Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring, Finally

February in north Idaho

After going more than a month with the sun making only fleeting cameo appearances and more than sixty inches of new snow enveloping the Idaho panhandle, many of us huddled by our fireplaces and dreamt of Hawaii or the Virgin Islands.  Spring seemed only a mirage.

Then, as if someone flipped a switch, midway through this month of March the sun came out, the snow stopped and temperatures crept into the lofty forties and low fifties.  People heretofore bundled in parkas and ski masks began sporting t-shirts and shorts.  (All that winter fat pays off!) Squirrels, geese, deer, moose, even two legged critters are getting frisky.  Kids are already staring out school windows anticipating a homework free summer vacation and the chance to ride bikes, swim and play ball.

Freeloading goose gives me the stink eye

 Adults are cleaning up golf clubs, planning gardens, dusting off fishing gear and getting boats ready for launch now that the tarps are back up over the slips at the marinas.

On my morning walk I checked to see if the goose who usually builds her nest in a flower box on the bridge of the boardwalk at the Coeur D' Alene Resort marina had moved in yet.  It looks like she has.  Once she has eggs to protect she'll be hissing at me again just like she has for the past four Springs.  She's a shameless shake down artist always angling for something to eat.  "Get a job honey," registers not with her but I say it anyway.

Look, you can see Summer from here!

I'll confess to phoning this one in today.  Concentration is nearly impossible when Spring fever is epidemic.  The oh so comfortable chair on my front deck is flirting with me and I seldom say no to temptation.  Resting my eyes and soaking up a little sun is always a good idea.  Maybe when I come to I'll make some tropical reservations in anticipation of another snow slammed February.  I'll just rest my eyes and let the sun warm my winter weary bones.  Zzzzzzz.  Oh, would it be too much trouble for you to build me a pina colada?

Next winter for sure

Friday, March 22, 2019

Fun With Animals

"Hi, I'm new in town."
The Southeast, especially Florida and Georgia, is home to many exotic animals and insects that can put a big hurt on we humans.  Alligators, scorpions, poisonous snakes, spiders, fire ants and disease carrying cockroaches the size of a '48 Packard make everyday an adventure in old Dixie.  Having spent several years in Florida, I know what I'm talking about here.  

Now, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, there is a new critter to keep an eye out for when you find yourself south of the Mason Dixon Line.  The Argentine black and white tegus has been spotted in a couple of Georgia counties and no doubt Florida has also become home to a few of these 4 feet long pre-historic freak shows.  Consensus in the scientific community is that, like pythons, piranhas and Iguanas, these horrors were "pets"  that owners released into the wild when their hideous novelty wore off.  The good news is that the tegus diet pretty much consists of eggs and bugs.  They're also non-poisonous and slow.  Nonetheless, who wants to cross paths anything that looks like Harvey Weinstein after a bad night?  It may be something to consider if you find yourself packing to leave the tax gulags of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts or Illinois.  
Nah, it's STILL worth fleeing those clip joints.  Just remember to pack steel toed boots and bug spray.

In the Pacific Northwest little things like 66" of snow in the month of February tend to keep our bug population in check.  Also, any reptile with a lick of ambition prefers to be anywhere other than a place where it isn't safe to come out from under a warm rock until August.  Nope, here we only need worry about large furry creatures like bears, moose, wolves, and the occasional crazed beaver.  Moose, with hooves the size of dishpans, can trample a person to death for simply insinuating that Rocky the flying squirrel was a bigger star than Bullwinkle J. Moose.  They're very touchy about such things.  Bears, on the other hand, need little provocation to smack you around and, if you really piss them off, eat you.  Personally I have found that the best defense when confronting a bear is to try your best to amuse the big lug.  Once, while picking huckleberries, a bear favorite, I distracted Mr. Bear by performing my more than passable imitation of a spawning salmon.  It was a big hit.  To show his appreciation the big brown goober offered up his own killer impression of Harvey Weinstein that I applauded enthusiastically before skedaddling for home.  It's essential for one to be entertaining in bear country.  
"Wonderful salmon impression, I could just eat you up!"
The South's warm weather has a lot of appeal especially at this time of year but I believe I'll stay put here in the wilds of the Northwest.  Bears sleep for a good part of the year; alligators, Argentine black and white tegus, pythons and assorted other snakes I'm not so sure.  As insurance, no matter where you are, always take a friend with you when in the wild.  A friend you can outrun.

"Check me out! I'm Harvey Weinstein!."

Friday, March 15, 2019

Just In Time For St. Pat's

It's not just for breakfast anymore!
In addition to the eternal Irish conundrum of whether to fight and get drunk or get drunk and fight, Saint Pat's revelers have another tough choice to make as the 2019 green weekend bacchanal gets underway.  This year not only will there be green beer but, in select locations, a no doubt "magically ridiculous" new malt beverage will be joining the celebration.  The Smartmouth Brewing Company, a Virginia brewery, is debuting a frothy amber tipple called Saturday Morning that, according to Smartmouth spokesman Chris Neikirk, tastes like a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal.  "It has a soft pillowy body with a slight cereal taste, it is brewed with in-house toasted marshmallows and bulk dehydrated marshmallow bits," reports Mr. Neikirk.  However, to make sure we all know that the product is not being marketed to children, the new brew is not sporting the Lucky Charms moniker.  (Pay no attention to the picture of Lucky Charms cereal on the can kids!)
The advent of this new beverage will no doubt come as good news to the Ohio man, Del Hall, who is giving up all food and drink EXCEPT BEER for Lent.  Mr. Hall, who, by the way, works at the Fifty West brewery in Dayton, opines he is merely following the lead of monks from the 1600's who made a special bock beer for Lent.  "So the monks in Bavaria, they would call doppelbock liquid bread and basically it would sustain them through the 46 days of Lent," the certifiably delusional Ohioan explained.  Hall did say he was going to mix it up a bit by including ALL types of beer in his experiment.  (Saturday Morning for breakfast big guy?)  He claims that he feels good so far and is losing weight with the suds regime.  You can follow his progress on his YouTube channel.

"Beer!  It's slimming!"

Green beer will be in abundance this weekend to provide the sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle and their pretender degenerate friends with enough personality enhancement to insure a memorable experience.  Oh wait, it might be a good idea to hire a non celebrant to video the festivities to--you know-- refresh those memories the following day.  Make sure not to drive and don't drunk dial old lovers while full of Irish goodwill if you join the party.  Also, remember if you wake up on March 18th naked with a live badger in the room and Lucky Charms on the ceiling, that may be a real clear sign that it's time to SLOW DOWN.

"We started without you!"

Friday, March 8, 2019

To Text Or Not To Text, That Is The Vexation

Didn't we get this backward?  Texting should have come before the advent of the honest to goodness telephone call, right?  Do we really need to be busting our thumbs with this modern day version of smoke signals when we have the ability to actually TALK to someone?

I tried to avoid getting sucked into this gigantic retreat to the age of the telegraph but to no avail.  It was unavoidable.  My first exposure to this nonsense was on one not so fine day a few years ago when strange words began appearing on my phone causing me to ask my late wife to please explain.  She reported that one of my daughters was texting me.  "What the hell is that," I replied full of Luddite indignation.  "Why can't she just call"?  Which, not coincidentally, remains my question to this day.
If we have a legitimate reason to communicate with somebody isn't the quick and easy way to accomplish this verbally? Nope, we now behave like a nation of 13 year-old girls passing notes in junior high study hall and unfortunately I have joined their club.  It's maddening but unavoidable.  "Text me" has become the communication order of the day but--and I know I'm not alone here--my thumbs and my eyes can't take much more of it.  It is dangerous to be walking around with our heads down squinting at a tiny screen as we try to compose a semi lucid message to a friend or colleague.  It's an excellent way to walk into a street lamp or, worse yet, step into traffic.  (Pedestrian injuries and deaths are up for this very reason.)  In New York City I've noticed a marked slowdown in the pace of the place as many text distracted New Yorkers no longer plow straight ahead at a clip not seen in other metros.  Now they're almost like the rest of us.  I did say "almost."  On a positive note texting does give them something to look at on the subway besides sleeping bums, crappy musicians, and panhandlers.
"Damn, I missed my stop.  I was texting!"
Texting looks to be with us for awhile and I believe I've gotten the hang of it even though I still prefer a phone call or an email.  Texting has even made me a better speller thanks to that pesky auto correct, though an upgrade in the cuss words department would be helpful.  It really gets interesting when you employ that deal where you just yell at your phone and magically your words are converted to text.  The genie inside my phone NEVER gets that right! She probably went to school with SIRI.

In the meantime, if you need me, buzz me up, or, better yet, pass me a note in study hall. Coach Cook isn't looking, he's busy texting
"Hey guys, the light has been green for ten minutes."

Friday, March 1, 2019

Alfred E. Neuman For Congress

Just for fun I recently Googled "pictures of morons in congress" and--no surprise--mug shots of most all of our representatives came up.  Initially I thought the situation was the fault of those of us who bother to vote.  I reconsidered when I asked myself who runs for any kind of political office?  Sadly those drawn to life as a D.C. demimonde are, to a greater degree,  narcissistic nincompoops who never tire of telling us they're just what the country needs to right our ship of state.  In reality they are mostly just carnies with good teeth.

It's not a bad gig.  Tell some whoppers and promise your gap-toothed goober constituents they can have everything their hearts desire and then get ready to stand at the government trough.  Just get elected once and you're set with great lifetime medical coverage for you and your family and you've guaranteed yourself a fat never ending pension unequaled in the private sector.  Your only job henceforth is to get re-elected and continue to remain among the Beltway elite.  Do the right thing?  Only if it feathers your own nest.  Just keep shoveling the fertilizer to the folks at home and, should they ever throw you over for a newer prettier face, you can just stay in Washington and become a lobbyist for some wealthy concern that once fronted you campaign money.  No need to return to your hometown where it may be necessary to explain a vote or two to the un-washed who elected you not so long ago.

What prompted this rant?  Congress can't seem to accomplish even the simplest of their constitutionally designated tasks.  Their constant "election mode" setting has rendered them completely ineffective and impotent.  Budgets don't get passed, simple straight forward bills passed and, though we've been in many since the Second World War, they can't even manage a declaration of war, EVER.  The Afghanistan war, and that's what it is, has been ongoing for eighteen years with no end in sight.  Kids now volunteering for service weren't even born when it started.  How can that be?  An essential part of Marine boot camp now includes a mandatory history lesson about the September 11th attacks and their connection to the Afghanistan war.  Can you imagine World War II dragging on like this?!  Once again, like Korea and Vietnam,  our country is bogged down in a half-assed attempt at a politically "safe" solution that has cost the lives of too many of our best young people.  Only worried about the next election, our representatives have chosen to take the easy way out and refused to declare any of these wars.  Gutless!  Either declare this war in Afghanistan and throw everything into it  required to win or get the hell out and bring the kids home.  Twenty-thousand wounded and 2,400 American dead is a national disgrace.  Congress, DO YOUR JOB, or go home.  This isn't how it's supposed to be.