Trick or treat! – Got a light?

Ok…I really can’t wait. Halloween is officially a joke. First we’ll get the cuteness out of the way. Here is Sam and Sara in all of their Halloween glory.


Now let’s talk a little about Halloween and a couple of beefs I have with this “holiday”. Better yet, let’s do this with a list. Here is a list of the top 10 “Why you probably shouldn’t be trick or treating”

1. You don’t have a costume and you don’t even pretend you have one. Hell…one kid didn’t even have a bag.

2. You ran out of Marlboro lights halfway down the block. Seriously…some “kid” walked up with a mighty “Happy Halloween” with a cigarette in his mouth.

3. Your boss let you out of work a little early so you could get “the good candy”

4. You’re the third generation of trick or treaters in your family tonight.

5. You drove your car to the really good candy neighborhood.

6. You are going to go home, pop open a Bud Light and check your candy for tampering.

7. You have to make up a story about how you are trick or treating for your younger brother / cousin / nephew.

8. You have to quit early because you’re taking the SAT’s the next day.

9. You’re a girl and saying “trick or treat” might be considered solicitation considering how you are dressed.

10. If anything happens to you while you are out collecting candy, it’s ok, your home owners insurance will probably cover it.

It’s so crazy, but each and every one of those instances I thought up using tonight's visitors for inspiration.

All hallows eve

It’s funny. I look back at Halloween in my past and don’t remember that much. Halloween wasn’t a huge deal back when I was a kid, especially in Orion. Everyone did the usual things, dressed up, begged for candy, the occasional prank. The first time I remember Halloween being different was in St. Louis. In St. Louis Halloween is pretty much a national holiday. EVERYONE decorates their homes, kids or no kids. There were about 20 different haunted houses to choose from and these weren’t your run of the mill haunted houses. These were for-profit professional deals. In fact…here’s a link to one of this years St. Louis haunted houses.

St. Louis haunted houses – click here

Crazy - $20 for a ticket! That’s how serious they are.

Florida has its own set of rules for Halloween. The interesting part about Halloween here is that you rarely have to worry about that November chill and covering up your costume because you are too cold. Here most people sit out on their driveways, evaluate the costumes as the kids stroll by and occasionally there is a “treat” for the adults. There is a house down the street that has offered jello shots for the adults as they wander the streets with the kids. I found that the people manning the jello shot station didn’t have very good memories (probably due to their own intake) and I could go back many times. 

Pictures coming soon.

There goes a narwhal

I’m not sure if this is happening in your neck of the woods, but it seems that the newest way to advertise your business is to hire some questionable character, give him a sign and send him to the roadside. I can’t even imagine how much these people must get paid. There is a guy at the intersection down the street, holding a sign for carpet cleaning. How much business is this guy bringing in with that sign? It’s even funnier that the sign says something like “5 rooms cleaned for only 89 cents!” This guy spends like 10 hours a day holding that sign. Down the street a local fine dining restaurant has hired a lobster to stand out front and hold a sign. For you slower readers it’s actually a guy dressed as a lobster. The other day the lobster was smoking a cigarette and waving his sign. That makes me want to go have a meal there. I’m tempted to do a whole bunch of crazy math and try to figure out the budget for this type of operation. The only thing that is holding me back is that I don’t know how much a lobster suit costs.

Mama Leone left a note on the door…

I’m sure this is an often heard diatribe or comedy routine, but I’m going to write it anyhow.

I am going to start a list. A list of all the things I’m going to do at Sara’s new apartment or house (whenever that happens). Maybe if I write it down here I will have sufficient memory of these things to actually do them. Here is a partial list.

- I’m going to eat her food and leave all the dishes and garbage on the coffee table.

- Anything I get out to use I’m going to leave wherever I want. I guess hair dryer is off the list though.

- I’m going to borrow stuff from her and then keep it. This is my favorite, but the opportunities will be limited. I’m not sure how much use I’m going to have of her stuff, but I’m borrowing it nonetheless. It’s going to be weird to ask for the mascara, but it’s going to happen.

Again…I know that these are the dreams of all parents who feel their kids have dumped on them at some time in their lives, but I can’t wait. It will happen. Promise

Garbage Sale

The community garage sale is coming up in a couple of weeks and I’m having mixed feelings about it. On one hand I want to dump all the crappy things I own and don’t use on someone else and on the other hand I don’t want to deal with the people who would buy my junk. 80% of the things people put out at garage sales they would just give away if you asked for it. Putting a 50 cent price tag on it just makes you seem greedy. Then you have the people who will offer you 25 cents for your 50 cent item. I wonder if I could make more money off my junk by just putting a tip jar on the table. The other thing I think is funny is that I can’t leave my garage door open during a garage sale. If you do then people always want to buy the stuff in your garage. “You sellin’ that there freezer?” I’m surprised I don’t get people wandering through my house when I’m not looking. I’ll update you on the actual sale when it goes down. I’m sure there will be photos to be had.

Because of Winn-Dixie…I’m writing this

I’m not really sure how far Winn-Dixie stores are spread throughout the country, but every time one of their trucks passes me I crack up. What kind of marketing genius came up with “Winn-Dixie: Getting better all the time”? I can translate it for you if you want.


-  “We aren’t as bad as we were yesterday!”

-  “We’re really trying”

-  “Not the best…getting better though”

Oh well. I guess I’m just too critical.

Hi de ho neighbor

Now Florida is a pretty friendly place, so I’m wondering why I’m having a certain problem lately. Yesterday I walk by some guys house and since someone is outside I say hi….no check that, I say “Hey there, how’s it going?” What do I get in return? A blank stare. Ok, we’re not buddies, but if someone says hi or something similar to me I actually would have to stifle a response. It’s pretty much automatic. You say hi back. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. A couple of times in the grocery store, here and there at Sam’s school…it’s weird. I also go through a minute of embarrassment that THEY didn’t respond to me. Why should I be embarrassed? Anyhow, this is what is in my brain for the moment and now I can clear it away by pressing…publish.

Yakkety yak…

Here’s the scoop behind yesterdays kayak trip.

When we were in Europe we took advantage of our time and opportunities and spent a lot of time together doing really cool things. We decided the other day that we didn’t do the same thing here in Florida and that we really had no good reason for it. The output of this discussion was the we resolved ourselves to doing something fun and family related every weekend. One day for fun, one day for cleaning up the house and the substantial grounds.

We found the kayak company online, called them and they gave us the friendly “Come on down, the water’s fine!” routine. Trying new things is always a tricky routine. If we had shown up yesterday and the weather had been bad or it started raining halfway through we probably would never go again. First impressions you know. As it was the weather was perfect and we had a great time. The pictures were few and of bad quality because I was using my phone to capture the moments. I’m not even sure a real camera could have done it justice. We kayaked about 4 miles. Some of it in open water and some of it under the canopy of the mangrove trees. When I say canopy I really mean two foot wide swath cut in the trees. Herons to the left of me pelicans to the right… The kids seemed to have a great time, mostly because they didn’t paddle. Actually Sara did a great job and caught on pretty fast. Eventually Jen and Sara made a good team in their tandem kayak.

Here are the other two pictures I took. Sorry for the lack of pizzazz. Now that you know each weekend will have an adventure of some sort attached you can check in and see what happened.

SamJen SamChips

The fear of dropping my phone in the water also negatively contributed to the quality of the pictures.

Sorry for the lack of updates . We are kayaking today. Pictures and thoughts about kayaks and mangrove trees later. Awww heck. Here's a picture

-- Posted from my iPhone

The redcoats are coming!

I guess technically Orion’s colors are scarlet and black, but it doesn’t sound as cool when you say “The scarlet coats are coming!”

Larry and Wilma will be visiting sunny Florida in a couple of weeks. They are going to be in the area for almost a month and give us all a chance to celebrate together for many occasions…including Tim’s birthday, even though he won’t be here to help. He doesn’t know if but we celebrate his birthday every year, it’s just more fun when he isn’t here for it. We all buy each other gifts in his honor and have red velvet cake. (Just kidding Tim!)

We don’t have a lot of details yet, but we hope that this visit will allow them to enjoy the weather here and relax a bit away from home. I’m sure it’s a bit scary to travel after all that has happened over the past year, but it’s time. The plan is to get rid of the cooking, cleaning, doctor visit routine and replace it with more interesting things. Kayaking, swimming, maybe a little hang gliding.

Sunny is looking forward to seeing them again and Sam says that grandpa owes him a quarter. I don’t know what that’s about, but bring your quarters Larry.

Flea dirt

As a part of our new “Get out and see the world” initiative we took a little tour of a local and American pastime…the flea market. Visiting a flea market is like visiting another country. They have their own rules, dialect, and customs. As I wandered amongst the flea market stalls I noticed some of these customs and experienced some of the language and dialects. I’ll share some of them here with you.

- At the flea market it might appear that you are free to wander and peruse the wares, but as soon as you stop at a certain item or god forbid you pick one up the proprietor of the “shop” will appear out of nowhere sensing a possible sale. I have found this to be unnerving and weird. They seem friendly enough, but I really try to keep moving and not stare at anything longer than a couple of seconds.

- Everything either has a price tag that isn’t REALLY the price OR the things will have no price tags whatsoever. If you pay the price on the tag the word will spread fast and wide amongst the other shopkeepers that “There’s a live one in the house”. We found a military surplus purveyor that had tagged none of his things because his buddy said “He likes to talk, so it forces people to come ask him the price” This also means it gives the guy a chance to size you up and pick the correct price for you. Don’t be wearin’ yur best duds for this guy.

- Don’t be thrown off by the extra apostrophes and missing letters on the signs. This is put there to make you look twice at the sign’s and to lull you into a false sense of superiority. Don’t be fooled. These people know there bizness.

- Eight track tapes are still available for all you Mac Davis fans. Shoot me an e-mail and I’ll pick a couple up for you.


People are very crafty in Florida

Ok. I posted this picture on Facebook and got zero responses. This is seriously one of those pictures Jay Leno puts on his show. Did no one seriously let the owner of this Karate school know that his name had some sort of funny double meaning? The crazier aspect of the name and the following picture is that people would take their daughters to Karate class, buy them this uniform and THEN parade them around in the uniform!


The second funny picture of the Wesley Chapel craft show is of the same ilk. The process that had to occur for this guy to print a sign that says this is amazing to me. Here is how that process goes.

a – Come up with an invention and a name for your invention

b – Tell your friends and neighbors about it – at this point someone needed to do this guy a favor.

c – Print things up with the name of the invention – at this point the sign store should have asked if they misspelled the name of the thing.

d – Put up your sign and try to sell your invention – at this point someone like me should have pointed it out to the guy.

I just wanted to run up to the guy and yell “You get an F!” – Here’s the invention:


C’mon! Grader?

Just for fun here are the definitions from the dictionary of the two words he is confused about.

grad·er   (grā'dər) 

  1. One that grades, especially:

    1. One who grades students' work.

    2. A piece of heavy equipment used to level or smooth road or other surfaces to the desired gradient.

grat·er   (grā'tər) 
n.  One that grates, as an implement with sharp-edged slits and perforations on which to grate foods.

The last picture from the craft fair is not as funny as it is “Florida”. We speculated on the name of this ice cream stand on our way in, but I couldn’t come up with anything except they named it something dumb so that people would come up and ask why they named it something dumb. At that point people would feel guilty about asking and buy ice cream. Nope. It’s religious in nature. Something about the birth and the death of Jesus. “On the third day he rose from the dead…” I guess on the 4th day Jesus decided on a scoop of Rocky Road with sprinkles. Anyhow…here’s that picture.


Accidental tourist

You know when you get in a traffic jam and you can’t figure out what is causing it? You either come across “something” or all of a sudden traffic just starts moving and you never know what was going on? Yeah I think it’s weird too. You know what else I think is funny? When people call other people rubberneckers or cops say…”Move along, nothing to see”. Well yeah there is. There’s broken glass and busted up cars. Skid marks and broken guard rails. Everyone looks, admit it. Even the people who are complaining about the other people slowing down are looking. They just aren’t honest. Oh and cops? If there wasn’t anything to see? You wouldn’t be standing there moving traffic along telling them there wasn’t anything to see. You’d be chomping a donut waiting for someone to do 35 in a 30.

Buzz off!

In a follow up from the previous post I decided to take advantage of this mornings weather and ride my bike to the grocery store. This went fine. I picked up a couple of gallons of milk and went on my merry way until…BUZZARDS. These things scare the crap out of me. I don’t take my eyes off these guys when I walk by for fear that they are just poised to strike at the person who isn’t watching them.


The picture doesn’t do them justice. First of all, before the picture there were like 12 more of them. Second of all they are about 10 feet tall with sharp talons and menacing stares.


So I wake up this morning and after I poke my head outside it appears that a cold front has come thru. In Florida this is the equivalent to the first day of spring. We spend the first few days of Summer, back in February, getting excited about hot weather. Then we spend the next 7 months running from the car to the house to the pool. Winter in Florida is what it is all about. Today it is starting out at around 60 degrees with a high of 75. Just when I’m baked and ready to move. Here comes winter. Oh yeah…and end of hurricane season.

1 demerit!

I had a theory a few years ago that I’m going to revive here so that Mike Locander can put his two cents in on. The theory related to car insurance / driving records. While there are a lot of details to work out here is the plan.

Every driver gets a number. Every number gets a score. Your score is your driving record. Here is where it gets complicated. If you are seen driving recklessly by someone they can call in your number and screw with your score. To call in a number you also have to give your number, so this way people can’t just call in every day and cause their ex-wife's driver score to go haywire. It’s similar to a points system that exists in most states for “points against your license”. In fact, the states can just use my system and there can be a centralized database for all drivers. I soooooo want to have some sort of recourse on the guy who cuts me off or the person who I see running a stop sign. Sure there are people who are going to get whacked unfairly, but I’ll figure out a way to counter it. I’ve had a lot of ideas that have hit the mainstream in the last few years…

Rake hands

This one might take a few years before our socialistic tendencies get the best of us, but you saw it here first.

Apples and Pears

This is pretty cool. I would climb the stairs and not even know I was exercising. Good to see that some peoples brains aren’t cluttered with stuff that gets in the way of their creativity.


I'm testing the ability to blog from my phone. This will enable me to share my thoughts with you from anywhere! Hey! Where are you going?

Test picture from my office

-- Posted from my iPhone

Paging Pete Seeger

I figured it would be impossible to take a 24 hour road trip and not sock away some observations along the way. Ok, so this is more of a pet peeve /rant.

I guess it also makes sense that my beef is with drivers and specifically those who don’t understand the turn signal. It’s a good thing the guy who invented the turn signal or directional signal didn’t call it something really confusing like Gyrocompass signal or the Quasi-Looky loo. If it had those names then the other 50% of the drivers would never figure out what it was for either.

I could list a bunch of things that I see happen, but I think this blog should continue to be a beacon of hope and inspiration to drivers that might not know any better. I can only speak for myself, but I see another persons signal to turn as an opportunity to help another person. I slow down or speed up to give them the proper room to achieve their goal. I hope to leave them with a warm, fuzzy feeling as they move their vehicle to precisely the location they wanted to move it. Sometimes I follow this maneuver with a little wave of my hand. My way of saying “Glad to be there for you partner! You’re welcome”. I don’t want anything in return really. I will say that it IS nice to get the wave returned. Sometimes I think my wave is misunderstood and I receive a one finger wave in return.

It blinks not to be mocked my friends. Mock at your own peril…especially in Florida.

Myth Buster post

Photo to debunk a comment made in my previous post.



The “Team”

After delicately balancing the camera on the TV and failing to get the timer to work about 10 times. I finally captured the entire collection of the “2009 Orion to Tampa Dog sled” competition.


Tampa – Nashville – Tampa – GO!

Well…we survived. I think. There might be some delayed damage from that much driving in two days.

There’s something particularly unrewarding about travelling so far and not getting a big payoff. I’m sorry to say, but retrieving the dog was not rewarding enough to offset the drive. We did, however, get to visit with my parents for a few hours. Wilma and Larry decided to drive the dog over from St. Louis rather than dropping her off and letting Tim bring her to Nashville. This is the first time that Jen and the kids have been able to visit with them in person since last Christmas. I have a couple of more extensive items to post later, but here are some thoughts from the drive.

- Truckers seem to have a great life. There were plenty of places I saw on billboards offering them massages, spas, and “trucker discounts”

- Driving is an art form that many people seem to never have grasped. Dry pavement and sunny weather and people still couldn’t keep their wits about them.

- How fast do you have to be going to get pulled over? I saw a dozen people pulled over by various police agencies, but most of the time I was riding along with the rest of the world at 10-15 MPH over the speed limit. These people must have REALLY been going fast.

- A Nintendo DS battery life is only about 4 hours.

Tennessee Tuxedo

Ok. Today starts the trek to Nashville to pick up Sunny. This is the last piece of unfinished business from “the trip”. The kids are super excited to get her back, but no one is very excited about driving 24 hours in two days. I also think that all of us are in various stages of a cold and won’t be good travellers. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

or…if you don’t see anything on this blog for more than a couple of days, it might have gone very badly.

Wish us luck.

Nashville or bust!

Good day sunshine!

I’ve got to type this up before I forget. I’m also typing this up strictly for posterity. I’m sorry if it is mushy or sounds silly, but I make mental notes to remember things and then I don’t. The blog is a diary for this moment.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been dropping Sam off at school in the morning as Jen continues to recover from surgery. I have discovered that this might be the most satisfying and relaxing part of my day. No, not because I am dropping my 5 year old rambunctious kid off and getting some much needed quiet time. It’s because when I drop him off and he heads out to the playground I get to see him in a lot of different ways. He’s independent and confident. He’s excited and happy. He’s curious and active. I watch him run out onto the playground and immediately begin searching for two things. How many of his friends are there and where are they? Where is Miss Marjorie so that he can tell her “Buenos Dias” and get one back from her. As strange as it seems I think that if Miss Marjorie takes a day off we are going to have to prepare Sam. I stand and watch Sam for a while before I go. I probably have a luxury that the other parents don’t have as I watch them throw the backpacks on a hook and run the other way. He doesn’t really do anything worth watching except he is healthy, happy, and having una buena dia.

All I want is to be left alone in my average home!

I will try to break my streak of cynicism here tomorrow, but for today you get some more.

You ever notice those “Neighborhood Watch” signs?

imagesDo you think that as the criminals are trolling around looking for places to do crimes they are thwarted by these signs? Does the conversation go like this:

Criminal #1: Hey Joe. Look at that place over there! Corner lot, shades closed, grass is overgrown….lets take them for everything they have!

Criminal #2: Are you kidding? Did you see the sign? The neighborhood is watching. We don’t stand a chance.

There was about 3 weeks in the 80’s that people in these neighborhoods got together at one of the neighbor houses, had some beers and talked about taking back the streets. The toured the streets for a couple of hours with flashlights, patted themselves on the back for 265 consecutive crime free days and moved on. I’m sorry, but I laugh when I see these signs. Are the neighborhoods without the signs at serious risk? Do you just have to buy a sign? I’m always looking for the people to peer out of their windows as I drive through their streets, just begging them to bust out the Bat signal.

Go, Go, Go, Go speed racer…

If you want to see a true measure of someone and their thought processes, here is my suggestion.

Take their car. Park it in the local day care / pre-school parking lot. Tell them they have to get it out of the lot at ___ time of day. Then tell them they only have 2 minutes to do it and see how they process all of this. I sit and watch people try to drive in and out of the parking lot of Sam’s school all the time. I see all kinds of crazy things. The person who honks at kids, not to warn them, but to tell them to get out of the way…not a great parent. There is also the “I’m in a hurry” mom/dad. I could never understand how speeding in and out of the school parking lot was going to get you wherever you are going so much faster. I can’t even imagine how that person would begin the story after they hit someone. “Well officer, I was in a hurry to get to ____” No matter what goes in that blank it isn’t going to make sense. The last person I hate to see is the “Leave your 2-3-4-5-6 year old in the car while you just run in” parent. Are they crazy? Keep in mind that this is also Florida so if they want to keep the kid cool they also have to leave the car running. If I didn’t think I would get arrested I would hide the kid from them and see what happens. Well there ya go. My observation for the day. I’ll try harder next time.

Check please!

I saw the craziest thing today at the market. I had gathered all of my purchases and taken my place in line at the “Less than 10 items” checkout just behind a guy with 11 purchases, go figure. When it came time to pay the most curious thing happened. This guy reaches into his pocket and brings out some strange rectangular wallet. He asks the clerk for a pen and proceeds to take 20 minutes transacting his business. Seems he wrote some sort of note to the cashier on a piece of paper, she took it and his drivers license, and then they gave him the groceries. I can’t imagine how this deal works. They must have to gather all of these notes and trade them somewhere to get money. What a weird system.

Two jokes for Friday

When Bill and Hillary first got married Bill said, “I am putting a box under the bed. You must promise never to look in it.” In all their 30 years of marriage, Hillary never looked.

However, on the afternoon of their 30th anniversary, curiosity got the best of her and she lifted the lid and peeked inside. In the box were 3 empty beer cans and $81,874.25 in cash. She closed the box and put it back under the bed.

Now that she knew what was in the box, she was doubly curious as to why there even was such a box with such contents. That evening, they were out for a special anniversary dinner. After dinner, Hillary could no longer contain her curiosity and she confessed, saying, “I am so sorry. For all these years, I kept my promise and never looked into the box under our bed. However, today the temptation was too much and I gave in. But now I need to know, why do you keep the 3 beer cans in the box?”

Bill thought for a while and said, “I guess after all these years you deserve to know the truth. Whenever I was unfaithful to you, I put an empty beer can in the box under the bed to remind myself not to do it again.”

Hillary was shocked, but said, “Hmmm, Jennifer, Paula and Monica. I am very disappointed and saddened by your behavior. However, since you are addicted to sex, I guess it does happen and I guess 3 times is not that bad considering your problem.”

Bill thanked her for being so understanding. They hugged and made their peace.

A little while later Hillary asked Bill, “So why do you have all that money in the box?”

Bill answered, “Well, whenever the box filled up with empty cans, I took them to the recycling center and redeemed them for cash.”


Early Saturday morning a policeman waited across the street from a popular bar, hoping for a nail a drunken driver, possibly preventing a tragic accident.

At closing time the patrons came out and the officer spotted his potential quarry. One man was so obviously inebriated that he could barely walk. He stumbled around the parking lot for a few minutes, looking for his car.

After trying his keys on five other cars, he finally found his own vehicle. He sat in the car a good ten minutes, as the other patrons left. He turned his lights on, then off, wipers on, then off. He started to pull forward into the grass, then stopped.

Finally, when he was the last car, he pulled out onto the road and started to drive away.

The patrolman, waiting for this, turned on his lights and pulled the man over. He administered the breathalyzer test, and to his great surprise, the man blew a 0.00.

The patrolman was dumbfounded. “This equipment must be broken!” he exclaimed.

“I doubt it,” said the man, “Tonight I am the designated decoy!”

Cerebrum conundrum

Is there a Discovery channel show that would describe how the 14 year old brain works? Please?

I find it scary that my 14 year old is so close to being behind the wheel of a car and making X number of decisions every minute, but can’t make basic decisions at home that are successful. I want to put in my usual disclaimer. I love Sara and will always love her, but she is driving me batty.

I’m going to give you the scenario, but it is going to sound dumb and petty…not unlike other things I’ve written previously.

Me: Hey Sara. Please empty the dishwasher and load it again before you go to bed.

14 year old brain: Uh huh.

The first mistake is that I heard “Uh huh” and thought it represented a verbal contract. An affirmative answer of some sort. I now know that “Uh huh” in 14 year old language means “Whatever…just stop talking or bothering me. I’m not really listening to you.” The part that kills me the most is that not only did she obviously not do what I asked, BUT she also used dishes the next morning and stacked her dirty cereal bowl on top of the dishes I asked her to put away. How does a brain process something like this?

I thought this was only a “Sara thing” until I was driving home the other day and encountered another 14’ish year old kid on a bike. This kid was riding his bike in the middle of the road like he was on the ride at Disney, whistling “It’s a small world after all…” I honked at him to get out of the way and what do you think happened? He stopped in the middle of the road. Turned around and looked at me. Evaluated what I might be honking at him about and it took him like 30 seconds to realize he was in the middle of the road. I know this was the process because I saw his face change expression when it finally occurred to him what might be the problem.

I’ll talk to you guys later. I’m going to call some doctors and see if there are any studies being done. I have a brain to donate to them.