While visiting with a young electrician friend about
taking the Montana state journeyman’s licensing exam, he mentioned that he had
completed the exam in about half of the allotted time.“I actually had enough time to read back
through and double-check all of my answers,” the young man added.
“You didn’t change any answers, did you?” I
asked.I was especially curious because
I know that he scored 100% on the exam.
“No,” I left them all the same.”
“See, that’s good,” I said.“They say your first answer is usually
correct…unless you are answering something for your wife, in which case there
may not be a correct answer.”
I have a favorite for just about everything.My favorite color: blue.My favorite cup: the green one with “Montana”
stamped on it.My favorite author: John
Steinbeck.My favorite new rock band:
I even have a favorite fence.
That’s correct…a fence.
Weird over-thinking, I suppose.
Interestingly, my friend Chris McGowan took a photo
of my fence the other day and posted it on his photography website.His photos are much better than mine, but I
still love to take photographs.Today,
I am posting a photograph that I shot of my favorite fence yesterday afternoon.
I had intentions of posting a blog that I wrote last
night, but as I wandered around my house early this morning making my coffee,
feeding my cats, and preparing for the day, I realized that I needed to talk
about my sweatpants.They are, as my
friend likes to say, ungood.As I walk around my house, the ill-fitting
sweatpants continually try to drop down to my knees.
With every couple of steps that I take, I am forced
reach down and pull them up before they plummet down to lower elevations.
I have other pairs of sweatpants that fit me
perfectly.Moreover, this is my second
day of wearing the sweats, but I have decided to continue wearing them.
This is about commitment.I put them on and intend to wear them.Dammit,
I might add.
I will spare everyone and not post a photograph
The other night, Jon Stewart interviewed Richard
Dawkins on the Daily Show.Dawkins is
famous for being an unapologetic evolutionist and believer in science.Richard Dawkins often pushes back against
religious dogma and teachings that clash with scientific views. At one point the conversation turned to the
possibility that, one way or another, man is capable of self-annihilation.Jon Stewart asked Dawkins which he believed
might be more likely to bring forth the end of civilization: advancements in
our science or advancements in religious strife.
Dawkins suggested that the bad fruits of scientific
advance are clearly a danger as are religious radicals who are willing to
sacrifice all as martyrs on their way to paradise beyond.“The answer,” he finally said, “is probably
both.”Dawkins went on to say that there
is an increasing possibility that a religious radical will end up with some
form of new destructive device and ultimately use it thinking that is what God
This kind of thinking is pessimistic and disturbing
all at once, but such discussions always trigger my own cascade of related
thinking.Sometimes I start my thinking
at the events of nine-eleven and drop from that point.
What if this?
What if that?
On the scientific side, I often think about some of
the researchers working on the early atomic bomb tests during the 1940s.A few of the scientists were concerned that
the first test might set fire to the atmosphere surrounding the earth and bring
an end to all life as we know it.
While reading the “weird news” on the internet, I
bumped into a story about a 21-year-old-girl from Poland named Ania
Lisewska.She is interesting.
Ania is interesting mainly because she has set a
goal to sleep with 100,000 men.This really
is a very ambitious goal—and I am a person who appreciates goals.This is the sort of goal that will likely
take many years to achieve.The
Huffington Post suggested this would take 3.8 solid years of time—without so
much as time for stopping to sneeze—if each encounter required 20 minutes.
I am assuming Ania will want to stop for at least
one dinner at some point.She may want
to comb her hair.Some of the more persnickety
men may want her to comb her hair.
I additionally ran across another bit of information
about a woman named Lisa Sparks (Sparxxx).She is an American adult film star.In 2004 she had intercourse with 919 men in a single day.I am unsure about the details.I suspect we either must alter the definition
of “day” or, more likely, alter the definition of “intercourse.”
As I stated earlier, I think setting goals is a
pretty good thing.My goal for the rest
of the week is to avoid weird news on the internet.
Yesterday, after about two weeks of solid work and
about six months of on and off again activity, I completed work on a Power
Point presentation, and all manner of associated instructional materials for
training those installing solar photovoltaic (solar PV) systems.I don’t know how many hours I have put into
what is intended as a 8-hour training course. I am going to guess I have about
250 hours invested in total.
Upon finishing the material, I saved my completed
work on a remote hard drive as a precaution against a computer crash.That took about ten seconds—including my
dragging and dropping.
Ten seconds…that’s all.
I wonder how long my life would take to load onto a
I have posted a slide from the Power Point I saved.
Yesterday, I went to see my fiend Dundee for a
haircut.As she snipped and buzzed some
sense into my thinning mop, we talked about the various goings-on in our lives.When she asked me what sort of projects I
have been doing for my work, I explained to her that for the last few weeks I
have been working pretty hard to launch some online continuing education
training for electricians. I went on to explain how I would love to have a
great deal of my business online.“Everything
seems headed in that direction,” I said.
Dundee stopped cutting for a moment.“That’s a great idea,” she said. “I should start cutting everyone’s hair online,
“That is a good idea!” I enthused.
I would love to be able to go online for a haircut.I hope she can figure that one out soon.
Yesterday, we established that I am courteous to
flies.I take time to free them from my
mailbox and do not squash them simply because they are flies.
I am also relatively nice to business cards.
Again, explanation is likely required.
The day before yesterday, I went to the dentist for
my scheduled six-month grill cleaning.My grill isn’t all that pretty, actually, but mechanically-speaking my
teeth are healthy.I would have
forgotten about the dentist appointment had not the office manager called to
remind me last Friday.
Following the cleaning I stopped by the front office
to see about the next appointment in six months.The office manager selected the 17th
of March, wrote the date on a card and then handed the card over to me.I took the card.“You know,” I told her, “I am going just take
this card home and lose it within a couple of weeks.”
“That’s why we call a few days ahead of your
appointment,” she said.
thing you called me this time.”
“At least you will take the card home,” she
added.“I find lots of them out in the
I smiled with super-clean teeth.“I will at least give you the courtesy of
taking the card home to lose it.”
As a final note, I should mention that the card is
sitting on the sofa beside me as I write.The card has been torn into two pieces.I have written a phone number on the back of one part.A while ago, without really thinking about
it, I picked up the other half and used the corner to clean something from
between my teeth.
Among all of my other weird habits is the one where
I regularly release the flies from my mailbox.
Probably, I need to explain that.
As the summer draws to an end and the nights rapidly
cool in these parts, all creatures seek warm places to overnight.The hornets and box elder bugs swarm my
home.Mice start poking at corners and windows.For some reason flies—sometimes by the
dozen—find their way inside my mailbox down the road.They never quite figure out how to escape
again.Either that or they are patiently
waiting for my next Playboy magazine—not realizing that I cancelled my subscription
Having learned that the flies overnight in my
mailbox, I have developed the habit of stopping by my mailbox anytime I pass
by, even when I know I do not have mail, just to open the door and release the
My friend, Bill, likes to tell the story of his
mother driving past a particular Lutheran Church in our little town.If he or any of his siblings were riding in
the car with her and they happened onto the church, she would point at the
church and say, “There is our church.”
This activity started when Bill and his siblings
were young children and went on for many years, mind you.Not until Bill was adult and riding with his
mother near the church one day (quite recently) did it occur to him that they
had never actually attended a service at the church.As before, his mother dutifully pointed to
the church: “There is our church she said.”
Bill glanced at the church and then turned to at his
mother, “But, Mom,” he said, “we have never even been inside that church!”
“But we are Lutherans,” she responded.
He scratched at his head.“Driving by a Lutheran church and pointing at
it does not make us Lutheran.”
Yesterday, I drove up to my cabin and constructed
the last of the railing along the edge of the loft.I cranked-up the boombox and rather danced
between the air-nailer and miter-saw as I fitted together the various
balusters, rails and trim boards.After
about five hours of work, I finished the last remaining section of open deck.
I said #$$@&## only once and #*#%twice.
Not bad—especially when you consider that I like to
just for fun when I am all alone.Sometimes, I whisper it seductively.At other times, I make it sound
like it is riding on a rollercoaster.On
those occasions when I cut the wrong end of a board or drop my pencil while
atop my ladder, I sigh loudly and blurt-out the word with great earnest.
Well, I suppose #$$@&## is technically a phrase
and not merely a word.
Just as I started to clean-up my mess for the day,
the CD in the player fell silent, having reached the end of the current CD.I clomped down the stairs, thinking that I
might change to a new CD, but somehow flopped into one of my willow rocking
chairs instead, listening to the silence.
I should say, mostly silence—except for the flies.A lot of flies were ticking against the
uppermost windows at the end of the loft walkway in a frenzied attempt to
escape.I don’t speak fly, but I am
pretty sure they were all screaming #$$@&## repeatedly.
For some reason, I have become quite averse to
killing anything.Just last Saturday I
captured two black widows in my garage and trotted them outside so I could live
release them on the sage and grass flat.
I decided that I would save the flies by sucking
them into the shop-vacuum I was using to draw-up sawdust.I climbed back to the loft, dragged the
vacuum over to the windows, fired up the motor and began sucking the ping-ponging
horde of flies down the hose.Some of
the flies resisted mightily, clinging to the glass or the wood casing—their
wings drawn-away like a cape in the wind, but the suction of the machine
overpowered all of them.
As soon as I had sucked in the last fly, I shut down
the machine and dragged it outside to set the insects free.I had in my mind a picture of a happy swarm zizzzing up and away as opened the
machine to dump the collection.
When I unlatched the top and dumped the contents, a
waterfall of sawdust whooshed out and fell into an immobile pile in the grass
and wild strawberries.I watched the
pile, waiting for legs and wings to stretch free.I waited for whole black flies to emerge from
the honey-colored sawdust, shake themselves off and launch themselves away into
the forest light.
I tentatively stirred the pile with a stick I found
Like so many other good intentions…the end result
was a pile of dust.
According to About.com, there is a name for people
with a morbid fear of Friday the 13th.The name is: paraskevidektriaphobics, a name
for which I shall spend an eternity trying to locate a rhyming word so that I
might write a poem.
Para-whutchacallit is also noteworthy in that the
fear of Friday the 13th is thought to be the most widespread
superstition in these United States.Somewhere near eight percent of the population is believed to be gripped
by this fear.I am merely happy that the
figure is not thirteen percent.That
would be far too freaky for me.That
said, there does exist a certain weird numbers thing occurring in 2013—seems
that we have two Fridays that fall on the 13th this year: this one
and one in December.If you count the
weeks, the two Fridays are thirteen weeks apart.
That is a lot of thirteens.
I know what you’re thinking…somewhere nearby a
theatre is playing Friday the 13th.Maybe admission for two (plus soft-drinks and popcorn) will be thirteen
bucks.Maybe the theater is on Thirteenth
Street and the show will start at 7:12 because 7:13 would be far too unlucky.
Now…what if it took you thirteen seconds to read the
According to Wikipedia, the Greeks and many
Spanish-speaking countries consider Tuesday the 13th unlucky.Well, that is a little weird.Tuesday is just another day of the week.
Yesterday, I posted two photos of a very normal
subject made abstract by the combination of unusual lighting and the tightness
and point-of-view I chose in taking the photographs. I am happy to note that my young friend, Randy,
correctly identified the subject as droplets of dew on the cover for my hot
I will give Randy a shot of The Balvenie (aged 12
years) single malt Scotch when next I see him for that!
My friend Clay agreed with Randy and Gayle was halfway
Posted today are two more photographs from the
Yesterday morning, the quality of light and some
very unusual environmental conditions allowed me to capture some very unusual
photographs of a very ordinary subject.I
have not altered the images in any manner whatsoever.Any thoughts on what this might be?
I will post an answer along with at least one more
A Wikipedia search for “sapphires” will land you in
my backyard: the Spokane Hills near Helena, Montana.The Missouri River (now a chain of lakes
created by hydroelectric dams) passes through the sapphire country.The sapphires are found near the water in the
diluvium that washed down from the surrounding mountains in the time of ancient
floods. Montana is one of the few
places in North America where gem quality corundum crystals (sapphires) can be
found.Ruby is also a form of corundum.
Rubies have also been found in Montana.
Sapphires, depending upon the impurities within the
corundum, may range in color from clear to green to blue to yellow to pink.A handful of uncut sapphires might appear
like a bouquet of mixed flowers.While I
appreciate the look of a cut sapphire, I am much more thrilled by the way the
uncut sapphires play with light.
The hills surrounding my house are rich with gold
and sapphires—especially sapphires.During
the construction of my house, while a contractor was pushing the stone-filled
earth around with the blade of a crawler, I found a green sapphire about the
size of a kernel of corn in the upturned earth.In the knot of timbered gullies immediately north of my house is a place
we call the Chinese Diggings.The
diggings are today rows and stacks of beautiful stone amongst the pines—painted
sandstones, snow-white quartz, river-carved chunks of limestone, black stones,
green stones, blue stones, and white-veined red stones.
Back in the late 1800s, the Chinese workers that
toiled to construct the railroad lines through the Rocky Mountains also sought
gold in these hills.They made the lovely
rows and stacks of stone while digging through the hills to find the loose gold
in the mix of floodplain stone.Rumors
persist to this day that cursing Chinese miners dumped back into the stone
piles whole buckets filled with the sapphires that kept clogged their sluice
Not that implausible, really.Back in the early 1990’s I worked briefly on
the set-up of a gold and sapphire operation located on a grassy bench less than
two miles from my house.The operation
churned through the bench (reclaiming the land as it advanced) and produced
enough revenue from the sale of sapphires to pay for the fuel used by all the
heavy equipment.Several sapphire mines
are still operating in the valley as I write this.
The photograph posted today is one I snapped of a
few of the stones I have gathered in the hills around my home over the many
years of my life.
Pictured today are photos of the Russian
Sage growing near my hot tub.I
love the scent—like basil on triple-steroids.Every time I pass near the plant, I pluck a tip from one of the stems
and roll it in my fingers, sniffing.
As the name implies, Russian sage is an exotic from
central Asia (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Tibet).The plant thrives in high dry climates as
well as soils that verge on alkaline. Russian sage makes for a tall and showy late
summer feature in Xeriscaping.From a
distance the flowers sometimes appear like a deep blue mist floating just above
the ground. Unlike knapweed and
Dalmatian toadflax, Russian sage is not invasive.
Early this morning I stepped outside and stood amid
a cricket symphony looking up at the stars.I saw the stars a whole—suspended above me and weightless as memories.I have been under them for fifty-seven years
now and for the entire time they have remained quiet as countless clouds smudged
As I stood under the stars with the crickets skritching in my ears, I thought about
how the night before last my friend came home only to find his wife
wrong-colored and dead in their bathtub.
I have never assigned a color to hurt…but if I had,
the sky would have been the color of hurt this morning. Standing at the center of my deck, I spun
around twice while gazing up at the stars.
Today, the stars are a whole because I need them to
Following are a few simple rules and standards I
have adopted as guidelines for living my life:
I – General Policy
by all laws governing physics with the exception of gravity.
gradual adoption of my father’s weird conspiracy theories is acceptable,
providing I begin with the one where the government is trying to control us by
inducing signals in our microwave ovens as we cook.
mushrooms that do not cause me to see
cartoon characters dancing in the ice cubes at the bottom of my glass.
be honest—even when the initial result is painful.
II – Treatment of Adults
adults shall be approached with the caution reserved for someone about to give
everyone in the vicinity an enema, repeatedly.
listen to someone if they begin an explanation or proposition with any of the
following opening statements:
a.“Not that it matters, but…”
b.“I am a banker by profession…”
c.“Maybe you have heard of me…”
those who think that only one thing in life is important.
those who think that everything in life is important.
III – Treatment of Children
must be treated with reverence.
seeking facts, consult children.
first, all else second.
every child at least one stupid-magic trick.
IV – Pretty Stuff
attention to pretty stuff.
V – Stuff that is not Pretty
not pay attention to stuff that is not pretty.
VII – Personal Finance
little Scotch and dark red wine is an investment in wellbeing.