Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Dinner Choices: 1. Take it 2. Leave it"

I discovered a long time ago that the more yellowed-from-grease stained signs that a restaurant has, the better the food.   Even better if the restaurant is a "diner."

Ate at one the other day in Oakland City, Indiana:  Double D Diner, "Where Good People Meet" --   An honest-to-goodness roadside diner on State Road 64 East

Here are just a few of the signs around to make you feel that you are, in fact, in greasy-spoon paradise.

A throwback to when diners were, well, diners.

 Gotta love it.  And I did!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Literary Ambulance Drivers

I mentioned last week in my blog about another "The Greatest Author I've Never Heard Of" story about William Somerset Maugham, that he served in France during WWI as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers."

Just to follow up.

At least 23 well known literary figures drove ambulances in the First World War.  Among them were Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, E.E. Cummings, and Maugham. Robert Service, the writer of Yukon poetry, including The Shooting of Dan McGrew, and Charles Nordhoff, co-author of Mutiny On the Bounty, drove ambulances in the Great War.

Why Join?

According to Steve Ruediger in an article on the topic

Many young men had a strong desire to be in the middle of the action but were not physically fit for acceptance in an army.  Hemingway, who had defective vision in his left eye, expressed these viewpoints when, prior to joining, he wrote to his sister, Marcelline, "But I'll make it to Europe some way in spite of this optic.  I can't let a show like this go on without getting into it."

Dos Passos was so myopic he couldn't see the top letter on an eye chart.  War was more dangerous than many thought.  After getting wounded, a soldier might be sped off to the hospital by a half blind ambulance driver.

Somerset Maugham at 40 and 5'6" was both too old and too short to enlist at the beginning of the war.  So he joined a British Red Cross ambulance unit attached to the French Army.  One of his co-drivers, Desmond MacCarthy, later became the literary critic for The Sunday Times.

It's possible that my Grandfather Kuhn may have had an encounter with one of these guys.  He served in the famous 107th Engineers, credited with road, bridge, and trench works.  Also, constructing not less than five complete hospitals.

The infantry motto may well be 'Follow Me', but in the mud-static war of WWI, the infantry was powerless without the engineers first going ahead to blow wire entanglements, construct roads and then bridges over barriers, and recon enemy positions. In this case, it was really 'follow the engineers,' for they lead the way!

The 107th motto:  Good as done!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

It's the day before Thanksgiving.  I hate watching television on this night because this is when the After-Christmas Sales advertising starts!

Yes, Thanksgiving used to be, as George Will wrote, "the official handmaiden of commerce and turned into the starting gun for the sprint of Christmas shopping."  Now the entire month of November is "Black Friday."

But, to me -- and most Americans -- Thanksgiving is about the meal.  (okay, the meal and football.)  It's creative.  It's sharing.  It's serving. It is Communion! (apologies to those who believe that "communion" is an exclusively Christian sacrament.)

Since the first caveman or woman who didn't entirely eat what he or she found and, instead, brought it back to the cave to share with others, there has been communion.  And since that time, people who care for one another and are deeply connected by blood or an invisible web of friendships have shared food as a sign of, and a reaffirmation of, their relationship.  Communion.

So, this Thanksgiving, as you gather around the table, think about this prayer offered by Robert Fulghum:

"In this house, we believe the finest blessing is fine companionship during a meal.  With such company as we have now, we are blessed, indeed.  May God bless us all.  Amen."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Another "The Greatest Author I've Never Heard Of" story.

So, if someone asked you who was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930s, who would you say?

You're correct: William Somerset Maugham, better known as W. Somerset Maugham.

Okay, truth be told, I've never heard of him until today. 

Evidently did a lot of great stuff I've never read.  His last novel, The Razor's Edge (1944) was his most "well-known."   The book was twice adapted into two films, first in 1946 starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, and Herbert Marshall, and Anne Baxter as Sophie, and then a 1984 adaptation starring Bill Murray (sounds familiar). 

And this fact sort of interests me:   Too old to enlist when the First World War broke out, he served in France as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers", a group of some 24 well-known writers, including the Americans John Dos Passos, E. E. Cummings, and Ernest Hemingway (perhaps a future blog).

Back to today.  I was introduced to Mr. Maugham in a roundabout way. 
My blog, in many ways, is an autobiography.  If a blog critic were to actually review my work, he or she might quip, "I found nothing really wrong with his autobiography except the poor choice of subject."

Maugham once wrote of his writing -- again, this is a guy reputed to be among the most popular and highest paid authors of his era:

I knew I had no lyrical quality, a small vocabulary, little gift of metaphor.  The original and striking simile never occurred to me.  Poetic flight . . . were beyond my powers.  On the other hand, I had an acute power of observation . . .  I knew that I should never write as well as I could wish, but I thought, with pains, that I could arrive at writing as well as my natural defects allowed.

Thank you, Mr. Maugham, for teaching us that whether it's writing a blog post, an attempt at prose or poem, song or chord progression, or even a doodle. . . to be thankful for abilities and talents.   I know I will never be popular or paid highly, but at least I'm unique -- defects be damned!

Carpe diem Life,
D. Alan Kuhn   

Monday, November 19, 2018

Become a Certified Graphic Recorder

Signed up for the first of a collection of six online courses.  It's the first step to becoming a "Certified Graphic Recorder."  

Soon, I'll be able to sign my name:  David A. Kuhn, CGR

Before you get too green with envy, let me explain what a "Certified Graphic Recorder" is:  A Doodler!

According to Diane Bleck, founder of The Doodle Institute, it is incredibly important to pick up a pen and paper and draw something every single day.  "When you doodle," Bleck writes, "you open your heart channel to ideas, insights, and inspirations to listen to the magic language of the universe where ideas, insights, and inspirations are waiting to whisper direction, meaning and purpose into your soul."

Check out the site at

You, too, can become a CGR!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Zen and the Art of Squirrel Hunting

Heard a news story on the radio the other day: A man is dead after a hunting accident.  Authorities say a hunter thought the victim was a squirrel and shot him.

Thought he was a squirrel?  I don't hunt -- not that I'm morally against it -- but, how do you mistake a man for squirrel?  (After a little research -- fancy word for Google -- I discover that it evidently happens more than one would think.)

Anyway, the man is being charged with, if nothing else, "reckless discharge of a firearm."

I had a reckless discharge once and, as a result, I really got in touch with my inner self.  Damn single-ply toilet paper!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

P.S.  Sorry, this is what happens when you have notes for two different post ideas and neither have the weight to go anywhere.  Frank Deford would be so disappointed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Found something the other day . . .

Found something the other day that I had almost completely forgotten about.  Been around in one form or another since 1866.  Its diameter is .835 inches and its thickness is .077 inches.  It's composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. 

Yes, I found a U.S. nickel on the ground the other day.  I can't remember the last time I found a nickel on the ground -- or used one, for that matter.  Pennies, yes.  People intentionally leave those for good luck:  "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck."  (another topic for another day). 

Finding a nickel reminded me of several things:

1.  I almost always have to look up the word to see how to spell it.  Nickel? Nickle?  Damn, why can't I remember that?

2.  For a brief time during college days, I remember always starting the day with $39.44 in my pocket (one twenty-dollar bill, one ten, one five, four ones, one quarter, one dime, one nickel (or is that nickle?) and four pennies.  As I remember, my thought process was to either have exact change -- which somehow always made clerks excited, or have a variety of change to receive back "non-penny" change -- which often confused clerks to no end:  "That will be $12.87"
Handing him/her $13.02 and waiting for the LONG pause.  

A Nickel!  When was the last time you even thought about a nickel?

On one of my jobs, I have to count the change drawer each shift.  There could be $18 in quarters, several dollars in dimes, but only a few nickels. 

3.  Frank Deford.  Who? And why?

"Frank Deford was to sports writing," wrote Roy Peter Clark, "what Secretariat was to horseracing, what Babe Ruth was to baseball, what Michael Jordan was to basketball, what Ali was to boxing, what Pele was to soccer: the undisputed master of his craft."

Deford was a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated for more than fifty years.  He's perhaps best known for his weekly commentaries on NPR's Morning Edition

I recently found Deford when I found the nickel.  Finding that nickel, for some reason, opened a filing cabinet in my brain and directed me to pull out this file.  It's a single paragraph from the book "The Old Ball Game" and it stretches to just 207 words:

Uneeda knew pricing. The nickel was king in America at this time. It was so common a currency that the dime was, often as not, called a “double nickel.” You didn’t want to get stuck with a wooden nickel. The ultimate depth of worthlessness was a plugged nickel. What this country needed was a good five-cent cigar. At a time when laborers in New York made twenty cents an hour and a good meal would set you back fifteen cents, you could go into a saloon and, for a nickel, get a stein of beer and free bread, salami, pickled herring, and hard-boiled eggs for the asking. “Barkeep, I’ll have another beer.” When the subway opened up, naturally a ride was pegged at a nickel. This was the same as for streetcars, which particularly crisscrossed Brooklyn, so the players had to be nimble to negotiate streets to reach the ballpark: hence, the borough’s team of Trolly Dodgers. The new movies not only charged a nickel, but were not called what they were, but what they cost: nickelodeons. A cuppa coffee cost a nickel. So did a soft drink. “A Moxie, please.” “Sure thing, mister, that’ll be a nickel.” Ice cream was a nickel. Likewise a Tootsie Roll.

There you have it.  Thank you, Frank Deford, for inspiring a blog post by a fan -- even though my readers may think it's not worth a plugged nickel. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

P.S.  A long time ago, Franklin P. Adams quipped, "There are plenty of good five-cent cigars in the country. The trouble is they cost a quarter. What this country needs is a good five-cent nickel." by

Friday, November 9, 2018

"A Spirit of Daedal"

A random line in the middle of one of Robert Frost's journal pages.  Surrounded by bits and pieces of thoughts about the teaching of successful speech to children:  "A Spirit of Daedal."

Daedal?  According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of daedal dates back to 1590.

It seems to have various meanings, including skillful and artistic.

 Etymology: Latin daedalus, from Greek daidalos).

Aah, those Greeks.

Daedalus:  The mythological prisoner who fashioned wings of feathers and wax to escape from the island of Crete with his son Icarus (remember that kid who flew too close to the sun?). But it was as an architect and sculptor, one said to have designed a labyrinth for King Minos on Crete, that he earned his name. Daedalus (from Greek daidalos) is Latin for "skillfully wrought."
Examples of daedal in a sentence:  The daedal workings of the chiming clock are a marvel to behold.

Frost later adds on the same journal page that, "Evidence that the spirit is there in the first place is in the bubbling of children."

I might add that evidence of the spirit is also in we adults who have the bubbling spirit of children.

Admittedly, Greek Mythology is beyond my scope of knowledge, but I do like the idea of having the "Spirit of Daedal" bubbling inside of me.

Have a great weekend.  Go out and skillfully wrought something with the Spirit of Daedal.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"When did our country . . ."

"When did our country become so divided?"

That's a question that has been thrown around a lot before, during, and after this mid-term election.


Anyone remember the Sons of Liberty and The Boston Tea Party?

How about that little skirmish called The Civil War?  (Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation's wars--620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts).

Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Watergate, Vietnam . . .  Hell, Wikipedia has a page titled "List of Social Movements" that includes well over 100 movements that divide people. 

Including, but not limited to:
    Animal rights movement
    Anti-Apartheid Movement
    Anti-bullying movement
    Anti-corporate activism
    Anti-nuclear movement
    Anti-war movement
    Anti-globalization movement
    Anti-vaccination movement
    Black Lives Matter
    Cultural movement
    Counterculture movement
    Disability rights movement
    Environmental movement
    Fair trade movement
    Feminist movement
    Gay rights movement
    Ku Klux Klan
    Labor movement
    Me Too movement
    Occupy Wall Street
    Organic movement
    Pro-choice movement
    Pro-life movement
Even a Slow movement
Though, admittedly, it's hard to argue with this one!
Needless to say, the U.S. has NEVER been united.  And maybe that's a good thing.  No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change.  Natural events balance themselves out by seeking their opposites and thus healing.  Actually, without these imbalances, there would be no movement in life.  Without flow, our pool of life would just be a . . .

"Happiness consists in activity. It is a running stream, not a stagnant pool."
John Mason Good  

As history has shown, it takes time.  It may take days, years, even lifetimes.  But, change it will:  destruction and healing, over and over again.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson told me today, "Each generation has to write its own book for the succeeding  The books of an older period will not fit this one." 

Maybe it's time to start the "Turn Off the TV and Internet and Be Present and Patient" Movement. 

Carpe diem Life
David Kuhn

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It will be over . . .

Okay, it won't really be over tonight.  It's an endless, vicious cycle.  All we can hope for is a respite.  Please!  Or, here's an idea you can take to the bank:  Take the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars each campaign spends and divide it equally among voters.  Along with a check, you receive a fact-checked proposal from each candidate for you to study and make your decision. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn