Thursday 18 April 2024

What Are The Chances

 So, when I was a mid teen I watched “The Great Escape” and became interested in books about the second world war, prison camps and books about the men who fought in the wars.My dad was shot down over Germany while on a bombing raid and spent the next three years in German POW camps. Thankfully he was a pilot and the Germans considered pilots to be gentlemen so they got to be interred in Stalag Luft camps which means they were run by the German air force and received better treatment than captured soldiers.

That isn’t to say he had it easy, but it was easier. The bread was only made with one half sawdust to flour mix and they were pretty much left to their own devices…more or less. Dad didn’t like to talk about his experiences very much so I didn’t get a lot of first hand info. I asked him once if he ever dug an escape tunnel and he told me that the older guys (over 25) did that kind of stuff and the rest of them helped in any way they could. I kind of wish I had bugged him more or that he would have been more willing to talk about his experiences. I would give anything now if he could just talk about anything at all now.

One of the books that I read involved a Japanese submarine. The sub had been patrolling the pacific trying it’s best to sink any allied ship at all when the commander of the sub got a fishbone stuck in his throat. If not surgically removed the man would have died a horrible death so it was decided that the sub would surface and surrender to the first allied ship they saw so the commander could be saved. I have since learned that a Japanese commander would prefer death over surrender but the author obviously believed that teenage boys would like his version of the story.

Now, I have never been on a submarine unless you count the one at West Edmonton Mall, and certainly not been in any kind of war unless you count a thumb war. However, that book and the plight of the Japanese commander convinced me of the foolishness of eating fish unless it has been breaded and fast frozen by Captain Highliner. Even then I feel that I am living on the edge. Inevitably in a long life you get offered fish by a host who doesn’t know the dangers of eating fish or you figure that billions of people eat fish and don’t die a horrible, painful death. Every single time I have had fish they has always been a bone that is very needle like and I know that without constant vigilance I would surely be dead.

I find myself in Lisbon Portugal. I safely made it through Amsterdam and Madrid without having any fish, but today I couldn’t resist ordering fish and chips. I found seven or eight needle like fishbones. I am hoping that I got them all, but it is very possible that this note will be the last thing I write. I might be lucky enough to run into an American battleship with a top notch thoracic surgeon, but what are the chances? 

Tuesday 16 April 2024


My son and his family moved to the Netherlands in January of this year for work and to have an adventure as family. They aren’t sure when or if the adventure will end and neither are we of course. I would prefer them to stay close so I could watch my granddaughter grow into a young woman, but in this life you have to follow where life leads. I am happy for them, even if my happiness is sometimes in the form of tears.

So, here it is the beginning of April and we find ourselves in Amsterdam for about ten days which is probably seven or eight days too many for my son. We flew in yesterday and it was a long flight, about nine hours. We were lucky because when Louise was confirming our flight  she was asked if we wanted to buy the other seat in our row for $145. That is a big yes! No one else crowding us and room to spread out. I hope we are always that lucky.

My buddy Ken drove us to the airport and on the way Louise realized that she had left her cane at home. Oh well, we can buy one in Amsterdam. She finds a cane is helpful if she has to stand for any length of time. Shortly after passing thru security Louise discovered that her cell phone was keeping her cane company at home. SHIT! I called my buddy Ken and asked if he would be kind enough to go to our place and pick up the cane and phone and make yet another trip to the airport. The man deserves to be sainted.

By the way, when travelling you should always bring a cane. We have found that if you have a cane the attendants bring you to the front of the line and board you with others that may need assistance. It is kind of like having the poor man’s NEXUS card. 

I am suffering from what I think is jet lag, but really it is just me being tired. We stayed up for about thirty hours yesterday in the hopes of minimizing the effects of travel and who knows how successful we were. I went to sleep around 8:00 last night and woke up to pee around 5:00. I didn’t think I would be able to get back to sleep, but within a minute or so I was dead to the world. I am not sure if I am back to normal, but will find out in the next day or two.

So far I am impressed with the city. They are able to move people quickly and efficiently on their various methods of public transit, walking and of course the bicycle. I have never seen so many bikes in my life! The city has embraced cycling and bikes have dedicated lanes and cars are basically invited guests on the roads. Everyone from toddlers to old farts get from A to B on bikes. The different methods of public transit are also very well thought out and efficient. The people in power have built a city that works for people.

I know that I have no input into my sons life, but I think he has made a good decision for himself and his family, at least for the time being. Living here and learning to be a Netherlandeer will certainly have it’s challenges but Brendan and family are surely up to it. 

Perhaps the most difficult challenge will be having to deal with loving family that wish to visit. Life keeps throwing curveballs.