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ARCHIVED POSTS

  • March 25, 2024

    Highway Memorials

    Driving across country nowadays, we notice a growing number of roadside displays – flowers, crosses, and ribbons – marking the sites where people apparently died in traffic accidents. I do understand mourning the passing of somebody you love, but I’m not sure I see the point of putting a display at the place along the road where they died. Even sadder is the fact that flowers wilt and highway trash piles up around the displays, making them just another sad reminder of life cut short.

  • March 24, 2024

    HAVERING A GOOD AND MAGICAL TIME

    HAVERING IN THE TWILIGHT

    My wife Carmela has never really understood me. Like most females, she remains very practical about the literal meaning of many things.

    For instance, if I say, “You know honey, I would really like to move to Alaska and build a log cabin.”

    Then she would say: “Where exactly are you going to get the logs, how are you going to buy the pipes and install the plumbing, where is the running water going to come from, what about the disposal of sewage, and where is the nearest grocery store going to be?”

    Now that I have been challenged, I end up making some crazy off-the-top-of-my-head comments about buying an axe, cutting down trees, building a log cabin, diverting a nearby stream for water, and somehow digging a hole in the frozen tundra to install a septic tank. As far as nearby grocery stores, I would go out and catch some fish in the stream, snare some rabbits and birds in traps, and once in a while shoot a moose. She could gather wild berries in the summer to can for later and collect eggs from the chickens we would take with us.

    Of course, the more I talk, the more ridiculous it sounds, and she would just shake her head like I’m an idiot, and declare she was not moving to the middle of nowhere and living on berries and moose meat. End of subject.

    My mistake, of course, is trying to defend what I am saying. But recently, I have learned a new word that describes exactly what I am doing.

    It comes from a Scottish duo named the “Proclaimers” in a song titled: “I would walk 5oo miles.” The song describes a man who is totally devoted to a woman and vows in the chorus:

    “I would walk 500 miles

    And I would walk 500 more

    Just to be the man who walked a thousand

    Miles to fall down at your door.”

    I like the song, mainly because much like the lyrics, I am also devoted to a woman – although sometimes she clearly does not understand me.

    The magic word, I’ve finally found, comes in one of the verses of the song, in which the singers proclaim.

    If I get drunk, well I know I’m going to be

    I’m going to be the man who gets drunk next to you

    And if I haver, yeah, I know I’m going to be

    I’m going to be the man who’s havering to you.

    So, we’re listening to the song, and Carmela asks, what is “havering?”

    I have no idea, so I look it up on the internet. It turns out that “havering” is a Scottish term for talking nonsense.

    And just like that I have found the perfect word to explain the kind of things I often say to my wife that make her think I’m not quite all there.

    A few days later, we’re driving through the desert in New Mexico, just after sunset, and the whole twilight world turns soft and fuzzy in the afterglow of the day. The time between sunset and darkness has been a bit magical for me ever since I was a child, chasing fireflies before being ordered to bed.

    So, I say to my wife, “You know, I would like to pull over, grab a light blanket from the back of the truck, walk a couple of miles into the desert and lay down in the soft sand and spend the night.”

    And right away, she starts talking about rocks and thorns, spiders and snakes, and other little nasty creatures that will crawl into our ears and fly up our noses.

    “Honey,” I tell her, “I know all that, I’m just ‘havering’ because it looks so magical driving through the desert at this time of evening.”

    I wasn’t trying to be practical. I was expressing how the beauty of what we were seeing made me feel.

    And best of all, I think she finally got it too.

    – George Lee Cunningham

     If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • February 20, 2024

    PRIDE AND HORROR IN A LOVING PERSON

    20-SOMETHING CARMELA AT WORK

    Around midnight on February 2, two B1-B Lancer stealth bombers used 125 precision-guided missiles to strike 85 targets in Iraq and Syria. The bombers had flown all the way from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, then returned home in what was a 44-hour mission. The targets included command and intelligence centers, rockets, and drone storage and supply chain facilities.

    The politics aside, it had special meaning for my wife Carmela Cunningham.

    Back in the early 1980s – when a mid-2os Carmela was still Carmela Castorina – she worked in public relations for the B1-B program at Rockwell International.

    She interviewed the people who built the plane from the folks who carefully laid out the complex electrical connections that controlled the aircraft and its moveable swept-back wings, to the engineers who helped design everything from the landing gear to the avionics, and to the company executives that oversaw the program.

    And she often had to babysit sometimes-hostile members of the press.

    She had the privilege to climb aboard the aircraft while it was being built and after it was completed. She helped host celebrations in Palmdale with test pilots, Air Force brass and aviation legends such as retired Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who led the B-25 raid over Tokyo in 1942. One of her work friends was test pilot Doug Benefield, who died shortly thereafter when he crashed in the Mojave Desert during tests of the B-1B’s low-altitude, radar-avoiding avionics.

    It wasn’t all test pilots and chasing down the runway during takeoffs and landings. There was also the politics – the retired generals who used their influence to land cushy executive positions with the company; the congressmen who toured the plant, gave a talk after lunch and received an “honorarium” for their efforts; and the grown children of politicians and military brass who spent their summers in well-paid and cushy jobs at the company.

    And though she grew weary of the politics and the never-ending corporate meetings on how to improve employee morale and how to boost the company’s image, she remained proud of the aircraft and of the hard-working people who had poured their talents into developing technology and making it all come together.

    So, when she read about the mission and how successful the plane fulfilled the purpose for which it was built, she couldn’t help but feel at little proud of the small part she had played. She was also sad and a bit horrified about the people who had been killed and injured in the bombing.

    The numbers of casualties depend on which side is doing the counting, but there were scores of fatalities and a larger number of wounded. And there is much controversy over the politics of the mission and the political fallout, but that will be an argument for those so inclined.

    Carmela remains proud of the aircraft she wrote about and promoted and the smart and hard-working people she met during her time at Rockwell. And the blood on her hands? That’s something she also has to acknowledge.

    It may not make her happy, but she knew 40 years ago what the plane was designed to do, and what it finally did. And she’s willing to live with that.

    – George Lee Cunningham

     If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • February 12, 2024

    MANLY ADVICE FOR MEN ABOUT VD

    HOME DEPOT (I LOVE YOU HONEY) SPECIAL

    Women, please don’t read this. It’s just going to make you mad, and believe me, none of us on the male side of the wonderful dance of love want that. Especially not in February – the month of love.

    Okay men, now that we’re alone, I have some advice for you about the upcoming holiday. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “what holiday,” you REALLY need this advice. February 14 is St. Valentines Day. And while that might be a big snoozer to you – it’s not to the lovely creature with whom you share a life. To her, it’s a big deal, and you are expected to get a lovely, meaningful present for her – and to act like you are so very happy to have the pleasure. If you do not get her something appropriate, something that says you are honored to be buying her this lovely gift, there is going to be Hell to pay. As I get ready to celebrate my 80-something Valentine’s Day, I’m going to share a few do’s and don’ts with you. My own little gift toward ensuring world peace.

    FIRST: Don’t forget. That is the worst thing you can do. And, don’t let her trick you into anything. Valentine’s Day is a test, and you don’t want to flunk it.

    If the lovely lady in your life wakes up one morning and says, “oh Honey, don’t buy me anything for Valentine’s Day, I know how much you love me, and you don’t have to follow some dumb, commercialized holiday rules to prove it,” you’d best be very careful. Because, she’s just talking in lady code. What she really means is, “don’t forget Valentine’s Day on Wednesday, and if you don’t get me something better than my friend’s husband gets her, you’re never going to forget it.”

    SECOND: Don’t get her too expensive or too elaborate a present.

    This is very important. If Cupid takes hold of you this year, and you decide to go all out, to do something truly amazing, trust me, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life. Sure, you may have this great idea about a horse-drawn carriage, a Gucci purse, precious gems, a new car, or a week in Tahiti, but refuse to be drawn into that trap. Whatever you do this year, you’re going to have to do SOMETHING BIGGER AND BETTER next year. If you do this, there is no going back to a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy. Each year will present a new and bigger challenge. And even if you spend a bunch of time and money trying to top yourself every year, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of ideas, and then you’re cooked.

    I’m not saying you should never get your wife or significant other an expensive present. But if you are going to do it, just pick another date – July 14 or maybe October 17. Some obscure date that’s not going to commit you to an ever-escalating yearly repeat.

    THIRD: Don’t give her something that’s really a gift for you.

    You know what I mean. Sheer lingerie or X-rated board games. And stay the heck away from making cutsie little vouchers for giving her a great massage. Let’s face it, those are all presents from you to you and they all carry an obligation for her to please you. You know it and so does she.

    FOURTH: Make sure there is some hint of romance involved in whatever you buy.

    It’s got to be something that focuses on love. Not a toaster oven or a vacuum cleaner, or pots and pans. It’s got to be something that says, “I love you, honey,” not, “look you can cook all kinds of things for me with this!”

    FIFTH: Make sure you’re not sending an unintended message.

    If your lady is  somebody you just like – you know a friend with benefits – don’t get her something that says “I love you so much,” – whether it’s an inflated ballon with a message attached or anything that hints at moving the relationship to a new level. You’ll never worm your way out of that one.

    SIXTH: If you fail to heed this timely reminder and you wake up and it’s February 14 and you have nothing to give her. DO NOT go to Starbucks and buy her a coffee mug. It’s like carrying a sign saying you simply don’t care.  Also stay away from the nearest drugstore and your home improvement super store.

    Your best bet at this point is to immediately call up her favorite high-end restaurant and make reservations for that night. Then get a little 4-by-5 card and neatly write on it a sweet message about how much you love her and that you wish to celebrate by taking her out to dinner. Then put it in an envelope and draw two little stick people embracing in a heart. If you can find a red pen, use that. It reeks of Valentine’s Day.

    It may not work, but it’s certainly worth a try.

    FINALLY: The thing about St. Valentines Day is that it really is a retail obligation, which is not based on love or even like. The real answer is to treat your woman with love and respect on all 365 days of the year.

    Tell her you love her, thank her for all the little and big things she does for you, and defend her against all enemies – even if you know she is wrong.

    – George Lee Cunningham

     If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • December 6, 2023

    DMV STRATEGY

    CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, WESTMINSTER

    We all dread it.

    This is the year I had to get my driver license renewed, and that doesn’t make me happy. It means a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a long wait to be called to a window – even if I have an appointment – and being curtly ordered around by and a bunch of harried bureaucratic talking heads.

    It’s not as though all DMV folks are rude. I’m sure many of them are very nice, but their job is to process endless paperwork and to move things along as quickly as possible in order to get to the next cranky person in line. As in every office where it’s almost impossible to get fired, there are a few DMV staffers who take their frustrations or prejudices out on whomever they decide is worthy of their contempt – usually the person standing on the other side of the plexiglass window from them.

    The bottom line is that nobody looks forward to going to the DMV for anything.

    The problem for me is compounded by the fact that the state of California has decided that anybody more than 70 years old needs to be checked a little more carefully than others. I understand it, but being a 70-plus person, I also resent it. I know from experience that many people much younger than 70 have age-related, anger-related, or drug-related driving problems, and many people older than that do not.

    In the State of California, there is now a special test for people older than 70, and it is creating some concern for older drivers.

    To be fair, the DMV is offering sample quizzes that older drivers can use to practice up for the test. But, because it is the DMV, the sample quizzes have little to do with the actual test that is required of older drivers. I’ve heard this from several friends, and I’ve even seen a couple stories crop up in online news stories.

    The “Knowledge Test” required of folks 70 and up, is drawn up by a bunch of political apparatchiks who lay down arbitrary rules about such minutia as how many feet before you turn should you signal your intent. The real answer, of course, is that it depends. If you are driving at 25 miles-per-hour through a residential neighborhood, it’s one thing. If you are getting ready to exit a freeway at 70 miles-per-hour with a monster truck hot on your bumper, it’s quite another.

    So the real rule of the road – the one real drivers should employ – is use your common sense and err on the side of safety. But it’s hard to put that in a test.

    Yes, everybody hates going to the DMV, but if you live in California and you want to legally drive a car and have insurance cover you for the unexpected, you have little choice but to dance to their tune.

    At least that’s what I thought.

    NEXT STORY: I AM A MAN!