General Interest

 

Due to the size of our archives, the General Interest area has been divided into two sections. Listed on this page are the more recent essays, from 2020 to the current date. For essays posted from 2003 to 2019, use this link...

General Interest archive 2003 to 2019

 


June 6, 2024

Was the shirt amazingly unique and different and amazing? Let’s say I opened up Word and inserted an image of a blank navy blue t-shirt. (Yes, Word.) In 15 minutes, you would have been able to design a shirt of equally intricate detail. Even if I tied your hands behind you back and faced you away from the monitor. Plus, you would have had enough time remaining to look up some information about Hurricane Hermine.

 


May 30, 2024

This morning, I had gone out to run some errands, and had plans to be in and out of the house all afternoon. Figured I’d take a look and see what information might be available, hoping to get a rough idea of when to expect something at my front door. Clicked on that link and found out the package had been delivered.

Only, no, it hadn’t. No package was at the house.

 


May 23, 2024

That isn’t a challenge to come up with something less exciting. I’m not looking for thoughts about what might be a step or two more mindless. (More mindless? Mindlesser? Mindlessest? Never mind.) Not looking to compare houses that have had puppies wandering around often with those that have not. The point for me is—and was—that I was standing in the yard, leash in hand, and while I was looking around for distractions or potential problems since this wasn’t a puppy-tested puppy-approved secure yard, about all that was really happening involved trying to keep the two leashes from getting tangled.

 


May 23, 2024

I didn’t know where I was.

Now, yes, good catch. I did know where I was. In a car, with two dogs, driving south on interstate 95. The exits and signs for Savannah were behind me. And, you’ll fully agree if you know this run of highway, I was navigating a one-hundred-twelve-mile stretch of Georgia nothingness all the way to the Florida line.

 


May 16, 2024

It’s here that I need to point out three things. First, as I have every so often covered in a variety of essays and stories, I am not a grumpy person that swears and mutters and shakes my finger at confusing technology. Well, at least not all the time. Instead, I simply don’t mind doing some things and often find myself not fully embracing all that technology has to offer or the latest and greatest details. Second, the boys love to let me know how far behind the times I can be, such as whenever they see my dedicated only to its purpose, not built in but separate, GPS unit in the car. And third, Karen happens to work in the tech world, and she holds back nothing when opportunities to roll her eyes or make fun of me are available.

 


May 16, 2024

Anyway… the chuckit is plastic stick, roughly two feet long, with a handgrip on one end and something of a cup that holds a ball on the other. Smooth motion with the arm, flick of the wrist, and off goes the ball. Less stress on your arm, same amount of fetch fun for the dogs.

 


May 9, 2024

Watching these lizards and seeing their activity change based on the weather is a strange combination of obvious and educational. For instance, when it’s cold out, they’re not out. Lizards hate the cold though, right? Pretty standard and unsurprising stuff there. What is surprising is how quickly they show up again when an unexpectedly warm day arrives in the middle of several colder days. And check out how they know where to take positions in the sunshine, or to duck and take cover in fences or rocks or other assorted natural formations. Their appearances and movements and more can be fascinating.

 


May 2, 2024

What would happen if you gave up some sort of consistent thing in your life that you actually are kind of happy to have around, think about it in a way that you want to keep it around, but maybe wouldn’t fight so strongly for it if you were debating things to give up.

 


May 2, 2024

So, called in the folks that are so amazing at taking care of me and the house when something is beyond my skills, and sure enough it seemed like time to replace it. You know, seemed like it because the decision was to replace it when it was an inconvenient headache and not wait for a broken massive problem.

 


April 25, 2024

(Hey. You. Quiet in the bleachers. Yes. Given time, I would have found it. One hiccup to finding it was simply that we were moving around. I wanted to pay attention to the day we were having and talk to Karen and post quickly about the giraffes as we made our way to visit the chubby unicorns.)

 


April 18, 2024

(As an aside here: Who are you folks that enjoy Dr. Pepper? Honestly, I’m near the belief that puts the enjoyment of Dr. Pepper on my list of reasons not to trust a person. Not there yet, but close. Puppies don’t like you and four-year-olds don’t like you are the only two permanent items on such a list. But liking Dr. Pepper is close to having a place. Especially if puppies don’t like you and you like Dr. Pepper. Anyway… let’s walk back from the edge of a massive tangent… cherry limeade on sale…)

 


April 18, 2024

The other night I was sitting in the living room. Two dogs were curled up against me, enjoying naps. Karen was moving about, checking off items from her list of preparations for an upcoming trip. At one point she walked past me, picked up a pair of scissors, turned, and as she was headed the other way and walking past me again, she held up the scissors for my appreciation and said:

You have to pack the tape and scissors, just in case you get to decorate the elephant.

 


April 11, 2024

Let’s meander back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are such things as cellphones and email addresses, but not that the general masses are even aware of (never mind using). We’re still a few years away from the majority of people hearing the words windows and computers in a way that associate the two as belonging together. The world wide web is a world wide never heard of it.

 


April 11, 2024

“Don’t talk to strangers” is an incredibly sweeping and vague statement, while at the same time being simple, direct and valuable. Sweeping and vague? Sure. Anyone you don’t know is a stranger. Some of them are quite wonderful people. Between professional needs and personal encounters, there are all sorts—bordering on endless sorts—of reasons you actually need to talk to strangers. Simple, direct and valuable? Absolutely.

 


April 4, 2024

Reports are circulating in trade publications… or, at least publications with areas focusing on films, movie theaters and box office stuff… that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is settling in at an overall loss of around $125 to $135 million dollars. That comes in for a production that finished it’s screen run somewhere just shy of $400 million.

 


April 1, 2024

Funny thing about meandering around a house in daily life. People have very different ideas about what needs to be done, even when it comes to assorted small details. There are folks out there that believe a bed should be made every day. If you aren’t in it, sleeping, it should be made. Dirty dishes in the sink? Never. According to some, those pots and pans and plates should be immediately washed or placed in the dishwasher.

 


March 28, 2024

I have plenty of friends that dress their pets up a certain way. They use their favorite colors for colors and leashes. They include them in group costumes for Halloween. If you expand on it enough, add enough purple to a shirt and leash and sunglasses and collar, a visual connection can be obvious and compelling and manipulated into evidence for the ownership mirror test.

 


March 21, 2024

It’s a wonderful example of how language evolves and develops. A phrase that means exactly what it says, but gets tossed out so casually that it’s offered more out of habit, ranking right up there with hemming and hawing and hmm and umm and more on the scale of nervous space filling mutters.

 


March 14, 2024

Normally I’m not one to worry too much about sticking to specifics and narrow windows of application. Rules of grammar? Happily breaking them, sometimes without even being aware I’m doing it. And if people want to use words as a catchphrase of sorts, go for it. I spent a lot of time using words like “bonus” as a reaction, to a level where it became a reflex response, especially during my years in school. Most of the time, there was no bonus involved in any way.

 


March 12, 2024

Mainly, it’s not about stupidity because all of us can be stupid. That’s not to say “can be” as in some are and some aren’t. No, all of us are stupid from time to time. It’s “can be” because almost all of us are pretty level-headed, decent, and on occasion fairly ingenious in the way we act and make decisions. Every so often though, our brains are surrounded by fog, or our eyes have blinders obstructing our view, or we react as is in a vat of pudding. There are times when we can be smart, and times when we can be stupid.

 


March 7, 2024

As we discussed it, her defense was that I should know the direction I’m moving. Saving you the back and forth, I’ll say that I earned a very reluctantly begrudgingly awarded victory in the argument by asking her what direction she preferred driving on the designated north and south of Interstate 95 in Connecticut. (Which despite being labeled as north and south to remain consistent with the full run along the coast of the United States, actually runs east and west for arguably the entirety of its roughly 112 miles in the state.)

 


March 7 , 2024

The Super Bowl. Specifically, consider halftime performers. Can you name three of the past five halftime performers? I have a funny feeling that most people will have more success when it comes to naming folks that sang the National Anthem than they will of names from halftime performers.

But that’s just a funny feeling. In truth, the Super Bowl halftime performer role may simply be the Kobayashi Maru of show business for musicians. It also might just be, bar none, annually the biggest performance slot in the world.

 


March 7, 2024

Joe and Samantha. Been friends for ten or more years. Started dating. Wedding date is early next year. At some point, it’s very likely Samantha introduced Joe to people with “…and this is my friend Joe…” or something close to that. Once married, I believe most of us would naturally believing Samatha will shift to “…and this is my husband Joe…” when bringing him around. But, is “…and this is my friend Joe…” wrong at that point?

 


March 5, 2024

I must admit, I have my biases. I want to check the expiration dates on the milk, and not leave it to chance that some mysteriously assigned shopper knows I don’t want a half gallon displaying a best by date that arrives in three days or less. I like making decisions about my own produce, normally leaning toward slightly green bananas over a bunch that’s already beyond too ripe for banana bread.

 


March 5, 2024

Not overwhelming jokes. In fact, there’s a good chance my even mentioning the existence of jokes catches you by surprise. Of course, there’s a really good chance that my mentioning the release of a new flavor is even more surprising. The advertising and news coverage has been there, but the advertising and news coverage has been very subtle. It’s almost—almost, an untrained and not included in the marketing team debates opinion might wonder—as if Coca-Cola is expecting a roar of public response to rise up and create an unforeseen tidal wave of excitement.

 


March 1, 2024

I think, since we’ve been encouraging him toward productivity and joining the real world, if he doesn’t want to wake up then he gets the results of the order that was made. Didn’t tell us anything as we assembled our plans the evening before, was aware of those plans, and sleeping when the rest of the house was moving and the plans kicked into action. He didn’t order, so he doesn’t get anything.

 


March 1, 2024

Was visiting family recently and stopped into a fantastic barbecue place. One of the things they have is barbecue chili-roasted cashews. Packaged them up in classic glass Ball jars. I usually by at least two, and have been known to pick up four or five during a single stop. Snack on them during the visit, and get enough so I can bring them home with me at the end of the trip.

 


February 29, 2024

The formality of all of this is a bit on the doesn’t-really-matter portion of the diagrams. After all, I could decide to always introduce myself as Bobby to people. There was no requirement to become Bob. Many folks use the full formal name, some use a nickname, and plenty use their middle name. All of which brings about a scenario where the if and when I move from Bobby to Bob is insignificant.

 


February 29, 2024

Take Disney and Universal for example. Universal has a theme park called Islands of Adventure, which in turn has a section called Marvel Super Hero Island. As a result of previous agreements and licensing and so on that exist from the creation of that area for Universal, and then from a variety of reasons and negotiations over the years, Disney cannot use some characters in certain locations. Short, basic version: Disney cannot put Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Doom and some others into their Orlando theme parks. Not even supposed to use the Marvel name.

 


February 27, 2024

Was out returning some equipment to my local cable-internet-wireless provider. Had to do the amazingly inconvenient check in process—NOT the point of this essay, but absolutely worthy of 750 to 3,000 angry words at some other time—where, and no one will acknowledge your existence at all in any fashion until you do, you head to a tablet on a table and get to type in fourteen different pieces of information that they aren’t going to use. (Seriously, why can’t I just type in a name, click enter, and be in the virtual queue? Why do these companies need phone numbers and email addresses AND mailing addresses AND last four digits of account number AND… deep breaths. Why do they never seem to ask why I’m there? Never mind. Another essay. Anyway…)

 


February 27, 2024

In each of these two cases, the arguments are used by both sides. Take the driving range. As charging stations increase in numbers and improve the efficiency of the process, the idea of a horrible search to find a place for a six-hour battery-charge stop every three hours is being eliminated. The ability to find a charging station, and get a significant enough charge in the time it takes to use the facilities and grab a bite to eat, is becoming less of a concern and closer to a practical reality.

 


February 22, 2024

Bit of research took place. Name actually gets spelled about forty different ways, a result of it not being an official term but a regional nickname. Appears to originate as something along the same route of thought I initially traveled. You can’t see them that well, so you don’t notice as they’re biting you. Noseeums.

 


February 22, 2024

But the word bomb. The word cyclone. Combined. Bomb cyclone. It has all the thrills and chills of a phrase like thunder snow. Right?

My words: “Hey Syracuse, get ready and hunker down because tomorrow we expect a bomb cyclone to hit the area.” Makes you want to know more. Makes you want to tune in at 11 for the latest and download the app for updates.

 


February 1, 2024

In August of 1642, Abel Tasman set out on a voyage. He had been charged with a bit of a fact finding mission to gather information for the Dutch East India Company. And, well, one way of summing up his first journey would be to say he managed to prove that Australia was an island without ever seeing Australia.

 


February 1, 2024

X marks the spot. Without dancing around, X is it, find X and you find the treasure. Usually a phenomenal hidden treasure. We could—but we won’t—go on for a bit about many legendary treasures that have a variety of Xs marking them, though they’ve never been found.

 


January 25, 2024

Articles came around recently. Looked a lot like the ones that catch your eye every two or three (or four (or thirteen)) years. Promised an arrival of cicadas this year the likes of which we don’t often get to witness. One of them claimed it would be the largest the world has seen in about two-hundred-twenty-years, and that’s when things went a bit wonky for me.

 


January 22, 2024

Heading home, there is a turn that needs to be made. As you approach it, if there is a car coming in the opposite direction, it always feels as if you need to stop because there is no way you’ll have enough time to turn left and clear the road in time. And yet, in all of my experiences to date, there always is time to turn.

 


January 18, 2024

His view of normal, in my words, is that whatever exists in the world and where we live when we’re born is what we will come to hold as our basis of normal. It’s the starting line of what we know and what we experience, and as such, the foundation of what we’re comfortable with.

 


January 11, 2024

Ever heard of T.F. Green airport? Gets advertised as Providence. Flight crews welcome you to Providence, Rhode Island. Those three-digit identification letters for it are PVD. It’s also located in Warwick. About 8 miles from Providence. (Your results may vary, but that’s an 11-minute drive.)

 


January 11, 2024

The thing is, just because it isn’t without exception, one-hundred-percent, nothing uneven and flawlessly perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be made. It doesn’t indicate a fatigue, where the audience (and perhaps industry as well) is tired and exhausted and finished with Cars.

This holds true when considering box office numbers, which is often the first and foremost (and often only) factor discussed. It’s a flawed—and, frankly, lazy—way of thinking to only say something like (my words): “It’s not making the expected dollars, therefor audiences are tired of this material.”

 


January 8, 2024

Why on earth would I respond and “do the needful” for anything like this? Is there anyone, anywhere, at any time that would “do the needful” had a similar effort been sent to them? Did anyone “do the needful” in response yesterday? Or, the day before?

 


January 4, 2024

Let’s say we want better relationships. We might work on communicating with folks we care about, perhaps by calling a bit more often or sending more frequent texts. We could identify people that—forgive the ultimate negative extreme here and follow the thought in general—are toxic pieces of our life, and reduce our exposure to those individuals and groups.

 


January 4, 2024

What was funny was when she started complaining about losing her voice. Turns out virtually everything in her house has been set up for modern day ease and convenience from the advancements of technology and voice activation. According to her, never mind operating the television or streaming options, she couldn’t make any sound that resulted in turning on the lights so she could read a book.

 


December 28, 2023

Now, yes, I deliberately selected these two ideas from what are millions of offerings and possible phrasings. And I selected them, even though my idea is consistent and similar, because they arrive at opposite ends of the debate. One looks at how everything changes, and the other sort of acknowledges that while pondering how nothing changes at all.

 


December 21, 2023

She heard them. Was looking for them. But couldn’t see them. She was looking straight across the yard, and as a result straight across a few neighbors’ yards. She had a bit of experience with squirrels. Occasionally a single bird, or perhaps two, might appear on a fence post or tree. But this was different.

 


December 7, 2023

Maybe we need to create an office for such a purpose. Instead of a person, perhaps a committee. To decide when decorations can be set up around the home. To give permission for displays in retail outlets. To provide official guidance on the pros and cons of tinsel. To determine the line where pumpkin spice crosses from enough to too much.

 


December 1, 2023

Consider phone books. In the good old days, lots of businesses selected names beginning with the letter A so they would be among the first businesses in any listing. Now, phone books are gone and search engine results don’t lean into the alphabetical order that provides additional benefits for Acme Party Supply or AAA Lawn Service.

 


November 11, 2023

Been more than twenty years around the In My Backpack website. And, as far as I can tell, this is the first essay I’ve ever written with a title that begins with the letter Z.

That many not seem like much to you, but I have a lot—read A LOT—of essays that begin with “the” and several that start with “technology” as starters for the title. There are other popular words. But any word with a Z? Nope. Nothing shows up.

 


November 11, 2023

Many places can claim pristine conditions and unique beauty. That acknowledged and established, however, for me Spanish moss tops them all. Anyone that has ever had the pleasure of visiting the city of Savannah under the skies of a clear evening will readily admit that the breathtaking and eerie ambience generated by the moss will delight and haunt them forever. It is, unchallenged, a feature that shifts everything around it as nothing else can.

 


November 11, 2023

Turned out, it wasn’t a branch. It was an actual tree. A small tree. Just starting out. Still, a tree. While it turned out the gutters were clean—having been swept out just a few months earlier during the fall—there was just enough dirt and such along the bottom of them to allow it to settle in and start growing.

 


November 10, 2023

Something isn’t right. It feels set up and arranged. I don’t know what’s going on, but I sense it, and I think I know the members of the group that do not what’s happening.

The accusation is made. Shenanigans. There, I said it.

 


November 10, 2023

One of the golden retrievers—don’t want Canasta to feel bad by naming her as the culprit, but, yeah—loves to do things in the back yard that involves putting anything in her mouth. She grabs sticks and rocks. Digs for roots and, yes, more rocks. Has been seen chewing at the fence and paver stones.

 


November 10, 2023

Most of it is likely based on some wacky algorithm I’ll never understand since it isn’t created for anything that matters to me, regardless of what I do to influence the results. Plus, since I’m not invited to the meetings where things are discussed like new features and designs that improve ad revenue regardless of what users are used to or experience, many inconsistencies and issues are going to have reasons I simply can’t prove.

 


November 10, 2023

With an air of desperation and a sense of urgency, he whispered toward us. “Pineapple.” Tears seemed to be welling up in his eyes. He repeated, each time the pitch of his voice rising. “Pineapple. Pine. Apple. Pineapple!”

 


November 10, 2023

You’re thinking it’s no surprise a Saint Bernard can take over a bed. Fair. But this isn’t really about the size of the dog and some type of situation that actually makes sense. Any dog owner that has witnessed it will tell you about how they can spread out and have paws and a head and a tail somehow all positioned so perfectly that if they get to the bed first you are going to struggle to find any way to get into that bed yourself. They even go completely limp, which somehow more than quadruples their body weight, then pretend to be asleep and ignore your please to move. It is amazing.

 


November 9, 2023

Ok, ok, yes. I know. I literally just mentioned—barely a dozen words ago—that I gave lots and lots of thoughts to the reasons we set alarms. The practical reasons we set alarms. We set them to wake up. We set them as reminders. We set them to acknowledge a schedule, respect a commitment, organize our movements and on and on.

 


November 9, 2023

The confusion for me comes from a place that doesn’t seem too obvious, but makes sense once you hear it. The reason people ask almost always comes out of two reasons, sometimes independent of each other and sometimes intertwined. First, and most often, something I put together connected with them and they enjoyed it. Second, common but not nearly as often, an observation wandered to a place that surprised them.

 


November 6, 2023

The list of needs, wants and more that we could create borders on endless. But there is a simple truth: There is absolutely nothing that you can do to your house that can be guaranteed as attractive to every potential buyer. Not one thing. Not everyone likes a deck. Not everyone wants a massive bathroom counter that can be used by five people at the same time. Not everyone needs a good school system.

 


November 6, 2023

Mom. When she calls, voice mail or text or no, I’ll call her back.

Similar rules for family and friends.

If I see there’s a missed call from someone I care about, I’m going to try to touch base with them. Might end up being a quick “did you call” text response, but I’m going to reach out.

 


November 1, 2023

The title of this essay is a joke about Halloween. Three words from the classic trick-or-treat saying of my childhood. (Do the kids still ask you to smell their feet? Have to admit, I don’t know. Hmm. Research for next time, I suppose. Anyway…) It’s offered as a joke in many ways because I don’t know what to make of Halloween.

 


November 1, 2023

There’s a reason for the expression bet on the favorite. It’s because more often than not, the favorite is going to win. It doesn’t mean that the underdog can’t win. Situations and circumstances need to be factored in. The unexpected happens. But by and large, the majority of the time, expect the expected.

 


October 23, 2023

Now, sure, if Good Morning Bill was coming over for lunch one day, or giving me a ride to a shop, I’d want to know. If Eclipse Bill and I saw each other again and had a long conversation about the Orionid meteor shower, I’d want to know. But right now, as I learn some of the new surroundings, it’s kind of fun to think it might be possible everyone around here is named Bill.

 


October 23, 2023

If we consider the things we can’t control one extreme, then procrastination becomes the direct opposite. By that, I mean when you actually avoid the work. Sure, you may blame the vacuum or the dogs for not getting anything done, but chances are good you picked up the tennis balls and headed toward the yard without any help from the puppies.

 


October 23, 2023

Old expression I like: When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

There are moments all over the place where it seems we actually do get a warning, a sign, some type of notice before something happens. A classic way of phrasing it: We did see it coming.

 


October 21, 2023

As we all know, in any story that involves us as individuals, we all have a version of what took place in our thoughts. And we are convinced that version is, without fail, accurate.

It never is.

 


October 21, 2023

We were out the other day, making a decision about lunch. She started looking for her glasses so she could read a menu off of her phone. She put on a pair, but those were the wrong ones. Then she picked up another pair, but those weren’t right either. And considering that during all of this her sunglasses remained in place on top of her head, it was kind of funny to watch the glasses being swapped around.

 


October 21, 2023

I don’t get it. Hey, if you own it, and want to call it something different, change it up and have fun. I’m not going to try to stop you, and you don’t need to please me anyway. What I will say is that I seem to have learned over the years that brand recognition tends to mean something when you’re in business. Has value. So, when you change a fairly well-known name, and add in a pay wall, it sure seems like you are moving down a new path.

 


October 13, 2023

I had a neighbor that, as a very simplified way of saying it, never raked any leaves. It wasn’t some deeply personal push benefitting nature. He simply didn’t have to. There was little brush around, as just one part of the setting, and the yards around us act as wind tunnels. If he delayed, procrastinated and ignored the leaves—or whatever other descriptive way would like to say it—long enough, his leaves would be my leaves. Blown away from his yard, then across mine, eventually settling into my drainage ditches.

 


October 13, 2023

It’s a question that has delivered countless answers. Poems and songs, essays and novels. Declarations in front of family and friends, whispers exchanged by a couple.

Love.

I’ve attempted to explore it once or twice. (Or more.) But every so often, a better example that you might not normally share as advice becomes readily apparent. (And yes, good for you, I do happen to have one example of my own.)

 


October 6, 2023

Just those two words may have sent you off into concern. (And I love you guys for that, but again, I’m good.) Just those two words combined a bit with the atmosphere created by the song, got me thinking. What moves any of us to do things for others? And by that, I mean simple things as well as extra effort sacrifices.

 


October 6, 2023

The world, in general, plays to that game of predator and prey around us, where camouflage and disguise matter. Blending in is not just a neat trick, but a survival must. And—in a figurative way—there you are, standing on a blanket of white trying to spot a mountain goat, or staring out onto a winter scene with snow and rocks looking for a snow leopard, or trying to see a snowshoe hare any time of year.

 


October 6, 2023

Life, however, seems to enjoy providing twists and turns, delightful chaos, and moments of joyfully blue skies and rainbows. Many will tell you that it’s when you aren’t looking for something that it arrives. I’m not sure that’s true. Instead, here are the two things I do know:

First – Jigsaw puzzle pieces are cut in lots of different ways. Far, far, far more often than not, no piece is cut wrong. But it can take a great deal of time to find two pieces that fit together perfectly.

Second – If you don’t put your hand in the jar, you ain’t getting a cookie.

 


October 4, 2023

Maple tree in my front yard. Used to have a birch. Lived in places with dozens upon dozens of oaks surrounding the house. No palm trees.

Neighbors have some evergreens. Wide variety of those. No palm trees.

Spending some time in Florida over the years, I’ve noticed that just about every yard has a palm tree. Some short and full, others tall and wispy, but palm trees all over.

 


October 4, 2023

Have you ever felt better than perfect? Have you ever had a moment where you said to yourself that everything was as great and right as it could possibly be, only to learn a short time later that things had gotten even better?

(And, yes, those comments about friendly and cliché are about to come back into play. Good on some of you for picking up on that. Gold stars for you, and ten points for Hufflepuff.)

 


August 8, 2023

The problem with it, in my opinion, is that life doesn’t move in a direct, straight line. It’s not a flow chart. Not an if this than that, insert tab one into slot two, run of dominoes where the decision to knock down one automatically and always leads to the rest of them falling.

 


August 8, 2023

Ever had a dog? Do you walk them regularly? I mean, good, long, wear them out so they sleep all night walks. What happens when it rains for two or three days in a row? You can just see the dog a bit on edge, looking for that release.

Today that’s me. I stayed up most of the night working on some projects, have a cool breeze coming in through an open window and a steady beat of rain on the roof available to rock me as I doze off, but instead I’m standing at the door looking out at the puddles.

 


August 7, 2023

Friend mentioned that he was doing some work around the house. Back had been acting up. This morning, I sent a text his way…

“Hey, let me know if you need any help today. Heading to the kitchen to make some pancakes. Blueberry. Let me know if you want a couple.”

Ha, right? Good stuff. Offered to help. (Not looking for any credit there, just pointing it out.) And, blueberry pancakes. Fun.

 


August 7, 2023

Now, let’s get this out of the way. I am not suggesting, thinking of, or asking about a Klondike bar. Same thoughts for anything else in that general area. This isn’t about how far you’d walk for your favorite sandwich. Not a question of how long you’d wait in line for the latest book or game release.

I’m talking about bigger things. (Hence the involvement of wishes.)

 


August 6, 2023

Sure, our directions had put us exactly where we thought we were going. But the properties we were sitting in front of and the pictures of those properties had nothing in common. Nothing. Looked completely different. The pictures were taken from specific angles. They were cropped. They were up close and zoomed in and focused on very specific portions and not the whole.

 


August 6, 2023

There are millions of people in the world that hate that band, have no interest in that dinner choice, will not sit through an episode of that show, and really aren’t all that interested in that person. (I know that, try my best, there’s at least one person in the world that doesn’t like me. Right or wrong, they don’t. And deep down, you know that’s true for you as well. Best friends of yours or not, there is someone that doesn’t want to spend another second around them.)

 


August 4, 2023

But those beliefs, and a desire for a better tomorrow, don’t stop me from noticing that in a battery powered car I can’t drive across most U.S. states without stopping to recharge. They won’t stop me from noticing that a massive power outage leaves us at the mercy of our car batteries to recharge us… someday likely to be for the majority the same car batteries that a power outage means can’t be recharged.

 


August 2, 2023

Went out for a walk the other night. As I left the house, I happened to glance at the app on my phone to see where I was at that point of the day for steps. The next step I took, the count began. 1, 2, 3… all the way down the driveway… 61, 62, 63… along the front edge of the yard… 110, 111, 112… across the street and truly out for my stroll. I was around 250 before I finally found a song to listen to that caught my attention and got me to stop rattling off numbers as I took step after step.

 


August 1, 2023

The project itself is fairly basic. I’ve got some hosta, deer are eating it, and I want to move some so it has a chance to recover. I’m not looking for immediate results. Just replant, let this season play out, and then hopefully next year be rewarded with growing plants. In two or three years, take those plants out into the yard. (And sure, likely be disappointed as the deer enjoy the buffet without leaving so much as a thank you card. Start again. Repeat.)

 


August 1, 2023

A dealership could have three cars on the lot that are essentially exactly the same. Model, trim, color and more. Same car. Three customers could walk onto the property on the same day and after a vast combination of scenarios plays out— research done, questions asked, initial offers exchanged, if the salesperson feels particularly kind or particularly cranky after lunch and on and on—each person could pay a different amount for their car.

 


July 28, 2023

To be fair, often it works. Often, it’s true. We can all think of situations where something obvious was (or is) taking place. Usually, it wasn’t (or isn’t) even being hidden. Like dinner at a friend’s house, where the host has expressed having a significant crush on one of the invited guests, and we all know who will be served the biggest slice of cake for dessert.

 


July 21, 2023

It’s not the naming of things. You won’t find peppers in Australia, but you will find capsicums. Same darn thing. Different name. It’s not the broad, sweeping ideas of items. The options in the bakery area may not be perfectly familiar, but there are plenty of amazing and delicious options for bread.

 


July 14, 2023

Let’s summarize it like this…

In my childhood, a storm did not mean people walking to their cars to run them so they could recharge their world.

 


June 9, 2023

The biggest topic tends to be that whatever item we don’t have isn’t where we usually find it. Remote? Should be on the end table nearest the chair of the person that used it last. Glasses? Nightstand, next to the book we were reading. Half and half? Kitchen cabinet where we keep the coffee mugs, since we put it there instead of back in the fridge.

 


June 6, 2023

To start with, at various moments, am I driving differently? Less safe at this time and more safe at that? We change radio stations, catch up with friends by using the phone, and generally do vary in offering our complete and unwavering attention. Will a sign change that and improve someone’s driving?

 


June 2, 2023

Still, regardless of how you break it down, consider that conservative estimates place the annual global perfume sales above thirty-billion dollars. That’s $30,000,000,000. Ten zeroes. And many of those same conservative sources have the industry growing at a steady five-percent per year.

Smelling good is good business.

 


June 1, 2023

A few blocks from my house there’s a fence. Runs along three of the four outer edges of the property. From one corner of the front heading back, along the furthest stretch of the yard, and then back up to the road and the other front corner.

It’s old. It was old and fairly beaten down when we arrived about a decade ago. Temperature extremes, wind, rain, snow, strolling wildlife, sunshine and the passage of time have done it no favors.

 


May 29, 2023

The next morning, you wake up and go to make some coffee. There’s no half and half. In fact, your friends don’t have any type of dairy. No whole milk. No heavy cream. No offerings from the almond or oat or soy creations. Heck, you’re even having troubles finding any sugar.

 


May 24, 2023

And while I may grumble a bit, and occasionally point in the direction of silliness, I recognize that many of the decisions are beyond my control. I absolutely could write a letter, but judging from products that were brought back that provided major disappointments, it’s hard to risk the delicious memories on the hopes of truly bringing back the product I love. (I’m thinking of you, Planters. Say whatever you want, the Cheez Balls you returned to the shelves were not even close to the Cheez Balls from thirty years ago.)

 


May 24, 2023

They know the brand of detergent you use and how much fabric softener you add. They critique your choices of flowers to plant in conversations with other homeowners on your street. They are disturbed that you don’t take your shutters down, clean them, paint them, and rehang them at least once per year.

 


May 22, 2023

Canadian currency in the American city, and American currency in the Canadian city. Happens all the time. Plenty of Canadian quarters in upstate New York, a bit fewer but still around in Massachusetts, and probably not as frequently found in Tennessee or Kentucky.

 


May 22, 2023
The bird isn’t bothering me, is nice to have around, and I’m not going to interfere. Bird chose an end of the gutter, and not the end that has a downspout. An end under the eave and not really catching rainwater, so the nest isn’t blocking anything. If, when it does rain, the nest ends up with some water approaching it, that’s not on me.

 


May 12, 2023

A few years ago, I found myself in Orlando on vacation in December. The first morning after our arrival, I decided to drive around the resort, check out the pools and restaurants and other facilities, and just get familiar with a fairly large property. It was in the low forties when I got in my car. I had arrived from a location where each day hovered around freezing as the high of the day. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Everywhere I went on my ride, staff outside were bundled up and shivering.

 


May 5, 2023

At first I chuckled, thinking about orange juice. I really couldn’t grasp a similar idea, where Tropicana wasn’t in every grocery store. If you like Tropicana, Minute Maid or Florida’s Natural, and walk into a store with orange juice on your list, you feel pretty good that you’re going to see your favorite brand. They might be sold out of pulp-free or some other variety, but more than likely all of the major choices will be there.

 


May 1, 2023

So, I set out walking along the regular roadways near my home, and I have some peculiarities in how I try to approach the efforts. While I have zero clue what the drivers are thinking, I like to express my appreciation when they slide their cars over a bit to give me some space for safety. That means I wave. Sometimes a smile and a head nod as well. Maybe I add in a thank you as well (as if they can hear me). I hope they understand I’m grateful, but I’m also good if they just believe I’m being friendly.

 


April 30, 2023

Lately I’ve been trying to pay a bit more attention to my exercise routines. By that, I mean actually applying ranges and expectations to my daily efforts. Examples include things like knowing how long I ride my stationary bike, or how far I go when I use it. Or, when I set out on a walk or two each day, trying to reach a minimum number of steps or miles covered.

 


April 30, 2023

It’s a great follow up for any conversation you’re having with someone…

“I’d love to see a sea turtle.”

“What would you do if you did?”

Yeah, yeah, the obvious answer is watch it. Be careful, of course, because you don’t spot a bear in your backyard and just start walking over to offer it a slice of pizza. But watch it. Try to take it all in and create a lasting visual for your memories.

 


April 28, 2023

Allow me to be clear, I don’t care that this celebrity was sighted for the first time in weeks by paparazzi that took pictures of a coffee run. I’d even go on with more examples of things that I’m not at all interested in, but then I’d be bringing additional information to the latest thing that broke the internet (or whatever phrase the kids have already abandoned that the media is hoping to sound cool using to describe it).

 


April 26, 2023

On it was sticky note from Big Simon.

Really, that’s the way he signed the authentically simulated-hand-written fake additional note. Big Simon. And, with that flourish of familiarity, I felt the warning signs even more deeply than usual that someone was trying to take advantage of me.

 


April 21, 2023

Out in my yard right now, plants are beginning to appear. In a few places, hostas will soon be joining the scenery. Those were brought when we moved from our previous home, and have connections for me with Terry, our boys, and all four of our dogs. (In fact, some of them have been thinned since arriving here and replanted at the boys’ homes as well.)

 


April 14, 2023

Full disclosure, I have been to this park before. Many times. As in, over decades of visits, probably hundreds of times. I’ve gone there to ride on the bike path. I’ve played tennis on its courts. Flown kites on some of the fields and enjoyed multiple picnics on tables and grassy shaded places and a beach area.

It’s a great park.

 


April 14, 2023

In part, I ask this because I’m still trying to figure out why I don’t see moose in central New York. (The answer, to some degree, is that I’m not really looking far enough north in New York. Even with Syracuse and Rochester and such being able to claim a northerly location similar to portions of Vermont or New Hampshire, the reality is the moose are in New York but tend to hang out in the northeast area of the state in the Adirondacks.)

 


April 7, 2023

To watch it play out is essentially like having a seat at one of the strangest boomerang throws you’ll ever see. The best description I can give in comparison is a song being performed as a round. You know the drill, one person starts, and before that person finishes another person begins, and so on until everyone ends. In the case of our yard, the candy corn goes out and a bird comes back, then a football goes out and the candy corn comes back.

 


April 7, 2023

I’ve been able to experience some of the most incredible sunsets you might imagine. Over the Pacific Ocean. In Key West, onboard a relaxing wine cruise and with parrots at Mallory Square. From a viewing area along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. Along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.

 


April 2, 2023

The road runs along the side of my property and off into the distance. There’s a turn after slightly more than a quarter-mile, then it takes swings back and forth slightly until reaching a bit of an arching loop as its end. By just staying on the road, you could easily clear two miles of walking simply by going to the circular area and back to my house.

 


March 31, 2023

Walked out onto my deck today. During a recent snowfall that left a moderate accumulation, I had gone out with a shovel to clear the way to my grill. Didn’t do a particularly spectacular job, more or less just cleaning a path about six feet long and two feet wide by tossing the snow into a pile a few feet away. But now, what’s left of that pile is the only snow in my yard.

 


March 31, 2023

It’s off to the side of the house, or more precisely to the side of the driveway. Been using it for about eight years now. Goes up at some point before November starts and usually comes down in April. Dates slide slightly, but you can’t wait until the ground is too hard to pound in the posts, nor break it down too early when plenty of good snowstorms arrive around these parts after spring has begun.

 


March 24, 2023

I bought three of those grates. Bought them because the price was low enough that I decided having them for only a few weeks would be worth it. Bought three because that’s what was needed to cover the space. As spring begins again and we head toward another summer, those grates are still in place and ready for summer number nine.

 


March 24, 2023

A few weeks later, something occurred to me. We had basically built a glorious hotel for wildlife. Whether you want to consider logs, branches, leaves and other assorted natural cuttings as providing structure, safety and bedding or not, the reality is there weren’t a lot of places to convert into a den nearby before we dragged stuff over and set things up.

 


March 17, 2023

While there is absolutely a lot of evidence that supports there are people that don’t want to work, there isn’t any evidence that states universally that no one wants to work. Often, the statement is being used as an excuse for poor service and bad experiences, because pointing fingers and making accusations is easier than admitting anything more. We don’t hear it when things are going well. We hear it when business hours are inconsistent or extremely limited. We hear it when our meals arrive at the table cold after long waits. We hear it when most of the tables are empty and we still can’t get seated in less than 45-minutes.

 


March 12, 2023

The news came out recently. A car manufacturer is designing a vehicle system that means a car can repossess itself.

I’ll pause while you consider that for a bit.

Car manufacturer setting up a car with self-repossession capabilities.

 


March 12, 2023

A food truck parked at the side of the road in rural any town claims world famous fries. Says it on the sign they placed nearby. World famous fries. If I can see that I sold copies of a book in America, Canada, England and Australia, it would seem to me that my works have been purchases around the world. Can’t I legitimately wonder about how those results speak of my efforts when the food truck offers it in support of theirs?

 


February 18, 2023

In upstate New York, measurable accumulation is a major difference maker. It seems like even on a completely clear night you can wake up to find your car covered in a layer of snow. Just so cold that all of the moisture in the air froze and landed on your vehicle. The fun part is, it disappears almost as easily as it appeared. A burst of daytime sunshine and it melts away. Add a magician, an assistant and a few waves of the hand and people might applaud.

 


January 23, 2023

Let’s head back to 1990, and look at the arrival of a new program on a little network called HBO. Shows like 1st & Ten, Not Necessarily the News and Tales from the Crypt broke ground and never seem to fully get the credit they deserve for the trails they began to clear. In July of 1990, things changed as a show arrived no one saw coming. (And chances are you have either completely forgotten about it or don’t even recall it ever existed.)

 


December 23, 2022

Yes, that’s it, let’s call it a concept. And as a concept, it’s a pretty good one overall. Simple, and yet, to a degree it’s a thinker. A bit hits right away with stop making it worse message, and then it expands a bit with the realization that more often than not it can always get worse. More to the first half of our concept, the ribbon proposes that finding a solution should always involve stopping the problem.

 


December 23, 2022

I found my slippers this morning. Been missing for a few weeks. Of course, they were under the bed. Just about right where I would have expected them to be. I just finally had a moment where I needed to grab something that had been hiding under a bench at the foot of the bed and decided to look a bit deeper while I was on the floor. Find them I did, and that felt great.

 


December 23, 2022

I was talking to my mother about it, and she replied in a way where you could tell that the more she thought about it, the less she knew. At first, she said they definitely have more candy left over each year. She has bought the same number of bags, and roughly the same number of pieces for a few years. And over the past five or so, she knows there’s been a steady increase remaining at the end of the evening.

 


December 18, 2022

Not only do I like using approach myself, I can appreciate it when it comes around from others. Don’t mistake it for a lack of concern. Don’t mistake it for a person that won’t take action, won’t offer support, or doesn’t understand what is taking place. Instead, place it in context of a person that realizes what is cannot be undone, so accept and act, and do so in a way that keeps everyone’s spirits elevated.

 


December 18, 2022

Most of us—I’m guessing—never really had to worry about mice. Flies? Yes. Mice? Not so much. Even if you did grow up with mice around, the reality was you dealt with it, so you likely never thought about it when looking for a home of your own. It was a reality—perhaps a reality of country living—and you just dealt with the reality, you didn’t view it as a problem.

 


October 10, 2022

Not too long after finishing up, I decided to take a walk. Was interested in knowing how far I went, so I checked to see where I was for the day before wandering down the road. According to the app, during the time when I was riding on the lawn mower, I had walked 1,127 steps.

 


October 10, 2022

The bulbs we purchased were to replace a burned-out bulb in a four-bulb light fixture. Because, of course, the styles were slightly different. Replacing just one bulb with one that looked different wouldn’t work. So, I replaced all four bulbs.

Later in the day, dark outside, I walked toward the kitchen and flipped the switch. The result was that an absolutely hideous room came into view. It was hazy. The light was an awful blue that felt like it could be cut with a knife.

 


October 10, 2022

For some reason, I spent all of Friday feeling like it was Saturday. Hardly a unique feeling. I just said I know we’ve all felt that way on occasion. In this case, however, I never thought it was Saturday. Not once. I was always aware it was Friday. I just kept hitting things, from mail delivery to picking up the remote, where a thought went to Saturday.

 


October 2, 2022

There’s the true North Pole, where the world turns. Then there’s the magnetic North Pole, which involves the magnetic field of the planet (and actually moves). (And then there’s a third option. Santa’s North Pole, which is an entirely different conversation.)

 


August 29, 2022

Have you ever thought about how the images in the mirror are actually reversed? You know, you look in the mirror and get yourself ready at the start of the day. You think everything’s right. Hair in place. Makeup good. And as you turn to walk out the door and into your day, everyone that sees you actually sees the reverse of what you think they’re seeing. You look in the mirror and on the person you see the part in your hair is on the left. Everyone that meets you that day sees the part on the right.

 


August 29, 2022

On an immediate level, it might indicate something as simple as dinner. It’s 4:30, you’re hungry, you go find someone in the other room and the question gets asked. Dinner. Dinner is the answer.

But maybe dinner has already been established. Now the question refers to the idea of what to make or where to go for dinner.

 


August 29, 2022

I was getting ready to go away for a bit and I wanted to make dinner. On the counter, half of a loaf of bread and a banana one day past ripe. Neither will be around when I return. Perhaps a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Head to the cupboard to get the peanut butter, which is next to the Nutella, and you see how decisions can occasionally arrive in a pretty straightforward manner.

 


August 28, 2022

Well, not just that particular bus. But every bus and truck and large vehicle that had driven along the road. School buses tend to average a very rough ten-and-a-half feet in height. Simple idea is, whenever one of the trees that extends across the road has a branch filling in at ten-feet-and-three-inches, that branch gets battered a bit until it’s back and ten-and-a-half.

 


August 28, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I was checking some electrical connections in the kitchen, happened to be near the toaster over, and noticed something. We had always used it by turning the knob that engaged a timer. Spun clockwise, always turned on, made sense. Great toaster. Used it as an extra baking area when making meals. Versatile. Reliable.

 


August 28, 2022

Over the years, that tick-tick-ticking has been a very strange thing. Some nights, we don’t even notice it. Others, it seems to fill up the darkness like a metronome set to the highest of volume options. Honestly, once or twice a year, it feels like it has a depth to it that’s rich, full and echoes.

 


August 28, 2022

As we kicked around different stops and ideas, we discovered a place where we would be able to participate in a dolphin swim program. Real interaction with a dolphin. We decided to do it and had a fantastic day and a wonderful experience.

Here’s the thing about swimming with dolphins. When you’re organizing it, it’s something that you believe is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

 


August 28, 2022

One friend of mine had an older sister that bought what seemed to us at the time to be a pretty great car. In the back of the house where he lived a car was partially covered by a tarp. The portions exposed were incredibly rusty, and seemed to belong to what remained of her vehicle.

 


August 27, 2022

Many years ago, there was a great story that came out of Wisconsin. Woman wanted a chain restaurant in her community. The public went bonkers about it. They didn’t like her request. They pointed out that their town had been able to avoid many multi-location businesses in favor of unique locally owned stores and restaurants. They named dining options nearby that offered high quality menus. They basically asked her if she was thinking clearly. But all she wanted was bottomless salads and endless breadsticks.

 


August 27, 2022

In either case, you might have made a brilliant dessert. I’m craving chocolate, raspberries and hazelnuts right now. But the announcement, the name, created a shift in expectations. Regular Oreo or Double Stuf, each version is pretty good. But once you say it’s double stuff, you’d better present more cream filling.

 


August 27, 2022

Every so often, I stumble across a moment where some sensation triggers reactions and perhaps even old memories. The smell of garlic and butter and wine in the kitchen. An echo of kids playing down the street as hide and go seek extends across the twilight hour and into the night. The sight of a waving neighbor as she turns her lawn mower around to head into the other direction.

 


August 25, 2022

I’m driving in a new car. Pulled in to fill it with gas, wanted to make sure of which side the gas cap was on, and I glanced at the fuel gauge to look for the arrow that points toward the side I need to place next to the pump.

If I asked you what it said on the gauge to indicate fuel levels, what would you answer?

 


August 25, 2022

Scientifically, in most cases we’re headed down the path of rods and cones. This is something where the conversation could turn to photoreceptors. All interesting, fascinating and amazing to think about, but not really where I’m going. (And neither are the spider webs.)

 


August 25, 2022

Just so happened that this person was headed to a place where the best options for something to eat were likely to involve vending machines. Since we were headed to a favorite place for all of us, the jokes began. We were going to be sharing appetizers, jealous of the other plates on the table while enjoying our own, and clinking glasses of adult beverages. He was going to be making decisions that involved flattening out the edges of dollar bills while clicking buttons to select B-5 and D-7.

 


August 24, 2022

No.

Not your grandchildren.

Your grandchildren are not waiting for you to die.

Your grandchildren love you and can’t wait for the next time they’ll see you.

 


August 24, 2022

The specifics of the post however didn’t really connect with me. Not all that interested personally in glow in the dark shirts, pants, socks or bandanas. Doesn’t stir much excitement. With that rattling around in my head, however, I realized there was a specialized fabric I would love.

 


August 24, 2022

Sure, some of it is a combination of issues. Take a person that believes they’re right, then acts as if you either agree or you’re wrong. No listening to details or consideration of your thoughts. Often anger with hands clasped tightly over ears. Occasionally with violent outbursts. Combine that with the anonymity of the internet and you have some of the most hateful, belligerent, ignorant people making unfounded accusations, abusive comments, and, well, we’ve seen how horrible the situation is and can be.

 


August 10, 2022

Years ago, a friend of mine and I were having discussions about awards shows, pop culture, and getting old. And we agreed upon a true measuring stick for determining how well you were doing at staying up to date with the world.

The Grammys.

 


August 10, 2022

Around me, it’s not uncommon in late June and early July to be able to drive your car without turning on the headlights until well after 9pm. Sunset for those dates averages after 8:30. The result is you don’t need to have those timers triggering lights at 4 in the afternoon.

But late in August, the sunset is arriving before 8pm. It will be at roughly 7pm in late September. And once the clocks switch and winter arrives, it will be difficult to see around the house without the lights on at 4pm.

 


August 9, 2022

There used to be a thing for articles called a blurb. Actually, it still exists. It was kind of a combination of neon sign and summary. The idea was waving a spotlight around to get your attention, while at the same time letting you know what you would be getting. On the internet though, the balance has shifted… all neon sign, no content.

 


August 9, 2022

Now, when you consider that twenty years ago I would never have guessed my washing machine would feature a design that could text me so I’d know when the load is ready to move to the dryer, I suppose I’d have to say that sneakers with the ability to keep me from wandering to the fridge might have some interesting applications. But that’s not a tangent to this story we need to explore just yet.

 


August 9, 2022

A few years ago, Terry and I decided to set up a snow fence in our yard. The winter before had been especially windy, and we learned some valuable lessons. One of which was that our driveway was a bit exposed, so the snow was swept along the yards in our neighborhood and filled things in. Things like, say, a perfectly cleaned out driveway.

 


August 9, 2022

Have you picked up a package of bacon recently? I’m going to be kind and say five dollars, but unless it’s on sale that price is wishful thinking. Add in lettuce, tomato and bread, and you’re going to be over ten dollars before you even consider if you have any mayonnaise in the house.

 


August 9, 2022

I like to put myself in the functioning group. I can usually get my electronics to do what I need them to do. I don’t have my email set up on my phone, but I know a workaround so I can get to my email on my phone if I really needed to do it. And when it comes to the latest and greatest, I find I’m not unable to learn it, I’m just more defiantly upset I can’t continue using what I know.

 


August 7, 2022

I like to say I’ve never met a deadline I didn’t want to snuggle right up against, but that’s not completely accurate in capturing it. Sure, procrastination is involved. I won’t deny it. There are very few projects… VERY few… that I will quickly move to begin. But there’s another part, where I wonder if the action is one that will truly be necessary.

 


August 6, 2022

Look, my numbers and location inventory may not be perfect… but supplying well over 50,000 buildings with your product is pretty impressive. And we just wander in, expecting to grab some Tropicana orange juice and Duracell AA batteries, as if there’s no possible chance our store won’t have them.

 


August 6, 2022

Earlier today I went out for a short walk. Very hot day. Only wanted to add something different to some exercise I did in the house and switch things up a bit. (Treadmills and ankle weights are fine, but switching it up once in a while and getting outside is a great thing.) Still… managed to bring about two-thousand steps to the rest of my work for the day.

 


August 6, 2022

If I walk across my yard during the day, there are shrubs and fences. There’s a table and chairs. There’s a shed. All of those items from the day are still in place during the night, with possible addition of the raccoon trying to sort out a meal from a birdfeeder being an exception.

 


August 4, 2022

As I began opening drawers and cabinets, and then continuing while I walked around the house to search all sorts of possible kitchen gadget storage places, I was muttering to myself. Basically—curse words removed—I was trying to figure out how it could be possible that I didn’t have a second can opener in the house. I would have accepted even some cheap one that everyone hates but you decide not to throw away and toss in a junk drawer.

 


August 2, 2022

It’s not a real paper clip. It’s called a SIM ejector tool. But I’m betting that for most of us, given the number of times we actually need to remove a SIM card and the size of the darn thing, the SIM ejector tool will be a fond memory and never found when the time arrives for it to be applied to its purpose.

 


August 2, 2022

Was away from home for a bit. The day after I returned, I headed outside to look around and figure out how to attack some overdue yardwork. It was such a subtle change, I almost didn’t see it. Then it hit me.

The fence was missing.

 


August 2, 2022

I’ve been led to believe the speed limit on the road is 55, but that feels nothing short of ridiculous. Not even the state roads, often with multiple lanes in each direction and heavier traffic, continue at 55 for the full length. Those dip and dive up to and below 55, depending on communities, traffic signals, and, many might suggest, to create interesting segments that seem especially noteworthy for local law enforcement.

 


May 31, 2022

Normally, I’m pretty simple when cooking for myself. Sometimes I’ll get motivated to put together a deeply involved meal, from a salad to two vegetables to a main dish that has some type of separate sauce. Other times I’m working hard to find the desire to bring soup to a boil. But either way, whatever I find in the fridge or pantry or even sitting on the counter can move me in one direction or another.

 


May 31, 2022

Many folks know I can be fascinated by noises. Anything from how the level of sound seems to change over the course of a day to the things outside that defy discovery. Now spring has made a definitive turn into warmer weather around here, which leads to an overwhelming arrival of random distractions.

 


May 31, 2022

But if you give yourself some time, it’s never going to be just hot dogs and potato salad. That’s late in the game, cooking what you got stuff. Given a day or two to prepare, you’re going to add a couple bags of chips, corn on the cob, and perhaps buy a few different types of beverages. Your friends are going to ask what they can bring, and a few more items get added to the menu. (And, the s’mores.)

 


May 30, 2022

It started with a bottle of liqueur Terry and I found on vacation a few years ago. It’s a wonderfully smooth coffee caramel pecan blend, and I had poured a bit into a glass to bring out with me.

Next door, our neighbor had a small fire burning. I could hear young voices, and the idea of holiday family gatherings brought on a smile.

In the distance, the first fireflies of the year were dancing about. Not many. In two or three weeks the yard will be a dazzling array of firefly fireworks, but for now it was enough to bring on a thought of upcoming days.

 


May 30, 2022

Most of us have elements of our day mapped out and timed. If our ride to work takes twenty minutes, we almost definitely do not leave two hours before we want to arrive. In fact, I’d bet more of us leave late just about every day, expecting to make the twenty-minute drive in fifteen minutes, as opposed to those that leave thirty minutes ahead of time to have a small cushion.

 


May 30, 2022

Maybe you need to mow the lawn. Weather forecast has rain heading in for the next five days, plus after today your daylight hours are packed. So, you really want to get the lawn mowed today because mowing it in a downpour at three in the morning really isn’t making it any more enticing. But is it an absolute must? Will the world crash around you if you don’t get it mowed?

 


May 30, 2022

In the United States, the population is currently estimated to be around 330 million people. So, if you sell ten million albums in the United States, the media will be presenting you as an unavoidable steamroller of success. There is simply no way, those same sources will argue, that you don’t own the album. And yet, only three percent… 3%... of the population will have purchased it.

 


May 29, 2022

Wooden hammers, however, aren’t just lying around. You might get one or two early on. The game makers taunt you with a couple of freebies, partly to show you how they can be used. Because you don’t know any better, you spot a moment where it will help, take the wooden hammer and just use it. In turn, a few days later, when you reach that crazy level that can’t be done without it’s gone. You used it.

 


May 29, 2022

That Colorado River Basin? There are reports that the agreements in place for water supplies actually far exceed the annual flow of the Colorado River. Reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Powell held enough water to compensate for the difference, concealing the dilemma. Now, however, as a result of conditions traced back to a drought that began in roughly 2000, Mead and Powell are estimated to be below halfway filled.

 


May 29, 2022

This is not offered up for a debate, but instead to set the stage for a reality of sorts. Because, for the most basic of reasons, the majority of us are simply not in a position to purchase zero emission vehicles. But it’s more than that, because those same vehicles are also: (1) Not yet at a performance level that covers all scenarios, and, (2) are only zero emission based on how you ask the question and view the answers.

 


May 29, 2022

Most estimates place the cost of converting an average home to solar power between fifteen and twenty-five thousand dollars.

Now, in fairness, just about everyone actually leans toward the lower end of that range, offering a range between eighteen and nineteen thousand. And, those ranges do not include tax credits, rebates, and other ways of offsetting the cost.

But they also don’t include the routine care, general maintenance, and repair charges. Even if we assume the best cost for the consumer, there are details that get brushed aside.

 


May 24, 2022

Two hours into the first overnight and we are establishing rules. By a 2 to 1 vote, the “no plastic seagulls allowed in the bed” rule passed.

It was a tricky vote. I had to wait until Moose had the seagull and Kona wanted it before calling for it.

 


May 20, 2022

Now look, the ham company makes a great tasting product and sends me some pretty sweet coupons around the holidays. I’m not complaining that they think I want to add some assortment to my grilling options for the summer. My friends weren’t complaining when I sent them their own ham for the holidays. Similar reasoning, I get why the home décor company and two clothing companies and so on are sending stuff my way. I may not be that interested, but there they are.

 


May 20, 2022

The reality is, as far as your relationship with those in attendance, this once every year or three catching up happens just often enough. And, possibly, more often than you care for by a rate of every year or three. If you didn’t see some of these folks for five to ten years, you would never on a random afternoon look toward your significant other and begin a “you know who we need to catch up with” conversation about any of them.

 


May 16, 2022

This is not some deep philosophical puzzle. I’m not asking you to search where the wind blows or begin at the end of the rainbow. Instead, when it comes to those looking back and giving that hypothetical advice to your younger self challenges… well… what makes you so certain you’d listen? Why would giving your younger self a map matter if your younger self doesn’t care about the map?

 


May 16, 2022

I will say, right out of the gate, that popularity doesn’t hurt. Familiarity matters. There are those signs that you spot, from a mile down the road, and know exactly what it’s going to be when the images and lettering take form and focus. But those that we know, we know for a reason. Time and experience and marketing went into that recognition.

 


May 15, 2022

Rhode Island. They refer to the airport as Providence, but it’s T.F. Green and actually sits in the city of Warwick. Southwest, Delta, American, and United provide a partial list of airlines using Green. It’s also technically an international airport, with seasonal flights to Canada offered using Air Canada. More than thirty destinations, including Los Angeles and Denver, are part of their nonstop flight offerings.

 


May 15, 2022

And I got feedback. Pretty much immediately.

Sun rises. Sun sets. A day to spin. A year to orbit the sun. Time is a verifiable measurement. It is not vague and arbitrary.

Technology makes everything better, and usually it’s operator error when it lets us down. It is trustworthy, it’s us that limits it.

And to those responses, I say bull.

(A soft, polite bull. But yeah. Bull.)

 


May 13, 2022

Now, I will admit, I’m a bit embarrassed it took me years to discover that. In fact, even though I’m now positive it is, part of me wants to believe I’m wrong. After all, I spent a lot of time running up and down stairs… looking at the heating and cooling units… examining the duct work… heading outside and walking lap after lap of the house, looking for exhaust pipes and staring at the roof for some additional clues… and, grand total of nothing.

 


May 13, 2022

Take text messages as an example. Everyone raise your hands. Now, put them down if autocorrect has ever changed words on you and you didn’t notice. Anyone left? Ok, has anyone ever had voice text kick in and you didn’t even know it was enabled so you sent some strange audio text? Has anyone ever managed to get confused as to whether or not they were sending, receiving or responding to a group text? Hands go down… hands go down… and, let’s face it, if we’re being honest everyone put their hands down on the autocorrect one.

 


May 10, 2022

Funny thing about grinding your own coffee fresh each morning. You might drink coffee from someplace else. You might even enjoy coffee from someplace else. But if you’re grinding your own, and using quality beans, virtually everything else is going to be far in the distance for you as far as how good a cup you’re getting.

 


May 9, 2022

We all know the drill. Maybe it’s one of those two times a year when the hours shift. Spring ahead, fall asleep for an hour, something like that. Or, maybe the power went out for a bit. Whatever the case, displays flashing or not, there you are needing to get a few of the clocks back on track.

 


May 9, 2022

Friend of mine has his own business. A few recent changes have created a bit of scattershot havoc for him around the place. Kids live in two different states and have some things going on. Parents have been providing a bit of a scare… thankfully nothing too crazy and they’re ok, but silly enough moments that emergency room visits have been involved. And then, because crazy lives there, he and his wife got a new puppy.

You would not refer to his life as boring.

 


May 9, 2022

As the afternoon moved along, the movie just kind of hung around. Every few minutes or so something would trigger a reminder. Imagine a three-year-old you’ve promised some candy at five o’clock. It’s only noon now, but they don’t know what time it is or how far away five is. They just keep asking the same question every minute for five hours: “Now?” Over and over and over (and over and over) again. That was my Sonic the Hedgehog thought pestering me on that day.

 


May 7, 2022

And that’s where the weird things begin. See, toss aside the humor and keep the fundamentals in place… somehow there are things in the world that others do that never change my savings account, have no bearing on the yard work I’ll be dealing with, and in no way reflect upon me or change anything at all within the walls of my house. I’ve still got yellow and spicy brown as options from my fridge regardless of what you have in yours to put on your hot dog.

 


May 7, 2022

For me recently, it was the recognition that I cannot find three things. Thanks to unpacking, thinking, and a bit of time, all else has been accounted for. Everything isn’t right, but for the most part at least I feel like I know where everything is. Except: (1) A pair of boots, (2) a pair of slippers, and (3) a shower curtain still in the package with a winter theme and adorable penguins.

It’s the penguins that are bothering me the most.

 


May 2, 2022

And while I wouldn’t select the rabbits and turkeys for blame in this area, would likely go back to the deer to start, the reality is there are plenty of options to consider. (And rabbits are sneaky. Never trust a rabbit.)

 


May 2, 2022

I could sense some of you pull away at that. I am not saying relish and onions are out of line when dressing up your frankfurter. I have absolutely been drawn in by a fresh poppy seed bun and a Chicago-style dog. What am I saying is ketchup has no place on a hot dog. In fact, a tightly closed, never touched bottle of ketchup has no place on a table where hot dogs are being served. That’s what I mean.

 


May 1, 2022

I like my privacy. I like the doorbell not ringing. Over the years I’ve found that when I answer a knock on the door that I wasn’t expecting, the vast majority of the time I’m not that thrilled by the introduction that results.

 


May 1, 2022

Sand is quite likely the original toy. Perhaps not. Maybe the original toy was a stick, a stream, a rock, or some other incredible combination of time, place, initiative and creativity. Or maybe someone saw an apple on the ground and kicked it. The point being, sand has been around since the early days and has plenty of ways to fall into the definition of a toy.

 


May 1, 2022

How can it be that I don’t have a second can opener?

Even just some cheap one picked up for $1.29 or less at some point. Something long lost to the deepest portions of a drawer filled with useless utensils and culinary artifacts. How can I not have one of those?

 


March 11, 2022

I find that multilane travels tend to be the great equalizer of location. Hit sixty-five on a four-lane road and the trees in Georgia remind you of the trees in Pennsylvania remind you of the trees in Oregon. Keep in mind, I offer this knowing ski lifts and palm trees are very different. Instead, I’m simply nodding toward the idea that as vividly wonderful as some places are, there are other ways that make them not that unique at all.

 


January 16, 2022

Back in 2007, Terry and I were out on a group trip with some friends. We stopped in a famous national chain of breakfast delights, and as we ordered the following exchange took place:

Friend: “What’s the difference between the French toast and the senior French toast?”

Waitress: “Two dollars.”

Friend: “I’ll have the senior French toast.”

 


January 16, 2022

Have you ever looked over some of the information people share on social media? Or, more specifically, the information they present on social media? Perhaps as a profile blurb?

Turns out, there are a lot of people that seem to believe they are influencers. Like, an incredible a lot of people. We’re talking A LOT of people.

 


November 17, 2021

Now, look, I get it. There are about forty-five million shades of blue out there. And for forty-three million of them, it’s easy to spot the differences. Once you wade through light, dark, royal and navy, it’s fair to conclude that the obvious names are going to be exhausted early in the process.

 


November 14, 2021

Funny, but if you approached these city folks and asked them, most don’t understand people that want to live in rural settings. (If you want to really stump them, describe towns where you couldn’t find an open store within one hundred miles to sell you a toothbrush after 5 on a weekday afternoon. They will stare at you in unbelieving silence, more likely to accept the existence of unicorns than such a retail dilemma.)

 


October 28, 2021

We’ve all likely mixed up a sauce. If not by making it from scratch, then by pouring a jar into a pan and adding wine and assorted spices. When it’s done, and we’re plating up some delicious linguini with tomato sauce goodness, we rarely think about that shot of merlot and spoonful of garlic we added. We just enjoy the meal.

 


October 22, 2021

Well, the other day I saw an article that Kellogg’s is being approached with a legal dilemma involving strawberry Pop Tarts. Apparently, the claim is that the product contains a low amount of actual strawberries, while adding pears and apples to the mix. As accurate as the concept may be, and whether or not it has any legal merit or stability, it makes me chuckle and roll my eyes. I would contend… and I cannot stress enough that this is nothing more than my opinion here… if your search for strawberries leads you to Pop Tarts, that right there could be a sign of a faulty treasure map.

 


October 19, 2021

Of course, there’s a catch. There are options for blame in this what happened disappearing act. Maybe it’s the stove. Maybe the fridge. But there’s something just close enough that the piece of carrot could have bounced and rolled and made its way underneath and out of sight. After all, you know a piece fell. No doubt about it. It fell. The issue isn’t if it fell, it’s where it landed.

 


October 19, 2021

Need more? The facility is closer to twenty years old than thirty. In that time, nothing of any significance has really happened at the place. I believe the organization that calls the complex home has made the playoffs twice since it opened… that would be two playoff appearances in more than two decades. Those two appearances sit atop the accomplishment list for the park, and the team was swept out of the playoffs on both occasions.

 


October 12, 2021

The other day I was out shopping. Needed to pick up some Fluff. For those of you slightly confused, I needed marshmallow fluff. For those really confused, I was picking up the only type of marshmallow creme that is acceptable for purchase.

The whole experience got me wondering a bit. After all, like Oreos, there’s Fluff and there’s everything else. And my mind was meandering about.

 


October 8, 2021

We had an old video game system I was looking to include. Problem though. It used RCA cables. (Those are the olden days cables with red, white and yellow connecting ends.) No such place for incorporating that type of connectivity on this television. But there was a solution…

A VCR.

 


October 8, 2021

(Well, it’s more than that, truth be told. You know it’s the averages and statistics and probabilities and cookies and snooping around while sharing information you didn’t know you consented to allow the sharing of… but what’s a little privacy invasion between friends when there are some terrific programs to binge. Right?)

 


September 30, 2021

Once the sun goes down and evening settles in, there are parts of the house that can get pretty dark. Likely no surprise there for you, since just about anyone’s home gets dark when the sun goes down and all the lights are off. But for path leading to the bathroom, a walk to the bedroom, or a search for the perfect snack to satisfy that final craving of the day, there’s one particular light that covers things fairly well. It’s in the hallway. Sun sets, light goes on.

 


September 28, 2021

The flavored butter that involves butter and diced black olives. Yeah, that one caught me by surprise. Not because the olive-infused butter itself was a bad idea. (I didn’t like it, but I do have some friends that actually might have enjoyed it. And, truth be told, of everything we received, this could very well have been your most creative and flavorful item of the night.) But, just a hunch on my end, chances are good your menu shouldn’t refer to it as garlic butter with olive oil and herbs when it’s actually butter with diced black olives and not even a wispy hint of garlic or other flavors.

 


September 28, 2021

What impresses me about my father’s wall is that it’s all there. Add in the few bottles of cleaning supplies, and you have a decent backup run of the non-perishable items you’d be looking for in an emergency if they suddenly were unavailable. We might even call the work a bit of a Goldilocks-level supply. Not too many. Not too few. Just the right amount, especially if the stores ran out for a bit.

 


September 28, 2021

I often wonder about that job specifically when I hear people discussing work environments, employee and employer expectations, and what the difference is between fair critiques and misguided opinions. Because the reality is, a desirable job is not as simple as just having a job available. Employment and good employment are two very different things. Employment opportunities and employment opportunities that match an applicant’s needs and skills are two very different things.

 


September 26, 2021

Sure, childhood, flying. Pretty sweet with just that. I also was handed a deck of cards with the airline’s logo and a pair of plastic captain’s wings. Which, yup, awesome. But then, shortly after taking off and still in a state of disbelief while staring out the window, I was served pancakes.

 


September 26, 2021

E-mail arrived the other day. Wanted me to know I needed to rush in for my free queso and chips. On the surface, nice enough. Kind of a you’re a valued member, hey, here’s a special deal to welcome you back. But there’s a thing. (You knew there was a thing, right?)

It is nice. But it would probably be better if it didn’t show up the very day after the previous offer for free queso and chips expired.

 


September 21, 2021

School and league fundraising has reached an unreal level. This is no longer about having a five-dollar bill in your wallet and giving it to the kid down the road that is trying to support his baseball team. Suddenly, it’s logging on to a web site that accepts your credit card and suggests a minimum of a $50 contribution. It’s become a massive, research and statistics driven, money-seeking machine.

 


September 21, 2021

If you were to go online right now and search for Zen and lawn mowing, I can pretty much guarantee you thousands of results. For some people, the idea of mowing the lawn takes on a level of dedication and importance that cannot be overstated.

This essay should not be a part of those results. We are not going to explore the mystical nature of lawn care.

 


September 21, 2021

Let’s make this clear, here and now: If you are undertaking something—anything from a home improvement project to a lifelong dream—and you’re not hurting anyone else or breaking the law, you have my best wishes. As long as your ambitions and intentions don’t bring pain or harm to someone else, and there’s nothing deep and dark and hidden that I don’t know of, good luck and great successes.

 


September 21, 2021

Here’s an innocent example…

In the summer of 1985, a concert was held. Multiple locations. It was called Live Aid. One of the comparisons this event received involved how many performers were taking the stage and the Woodstock show from 1969. That right there is roughly a 16-year span of time between the shows, and a lot of folks thought that was an eternity.

 


September 19, 2021

When you first get your license, you want to explore. And the only navigational tool beyond your memory and experience back then was something printed, like a copy of the official Arrow Street Guide. There was no GPS or app recalculating after every turn. If you went out, turned right and then left, drove fifteen miles and turned again, there was a good chance you could get yourself lost.

 


September 19, 2021

The helpful (being polite) representatives and the quality (being polite) brand name shop checked me in, looked things over, and said they could change the battery if I wanted. (I did.) They also said that before committing to a new battery, I might want to consider upgrading to a newer model. (I didn’t, but I did appreciate they weren’t heavy handed about it. Just a mention, and obviously one I expected that wasn’t out of line being asked.)

 


September 19, 2021

Terry and I pretty much don’t let any Christmas pass without visiting Ralphie and the gang by watching A Christmas Story. I had seen the original version of The Santa Clause, but not the two that followed, so last year we ran through the entire trilogy. A few years ago, I finally watched It’s A Wonderful Life. So, we have our traditions, and I’m caught up on most of the things I’ve missed.

 


September 17, 2021

When it came to the phone call, there were a few problems. Many homes only had one phone. It was located in a somewhat central place, like a kitchen wall. Likely had a cord, and not a long one. You got to talk on the phone, needing to be aware of others in the house if you had any privacy concerns, and couldn’t move more than six to eight feet from the wall. Add in charges for long distance calls, and things really begin to get fun.

 


September 17, 2021

Several times, I’ve pointed to the great tire dump off the coast of Florida as the standard for understanding how to evaluate good intentions gone very, very bad. I am a big believer that often when we rush into action because something needs to be done, we fail to fully understand the something we do. Not always. But often.

 


September 17, 2021

The oil is supposed to be changed on the ride on lawn mower every fifty hours. We’re wrapping up the seventh season of use on it, and should be slightly over one hundred fifty hours of use when winter storage arrives this year. Feels like I’m using it far more than twenty hours a season, but that’s about what the gauge is counting.

 


September 14, 2021

We moved in late in the fall and went through a fun winter season. The first time I went outside to mow the lawn it literally took me ten days. I had decided to collect the grass because of the way the yard was left to us, figuring it could use something of a bit of clearing and cleaning. Then, multiple days of rain swept in and called off activities a couple of times. And, really, the length of time actually makes a bit more sense than it appears as you read it. Still, yeah, ten days.

Yes, before I finished mowing it, it did need to be mowed again.

 


September 14, 2021

In some cases, they involve places where I live, family members live, or friends live. I like to keep up on local events that involve me, those I care about, and may be likely to hear in some conversation.

A few are places where I’ve traveled or plan to be traveling.

Many are just because I like the news. Local and regional and national and international news. Sports and celebrities. Fact and the occasional bit of gossip.

 


September 12, 2021

Consider ride sharing services. We all view them as taxi replacements, but you know the groups I mean. Now expanded on those into a delivery service for food, which given room and reason over the past two years, has grown incredibly. And now, your packages from Best Buy and Amazon and more may wind up on your doorstep with what has every appearance of a private vehicle out front when it does arrive.

 


September 12, 2021

I’ve come to hate them.

Ok, that’s not accurate. Or fair. I don’t hate them. As I said a few moments ago, they are doing wonderful things. But I admit, the sight of their logo or return address does cause my eyes to roll and triggers a deep breath of frustration.

 


September 10, 2021

Or, never. We’ve probably never really been pumpkin spice free around here.

That does not mean we have pumpkin spice added to anything and everything now that fall is closing in, the evenings are darkening a bit earlier, and the cool weather is approaching.

Also doesn’t mean we’re avoiding it. After all, I do love everything about autumn. Pumpkin and apples and gingerbread? Sign me up. Love the stuff.

 


September 10, 2021

My wife is a very good cook. Delicious food, and she prepares it with love. I know that sounds corny on the surface, but there’s depth in that statement. A lot of people believe a meal is a way to convey togetherness and affection, and I value such thoughts. The dinner becomes the legendary community sharing of a table and breaking bread. The preparation of the meal is an investment of time built upon caring about the people it will nourish. Terry cooks from the heart.

 


September 9, 2021

Eventually I needed something from the basement, and heading down the steps I was red hot. Bang bang bang. But the source still wasn’t clear. I checked some of the possible culprits, but everything from the dehumidifier to the furnace were fine. And while literally spinning around to consider the possibilities, eventually the timing of a round of beeps and the way I was facing brought a resolution to the mystery.

 


September 7, 2021

A handful of years later I was attending college. Different state. Several hundred miles away from that small court. It was a weekend, and I happened to be in a convenience store near campus. A few of us were out grabbing food from one restaurant or another, and had stopped to pick up something to drink. I have no clue how right time right place right everything swirled around and connected, but there they were. Bottles of the believed lost to time fruit punch soda.

 


September 7, 2021

Let’s say you were in a diner. It’s about fifteen minutes before closing time when you walk in. All you’re looking for is a cup of coffee and a piece of pastry. Nothing fancy. Staff has been through a long day, though no customers for the past few hours (for whatever reason), and they had been working on shutting things down before you arrived in the final moments of the day.

You order a cup of decaffeinated coffee. They had already cleaned that pot. What are the odds you’re getting decaf (as opposed to a cup of regular coffee, which they still have ready, that they will say is decaf)?

 


September 3, 2021

People have become trained by what I’d describe as a heightened sense of immediacy. We want results and information. Now. Right now. We’ve roared beyond the arrival of twenty-four-hour news cycles into pulling out our phones and expecting updates within seconds. (Sarcasm alert: Accuracy not always included.)

To a large degree, this sense of immediacy has come to define our lives. Free two-day shipping brings about being unsatisfied and disappointed by free four or five day shipping. We want what we want and we want it an hour ago. (So much for patience and virtues.)

 


September 3, 2021

When I was growing up, we made regular trips to the grocery store. Our purchases were placed into paper bags, which in turn were brought home and then used to cover our school books. We had a box in the backyard for the milk delivery. A glass bottle, return the empty, milk delivery. I walked places more often, used my bicycle more often, and rode around in a car less.

 


September 3, 2021

We hop on the internet with good intentions. And then, without warning, the temptations of roughly a trillion pages of stuff takes hold.

A trillion web pages. That’s a rough estimate.

 


September 1, 2021

If you’ve ever experienced the joys and wonder (and sometimes boredom) of stretches of road across the United States, you know that a sign warning you that there won’t be any gas available for a while means there will be absolutely no gas after this next station for a really long distance.

So, regardless of it being food or gas or alcohol or lottery tickets, there deserves to be some thought given to a place that wants you to know the road ahead is lacking. That, in summary at a really basic level, is fair.

 


September 1, 2021

Some places attribute it to specific conditions. Others to a certain location. A few cite evidence that it happens below a set temperature, and some contradict by saying it needs to be above a set temperature. It might be the time of year. And then there are the skeptics, combatting the studies by debating different sounds being mistakenly attributed to the planet.

 


September 1, 2021

We walked into the area of the store featuring computers. I counted. Seventeen different displays set up. Six all-in-one units, five PCs, and six laptops. A representative greeted us and we explained our needs to him. Out of the seventeen on display, eleven met our specifications. Of those, only one was in stock so that we could buy it and walk out of the store with it at that very moment.

 


August 29, 2021

One day I walked in to a restaurant, approached the then empty counter and asked about my to-go order. As the person was about to turn around to a table that had some bags on it, a delivery service driver arrived. Person that was taking care of me saw him, knew that his bags were waiting, and grabbed them first. But, as he looked them over, the driver noted he was missing two orders. So, do you think the server turned and checked the one remaining bag to see if it was part of the set (or even if it was mine)? Of course not. She went in back, looked around for the other two orders, waited for them, and came back five minutes later to hand them to the driver. My order was sitting on the counter, a handful of feet away from me and paid for, getting colder while I waited ten minutes for the driver that showed up after me to have his stuff packed together.

 


August 29, 2021

So, I’m standing at the counter in the optometrist’s office. Wife wears contacts, had been given a new style to try, and now was the time to order a few. I had no clue what I was doing.

In my defense, I don’t wear contacts. Never have. Don’t think I ever will. While that may change somewhere down the line, with a day arriving that finds me willing to switch from frames to contacts, the more specific and relevant point remains… I do not know much about contact lenses.

 


August 28, 2021

First, I’m wondering how often you see turtles. I don’t mean the ones that some of you have in aquariums in your home. I mean the crossing the street, down near a local stream, in the corner of your yard turtle sightings.

Second, I do believe most of us consider turtles to be a regular thing. Go outside and there’s a panda? Nope. Not happening. A koala or a kangaroo? Depends on where you live, with it quite possible in Australia but not so much in Canada. A moose? Perhaps, especially in Canada, but you’d still be looking for something to take a picture if you spotted one. And then, consider a turtle.

 


August 28, 2021

One place may only take cash. Another operates only one or two days a week. I know a fabulous restaurant that only takes cash and is only open five days a week for three hours each day around lunch. And then… well… look, there are cat cafes and places that rent goats to mow lawns. Somehow, many of them thrive.

 


August 27, 2021

Those days have long since passed. In this neighborhood, we’ve seen the outdoor care of almost every property taken over by services. That’s not surprising, the kids have grown and long since moved to other places while many of the owners have remained. As to the earlier hours of blades spinning and engines puttering, a business based on outdoor work needs to make the most of available daylight.

 


August 10, 2021

Once, in the same segment of a sports radio program, I heard the hosts discussing the Mount Rushmore of NBA players and then pivot to a discussion of the Mount Rushmore of NBA players from their city’s team. And if you’re thinking that seems like a natural pivot, then I would like to add that the hosts used the next segment to qualify the different levels and construction of the city’s Mount Rushmore created by players drafted by the organization as opposed to those brought in via trades and free agency, and then adding value for those that only played for this organization in their careers. Yes, indeed, they created a Mount Rushmore of one NBA organization’s free agency signings.

 


July 30, 2021

Let’s say you live in a heavy-snow area. Old Forge, New York? Yes. Carlsbad, New Mexico? No. It might make sense for people in such a place that own homes to receive unsolicited mail about snow fencing. Makes sense for the region, and that they might consider a purchase. Wouldn’t be too hard to narrow the search parameters to add in characteristics that might increase wind and driveway issues.

 


July 27, 2021

In the corner of my mind are fairly detailed memories of a bank opening up near our house decades ago. They held a party that lasted multiple days. Had someone dressed up in a costume walking on a tightrope. (It was a lion wearing a king’s robe and crown. Impressive enough, and partly little else going on, that we went to a couple of the shows.) Gave out gift bags to kids, which resulted in multiple days that summer making bake-it-yourself stained glass.

 


July 23, 2021

Bears. Mountain lions. Or maybe… ok… fine, maybe not bears. But I’ve seen everything from skunks and racoons and woodchucks to deer and turkeys and geese parading in and out and all around my yard. Seem them in the fields nearby. Maybe he was having some troubles with wildlife around his yard and heard that the scent of his pee can act as a repellant.

 


July 23, 2021

I chuckle every now and again when areas look for ways to improve the flow of traffic and increase safety. Absolutely worthy and noble endeavors. And there are amazing things that a bit of research and unlimited computer simulations can reveal and design.

Still, a roundabout tossed into a community where a roundabout has never existed before is usually going to come with a bit of an adjustment period. I don’t know how many computer simulations build in a few weeks of driver hesitation and confusion as part of the results. Guessing it may not be many.

 


July 20, 2021

Never mind the expensive chocolate. What I’m saying is that the regular price in this store usually isn’t a true price. It’s a misleading label designed to get you to believe that you’re getting a great deal from the sale, when in reality the sale is just bringing the price down to what you would have expected it to cost all along.

And that ticks me off.

 


July 20, 2021

Have you ever used a paper straw? The quality—more precisely, often the lack of quality—involved in the paper straw industry is, often, discouraging. On this particular day, our straw unraveled on the first exchange between us. We hadn’t taken more than two sips out of the cup and we needed another straw.

 


July 9, 2021

So, here I am, and I ask: What’s the deal with blueberry coffee?

Before you try to answer, let me slide this into place. I swear I saw a box offering toasted marshmallow mocha coffee.

Toasted marshmallow mocha coffee.

 


July 1, 2021

I’d probably let it pass if it wasn’t for that can of soup directly underneath it. I’m sure that in my lifetime I have probably used a can of cream of celery soup or two. But I don’t remember any of them. And I cannot think of a single reason, very last second no other option and crossing my fingers to late at night and I really need some, where I would be looking to a convenience store for a can of cream of celery soup. It’s just not what I would place in the emergency need or impulse buy categories.

 


July 1, 2021

When you’re driving at night, the entire dashboard lights up when the display turns on, pretty much completely compromising a driver’s ability to use any mirrors on the vehicle. It can be, literally, a blinding distraction.

They also become a habit, an all-purpose crutch, where many people don’t use the mirrors even when they can see them. The look both ways and check your mirrors mantra hasn’t changed, it’s been wiped out of existence. It almost seems as though if it’s not on the camera, it doesn’t matter.

 


June 23, 2021

If you investigate it, you’ll start to find out all sorts of things. There are variations depending on the metal used. Variations based on the types of twisting of the wires. Single strands. Double strands. Single wire. Double wire. Coated steel. This gauge. That gauge. A half gauge. Stainless steel reverse twist double strand 13 gauge barbed wire.

 


June 23, 2021

Not that you can’t watch it because you don’t subscribe to the streaming service it’s on. Not that you don’t want to be forced to watch commercials because it is on demand but you’d be stuck with the no fast-forwarding scenario. Not even that you can find the DVDs to order somewhere online, but the price is outrageous or the supplier fairly suspicious.

I mean there’s something you really would like to see, but it isn’t available in any format on any platform.

 


June 22, 2021

On it, two people were having a conversation, and it came out that one of them had only been to a specific major city once in his life. They city was roughly 90-miles away by car, and happened to be a significant international destination. Again, he had been there once. In fact, he claimed to have on that trip he never left the vehicle he used to get there.

 


June 22, 2021

Breaking out the lawn mower is not necessarily my idea of thoughtless peace and harmony. Yet I have several friends that not only change the blades on their mower twice per season, they sharpen them after every use. (Yes, every use.) They know down to precise minutes of operation when to change oil, clean filters and replace spark plugs. I have known them not to spend a handful of hours working on their lawn, but rather to invest almost every day off completely into landscaping issues around the house from the first waking moments until the sun sets. They tell me they do it to get away. They claim it’s not a chore in the sense of an awful to-do, but rather a way to truly escape from everything else for a bit.

 


June 22, 2021

Terry and I live somewhat in an isolated setting. It’s not amazingly far away from the real world. It’s not the middle of nowhere. We have grocery stores and dining options within a few minutes of the house. Even a great community movie theater. (One-dollar popcorn on Wednesdays! Looking forward to that becoming a regular thing again.) However, it’s twenty minutes in one direction to a decent sized city, with significant shopping and restaurant names, and it’s more than a half hour to the real city area.

 


June 21, 2021

Any parent with finicky eaters under the age of ten can explain why national chains are popular. It’s the consistency of the menu. You know you can walk through the doors, sit the child down, place chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard sauce on the table and the child will eat. Headache remedied.

 


June 21, 2021

Now, hold on. It was barely two seconds ago that I warned you I needed you to stay with me. Off I go, mentioning a chipmunk looking for a birthday card and you throw your hands into the air.

Obviously, we’ve never seen a dolphin using a smart phone to check any reminders on its calendar. I know of no records or evidence that confirm a lion baking a cake. I feel comfortable saying there has yet to be an orangutan witnessed purchasing party balloons.

 


June 21, 2021

I mentioned to her that there were several types of fondue, including cheese and chocolate… and that was it. Chocolate fondue? Chocolate fondue? I had to leave my two roommates in charge of the food (which they ate… thanks guys). She dragged me to her car, then the store, and we got ingredients so she could have chocolate fondue not only that night, but as soon as possible. It was as if I had introduced her to something she knew had been missing her entire life and could not wait to try it.

 


June 20, 2021

At a previous house, our neighbor across the street introduced herself by bringing over dozens of iris plants. She was thinning out the ones in her yard and wondered if we’d like some. We took them, planted them and enjoyed them. When we moved, we dug up several of them and brought them with us. Thinned our yard out by bringing some to the boys. Her kind gesture has added to the beauty of four yards in three states.

 


June 20, 2021

The other day, I saw an article blurb on the home page of an entertainment-news-based web site. It basically wanted to know why Pixar movies weren’t as good as they used to be. To that, I ask you to look again at that list of their most current five releases: Luca, Soul, Onward, Toy Story 4, Incredibles 2.

My response is simple: Pixar fading? They have to be kidding.

 


June 18, 2021

Another room has a ladder on the wall. Terry had seen one used to display things in someone’s house and seemed to remember we had one in the garage of our house. When we moved in, we found it, an object left behind by some previous owner. Sanded it lightly, added a bit of stain, and now it’s on the wall. I don’t think we even had to buy sandpaper or a can of stain for it, just using what we already had. So for the cost of physically moving it, we have dozens of memories on display. Plus, the comments it gets for a unique piece just keep coming from everyone that walks into that room for the first time.

 


June 18, 2021

Decades ago, the quick and immediate answer would involve the world, singing, and a cold Coca-Cola. That may not jump readily to mind with a lot of people these days, but about forty to fifty years ago it was a song written as a marketing jungle. (And it is a marketing theme that Coca-Cola uses even today in a variety of ways and places.)

 


June 18, 2021

Kids today likely won’t understand outrageous long distance call charges or the possible need to call your parents from pay phone. They don’t have the firsthand experience with something like coming home from school, being locked out of the house, and just sitting around and waiting because there was no way to contact the person you were looking to reach.

 


June 18, 2021

Now, some of you right now are thinking about this idea. You’re debating mysteries that have been going on around your home, or maybe thinking of things that were solved in very unexpected ways. You might even specifically need to address some chipmunks that have been running around. I’m not sure I can help you out. I don’t know the answers at my house.

(And a few of you are wondering how the hell I made the switch from lightning to chipmunks.)

 


June 14, 2021

It’s the disconnect between those two questions that I think has me thinking about this today. If someone has their own list, and that list is made up of eggs, milk, toilet paper and frozen pizza, then that’s fine. But the sign says “your” essentials, meaning my essentials, and nope. This doesn’t cover it. Which means the person writing it didn’t write it for me. And frozen pizza? That hardly sounds like it was written for you (well, most of you).

 


June 14, 2021

Good conversation, making s’mores, and just quietly sitting and staring off to the heavens. The elements necessary can change from event to event. There is no specific list of ingredients necessary to create brilliance. A bit of this, a bit of that, mix, relax and enjoy.

 


June 14, 2021

I mean, come on. I wrote an essay saying that thoughtful and beneficial conversations were endangered, with society at a point where there likely isn’t a single issue for which we will ever see a unanimous agreement. The first response to my being convinced people are unable to agree is someone that disagrees.

Yup, I win.

 


June 12, 2021

There’s more to the story—necessitating a deep dive into the motivations of our generous friend as well as a long list of assorted issues—but there is also a flip side to the story. It involves two screwdrivers, with price tags still on the handles. If they are accurate, his best gift to me was a grand total of one dollar and ninety-eight cents, plus tax. And it tends to make all the others worthwhile for me.

 


June 9, 2021

This is finding a key ring that refers to something meaningful, so you put it aside and save it, never a key near it. It’s about casino chips or coins from other countries, stacked up next to a framed picture of a trip you took with some friends. It’s a broken belt from a dryer that you successfully replaced in a “I can fix that (though I’ve never tried this before)” home improvement project.

 


June 9, 2021

Turns out, no one knows. Oh, sure, likely floor cleaning professionals. I get the idea of who could be an expert. But I actually used three search engines, created terms for how often vacuuming should be done and who are the vacuuming experts, and I didn’t see one specific name. “Experts recommend” this… “experts say” that… experts all over. No names.

 


June 8, 2021

The sarcastically witty voices in my head wanted to answer simply: “When everyone in the house leaves me alone.” Which, to a degree, would be true. Take away questions and errands and the variety of absolutely appropriate and acceptable interruptions that occur, and often focus upon a single task improves. Just makes sense.

 


June 7, 2021

Game of Thrones. That was just a massive part of the entertainment landscape for many years. We all heard about it. Do you know which episode is noted as having the most viewers, and, how many viewers that is? As you might expect, it’s the final episode. Cleared 19 million viewers.

That’s pretty impressive.

 


June 7, 2021

For whatever reason, recently my mind flashed back to something from my childhood. It was a battery powered garden shear. You may have seen them. It usually consists of two plates with three or four prongs, attached to a motor, battery and handle. Simple. And I don’t have one.

 


June 6, 2021

I think the problem is that in most cases, you’ll find that these rules were invented to create an easy way of teaching something. A way to remember it. A way to show others how to apply it. And when you go one step further, the biggest issue tends to be that when people don’t understand the rule, it creates all sorts of issues when attempts are made to bend and break it.

 


June 6, 2021

That’s just a simple example of where things can go off the rails in all of us getting along. Some people would argue Five Guys doesn’t need to serve the peanuts, and could step into positive customer relations by dropping them. Others would contend it’s part of the charm, they love the peanuts, and that there are plenty of other options for burgers out there.

 


June 6, 2021

Have you ever known a bird to own a computer? When was the last time you were aware of a cardinal reading a newspaper? Are there any examples of a blue jay watching a weather forecast and making plans as a direct result of what it saw?

Your answers are likely no, no and no. Fair enough.

 


June 3, 2021

While living in that first house of ours, a neighbor stopped by one day. She was thinning the irises around her property and wondered if we’d like a few. We happily took them. Later, like the hosta, many of the irises were brought along with us from one home to the next.

 


June 1, 2021

Once that wave of acknowledgement ice had been broken with her, Terry and I began seeing our dog walking friend several times a week. Perhaps it was us, or maybe she recognized our car, but even if we were off by a bit and passing further down the road, the smiles and waves became a regular occurrence.

 


June 1, 2021

I’ve found, every so often when a conversation turns to such material, that it never really occurs to many people that there is a solution. They toss their hands in the air—an act of I can’t do this defiance, of sorts—and step away. I would contend that often, the first hurdle in any dilemma is very simple: understand that there is an answer. It should be a natural reaction. And, if it was, then instead of giving up our first steps would actually be to move toward solutions.

 


May 11, 2021

The Nautilus from the Jules Verne novel was a prediction of an electronically powered submarine. Nicely done, Mr. Verne. But hardly a one-hit wonder, he has a few other thoughts delivered before their time. He wondered if electricity or light might be able to power a mission to the moon, and you can find solar sails now deep into design and experimentation. Just do some looking around, and you’ll find Verne suggested, furthered, and essentially predicted many interesting developments long before they arrived.

 


May 11, 2021

My mother had no shortage of parents telling her about how their kids couldn’t stop talking about dinner at our house. She used to shake her head, trying to figure out how she could spend hours feeding us and not get nearly the same level of praise. My guess is that a few companies owe my father some referral payments for the kitchen cabinets that were filled as a result of “but I want hot dogs and baked beans like I had at (our) house” cries.

 


May 3, 2021

Organic is not a word without some meaning behind it. It does have some weight and power when it gets awarded. Still…

Organic does not mean any specific levels of nutritional value. Organic does not mean that it is healthier for you to consume. Therefor you cannot issue as fact a blanket statement saying organic produce is better produce. That would be false.

 


April 27, 2021

There’s a scene where two of the main characters, who happen to be children, are on the run. They stumble across an old garage, get a vehicle running, and off they go. Critics (I’m not quoting, but the intentions are out there in plenty of places if you care to go looking): (1) No way the battery would have worked after being on a shelf for twenty years. (2) That gas would have been unusable. (3) Tire rot.

 


April 16, 2021

As an all-in-one-tool, gosh, we’re talking amazing. Park tickets and reservations for attractions and payment methods in retail outlets and so much more. The darn things allowed for anything and everything you wanted or needed. We’re not stretching the truth to say you could walk into a store, wave your arm to both pay for your purchase and confirm the details to have it shipped to your hotel room, then take ten steps and wave it again to begin your move to the front of the line at the next attraction.

 


April 14, 2021

I’m not writing this to examine (or reexamine) what does or doesn’t influence a child though. That’s an argument for a completely different time. What frustrates me is how people tend to present information that supports their argument while completely ignoring anything that might create an alternative interpretation of reality.

 


April 10, 2021

Facebook is down. The page said the folks at Facebook knew it was down. Action. Reaction. Should be a bit of closure if we bring patience into play. Difficulty. Confirmation. And yet, countless numbers of people raced to an alternative to ask if anyone else was having troubles with Facebook.

I’m probably stretching the idea here, but this entire event struck me as a beautiful example of the current needs of immediacy and validation that are swirling around society today.

 


April 10, 2021

Second, you’re an idiot and I just don’t have any time to deal with your stupidity and ignorance. (And that’s me being kind in my description of your situation.)

This reason usually means that I’m keeping my mouth shut and not engaging with you mainly because it’s not worth it. You go on being the loud clown, I’ll be the one over here enjoying something worthwhile. You interpret my silence as lacking in knowledge and possibly ability. I view it differently.

 


April 7, 2021

Funny enough, I can’t do any research into it. The reality is no one is talking about this specific problem. (Go ahead. Look it up. You’ll find all sorts of links to USDA and other official sounding agency advice about safe butter storage. You’ll find plenty of links suggesting how to get the butter to room temperature, or how to soften it properly in a microwave without ending up with a plate full of liquid butter. But in no place that I have found does anyone discuss why the butter softens in July but not January.)

 


April 7, 2021

For a variety of reasons, there seem to be all sorts of things out there that we simply don’t see from day to day. And then, once we become aware of them, for a time we simply can’t not see them.

A long time ago, I pieced together a couple of lessons I had learned into what I approach as the twenty-four-hour buffer. Basic idea is, with very few exceptions, there is nothing you can do right now that wouldn’t be better done tomorrow.

 


April 4, 2021

People make fun of me from time to time. I like CDs. I like DVDs. But more than anything else, I suppose the best description of it is I like tangible. It’s nice to be able to say that streaming whatever… music and movies to start… can help me out. But what happens when Amazon or Apple goes out of business, and can no longer provide authentication of my purchase (and protect my rights of product ownership)?

 


April 4, 2021

Funny thing about driving around. If you can manage to stay on a decent secondary road and continue along a fairly straight path, eventually you’ll find yourself looking at a sign for a major road. A highway. Maybe an interstate. Usually with numbers you recognize. You will find that every road can lead you back home. (Just follow some of the best literary advice ever: “Don’t panic.”)

 


March 28, 2021

Even with the Cap’n removed as an option, it’s likely most people would stick with cereal mascots for this humorous social media challenge. That means a list of responses that would likely include Tony the Tiger, Buzz the Bee, Toucan Sam, Count Chocula, Lucky the Leprechaun, Snap, Crackle and Pop.

 


March 28, 2021

Even if you live in an apartment, I would wager that a ton of results came back. Most of the leading ones will be from real estate sites, such as Zillow and Trulia and so on. If you head over to some of those sites, chances are really good you will find some lovely photos of the place. (Seriously, even if you didn’t post them, there they are. Did the previous owners have an on-line listing? Then enjoy the slideshow of your home. And even if it’s been some time since the home was last on the market, and the interior shots aren’t there, chances are that some Google image from the street is (along with link to a map).)

 


March 26, 2021

Did you know there are people that have tried to figure out if Doc’s need for 88 miles per hour could have been reached by the DeLorean in the mall parking lot? Well, of course there are. (Most seem to claim it wouldn’t have, unless Doc tinkered with the engine.) The point is, when you claim significance, and even many times when you don’t, you have to assume someone is going to call you on accuracy (or at least claim significance).

 


March 21, 2021

You often hear the idea that there’s a link between the personal importance of something and the capturing of information. I don’t have a doubt that’s true. (As so wonderfully offered as an example of several things, if you want to measure a dog’s intelligence, show the dog you have two biscuits in your hand and then only give the dog one.)

 


March 18, 2021

Three days ago, an e-mail arrived. If we take the contents as true, it was from a manager of a company that produces outdoor products, including backpacks. She said that she knew I was in the market for sports products, with backpacks an important accessory. All of which tells me that the possibility exists—again, face value of the e-mail—that some programming code was developed, picked up on the title of my web site, and the word backpack created both a hit and an assumption. But it’s pretty darn obvious she never looked at my web site for a second, because I’ve got no need for any of that stuff.

 


March 17, 2021

The night included that wonderful game we all know and love: Staring at the ceiling, turning to the clock, turning back to the ceiling while saying “Ok, if I just get to sleep right now, I can still get six hours of sleep.”… repeat, “Ok, if I just get to sleep right now, I can still get four hours of sleep.”… repeat, “Ok, if I just get to sleep right now, I can still get three-and-a-half hours of sleep.”

 


March 17, 2021

By frequency, it would be the street I grew up on. That’s simple enough. But there’s a funny twist to the story. That road was two-tenths of a mile long. And, since my parents lived essentially dead center on the road, it meant any travel along it was rarely more than one-tenth of a mile.

That means ten trips to walk or drive a mile.

One hundred trips to walk or drive ten miles.

One thousand trips to walk or drive one hundred miles.

 


March 13, 2021

While the result is not quite the a la carte approach some of us may have envisioned heading our way a few years ago, the reality isn’t too far off. There’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+… select one from column a, two from column b… consider the services offering those specialized programs you enjoy… laugh at Apple TV+ with their five so-so shows while shaking your head and wondering who the twenty-seven people are that actually subscribe to it… and you have arrived at television for your home.

 


March 5, 2021

It stumped me because, depending on the type of tea, I often add different things in different combinations. Usually, I stick with the big four: honey, lemon, sugar and cream. Honey the most common. But depending on the type of tea involved, I’ve been known to use both honey and sugar at the same time.

 


March 4, 2021

How about placing them on 8½”x11” pages? Must be some savings there. Well, those costs are all over the place. Even the lowest quality of paper that size runs about $10 for fifty sheets. You can position three 4”x6” images onto a sheet, so that $10 would get you one-hundred-fifty pictures. Not bad at under $0.07 a picture, but… the price for this paper varies wildly, once again we haven’t considered the costs associated with ink, and you are going to need to cut the pictures on your own. At its best hit to your wallet, is ink and labor worth more or less than two-cents a picture?

 


February 27, 2021

I said version of the question, because honestly the mail arriving may not matter. It might be the time you leave for work. Could be when the kids get out of school. Perhaps you settle in to watch television every Thursday evening. The idea here is simple… there is something that you repeat, and do without thought, and accept as a given, even if it’s where you keep your forks and spoons.

 


February 26, 2021

Not sure exactly what I mean? Ok… let’s adjust to thoughts about a couple of regional legends. Imagine you love In-And-Out Burger or Del’s Lemonade… that you want to head to an Iceberg Drive Inn or Skyline Chili… you can’t just hop in the car and arrive at your craving in ten to twenty minutes in every city from coast to coast. You’re going to need… and I’m sorry to say it… you’re going to need to go without. Or, find an alternative. (I know… as if.)

 


February 26, 2021

I absolutely hate making large purchases for the home. Not always. But in general. If you find a difference in a cost that favors one store over another, you often find that delivery charges equalize the final total. It’s like a magic trick. One has a lower cost for the dishwasher, but then there’s delivery and installation and taking away the old dishwasher. Oh, and if you want the warranty to be valid, the installation must come from that store’s highly trained team of certified installers.

 


February 22, 2021

Are you a walnut person? Or do you prefer pecans? It isn’t just a question of whether or not you’re adding nuts. The type of nut matters. I even have friends that will explain, in detail at great length, the importance of toasting the nuts first.

(Yup. Toasted nuts. And you thought a chocolate chip cookie essay wasn’t going to get deep and serious and controversial.)

 


February 22, 2021

The impulse for this essay happens to be someone that Terry and I consider a friend, though we’ve only known her for a handful of years. She has been amazing for both of us, personally and professionally, over and over (and over) again. Any time we’ve had a question, or simply needed a pat on the back and a positive word, she’s been there for us. The type of person that makes your world… makes THE world… a better place.

 


February 19, 2021

Planter’s began offering cheese balls several decades ago. Specifically, Planter’s Cheez Balls. They weren’t the very best cheese balls. But they were good. Very good. And they had this complementary buttery-like taste that no other brand offered. In short, if you were in the mood for Planter’s cheese balls, you had to have Planter’s Cheez Balls.

 


February 18, 2021

I have this fear about handling chainsaws. I’ve used them many times. Have even owned a couple, with one in my possession right now. I simply don’t like how easy it is to get lazy with it or tired. Those aren’t the perfect words, since I don’t truly mean getting lazy. But I’ve shared chainsaw stories with many people. And one thing we all seem to have in common is that every story reaches a moment where a person is working on a project and encounters a distraction or a feeling of casual overconfidence.

 


February 18, 2021

One of the difficulties in gift giving is that most people can fall into two scenarios: (1) When they really want something, they buy it, and therefor don’t need anything (or even have anything sitting on their want-to-get list). (2) Even if they do fit into some group, or have some particular interests, it can be hard to avoid giving horrendous gifts associated with it.

 


February 18, 2021

I’m not bringing these up as a criticism of any sort. I think almost all of us have a few things that we don’t even believe rise to the level of wink-wink acknowledgement. I’m just wondering about the differences we might find in people that exist and define levels such as not being aware of doing something wrong, not really being concerned by doing something wrong, and, ultimately, flat-out disobedience.

 


February 14, 2021

Did you ever have the follow the instructions trick test in school? Teacher passes out paper. Begins by saying that we should listen to everything said, each and every question, before doing anything else. Then, the questions begin. Number one… number two… number whatever… questions end. Final instruction is to leave the paper blank. And, of course, a huge chunk of the class moans, having been writing answers for the questions on the sheet of paper while being asked them, completely ignoring the very first instruction.

 


February 14, 2021

The weird part is, my reactions always tend to be strongest about Rhode Island. I’ve lived in other states. Traveled quite a bit. Rhode Island? A small state. A hop on Route 95 and get from the southwest corner on the border of Connecticut to the northeast corner crossing over to Massachusetts in under an hour without speeding small state.

 


February 14, 2021

Past year has been a bit rough. Every so often, a package has arrived. One of our friends sends a little note, and has been including a mask with each one. Another wrote a beautiful and thoughtful letter while sending a blanket to my wife. I cannot tell you how amazing the gestures felt when we received them and realized what they were. Simply put, I can tell you that angels walk among us.

 


February 14, 2021

In the previous five years, I have never seen a single snowmobile moving along anywhere except in a neighbor’s yard or along a marked trail. This year I’ve seen them pulling in to gas stations, parked in spaces at a coffee shop and other assorted locations. Multiple times. Of course, I get why a snowmobile would be moving toward the gas pumps. I’m just saying that I’d never seen it before, but somehow this year I’ve seen it easily more than five times.

 


February 14, 2021

Let’s say I have two friends that absolutely love pizza. (No. I get it. Everyone loves pizza. In this case though, let’s say my two friends both own restaurants that serve pizza. Plus, toss in that I’ve traveled with them, discussed pizza with them, and know that both of them are fascinated by crust styles and ingredients and toppings and more. They will argue for hours not just about whether or not pineapple belongs on a pizza, but invest many lengthy and separate sessions into different types of pineapple. Fresh and canned. Chunks and rings. Sauce style used. (Side note: pineapple does not belong on pizza. Different argument. Different essay. Worth noting.))

 


February 11, 2021

When Terry and I bought our first house together, she and I talked about setting up a workshop for her. She does a lot of crafts, and they are far from limited to one type of item. So incredibly large work surfaces, with sturdy construction, was important. I used full sheets of plywood, and framed everything with 2”x4” boards. It was overdone in ways… you could have multiple people stand on top of them, with tools and assorted equipment… but it served every purpose she threw at it, and the basic design was used again when we rebuilt her work area in our next home. It led to us having a joke, where we said that for any repair all I needed was a two-by-four.

 


February 9, 2021

I am not doing this to suggest that a coyote is moving along to grab its mail. Don’t want to create the impression I believe a deer or two are crossing my yard to get some take out. And while I’d love it if a racoon hopped on by to clear some of the snow from our driveway—I’d even leave a couple of bucks for its troubles if it did—I’m not expecting one to stop in immediately after the next storm clears.

 


February 9, 2021

Today, Terry was going through some boxes and she stumbled upon a few unexpected tidbits. My grandparents bought their home new. First owners. My grandfather was involved in the building of the house. Started after he returned home following the war. Worked on it with one of his brothers.

They ended up with the blueprints to the house. Terry found the blueprints, a black and white photograph of the house, and a copy of the mortgage note. (Meme and Pepe paid $42.42 each month on the mortgage of their new home.)

 


February 9, 2021

A few days ago, I had a really basic bad day. Nothing truly horrible. But a basic bad. I woke up, opened the fridge, and realized I hadn’t taken the bacon out of the freezer the day before. That changed breakfast plans. The changes to my anticipated start continued when I realized I hadn’t run the dishwasher, so most of the mugs were dirty and I really didn’t want to invest the effort in washing one just for the cup of hot cocoa I was craving. I walked across the kitchen to the sliding doors into the back yard. Opened then blinds and saw it had snowed. Enough that I was going to need to head out and work in the driveway.

 


February 6, 2021

The feedback began coming in, and I was gathering some really interesting information. For one thing, my father’s professional career was primarily spent in broadcast media. He confirmed that many of the results I was seeing in my smaller sample group matched up fairly nicely to the industry-conducted ratings and numbers. And then a form came back with a note in the margin.

 


February 6, 2021

On the surface, there actually is little doubt that being productive should equate to being productive. A simple example—really basic stuff—proves the point. You make up a list of things to accomplish tomorrow. You wake up, get ready, and start your projects. By the time you settle in for dinner, the list is done. And there you have it. Productive.

 


February 6, 2021

Let’s say you have a family or friend that sells cars. They live about somewhere between 200 and 400 miles away from you, and you regularly visit them at least four times a year. My guess is that if you are in the market for a new car, you’d at least consider purchasing one from your family member or friend. And when you did, it wasn’t a special trip that you made for the purchase. It was a special purchase you made during the trip. Makes sense, right?

 


February 3, 2021

Ever had hush puppies? Think fried corn bread and we’re headed in a direction where we can find a decent understanding of things. Well, this recipe was brilliant. I made the batter, Terry cooked them, and the recipe was pretty much perfect. Some of the best we’ve ever had. Crisp on the outside, dense and moist on the inside, perfect.

 


February 3, 2021

A note like that could be a ton of different things. The city. The weather. It’s where I went to school. That’s three good ones with a lot of variety right there. Didn’t even mention The Great New York State Fair, which means there are plenty of other places to go. Just saying Syracuse might as well be a one-word note that says blue… or left… or sneakers.

 


February 1, 2021

I think my favorite examples of this are when a combination of need and inconvenience creates amusing results. Think of a time when you’re in the basement, or out in the yard, and the tool you need is in the garage. Sure, you could put everything down, walk the length of the house, head up the stairs and go to the garage, rummage through your tools to find a hammer, go back to the basement and use it, then turn around and repeat the journey to return the hammer to the garage. Or…

 


January 27, 2021

How many stores can you think of that have come, gone, lasted or turned over that have made some type of memorable connection with you? We all know stores close, but at times it seems as though many shut their doors and no one notices it happen. We could think about G. Fox turning to Filene’s and then to Macy’s. How about Zayre? Some sting, some don’t, and some leave us numb.

 


January 25, 2021

Years ago, Bobby Riggs was a guest on a television show called The Odd Couple. All you need to know about Riggs for this idea was that he likely was best known for his hustling and gambling. On the show he challenged one of the lead characters to correctly type his name in ten seconds or less.

 


January 25, 2021

That’s a bit harsh. And I’m obviously exaggerating to make a point. Still, the general concept remains. If you have one box filled with bubble wrap and nothing but bubble wrap… and an identically-sized second box filled with enameled cast iron Dutch oven cookware… and both of those boxes would fit on a shelf in the basement, she will not be questioning whether or not that shelf can support the weight of either box.

 


January 25, 2021

We live in an area where it can snow constantly. As in, no snow in the forecast, no storms sweeping along, but just a bit of moisture in the air and frigid temperatures and lake effect and *POOF* measurable snow on the windshield the next day. Over four days this past week, we got about four inches of snow over two days. No real fast buildup of it. Just a half-inch overnight, then a quarter-inch during the day, another half-inch the next night, and by the end of four overnights there was four or five inches to trudge in. Seriously, if you were here to experience you would agree, it just snuck on in and there it was.

 


January 24, 2021

Generally speaking, technology has advanced in ways that my laptop can now actually be a hinderance where once it bordered on being a requirement. For example, whenever I need to check in for flights. Just ten years ago, without a smartphone and most companies still in the early stages of app development (if they even had an app), some type of computer access to the internet was likely needed to make sure you had things set up for your flight. Today? Geez, between getting your laptop internet access and navigating a web site, it turns out a smartphone and app combination can be significantly faster and easier.

 


January 23, 2021

Maybe it’s technology. I’d love to have something to blame, and that sure seems like an easy place to direct my accusations. Text messages. E-mails. Social media. So many ways to stay in touch with people, most quick and convenient and completely lacking true connections. But that wouldn’t be fair. Because even though it’s easier, it doesn’t mean I’m actually making as many phone calls or writing as many e-mails as I would like to be. And they don’t have to be empty gestures.

 


January 23, 2021

To give you an idea we can use an example that has nothing to do with my call. Let’s say you needed to touch base with a mortgage company. For one thing, you were changing the information on your insurance policy and needed to update the company and address that got paid each year by your mortgage company. And, for another, you had received an offer to refinance and wanted to find out some specifics that weren’t fully outlined in the letter sent to you. Same company… two very different departments… and some nuances that meant an automated button pushing progression wouldn’t finish off your needs.

 


January 23, 2021

First one that strikes me is a wooden lion. Terry and I had gone on a trip to visit my sister in Australia. Back at home, we had begun collecting unusual animal trinkets. Hard to explain, easier to show, but essentially the idea of the collection was that we wanted to gather things that involved taking them a step beyond a basic carving or statue. We were looking for unique and different. This lion has belly that has been carved out, with an intricate pattern in place, and inside of it is another lion.

 


January 23, 2021

There’s been some stunning stuff turning up in our basement. And one thing tonight almost brought me to tears. A folder with some old school papers. On the top, a handwritten and stapled packet. It was a report, from forty years ago, documenting a family vacation. It happened during the school year, with all of us getting on a plane and flying to Disney World. How old was it really? The Magic Kingdom was the only theme park.

 


January 20, 2021

When I got to the car, there was a layer of snow on it. It was that somewhat wet snow that isn’t too difficult to move. I knew the temperatures were expected to drop in the afternoon, which meant that if I left it the windshield would end up covered not with snow, but ice. I left the bags on the back seat and headed to the garage, where the snow brushes for the cars are. While clearing off the windshield, I realized the brushes needed to be in the cars and not the garage, so I went back to the house because I only had one set of keys. I picked up another brush and… hey… why is that ladder over there?

 


January 20, 2021

But this USB extension cord? I haven’t used one. Ever. Not one. Right now, so far, I’ve found I have two. New in the box. Why? Then I begin wondering if I might move something later on and an extension cord might be just what I need, but wireless stuff is taking over everything, and suddenly I’m trapped in the circular logic of arriving at a day where I need one, had one, but no longer have one.

 


January 18, 2021

Stop signs were originally yellow. Apparently red was considered from the beginning, but most of the materials available for making the signs were known to fade over time so yellow won the day. Eventually, red became the norm once fade-resistant-enamel could be produced in that color.

Greenland Sharks are believed to possibly live for up to five hundred years.

Green Eggs and Ham was produced on a bet. Dr. Suess was challenged to produce a book containing less than fifty words.

 


January 18, 2021

Remember Salt City? Ask someone from Syracuse and they might be just as inclined to say snow as anything else. Although, to be fair to a city I do love and have a history of my own with, Syracuse residents (and those nearby) are far more likely to respond with tales about Salt City, salt potatoes and the Great New York State Fair. I don’t catch as many of them flatfooted with the question.

 


January 17, 2021

A few of my friends are outstanding cooks. I mean, could open their own restaurant brilliant. And prepping marinades, chopping vegetables, the entire process of cooking anything and everything is their escape.

I love cooking, love eating, hate dishes. That means more often than not my efforts in the kitchen can be based entirely on how many pans will need to be scrubbed later on.

 


January 17, 2021

Hey, I want a new amazing range with two ovens. Whatever size we think we need for a new refrigerator, I want to double it. Give me that live edge dining room table that seats twelve. But if you’ve found that the there’s a problem with asbestos, lead paint, or the discovery of shoddy workmanship behind the walls that needs to be upgraded, I can make due with what we’ve got and dump the $5,000 wish-list table.

 


January 17, 2021

We park the cars facing the street. Our driveway isn’t too long, but it’s not short either. Moving a car forward in drive is far easier in the snow than moving in reverse. Part of that is front-wheel-drive vehicles, and I would say a good portion is not driving in snow using mirrors as a guidance system. It’s also a trick we picked up in our previous house, which not only included a longer driveway, it also provided the added bonus of a decent uphill rise between the street and the house.

 


January 15, 2021

Now, I didn’t come here to talk to you about well pumps or the joys of working on them in below-freezing temperatures. I came here to talk to you about stuff around the house, and how many of the things that seem so mysterious—even though, I cannot stress this enough, the vast majority of which should be worked on by experienced people and not novices—aren’t all that mysterious.

 


January 15, 2021

The really funny thing is, all I need to do is look out my window. There are far more deer tracks across my lawn in the past two weeks. So why are they in the fields but not the woods? I think we’re all still basically locked into our houses more than previous years. And, of course we are. Thing is, I’m starting with deer, but want to mention Christmas lights.

 


January 15, 2021

But for me, it’s a communication tool that has expanded. I admit that I’m in the age where texting is almost a necessary concept. And sure, I use the browser to help out with information when I’m not at home. My response to that, however, would be that I have grown into those options and have never been enticed by them. And in the end, as long as it’s doing what I need from it, I don’t get all that excited about update possibilities.

 


January 12, 2021

The history of meringues is, well, unknown. Honestly, no two sources really agree on being able to state anything definitive. Most will mention a small community and a chef by the name of Gasparini. (Several seem to take a tremendous pleasure in noting that it likely was not invented in France. Enough that it was an obvious recurring side note, and I was really wondering why so many articles were mentioning it wasn’t invented in France. Perhaps another story, definitely for another time.)

 


January 12, 2021

If I asked you to find a spoon in my kitchen, you probably would be able to handle it pretty quickly. But, likely without thought, you cheated. You unconsciously and immediately decided we keep spoons in a drawer, and began with those. What if I asked you to find a plate or a coffee mug? Might take a few extra seconds. And if we move into cutting boards, lids for frying pans, or perhaps a mandoline, chances are good you wouldn’t even start looking before asking me where it is.

 


January 12, 2021

Other times, it’s putting things away that becomes dangerous for my clean sheet of paper. Once I was unloading groceries and came across our old bread maker. Hadn’t been used since we moved, silent for years, and suddenly bread flour and a few assorted ingredients were being jotted down. Another time a can of clams got in the way and triggered a craving for clam cakes.

 


January 12, 2021

First, Terry is a bit over the top when it comes to Christmas. As in, without going to where the Christmas stuff is stored, I can already tell you that we have containers for at least six different styles of trees. At least. The Disney theme, the maroon and gold theme, the silver and blue theme, the traditional ornament theme, the special gold ornaments theme, and the nutcracker theme. That’s six, and I didn’t look. I know there are actually several more. In addition to trees, there are also boxes with animated figures, skating rinks for villages and… ok…

 


January 12, 2021

Still, if you’re going to tell me there’s no such thing as bad cake, well, you’re wrong. It’s actually become one of my rules for bakeries as a result. If I like a bakery and think I might be back, I usually make it a point to try cake and perhaps a brownie. If you’re claiming to be a bakery and you can’t make a brownie, then you should close your doors. I know… and you do as well… there are some horrendous bakeries out there that couldn’t make a good brownie even if you just let them use a box mix instead of their crappy recipe.

 


January 9, 2021

Some people are conscious of the price of gas and how it impacts them… compact car. Some people use their vehicle for work or perhaps don’t care… sports utility vehicle. Each… a $100 check.

Some people commute great distances and share rides with their friends and spouses to work. Some don’t commute as far and drive alone. Each… a $100 check.

State to state… taxes differ. Everyone… all together… a $100 check.

From the Backpack ~ Likely original posting date May 1, 2006

 


January 9, 2021
I was reading an interview with Penn Jillette a few weeks ago. I don’t recall the exact quote, or even the exact question for that matter. But Penn essentially pointed out that you don’t need to reach that many people to be an overwhelming success. With hundreds of millions of people living in the United States alone, just finding 1% of the people agree with you in some fashion can provide a tremendous following.
From the Backpack ~ Likely original posting date December 4, 2003

 


January 5, 2021

I wouldn’t say I grew up with some sort of formal, deliberate approach to butter. But I don’t know that I ever considered anything but slicing a pad of it off of the stick, top to bottom style (so to speak). I suppose if forced to explain it, because it’s never something I’ve tried to explore before, I’d say that unconsciously I feel it’s almost cruel to the next person to approach it any other way. Be kind and keep the stick of butter neat for the next person.

 


January 5, 2021

When was the last time you smacked right into something in your home? Corner of a coffee table happens to us, even in the best of light. But then, in the middle of the night, not wanting to turn on lights, we set off thinking we can navigate our path. Three steps to the entry of the room, turn left down the hall, five steps and… and… and we’re usually off before we even get to the edge of the room we’re in.

 


January 2, 2021

I think, if we are going to come up with any type of simple summary, we need to be able to figure out a way to determine what is in a person’s head and heart. What do they truly believe? What do they truly feel? That is not simple at all, and it’s at the very center of my observation about being sorry about what you may have done versus being sorry because you got caught.

 


January 2, 2021

The person writing the article was highly critical of the show, even though they had never seen even one episode of it. Seriously. Never watched a single episode, freely admitted that repeatedly in the article (to the point of adding in a (my words) “and you can’t make me” sticking out of the tongue attitude as the bragging about having never seen the show was mentioned again), and effectively slammed the show as a waste of time.

 


December 23, 2020

And that’s it, isn’t it? Comfort zones.

It’s not about accepting or rejecting technology, at least not if we’re being honest. I may not be the most current or even interested user of the latest and greatest, but I can navigate around most issues and get what I want and need taken care of.

 


December 23, 2020

I’m not talking about running out of mustard and suffering without it for your hot dog. Nor am I talking about making a shopping list, opening the fridge to check things out and finding you need eggs and orange juice. What I mean is something you don’t regularly give any attention, but somehow when you do is exactly when you needed to spot it. Whenever that moment is, random as it may be, that’s when you check and that’s when you need it.

 


December 23, 2020

There are certain things a person needs in order to survive. Food. Water. And you know the drill. It moves on into things like shelter. Depending on who is designing the list we might start off on one tangent to consider air right up there with food and water. Another tangent brings us to sleep, rest and health. And yet another tangent can move into emotional areas such as companionship and support.

 


December 20, 2020

Ok. You got me. I added the enjoy part to Tuesday. And Binghamton is a side note that didn’t matter to where we live. We ended up with around six inches of snow. But the rest of that charting, even in my words, is pretty close to dead on accurate. In fact, I’m sure I did hear a forecaster or two mention that significant snowfall might be good fun. Just don’t tie me down to that one. (Especially if you live in Binghamton.) Still… back to the main path of this essay…

 


December 20, 2020

The basic ideas to take from this are that I really don’t have many habits or routines when it comes to my daily endeavors. I don’t start things off by lining up containers from the medicine cabinet. I don’t need to put on a pot of coffee. While it may edge right up against too much information, if I’m headed outside to do some yardwork on a hot summer day, I’ll often skip a morning shower and wait until the work is done. All of which often leads me into some vague and troubled waters.

 


December 10, 2020

Unfortunately, I’m afraid there may actually be more involved here. I’m sorry to say that as some people have been repeating their messages with other postings… in a few cases with messages and links to stories that are completely fabricated, which a quick check of the facts would reveal… and as a result I’m seeing stances and more that are hard to ignore or write off as an oops.

 


November 30, 2020

At first, Mom didn’t get it. She tried telling me about the recipe she’s used for decades to make snickerdoodles, and how I probably had it in the stack of recipes she had passed along to all the kids, and insisted I should try that one.

She didn’t understand that this wasn’t a phone call asking about a snickerdoodle recipe. This was a phone call asking about THE snickerdoodle recipe. I wasn’t looking for a recipe, I was chasing a memory.

 


November 25, 2020

It’s not because I really like balloons. It’s because our first dog, Lady, went bonkers whenever there were balloons around. It’s as if she thought they were the source of all evil in the world, she needed to protect us, and the way to accomplish that was by barking at them to make sure they didn’t move. Eventually you would be forced to move them someplace where she could no longer see them.

 


November 25, 2020

The basic story goes like this. While looking for some dinner ideas, I came across an old dessert recipe and thought I would try to make it. One of the ingredients is Dutch cocoa powder, and to my memory that was a fairly easy purchase. Go to a grocery store, find the baking aisle, locate the chocolates, and there, right next to cocoa powder would be the Dutch cocoa powder.

It was not an easy purchase.

 


November 4, 2020

But which is it? Because behind the doors of your own home… if we only ask you… you think your way is right. And that means we could have two homes, side-by-side, wrong and right at the same moment.

(Lovely. We might have a foundation now to debate Schrodinger’s toilet paper.)

 


November 4, 2020

When I was younger, I tried to get interested in stamps and coins. The fascination lasted for one weekend trip with some friends to a hobby shop that specialized in stamps. Beyond that, I don’t think you could string together more than five minutes of attention from my childhood.

Ok, that’s not true. I vividly recall my parents, during a family trip to Washington, DC, bringing their children to the National Postal Museum one morning for a visit that involved many of the Smithsonian locations… and that was a pretty interesting trip for a variety of reasons. I’ve always appreciated some of the stories and histories involved in several specialty hobbies, including stamps and coins.

 


November 4, 2020

This delay means that when you do actually buy batteries, you go on a spree of changing them in game controllers, remotes, clocks, flashlights and more. It means that whenever a new package arrives in the house, it’s immediately called upon to supply a dozen or so needs. Thus, the result becomes that as soon as you buy batteries you’re basically out again.

 


October 11, 2020

One day, a woman came back to the desk after checking in and visiting her room. She was quite upset. Nothing was what she had expected or requested. There was no refrigerator in the room. There was no television. And she continued. She insisted she had double-checked and was told she would have an oceanside room, with a television and a refrigerator. When I asked if she recalled the person she spoke with, she claimed it was a very rude young girl. She said she’d never forget how poorly the girl had treated her, but she didn’t know the name.

 


October 11, 2020

(And that, right there… face or no face… that’s uncalled for sarcasm. Because in reality Tigg was looking out for me. She knows I like lemonade, knew we needed a new container, went looking for one, and bought one. If I was so set on getting a replacement, then I should have moved my behind a bit faster and bought one myself. Besides, a requirement for a new container wasn’t that it must be from Tupperware. Some of the stuff from Pampered Chef is outstanding and we have a few of the company’s items that I can’t imagine being without. (But where would that be funny? Instead, I make the skeptical husband face and offer up a bitter attempt at a joke. Ha ha. Anyway…))

 


October 7, 2020

Ok, we should probably start off by saying this isn’t some deep and dark espionage situation. People weren’t launching drones, placing tracers on my vehicle, or setting up surveillance efforts in an unmarked van across the street.

Netflix and Amazon have not reached out, are not conducting interviews with me, and do not appear to be seeking the rights to some incredible tale where a few gifted screenwriters could bring about a multi-episode season of exciting suspense.

Not that I know of.

 


October 1, 2020

Now, in fairness… Cross Lake… Seneca River… even the Skaneateles Creek… are all in the vicinity. Depending on how ambitious we might want to be in finding the source of this abandoned water craft, there are places where a boat could be used without having to travel multiple zip codes. It’s not like we have discovered a boat ditched on along a major road someplace in New Mexico or West Virginia, with thoughts wandering to places that might connect what a dinghy and a cactus have in common.

 


September 29, 2020

I don’t know why that text message at that moment struck me as odd. Couldn’t explain why the thought came into my head right then and there. A few personal things going on… a few crazies in my days lately… and then, sure, the rest of the world figuratively (and, in spots, literally) on fire.

How are you and Terry doing?

 


September 19, 2020

We all have those absentminded days. The ones where we wake up, stumble into the kitchen and try to make some coffee. While the water’s heating up, we realize we can’t find any half and half, or even the mug we thought we had put out before starting the water. After spinning around to take in all the counters, we add half and half to the shopping list, then grab a cup from the dish rack and the milk from the fridge.

 


September 6, 2020

Usually, if I don’t have time to write a draft of a piece, I grab a sheet of paper or write some lines in a notebook that outline the topic and some thoughts. If I’m sitting at the computer when it hits, I’ll open a document, jot a few ideas and save it. End result, I try really hard to have something in place that reconnects me with the idea so I know what I was thinking and if I had any designs on where I wanted to head with it.

 


September 4, 2020

There are no specific qualifications that are universally cited and agreed upon. A national source might have something that pertains to wind speeds, visibility, duration, potential accumulation totals and such. On the other hand, your local news Doppler Weather Radar 8600 420K Report with Spiffy Jim wants to be your source for weather accuracy. So, they have a region mapped out… their viewing region… and if a might flake drop, the darn thing gets a name.

 


September 4, 2020

For a wide variety of reasons that aren’t part of this story, my sister (Kerri) and her husband (Nick) were on a journey driving around the United States that summer. They were very roughly planning on bringing their trip to an end around the days we would be in Pennsylvania. Roughly meaning their schedule would have them crossing the state while we were there. Plans were made to meet up in Hershey.

Here’s a bit of a twist to the story. This took place about twenty-five years ago. No GPS. No cell phones. No navigational apps. No where-are-you text messages. Just hotel reservations made, meet up on this date, hopefully everyone is around in time to join up for dinner.

 


August 30, 2020

Over a bit of time I began noticing something while watching some brilliant guitarists perform. Their hands never seemed rushed. There was a calm, smooth, steady movement. Watch John Denver play “Rocky Mountain High” and… well… it’s just a mesmerizing thing of beauty.

 


August 30, 2020

Terry and I have the favorites from growing up in Rhode Island on the mind at times. We have preferences for baked beans as an example (and never can find brown bread in our neighborhood markets). So, any time we are visiting family and friends in the Ocean State, we have a tendency to stock up on these treats. (Hence, a bigger than really needed bottle of Autocrat syrup being purchased.)

 


August 30, 2020

But here we are, breakfast complete, the day ahead of us, and a few possibilities for dinner are being kicked around. If I’m going to head out for some corn on the cob and buttermilk—we’re thinking of frying some chicken, we’ll be ready for you about 3, don’t forget to bring your famous potato salad and a pie for dessert, we’ve got the beer—I probably should make the trip a bit more productive and sort out anything I might need over the next few days.

 


August 30, 2020

I suppose my difficulties though are more with what we might summarize as the organized business of religion. And yes, I know I’ve gone and stepped on it with that. Because there is no way I will be able to fully form my feelings and thoughts, defenses and explanations, or anything else associated with supporting that idea in a single essay. Religion for many is a lifelong dedication. Good luck covering that in one thousand words (or less).

 


August 30, 2020

Chip and Dale make a couple of appearances, though I’m not going to share the reasons why here and now. Nor will I go deeply down the road discussing Tinker Bell, Harley Quinn, Figment and Scooby-Doo. (That said, the multiple Mouse Ears probably need no explaining.)

 


August 30, 2020

But when you have a shear pin that needs replacing, and the thermometer inside the garage is registering low single-digits (while outside is negative numbers), and you’ve already returned from eleven-hours that day at work with dinner to make and a long day tomorrow, I think you can be forgiven after clearing the driveway for not moving around to different corners of the garage to put everything away when thoughts of defrosting your face seem like a more pressing priority.

 


August 30, 2020

It was an observation that originated when listening to a variety of albums, by bands where I usually enjoyed the entire album, and for some reason—probably on a long car trip—I happened to notice that the seventh song on album after album was my favorite song on each one. Seemed like a nice theory, which I never wanted to not be true, so I just ran with it and left it in place.

 


August 30, 2020

Earlier I was working on some laundry and I got around to a load of towels. Tossed them in the machine, got it started, and went out to handle some other stuff. Roughly fifteen minutes later, I was washing my hands in the kitchen, reached for a dishtowel and realized I should have switched it out when I started the laundry. That, in turn, reminded me that the towels in the bathrooms could be changed as well.

 


August 28, 2020

One piece of advice that seems a bit out of the ordinary, and yet makes a lot of sense, is creating a to do list for myself. Remember that mind chatter? Let’s use that as a theme here. Part of the mind chatter problem is that your mind can’t settle down. You keep thinking of all the things you need to do tomorrow, or concerns that are bothering you, or tap dancing unicorns.

 


August 28, 2020

She started with that prescription. That led to talking about the pharmacist, and over to grabbing a sympathy card, and did I remember when it used to be across the street and we picked out special occasion cards for my grandparents, and eventually curled around to asking if I remembered when we would go in when I was really young and on most stops would be allowed to select one candy bar for myself.

 


August 28, 2020

I was born and raised in Rhode Island. Methodist was the religion of our household. I can imagine what it might have been like to grow up in Arizona… Kansas… Alaska… and I might even come pretty darn close. There are shared experiences. We can apply the same idea to being raised Catholic, Jewish, or as a follower of several other religions (or none at all). But the truth is, I do not have the real-life background to tell you what it’s like to be a Jewish girl that was raised in Oregon.

 


August 27, 2020

So, people are living longer, which means more people around to span multiple generations. Plus, better details about exactly what the entire planet looks like. And the great thing is, lately we’ve arrived at a point where the guesses are darn good ones. Most studies and researchers are able to adjust factors for various circumstances and variables, while all seem to be narrowing in on similar results when putting this type of question into perspective.

So… are there more people alive right now then the full total of people that have died?

 


August 27, 2020

This should not be interpreted as meaning I don’t like attending weddings, don’t respect weddings, or in some way that I’m advocating all of us have better things to do with four hours (or more) that suddenly get swept aside and are gone for good by a ceremony and reception.

I’m fine with them overall. Invite Terry and I. We’ll try to be there. And we will bring a nice gift (or at least a really nice card with a check inside).

 


August 27, 2020

The oldest restaurant in the United States is the White Horse Tavern. Want to guess where it is? Yup… Rhode Island. Opened in 1673, it just so happens to also qualify as the oldest bar and tavern in America. The amazing thing is, even though many sources list it as the oldest “restaurant” in the United States, the oldest restaurant in the world is generally regarded and accepted as being…

 


August 27, 2020

You know the North Star? More officially it’s called Polaris. (Ready? Sit down.) Some sources say it takes six-hundred and eighty years for light from Polaris to reach earth. The War of the Roses began in 1455… Canterbury Tales from Chaucer, that’s usually marked around 1387… Henry VIII executed Anne Boleyn in 1536. The North Star you saw tonight? All of those things happened after the light you saw left Polaris.

 


August 25, 2020

For many years—many, many, many years—I’ve been putting aside stories and more for a book themed around a subject I call Neapolitan Management.

It is not a perfect theory. But I believe in the theory of threes, because it can simplify things when it comes to discussion and more. And, I think there is something in the idea that just needs to be cleaned up and sorted out.

Have you ever seen a container of Neapolitan ice cream? Three flavors, one box. The idea for my book has a foundation that divides any one set of people into three groups: chocolates, vanillas and strawberries.

 


August 25, 2020

I have some bananas on the counter, perfect for baking a couple of different delicious options. I’m thinking banana pancakes for breakfast, and since I have several bananas I don’t want to lose, some banana chocolate chip muffins to save for later.

 


August 25, 2020

Most people will tell you to follow it as written. At least the first time you make something. And, of course, depending on what you are attempting there are reasons for sticking as close as possible to the play-by-play on the card… a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with fluff swapped in reacts much more smoothly to changes than a cake recipe where you go willy-nilly with the type of flour being used and decisions on how much baking powder or unsweetened cocoa to add are made with shrugs of shoulders or estimating what’s left in the package rather than exact measurements.

 


August 25, 2020

I’ve seen articles that attempt to offer proof that it’s true, and frankly I have zero doubt that it is. (That said, I admire and respect Dwayne Johnson, but I doubt if I could make a phone call that gets a referral to the next and ultimately leads me to him in under six numbers. Still, he has an open invitation to come over any time. We’ll fire up the barbecue, play some cards, and have a great afternoon. He can bring a few friends. Do you think The Rock likes s’mores? I’ll bet he does. (Umm… sorry… got a bit carried away. Back to it…))

 


August 25, 2020

Well… his comments were not just swagger, but increasingly were including some personal attacks. So, I decided to just unload everything. The bulk of my army was sent toward the area of my attacked settlement. About twenty-seven dragons were teamed up in three groups and dispatched across the map to seek and destroy. I added some barracks and shifted my main focus to adding troops upon troops upon troops along with farms to feed them.

 


August 23, 2020

Current relationships with people you love and want in your life do not always mingle that well with the skeletons in our historical closets. That’s a big one. (And a given.)

People also tend to have a protective personality that kicks in, meaning we often believe we are the ones right in any given situation. As the saying goes, the villain of a story never sees themself as the villain. And in the end, such a revisiting of history could reveal items we don’t want to see or hear or consider.

 


August 23, 2020

Make no mistake, it’s not clean. It’s something like a warm animal, mixed with hay and dirt. A bit horse, a bit barn, a bit hard day of work. And, I’ll be darned if there isn’t something soothing about it. Same way a gardener might tell you about the smells of different plants, or someone doing yardwork might find fresh cut grass appealing, there is something about that horse and cow and hay and dirt in the air that for some reason I kind of like.

 


August 23, 2020

Maybe that’s not being fair. Sunsets would likely be a part of many of those moments of nothing. Beautiful sunsets, especially surrounded by people you care about in amazing locations, are fantastic (even when you’re just standing there in silence taking it all in). Not sure that nothing really works when given some deep thought.

 


August 23, 2020

Many years ago, a protest was launched against an episode. The specifics aren’t important. It could have been because of a joke. Could have been because of some storyline or character or something you’re not even considering. Could have simply been Peter’s naked behind on the screen. And, as the saying goes, when it came to the protest, it was in all the papers.

 


August 23, 2020

On the other side, the entire house goes dark when they head off to bed. I’m guessing they’ve ended the day and headed to sleep. I don’t watch them every evening. They could be off to the basement to play cards for several hours and shut things down to save energy for all I really know. But if the light is on in the backyard, you can usually see a light or two on and a television-like glow coming from the area of their living room. If the light is off in the backyard, all of the lights in their house are off. I’m going with things closed down for the night.

 


August 22, 2020

I suppose she’s not wrong. I do have clothes that I have dedicated for certain things, such as yardwork or painting. And those torn sweatshirts are things I wear because: (1) I like them, and, (2) it’s cold and I don’t want to turn the heat up in the house. All this and more means she doesn’t have to worry about me grabbing them for an evening out with friends at a decent restaurant. We’re good there.

 


August 22, 2020

My grandparents were very rarely in the kitchen together. I mean, they never cooked at the same time. With one exception.

French pork pies.

They made a pork pie that was… well… a slice is Heaven on Earth to me.

 


August 22, 2020

One morning on the way to work, the fuel indicator caught my eye. Pressed for time, I knew I had just enough to make it to work and back, and decided to fill the tank later in the day. As I sat reflecting on this decision a few hours later, in a parking lot of traffic on the highway caused by some unknown circumstances, I considered the next exit still five miles ahead and the low fuel light that had come on some twenty miles of driving earlier, and it occurred to me I hadn’t thought of everything. I might be walking. A lot. I might not be in a position to even pull to the side of the road. This could get fun.

 


August 22, 2020

About six years ago, on one of the first days of July, I was driving on the highway to meet up with my wife. Long drive. Started well before 5pm. Arrival would be around 10. It was well after 9 before I turned on the headlights of my car. And I didn’t turn them on because they were needed. In fact, the vast majority of the cars on the road had their lights off as well. Skies were clear, visibility great, lighting good. Instead, I glanced at the dashboard and saw it was approaching 9:30, and for some reason it just kind of clicked that I should turn on my headlights.

 


August 22, 2020

So, I’m doing the dishes the other night, and I pick up a meat tenderizer.

And it hits me as a bit strange. I mean, come on, a meat tenderizer. Who would buy one of these things for their kitchen? It’s a hammer. (Well, a hammer on one side, and a spiked weapon on the other. Speaking of which, side note, have any of you ever used the spikey side? Neither have I. Anyway…)

 


June 24, 2020

Orangutan and dog becoming friends? Great stuff. To date, however, I have never needed to know any information about how to introduce an orangutan to a dog for personal use.

But I find these moments to be heartwarming in a way. Real and authentic might be good adjectives for them. Individualized moments that capture and convey something necessary for the larger whole to have true meaning.

 


June 24, 2020

Some of you may be laughing right now. For the others, I simply hope you will kindly understand the intended absurdity of my description. I get that a clothes dryer has a bit more going on than a belt spinning a bucket while hot air blows in. But the idea is sound… there hasn’t exactly been a massive development in new clothes dryer technologies or designs over the years. It’s the same darn thing. Drum, belt and a lot of hot air.

 


June 21, 2020

Only time I even notice them is perhaps once every two or three years, when I glance toward one particular cabinet while climbing up the stairs from the basement. I get to see the bottoms of the cabinets from that view. In fact, as I think about it, I’ve seen them twice. Both times coming to the same thought: “Hey, those look like battery powered lights. How come I never saw those before?”

 


June 21, 2020

For those of you that may be wondering, the best way to end this essay is letting you know that national cake day is November 26th according to most sites that track and list such unofficially official dates. And because… well, yes, cake… January 27th is national chocolate cake day.

 


June 30, 2020

I have zero clue where this came from for me. Probably nothing more complicated than playing a game against my sister or nephew, one match ended and there was no question another would be started, and it just made sense that whoever wrapped up one should carry out the effort to move along to the next.

For whatever reason, that has become what I consider the way to do things.

 


May 18, 2020

My askew thoughts? I started hearing from friends that had children at home they needed to entertain, so they were spending an hour or two in the driveway, running a car so they could recharge the batteries for their phones and tablets.

A tad out of the box? Cell phone service had been knocked out completely. If you didn’t have a landline to use, you were cut off. No calls going out. No calls coming in. No social media.

 


May 15, 2020

Your grandparents and parents never would have guessed when they were children that a wireless phone would not only be portable, affordable, and easily available… and they certainly wouldn’t have guessed fifty years ago that such a phone would also serve as a camera, encyclopedia, wallet, and all-encompassing entertainment platform. (In color. And maybe stereo. (Never mind. Stereo idea is far from important.))

 


May 12, 2020

And I think that’s close to what all of us are thinking. We don’t want to get back to normal… at least not for what any stretch of normal can be… we want to get back to comfort. Our comfort. We want our routines back. We want our family and friends back. We want, in an attempt at a two-word definition, our normal back.

 


May 8, 2020

One thing about this prepare for death response is that I always have a similar reaction to it. (It’s pretty close to: “Damn, that’s some good advice. Direct, no nonsense, honest, chances are good no one else is going to bother to pass this along and yet it might be the most valuable of all advice.”) This swings me off onto another path, thinking about guidance and lessons and more I get from time to time, or watch shared with others, and a recognition of just how lacking it can be.

 


May 2, 2020

Over the years—to continue with such an example—I’ve been trying to find a place where I might be able to see, look over, and perhaps play a Rickenbacker electric guitar or a Maton acoustic guitar. Neither is commonly available to see, however. And because of the… if you well… combination of scarcity and cost, even places that are able to offer these instruments to the public don’t like to make them available to the public. At least they don’t like making them available to the general, unsupervised, not really a serious buyer public. And so, many times they have viewings by appointment only.

 


April 26, 2020

If you run a hair salon from home… are an independent contractor that relies on small projects, word of mouth referrals and repeat customers for the next job… design large portions of your life around school schedules and other programs for children… the immediacy and twists taking place provide obstacles and hardships that are likely unfathomable to anyone that isn’t facing the same.

 


April 21, 2020

It’s subtle. I don’t really believe that if I wake up at 6am that I’m intentionally moving more slowly because I know I have more time. I’m not consciously allowing longer stretches to watch additional news segments on a television that normally is on only for background noise and perhaps a weather forecast. It’s not an opportunity to make a more elaborate breakfast. I’m definitely not suddenly more productive with household chores.

 


April 18, 2020

The claims there became that it was so different, forward thinking, and ambitious that audiences couldn’t appreciate it. In essence, the film was so good in so many ways that everyone else was the problem. Heck, they even went so far as to develop and stand upon an argument that moviegoers as a whole had been spoiled by Marvel and couldn’t recognize something special when it was offered.

 


April 13, 2020

For that $25,000, however, you could not buy an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Those run more than $300,000. But do you need the DBS Superleggera? (Do you really need it? And, do you even in your wildest dreams believe you’ll reach half the lifetime miles of a Corolla or Impreza?)

 


April 7, 2020

There are people that call me Rob. Some only once. Some repeatedly. I usually end up blocking it out. I can recall more than a handful of times when people said Rob and I never reacted. (Which is funny, because “hey you” wasn’t all that much of a joke, and I’ve responded to that quite often as well as several obscenities, while Rob regularly flies right on by.)

End result, Rob is a fine name, though I don’t like being called Rob.

 


April 5, 2020

There’s a ride called the Tomorrowland Speedway. Bunch of motorized carts. Shells serving as bodies that create the idea of race cars. All guided around a track by a metal rail. Just hit the gas and eventually, even ignoring the steering wheel entirely, you’ll finish your lap and wind up back where you started.

 


April 5, 2020

Imagine if I asked you where 5000 Pleasant View Road was located, and you lived at 4999 Pleasant View Road. Even if you don’t know the street numbers, well, duh… it should be on the other side of the road (the whole odd-even-numbering thing), and, with one number differing, the darn location is really close.

 


April 5, 2020

They haven’t stung me, and there’s zero sign of anything being built on/around/inside the house, so I’m not overwhelmingly concerned. But their presence means I see them, and that means I think about it. Think about it when I’m sitting on the deck. Think about it when I’m walking in the yard. Think about it when I look out the window.

 


April 5, 2020

They arrived about ten minutes ahead of the ceremony, walked to where the chairs had been set up, and sat down. And it was here, at this moment, that she realized it wasn’t going to be funny and laughable. It was obvious now that there were going to be problems.

There was no one else seated yet.

Not a single person. Ten minutes before the start.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail us at Bob@inmybackpack.com