Up With – Hood Ornaments

 Posted by at 11:03  Up With
Feb 232015
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“Hood ornaments. They were just lovely, and they gave a sense of respect. And they took ’em away because if you can save one human life- that’s always the argument- it’s worth it, if you can save one human life. Actually, I’d be willing to trade maybe a dozen human lives for a nice hood ornament. I imagine those things really did tend to stick in bicyclists.” Michael O’Donoghue

It is comforting to be a Cantankerous OLD Coot because when you look around at the trivial cultural wasteland of modern day America, you, at least, have the memories of better times. Sick of ugly, look-alike cars? Remember hood ornaments! Back when you used to be able to tell one car from another and all cars weren’t ugly, hood ornaments were totally useless sculptures found on the hood of every car no matter the price or cache. These were not trivial junk but carefully crafted works of art designed to reflect the unique image for the car make itself and quite often the specific model. The hood ornament was just one more way to make a car distinctive. Today most of us will remember the Flying Lady for Rolls Royce or the Mercedes Star because those two manufacturers held out the longest before abandoning hood ornaments. It may have been safety that precipitated the end for hood ornaments but in the long run I think the big reason was cost. Popular priced cars after the onslaught of government regulation in the 60’s couldn’t afford hood ornaments and as hood ornaments became rare, the few remaining became collectors items causing Rolls to go to outlandish length to protect theirs before giving up.

We at Cantankerous Old Coots want to propose a solution to the ugly car problem. We say bring back the hood ornament! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to make your car distinctive again? Now that you can’t tell a Toyota from a Lexis from a KIA and all cars look like a cross-over, think what a hood ornament could do to make your car distinctive. Finally you could stop having to click your key fob and wait for the lights to flash to know which car is yours. Look for the one with your special hood ornament,

Up with Fall

 Posted by at 11:03  Up With
Feb 232015
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“Let’s drive up to New England and watch the leaves die.” Bruce Eric Kaplan


Maple leaves

Maple leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in the mid-west where four seasons were the norm. I never gave much thought to what what life might be like in warmer climes or somewhere without seasons altogether. I accepted Spring showers, Winter snows, Summer humidity and the leaves falling in Autumn. It was the natural order and the way things are supposed to be.

Then after college when I had to decide where I wanted to live and work, I chose California and everything I thought I knew about the seasons changed. In Southern California where I lived for over 30 years, Winter can be the best season. In Winter you get the full gamut of possibilities; rain, sun fog, even enough chill to make a fire feel good, once in a while. There is a lot of sun but it is never too hot. Flowers bloom all year round and it stays green- or at least the gray-green shade that you learn to accept as green in arid regions- all year round.

 What’s not to like about SoCal?

From day one, I loved the weather. I learned to understand June gloom and look forward to the Winter rains. I loved forgetting that there was something called humidity. I never noticed how Fall just disappeared because the leaves just don’t turn in Southern California.

I truthfully didn’t miss the fall color at all. I remember that I kept wondering why anyone in SoCal would even plant a deciduous tree, I couldn’t see any appeal to a bare tree when you could have a green one all year round. There were deciduous trees in So Cal but because the weather was too mild, they didn’t get bright colors in the Fall. They just die, turned brown and fall off. How boring!

NoCal is different!

In the mountains and even some parts of Northern California, the air gets more chill and some selected varieties of deciduous trees will color. Now that I am 100 miles from the Pacific and 1,000 feet above sea level in the Sierra foothills, we get a faint shadow of the seasons I knew back in the mid-west. Just this week, the weather turned and the nights became cool. Our maple leaves are starting to dry but it is too early to tell if we will get color this year. It’s never a sure thing.

The sycamores lining the parkway started browning in August. By now they are totally brown and shriveled but still on the trees. Any day now they will drop and cover the ground. They are really ugly. I always wonder why our city planner selected them. They aren’t particularly lovely. They don’t color in the fall or have flowers in the Spring- only some nasty pollen, followed by silky seeds. I think their only charm is that they are native to the area which seems like a poor excuse to me. What I loved about California was the great variety of plants from all over the world that can grow here. I loved the groves of Eucalyptus trees all over the state and particularly the ones leading to our home in SoCal where you would know that you were almost home just from the smell of the leaves. Nobody plants eucalyptus anymore. They aren’t cool because they aren’t native.

Aging makes you reflective.

These days I miss the dramatic season changes from my youth. I think about driving into the mountains in the Fall to see the brilliantly colored aspens and closer to home look for the odd tree in my neighborhood with real fall color. At this point, I probably will never be willing to move back to someplace with four real seasons. I just don’t want the extremes of hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. I have become more appreciative of deciduous trees however and the beauty of bare branches against the winter sky; the colors of the leaves in the Fall and the soft green of the Spring buds.

It’s been a long time since I first came to California and in that time both I and the state have come a long way. Maybe it is just that I’m getting older but these days, I really appreciate the dramatic show of color before the leaves die. I can understand making a grand statement and going out with a flourish. It inspires me to have a few more adventures before I finally concede that my life is over. I can learn something from the leaves of Autumn.


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Feb 232015
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Original cast of the show (1994-1995)

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to some stupid decisions earlier in my life, I’ve been dealing with some chronic medical issues for the last few years, but I never imagined they would land me in OB/Gyn, but that’s where I am now, and I’m not a visitor!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Landing in this bed about 9PM Friday was just the end to a weird day, so it’s only fitting that the day culminates with a 6’ 1” red-blooded American male winds up in a room with a bed with attachment points for stirrups.

I started the day with my doctor trying to get me a bed in the hospital at 8AM (carried over from attempts from the previous day). At 1PM the doctor’s office called me and said the admissions office had told them to have me go to the ER and wait in the ER until there was a bed available, not a thrilling prospect.

First there is the matter of wailing kids. I understand this…kids that don’t feel good and aren’t old enough to understand why tend to wail a lot…but that doesn’t mean I tolerate it well, especially when I’m feeling crappy myself.

Then there is the matter of the restroom (Why do they call it that? I don’t go in there to rest, do you?). Yes, it was clean…and the air conditioning was in superb working order. I have seen meat lockers that were warmer. While sitting in the waiting room for 6 hours, I had to pee piss urinate several times, and each time I went in the bathroom the cold would make everything “draw up” (yes, EVERYTHING, even that) and my muscles tighten so I could barely dribble.

I’m just glad I didn’t have to crap. I think my ass would have frozen to the toilet seat.

And then there was dealing with the tornado warning.

We were having some nasty weather and I was watching the “we interrupt regular programming for this bulletin” report on TV. It showed a tornado WATCH, not warning, in a county 60 miles west of us, and the system was “showing signs of rotation”, no an actual tornado or hook signal, and was headed in a generally ENE direction.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I love my neighbors. Really I do. I live exactly where I want among the people I want, but…they can be drama queens. By the time a story of Aunt Mae’s bad cold gets passed through 4-5 people, Aunt Mae is in downtown Atlanta, at “Big Piedmont” (as opposed to our local affiliate Piedmont Mountainside Hospital), in ICU, on life support, 10 minutes from death with quadruple pneumonia.

It’s a quiet, idyllic life up here, and some translate that to “boring” and need to spice things up, OK?

Anyway, in a waiting room with 25 adults in it, 24 of them (all but me) with cell phones, all of a sudden everybody was calling everyone they knew telling them a tornado was on the ground, 30 seconds from wherever they were, with winds of 942 MPH, and headed right for them!!!

The mamas were making more racket than their sick kids.

Hospital personnel, good little sheep that they were, herded everyone into rooms away from windows so there would be no flying glass cuts to sew up…just in case. It didn’t matter than one glance at the radar on TV plainly showed the storm was going to miss us by 10 miles or so…gotta follow policy, ya know.

That was how I came to be locked in a small x-ray room with 23 other people for 45 minutes. The one good thing was that the lead shielding in the room cut off cell service so everyone had to hush up. Mostly. One woman apparently thought she could overcome the lead walls by talking loud. REAL loud.


It didn’t work.

Ooops! Gotta go! The nurse that checked me in tried to protect me. He put a “No baby on board!” sign on my room door when he was setling me in, but warned that since I was on OB/Gyn ya never knew what might happen. My new shift nurse is coming now. I gotta make sure she isn’t carrying stirrups and a set of forceps. If she is, I promise I won’t go down without a fight!



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Down with Spring

 Posted by at 11:03  Uncategorized
Feb 232015
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Spring is over rated.

You dream about it all Winter long and then when it gets here, all it means is more work.

Those long, cold winter months are a real trial.  Each day, it seems that the Sun just gets above horizon and it is already setting. You eat breakfast in the dark and it is already night time when you have supper. There are only a few hours of sunlight each day. Then with the Winter storms, you often don’t even get that. All through the Winter, you dream about those first Spring days, the warm breezes, the flowers. It’s barely enough to keep you sane.

Spring is a tease.

She doesn’t just appear. She comes and goes. Maybe you will see a string of warm sunny days early on, catching the early Spring flowers and highlighting their beauty. But then, just as quickly she will disappear . You turn the furnace back on and wonder if Winter will ever go away. And the pattern continues. You think each patch of warm weather will mean no more Winter. Each time, there are a few more flowers, but it is still a day to day thing. Winter holds on tight and the fact that they days are longer only serves to increase the frustration that it’s not warm yet.

Eventually, though, the day begin to stay warm. Buds are popping all over the place. The leaves break out on the trees and flowers are everywhere. Finally you can shut off the furnace and thankfully, it’s not yet time to turn on the air conditioner. Spring is finally here.

Not so fast.

Spring is a devious lass, full of mischief. All the while, she is teasing us with the promise of her charms, she holds back so that we never really get to indulge in the pleasures of warm weather. We get out briefly and then scurry back to the warmth of home when she lets Winter return. So this means that while the plants are gearing up their show, we never get the opportunity to clean up the winter damage and neglect. All those months indoors have left a lot of work to do putting the yard in condition.

So when Sprint finally is here instead of being able to enjoy it, we don’t get to sit around and smell the flowers. That patio furniture sit lonely and unoccupied. Now that the weather is finally nice, there is a big backlog of yard work. It’s going to be Summer before I get caught up.


Feb 232015
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While discretion may be the better part of valor, and it will probably save your marriage more than once, that self editing is not cantankerous.

In previous lessons you learned to say what you think and say it when you feel it.  This lesson is really no different, just a re-iteration of what should be an ingrained part of your cantankerousness already.

Say what is on your mind and damn the consequences.

America has been proven time and time again to be a great place to live.  We have a fantastic Constitution that guarantees Citizens the right to free speech.  That has been taken to extremes in the past but it is still a a core value for Americans.

While there are several states that still strive to limit the freedom of speech that Federal law guarantees, the truth is, the pandering, mealy mouthed politicians of this country are trying to play both sides against the middle and make this country a bunch of poofy, we can all get along if we don’t talk to each other mean sissies.

Face it, you are going to piss someone off in your lifetime.  Not everyone is going to like you.  You will not be friends with everyone.  You may be likeable and people will like you, or at least tolerate you but not everyone will.  There are people I can’t stand to be around so I don’t associate with them.

The problem comes when you are trying to use this self editing to change your intent or position to try and get everyone to like you.  It can’t be done.  It is much better to come out and say what you need to say and risk offending people.  It will either work out or it won’t.  Either way it will feed your cantankerousness.

Sure, you may get in trouble, you may even go to jail, but you are still true to your new cantankerous self.  The constitution guarantees it, cantakerousness demands it, but it is still hard to get over that social block that has been beaten into us by our mothers to be nice.  Get over it.  it will be ok.

I would like to quote John Adams or George Washington here, but I can’t think of anything appropriate so I will settle for Denis Leary.  “Life sucks, get a helmet.”  That should sum it up nicely.  Quit editing yourself and say what you think.

Unless of course it will endanger your marriage or send you to federal prison for what promises to be the “longest night of your life” (Shawshank Redemption, look it up) then, discretion is the better part of valor.

Soldier on good people,


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