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New Jersey, United States

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Will He Behave?

If the projections are even close to accurate, 100 million people could be tuned in to the Presidential debates tomorrow evening. Despite an admittedly perverse curiosity  - will he behave? - I didn't watch the primary sideshows (on either side) and don't plan to break my streak. Besides, tomorrow is a busy day and the circus starts around the time on Monday evenings when I sometimes sit down to write a blog post.

Anyway, my wife can fill me in. There'll also be no shortage of opinions bouncing around on Tuesday a.m. I'll probably eavesdrop on some local coffee shop punditry, scan the papers at the library, read a few rants on Facebook.      

If you're like me, i.e. one of the 200+ million who is skipping this not-to-be-missed event, what will you be doing tomorrow night instead? And what do you think - Will he behave?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We, The 98%

It's taken me a while to formulate a response to someone who asked me offline who I'm trying to reach as an audience with my blog. When this person said my subject matter was "... all over the map..." - a polite paraphrasing of the expression used - I didn't disagree but I did react a bit defensively, saying the eclectic format has been my intent from the outset. I'm a guy on the bell curve talking to others on the bell curve, etc. But ... who is that, more precisely?

In the end, I've decided it's easier to say who I'm not trying to reach. I'm not aiming at the 1% who have personal assistants or other full time household help and I'm also not aiming at the 1% who deserve to be incarcerated long term. If, however, anyone from either of those edges of the bell curve wants to visit this tiny corner of the blogosphere, welcome.

All the rest of you, including my latest critic, thanks for reading and commenting.   

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pop Culture Triptych - Volume 1

A quick quiz to see if you and I have that Spock mind-meld thing purring. I say movie and shower and you say what? If "Psycho" did not spring to mind, feel free to skip this post and all others in this series I'm launching today entitled "Pop Culture Triptych".

My contention: Except for some scholars and those who fancy themselves intellectuals, many of us are often immersed deeply enough in pop culture that many two word combinations will reflexively trigger an association completing the triptych. It's like that third item is etched into the collective psyche. And I don't mean movie and bird = "The Birds" - that's cheating. Try these three on for size:

1.) Movie and banjo =
2.) Movie and bear =
3.) Movie and dentistry =

My next installment in this series likely will not be movies and ... =  . It might be books and ... =  , or music and ... = , or something else that comes to my addled brain unbidden in the future. But I've got to start somewhere and see if anyone takes this initial bait. Even if you don't, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on the bell curve here. My guess: You've got at least a few of these up your sleeve too. Bring 'em on for me and for others, OK?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#44: The Mt. Rushmore Series

OK, I'm going to cheat just this once. Even though I've spent time in only forty seven of the fifty, below is my Mt. Rushmore of the States, in ascending order. I'm taking this liberty only because by the time I visit Alabama, Hawaii, and Mississippi I may no longer be blogging. In the meanwhile, I'd like to know which four States you'd enshrine and why. And I don't care how many you've seen.

1.) Massachusetts: Aside from the slightly-colder-than-NJ winters, the only other thing that's kept me from re-locating to the Bay State is the New England reserve of some residents I've encountered. Beats the obnoxious Jersey demeanor but not by much.

2.) Colorado: If I'd constructed this monument a month ago, Colorado may not have made the cut. But the combination of robust outdoor lifestyle, friendly natives, and staggering beauty has converted me.

3.) Oregon: Too much rain, true. But Oregon was the first State that ever tempted me to pick up stakes. Not as gorgeous as Colorado or as close as Massachusetts, but every trip to Oregon has solidified it's position near the top of my mountain.

4.) New Jersey: As I've repeatedly said, I sincerely hope every comic who has ever poked fun at my lifelong home continues making fun of us. If it prevents people from moving here, great; we've already got plenty of those, thank you. We've also got beautiful beaches, the Pinelands, and skiing (not Colorado quality, granted). We've got diversity to spare, strong environmental laws, an educational system that consistently draws accolades. NYC is a short drive or train ride away; the brave could reasonably get there by bike.

For the really attentive, below is an earlier iteration of Mt. Rushmore with four enshrined cities, three from the U.S. Though New Orleans and San Francisco made that earlier mountain, their respective States don't hold quite the same appeal as those above, although a beloved niece who lives in California could be a deal breaker. But Boston? Now you're talking.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Restored By Quiet And Footsteps

There are few things in the world as restorative as spending time in the profound quiet of isolated outdoor spaces. Where do you go when you want an experience like this?

On our last hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, three of us stood apart from one another in an isolated meadow for about ten minutes. I closed my eyes; there was not a single sound to be heard - magic. I'm guessing my two partners were enjoying the silence as much as I because none of us spoke as we resumed the hike. For quite a while, our footsteps were the only discernible sound. I found myself paying close attention to the way our feet sounded beneath the subtly changing terrain.

Now I yearn for the next opportunity.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On This Day In 1983

Although I told my wife I was going to marry her on our first date, she has never let me forget it took me a while to get around to it. But just as I was certain she was the one for me on that first date in April 1978, I was equally sure when we were married thirty three years ago today that we would grow old together. What I didn't fully understand on September 17, 1983 was how rich that was going to make my life as the years accrued.

I treasure many things about my wife. This past week as we hiked together in the Rocky Mountains, I continually reflected on two significant barriers she has not let dissuade her - chronic asthma that began years ago and a tibia fracture from a 2014 skiing accident. Either of these alone would be excuse enough for many people to never attempt this kind of strenuous high altitude hiking. She was the one who planned our hikes. Her moxie inspires me.

I can easily gauge how high an opinion I have of any woman I meet. If I think my wife will like her and want to introduce the two to each other, that new acquaintance of mine must be first rate.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Crossing The Divide

The last time my wife and I crossed the Continental Divide was in 2000, driving on "Going To The Sun Road" en route to/from Glacier National Park. That experience was, without question, the most terrifying time I've ever spent behind the wheel. Ever driven that road? If yes, has any driving experience you've had ever scared you more?

Over our thirty eight years together, the worst moments my wife and I have had have been connected to my driving. So as we planned our current itinerary - taking us across the Continental Divide again, this time from east to west in Rocky Mountain National Park - our dialogue included strategies to ensure our marriage survived this trip. Because "Going To The Sun Road" had so traumatized my wife as a passenger - and she only went one direction! - her taking the wheel across the Divide this second time was never an option. That put me in the driver's seat, again -  uh oh.

The benign name of this section of road crossing the Divide - Trail Ridge Road - was my first hint our marriage might remain intact. And as we ascended and I was able to see trees almost all the way up, I relaxed. I never removed both my hands from the wheel - even to change the radio station - but unlike my driving experience in 2000, this time when we arrived at the 12,000 foot summit, my arms weren't shaking. Better yet, my wife remained upright the entire time, leaning toward the driver's side only once and not one swear word was aimed my way. Of course, the hard-to-top views made the anticipatory stress - for both of us - all worthwhile. If you ever have an opportunity to cross the Continental Divide, be sure to take it.