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

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.