Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, July 24, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page B:4

B4 OPINIONMountain View News Saturday, July 24, 2021 B4 OPINIONMountain View News Saturday, July 24, 2021 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 



Stuart Tolchin 
Dinah Chong WatkinsAudrey SwansonMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 

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A week or so ago I found a paperback copy of the 

Shakespearean play Hamlet. It was just sitting on a curb and 

I took it as a message from someone or somewhere that I 

should look at it. I got the idea of pretending that my not yet 

two year old granddaughter was reading the play and took a 

picture of her with pacifier in her mouth, Sippy bottle in one 

hand, and the book facing outward with its title visible in the 

other hand. What was I trying to prove? I think I was trying 

to show myself, my daughter, and the world that I was doing 

my best to assist educating the baby, or former baby as I call 

her, to act responsibly and humanely in this very confusing world.

As a lark I thought it would be fun for the former baby, who now speaks full 

intelligible and many unintelligible sentences (at least to me) to be able to recite the first 

sentence of the play. I had read the play, more or less in High School. I thought that the 

first sentence was probably “To be or not to be”, words with which my granddaughter 

was fully familiar as an experienced number reciter and alphabet enumerator (Is it 

possible to enumerate letters?) So together we looked and I read and spoke the first 

sentence of the play with which perhaps some of you are already familiar. ”Who’s 

there” I read and now after reading the whole play and watching a Sir Laurence Olivier 

version a new can of worms has opened.

Who is out there and who is inside me? To be honest I have always been 

fascinated by the internal experience of other people, especially couples. Not 

particularly their current emotional states of happiness or sadness but rather just 

what their thoughts and decisions are during a typical day. On trips who drives; do 

they listen to music or audio books or news? How do they pick a restaurant or a TV 

program? During the sheltering in place period of the Covid, did the couple spend 

time in the same room or in separate rooms? When I receive my multiple emails in 

the morning I am most interested in the communications coming from other actual 

real life people who are willing to share a part of themselves with me. I love reading 

about a recounting of childhood memories especially when those memories have been 

elicited by something in one of my weekly columns.

Of course that first Hamlet line, “Who’s there” makes me wonder not only about 

who is out there but also directs me to wonder about who it is inside me. Why do I 

make the decisions that I do? Why do I love talking to strangers and service people? 

Yesterday, for reasons unknown to me I decided to go to a barber and have my hair cut 

and beard completely shaved off. I went to a local barber at a little before five and was 

told it was too close to closing time. I told her I would be back tomorrow which is now 

today and surprisingly I went back and did the deed. I went today because I felt bound 

by my promise of yesterday which makes little sense but I’m glad I did it. No more 

uncut hair and unshaved beard illustrating an eighteen month abstinence.

 I guess I’m sharing this mundane information with you because it allows me 

to feel closer to you even though you might not even exist. I am well aware the last 

thing most people want is to turn the lights on upon themselves. Almost everyone 

it seems craves attention but keeps their curtains drawn so for the most part their 

actual internal experience is hidden. It is as if everyone is like poor confused Prince 

Hamlet, wondering “to be or not to be” and driving himself and everyone else crazy. 

The times of Hamlet are very much like current times. Who is lying and why are they 

lying? Are we worrying when there is really nothing to worry about even though there 

are heat waves, droughts, and fires all around us? Is our prize Democratic system now 

revealed as dysfunctional? There can be no doubt that something is rotten not only in 

the State of Denmark. Maybe it is best to ignore the tragical history of Hamlet Price of 

Denmark. After all that was only a made up story perhaps like the made up story we 

tell ourselves about our own lives and hope nobody notices. 

Don’t turn the lights on and maybe it will all go away; but guys beware, don’t get too 
close to your mother! 



The telltale signs are there. Temperatures in the mid80’
s. Check. Gas prices seesawing up. Check. Runs onbags of snack-bag sized potato chips. Check. Low grade,
stir-crazy fever affecting the occupants of the household.
Check. You know it’s time for the annual Road Trip. 

My dad was a civil engineer for the Department of Transportation and reviewing 
roadway conditions was part of his job, so he often combined a siteinspection with a family road trip. To a small kid, spending hours in a hot, 
stuffy car next to my sister, eating at greasy truck stops, and occasionallyspending a night in a motel was - fantastic. We’d pile into our station wagonand begin our 30 hour trek into the wilds of the federal highway system. 

Child-size bladders can only hold so much warm soda, forcing my dad tocontinually pull over at Rest Stops, and each visit was my chance to worshipat the alter of the vending machine. Rows of fluorescent-lit, mechanizedbehemoths with their siren song of savory and sweet snacks called out to meas I clutched my Snoopy coin purse, massaging each coin inside with gleefulanticipation. I’d press my nose to the glass front display, adding to the wallpaper 
of face smudges, searching for a box of chocolate covered raisins - a 
compromise with my mom who insisted on a “healthy” fruit snack. 

But would this, could this - be the time I come face-to-face with my ownWhite Whale? Obsessed with my quarry, like a mini-me version of CaptainAhab, I hunted for that elusive, divinely chunky Ice Cream Treats machine.
Double, even triple the cost of the room-temperature offerings, finding theIce Cream vending machine with its enchanted, miniature cabinet door wasbetter than winning $5 on those Scratch-Off lottery tickets my mom lovedto buy. 

Highway motels get a bad rap. Sure, the cleanliness is mainly limited to the“Sanitized” paper ribbon on the bathroom toilet seat, but to me, having myown TV and motel telephone in the same room as the bed was “Lives of theRich and Famous” level luxury. That my sister and I had to share the room 
with my parents made it no less perfect, except when we watched TV. I was 
stationed a couple feet away, ever ready to change the channels or adjust theantenna. I earned a quarter for my human remote control talents and could 
hardly wait to feed the Magic Fingers box on our bedside table, twenty-five 
cents would give us 15 minutes of teeth-rattling mattress vibrations. 

On the motel doorknob hung a cardboard sign instructing the maid (!) toeither “Clean Up the Room” or “Do Not Disturb”. Over the years, I tookdozens of those signs and hung it on my door but my mom sadly, neverfollowed through. 

We’d always end our trip with a lunch stop at the FootLong Hot Dog Shackjust off Exit 53. I’d beg my mom to give me my own FootLong instead ofsharing 6 inches with my sister. She agreed on the condition I’d finish thewhole thing. The first 4 inches was always easy, tasty even. At the 8 inchmark, I’d get a slight, porky backwash. I’d make a show of cramming downthe last lump then surreptitiously spit it out in my hidden napkin. 

But the damage was done and true to form, half an hour later as we drovepast the Olde Dutch Windmill restaurant, the FootLong made an unwelcome 
reappearance. Like Pavlov’s dog, every time we passed by that creakystructure, wood fins slowly turning in the wind, it was a sign to give up mylast meal. My parents tried making me lie on the floorboards, eyes closeduntil we passed, but you couldn’t outsmart my stomach. It went that wayuntil my dad figured out a detour. In the end, it cost us a few more milesbut got us home with the FootLong and its side-kick, Orange Fanta safe inmy belly. 

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Two compelling questions for the ages…or maybe 
just for the aged. 

Why does Rich write this column? 

In 1965 composers Bacharach and David wrote a song 
called, “What the World Needs Now is Love, It’s the 
only thing that there’s just too little of ”. 

It might as well have been written in 2021. The world needs joy today. And 
humor is a wonderful delivery system for joy. 

If I can pass along a little humor to you, than Rich (that would be me in the third 
person) hopes you will pass it along to someone else. Why? Because, then you 
get a dose of just plain feel good yourself passing along something humorous 
and memorable. Who knows, the person you passed the little funny anecdote 
along to, will pass it along. Pretty soon we’ll have a grass fire of just plain feel 
good. Feel good? Feel REAL good! 

Do Geese See God? This is not an existential question for the ages. It’s a 

Who knows what a palindrome is? Take all the time you want…5,4,3,2,1: Times 
up! No, it’s not where bicycle races are held. That’s called a Velodrome. 

A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sentence that reads the same backwards or 
forwards. Like Bob or Mom. 

Be honest! Someone walks up to you and asks for an example of a palindrome 
would you be ready? Now you will. Here’s an easy one (and it involves math): 
“Never odd or even.” That wasn’t so hard. 

Palindromes can also help with the various phases of life. I am a person of faith. 
And I don’t mind stimulating deep theological discussions such as the title of 
this column: 

“Do Geese See God? Or “Dogma, I am God”. 

Palindromes can be used to teach geography: 

“A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.” 

Hungry? Try saying this down at Taylor’s Market. 

“A nut for a jar of tuna.” Yo, banana boy”, or “Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna 

Being a Christian, I can authoritatively tell you palindromes have been with us 
since Bible Times. The first one was uttered in the Garden of Eden. 

Adam, upon seeing Eve for the first time blurted out, “Madam, in Eden I’m 

There are ethical palindromes: “Borrow or rob” is a perfect example. 

And finally, a palindrome encouraging citizens to go to the polls on election 
days: “Rise to vote sir”. 



Yesterday I was at Costco buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal 
pet, Necco, the Wonder Dog, who weighs 191 lbs. I was in the check-out line 
when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog. 

What did she think I had - an elephant? So because I'm retired and have 
little to do, I impulsively told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting 
the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up 
in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an 
intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in 
both arms. 

I told her that it was essentially a Perfect Diet and that the way that it works 
is, to load your jacket pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two 
every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works 
well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically 
everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.) 

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned 
me. I told her no, I stopped to pee on a Fire Hydrant and a car hit me. I 
thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing 
so hard. Costco won't let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask 
retired people. They have all the time in the World to think of crazy things 
to say. 

V. J., Pasadena as posted on Next Door Sierra Madre South 
Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 
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