General Interest


July 7, 2019

More often than not, the shift isn’t that incredible if you consider the first and final versions of the message. Something that began as having a picnic on a nearby hill finishes as an observation that it’s a great day to eat outside… a thought about how brilliantly blue the sky appears to be morphs into how bright and hot the sun is that afternoon.


July 7, 2019

The first wave of surprise was caused by three squirrels. A tree on one side of the house had branches the reached out and ended within a few inches of the roof. Actually, more specifically, it had one branch that was literally two inches away from the vent for the attic. (Use your imagination, and you still won’t be close to the amazing chaos caused by trying to evict those three unexpected residents after they moved in.)


July 7, 2019

It’s possible that you’re wondering about a thousand a month for a house, when living alone you think you can find an apartment for less. (Perhaps even a furnished apartment with utilities included.) And, since you’ve had your car for ten years, it’s been a long time since you needed to worry about a car payment. That’s got to be swapped out for a different figure. First two items and you figure you could already save some significant dollars.

On the other side, a hundred for utilities? Just the oil and electricity are adding up to way above that each month.

Either way though—too high or too low—my numbers, according to you, have quickly and decisively demonstrated that while possible, they aren’t grounded in reality. And to that I say… exactly.


July 7, 2019

Have you ever gone on some sort of quest while surfing the web? Say shopping. You visit some search engines or specific sites, check out a pair of shoes or a television or some food item or whatever. Then every ad in every corner on every page you visit from that search on asks you if you want to buy some sneakers, a model with 4K and smart connectivity, or a multipack of cornbread.

It’s obvious someone is watching you. Someone is collecting information. Someone is funneling details and reflecting it back your way.


May 5, 2019

We always end up with far more tomatoes that we can ever use. (Please don’t write to me with suggestions of sharing with neighbors or ways of prepping vegetables to freeze for later use. I appreciate the thoughts. I really do. We already have basket exchange programs of sorts set up with our neighbors though, and our freezer is packed with bags of vegetables still remaining from last year’s harvest.) My running joke for each garden is that we could place no tomatoes and somehow seeds remaining from last year will take hold and provide us with plants that overtake a section.


May 5, 2019

There’s a chance I’m a bit off track on this one. Someone has to be enjoying Peeps. Someone must like them. (And yes, even I looked twice when chocolate became involved in the process. Chocolate coatings and chocolate mousse and… hold on… does that label say chocolate caramel swirl Peeps? I think it does. I’m not sure if I’m having second thoughts about Peeps or if evidence is building that Peeps are creeping up the list on historical worldwide culinary horrors.)


April 22, 2019

In fact, conduct a survey and offer: Name the appliance in your kitchen that cooks things. I’d bet more people will use the word dishwasher than will use the word range. (And yes, not a typo, they’ll say dishwasher while doing something silly like wrapping a piece of fish and some lemon in aluminum foil to try out a crazy idea they heard.)


April 22, 2019

Farfetched example? Ok. You’re watching any show, and suddenly the image on screen is a person wearing sunglasses with one lens broken, a three-quarter length tank top, speedo-style or bikini bottom, a sneaker on one foot and a sock on the other, holding a large duck.

Does it make perfect sense? No. Are you going to be happy but how it plays out while you continue watching? Maybe. But there is definite anticipation for what is about to happen next.


April 14, 2019

The point is, even if you are only living a few hundred feet apart, there can be significant differences that create scenarios where comparisons are not even remotely apple-to-apple situations. Extend the idea to different states and the possibilities increase. Go beyond national borders and we may not even be looking at apples-to-oranges being a fair summary of what’s at hand.


April 14, 2019

Do we need to go on with the planning of this operation from this point? And if so, sound the alarm because we have idiots in motion. Really. One report I saw outlined that as an action shot to accompany the athletic scholarship application, a picture of an applicant on one of those home-gym rowing machines was used. And if that’s accurate, then… well… wow.


April 9, 2019

I am not disappointed or upset that so many offer financial advice. And, I am not upset when those advice-givers tend to wade into obvious waters for the advice. Actually, hearing how to determine needs for retirement or methods for diversifying investments can be good stuff. Plus, an alarmingly large number of people do indeed lack any awareness of personal situations and spend beyond their limits.


April 6, 2019

Those low-cost replacement hold-on-until-the-delivery grates are now headed into their fourth summer of service, and show absolutely no signs of needing to be pulled from use. In fact, I really like them. To the point that I’m kind of ticked that there weren’t more when I picked these up. (In my retrospect thought process, I tend to ignore the idea that I only needed three for our grill and likely wouldn’t have purchased more if there were more to purchase.)


April 6, 2019

You know those moments where people get tossed in the car, and they’ve been blindfolded or such so they can’t see where they’re going? There are literally moments now where I wonder if the blindfold is even necessary. Because in many cases, I do believe that if the person doesn’t know the address or business name or whatever to enter into the app, there is a really good chance they would never be able to find that spot again anyway.


March 31, 2019

(I heard that. I heard what you’re thinking. And you’re right. I’d blame it on the stupidity of youth, but honestly, it’s even worse than that. All I can offer in my defense is that I began this essay by telling you, right out of the gate, that no one would ever mistake any decision or choice or effort I make as fashionable. Had a sweatshirt. It was usually cold. Liked to be warm. Wanted a turtleneck. Not a massive research project going on here. Oh… and, yeah… I found one…)


March 31, 2019

Over the years, at a few places where I’ve lived, I’ve seen signs around the community of wear and tear and so on. Trees falling down (or snapping in a storm). Stone walls collapsing. Chipmunks moving in. Occasionally I was out making repairs in my own yard. At times I helped out on a project for someone else. And other times things moved along without any input from me.


March 27, 2019

Easy people… it’s a trunk open while backing up in a driveway, not sending an 8-year-old down a ramp on bicycle without a helmet. What it did mean was that the camera wasn’t in the normal positioning, lining things up when the car was in reverse. It was instead about 90 to 110-degrees higher, showing the top edge of our car and then up and off into the sky. (Cue passing geese.)


March 27, 2019

There are certain sounds that I notice, even in a notice-but-not-really way. Take geese. I hear them, honking away. But on many days, I know I heard them honking, but it never registered when I heard it. Walked the driveway, grabbed the mail, heard the honking while flipping through some envelopes and catalogues to see if anything good arrived, got to the house and closed the door, then for whatever reason realized that fifteen seconds or so earlier I heard some geese.


March 26, 2019

It was around noon, and I had been dispatched to pick up lunch for the group. A local specialty… hot weiners. Some fries. (Wein-O-Rama, people. Get to Wein-O-Rama. Can’t add anything else to that recommendation.)

While I was away, some preparations were slowly beginning to take shape. Plates. Napkins. All of us have seen the drill. One person went for the food, the others kind of converse and such, while in no particular rush also grab some silverware and beverages and such.


March 26, 2019

There’s a show from Australia called Rosehaven. I like it. Terry likes it. The third season began its run in January of 2019. In the United States, Sundance got its distribution rights and we jumped on when season one began showing. I have zero idea how it performed, but the scheduling of it got moved around a bit, and it felt like the way Sundance treated it shifted significantly between season one and two. We had concerns about whether or not they would show season 3 (and so far, to my knowledge, they haven’t). Terry and I have been busy with a few other things, but we both believe that once we do look for it again, we’ll find it. Sundance or not, we’ll find it.


March 17, 2019

It turned out that this Monopoly thing was an annual event for the store. The next year, spring arrived, and the promotion began again. And I started heading there as my primary store, because I wanted to collect my game pieces at the register and play.

What was a hassle.


March 16, 2019

With that established, here’s the theory: I often find that those that make the biggest splashes in new areas are not actually the ones that did the first work in that area.

The theory isn’t perfect, and it’s certainly not exact, and it probably should be referred to as a concept instead of a theory. Whatever. I ask you… all of you that have, or had, or at least know of DirecTV and Dish Network… what is PrimeStar?


March 14, 2019

When you live in the northeast United States, it snows. But, you knew that. What you might not have known is that in upstate regions of some states—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York as examples—it basically snows all the time in winter months. As in, All the time.

Snow is a fairly simple equation. Precipitation + cold temperatures = snow. See? Simple. (Yes, yes, please hold back on e-mails of the more complex descriptions and scenarios. It’s raining and below freezing, we get snow. Let’s leave it clean and basic. (Kind of.))


March 10, 2019

And it’s not the number of stories about daylight savings, or the slight variation of a daylight savings theme, that creates the laughter on my end. It’s that the stories are exactly the same as the ones we read roughly six months ago. And roughly six months before that. And… repeat. Year after year, twice per year, slightly adjusted based only on whether the change is a spring forward or a fall back move.


March 10, 2019

Yup. Years of forgotten ideas—some most definitely great ideas—have taught me to do what I can to make a note of some type if I can’t get started on any kind of actual writing. In other words, if I can’t sit down and actually start an essay, do whatever it takes to jot down the concept along with a few notes to jog my memory about where I was headed.


March 10, 2019

As I begin this essay, I should point out that my wife probably knows four hundred and seventy-three different words (likely several hundred others in something like five languages) to express the thought: “Idiot.”

It’s true.

And accurate. I am one.


March 10, 2019

When I see news like this, the people-in-the-tiger-pit stories (so to speak), one of my first thoughts is about the barriers in place. Was there something that said “don’t go here” and perhaps even a bit more? Was there something making an attempt at preventing a person from going there?

After all, it’s one thing to know what you are about to do is a bad idea. But as I have said (and heard said) so many times over the years: Common sense ain’t that common. What makes it a slightly different level of stupid thing is being told what you are about to do is a bad idea.


March 6, 2019

For some amazing and physics-defying reason, if I ignore the bottle and never ever let even the briefest moments of doubt enter my mind, just depress the pump and use it each day, the contents appear to be limitless. I feel like years have passed with the same bottle in place. And while that’s absolutely not the case, it is always there long enough that I can never recall how long that particular bottle has been around.


March 3, 2019

Two feet away from me… right now, as I type this, two feet… is the cake topper from my wedding day. It’s a special piece… a unique piece… a one-of-a-kind piece that Terry designed and created for us. Only one in existence.

There are a few things like that in our office. Assembled and collected and so on over the years. Photographs. Souvenirs. Mementos that include items purchased and items used and items that for whatever reason have special meaning for me, for Terry, for both of us. And most of them could never be replaced, especially since we have these as the originals to match with why we value them.


March 3, 2019

The main reasons involve the sunrise. Because our driveway faces south…and ever so slightly east… the morning sun hits the windshields when they are pointed that way. Seemingly beyond count, when I’ve been inside not giving a single thought to whether or not I should be warming up or cleaning off a car, that morning sun has bailed me out by melting away some frost before I stepped outside ready to leave.


February 28, 2019

One night several months ago it was time to put the trash out for the next morning’s collection. It was windy. In fact, no, it was WINDY. And the next morning, I woke up, checked the driveway, and the container for recyclables was gone.


Completely gone.

No sign of the container. No sign of any of the milk bottles or cardboard that was inside.


February 24, 2019

I’ve had days where I’ve wandered up and down and up and down aisles. I’ve checked top shelves and endcaps. I’ve turned five-minute errands into thirty-minute adventures, breaking down emotionally when once again… despite my best intentions and efforts… I found myself arriving at the rows of dog food and paper products and laundry detergents that indicated I was crossing out of the regular items and into the frozen foods and I hadn’t found what I was looking for.


February 24, 2019

This morning I set off on a list of things I needed to get accomplished. I had written the list myself, but made the mistake of letting my wife know of its existence. This was accomplished in the simplest of stupid moves, something like my saying: “Hey, I’m headed to the store today so I can get a few things and fix that electrical outlet. I’m thinking I’ll also grab some stuff to cook on the grill for dinner while I’m out. Do you need anything?”

Turned out, there were a few additional errands to run. After the first three suggestions from her, I grabbed a pen and began taking notes.


February 19, 2019

Getting the damn time to stop blinking. This is actually a joke, but it offers a window into a significantly bigger problem. Most of us had absolutely zero understanding of what was happening when we placed a VCR into our home entertainment setup. It meant more wires in the scrambled and tangled pile stacked up and hidden behind a massive wooden cabinet. It also meant trying to figure out if the right channel was selected on the right device in order to get the right piece of equipment to do whatever it was that we wanted it to do.


February 16, 2019

First and foremost, those boxes don’t do anyone any favors. A Big Mac or a Whopper or insert-trademarked-name-here gets made, placed in a container and put in a bag. Person jostles it even more while walking to the car and unpacking it. Hardly difficult to figure out why the lettuce and burger and bun are strewn about in a mess that needs to be restacked.


February 16, 2019

Well, no, I don’t want to take that quiz. As we’ve discussed, I don’t have an old couch. So, (1) no quiz is going to be able determine if it’s time for a replacement for something we don’t have, plus, (2) we kind of like the house set up the way it is and I doubt if any part of the quiz will have us debating our design choices.

Remember the new mattress idea? That would be a different story. There are things we are considering replacing. A mattress… stove… fridge… even a car. And it got me wondering about when it’s time to replace things.


February 12, 2019

Here is where I point out that it cost far less to purchase the entire kit than it did to purchase the single three-foot piece of molding. In fact, A LOT less. As in, I would get twice the amount of the style I did need… providing some spare materials in case of another accident later, plus that other piece I didn’t need… and save about five dollars.

Yeah, I bought the kit.


February 12, 2019

What I mean by that is more than specifics about numbers. It’s a general recognition of situations. Very rarely—and that should probably read VERY rarely—are any of us presented with complete stories. In a scenario using numbers, people twist them like balloon animals and carefully present them from selected angles to create your sightline of their opinions. Two plus two is almost never simply four. In addition, people tend to research things until long enough to gather materials that prove their opinion correct. Then, full stop.


January 29, 2019

The cars have gas. Snowblower is ready to go. I’ve been to the store, not to give in to the chaotic storm warning rush for emergency essentials, but rather just to bring home a few things so I don’t need to go out tomorrow or Thursday for anything if I don’t want to go out. The vehicles in the driveway were positioned for the best cleanup approach hours ago.


January 29, 2019

For instance… Oreos.

Tigg likes Double Stuf. I prefer the classic original. (My favorite part is the chocolate cookies.)

When it comes to our purchases of Oreos, we compromise. We buy Double Stuf.


January 29, 2019

Now chances are that what was said in the commercial is not what this flower company actually means. There is absolutely every possibility that the message they are trying to send is that they care, and that they’re not looking to mass produce things and ship some inferior product. The message is, quite likely and in all I-won’t-name-them fairness, that they are picking these flowers at exactly the right moment so that they are the very best they can be when sent my way for what will be the longest possible enjoyment.


January 28, 2019

We’ve arrived in a dangerous place, if we’re being honest. A place where fact and fiction often overlap, pushed on by personal beliefs and desires. Often, simply because we want something to be true, we accept word of something’s existence without an actual reason to support its existence. And we navigate in the direction of reports that deny things we want to believe are false. It’s not fake news, it’s comfort news, taking in material that supports what we want to believe.


January 28, 2019

Man in a suit seems to be having a rough go of it at home. Walking with a burger from a nearby fast food place in his hand, finishing his lunch and then tossing the wrapper into a can just before pulling open the door on a flower shop. Came out with what appeared to be two dozen roses. Sure seems like the far side of some type of trouble in progress, given his lack of a smile and apparent rush through a meal in order to gather this item.


January 28, 2019

Funny thing about that ladder. We didn’t know it existed when we first moved into that house. Really. It was on the wall of the garage, hung in a weird fashion off in a rarely visited corner as we made that move, and the aging of its wood blended with the framing of the garage. It was several months before I was organizing stuff and hanging some things up in that particular area that I suddenly realized there was a wooden ladder there.


January 26, 2019

A few days ago, I was driving along a fairly main road. Ahead of me, two people were out clearing a driveway, with one of them using a snowblower. I was easily close enough to be within sight, and far enough away for them to adjust, when they began pouring snow out into the road. As I passed, forced to move in a certain way by oncoming traffic, it covered my windshield. And the crap hitting the road would be there for other drivers coming along, creating a slick and icy patch on otherwise dry pavement.


January 25, 2019

A GPS unit? A unit? A mounted in the dashboard… or funnier still one you plug into the cigarette lighter… GPS unit? Of course you’re waiting for that to acquire a satellite signal. Of course you’re waiting for it to recalculate every time you change lanes on the highway or make a turn (even a turn it told you to make).


January 25, 2019

Roughly thirty years ago, I bought my first car. I have vivid memories of stopping at the bank more often after the purchase. I’d be there to get twenty-dollars out of my checking account to pay for gas.

Usually I bring that story up to talk about the costs of the world. Because I would fill the tank of the car and then still have enough change from that twenty to grab a grinder at a local pizza shop or cover a single movie ticket. It was a glorious time. (Not the single movie ticket part. That was sad. But the car was pretty great.)

More to the point of this essay however, the story covers a different aspect of the world. I had to make the withdrawal. No gas stations accepted debit cards at the time.


January 23, 2019

After naming your source of the beef portion of the recipe, I would argue that the most commonly cited items would be water, onions, celery, black pepper and salt. A few people might venture into areas such as carrots and other assorted veggies or spices. But the big thing is, I think common items would end up being listed. And that’s it. I seriously doubt if fresh ginger or cinnamon sticks would get a single mention.


January 23, 2019

I have a problem with a hindsight approach to correcting art. Cartoons… books… movies… and the ideas of editing them, rewriting them, colorizing them, and in so many ways adjusting the presentation. To me, it does not automatically translate that today’s society should produce a different result from yesterday’s work. You could make a case that it walks into the area of censorship. It definitely compromises artistic design. And I do believe there is a value in viewing past creations as produced and presented, allowing context to also show when there are problems and issues.


January 23, 2019

Have you heard of the program Law & Order? Well, that’s a silly question. Is there any way you haven't heard of it? After all, it’s on just about every night covering two or three dozen networks. There are three versions of the show on television right now… Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. About a week ago or so I was reading this article about actor Jerry Orbach. It appeared in several places, with the basic headline for each column insinuating that Orbach will likely leave Law & Order following this season, after twelve years with the show. What you had to keep reading to find out, all the way near the end of just about any article I saw, was that Orbach was going to leave Law & Order to work on… Law & Order. Or, more specifically, the fourth installment of the program, currently being called Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted April 8, 2004


January 21, 2019

When it comes to dealing with shoveling and clearing snow, light and fluffy seems like an obvious choice. But have you ever tried to use a snowblower on light and fluffy snow when the wind begins to pick up? Basically, the snow heads up the chute, hits the air, and explodes. * POOF * The fluffy snow at times will carry with the wind, but usually it just blows up into a massive cloud and scatters. It hits you in the face, gets into any open areas of clothing, and more often than not the majority of it settles right back on the driveway. (And if you are trying to send it against the wind, just give up and head back inside until the wind dies down.)


January 20, 2019

The wine arrived on a day we were working. It was a Tuesday. By the time we got home from work that day and found the notice, the office for the delivery company was closed and we couldn’t speak with anyone or leave a message to make other arrangements with them. This meant a truck would go back out on Wednesday with the wine on board, we would again be at work, and attempt number two would be made and fail when no one was home. The carrier was slated to make three attempts before shipping the package back to the vineyard.


January 20, 2019

I can’t honestly say that I have any really solid reason for why I believe this is the way it should move along. There is no rule book that I’ve seen, and I’ve never exchanged the thought with anyone I’ve played against. Instead, it’s just been handled more as polite housekeeping. Put simply, my words: “Things finished on my watch, and I’d like to keep it going. Shall we play again?”


January 18, 2019

First and foremost, I want to tip my hat to everyone working to deliver weather forecasts for television stations, especially to those doing so on a local level. You folks are amazing, and don’t deserve any of the crap you are subjected to hearing.

Right now, Rhode Island is set up for about six to eight inches from this storm. Move barely twenty miles north and the forecast changes to eleven to twelve inches. Forty miles and it reaches fourteen to sixteen.

Do you know where the bulk of the weather that will form this storm is located right now? It’s west of Chicago.


January 18, 2019

Yes, yes, it’s supposed to be delivered in the middle of a snowstorm. That isn’t too exciting, or upsetting. I’m not looking forward to fetching it out of a snowdrift if the arrival of the box and the falling snow begin moving in opposite directions and overlap. But that’s a small part of it. The timing of weather and package arrivals aren’t always intertwined. I do hope the package doesn’t get placed in a snow drift. I hope it doesn’t sit there for a while. And, it is that sitting in the snow that begins my frustrations (and the twist for this essay)…


January 17, 2019

The misty haze of all this is the stories. A Town Pizza location in Rhode Island is almost certainly not the same as a Town Pizza in Michigan. Same idea for any of your Village Pizza locations or Johnny’s Pizza locations. These are not national chains. These are family owned businesses. These are places heavily staffed by kids working their first or second jobs, if not just sons and daughters of ownership.


January 16, 2019

So here we are, with an article that is beefing up the argument that (my words): “Hey, more youngsters are recognizing the eye-roll and poop emojis than this warning light on their dashboard.” That’s the big thing. We’re supposed to be drawn into the article by such a claim, and the drive of the article is how shocking it is that millennials know more about emojis than the dashboard of the car they’re driving.


January 16, 2019

Instead… consider… around me the high temperature four days from now is forecast to be zero. That’s zero Fahrenheit. 32-degrees below freezing. The high temperature for the day. A reading not adjusted for wind or feels-like or whatever it’s-even-worse-than-that measuring stick you might want to apply. Zero, with negative numbers for the low of the day.


January 15, 2019

From customer relations materials, there comes this point where people are taught that remembering names is a way of expressing value. It conveys the message that the customer is important to you. And in the case of mail, adding in those extra words as a disclaimer of sorts misses the mark.


January 15, 2019

Take a Twinkie, keep it wrapped, and place it on the railing of the stairs to your house. Come back in one hundred years. Stairs might be destroyed. The house might be gone. But somewhere in the area will be that Twinkie… safely wrapped and fresh as the day it was baked.


January 14, 2019

For us, most of the procedure involves stuff that we aren’t really concerned about. We don’t use the scheduling and advanced options of the system. It controls not only the heat but also the air conditioning, so we manually turn the system off and on throughout the year as needed while adjusting the temperature based on the old fashioned and slightly out of style way we’re feeling. (For instance: “I’m cold. Are you cold? Let’s turn the heat up a bit.”)


January 14, 2019

On a great summer evening, you can cook dinner and start a fire. Make some s’mores, grab a drink, and relax as the light fades and fireflies appear. Then, as the fires dies and embers cool, lean back and enjoy the arrival of constellations and shooting stars. That right there is a spectacular way to invest a few hours with family and friends.


January 14, 2019

Yes… fine… expand the line. While I may not be a fan of almost any of the various Oreo experiments, as long as the classic and Double Stuf are available, I’m good. (Well… classic when I’m looking for them. Double Stuf for Terry. But yes, when Terry’s happy, that matters to me.) Put those two styles on the shelves, don’t mess with them, and they can make all of the cherry peanut butter cola apple pie limited runs that they wish.


January 13, 2019

Weird part is that for most of November and December, we were treated to fluctuating temperatures and a fair amount of rain. And that means even with the bitter chills hitting right now, the ground isn’t exactly frozen solid just yet. Soft in some spots. And for those that know, there really isn’t anything like shoveling snow in the mud. (And yes, that’s a thing.)


January 13, 2019

For some amazing reason, this claw machine has the most amazingly annoying theme music playing. Hard to explain, but if you drove an ice cream truck through the side of a circus tent into a calliope, recorded the resulting collision of sound and somehow set it in a loop… yeah. Clowns in a zoo playing with a bagpipe and keyboard, that would be close.


January 11, 2019

The letter wants to me act quickly, act now… no, act yesterday… because my vehicle is no longer covered for service, Warranty is done. I’m on the hook for repair costs.

But the letter doesn’t tell me what kind of vehicle is involved. Just says it’s my current vehicle. Plenty of get moving and call this number moments on the form, with fonts italicized and words in bold and even red letters. They even tell me multiple times that my status is “Approved” – which sounds pretty official and legitimate to me.


January 11, 2019

The recent holidays had me visiting with my mother. As I think I may have shared before, her kitchen is a marvel. It’s just the two of them in that house, Mom and Dad, and yet somehow just in with the baking products you can find multiple types of chocolate chips, any kind of flour you might imagine, a wide variety of nuts, and so on. (And, it’s probably obvious, you’ll find cream of tartar. Seriously, does anyone else have a minimum of three types of flour regularly within arm’s reach?)


January 11, 2019

Has anyone else noticed the price of greeting cards lately? I mean, really? It feels like I could buy a meal for a family of six for the price of a single birthday card. (That’s before I have to figure out the postage it needs, and if I’m sending a large card internationally we could all super-size our meals, and… and… ok, fine… a slight exaggeration.)


January 6, 2019

Every so often, our shopping-sense alarm goes off. My guess is that we aren’t alone. Not specifically because of the cost of a particular brand of potato chips. And not because other brands in the same aisle are on sale for a third of the cost. Instead it’s when something immediately and convincingly seems wrong, and there doesn’t appear to be any way to reconcile the information despite what you do know (and possibly do not).


November 20, 2018

For the past few years, Terry and I have been treated to their presence more than ever. (Treated is a funny word in this case. Most people with any type of real experience around them will tell you two things: geese poop everywhere and they are mean.) Still, that flying-v overhead, especially when the numbers get larger, can be an attention-grabbing thing.


November 16, 2018

I don’t want to make too much out of it, but I wasn’t overwhelmed. Should be right in my favorites zone… caramel, nuts, chocolate… everything seems there. And I recall thinking it was ok. But that was about it. It was ok. Definitely not a Milky Way or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (But, hey, what is?) Definitely not a new favorite.


November 16, 2018

It was well after 3pm. Thanks to that lovely fall-back event a few weeks ago, we were roughly an hour from complete darkness. Anyone that lives in the northeast can tell you about the arrival of the night during the winter run that follows the end of daylight savings. There is no lingering twilight. There is no gradual fade. It looks, feels, sounds… yes, it feels and sounds like someone dropping a can of paint. A chilling thud with gloomy darkness enveloping everything. A real mess.


November 4, 2018

I have family in Australia though. For those of you that might not know, out there they spring back and fall forward. (Actually, they don’t. Their seasons are essentially opposite to those of us in America. That means they also spring forward and fall back. But since it’s me reading the clock, and I need to adjust my thoughts about making calls or expecting to see texts from them, the joke works.) They also don’t adjust their clocks on the same dates. The end result are these staged two-hour swings that take roughly a month to complete.


November 4, 2018

It’s even developed into a fairly standard joke between Terry and I. Basically, built on the idea that no one ever calls me. It’s funny (and perhaps a bit sad) because it’s true. Heck, even the kids respond to her texts within minutes and mine in about… well, I can’t give you an exact amount of time because they never respond to my texts.


November 4, 2018

I remember one fall day when some wind overnight had knocked down a few heavy branches. I actually needed to break out the chainsaw to cut one of them, and then dragged them off to clear a path. You got it… we were in the car and moving when I flipped on the signal before turning left out of the driveway onto the main road at 8:01am.


November 1, 2018

Can of baked beans. Half dozen or so hot dogs. Mix them up with a bit of brown sugar and some other additions of your choice (we usually add a bit of ketchup and ground mustard to the baked beans and brown sugar, with some chopped onions in with the frying hot dog slices, which all becomes a big dish of goodness heading for some time in the oven before serving), open a can of brown bread, and you’ve got quite the meal.

That’s right. I said a can of brown bread. And if your eyes have turned to a vacant stare of “I have no clue what the hell you’re talking about” on that suggestion, well, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you understand much of this effort.


October 29, 2018

Look… I love cards. I do. I find myself absolutely thrilled when I open the mailbox and find a card or letter from a family member or friend. It’s awesome. But there was an entire display within the card aisles set up for Halloween. I don’t know of any time in my entire life when anyone has sent me a Halloween card.


October 29, 2018

The only responses for you were: (1) “No.” (2) A defiant offering in the affirmative that you would jump off of a bridge with your friends, which you didn’t really mean but this was an argument with your parents and you most certainly weren’t going to let them win.

And in either case, the reality was, no one would jump off a bridge because their friends did.


October 26, 2018

Now, there’s a chance I absolutely did know all of this and more at one time, and since those days just forgot. The song was a hit in my youth, back in the early single-digit years, and honestly close to the “I am this many years old” declarations. I’ve heard the song played plenty of times. But, it comes with a bit of a cultural phenomenon status, like songs about muskrats and knocking three times… where you know the tune and can identify it quickly, but good luck remembering the names of the muskrats or how many times to bang on the pipe to say no.


October 26, 2018

The best description I can offer would be this. We took the leftover sauce and placed it into a pan. We then opened some new sauce and added it to the pot, effectively bringing the amount of sauce to the same amount we had begun with the previous evening. And then, we added exactly the same amounts of seasonings and other ingredients.


October 23, 2018

I have a firm belief about writing that transcends the rules of grammar and style and so on. It uses the pure joy of reading it as the standard or quality, and how a work can completely absorb you. It’s about reaching a state where you don’t even notice that you’re flipping pages.

In such a context, to me brilliant writing becomes about being able to create a situation where a reader is fully immersed in what they’re experiencing. Toward that end, it simply doesn’t matter which words are being used in what order with this punctuation mark or that. Grammar rules disappear. (Sort of. For one thing, spelling still counts. But let’s not digress.)


October 23, 2018

He had just pulled into the driveway from his stops when the phone rang… his wife… she was sending her father over with his lawn mower. It wouldn’t start, he needed it back right away because with rain in the forecast for Tuesday he needed to get some things done on Monday, and she was hoping he could drop everything to fix it. As he hung up, he grabbed the bags, opened the car door and glanced in the mirror. His father-in-law was pulling into the driveway. It took five hours to fix the lawn mower. Didn’t see a game, but he did split the sandwich while they worked on the mower.


October 21, 2018

End result, short and sweet version, the In My Backpack web site has essentially been a place that holds my writing. A lot of my writing. Finished efforts and scraps of ideas. And, as time has moved along, that idea of a home for my writing has expanded. Books and essays and pictures and more. All sorts of projects running all over the place. If it’s something I’m working on, and it needs a place to reside on the internet, it has a place in Backpackville.


October 21, 2018

If you tell me to head out to the garden and grab a couple of tomatoes… and, let’s say I happen to know we’re making BLTs for dinner and that’s what the tomatoes are for… I’ll come back in the house with a couple of tomatoes. I might—might—bring back as many ripe tomatoes as I could carry. But chances are good that with specific instructions that directed me to a couple of tomatoes for our meal while the toast was already being made, there is little chance I looked around at the green beans, peppers and zucchini. Tomatoes was on the to-do list. Harvesting the day’s haul from the garden was not.


October 14, 2018

When the sander died on me one day this past week… quickly… and wouldn’t charge again… well, I knew there were problems heading my way three or four years ago. I had been given warnings. Repeatedly. I just powered through them, adjusting my schedule or plans and getting the work done. Every project saying something like this to myself: “Just get me through this project, and I’ll buy new stuff for the next one.” Only every time I don’t buy new stuff. The next project arrives, I plug in the charger a day or two in advance and get the batteries as ready as they can be, and then find myself trying to nurse a battery-powered sander to the finish line just one more time.


October 12, 2018

Right now, history doesn’t suggest… history confirms to a degree bringing it to a level bordering up against certainty, that a minority of eligible voters are going to show up in 2018. (And, unless something changes, this will repeat in 2022, 2026, 2030, and so on.) Most people don’t care. Most people don’t want to invest the time.


October 12, 2018

My wife jokes around about mind chatter, which is actually nothing to joke around about. The basic concept can be described as having a million things swirling around in your head when you try to drift off at night. Instead of sleep arriving, you toss and turn and stare toward the ceiling and toss and stare and turn and toss. (One of my friends calls this “the monkeys pounding on the drums”… as in “couldn’t sleep last night, the monkeys were pounding on the drums”…I like that.)


October 11, 2018

I used to wish that my entire family would die in the same plane crash.

This was back when I was really young and first learning about death, so don’t worry. I think it makes sense. I couldn’t imagine life without those close to me… parents, sisters, grandparents and so on.


October 11, 2018

Of course, I probably should open the envelope up first. I know it’s a major award. That part is obvious. Nothing to worry about there. Something amazing and significant and life-changing. But such a prize could be a new house or might be an expensive car. It’s possible it’s not money. And if that’s the case, I’ll still have bills to pay. (Oh crap, what if I’ve won a terrific prize and have bills to pay? Umm… ok…)


October 7, 2018

I’ve actually heard that some places—think new city parks or business campuses—build the main outline of a property and then wait. After a few months, or maybe a year, the preferences of pedestrian traffic become easy to track. Worn grass here, packed dirt there. Once outlined by the feet of those using the land, the planners go back in and design more permanent walkways.


October 7, 2018

Chances are good that if we are considering all-time games, somewhat emotionless in our approach, the classics come to mind: Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Tetris and such. The titles we all know and recognize as the beginning of it all. Arguments made for Super Mario Bros. for literally bringing it home. Defenses lined up for how Duck Hunt and The Legend of Zelda contributed to what is now routine.


October 7, 2018

About ten years ago, a potential answer came about. I read an article that talked about farming and produce. It mentioned that some ways of improving overall growth, specifically increasing the speed of getting things to harvest (while in some cases also producing larger fruits and vegetables), were actually resulting in produce that had fewer nutrients. The faster growth had removed the full development of nutrition (as an easily explanation). This article, in many ways and from a different perspective, lent a bit of support to my “the jalapenos aren’t as strong” stance.


October 1, 2018

If there is only one joy to be found in having a garden, it arrives in August and September, when you can walk right out and pick something literally seconds before adding it to your meal. That is pretty awesome. A pepper, some grape tomatoes, an onion, and things were looking good for my breakfast.

Back into the house, I moved the frying pan with the sausages to the side, put some bread in the toaster oven, and began working on the eggs and veggies.


September 28, 2018

Three or four times a year, the rain draws my attention to the gutters. Leaves are involved. Blooming bushes. Pinocchio noses from the maple trees. All this and more causing me to wonder if things might be getting clogged and need a cleaning. Ladder comes out, a to-do item crossed off.


September 26, 2018

I’ve been known to pick a restaurant for dinner with my wife based on whether or not I can get away with a t-shirt and shorts because I have no desire to iron. I really, really want to see my friends tonight… I really, really, really want to be asleep eight to nine hours before I have to wake up.


September 26, 2018

Methinks a lot of this is perfectly normal stuff. We all go through waves of using certain words. And often that isn’t just reflected in what an individual says, but how groups phrase things as well. Different level, still it’s not all that different than the reasons we have different languages, or even why groups that speak the same language can have completely different words that sound absolutely foreign to others.


September 26, 2018

Something is happening in local, state and national politics. Trick is, the vast majority of us don’t care. And it turns out that not only don’t we care, that don’t care has a control knob. On standard and routine days… majority of people… knob sits around a 2. Make a story scandalous and exciting… we might actually pay a bit of attention, care just a smidgeon, and that control knob might even head toward 11 if you can toss in some really saucy elements. The main concept being simple enough… day to day, nothing too far out of the realm of ordinary… the vast majority of us really pay no attention to politicians and government activities. We need rumors and gossip and spice.


September 24, 2018

Is hot cocoa a foundational element in special-memory-making? I say yes. Not a required element. Instead, make a list in your mind of items that always add a little something extra to a moment. Hot cocoa must be on that list. (Warm chocolate chip cookies and puppies must be on that list.)


September 21, 2018

Cream of tartar.

Here’s a good challenge: Name five recipes that use cream of tartar. (Heck, let’s really ramp things up… other than snickerdoodles, name one recipe that uses cream of tartar.)


September 21, 2018

I’ve worked at a couple of places where company e-mail addresses and cellphones have been issued to staff members in specific positions. Now… I know you won’t believe this, but…

Several employees—not an isolated one or two, but fairly high numbers—have been stunned over the years to learn that each company had records of text messages, phone calls, e-mails and so on. And, many of these employees expressed shock that the company that paid the phone bill actually wanted the employee to limit use of the company cell phone to company business. As a bonus, they were enraged that they might face disciplinary action for things such as booking vacations and surfing web sites during working hours.


September 20, 2018

Since Terry and I aren’t experts, and have never headed out to try and identify the turkeys individually, we figured some other turkeys had shown up and joined the group. (Sorry… not group… rafter. Parliament of owls… cackle of hyenas… risk of lobsters… crash of rhinoceroses… band of gorillas… rafter of turkeys. That crash of rhinoceroses makes a lot sense. I like that one. Ok… rafter… back to it…)


September 18, 2018

Now, if you happen to live in certain places—say, Minnesota or upstate New York—saying the fair means only one thing… THE fair. The state fair. You don’t even need to say it three times. It just kind of appears to sweep you away for a couple of weeks. (Although that’s a joke, I have heard that if you say “Minnesota State Fair” three times in a row, a Sweet Martha’s bucket will appear in your hand.)


September 18, 2018

The reality is, I don’t fully care. I approach the weather in pretty basic ways. Sun is out, I mow the lawn. Dark and threatening clouds in the morning, I don’t hang laundry. Rain pouring from the sky. I’ve got stuff to do inside. Winter is cold, summer is hot, prepare yourself accordingly and store your turtlenecks in July. And probably like you, for the most part I approach those weather reports… especially the long-range reports… with the complete understanding that things are in motion and subject to change.


September 18, 2018

As I said, we had people asking us about the stuff we had, and very little really went to waste. If it got picked in our garden, it found a home. But not too far away from our house were these two stands. They were out about a quarter-mile from each other, along different parts of the same road, with one on the honor system for purchases and the other just giving stuff away. Curious the difference, but not in any way that would make you think all that much about it.


September 18, 2018

For those that aren’t sure what I’m talking about, I retire my older sneakers… by putting them to work. Anyone that has gone outside with good intentions, clean sneakers and a lawn trimmer understands why old and dirty sneakers are the more preferable gear out on the lawn, when gardening, and for other assorted digging in the dirt endeavors. You tend to be a little less upset when the older footwear comes back inside completely green.


September 16, 2018

Strike that. Not “was” considering. She IS considering it. It’s still an option. I am one-hundred percent certain that if she thought I could get back to the house in under thirty minutes, I would have been off and buying at least two loaf pans (and probably four). Instead, she knew the baking time, knew my minimum get-back-home time, and figured that it was just as easy to use the ones she had. But I’m guessing that I’ll know the time for next year’s garden planning has arrived when I see her in a store with a few loaf pans in the cart.


September 15, 2018

In my defense, the door is one of those multi-lock handle things. A deadbolt is one part of it. The other part is a handle with a locking mechanism that allows the door to be opened from the inside even when locked. So, you can unlock the deadbolt and open the door, walk outside and close the door, and then find the door is pretty securely locked even when the deadbolt isn’t engaged. (Which I have tested and found to be true on multiple occasions… twice just this summer.)


September 15, 2018

The answers to that last question are actually the easiest to provide (and maybe the most telling as well). It was everything. I hated every change that got made. It looks different, feels different, navigates different, and different different different. If I had to sum it up, I would say that it isn’t so much that they changed what they were offering, but that those changes made the app different and it no longer offered what I was looking for.


September 13, 2018

Many years ago, I began making jokes about the decision-making process that Terry and I used for things. And… ha ha, this was great stuff… the punchline was always based on my not having to make decisions. You get the idea, depending on how many years it was from when Terry and I began dating or got married and the audience involved, I would say something like this: “Marriage has been wonderful. I haven’t had to make a decision in ten years.”


September 13, 2018

Last summer I began noticing some small holes around our yard. Not really huge holes, but definitely too big for the birds that were eating from the feeders we had in the yard. One overnight, around 2am, for reasons I can’t recall I was in the garage and preparing to step out into the backyard. We have a door with a window, and I flipped the switch for the light. As I was unlocking the door, a bit of motion on the other side of the window caught my eye, and… yes… skunk. Likely turned out to be a very good thing that I didn’t just open the door and step outside.


September 13, 2018

Frankly, I’m shocked by many of you.

Ok… well… yeah, shocked may not be the right word. And honestly, it probably doesn’t even come close to expressing what my true feelings are on most occasions. After all, at times I’m not that surprised by what’s happening, and at other times disappointment might come closer to covering my reaction.


September 11, 2018

Terry and I out and about running a few errands, heading down the main road, suddenly looking off to the side and spotting the iconic roof in place with all of the letters and signage on and around the property removed… that was a surprise.


September 11, 2018

I suppose the peace of mind develops from the cause and correction… the pairing of both, the balance if you will… where being able to know both what is wrong and that the proper corrections have been made assists in completing the entire process. For most of us, if both sides aren’t completed, the anxieties spread.


September 10, 2018

The only clue we needed was the brown paper bag. It was usually in the backyard, placed on the corner of the deck that surrounded the pool.

Three kids on a summer day, falling out of the car and racing to the back door. Mom usually trailing the group from the driveway… Dad occasionally, and both parents every so often.

“Meme and Pepe were here!” came the cries.


September 10, 2018

A steady, no chance it won’t fall, don’t worry about the garden today because tomorrow the flood warnings will be popping up later in the day rain. As an added bonus, it will also be a cold rain. A not making it to 60-degrees rain. You know… fun.


September 8, 2018

In the span of a generation we’ve lost the definition of the word armistice. And I say that simply because I’d be willing to bet that if you approached a group of people, each about twenty years younger than I am, you’d find that the majority couldn’t tell you the meaning of the word armistice. It’s not their fault. The word simply isn’t used as regularly as it once was. (It also isn’t the reason for this tangent.)


September 8, 2018

My favorite job that falls into such consideration is shoveling snow. Usually by March, I’m so fed up with the white stuff in the driveway that anything under two-inches of accumulation is immediately ignored. Sun will take care of it. A rise in temperature will take care of it. Tomorrow’s rain… our walking for the mail or driving the cars… something will take care of it. If I can avoid it long enough, I won’t need to shovel it.


September 7, 2018

Count Chocula is back.

Spotted my first boxes of the year on Wednesday, and gleefully placed one in my cart. Before the next few weeks pass there will be more purchased.

It’s one of my seasonal treats. These are the things that are limited in time frame, but have become an annual pleasure, almost a guilty pleasure.


September 4, 2018

I made the exchange, bought an SNES Classic, and I have been playing Donkey Kong Country. Trying to limit my time on the unit I might play for a few minutes each day, but now I’m at the final level and haven’t been picking up the patterns and pacing that well. And the fact that the system also comes with Super Mario Kart along with other games is making it even more difficult to put away each day.


September 4, 2018

For these and other reasons… the scraps of paper line up on the counter. Milk and eggs. Autocrat syrup. Some 8-foot lengths of wood and chicken wire. (And juice. Geez, I asked you to remember the orange juice. It really hasn’t been that long. Try to keep up. Ok? Thanks. (Sorry. Didn’t mean to jump on you for that. I just don’t want to forget the orange juice.))


September 3, 2018

A hot air balloon, for whatever reason, just created an immediate feeling of peace and happiness. I can hardly find better words to describe it than saying simply of my reaction: “Oh look, a balloon.” Yes, that works nicely.


September 3, 2018

I grew up in Rhode Island. For those unaware of the history, that’s prime Dunkin’ Donuts territory. And back then, if you wanted donuts, this was the place to go. Sure, there were other places to consider… Mister Donut and Bess Eaton come to mind… but Dunkin’ Donuts was the leader in the region. It was an event to pick up a dozen… usually for breakfast, but quite often as a special treat for company. Over the past twenty years or so, that part of the story has changed.


September 3, 2018

The phrase is attributed to American history, with most traces going back roughly one-hundred-fifty years. Actually, not too long and quite likely more recent than you would expect. It focuses on the sale of items in lengths, usually cloth. On counters would be a way to measure, usually two tacks mounted a specific distance apart (perhaps a yard).


August 22, 2018

Forgive me for drifting into such thoughts… but I often find myself thinking that a really helpful light would be one that comes on before the transmission craps out. Or something that indicates the oil pump is on the edge of kaputting. You know, bringing to my attention an issue where a few hundred dollars of repairs might be necessary, but if I do get to the side of the road, turn the car off, and call triple-a for a tow, that light probably saved me thousands.


August 21, 2018

It’s a concept I don’t think about nearly as much these days. Probably because I don’t chew gum that often. Possibly because—hold on for a second while I find some wood to knock on—I haven’t stepped in any gum for quite some time. Still… gum… toss it on the ground, step in it later.


August 20, 2018

Remember them? Seems like those were the days where every time you were making a purchase in a department store you’d ask if they had a box for it. You’d use it for gift wrapping. (And the identifying of it by the recipient was the giveaway on a birthday or holiday that the next gift was likely not quite as exciting… a shirt or pants, and definitely not a two-foot-high robot with launchable fists or rockets.)


August 19, 2018

First off, his lawn mower is an older ride on style. And he stores it in a detached building. Combine the two and that means a garage door being swung open, a loud engine roaring to life, and him taking off in a cloud of smoke. A quite literal, very big, usually trailing him for a few minutes as he begins his work, cloud of smoke.


July 30, 2018

We live in a technological world of likes and shares and clicks and speed. Get as many people engaged as possible, even if only for a brief period of time. Get them interested, while understanding that for many people that interest is fleeting. Get the clicks, earn the dollars, accuracy shoved to the side to be dealt with later. All of this creates tricky waters to navigate.


July 30, 2018

They don’t slow down. They don’t look left. They don’t look right. They simply march along, not breaking stride or varying their pace, and move into the road as if surrounded by a forcefield of impenetrable smugness.


July 26, 2018

There are a few things I appreciate about a garden. Actually, more than a few. When it comes to creating amazing smiles and ongoing thrills though, two seem to stand out: (1) Finding ways to make the overwhelming arrival of specific vegetables constantly exciting. Cucumbers for instance. It’s easy to get bored with cucumbers. Finding a way to continuously open the fridge, spot the same item, and still be reaching for it day after day… yes… that’s awesome. And, (2) bringing a new item to the garden that you either hadn’t grown previously or had battled unsuccessfully in previous years to grow.


July 22, 2018

The other day I was driving on a road near our house. There are several corn fields along the road. Both sides. There’s an old saying about corn. “Knee-high by the fourth of July.” I seem to think about that expression every year but can never remember that “knee-high” part. I ask crazy questions. (“Was it thigh high?” “…hip high?” “Knee high doesn’t seem that high for the fourth of July. I want corn on the cob and that doesn’t sound near ready.”)


July 22, 2018

You make some zucchini bread. Delicious. Great stuff. More zucchini arriving though, so you prepare it and add it to a dish with some pasta… bring some in to work… make more zucchini bread… get mad when a couple grow larger than you expected because you left them an extra day or two while you used the zucchini still in the kitchen… leave a basket at a neighbor’s front door… roast it, grill it, fry it, add it to salads and dips… freeze some zucchini bread… and, with your limits of recipes and freezer space exhausted, the zucchini is STILL coming.


July 14, 2018

I keep using the old one. I keep telling myself “this is the last roundup” every time I fill it with gas and head out of the garage. I keep saying the new one runs better and has a slightly larger blade and all sorts of things that should bring me to a simple end… use the old one until the gas tank is empty, clean it up a bit, and then put it away to store as an emergency backup. It does run. It can be used. But it is so far beyond gone you would never give it to someone else. And then…


July 10, 2018

Obviously, I don’t believe the idea that material on the internet and considering the source need much of an introduction overall. Like another example, buyer beware, there’s plenty of reasons and evidence for why all of us should wander through web pages with skepticism and lie detectors on full alert… and if we get drawn in by it, well, it’s probably on us.


July 2, 2018

I walked into my neighborhood location of a national chain store and couldn’t find the posts. So, I asked. Turns out that such fence posts are considered a seasonal item. Spring-summer seasonal. Not November seasonal.

Didn’t matter that dozens and dozens of my neighbors put up similar winter fencing with similar posts every year in November. And, it was explained to me, the store would get in trouble with the corporate office for wasting inventory storage space on what had been identified as a seasonal item.


June 26, 2018

What I am saying is that you can’t jump on a soap box, whip the crowd into a frenzy by pretending it’s simple, and then walk away. It’s not simple. You don’t get to complain about a problem to the point where it gets changed, and then get mad because others react to the new way of doing things by doing things differently.


June 14, 2018

I don’t understand how a temperature can be too hot one day and too cold the next. (And yet, unlike a bowl of porridge, it turns out that hot, cold and just right can in fact exist all in the same bowl. Go Goldilocks, go.) Terry and I usually keep the house temperatures fairly steady throughout the year. What becomes crazy is how the feeling of one temperature can fluctuate so much across a complete year.


June 14, 2018

And, sure, it’s not all bad. The WiFi in their safe rooms allows for politicians to check their 401k portfolios. Squirrels—incompetent and competent squirrels—are finding acorns.


June 5, 2018

When we moved into our current home, it was amazing how unfamiliar we were with the sounds generated. Which parts of the floor might creak… the direction of the wind… the way cars sound driving along the main road. It took months to adjust to the heating and cooling provided by central air.


June 3, 2018

There was a bit of a shift that took place as the days and months and years went along. We worked at a place that operated around the clock. As you might imagine, over time many of us changed shifts and earned promotions and it became a bit more difficult to stay in contact with the everyday stuff. Things that could be relayed over a daily cup of coffee were suddenly events that simply got lost in the shuffle while trying to meet a handful of times each month.


June 3, 2018

There’s a basic judgement about the common cold, which is that it will last about four to seven days if you do nothing to treat it. Wake up, get your day completed while suffering, go to bed, try to sleep with the coughs and congestion, wake up, repeat. Roughly a week will pass and you’ll be feeling better.


May 20, 2018

All of the options are available on the opening move. You could play a corner, center, or middle edge space. The opponent hasn’t played yet, so there is no blatantly specific reason for making any selection, other than personal preferences and playing styles.


May 9, 2018

The very basic elements of the story involved sending out some thank you notes and consideration of the importance for writing these out by hand. My entire defense of not picking up a pen was founded on a very simple truth. One which I believe was the most incredibly important of all.

My handwriting isn’t atrocious.

It isn’t good enough to call atrocious.


April 23, 2018

The true decision-time test was when I reached the cement. Yup, in one of the holes the base of the post had been cemented in place. And that discovery was when I went into the garage and broke out the chainsaw. (The chainsaw is not a subtle tool. Crap just got serious when the chainsaw comes out as the problem solver.)


April 20, 2018

Over the years, I’ve learned that even the space of a few hundred yards can make massive swings to the ease of accessibility. That gas station draws in quite a few people. Service station gets a bit as well. And then, pretty much every hour on the hour, that employee parking lot keeps a nice steady stream of traffic moving all the way from the light to just past the third entrance.


April 15, 2018

The fancy part of the story in retrospect is that we did actually get together. No apps. No GPS. No cell phones. We didn’t text or e-mail to coordinate anything. Driving was based on having a road atlas and several maps. We simply talked a month or two in advance, set a date, made our hotel reservations, and met in Hershey.


April 9, 2018

A significant part of the annual experience is a near constant half-inch to an inch of snow, blanketing the cars as it falls overnight, most overnights. That’s only a slight exaggeration. But much like the frost that begins appearing on September and October mornings, these spring layers of the fluffy white bring along a very special treat.


March 23, 2018

That’s when things get rough. Especially in the days following a major snowstorm. It is absolutely no fun trekking out into the yard, 40-pound bag of seed in one hand and a suet cake or two in the other, when the thermometer is registering single-digits and the ground is blanketed by more than a foot of snow.


March 18, 2018

Trips to Disney World, New York City, Seattle, Australia and more are pictured on the wall. Drawings and artwork and… and… and a poster, from college, with the tagline: “Your student fee saving lives.”


March 17, 2018

(That’s supposed to be a sweeping, powerful realization there, albeit building on the figurative narration. Filled with possibility, plus the lighting flashes and thunder claps of a sizable aha moment. But… the actual jackpot is up, so… *** NOTE TO SELF *** pick up a Powerball ticket.)


March 10, 2018

Snow… no snow… snowapalooza… dusting… heavy wet snow for the next 48-72 hours… dusting… snowapalooza-like-term that no one has ever used, learned, taught or considered before, but someone thinks it will be catchy and sounds like it’s actually real so they tag the word cyclone to the end of it and start saying it like we’re the crazy ones for having never heard it before… back to a dusting… get out to your store NOW before it’s too late… back to moderate amount… and all this and more in just under 90-minutes.

(And the couch STILL isn't in the right spot.)


March 10, 2018

You can stop the search. I appreciate the help, but I found my phone. (And I didn’t need to call it.)

A few years ago… actually, many years ago… I was going crazy looking for my phone. I checked every room of the house. I called it. I looked in jackets and pants and countless pockets. I called it again. I opened kitchen cabinets and living room drawers. I called it again. And again.


March 9, 2018

When Terry and I bought our first house, we were treated to a number of fun discoveries. The first took place when I heard something best described as a loud pop or bang. Turned out to be an issue involving a light in one of the upstairs bedrooms. But the real excitement came when we figured out there was absolutely no way to get into the attic.


March 8, 2018

The two men involved, Bush and Gore, have such strong politically oriented family traditions that the phrase uttered to a ten-year old child—“someday you could be president”—was a realistic career possibility. In fact, for Gore, this has been a campaign for a job that he believes his entire life has been destined to obtain.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 8, 2003


March 8, 2018

The time of year has arrived when thousands upon thousands of individuals will begin the process of applying to colleges. Over the years, many books and seminars have offered guidance for applicants. However, there are some lesser-known thoughts about the process that are frequently understated, if they are mentioned at all, and have the potential to save you lots of money while making the experience a bit easier.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 7, 2003


March 7, 2018

We laugh when Sheldon Cooper has multiple disaster kits available, just in case the disaster prevents access to his primary kit or his escape route doesn’t pass the secondary kit. It’s funny, because don’t we all have multiple disaster kits, evacuation plans, and run emergency preparedness drills? (I’ll answer that by directing your attention to many of my friends that were in their cars following that hurricane… only because they needed to charge their phones.)


February 28, 2018

There are certain dates on the calendar… moments when we either see our shadows or don’t (figuratively speaking)… where our thoughts and efforts suddenly spin off into a checklist of demands. Gutter cleaning, garden planting, firewood stacking, lawn mowing, seasonal realities.


February 11, 2018

Who residing in Texas doesn’t own cowboy boots and cowboy hats? (Isn’t mandatory to have cowboy boots for formal, dress, casual and everyday needs? And, I’m probably missing at least four other pairs. Right?)


January 28, 2018

I am not kidding you when I say that we used to trip the circuit breaker that was involved in power heading to the living room when we used one of the outlets in the kitchen. Those two rooms were on opposite sides of the house, in diagonally opposed corners.

I would occasionally be working in the garage, using power tools like a circular saw, and the power would go out… in the garage… in the mud room… in the dining room… and you get the idea.


January 24, 2018

It means that in her kitchen, virtually everything is made from scratch. If there’s suddenly talk in a group watching television about how brownies might just be a good idea, there will be sightings of unsweetened chocolate squares being prepared for melting. I’ve even seen talk of brownies explode into a kitchen with homemade chocolate sauce on the stove and whipping dream being brought over to a mixer.


January 24, 2018

Many of you may be aware—marginally aware, not understanding any of the deeper science aware—of the idea that there are theories being proposed that involve multiple universes.

Some of you may be aware—marginally aware, I don’t know if there even is any deeper science aware—of the ideas that involve not just multiple universes, but multiple each of us living a different life in each different universe.

This past holiday season, I believe I may have lived inside of a whirlwind of proof that multiple universes do exist.


January 24, 2018

I never understood what chlorinated water meant until my family went on vacation once (I believe Washington, DC, was the first place I had this… umm… delightful experience). I took the cover off of a glass in our hotel room, walked over to the faucet, took a sip and… yuck!

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry April 4, 2005


January 24, 2018

The latest news on the next hey-everyone-look-over-here royal wedding includes details about Prince Charles getting frustrated with the media. (Or, I would imagine more accurately and likely, with a wing of the media… the paparazzi.)

I’ve been watching the news of the upcoming nuptials with an arched eyebrow. From questions about if the title of Queen will be an option for Camilla to the officially lodged objections, I’ve been taking it in.

And while I have mentioned some things a time or two on this web site, I’m not English and I don’t live in England. I’m finding it hard to gauge the truth and the emotion from that perspective.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry April 4, 2005


January 24, 2018

Every month, on the inside cover, was an advertisement for a soccer game. It was hailed as being all the rage in Europe. It showed actual figures, on a replica field, that you could move and play the game with.

It looked brilliant. Marvelous. Fun.

And I wanted it.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry November 14, 2003


January 23, 2018

But, in a strange way, I bring you good news. We’ve finally reached the breaking point. For you see, here it is 2004, and we’ve finally hit upon the final straw… this year we can confirm that Christmas is actually over before the 25th of December.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry December 2, 2004


January 23, 2018

During our stay, the two schools played a regular season basketball game. Georgetown was one of our primary rivals, and we were pretty excited about the game. I won’t make fun of the Hoyas right now (What is a “Hoya” anyway?), but when we asked them if they were going to watch the game everyone in their group said no. Evidently, when you “are as good as (Georgetown), everyone thinks playing (Georgetown) is a big deal. Playing (Syracuse) doesn’t mean much.”

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry July 27, 2003


January 23, 2018

Tigg said we needed checks. Like most married men, my wallet is usually empty. No cash. And I couldn’t tell you where the checks are, much less whether or not we are running out. But we needed them, she ordered them, and she thought I’d like to know so I could watch for any arrival of checks.

They arrived.

They were wrong.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry December 2, 2004


January 23, 2018

I’m trying to find the time and energy to edit and re-write my novel. Unfortunately, the gutters need to be cleaned, the garage needs to be painted, and there are leaves in my backyard I have to rake up before I can get some more grass seed down. And then there’s the work week. Geez, the work week. Speaking of which… I think my work day should end after 8-hours, but I have a few assignments that I need to finish off at home because I ran out of time while at work. It’s all creating a lot of undue stress.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry April 29, 2005


January 22, 2018

I don’t care what airline you are using for the flight you are on as you head in to Green Airport. Every one of them… every one of them… will have someone getting on the intercom to welcome you to Providence. T.F. Green Airport is located in Warwick, Rhode Island… not Providence. This has been a pet peeve of me, and all Rhode Islanders for… well… forever.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry March 1, 2005


January 22, 2018

In reviewing the material, it is apparent the woman planted thoughts in the doctor’s mind, ones he should never have accepted without question. He made the mistake of accepting them as fact without continuing with proper technique or treatment. Simple summary, the surface details show negligence in the actions of the doctor. And that is, regardless of your application of any degrees of severity to the word, malpractice.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry July 27, 2003


January 22, 2018

Oh sure, there are other things. Most of them are best saved for another time. But for now, you get the idea. The world moves on, the world keeps changing, and often our decisions get more complex. What we knew to be true as kids is never completely true by the time we’re adults.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry April 29, 2005


January 22, 2018

I talked with a good friend of mine that works for a company that hires roughly half of their staff in other countries. My question was about the benefits involved in outsourcing. He generically responded that he didn’t have many thoughts on benefits, since most were simple economics. But he did say that outsourcing can create headaches that are often never anticipated before a company takes the outsourcing-to-other-countries leap.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted as Ramdom Thoughts entry March 14, 2004


January 19, 2018

The first people to cook seafood didn’t look at each other and say something like: “This is good, but a bit of lemon would really finish it off perfectly.”

The first people serving wine didn’t scream: “No! No, no, it’s white wine with chicken.”

Far too often we look at things with a sense of immediacy. We try to apply our lifestyles and situations to events hundreds of years in the past. Think of it this way… in the complete history of the world, refrigeration is fairly new. There were times when seasonings weren’t just to enhance a meal, they were a necessity for making bad food palatable.


January 18, 2018

They contain offers, where a company claims the ability to provide for all of my needs in backpacks and backpack supplies. Promises that my customers will be getting the highest quality products. Everyone will be delighted. Expectations exceeded.


January 17, 2018

And, of course, you would arrive at the pool party your co-worker was hosting without a problem. No street names offered. No mileage specifics measured. Chances are good that as the person was rattling off the details you were visualizing every marker and turn until you reached the final step or two, at which point you needed to pay attention so you would know the number on the mailbox and the color of the house.


January 16, 2018

I’m often stunned by the lack of bakeries near my house. And that’s been true of the past several places I’ve lived. When I was younger, I knew where the bakeries were. And not just the bakeries, but the different types of bakeries. (These were where to go for the true pizza strips… for the freshest and most delicious cookies and brownies… for special occasion cakes… and so on.) Times have changed. Now the local mega-mart offers most of these and more.


January 16, 2018

I remember “Rubberband Man” nailing me thanks to the OfficeMax commercials years ago… of course, this is a tremendous song, so I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining considering the run of music rattling around unstoppably in my head at times.


January 15, 2018

How do you think you’d do, with no advance preparations, if asked the questions on the United States Civics test used during the naturalization process?

I wonder about this from time to time. I’m a college graduate. Love history. Enjoy the challenge of tests and trivia. And whenever something like a television show or movie offers up a character preparing to apply for United States citizenship, or I read about a citizenship ceremony taking place, I wonder when the discussion turns to taking a test. How would I do?

And more to the overall idea: How would I do without studying?


January 14, 2018

If I’m meeting God, I’m guessing a sport coat and tie. At least. Maybe God appreciates casual. Perhaps encourages it. Eternity is a long time to be wearing a suit. Jeans might work. Definitely not the jeans with the rips though.


January 13, 2018

This year has been one of startling weather in the northeast. I won’t claim it as bizarre, unusual or unexpected. It’s winter. It’s the northeast United States. It’s cold. (Ta-dah! Cold January during a northeast winter! These and other brilliantly insightful observations are brought to you exclusively here at In My Backpack. Thanks for stopping. Come on back tomorrow!) Still… we have been running along with single digit highs on many days around my town.


January 13, 2018

I’m not going to name the shop, because… well… the whoopie pie part didn’t go well. You could head in to a convenience store in New England, pick up a plastic-wrapped whoopie pie five days past the best by date, and that gas station offering would be a better whoopie pie than the ones we experienced in this supposed best-in-Florida location.


January 12, 2018

Frankly though, the thought of Jesus and his interest in specific movies didn’t seem like much of an essay topic at all. I wasn’t going to mention it. Was just going to let it pass. Let’s not go messing with religion and movies and Jesus when we have all have our own concerns, beliefs and interests about the subject.

That decision lasted all of about two hours.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted December 17, 2005


January 11, 2018

My reaction was essentially to design a list out of current headlines and news articles, attempting to show that the Jesus I’m aware of wasn’t—and, sure, isn’t—a disparaging jerk. More to the specifics, while I may not be the most religious of people, if asked to outline his character I would head toward words like kind, caring and compassionate. In essence, Jesus would agree that nice absolutely does matter.


January 10, 2018

Growing up in Rhode Island, I was no stranger to the cliché of: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.” It seemed appropriate. The weather around me… in that Rhode Island sense that includes Connecticut and Massachusetts… was always changing. The idea of seemingly random, massive swings of possibilities, no weather true exclusively for any season seemed like a part of my hometown identity. And, how dare anyone else make a claim to such a distinct concept.


January 9, 2018

I often worry that I give off some sort of impression that I don’t believe in the dangers of climate change or the concept of global warming. Which is, to be blunt, crap.


January 9, 2018

Awake. Kitchen. Coffee. Fog of sleep still hovering over emerging thoughts of what to do with the day. Coffee. Coffee. Stare out kitchen window into the yard. Coffee. Off to the side of the fence, two sets of tracks. We had visitors last night.


January 8, 2018

I’ve always wondered about having some fruit trees in my yard. Nothing too significant. A couple of apple trees. Maybe some for peaches. Expand on the thought and add some plants and vines and more for some blueberries and grapes and such. You get the idea. Part of my grand plans for the ultimate surroundings.


January 7, 2018

Before we go hugging the nearest tree as a result of this report though… help me out, because unless I’m reading it wrong… the article and many others I’ve since read like it are saying there may have been a time when the Earth was warmer. Yes? So, if we survived back then when people were likely completely ignorant of the problem… doesn’t it make sense we should be able to survive now? (Important note… we’re still ignorant.)

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted July 9, 2006


January 6, 2018

Lechmere opened… and closed. Its location is now occupied by a Target. K-Mart moved, opened and closed. (K-Mart did all three, though I’m not sure if I have that order correct. The store may have opened, moved and closed.) There’s a Home Depot (excuse me, must get the name right, a The Home Depot), and, where the Warwick Musical Theater used to be, now a Lowe’s. There are restaurants… Chili’s, Olive Garden, Applebee’s… and lots of others, way, way, way too numerous to mention.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted August 22, 2004


January 5, 2018

I don’t know about the increased speed or fabric softening capabilities. Never really tried to measure either. I do know I still have problems when I dry sheets… they continue to roll together and start bump-bump-bumping until I hear it, stop the dryer, and pull the sheets apart. And, those sheets are still wet from having rolled together into one big ball.


January 4, 2018

It should be thought of as one of the most beautiful Christmas songs, and is easily one of the most beautiful that no one ever thinks about, hums, requests or has noted at any point on their list of favorite holiday songs.


January 3, 2018

Where did mom keep all this wonderful stuff? In one of those big, canvas, shoulder bags… a square measuring a foot or so, and capable of comfortably holding more than a large suitcase. It became known as “the mom bag,” and it joined us from that trip on.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted July 8, 2003


January 3, 2018

I recall watching with a tear in my eye the first times they went up a flight of stairs on their own. Now I wish they’d just stay downstairs. Over the years, one if not both of them have stolen brownies off counters, forced me off the bed, chewed on any number of books, and destroyed Tigg’s shoes (but not mine… good dogs). And some events will only make dog owners smile…

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted June 19, 2003


January 2, 2018

Famous songs from the show include “Three is a magic number,” “Conjunction junction,” “I’m just a bill,” and “Unpack your adjectives.” For the most part, if you asked me to run through the lyrics of most of the songs, I could. In fact, I literally remember sitting in junior high school one day, singing (to myself) the “We the people…” lyrics from the Constitution episode in order to take a test. Most of my classmates later admitted to doing the exact same thing.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 30, 2006


January 2, 2018

I try to say “happy holidays” to people more often than not. And I have used the reliable “season’s greetings” at times. I even put a lot of thought into the selection of cards when I can, making attempts to have some that move beyond specific holiday themes into the best wishes of happiness. But all of this doesn’t always work, because my absent-minded-self takes over…

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted December 23, 2004


January 1, 2018

Across the street, a gentleman walks along with his Dalmatian, pretending not to notice me. He pauses to light a cigarette, not so much sharing a moment with man’s best friend, but using it instead as an excuse to disguise his indulgence of a condemned pleasure. The dog looks up at me then looks down, apparently finding the stick in front of him more interesting. Answering to a silent tug of the leash, he leaves his discovery to again race in front of the figure along the sidewalk.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted July 7, 2003


December 9, 2017

A short distance from my house is a rock. More of a boulder, actually. A small boulder. Still, it’s perfectly visible. Near the side of a main road, not even three miles from my driveway. It’s the type of rock you probably would never notice. You could drive past it for years and not even consider it.

This rock is a bit different though. There’s a plaque mounted on it. And, a few feet away, one of those official-looking, state-department-of-transportation-style, blue background with white writing metal signs indication that there is an attraction nearby and more or less confirming that this is a special rock.


November 18, 2017

As a silly example… all of us can readily picture a formal place setting at a dinner table. Multiple glasses, multiple forks, multiple plates, and multiple more. Each with a purpose, and a specific role in the dining process. And yet, other than the idea of beginning at the outer edges of lined up silverware then moving toward the plate during the meal, most of us might have some difficulties being completely and unhesitatingly certain if the wine glass is a wine glass and not a water glass.


October 27, 2017

On any given day, at any given moment, each and every one of is vulnerable. We’re vulnerable because we have needs. We’re vulnerable because we have desires. We’re vulnerable because we have hot buttons and cravings and more. And the question is… simply… can you step away from that for a moment? Can you separate your motivations from your actions for just long enough to make a sound decision? Can you, without exception, do that all the time? If not… I don’t care how smart you are… you’re at risk.


October 13, 2017

While there is a comfortable distance between us and our neighbors, there isn’t much between our yards. No overgrowth of shrubs or bushes or trees. It’s a bit of a change in this house when you understand that Terry and I had been dealing with hundreds of oaks and maples and more in previous homes. Today though… I spotted the snow fence near the deck in their backyard. And with that sight, all of the detached thoughts suddenly tached.


September 15, 2017

Because times, they change. And it seems like there could have been something else involved. In a world where floor mats do not always come standard, it’s worth a few minutes of reflection to recreate the events.


September 9, 2017

Terry and I set a personal best during a 2016 road trip. We drove along the east coast twice, and crossed the borders of twelve different states. Not counting those bonus possibilities, we saw forty-nine of fifty license plates. As I recall, the only missing state was Nevada.

That’s right.



July 20, 2017

They buzz and they pester… and they bite. But they’re not mosquitos. Oh no. Horseflies are bigger and can more easily be encountered throughout the day. So, you know, much more annoying to a child spending a summer day in a pool.


June 18, 2017

One day I asked a question that got a tremendous response.

“If you had to prepare it, what is your favorite meal?”

Thanks to some fantastic people that regularly visit my site and play these games, the answers never disappoint. For this one? Here we go…

“Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs.”


June 14, 2017

For me on this day, as I set off for the store it certainly seemed simple enough. Terry had me making some nut brittle from a recipe we like. Because of an event she was planning, she needed me to put together several double batches. And that meant I didn’t have everything.


June 13, 2017

At first, I looked at it and chuckled, thinking something close to “wow, go figure, make it in my own kitchen” while removing it from under a magnet. Realizing we had never made it, and likely had no reason to make it any time soon, I began moving toward the trash can. And during those few steps is when I read it.


June 10, 2017

The accountability and responsibility I mentioned begins with us. We have the right to vote, and it’s up to each of us to use that right. A step beyond that is the idea that an informed and prepared voter is likely to make stronger decisions.


May 14, 2017

I got a lesson the other day. An unexpected lesson at that. Involved people, and how we perceive things. Result of a crockpot filled with meatballs and sauce.


May 9, 2017

The weird thing about this mower involves oil. The design set up for you to access the drain during the process of changing the oil is nutty. For reasons that simply defy any and all possible explanations I have ever sought, encountered, discussed and experienced, the manufacturer provides a tube that needs to be attached to the drain spout. Use the tube, or, big mess.


April 29, 2017

In so many ways it’s amazing how most of the seasons… most things… pay no attention to the actual calendar in the same way that recipes for cookies will tell you to bake for something like 30 to 90 minutes or until golden brown.


April 14, 2017

After all, delivered on pink paper that qualifies the message as significantly more urgent, printed in bold and underlined font, the Department of Negotiations on Internet Boulevard has reminded me that this is their “second attempt” to reach me. (Oh… sorry… second attempt… that’s better.) And thank goodness, they are not messing around in letting me know this is important stuff.


March 25, 2017

Sure… sure… if it had been some sort of big deal, I would have immediately jumped in the car, headed to a home improvement store (or home improvement aisle or retail outlet with some bulbs on a shelf), and picked up four lightbulbs. It simply never became that big of a priority. Even when a second bulb burned out.


March 23, 2017

The other morning, I woke up first. With a few things going on, ranging from errands to falling snow to texts arriving while I slept, I picked my phone up from the nightstand and went to check a couple of things. And… because, of course… at some point as I moved along through different apps, a video began playing, and the rest of the details aren’t important because the sound woke up Terry.


March 18, 2017

It’s not just zeppolas though. There’s no Chinese food near us either. Much as I nodded toward Uncle Tony’s earlier, I point in the direction of P.F. Chang’s now. If you are looking for a nice meal with flairs of a Chinese-food-influenced menu, then setting out in search of an entrance with a marble horse is certainly a way to go. Food is usually good. Service usually attentive and kind. I’ve enjoyed my visits to several of their restaurants in multiple states. I would go back again (and again) in the future. However, if you are saying P.F. Chang’s offers by far and away the best Chinese food around you, then… I’m sorry. I wish we could fix that for you.


February 28, 2017

Winter in upstate New York… as is winter throughout many places… often brings with it the joys of snow. Funny thing about the northeast, in many areas the winter months bring along temperatures with few days crossing above the 30-degree mark. That means snow… and means no rain.


February 21, 2017



February 21, 2017

As is the case with just about every plan or thought Terry shares with me, in the end she’s absolutely right. Changing things up clears the head and freshens things up in ways that really defy all description and logic. It’s different… fun… kind of a shiver and shake for doldrums. It’s a visual stimulus that wakes you up, and even in just a small way can cheer you up.


January 30, 2017

We all have different values, and the problems associated with merging those differences is never going to go away. It’s not just the people taking the slices of cake that are missing the point, unfortunately quite often it’s the people leaving the notes as well.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 1, 2006


January 30, 2017

In the past few years I have had airport screeners ask me to remove my shoes when the signs clearly stated it was optional. (Something along the lines of “you may wish to remove you shoes” that was intended to make sure no metal was scanned or time wasted because of it.) Having absolutely no metal in my shoes, I wanted to leave them on. Nope.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 7, 2007


January 30, 2017

It was a commercial on television that got me thinking about it. A few ideas... floating around in my head... and all of a sudden something happened to cause them all to crash together into a true thought. It was an advertisement for some new flashlight that didn’t use batteries. The concept was based on a something-we’ve-all-experienced moment of dead batteries when you need the flashlight, if you can even find it. What caught my attention was the lifetime guarantee.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 2, 2006


January 30, 2017

A friend of mine sent an e-mail out to a group of us the other day. It was one of those e-mails that you would likely normally delete right away, recognized without having to fully read… a wish and a prayer and a send this to your friends, let’s see if you return it to me e-mails. But every so often I scroll along on those very e-mails just to see if I can find something… anything… that offers a clue as to why the person decided to send it, and to a degree, why they sent it to me.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted May 1, 2006


January 30, 2017

Let me put this out there right at the start… the best Republican candidate… the best Democratic candidate… the top two men for the job aren’t on any ballot this year. One of them is campaigning… on behalf of others… and one of them hasn’t been seen too much for a few years.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted October 20, 2004


January 30, 2017

We had a couple of one gallon containers already. One of them had cracked (after about ten years of fairly constant use, including being brought to several pre-concert tailgate parties). But those fantastic containers that I liked were from Tupperware… so naturally going to a different company was the thing to do.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted August 20, 2006


January 30, 2017

One tangent problem is that even though Sheboygan has dozens of dining opportunities, none of the responses to her letter will convince Linda that she is wrong. Ms. Hartman has an idea of what a successful community looks like. And that community has a Red Lobster, a Chili’s, two Lowe’s, and a mall anchored by Sears and Kohl’s. Wal-Marts rise on opposite ends of the town’s main street. Best Buy offers the latest in entertainment.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted January 5, 2007


January 30, 2017

Last night I heard a star fell from the sky –

A star fell from above

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted September 11, 2003


January 29, 2017

There was no Doppler 57,000 in the year 1829. Hard to believe, but there was no Ghiorse Factor back then either. (Little inside joke there. Legendary Rhode Island weatherman, John Ghiorse. Back to our story…) So even if our weather-related sayings were going to have an opportunity to be accurate, they also tended to be a bit simplistic.


January 29, 2017

The term “go fish” we know from the game, and has come to refer to something that is almost a hopeless and lost cause. You’re off on a fishing expedition… gone fishing. It might be the sarcastic response given when you don’t get what you ask for. And how about those legendary fishing tales? Kind of works there too. It doesn’t appear that the game ever had anything to do with fishing though. At least not until one variation of the game became more noted and popular.


January 28, 2017

...the way I read the information in this article, this situation is entirely possible – One day, I’m driving around in Warwick, Rhode Island. I get a craving for fries, an apple pie, and a chocolate shake. I pull off the road at a McDonald’s and head around to the drive-thru window. When I get there, a pleasant voice welcomes me and asks for my order… but the source of the voice could be in Massachusetts… or in Ohio… or in Oregon.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 12, 2005


January 28, 2017

I’m going to paraphrase for a second, because I absolutely love the sentiments, but for the life of me I can’t recall who told me the following or the exact words. Both of these ideas I first came across at least twenty years ago while in high school: (1) Anyone qualified to be president doesn’t want the job. Anyone that actually wants to be president isn’t qualified enough to vote for. (2) The only thing Richard Nixon did that other presidents didn’t do was get caught.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted August 24, 2004


January 28, 2017

In Melbourne, it is estimated that just about every person appears on surveillance cameras 100 or more times per day.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted August 26, 2005


January 28, 2017

A few years ago, my wife and I bought a house. About ten months after moving in, we received material explaining a way to refinance. It looked good enough that we called. We stayed on the line to answer questions and were told a representative would call within two days. As promised, we received a call from a person that took ten minutes to explain that since we hadn’t been in the house for a year, we didn’t qualify. However, they did have some other programs we might be interested in. We weren’t.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted September 10, 2003


January 26, 2017

The other day I was outside with a shovel, pondering the joys of time invested in clearing pathways around the house. I was also being grateful that our current driveway is significantly smaller that our last driveway, and also happens to not have a major uphill run. As part of daydreaming while I worked, I wandered along into the area where I considered all of the different snow we’ve encountered so far this winter.


January 24, 2017

A good way of explaining it? My presentation on it could be best described by looking toward Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden as an example – I offered up a reading that claimed an apple was quite literally an apple, though in my mind and beliefs I knew there was something quite different taking place.


January 22, 2017

I suppose there’s no accounting for taste. That would be a simple explanation. After all, there are people that let children wear a New York Yankees t-shirt. And not just in private. Not when doing sweaty, dirty, wear your junk clothes because they’re going to be destroyed by this work. They wear these Yankees t-shirts in public. So perhaps this is well beyond understandable thought and sound decision making.


January 22, 2017

Now on the surface, I can see if your initial response to this idea is skeptical. I’m purposely being vague and somewhat general and even a bit silly. Most people know that I don’t find myself aligned with any political party. I have questions and doubts and misgivings about the professional motivations of virtually every politician I’ve ever heard of or known. In summary, never blindly trust anyone that shakes hands and kisses babies for a living.


January 18, 2017

The original quote belongs to Ogden Nash. Known for his sense of humor and incredible rhymes, Nash is certainly a name you know, though you may not know why. There’s a lot of that around.


January 17, 2017

We have one of those mounted above the stove microwave units, with a venting fan and light built right in. It has a weird display and control design that can overwhelm and frustrate, along with no visible dedicated popcorn button, but once we got used to it the thing has been pretty nice.


January 17, 2017

Where we worked, there was just about always a radio playing. The usual setting, as you might expect, was kind of a classic oldies station. Local. Some news. Some weather. And those great songs you grew up with. Even for the songs you don’t consider favorites, the lyrics are etched in the stone of your memory.


January 16, 2017

I would love to help guide you to seeing a moose in New Hampshire, or killer whales off the coast of Washington. Can’t guarantee it. But, the moose are around and the killer whales are swimming along.


January 15, 2017

In other words, technology is moving so fast, we can’t even keep up with it. All we can do is make an attempt every so often to jump aboard the moving train as it roars past. Things are happening that not only change the way we view our world, they are changing the way we experience it, interact with it, and navigate our lives because of it.


January 15, 2017

…I get up hills that I never could get up before, park in parking spots that I would have gotten stuck in…


January 15, 2017

The other day I was walking along and passed a couple of people that were talking, and one of them pulled out this old standby gem of a saying. And, since I didn’t hear any other part of their conversation, all I can say is fine. Nice thought. Quite likely well-intended.


January 13, 2017

My family did visit the White House decades ago. My parents worked out a family vacation to Washington, D.C., that included a ton of stops. Smithsonian museums, the Supreme Court, Capitol Hill, and more were on the itinerary. And one day, we stepped inside the White House. (We didn’t eat there.)


January 12, 2017

This concept in turn brings us to another very common phrasing, and the German language. (Say it with me… gesundheit.) The response to a sneeze in this manner actually translates as health and wellness. (The word breaks down into “health” and “hood” in the German form. Which is great. The unfortunate part? The history for this phrase in broad use goes back only one to two hundred years. “Bless you” has the real longevity here.)


January 12, 2017

They can be joyously hysterical just by their presence. They don’t exactly do much. They definitely don’t duck and dive and soar and swoop like the blue jays. But they have the way of appearing to have settled right in. Kind of like they found a recliner and an afghan, united with plans to clean out a few episodes from the list of the recorded shows. Not quite nesting, but definitely nestled.


January 10, 2017

We could be talking about fries, stuff around your house, and results from the office… the thing is, when it comes to numbers, you can make them say pretty much anything you want them to say. It depends on perspective. It depends on time and on place and on several factors that often mean it isn’t a simple question.


January 8, 2017

We can debate the details in a million different ways, but I just want you to think about that question as stated. Just as a simple observation. Because the top of the corporate group, Sears Holdings, has sold the Craftsman name/brand/empire/toolbox to Stanley. (Ok, officially… in a really funny scenario that only heightens the beauty of this essay… Craftsman now belongs not to Stanley, but to Stanley Black & Decker. We are not going further down that path though.)


January 8, 2017

Normal and comfort and expected can be wonderful things. It’s how many of us find our car keys… because they’re where we normally put them. It’s feeling warm and happy… because our favorite sweatshirt and blanket and chair are comforting. It’s the world seeming right… because the sun is still out on a nice summer evening, a good show is on television, and everything is moving along exactly as you expected.


January 8, 2017

The tricky conversation area comes from a simple place: no one wants to be the one seen as politically incorrect, or in the case of those seeking assistance, shown as being in opposition of someone truly in need of help. And yet, there are plenty of examples of people taking advantage of a system or situation and charity gone wrong, which in turn should be investigated and criticized (and, potentially, opposed).


January 2, 2017

There is no Harry Potter. And that’s some pretty awesome… and strange… fiction. When it comes to having Abraham Lincoln fighting zombies, dealing with alien invasions, and facing any of a number of other situations, the idea of fiction is pretty strange. Want to have some fun? Stick out your hand and take a ride with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. Douglas Adams will take you on an incredible journey. That stuff great, and also fiction. Fiction has no rules. No laws. There is no need, for instance, to commit to something like gravity. In a work of make believe, you can put that to the side and have a person fly with nothing more than a cape. (And the cape is optional.)


January 2, 2017

When I was in elementary school, we got the positive version of “Flowers are red” (Harry Chapin classic… find… listen to it… love it… and pay attention to the message it contains.). We were told that when we grew up, we could be president. It was a time when boys dreamed of being firefighters and baseball players. Eventually a bad coach and the inability to hit a curveball derailed my baseball ambitions. But the real lesson here is that I don’t know if it matters what the realities are of the job description. Instead, it rests with the definition you place upon success.


November 9, 2016

Because when you invoke Murphy’s Law… while you are making a humorous shoulder shrug toward “of course something went wrong, we should have expected that”… you are pretty much placing in motion the acceptance of a predetermined, fixed in time, fated event (or set of events).


November 1, 2016

In 2010… because, sure… Rhode Island again… one candidate ran for state office with the expressed, not a secret, top objective of winning so he could abolish the office. Perhaps unfortunately, that candidate didn’t win.


November 1, 2016

For years, a friend of mine used to have the “Billy test” for potential boyfriends. She had a younger brother. (Yes… Billy.) When she left for college, Billy was 2-years-old. During her senior year of high school, she developed an interesting way of gauging how good a boyfriend was. She would introduce him to Billy.


October 17, 2016

One thing I hate about pulling out the air conditioners is dripping water throughout the house. Perhaps a contest of sorts, it was still an unwelcome one as I would attempt to balance the unit without spilling water all over the floors and stairs as I tried to get the damn thing outside so I could let it drain a bit and dry out.


October 11, 2016

Thing is… while you may find someone inside the produce area looking frustrated by their attempts to locate the broccoli… rarely do you see someone in the center of the section, on their knees with hands raised to the heavens, exclaiming: “Can someone please help me find some fruit? Any fruit? I’ll take any fruit at all!”


October 9, 2016

The stunning part is that for some reason, there are people that actually seem to think that others will change. They seem to believe that their understanding of the scenario is correct, and that others will behave to their expectations when confronted on the issue.


October 8, 2016

Regardless of the situation… regardless of any warning signs… treat the microphone as if it is on. Don’t believe the sign on the wall. Don’t believe the little red light. Don’t even look down at the switches and knobs and more and get tripped up because it’s flipped to off or the volume appears set at zero or whatever.


October 5, 2016

The pair met up last night in the first (and only) debate of candidates for Vice President in this 2016 election run. As my brain melted, all I could clearly make out as a result of that mess was something from a Charlie Brown special: “Mwah ma wah wah maaaaawwwww.”


October 3, 2016

Consider those two wonderful occasions every year when most of us need to adjust the clocks. Are you finding clocks with strange and horribly labeled buttons that take a few extra moments to figure out? (It’s usually the damn clock radios on the nightstand that cause these frustrations. But considering the number of people that have gone decades allowing the clock to keep flashing on a VCR, I know there are more.)


September 29, 2016

It’s awesome, and in many ways spectacular, to see how e-mail and texts messages and more have changed the way we can communicate. It quite literally has made the entire planet smaller and faster. Still… communication… for those that only use phones mounted on the wall with a cord dangling down and have no computer in their homes, it’s kind of hard to make an argument that technology is moving too quickly to grasp when time around them isn’t really moving at all.


September 23, 2016

Most of the history lessons surround salt as a life-giving spice and expand from there. References abound of salt being used to preserve food. Salt gets used for tasks such as treating icy surfaces. There are virtually limitless uses for salt. It is quite common, incredibly functional, and absolutely necessary.


September 20, 2016

A part of it is simply that it is a sign of respect and an offering of recognition. Without dipping my toes too deeply into this pool, it’s a way of extending my best to another, showing an appreciation that I understand they are in some way a part of my world while trying to make that world a slightly better place.


August 21, 2016

Walk up to any singer, songwriter, band, etc., and say the following: “I’m here with an offer. If you sign right now, your best album will be in content and quality the equivalent of the material on Magical Mystery Tour.” Once you tell them the songs on the album, I guarantee every one of them will sign.


August 16, 2016

The main message passed along to me by this individual was that the person was absolutely convinced that the majority of support for one candidate was because: (1) most of this candidate’s supporters didn’t have a college degree, and, (2) since they didn’t have a college degree this person was declaring they were stupid.

And that just ticked me off.


August 14, 2016

...out in the garage you’ll find things for the lawn mower or snow blower, bird feeders, and most tools very quickly. I use them. Often. The Christmas stuff is in a back corner, out of the way. Specialized items that are rarely needed, like the wrench that works best under the sink at fitting around pipes and more to tighten the faucet, never seem to be in the first drawer of the tool chest I check, or even in the tool box with most of the plumbing items. (But, when I do find it, I’m sure I’ll recall the extra special reason for where I did have it and why I should have remembered that’s where it was.)


July 31, 2016

A very large percentage of your annoying co-workers, I believe, don’t realize they’re annoying co-workers.

People using chainsaws while standing on ladders and leaning way out to catch the branch that’s thisclosetothem when they stretch, I know as a fact, don’t realize they should have the car ready with a driver aware of the shortest route to the emergency room.


July 29, 2016

Context is always an important thing. And so, let’s understand I’m not suggesting some sort of mystical world where the square root of sixteen is purple, everything you know is wrong, and you really should stop reading this essay so you can go find the perfect hat for a cup of tea before the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter arrive.


July 22, 2016

Of course… times change. In those heady days of media overload—really, TWO editions of the daily paper with one of them delivered right to my doorstep—there was no real debate over cable or satellite television options, since most homes didn’t have either. And the internet? What the heck is an internet?


July 17, 2016

A game like having Glee or American Idol running an extra minute or two truly provided amazing programming decisions for those reasons I point out. (Or whatever is being broadcast now that those shows have ended their runs.) You were able to sell more advertising time during the highly rated show, and you added in the possibility of decreasing numbers for opposing networks, while maybe… just maybe… increasing numbers on yours.

We’re quickly leaving that playing field though.


June 26, 2016

And try as I might… creating thoughts of a past emergency where donuts dropped all over the floor as a terrified patron screamed “NO” while silently promising to never let an unsecured package of baked goods ever ruin her shopping experience again… I could not get over this woman reaching into her purse, pulling out a roll of tape, and sealing the boxes.


March 27, 2016

If you think children should be seen… and seen only on rare occasions… and never heard, that’s just fine inside the walls behind your own doors. But most restaurants qualify as a type of common area, and that’s quite different. In such instances I think we need to consider the environment and, in one manner of expressing it, the desires of the hosts.


March 12, 2016

However, every candidate running for president right now looks like something that is legendary for being placed in a bag, brought to a doorstep, and set on fire. The scariest thing when calling one leading candidate a misogynistic con man (because that’s the nicest thing you can call him) has to be looking around and realizing that none of the other candidates are worthy of a more positive description. Different adjectives. Same burning paper bag.


January 15, 2016

It’s kind of like those contestants on talent shows that last until the final five or six, despite the fact… and while I’m stating opinion, let’s face it, it is fact… despite the fact that they are so limited or lacking when compared to other contestants, we can all see they should have been eliminated before the public voting even began. But they aren’t. Instead they manage to sneak through, week after week, without even landing in the bottom, end-of-the-show, thank-you-but-go-home segment.


January 11, 2016

As we waded into the voice command, several things seemed off. As those that use such features probably understand, the first thing that needs to be done is getting the GPS to acknowledge that you are trying to operate it vocally. Then comes a series of navigation statements designed to filter things down a bit. And right about there is where all hell broke loose… sort of…


January 8, 2016

Sure… there are probably plenty of people responding to the mention of toasting St. Patrick’s on the 27th of March with raised eyebrows of excitement followed by deliberate consideration. Unfortunately, they lose any possible attempt at making a case for follow up arguments during the hangover the next morning.


December 9, 2015

This morning I had to go out, realized I could use some loose change on my errands, and while walking literally fifteen feet from grabbing my cars keys to the jar with the change in it I forgot why I was walking across the kitchen.


November 15, 2015

I could use thousands of words to cover the delicious offerings of Arremony’s. Those words would cover a jaw-dropping assortment of beyond description doughnuts, how often days featured special creations, and how many cakes were part of celebrations for my family and friends.

I could discuss how mentioning the name Arremony’s around many people can elicit sighs of joy and cause eyes to glaze over.


October 4, 2015

At this point in my life though, I’ve never had to use a chainsaw on something across my driveway. In the yard… yes. Seen trees take down power lines and block roads, all fortunately not at my home… sure. But I cannot recall a tree that had fallen in such a way, was in my yard, and was large enough that I needed to break out the chainsaw to clear the driveway.


September 21, 2015

My favorite pet peeve is the sponsored “best of” segments that do a better job of causing blinding headaches than they do of delivering any moments that could really be called highlights (but I’m sure do a fantastic job of raising money). The network… actually, networks, since it’s a family of channels… is becoming virtually unwatchable for the majority of the day.


September 19, 2015

I don’t want to dislike something. I don’t want to be negative about something. If you use your posts to show us what came off the grill for dinner tonight… to tell us about something awesome your kids did... to make us aware of an article, joke, or something funny... to bring some attention to your own accomplishments… then GOOD FOR YOU! I’m all for it. Let’s have some fun and enjoy life.


September 17, 2015

Because when I was younger, my problem wasn’t so much with feeling left out. (Oh, I was left out. I felt it. And I was often quietly miserable.) More than anything else though… the problem was that back then I had zero grasp of time and life. It’s kind of an amazing contradiction really, and one for which there is no solution. (Even from a really well written letter.)


September 14, 2015

Actually… most sources say nope. In fact, if you research it, you’ll be really hard pressed to find a place that believes that’s in any way a part of the saying. Almost any place I found that did mention it basically explained that it was once considered, and then quickly dismissed it.


September 13, 2015

Here’s a good one… it doesn’t involve the characters of Iron Man and Batman, and it actually spans more than twenty years… you could probably build a strong foundation comparing Friends to That ‘70s Show to The Big Bang Theory and concludes they are very similar. (Watch… groups of young friends, hanging out, and occasionally having romantic interactions… see?)


September 9, 2015

I know you’re going to be stunned… they come from trophy makers. Yes, indeed, absolutely… the groups supporting the idea of awarding all participants a trophy are the groups that manufacture and sell the trophies.


September 6, 2015

For the month of February… 28 days… the average temperature of those days was below ten degrees Fahrenheit. Heck… the average low temperature, for the month of February, was below zero. (Yippee!)


September 4, 2015

I’m officially calling an end to all the fancy and limited edition flavors of our favorite brands. (And, in some cases, all the fancy and limited edition flavors of struggling to survive and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with something people suddenly notice brands.) Unfortunately, people are too busy praising the genius of Lay’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy chips to pay any attention to my declaration ending such nonsense.


September 4, 2015

Over recent weeks though, I’ve come to realize something else. Something so evident that many people will nod in understanding. These crazy, unpredictable, loveable goofballs brought sanity to my life. They gave me purpose, often when I needed it the most.


September 1, 2015

Almost all of us can picture a delightful, amazing, and bordering upon sinfully good indulgence. Perhaps it’s warm chocolate chip cookies or a beyond description sundae. Something that just tempts you as the most incredible and often unsatisfied craving.

During two decades, I have been fortunate to share many moments with Ellen. Terry and I have been on several adventures with her and Richard. And when it comes to indulgences for her, I can tell you Ellen loved good wine and enjoyed good food. She was passionate about travel, and thrilled by the opportunities to host friends at her home. But there is one thing that, just by seeing it on a menu, could cause her to enter a state of dazed bliss, with her eyes glazed over and as a visible state of euphoria overtook her.


August 11, 2015

You have to understand a few things in order to truly follow this. The Fantastic Four as a group of superheroes does not exactly face the most incredible or recognizable roster of villains. They have faced a lot of villains. It’s just that many of them aren’t that memorable, and several are known more for their involvement with other heroes. And yet, as their most impressive challenger, they do have one of the greatest villains of all time… Doctor Doom. And that can be a wonderful advantage or a terrible curse… it all depends in how you approach it.


August 2, 2015

You truly believe that he’s a valid candidate, and can pull the lever… check the box… do whatever needs to be done in your particular setting for voting in an attempt to have him move into the White House and be our elected representative to the world?



August 2, 2015

In other news, if you’re interested, some of these investigators will be releasing articles next week explaining that gamma rays aren’t likely to create massive rage issues, ghosts aren’t likely to be busted with specialized backpacks, and there are loopholes in time travel that likely make it impossible with current technology.


August 2, 2015

Personally, I’m not totally convinced that a commercial for a product is really the definitive source of material I should be using to decide what medication to use. It’s one step short of the company that manufactures the drug having the president or chairman of the board appear at the end so they can tell us they approved the message.


April 28, 2015

OF COURSE the show is going to be edited in a way that favors Gordon. What the heck do some of these owners and staff think? That they’re so amazingly special that the producers are going to decide to make Ramsey look like an ass while showcasing them in a bright, special spotlight?


April 15, 2015

But it’s not April Fool’s… not a Pat Paulsen filing of papers… not being stated in a throw-away “sure, I’d like to be President” fashion by someone.


April 14, 2015

I have high hopes that we… meaning the vast majority of us, and not those few that will claim to have told us so later on… haven’t met the next President of the United States yet. The trouble is… and I am so sorry for this unfortunate likelihood… we probably have.


March 10, 2015

And you can probably guess how excited and happy you can be when given with an extra hour of driving on your commute, after a long day at work and with dogs waiting for you to get home, so you can go out of your way to get a package that you arranged and paid to have shipped to your door. Sure… it’s just lovely.


March 9, 2015

This comes with the understanding, of course, that the larger the state the more open land becomes involved, and the chances of actually hitting something other than a cow or sliding into a drainage ditch go down accordingly. It’s one of those size of the state to obstacle in the way inversely proportional ratio kind of things. This also should not be confused with actually knowing how to drive in bad weather. If you want to seem high comedy, drop an inch of snow on the ground in Texas or Florida and watch the hilarity that follows. They don’t know how to do anything in the ice.


January 30, 2015

It’s too quiet… and too noisy…

And yes, it’s both at the same time.

I miss the ticking of nails on the floors. I miss the middle-of-the-night sleeping adjustments taking place just beyond the foot of the bed. I miss the water bowl… the snoring… every simple thing that is part of the background noise in a home though normally quite unnoticed.

I hear the furnace kicking on. I hear the walls creak from the wind and temperature changes and other assorted oddities outside. I hear the rain on the skylight. I hear sounds, familiar and identified as well as unfamiliar and strange. I hear the furnace turning off.


January 17, 2015

The bounding bundle of joy was an absolute pleasure. And then she did something beyond remarkable. A woman came near with a stroller. The puppy went over to investigate. She dipped her head under the stroller’s canopy and the most wonderful laughter filled the air… an absolutely delightful wave of giggles.

A St. Bernard puppy had endeared herself to a baby and won our hearts. Molly came home with us.


January 13, 2015

He was, from the moment we first saw him, amazing. In his own, special way, he was plodding, methodical, and thoughtful. He had a way of being undeniably, and ever so simply, Gus. He was there… and in your face… and always looking to be a part of the group. And was he ever a St. Bernard.


September 13, 2014

Reserved for the employee of the month… that’s a good one. A business near me is open at least twelve hours each day over all seven days of the week. They currently have ninety-three hours of reserved parking status for an employee that likely works forty. (And I won’t make any jokes here about how most business are only hiring part-time. That’s just not funny.) In short, you’re more likely to see that space empty than filled.


September 3, 2014

One day a few weeks ago I was sending a text message to a friend… autocorrect updated something, and it updated it in a spectacularly idiotic fashion. Like many of you, I’m sure, I noticed the error after hitting send, and immediately decided to follow up with a simple message…


April 25, 2014

Abbey RoadLed Zeppelin IV… go ahead and select what you believe is one be the greatest albums of all time. In short, a Starry Night of music. If the original recordings were ever authenticated and sold, chances are we could quickly come up with a list of musical masterpieces where the master recordings would be worth millions upon millions (upon many more millions) of dollars.


April 23, 2014

Eventually I drove over to a local repair place that specialized in tractors and other equipment… and, you know, just so happened to be an authorized dealer of the particular company that made my snow blower. I knew where they were because I had taken their efforts into account when selecting the snow blower we purchased. Within thirty seconds of opening the front door, we had not only laughed about the web site and physical store that had been no help, we also had two packages of the perfect shear pins on the counter in front of me to purchase.


April 23, 2014

It starts with what I can only describe as a tremendous quote…

Tremendous in its stupidity… tremendous in its ignorance… tremendous in its identifying of an idiot… and yet… he’ll probably get re-elected.


March 17, 2014

I find I always do my best writing, unfortunately for both you and me, when I am far away from pen, paper or computer. It generally takes place when I am walking with my dogs, when I’m in the shower, or when I’m driving my car. Things like that. So when I participated recently in National Novel Writing Month, I spent lots of time talking out loud, to myself, about sections that I wanted to write. Very rarely did the words on paper reach the level of quality I believe I achieved when cruising along on the highway. I should also point out that my dogs didn’t offer as much critical support as I had hoped for.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted January 14, 2004


February 7, 2014

My first computer though was a Tandy. Again… it’s a generational thing. Many people can note Tandy as a brand the same way others recall Commodore 64… Atari or Intellivision… and the names change but the beat goes on. I believe, to be technical, it was the TRS-80 Color model. And, to really stretch the imaginations for some of you… many of the games for it involved attaching a cassette player to the computer.


January 2, 2014

Initially it seemed like a terrific observation. It was a fantastic concept. It was -- let’s face it… to the brilliant mind, awake at 4am and settling in from work with a Nintendo controller in my hands and a Labrador asleep on the couch -- a brilliant theory. Inarguable in its sensibility and meaning.


December 5, 2013

We live in a world where common sense isn’t all that common. And that’s a frightening enough thought to begin with. But beyond the general polite possibilities, for purposes of this situation that means you simply cannot always believe permission is universally granted or justified. Believing otherwise is more a sense of entitlement that quite often is not only undeserved, it is dynamically and incredibly undeserved.


November 30, 2013

There is a plastic Santa Claus face that occasionally makes an appearance on the house I grew up in. My Dad got it. Not sure where. But if he was given it for free, he paid too much. And it became the punchline of many jokes. Many, many, many jokes. Until the year he decided not to bring it upstairs. And then everyone wanted to know where it was.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 29, 2013

The problem I have is when a startling lack of creativity seems to be involved. Not just for the sake of a money grab… even that I can appreciate. When a movie is made for $10 million… $20 million… $30 million and brings back something around $80 million, I think you at least owe a nod of appreciation to the fact that jobs were created and an attempt was made in an industry that is catering to big investments made on the hopes of bigger returns.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 28, 2013

Now we never pushed the term whatchamacallit or doohickey or oneofthosethings very far. And yes, I still ask if anyone knows where the boofer is while I’m searching bookshelves and sofa cushions. The thing is… the general concept of these ideas falls in line with the name thing. Boofer caught on and stuck with me. Oneofthosethings may not have stuck with me in frequent use, but when I hear that term, or whatchamacallit, I remember a bus ride one summer to Arkansas. (And now, roughly twenty years later, I can smile about it.)

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 27, 2013

The second half of my journey to work involves some back roads. And my hope has become simple… get to work. That’s kind of a stabilizing idea. Being at work does nothing for me and my ultimate problem. It’s in exactly the opposite direction of the service station we use for our automotive needs. But it will be dry and warm and there is food there. (You know… pretty much the exact opposite of a rainy day on a back road in the middle of nowhere once the battery and electrical systems of your car go kaput.)

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 26, 2013

Several years ago, on my web site, I made a joke about Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. As I recall, when the numbers began rolling in during opening weekend, the heads of the studio immediately began blaming poor box office returns on an underwhelming video game that had been released a few weeks ahead of the film. The joke was based on the idea that it was quite possible (and, in my mind, far more likely) that more of the problem with ticket sales for Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life was that the film was pretty bad.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 24, 2013

Oh, and are dogs ever good at distracting a writer. You know how a superhero has a sidekick? Well, dogs are wonderful at finding a spot in the office… a chair in the corner to climb on, a section of floor near the feet to curl up in… and joining in for an afternoon of writing. They can be an amazing sidekick for a writer.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 23, 2013

Over this time, we have met some incredible people and learned an amazing amount about the secret world of craft and vendor fairs. Some things we already had a feel for and opinions about… and some were lessons to us that you really only learn by doing multiple events, in a variety of settings, while working with different people. And I thought I’d take a few moments to share some of the secrets with you…

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 22, 2013

You begin waving to those neighbors you see regularly. Occasionally you stop and say hello. (Oh yeah… and you also learn that anyone under the age of about twenty is fascinated with petting a St. Bernard. (And if you happen to be walking two of them… well… it turns out that every person walking nearby stops and asks questions of people that are walking with two St. Bernards. And Molly LOVES this attention.)) In short, you begin to see more of the picture surrounding your nest, and the smaller details become significantly more noticeable.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 21, 2013

I understand there are reasons… as there may be for just about any business… to be critical of Walmart. In this case though, it seemed to me that these critics had picked up the fundraiser story and tried to define it to fit their own purposes without a care as to what it truly represented.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 20, 2013

And the Magic Kingdom? Well… the two Universal theme parks of Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando combined don’t reach what the Magic Kingdom does each year on its own. Disney World’s original park regularly clears 17 million guests, and could conceivably approach 18 million as the new Fanstasyland is mostly open and nears its completion in 2014.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 19, 2013

When I was in college, my grandmother used to stay in contact with me by mail. This was pretty much an age of no e-mail… long distance charges for phone calls that had you considering whether or not to make a call (and how long to stay on the line when you did)… and sending a letter from one side of the country to the other would run you about a quarter. Nana would take her copy of our hometown paper, clip out comics and articles by columnists she knew I read regularly, and then place them in an envelope along with a letter. A few days later, the care package envelope would arrive at my dorm.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 18, 2013

I like polar bears. I think I’d kind of enjoy seeing a dodo. I was actually sad and a bit scared to learn about the fate of the Yangtze river dolphin (studied in Last Chance to See, and now if not truly extinct, it is believed that any remaining would not be able to revive the numbers of the species). I don’t like thinking of extinction on any level.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 17, 2013

You can be awesome at playing Scrabble. But when all you have are the low value tiles… and the words aren’t lining up for parallel-tandem-double word plays… and the bonus squares aren’t close enough when you do have higher-point tiles… and your opponent keeps drawing “S” after “S” after blank tiles… well… being awesome isn’t always enough.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 16, 2013

What isn’t hard to see is that fall themes and decorating are now at a level to rival any of the seasons or holidays. You are as likely to see inflatable ghosts and cornucopias in October and November as you are to see an inflatable Santa in December. By no means am I suggesting that these holidays have overtaken (or can even approach) Christmas in terms of scope, hype, hysteria or monetary measures. But, when you reach a point where Christmas overload is a real thing, inflating a giant turkey on your lawn while stringing up witch-themed exterior lights around the windows are nice touches by those looking to exploit our mass consumerism in a new way.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 15, 2013

In fact, the women I asked pretty much also unanimously agreed that “she’s crazy”… the actual responses I’ll omit here since we want to maintain a polite atmosphere… and in a collective discussion that developed during a slow afternoon at work, they added that they felt she was giving women a bad name. Since my intent was a kind gesture, they believed the problem with opening the door was hers and not mine… and that effectively she in turn was guilty of exactly what she was accusing me of doing.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 14, 2013

I bring these exchanges into this because, let’s face it -- EVERY marriage is different. And yet Marie has a fairly nice summary to offer. There is humor to be found in all marriages. There are ups and downs. It is an emotional roller coaster. And yet the key for happiness and success in one marriage could very well be the key to the car that will drive over the edge of a cliff and figure heavily in the murder trial for another.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 13, 2013

Someday soon you may find yourself orbiting Jupiter… pulled over at a rest area near Neptune… frequenting a bar several light years away. And you run into Han Solo or Arthur Dent or the three-breasted woman from Total Recall and decide you want to buy them a drink. But oh no! This Jupiter moon base doesn’t take American Express.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 12, 2013

Recently Tigg and I traveled to the state of Washington. We ventured out for a few days to the San Juan Islands. And while on San Juan Island in the San Juan Islands, from the moment we were driving off of the ferry, I had the fun of watching my GPS not recognize the island as part of the continental United States. I also had the pleasure of watching my phone… as we drove to different portions of the island… tell me we were supposedly inching awfully close to Canadian soil.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 11, 2013

We can debate the exceptions to the rule… the couples where both love camping, both love sports, and, though I have yet to be able to have it officially verified, I suppose it’s even possible there are relationships where both people love cats. But they are exceptions. So why is “a happy wife, a happy life” the expression?

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 10, 2013

I have… on multiple occasions… been standing next to Terry on a particular day. And on that day, we need to run an errand. And she will suggest getting lunch and maybe seeing a movie while we’re out running that errand. And somehow, she feels that even though it is noon as she suggests all this, we can get back to our house by 3pm.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 9, 2013

I don’t crave them in the true sense of the word or situation. Not like some people are looking for a bag of chips or an ice cold beer… not like those days when you just know exactly what you want for dinner and only Italian food will do (or, insert your own craving here). Not even like when you know you need candy, and the result had better involve peanut butter and chocolate in the answer.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 8, 2013

It might be the activities of fireflies at night… a vine wrapping itself around a fence… or even the grass growing. The basic premise is simple enough… when you are paying attention to events that are part of planting your garden, you tend to notice more of the world around you.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 7, 2013

Hey… we’ve all seen the letter -- “Your mother does not work here. Please clean up after yourself.” Someone gets fed up, fires off the head’s up from a printer, posts it, and everyone gets a laugh out of it. A laugh? Sure… because the people posting it are more or less just as ignorant as the blockheads that put an empty pot back on a hot burner.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 6, 2013

As many have joked over the years, the wheels on the plane hit the runway at the same time for first class seats as they do for the lower fare regions of the plane. You can certainly enjoy a trip based on pancakes made in the hotel room and pizzas just as much as you could spending hundreds per person at the most expensive of restaurants. And there is absolutely zero guarantee that plans will go as, well, planned.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 5, 2013

Take a look at television. If you watch it for an hour, I guarantee you that… without changing the channel, and by watching the commercials… you’ll see that: (1) There is something wrong with you. And, there is a drug for it. (2) It isn’t your fault. Whatever “it” may be. And, there’s a lawsuit for it.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 4, 2013

And when we do notice… the shell game is on. Everything is in a constant state of new and improved. So these changes and adjustments and, frankly, ways of misdirecting or confusing the consumer, end up being turned around into a (my words) “it’s not us, it’s you” accusation. And honestly, when you step out of the environment and view it, it’s like watching Martin Short bring Nathan Thurm to life.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 3, 2013

Within minutes… no, make that seconds… she had reclaimed my profile picture, asked about a shot she wanted for her cover photo of both of us, and was on her way making some initial friend requests. Within hours, she had raced past ninety friends and was cruising to one hundred and beyond. I wasn’t logging in for her again, so I have no clue what requests, messages, or other surprises awaited her next visit.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


November 1, 2013

Obviously though, when it comes to the electronic age, we can’t afford to be naïve. E-mails from sources you don’t recognize are not to be trusted. Never use the links or attachments, or even respond to them. Let’s just get that stated out in the open… because I’m going to slightly swim against the flow of responsible, appropriate thinking for a moment.

2013 National Novel Writing Month effort


October 31, 2013

I must admit though, any time candy corn is offered in a social setting, I take a few pieces. It’s a trick though. It’s always a trick. One of those faulty logic moments where the lessons of yesterday fade, memories fail, and hope blossoms. One of those moments where I accept the candy corn, and by doing so I’m forgetting the disappointments of yesterday and preparing to enjoy a special treat. After all… I like candy! What I’m left with, along with a flood of returning memories, is the realization that I don’t like candy corn.


October 16, 2013

This shutdown… this threat of default… is amazingly pointless. And even if it does end before a default… instead of using energy to make things better, get stronger, and improve, resources will need to be directed at recovering, getting back up to speed after the brakes were applied. And those investments of resources will never fully cover the damages resulting from the process of shutting down and starting up again.


May 16, 2013

Many aspects of it, for some, can be pretty interesting. After all… what people have the most power on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms for gaining participation or spreading messages? And if you were asked to come up with a color or a girl’s name -- using a foreign language and no letter “e” -- would you be able to?


May 11, 2013

News stations are broadcasting reports live from a corner convenience store on the last minute rush for tickets … newspapers are discussing how the taxes created by a big winner will help the state… online sources are interviewing people that tell you the top ten things to do with your winnings (or the top ten mistakes to avoid)… and everyone is attempting to find special angles for the stories of joys and horrors, while continuously asking what members of the audience might do if one of them won.


March 17, 2013

But three or four (or eight (or more)) years later someone mentions that they’re heading in to Providence for a meeting… or to do some shopping… or just to get lunch someplace different… and hey, would you like to go to The Arcade? And since you can’t recall anything bad about the place… heck, you can’t recall anything about the place… you figure that it sounds like a great idea to check it out again and you go.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted January 22, 2008


March 10, 2013

I attended a presentation by Frank Zappa once. It was while I was at college and he made the absolutely stunningly brilliant observation that none of us were there to learn our occupation. We were there to learn how to learn.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted September 16, 2007


March 3, 2013

When it comes to my opinion on them, you will find me solidly in the “waste of time” camp. But I don’t consider myself an aggressive member of that camp. I just hit delete. Don’t even read them. Once I recognize what they are *poof* (delete).

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted December 29, 2005


February 24, 2013

I shouldn’t be so resistant to them. But please don’t tell me that the new things are better when they don’t do most of what the old things did. Please don’t tell me things are improved when they still want to sell me the old stuff too. And please don’t tell me things have to be different when I’m pretty happy with the way things are.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted January 12, 2005


February 17, 2013

In any event, everything that I was told to focus on as a child has, by one organization or another, been declared bad for me. In fact the entire four food groups have been replaced by a pyramid -- and commercials with baseball legend Ozzie Smith telling me to eat just nine… nine… servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Wow. Funny thing, I have never heard anyone debate the old advice of eating right and exercising. What is eating right is open to debate… but still. Smaller portions, not as many desserts, take a walk. Not a bad plan at all.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted July 1, 2004


February 10, 2013

Let’s get this whole thing understood from the beginning… these people celebrating groundhogs as prognosticators of winter… they are different than you and I. Perhaps best summed up best by the old cliché “ignorance is bliss,” I had lived under the assumption that only in Pennsylvania would thousands upon thousands of people plan a celebration of winter in February. I was wrong. They do celebrate with Punxsutawney Phil of Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania. They also celebrate with Buckeye Chuck in Marion, Ohio. And it goes way, way, way beyond these big two. They celebrate with groundhogs and… according to at least one internet site… they celebrate with chickens and llamas.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 4, 2004


February 10, 2013

And there I was, several days before the game, in the basement placing twenty-four bottles of four different types of beer into a refrigerator. On the Monday morning after the game, I was back at that same refrigerator in the basement, putting away twenty-seven bottles. To be honest, I have no clue what that says about your Super Bowl party when you actually finish with more beer than you started with. I know what it meant in college.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 6, 2004


February 10, 2013

It stands to reason that there is something in virtually every frame of that movie that we, as an audience almost seventy years removed from its debut, are missing. Perhaps caricatures of certain people. The presence of certain types of furniture. Maybe a rabbit or a bird or a deer happened to be the favorite animal of the daughter of one of the animators drawing a scene of Snow White out in the woods. Maybe that same little girl liked to wear blue and red and yellow.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 30, 2006


February 3, 2013

When I was younger we had the four food groups. Unbelievably, I’m showing my age by admitting that. It was easy… dairy, fruits and vegetables, meats, and grains. In the roughly twenty-plus-years since elementary school and junior high school, three of those four groups have been quite vocally declared bad for me. Cheese and whole milk were the true first casualties in the four-food-group-reorganization as I recall. I will only go down to 2% before I start kicking and screaming. I firmly believe that skim and 1% tastes and looks like poorly filtered water. And cheese was… well… I’ve been told, the equivalent of bacon as far as my arteries were concerned.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 10, 2004


February 3, 2013

My history exam was divided into two parts that semester, a multiple choice test and an essay. These were administered in separate sessions. I scored a 90 on the test portion and thought I was doing alright… and then I got the essay back. It was graded a 39. A 39 on an essay. A numerical grade on a high school mid-term essay. I mean really… numerically grading an essay aside... how do you arrive at a 39 when grading an essay? Well... I’ll tell you how…

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 1, 2006


January 12, 2013

Ten dollars might be a movie… a hat… a stuffed animal… a puppy! Ten dollars might be a puppy! And as adults we shake our heads and smile. Because even if that ten dollars could be a puppy, the reality is it won’t be a video game AND a toy AND a movie AND a hat AND a stuffed animal AND a puppy.


January 12, 2013

I won’t mention the place by name. (Oh I’ll probably type the franchise name into this article a few times. Once or twice it might even be in that humorous way of saying something where you almost wink while slipping the details out there ever so innocently. Then I’ll laugh, debate erasing it, and finally remove it. Every time I give one of their locations a shot though, they disappoint me -- at their best I find their meals decent but no better. Still, they don’t deserve to be named because of the problems on one night in one restaurant. Right?)


January 1, 2013

So here we are… the end of another calendar year. People will celebrate -- perhaps looking back at 2012 with fondness, and perhaps looking back with disgust -- but overall, no matter how it is recalled, this one promises to be one of those with difficult to find and likely misplaced memories.


November 8, 2012

We should have seen this coming. Right? I mean, in all honesty, Mitt Romney wasn’t even close to winning. It was a media event… as tired and overhyped as the Democracy Plaza setting we were repeatedly introduced to over and over (and over) again.


August 1, 2012

I’ve seen this statistic provided… with roughly the same numbers… for a few different countries, and it turns out that the description of people being caught on closed-circuit cameras hundreds of times a day not only seems unrealistic, it likely is unrealistic and just urban-legend being told again and again. Still, get this one: “the real figure for the number of times the average person is likely to be ‘caught’ on CCTV in a day is less than 70.”


July 21, 2012

The first excuse is that once washed a few times, the towels will be fine. And this is just a flat out lie. The strange thing though, is that I don’t mind this one. It’s an attempt to get me to be quiet. I get it. But the reality of the situation is simple… for a few runs through the laundry, the lint filter gets quite the workout… when it comes to drying a person off however, the towels -- after one trip through the washer or fifty -- continue to work about as well as a sheet of Saran Wrap.


June 16, 2012

On this soda bottle in front of me, there is a division. Much like Ben & Jerry’s wants to pretend there are four servings in a pint of their ice cream, this soda bottle has information about what to expect from a single serving as well as the two and a half servings the full bottle contains. Get this… In one serving… 8-ounces… there are 110 calories. And, naturally, in two-and-a-half servings… the 20-ounces of the bottle… there are, of course, 275 calories.


April 25, 2012

Soon after, he began noticing that he never saw any posts from her. Nothing. And the reason he noticed this was that every day her name popped up in those wonderful game invitation announcements. When we talked he said he was debating pulling her friendship status. (Yes… the dreaded unfriending.) But the funny thing was, he had been considering it for months and just couldn’t do it. She wasn’t hurting anything that he could see… just creating game messages… and there was still that gut-instinct kind of feeling he had, created by her connection to other friends of his. More than four dozen people were friends-in-common between him and her.


April 25, 2012

Person A is mad that Person B didn’t… voice an opinion… make a donation… take a stand… whatever, fill-in-the-blank… to support a certain, for lack of a better definition, a certain cause. And make no mistake… the charge is clear that Person A believes Person B had an obligation to act… a responsibility to act. And it almost seems that the lack of effort is arguably more important to Person A than the cause itself.


April 25, 2012

I was reading an article the other day that was going over the latest and greatest fees being considered… tested… evaluated… debated… by different banks. And in that article, I saw a very discouraging thought. I’ll paraphrase it here… and not even link to it… because it’s actually general enough even in this simple context that I think we can all appreciate it. Ready? Banks are businesses.


February 1, 2012

Now when I say “unqualified idiots” you have to understand… I honestly feel that most of the people best suited to lead our country are either too smart or making too much money to even be remotely interested in political office. (Often they’re both.) In essence… we’re not getting the best to represent us in our government, we’re getting people that managed to fill out some forms correctly. (And they don’t always manage accomplishing that.)


January 1, 2012

In the Eighteenth Century… Drury Lane was the high point of culture. I hear there might have been some theater. That means culture. Right? (Ok… from what I found, it was not exactly the high point. It was a downtrodden area filled with alcohol and prostitutes.)

A Backpack Special ~ Originally written for National Novel Writing Month, November 2011


January 1, 2012

To my knowledge, no one knew his name. He looked like any of a number of cartoon characters you might think about. And by that I mean if we picked some Looney Toons filler… something in between a Bugs Bunny – Daffy Duck – Road Runner set of episodes… and had someone down on their luck and in a bar, we would arrive at a character resembling Spare Change. Disheveled, needing a shave but not with a beard, and not looking too fortunate with life. Hat? Check. Heavy coat? Sure.

A Backpack Special ~ Originally written for National Novel Writing Month, November 2011


January 1, 2012

The thought swirling around your head is simple: “When am I ever going to need this stuff?” But let’s face it, the reality is when it comes to setting up an educational curriculum, the voices of a student or two rising up against the books and tests for physics don’t exactly receive warm welcome from the powers that be. And hey… should they? We all know that a low percentage of us will ever need to be able to calculate the results involving mass and friction and a pair of sneakers. And yet we all know an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest and… well… ok, we don’t all know those laws, but we do know the basics.

A Backpack Special ~ Originally written for National Novel Writing Month, November 2011


November 7, 2011

The label… the word… that we are taught for sake of communication… is sky. While the origin of the word might be fascinating, it doesn’t change the physical entity. And if we have an understanding with a different word, that could work just as well. Heck, I could say “look at those chirpy ankle biters”… and you could know what I mean, lifting your head to see the fluffy white clouds.


November 5, 2011

I’d like to tell you there’s some big amazing tale here. But go read the story… it is every bit as wonderful in detail as it is presented by a 12-word blurb.


November 5, 2011

I’m pretty certain I haven’t fully collected on all of the car washers and lawn mows and future chores promised at that moment. And I fully recall violating the “this one last thing” agreement we had a few days later on that vacation. But what could I do? The scenario was simply adorable and amazing and memorable… a true cherished Disney memory for us… and $10 wasn’t going to break me. I bought it.


November 5, 2011

We could debate… we won’t though… whether there is some merit in a situation where, for example, a parent has no time to cook for a child and utilizing SNAP benefits at a restaurant does provide a warm meal. Instead, I’ll rest on this one with the idea that a well-planned shopping list is far more likely to produce healthy eating than a burger and fries handed out a drive-thru window.


October 5, 2011

The problem with Friendly’s today is that it doesn’t do anything great. It tries to do too much. It has changed from what made it successful. As a result, I would argue that they didn’t need to catch up with changing times… instead, Friendly’s needed to continue being the place for a great ice cream sundae.


October 1, 2011

The guitar became the first item in a collection of rock memorabilia and artifacts that now totals more than 70,000-pieces. So large is the inventory that it is continuously displayed in 51 countries and has been catalogued on-line with an interactive web site. In fact, with more than 165 locations around the world, the Hard Rock brand has become the name for combining good food, great times, and treasured memorabilia. Many of the items associated with the biggest moments in the history of Rock and Roll are part of the Hard Rock collection.


October 1, 2011

Did you receive a message talking about money bags… and how this October had five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays… and how it only happens every 800-plus years… and how prosperity for all awaits in our future if we pay attention? So did I.


September 5, 2011

I’m not saying that things will get better because they can’t get worse. Instead, I think we are at a point where people are fed up… are annoyed at seeing the same requests and self-serving leadership… and are definitely noticing that the new so far isn’t that much different than the old, and that for change to be made it has to be more than a campaign slogan.


August 13, 2011

Yup… bip… bop… freedom of information act request… boom… the images supposedly obtained as part of a routine procedure became part of public record. Maybe the plan was to never use the images for anything else… maybe the procedures were for nothing to be stored… just look at the results and you see that best intentions or supposed-to-follow just don’t matter. (And apparently turned into a music video. Amazing.)


August 10, 2011

My sister lives in Australia. And out in her yard, she has discovered, is a lemon tree. This discovery was made when, a short time ago, a lemon began growing on the tree. So the tree itself may or may not be a fruit tree… may or may not be an actual lemon tree… but in the grandest tradition of waddling, quacking, and being yellow… Lemon tree.


May 25, 2011

That list creates an amazing, masterpiece of an album that would stand as a singular crowning achievement for perhaps 98% (or maybe even an Ivory-pure 99.9%) of individuals or bands that have ever recorded an album. If you walked into a room with any singer or band, handed them the track listing of Magical Mystery Tour, and told them that the best album they would ever record would be roughly the equivalent in quality of this material, I believe just about every one you approached would be happy and content with that thought. ((My words) “For my best work, I’m going to produce something as memorable as that collection? Where do I sign?”) But for John, Paul, George and Ringo… eh.


April 30, 2011

A gas station is located at an intersection, with little else nearby. It’s a minimum of a half-mile in any direction from that intersection to find a store, restaurant, or any other place of business. Half-mile. Minimum. We’re talking houses and lots of trees. Perhaps some livestock. I would not be surprised if most of the residents nearby allow pigs, goats, horses and such inside their homes.


April 27, 2011

I start with that description because the reality is very simple: this sign is not an accident… not a suggestion… and not a good idea. There was no mistake in the measurements. There was no inside joke in its creation or production. It is a sign that wants to pass along an absolutely direct, do not even think for a second that you will be able to challenge this in court, message. And that message is that the speed limit is about to change.


April 27, 2011

One afternoon I had decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. From scratch. As I placed the first tray into the oven, it dawned on me that I didn’t know where the timer was. I knocked on the door to Mark’s room. “Hey, do we have a timer?” I asked. “Do you have a watch?” Mark responded, not even glancing up from the textbook that he was marking on with a highlighter. “Yeah.” I looked down at my watch. “It’s four-thirty. I’m making cookies. Do we have a timer?”


February 16, 2011

For example, it’s not that I don’t believe in global warming… it’s just that so much of the evidence is presented in ways that say there were times when the planet was warmer. And those findings often include a disclaimer that says it may have been warmer just a few thousand years ago. What those findings don’t say is what kind of cars the people were driving back then or what rates their electric companies were charging them for their fossil-fuel-driven-atmosphere-polluting service.


February 16, 2011

When I was growing up I used to hear people say… and I’m sure all of you heard this as well… either “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” or “the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Well, they were wrong. There are plenty of stupid questions. Lots and lots and lots of them.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted January 20, 2004


February 16, 2011

Once, I needed a bulb replaced in a taillight. Another time I experienced a problem with some fuses. What was the charge these items? Nothing. At least not in the start. In the end, for the mechanics to give me these parts it probably cost the owner under ten dollars in expenses. But, the trust and loyalty those little efforts instilled in me brought me back time and again for thousands of dollars in repairs and service.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 18, 2003


December 21, 2010

The debate of history, and the primary focus of that history on religion… or why the date gained significance on, at least, the calendars of the American government, business world and educational system… is valid for exploring and understanding. However, whether the use of Christmas as the holiday… stress on THE holiday… is right, wrong, misguided, offensive, ignorant, insensitive or whatever else isn’t in any way, shape or form valid in comprehending my wishes when I say “Merry Christmas” to you.


November 22, 2010

The idea that in some way, because parents are hesitating in granting freedoms and responsibilities, it can, naturally, only be because they don’t trust the child. Three weeks ago Tigg and I were involved in a situation that only served to prove our point… it really isn’t exclusively because of trust in the child. In fact, in many ways it isn’t the child at all… it’s everyone else.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 4, 2006


November 22, 2010

So perhaps… long shot admittedly… they should check our files. Maybe… just maybe… they actually already have pictures and video of Ashley on file. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Come on… what are the odds that a year or two or four ago they were someplace and Ashley was that same someplace and they already have photos and videos of her boobies out in the open and her taking off a thong and she’s even already been paid far less than a million dollars… and heck… not only are the pictures and videos paid for and ours, but we have even have a signed release? What are those odds? Apparently… pretty damn good.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted April 19, 2008


September 16, 2010

The Grand Canyon is in trouble. And the National Parks Conservation Association wants us to know about it. Now… right off the bat… I think it’s pretty fair to say that when the “National Parks Conservation Association” is telling you about a study that says the future and beauty of a national park is in grave danger, you should consider the source. I’m not saying they’re wrong… just that they might have a set of pom-poms ready and a seat picked out on one specific side as the big debate approaches.


September 15, 2010

I mean… come on… seriously? Is there really someone so dumb that they fell for this one? “I found your email somewhere…” from a nice, pretty girl?


September 15, 2010

And throughout all of these ideas… is a key theme that I credit one of my dear friends for living and exemplifying so well. See, he’s quite willing to spend more in order to get what he wants. He knows exactly what he wants… knows what he expects… and expects what he pays for. And while he’ll cough up extra dollars, if he’s paying more for something then he fully intends to see it delivered.


July 26, 2010

I’ve been to web sites that are absolutely pointless. They actually make me want to use a different company. One time, when trying to get a part for a piece of equipment, I literally couldn’t order it on-line. The company tried to make me go in person to one of their stores… which they said stocked the part, and of course, the store did not. It was literally impossible for me to order it from them. Which… naturally… was all the more ridiculous since I bought the equipment from that store chain.


June 1, 2010

We’ve all heard not only the stories of people seeing Jesus, Mary and/or Joseph in an ice cube in a glass of water, but also of the people that drove 750 or miles to see that ice cube. Similar stories include grease stains at diners, sandwiches, tree bark, mold, and the list goes one and on (and on). Once we see cat marriages and items like a holy grilled cheese on wheat, I think it’s possible for us to agree that a stolen iconic statue arriving as a tribute for the man that’s impossible to shop for really isn’t such a reach.


May 29, 2010

Seriously… stick a pipe into the pipe and suck up the oil? Christ, there are more steps to follow when cleaning up a broken CFL bulb so you properly handle the disposal of mercury.


April 5, 2010

We get to this pizza and soda tax. And a portion of the story is health benefits. We’re going to tax pizza… and less people will buy pizza… so people will be eating healthier. Everyone wins! Eat unhealthy… pay more… the only losers are unhealthy, pizza-eating smokers. (And who cares about them?)


April 5, 2010

A simple, basic approach… without much digging or research… says that the money has to come from some place. It could be door number one… door number two… or door number three. The one thing that’s certain in my mind though is that the government… in claiming we’re going to save money doing this… simply hasn’t revealed which door involves us reaching for our wallets.

April 5, 2010

So let’s ask this… and keep Central Falls in mind… where does responsibility come in to play? In other words… is it the fault of a good teacher when a bad student doesn’t learn? …is part of being a good teacher connecting with the students regardless of circumstances? …do the abilities and efforts of the students play any role in this puzzle?Where we go with this basic idea is simple… are the results because of poor teaching, poor students, or a combination?


February 26, 2010

I remember a place that in the middle of a city was all alone. Once, Slater Park was in Pawtucket, but Pawtucket was not in Slater Park. As I drove in for a visit one day, the setting of trees became more dominating as the traffic along the main road moved further behind. To the right, a pond was shimmering in the glow of the sun. The zoo had an entrance up and off to the left, just beyond the World War II gun that pointed back toward the ducks and geese which surrounded the gazebo at the pond’s distant end.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted July 23, 2003


February 26, 2010

I mean seriously. Women. Clean my closet? That’s what she got out of my wet sock? If her socks were wet, I would sympathize. I wouldn’t ask about her other shoes. Wouldn’t try to make her foolish for wearing a shoe with a hole. Heck, I don’t make fun of the nylons with holes. Do I? No. And, of course, a wet sock wouldn’t happen to her since I’m willing to drop her off at the door. Am I right guys? Umm… ok… moving on…


February 26, 2010

Remember a year ago when all of those companies were getting support? Financial bracing… bailouts. Remember? And then came the hammer… when reporters sunk their teeth into corporate retreats… taking private planes when the company manufactures cars… bonuses still being paid… and all the excesses. Can’t be giving a company billions of money to get their affairs in order when a month from now they have three floors of a Vegas hotel rented out for a week… pardon me, the joke is too easy… a week in order to have their affairs.


January 23, 2010

I’m not here to complain about cell phones. Nor do I plan to tell you I’m mad because several songs I’d like to own are only available via internet download… and I’ve never done that. That’s just the world moving on. That’s just the differences between the world today and the world when I was born, and it will continue. A great concept from Men of a Certain Age sums up the reality quite nicely: 100 years from now, same game, same challenges, all new people.


January 23, 2010

The end result is that each and every one of us needs to be more aware of our actions and how those actions impact the environment around us. We need to be cleaner… we need to reduce the amount of waste we generate… and we need to recycle what we can to be used again. That’s not science… that’s common sense. (Amazing… no years of study or government grants required! We treat the planet badly, case closed.)


January 6, 2010

I would have gladly spent a few hours in that store. (The guy in the music section of the store looked exactly like Big John Wallace… but I never got to approach him… so I don’t know.) And along the road in Littleton there were other locations to browse, and 12-string guitars to sigh over… boys to pick up… moose to see. Had to move on. But I will be back. The Village Book Store will see me again. And I hope that one day you get a chance to wander through the doors of the store and find out what it means to be a valued customer.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 3, 2007


January 6, 2010
Heck… I’m still going crazy with Molly, our St. Bernard puppy. She’s cute and adorable and all… but also a royal pain in the tush when Justin wakes up in the morning, turns on the light in the hall and lets her know someone else is awake that she could be playing with instead of sleeping in her kennel at the end of my bed.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted March 5, 2007


December 31, 2009

But did you see the deeper idea? The out-of-the-box idea… one that falls right in line with the questions I usually find myself asking about all sorts of subjects… is about burning wood. But you have to follow the story to the next phase.


December 24, 2009

I rarely use my cell phone. I’m not scared of it. I just more or less subscribe to the theory that when I’m driving my car or taking a walk or in some way just happen to not be sitting next to a phone, it’s ok that you can’t get in touch with me.


December 23, 2009

“Jesus seen in” will bring you to links claiming Jesus has appeared on toast, a grilled cheese sandwich, the plate of an iron, grease in a frying pan, and on an ultrasound. In fact… now get this one… the ultrasound and toast were listed well before results that referenced people looking for Jesus in their daily lives. Seriously… use my search words, “Jesus seen in”… and note that I didn’t ask for strange places or a sighting of his image. I asked where he had been seen. I asked for “Jesus seen in” and Google told me grilled cheese sandwiches.


December 19, 2009

The tendency these days is simple to see. Once we have the information to establish contact… an e-mail address… a phone number plugged into the cell phone… we stop. Why bother to have a street address when you have a web site you can head to? Seriously. How many times do you address a letter to a person these days?


December 18, 2009

I gave this pecan roll thing a lot of thought. I happen to be thankful for the pearl onions on the table. Don’t see them often during the year… so they’re a nice little change, and I’m always looking for them when it’s time to make sandwiches later. Terry and Mom like turnips. And canned corn has caused quite a few spirited debates. (Yuck is the word that comes to mind. But some day I’ll pass on the great canned corn Thanksgiving horror story to you. Good stuff.) But after all consideration was given, I feel extremely comfortable in saying that if I polled the family, Mom’s pecan rolls would be the most noted item that is required on our holiday tables.


November 24, 2009

In the song “I wonder what would happen to this world” Chapin asks the listener to picture a world where every individual tried to accomplish everything they were capable of achieving... in the end, what Chapin in his casual comments truly seems to be recognizing is, that beyond wealth, race, age, or any other defining classification, it is the individual and the contributions made to the world that makes the difference. Is the world better because this person is here than it would be if this person weren’t?

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted October 21, 2003


September 24, 2009

In my office, directly above the monitor to my computer is a small mouse. It’s made up of a flat rock, some felt for ears and a tail, and tiny buttons for a nose. The whiskers have long since melted off. For Christmas every year, my parents would give the kids a few dollars to shop for presents. It became quite the chore. You had to be economical, and you really tried to find something people would “ooh” and “aah” over on Christmas morning. Once at a church bazaar, I spotted this very mouse on a table. I couldn’t tell you the reason why, but it seemed perfect for Nana and a bargain at twenty-five cents.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted June 29, 2003


September 20, 2009

Joe walked through a side door and entered the room. But this was not the same Joe Bonamassa that we had met earlier. The sunglasses were on. The t-shirt had been replaced by a dress shirt of a style that many fans are familiar with. And there was a confidence… a presence that wasn’t the same. I can’t say that he seemed taller to me, but he was definitely in control.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted May 7, 2006


August 22, 2009

These people are claiming that the release of the convict was sensible, compassionate and just. And, simply put, for those of us that disagree, they would say it is beyond our capacity of forgiveness to understand. But these very same people show no class, no respect, and no compassion when celebrating the convict’s return as a welcoming of a hero. Ultimately, they demonstrate nothing worthy of forgiveness.Those screaming for compassion are, themselves, incapable of compassion.


August 20, 2009

If you were going in to a bar where you felt you needed a gun for protection, chances are you have a disconnect in your brain. Because that urge to carry the gun for protection into the bar should be a huge clue that you really don’t need to be in that bar with a gun to begin with. It’s a trouble-waiting-to-happen scenario.


August 20, 2009

Now… combine these two ideas and we can support three interesting things. First, the administration seems to be in love with acting as quickly as possible, and apparently doesn’t consider the long term repercussions or all possibilities. Second, the administration, even when they get something out there that looks like a success, is ticking off tons of people because of problems and unexpected collateral damage (that may ultimately destroy the success). And third, when questioned on any of it, the response is getting louder: (my words again, but honestly, tell me you haven’t heard them in some form) “Hey… whoa… not my fault… just cleaning up the mess.”


August 7, 2009

When I was younger and played outside, there was no such thing as bottled water. Not in the current sense of the concept. We drank from the hose… the same hose we had just picked up off of the ground… the same hose we chided one friend for putting his lips against… used for filling the pool and watering the garden…


July 22, 2009

After so much time of not being able to move stuff from one house to another… or borrowing a van from my parents or a truck from a generous set of in-laws… and in essence asking for favors, we had begun kicking around the thought of adding a car. Didn’t have to be a new one. Didn’t even need to be a car. In fact… we preferred it wasn’t. We wanted something that would haul cargo or larger items. We wanted something that wasn’t the primary source of transportation, believing its role was to be a tool... She wants a pickup... I don’t.


July 11, 2009

Someone spots a cause… everyone agrees that the cause matters… and so a group decides that something has to be done because we can’t just allow the night to fall while doing nothing. The problem is that while doing nothing overall is not the answer in virtually all of these crisis scenarios, momentarily doing nothing while looking over options and considering ramifications of actions usually does less damage than the initial something that was rushed into.


July 10, 2009

This particular girl would eventually take over spot number two on the list of “Reasons why every girl named Jennifer should be avoided at all costs” in my life. Face it… we all have a name that we should avoid… due to experiences with one person or several. Jennifer is that name for me. And considering legendary tales… “The Work Christmas Party of 1992” and “Hey, there’s a pool table in this basement”… there are two things that I will never be able to overcome and should just simply accept: (1) This particular Jennifer honestly should be number one on my list of reasons to avoid every Jennifer in the world. (2) That particular Christmas party, and how I behaved, should have earned me instant sainthood as well as sap-of-the-decade honors.


April 18, 2009

She united us as a family. She provided comfort when we needed someone to love us. And by every definition, she was a best friend. She was there for good times and bad. Since finally moving out of my childhood home, she has lived every place I have. The windows have been rolled down on every car I’ve owned so she could stick her head out and enjoy the breeze.

From the Backpack ~ Originally posted January 3, 2007


March 25, 2009
I was having a particularly miserable day. Couldn’t focus on my writing. Had a honey-do list where every item was fighting me and taking twice as long to finish as it should. And it was almost time to head into the kitchen to make dinner. Having spent the better part of two hours fighting with a lawn mower that didn’t want to run, I sat down on the front steps.
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted December 9, 2004


February 23, 2009

I honestly believe that there needs to be a certain amount of instinct and opinion brought into a conversation. Observational skills in action rather than just the black and white of numbers and research. I also believe that this little web site of mine is a constantly developing, at times learning and at others growing, place for expression. That sounds wonderfully poetic when it certainly shouldn’t be that classy. It just means that while I accept responsibility for my comments, I also know that I’m going to make some mistakes or just plain change my mind.


February 22, 2009

Newspapers… television stations… web sites… whatever. Run an article, conduct an interview, or post an essay that has any possible negative content and you will be fined. Let’s say $5 million per infraction. Instead of worrying about Janet’s boobs and Britney’s panties… we could assign the government watchdog agencies to this one and let them fine the crap out of the media. Why? Because every time I see the word “economy” on the internet or hear it from some reporter, my 401k nosedives.


February 14, 2009
What I mean is that most people have that “don’t inconvenience me” approach to things. Instead of comprehending the problem, instead of troubleshooting it, almost every one of us lets an attitude of “not my job” creep in, even if only occasionally…
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted September 19, 2004


February 12, 2009
I show a few of them to Terry before deleting them. I want her to understand exactly what kind of competition she’s dealing with for my attention. Always better to be in demand goes the thinking. Keep her on her toes.


February 9, 2009
While I try to keep this web site a bit on the family-friendly side at times, the fact is if you are emotionally scarred for life by seeing Janet Jackson’s boobs on national television, you need help for a checklist of issues.


February 9, 2009
Ellen is the enabler for my wife… or… as I’ve been noting it, she’s that friend. The one that creates headaches for me. The one that creates more work. And the unfortunate reality is… she’s the one that if I tried to describe that friend in general terms to someone else, they’d look at me as if I were nuts. Why? Because the description would include examples of valuable advice that was offered, coming over early to help get ready for a party, taking in stray puppies, making overly generous donations to charity, and all sorts of other amazing things worthy of hugs and appreciation and Thanksgiving dinners that couldn’t be beat.


January 29, 2009
And in a home… as you arrive back from your journey, the moment those tires and stone meet to cause even the slightest of sounds, a furry brown head pops into view in that window… paws extended over the back cushions… shaking uncontrollably because of the manically waving tail… staring at you and watching every step you make toward the door. And when you move out of the view from that window, that guy leaps from the sofa to race to the door, so that the moment you open it there is no possible way not to feel welcomed… no possible way not to feel appreciated… no possible way not to feel loved.


January 5, 2009
I hope someday to meet Al Franken. Maybe interview him for my site. Maybe exchange e-mails or phone calls with him on a regular basis. I hope someday to meet Penn & Teller for longer than a few seconds after one of their shows. Maybe interview them for my site. Maybe exchange e-mails or phone calls with them on a regular basis. But...
From the Backpack ~ Originally posted February 12, 2004


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