Surgery

Today, I finally had a small growth right between my eyes removed.  It was done as a walk-in, lie back for fifteen minutes while my forehead was numbed, sliced open an inch, and the thingy removed, incision sewed, and then back out.  Now I have a vertical bandage that is slowly driving me crazy.

I know I am not alone with my dislike of having anything near (or touching) my eyebrows.  My wife, kids, and grandkids all tease me by threatening to rub them the wrong way.  Today, I had to grit my teeth and bear it while the doctor taped towels all around my face so he could isolate the surgery area.  Naturally, as soon as he told not to raise my hands to my face, I developed an itch on the side of my nose.  The impulse grew larger and larger until I had to physically restrain one hand from flying to my nose with the other one.  Finally, the assisting nurse noticed my face twisting to and fro and asked me if I had an itch.  She had to ask me twice because I’d taken my hearing aids out and didn’t hear her the first time.  She reached out with a gloved finger and rubbed the side of my nose.  She will be featured prominently in my will.

So now I am sitting here in my computer room, glasses at a strange angle because they can’t sit properly on my bandaged nose, and writing this post.  I have to stop every once in a while and hold an ice-filled bag to my face to help stem the slight swelling the Doctor said I might have.  Once the swelling goes down, I can look forward to little ‘raccoon eyes’ from the surgery.  My cat already thinks I look strange because she shied away at first and then, naturally, got curious and sniffed the bandage.  She even lay on my chest for a while just to make sure I was all right.

Chapter two of my novel, Wanderlust, has been released.  You can find it at the same URL as in my original post here, but click the number ‘2’ for the second chapter.  The overall title is named for Chapter 1, but that was because there was already a title named that same and Booksie will not allow two identical titles on their site.  Go figure.  I am also working on some chapter art that may make the story seem a bit more real.

Check out my book!

In my copious spare time, I managed to write a little novel. This is my first attempt at writing for public (other than here on WordPress) so I don’t know what the reaction will be.  It is basically a love story that spans almost twenty years.  I drew a bit on my own experiences and embellished them somewhat then added flights of pure fancy.

Anyway, here’s the URL for the first chapter:

http://www.booksie.com/romance/novel/tom_oldman/wanderlust-chapter-1

I intend to add chapters about once a week or so.  Please let me know what you think; good, bad, indifferent, whatever.

Enjoy!

So, snow already!

Off and on for the last week we have been alternately pelted with what I call ‘granola snow’.  It starts out as little grains of snow and eventually creates a crusty, slipper surface everywhere you step.  This goes on for a day or so and then the sun comes out (or tries to) and then the temperature edges up and over freezing resulting in melted granola.

While mentally composing this post, I ranged way back 60-some years and recalled the snows of winters past.  I am sure everyone does this from time to time; comparing snows “like it used to be, Sonny” with a chuckle more like a cackle, but I really seem to remember a lot lustier winters in my past.

Take Fairbanks (please).  We were up there from summer 1947 through summer of 1950.  I was age 5 through 8.  Perhaps it was because I was closer to the ground, perhaps not, but it did seem that snowfall, any snowfall, seemed to reach my waist fairly fast.  I definitely remember walking to school pushing snow ahead of me like a two-legged snowplow the whole six blocks.  When I arrived (or, in fact any kid arrived), our first order of business was to dance about and shake wadded snow and ice down our snowsuit legs.  This was done in the entryway and under the supervision of stern-faced teachers who would inspect each and every one of us for contraband (i.e. hidden snowballs).

Once inside, we progressively shed outer garments until we were steamed dry.  This was because the school used a monstrous coal-fired boiler and steam heat.  Steam heat, as we all know, is the bane of any kid regardless of age.  When the heat was on, we sweltered; when it was off, we froze our little tushies off.  But, I digress.

We were overjoyed when our dad came home and told up we were moving to Washington, D.C.  Whoopee!  No more snow!

To put it mildly, we were disillusioned the very first winter.  That was the winter of 1951 and it was brutal.  It actually made me wish for the sunnier days of Alaska.  At least in DC we had buses to take us to school.  Only on rare occasions would they fail to get through.  It was pointless to sit there in the kitchen listening to the radio and praying for a snow day (or week, sometimes) because they would never fail to pick us up.

This amount of snow was not the norm though.  In most winters (we were there from 1950 through 1955) the snow levels were somewhat disappointing to us kids.  It rarely ever reached our waists.  Instead, it mostly hung around our thighs or lower.  Since my age was from 8 through 13 there, perhaps it was because I was taller than before.  By now, however, boys my age were now more interested in building, charging, and defending snow forts as well as making the lives of girls miserable by snowy antics.  I would like to state here and now that I really didn’t have any axe to grind when I did stupid stuff like that.  If any of those girls are still around, I apologize.  It was just ‘stuff boys did’ back then; stupid, but necessary by the ‘Code of the Male Animal – preteen years’.

Moving onwards, we spent the years 1955 through 1958 in Southwest Germany – specifically at Bitburg AB near Trier.  This was a different snow it seemed.  Weather patterns weren’t like those in the States.  It seemed as if snow could come from any direction – and usually did.  My dad, who was in the hierarchy of the 2nd Weather Wing on base, had a particularly hard time predicting weather patterns for quite a while until he got used to there not actually being a pattern.  In my 13th through 15th years there, I came to welcome hard snows.  Since we were housed in a central area, and the school was plonked down smack dab in the middle, we rarely got a chance to actually miss school because of snow.  We did have what they called ‘delayed opening’.  This is similar to what that call the same thing nowadays except that it meant we would gather in the gymnasium or smaller lunchroom and play records and dance until the teachers actually arrived.  Now I recall that snow was beginning to work towards my aims instead of against them.

The Germans also had tons of sports and festivals all winter long in which snow played an important part.  Cold weather would not daunt them from carnivals and the like.  All of which would allow some cold-weather activity on the part of good male-female relations.  In face, it outright demanded it in some instances.  Ice skating was high on the list as well as bundling on horse-drawn hay wagons (real wagons with real hay and real horses) so we could “watch the scenery go by”.  And, best of all, there was nothing like walking your girlfriend home in knee-deep snow, carrying her books, and trying to catch flakes on your tongues.  That was something to die for.

The following years, I spent mostly in California.  When that ended, I spent a year in college and then joined the navy.  My first few years were spent down in Southeast Asia where the only snow you saw was coming from the press reports on how well we were ‘winning the war’.  I did spend three years in Misawa, Japan.  The snows were great there with drifts sometimes high over the roof of the car as I drove to work.  It seemed strange , however, that Japanese snow only fell from right to left.

Now, in this new year, all I see (so far) is snow that barely reached your shoe tops.  I realize that we may have more snowstorms for a while, but I’d bet they aren’t anywhere near as deep or as good as snowfalls of the past; dammit.  I really miss a good hefty snow.  Maybe, since it is an election year, we’ll see some great snowjobs.

Weird Weather

A couple of days ago, it was 54 degrees out.  The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting, and the squirrels were, um, squirreling.  A light wind blew and all was right with the world.  Now, today, the rain came.  It is cold, blustery, and not at all conducive for the sun, birds, or squirrels to do their thing.

According to the weather-guessers, it is supposed to snow for the next two days.  Now, these are probably not the same ones that told my sister in Boulder that the snow was only going to last for a short while and deposit just 2 inches, but they are of the same breed (if not the same genus) and they make their predictions based on Ouija Boards and fish guts (or whatever) wrapped around their fingers.

A company a few years back used to sell what they called a backyard weather indicator.  It was a simply flat board about 6 inches square that was suspended by a string on all four corners and hung on a tripod.  It was simple to use:

If the board was dry and warm, the sun was shining.

If the board was wet, then it was raining.

If the board was whipping around, then the wind was blowing.

If the board had two inches of snow on it, then it was snowing

You get the idea, I’m sure.  I wonder if that company is still around because they obviously had an inner track to thing of that nature.  They probably invented the Pet Rock also.

I just watched an old British black and white movie starring Aldo Ray and Peter O’Toole called “The day they Robbed the Bank of England”.  It’s a very good movie but only about 85 minutes long.  Now that I’ve seen it, I was strongly reminded of a much more modern movie released not long ago called “The Bank Job”.  Like the older movie, the thieves used an old sewer to tunnel under the bank vault so they could plunder it.  Not having the modern conveniences of things like radios, rapid transportation, and other things like that, the old thieves got caught simply by bad luck.  In the new movie, a ham radio operator picked up their handi-talkie chatter and called police.  The police, in turn, did some fancy sleuthing by sending cars all over London with their sirens hooting while the detectives listened for radio chatter.  Clever idea, for sure.  It didn’t work because a clumsy accomplice on a rooftop dropped his radio to the pavement below.

The end of the later movie got a bit murky as the thieves traded some smutty pictures by a female Royal for immunity and new passports.  They “underestimated” the value of their haul also and rode off into the sunset.  I’m pretty sure Aldo Ray didn’t get to do that.

Our cat is certifiably deranged.  That’s a veterinary term meaning “she’s crazy”.  Since the squirrels have virtually stopped frolicking in the yard, she has now taken up a watch station in the front window and “ekkkks” at the occasional bird that has the temerity to try and feed itself from the small try I have suspended right in front of the front porch.  This puts the birds at about eight feet away from her nose.  Yeah, I know.  It’s cruel, but lots of fun (for me, bwwwwahahahahah).  One of these days I’m going to have to film her.  She really gets into it.  She paces back and forth while they peck away and when they fly off (especially upwards over the roof of the porch) she zooms to the back sliding door and waits patiently for them to appear.  They never do, but she won’t listen to me.

Later, ya’ll.

Stupid Cold

What a heck of a way to start a new year.  The wife and I have been trading colds.  Early last year, I gave her a cold and in December she paid me back.  I’ve had hot and cold flashes for most of the last 24 hours.  ‘What’s a cold flash?’ I hear you asking.  I know there may not be such a thing as a cold flash, but that’s what it feels like.  I’m simply sitting in the living room and suddenly I get the shakes and it feels like a cold wind has attacked me.  That’s a cold flash.

Drinking lots of liquids seems to help – especially my favorite brand of scotch.  Just kidding; although a nice hot toddy does help my throat somewhat.  Note to self: if the little squirt bottle of honey has ‘sugared’, don’t put it in the microwave to melt because it will do just that; the whole dam thing.  I managed a cup of peppermint tea with a tot of rum and that did help my throat but overstimulated my sinus(s) and I ended up blowing my nose hundreds of times.  Where does all that stuff come from?  I figure that somewhere out there three people are using teleportation to transfer crud into my head.

Yesterday we woke to snow on the ground.  It has remained cold enough to keep it there.  I haven’t ventured out since the day before and, frankly, I think I’m coming down with cabin fever in addition to my cold fever.  I guess that dovetails nicely with my hot flashes.  Hey!  Wait a minute!  Isn’t ‘cold fever’ an oxymoron?

While I was typing this post, my Thunderbird bonged (making my head reverberate). My buddy sent me a funny joke.  I’ll repeat it here:

= = =

On their way to get married, a young couple are involved in a fatal car accident. The couple find themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven. While waiting, they begin to wonder: Could they possibly get married in Heaven? When Saint Peter shows up, they asked him.

Saint Peter says, “I don’t  know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out,” and he leaves. The couple sat and waited for an answer … for a couple of months.

While they waited, they discussed that IF they were allowed to get married in Heaven, SHOULD they get married, what with the eternal aspect of it all. “What if it doesn’t work?” they wondered, “Are we stuck together FOREVER?”

After yet another month, St. Peter finally returns, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informs the couple, “you CAN get married in Heaven.”

“Great!” said the couple, “But we were just wondering, … what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?”

St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slams his clipboard onto the ground.

“What’s wrong?” asked the frightened couple.

“OH, COME ON!!”  Saint Peter shouts, “It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have ANY idea how long it’ll take me to find a lawyer?

= = =

On that note, I find it is time to blow my nose again.  Oops, sorry.  I mean ‘brow by node’.

 

Holiday, part 1, is over

Well, Christmas of 2011 is now over.  Today, being the 30th, is almost the last day of the year too.  Our Christmas here was very quiet.  Our granddaughter is down in Texas going to college there so there was just three of us to exchange gifts.  We have a friend, who we’ve known for over 40 years, living in our basement.  Of course, he was invited up to share Christmas dinner with us.

We had a great dinner – probably ate too much – and then settled down in the living room to open gifts.  I got some very nice pocket tee shirts.  They are very hard to find, especially in short sleeves.  I dislike getting tee shirts that don’t have a pocket because (now) I carry around a small notebook to jot down things I want to remember.  The old brain cell isn’t functioning as it should since I’ve gotten older.

I got a couple of books from my wife.  Both are in my small group of favorite authors, and both were brand new releases.  Unfortunately, I’ve already blown through Griffin’s book, but Clancy’s book will take a lot longer.  My most surprising gift came from my friend Rick.  He gave me a 30G iPod.  Only recently have I discovered that if I use larger, over-the-ear, earphones I can hear music very well.  I can’t use ear buds because I have to take out my hearing aids and that negates hearing music because I can’t distinguish the middle frequencies enough to enjoy it.  Now, I have to get busy and continue transferring my vinyl collection (450 records strong) over to MP3 for the iPod.  To that end, I bought a USB turntable a while back.  It works well but the bundled software that came with it was really badly written and difficult to work with.  I now just fire up Audacity, start the record playing, and come back in a half hour to stop recording.  Then, all I have to do is chop up the half hour recording into tracks.  Easy.

Regarding my post a while ago about my rusting truck I now have to consider putting inner tubes into all four of my tires.  I paid almost a hundred dollars to have all four tires remounted (after cleaning the rims) but since they are aluminum alloy wheels, they have developed corrosion enough to cause air leakage.  They are still slowly leaking.  Short of buying new wheels (which I definitely cannot afford) tubes are the next line of defense.  I never knew that there were inner tubes specifically designed for radial tires.  They are a bit more expensive, but will keep the heat down from the sidewalls friction.  Conventional tubes will blow out quicker due to all the heat.

The weather has not been cooperating at all.  We’ve had lots of rain, blustery winds, and even a tiny bit of snow for the last ten days.  Definitely not what I’d consider proper Christmas weather.  Right now, I went out to refill the bird feeder and add another cob of corn to my squirrel bungee.  As I look out the window, I see that the little brown chickadees (or whatever they are) are having a blast picking out the smaller seeds and kicking the larger ones down to the ground for the larger birds to eat.  I don’t mind that, but in the spring some of the seeds sprout instead of being bird food and then I have a darker patch of grass to deal with.  Every year I move the feeder to another branch so I can clean up the sunflower shells.

My squirrel family across the road have been hunkered down in their nest most of this winter so far.  They venture out only when they spy a new corn cob on the rope.  I’ve lowered it somewhat so that the younger squirrels can jump up to it.  A couple of weeks ago I watched an older squirrel carefully pulling the rope up to the limb he was sitting on.  Once he wedged the cob into the fork of limbs, he went about stripping it of kernels.  Tricky animals, these squirrels.

My remaining desktop computer developed a case of ‘fan-itus’.  The cooling fan at the back of the case began to sound noisy from time to time.  I removed it and manually spun the blades.  They wouldn’t even make one revolution before stopping.  One, or both, of the bearings appeared to be bad.  This explained why, when I booted up a couple of times, I got told that the “system fan has failed, press F2 to continue”.  That sounds ominous, but it only means that the RPMs have fallen below what the BIOS has deemed to be safe.  It was still turning, but not moving a lot of air.  I ordered a new fan from Newegg (I love that place) and it arrived yesterday.  It was installed and now the temperatures inside the case are back to normal.  One strange thing though: The shipment started out as a UPS shipment but when it got to Dayton, for some very strange reason, it was turned over to the US Postal service for delivery.  Since I was tracking it, I noted that it arrived in Dayton very early one morning, but wasn’t delivered until TWO DAYS later by the Post Office.  So, this package took two days to come eight miles from central Dayton to me.  No wonder the Postal Service is whining about money.

That’s about it for now.  Not planning much for New Years.  I did note, however, that Lady Gaga will be putting on a couple of performances before the big ball drops.  I haven’t watched Dick Clark’s narrative of the Times Square happenings for years, but I just might this time.  For some undefinable reason it turns out that I like Lady Gaga’s music.  I couldn’t tell you why, but I do.  I’ve watched the DVD I made of her “Monster Ball at Madison Square Garden” performance on HBO several times.  The ‘A Capella’ rendition of Born This Way during the closing credits is great.  I guess you’re only as young as you feel.

A Homemade Holiday Treat

A couple of years ago I was wondering down memory lane and came across one of my mother’s writings.  She was an accomplished wordsmith and I always read her articles with enthusiasm.  This particular one contained a recipe for a “Futchin”.  A Futchin is simply a glob of deep fat fried dough interspersed with raisins and shaken in a paper bag filled with sugar.  They are delicious.  Here’s the article she wrote back in 1952:

(Quote)

Christmas is a warm Futchin

Gourmet magazine replied coldly when asked for the origin of Grandma’s futchins.  Raising high their respective eyebrows, the editors said loftily that each small section of Central Europe had its own version of a Christmas-time light bread.  They implied they could not worry over trivia when they already had a Gateau Tourterelle in the oven.

Less snobbish, however, our family continues to enjoy these sugary puffballs each holiday season.  They are doled out lavishly to visitors, heaped upon plates to be taken to stay-at-homes, and packed into boxes to be mailed to absent relatives who would obviously drift into melancholia without a Futchin for their Christmas snack.

Futchins were standard yuletime equipment long before I was born, but it wasn’t until my German Grandmother was in her seventies that my aunts began insisting that the recipe be written down.  At that, I believe it took three years before the process was pinned down – Grandma being a cook who believed in ‘pinches’, ‘handfuls’, and mixing batter until it ‘looked right’.

Eventually, the recipe reached me, and I fight it to a standstill each Christmas.  It isn’t that the recipe is not clear; it is just unlikely.  And each year I must convince myself anew I really do need 19 cups of flour and only one cake of yeast.

First, only a dishpan or possibly a turkey roaster could hold the sponge that develops the first night.  The yeast cake is dissolved in two quarts of lukewarm water, with enough flour to make a sponge.  In about three hours, the sponge becomes very bubbly and wild; the bubbles plop and spread in slow motion like rapidly-cooling lava.  This is punched down.

Next one and a half cups of sugar is added to 6 well-beaten egg yolks, three cups milk, one and a half cup of raisins, and three-fourths teaspoons salt and mixed into the original sponge along with enough flour to make a medium stiff batter.  Then 6 stiffly-beaten egg whites are folded in.

The following morning the kitchen is stripped for action and a kettle of deep fat is set to heat on the stove.  At the exact moment – and this is something you must find out for yourself – a spoonful of dough is dropped into the fat and watched nervously until it pops up, surrounded by a halo of small bubbles.

Small children are useful now because they eat the ‘cripples’.  The technique of making a perfect Futchin, with a surface broken only by a raisin struggling to escape, must be learned again each Christmas.  Meanwhile, the first dozen or so always resemble misshapen octopi.  Shaken in a bag of sugar, these first misfits are always gobbled by the youngsters.  When they are finished, the kitchen floor always crunches underfoot.

Then the elders take over.  The fragrant odor of a pot, two pots, of coffee fills the steamy kitchen; neighbors with keen noses ring the doorbell; the air is full of excited ‘Do you remember when’s …’

Gourmet magazine doesn’t know what it’s missing.

(End Quote)

I definitely agree, but I’m not adventurous enough to attempt this cooking feat – even though my mouth waters at the thought of tasting yet another Futchin.

 

 

Last month of the year.

For some reason it just seems like I haven’t been posting here in a very long time.  Except for the occasional funny joke or two there just hasn’t been anything of note.  My old computer (13 months old) that I tried very hard to get running has simply given up the ghost.  I think the motherboard has fried something but I am unable to locate the fault.  Naturally, there are no motherboards that will fit this case so I am left with a shell from which I have removed RAM, hard drive, video card, and power supply.  It now sits on the floor gathering dust (and serves as a cat hideout) while I flail away on my other machine.

Even the various animals haven’t played a large part this summer and fall.  Of course, I mad a bad decision to buy those horrible suet cakes and perhaps they thought I was trying to poison them.  (Cue: “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” by Tom Lehrer)  But I wasn’t, really.  I just tried to save a buck or so.  I learned my lesson.

My truck continues to decline.  Even at 85K miles, my ’97 Nissan Frontier is turning to rust before my eyes.  The latest was all four tires losing air through corroded tire rims.  The aluminum rims apparently reacted to the steel of the tire weights and created channels that eroded enough to break the seal.  I took them over to NTB and had all four tires remounted (for $100).  Now, at least, they hold air again.  I saw the condition they were in and it wasn’t pretty.  You don’t even want to know what my spare looked like.  It hung under the bed in a little chained cradle which was so corroded that the entire worm-gear mechanism used to lower the tire was a solid mass of rust.  I had to resort to cutting the T-bar to let the tire down.  When it hit the pavement, there was a POOF of air and the entire rim just disintegrated.  It seems that Nissan hadn’t figured that a tire lying flat against the bottom of the bed would act as a water/mud/gravel catchment.  Who knew?

As I gaze at my calendar for the month of December I am amazed that there are no marks on it.  In a given month, I may have as many as three or four doctor appointments, medication pickups, and other items that I need to write down.  If I don’t, I tend to forget them.  This has begun to worry me now – the forgetting thing.  Yesterday, I headed downstairs to do … something.  While I was down there I did three other things, but didn’t remember why I made the original trip.  It wasn’t until an hour later that I remembered I was supposed to take the clothes out of the dryer.

Speaking of the dryer, it has apparently blown a heating coil.  It was reported to me that “my load of clothes is still cold after a hour in the dryer” by my downstairs lodger.  Since, at the time, it was raining somewhere in the middle part of 3 inches of rain, going outside to hang them wasn’t an option. Today, I went over and spent $35 on a new element.  Hard to find one for a dryer that’s over 24 years old.

Even though I have retired from active computer programming I am still receiving help requests from some of my format clients.  I got an email the other day wanting me to figure out how to take a page full of frequencies, offsets, and frequency steps and put them into an EEPROM image so it could be sent up to a scanner.  I’ve done this sort of thing before, but the last time I did it was over a year ago.  Time makes me forgetful.  Have I said that before?  So now, I have to pore over the specifications documentation and re-figure out how to do it for the guy.  It is horribly tricky and I don’t blame him at all for seeking help.  The radio is a Radio Shack model that is built in Japan (I think) and has Korean tech support.  Any email to them results in something that reads like a assembly manual for the space shuttle (only from right to left and top to bottom).  I got to thinking about it yesterday and calculated I’ve been in the computer business now for 48 years.  That’s a hell of a long time and I find my interest is flagging a little.

The year 2012 will contain my 70th birthday.  Yuk!  That just doesn’t seem possible.  What seems more palatable for some reason is that 2013 will contain my 50th wedding anniversary.  We plan on some sort of cruise to commemorate these two events.  Since they fall in July and August, we thought maybe an Alaska cruise.  But, even though it would be nice, they are very expensive for some reason.  Since heading down into the Caribbean in the summer is madness, that only leaves a few places left.  We would love to take a Scandinavian cruise, especially one that hits St. Petersburg.  My whole time in the navy was spent intimately with the Soviet Union but, now that it is defunct, I would love to spend some time and check out what it has become.  One of the side trips is a train trip to Moscow.  I’d love that.  Another cruise could possibly be some sort of Asiatic cruise – maybe Australia/New Zealand, or Japan.  The main problem there is getting to and from any of the departure ports.  Plane tickes are very expensive.

A while back, I posted about the explosive decompression of my water softener.  We replaced it with Culligan service (and their water softener system).  The price for each bag of salt was a little higher than what we’d been paying ($6.50 vice $4.98) but now Culligan has quietly jacked up the price to $8.99 a bag.  The best part is that they only come around once every couple of months and dump EIGHT bags of salt into the hopper at a time.  Adding in the delivery fee ($5) this brings the total to over $75 bucks.  I have tried and tried to get them to come more often and give us less salt but it has fallen on deaf ears.  A small ray of hope appeared today in the form of ‘Hey!  Culligan Man!’ showing up and putting exactly four bags into our softener.  Maybe they’re finally getting the message.  Being on a rigidly fixed income sucks.

So, that’s about it for now.  It’s after 1800 and time for dinner but neither one of us has a clue what to fix.  Maybe we’ll just hot doggit.

 

Knee-slapper

A  fleeing Taliban, desperate for  water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance.  Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the oasis, only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand, selling ties.

The Taliban asked, “Do you have  water?”

The Jewish man replied, “I have no water.  Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5.”

The Taliban shouted, “Idiot! I do not need an over-priced tie. I need water!  I should kill you, but I must find water  first!”

“Okay,” said the old Jewish man, “It does not  matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me.  I will show you that I am bigger than that.  If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need.  Shalom (goodbye).”

Cursing,  the Taliban staggered away over the hill. Several hours later  he staggered back, almost dead & said:

“Your  accursed brother won’t let me in without a tie!”.