Monday, November 30, 2015

Is Dayton the Boondocks of Ohio?

by Rose A. Valenta

Is it just me and logistics, or is Dayton the boondocks of Ohio?

Every other year, I go out to Ohio, to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop at the University of Dayton. So, just this morning, I was online checking rates and times for United Airlines and Amtrak to Dayton, OH. Registration for the Workshop opens tomorrow, December 1st.

I don't know why I checked airfare; no one has been able to get me on a plane since I took AirSick Flight 19 to St. Thomas several years ago, and those Northwest pilots in Chicago probably got caught playing Facebook games on their laptops overshooting the airport.

I prefer train travel, but Amtrak only goes to Cincinnati via Kentucky where you can hail a taxi, hop a bus, or rent a car for the last 56-green-miles to Dayton.

Coach or room, the train arrives there at 1:30 am. I considered how dangerous it might be to find myself alone in a train station at that hour. I did that once in NYC and was accosted by a street person, who wanted half of my potato skin. It was dripping with butter, sour cream, and bacon bits. Not willing to give up my bacon bits, I gave him a small bag of Nachos instead. I nixed the train ride idea. Plus, on the way back, the only train leaves Cincinnati at 3:29 am Sunday, April 3rd, or else you have to wait it out until the 7th; at which time the train leaves the station at 3:29 am. The trip takes about 16 hours by way of Kentucky and West Virginia whiskey and paw-paw stops. I tried entering Ashtabula as my destination, hoping that the Underground Railroad would be faster, but it wasn't.

The plane, Tattoo, goes all over the eastern seaboard, with layovers in Hoboken, DC, and Atlanta; taking 5 to 6 hours.

How in the hell did explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle manage in a dugout canoe during the 17th Century looking for a route to China via Ohio?

Since Dayton is only 545 miles away, I drew a straight line on a road map from Philadelphia to Dayton, and decided to check out Enterprise Rent-a-Car to drive. I've driven there in my own car before, getting it tuned up, tires checked, oil, brake fluid, window washer, and a fill-up; only to arrive at the same time as my friend, Joy, was leaving the Dayton Marriott bar in her bunny slippers and I looked as disheveled as she did, except I was sober!

It all started on Route 70 between Columbus and Dayton... you guessed it, flat as the world my Italian ancestor was told he lived in, right?

My Italian heritage stunted my growth, but I managed to get to be 5 feet tall. Consequently, I have to practically do a tarantella on the lug wrench to loosen the tire.

I detest lug nuts!

Do you remember the scene in "A Christmas Story," when Ralph utters an expletive while helping his father change a tire and ends up sucking on a bar of Lifebuoy?

That was me on Route 70. If there were any good Samaritans around, they all accelerated to get away from the crazy woman, who even looked like a deranged bunny out on the highway.

You have to know that the entire time I'm changing the tire, visions of Hervé Villechaize yelling "Mr. Rourke, the plane! the plane!" kept dancing in my head, while I'm berating myself with coulda shoulda woulda.

Try a little self-love, I thought, that always works. So, I priced the Enterprise leasing rate on a real classy Lincoln for a week. The cost is the same as airfare or room accommodations on Amtrak.

Oh yes! and a box of Godiva chocolates for the road. Whoo-Hoo!

Have audio books will travel.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Part That Goes Over the Fence Last

by Rose A. Valenta

All of us have fond memories of Thanksgiving get togethers with family and friends. It’s just like the old days, when we watched “Walton’s Mountain.” People that we have not seen in a year or more come over with an overnight bag and a side dish; then, we all sit around, eat, talk, bicker, bring up all the reasons we only see each other once-a-year; and actually fight over the Pope’s nose "Naso del Papa," also known as “The part that goes over the fence last.” I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a Vatican dispensation for calling the turkey tail the Pope's nose. I never broached the subject in a confessional. Why spoil everyone's fun?

Murphy's law kicks in, and someone forgets to add the egg to the pumpkin pie mixture and it turns out runny. We drink the recipe (in our case a keg of beer in the garage), a fight breaks out, the Yorkie takes off with grandma's dentures in its mouth, one of grandpa’s suspenders ends up dangling off the piano, somebody screams in the bathroom about sitting on cold porcelain, and Uncles Harry and Dick are still arguing about whether our politicians ignoring the mafia have given corrupt politicians temporary sanctuary and the Middle East an edge over domestic terrorism in the media. This is a typical American traditional Thanksgiving party (and everyone worries about whether or not the kids will behave).

This year, in preparation for the annual holiday fiasco, Uncle Harry Googled all the Middle Eastern websites trying to find Calabrians and Gambinos. “I know they're behind it, if they're out there, I’ll show him!” he bellowed.

Another interesting tidbit to add more fuel to the fire, the Eagles got hammered during the Thanksgiving Day football game. I can still see Uncle Dick in his mascot hat, munching on a left-over wing, rapping Beck's "Loser," while pouring himself and his bald eagle mascot a beer.

I was looking over Uncle Harry's shoulder online today, and found something of interest that I’d like to share, a video that shows how to pick out a tender turkey.

Watch yourself at the Mall.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Sunday, November 8, 2015

‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’

All the recent publicity about Hillary's email server, the ensuing FBI investigation, and Hillary telling her Secret Service agents to "shut the F*** up! to Ronald Kessler," reminded me of the WWII saying “Loose lips sink ships.” Not only did the military mandate the rule to soldiers writing home during war time, but my grandmother took it a step further and enforced it at home, when the “dirt” or “scoop” pertained to a family member. You know, tell an outsider about family business and your ass is grass.

This is truly a violation of our freedom of speech, but most of the time it is for a good reason. People can actually die if you spill your guts. In the military actual lives are at stake. At home, one could die of embarrassment if anyone found out that Uncle Harry has a pair of red sequined stilettos and a votive candle on his night stand.

No, it has nothing to do with "don't ask, don't tell." Uncle Harry has a foot fetish. Grandma blames his podophilia on the fact that they had to live in a basement apartment in the theater district during his formative years. In Hillary's case, Bill told his mistress that she is gay and has been wooing her own White House intern since 1996.

This is the directive our military issued during WWII:

1. Don't write military information of Army units -- their location, strength, material, or equipment.

2. Don't write of military installations.

3. Don't write of transportation facilities.

4. Don't write of convoys, their routes, ports (including ports of embarkation and disembarkation), time en route, naval protection, or war incidents occurring en route.

5. Don't disclose movements of ships, naval or merchant, troops, or aircraft.

6. Don't mention plans and forecasts or orders for future operations, whether known or just your guess.

7. Don't write about the effect of enemy operations.

8. Don't tell of any casualty until released by proper authority (The Adjutant General) and then only by using the full name of the casualty.

9. Don't attempt to formulate or use a code system, cipher, or shorthand, or any other means to conceal the true meaning of your letter. Violations of this regulation will result in severe punishment.

10. Don't give your location in any way except as authorized by proper authority. Be sure nothing you write about discloses a more specific location than the one authorized.

The military penalty for violating these rules was the court-martial system. My grandmother’s penalty was a bit simpler but more violent – the cat o' nine tails. The State Department is "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil," pretty much like Hillary ignoring a semen stain on a blue dress with Bill's DNA and blaming it all on a right-wing conspiracy.

The common denominator here is “common sense.” You have to ask yourself about the repercussions of being a magpie or just plain irresponsible with classified information in your closet, while all other government employees follow the GSA rules for Alternate Work Arrangement approval and encrypted government-issued devices.

I don’t feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. Not only is she disloyal to the cause – the war on terror, but she is making a small fortune for her foundation as a seedy politician. She has given terrorists access to classified information, indirectly caused cyber attacks and sold our uranium to the Russians. She is a role model for women, who choose to stay in psychologically abusive relationships with cheating husbands.

You can tell she needs a course in anger management.

As a final blow, the GOP Benghazi Committee submitted this video to Congress in a lame attempt to prove that she is not competent to handle buggers either: