Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Omen

 We are told that Iceland should have been named Greenland because it is greener than Greenland. We are also told that Greenland should have been called Iceland because it is icier than Iceland. Okay. But now, perhaps, maybe Iceland should be renamed Lavaland, or better yet, Ashland.

Strange: As I read of all the flight cancellations in Europe caused by the volcanic activity on Iceland, I think back three moons, way back before the booze hit the blender and this stuff broke. Michelle and I had started our own rumblings back then about visiting Iceland this summer--neither of us had ever been there and we both thought we might like to go. Okay. Then, about two weeks ago, we both just happened to watch a program about the many ways a volcano can kill you. Mostly I give no thought to such doom and gloom programs for TV is full of such make-'em-afraid-to-step-outside type of stuff. I do vividly remember, however, at least one of the fifty or sixty ways a volcano can kill you: Grit, invisible grit, invisible grit in the atmosphere; yes, the same grit that has grounded so many of the world's airlines even as I peck. Funny, but I had never heard of this particular hazard of flying until that program; now the civilized world seems absorbed in this issue and little else. But it does make sense, I suppose. The invisible stuff, fine as talcum powder, accumulates in a jet engine at 30,000 feet, sight unseen, it grinds down the components like sand paper, then down comes baby, cradle and all.

Point being: There seems some negative energy here between Iceland and us; perhaps Iceland is whispering to Michelle and me, "Stay Away . . . another day . . . another day . . . Stay Away."

And then there are those poor New World folks stuck in the Old World. One day, headed home to the States, broke, but brain agog with great memories of a great stay in Europe; next day, WHAMO! Volcano . . . ash . . . grounded . . . canceled . . . trapped . . . no more euros, no way to go, no way to stay . . . living, eating, sleeping like a beggar in the airports. "May I borrow some water, please?"

I remember being stuck once in the Gare du Nord train station in Paris. Myself and others--too late to catch the late train, too dead to grab a room--just bedded down in a nearby box car with our packs for pillows. I won't go into all the other-worldly noises, howls and shrieks one hears in an enormous station like that at midnight but let it be said that around 3 AM I did manage to conk off. A short time later--five minutes or less, by my estimate--I was nudged awake by a shoe to the shoulder.

"Excuse me sir, are you sleeping here?" asked a "security guard" softly.

"Huh? Yes," I mumbled.

"Are you sure this is the place where you are sleeping, sir?" he again asked.

"Yes . . . I'm sleeping here."

"Thank you, sir!"

"You're welcome," I managed to say.

When it dawned to my addled brain what had happened, I placed a curse on this chap's children and his children's children.

A similar situation occurred in the Rome train station, but never a chance to sleep there, even for a second. The prudent operators in the Rome station, on the sharp look-out for sleep thieves, hire dregs off the streets to come in during the wee hours to scream, shout, screech like roosters, and caterwaul to their heart's content. Echoing off the cavernous ceilings, all sleep, thought, sanity, are out of the question.

And so, I dearly commiserate with the untold thousands adrift in airports and stations throughout the world during this current ash crisis. Truly, it is an inner circle of hell.

Life is a riddle. Solve it . . . or die.


God must of had our entertainment in mind when he-she invented the video camera. What did we do for amusement prior to the union of video tape and cops? How many times have we seen some intellectual giant--drunk and sweating--trying to throw the dogs off the scent by giving a false name?

Cop: "Okay, what's your name, sir?"
Stupid: (pause) "Er . . . Slim."
Cop: "Slim what?"
Stupid: (pause, wobble) "Jones."
Cop: "So, your name is 'Slim Jones'?"
Stupid: "Yeah."
Cop: "Okay, Mr. Jones, can you spell that for me?"
Stupid: "Spell my name?"
Cop: "Yes, spell your name for me, please. Both of them."
Stupid: (pause, wobble, enormous sweat beads) "S-L-I-M . . (long pause) . . S-L-I-M-E . . . J-O- . . . J-O-A-N-S."
Cop: "Alright Mr. Jones, or whatever your name is, put your hands behind your back."