My Garmin Girlfriend Samantha
Wort For Word
Cretin Creation
Look Inside The Turtleneck
Bobbing For Casseroles
My Impressionistic Art
How To Fracture Art


My Garmin Girlfriend Samantha                        February 17, 2014

Samantha is the voice on our Garmin Navigator. She has a pleasant voice, not strident like some. As long as you are on the right road, she remains silent, peering over your shoulder to watch your progress. Recently we followed her from Nogales home. After a long silence she said, “Take exit 243C to 19th Avenue North and keep left”.

We turned off and drove down the ramp keeping left. That led us to turn left onto 19th Avenue. She came alive and commanded in rapid succession:

“Turn left on McGregor.”
“Turn left on Polk.”
“Turn left on Windsor.”

We finally realized these were minor streets we were crossing and turned left on the next one, Van Buren. In a slightly more relaxed tone, she guided us through two more lefts and a right which put us back on 19th Avenue heading north. She paused and probably wiped the perspiration from her brow, then calmly guided us on home.

The detail at her disposal is mind boggling as illustrated by, “Move to the second lane from the left”. Realize that this little device not much larger than a smart phone covers all of North America. I can picture a journey to Great Slave Lake in which she says, “In one quarter mile, pull the lead dog to the left fork in the trail”.

Speaking of smart phones, mine has a girl named Siri. She’s OK but she has trouble understanding my requests. A while back, in a fit of frustration I said Goddamn it, to which she, so help me, replied in a cool, somewhat disparaging tone, “Profanity is uncalled for”.


Wort For Word                                                         September 28, 2014

I left the last post up a little longer than usual partly because I feel so strongly about its message, partly because of a dearth of topics that come to mind. Oddly enough, this message has already taught me that “dirth” is spelled “dearth”, which is wearth something in itself. Take that, all you ESL visitors!

Speaking of ESL visitors, my latest novel, Two Loves Found, is selling better in Germany than anywhere else. Wonder why. Is it durch Mundpropaganda übergeben? Thanks to a good bilingual friend, that translation makes sense, unlike a couple of notable gaffs made early in my career. For years, Mexicana had a weight and balance manifest with forward cargo hold labelled Carga Adelante. Only problem was that adelante means moving forward like in charge! Guess the cargo was moving forward while enroute.

A more embarrassing incident occurred earlier when I began a class session for a room full of senior Mexicana captains with the greeting “Cogello suave, senores”. I had been told by a Spanish speaking dentist to use it to greet another Spanish speaking friend. But there was dead silence in the classroom. After class one man took me aside and quietly advised that it was not considered a polite greeting. Turns out in man-talk it loosely translates into “How’s it hanging?”. They referred to me as the little red rooster after that.

It works both ways. Again back in those years, we often had to respond to telex messages from a Japanese airline. Their local representative would bring them by to translate. The messages always involved a lot of Japanese characters with some embedded English phrases. Invariably, the man would hem and haw, then speak the first English phrase, hem and haw again, then speak the second phrase and so on. We could have done as well ourselves. The only solution was to have them formally translated.

While I make fun of the foibles of translation, truth is I greatly admire people fluent in more than one language. As it turns out, that is doubly true of Germans who read novels written in English, wort für wort.


Cretin Creation                                                   November 8, 2014

What a difference two vowels make, transforming something “stupid, vulgar or insensitive” into an act of bringing something new and exciting into the world. So why are these disparate words in such close proximity?

I’ll tell you why. It stems from information provided by Google (or if like me, you prefer Go Ogle) on what affects their rating of a blog. They reward well-written, quality blogs with higher search engine visibility and are more likely to ignore poorly written blogs. Furthermore, their research indicates that spelling and grammatical errors are effective indicators of poor blogs. In other words, a pass through spell-checker can make or break one’s rating. Why should that bother me?

Again, I’ll tell you why. If you are one of the hearty souls who have persevered with these ruminations, you know how I like to twist words to wring out various meanings. Often the strain on the letters transforms them into combinations not found in dictionaries—in fact, into spell-checker fodder.

It creates havoc with my SEO. Had to throw in that SEO since it appears time after time in posts and for weeks I wondered what it meant. You too? Finally concluded that it stands for Search Engine Optimization. Well, I refuse to be ruled by robotic software so for me SEO means Suggested English Overhaul. I don’t care if Go Ogle calls my creations cretin—well, actually I care a little since spell-checker was asked to look this over.


Look Inside The Turtleneck                                 December 7, 2014

Over 23 years ago, a number of golf clubs in Seattle and Portland each sent a dozen members and four Pro’s to a four day tournament in the Phoenix area. It turned out we were no match for the Portland sandbaggers. Finally, one of our members, Don MacKenzie, discovered that if we took our four best scores we would still be out of the money. So Don persuaded us to break away on our own. This week we played the 23rd Don MacKenzie Invitational.

The word Invitational is significant in that it allows us to choose a group of congenial friends and it’s often the golfing highlight of the year for our Pro’s and us. There’s a lot of laughs and good-natured trash talk. And many stories, not all of which can be made public.

One that can involved Jerry Jones, our leader after Don tragically died. On the Friday evening, we host the Pro’s at a dinner in an upscale restaurant. For years, that was Tomaso’s. Jerry would make the reservation. It just so happened one year that the Dallas Cowboys were in town to play the Cardinals. The manager at Tomaso’s naturally assumed he was dealing with the Cowboy’s Jerry Jones and dollar signs were dancing in his head. He wanted to prepare a special multi-course meal for us.

The look on his face when we showed up was priceless, alternately consternation and annoyance for being what he probably considered duped. He must have made a quick call to the kitchen because we suffered through a meal even copious glasses of wine couldn’t save. We kissed Tomaso’s goodbye last year.

This year we chose a highly recommended steakhouse. The food and service was good but when we arrived it seemed like we were treated as beneath their snooty standard. Instead of tables near the window as promised, we ended up within smelling distance of the kitchen. In a way, it was humorous since of our twelve, four own companies, three owned companies now sold or passed on to sons, one is in charge of North American sales for a large company, one has three houses and a 100 foot yacht, one was a State Senator who came within a few chad-ridden votes of Governor and one is one of the original eight founders of Microsoft. Then, there’s me, the relative pauper.

Of course, the restaurant will not learn why we won’t be back and unwittingly won’t care. It reminds me of an interesting book, The Millionaire Next Door, which makes the point that truly rich people have no need to be ostentatious. And conversely, hosts might be wise not to make snap judgments. Like the waiter who once refused to serve Ernest Hemmingway in Vancouver because he was wearing a turtleneck sweater.


Bobbing For Casseroles                                        February 11, 2015

In ways I feel bad about the preceding rant. Reviews are gifts some writer wrote. Some gifts we like, others we don’t but we should be genuinely or at least apparently thankful for all of them. So I decided to quickly bury that blog in the archives. That’s when for once writer’s block struck.

Then yesterday a solution appeared thanks to new neighbors. They bought the house from an elderly couple (he is in his nineties). He always seemed like a kindly old fellow who insisted on telling me the same story each time we met. Someday I will probably do that too. We seldom saw her though often enough to realize she lagged far behind him in the race to senility.

He listed the house as sale by owner, however, the eventual purchasers went through months of being discouraged in one way or another by him. He wanted no real estate agent involved, didn’t trust them even though one of his daughters was one. The purchasers even agreed to pay the price he asked plus the agent they required on top of that. He refused. Finally, their agent met with him separately and sweet talked him into proceeding. Then, when he and his wife sat down to sign the papers, he suddenly balked and stood up to leave. That’s when she grabbed hold of his belt in the rear and hauled him back down into the chair. The seller who wouldn’t sell was finally tamed.

Turns out the old boy used to sit for hours on his deck out back. His wife always remained inside. Some caring neighbors in a house behind theirs came to think he was a widower living alone. They worried about him and began periodically taking him a casserole. When someone finally informed them that he was married, they were shocked. He never mentioned that. I can picture his wife saying “Sam (not his name), get out there and see if you can get us something to eat this afternoon.”

I thought this was hilariously funny until my wife suggested I go sit outside.


My Impressionistic Art                              May 24, 2015

This is my first attempt at introducing a new art form. I call it fractured impressionism and this work is titled The Bench. Please click on it to enlarge and view the full effect.

The Bench

You might ask what prompted this approach. After all, it’s simply a bench sitting on a rocky slope overlooking a field bounded by trees and a cloudy sky. Well, I think we often see even the simplest things with fractured vision, perhaps even more often with distorted vision. Honestly, how often do we truly see things for what they actually are?

Are you thinking that’s an awful lot of detailed work just to prove a point? Those of you who paint might wonder about the technique used. I will provide insight in a future blog. For now, let’s stick to the concept. Does it convey the message intended? Namely, even a scene inviting one to sit in quiet meditation can frequently strip us of the tranquility it should engender. Or more precisely, we allow our hectic lives to rule out its possibilities.

Perhaps this is a stodgy opinion from an antiquated generation but I think smart phones are dumbing society. If not dumbing, at least numbing. Sure, they are wonderful for quickly finding information. The frightening aspect is their elimination of verbal communication. I can visualize two people sitting across from each other at a table, heads down, carrying on a texting conversation. Is societal autism far behind? And if they were ever to raise their heads and look at the bench, would this be what they see?


How To Fracture Art                            June 6, 2015

Many of you took a curious look at my fractured impressionism.

The Bench

I may have led you to think it was carefully painted (at least that was my perverse intention). Actually, there was more pain than paint involved. As you can see below, it required the shattering of safety glass in our sliding door.


And before you become annoyed by the subterfuge, let me hasten to say I recently fired a rock from a weed-eater into the panel next to it. So I’ve been adequately punished for perpetrating the scam already.

Regardless, I stand behind the comments made in the original post. To emphasize the concern with the direction smart phones are leading us in, there are now texting addiction clinics (one locally at least). The song lyrics to “Thumbs” contained in my latest book Ickee Mushta are becoming more germane each day. Just wish Dan the piano man would set them to music.

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