Puzzle Pieces

We all know memories play tricks. Witnesses have been proven unreliable. One study planted false memories when participants were asked to comment on incidents a relative had identified. The false memory of being lost in a mall as a small child was adopted by a third of the participants and a quarter of them clung to the belief in a later follow-up when presumably they had time to understand the truth. Different reasons for memory lapses are offered like disease, aging, stress, racial biases, and the like. Someone once tried to make sense of the surprisingly high memory gaps by explaining that our minds do not work like a video camera recording events; we actually process puzzle pieces and then try to assemble them in a meaningful way. This makes sense to me. I know I have six puzzle pieces labelled: me, like, love, crazy, beautiful, women. I have assembled them into the truth: Beautiful women love me like crazy. I have also successfully experimented with planting my own faulty memories. I now believe I was lost for three years in the Fox River Mall in Appleton, Wisconsin, until I was arrested for shoplifting. My parents were contacted but they were both in their 70’s at the time and they refused to claim me. All turned out well after I auctioned off the book rights to my story. I just wish I could remember where I put the big publishing company check signed by Ed McMahon.


Today I am officially in my 70’s even though I am actually writing this Blog on a date five days removed from my birthday (either August 25th or August 15th, depending on how the international date line works in the South Pacific). You can write a Blog one day and just post date it or if you do not want it widely read, you can pre-date it. This is so much fun I am thinking of posting a Blog for each day of my life by pre-dating about 25,000 of them. It seems theoretically possible but first I need to I determine how long I will live. Then I can develop a daily target. If I only have two years to live, I will need to abandon the project unless the doctors clear me for doing 35 a day under the influence of chemotherapy. This sounds crazy because I think I am under the influence of Mai Tai’s on my birthday but will not know for sure until you are reading this. I am also confident that my youngest sister is going to give me a hand crafted piece of baseball art she created on Lopez Island for my birthday. One downside exists to post-dating material. A slim chance exists that I have been the victim of a fatal tragedy by the time you read this and this posting might be considered bizarre, in bad taste, or confusing. But that would be consistent with all previous postings. Well, I actually do not know what the posts from 1947 to August 21, 2016 look like because I have not written them yet. They should be higher quality writings because the sheer volume will demand brevity. If something does happen to me, I ask my sons not to fight over my sister’s artwork.


My sister Anne likes to say, “Don’t eat the first pancake.” I think she may be quoting our grandfather Fred but I am sure he was quoting somebody else as well. Anne uses this expression whenever a point can be made about someone or some entity coming down a steep learning curve. But I think it is a wonderful quote even without any context. I have done especially well by it because in my family, I always get the first pancake. Going forward, I am thinking of trying to sell grandfather Fred’s words as: “Do not ever eat the first two pancakes.”


J.R.R. Tolkien is famous for having a first name made up of initials. He is less well known for writing an obscure Lord trilogy: Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Tolkien was happily married to a Hobbit for many decades and is quoted as saying, “Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates.” From this logic, I construct the following Tolkien categories: happy marriages that are not a mistake (rare), happy marriages that are a mistake (“nearly all”), and unhappy marriages that are a mistake. But this leaves out other important categories: unhappy marriages that are not a mistake and all the happy/unhappy and mistake/non mistake combinations for the non married. Tolkien offered me no insights on these possibilities. I would have to do some research and creative thinking on my own if I wanted to write a credible Blog about this. But I would rather write an incredible Blog. So I am just going to guess that unhappy non mistake marriages are ones where the participants have children they both love dearly. Or maybe they have money they love dearly. I am going to go find out what category my wife says she is in today (her moods change day to day). She will probably be annoyed with the question but I expect we will all figure out the answer based on whether she is wearing her dancing shoes at my funeral.

Dysfunctional Families

Dr. Joy Browne has one useful thing to say in her book about the nine fantasies that will ruin your life. She takes issue with the people who say they come from a dysfunctional family. She forcefully points out that everyone comes from a dysfunctional family and suggests we stop blaming our families and using them as an excuse for our own bad behavior. Browne postulates that adulthood was invented so we could “sort through what we were taught as children and pick and choose appropriate behavior.” I think this is excellent advice for my children but now I have to find something else I can whine about.

Google Death

Doing research for a Blog and solving crossword puzzles has led me to google some bizarre subjects. Sometimes I google a term like “sex trafficking” just to make sure how it is spelled. I have trouble with the letter “k” and can never remember if the first word is “sex” or “secks.” After seeing search results used in high profile criminal cases, I am now concerned that my browser activity could be misconstrued. My wife better not die of any type of poisoning because I have been all over the internet on that subject. Hopefully, she will not die of suspicious toenail fungus either. I would not be caught naked at a nudist camp but of course I put on my google giggle goggles and googled a gaggle of nudists. They make a great topic for a Blog or for a throwaway line in one of them. So, yeah, I wanted to make sure nudist camps exist before I typed the term here in the sentence before last. What I discovered is that a man drowned at the Cherry Hill Nudist Resort in Wheatland Township, Michigan, on July 18th. I have spent many hours trying to get information on this mysterious death only to be continually misdirected to outrageously provocative websites. I want to go on public record stating that I would never voluntarily go missing. I would never commit suicide. Suspect anyone who says I did. I hope they continue investigating that drowning because I always find a naked body very suspicious.

Operation Declutter

Erica DiMiele says hoarding is the inability to discard items regardless of value. I am a geometric hoarder. For four years, I have been hoarding a family of five downstairs and they are all hoarders as well. DiMiele says you have a problem if you collect to a point that you are not able to use an oven or bathtub. I wanted her to clarify if it counts against you if the appliances were already broken before you started storing stuff in them. I could not wait for an answer and sought immediate help. I acquired resources, including marie kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up.” Something may have been lost in translation from the Japanese but I noticed immediately that she had removed the clutter of capital letters from her life. She says you have to begin “by discarding” and then you should “organize your space, thoroughly and completely in one go.” I wonder why I never thought of that. She obviously does not understand the magnitude of hoarding here in America if she thinks “one go” is going to rectify my mess. My research has led only to a bookcase overflowing with decluttering and organizing books.


Kristin van Ogtrop wrote in Time Magazine (August 7) about her ten year old son who has anxiety over the family car running out of gas even though it never has. It seems a shame that so many children have such fears about silly things. They could legitimately worry about global warming, war erupting, world hunger, human trafficking, and all the rest. But they waste their carefree years stressing about the improbable. My oldest granddaughter is so stressed out about getting into college that I had sharp words for her, undoubtedly adding to the stress. If you are a Senior with a 3.95 grade point average from one of the best high schools in the State, you are going to college if you want to because over a trillion institutions are happy to take your money or help you acquire crushing debt. My thirteen year old grandson is terrified of flying insects, particularly of any of them getting in the house. He zealously guards the doors and insures they are always shut (admittedly he saves me on energy costs) despite the fact that he has never been stung by a bee or had any traumatic interaction with a fly, gnat, moth, or fruit fly. My five year old granddaughter is terrified that she has diabetes, cancer, attention deficit disorder, and whatever malady she learns about on any given day. My grandchildren back East have similar fears but if their parents read about them, my access might be limited. I am willing to take those consequences for the three who live with me! I just do not understand the anxiety epidemic. The only common denominator for these grandchildren is the intense exposure they have to me.

Rock On

Paul Simon wrote a famous song “I Am a Rock” which has been analyzed in many different ways. Maybe he is providing an alternate viewpoint to Tennyson’s philosophy that “tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” I do not pay much attention to any poets because I am too shallow to fully appreciate all the melancholy, no matter which side of the Tennyson equation you choose. I think I remember my philosopher and zen yoga instructors telling me that we are one with the rock and that we have the same mass and energy as the rock. When I would laugh, they would tell me that I see myself apart from the universe rather than part of it. They would explain that is why people like me are self centered, viewing ourselves as the center of the universe. This seems a little passive aggressive for zen philosophers, so maybe my memory of conversations fifty years ago is actually me remembering a dream after smoking bad weed. I admit I always looked down on rocks. I identified with paper which was clearly higher in the pecking order. If someone told me I was one with the paper, I probably would have embraced that idea. And I never liked how rock treated scissors. Paper always wrapped up rock as if swaddling it or making it presentable as a gift. Rock music is a redeeming force but Paper Roses is an enduring hit as well. Even though I am not a rock, I am open minded and think Paul Simon should be allowed to express himself as a rock if he thinks he is one.

New Normal

Donald Trump does not shy away from publicly criticizing people. They can be Republicans, Democrats, or world leaders. They can be opponents or his own loyalists. In that context, his tweet early this morning is not as unusual as it first appeared. He blasted the President for botching negotiations with Congress on health care, over committing on a Border Wall, promoting global warming, and courting nuclear war. He closed with one of his classic insults about the President spending too much time on vacation: “He is a horrible golfer for all the time he spends on the course. And he cheats too.” Liberal pundits theorize that The Donald awoke in the middle of the night a little groggy and forgot that he was the President. Kellyanne Conway clarified that the tweet referred to President Kim Jong-un. Afterwards the tweet was deleted and Conway claimed it never existed and was fake news created by the media. President Trump told Fox News by phone that the tweet actually referred to Barack Obama, that he was unaware it had been deleted, and that he was sending Attorney General Sessions to Guam to investigate hacking of his Twitter account. Conway called for the prosecution of Alec Baldwin for impersonating the President with fake calls to Fox News. Baldwin replied that Trump should be the one prosecuted for impersonating the President.