Tuesday, May 29, 2012


1. I recently watched the U.S. soccer team play the scottish national team in what would prove to be a one-sided affair. (Team U.S.A. laid a 5-1 drubbing on the scots!) The game was played at a stadium in Florida, and plastered all over the stadium was the slogan "UNITED WE STAND." It struck me that this slogan, may actually betray America's growing concern over our lack of unity. Wishful thinking?  Would the Scots have felt the need to cover their stadium with banners declaring their unity to the world... probably not. Me thinks us Yanks doth protest too much.

2. When I take pills I fill my mouth with water first before popping the pills in. I have observed that most people pop their pills in and then drink something to wash the pills down. That's a sure way to get your pill stuck somewhere in the back of your throat or against your gums where you'll be forced to  experience that bitter pill taste. Fill your moth with water first and then toss the pills in and I guaranty you it will not get stuck. Down the hatch!!!

3. All cultures and ethnic traditions seem to claim stubborness as an attribute. It's actually kind of annoying to me when people make the following kinds of statements, "You can't really blame him for being so stubborn... he's (insert ethnic background here) after all!" Sometimes I can't help myself and I end up following such statements with this kind of response (mispronounce the ethnicity if possible), "Yes, yes, I was always told that (insert ethnic background here) are stubborn because they were bred primarily for mindless peasant labor. I suppose stubborness would come in handy for ditch-digging and such." Then walk away.

4. They need to create a Law and Order from the Criminal's perspective.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


On my first morning in Vermont I drove into town and purchased an out of state fishing license. Then, using borrowed rods (Thank you, Ms. Jansen!), we got down to fishing. When we first got married Sarah and I used to go fishing a lot, and I remember catching lots of Northern Pike and Bass down at the shore. I assured the kids that not only would we catch some fish, but we might even catch some big fish. "Who knows?" I added, "We might even catch the Champlain Monster."
For the most part we only caught yellow perch though, which are on the smallish side, but still good eating and easy to clean. Bowden became especially good at it and may have caught more perch than me over the course of the vacation. Lucy also shows promise as a fisherwoman. One morning Bowden and I woke up early and headed down to the lake. After starting a small fire on the beach we started fishing. As he caught the perch I cleaned them, spitted them on a stick, and put them over the fire to cook. Bowden loved it, and I felt like Bear Grylls!
The quest for a big fish took us up to where the mouth of Munger Brook flows out into the lake. It was early in the morning and Lucy was so cold that I gave her my sweater. Bowden wisely remained in his footy jams. I let the boat drift and cast a minnow lure close to some bushes that grew out into the water and BAM! on the first cast a big bass hit it. I fought it in toward the boat and succeeded in pulling it up out of the water so that the kids could see it, but before I could grab its mouth the line broke and the bass fell back into the lake with a splash. Bummer! At least the kids got to see it, and I could see in Bowden's eyes that the experience had left him hooked as well. It was a really good sized bass, and I was bummed it got away, but from then on every cast held the possibility for Bowden of hooking something big.

Sadly, the big fish continued to elude us. The yellow perch were super abundant however, which is good because they are actually really delicious. Bowden, Lucy and Jack all caught plenty enough perch to make us feel successful.

The next time we come, however, I'm gonna come prepared to catch some real monsters. I'll be back!


Saturday, May 26, 2012


While on vacation back east we drove an hour from my folk's house on Lake Champlain to Fort William Henry at the southern end of Lake George, which was built there to control the overland passage to the Hudson River valley. Fort William Henry was the scene of fierce fighting during the French and Indian war and serves as the setting for much of James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. Although the original fort was burned by the French in 1757 it has been rebuilt exactly according to specs, and the entire fort is peppered with amazing displays and exhibits. It was very well done, and opened up our eyes to a very interesting period in the country's history.

Looks about right...heh, heh, heh.

Here we are in the dungeon.
We were literally the only tourists in the fort on the day we went so we had the place all to ourselves. They run tours every hour on the hour. We were a little early so we took our time walking through the exhibits and practicing our archery with plunger tipped arrows in the parade ground. At noon our tour guide, who was dressed in the authentic trappings of an 18th century British soldier, appeared to give us a tour of the fort.
He demonstrated how to load and fire "brown bess" and then let the kids hold it to see how heavy it was.
"Is you from the bank? 'Cause Pa says to shoot anybody from the bank!"
Watch out!

Better let a professional handle that. Bring it, Frenchy!
Following the musket demonstration we mounted the ramparts and were treated to the firing of a cannon. That would prove to be the highlight of the trip for the kids. It was a real BOOMER! So loud you could feel it through your sneakers and into the very marrow of your bones. I can't imagine what madness it would have been to be inside the fort with all of those big guns BOOMING away day and night. The only thing more maddening would be to be on the receiving end. Of course the French were similarly pounding away at the forts inhabitants with deadly mortar fire that exploded over the fort and rained down death from above. They had several displays crammed full of mortar fragments unearthed at the sight. Some were as big as dinner plates. That's a tough business.
Miles loved the cannons.

Following the tour, which really was wonderful, they took the kids down to the recruiting office where they signed up to fight the French in return for one of the King's shillings, a wooden coin with "Fort William Henry" on it.

Learning their new trade as soldiers.

This picture looks like Miles is urging me to join in the charge, but, in fact, he was telling me that he didn't want me to take his picture.
Charge! (Our guide fired his musket a second time, BOOMEROOSKI, much to the delight of the kids and here you can still see the smoke from the gunpowder hanging in the air.)
Sarah disarming Miles.

"Step right up and mark your X."

Mom helped Miles sign his enlistment papers despite being an avowed pacifist.

Friday, May 25, 2012


On the way home from our family vacation in the 802 we enjoyed an extended delay at the Cleveland Airport. The delay was due to the nincompoopery of United Airlines, but they apologized by magnanimously furnishing me with six meal vouchers, each valued at $10.00 a pop. So that is how I found myself standing in line at Bruegger's Bagels, meal voucher in hand, when I overheard the colorful staff make the following statements.

One of the employees, a young black male in his twenties, commented admiringly on the attractiveness of a traveler who was walking along the corridor in front of Bruegger's Bagels, which prompted a second employee, a black female in her thirties, to say "Ooooooooooooh! You better hope she like Bruegger's Bagels!" The attractive female in question continued walking past Bruegger's Bagels without stopping or acknowledging their comments, which may or may not have been audible at that distance.  This prompted a third employee, a black male in his twenties, to comment to the first male employee, "She seen you lookin' all stupid and just kept on walkin'!" which caused the entire staff to break out into riotous laughter. I also laughed, but not as long or as heartily as they for fear that it might be presumptuous of me to join them in laughing at the young man.

The chief delight of the staff at Bruegger's Bagels seemed to be commenting on the various travelers who passed in front of their work station as well as heaping abuse on one another. Listening in on their banter would no doubt prove to be a powerful and effective remedy for depression. I found it to be so. Such is no doubt born out of necessity living as they did in Cleveland, which, based on my limited observations in taking off and landing, is kind of a depressing little corner of planet earth.

Next, the eagle-eyed staff observed a male proceeding down the corridor who was sporting an enormous afro. Although I did not recognize the man at the time, once I got home I saw comedian/musician Reggie Watts (Photo Below) on TV as I was flipping through the channels, and I am 90% sure it was him. The first employee who observed the man, who I believe was Watts, commented, "That's Bigfoot right there!" and a second male employee followed up with complete disregard for the proper use of tense, "That's stank!"

Thursday, May 24, 2012


While sitting at my gate at the airport in Cleveland I observed a businessman walk down the corridor. He was perfectly dressed. Perfectly. Everything was just so. Clean, crisp and expensive. I watched in fascination as his black shoes, shiny like Darth Vader's helmet, beat a confident tattoo down the hallway.

By contrast I couldn't help but feel frumpy, stained and wrinkled.

He turned in and sat down at a gate across the hallway waiting for a flight bound for Newark. As he waited he slipped off his shoes, and that's when I made my discovery. His socks! From the shoe up his socks were identical. They were the same color, the same ribbing, but now that his shoes were off I noticed that the right sock was gold-toed and the left was not. They were mismatched! His mode of dress seemed designed to communicate his overall togetherness, but there they were- two mismatched socks. Decidedly untogether.

I was vaguely disappointed.


After writing the good people down at Kwik Market in Sylmar, CA I received a very pleasant letter in response from the Kwik Market's President and CEO herself, Marlene Rini. She thanked me for my continued patronage, apologized for enticing me into the sin of gluttony, and enclosed four free sandwiches with the letter! Wowzas!!! That's the best score yet in the history of Project Free Lunch, which brings PFL up to $40.72 in the black. Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Kwik Market!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The advent of the blue tooth has made it harder to identify the mentally ill.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I've decided that the living room of the Octagon will be truly alive. Vines will creep across the walls, there will be loads of potted plants, and an artifical stream will flow through the middle of the room.