Sunday, April 28, 2013


When I was a boy I buried a small box in the woods behind the house. The box had no purpose. There was no plan. I just liked secret buried boxes, and although it would have been satisfying to give the buried box some great purpose I had nothing of value to hide and nobody to hide things from. It was simply for the joy of secret buried boxes that I did it. I'm a little embarassed to even confess this one-time hobby of mine. In truth, it was not the first box I had buried in this manner. In the quiet days of youth before the clay of a boy's brain has hardened they sometimes find interesting and frivolous pursuits to fill their days with. With a garden trowel I carved out a hole roughly the size of the box, and I buried it level with the ground so that by lifting up a flat rock the top of the box became visible. The lid was hinged and lifted easily. When all was done I scattered pine needles over the rock so that the whole thing looked as natural as can be. I was alone, and I had told no one about my plan to bury the box.

When I returned the next day the rock had been shoved aside and the lid stood open. I can recall making the discovery. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I must have been watched I reasoned, but by whom?  Where had they watched me from? I turned around in a circle taking in the woods which had suddenly become vaguely sinister. After I had left they must have come to investigate what I had buried. And why did they not leave the place as I had left it? They must have wanted me to know that they had discovered the box. Why else would they leave the stone shoved aside and the lid standing open? It remains one of the great mysteries of my youth. I buried no more boxes.

Viking Stare (by Sarah)

Sometimes Josh has a Ragnar look.
So I offer him salted fish.


I will be speaking at Chapel in the Pines in downtown
Mountain Center, CA on June 2nd at 10:00 am.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Why does this map of the Mountain Lion's range in California make me hungry for bacon?


This is my latest sortie into the estrogen-drenched world of Thank You Cards. For those men like me who are outspokenly appreciative, but who have difficulty finding a gender-appropriate thank you card on which to express their thanks there is hope. The BFZ is here to help. This is my second offering, which I have entitled "Here Comes the Cavalry!"




First, watch this College Humor video on Youtube by clicking HERE, which forwards the argument that religious people are, in fact, a species of Nerd. 
Fellow Christians, how would you respond to this video?
Non-Christians, what say you on the matter?
I have some thoughts, of course, but I thought I would open it up for discussion first. If you have 20+ minutes of discretionary time you can also watch this response video, which makes some good points.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Todays overheards were snatched out of the air and furiously scribbled onto a borrowed pad of yellow paper during a dinner date at Cafe Aroma with my lovely wife, Sarah. Shortly after we had been shown to our table a party of three was seated in somewhat close proximity to us- An older gentleman, possibly in his mid to late sixties, and wearing a gray patagonia fleece was sitting across the table from a couple of similar age, she in a pink patagonia fleece and he, likewise, sporting a gray patagonia fleece. The first gentleman was a loud talker- an absolute OVERHEARD MACHINE. It was difficult to ascertain exactly what their relationship was to one another, but I believe that the couple was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and the loud talking gentleman was either a Trail Angel (Locals who help PCT hikers with rides, food, hospitality and such) or a fellow hiker. Anyway, over the course of our dinner he offered up some grade-A overheards.

"There was something childishly playful about them. Wouldn't you agree? I found it delightful, but I don't think they were thinking of romance."

"You're a delightful couple and I'm glad you showed up in my life."

"Now that I hear Warren Buffet owns See's Candies I will have to eat some more. I like Warren Buffett. I want to help him any way I can."

"Frodo made a promise to scout that he would have a milkshake at every stop because he was losing so much weight." (PCT Hikers abandon their given names and adopt a trail name such as "Frodo" or "Scout" for the duration of their hike." I have always thought I would choose "Feet" as mine if I ever endeavored to walk from Mexico to Canada as an homage to Romans 10:15).)

"I don't think there's anyone here who would stand for that. I think that's typical of mountain communities."

"I would walk to Peet's Coffee with an orange in my pocket on a Saturday morning, get a coffee and a pastry then walk across the Golden Gate Bridge  and watch the sun come up."

"He got shot, and I didn't know that until 10 or 15 years later. He never talked about it. A lot of old vets are like that."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


 Applying arm hair? That's a thick batch of man-thatch!
Austin Powers?


During late summer when the San Jacinto Mountains become dry and thirsty, and the dust along the walkways becomes as fine as baby powder there is one place here at the camp that always remains green and lush. Down in the gully behind the camp’s office a thin trickle of water flows through a jungle of willow, nettles and wild rose. The plants crowd and overhang its banks, and their thirsty roots sink down into the moist soil to draw off the life-giving water. Naturally, animals are also drawn to the place. Deer, coyotes, bobcats, and raccoons as well as smaller creatures such as quail, rabbits, ground squirrels and chipmunks frequent the shady arbor that hides the life-giving stream. The evidence of their comings and goings are pressed into the soft mud along the bank, and occasionally as I walk the rim of the gully I will catch a glimpse of them below through the layered leaves of the willows. The gully behind the office is always full of life, and at the heart of it all is the thin trickle of water.

Just a short distance away, in the heart of the camp, is a different sort of stream- the camp’s waterfall fountain. This stream contains none of the life-giving properties of the one behind the office. It is surrounded by a cement skirt and its water is continuously recycled in a loop with none of the flowing out that characterizes the stream behind the office. It looks like a stream and sounds like a stream, but it doesn’t give life. It is all for show.

This reminds me of what Jesus said in John 7:37-38, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” As followers of Jesus we are not to be like the fountain, all for show, and never flowing out. We are the means by which God desires to pour out the Holy Spirit and the hope of salvation into a dry and thirsty world. I think this is the spirit of what Jesus was saying in John 20:21 when he told the disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Jesus’s mission is now our mission! We have been sent out with the stream of living water flowing from our hearts for the purpose of giving life. We can never allow ourselves to become like fountains that put all of their energy into a noisy and splashy show.

Be a blessing and a help!


It has been a while since I brought you a report on my shoes. During my last update I reported that my friend Sherry Christiansen had gifted me with two new pairs of shoes, which brought the total number of my shoes donated by Sherry to three. If you'll recall Sherry is also the lead suspect in the case of the mysterious flip-flops, which were anonymously donated through the mail. I know what it's like to walk a mile (several miles?) in Sherry's shoes. The Sperry Top Siders, which were among the shoes donated by Ms. Christiansen instantly leapfrogged all of my other footwear to assume the coveted role of Captain of the shoes. I loved them, but sadly they went the way of all shoes. I walked those poor things to death. I wore them until sizable holes opened up along their canvas sides and the soles became so thin I could feel the heat of the asphalt through them. However, they were such a noble and excellent pair of shoes that I decided to confer upon them a rare honor. Although their condition has rendered them unfit to wear them around town I have decided to mail them to the Lake House back in Vermont so I can use them as swimming shoes the next time I'm out.

Swimming shoes? The bottom of the lake is littered with all kinds of pokey things such as fresh water mussel shells, spiny water chestnuts, and occasionally broken glass as well thus necessitating the use of swim shoes.

Be advised, my Doc Martens have been promoted to interim Captain of the Footwear.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


1. I watched two rabbits fight this morning in the grass outside my office window. It was surprisingly savage. I could only have been more surprised if I had witnessed one flower eating another.

2. I don't ever want to be President, but I would love, absolutely love, to be an ex-president!

3. I would like to live on a boat, or live in a situation where I needed a boat to get around.

4. Once there was this little girl hiking through the Andes, and she came upon this big herd of alpacas. As she was walking through the herd of alpacas one of them suddenly laid a big, wet, sloppy kiss on her. Well, the girl started freaking out, and one of the herders, who was looking on, said to a second herder who was also standing there, "Why is she freaking out? It's not like it's the end of the world!" The second herder replied "It's the alpaca lips!"

Monday, April 22, 2013


As I stated in a previous post, most of the thank you cards available are just are too girly for me to use, and I decided to do something about it. My goal is to manufacture 10 gender-appropriate thank you cards by the end of the year.

Here's my first attempt. You will notice there are no butterflies or flowers whatsoever, and the font is "Forte," the official font of the Bummer-Free Zone. Really any kind of food could be featured- chinese, pizza, tacos, or doughnuts perhaps. The idea is that your thank you card would come with a gift card inside to the recipient's favorite eatery. Maybe I would even manufacture them with a little pocket inside to hold the gift card in place.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Greetings football fans!

The NFL has released their schedule for the 2013 season revealing that this year's Happy Day, celebrated annually on the date of the first nationally televised Redskins Game, will fall on Monday night, September 9th during the Redskins Home opener against longtime NFC East rivals the Philadephia, Eagles.

Rest that knee, RGIII!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013



The BFZ sports community was rocked this morning by the tragic loss of three star foosball players who played for the national foosball team. The bodies of Charles "Chucky" Spoon, Jimmy Fresh III, and N'diki Roberts were found this morning by BFZ president, Josh Tate, as he emptied the trash can in his office. According to police reports the bodies of the three slain foosball players had been broken in two and unceremoniously dumped in President Tate's office waste basket.
 At this time no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the slayings, and police are tight lipped about theories surrounding the case. One source close to the investigation who requested anonymity given the sensitive nature of the investigation indicated that police are looking into the possibility that crazed fans of the BFZ national team may have taken matters into their own hands following the team's disappointing loss on Saturday night to arch rivals from the Bummer-Filled Zone.  
Charles "Chucky" Spoon
Jimmy Fresh III
N'diki Roberts

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


On Sunday night, after the kids had gone to bed, I asked Sarah if it would be okay if I walked to the post office to mail some thank you letters that I had written earlier that day. I told her I would not be gone long as I wanted to catch the 11:00pm showing of "Vikings" on the History Channel. With her permission I struck out into the night with my thank you notes in my back pocket and a sesame seed encrusted bread stick in my mouth. I grabbed my camera as well so I could bring you along. You're welcome!
My first stop was at my desk down in the camp's office. I had some loose change there in the upper left hand drawer with which I planned to purchase a Diet Pepsi at the vending machine outside of fairway market. The Pepsi machine costs fifty cents and the neighboring Coke machine costs sixty cents. I counted out sixty cents not because I wanted a coke, but rather because experience has taught me that the Pepsi machine is frequently out of order and I didn't want to be without a beverage for "Vikings" for lack of forethought. So I added sixty cents to my back pocket and stepped back out into the night.
Clouds were sailing past a silver cat's claw of a moon. It was a damp and chilly night. My shoes went whish-woosh, whish-woosh through the overgrown ball field. I am almost incapable of eating a bread stick without pretending it is a cigar.
I mailed the thank you cards without incident.
Then I strolled down to the soda machines outside of Fairway Market.
"It's a good thing I planned for this," I muttered to myself as I fished two quarters and a dime out of my back pocket. However, when I put my money into the coke machine the coins just clattered down into the coin return. That's a hollow, disappointing sound. I tried again and again, but every time the coins proved ineffectual. Clatter-clatter-clink! I was disappointed. Determined to have some form of liquid refreshment to accompany "Vikings" I decided to risk the fifty cents in the Pepsi machine which, as you will recall, had been labeled out of order. I'm a pioneer, and a trailblazer! You may have wondered how our ancient ancestors determined which mushrooms were safe to eat and which were poisonous. I am the answer. Some were bold enough to risk their all (or in this case fifty cents) in the quest to expand their knowledge and to secure vital food resources (or in this case a cancer-causing beverage with absolutely no nutritive value whatsoever).  That same pioneering spirit lives on people like me who dare to peel back the "out of order" label and attempt a soda purchase. You're welcome, mankind!
I deposited my coins, pressed the button and was instantly rewarded with a rumbling deep in the belly of the machine and a bang-clunk as a Diet Pepsi was spit out.
Like our ancient ancestors I instantly shared my newfound information with the rest of the tribe, or in this case an Idyllwild Arts student who, along with his classmates, had been shooting some kind of a video in the parking lot behind the bank. He purchased a root beer. I told him that he "owed that soda to me," and he said "Thanks, dude," and then he hurriedly scurried away.
On my way home I passed the U-Haul place and I played the game I always play when confronted with multiple U-hauls, "Where would I most like to visit?" I chose Seattle, WA.

Then I returned home and settled in to watch some Vikings.
I want to root for Ragnar, and yet I hate him too. This is one of those shows where I find myself tempted to root for evil. Vikings, at least as they are represented in this series, were undeniably agents of evil. I know I should want their ships to sink, and the defenders of villages and monasteries to prevail, but I keep finding myself rooting for the Vikings in my heart. It's perverse. I guess because the story is being told from the Viking's perspective I can't help but be drawn into it as their story, and to view it through their lens. Isn't it odd how much of our sympathies are really just a matter of perspective. Only God's perspective is perfect. An awareness of what is closest to God's heart helps reduce the subjective nature of our sympathies. It is not my story or any person's story. God is the main character. I believe that life and history should be viewed through that lens.

The Diet Pepsi was delicious!

Monday, April 15, 2013


A collection of seeds and grasses in a dark recess within a stone wall mark the center of a chipmunk's existence. Like Rahab's apartment the chipmunk made it's home in the walls. The wall itself demarks and defends a field from the woods beyond. Perhaps the wall does not separate the two as I had first supposed. From the air one can almost imagine that the patches of woods and fields form a sort of crazy quilt in earth tones and the walls and fences are a very fine stitching holding the whole thing together. The crazy quilt stretches for miles and miles until it comes to a vast sheet of ocean blue. Here the stitching is a thin sandy strand. And as we step back to admire the play of texture and color so cleverly stitched together the whole becomes a shiny orb of a gem on a field of black jeweler's velvet.


"Peace, man!"
Teenage male in flip-flops, jeans, yellow t-shirt and trucker cap to a fellow teenage male as they parted company in front of the Idyllwild Pizza Company.

"Yeah, peace!"
The second male, with shaggy hair hanging down over his ears, and sporting a corderoy jacket, lime colored t-shirt, white slacks and a pair of tan addidas with burgundy stripes, called back over his shoulder.

Idyllwild Pizza Company- Idyllwild, CA

Saturday, April 13, 2013


For some time I have been collecting a list of the best spam email subject lines with the idea that I would cobble them together into a collection of spam poetry. Every line of every poem is a separate and complete subject line from emails I have received and deleted. In truth, I cannot claim to have authored these poems. The credit must go to all of those aspiring Nigerian poets who collaborated on this project. Thanks Nigerians!

If only I had sufficient wealth and/or leverage to compell William Shatner to read it for me in the style of a beat poet.


Hey you!
Guess who is looking for you online
Guess who has a secret crush on you
It's me
How do you feel about this?
Please respond
I heard you were lonely
Waiting for a call
I won't say no
Be more confident
Don't be shy
You're pre-approved

***   ***   ***


Did you hear about your neighbors?
Did you hear the news?
Bad situation there
I would like to know if you are ok with that

I heard about your husband
He's cheating on you
Why do men cheat?
I would like to know if you are ok with that

Natural disasters coming soon
Economic collapse
Sexual predators in your neighborhood
I would like to know if you are ok with that

***   ***   ***


I'm looking for Joshua
Are you Joshua?
Do you know Joshua?
Is this Joshua?
Joshua, please respond

Friday, April 12, 2013


Several years ago Sarah and I walked into the coffee shop with the kids on my day off. At that time there was a wild fire burning on the other side of the mountain, and here and there news vans could be seen parked throughout the town covering the story. As Sarah and I were hanging outside the coffee shop a reporter and cameraman from the local CBS affiliate approached me and asked me for a comment.

My reply, "I'm strictly an NBC guy."


Why are thank you cards so girly? Apparently the Thank You Card industry does not view men as their target market, and, men, that is a shame. I rebuke you...all of you...yes, the entire gender...for not writing enough thank you cards. Of course, this could be a chicken and the egg sort of conundrum. It's possible that well-intentioned men have excitedly gone thank you card shopping so as to thank their friends for the loan of a chainsaw or other such manly favors only to find all of their options littered with butterflies and flowers. Picture the above card for example. That'll never do! The flowing script with which they almost always write "Thank You" is also a problem. It's just too sassy!

I am a writer of thank you cards. There is rarely a week that goes by that I don't shoot off a quick "thank you" to somebody, but the difficulty of finding a thank you card that matches who I am has proven challenging. I've decided to create my own line of thank you cards. My goal is to generate a minimum of 10 card designs by the end of the year. Stay tuned...

Friday, April 5, 2013


A collection of over five-hundred illustrations of fish species from the mid-19th century, which were presumed lost but recently rediscovered in Australia, is baffling scientists and historians alike. The illustrations are attributed to R.T. Maye a British naturalist and painter who is presumed to have died in 1834 when the ship he was sailing on went down somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

R.T. Maye stumbled into his calling at the early age of eight when he began selling illustrations of fish to local fishmongers in Bristol, England who used them in their advertisements. He continued honing his skills into adulthood and he would go on to become one of the most renowned ichthyologists of his day. Maye's illustrations appeared in a number of publications between 1819 and 1825, but he was most well-known for his book "Fish of the North Atlantic," which was published in 1826 and which contained over two-hundred full-color illustrations and scientific descriptions.  In 1828, Maye's work became overshadowed by the success of fellow ichthyologist George Cuvier of France who published his "Histoire Naturelle Des Poissons" which sought to describe exhaustively all of the fish species of the world.

In a bid to remain relevant, Maye invested all of his life savings into a planned sea voyage which would span five years and would take him to the farthest reaches of the world's oceans in search of new fish species. In 1834, after four years at sea, Maye's ship was last spotted by a British naval vessel in the Indian Ocean. The ship is presumed to have sunk, and all hands were lost. His drawings from the voyage were also presumed lost until they were rediscovered this month sealed in a trunk in a  government warehouse in Sidney, Australia. How they came to be there is a mystery, but equally mysterious are several fish depicted in Maye's illustrations which remain unknown to science even to this day.

The illustrations depict 47 species of fish which were unknown to science in 1834, but which have been described in detail by subsequent generations of scientists. "Maye's discoveries would have caused quite a sensation in his day if he had lived to publish them," says Charles Pell of the Sidney Marine Institute who has studied the drawings at length. However, of greater interest to Pell are an additional four species of fish which Maye illustrated and described in detail but which remain, as yet, unknown to science. "In light of the fact that so much of Maye's work to describe unknown fish species has been proven true by subsequent discoveries I see no reason to believe that these four were intended as a hoax," says Pell.

Of special interest to the cryptozoological community is a creature described by Maye as a "hippofish," which, according to his notes was caught in a net at a depth of fifty feet off the coast of present day British Columbia. The illustration depicts a long serpentine creature approximately 30 feet in length, blackish-gray in color, three feet in diameter, with a rounded head, fleshy body and long neck. It had a pair of small elevating front flippers, and a large fan-like tail, which Maye noted "Provided the creature with powerful forward propulsion through the water." Some have been quick to declare that Maye's descriptions of the creature constitute proof of the existence of Cadborosaurus willsi, or Caddy as it is more popularly known. Sightings of the mysterious sea creature known as Caddy have been reported as early as the 1920's and have been concentrated principally along the coast of the pacific Northwest of the united States, British Columbia and Southern Alaska. Pell and his colleagues remain skeptical of the Caddy claim, but are at a loss to explain Maye's illustration as any other known species.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


A house stands alone on a swelling plain that stretches away in every direction like a wrinkled sheet in the process of being pulled flat. The cluster of lights from the lonely house shine in the night like a ship on the empty sea. In the dooryard, a rusty pickup truck with a cracked windshield and mud-spattered side panels is parked alongside a minivan. Children sleep in the rooms upstairs, while raccoons stalk the ridgeline of the moonlit roof and a coyote skirts the outbuildings. A dog whines at the door, dancing up and down on its forepaws, begging to be let out. Around the table in the kitchen sit four friends, two couples. The table is littered with playing cards, snack foods, and drinks. A sudden burst of laughter from around the table makes a man involuntarily spit his drink into the face of his wife sitting opposite. More laughter. The coyote glances back over its shoulder toward the house. "Shhh! The kids are asleep!"