General Interest

 

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

General Interest archive 2003 to 2019

 


June 12, 2021

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

 


June 9, 2021

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

 


June 9, 2021

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

 


June 8, 2021

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

 


June 7, 2021

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

That’s pretty impressive.

 


June 7, 2021

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

 


June 6, 2021

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

 


June 6, 2021

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

 


June 6, 2021

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

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

 


June 3, 2021

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

 


June 1, 2021

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

 


June 1, 2021

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

 


May 11, 2021

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

 


May 11, 2021

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

 


May 3, 2021

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

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

 


April 27, 2021

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

 


April 16, 2021

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

 


April 14, 2021

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

 


April 10, 2021

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

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

 


April 10, 2021

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

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

 


April 7, 2021

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

 


April 7, 2021

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

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

 


April 4, 2021

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

 


April 4, 2021

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

 


March 28, 2021

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

 


March 28, 2021

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

 


March 26, 2021

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

 


March 21, 2021

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

 


March 18, 2021

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

 


March 17, 2021

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

 


March 17, 2021

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

That means ten trips to walk or drive a mile.

One hundred trips to walk or drive ten miles.

One thousand trips to walk or drive one hundred miles.

 


March 13, 2021

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

 


March 5, 2021

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

 


March 4, 2021

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

 


February 27, 2021

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

 


February 26, 2021

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

 


February 26, 2021

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

 


February 22, 2021

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

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

 


February 22, 2021

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

 


February 19, 2021

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

 


February 18, 2021

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

 


February 18, 2021

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

 


February 18, 2021

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

 


February 14, 2021

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

 


February 14, 2021

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

 


February 14, 2021

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

 


February 14, 2021

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

 


February 14, 2021

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

 


February 11, 2021

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

 


February 9, 2021

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

 


February 9, 2021

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

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

 


February 9, 2021

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

 


February 6, 2021

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

 


February 6, 2021

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

 


February 6, 2021

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

 


February 3, 2021

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

 


February 3, 2021

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

 


February 1, 2021

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

 


January 27, 2021

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

 


January 25, 2021

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

 


January 25, 2021

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

 


January 25, 2021

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

 


January 24, 2021

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

 


January 23, 2021

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

 


January 23, 2021

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

 


January 23, 2021

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

 


January 23, 2021

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

 


January 20, 2021

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

 


January 20, 2021

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

 


January 18, 2021

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

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

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

 


January 18, 2021

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

 


January 17, 2021

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

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

 


January 17, 2021

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

 


January 17, 2021

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

 


January 15, 2021

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

 


January 15, 2021

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

 


January 15, 2021

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

 


January 12, 2021

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

 


January 12, 2021

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

 


January 12, 2021

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

 


January 12, 2021

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

 


January 12, 2021

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

 


January 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

 


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

 


January 5, 2021

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

 


January 5, 2021

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

 


January 2, 2021

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

 


January 2, 2021

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

 


December 23, 2020

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

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

 


December 23, 2020

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

 


December 23, 2020

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

 


December 20, 2020

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

 


December 20, 2020

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

 


December 10, 2020

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

 


November 30, 2020

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

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

 


November 25, 2020

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

 


November 25, 2020

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

It was not an easy purchase.

 


November 4, 2020

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

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

 


November 4, 2020

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

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

 


November 4, 2020

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

 


October 11, 2020

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

 


October 11, 2020

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

 


October 7, 2020

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

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

Not that I know of.

 


October 1, 2020

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

 


September 29, 2020

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

How are you and Terry doing?

 


September 19, 2020

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

 


September 6, 2020

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

 


September 4, 2020

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

 


September 4, 2020

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

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 30, 2020

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

 


August 28, 2020

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

 


August 28, 2020

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

 


August 28, 2020

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

 


August 27, 2020

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

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

 


August 27, 2020

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

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

 


August 27, 2020

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

 


August 27, 2020

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

 


August 25, 2020

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

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

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

 


August 25, 2020

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

 


August 25, 2020

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

 


August 25, 2020

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

 


August 25, 2020

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

 


August 23, 2020

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

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

 


August 23, 2020

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

 


August 23, 2020

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

 


August 23, 2020

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

 


August 23, 2020

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

 


August 22, 2020

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

 


August 22, 2020

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

French pork pies.

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

 


August 22, 2020

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

 


August 22, 2020

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

 


August 22, 2020

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

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

 


June 24, 2020

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

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

 


June 24, 2020

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

 


June 21, 2020

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

 


June 21, 2020

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

 


June 30, 2020

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

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

 


May 18, 2020

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

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

 


May 15, 2020

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

 


May 12, 2020

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

 


May 8, 2020

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

 


May 2, 2020

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

 


April 26, 2020

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

 


April 21, 2020

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

 


April 18, 2020

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

 


April 13, 2020

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

 


April 7, 2020

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

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

 


April 5, 2020

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

 


April 5, 2020

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

 


April 5, 2020

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

 


April 5, 2020

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

There was no one else seated yet.

Not a single person. Ten minutes before the start.

 

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