Wednesday, December 10, 2014


There, I said it.

Actually, the true meaning of Christmas, at least for me, has been overshadowed by the commercial exploitation of this wonderful holiday. Black Friday, Christmas tunes being played on the radio the day after Halloween, Cyber Monday, retail sales reports, etc. have all contributed to my general indifference toward Christmas. The wonderful Christmas music specials of Andy Williams, Perry Como, John Denver and others have been replaced by Mariah Carey singing off-key. Christmas used to be about simple gift giving; now advertisers have thrown the purchase of luxury automobiles into the mix.

I wonder what the Maji would think if they were to return and see what has become of the holiday that they innocently started by their simple gifts to a newborn child and his family.

I dare say that they would be repulsed.

In my old age I have come to realize that I cannot and should not scorn or otherwise influence the actions of others. That said, the commercialization of Christmas is something that I/we must live with.

This, however, does not prevent me from enjoying a meaningful Christmas that is more in line with the true spirit of the holiday, its traditions and what it is all about. In searching my soul for the true meaning of Christmas I have effectively brushed aside the barrage of advertising the incessant blare of banal holiday tunes. My mind has been cleared of all negative or cynical feelings.

I am celebrating what Christmas is all about.

It's all about the food.

Readers, enjoy your Christmas.

Monday, November 3, 2014


While watching my normal 16 hours of football this past weekend (clarification: that doesn't include Friday or Sunday), I took notice of advertising for the 2015 Dodge Dart. In short, it's a really cool, stylish car; one that a Hollywood type might be seen driving. Here's a picture:

I'll bet that the interior is plush and the stereo is beyond compare. A guy couldn't help but score with the babes driving a hot number like the 2015 Dodge Dart.

My first car was a Dodge Dart.

A 1964 Dodge Dart. Here's a picture:

Cool car? Nope. Cool stereo? It was before the days of stereos in all but the most exclusive automobiles. It did, however, have a very dependable AM radio.

One of the unique things about the 1964 Dodge Dart was the automatic transmission. It was one of a kind. Here's a picture:

See those buttons? It was an innovation that Dodge felt was revolutionary - a push-button transmission. For better or for worse, it never caught on. Please take note of the lever to the left of the buttons. That, believe it or not, was the parking gear.

The lever parking gear was a neat feature for an 18-year old's first car. When you had a carload of your buddies stuffed in the car, for laughs you could slow the car to about 5 miles per hour, flip the parking gear lever and bring the car to a dead stop. In so doing, you'd send the guys from the back seat into the front seat.

This was what we did for kicks in the 60's.

Although the '64 Dodge Dart was in no way as cool as the 2015 model, back then, coolness was not about what you drove, it was about who you were.

As for myself, I can honestly say that my nerdy car accurately reflected who I was. The cool guys, however, always envied my ability to send my back-seat buddies careening into the front seat with my parking gear lever.

And that was cool.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


In a previous issue of West of Denver, I wrote about the need for a re-write of American English. In thinking about our language and its various components, "words", if you will, it is my fondest desire to see one particular word be forever erased. In a manner of speaking, this one particular word turns our society topsy-turvy, keeping us on an always-in-motion treadmill, grabbing for a brass ring that is agonizingly just beyond our reach.


My interest in this word sprung from the frequent use of "perfect" in the media. Truthfully, when I read today that Kim Kardashian's "selfie book" will feature "the PERFECT pout" (I'm not lying), my mind went into overdrive. Take a day out of your life and think about the many ways that the media use the concept of "perfect." I spent a day recently listening for this word and its various manifestations. I listened and watched the media talk about the perfect vacation, wedding, honeymoon, house...and on and on. First of all, from my perspective, nothing is perfect. Thus, placing a "perfect" label on things which are inherently imperfect is illogical. But the media presses on.

I've noticed that the things that the media dishes out as "perfect" are normally costly items. Indeed, I've never heard them talk about the perfect trash can, coffee maker, pillow or dog food. It always seems to be things which require a substantial outlay of cash. Given the fact that the media's sole purpose is to generate revenue for its sponsors....hmmmm, this has to be the connection.

So folks, let's all band together and erase this meaningless word from our vocabulary.

It makes perfect sense.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


In my previous sermon I took Germany to task over the roughness of its toilet paper. I meant no disrespect toward Germany or its people in the article to which I am referring. Quite the contrary, I truly admire those who can use German toilet paper without being injured.

While on the subject of toilet paper, in one of the German towns which we visited, in the hotel where we stayed there was a most interesting toilet paper dispenser hung in its usual spot in the bathroom. Being taken by the ingeniousness of its design, I sat in said bathroom for an extended stay, marveling at a true, harmonious blending of functional design and artistic creation.

To those of my two readers who may be thinking that there is a punch line coming, it isn't. I was truly 100% taken with the design of this toilet paper dispenser.

Here is a picture of the item in question:

You will observe that this attractive item not only holds an "active" roll but also a backup. That's important to us guys because we always catch hell from our wives when we leave the roll empty. This eliminates that possibility and, as such, saves marriages.

After spending a fair amount of time examining this device, I looked for a name, phone number, website or anything else which would direct me to its manufacturer. All that I found was the word "Ille" embossed in inconspicuous letters on the item. I quickly grabbed a pen and jotted down this name for future use.

Upon arriving home yesterday after a marathon 10-hour flight with 350 of my closest friends, I perused the Internet, searching for the word "Ille". Much like the discovery of the New World, "Ille" appeared on my Google search.

I had found it.

"Ille" is a paper company in Germany that, in fact, sells the product in question. The product is called the "Wave Willy Toilet Paper Holder". In my opinion, that's a pretty lousy name for such an elegant product, but that's what it's called nonetheless.

I wrote to the company requesting whether they had dealers in the U.S. (they don't) and if they ship to the U.S. (they do). They cost about $30 each. Another $30 apiece for shipping will get you your own Wave Willy Toilet Paper Holder for the princely sum of $60 each.

Despite being smitten with the design and functionality of this product, I've decided to take my chances catching hell from the wife about leaving the roll empty rather than shelling out $60 for my very own "Willy".

Despite my decision to not purchase one, I still think that it's a heck of a great idea.

Readers, enjoy your day.


September 16, 2014

Mr. John Hangel
General Motors
Chevrolet Truck Division
873 GM Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48201

Dear John:

I thought that I would drop you a letter and catch up with you and provide you with some new insights for your pickup truck product line. First of all though, on a personal note, I hope that you, Marge, Andrea and Brittany are doing well. "A & B", as I like to call them, must be 14 and 16 now (?). Seems like yesterday since their Christenings. I take great pride in being their Godfather.

To get to the point of my letter, I must communicate to you what I feel is a fantastic idea for your new line of pickup trucks. Like the approach of all pickup truck advertising, the one that is used by Chevrolet is, honestly, anything but unique and I fear that your brand is being lost amidst the clutter of the other brands which are fighting for uniqueness using what is, in my opinion, a generic approach. Specifically, all pickup truck brands feature truck owners and pickup truck enthusiasts as rough, tough, rugged males - construction men, cowboys, athletes - and, by association, your trucks, take on this spirit of roughness.

This is a lame approach.

And, yes, I am being harshly critical here. If you do not wish to read on, please disregard the remainder of this letter and we will consider this matter closed.

Should you continue reading, the insight that I am herein offering is absolutely unique and will provide your brand with the separation that is needed to make Chevy trucks standout from the rest of the pack. This insight comes from some observations that I have made while the wife and I were in Germany during our recent vacation.

By the way, we had a lovely time and Germany is quite amazing.

What I observed there (which may be of use to the positioning of your products) was a degree of roughness which makes the use of cowboys and construction workers in your advertising seem rather tame. While there, both the wife and I experienced this phenomenon several times a day and both of us agree that this facet of life in Germany redefines roughness and would be a suitable association for Chevy trucks.

The idea to which I am referring is not only real, but very believable and direct.

Accordingly, I feel strongly that your new advertising approach should incorporate the slogan:


John, I truly hope that you will consider this new positioning for your trucks. The wife and I have experienced toilet paper in Germany and can assure you that there is nothing rougher in the entire world.

I await your call to discuss this proposal. Best to you, Marge and the girls.




Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


It has happened. After nearly 30 years of being faithful to the wife, I gave in. Needless to say, she is beyond upset and may never forgive me. I have accepted responsibility for my actions but the pain that I have caused is massive. Our lives will probably never be the same.

It was an allure that could not be resisted. There before me was the temptation - dressed in ocean blue with an accent of green. So beautiful, so confident, so seductive.

Despite the hurt that I have caused, I will not sway from my new love.

I have become a Seattle Seahawks fan.

Go 'hawks!

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


One of my two readers asked me how I would compare the two states in which I used to and currently reside. First of all, while I have great affection for each locale, there are some distinct differences. Here goes:

Colorado: NRA
Washington: NPR

Colorado: Tall mountains
Washington: Tall ships

Colorado: Coors Light
Washington: Bellingham Imperial Stout

Colorado: Hamburger
Washington: Salmon burger

Colorado: Rush Limbaugh
Washington: Rush to 5:00 happy hour

Colorado: Peyton Manning
Washington: Russell Wilson

Colorado: Pine beetles
Washington: The Beatles

Colorado: Black Labrador Retriever
Washington: Animal shelter mutt

Colorado: Cutthroat trout
Washington: Chinook salmon

Colorado: Woolly mammoths
Washington: Woolly hats

Colorado: Open range
Washington: Free range chicken

Colorado: Skis
Washington: Brewskis

Colorado: Sunny weeks
Washington: Sunny minutes

Colorado: Ford Explorer
Washington: Toyota Prius

Colorado: Willie Nelson
Washington: Miles Davis

Colorado: Taco salad
Washington: Crab Louie

Colorado: Fender Stratocaster
Washington: Gibson J-45

Colorado: Sunglasses
Washington: Wine glasses

Colorado: Hiking boots
Washington: Rubber boots

Colorado: Distrust politicians
Washington: Distrust politicians

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


I wonder who first coined the word "fog". Must have been a primitive sort of individual, perhaps a caveman, who was looking for a word to describe the phenomenon to explain why he blindly bumped into another caveman.

"Excuse me comrade Six Toes. I got lost in the....hmmm, what is this crap....guess I'll call it 'fog'".

Thus, fog was invented.

Last night was a particularly foggy night on the harbor. As such, I was awoken at 2 a.m. to the sound of fog horns bellowing out their cautionary cries to those trying to find their way through the damp mass.


It must have been a dandy fog as the horns kept sounding for several hours. And I listened to every wonderful bellow.

There's something wonderful about the sound of a fog horn, particularly to me since I've not heard one in many years. It brought back memories of a trip to Maine where the wife and I stayed in an old home on a small bay. One night during our stay the fog rolled in. This fog was of legendary proportion and was more like a blanket, rendering everything barely visible beyond about 10 feet. Sprinkled within this blanket of fog were thousands of fireflies who were also trying to find their way through the heavy mass of low-hanging clouds. It was very memorable.

And, similar to last night, the fog horns bellowed loudly.

At 3 a.m. this morning, after listening to an hour of fog horns, I thought that it might be great fun to have a car horn that sounded like a fog horn. Being the overly obsessive-compulsive type, I rushed to my computer and Googled the description of what I was seeking.


Even J.C. Whitney, which carries every car gadget known to man, didn't carry one. In utter disappointment I returned to bed and fell into a deep sleep while the fog horns sounded in the distance.

I had a dream. I dreamed about the idea of a car horn that sounds like fog horn.

And how truly stupid an idea that is.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


The wife asked me some years ago what I was passionate about in life. It took me a while to answer that question. I don't recall what I said but it made me think about my life and passions over the following months and years. Truthfully, I have never fully answered that question.

Until today.

Today represented a true milestone in my life - an awakening, a born again experience of Biblical proportions. I now know my purpose in life.

To rewind a bit, during each of our relocations over the past 30 years I have been dissatisfied with one facet of each of our homes. Despite the expense and the wife's protestations, I have in each home made a quantum leap in home improvement. This leap is particularly satisfying, especially today due to the fact that I was able to complete the task in two hours* and it involved only one trip to the hardware store**.

*   The manual said that it would take 45 minutes.
** Three trips is the norm.

Although unusual, my passion in life lies in the realm of garbage disposals. American home builders should hang their heads in shame that they install cheap, wimpy 1/2 horsepower units into our homes. The truth is that most people have never experienced the true joy of a high-end one-horsepower gem of a garbage disposal. Instead, we flip the switch, run the water, throw in the garbage, then wait for the 1/2 horsepower Wimpmaster disposal to noisily grind the leftovers. A half-hour later, left to its own devices, a 1/2 horsepower unit will still be spinning the garbage around, much like a Coney Island amusement park ride.

Before you read any further, I would like for both of my readers to go to their kitchen sink, look in the cabinet beneath the sink and assess how many horsepower their disposal unit is. One-half horsepower? That's what I thought.

Today I replaced the Wimpmaster with one that is guaranteed to get the job done. It's marketed as The Bone Crusher and promises to decimate the remains of a North Carolina-style pig pickin' in a matter of seconds. Whoooosh. I've even read in the instruction manual that there's a recorded message emitted by the machine  that states "is that the best you've got?" once you throw in your weekly pile of food waste. Indeed, The Bone Crusher is not a machine to be messed with.

But it needs to be put to the ultimate test.

The real test of a garbage disposal is to see if it can handle a pound of shrimp shells, a 1/2 dozen banana peels and potato peels from four large spuds...thrown in all at once.

I'm planning on having a get-together with friends to demonstrate this monumental achievement and share in my spiritual awakening.

You're invited. Bring some garbage.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, June 16, 2014


This has never happened before. I lost my drivers license. I don't know how it happened but I blame the dog. "Scooter, bad, bad dog! You won't be fed for the next six months."

That damned dog does it every time. Last week he forgot to buy toilet paper and now THIS.

This had caused me to spend an afternoon at the Colorado license bureau which is ironic because I'll be living in another state in another 7 days. I'd take my chances and go without a license but I have to drive through Utah next Sunday and I've heard how cruel their prisons are - second only to those in Guatemala.

Here at the license bureau they still use those paper "take a number" thingys. I got here a half hour ago and they were on #59. Let's see, they're now on #60. That's good news...things are moving faster than normal.

The facility is in a mall. Remember those things? Where I sit I have a great view of the women's clothing department at JC Penney. I think I see some of the wife's clothes that we sold at the garage sale last Saturday.

I wonder how much one of these other people in line would take to sell their number? A number in the low 60's would be a hot one right now...I'd go as high as a buck but, then again, I'm a big spender.

"Number 61, please". Now we're cooking.

When we lived in New Mexico the service at the license bureau was so slow that the state enlisted the help of a commercial firm. There was a had to pay an extra $5 for the service. "Do I hear $10?"

"Number 63, please."

"Number 64, please." Hmmm....nobody answered...the number holder must have split...wimp.

"Number 66, please." Wait, what happened to #65?

A guy just came in and sat next to me. He's #83. I feel for this guy as much as if he were a Somalian refugee. He'll probably miss out on the birth of two of his children while waiting in this line.

"Number 67, please. Another no-show.

"Number 68, please."

"Number 69, please." One of the state workers just got back from lunch and things are picking up a bit. Let's face it, three slow bureaucrats are better than two.

"Number 70, please."

Amazing how happy the workers are here. I'd be a little surly if I had thirty sets of eyes peering at me with extreme hatred. Hmmm, the worker who just came back from lunch is leaving on a potty break. She must have had a few beers.

All of a sudden #74 is called.


As I approach the cubicle the bureaucrat tells me "sorry, sir. We're only on #73. I hit the button twice by mistake. Stand over there, please."

Someone call Kevorkian.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Today as I look out over the 2500 feet of crabgrass that I call the backyard I cannot help but notice that all of the sale items are gone and are now part and parcel of other people's homes. Now the wife and I face the process of moving in the next week. Movers come on Wednesday, carpet cleaners come on Thursday, closing is Friday and we're outta here on Saturday. Will it be tough to leave our little mountain hamlet? I dare say probably not.

That was five minutes ago. Now I'm feeling rather melancholy about leaving. It's always tough to leave friends behind....but we'll meet so many new friends. It's tough to turn our backs on the biking and hiking trails that are so plentiful in the Rockies...but, the Olympic mountains offer equally enticing trails. We're a few hours west of Denver....we'll be a few hours west of Seattle. We'll miss cheering for the Broncos...we'll cheer for the Seahawks. Trout fishing here is outstanding...salmon fishing up there is outstanding.

Where we presently live there's a brewpub four blocks away...where we're moving - let's see, it's two miles away.

I'm beginning to think that this move isn't such a good idea.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


The day has finally arrived. The day that the wife and I cleanse ourselves of the unwanted trash that we've collected over the past 30 years. Over those years we have seen these items many times around the house but have always said "let's keep them, we might use them." Well, we haven't. Now our house is full of garbage and it is being picked over by people who have been directed to our yard by the colorful neon signs promising fantastic deals. Many of the conversations among the buyers are saying "what is this thing", "I don't know but let's buy it; it's only a quarter and we might use it."

When asking how one manages to acquire so much crap, it is truly a function of success. The wife and I have been blessed over the years with good employment and good health. These have resulted in our being able to afford the Popiel's Pocket Fisherman, the Ginsu Knife Set, the Billybass and numerous Chia Pets.

Many of the people who have come to our garage sale today are of Hispanic heritage and, as new immigrants, are struggling to make ends meet. Thus, a garage sale represents an economical buying experience for them. Over the next thirty years, they, too, will acquire unwanted items and wonder why they bought them and what they should do with them. Eventually, they will have to have a garage sale and rid themselves of their excess stuff.

To them I say: welcome to the American dream.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


When one goes to a do-it-yourself outlet, be it a neighborhood hardware store or big-box store, it's hard to miss the enticements for products that we should buy for dear old dad. In my trip to the big box outlet yesterday there were tags on various products that read "don't forget dad". In thinking about what my late father might have liked, the two-horsepower variable speed cordless drill with the rechargeable lithium battery caught my eye.

A few hours later I was at the health club and there were numerous ads and flyers detailing a father's day pedicure special for $45. I thought that that was a heck of an idea. Lets face it, on Mother's Day, any fool knows that it's not a good idea to buy mom pots and pans or anything else that smacks of "work". In that sense it seems strange that dads are fair game for products that keep dad's nose to the grindstone. The normally featured products seem to be tools and barbecue grills. What kind of statement are we making to our fathers if we buy such items as tools or barbecue grills? To me it says "yeah, dad you're get up off your ass, fix the back door and then grill us some burgers".

If Pa were still alive, I would jump at the chance to do something for him that would say "dad, you are really special. Have a relaxing day and enjoy your pedicure."
I can picture him beaming with pride, knowing that his son really cared for him. He would take me to the side, away from the rest of the family, and thank me for the wonderful pedicure - something that he has never had before. Then he would tell me "the pedicure is a wonderful gift, but I really had my heart set on the two-horsepower variable speed cordless drill with the rechargeable lithium battery."

Thinking quickly I would then reply "I didn't get you the two-horsepower variable speed cordless drill with the rechargeable lithium battery because I heard that next year they will be introducing a three-horsepower model", to which he would reply:

"That's my boy."

Happy Father's Day, Pa. I miss you.

Readers, enjoy your Father's Day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


The following article caught my eye several months ago. Please take a minute to read it. I will rejoin you at the end of this short piece.

(CNN) -- Kevin Trudeau, the television pitchman and author who amassed a fortune telling consumers his secrets about how to get free money, how to lose weight and how to cure a number of illnesses the natural way, is headed to federal prison.
Trudeau, 51, was sentenced to 10 years on Monday for criminal contempt for violating a 2004 federal court order that prohibited him from making misleading infomercials and misrepresenting his weight-loss books.

During Monday's sentencing hearing he also got a tongue-lashing from U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.
"Since the age of 25, (Trudeau) has attempted to cheat others for his own personal gain," Guzman said.

In a sentencing memo, prosecutors called Trudeau an "unrepentant, untiring, and uncontrollable huckster who has defrauded the unsuspecting for 30 years."
Ultimately, Mr. Trudeau got what he deserved. One should be punished for dishonesty. When I think about this case, however, I think about greater crimes which not only have gone unpunished but have been rewarded. The Iraq War was based upon a completely fabricated lie. Do you remember weapons of mass destruction? Saddam supposedly was harboring everything from sarin gas to biological agents to nuclear materials. None were ever discovered. Colin Powell did a "tap dance" in front of the U.N. General Assembly showing satellite photos of the proof of Saddam's WMD. There were a few above-ground tanks with some trucks in the photos. The only ones who were convinced that it was proof were the Fox News cheerleaders.

In the end, the Bush administration's lies set us on a course for war. Ask the families of the 4,486 American troops who were killed there how they feel about their loved ones' sacrificing their lives for the sake of a lie.

Afghanistan is another falsehood. It was originally designed to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden....gee, he was killed a few years ago, wasn't he? And yet the war rages on perpetuated by President Barack Obama. American lives lost: 2,322 to date.

And the cost? A Harvard University study as reported in the Washington Post places the cost of both wars at between $4-6 trillion.

That's $4,000,000,000,000 to $6,000,000,000,000.

To circle back to Mr. Trudeau who lied about weight-loss, he received a penalty of 10 years in prison. By comparison, the George W. Bush presidential library opened in 2013 and Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

My dream is that a hundred years from now we will live in a world of peace. Then, people of all nationalities will look back at the insanity of war and say "what were they thinking?"

Readers, enjoy your Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


One of the many things that drives me crazy is the selling of real estate. The actual selling is fairly easy - you call a Realtor, he/she pounds the sign in your front yard, then in a few weeks a buyer hands you over the dough and kicks you out of your home. Simple, really.

The annoyance comes when people walk by your home and you happen to be standing there in full view of the "for sale" sign. The curious passers-by cannot contain themselves and must ask a question. One would think that they would ask a question about the square footage or the number of baths or how many times the exterminator has been to your home to kill bugs and vermin.


The ubiquitous question that is asked by passers-by is the most annoying thing that they can possibly ask and has to do with the sale rather than the character of your home. And, like a twenty minute drum solo played by your ten-year old nephew, here it comes and there's nothing you can do about it.

You see them approaching with a high level of curiosity on their faces. Soon their lips start to move. Here it comes:

"Any nibbles?"

Let's think for a moment about the meaning of the word "nibbles". A nibble is in one sense a fishing term to denote a fish that is stealing your bait with no intention of really commiting to chomping down on the hook and getting caught. In another sense "nibble" connotes someone taking a small bite of food. When I think of nibblers  I think of people who are at a buffet line picking up various items, taking small bites to sample them, deciding that they don't care for the taste, then putting them back in the buffet for the next nibbler to sample. Ewwwwwwww.

In any sense of the word, nibblers are an annoyance.

Now that I have had my daily rant, I'll tell you about my bike ride yesterday. It was a fabulous day and the tourists had not as yet made their yearly Memorial Day migration to the mountains. While riding the deserted trail I saw a lone fisherman rhythmically casting his dry fly along the clear blue waters of the river. I called out to him...

"Any nibbles?"

I couldn't resist.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


As I wrote in an earlier edition of West of Denver, several weeks ago the wife and I ventured south of the border for a week of sunny relaxation. It had been some years since we had been to the Yucatan and we were looking forward to seeing some familiar sights. The minute that we arrived there we realized that those familiar sights were probably no longer in existence.

Driving south from Cancun, Mexico it was impossible to not notice the changes that have occurred in the past 20 years. First of all, the Cancun airport, once a modest single terminal building, now occupies three terminals. There are now non-stop flights from London, believe it or not. The two-lane road south of Cancun is now a four-lane highway. Once a sleepy little town boasting a lone phone booth in the town square, Playa Del Carmen is now a major metropolis featuring Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. The highway at Playa Del Carmen is a flyover designed to avoid the in-town traffic. Development of the tourist areas stretches as far south as Tulum and beyond. High-end golf resorts now occupy the land that was once a pristine jungle. All the while, motorists driving south are bombarded with billboards and signs proclaiming the unspoiled Yucatan and its beautiful beaches.

Four hours south of Cancun we finally exited the tourist areas and got back to the roots of the Yucatan. It happened around the town of Limones where all signs of tourism suddenly disappeared and dense jungle occupied our view on both sides of the bumpy two-lane road. Colorful birds were abundant and the occasional iguana caught our eye. On the sides of the road there were occasional fruit stands with smiling vendors anxious to make a sale before the end of the day. This was the Yucatan as we remembered it.

Soon, our five and one-half hour drive was over and we had arrived in Xcalak. The road through town was a dirt road and there seemed to be an ever-present dog or two sleeping in the middle of the main street. When the rare motorist drove through town they politely drove around them so as not to disturb a good nap.

In town there were several eating places, filled with eclectic groups of people with the occasional canine or feline visitor searching for a misplaced scrap of food. If you left your table for even the shortest of time, a small bird was quick to fly in and grab a bite of your tortilla and fly away to enjoy its winnings.

The nearest gas station to Xcalak is 40 miles away. Thre are two small Mom and Pop stores in town whose supplies are intermittent at best. Similarly, electricity regularly disappears and reappears. The locals aren't too concerned about this as that's the way it has always been; nice to have big deal if it's gone for a while.

There are several places to stay in Xcalak, none of which is particularly elegant. The bugs can be pesky but no one seems to complain about them. The ocean and the reef systems are quite beautiful and unspoiled. Unlike several hours north of Xcalak, there were no wave runners, parachutes, hang gliders or beach vendors. One day we saw a lone wind surfer; that was the extent of the "action" that we saw on the beach.

In all, it's a pretty boring place. And we loved every minute of it.

If you are looking for a real Mexico experience, I would encourage you to visit Xcalak. Although it is likely to change over time, for the present at least, it remains a wonderful vestige of what the Yucatan once was.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, April 7, 2014


One cannot help but read the barrage of headlines in the media and on the Internet about the ideal time for workers to retire. All of them (which is to say I have never seen one that varied from this) deal with how much money one needs. I have seen ones that vary from $500,000 to $2,500,000.

How can something with this much variability have any degree of accuracy? The fact is that it does not and most of these articles are pure crap. Could it be a dastardly plot to keep the working schmucks of the world tethered to their jobs? Hmmmm.

I am writing this because the wife announced last week that she wanted to retire...soon...very soon. Thoughts of spending endless sunny days with my beloved wife danced through my head. Of long walks with our dog. Of enjoying many sunsets while sipping a fine wine.

The thought of money never crossed my mind.

The fact is that people should retire not when they have enough money but when they are sick of working. In fact, virtually every retired person that I know has told me the same story and, with limited variability, I hear the same phrase: "I retired because I was sick of the crap."

To that I say "bravo"; it is refreshing to see people take control of their lives.

So, to the dear wife I say: let's spend endless sunny days together and take long walks with the dog and, lastly, let's enjoy many sunsets while sipping a fine wine.

Let's make it cheap boxed wine; it's all we can afford.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


"Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe”
   -  Anatole France

"Heaven help you if you ever become stable"
   -  College philosophy professor whose name I can't recall

I grew up on a steady diet of adventure. I read many books on mountain climbing, deep sea fishing, and life on the open ocean. I reveled in the adventures of John Gunther's "High Road" series and couldn't get enough of Colonel John D. Craig and the show "Sea Hunt" with Lloyd Bridges. Luckily, the wife, though also very adventurous, has been a stabilizing force in my life and has steadfastly refused to be part of the many adventure schemes that I have cooked up over the past 30 years. Thus, our life aboard the 42-foot ocean catamaran was never to be, nor was the Cactie Restaurant, living in Belize or...many more. Her stability is a good thing as we would have had to declare bankruptcy many years ago had she blindly followed my every adventure whim.

Accordingly, it was with great surprise that in January she proposed that we relocate. After picking myself off the floor I asked the usual questions, the first of which was "why?" Well, it looks as if the wife's spirit of adventure kicked in as it does from time to time. To be sure, I am not opposed to relocating, in fact, the idea is very appealing.

After much discussion as to the "why", we came to the conclusion that in our older years it would be better if we lived in a more temperate climate. Translated: not as much snow. Mind you, we have lived in the wonderfully temperate climate of New Mexico for nine years and enjoyed it immensely. The summers were hot but not unbearably so and the winters were pleasantly cool.

Still though, there was an "experience" that we were seeking - something new, different, exciting and a little crazy. Probably the most "crazy" thing that one can do is to buy a house that one has never seen that is located in a town to which one has never been.

We did it.

In all fairness, with today's technology and the fact that we have friends in the town to which we are moving acting as eyes and ears for us, the idea, while being crazy, is not completely insane (although some may argue that point).

Where are we relocating?

West of Denver, of course.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Did you know that there is a Museum of Medieval Torture? I'm not joking. This prime tourist attraction is in Amsterdam. If you go to their website ( you know you will find the following description of this incredible palace of torture devices:

The Museum

In the Middle Ages, Torture was a widely known punishment for almost all crimes committed, ranging from rape to murder, and above all for heresy. The type of punishment depended on the victim’s crime and social status. The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments displays over 100 devices used to torture people during medieval times. This unique collection, recreated by pictures and drawings, serves as a grim reminder of how poorly humans can treat one another. As you look at the devices and read about how they were used, you’ll cringe… you leave thankful our society has pasted (sic) the dark ages behind.

I am indeed thankful that torture in civilized societies is a thing of the past. The exceptions to this are, of course, Justin Bieber, Dancing With the Stars, asparagus and the Denver Nuggets. The other exception is the shoe that podiatrists force their patients to wear after their foot surgery (see picture below). As an instrument of torture it has no equal. The insidious Velcro bands dig sharply into one's foot thus causing blood to flow in reverse. The sole is as stiff as 3/4" plywood. The overall feeling it gives the wearer is akin to wearing a canoe on his/her foot.

And the torture of wearing it goes on for three weeks. Thankfully, my podiatrist gave me the o.k. to wear normal shoes and go back to my usual routine so long as I'm careful not to burst my healing wound. Guess I'll have to postpone my skydiving and ultra-marathon running for a while.

Before resuming any sense of normalcy to my life I plan to go to the post office today and mail the shoe in question to the torture museum as a donation to their collection of medieval torture artifacts. I'm doing this with the full knowledge that the museum will turn down the donation, however generous it may be.

It's just too cruel a device to display.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I'm going to post a picture of my foot a week post-surgery but will stall a bit so that if any of you are squeamish (and you know who you are) you may want to skip today's entry.

Looking at today's title I am reminded of a TV show from the 50's of the same name. In this show, people would write in and ask for a particular thing (normally improbable acts) to be shown on-air. For example, someone might write in and say that they would like to see someone go over Niagara Falls in a barrel or see how Harry Houdini did his great escape tricks. One summer evening while driving home, my father stopped at a small roadside family fruit and vegetable stand which was tended by a young girl, presumably a child of the family in question. As my father looked over the items for sale deciding which to buy, the girl appeared to grow impatient with the delay. He asked her if she needed to be someplace else and she explained to my father that "You Asked For It" was about to start and she had written in to request that they show something. My father asked her what she had requested and she replied "I asked them to show a gorilla eating a man".

That was a true story that my father told until the day he died.

O.K., folks, here's what the hoof looks like. The doctor ignored my begging and groveling and wouldn't take out the stitches more week. I think it's because he wants to soak me for more money.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Over the years I have observed that, with age, people, especially women, become more appreciative of substance vs. style. This is not "news" by any means and I think that most people who are even casual social observers will find little revelation in the aforementioned observation. Just the same, hear me out. It's not that anything herein written will dazzle you; I'm more interested in wasting some of your time.

Let's talk about men. We're born shallow and we'll die shallow. Again, no secret there. Women are another story. As they age, they truly learn to better appreciate the essential goodness in people, particularly regarding men. Let's take look at the type of male to which a typical 18-year old female may be attracted. Their desirable male criteria may read as follows:

Has money
Good looking
Captain of the football team
Good dancer
Wears nice clothes
Other females find him desirable
Nice car
Life of the party

By the time women reach the age of 40, their tastes reflect more substantive male criteria. Some of the more superficial entities are gone:

Has money
Good looking
Has a job
Buys lunch
Good dancer
Has insurance

Fifty year old women become even more substantive about desirable males:

Has money
Has a job
Has insurance

By the time women reach the age of sixty or older, all pretenses have disappeared and there are but a few things that are meaningful:

Treats me with respect
Makes me laugh
Knows how to unplug a toilet

So, guys, if you're not a hit with the women, just give it time. They get less fussy as they get older. Treat a woman right and the rest will fall into line.

And make sure you know a little about household plumbing.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, February 28, 2014


Walking down the main street of this charming town of ours I peer at the various signs along the way and in the windows of the various businesses. Many of them proclaim that certain items are "on sale" or cost a certain amount of money. This is especially true of the gasoline station which lets consumers know exactly how much they will pay for their product. The local tavern has a happy hour featuring $1.75 drafts from 4-6 p.m. each day. The bank advertises specials on its "no fees" checking accounts. The muffler store sells mufflers installed for $69.99. Six dollars will get you a ticket to the movies on Tuesdays at the local theater. The Chinese restaurant offers a 40% off "recession special" at lunch. I called the local pool and asked how much a weekend pass to the pool is. They told me accurately and without hesitation.

This is the way things work in our consumer-oriented society. The openness of information about products, services and their respective pricings creates an environment of competition among businesses. This spurs new and better products priced competitively. Everybody wins in this business scenario especially businesses who create and promote new and better products and aggressively promote them.

Now let's try to imagine if this situation were different. My walk down main street would no longer have the inticements which I referred to earlier. I stop in to the theater and ask how much a ticket costs. The clerk tells me that she doesn't know and that I will have to buy a ticket to find out. I ask for the manager who, I am told is unavailable. In utter frustration, I leave. Since it's past lunch time, I walk past the local restaurant. There is no menu in the window for me to peruse and decide whether the food looks good and the price is within my budget. I leave and go to the restaurant next door - same thing. I walk inside and ask for the menu. I am handed a menu but there are no prices listed. I ask for a price list. I am told that I will get the prices after I have finished my meal when they hand me the check. Again, I leave.

It is very hard to imagine living in a society such as the one previously described. But, should you ever have the desire to experience this, call your local medical facility and arrange to have a surgery. Get the date, time and preparatory instructions. Then ask how much the procedure will cost you. If your experience is anything like mine you will get the scripted response: "it depends". If that happens and you have the chutzpah to continue, by all means press on. You will likely be switched to the billing department to an equally indifferent representative who will give you an equally vague response.

I will not belabor this point any further as I am sure that, for most people, this is old news.

In our great country we have been presented with the Affordable Care Act. This is a misnomer and should be renamed the "Available" Care Act in that it makes health care available to all. Despite its name, however, health care in the U.S. is anything but affordable.

How can it be made more affordable? By simply making the system transparent to consumers by making pricing readily available (posting on the Internet, maybe?). Competition in the health care arena will create greater efficiency and lower pricing. Not surprisingly, health care professionals have lobbied vigorously against anything which upsets the status quo. So, while opposing "Socialized Medicine" (based upon a national tax, free health care for all), our health care industry also balks at the notion of a true capitalist, free enterprise system of competition. Their rationale for this opposition ("health care quality will suffer") is not a convincing argument. The same was said about the deregulation of the airline industry: "safety will suffer". In fact, since deregulation, flying has never been safer.

What does the future look like?

For better or worse, due to the extreme and spiraling costs of healthcare and the lack of willingness of the medical community to deal with these costs, socialized medicine, such as those in Canada and the U.K., is inevitable in our country.

From my recent experiences, socialized medicine is looking pretty good. It's a lot like going to the animal shelter to adopt a dog. All the dogs there except one are absolutely beautiful - well-groomed, purebred and dogs that you feel good walking down the street with. At the same time, they are all growling and you and appear to be ready to take your arm off if you venture closer. Then there's the other dog: ugly as hell, matted hair, one ear up, one ear down and scrawny. But he's smiling and wagging his tail.

You take him home, give him the name Socialized Medicine, and love him for the rest of your life despite his faults.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


There's a name for my foot surgery. On the micro level it's called "putting a podiatrist's kids through college". In a broader sense, however, I call it "hoof and mouth disease". Yes, I'm aware that bovine creatures have a like-named condition but the name seems to fit my present state so I will press on.

To wit:

Yesterday our friend Sally brought over a big pan of brownies - the thick, rich, gooey, tasty ones that podiatrists say you shouldn't eat. Today she brought over some fabulous soda bread. Another friend, Mary, brought over chicken and dumplings and an equally fabulous chocolate cake.

Such is the reason that I have hoof and mouth disease. I sit around nursing my hoof and shoving food in my mouth.

Beyond enjoying culinary delights I sit around the house all day doing nothing and following the directions of the warden* to do nothing besides sit on my ass, drink water, pop medications and use the bathroom as needed.

* wife

Jeez, I haven't had a beer in two days. The last time that I went without beer for two days was in the 70's when I found religion. That was on a Friday and I stayed sober only until noon the next day.

Since my operation I've found ways to occupy my time, especially catching up on the many recorded TV shows that I've been rat-holing away on the DVR for the past few months. I just finished watching a documentary about the seedier side of the Catholic church, the church in which I was raised. I feel guilty having watched it. Is there a connection?

Other recorded shows include many nature show classics - "Rats of Madagascar", "Undersea Adventures starring Pamela Anderson" and "The Wonders of New Jersey" to name a few. There are lots of shows about jails on the tube for some reason and I've recorded a few of them, none particularly memorable, except for the one entitled "Welcome to San Quentin".

Two more weeks before my foot is back to normal. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and visit; I would love some company.

Just look for the house with the sign on the front door that says "Welcome to San Quentin".

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Alfred Hitchcock's classic movie "Rear Window" is one of the greatest films ever made, in my opinion. Why am I bringing this up? Because, for the next few days I'm going to be Jimmy Stewart.

In the movie, Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who has broken his leg and is confined to his New York City apartment. While recuperating, he sits by the window (the REAR window) and observes the goings-on of the various characters who are his neighbors. He observes what he thinks is a murder. His girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, thinks he has an overactive imagination or is just plain nuts.

That's the setup.

So, after having my foot surgery yesterday, here I sit, observing the goings-on in my own rear window. Right now there's not much drama.

Bear with me, folks; a murder will happen any minute now.


There's still not much to report....wait a comes a squirrel....and he just stole a walnut from my neighbor's yard. Yep, just as I suspected, things are heating up. Looking closer at the squirrel it appears as if he is turning different colors - red, orange, indigo. In fact, he is quite beautiful and his motions are so fluid.

NOTE: I will continue writing about today's rear window experience once the pain medications have worn off a bit.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Once one magically is transformed into an old fart, things start to change. I'm not talking about bodily stuff that ceases to function, it's how wives abuse their husbands. This abuse, for some reason, happens on a husband's birthday when the wife is reminded that her "old man" is truly an "old man". So, while having my birthday dinner at a local establishment it was time for the wife to remind me (scold, actually) that I need a physical and a colonoscopy this year because I weaseled out of them last year. The latter of these is something that I will not bore both of my readers with, but I must address getting a physical.

First of all, however, despite the medical community's many attempts to kill me over the years, I have survived and am the picture of good health. I have cut my beer consumption in half....where I used to drink four cans of beer a day, I now drink only two. Truthfully, it's because of the fact that I now drink two Keystone Light 24 ounce cans rather than four of the the 12 ounce cans.

Before I resume ragging about getting a physical, a heads-up to my readers. I'm having foot surgery on February 24th and will post pictures of the ugly mess on this blog once the bandages are removed. (Images may be disturbing to some viewers - viewer discretion is advised). The great news is that I can do nothing for three days. Come to think about it, that's really nothing out of the ordinary. During that time I intend to write the usual drivel that my readers have come to loathe while enjoying a pain pill chased with a 24 ounce Keystone Light. Should be interesting though highly incoherent.

Lastly, let me rag a bit about getting a physical. Guys will know what I am talking about here. During the physical the doctor does something that is so utterly revolting, disgusting and inhuman. I'm already dreading this absolutely terrible act of intrusion. Going through this is the very definition of humiliation yet the medical community seems to revel in subjecting its patients to this immoral act.

I should stop beating this to death and name the act in question:

They weigh us.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Winters in the Rockies are graded by how many times I fall on my ass walking on the icy sidewalks. This year is a particularly icy and, thereby, painful year, having succumbed to gravity four times thus far.

And it's only February 3rd.

The fall this morning was a particularly spectacular one, occurring while walking the dog at an icy patch several blocks away from home. My feet went out from beneath me and I landed firmly on my right elbow. True to form, the dog came to my defense, barking loudly at the unknown force which brought his master to the icy concrete. In utter frustration at having fallen so many times this winter, I shouted rather loudly "**** this winter!" In the distance I heard the raucous applause of those who seemingly agreed with my assessment. Surprisingly, the applause was coming from the congregation at the nearby Methodist church.

Yes, it has been a long winter.

Here, we tend to rationalize our winter misery. When the snow is falling at the rate of 2" an hour the locals are quick to exclaim "isn't it beautiful." When it hasn't snowed in a week and we suddenly become inundated with armpit-high snowdrifts, the mantra becomes "we really need the moisture." When cars become bumper cars on the icy streeets the positive rationale becomes "the guys at the tire store need the business." In short, there is no end to how we try to turn a miserable snowstorm into a quasi-day at the beach.

Me, I'm much less "Pollyanna" about the whole thing:

 **** this winter.

Readers, enjoy your day.