts on wings and nasal spelunking.)