Monday, December 30, 2013


Since I was a young child, I have loved football and I have never gotten enough of it. My earliest memories about football are of following the New York Giants every Sunday. I couldn't wait to sit in front of our black and white TV and watch Y.A. Tittle connect a long bomb pass to his favorite receiver Del Shofner. The way that Sam Huff would tackle his oppnents was legendry. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch who played for the Los Angeles Rams was another one of my heroes. Who can forget Lou "The Toe" Groza and, the greatest of them all, Jim Brown. Over the years I have loved every minute of it. My love of the game has never diminished and, during the fall and winter months, Sundays have been reserved for enjoying my favorite sport. Luckily, I have a wife who shares my enthusiasm.

Despite my love affair with the game, I am taken back by the after-effects of football among those who have played the game. Every day it seems there are veterans of this sport coming forward with stories of dementia, violent behavior, alcohol and drug abuse and other physical and behavioral problems caused by the many concussions that they have experienced in high school, college and professsional football.

The injury thing has me in a moral dilemma.

How far have we really come as a society if we subject our fellow human beings to the punishing consequences of this sport?

As a result of this moral dilemma, I am swearing off football forever. I will replace my viewing time with wholesome, non-violent, educational programming. In looking at the programming lineup, there are a number of possibilities: Masterpiece Theater, The Actors Studio, NOVA, Bill Nye the Science Guy and BBC News.

But, then again, the NFL playoffs start next week. Let me rethink this.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I never liked her. We got her almost ten years ago and she's been a pain in the ass from day one; farted incessantly, shed fur all over the house, chewed everything in sight. If I said that I missed her I would be lying.

Good riddance.

When we walked her in the winter she would get covered with snowballs because she had the type of fur that attracted snow. We spent hours pulling burrs from her. She was a magnet for everything that would stick.

I had grown sick of her many years ago and I'm glad she's out of my life.

She had big, floppy ears that would drag in the dirt, picking up all sorts of crap that had no business coming into a civilized person's home. Those same ears would drag in her food bowl. The rancid stench of dried food, sticks, grass and dirt permeated every room in our house. I'm sure that our friends were talking behind our backs saying "their house smells awful - it must be HER."

Thank goodness she's gone.

The veterinarian's bills were incredible. We could do a yearly world cruise for the money we sunk into that stinking mutt. The veterinarian now drives a Ferrari and all of his kids have graduated from Harvard on the money that we have pissed away.

There's only one thing left for me to do: I'm going to read this column a million or more times and convince myself that I am not hurt now that she is gone.

I don't think that that is possible.

The fact is that we had to put our little dog to sleep three days ago. The pain of losing her is excruciating. Belle, we love you so much and there is a huge void in our lives now that you are gone.

Goodbye, our sweet dog.

Readers, enjoy your pets. May they and you live long and happy, healthy lives.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Up here in the Rockies we worship the coming of Independence day much like prehistoric Brits worshipped the summer solstice at Stonehenge. That day is not July 4th. It is the day after Labor Day - the day when the tourists leave town and we can once again reclaim our small mountain hamlet that we call home. It will be ours again for nearly nine months until Memorial Day arrives and, with it, the cars full of tourists lugging bikes, hula hoops, rubber rafts and other weapons of mass destruction. But, that's too far off to think about right now...let's just appreciate the next nine months and deal with the rest later.

When I got up this morning all I could think about was how nice it would be if all of the townies would gather on the river bridge that spans I-70. There we could join hands and sing to the tourists as they exit town. An appropriate song comes to mind - the farewell song from Dirty Dancing. If you've not seen Dirty Dancing.....what the hell am I talking about - everyone has seen it at least fifty times. I'm sure you know the song - it goes like this:

Kellermans we come together singing all as one
We have shared another seasons talent, play and fun
Summer days will soon be over, soonly autumn starts
And tonight our memories whisper softly in our hearts

Join hands and hearts and voices
Voices, hearts and hands
At Kellermans the friendships last long
As the mountains stand.

Truthfully, I do miss the tourist season in that there are many interesting people who come to town. The ones from Florida are the most inquisitive. They like to walk around the neighborhoods and often ask questions of the townies. They intimate that they would love to live here and, oh, by the way, "how are the winters here?"

"Miserable - cold, snow, rain, wind - and that's just September".

"What about January?"

"Frozen pipes, boredom, misery."

So, with hopes dashed of moving from Florida to our quaint little mountain town, they head back east.

In many ways, the winter months keep us from becoming another warm weather metropolis.

Three cheers for winter!

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Myron Floren
Arthur Duncan
Henry Questa
Norma Zimmer
Bobby Burgess
Sissy King
The Semonski Sisters

Ever heard any of these names? I didn't think so. They were musicians and performers and were household names among those of us who watched the Lawrence Welk Show. To clarify: I was never a fan of the show and never willingly watched it. However, my grandmother who was regularly over at our house for Saturday night dinner was absolutely in love with Lawrence Welk. I've always suspected that it was a "fatal attraction" type of thing, however hard to visualize, given the fact that we're talking about my beloved grandmother here.

So, on Saturday evenings we were forced, kicking and screaming, to watch an hour of Mr. Welk and his "champagne music makers".

I never did figure out why they called it "champagne music", but I must agree that the terminology fits better than if it were called "shot and a beer music".

My brother and I would watch and were quietly amused over the music and dancing, always hoping that Mr. Welk would slip in a medley of songs that were more to our liking. Somehow, we never felt that he would be inclined to have his band play the music of Little Richard or Chuck Berry but we were always foolishly hopeful. Admittedly, while being the antithesis of "hip", the Lawrence Welk show, if nothing else, was wholesome.

The best part of the show (for numerous reasons) was the last few minutes, when Lawrence Welk went into the audience and danced with the women who were eagerly awaiting this climactic moment. We would look over at Grandma who was sneering at the women who were lucky enough to dance with Mr. Welk. In her aging eyes you could see the burning jealousy of a woman scorned. I could imagine her saying "if I were there you other old bitches wouldn't stand a chance - Lawrence would be mine!"

Alas, both Grandma and Lawrence Welk have gone to that great ballroom in the sky. There is little doubt in my mind that she looked him up in heaven's directory if there is such a thing in the afterlife. She no doubt invited him over for a bowl of clam chowder and a cup of tea.

And, of course, for the dance that she so longed for in her previous life.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, September 20, 2013


The ruination of society began with The Beach Boys, followed by John Denver and, lastly by Jimmy Buffett. In fact, the last of these singers has forced me to endure a five-hour drive through questionable geography in Mexico.

More about that later.

In the early to mid-sixties The Beach Boys released a whole slug of songs celebrating the California lifestyle. You know, surfing, driving around in your Corvette as well as "miniature golf and Hondas in the hills." These songs single handedly caused Beach Boy wanna-be's to flock from Buffalo, New York to Malibu to chase the California Dream. And they the millions. Admittedly, it was bound to happen at some point given the fact that Southern California is pretty hard to beat for weather. Just the same, play along with me so that I may bitch some more.

California was hit by a double-whammy when, in 1967 Scott McKenzie released the song "San Francisco" which became the quasi-national anthem of hippies coast-to-coast. And yes, once again people flocked to California.

Fast forward to 1972.

John Denver released the song "Rocky Mountain High" which caused a similar population influx in Colorado. Puffy down jackets were all the rage and it became "in" to walk into a swanky restaurant looking like Grizzly Adams. Colorado became hip. Luckily, those newcomers who settled in the mountains got tired of falling on their asses on the icy sidewalks and decided to move to Denver where the winters are somewhat more bearable. Even Christie Brinkley moved to the Rockies, settling in to the mountain lifestyle of Telluride. As many predicted, the "uptown girl" lasted only a short time in the Rockies. I think that her undoing came when, during a blizzard in Telluride, she stood on a street corner yelling "taxi, taxi".

Then, in 1977 it happened.

A virtually unknown guy named Jimmy Buffett who is an excellent marketer and a marginal singer released a song called "Margaritaville". He followed this song with a flurry of tunes promoting a life of drinking, warm sun and cheeseburgers in paradise. He even gave this a clever name, calling it the "Margaritaville Lifestyle". To ensure that we never forget what this is, he opened up a chain of bar/restaurants in various warm locales throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. I've been to one and must say that I enjoyed myself. The $18 margarita was pretty good also.

The cruel joke played on all of us who love Mexico and the Caribbean is that, unlike California or Colorado, Margaritaville is not a physical place that could be invaded (à la California and Colorado) but rather a state of mind. As a result, anyplace warm with an ocean became Margaritaville.

The tropics have never been the same.

When we first went to Cozumel, non-divers were in the minority. Now as many as twelve cruise ships are parked there daily. In Playa Del Carmen there was one phone booth in town. Where that phone booth used to be now sits a McDonald's. Our favorite place to stay in Puerto Morales changed from a funky little hotel to a "spa". We used to walk the six miles along the deserted beach from Puerto Morales to Playa Del Carmen. Now it is littered with hotels and spas. Three hundred dollars a night, anyone?

Welcome to Margaritaville.

Since that time we have worked diligently to escape the forces of Margaritaville that have taken over the warm weather locales. It's getting tougher every year as the Parrot Head Mafia has invaded nearly every desirable tropical destination in the world.

Thus the reason why we must drive five hours along the back roads of Mexico to escape back to a true tropical experience, complete with mosquitoes, sand flies, beach mutts, cheap beer and not a Parrot Head in sight.

Thanks, Jimmy.


The wife announced to me the other day that she wanted to do something that's on her "bucket list". My mind immediately jumped to some of the possibilities:

A torrid affair with George Clooney?
A tattoo?

No to all three.

She told me that Jimmy Buffett is playing in Denver on October 22nd and she wants to go.


Readers, enjoy your day

Thursday, September 19, 2013


When I lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin there was a phenomenon there known as the Fishing Car. Every guy in either state has both a "car" and a Fishing Car. The "car" is normally a  reliable late model sedan; the fishing car is an old beater that runs occasionally. Fishing cars are also used for winter driving so as not to get the "car" covered in slush and road salt. I must confess that I've never had a fishing car...until now.

I bought it as a favor to the local community. It had been parked, literally for years, in front of a buddy's house three blocks from our house. It was an eyesore of enormous proportion. I asked my friend if he was interested in selling it, not so much to get rid of it but as his own urban renewal and beautification project. He wasted little time in deciding that this twisted wreckage would look much better parked in front of my house than his. We looked up the book value, dickered a bit and set the price. I ended up paying $11 less than book value for the car. I immediately invested the $11 dividend in the purchase of several of those little pine tree shaped thingys that hang from the mirror and make your car smell springtime fresh.

In purchasing used cars in the past, I have always taken a few minutes to peruse the numerous things that one may find beneath the seat cushions of a newly acquired used automobile. I'm not particularly interested in the Wal-Mart receipts or the dried up Gummy Bears. It's the loose change that is the object of my quest. True to form, I found loose change totaling nearly $1.75 scattered throughout the car. I proudly spent this princely sum on a PBR draft at the local bar's happy hour. I didn't find enough money in the cushions to leave a tip...sorry.

Fueled by a free beer, I proceeded to fix the critical issues that plagued my Fishing Car. A new battery was installed, thus lessening the need for the jumper cables that every Fishing Car owner keeps in the trunk. The oil, two quarts short and black as the night, was drained and replaced with Wal-Mart quality crude oil. New tires replaced the bald ones and all filters were lovingly changed.

There were some items that were purposely ignored. The AC doesn't work, the driver's side window won't open or close, the rear window wash device is inoperative and the interior light won't come on when you open a door. It has a snazzy stereo system...probably the best in the hasn't worked for years. Lastly, there's an ever-present dashboard light that remains illuminated. It says something about "maintenance required - see dealer". Yeah, right. I took care of that one myself - I stuck some electric tape over the annoying notice.

My goal in life is to drive this car until it needs maintenance of any consequence. Sure, I'll add oil and wiper fluid but that's about as far as I'm willing to go. In the event of the need for more significant maintenance, I plan to park it by the side of the road with the keys in it with the signed ownership title taped to the steering wheel. On the rear window will be a sign that states "FREE CAR". 

To whoever finds the free car, I wish you happy motoring.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I used to work for a guy named Rick. Hardest working guy I've ever known. He was at work every day at five a.m. I never knew how long he worked each day because I was home with my family well before he called it quits for the day. Some said that he would often work past midnight, go home for a few hours sleep and then return. I never doubted that that was true.

There was no assignment that he wouldn't tackle and senior management was never concerned that he would not deliver, even with an impossibly tight timeline. He was the model employee.

He was the go-to guy.

I never knew him on a personal basis because, as far as I was concerned, he had no other interests besides work. I knew that he had a beautiful wife and three lovely daughters only because their pictures were on a table in the corner of his office. He spoke of them only jokingly, saying that he rarely saw them, except on weekends. That family time became even more limited in that he decided to study for his MBA on a weekend program at the University of Denver. He didn't feel that that would be a problem.

After all, he was the go-to guy.

Many people, especially his subordinates, envied him and were in awe of the many awards that he had won over the years. There were trophies in a cabinet and pictures on the wall - one with Donald Trump, one with Bill Clinton, one with Colin Powell and one with Jack Nicklaus. Looking at his office it was easy to see that this man had it all. A strong work ethic truly had its rewards.

He only had one vice and it was a powerful one. He lived on a daily diet of fast food fried chicken. Every day for lunch he would venture out to the local chicken joint and pick himself up a box of chicken, mashers and whatever else looked tempting that day. One could see him walking back to his office at about 12:15, greasy bag in hand, heading back to an encounter with this gastronomic delight.

I lost touch with him when I accepted another assignment at the company but continued to read about his many achievements in the weekly company newspaper. Then, one day while I was driving to work, the radio announced that a man had taken his own life by jumping off a bridge. I felt sorry for this unknown soul, thinking about how desperate the man must have been, perhaps down to his last dollar with no family to support him. Perhaps he had just lost his job and had nowhere to turn. I pictured a homeless man, maybe a mentally ill veteran who had taken his life in drunken confusion.

Later on that day I learned that Rick was dead.

The company stood still momentarily. "How could it happen?" asked senior management. He was so tough, so dedicated, so eager to work.

And, he was the go-to guy.

Everyone from senior management to the janitor showed up for the funeral and celebration of his life. His loving family stoically listened to the many speeches, carefully written and delivered perfectly by his superiors. They all spoke of his dedication, work ethic and can-do attitude. About how much he had done for the company.

All of Rick's fellow workers knew how he died but his wife refused to believe it. Ignoring common sense, she ordered an autopsy. The coroner's report of his death was as most of us had suspected. Despite the facts of the horrible ending to his life, his wife continued to be in total denial, not accepting that he could go in such a manner.

Rick had died of food poisoning from a bad batch of coleslaw from the chicken joint.

The guy that jumped from the bridge? He was some other guy.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Dear Ducky,

I'm guessing that not many people call you "Ducky" anymore so I'll call you Donald from now on. That seems strange even after all these years since everyone called you Ducky - it was a great nickname and one that truly stuck with you.

I'm at a loss as to where to start, but here goes:

To rewind a bit, we were great friends in the Air Force when we first met in 1968. We were both a couple of green recruits dealing as best we could with a life in the military that was pretty much forced upon us. Nonetheless, we endured and had some good times. I remember when we went mountain climbing. On that day we climbed Mt. Chocorua and witnessed a unique weather pattern. As you and I stood on the summit of the mountain, clouds from the valley below us were carried by the upslope winds and engulfed us as we stood and watched this same scene repeat itself many times.

There were other good times as well - hanging around the barracks talking with friends, having a few beers at the cafeteria and many other enjoyable times.

Then I shipped out to Southeast Asia where I would spend the remainder of my time in the military. You shipped out to Guam. During these times we always kept in touch and wrote to each other regularly.

After we got together for the last time 42 years ago we promised to stay in contact.

Somehow in the process of relocating to college in Minnesota I lost your address and, as a result, never was able to keep my promise to remain in touch. Once the Internet became a reality, I searched for your name but came up empty each time.

That all changed last week.

As I did from time to time, I did an Internet search. This time I finally came up with something. Something that made me very sad.

In searching your name I came up with an obituary for your wife, Ruth, to whom you had been married for the past 29 years. Your name was listed in the obituary. To say that I am sorry for your loss would be a serious understatement. I'm sure that you and Ruth had a wonderful life together and you have many memories to cherish. All you can do is hold those memories close to you and appreciate the fact that you had those 29 years together.

Each of us wishes that life were perfect - that we were never drafted into the military, that we could spend our time climbing mountains and enjoying what life gives us, that life would always be pleasant. That our loved ones will live forever wrapped in the comfort of their families and friends.

Donald, I only wish that I could have been there for you in your time of need. Perhaps I can keep my promise and stay in touch...42 years late.

Your friend always,


Thursday, May 30, 2013


I spend a fair amount of time at the local swimming hole. In this venue are displayed every body shape and size. Don't think Hollywood, folks - think Hoboken. There I have observed a new greeting that has been taken up by the younger folks. Rather than saying "hi", "hello" or "how are you?", the younger people are saying "nice tat" upon greeting another person. The standard retort to this greeting is the phrase "like yours too." Of course, this refers to the practice of decorating one's body with tattoos, a practice that was, until a few years ago, reserved for sailors and prisoners.

Yesterday while hearing the greeting, I looked to see the objects of their compliments. One guy had a tattoo of a goat eating a tin can and the other guy had something that looked like the face of Pee Wee Herman.

Beyond the "nice tat" greeting there are numerous other nuances surrounding tattoos. The first is akin to the Realtors' credo "location, location, location."

The location thing has me a bit confused. Many women have them on their ankles while I have yet to see a man with an ankle tattoo. Also, many women have them at the top of their butt crack...not so for men. Women who have tattoos on their upper backs tend to have them in the middle. Guys like to have them skewed to one side. Arms and legs seem to be fair game for both males and females. Neck fronts and sides are reserved for men while the back of the neck is a girl thing. The stomach area is forbidden territory for both men and women.

I once thought that people who had tattoos were screaming at society: "HEY, LOOK AT ME!" In so doing they were asking people to take a closer look at the body part which was decorated. That theory gets mangled when I see the butt crack tattoos on women. I just can't bring myself to believe that there are women out there screaming "HEY, LOOK AT MY BUTT CRACK!" Thus, I will have to spend some more time at the swimming hole observing this strange phenomenon.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Very few people have heard of Togue Pond. It's about twenty miles from Millinocket. Hmmm, haven't heard of Millinocket, either? Let me step back a bit.

My family was originally from the Boston area. In the Boston area, the rich people went south and vacationed on Cape Cod, the poor people went north and vacationed in New Hampshire or Maine.

You guessed it. We went north.

In the late 50's my parents told us that we were going to vacation for a whole week in northern Maine. To us, Maine was a place of infinite wonder, danger and adventure. We had heard tales of large animals chasing innocent campers, snow in the middle of July, mosquitoes the size of small airplanes and fish that were big enough to drag you from your boat if you were unfortunate enough to catch one. It was a place that was, in many ways, off the map, barely inhabited and certainly, uncivilized.

And we couldn't wait to experience it. 

We counted the days. The day finally came when we loaded up the 1957 Plymouth station wagon with the six of us and we headed north in the automobile caravan with the rest of Boston's poor people. Back then the main highway, Route 95, was only completed as far as Portland, Maine which meant that the remainder of the trip would take place on two-lane country roads. The day was long and miserable, especially for my parents, having to deal with four kids, two of which were already wearing their bathing suits and the other two who had their fishing poles in hand. As I recall, it was late afternoon when we finally saw the sign that said "Togue Pond Camp". We had arrived.

Truth be told, it wasn't a camp at all. It was a group of about ten cabins that were at the waterfront of beautiful Togue Pond. They served food in the rustic main lodge but my family was in to roughing it - bringing supplies and canned foods from home. In each cabin was an ice box...a true ice box, a white wooden one that smelled like old milk. The ice box itself had little or no insulation, just a metal boxed-in section into which you placed a block of ice every few days. The ice was obtained from an ice shed on the lower pond. I was amazed to see how the ice was obtained and stored. The owners of the camp cut ice from the pond in the dead of Maine's winter and stored it in the shed. In the shed there were several feet of sawdust which insulated the ice from the upcoming warmth of summer. The use of an ice box was not the only step back in time. The accommodations themselves were quite spartan. There was no electricity in the cabins; light was provided by kerosene lanterns. Cooking was accomplished by use of a primitive stove. Water was provided by a hand pump situated in the area of the kitchen sink. Importantly, the pump needed to be "primed" with a small jug of water in order to properly pump water from the well.

From the minute we arrived there, a world of adventure was within our reach. The best thing about it was that our parents let us experience it on our own. For a seven-day period, we were youthful adventurers, hiking, swimming, fishing and learning the ways of the outdoors. And, yes, we learned to cope with the swarms of mosquitoes and black flies which were, and still are, a trademark of the great State of Maine.

We returned to Togue Pond two more times, the last of which when I was fourteen years old. After that our family moved on to other experiences.

Often times in the many years since we vacationed there I have attempted to dredge up some specific experiences from Togue Pond. Each time I have come up blank. I have even gone so far as to search the Internet for some scraps of information about the place. These have also proved to be fruitless. There are times that I have even gone so far as to quietly question whether the place even existed. I quickly dismissed that question.

To my siblings and me, while we may not remember much of what actually occurred at Togue Pond, we all recognize that it played a powerful part in the people that we have become.

We grew up there.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


The wife and I are planning a cruise this summer. Yes, I know, it's a rather wimpy vacation but, my last three trips (assisting rebels in Somalia, being a mercenary in the Congo and visiting with the Dalai Lama) kind of took it out of me. Thus, I figure that this will be a good way to recuperate and prepare for my upcoming challenge later this summer - raising the Titanic.

Despite its reputation of being a floating old-age home, cruising has numerous challenges and is well-suited to those seeking a world of danger and adventure. The list of these challenges is too numerous on which to dwell at this writing so I will address but one.

This world of danger and adventure is in the realm of smuggling and piracy on the high seas. It makes the pirates of the Ivory Coast look like the Getalong Gang. This world to which I am referring is that of liquor smuggling.

The dasdardly cruise lines, second only to airlines in their quest for cash, have banned passengers from bringing aboard beer, wine and liquor. This forces passengers to pay vastly inflated cruise prices for their daily happy hours. It used to be that passengers could carry on whatever sort of beverages they wanted. In fact, several years ago a group of four of us carried on two cases of wine. Admittedly, that's a lot of wine but, after all, it was a three-day cruise.

As with all overly restrictive entities, the ban on carry-on booze has created a veritable Sam's Club of products designed to get past the cruise line gestapo which peruses every bottle and vessel of liquid that goes aboard the ship. 

First, there's the Rum Runner, an innocent looking plain plastic vessel into which you pour your liquor and sneak past the inspectors. Not very creative you say? Read on.

Several newer arrivals have caught my eye. The first is called the Beer Belly. It's a plastic bladder gizmo that fits around a man's mid-section. To the untrained eye, the man looks like a guy who is carrying around a few extra pounds. In reality, the bladder is full of Jim Beam and he's headed toward the ship unbeknownst to the cruise inspectors. The next idea is similar but is designed for women. It's cleverly called the "Wine Rack." It's a women's sports bra filled with smuggled liquid. Then there's the "barnoculars." There's even a cane and golf club that can be filled with one's choice of beverage. A new entry is a seat pad. In short, there is no end to the options available to those of us who fancy ourselves as modern day pirates.

The problem is that the cruise lines are well aware of these options and are taking appropriate measures. My first thought was to use a Gatorade bottle filled with clear liquor into which I will add a drop or two of food coloring. Aha! The cruise lines, I am told, have figured out how to beat that one. Seems that alcohol drinks have different types of bubbles that emerge when a vessel is shaken. Thus, the cruise line Nazis will shake a bottle and assess whether the bubbles are of an acceptable variety.

In utter frustration I am approaching the end of my rope and it looks as if I will either have to ante up the dough for expensive booze or experience the novelty of sobriety for a couple of weeks.

There's time left to figure this out.

There has to be a way.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Explaining this will take a while so bear with me for a few moments. 

I'm a real sucker for lists. All it takes to get my attention is for someone to come out with a new list and I'm hooked. Outdoor magazines have some good ones. "Top ten ways to cut up an Alaskan bull moose" is one of my favorites. Women's magazines also have some good ones such as "Top ten ways to get him to know" or "Top ten places to know". Maybe I'm not real bright but I don't know what "you know" refers to.

This past week I read a list entitled "Top ten ways you know that your wife is cheating on you". I wasn't too concerned about numbers 2 through 10 so I jumped right to #1. What they said made perfect sense. According to this highly reliable source, the #1 thing that signals that your wife is cheating on you is when she puts on lipstick to go for a bike ride. 

Why in blazes would a woman put lipstick on to go out for a bike ride? After about five miles it wouldn't make any difference with the sweat and grime on your face and the bugs between your teeth. Thus, the publication had it dead right - there MUST be something amiss.

So, it was with a high degree of suspicion when the wife said to me over the weekend: "I'm headed out for a bike ride. I just need to put on some lipstick and I'm out the door."

I was so concerned that I re-checked my source. I skipped past the other stories and there it was...the list. Again I looked at the number one way you know if your wife is cheating. And there it was, just as I had remembered it.


Just my luck that the wife is probably involved with a skinny little bike racer who wears the tight shorts and the jerseys with all of the Italian bike logos emblazoned on every square inch. He probably rides his bike twelve months of the year and doesn't own a car. He certainly worships Lance Armstrong and doesn't drink beer, preferring a Perrier in social situations.

Or, it could be worse; the guy could be a snowboarder.

Another possibility is that the Enquirer got this one wrong.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I've got it and I've got it bad. It's a terrible case this time, not just your pedestrian variety. Will it ever go away? Doubtful. Tropical Depression ("TD") occurs when you take a vacation to the sunny tropics and you return to freezing cold weather.

And here I am, freezing my ass off.

I convinced the wife that the first week in April would be ideal for a Mexico beach vacation - the spring breakers are gone, the rates are low, the water is warm and we'll return to a nice, warm Rocky Mountain spring. Well, we got home late Saturday night and it's done nothing but rain, snow and blow for the past seven days.

In reality, this is a typical spring in the Rockies...and we all hate it. In March we get teased with a few sunny 70 degree days. The bikes come out, the suntan lotion gets slapped on, everyone is smiling. Then it happens. It's like a drum solo being played by a rock band. You know it's coming and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

Enough whining. I'll relate a few high points of our Mazatlan vacation. 

Happy Hour:

Actually, it was more like happy two hour, especially one particular evening. On the evening in question, we settled down on our ocean view patio with a glass of wine. The intention was that, after happy hour, we would walk to a restaurant that was about a mile away. We were enjoying the view and the breeze so much that we had a few more glasses of wine. Knowing we weren't up for a one-mile walk to the restaurant, we decided on one that was closer to our hotel. We kept drinking wine and realized that the second restaurant is, again, probably too far to walk....maybe we should take a cab. To make a long story short, we extended happy hour and ate at the hotel's outdoor restaurant which was 100 yards from our room.

Beach Combing:

The combing there was pretty good; no major finds but found some sea glass and some fishing gear. One highlight was the discovery of a dead lobster on the beach. I was going to bring it back to where the wife was sunbathing and drop it on her back, but I changed my mind.


Huevos rancheros for breakfast, chicken quesadillas for lunch, fajitas for dinner.

Every day. No kidding. And it was fabulous.


High 85, low 55, sunny and dry every day.

No wonder I'm whining.

Hark! I just checked the forecast on The Weather Channel. We're supposed to break out of this nasty cold, wet weather next Thursday.

It's great to be home.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I was about seven years old at the time and was dump picking with my father. For those unfamiliar with the term, dump picking is a lot like beach combing. The only difference is that it takes place at the city dump. If Pa was an accomplished beach comber, he was truly a master dump picker. 

There was a man named Jim who worked at the dump who I became friends with. He was about my father's age and was the most horribly disfigured human being I have ever seen. With a child's innocent curiosity I asked him what happened to him. "World War II" was all he said.

As my father and I would go to the city dump on occasion, I would take a few minutes to talk to Jim each time. I always enjoyed our conversations. He was a very witty and intelligent man. After a certain amount of trust had been established between us, I asked him what happened to him in the war. He related the horror in but a few sentences. 

He was in one of the first landing craft that hit the beaches of Normandy. He was barely on the beach when he was hit by enemy fire. He sustained severe facial and bodily disfigurement due to his injuries.

And, because of his disfigurement, the city dump was the only place that Jim could find work. 

In effect, his country was hiding him from view.

Let's fast forward to the veterans of the Vietnam War. The discrimination faced by Vietnam vets in society as well as in the job market are well understood and documented. Thus, there is no need to plow over old ground.

When the wars in the Middle East started, it was interesting to note how the attitude of the public had changed. People waved flags, put yellow ribbon stickers on their cars proclaiming that they supported our troops, sang God Bless America at baseball games, prayed in church for the safe return of our men and women in uniform, gave discounts at Home Depot to active duty personnel, gave a free meal at Chili's restaurants on Veterans' Day, cheered when Air Force planes did a flyover at sporting events, gave up first class airline seats to military personnel, and had volunteers stationed at airports to cheer and welcome home returning troops. Even businesses got into the spirit of support.

The list of admirable things done for our Middle East service personnel is quite remarkable.

Interestingly, however, a recent report has shown that our returning veterans are having an extremely difficult time finding employment in the private sector. In fact, as veterans they have a distinct disadvantage versus their non-veteran civilian counterparts when applying for a job.

The results of the survey indicated that the reason for this de facto discrimination was that employers were reluctant to hire military veterans due to perceptions about PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The fact is that employers are frightened to hire the same people who they have been "supporting". I hope that I am not the only one who sees a harsh irony in this.

Looks like things really haven't changed that much.

Consider this: all people who have served in the military have been affected by the experience, but in mostly a positive way. In fact, military service has been a lasting force in their lives, instilling in them the important values of dedication, teamwork, patriotism, loyalty and hard work.

Which leads me to this:

If you truly care about our returning veterans, stop cheering and waving flags. Take a razor blade and remove the yellow ribbon stickers from your cars. In fact, get rid of all the meaningless, symbolic gestures and rituals directed toward veterans.

Then go out and hire one.

Readers, enjoy your day.


To those who didn't know him, my father was just another guy looking for interesting things that washed up on shore. I never knew why he had such a fascination with ocean-borne objects. Although he would take me beach combing many times, most of the things that I can remember him picking up were some old floats that were cut loose from a fishing net. Indeed, he was quite jaded when it came to the type of stuff that washed up on shore. Perhaps he was waiting for the unlikely occurrence of the ship's bell from R.M.S. Titanic to tumble up on the beach.

The place that he used to take me was a small bay north of Boston known as Magnolia. It was a place where all sorts of ocean flotsam would funnel into its narrow inlet and be deposited on the sand and rocks. If there is a better beach to comb, I haven't found it.

One time I found a dead seal there. For a ten-year old, that was pretty cool; for a serious adult beach comber it was an overly fragrant annoyance. 

I was also fascinated by the frosted glass pieces that seemed to be everywhere on the beach. I'll never forget how he explained to me what they were. "Imagine that there's a guy out fishing in his rowboat. It's a beautiful day and he's enjoying his day in the harbor. He reaches into his small cooler and grabs an ice cold bottle of Narragansett Lager Beer. He finishes the beer and throws the empty bottle into the ocean. The bottle is jostled about on the ocean floor and in the process crashes against a large rock and breaks into smaller pieces. These broken glass pieces are polished by the sand and rocks on the ocean floor and eventually are carried to the shore by the currents and end up on the beach. Now the pieces are called sea glass."

Back then, sea glass was everywhere. Despite the fact that the glass was so common, my father would bring home pocket fulls of the stuff. His favorite type was that created by Coke bottles. These had a wonderful greenish hue to them that was quite beautiful.

Now the many pieces of artistic sea glass that used to wash up on shore have all but disappeared.


To quote a famous movie line from The Graduate - "plastic".

The current reality is this: you throw a glass bottle into the ocean and it returns as a collectible art form. You throw a plastic bottle into the ocean and it comes back as a plastic bottle. Until, of course, it is broken down by the effects of sunlight and/or is ingested by a marine animal.

Convenience has its price.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, March 29, 2013


We received a birth announcement the other day and I feel compelled to add my $.02 to this highly controversial subject. Being one who has not had children places me in a category of people who are uniquely qualified to comment on this subject. Often times an outsider such as I am renders a unique point of view to a particular subject, much the same as Howard Cosell did for professional football.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with telling your friends that you have a new member of the family. My problem lies in the information that is provided in such announcements. Specifically, the names of the mother and father are a given - nothing wrong with that. Next is the name of the baby - again, needed information. Pictures of the baby and parents - love it. Date of birth - very important.

Here's where I have a problem. The proud parents always list the weight of the baby as well as its length. Unless the baby is a record-breaker, why would I care if he/she weighs 7.3 or 7.4 pounds? Also, is a 21 inch baby better than a 20 incher?

I think not.

Now, as previously alluded to, if the kid were a 19 pound whopper, I'd be interested in knowing that. If the kid is the length of a yardstick, that would be something to share. But a 20.5” baby who weighs 7.5 pounds? Why bother.

Instead of length and weight, parents should consider providing other, more interesting information about the baby.

I, for one, would like to know the following:

Baby's girth measured at the waist, much like how a mackerel is measured.
How long the labor lasted. Importantly, did the mother bitch at the father saying "you did this to me, you schmuck!"
Length of the baby's middle finger, especially if the child may eventually grow up to be a New York City cab driver.
Who was the child named after? Note: If the kid's name is "Pringles", "Banjo" or "Antarctica", there is no need to answer this.
The kid's nickname. This is important in cases where the child's name is Cornelius and the family intends to call him "Bubba".

And, lastly and most importantly:

Is the baby's belly button an "inny" or an "outy"?

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


In preparation for our upcoming trip to Mexico, I have been setting up a list of possible restaurants which me may visit and, hopefully, enjoy. To that end, I have enlisted the help of the always reliable Internet to assess the opinions of food critics. To be sure, these food critics are not of the New York Times variety. They are just normal schmucks like me.

For Mexico, this is probably a good thing as a true food critic would gasp at the places that the wife and I have frequented South of the Border. Our type of restaurant usually has a sign in front that says "No shirt, no shoes, no problem."

We found such a place on a trip to Mexico some years ago. It was a beach bar whose only source of entertainment was a tone-deaf two inch diameter speaker that hung precariously above the bar. Its only visible means of support were its two rusted, frayed speaker wires. I think that the music of Bob Marley was playing but I'm not real sure as the speaker cut out from time to time. There was a sign above the bar proclaiming that the bar featured "two for one happy hour all day." On top of these enticements was the fact that a lively diverse crowd had gathered around the bar. There were locals and gringos engaged in lively conversation and laughter. This was truly my kind of place.

In my never-ending quest for beach bars and restaurants of this genre, I have stumbled upon the names of about 15 such establishments which may fill the bill for our upcoming trip. The key element that attracts my attention is whether the crowd is local or tourist. The tourist restaurants, while having good food, have the usual predictable fare that their clientele likes to order. The locals' places, on the other hand, feature dishes that have not as yet made their way to the U.S. border. That's exciting...and a little scary at times.
"Excuse me, José, what is this on the menu - 'baked allaluca'"?
"Ah, si, señor. The allaluca is an animal of the southern Yucatan."
"How big is it?" 
"It's about the size of a large rat." 
"Is it a rodent?"
"Si. But it's not a rat." 
"Gracias, José. I think I'll skip the allaluca and just have the tourista menu."
Local customs and associated behaviors have also come into play on occasion. One time we were sitting at a beach bar and we saw an unusual looking drink at an adjacent locals' table. I asked the waiter what they were and he told me that they were "micheladas." He proceeded to explain that a michelada consisted of beer, lime, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of Tabasco. I thought that these sounded pretty good so I ordered one. When I ordered one, the men at the next table laughed heartily. When I ordered another one, they laughed even harder. As we were leaving I asked the waiter why the Mexican men were laughing. He then told me that, in Mexico, only women drink micheladas.

Since then, I've not had another michelada. Now I drink only manly drinks.
"José, another mimosa, por favor."

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Break, separate, split up, fall apart, come apart - it all means the same thing. Broken is truly the word for people who make the wrong choices in life. Of late, it has been very disheartening for me to watch as my close friends and I have chosen the wrong paths and have ended up scorned and humiliated. The impact upon our lives will be long-lasting, I dare say even permanent; and there's no way out.

The die has been cast, the mold has been broken, there's no turning back.

None of us knew the consequences of our actions - it all seemed so innocent. 

Most of us have made poor choices in life - driven an automobile after having a few drinks, making false promises, keeping company with the wrong people, driving too fast, jaywalking, cheating on taxes. Each has its consequences. However, the consequences endured therein are more of the private variety.

I dare say that our pain, being more of the public scorn variety, is much more excruciating, akin to the 17th century practice of strapping someone to a stock in the town square and pelting them with various form of rotting garbage.

The most shocking thing is that we will repeat the same poor choices next year.

The poor choices to which I am referring are those that my friends and I have made in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. New Mexico loses to Harvard, Wisconsin loses to Ole Miss, Georgetown loses to Florida Gulf Coast University and Gonzaga loses to Wichita State.


Thus, our brackets, along with our pride, self-esteem and dignity are broken. Break out the rotting garbage and warm up your throwing arms, folks. The tournament is only half over.

Readers, enjoy your day....and root for Louisville.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Some years ago I worked for a beer distributorship. At Christmastime, our management gave each employee a ham as a gift for the season. I told the wife about this and she asked when I was going to bring ours home. Being the mindless person that I am, I kept forgetting to bring the ham home. This stretched on for several weeks. In utter and absolute frustration, she put her foot down and demanded that I bring home the ham that evening. To that end, I wrote many sticky notes and attached them to everything imaginable to remind me to bring home the ham. 

This time I remembered. Proudly, I walked to the refrigerated warehouse where the gift hams were stored and looked on the shelf where mine should have been and saw none of them left. I asked the warehouse guy where mine was and he told me that it had fallen off the shelf, was run over by a forklift and discarded.


True to form, the wife was waiting for me at the front door of our house and by the look on her face, she had a purpose. It didn't take a Harvard scholar to figure out what the first words out of her mouth would be. Stupidly thinking that she would be completely understanding of the fact that the ham met its demise under the wheels of a forklift, I told her the truth as to the fate of the protein mass that used to be a walking, breathing pig. 

Let me rewind for a moment. My parents instilled in me the belief that honesty is the best policy. Since my childhood I have been hard-wired to believe that that is true. Until the ham incident, honesty had never failed me. This time, however, I saw the true advantages of being a good liar. Since this incident, I have thought of many ways that I could have bypassed the scorn of a wife who was denied her five-pound Christmas ham. I won't bore you with all of the lies that I could have told. Instead, I'll tell you only the best one. 

If I had the opportunity to do it over, I would have come home and told the wife that all I could think about on the way home from work that day was how lucky we have it. We have a nice home, wonderful friends, good health and a loving family. On the flip side, there are many less fortunate people who would greatly appreciate a Christmas ham for their holiday dinner. So, I donated the ham to the local homeless shelter. This was a story that couldn't have missed, making me a man among men, generous to a fault, a pillar of the community.

That would have been a great ploy other than the fact that she would have seen right through it. Maybe honesty is, truly, the best policy.

Or, I could have just stopped at the grocery store on the way home, spent the five dollars and bought a damned ham.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I've not thought about her for many years. That all changed today. This morning I was reading about the after-effects of the war in Iraq. The article talked about the orphans of the war. Then it came back to me.

It was in early 1969 and I was an Airman stationed at Ubon Airfield in eastern Thailand. I was there only a few weeks and I decided to visit the local orphanage. It was run by a group of nuns and was called the Ave Maria Orphanage. As I walked in I was greeted by one of the nuns as well as by at least 6 one to two-year olds holding up their arms wanting to be picked up. I took turns picking up the little ones while following around the nun who patiently tried to explain in broken English how they cared for the orphans. The nun and I took a liking to each other and I stayed there for the better part of the morning talking to her and playing with the orphans. But who were these kids and why were they there?

It didn't take long for me to figure that out.

As with all wars, these kids were a product of our presence in Southeast Asia. They were the unwanted children of American soldiers, sailors and airmen who were called to duty in the Vietnam War. As was common then, the kids were considered outsiders as mixed-race Thai children and were, in many cases, sent to orphanages. 

One of the kids there was a small girl named "Noy". Noy is a very common name in Thailand and, seemingly, about half of the girls there were also named Noy. This particular girl would run to me each time that I visited the orphanage and was always in the head of the line of kids that would crowd around wanting to be picked up and held. I figured that she was either an exceptional runner or was more motivated than the others. 

While the first few times there I just spent time visiting, I found that there were some unmet needs that could be addressed. Specifically, the orphanage building had some maintenance issues that the nuns were unable to address given the fact that they were so busy caring for the kids. To help them out, I was able to scrounge some supplies and tools from the base as well as getting a few of my buddies to spend their day off doing some work at the orphanage. We poured concrete, patched the roof, painted, cleaned and took care of some of the things that needed fixing.

To be sure, It was really no big deal but, to the nuns who worked there we were heroes.

I made it a habit to continue visiting the orphanage at least every few weeks and helping out wherever I could. And, yes, little Noy would always be there ahead of the pack of anxious kids wanting some attention. It always made me feel good that she was quick to climb into my arms when I arrived there.

As my year in Thailand came to a close, I decided to make my last visit to the nuns and to the kids. This time, I brought a friend of mine to the orphanage in hopes that he would continue the practice of helping out the good people who worked so hard to care for the children there. As we walked together through the front door, predictably a herd of youngsters was running toward us with Noy in the lead. I had warned my buddy about this and he was ready for the onslaught. I knelt down in anxious anticipation of Noy climbing into my arms.

Instead, she made a detour at the last second and climbed into the arms of my buddy. I was shocked at first but the truth dawned on me in a matter of seconds.

I had mistakenly thought that Noy and I had established a bond of sorts but such was not the case. These kids were so in need of individual attention, that they would jump into the arms of anyone who would willingly accept them. I suppose that that is the nature of people, kids especially, who have been rejected, as was the case with these orphans.

Several days later my tour in Southeast Asia was complete. As my C-130 left Ubon, it banked to the right, heading on a southwest course to Bangkok. I didn't have a window to enjoy the view but I would have liked to have grabbed one last glance at the orphanage. I thought about the concrete steps that we poured, the blue paint that we splattered generously on the siding and the roof that no longer leaked. Mostly though, I imagined the pack of kids, led by little Noy, noisily running across the well-worn wooden floors of the orphanage and happily jumping into the arms of a complete stranger.

Noy would be in her mid-40's now. I hope that she has found acceptance, love and happiness.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Ever have a song that won't leave your head no matter what you do? Unfortunately, the songs that come into our heads and refuse to exit are usually of the readily forgettable variety...

"See the tree how big it's grown..."
"I rode my bicycle past your window last night..."
"I love the flower girl..."

I once heard a story of a guy who swam the English Channel who, when asked how he occupied his mind during the ordeal, replied that he sang the Gilligan's Island theme song in his head the whole time. Wow, seven hours of...

"...the millionaire...and his wife."

While coming home last night, the wife told me that she had been recycling a song in her head all day long. Knowing that I was going to hate myself for asking, I posed the query "which song?"

"Blame it on the bossa nova"

So, fueled by a wonderful dinner and several glasses of wine, we broke in to singing this 1963 Eydie Gorme song on the way home. Driving through the empty, rain-drenched streets of our little mountain town, we entertained our neighbors with an unforgettable version of the song in not-so-perfect two-part harmony.

Blame it on the bossa nova
with its magic spell.
Blame it on the bossa nova
that he did so well.
Oh, it all began with just one little dance
but then it ended up a big romance.
Blame it on the bossa nova
the dance of love.

I only wish that when we arrived home we had done an Internet search and found Ms. Gorme's phone number and called her at midnight to entertain her with our stirring rendition of her song. Alas, we were too tired, opting for the comfort of eight hours of slumber.

I can imagine the conversations at this morning's breakfast tables around town.

"Marge, did you hear that ruckus at midnight last night?"
"Sure did. What a noise. I think it was the wailing sound of a raccoon that got run over by a car."
"Could be. Sounded to me more like two cats fighting."

Admittedly, we must have sounded pretty dreadful. It would do no constructive good to point fingers at our parents, music teachers, friends, etc. for our inability to pleasantly sing a song in tune. Saying that we were not born to musically-inclined families is also a wasted cop-out. Alas we must place the blame where blame is due.

Blame it on the bossa nova.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


After all these many years I have finally been flagged to be on jury duty - and I couldn't be more excited. I've heard that they even pay you for being on a jury. I'll bet it's huge. Maybe even $500 a day + daily lunch expenses of at least $50. You can bet that I'll be going to the local steak house for lunch every day and ordering the steak and lobster.

Man, if I hit the jackpot and get the trial of the century, I may be rich by the time the trial ends sometime in 2014. They might even sequester the jury, putting us up at the Ritz Carlton where we'll be pampered with spa treatments and daily massages, all at taxpayer expense.

"Garçon, another shrimp cocktail, please. And don't be cheap with the cocktail sauce." 

Wine with dinner would be nice also.

"Chateau Lafite 1985? You don't have it? O.K., what about Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2013?"

Beyond the extravagance of daily pampering and fine dining, I'm also looking forward to the trial itself. I'm hoping for a seedy, Hollywood style blockbuster...

...a man comes home from working three jobs and finds his wife in bed with the plumber. Man goes berserk and forces the plumber to do the unthinkable - repair a bathroom faucet for free. Plumber then sues for damages, loss of income and mental anguish. Man counter-sues because faucet still leaks.

The drama will be unbelievable. 

My infatuation with legal trials began very early in life. Growing up, I was fed a steady diet of Perry Mason on Sunday evenings as my mother was deeply infatuated with Raymond Burr who deftly played Mr. Mason. While I watched the first two episodes under duress, I was soon as hooked as my mother was. Back then, lawyers were the world's salvation, saving poor, disheveled schmucks who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and, by accident, had their fingerprints all over the murder weapons. But you knew that Mason, with the help of his secretary Della Street and his private eye Paul Drake, would blow the case wide open, much to the chagrin of the dastardly D.A. Warren Burger and his erstwhile accomplice Lt. Tragg.

"Burger" and "Tragg" - somehow, with names like these, you just know that they're not particularly on the level.

Which brings me to the upcoming trial in which I may play a part. The Perry Mason episodes never dealt with jury selection as that is probably less dramatic than other phases of the trial. I understand, however, that jurors are questioned by either or both the defense attorney(s) and the prosecuting attorney(s). I wonder what sort of questions they will ask.

If it is truly a case of a plumber messing with another man's wife as previously described, my chances of being selected are pretty slim. The questioning may go as follows:

Question: "Juror #63 (that's me) have you ever been overcharged by a plumber?"
Answer: "Of course."

Question: "Have you ever told plumber butt-crack jokes?"
Answer: "Yes, daily."

Question: "Can you recite the three things that plumbers must know in order to be licensed?"
Answer: "Shit flows downhill, the cold water is on the right and payday is on Friday."

Readers, enjoy your day.