• Kaboom
  • The Big Story
  • Port Town
  • Port Town
  • Port Town


  • January 30, 2023

    Following Directions or Kowtowing to the Man?


    There are people in this world who don’t like reading instructions or following rules that have been written down about some new complicated device – which these days can be a new car, a new stove, a new refrigerator, a new phone, or God help us, a new computer. I, on the other hand, was trained as an engineer, and so by nature I want to read all the materials that come with any new device before I even think about putting it together or using it.

    My wife, whose first action on getting something new is to throw away all those pesky directions that come with things, tells me this is strange, because I’m the guy who hates to follow the rules. It’s true. I don’t like people telling me what to do, and I sure as Hell don’t want some elected or appointed official sitting around making up rules to govern my daily life.

    I see rules and regulations as helpful guidelines to make it easier for everybody to get along. And to be honest, the more that other people follow all the rules, the easier it is for me to choose which rules I want to follow and which I choose to disregard.

    For example, I don’t stop and wait at traffic lights at 3 a.m. if there is no traffic in either direction and no cop cars in sight. Why would I? I’d just sit there feeling stupid. I don’t think it’s anybody else’s business what I choose to eat, drink, or smoke or how I choose to spend my money – especially not the government’s. And even though I consider myself a safe driver, if traffic conditions allow, I do not obey speed limits. But for some reason, I don’t extend this unwillingness to follow rules to following instructions. I’m sure they’re different, although my wife tells me I’m wrong about that.

    We recently bought a new dining room table that’s taller than our old table. It’s a splendid piece of furniture, but Carmela did not like the drab chairs that the retailer had suggested, so we ended up with a beautiful marble table that was too high for our old chairs.

    So, she went online, shopped around, and ordered some higher chairs that happened – like almost everything else these days – to come from China. They are very nice chairs, but let’s face it, anything you order from China is a crapshoot.

    The chairs came packed in a box with various pieces to put together and line-drawn pictures with a brochure in computer-translated English that misused adjectives and neglected prepositions altogether. I carefully read the directions, studied the drawings, sorted nuts and bolts into little glass dishes, and started putting the first chair together, following each step carefully.

    But when it came time to attach the braces at the top of the legs, nothing lined up. I’m not saying things needed a little elbow grease to bend the metal into place. I mean things were an inch or so off.

    I stared at the instructions and the line-drawing picture of the finished chair. In the picture, the bottom ring, where you rest your feet, was on the inside of the legs. Carmela didn’t look at the pictures or the instructions. She just said the foot ring should be on the outside of the legs – not inside.

    It was an obvious observation, but I was so busy studying the stupid, faulty instructions that I lost my way. Carmela didn’t even look at the instructions. She just used her common sense. Kind of like I do with rules and laws.

    Further, the seat – according to the instructions – was supposed to attach to the legs by four bolts. There was no way the four bolts lined up with the four holes on the bottom of the seat in which to screw in the bolts. I tried for a long time before I finally went online and read what other customers had to say. Nobody got all four bolts to line up. Three seemed to be the record; two was the norm.

    I attached three seats with two bolts each and got two chair to take three bolts. I tightened them down snugly, and the chairs seem to work. I will check them again to make sure they stay tight, but the chairs are both comfortable and look nice. And, they seem to provide the pop of color Carmela was looking for.

    But all this has got me thinking. Carmela says that reading and following instructions on how to put things together is the same thing as “kowtowing to the man,” something this child of the 60s still rails against. I’m not sure that’s really true, but she is insistent.

    She says it’s all just a matter of degree.

    – 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.

  • January 12, 2023



    I don’t mean to be indelicate, but the older I get the more I find myself thinking about all kinds of weird s**t. If that offends you, that is not my intent, and please read no further.

    There are two things that bring this to mind. The first is an interest in words and their meaning. The second is frequent visits to doctors.

    I was watching a documentary on Mozart the other night and was surprised to find that he was quite earthy. In correspondence with his wife, Mozart would talk in very plain language about things such as bowel movements and other bodily functions.

    You have to understand that in Mozart’s time, even middle-class people didn’t have running water in their homes or apartments. They had to go down the hall to a common facility or they had chamber pots near the bed. And if they lived in the country, they might have to go to an outhouse to do their business.

    Today, we are blessed with indoor plumbing. We go to the bathroom, do our business, flush it away, and never think about it again. We’re not ashamed of what we have done. We just don’t need to talk about it.

    We haven’t, however, abandoned the word itself. I do believe that people today probably use the s**t word way more than they did in Mozart’s time. They don’t just get inebriated at a party, they get s**t-faced. If they disagree with somebody, they might tell them they are full of s**t. And if they think that somebody is pulling their leg, they might ask: “Are you s**ting me?”

    The second thing that brings the word “s**t” to mind is that as I grow older, doctors are more and more interested in what ends up in my toilet.

    As an old-school old man, I feel embarrassed about talking about my “product,” especially with women doctors. What color is it, what’s the consistency, how often does it show up, how painful is it when it does show up, and what does it smell like?

    When I was a kid, it was doo-doo or poop, but after about  six or seven years old, that sounded like baby talk. Feces is probably clinically correct, but doesn’t really sound like something that came from a human being’s butt. At the doctor’s office we mostly end up calling it “it.” What did “it” look like, how did “it” smell, was “it” soft or hard, and how often does “it” come around?

    Consequently, I find myself examining my s**t after every sit-down, number one to see how I’m doing and number two (no joke intended) so I can report back if necessary. There are certain frustrations to this. A lot of public restrooms now have toilets that automatically flush when you stand up.

    You get up, turn around for a quick look, and whoosh, it’s all gone. And what do I say when that happens?

    “Oh, s**t.”

    – 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 30, 2022

    Home for the Holidays

    So Christmas came and Christmas went, but we stayed home, cuddled with our dog Henry, sprawled on the couch, slouched in chairs, laying together in bed, wrapped in blankets, and sick for the Holidays.

    Carmela had a sore throat, a raspy cough, headaches, and total lack of energy. I  was listless and fatigued, and even Henry was ailing – especially when he had to go out in the drizzle to pee or poop.

    We cancelled get-togethers with friends and family. Carmela had been scheduled for a new holiday do at the beauty parlor. We had been planning a special lunch with a dear friend and our niece and her husband. We had been looking forward to Christmas dinner at a fancy restaurant in Los Angeles with our sister-in-law Susan and her husband Jeff. Everything was cancelled.

    But, I’m not complaining. It was Christmas with just the three of us, locked inside, coughing, sniffling, and snuggling while the rain came down outside and other people gathered to celebrate the season. It was an intimate and caring time, and it brought its own Christmas joy.

    Our grand niece Everly Pearl had come to visit a few days before we had gotten sick, and she and Carmela had set up the creche in the corner with Mary and Joseph, the little shepherd boy, three wise men, their camels, a lamb, a donkey, and of course the baby Jesus. It took more than an hour as Everly placed the figures in their proper places, then moved them all to other places, and moved them once again. The baby Jesus was in his Mary’s arms, then moved to the manger, then back to his mother’s arms, while an angel looked on from above.

    Then Carmela and Evie decorated the rest of the house, hanging sparkling decorations and ornaments from knobs and hooks all over the living room and kitchen. Later, after Evie had gone home with her mother and brother, her sweet, bossy, little girl presence remained behind along with her handiwork.

    And so, we count our blessings. We weren’t stranded in the snow in upstate New York or sleeping on the floor of an airport terminal halfway to somewhere with no way there or back. We weren’t stuck in a frozen place ravaged by war and hatred.

    We were safe in our home, we had a warm place to sleep, we had food to eat, and most of all, we had each other.

    – 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 8, 2022

    A Lizard Named Larry


    Last week we discovered a little lizard on the second floor of our new home in Huntington Beach, and it sent the household into full-action mode.

    Henry, our aging and almost deaf Yorkie, is driven by his nature to hunt down and kill lizards, rodents, and any other small pests that might threaten his fiefdom. He was in full alert over this intruder in his home. Carmela’s reaction was a bit different. The lizard sighting launched her on a quest to save it from both her beloved puppy and any other dangers it might face wandering around upstairs at our house.

    To Carmela, lizards are just another creature that she is determined to protect, BUT they belong outside, not in an upstairs bedroom. So, she got down on her hands and knees to try to lure the little lizard out, while Henry kept trying to crowd in so he could kill and eat the little guy – not necessarily in that order.

    My assignment was to sequester Henry in another room, while Carmela attempted to rescue the little reptile. First, she got a transparent plastic container with the plan to flip the container over the lizard and then slip a thick piece of paper under the little guy. Then we would flip the container over again with the paper trapping the lizard inside.

    But it didn’t quite work that way. She had the container all ready to go, but when I prodded the little guy to get him to move toward the trap, he charged Carmela, who was laying on the floor with her face toward the lizard; she screamed in horror, threw the container in the air and jumped back.

    “Well,” she tells me, “he was running at me so fast, I just panicked.” We try it again, only to have the same result.

    On to Plan B. We take a smaller plastic container, slice a little trap door on the side, that we can bend up, lure the lizard in with a treat of corn chips and tomato leaves (the leaves apparently to make him feel like this was not a trap) and wait for hunger and curiosity to do its magic. But magic never occurred and Plan B was also a failure. Actually, it was such a failure that the lizard ran out of the office, down the hallway and into the master bathroom.


    On to Plan C. By this time, Carmela has named the lizard – Lawrence, or Larry for short – and gotten a flashlight to lure Larry into a cardboard box that she had strategically placed with the flashlight shining into it. After about 20 minutes of her lying on the floor perfectly still, the lizard slowly inched his way from behind the pedestal sink into the box. With stealth-like moves and careful planning, we managed to fold up the sides and trap Larry inside. And because Larry had a name by this time, we had a sacred obligation to ensure his safety and happiness. So we took him outside, found a nice grassy area that had enough plants around to give him coverage, had Henry say good-bye to his new brother, and opened the box.

    But Larry the Lizard did not scurry away. It’s a though he understood that Carmela is a soft-hearted woman, who meant him no harm. He sauntered out of the box, looked around, took a deep breath and considered whether he liked the new environment or not.

    Finally, he decided it would do, and then scurried away to see where he fit into this new world.

    It’s not just lizards in the house that Carmela protects. It’s also lizards in their natural environment.


    There was a time not that long ago, when Carmela came across two crows, trying to eat a lizard in the middle of the street. The lizard was fighting back, but the crows were pecking at it, trying to pick it up and fly away.

    Now, the way I see it crows have to eat too, and they may have hungry mouths to feed back at the nest. But that’s not how Carmela sees it. She sees it as two big mean crows picking on a little guy. This from a woman who loves veal, salmon, pork, tilapia and numerous other formerly living creatures. I am too wise (or maybe too cowardly) to bring up such inconvenient truths when Carmela is on a rescue mission.

    She shooed the crows away and tried to get the lizard to run back into the weeds. By then though, the lizard was in full fighting-for-his-life mode, and that’s when he up and bit Carmela on the toe of her sneakers. Her toe was fine, but she was a little put out that the creature she was saving was so ungrateful for her help.

    She finally stomped her feet and got him to retreat to the relative safety of the weeds. Mission accomplished.

    Of course, there are advantages to being married to a soft-hearted woman. The only reason I still exist on the planet is that she also has a soft spot for me in her heart, no matter how much I may annoy her.

    I know, and she knows I know, that if I ever fall down and some crows think wow, this will feed all our friends and families for weeks, she is not going to let that happen.

    I know it, she knows it, and now the crows know 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.


  • October 16, 2022

    Dear Reader

    Dear Reader

    It has been a while since my last post – a time filled with some health problems, some work projects, and a difficult 80-mile move of residence from one city to another.

    Carmela and I are now proud residents of Huntington Beach, California. During this period, I have thought about what to do with this website – whether to shut it down entirely, or refocus it in a slightly new direction. Next month, I turn 82 years old. Some of the things that used to be important to me are not as important as they once were. But many things are more important than ever.

    If you go on Facebook or Twitter or watch any of the mainstream news media – from Fox News to MSNBC –  the picture you get is wildly distorted. When I talk to real people, my impression is that despite our political or social differences, most of us want the same stuff: To carry on our lives, to love one another, and to live in a secure and safe environment.

    So, we need to talk.

    – 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.