Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Humility

High Trust Environments

Not so very long ago, The Darling Wife-Mark II and I went on a cruise. As is common, our cruise stopped at a port, and allowed those interested to disembark, wander around the area, or take excursions (such as snorkeling, visiting attractions, or having a guided tour). We elected to wander about the area adjacent to the pier.

There were interesting things to be seen, including a pretty little waterfall as well as the shops.

The interesting thing, for the purposes of this tale, was documentation of what others have called a “high trust society”.

Others have observed that Western civilization generally functions as a “high Trust Society”. That is to say that folks generally act as if those about them are not out to “get” them, in whatever manner “get” might mean. The classic illustration is the observation that “When I was a kid, we never locked out doors (at night)(when going away)(when out running errands).”

In contrast, “Low Trust Societies” have relatively low levels of interpersonal trust, and lack commonly shared ethical values. (per Wikipedia). Wikipedia continues relating that low trust societies are typically kinship based, which can be reflected in tribal loyalty being paramount (rather than primary loyalty being national in scope). Kinship based society will see folks not among one’s clan, as not to be trusted.

With that said, on to my story. There are many opportunities to take photographs, as you might imagine. Furthermore, at these vantage points, there are throngs of people. What I saw, brings hope about everyday people’s innate goodness and righteousness.

First off, everybody appeared to recognize that, should we all push forward, nobody would get the photo that they wanted. Therefore, we all lined up, a ways back from the vantage point, and took turns walking forward, posing, and getting our pictures.

Secondly, and material to this epiphany, folks simply turned to the visitors in line immediately behind them, spoke for a couple of minutes, and handed them their cell phones, posed, and smiled while these perfect strangers, to whom they had just handed an instrument whose replacement cost could pass $1,000, took their pictures, and, handing the phones back, reciprocated, smiling all the while. So, they got their pictures taken, as well.

Let’s stop and think about that for a second. When I say, “perfect strangers”, I literally mean individuals that the visitors had not ever seen before in their lives, who likely were from another cruise ship altogether, and whose paths would never cross again.

This little social interaction repeated itself over, and over, and over again, as strangers, tanned and pale, old and young, likely well off as well as likely struggling, recreated this little slice of trust and thereby enriched each others’ lives.

Closer to home, we can see this theme again: we trust that the clinician caring for us actually intends to help us, despite likely not being in any way familiar with him/her. We generally assume that the clerk, the waitress, the teller, has our change correct, and give it only a cursory review befor stuffing it in our pockets, wallets or purses.

Trust is the lubrication that facilitates our daily interactions, and eases the coordination of efforts that constitute our very complex economy, to everybody’s benefit.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Humility · oops! · Pre Planning Your Scene


So, TINS, TIWFDASL….Ok, I was NOT FDASL, rather, I was en route home from vacation. TDW-Mark II and I had made it about to mid day, and it was time to stop for a pit stop. We were at the awkward point where we weren’t hungry, yet, the gas tank was about 2/3 full, but Nature Called.

So, I entered the rest area, and entered the stall to set a spell. Now, cue the Rookie Mistake. I had secured my sidearm, locked the door, settled in, and started to relax. Now, boys ‘n girls, what did I overlook?

Yep. Was there any toilet tissue in the stall? Nope.

I looked again, thinking that, occasionally, there is a spare roll hidden behind some sliding door or something.


No newspaper left behind. (DYSWIDT?)

No magazines.

By this point, I was well into, well, my “celebrations”, and the absence of tissue was appearing to present a dilemma.

Then I recalled that my Dear Departed Father had drilled into his childrens’ heads to ALWAYS have a handkerchief. That, I did have. It occurred to me that, for those of a cottony bent, one might consider employing a bandanna (for, I did indeed have a bandanna!) as a, well, hygienic tool.

I did so, and discarded the kerchief into the trash on my way out.

And washed my hands very, very thoroughly.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Housekeeping · Humility · oops! · Pre Planning Your Scene

We ate our survival food!


Smarter folks than I have deliberated upon food storage, and typically counsel us to lay up that which we eat every day. Under stressful conditions, most folks poorly tolerate additional novelty. I have a tale illustrating the folly of storing that which you have never eaten before.

I have eaten freeze dried foods before, most memorably on a seven day backpacking trip to a National Park. My partners and I deliberated in depth on meal plans, reading widely on the issues of back-country backpacking in the middle of Lake Superior.. Our first night’s meal produced the review that “This mess tastes like salty cardboard!” By the third night, the meal appraisal was that “this mess tastes like salty cardboard. Say, are you going to finish that?” On our final night on the trail (night #6), we agreed that “This mess tastes like salty cardboard. And, they sure are stingy with the portions!” One might imagine that I would take a lesson from this experience. One might be mistaken.

I suppose it was half a dozen years later, circa 1995, that we took one particularly memorable vacation. Money was tight (…in contrast to today, right?), and I had the bright idea that we could save money by a) camping, and b) eating the survival food I had bought as a bachelor, on special, from some mail order survival supply house since closed. My normally clear thinking wife went along with this idea, as I suspect that she herself had had her fill of town living and daily routine.

As per our routine, we packed up, collected kids, and set off for a state forest campground (again, frugal accommodations). We set up the camp and set to fixing dinner. Life Lesson Number One: think through your camping menu. I glibly assumed that I’d open the can of freeze dried beef patties, and we’d have burgers over the campfire. It developed that freeze dried beef requires a bit more prep than “open can: heat meal. Repeat”. For example, if the patties are not re hydrated, they retain the texture of charcoal briquettes. For another, if they are prepared by the freeze dry house with (say) stew in mind, then they will not perform particularly well when you desire them to hold the shape of, for example, a hamburger. Indeed, they will perform just as if they were about to be crumbled into a stew. That likely will prove unsatisfactory to the children eagerly awaiting burgers. I had, foolishly, spoken my mind regarding the possibilities these freeze dried foods had presented. The lesson of managing expectations remained for me to master another day.

In addition, some greater variety in the menu than “burgers” would have been welcome. This would serve both as backup in the event that plan “a” did not meet expectations, and balance the meal. I did neither.

Number One Son, a smart aleck even at that tender age, noted that the patties briquettes were quite flammable. He dubbed them “fire starters”, and proclaimed them more successful at this than as food. This was not especially helpful as Their Mother and I attempted to extemporize a suitable meal within our constraints of time (dark approaching) and money (not much). He, on the other hand, amused himself greatly.

I had thought that I could redeem myself with freeze dried ice cream. Again, think it through. My children typically do not embrace novelty, and freeze dried ice cream was not an exception. The “not ice”, “not cold”, and “not creamy” observations were precursors to Number One Son (again) determining that these were to be known as “pot scrubbers”, due to their resemblance to nylon abrasive pads used for dish washing. Evidently, this resemblance was both in texture as well as taste, although I do not know how he had researched the taste of scrubbing pads. Not a success.

After a night’s sleep, we awakened to face the Breakfast Conundrum. Typically, we would enjoy scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and juice for camping breakfast. Some of these items were snatched from the frig at home. As it developed, I had a can of freeze dried eggs. In addition, I had no clue as to how to transform the yellow dust into breakfast. In short, breakfast fail.

It seems that adding water and scrambling is not a winning strategy breakfast wise. The result, runny yellow syrup, wasn’t especially appetizing in appearance. In addition, it didn’t respond very well to my efforts to scramble it. It never did take on the consistency of eggs, it did not fry up at all well, and (this may be a surprise to you who haven’t been following closely) the children and Long Suffering Spousal Unit (LSSU) were not impressed the least bit favorably. We went with the jelly sandwich alternative breakfast strategy, and moved along with our day (“…there is nothing to see here, folks! Just move along…”).

That evening, the LSSU bravely leaped again into the campaign of canned beef. This time, having learned from my Dinner Fail the previous evening, she created some sort of stew, blending (re-hydrated) freeze dried beef from the can with canned vegetables and seasonings. She thereby created a repast even the eldest child pronounced satisfying and wholesome. A good time was had by all, dishes were washed, and the evening festivities commenced.

In the morning, we awakened. The LSSU evidently was inspired overnight, because she set to breakfast with enthusiasm, wisely chasing me away from the food prep area. Recreating her victory of the previous evening (this time with the freeze dried eggs, christened “Yellow Rain” after our last poisonous experiment), the LSSU adapted the preparation such that food, recognizably scrambled eggs, appeared as if by magic upon our plates along with the toast, sausage and juice denied us the previous day. Another Meal Win for the LSSU.

The years passed, things changed, stuff happened. Eventually, my marriage failed and I found my (teenaged) sons left home alone while I worked two jobs, and my (soon to be ex) wife was out Ghawd Knows Where, without establishing a meal plan for my children. I worked (more!) overtime and purchased a freezer and lots of food to stock it. I cooked in liter lots on my day off, and repacked it in “unit dose” containers, which I then froze. Voila! When the boys called me at work seeking food, I could tell them to snatch a meal from the freezer, microwave it, and dig in. To address the potential for power failure and loss of freeze, I began to purchase extra cans of the food I was using regularly. I expanded my stock to canned meats, so as to have something to make (say) spaghetti with in the event of power failure.

This year, I realized that I had not established a plan to rotate my canned foods. Indeed, I had no idea which cans would out-date at which time. I remedied this problem, and arranged my cans on a modified “first in-first out” system, with the new cans going in the back. I wrote the out-dates on the top of the cans in bold marker (so as to approach idiot resistance). In the process of this endeavor, I noted a couple of cans that were approaching out-date-hood. The years had taught me lessons that I heeded.

First, the canned chicken and dumplings that had looked so appealing in the picture on the can, found new life as a casserole. My clever (if naive and innocent) girlfriend (she is, after all, spending time with ME) whipped up a casserole of the canned dumplings with some canned cream soup, added a little flour and some seasonings from the spice cabinet, and baked it up for about 40 minutes. We enjoyed that for a couple of meals.

That success behind us, we turned out attention to the soon-to-out-date sloppy joe mix. Perhaps it was cheating of a sort, but I thawed some of my (copious) frozen ground beef from the previously mentioned freezer, and whipped up some supper for my two youngest sons. Toasting some (previously) frozen buns, a meal fit for an adolescent resulted for however briefly it lasted in the face of two hungry teenaged boys!

I then turned my attention to the canned chicken nearing its own out-date with destiny. One of our household favorite recipes is Chicken tetrazzini. This is a chicken dish, in a cream sauce served on noodles. The only non-storage food I used was the milk (not dried), margarine (although I keep a considerable quantity in my freezer), and wine. Otherwise, storage food all down the line. It also was a successful effort. I awakened each morning of my boys’ visit to find empty tetrazzini containers assembled in the sink. The one container that I managed to hide from my sons served as my dinner at work tonight.

To summarize the lessons learned: Store what you eat every day. Rotate your stores (ya know, like by eating it). Think through your menu. Recognize that (you or) your children may not embrace novelty. Freeze dried food has a learning curve: travel that curve at your leisure, not under stressful circumstances. Tabasco, as well as other spices, are your friend. If you are going to experiment with new stuff, perform those experiments during good times, not when the county loses power (or during whatever crisis convinces you to eat your survival food).

Fun And Games Off Duty · Housekeeping · oops!


Material from an “Away Game”.

I commented, recently, on a post from “Notes From The Bunker: . Commander Zero had noted that he had noted several batteries had leaked, and his reolution for that problem. My comment follows:

I’ve had so many Duracells leak, and destroy the light that I had (foolishly) put them away with the batteries inside, that they are nigh unto pen pals by now. That’s the bad news.

The good news, so to speak, is that they have been very good about attempting to replace the damaged lights: I send them a note, identifying the broken whatsit, citing Amazon’s replacement cost, and in a couple of weeks, I get a check. Cross that one off the “dammit!” list, and correspond about the next one.

So far, so “good”. AND, I replace the batteries with Energizers. For not-everyday-use lights, NOW, I put the batteries into a separate zip lock bag, label the bag with lot #, purchase date, and predicted expiration date. That way, even if the batteries croak, the damage is contained.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

And, Now, The Rest Of Teh Story!

Momma Kitty went on to have another litter, this one beneath our porch. Again, we provided dry food and water. Again, we saw her parading her kittens onto the porch, eventually, and observed them partaking of the dry food.

TDW would from time to time attempt to approach Momma Kitty, and eventually was able to lay on our porch, and have Momma Kitty approach her, and allow TDW to pet her briefly. So, to our surprise, one day when TDW opened the door, and invited Momma Kitty to enter, she did.

Much like the dog who finally caught the car, we were not altogether clear on what to do next. We settled on encouraging Momma Kitty to take her place in the cat crate (and, surprisingly she did take her place therein). TDW then scouted out the location of the kittens, and retrieved them. One has white and black markings, resembling a miniature, clawed, cow. She was named “Bossie” after TDW’s childhood pet cow. The other kitten, tranquilly accepting his transition to house cat, was named “Oliver” (again, olive branch=peaceful).

So, that is why we are over run with cats, and how they were named. Everybody gets along, they take turns grooming each other, and TDW has several Cute Cat Stories for me, each evening when I return home from work.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

And Now For Something Completely Different

Well, THOSE were some dark stories! And, now for something completely different.

TDW got a kitten from a friend, whom we named Max.

It developed that Max would laze away the afternoon, gazing out the window. After a while, he started to do this sort of “click-click-click” noise, and move from one window to the next, as if following something. Investigation revealed that this something was another cat, who eventually demonstrated that she had had kittens in our window wells. TDW eventually noted that the kittens were eating the dry cat food that she had been putting our for the new cat, who we dubbed Momma Kitty, and we soon retrieved the kittens: Momma Kitty escaped our clutches.

When we got the kittens inside, we locked them in the second bathroom, providing a crate where they could hide, water and food, and litter boxes. We would enter a couple of times a day to clean up the mess, refresh the water, refresh the food, and attempt to play with them, trying to socialize them into their new lives as house cats.

Took some doing. The one kitten would sit in a corner and snarl at us with all the gravitas a 6 ounce kitten could muster. She was named Henrietta, after the chickenhawk character in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.

Another kitten would gnaw at our fingers, then rush to lick and pat the same finger, reminiscent of the big blue “Sullie” character in the “Monsters Inc.” cartoon. A third kitten would lay, tranquilly, in our arms, allowing us to pet her and provide neck scritches, purring all the while. She was named Olivia (as in olive branch, the historic symbol of peace).

The final sister was named Dynamite, since she would nearly explode into a fury of claws and fangs upon any approach. She has since calmed down, although she is not altogether sure about the whole “hold still while Ipet you” thing, and would rather get going after a brief interval of tolerating our petting.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

“State Employment Agency”. Yeah: About That….

Years ago, I was unemployed. Since I was unemployed, I registered for (surprisingly enough) unemployment insurance payments. THAT necessitated that I register with the state, for assistance obtaining employment.

THAT was a treat! As it developed the folks at the “find this guy a job” office, did not appear to comprehend that I was an RN. Ya know, Registered Nurse. College and everything like that. They persisted in pointing out that they had PLENTY of Nurse’s Aid jobs. “Uh, yeah, about that. I am licensed here in the Great State of The Un Named Fly Over State, as a Registered Nurse. Nurse aids report to the LPNs that work with, and supervise, them. My job is, among other things, when I am working, is to supervise the LPNs. Howzabout you find me a job like THAT, hmm?”.

You might imagine that I did not rely upon them to find me my next job.

Trying to facilitate my return to gainful employment, I observed that I also held licensure as a Physician Assistant. “Oh, yes! Isn’t that like a medical assistant? We have jobs for those!”

Sigh. Another explanation of the collegiate effort required in order to qualify to sit for the board examination. As well as the different responsibilities appertaining to medical assistants, versus physician assistants.

I found employment as a midlevel, through a locums agency. Fat lot of help the unemployment folks were.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · guns · Life in Da City! · oops! · Pre Planning Your Scene

Never Fuck Around With A Brooklyn Boy

My Dad was from Brooklyn, He told me, when I was a lad, “Never fuck around with a Brooklyn Boy!”

That is sound advice.

I used to work with a guy who, one time, when his wife was ill, and he was the only income in their two income household, fell behind on some bills. He is an ex street medic, himself, and, well, not in the “shit” business: he did not talk shit, he would not take shit.

So TINS, this one tine he received a call from one creditor, who, once my friend had explained that he, the creditor, would not be receiving money in the near future, and would indeed be paid, once the finances in the household were approaching stabilty, responded (the creditor), “Oh, so you do not think that I can find you?”

My friend paused, and counseled this asshole. “Well, no, I do not think about that issue, one way or the other. But, now that you have brought it up, it is my opinion that, should your luck be exceedingly poor, you just might, indeed, find me. Have a nice day!”

My friend never saw that jackwagon, ever.

Years and years ago, I fell behind on my mortgage. (something about unemployment…) I was in touch with my lender, thinking that absence of surprise would be to my advantage.


I asked about any sort of program for an unemployed soul, whereby I could make partial payments, and have the arrearage added to later payments.


Could I miss a couple of payments, and have them added to the tail end of my mortgage? I would continue to pay interest.


Well, after buying groceries, and sucklike, gotta tell you that there simply was NOT the money to pay the house payment.

So, one day, a month or two into this niceness, I received a phone call from the mortgage company. The mortgage company asshole on the other end of the line advised me, “We are going to come out to inspect the house.”

“Why are you telling me this? You can drive by any time that you like.”

“Uh, no. We will come in and inspect the house.”

(my response)”Uh, no, you are not. You might make an appointment to come out, when I am home, and it is possible that I might escort one of your personnel to view selected portions of my house, but you are not simply going to ‘come in and inspect the house’. Not going to happen.”

(Mortgage Asshole) “You think you can stop us?”

(me) “Interesting that you should ask that question. Yeah, I know that I can stop you. If you do, indeed, plan to simply waltz in here without my permission, send orphaned bachelors, because whoever you send to walk on in, will be carried out.”

“Is that a threat?”

(me) “Nope, that is a prediction. Let’s consider this: you have just now threatened to have stranger or strangers break into my occupied home, and I have told you that that sort of activity will end poorly, for everyone. You threatened me with a B and E, I told you what my response will be. Your move.”

Oddly, nobody came over to “inspect” the house. What a surprise.

Fun And Games Off Duty

Material From “An Away Game”

From Eaton Rapids Joe’s eponymous blog, a thought for all of us sick folks out and about:

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Strep Throat

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a lot of Strep Throat locally right now.

Strep Throat often follows colds and other viral infections. It is primarily an opportunistic infection that takes advantage of the fact that frequent coughing and throat clearing irritates the throat and removes some of the protective layer of mucous.

If you read “symptoms” on the internet you will find countless repetitions of the words “…the back of the throat looks beefy…” While this may be totally clear to medical students it was not clear to me. I am made of meat. All of my inside parts look “beefy”.

After way too much digging, what they mean is that the normal, whitish, filmy covering over the back of your tongue, upper mouth and throat is gone. The Strep bacteria displaced it.

Strep is nothing to screw around with if it doesn’t clear up in a day or two. It can infect your heart valves and/or kidneys.

Posted by Eaton Rapids Joe at 8:12 AM


Simply to make things more interesting, technically, the strep does not, itself, “infect” kidneys or heart. Some varieties of strep B produce a toxin that elicits a sort of autoimmune response, “rheumatic fever”, which is readily prevented by antibiotics. Take note! The abx really do NOTHING for the sore throat (which, of course, is why we all see our doctors in the first place), rather, they protect us against a potential consequence of infection with certain varieties of Strep B which may trigger that response.

Should one develop rheumatic fever, (which itself may be life changing), that may be followed by rheumatic heart disease, which can be a BFD (Big Freaking Deal), with scarring of the valves, leading to narrowing thereof, and requiring increased effort from your heart to force blood through them, leading to heart failure. This, also, is generally prevented by antibiotics (abx).

Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Humility

Everyday Folks, Everyday Gracefulness

Sometimes in my walkabout daily life, I encounter folks, simply being nice. So, TINS©, I Was NOT Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, rather, simply grocery shopping. I happened to get in line behind an elderly woman (Pot, meet kettle. You ought to talk amongst yourselves, since you have so much in common…) who appeared to not have altogether figured out the entire “One of these is a credit card, the other is your membership card.” thing, as she attempted to pay with her membership card.

The cashier was patient, and collected. She explained that, no, THAT is your card with which you get your discounts and points, and THAT is your bank card, with which you pay for your groceries. They are different cards, for different things.

It took a couple of attempts, but the customer got her points, and successfully paid for her groceries, and wheeled her way out of the store.

The cashier apologized to me for the hold up. I responded, “Ma’am, some things are problems, some things are inconveniences. If this wait is as bad as my inconveniences get, I am in pretty good shape. Oh, by the way: way to be patient and graceful with that elderly lady. Good on ya!”