Living just east of Crazy

Ah – stop and smell the gases

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Jan• 11•13

From the moment we entered basic training, we began hearing about the dreaded CS gas chamber. Everyone had a theory about what it entailed, and I soon came up with my own theory. csgasAs I mentioned earlier, my theories about military life were always wrong. I neglected an important truth when formulating my theories. In the army, you must remove logic and reason before making any predictive calculations. Unfortunately, I did not make this connection until years later.


If you are not familiar with CS gas, it’s an eye and respiratory irritant. Kind of like political speech, only less damaging. It burns the skin a little, but the eyes and nose are its favorite targets. Just think of your nose as a dormant volcano, and CS as the earthquake that releases the molten lava.


At the beginning of basic training, we were issued a gas mask, along with other common household items. We were taught how to put it on quickly, and during various times, someone would holler, “Gas, Gas, Gas,” and we’d all have to don the mask before sudden death overtook us. Basic training was six weeks, and the gas chamber was scheduled for week three.


The dreaded day arrived and I stood in line with my friend Ron. Ron was fidgety and I could tell something was eating at him. He turned to me and asked, “How bad do you think it will be?”


“Well, I have a theory,” I began. “Each year thousands of soldiers go through this training, and I haven’t heard of anyone dying, so I figure that it can’t be that bad.”


No sooner did the words leave my mouth when we heard a scream of agony. Kind of like the ones you would hear from someone having a gall bladder removed without anesthesia. A trainee came running out of the smoke while flailing at imaginary bees. His eyes were clamped shut but he was in a full sprint. You are probably guessing what was in his future. You guessed correctly. He hit a tree at full throttle and fell to the ground unconscious.


Ron looked back at me and I shrugged and said, “Of course, I could be wrong.”


A few minutes later, we were instructed to put on our masks and walk into the chamber. I could feel a slight tingling in the skin around my mask when I entered the smoke-filled room. The sergeant gave some lecture about this being designed to give us confidence in our equipment. We didn’t hear much of what he said. Our focus was on the fact that we were not far from having to remove the mask and breathe this fowl air.


He pointed to the first guy. “Take off your mask.” He did and then doubled over. “Stand up, trainee. This aint that bad.” He then started asking the guy questions while the trainee hacked and sputtered. After a few minutes he pointed to the exit and the trainee stumbled out of sight. Then the next guy stepped up. One by one we were told to remove the mask.


My turn came. I took a deep breath and took off the mask. My eyes began to sting and water. He asked me a few questions and I answered, being careful not to expel all my air. Other than blinking, I showed little effect to the gas. “Say the alphabet,” he said. I began reciting the alphabet, calmly and concentrating on not using all of my air. When I got to ‘L’ he said, “Step out of the chamber,” and pointed to the exit.


I had made it! When I felt cool air on my face, I took a deep breath. I neglected one important hazard, though. Exiting the chamber with me was large whiffs of CS smoke. A split second before I inhaled, the cool air was displaced by a flume of smoke. I gulped in a full lungful of CS gas. My nose exploded with new life as I gagged and wheezed. Ron bent over beside me as we shared this intimate experience.


As joyful as this chamber of delight had been, it wasn’t the last CS encounter we would encounter.

Eddie Snipes 2013

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Christmas Puzzle. Figure out the Christmas song? Answers.

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Dec• 25•12

Below are the letters representing the first lines of a Christmas song. Can you figure the song out based on these letters? Most are carols, but a few were popular songs.

— As promised, below are the answers —

1. HYAMLC- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2. TFNTADS- The First Noel (? I forget the name)
3. GRYMGLNYD – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
4. ICUAMC – It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
5. SNHNAICAIB- Silent Night
6. OTFDOCMTLGTM- 12 Days of Christmas
8. YBWOYBNC- Santa Claus is Coming to Town
9. JTTWTLHC- Joy to the World
10. YKDADAPAVACACADAB – You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Doner and Blitzen…
11. ISMKSCUTMLN- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
12. CSBSDIHS – Silver Bells
13. HTHASGTTNK – Hark, the Harold, Angels Sing, Glory to the New Born King
14. GGRBAR – Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer
15. OHNTSABS- O Holy Night
16. AIWFCIMTFT- All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
17. DTTSIAOHOS – Jingle Bells
18. WTKOOA – We Three Kings of Orient Are
19. IDOAWCJLTOIUTK – White Christmas
20. CROAOFJFNAYN – Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…
21. IBTLALLC – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
22. OLTOBHSWSTL- Little Town of Bethlehem
23. SBRAYLITLSIG – Sleigh Bells ring are you listening…
24. IBHFC – I’ll be Home for Christmas
25. WWYAMCWWYAMC- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
26. FTSWAJHS – Frosty the Snowman
27. JOSNLYETW – Jolly Old Saint Nicolas, lean your ear this way…
28. GKWLOTFOS – Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen
29. UOTHRPOJGOSC – Up on the Housetop Reindeer pause, out jumps good old Santa Claus
30. JBJBJBR- Jingle Bell Rock
31. IHABCWY – I’ll have a Blue Christmas Without You
32. WUNWTAGC – Way up North Where the Air Gets Cold
33. JHTSBRTTTT – Just hear those sleigh bells ringing ting ting tingling too
34. CTTMPRPPP- Little Drummer Boy
35. CITWSPTC – Candles in the window, shadows painting the ceiling…"Somewhere in my Memory" by Bette Midler from Home Alone II.

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Christmas Puzzle. Figure out the Christmas song?

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Dec• 20•12

Below are the letters representing the first lines of a Christmas song. Can you figure the song out based on these letters? Most are carols, but a few were popular songs.

I’ll post the answers on Christmas morning

24. IBHFC 

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Figure out the Christmas Carol

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Dec• 19•12


Here’s a fun activity for Christmas gathering. Try to decipher the carol. Some carols may appear more than once.

  1. Move hitherwards, the entire assembly of those who are steadfast.
  2. Ecstasy towards the terrestrial sphere.
  3. Hush, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds.
  4. Creator, cool it, you kooky cats.
  5. O tatterdemalion ebony atmosphere.
  6. The thing manifested itself at the onset of a transparent day.
  7. Embellish the interior passageways.
  8. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted metallic resonant cups.
  9. Hey, minuscule urban area south of Jerusalem.
  10. Nocturnal timespan of unbroken quietness.
  11. This autocratic trioka originates near the ascent of Apollo.
  12. The primary carol.
  13. Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as in a hallucinatory phenomenon for me.
  14. Valention, the roseate probascis wapiti.
  15. Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionistic cylinders.
  16. O nativity conifer.
  17. During the time bovine caretakers supervised their charges past midnight.
  18. What offspring abides thus?
  19. Removed in a bovine feeding trough.
  20. Expectation of arrival at a populated area by mythical, masculine, perennial gift-giver.
  21. Geographic state of fantasy during the season of Mother Nature’s dormancy.
  22. Proceed to declare something upon a specific geographical Alpine formation.
  23. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.
  24. Jovial Yuletide desired for the second person singular or plural by us.
  25. Thoracic-Squirrel diet barbecue.
  26. Approach everyone who is steadfast.
  27. Listen! The Foretelling spirits harmonize.
  28. Hey, Minuscule urban area southeast of Jerusalem.
  29. Quiescent Nocturnal period.
  30. The Autocrat troika originating near the ascent of Apollo.
  31. The primary carol.
  32. Embellish the corridors.
  33. I’m fantasizing concerning a blanched yuletide.
  34. I apprehended my maternal parent osculating with a corpulent unshaven male in crimson disguise.
  35. During the time ovine caretakers supervised their charges past midnight.
  36. The thing manifests itself at the onset of a transparent day.
  37. The coniferous nativity.
  38. What offspring abides thus?
  39. Removed in a bovine feeding trough.
  40. Creator, cool it, you kooky cats!
  41. Valentino, the roseate proboscises wapiti.
  42. The slight percussionist lad.
  43. Father Christmas approaches the metropolis.
  44. Seraphim we aurally detected in the stratosphere.
  45. The tatterdemalion ebony atmosphere.


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Christmas with Pappy

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Dec• 18•12

Two things were certain when I visited my Grandfather, Pappy. He would tell me corny, over used jokes, and if there was anyone visiting, he’d squeeze my shoulder and say, “This is my grandson. I learned him how to fish.” He would then launch into a story about how we caught thirty-five fish the last time we were at the river, and then say something like, “And I’m talking about good sized one’s too.” He’d demonstrate the size with his hands.

Sometimes, he felt the need to reminisce about the first time he took me carp fishing. Below the dam near his house on the Yellow River, years of erosion cut a hole into a wide rocky area. Large carp lived in the hole. They weren’t good for eating, but they were fun to catch. My first carp weighed eleven pounds. After landing it, he pulled the hook out and started to let it go. But I was so excited, I wanted to keep it. Never had I caught such a big fish, and I wanted to save my trophy.

After a brief debate, he relented on one condition—I took it home with me. Two years later, he still asked me when I planned to get that fish out of the freezer. My guess is, the fish was long gone, but he enjoyed reminding me of it. In fact, for the rest of my life he brought up the carp Eddie left in the freezer on regular intervals. His jokes and stories were like old reruns. If you missed one, fear not. It would be aired again in the near future.

No one could tell a joke like Pappy. Though I didn’t hear a new one for the last thirty years Pappy was alive, he still had a way of keeping my interest. He’d lean over and say, “Do you know what I saw on the highway on the way home? I looked up and there was a head rolling down the center lane. When it got closer I heard it singing, I ain’t got no body, I ain’t got no body. I ain’t got no body…and ain’t no body got me.” It was a play off an old song.

The first time I heard this, I thought it was a highway accident, so the punch line caught me off guard. For the next three decades it was a rerun, but it still kept me listening. Not only did he keep my interest, but each story kept anyone in the room listening attentively. Perhaps it wasn’t the anticipation of hearing the punch line or conclusion, but the enjoyment of watching Pappy laugh heartily at his own words. He made you want to laugh, even if the story wasn’t funny.

Another story caught my childhood mind off guard on its first showing. It was only a few days before Christmas, and Pappy rushed into the room with a newspaper. He held out a picture of an awful crash, where a car ran through a railroad guard and met its demise. The vehicle was unrecognizable. Only a tangle of metal remained. “Did you see this?” he exclaimed. “Santa was taking the sleigh out for a test run and got hit by a train!”

I was shocked. Too young to read, I could only look at the heap of metal in the black and white picture.

“Looks like Christmas is canceled this year,” he said.

“No!” I protested. My sister quickly joined my lamentation. Then suspicion hit me. He didn’t seem upset. In fact, he seemed quite pleased with this tragedy. In a moment of revelation, I declared, “That’s not really Santa!”

“Oh yes it is. Just ask your Grandma.”

We flew into the kitchen where Grandma sat talking with my mother. “Did Santa really get hit by a train?” we said in unison.

“Don’t listen to your Pappy, he’s just teasing.” Good ol’ Grandma. She never had the heart to participate in my grandfather’s reindeer games. With the myth busted, we returned to debunk his news story. It took several more trips to Grandma before the doubts of the story subsided enough to ease our concerns. Every year after this, Pappy would save a newspaper and show us Santa’s wreck with a twinkle in his eye. I often wondered how many months ahead of time he started looking for carnage in the paper.

For the last decade, Christmas has limped along without his animated stories. Though I miss Pappy, I rarely feel sad when I think of him. Instead, it brings back fond stories that I tell my children. The memory of him warms the holidays, and he comes alive in my heart when I speak of him. It’s almost like he isn’t gone, but just out of sight. I suppose, in a way, that’s true. He indeed waits just out of sight, but that reunion will one day come. It’s as the Psalmist once said when he lost a loved child, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” This is the hope of every believer. The memories are token treasures to enjoy until the time when the real treasure is revealed.

Merry Christmas

Eddie Snipes


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