Blue, Blue – My Love Is Blue ~ Early Evening Thoughts

After having been away for a “few” weeks, I thought my return to the blog would be somewhat unnoticed. Two emails quickly settled that idea. So, as promised ~ an explanation of “blue” ice . . . And while I explain this, my vice-president is at an undisclosed secure location.

In the 80’s I worked for a major airline. Which one is somewhat immaterial, but I will offer the hint that it was in bankruptcy at the time with the pilots doing very interesting things to let everyone know we were operating that way.

Those of us in reservations were an unusual group of people. Because we were not at the airport, we were considered somewhat apart from the rest of the world. Although, in our customers minds we were the ticket counter and as such should be able to see people who were there or, in one case find out if someone had left a briefcase on the floor. I was sitting next to the person who got that call, and hear him say: “OK, let me look – OMG someone just walked off with it . . . ” When he finally got the person on the phone calmed down and got him convinced that indeed he really wasn’t at the airport and wasn’t able to check for the missing item – he’d earned a trip to his supervisor. . . and not a pleasant one either.

As reservation agents we had a fairly powerful reservation system to use. We had access to multiple “windows” which allowed us to look up various types of information and display them all on the same screen. We could look up flights in one, fares in another, airport weather in yet another and return flights in a fourth.

As reservation agents we were supposed to only work on screens that had to do with the business of reservations. Alas for the airline, that was NOT the case. It wasn’t too long after I started working there that I was introduced to the “dark side” of the system. (cue theme from Jaws here. . . )

We were connected to the various airports, hotels and car companies who all had sites resident in the system. There was no Expedia/Travelocity connection that allowed someone to go directly to another reservation system. All entries involving cars, hotels or such involved requesting what you wanted and pushing enter. At that point an electronic message would be sent (as I told my travel academy students) to the Valhalla of all computer requests – Actually ARINC (Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated)located in Chicago who would, in their own sweet time, send back an answer.

That’s a long way around to say that hotels and cars kept quite a bit of detailed information available – all on “pages.” They were updated by that company or by the airline itself. What was discovered was that – with a specific entry – we as reservation agents could update them as well. And a completely immediate, unmanageable and totally private system of IM’s were born.

One that was used a lot was XXX car company – page 100. That XXX would ever get to that page was pretty slim – as in none. The chance that the reservations office supervisors or later the travel academy people would discover what was going on – even less.

That was an amazing world – IM’s before IM’s had even been invented, conversations with people from all over who knew of the place and some very seedy, funny and downright erotic stories and such. The kind of talk that would get one banned from AOL … but very few knew about it.

That, however, is for a later post — especially how those private conversations came back to bite me in the butt and cost me a job.

Blue Ice – quoting from Wikipedia: “Blue ice in the context of aviation is the frozen material formed by leaks in commercial aircraft lavatory waste tanks, a mixture of human waste and liquid disinfectant that freezes at high altitude. The name comes from the blue color of the disinfectant, and is a sardonic reference to the Blue Ice line of products used for cooling ice chests and similar applications.

Airlines are not allowed to dump their waste tanks in mid-flight, and pilots have no mechanism by which to do so; however, leaks can occur. There were at least 27 documented incidents of blue ice impacts in the United States between 1979 and 2003. These incidents typically happen under airport landing paths as the mass warms sufficiently to detach from the plane during its descent. A rare incident of falling blue ice causing damage to the roof of a home was reported on October 20, 2006 in Chino, California.

On January 28, 2007 at the Timberlanes subdivision in Tampa, Florida, under the approach path to Tampa International Airport, a red Mustang automobile owned by Andres Javaze was struck by a large block of ice estimated at 50 pounds which crushed the rear of the vehicle. A neighbor named Raymond Rodriguez reported hearing a whistling or whizzing noise as the ice fell from the sky before impact and watched as it smashed the vehicle. However, the chunk of ice was not blue and is not thought to have fallen from an airplane. The incident is being investigated by the FAA.

Blue ice became known to many people from the last 2003 episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under, in which a foot-sized chunk drops on an innocent bystander. It is also the title of a 1992 film where Michael Caine’s character describes the concept of blue ice,and it also described on the tv show MANswers .”

Now, as reservation agents we had access to a lot of information, but nothing that involved maintenance or inner workings of the airport. . . until someone discovered that (long before blogs) someone at the airport was writing the “Blue Ice Newsletter” in the computer. Whoever was writing this had an acid sense of humor, biting wit and a complete command of what was happening on the ground/tarmac and mechanics role in the controlled chaos.

Who knew that airplane parts were interchangeable from one type of airplane to another? Who knew that “tug” operators (those zippy little luggage and plane pushing/hauling carts) could do so much damage. Who knew that it was possible for a few mechanics to service more planes than they should have – and get them in the air. Who knew that by canceling a return flight of an overseas trip, they were cannibalizing the parts into other aircraft – sending them on their way and when they returned, the parts would be pulled and the return trip of the overseas flight would “continue.”

The author of “Blue Ice” knew, and it was written in black and white – well, more green – and was intended for airport personnel only. Don’t ever put a members only sign on a site like that – at that time reservations would find out about it and pile in. And we did. We could find out about cancellations before anyone else and other interesting tidbits about what to fly and what might be best avoided.

Ever since then – “blue ice” has come to mean to me, something that simply continues to unfold in a highly dramatic and damaging way. Something that appears to be complete chaos – without form and void. Something that will simply not go away. Even when the tanks have been pumped. (OK, just how did you think those tanks on aircraft got emptied? By the blue ice elves?)

And since it’s a mixture of excrement and disinfectant – the analogy is right there in plane plain sight.

— more to come

And The Ice Continues To Flow ~ Early Evening Thoughts

I’ll have more to say about all this over the next few days ~ I’m using the excuse that they need to play out a little more (my story and I’m sticking to it). I continue to watch the unfolding of the “sturm und drang” of the Illinois Governor. the auto hand-out . . . uh . . . bail-out, home foreclosures, the frothing at the mouth TV talking heads (with or without a grip on truth and/or reality), the money lost in “helping” the banks survive and such.

What started as a slight feeling in the back of my brain finally moved to the front (a sometimes arduous journey!) and I was reminded of one of the most famous and effective theater posters of ALL time.

Nothing like a little ‘Liza crossing the ice to get things going!!!

–More on this later!!

P.S. I was going to title this And The (Blue) Ice Continues To Flow, but I’ll explain that later as well . . . .

A Tardy Celebration ~ Early Evening Thoughts


In my last post (oh so many weeks ago) I teased about an important celebration that was coming up. That date ~ the 27th of August ~ is very important to me. Actually, all days are now important to me. On the 27th of August, last year, I began a journey back from the edge of having no edge at all.

So – the announcement? On the 27th of this month I will be celebrating one year and four months of sane(r) and sober life. As those who have followed this blog (through its ups and downs) will know that each of these dates represent a real milestone. I’m enjoying my life, considering I almost didn’t have one ~ and waking each day with a sense of renewal and hope.

I’ll be talking more about the recent journey, such as the fun of the knee replacements, the JOY of hurricanes and learning that no matter how young my mind is convinced I am – the body wants to tell me a very, very different story.

So, welcome back! To me and to you!! Pull up a chair, and we’ll continue to talk about it all.

F.Y.I. ~ The Return ~ Early Evening Thoughts

I’m sorry that I have been “missing in action” for these last months. I would like to say upfront, everything is fine, I’m fine and what is now going on around me is fine as well!!
It was just important that I take some time off and solidify what’s been happening with me, and to get to the point that I actually wanted to write something that wasn’t in my journal.

So, even tho’ I have NOT been:

And I certainly have not been under a storm of any kind:

I am glad to say that in the next few days I shall be back, and be back to stay!!!

And The Non-Winner Is …. Early Evening Thoughts.

My apologies for not posting over the last few days. I really couldn’t bring myself to post something humorous or trying to let you know part of the story when I myself didn’t know how it was going to turn out. I wrote in the last point about my friend playing crash and burn with his body and mind. I think crash and burn won….

After he recovered from last Sunday ~ we had several l-o-n-g talks about what was happening and what he was not only doing to himself, but to those around him. I was trying to be careful not to be judgmental and/ or evangelical. It was becoming an extremely difficult task.

I finally got through with the sentence: “I can care unconditionally – but I don’t have to accept the behaviors unconditionally.” So, he agreed that getting to the counseling center and getting into therapy was the only way to go.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from him wanting to meet for lunch and talk. He was worried about what was going to happen and if he really had the strength to resist his addictions. We talked for a few moments and I hung up to get ready to go down the road and meet him for lunch. He arrived and seemed in good shape – looks and demeanor can be deceiving. I realized that when he took out a bottle of vodka during lunch and helped himself. Once again I’m thinking – “holy Crap now what!” (raging drunks for 1000 Alex.)

At this point I’m also thinking “This is a restaurant I will be unable to go back to….” But my deepest concern is for my friend. He’s at this time beginning to spin out of control. I finally get him convinced to leave the restaurant ~ he wanted to buy a backpack and I thought the walk to the store might help. (foolish thoughts for 500 Alex.) And once again I was left shaking my head in disbelief.

I knew I could get him a ride ~ a friend of both of us was still willing to work with him. Several calls later he agreed to pick us both up – but particularly “Mouthwash”.

He “earned” the nickname from the Crisis Residential Unit we were both in after my stay in the hospital. He actually managed to get alcohol and smuggle it into the unit. He wasn’t selfish evidently ~ more than willing to share with others. Of course, the fact that everyone was on medication that might have a very negative (as in deadly) reaction to it never figured into his conscious. The alcohol? One that needs to be banned from drug store shelves. I’m not going to reveal the name – but the next time you are in a drug store look for a mouthwash that is more than 50 proof. The night at the unit was very interesting. He was turned in to the director and actually never denied the alcohol, merely blamed whoever turned him in as being at fault.

As the counseling center I was hoping to get him into was closed Friday/Saturday and Sunday. He had promised to call on Monday to get the intake appointment, and I agreed that I would go with him. All I could do was hope that he would be able to hold on until then. We finished getting the backpack and a really great pair of sunglasses for me and went outside to wait for our friend to come and take him away.Mouthwash decides that sitting on the sidewalk is the best option. So, now I’m sitting on the sidewalk (getting down there with my knees was a fun undertaking) ~ and he’s sitting there taking alternate hits from a vodka bottle and soda bottle. All I could think was what a great picture we were – and how much we both looked like older homeless men sharing a moment. As we were not sharing the bottle that’s all we would be sharing. He rambled on and on and I kept praying that no one I knew would show up.

That’s when the rest of the story came out. Not only had he been imbibing alcohol this week – but he had been mixing codeine cough syrup and pills (Xantax specifically) ~ a sure-fire meltdown combination. Now I’m worrying about getting arrested simply becvause I’m sitting next to him . . . and I have begun to create a catastrophe out of the situation. I’m not going to share those with you at this point ~ but later they became quite funny.

Finally we had poured him into the car and he was being taken back to the center where he lives to sleep it off …

The sleeping it off hope ended ~ evidently ~ when he passed out in his doorstep and awoke moments later cursing and threatening everyone in sight. . . including the friend that drove him home and was trying to get him into his room. Details are a little sketchy, but from what I found out ~ he checked himself out of the center and headed off to one of the most dangerous areas of town to add crack to the ingredients in his system. Today we learned that he was beaten up and arrested…no one knows for sure, but it sounds pretty likely to me.

Today when I contemplated what had gone on – I realized that my view of things/people/places and events has really changed. I know that there is nothing I can do to help this person directly and that worrying about it is neither productive nor helpful.

What does concern me is what this says about people I am around. There will be more on that soon.

More Of The Story ~ Late Afternoon Post

Friday, the 23rd my Mother slipped away at around 7:30 in the evening. She went as she wanted, at home looking out the window at Flathead Lake. She had been out of it most of Thursday ~ while I was making travel arrangements for myself and my “tribe” to get there. Alas, that was not to be. She passed away while most of us were in Salt Lake City awaiting the next leg of the trip. While I was saddened, it was NOT a time of mourning. She was 94 years young, and had been desiring to go home for some time.

She was walking the dog on (I believe) the 9th of November and because she had been told not to ~ she took some concrete steps to the house. As near as we can tell she lost her balance and fell down at least 8 of them, landing on her head on the concrete pad. Fortunately, she had an alert bracelet that she managed to press – in spite of a broken arm and a broken shoulder below the rotor cuff.

R & L were on their way down when the alert people called them and also told them they had dispatched an ambulance. Everyone arrived within about 10 minutes of the fall. R had called me and I actually got to talk to Mom on the stretcher. Of course, her reactions were very typical of my Mom. She was telling R to stop crying, and all she would say to me on the cell phone was “I can’t talk right now!” All I told her was that I wanted to say I loved her.

While in the ER, she was ready to go home, they were not sure what they were going to do but she was one determined lady. They wrote a prescription for pain pills and she started to get up to leave. She decided that because she was dizzy and everything now had started to hurt, she would stay overnight. That was sadly, her last independent moment. While she was in the hospital that night, she had what they classified as a moderate stroke. So now, she was dealing with the pain and having a terrible time talking. Not a very good combination for those who were taking care of her, trust me on that one!

With a lot of negotiation (OK, some fits were thrown as well) they moved her on the 13th to an intensive rehabilitation center. Mom knew that this was the ONLY way she was going to be allowed to go home. However…again however, she was NOT prepared for 1) the work she was going to have to do or 2) the people that would be there. I had called Mom twice a day for over two years, and I even had to get into the act of getting her to 1) “play” nice and 2) cooperate with everyone. I can and always will understand her frustration, but I eventually began to realize where this was going ~ even if I didn’t want to admit it!! (Who wants to admit anything like that?)

Things seemed to be going well at the rehab center, when Mom had another mini-stroke. At that point rehab felt they had done all they could there and that Mom needed to be home with therapy coming to see her. Hospice took over on the 19th. At this point there was no longer any fantasy about her recovery. The hospital bed was in the living room so that she would be able to see her beloved Flathead Lake and perchance see the lights across the lake going up the mountain. On Wednesday the 21st, they awoke her to do one of the every two hour moves every early. They sat her up and cleaned her face with a washcloth and then R said: “look Barb, the lights across the lake!!” She had an enormous grin on her face and laid back down. I did get to talk “at” her that day. . . the last living conversation I was to have with her. She was awake occasionally that day, the mind was there ~ but all ability to talk was gone. On the 23rd she was awake only once. Her breathing was somewhat labored, and twice stopped. The at 7:30pm the 23rd of November, my Mother slipped out of her earthly shell and found herself at her new “home” where she had wanted to be for a long long time.

~ more later in the week

Thankful? Grateful? ~ Early Afternoon Thoughts

For those who have been following this blog (even during the unintended/intended) absence ~ I want to let you know that my Mother is slipping away. While this is not a totally joyful occasion, please be aware that I am totally at peace with what is going on. I have no unresolved issues with her, no excess baggage that has to be dealt with. I will, however, be flying to Montana tomorrow afternoon and will return to Texas late Wednesday night. Trust me – where my mother is there is NO computer connection (sorry Laurie!!!) so I will report on the trip next weekend.

Now, for the heart of this posting — I was talking to a couple of friends this week, one is an addict and the other a really hard-core alcoholic. We were discussing being thankful and grateful ~ and the difference between them. Some of what I am posting relates directly to them, but thought about it, I realized the questions related to everyone.

Am I/you/we grateful?

Supposedly we are celebrating being thankful this week ~ but it appears that the Thanksgiving part has been shoved off the shelves for the next event in the calendar. But, has that spirit of being grateful vanished from the shelves of my life as well? Am I truly grateful?

Am I grateful for a place? For the shelter from more than just the elements of weather ~ but grateful for the shelter sometimes from others and sometimes even from myself?

Am I grateful for myself? for the who/what that I am? Am I grateful for the recovery from addiction(s) help me keep my life in balance? Am I grateful for the possible metal diagnosis that will keep me very aware of what is going on around me and within me ~ perhaps for the rest of my life?

Am I grateful for what I can do? Am I grateful for what I may be unable to do? And grateful for those who respect my limitations, but do not baby them either? And am I grateful for those who don’t?

Am I grateful for my frustrations? Am I grateful for what I’m not being allowed to do? Am I grateful for the road-blocks in my way? Am I grateful for the mountains that seem insurmountable that I know I must go over as I unable to go around them ~ of under them?

Am I grateful for others? The ones who greet me on the way by? It’s easy to be grateful for the ones I like, but what about the ones that I don’t? Perhaps those are there to help me learn ~ such as patience, tolerance and long suffering (and they can make me suffer!) Perhaps by being grateful the annoyance will fade over time.

Am I grateful for what I have? While many of us have very little, there are those who have even less. Of course there will always be those who have even more, but am I able to be grateful for those as well?

Perhaps the universe will not trust me with more until I am truly grateful for all I have.

When I become grateful for all these things, then my heart will be at peace…my life can come back to manageability.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Being Thankful ~ A Small Early Evening Post

Over the next few posts, I’m going to share some of my personal journey over the last many weeks (it seems shorter than it actually was!!) and specifically, what I’ve been learning about being grateful/thankful. One of the many things I’m very thankful for is simply being alive…when at one point there was some doubt (in my mind anyway!) or course, there are some stories to tell – for instance, my problem caused the arrival of not only the ambulance but the police AND the fire department. It was as if an entire swat team had descended on the complex. The certainly was a lot of “thumping” around, which at one point reminded me of a performance of “Stomp.” I think part of that was making me the stomp-ee….but more on that later.

The journey I’ve been on has been incredible, joyful, painful and sorrowful – sometimes all at the same time…but I am grateful!!

For those that have followed this blog, you also know that my Mother (age 94) suffers from TIA … or mini-strokes. Two weeks ago, she fell down five concrete steps (the steps she knows she is not to use) and landed on her head on a concrete pad. She broke her shoulder below the socket, so there was no surgery they could do to “fix” it. Her arm was literally tied to her waist to keep it from moving. Unfortunately, she actually had a moderate stroke while in the hospital and spent last week in an intensive rehabilitation center – doing more in one day than she had done in probably the last 20 years.

She arrived back at her house on Saturday however, early this morning she had to be taken back to the hospital. I would appreciate thoughts/prayers for her at this time. I will know more about what is going on or not going on possibly as early as tomorrow.

It is good to be back with by blog – I have really missed sharing laughs, joys and even some of the sorrows.

Something Borrowed ~ Very Early Evening Thoughts

Forgive my silence over the last couple of days, but things have gotten a little out of hand over the last 72 hours. While not completely in a bad sense … just in an exhausting sense. Of course, there will be some stories to tell about what happened, but for tonight … I’m going to borrow from an article that really meant something to me the other day:

The Facebooking of America by Suzanne Fields:

Every generation is sure that its social and cultural trends are here to stay. When history moved slowly before the dawn of the electronic media, it might have seemed so. But with instant communication through cell phones, fax machines, e-mail and Internet meeting places, such as Facebook and YouTube, cultural trends accelerate dramatically. The future as imagined by Generations X, Y or Z is easily blown away by the high velocity winds of change.


You can read the entire article —>here<— ~ I would have reprinted the article, but I couldn't get permission. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did being of …ahem…. a certain age.

—more complex tales and thoughts tomorrow

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