I don’t drink. I’m not anti-alcohol, I actually don’t like to drink. I do, on rare occasions such as ceremonies, take a small amount of wine. I have also, when working in the hot sun, enjoyed cold, European beer, like Heineken.
The problems come in when other people like to drink. I was working in advertising creative for 30 years, and drinking is part of the profession. I don’t like to drink, because of the taste, and the effect it has on me. I just don’t feel good after just a sip. I’ve been told that I lack an enzyme that deals with alcohol. No problem – I don’t like to drink anyway.
I know of a man, now deceased, who was president of a large ad agency. He was a prick. I remember during a heat wave, he walked around the offices without his pants. He just went around in his light-blue undershorts. This same asshole liked to drink at the office. He had a small refrigerator in his office, almost filled with his favourite beer. It was all at the back in the fridge, because the agency had a German beer account. The Canadian beer the asshole liked was at the back, and the client’s beer was visible at the front of the shelves.
Most of the guys above plebe level were often required to stay late to have a beer with the pres. They all had trouble with their wives because of the late returns home. I never attended, and this made trouble for me. On one occasion, a junior executive said to me; “What’s the matter, are you too good for us?” Another remarked, “Are you on an AA 12 step program or something?” It’s as though not liking to drink is impossible. On the other hand, when we were away on a company trip, I lit up a joint in their presence. The whole bunch of them shrunk back like they feared the smoke would enter their bodies and render them insane.
I guess it’s each person to its own poison. Those experiences caused me to think about drinking and all its aspects. Many people get mean. Some get weepy. And I also think that many drinkers are ashamed of the habit. Most of the drinking places I’ve seen are dimly lit. Many are populated by hustlers and strippers. The whole environment seems to me like a low-end activity.
I recognize the elegance of good wine with a good dinner, beautifully presented. I’m sure that scene is less than 30% of the alcohol consumption overall. Anyway, I’m glad I never did drink much, and still don’t. Maybe that’s why I’m in pretty good shape at 80. Weed seems to have done me only good; calm moods and reduced pain. Win-win.
I have avoided political commentary so far in my blogs. However, Donald Trump and his cohorts grow increasingly vile, and the republican rabble continues to believe in their hero’s unbelievable lies. I don’t see Trump as the number one villain. The incredibly naïve American voter is number one to blame… each and every one of the stinking bunch of them. Trump is mentally damaged, perhaps by the emotional abuse rained upon him by his greedy German father. What excuse can there be for the voters?
If you Trump voters and continued supporters have any brains at all, you will see that Trump did not actually win, just as Hitler did not actually win. Trump used treason and foreign money to seize the president’s office. Hitler used “Brownshirts” in the streets, beating Jews, smashing their stores and painting words and symbols on their homes and businesses, to make them the subjects of scorn and rejection.
If one takes an analytical look at Trump’s actions, one can see that there is a person guilty of similar activities to Hitler’s. The lies, the support for the white supremacists, the incitement to violence all show that you have a mentally disturbed person in the White House. He is surrounded by similarly sick people. The people who voted for Trump, and continue to support and believe in him, need to be overwhelmed by truth.
If you’re a Trump supporter, SHAME ON YOU!
David was grumbling aloud. David is an uptight guy. He needs any reason or no reason, but he’s always nervous. Apparently his mother was severely depressed, and it was a burden on David while he was growing up.
David had just given $20 to an old man at the door. The man claimed to be a rabbi without a congregation, and was hoping to create a synagogue. Now David was grumbling. He was thinking, what if the guy wasn’t a real rabbi? What if he just takes the $20 and buys a small bottle of gin and a cheap hooker.
I wanted to give David some relief, if I could. I pointed out that he’d done nothing wrong. In fact, he’d done an act of gracious generosity, which is a good thing and it was the right thing to do. If the man is a liar, he has sinned. David, however, was honourable, and has not sinned. The victim is not the sinner.
If someone disappoints you, and does something against you, don’t blame yourself. You’ve done nothing wrong. You are the victim and your antagonist is the sinner.
We must consider the power of infinity and eternity. Given the endlessness of these two factors, the truth is that anything, any event, any moment, any product can happen, and it will. With limitless time and limitless distance, the evolution of the universe will continue far beyond our measly scope. We see ourselves at the top of the pecking order; we kill jungle cats and rhinoceroses, we build elegant towers into the clouds, we explore the moon and other celestial bodies. Yet, we are just one tiny rivulet in the relentless flow of time and distance.
We chase property, we covet jewellery, and we build mansions as if we are to be here forever. The fact is, our time on Earth has been but a blink, compared to the vast evolution that has taken place. Earth, air, and water has brought us to this level of intelligence and ingenuity. The mistake that many people make is the idea that we, here and now, are the pinnacle of development.
Most of us are familiar with the graphic that we see of human development from Neanderthal to homo sapiens. Few of us think about the continuation of the little line of people that evolve from apelike to a person standing tall and proud. Most of us clamour for prosperity plus. Multiple homes, multiple cars, and a life of luxury amid sumptuous surroundings is the goal. The fact is, we’re taking in and putting out more than we need to, and more than we should. If the world were to suddenly end, the billionaire and the homeless wretch would each be equal amounts of doo-doo.
I know people who possess great amounts of property, power, and wealth. I know people who choose to live simply, earn a good living and enjoy their time. Ninety percent of the time, the simple life encourages happiness. Most of the time, the acquisitive people are stressed and unhappy. We take our chances when we make our choices on how to live our individual lives.
They heard the plane take off again from the lake. They knew that the people who want their treasure back were going to be searching. They paddled hard for the refuge offered by a large Balsam Fir that was leaning far out over the river.
“Just our luck if it falls while we’re under it,” Solly said.
“Meanwhile, it’s hiding us from the plane, so don’t be such a negative putz!” Rob said.
They could hear the plane circling, looking for any sign of anything. They would assume that it would be a small vessel, otherwise it would have been unable to negotiate the narrow, shallow creeks. Twice, they buzzed by at low altitude, right over the two hidden canoes and four worried teenagers. Soon the sound of the plane faded into the distance and the canoeists pushed off again.
They came to a place of open water. It was a small lake that they would have to cross to get to the next small tributary they would need to travel to get to their car. There was some discussion about what route to take. The short way was to paddle straight across the lake to the mouth of the continued tributary. The safe way was to hug the shoreline where they could hide in foliage. There was virtually no wind, so they would be neither helped nor hindered in crossing the lake and getting on with their run, so they took the fast way instead of the safe way.
They were less than half way across the lake when the dreaded sound of the amphibian aircraft returned. A minute later it passed over them, and they knew they must have been seen. The plane circled to make a landing on the water where the young people were. At the same time, Rob commanded that they were to stroke like hell for the other side. It was a race to get into foliage before the pontoons touched the surface.
The plane landed as close to the canoes as it could, then revved up the engine to plow along on the water toward them. Just before the canoes could disappear up a narrow, weed filled creek, they could hear gunshots over the roar of the plane’s engine. Only one bullet came near them, and made a small splash a few feet away from them just as they were able to disappear into overhanging bushes. They hoped the plane would be stopped at the shallow mouth of the creek.
The plane’s engine was shut off, and they could hear angry shouts. It sounded like the pontoons had run aground, and some guys had to get wet pushing the plane off the shore and turning toward open water. Meanwhile, a steady stroking of the four paddles carried them toward safety. They heard the plane take off and fly away, and they were able to settle down and paddle.
While the boys handled the canoes from their stern seats, the girls got some food out of the packs and made peanut butter and jam sandwiches so they could each have something to eat without stopping. After a few hours, they heard another engine nearby. It sounded similar to the plane engine, but different.
“It’s a damn air boat,” Rob Snitzer said.
“What the hell’s an air boat,” Caroline Rich said.
“It’s one of those tubs, you know, that zips through swamps with a big propeller on the back,” Solly Cohen said.
“Oh, god, no!” Phylis Snitzer said. “We’re in deep shit now.”
They pulled four Krugerrand out of a top row and each looked at one, and to see what it felt like to hold an ounce of pure South African Gold.
“Each coin is an ounce of pure gold. It’s recognized the world over as a reliable measure,” Rob Snitzer said.
“How much is an ounce of gold worth?” Solly Cohen asked.
“About fourteen hundred dollars,” Rob said.
“But that means this chest could be worth millions,” Caroline Rich said.
“We should count how many there are in one row, and multiply by the number of rows,” Phylis said.
“Fifty coins in one row,” Caroline said. “I just counted them.
“It’s exactly fifty Krugerrands,” Rob said. “Six rows across and four rows deep.”
“Six rows across makes three thousand times four deep makes twelve hundred Krugerrands,” Phylis said. “Wow!
“If gold is at fourteen hundred dollars an ounce or so, this chest is worth… uh… “ Rob said
“Over a hundred thousand fucking dollars,” Caroline said.
“One hundred and five thousand dollars,” Phylis said.
“We’re rich!” Solly Cohen sang out.
“Not so fast,” Rob said. “Don’t you think somebody’s gonna miss this stuff?”
“Sure, the guys who dumped it,” Solly said.
“I mean the people to whom it actually belongs,” Rob said.
“We don’t know, so we keep it, right?” Phylis said.
“I doubt it. First of all, what does one do with a Krugerrand?” Rob said. “We can’t just walk into a bank and deposit a few Krugerrands can we? I think we should stash it somewhere safe and see what we can learn about the loot. We wouldn’t want to steal it if it was meant to educate kids in the Congo or something, right?”
“Maybe if we can return it to somebody, we can get a reward,” Solly said. “After all, they’d still have plenty. Better than nothing, right?”
“On the other hand,” Caroline said, “if it’s money for an arms deal, selling weapons to terrorists, we would be obliged to keep it, right?”
“I don’t think it’s right to discuss it now, when we don’t really know what we have,” Rob said.
“What’s our next step?” Caroline said.
“In my opinion,” Rob said, “our next step should be to pack up and take off before that plane returns.
“That might not be for weeks or months even,” Solly said.
“Or it could be any minute now. Let’s hustle!” Phylis said.
They broke camp and packed everything securely in the two canoes. They left the Krugerrands in the chest and placed it on the floor of Solly and Phylis’ canoe. They pushed off and paddled calmly but swiftly along the small tributary toward another creek that will take them back to their car.
The sound of a single engine plane could be heard in the distance. As it drew near, the canoeists found a place where tall reeds grew out of the riverbank and overhung the river. The two canoes were guided beneath the reeds and rested against the bank. The aircraft was low over the treetops as it prepared to land on ‘Treasure Lake’. As soon as it passed, they pushed off again until they heard the plane returning.
“That’s it,” Rob said. “They know the chest is gone and they know it can’t have gone far. They’ll be hunting us down, for sure.
The sun rose into a brilliantly golden sky. When the sun’s warmth reached over the bushes, it set the tents aglow. Before long the bright light and warmth of the morning sun penetrated the two small tents and prompted Rob Switzer and Solly Cohen to rise from their respective tents and start the day. They had gathered firewood the evening before, so they structured the kindling appropriately and started a happily crackling fire. Before the girls emerged from their respective tents, the boys were gazing out onto the water, memorizing as well as they could the location of the chest and the body.
Breakfast was prepared by Solly. A pan of bacon and eggs sizzled fragrantly beside a metal coffee pot that bubbled happily. A discussion went on about what the macabre scene of yesterday meant. They agreed that the most likely scenario was that some criminals had stolen something valuable and discovered an undercover detective had infiltrated them. Or one of their own people was doubted. Obviously, the plane would return at some time to collect the chest after the loot was no longer making news.
“What do you think we should do?”, Rob said to the group assembled around the fire.
“I think we should get away from here,” Caroline Rich said. “If they somehow find out we saw them, we’re screwed.”
“She has a point,” Phyllis Snitzer said. “Maybe we better pack up and take off.”
“I want to go after it,” Rob said.
“Do you have a plan of some kind for this crazy stunt?” Solly said.
“I figure the girls stay here, you and I paddle out. One of us stays in the canoe as a base, and the other dives. I doubt it’s terribly deep there.” Rob said.
Solly thought for a moment, while the two women protested being left behind. He put in a suggestion that they should dive together, and the women should be nearby in the canoes. Fully pack the boats for a quick getaway, and it wouldn’t hurt to have the benefit of ballast for the tricky move of getting out of a canoe without tipping it. Then Phyllis put in that she had diving experience as a camp counsellor and she should be one of the divers too. In the end, it was agreed that brother and sister, Phyllis and Rob dive for the chest while Solly and Caroline manage the canoes.
The siblings stripped down to swimwear and helped launch the loaded canoes. Solly took the stern of his boat so Phyllis could slip into the water at the bow. Caroline was in the stern of the other boat with Rob at the bow. With only a few dozen strokes of their paddles they were hovering over the area where they’d seen the body and the chest dumped. The two canoes circled slowly in ever widening arcs. The four treasure hunters were staring down into the crystal clear water. Phyllis was the first to spot the body with the rope leading to the chest. Rob took out the World War Two army surplus sharpened bayonet that he used as a camping knife. They had all agreed to leave the body there, and take just the chest. They couldn’t do anything with the body anyway. It was better that it stay where it is, deep in cold, dark water.
Using carefully learned techniques for leaving and entering a canoe, the Snitzers slid carefully into the uncomfortably cold water. Phyllis swam to the chest while Rob went to the cadaver and cut the rope from him. He took the free end of the rope up to the surface and handed it to Solly. Solly lifted the trunk up, hand over hand. Phyllis followed the ‘treasure chest’ up from the depths. At the surface, she held the gunnel and helped Solly lift the trunk up and over so he could gently put it on the floor of the canoe. Solly was a powerful specimen of young manhood, and could just manage to set it down without it doing any damage.
“Let’s get out of here now!” Rob said as he carefully climbed into the canoe. Caroline was an experienced canoeist, and held her stern position while Rob became the bow paddle. “It’s damn cold, too! We have to get a few kilometres up a tributary and make camp under some trees with heavy foliage.”
They didn’t go back the way they came because that would have meant paddling upstream, which would be slower and more work. They stroked briskly across the small lake and entered the mouth of a small tributary that fed out of the lake. Their GPS showed that, although narrow, this waterway led to another via which they could return to their vehicles.
As the sun rolled toward the western horizon, the canoeists found a spit of sand tightly surrounded by enormous Maple trees that provided dense cover from overhead. They all were pretending that they weren’t bursting with curiosity about the contents of the chest and busied themselves setting up camp. At last, tents up, fire crackling, food frying, they gathered around and cut the rope from around the chest and opened it. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Krugerrands! In neat, tight, horizontal rows. Eight rows to a layer, eight layers deep.
“There must be hundreds of them,” Caroline said.
“Thousands,” Rob said.
“Millions of dollars,” Solly said.
“What are Krugerrands?” Phyllis said.
“Each Krugerrand is one full ounce of pure gold,” said Rob. The four adventurers just stood in a circle, looking at the loot and at each other, each wondering, “what next?”