Helplessly In The Grip Of Slumber

Last night we were at a musical performance that was played in the round.  We sat in one corner of the room and, because of the configuration of the venue, we could see people on the other side of the room facing the performers — one of whom was a guy who was obviously falling asleep.

guy-falls-asleep-at-work-sleeping-office-prank-photoshop-100I suppose he might claim that he was simply listening intently to the music, with his eyes closed, but that would be an obvious post hoc rationalization.  Once you noticed him, you couldn’t help but watch the progression.  First his eyelids started drooping, then they would shut completely.  His chin kept dropping to his chest.  From time to time, when the music would stop between numbers or the singer would hit a particularly high note, his eyes would open slightly and he would feebly stir, realize he had nodded off again, and try to do something to stay awake without drawing too much attention to himself, like taking a drink of water or adjusting his seating in his chair.  For all I knew, he was pinching himself under the table or biting his own tongue to try to reverse the process.  But nothing was working.  This guy was going to sleep in that chair for so long as the music was being played.

I felt sorry for the guy.  I’m guessing that pretty much everyone has had one of those moments when you are out in public and, because of a hectic day or a bad night’s sleep the night before or the combination of soothing music, a good meal, and a comfortable chair, you feel yourself slipping into the hazy world of sweet slumber.  Often when it happens you’re helpless, and all of your attempts to stave off the inevitable are doomed to failure.  When I feel that coming on, the only thing that works is to get up and walk around vigorously — but of course that’s not an option when you are at a musical performance.

When you’re at the gateway to the land of nod at the end of a long day, there’s not much you can do.  You’re going to succumb, and the only thing you can hope for is that the person out in public with you makes sure that you don’t start openly snoring . . . or use your predicament to take a picture of you sawing logs that goes viral on the internet.

Pinkies On The Firing Line

We toured the Alamo yesterday.  As we walked the grounds, we happened across three volunteers who demonstrated the multiple steps of loading, tamping down, and firing the arms used by the defenders of the Mission against the overwhelming forces of Santa Anna.  The process was cumbersome and posed a special risk for the humble pinky.  The leader of the trio explained that the men of that era were trained to use the pinky to tamp down the charge, so that if the firearm discharged prematurely only the pinky would be lost.

Remember the Alamo, but remember the pinky, too!  Its sacrifice helped secure the American West.

Meanwhile, Back At The Shuffleboard Court . . . .

You have to wonder whether it ever bothers the people of Florida that everyone else in the country views it as an enclave for octogenarians.  No surprise there — Florida has the largest percentage of senior in the country, with almost one in five residents above the age of 65 and one county where more than half the residents fall into that category.

wvc_seniorgames_0920123Stories like this one, about a “shuffleboard rage” incident in St. Petersburg, aren’t going to help Florida’s retiree rep.  It reports that an 81-year-old guy was charged with battery after getting into a fight with another man during a shuffleboard tournament at a seniors center.  The feisty octogenarian reportedly punched the victim in the face and hit him with his shuffleboard cue, scratching the victim’s face.  Unfortunately, the article doesn’t report certain crucially important details, like what provoked the incident, and whether the two men were wearing colorful plaid Bermuda shorts hitched up to nipple height and support hose at the time of the altercation.

What would it be like to live in the Sunshine State, home to millions of slow-walking, bad-driving, loudly attired seniors wearing bulky hearing aids?  I think it would be strange and depressing to live in a place where there are so many older people relative to the rest of the country.  Now we learn that the state might be somewhat dangerous for the many shuffleboard fans among us, too.

The Grilled Meat Bond

Tonight, Kasey and I are bonding.  She likes meat cooked over a fire, and so do I.

Tonight, we are recreating the early days of the human-canine connection.  It probably started over a fire, eons ago.  I’m grilling a steak and some brats — okay, our ancestors probably didn’t have brats — and’s she’s waiting patiently, looking at me with those big, imploring eyes, hoping for a morsel.

It’s hard to resist those eyes, isn’t it?  Our ancestors probably felt the same way.

Running On Empty

Kish calls me the Uptight Traveler.  That means getting to the airport more than an hour before the departure time of any flight, making sure that we’ve got hotel reservations lined up rather than winging it when we’re on the road, and a host of other rules of thumb designed to avoid the last-minute activity that often can mess up your travel plans.

gas_gauge_emptyIt also means that, when driving, I pay careful attention to the fuel gauge.  When the needle moves below a quarter of a tank, I start to look for the nearest self-serve station.  And if I get in the car after someone else has been driving it and the fuel light comes on, it pretty much makes me break out in hives.

In more than 40 years of driving, I’ve never run out of gas.  I’m proud of that record, because I think running out of gas is one of the most avoidable self-inflicted wounds Americans can experience in our car-saturated culture.  I can’t imagine how I would be kicking myself if the engine stopped and I had to coast to the berm on a highway because I was trying to go one exit more after the light showed I was running on empty.

Other people, however, are different.  The devil-may-care sort think it’s fun and exciting to flirt with roadway disaster and tempt the sadistic highway gods that might throw a traffic jam in their path when the fuel gauge shows empty.  These fate-tempting risk-takers pooh-pooh the legitimate concerns of anyone who reacts to things like fuel gauges — even though that’s exactly why fuel gauges were created in the first place.

To those preening daredevils, I offer this handy chart from Road & Track that tells you, for the 50 most popular cars sold in America, how much gas is left in the tank when the fuel light comes on.  And I ask:  would you rather roll safely into a gas station to fill up with a reasonable amount of gas still in the tank, or run the risk that you might soon be trudging down a highway berm, gas can in hand, or leaning against your car calling the nearest towing service so you can be gouged for the price of a rescue run?