Tuesday, December 8, 2015


For so many years i have been a person who has led the charge for newer, faster and better technology. Of late, however, I have come to realize that my mind is overloaded with what the Internet (my constant companion for so many years) has bombarded.

Pop ups
Cyber wars
Breaking news

...yes, and Blogs.

I have come to long for the times when I relied upon my own senses to give me the information that I immediately needed. In short, my handheld has become an umbilical cord, pumping informational life into me. Upon waking up, check CNN, Facebook, Strat-Talk, The Weather Channel among others. Answer the gong of the phone every time it announces some new tidbit of information. Read a joke that someone emails to me. Roll my eyes when someone emails me political-related propaganda. Read with skepticism new claims of products which will make "a healthier you". Doctors who have long preached avoidance of [FILL IN THE BLANKS] who are now saying "hey, maybe this isn't bad for you after all." How to throw the perfect party. The latest from Kim Kardashian. "Stay tuned, you won't believe what Donald Trump said today." "Watch me whip, watch me nay, nay."

Etc., etc.

In accessing the Internet and its many offerings, we all have the power to turn it on or off as we see fit. In many ways, however, it becomes an addiction - constant new stimulation (literally) in the palm of one's hand.

I've come to the point where I must exercise the option of hitting the "off" button and taking a step back in my life. I look forward to spending more time reading, walking, riding my bike, enjoying a cold beer, beach combing, playing guitar, connecting (personally) with others and looking up at the sky on bright, sunny days.

To those of you who have kept up with West of Denver, please be sure that I will write from time to time, but at uncertain intervals. My subject matter will likely center around "real life"; perhaps not as exciting as what one may access on YouTube but, nonetheless human and genuine.

Going forward, you will rarely see me commenting on Facebook...indeed, I may delete my FB account in which case I will instantly disappear from social media. (To be determined.)

In closing (for now) I wish you all the very best in your lives and loves. Please revisit West of Denver at some time in the future. It will be taking a new, positive direction with new commentary and perhaps a laugh or two.

As always, you can contact me via email at markjohnmichaud@gmail.com


Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


I saw a television commercial this afternoon that caught my attention. It showed a man walking across some boulders in a stream, something that I would venture a bet that at least 90% of us have done and survived it without drowning or breaking any bones. At the bottom of the TV screen were three words directed at the viewing audience:


In another commercial later on, there was a teenager jumping off a 10' rock ledge into a pond. Again:


Then but a few minutes later, there was a commercial with a man working on his car. You guessed it:


I've always believed that one of the things that makes America great is the fearless determination of its people. Only by saying "to hell with the risks involved" were the citizens of the U.S. able to create the country that we have become. To be sure, that attitude has gotten us in over our heads from time to time, but, overall, success speaks for itself.

Consider this:

May 14, 1804: Lewis and Clark depart Camp DuBois beginning their voyage to the Pacific Ocean.


June 6, 1944: 156,000 soldiers land at Normandy, France to liberate northwestern Europe from Nazi control.


May 5, 1961: Alan B. Shepard becomes the first American in space, completing a 15-minute sub-orbital flight aboard his space capsule, Freedom 7, powered by a Redstone rocket.


I'm inspired by our forefathers' dedication to accomplishment. "Think big" will be my credo from now on.

I'll start by sweeping out the garage.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


In my previous post I discussed the finer points regarding cheapskates. One thing we cannot resist is the offer of something "free". I had such an offer yesterday presented by Ancestry.com. These folks seemingly have every birth, death, marriage and divorce record in the world. Through this information their users can look up relatives long since dead and create a family tree. To entice me, Ancestry.com waived the cost of their service for a month. Anything beyond that would cost $34.99. So, armed with a free month of this service, I dug into their extensive search capabilities.

My motivation behind this interest (beyond the free offer) was based on a TV series that I watched called "Suddenly Royal". This reality show featured an ordinary man who worked in an auto parts store. Through an internet search he discovered that he was related to the last king of the Isle of Mann. Because he was the last surviving relative, according to English law he was (technically) the king of the Isle of Mann.

One never knows what sorts of interesting characters lie at the roots and lower branches of one's family tree. Perhaps my family has a few interesting twigs that will be stimulating cocktail party fodder.

So it began.

I started tracing my father's side of the family. My grandfather's name was Auguste, "Gus" for short. He was fairly easy to trace. He died when I was 11 years old so I really didn't know much about him. According to 1930 census data, he was a machinist. Not exactly the king of England as I was hoping but it was a start. Other information gleaned about him showed that his first wife (who had given birth to several children) died. Then he married his widow's sister several years hence (who later gave birth to my father). My mind, eager for an interesting story, imagined a family love triangle with dark secrets.

The best I could come up with was this: my father's sister's mother was my father's mother's sister.

Take a few minutes to process that.

Looking beyond Grandpa Gus, I sifted through birth and marriage records - his father was named Georges (that's how they spell George in French...just thought you'd like to know). He was a carpenter who lived in Quebec, Canada. He was married to Marie Bourgein whose parents were Louis Bourgein and Alivetite Belanger. Louis was a laborer of sorts.

I took a quick look at my mother's side of the family. Nothing interesting there either.

Although I had only gone as far as the mid-1800's, my mind was pretty well fried. Plus, looking at hand-scribbled documents written in French didn't seem like much fun. So, two hours into my free month of Ancestry.com, I cancelled my subscription.

Although it was tempting to think that my family tree contained some interesting, scandalous and/or famous people, it's comforting to know that they are just ordinary people.

Kind of like me.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I've always been rather cheap. My father was that way and he taught me well. At a very early age he showed me that some of the best bargains in the world were at the city dump. Need a shovel? Five dollars at the store, free at the dump.

I used to be ashamed of the fact that I was so cheap. Now I look upon it as a badge of honor. This designation is for one and only reason:

Being cheap makes you a better person. I'll explain why.

In my past, I was employed as a bartender - mixing drinks to help put me through college. It was an interesting and fun time in my life, except on New Year's Eve (but that's another story).

During those years, in addition to being a mixologist, I was a psychologist and counselor to many of my customers, many of whom were females. I learned more about their personal lives and loves than I would have cared to know but I listened, nonetheless. If there was a thread that ran through all of the sordid stories told to me by these women it was that they were emotionally involved with men who were (FILL IN THE BLANKS).

The blanks included gambling, unfaithfulness, drinking, drug use and spending money foolishly. When asked, I would give my opinion as to how I saw the situation. I took a rather pedestrian approach to this, telling them to simply leave the bum and find someone else. In many of the cases they did just that. Within a few months they were back at the bar stool pouring out their hearts to me, the only one left in the bar at 12:45 a.m., fifteen minutes before (mercifully) my shift was over.

After two years of this routine, I decided to be a bit more probing in my approach. I found myself asking these women why they were interested in these men in the first place. Virtully all of these women replied that they were interested in these men because they were "fun".


As one who has dated some women because they had nice thighs or had a cute laugh, I'm hardly in any position to judge the shallowness of others' choices in partners. Thus, I forgot about these women to whom I had provided complimentary counseling to accompany their late-night binges.

Years later it occurred to me that I had finally figured it out. I had provided the wrong answers to these vulnerable women, thus sending them back into miserable, meaningless relationships with other "fun" guys. It's a good thing that you can't sue a bartender for malpractice. If so, I'd still be locked up in San Quentin.

If I could rewind my life back to the days when I was a quasi-psychologist, I would individually tell these abused women to dump their present partner and seek out the cheapest guy she can find. Do whatever it takes to get the guy to marry her (all it would take is a 6-pack of cheap beer and tacos at her house every Tuesday).

For those of you who think I'm kidding, think about these points:

Would a cheapskate...

...have a mistress on the side?
...gamble away his money?
...drink excessively?
...do drugs?
...spend money foolishly?

The answer to all.of these questions is an emphatic "no". Why? Because they're too cheap.

So, ladies, if you're looking for a great husband, don't look for the great dancer, football player, driver of the BMW or the guy who goes to Las Vegas every few weeks. Hang around the places where the good potential husbands hang out - the all-you-can-eat buffets, the junk yards, the used car lots, the Goodwill Stores and the taverns with free chicken wings. Better still, when you go to the grocery store, look for the guy at the checkout stand who has a fistful of coupons and pays with an eBay credit card. Follow him to the parking lot and, if he drives a Plymouth Volare station wagon, you've found your true soul mate.

Enjoy your wedding and remember that the money that you are saving by honeymooning at Carlsbad Caverns will help pay for your next 1970's used car.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Anybody remember the '60's song "Leader of the Laundromat"? I didn't think so. It was a spoof of the song "Leader of the Pack" by an all - female band called the Shangri-Las. Plug those titles into YouTube if you care to give them a listen.

Anyway, today my exciting life finds me sitting in a laundromat doing a small load of clothes. Are my washer and dryer broken? No, they work just fine. I'm just here on a nostalgic journey back to the days when I was in college (a boldface lie). Back then I used to make my weekly journey to the local "washeteria". In the town where I went to college (not the one I graduated from, the one I was asked to leave) there was the world's greatest laundromat. Picture a local tavern with the obligatory stools facing a bar. Behind those bar stools was a row of washers and dryers. A 12-ounce draught beer was the same price as a load of laundry, 25 cents. A dryer would cost the same as a bag of chips, 10 cents.

Those were the days.

The only drawback to this bar/laundromat was that your clothes always smelled like tobacco and stale beer. College students, however, paid little attention to such trivialities.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the character of people who frequent laundromats - simple, honest, genuine folks. In reality, laundromat people tend to be very secretive, covering the garments with plastic so as to hide their identity. But, "why the secrecy?", I've always wondered.

At this point I'd like to say that I met the wife at a laundromat as that would serve to juice up my story a bit.

Oh, hell, I'll do it anyway.

"Do you have an extra quarter?" asked the attractive young woman in the laundromat. "Sorry, I just spent my last quarter on a glass of Schlitz", said the slovenly college student who was in his underwear because his only pair of pants were in the washer.

And that's how we met.

Not really. We really met at a gas station - not quite as interesting as a laundromat but not too bad.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I love catching fish but I hate fishing. You know the drill - you stand on the shore and toss lures at salmon who generally ignore them. Odd that all of the fishing lure manufacturers use the same language when advertising their products:


I think that they mean that the salmon go crazy laughing at the stupid things that we throw at them to get them to bite. Here on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I am the most unsuccessful fisherman in history, having spent many hours tossing useless lures into the ocean with nothing to show for it. People ask me where the best fishing is in town and I tell them "at the local grocery store".

When I was a kid there was a Saturday afternoon fishing show featuring an older man named Gadabout Gaddis. He called himself "the flying fisherman" because he was a licensed pilot and had a float plane which he would land at choice, remote lakes. The fishing was always fantastic and Gaddis would head home with a plane load of fish. I've always envied him.

The key to being a successful fisherman is twofold: patience and having a lot of time to kill. I spoke to one fisherman the other day and asked him how the fishing was. He said it was "terrific". I asked him how many he caught. He said "one". I asked him how long he had been there. He said "8 hours".

I'd love to be able to waste that much time but what about my afternoon soap opera? What about my nap? What about free Tuesday tacos at the senior center?

That said, you can expect to see the following ad in the local Craig's List:





Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Women love to dance. Most men tolerate it. But there are exceptions. I have a friend we'll call "Eddie" (because that's his real name). The guy's a dancing maniac, traveling all over the country to go dancing. He's a good-looking guy with a steady, well-paying job, and he doesn't drink, smoke or use Aqua Velva.

And he can't get a steady date. More about that later.

Now, on to my life. The wife loves to dance and I oblige her when she makes it clear that it's dance or pork and beans for a week. At last night's concert I knew I was in trouble when the band started singing "...and I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more"... In all, we danced to two songs. Under normal circumstances, barring the playing of 500 miles, I should be covered until 2017.

Now back to my friend, Eddie.

Eddie gets a date every now and then but, like the boxer Apollo Creed wearing out his sparring partners, Eddie wears out these women on the dance floor. After a few dates their legs simply give out from dancing three nights in a row. In absolute fatigue, they beg for an evening of staying home and watching TV. But Eddie already has another dance lined up. In utter fatigue they kindly tell him that "this just isn't working out".

There's a valuable lesson to be learned here. Sadly, rather than now, I should have learned this lesson 30 years ago. Recognizing that every person has his/her breaking point, Eddie is really on to something. If a guy is dating a woman who loves to dance, he should make it clear that it's all he wants to do. At first she'll think she died and went to heaven but soon will realize that she's in a living hell. Within a few days, much like Eddie's short-term girlfriends, she'll be begging for the dancing to be over.

A smart guy will oblige, and the woman, who for fear of re-opening the gates of hell, will never bring up the subject again.

And they will live happily ever after.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


All of us have heard the words "purpose in life". While aware of this ubiquitous phrase, I never gave it much thought until I announced my retirement several years ago. At that point, people started asking me my purpose after I retired. If I were a candidate for Miss America I would have given an answer having to do with children, clean air, whales and/or mosquito eradication. Truthfully, I really did not have an immediate answer to what my purpose in life would be, once I was retired.

I was put on the spot one night at a friend's house standing around with two other recent retirees. One of them spoke of his need to find himself - to learn the true nature of was his life means. The other person stated that she wished to be closer to her grandchildren - watching the grow up on a daily basis.

I had to think quickly, something that I have always found difficult.

Truthfully, I wanted to say that my purpose in retired life was to drink beer, watch football and keep the couch warm. However, in light of the intelligent responses of my two acquaintances, the truth would have only served as a point of ridicule with me being the target thereof. So, I blurted out that I wanted to "be creative". One person asked "how?"

Now I was trapped. I had to come up with something quickly that would indicate to my friends that I've been thinking about this for some time. So, I blurted out "write a blog, for starters". That seemed to satisfy their immediate needs and, thus, I was able to deflect any additional curiosity about my intentions.

So, a few days later, I started the blog West of Denver which has entertained (at last count) two readers who keep coming back in hopes of reading something meaningful. And it's been fun. I enjoy writing and it gives me a wonderful creative outlet.

In sharp contrast, the musical side of my life (guitar playing) has been at a relative standstill for a few years. I was playing in an old time music band and was having the time of my life for several years. Suddenly, the band broke up, leaving its loyal members in relative ruin. Thus, I have been in a state of musical mourning, picking up the guitar on occasion and playing depressing songs while I wallowed in the misery of our band's sudden demise. After two years of playing "...remember the Red River Valley and the cowboy who loved you so true..." I had had enough.

Time to move on. But where?

The answer came at our local brewery (imagine that) where, on Friday evenings, there are free concerts. On that particular evening, an excellent blues band was playing. Somewhere in the middle of "Sweet Home Chicago" my left hand began to twitch. By the end of "Big Boss Man" my right hand was rhythmically swinging back and forth. By the middle of "Hootchie Cootchie Man" my musical future was sealed.

The blues.

Since that concert I have been eagerly diving back into re-learning blues scales, riffs and licks. I ordered a new guitar...where is that UPS truck - it should have been here an hour ago. Again, my musical life has purpose.

At present, I'm almost as good as the five-year old down the street who plays a plastic ukulele. I expect to overtake him in a few weeks.

Eric Clapton, watch out.

You're next.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I've always thought of myself as the world's healthiest person. Sure, I'm a bit (well, more than a bit) overweight as well as having other small issues, but, overall, I do pretty well.

Except for this one "thing". And it's a biggie - I'll leave it at that.

"The thing", as I will now refer to it, rears its ugly head from time to time and causes me great misery. I am on the downside of such an episode right now and this one was a doozie. Painful? You bet.

I read that alcohol exacerbates the occurrence and severity of "the thing" so I decided to eliminate alcohol from my diet. No more happy hours on the back deck, no more enjoying a glass of wine with good friends, no more glasses of beer while watching Seahawks games.

Pink lemonade, here I come. Oh, joy.

It's not that I drink that much; but I DO enjoy a beer or two each day. I have declared that over. As Bob Hope once said:

"Give me a grape soda...in a dirty glass."

Medical marijuana was a possibility but a daily happy hour consisting of lighting up a joint doesn't have the same appeal as a cold Port Townsend Brewing Company IPA.

Alas, it's the end of an era. An era that saw me drinking beer at Expo 67 in Montreal, of having a few cold ones with the guys in the barracks, of college keggers, of Coronas on the beach in Mexico, of sampling the various ales in England and Germany. The list is endless.

I read in this morning's business section that the brewing industry is fearing a downturn in sales volume. They are scared and they should be.

I'm going to take a break from writing this column to take my meds, which so far have been unsuccessful at taming "The Thing". I'll be back in a few hours.


Alright, I'm back. Looks like the meds have finally kicked in. The pain is gone.

Maybe that decision to quit drinking was premature. After all, I didn't really give the meds a chance to work. Maybe I was a bit impatient; I've been known to be a bit impulsive at times. Besides, the brewing industry needs the business.

Ultimately, quitting drinking was a stupid thing to do.

It was the longest 12 hours of my life.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, June 26, 2015


One of my two readers (thanks, Kris) sent me a picture today after reading my blog about Irish sheep. Here is the picture:

I'll call them Rainbow Sheep.

Like many of us, they are overjoyed about today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling which opens the way for same sex marriage in our country.

Embracing diversity is a wonderful thing.

Readers, enjoy your day.


We call it oatmeal, the rest of the world calls it porridge. Truthfully, I love the stuff. Nothing gets your day going well like a good bowl of oatmeal...er, porridge.

A problem that I have is that I just can't bond with the word "porridge". It sounds like a word out of a Dickens novel - small boys at an orphanage or reform school being threatened by the headmaster.

"You'd better eat you porridge or you'll be punished!"

Furthermore, the word porridge sounds a lot like things that are unpleasant in nature, such as damage, silage, spillage, breakage, blockage, hostage and wreckage.
Even in the absence of these, the word porridge doesn't sound like something that tastes very good. It sounds more like feed than food. I can imagine a farmer saying to his wife, "I'll be back in a few minutes; I'm just headed to the pen to feed the hogs their porridge."

Now, let's take a look at the word oatmeal.

What a perfect word. "Oats" are wonderful things. Pure, natural, simple. Wilford Brimley eats them three meals a day. "Meal" conveys the fact that oatmeal is a MEAL, not just a namby-pamby snack.

So, to our friends and neighbors around the globe who persist in using the term porridge, the term oatmeal is much more civilized.

And it doesn't sound like garbage.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Having just returned from a two week walking trip in Ireland, I consider myself an expert on the subject of sheep. Having closely observed these fascinating creatures, I hereby offer some stunning insights.

Sheep make one, and only one sound:


Young sheep, old sheep, males, females, black, white - the sound is the same:


At first, I thought that "baaa" was part of some sort of philosophical discussion between and among the sheep, described as follows:

Sheep #1: "Baaa" (Translation: "How do you justify one's belief in existentialism? It just doesn't work for me.")

Sheep #2: "Baaa" (Translation: "That's a bit heavy for me. I'd rather talk about Beethoven, Brahms or Bach.")

After a few days I realized that sheep are probably not engaging in deep discussions when they say "baaa". But what are they saying and what does it mean? So, while quaffing a pint of Guinness Ale in an Irish pub, I asked my fellow quaffers for opinions about sheep communication.

What are they saying? Could they be telling jokes?

Interestingly, very few Irish people know about or care what sheep are saying.

I find that disturbing.

But I pressed on in my quest. In so doing, I found a man who seemed to know a great deal about sheep. He told of the fact that sheep are not especially smart (no surprise there) and that they are members of a tight social group known as a "herd". (Again, nothing new here.) When they say "baaa" they are basically saying "I'm here, where are you?" to other members of the herd. To which other members of the herd reply "baaa" which is saying "I'm over here". In so doing, the sheep communicate in simple terms and satisfy their need to be part of the herd.

I was blown away by this. Spurred on by these insights, I pondered this newly acquired knowledge in this simple Irish pub:

"Paddy, another pint of Guinness...and a shot of Jameson, too."

Summing up my knowledge about sheep:

Sheep are not especially smart, follow a herding instinct and communicate in very simple sentences (if you will) which really don't say very much.

Sounds a lot like Twitter users.


Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Looking back over my 60-odd years (yes, they've been odd), it occurred to me that no one has ever called me "darlin'". Even though I've known some lovely Southern women (who use the word copiously), they never saw fit to call me darlin'.

Honey, sweetie, pumpkin, lovey-dovey....yeah, they're fine, but there's something about the word darlin' that's hard to beat. It conveys both an affection and a passion which are elements that simple terms of endearment lack. "Monkey pie", "angel face" and "bunny hunny" can't hold a candle to darlin'. Beyond that, darlin' is sincere. I cannot imagine anyone in the throes of an argument using the term in a crass way.

Foe example, take the case of Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler. His famous line toward the end of "Gone With The Wind"...

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" would be rendered meaningless if he had said...

"Frankly my darlin', I don't give a damn."

So it was with great surprise and genuine happiness that, while on a routine call to Southwest Airlines, a representative (I think her name was Bobbie Jo...or was it Billy Bob?) said to me "well, darlin' let's pull up your record and see what we have here." The accent was unmistakeable. It was Atlanta, for sure. To be accurate, it was North Atlanta, not north enough to be referred to as "Scumbag Yankees", but close.

My mind started to race. This woman on the phone had unwittingly crossed an item off my bucket list - to be called darlin'.

In thinking about it, the woman from Southwest Airlines probably calls all the dumb schmucks who call her 1-800 number darlin'. The guy before me may have just robbed a bank. The guy after me could have been worse, maybe even a snowboarder.

Still though, being called darlin' is something special. After my phone call, my mind began to wander. I wondered what kind of life the Southwest Airlines lady had. I surmised that she was in her late 40's, rather plain, grown kids, church choir, makes a mean plate of fried chicken, reads a lot, and not much for sports except for the Atlanta Braves.

She's been married to a guy named "Mike" forever and is still crazy about him. She might say to Mike:

"Anything else you want, darlin'?"
"Another piece of fried chicken, darlin'?"
"Another cup of coffee, darlin'?"
"Want to see a movie this weekend, darlin'?"
"How are you feeling, darlin'?"

Whoever this woman is in real life, Southwest Airlines should be glad to have her.

She's a real darlin'.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


The wife and I recently spent a weekend in Victoria, British Columbia, a short ferry ride across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Victoria is a wonderful city, full of beautiful flowers, trees and sub-tropical plants. The colors of the many varieties of vegetation are stunning, particularly during this Spring season.

Equally beautiful are the people of Victoria - friendly, pleasant and outgoing.
Upon arrival in Victoria, we enjoyed lunch at a local outdoor fish and chips takeout restaurant. Due to its popularity, the line for placing orders was especially long, ambling slowly but steadily toward the takeout order window. In line in front of me were four Muslim women, chatting among themselves as they moved steadily forward to order and receive their lunch.

When the Muslim women reached the takeout order window, they were greeted pleasantly by a smiling young woman who asked them if they are having a nice day and what would they like to order for lunch. Orders were taken and paid for and names for the orders written down carefully by the smiling employee.

Shortly thereafter, the names of the women were called out by a young man who was in charge of fulfilling the completed orders. In a courteous and friendly way he explained that he would put an extra wrapper around the items to make it easier for them to handle the hot food. The women were most appreciative of the service that they received from the employees at this simple takeout restaurant.

I wonder if the same respect would have been shown to these women at an establishment in the U.S.

I wonder.

Readers, enjoy your day.


Of late I've been at a loss to write something as there's not much exciting going on in my life. That is, unless my two readers would enjoy reading about how I skillfully vacuumed out the car this morning.

No? I didn't think so.

An always interesting subject in my life is my dog, Scooter. Here's a picture of the little culprit:

As you may have guessed, he is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, which is the Corgi without the tail. But he, in fact, has a tail. (It's complicated). Some people refer to Pembrokes as The Queen's Dog as Queen Elizabeth has had a veritable gaggle of them over the years. At one time she had as many as 8 Corgis but is now down to her last two. She says that she won't replace them as she is 88 years old and tripping over one of them could be catastrophic. Plus the fact that she's tired of finding dog hair in her afternoon nachos.

We were in Wales a number of years ago and looked high and dry for any WELSH Corgis. It seemed like an easy task since it's easy to find Scottish Terriers in Scotland and Irish Wolfhounds in Ireland. Surely WALES must have some WELSH Corgis.

Nope. We couldn't find one of them.

No matter; we still have our little Scooter.

We named him Scooter because when we open the back door, he madly races out to chase and thereby rid the world of squirrels, cats, rabbits and other such undesirables. As with any dog, he has learned a certain amount of our vocabulary. He likely does not know much about what nouns, verbs, adverbs and sentences are, but he does know what certain words mean. Here are a few:

"Toy": things you squeeze and make a noise with, eventually chewing out the stuffing from the insides of them and having to go to the vet for a medically-induced vomit experience.

"Food": stuff that we put in a bowl twice a day. It tastes alright but the cupcake that he snatched off the table last week was a lot better.

"Outside": the place where he's supposed to do the things that he's not supposed to do in the house.

"Car": the thing that takes him to the beach or sometimes to the vet. Left turn = beach, right turn = vet. (Left turn, wag tail; right turn, whine and cower.)

"Come here": words he pretends not to understand.

"Sit down": words he pretends not to understand.

"Stay there": words he pretends not to understand.

And then there are the words he really enjoys hearing:

"Good boy".

And then there's the occasional "Bad Boy", to which he mentally replies:

"Who? ME?"

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


My dog Scooter is a very active communicator. Unfortunately, I have no idea what he is saying. Several times a day he sits in front of me, looks me square in the eyes and makes a sound. The sound in question is hard to describe. If I had to put it into writing it would be:


The dog obviously wants something but I've never been able to ascertain what he specifically desires when he says "M?".

Today when he sat in front of me and did the "M?" thing, I was determined to figure it out. I immediately asked him what he wanted and he told me.


"Oh, I understand. You want to go outside." So, outside we went, where he proceeded to do a few leg lifts, aiming his liquid projectile toward the wife's rhododendrons. Satisfied that he was satisfied, we came back into the house.


"Oh, you want to go for a walk?" So we went for a one mile jaunt and came home.


"Oh, you want a treat?" So I gave him a dog biscuit.




"O.K., I'll feed you."

So, I fed him his afternoon ration of food. After his meal he curled up at my feet and went into a deep sleep, his short legs twitching from time to time, presumably dreaming of running in a meadow among his canine friends.

It was very useful to go through this exercise today as I finally understand my dog's language. When he says "M?" he wants to go outside then go for a walk then have a treat then be fed (in that order).

Or, maybe he's just hungry.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Yesterday (as most days) I made my pilgrimage to the local hardware store. Our store is a dandy, full of all kinds of tools, gizmos and gadgets to delight the senses. Importantly, it has a full staff of knowledgeable old guys who know where every nut and bolt in the place resides. Seemingly, if you approached any of them with an inquiry about a "thingamabobber", they'd probably know what you were referring to.

"Yeah, buddy, the thingamabobber is a popular item here. Look on aisle 15, left hand side, halfway down about eye level."

These guys are good.

In addition to being a wonderful place to shop, our hardware store is a local gathering place because it has a popcorn popper that runs 16 hours a day. Customers or run-of-the-mill moochers are free to take a bag or two as they wish. Once you shovel the popcorn into the bag, something magical happens. By the time you exit the store, the paper popcorn bag containing your free bounty of corn resembles the paper towels with which you wiped up the drippings from your last do-it-yourself automobile oil change. Yes, folks, this corn is the real deal; and tasty to boot.

Yesterday, while chowing on my free/mooched bag of corn and wandering the aisles of the hardware store, I came upon a product on the shelf that took me back a few decades, reminding me of my father. He spent the better part of his spare time tinkering. I don't recall what specifically he was doing but I DO remember that his hands we're those of a man who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. And dirty they were - laden with soil, grease and other such unpleasantries. To remove the grime, he swore by one product and one product only:


And there it was before me on the hardware store shelf. I was so shocked I about spit out a mouthful of corn.

For those of my two readers who are not familiar with this product, here's a picture of what the container looked like when I was a kid:

You'll see on the package that it has a simple message - Cleans Dirty Hands. What it doesn't tell you is how it works. It's comprised of soap and borax. The borax is an abrasive and essentially takes off a layer (or two) of skin and, with it, the dirt and grime. Regardless of how Boraxo accomplishes the task of turning filthy hands into clean ones, it worked. I liked the simplicity of the product and its unabashed honesty. There were no promises of soft skin, pH balancing or a cure for psoriasis. Just clean hands.

Once I fully contemplated that the presence of Boraxo was not a mere mirage, I went ahead and bought a container for myself.

I just hope that it can dissolve popcorn oil.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, April 3, 2015


It wasn't supposed to happen. We were ticked off at the airlines. We weren't going to spend one dime on air travel this year.

Then it happened.

Memories of the Emerald Isle swept through my mind. Of tall pints of Guinness at the end of a long day's hike. Of the beautiful countryside. Of the magnificent coastline.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.

The last time we were there was ten years ago.  I spent two weeks searching; searching in vain. I could never find one.  We walked from Killarney along the circular Kerry Way. Nothing.

I was told that no one had heard of such a thing. It didn't exist in Ireland. But I persisted. Every day brought a new disappointment. We returned to the U.S. I swore I'd never return to Ireland.  I just couldn't face my failure.

But I knew I must. And I will...soon.

I will return to Ireland. This time I will not be denied. I WILL find a pub that serves a corned beef sandwich.

It will happen.

It is my destiny.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I've always enjoyed personalized plates. On a long road trip, it gives other motorists something to contemplate other than another car's rear bumper. And they make people smile, which is always a good thing. When we lived in New Mexico, I had a personalized message emblazoned upon my VW Beetle's "Land of Enchantment" plates. It had a simple message that made me a bit of a celebrity around Albuquerque. It read "OOOOGAH". People were quick to realize that I had swapped out the car's factory installed horn for a Model "A" Ford OOOOGAH horn. On a daily basis, people pulled aside my car at stop signs urging me to honk the OOOOGAH horn and I gladly obliged them, much to the screaming delight of the children on board neighboring vehicles. In many ways, a personalized plate is the ultimate "selfie", stopping just short of Donald Trump's penchant for putting his name on the side of high-rise buildings.

Alas, my New Mexico personalized plate is long gone. Now it hangs proudly on the wall of Javier's beach bar in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Of late I've had the itch to venture into experiencing the joys of a new personalized plate. To that end, I've come up with some interesting candidates. Although I'd prefer to avoid my affinity toward certain sports franchises, my love for the Boston Red Sox (and its associated hatred of the New York Yankees) has some possibilities. Although I quickly dismissed this one, an interesting idea for a plate was:

I 8 NY

Naw; I can see myself getting mugged by a group of displaced New York City residents who take offense to this message.

The next Red Sox-related plate is as follows:

SOX4NY3...which commemorates the miraculous 2004 ALCS win by the Sox after being down 3 games to none. Again, a message that would make whiny Yankees fans reach for their tire irons.

Given the fact that I'd like to save my car's windows, I'm dismissing the idea of waving the virtual Red Sox banner from our vehicle.

Although I'm stymied of late as to which message to use, help in this arena came from a very unlikely source.

Despite my many attempts to influence her, the wife doesn't share my affection for personalized plates. In fact, I suspect that she finds them rather lame. However, unbeknownst to her, she came up with a dandy. In a recent conversation she referred to us as "Port Townies".

Hmmmmmm......Port Townies, 7 letters maximum, how about:


Oh, crap - it has 8 letters.

Readers, enjoy your day.


When I bought it back in 1976 at a Sears store in Denver, I remember that I read the lifetime guarantee on its packaging.  At that time, I thought "what's the catch?" and "where's the fine print?" I could find neither a catch nor the usual legalese that goes along with such a claim. There was no demand for a fee for fixing or replacing the inoperable item, no fee for return postage, no disclaimer about damage caused by the owner - nothing. Despite still having reservations about the claims made by this company, I went ahead and made the purchase.

It was the first thing that I purchased for my new apartment in Denver - a pepper mill. Thirty-nine years later, I still have it. It's a bit worn and I have recently refinished the wood. Here's a picture of the mill in question:

Recently one of the parts broke on the mill - a metal bracket of sorts that was positioned on the bottom, just below the metal grinder. Remembering the guarantee, I looked at the bottom of the mill for the name of the manufacturer. Remember this name:

Olde Thompson.

I Googled the name and learned that they are still in business and their web site detailed their policy. After these many years they still offer a lifetime guarantee. Any problems, just mail it to them for repair or replacement. So I mailed my elderly pepper mill to them a few weeks ago.

Yesterday I received a package that included the repaired pepper mill. It appeared that they had to fabricate a metal part and solder and screw it to the main housing probably due to the fact that that particular part no longer exists. At the same time, they replaced the metal grinding unit. So, after 39 years, I have a refurbished pepper mill.

Beyond the surprise of having the original repaired mill returned to me was the fact that they also included a free new Olde Thompson mill set and spices, shown below:

I thought that I had seen it all. All, that is, except for a company that truly "walks the walk" and stands by its products. So, if any of my readers is in need of a pepper mill, don't hesitate to go to oldethompson.com.

Thirty-nine years from now, you'll be glad you did.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I was pulling up some information on the Internet today and stumbled upon a war poem which I found particularly moving.

I stood among the graves today and swept the scene with sight.

And the corps of men who lay beneath looked up to say good night.

The thunder still, the battle done, the fray has passed them by;

And as they rest forever more, they must be asking, ‘Why?’

As a veteran, I was surprised that I had never heard this poem before, given how poignant its message is to those of us who were called to war. The author of this poem was a man who served in Italy during World War II. He penned the poem as he walked up a hillside to a graveyard filled with American flags.

The man was Johnny Most.

To many of you, that name may not register. But, anyone who lived in the Boston area or is a basketball fan knows Johnny Most. He was a sports announcer and the voice of the Boston Celtics for many years.

And an unknown poet.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I met a woman recently who told me that she was a nun some years ago. That brought back memories of my youth when I attended Catholic school.

The nuns who taught us were hardened veterans of the classroom and knew how to curb the youthful impulses of an unruly mob. Marine Corps drill instructors could learn a lesson or two about discipline from these women.

How did they do it? (I hear you ask).

It wasn't so much a case of how they did it as it was what they did it with. You see, each nun had one or more clickers (seen below).

When Catholic school children misbehaved, the nuns would point the clicker at the offending individual(s) and click madly at them until they were shamed into submission. However hokey it might sound, it worked. There's something about an angry nun scowling at you and pointing an active clicker in your face that gets you to straighten out your act.

That said, I think that there's an answer to the many challenges that face our country in the upcoming years. While each reader can fill in the blanks, I would like to see the U.S. have a citizens' action committee that oversees our elected officials. Whenever they can't get the job done (which is often) the action committee will unleash a group of 50 or so angry nuns who will storm down the aisles of the Congress and Senate. Armed with their clickers and angry scowls, the nuns will shape up our government in two weeks flat. 

Once that's complete, on to the Supreme Court.

ISIS, watch out - you're next.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I'm guilty. Guilty as sin.

After many years in which I've considered myself a torch bearer for simplicity, I have fallen into the black hole of complex solutions for simple problems.

NASA, if you're reading this, I'm ready for my new career.

To rewind, I've always believed in elegant simplicity when solving problems. Indeed, when I worked in a professional capacity, my superiors and co-workers would often criticize my solutions to problems as being "too simplistic". And they were correct.

I have always believed in "the 90% solution" - that which solves 90% of the problem. Trying to solve 100% of a problem, in itself, becomes problematic because there are always inherent "problems" with the various components of a complex 100% solution, thus reducing their effectiveness to less than 100%. Furthermore getting to 100% tends to be costly. (And I'm one of the world's great cheapskates.)

As previously stated, I have swayed from my life long credo of simplicity.

It all started out so innocently. I was looking for a solution to a problem that faces many bicycling enthusiasts. That is, when you have your bike on the roof rack of your car, what is an effective way of reminding yourself that it's on the roof before driving into the garage and causing massive damage? (SEE PICTURE BELOW)

In my search for a solution to this problem, I perused the Internet, Googling furiously over the past few days. I found some wonderful ideas, two of which were very exciting. One, a Smartphone app which keeps track of your location via GPS and warns you when you are approaching the location of your garage. The next was a transmitter which is attached to your bike which interacts with a receiver in your garage. Upon approaching the garage, whistles, bells and sirens alert the driver to stop. Another solution involved blinking LED lights on the dashboard device.

In short, there was no end to the many gizmos and gadgets that have been invented to save the lives of our precious bikes. I was poised and ready to spend whatever amount of money that was needed to take advantage of this new and exciting technology.

My juices were flowing.

That was until I read a posting from a fellow bicyclist who had also given this considerable thought. After pondering the various options available, he concluded that an effective way to prevent a disastrous encounter between bikes and a garage was to move a large trash can to the middle of the garage. Lets face it, when you open your garage door and see a trash can in the middle, you will have to stop the car short of the garage and move the large obstruction to keep from running it over.

This idea is certainly not as exciting as the high-tech solutions...

...but nonetheless brilliant.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I read that Lesley Gore passed away on Monday.

For those who may not be familiar with her, she recorded such melodies as "It's my party", "Judy's turn to cry", "You don't own me" and a smattering of others. As sappy as these songs seem in this present day and age, they were extremely popular and meaningful in the '60's. And, to her credit, Ms. Gore blazed a trail for many female pop music singers whose success can be traced back to this dynamic young woman. The world has lost a true music pioneer.

That said, I must relate to you the following:

True confessions, she was my first teenage crush. I became obsessed with her. If I could have afforded bus fare, I would have camped out on her front lawn to get a chance to meet her. Someday, I knew that we were destined to meet.

My big chance came in 1964 (as I recall) when I entered a mail-in drawing to win a chance to meet Lesley Gore. Entry was by postcard only and I used up all my father's postage stamps to send them in. In all, I think I mailed in about 20 entries. Man, was my father upset at me. After all, postage was four-cents a card back then. I think that he put me on a ration of bread an water for a year for my wasteful spending ways.

But I'd show him a thing or two when my name was drawn for my big meeting with Lesley Gore. I just knew that I was going to win.

But I didn't.

I remember that I was completely torn apart by this apparent rejection by the girl who I was dying to meet. This was no silly infatuation; this was the real deal.

When I saw Lesley's picture on the news with the winner of the contest, I was beyond consolation. It was a misery that I had not known before or since. My misery turned to tears; the tears of a vulnerable teenager desperately in love for the first time. The crying lasted for days, weeks.

For those of you who are unable to identify with the degree of crying I did over Lesley Gore, all I can say is:

You would cry too if it happened to you.

Rest in peace, Lesley.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Monday, February 9, 2015


Most people my age have a bucket list, that is, a list of things to do before you croak. Truthfully, I've only had one item on my bucket list and it's been there for the last 50+ years. In high school my best two friends and I were very much into hiking and backpacking. We climbed many mountains in New Hampshire and enjoyed the state's outdoor splendor as rugged, youthful outdoorsmen.

There was one climb that we all vowed to do. That climb is the arduous 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail that stretches from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.


Along came the military, college, family responsibilities and the onslaught of our later years when the body doesn't work as well as when we were 17. The "someday" that we'd do the climb has been passed over many times.

Now retired, I've decided that 2016 will be the year that I tackle the AT and cross my one bucket list item off. There's no turning back; damn the torpedoes and full-steam ahead beginning in mid-March of next year. The summit of Mt. Katahdin will be mine by mid-September. The first step was to do the obligatory research. I ordered two books from Amazon - the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion and AWOL on the Appalachian Trail. They arrived on Saturday and I dug into them with a fervor that came from deep within my soul. This challenge makes me feel alive, more so than I've ever felt. There's something about new goals that keep one stimulated and engaged.

I'm all in.

Digging in to "AWOL", I learned what life on the AT is like. It starts out as a traveling frat party of sorts with many enthusiastic hikers crowding the limited campsite spaces. People sleep "asses-to-elbows" in the limited space. Twenty-five percent of those who start the trail drop out in the first 30 miles. Injuries take their toll. The hikers eat like locusts, devouring any edible items that aren't tied down. Eating a dozen donuts is a breeze. Three Big Macs is a snack.

I'm undeterred by these minor obstacles.

In the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, snow is not uncommon well into April. In Virginia, bears are routine. Mice will do anything to steal hikers' food stash. Snakes regularly appear on the trail. Mosquitos in Pennsylvania, black flies in Maine.

Big deal.

I was undeterred by all of the challenges described in the book. That is, until I read the information about personal hygiene on the AT. To reiterate this information would only serve as a gross-out so I won't burden both of my readers with such drivel. I will, however, briefly allude to the passage that stopped me dead in my tracks. That was the fact that AT hikers normally travel with but one pair of underwear and wear them routinely for a span of two weeks.

As my 14-year old niece would say: "Ewwwwwww!"

Truthfully, the thought of my wearing undies for a two-week stretch doesn't bother me as much as being around people who do. Enough about that.

Through this brief vicarious journey into life on the AT, I have come to realize why they call it a "bucket list". It's a list of things that we should just throw in the trash bucket and go on, happily living our lives.

I've decided that, rather than hiking the AT, I'm going to donn my backpack every Wednesday and walk a mile to the brewpub for lunch and a cold beer. During the walk home I fully expect that I'll have to knock on the door of a stranger's house and ask them if I may use their bathroom.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


There's a disturbing trend in our country. It has to do with hysteria about the "illness du jour". Today it happens to be the measles. Next week - who knows.

I'm going to relate a story to both of my readers. It's true and factual, every word of it. I'm relating this story at this point in time because all of the instigators to whom I herein refer are no longer living and, therefore, cannot be prosecuted.

Let's rewind the clock to the early 1950's. The moms in our neighborhood were a very close-knit and smart group of women who often consulted among themselves regarding child upbringing and other marital-parental issues. One issue that reared its head from time to time was that of illnesses. Back then there were "the big four": measles, German measles, mumps and chicken pox. The women decided that it was a good idea, however miserable, to let their collective group of children get these diseases when the opportunity arose and "get it over with" when the kids were very young.

Inevitably, one of the toddlers in the group would get one of "the big four". Phones would start ringing in the neighborhood and arrangements would be made to have a small party for the kids. All of us kids would be assembled in a room and did what kids do - played, grabbed at each other, laughed, hugged and interacted.

Within a week, all of us had contracted the illness in question.

This scenario repeated itself with the inevitable appearance of the next of "the big four". Not surprisingly, I remember neither the children's parties nor the illnesses which were the result of them. All I know is that, through the collective wisdom of these remarkable moms, we acquired an early immunity to these illnesses at a very early age and were spared the discomfort of them in our later years.

I often wonder what would happen today if the authorities discovered that a group of moms were collectively conspiring to needlessly expose their children to the harmful effects of dangerous illnesses. There would certainly be inquiries and investigations involving Departments of Health, physicians and nurses, child welfare and law enforcement. The U.S. Constitution would certainly be invoked. The Supreme Court would weigh in on the matter. Liberal politicians would say that it is a case of individual freedom; conservatives would cite opposition on religious grounds.

Today, whether or not there is any merit to the arguments generated by those involved, they lack the foresight and wisdom of the remarkable, pragmatic, caring and wise women of our simple neighborhood.

Readers, enjoy your day.


Unless you've been living on the moon, you are certainly aware that The Seattle Seahawks lost in dramatic fashion to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. To the Patriots and their fans I offer my sincere congratulations.

The ending to this game was a debacle of immense proportion and, due to the pain involved in talking about it, I will not describe what happened. I would, however, like to offer an alternative ending to this story; one which is easier to bear.

We pick up the game at the New England 1-yard line, Seahawks have the ball, less than a minute to play, second down, two timeouts left. The play is called in from the sidelines. We go to the huddle where Seattle's quarterback Russell Wilson is communicating the play to his teammates.

"Listen up everybody. The coach sent in a pass play, a freakin' pass play!" [Groans from the team]. 

"SCREW 'EM! We're calling the shots on this play."

"Marshawn, can you punch this one in?" Lynch says "Give me a foot of room and I'm in."

"Here's the play." [Russell calls out the play - Marshawn straight ahead over tackle]

And, in this Hollywood ending, the Seattle Seahawks cap off a miraculous finish and beat the New England Patriots 31-28.

The Hollywood Ending.

If it could be. If only it could be.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Well, Christmas is over and the decorations have been put away until next year. Now we have 279 days until Halloween - the official start of the 2015 holiday. I can't wait to see what next year's Chia Pet will be. The 2014 Chia pet featured Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty. They sold out before I got to the store - oh, crap.

Speaking of gift-giving, here are some thoughts for both of my readers regarding the types of gifts that are appropriate for old farts, defined as those people who are over 50. First of all, give some thought to what older people want and need and what they already have. In order to do that, go into an old fart's home. Just knock on the door - we all love having company and will let you in even if you tell us that you're "Jack the Ripper".

Once you've entered our domain, take a look around, what do you see?


Yep, we old farts have collected more crap over the years than you could possibly imagine. And, despite its tackiness, we display it proudly...even though we're not particularly fond of it.

That said, please follow some rules this year and beyond for buying Christmas gifts for old farts. I'd like to say that there are a bunch of rules to follow and if I were the NFL rules committee I'd submit a list of a couple hundred. So, keeping it simple, I'll boil it down to one rule:

The gift must disappear within a month of Christmas Day.

Here are some great ideas for disappearing gifts:

Food (think sweet and gooey)
Candles (ones that make our bathrooms smell springtime fresh)
Gift cards
Movie tickets
Oil change cards
Restaurant gift certificates
Music (think Beatles - not Kanye West)

For those of you who ignore these rules and give knick-knacks, pictures, household items, snow shovels, etc., please be sure that next Christmas, old farts will turn the tables and re-gift them back to you.

It's how we go Christmas shopping.

Readers, enjoy your day.


About the only saving grace of this weekend (one which there is no football) is the Winter X Games from Aspen. For those of you who have not seen this spectacle, it involves youthful daredevils performing stunts on skis, snowmobiles and snowboards while doing their best to promote the consumption of caffeine and sugar-laced beverages.

Awesome, dudes.

The last two days have featured stunts on the "half pipe" (imagine an inverted irrigation culvert filled with snow).

I won't dwell on the performances (which, by the way, were quite spectacular). Rather, I found the language and descriptors used by the announcers to be unique and colorful. Note: Calling them "educational" may be a bit of a stretch.

"Here he comes. He's entering the pipe. Wow! He just landed a 1440 double-cork three twist, roast beef, chicken salad, between the knees, deflate the football, New Jersey do-si-do. This is insane!"

"Now he's picking up speed. I'm losing my mind - a 1620? You've got to be kidding me. This is insane!"

"Last one. He's taking it to the house. Stand by folks...my Axe deodorant is failing. This is so awesome I'm going to stomp on my headphones. This is insane!"

From the half pipe we move on to the next event: snowmobiles. Now, I can understand racing these 450-pound behemoths but launching them off of a ski jump and doing flips in the air? Naw. Admittedly, the snowmobile event doesn't have nearly the depth of tricks of the half-pipe extravaganza. Let's face it - there aren't a whole lot of things you can do while strapped to a Ski-Doo. However, it does share a common feature with the half pipe:

This is insane.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Alright, listen up.

This column is for men only, so if you're a female reading this, STOP RIGHT NOW! What's written here is for guys only.

O.K. guys, are they gone? Good.

Gentlemen, let me bestow upon you the wisdom that my years have brought to me. Ultimately, I want you to have the best Valentine's day ever. Furthermore, I want your wife/woman/partner to have an unforgettable day as well.

Getting to that ultimate goal will require you to realign your thinking and not just a little bit...a lot. So, if you're opposed to changing your evil ways, now's a good time to hit the road.

What I have to tell you involves the use of three little words; ones which women love to hear and men don't say them to them often enough. We balk, we stonewall, we pretend laryngitis, we say that we're busy watching the game.

Anything to avoid saying those three little words.

Yes, it's not in a man's character. Yes, it's not tough. Yes, we men have been pre-programmed to avoid it. But we must learn to say those three little words.

So, here's the program: gentlemen, forget buying the greeting card, candy, flowers and jewelry. Sit down with your woman and hold her hand. Look deeply into her eyes. If you can make your eyes water a bit, now's a good time to do it.

Next, say those three little words that she longs for. You say "Honey...

...I was wrong".

Readers, enjoy your Valentine's day.