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.