Gum One


Speaking of chewing gum, I haven’t had any good chewing gum for a long time. My favorite used to be called Wintermute or Freshgreen, or something like that. It was not too minty and not too sweet. Then—-it seems like a long time ago—-the company changed the formula and ruined it. That action definitely falls in the category of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The whole idea behind that cliche is that when you go “fixing” things that have no problems, then you create problems.

In the case of my long-lost favorite chewing gum, they made it taste like chemicals. They put in an artificial sweetener that supposedly made the flavor last longer. Well if it doesn’t taste good anymore, why in the world would anyone want the flavor to last longer?

My impression of the flavor was no more wintergreen, but aluminum (or aluminium if you’re in the mood). At no time in the history of histories have I ever heard anyone say, “I’d really like to chew on some aluminum for an hour or so.” I’ve never seen anyone sucking on their aluminum can after their drink was gone. I’ve never seen anyone wad up a ball of aluminum foil and suck on that like some kind of alien lozenge.

Although I have heard of someone claiming to have eaten an aluminum can, I can only say that the brain power of someone entering into such an endeavor has to be as astounding as the event. Did I say the guy was stupid? Not directly. His pastime is food for sane people’s nightmares.

Give me a gumball laced with sugar, with flavor that lasts almost a minute and I’ll chew that ’til the flavor of it is the world around me. Give me a stick of chemical, metallic nastiness and I won’t even bother to unwrap it. I’ll just stick it in the bin with the rest of the recyclables.



People who spit their gum on the sidewalk should be knocked down there on the sidewalk with their gum. They should get a hard, swift shin to the soft parts of their body. They should be bullied until they cry.

Okay, that last sentence was purely in jest. The others, less so.

Do people not know that there could be hundreds of shoes stepping on that discarded gum in a day? And if the temperature of the walk is in a certain zone (the temperature at which gum does not harden), the gum could stay sticky for a long, long time. Long enough to contaminate shoes and attitudes across the whole city. People will all be in a foul mood, causing mayhem and disrupting feelings, all because of one careless gum chewer who spat their cud in the wrong place.

What’s the worst is when there’s a trash can in sight. When I see that, I always think that the person was not only careless but lazy. Couldn’t they take the ten steps to the can and spit it there instead of where everyone walks?

When you step on gum, you immediately search for something to wipe it on. Gravel, wood, the rough edge of a curb, or even grass, is what you think will do the trick. But it never all comes off. No matter what you do, a few minutes later you’ll feel your shoe sticking to the pavement again.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better plan to just leave the shoe over the gum. Then you’d be free of the gum, but you’d also save the next pedestrian the trouble of getting their unwanted share of the nasty junk.

If I was wearing a flip flop, then for sure I’d leave it there. I’d leave it and go buy a new pair. And if I saw someone spitting their gum out on the sidewalk, I’d smack them over the head with my new flip flop.

BSR: The Boy Scouts of Russia


I don’t know nothing ’bout them Boy Scouts of America.

I joined the Boy Scouts of Russia. While much of the knot tying requirements are universally useful, I do question the life-building skills of operating a chainsaw inside the dacha. Why really would I need to know that?

Some of the things I learned in the Boy Scouts of Russia were how to send body parts in the mail without having anyone track the original mailing point, how to drive a Humvee through a blizzard, and why it is so important to build the fire before you close the door.

One of the merit badges we earned was unparalleled in other scouting countries. For sure, the Boy Scouts of Spain don’t have anything like the polar bear claw award, which you get from removing a polar bear’s claw without waking the polar bear. Sure Spain has those bull things, but bulls are quite small and tame compared to a hungry polar bear.

The Boy Scouts of Ireland are probably the only crazier organization than ours. I heard they have a bath merit badge. Sounds timid, doesn’t it? Except you have to take a bath in your favorite beer and not drink any of it. Most of us in the Russian Boy Scouts would fail that test. How do the Irish do it? They must have some sort of mind powers that make them superior in a test of will. Maybe they imagine that the beer has already passed through them. That would do it for me.

Someday, I hope to earn the highest award, the HnS Scout Award.

Until then, Prigotov’sya! *


*Translation: Be prepared.

The Future for a Song


Sounding like Robert Plant in “D’yer Mak’er”, I told the gal at the deli, “Please, please…put the spicy cheese…on my submarine.” She complied and then followed me around for the rest of the day like my own personal groupie, like a rock and roll dream.

Seriously though, and you never know, just where the barchive might go, there seems to be a new trend in singing orders through drive-thru microphones and cell phone ‘phones to order everything from pizza to drones. Anywhere someone finds a microphone, and if they dare, they bare their soul with a belted lyrical phrase and a tuneful slant. There are far fewer inhibited and dull.

Could it be that in the day and age when cameras are the rage, everyone acts as if they’re on stage? Could it be that people are growing accustomed to this technological life, in which people across the world know your name and the artificial intelligences have your tastes and preferences on speed-dial? Could it be that the million masses have grown up so immersed with in-your-face technology that they adapt an in-your-face style?

Will we even recognize our own humanity in fifty years, when I’m old, and you’re old, and the youngsters of that day have cameras embedded in their foreheads and cellular communication links biologically fused to their tongues? Will we even care that they stare at our foreheads which will be sans lens? Will we be slow to cow tow to the neo-techno, or will we dive in like hungry demented technophile zombies?

I don’t really know how it will go. All I know is that like Robert Plant, I need to “Ramble On”.



Everyone needs a vacation once in a while. That is unless you don’t have a very demanding job, or any other responsibilities. If you’re at all like me, then you have more than one job AND responsibilities. If you’re at all like me, then my advice to you is: take a break!

My other advice to you is this:

Care for your people.

It’s tough being human. You have lots of people counting on you. No one is truly one hundred percent independent. There are people who depend on you. And you depend on others. So my advice is to care for your people, and to me that means not only the people who are counting on you to come through with results, but for the people you count on for a variety of reasons.

I’m convinced that caring for others is progressive. It helps us all. We grow from finding what other people need and providing it for them.

But then there are times when you have to just get away. Recharge. You have to occasionally take care of yourself. You might have noticed that in the advice above I didn’t say “Take care of your people.” I think that comes naturally when you care for people. If you care for people, then you will serve them. On those times when you serve yourself, I want you to notice something. Look around and see the people who are helping you have your holiday, your vacation, your time-off. Interesting isn’t it? While you’re having your rest and relaxation, they’re working. So who helps them have a day off? Who serves them when they get a break? Ideally they have someone who cares for them.

It’s not an ideal world, but it can be closer to one if we all care for each other.

Until next time.

Have a great vacation!

ultra-powerful daydream



Question of the day: What would you do with an ultra-powerful, intergalactic flying disk?

One of the most fun things I can think of doing with it is freeing the slaves. Did you know there are still slaves on planet Earth? It’s insane to imagine that any culture on our planet would still allow that sort of backwards thinking.

Anyway, what I would do is suck up the slaves with my powerful tractor beam, take them back to where they were before they fell into slavery, and deposit them. I might even find a way to give them a towel (everyone knows you need a towel) and perhaps a little jingly money to help them get a fresh new start.

Oh yes! and a picture and some words of Jesus, because everyone needs hope, especially someone who’s been enslaved.

Idealistic, I know, but hey, this is what you do when you’re a writer, you imagine deadly apocalyptic stuff right along with idealistic and fluffy things. The great thing about an imagination is that there are no terribly strict limits. When you ask the question, What would you do with an ultra-powerful, intergalactic flying disk?, then you come up with whatever feels immediately right.

Let’s say you’re a ten year old girl. So maybe, if that’s the case, you imagine using your ultra-powerful flying disk to make the world’s biggest cupcake. On top of that cupcake you put, not sprinkles, but the world’s largest sprinkle, and only one of them. Then, since your ultra-powerful flying disk can do anything, you have it enlarge your head so that your mouth is big enough to eat the world’s largest cupcake. You eat that cupcake—and get a tummy-ache. You didn’t mean to do it that way, even though that cupcake was the most delicious thing ever! So you have your ultra-powerful flying disk shrink your head back to normal and make your tummy feel better at the same time.

Or what if you’re an inner city boy with a pet dog? Of course you’d include your dog. You’d bring that pup everywhere in the universe. But what if one day your dog took over? Maybe the disk recognized the pup as the smarter one of you two, and let the dog drive. Then the dog would fly you off to a planet with a field full of sticks to fetch and ducks to chase and one lonely tree to water.

But that’s the dog’s dream, not yours.

If you have a daydream, let it fly.

Space Cadets


See, the truth is: people have always been spacey space-cadets.

I remember a time when I’d be talking to a friend, telling an amazing story and holding back as much as I could on the hyperbole, and he’d be staring off into outer space, but still nodding and maybe even making a mumbled, “uh-huh” noise to make me think he was actually listening, and I’d get to the really fabulous, juicy part of the story and he’d say, “Huh?” Then I’d have to start the whole story all over again.

Or there were times when my dad would be explaining the careful and correct use of some sort of power tool, and my own mind would wander. I’d be considering how to turn the lawn mower into a go-cart, or how to have races with the belt sander (if only one of my friends had one as well), or how to build a tree fort with the lumber he wanted put up as a fence. Then he’d finish and ask, “You got it?” And of course the appropriate response would be: “Yep!” Even though I hadn’t got any of it. And then of course he would say something to mess with my mind like: “Now don’t let that lawnmower chop off your toes. Remember what I told you about ‘Shoeless’ Mike.”

“Shoeless” Mike?! I missed that part. I was in outer space. Pride would never let me ask him to repeat what he’d said either. As they say, pride comes before you lose your toes under the lawnmower.

Nowadays, people are staring down at miniature screens, their thumbs are flying, brains washing, watching cyberspace, mesmerized by memes, and you’ll get to the epic part of your story and they’ll say, “Huh?”

They won’t even look up.

You’ll know that you don’t need to bother starting the story over again.

I usually just reply to the space cadet and say something completely irrelevant, like: “I should have built that go-cart.”