Squeeze A Grape (chapter One) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Chapter One ~

Earlier this week, and again today – I was asked about various happenings to me during my time in India. I was there from 1971 until 1978, teaching at Woodstock School, an international school. At the time I arrived, the school was over 100 years old, and when I left I’m sure the school felt it was over 300!! The school is located in Mussoorie , U.P. high in the Himalayan mountains. The school was a boarding school/day school for grades 1-12…with about 450 students in any given year. The school had expanded it’s “junior or senior year abroad, ” and dual diploma program, so as a perk, the school decided (well, leadership actually decided) in 1974 that taking those students on a circle tour of India for about 6-8 weeks would be a very educational and interesting way to fill the time between semesters and keep those students out of everyone’s hair.

The trip was carefully planned, budgets calculated and everything was going according to plan. The trip was going to consist of 28 students (all high-school) and 5 staff. There were a couple of school families added to the mix, so we made a rather large contingent. By now, reservations at the hotels were made, train tickets were purchased and the reservations reasonably assured to be reserved.

During the 70’s and I’m sure today as well, India was highly dependent on trains. It was said during that year at least 10% of the population traveled on trains every day. Also, without the network of trains manufacturing, transportation of food and such, would be completely impossible. Three weeks before the Cirque de Woodystock was set to leave, the entire train operation came to a complete halt, due to one of the largest strikes in India’s history. As in – nothing going anywhere. A few commuter trains within certain areas supposedly were still running, but nothing else.

And now everything seemed to be unraveling. However, there were assurances from all over that the strike would be settled very quickly, so we went on as if nothing had changed. I’m not going into the historical or political ramifications of all that occurred – that’s not the story I’ve been asked about. Finally, five days before we were to leave, the strike was settled and we were going on a wonderful tour. We packed, laughed – checked tickets and headed out – yes, it felt like a cattle drive at times.

There were many adventures along the way, but one of several highlights has to be leaving Calcutta (now known as Kolkata). The trip into the train station was a small tip of the iceberg as to how this trip was going to go. We arrived in Calcutta to make the connection onward. With the tie-up of trains due to the strike, literally thousands of people were trapped within train stations. Now, add those people to the people who actually lived in the train stations (no different then people who occupy spaces here in the states or Europe)…and it made for every crowded conditions. There we stood, like a crowd scene from some Broadway show. After a rather tense 6 hours – part of the sporting events we watched from a distance included an attempt to burn the station down – we were lead to a portion of the platform to await the arrival of the train from the round-house. Which arrived from the round-house completely full. As in packed.

More adventures (for another time) and all of us were on the train. Perhaps saying we were in the car would be a better description. The conditions of that train car made Dr. Zhivago’s train trip seem like traveling on the Orient Express. The car we were traveling on had open compartments on one side, with facing single seat benches on the other – and an aisle dividing the two. There was a bathroom on the end of the car where we were located. The car was designed for a maximum of 72 people. I counted over 150 when I decided that I wouldn’t count any more, and I couldn’t see beyond about 1/3 into the car. Normally, this would be a fairly comfortable way to travel – but given the fact that as many people as possible were in that car – comfort was not going to be an option. The students and staff were in the three compartments designed to hold four to six plus luggage – now were wall to wall people and luggage. An entire fishing village were camped in front of and around the bathroom. I and three staff were occupying the benches (along with the overflow of the fishing village). Oh yes, important to a later part of the story, there were no closable windows – and this car was one of the first behind the coal fired engine.

“Squeeze a lemon and you don’t get apple juice” was a popular saying a few years ago. The meaning was quite simple – whatever I am inside, is going to come out during stress and strain. Whatever masks or identities I wear — when the going gets personally tough, whatever is within – whatever I hold as “me” is probably going to “shine” when the push becomes the shove. Miss Marley (an elderly lady who lived at the school – and was the oldest resident of the school) always told me – “When you squeeze a grape, you don’t get wine. It’s got to be mashed around a bit first.”

–Chapter Two tomorrow

An Afternoon Case Of WHAT??? ~

As I was digging around today (OK, surfing around) two absolutely amazing little pieces of news caught my eye … the first an invasion, the second a complete lack of …. well, you decide what is lacking…..

Imagine reading this on a headline service this morning: (or being a news “puller”)

Yes, it’s a screen shot of an actual posted headline. However, before anyone feels that they need to start looking for some kind of shelter – the truth is quite amusing – and far more mundane.

Once upon a time, there was a training exercise … and a few soldiers got lost in the process.

The second story caused some clean-up of my monitor and keyboard from the coffee spilled (OK, spewed) on them as a result of this little tale.

Remember awhile ago when Boston was shut down over a publicity campaign? I thought you might. If you remember, the offending hardware that caused so much Police panic were a Light-Brites cast around for people to find and (if you ever watch Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim) recognize.

It seems that today** Wednesday, the City of Boston placed traffic counters around. You know, those identifable boxes attached by chain to a pole with a small cable running across the road that counts the cars as they drive over it.

I’ll let Wonkette tell the tale:

Well, the brave anti-terrorism officials of Boston most certainly do not know of these common devices — so they shut down the city today, again, and blew up the traffic counter. You know, the traffic counter the City of Boston was paying for ….

(Article and picture here)

Now that I have cleaned up the keyboard and monitor – I can go back to feeling safer in knowing that any car I ride in Boston is going to go uncounted.

Why do people make up news, when there’s so much really interesting (insert any other word here) true news to look at?

**edited correction of date

Yes ~ At White Castle ~ Mid-Day Chuckle

I ran across this item on Consumerist website – and decided that the article was worth quoting in full:

Are you broke? Or cheap? Or weird? Or…do you really like White Castle? From their website:
(WD’s note: The website allows you to check which White Castle is close to you!!)

Make your Valentine’s day STEAMY! Take your Valentine to White Castle on Wednesday, February 14 between 5 and 8 p.m. and enjoy hostess seating, candlelit dining and your own server. Reservations are required, so check the list below for participating Castles near you!

Special this year, you can also treat your honey to a romantic White Castle dinner in your home! Cupid’s Crave Kits include eight cheeseburgers, one sack of fries, two regular soft drinks, coupons and keepsake items to heat up your homespun romance. Now, ain’t that sweet?


Just think of the possibilities this opens up for other markets! Tell me what you would consider an off-shoot of this marketing idea??

Disclosure: The picture is NOT from their website – I just couldn’t resist!!

But I Did Wash – I Promise!!

We all were told to wash up – before dinner, before going out and especially after using the bathroom. Of course, we all promised that we did…even if we didn’t! However, someone with a lot more time on their hands did a survey and found out that even though 92% said they washed their hands after using the bathroom 34% were lying. (and I thought the government was spying on other things!!!) So, the JWT agency in Toronto decided to come up with a more direct campaign to encourage ablutions of the right sort.

I’m not sure how effective it will be, but it would be interesting to see people’s reactions on turning the knob!!

picture from Houtlist covering non-profit advertising campaigns –

Manic Monday ~

Today was a good day for a good laugh ~ Fortunately, I didn’t have to look very far …

Then I decided to brush my teeth !

Read an interesting article on Montana’s new boarder patrol that seems to be working very well ~

Had a quick bite to eat ~

Caught up on the latest news from Washington D.C.

And should I ever plan a wilderness trip ~ I know just what to avoid ~

Resolutions ~ or not ….

As the New Year bears down on us, it’s often the time when people begin thinking about making their New Year’s Resolutions … or perhaps you are not one to make resolutions; then look at these affirmations as an alternative!!!

It is a time of resolutions. I made one resolution several years ago
to never again make resolutions.
Instead I make affirmations … I offer you this years collection.

1. As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I am in touch with my inner sociopath.

2. I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

3. I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are someone else’s fault.

4. In some cultures what I do would be considered normal.

5. My intuition nearly makes up for my lack of wisdom and judgment.

6. I need not suffer in silence while I can still moan, whimper, and complain.

7. When someone hurts me, I know that forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as rewarding.

8. I am at one with my duality.

9. Blessed are the flexible, for they can tie themselves in knots.

10. I will strive to live each day as if it were my 50th birthday.

11. I honor and express all facets of my being, regardless of state and local laws.

12. Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than “I told you so!”

13. A scapegoat is almost as good as a solution.

14. Just for today, I will not sit in my living room all day in my underwear. Instead, I will move my computer into the bedroom.

15. I will no longer waste my time reliving the past; I will spend it worrying about the future?

16. The complete lack of evidence is the surest proof that the conspiracy is working.

17. Before I criticize a man, I walk a mile in his shoes.
That way, if he gets angry, he’s a mile away and barefoot.

18. I will let people know if they are the ones the voices inside my head don’t like.

And now I know why my presents didn’t arrive ~

AbFab Or Not ~

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and totally surprised at gifts, thoughts and people. The other day on public transportation I was amazed at how people were reacting to each other, and anything that might happen. Let’s just say that Santa was going to make a lot of notes on naughty or nice.

I was invited to attend an afternoon party. I knew it was going to be trouble when the host(ess) used the word fabulous four times in the conversation to describe the

So, looking at some ideas that are fabulous (AbFab) or not ….

For those who just have to grab something for a last minute gift, this is NOT what you should offer – even at a white elephant party… No, just NO!!!

Christmas is the time of peace on earth, etc. I have difficulty thinking that these little fellows do much to promote that…actually, nothing at all to promote peace.

And you know your day is less than fabulous if the school calls to say something about your child saying something….

And while we’re on the subject of doing ~ This is NOT an option, even if your neighbor IS playing “Grandma’ got run over by a reindeer” with his flashing lights from 9pm until midnight EVERY night.
(your punishment if you do would be having to watch the Cartoon Network movie of the same name for eternity!!!!)

Now, this one will do without explanation. Perfect for that bratty…um…enthusiastic relation. Just tell them it’s building character, muscles and whatever else you can think of!!!

And now, just for me ~ I wish for peace, joy, happiness all that “stuff.” But what would really make my day, month, year would be to find just the right person under the mistletoe … and then someone could sing (a HUGE choir would be fabulous!!!) I saw Daddy kissing Santa Claus! Who would be daddy and what would happen later is NONE of your business!!!