Just for a Half Hour

In July 1970, my college roommate and great friend Ox and I were driving out West in my 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint ragtop.  We were destined for Spokane to drop Ox off at Fairchild AFB for survival training before he was to head off to Viet Nam.   On the way, we were cruising an interstate — approaching Las Vegas from the East. It was probably 1:30 in the morning.  Pitch  dark.  But when we were still 75 miles away, we could see the arched glow of Vegas in the distance.

We drove through Vegas and continued North to Nellis AFB (I was a tag along).  Ox checked us into the base “VOQ” (visiting officer’s quarters).  Ox – an Air Force second lieutenant; I a retired Boy Scout. It was probably 2:00 a.m. . . . .

On getting to the room and dropping our bags, Ox’s first words were – “let’s go into town.”

My response “Are you kiddingI’m tired.”  Ox said – “Oh c’mon let’s go in for just a half hour.”  I thought – half hour.  I looked at my watch.  We’d still be back by 3:30 or so.  And so I capitulated. . . . .  Half hour

Upon arrival into downtown Las Vegas – we were mesmerized by the famous corner with four casinos.  And we sauntered into the Golden Nugget.   A 25 cent slot machine called my name. . .”Scotty . .  come to me.”  I fished in my pocket and found one quarter.  I put it in, pulled the handle, and bells began ringing.  And lights flashing   I had won a $47.50 jackpot.  I was rich.  I looked at Ox and said “Ox – we’re gonna leave here millionaires.”  

Later on – at around 10:00 a.m. — we drove back to Nellis.  Considerably poorer than we had arrived.  We slept for a few hours and headed to Reno to try our luck again.  Regrettably, I won no further jackpots.  At least at a casino. . . .   

Word Quirks

I have always been interested in language – and words.  And I began “collecting” interesting tidbits about words around the age of 10.  Here are some interesting facts that are fun to know.

Only 3 words in the English language have the vowels in perfect order:  facetious, arsenious (derived from arsenic) and abstemious (abstaining)

Longest word without repeating a letter:  uncopyrightable

Longest word you can type on the top row of a typewriter:  typewriter

Longest word typed with left hand:  stewardesses

Longest word typed with right hand:  lollipop

Only word derived from Malaysian language:  amok (to run amok)

Only one word has 3 consecutive double letters:  Bookkeeper.  Sweettooth is also one if spelled as one word

Only 3 words that are palindromes (same backwards as forwards):  racecar, kayak and level

Only one word ends in “mt”:  dreamt

Longest word without vowels (A – E – I – O 0r U):  rhythms

Longest one syllable word:  screeched

Most used letter in English language:  E

Least used letter:  Q

The Vikings

From about 790 A.D. until the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D., the Vikings sailed the world.   They were warriors, raiders, traders, merchants and discoverers.  They discovered America long before that Columbus fellow.  And they sailed their longships (oars and sails, shallow draft and symmetrical bow and stern to permit instant reversal of course) wherever the wind would carry them.   

The Vikings came from Scandinavian countries –Denmark, Sweden and Norway.   French Normans were descended from Danish and Norwegian Vikings who were made feudal overlords in Northern France.  The Vikings who raided – and remained behind in Ireland (often because they had met a young women) – were given the name “Doyle” which is from the Celtic Ó Dubhghaill, which means “son of the dark (or evil) foreigner.”    

As Christianity spread through Scandinavia, the Viking raids diminished and by the end of the 11th Century, the great Viking Age came to an end – not with a bang but a whimper.  

My father’s great grandparents were from Lyngby (just north of Copenhagen), Denmark.  They were caretakers of the local cemetery.  As they would dig graves, they uncovered various artifacts from the Viking Age.  And long before.  I have at home two beautiful stone axe heads they found — displayed on a shelf.  Great paperweights but still sharp . . . . and ready to use. . . .        

The Forbidden City

[A repeat from November 16, 2014]   People – of all faiths – are welcomed into the Vatican — the Holy See of Catholicism. All may tour Jerusalem – the Divine City of Judaism.  All may visit Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus.  Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama is open to visitors.  The red carpet is out in Tokyo (and Edo’s Shinto shrines), the Seven Holy Towns (of Hinduism), Salt Lake City (home to the Mormon faith) and a host of other countries, cities and locales which are relevant to a particular religion or faith.

But heaven help you (no pun intended) if you try to enter the city of  Mecca (even Medina) in Saudi Arabia. You are carded at the door. And if you are not a Muslim, you are not welcome. If you try to get in, you will be booted out. Physically.  Why?  Because the Koran dictates:  “O ye who believe!  The idolaters are unclean.  So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship. . . . ” (Surra 9:28).   And so based on this centuries-old Scripture, Saudis deny entrance to “Scott” “Donna” “Abigail” or “Rex.”  Expressways literally have checkpoints – much like toll booths – where your credentials are examined.  If you are “unclean,” you’re shown the bypass that takes you well out of your way — and far away from Mecca (or Medina). 

Christianity and Judaism take a major beating these days from our government and our allegedly mainstream media.  A crèche or menorah?  Puh-lease!  Are you a radical?  But object to highly controversial Islamic practices, suffocating prejudice against women or demands for Sharia law in increasing locales in America – and the pinheads will condemn your speech as “discriminatory.”  Or worse.  And I’m the one who is wrong.  And unclean. . . . .

I Get No Respect. . . . .

[A summer repeat from March 30, 2014]   My wife made me join a bridge club. I have to jump off next Tuesday.

When I was in high school, a girl called and said “come on over. Nobody’s home.” I went over to her house. Nobody was home.

My wife is such a bad cook, the flies chipped in to fix the screen door. The roaches hang themselves in the pantry. Most guys go home and get pot roast. I go home and get roast pot. Did you ever see meat loaf that glows in the dark?  In my house, we pray after the meal. . . .

I miss Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004). He was a classic (which may share a whisper about my sense of humor). Born Jacob Rodney Cohen in New York, he started writing for stand up comedians at the age of 15 and began performing (as “Jack Roy”) when he was 20.  In the 1960’s he was performing stand up comedy at night and working as a salesman or singing waiter by day.  Nothing seemed to go right for him and he went deep into debt.  He came to realize that he needed a stage “image.”  Since nothing went right for him, the light went on over his head.   On March 5, 1967, The Ed Sullivan Show needed a last minute replacement and “Rodney Dangerfield” made his big debut.   And he was the hit of the show.  He was invited as a guest on The Dean Martin Show and then The Tonight Show – where he appeared on 35 occasions.  Rodney’s career peaked in the 1980’s when he appeared in the iconic movie “Caddyshack” and several other films (including “Easy Money” and “Back to School“). 

In 2001, he suffered a minor heart attack backstage at The Tonight Show.  And his health began to slide.  In August 2004, he entered the hospital for a heart-valve replacement.  When someone asked how long he’d be in the hospital, he responded “if all goes well, a week or 10 days.  If not, then maybe an hour and a half.”  He died a short time later – at 83 – and was buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.  His headstone reads “There goes the neighborhood.” 

Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MecU2keW54I  for a laugh (and the many others alongside) 🙂

Assumption of Risk

I’m a lawyer.  My trusty Black’s Law Dictionary defines “Assumption of Risk” as follows:  “Exists where none of fault for injury rests with plaintiff, but where plaintiff assumes consequences of injury occurring through fault of defendant, third person or fault of no one . . . It is based upon the maxim ‘volenti non fit injuria,’ which means that to which a person assents is not regarded in law as an injury.”  Assumption of risk is a defense to lawsuits for injury or loss where the plaintiff has either actual or constructive understanding as to the hazards to be encountered and he consents to taking a chance on possible danger.  And injury. . . .

So often today, we see blame being cast against innocent parties by a sea of alleged victims (and prospective plaintiffs) whose own actions have put them in harm’s way.  Blame is always cast upon others.   Everyone is a victim.  No one wants to take responsibility for injury which they invite.  It’s always someone else’s fault.  Whether you’re at the ball park and get whacked by a foul ball, the fitness center and overdo it, the pool, you try to kill a police officer with a baseball bat, spill hot coffee in your lap, you drive your car over the speed limit or you smoke or abuse drugs.  There comes a time when those who voluntarily put themselves into harm’s way need to accept the consequences of their actions.  Instead of blaming everyone else for injury or loss, know that you may assume risk – and fault – by your own actions.  Assumption of risk.     

Little Feet

[A valuable summer repeat from November 26, 2017]  When I was about 10 years old, I pestered my father to let me drive the family car.  Sooooo. . . . one Sunday, my dad let me drive home from Church.  Not all the way – but the last mile or so — on a road that was pretty vacant and ran in part along a corn field. I’d sit there peering over the steering wheel – my father with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the ignition and one hand on the gear shift.  From then on, I was the “Chuber” driver (“CHurch UBER“) on Sundays.  

Sometimes, my dad would take me to an empty parking lot and let me drive.  Round and round.  So I “learned” to drive at a pretty early age. When Lauren was about 12, I let her “drive” on occasional Saturday afternoons in our Church parking lot.  

My father had a lot of wisdom to impart to me in my formative years (which – Donna comments – are still in progress).  My dad always told me when driving to keep my “eyes moving.”  Watching.  Left.  Right.  Check the mirrors.  And he always told me to watch for “little feet.”  As I drive along a street, I was told to glance forward — under the cars parked along the street.  Why?  Because you can see if there are little feet — on the other side — below the car.  And you can slow down.  It’s easy to see an adult standing by a car.  But there’s no way to see a child unless you see the “little feet” under the car you are approaching.  I’m always watching for “little feet.”  Try it next time you’re driving.  Keep an eye out for little feet. . . . .