Tag Archives: Geography

Antofagasta©

One doesn’t come across the name Antofagasta—a Chilean city 678 miles north of Santiago—in ordinary conversation and one assumes that the words Atacama Desert come up even less frequently. Probably even fewer readers of this column have stopped off at either place. The region produces much of the world’s supply of copper.
I certainly didn’t intend to land in Antofagasta when my flight left Bogota, Colombia.  My destination was Santiago itself. I’d made many trips to Latin America and the Caribbean over the years on assignments for the United States Information Agency (USIA) to train journalists and seek their support for friend of the press.
The first indication that passengers had that we were going to land before we got to Santiago was when the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. Pilots often talk to passengers from the cockpit, pointing out places of interest.
“This is the pilot speaking. We have just been informed that the Santiago airport is fog-covered. We can’t land there yet. We’ve been instructed to land at Antofagasta, which is nearly 700 miles north of Santiago. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position in preparation for landing. Thank you.”    The plane banked and we began a steep descent.  After an uneventful landing the plane taxied to a very small terminal building that was apparently closed.

We learned later that the air terminal only opened when flights were scheduled. Fortunately, the landside of the terminal was open 24 hours a day to accommodate traveler and commercial vehicle traffic.  Food and beverages and travel items were available at various counters.
The passengers disembarked and headed for the counters and restrooms. They were immediately surrounded by people wanting to purchase U.S. dollars. Passengers were offered a variety of exchange prices depending on how vulnerable they looked.  The gullible-looking passengers were offered 7.50 pesos for a dollar. The official exchange rate was 750.00 pesos per dollar.
One could tell the seasoned travelers by how few people surrounded them.  One could detect the passengers who hadn’t understood decimals in school by the fact that they got taken by buyers who moved the decimal point one or two places and cheated them ruthlessly.
Shysters moved through the crowd s trying to bully passengers into yielding their dollars. Others gazed into passenger’s faces and with mock sincerity and sought dollars by pleading poverty and hunger.
To their credit a number of honest citizens berated their crooked country men. The most effective do-gooders were those who spoke English. But they were berated by the shysters also. A few fights broke out.
At this point the aircraft’s captain grabbed a bullhorn, climbed on top of a wooden box and began shouting. The captain was a veteran of this airline route. He spoke Spanish fluently.
He shouted: “This is the captain speaking! Everyone take a step back and be quiet.”
Then he spoke in English.  “Passengers, move return to the airplane and take your seats. The fog has lifted and that the airfield in Santiago is ready to receive our flight. And in the meantime, courteously decline currency transactions of any kind.”

Despite the pilot’s orders there was a flurry of currency exchanges as the the passengers moved across the tarmac and climbed the stairs to the airplane.
As the plane taxied and lifted off, a few passengers complained about the delay. Most were glad for the diversion and for a chance to see a place they had never heard of and to which they would never have thought of booking a flight.
The plane reached cruising altitude and passengers were told they could move around the cabin.
A passenger shouted, “I forgot. How much is this money worth?
Another shouted, “Who cares? I’m saving mine to give to my grandkids. I’ll give you $30 for all your Chilean pesos.

 
“Pesos?” shouted another passenger. “Pesos?” Shoot! Some shyster sold me a hand full of Brazilian paper money I thought I was getting a real good deal.”
“I’ll give you a buck for all your Brazilian money,” said the grandma.”
“Coffee, tea or milk?” asked a flight attendant.

-30-

-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Fortune Cookie Sayings From A Loopy Ol’ Geezer ©

We ate Chinese take-out the other night.  The fortune cookie said: “The path is getting easier from here on out.”

Well, thank heaven that the path is getting easier.   I was so relieved and  encouraged when I read that.

Then I imagined some individual in New Jersey, or Arkansas or Las Vegas or some place.  He or she, I thought, was sitting at a rickety wooden writing table making up Chinese fortune cookie sayings. The person gets paid 20 cents a dozen for them.

So here are some Chinese fortune cookie sayings from a loopy geezer who lives in the Upper Midwest of the United States of America (a place where a century or so ago experts told people they should  inhabit).

+  If  you’re watching the 10 O’clock news on a Kansas City TV station and in the middle of the show, the weatherman looks at radar screen and says,  “Well folks, my shift just ended. Good Night,” and the screen goes blank…

You should probably take cover.

+ If, here in the Upper Midwest, there’s a cobalt blue sky and not a cloud anywhere, it’s probably safe to drive to the grocery store (within half a mile of your place) and buy bread without taking your umbrella and rubber boots.  You’ve  probably got at least 15 minutes.

+ If the big brown UPS truck drives by your house, you’ve got a least a half hour before any unannounced tornado hits. The UPS drivers are in touch with their dispatcher by radio.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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The Ides of March

A saying from decades ago (my Mom, perhaps repeated it).  came to me.  It seems apt for this cold evening in the Upper Midwest:  “I burn my candles at both ends.  It will not last the night. But Oh my foes, and Oh my friends, it makes a lovely light.”

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Hunting For St. Joseph ©

My wife Emmaline is one no nonsense, “just give me the facts,
please,” kind of woman. You won’t find Emmaline running on the
gerbil wheel of fad or fashion, much less giving heed to folklore
traditions. So it was with some consternation that I found myself in the
car (with Emmaline at the wheel as usual) driving to the city to buy a
statue of St. Joseph
We had decided to put our house on the market with an eye to
moving to something smaller, with fewer stairs. Before we signed a
sales contract and way before the for sale signs went up, Emmaline
got word from her good friend Rosalie that if we were serious about
selling our house we had better seek the divine assistance of St.
Joseph.
“You have to bury a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the
front yard,” said Rosalie. “If you do that, your house will sell fast.”
Rosalie had told Emmaline to try We Believe Books, a Christian
store on the outskirts of the city. We drove around awhile and then
spotted “We Believe,” in a strip mall.
“Hi folks,” said the man behind the counter. “It’s a blessed
day.”
“Indeed it is,” said Emmaline. “Especially if you have a statue of
St. Joseph.”
“A statue?” the man asked.
“Well, actually small figurine of St. Joseph.”
“We don’t carry figurines,” he said.” Would a book mark do?”
We have some nice St. Joseph bookmarks.”
“No. It has to be a figurine.”
“Then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Is there another religious store close by?”
“You could try Light and Knowledge over on Linden Tree Road.”
Emmaline asked how to get there and the man gave her detailed
directions. After driving around for half an hour we found ourselves in
a in a rough neighborhood. Emmaline pulled up to a rundown
convenience store.
“See if the clerk knows where to find Light and Knowledge,” she
said.
The clerk was in his early twenties. He had a silver nose ring and
a nickel-sized ivory plug in each ear lobe.
“I’m looking for Light and Knowledge,” I said.
The clerk straightened up. His right hand moved slowly out of
sight under the counter.
“I’m all out,” he said.
“What?”
“I’m all out, man. Come back later.”
My confusion turned to insight. I felt a chill.
“Oh yeah, right. Okay, man,” I said. I backed toward the door.
“Did the clerk know anything?” asked Emmaline.
“No,” I said
Twenty minutes later we were in a less stressed part of town. We
passed a church. Six or seven women and a pastor were chatting on
the front steps. Emmaline pulled to the curb.
“Ask if they know where it is,” she said. “Hi, folks,” I said. “We’re
looking for the Light and Knowledge bookstore on Linden Tree
Road.” The pastor came to the car.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have no idea. But Salvation Now
Bookshop is up the street three blocks.
The woman behind the counter at Salvation Now was tall and
angular.
“We’d like to buy a small figurine of St. Joseph, “said Emmaline.
“You don’t want Salvation Now, you want Light and
Knowledge,” said the woman.
“Right,” I said, “on Linden Tree Road.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Is it far?”
“About twenty blocks. My sister Ginger owns it. My name is
Sheila.” Sheila handed me a sheet of paper with a map showing
how to get from Salvation Now to Light and Knowledge.
“You must have lots of requests for St. Joseph figurines, why
don’t you stock them?” I asked.
“Ginger and I both wanted to stock St. Joseph figurines, but we
decided to do “rocks, scissors, papers” and let the winner have an
exclusive on them,” she said. “Ginger won. I got exclusive rights to St.
Redondo figurines.”
“What does St. Redondo do for people?” I asked.
“He brings customers to yard and garage sales,” she said. “You
hide him carefully in the worst, most useless, item you have. I’ve
heard of St. Redondo yard and garage sales that have nothing left
less than half an hour after they began.”
We thanked Sheila, and followed her map to the Light and
Knowledge Book Store. The St. Joseph figurine came in a little box
that had instructions on how and where to bury him to insure a quick
sale.
We haven’t sold our house yet, but Emmaline says St. Joseph is
working on it every day. Meantime she’s planning another trip to the
city. Emmaline wants to buy a St. Redondo figurine to use in the
garage sale we’re going to have before we move.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Let Down Your Buckets

In the mid-1800s two sailing ships were becalmed miles apart off the coast of Brazil.  The ships were located far from sight of land, where the Amazon River joins the Atlantic Ocean.  One of the ships was out of water and the passengers and crew were dying of thirst.  Sea water is poisonous.  The captain sent a flag message to the other ship:  “Send us water.”  The other ship sent back the flagged message, “Let down your buckets where you are.” The desperate captain sent another message:  “Send us water.”  The message came back “Let down your buckets where you are.”  The first captain ordered the crew to let down buckets. They came back filled with fresh water.   The Amazon is the largest river in the world.  The confluence of the Amazon River spreads miles out into the Atlantic, far from the sight of land.  So the water that the people needed was fresh Amazon river water.   The holiday message: “Let down your buckets (help others) where you are.”

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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I Love A Parade

Emmaline loves Letongaloosa, but she isn’t from here.  She was born in Wyotah, a state way out West in the Rocky Mountains.

According to history, The Great Western Colonizer emigrated to the Wyotah valley from the East with a bunch of pioneers in 1846.  He was leading a band of social liberals who wanted to exercise their Constitutional right to become conservatives.  The Wyotah pioneers crossed the plains, climbed the Rocky Mountains, and stopped when they came to a desolate-looking valley.  There, according to legend, The Great Colonizer said, “This may be it,” and they decided to settle down.    That was July 24, 1847.

After much hard work the Wyotah pioneers made the desert blossom as a rose, and the Great Western Colonizer ordered settlers to spread out to the north and south.

Emmaline’s great grandparents moved south, and she was born in Buckboard,  asmall town a hundred miles from the capital of Wyotah.  Emmaline lived in Buckboard until she married me.

Now, five decades later, we still go to Buckboard to participate in the 24th of July festivities.

Up in The Place, Wyotah’s state capital, they mount a huge celebration on the 24th of July. There are concerts, fireworks, a marathon, a 10K race, and a hugely popular, miles-long parade.  The parade features beautifully decorated floats, dignitaries riding in new and antique convertibles, marching bands,  horse clubs, trained dog acts, stilt walkers,  flag-waving school children,  and a ton of sign-bearing church groups.

Buckboard has celebrated the 24th of July for almost as many years as The Place has.

The big events on the 24th are The Parade and The Demolition Derby, and The Fireworks.

The Parade has always been my favorite, but I was a bit disappointed in both The Demolition Derby and the Parade this year.  I was disappointed in the Demolition Derby because there is a dearth of 1970 and 1980 clunker automobiles in which helmeted contestants can drive around the rodeo arena and bash into each other

On the 24th , Main Street is lined with folding chairs,  some of which have been in place for several days. The celebration begins at 6 a.m. with the BOOM. That’s when the Buckboard Volunteer Firemen set off a blast that rattles windows all over town.  Then they drive the fire truck through town, its horns honking and its sirens blaring. At 7 a.m. everybody walks down to the city park for the annual Firemen’s Breakfast—pancakes, bacon, ham, eggs, pan-fried potatoes–served at picnic tables.

Emmaline and I watch The Parade from folding chairs on the steps of the Town Hall. By the time the honor guard marches by with the flags, Main Street is lined five and six deep with spectators.

The Parade begins at 10 a.m. and travels down Main Street from north to south.  My disappointment with this year’s 24th of July parade centered on quality, not quantity.   This year’s parade lasted longer and had more participants than ever before.  The problem was, there weren’t more floats, nor more bands,  there were just more vehicles.

The float on which “Miss Buckboard,” and her attendants rode was beautiful, as were the floats of “Miss Lakeville,” and “Miss Mount Oakdale,” from two nearby towns.

But after that it was vehicle after four-wheeled vehicle, mostly black, mostly newer SUVs, carrying advertising signs. The signs touted  everything from chiropractors and podiatrists to optometrists and dental hygienists. I counted five vehicles with “get out of debt” or “payday loan,” signs on them. Many of those opportunists threw handfuls of  candy to scrambling kids on the street.  One woman, pushed a big antique baby carriage, that had a sign advertising her child care service.  I didn’t mind that—at least she was walking.

Next year on the 24th ,  I’m going rent a big black SUV and  put a sign on it that that reads:  “ Infernal Revenue Service.”   I’m going to wear a dark suit, white shirt, a power tie, and dark glasses.  I’m going to stand, with a pen and notebook beside the SUV at the end of the parade route. I bet no one will notice the typo.                                                     -30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Drag Street Harlot

 

IMAG-A-SCENE

THE SCENE: A prep school English classroom. The teacher hands a manuscript to a pre-teen student. The teacher speaks:

“While your story, “Drag Street Harlot,” is provocative, Justin, you must realize that it’s derivative.”

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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World’s Longest Rivers

World’s Longest Rivers

1.Nile (Africa)

2.Amazon (South America)

3.Mississippi (North America)

4.Yangtze (Asia)

5.Venlsey (Asia)

Associated Press World Atlas, pg. 6

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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