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    Did Obama Tape Him?

    Joe Burbank is a senior photographer with the Orlando Sentinel. I got to know him during the murder cases I wrote about. (He was the main photographer during the George Zimmerman trial.) Joe’s a really good, down-to-earth guy. The Sentinel was responsible for all still images that went over the news feed, while CNN handled video. This is one of his photos taken for the newspaper when President Trump visited Orlando on Friday. I think it’s worth a Pulitzer.





    I see a lot of doctors; my primary care and a few specialists, like a pulmonologist. Sometimes, she orders chest x-rays because I was once a smoker and I’m prone to lung problems. (It will be 10 years in October!) Generally, I go to Boston Diagnostics in Altamonte Springs because they’re handy and efficient. I’ve had other tests done there, too, with and without contrast. I recommend the place, except for the few tests I’d rather not have because there are different ways to get that chalky white contrast inside you.

    Many years ago, before I had insurance, I went for some sort of “procedure.” Maybe gloves were involved. I don’t remember what it was, but I do recall that I had to stop at the side desk for billing before walking out the locked door and back into the waiting area to leave. I’m certain I had to sign something. When I went to that open window to settle up, I noticed signs hanging on the walls behind her, clearly for customers to see. You know, like the $30 fee for bouncing a check. One sign in particular caught my eye and it got my creative juices flowing. It must have been a lull time, too, because several nurses were standing around chatting. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. Not mine. I ended up with one of those stern, robotic, almost Gestapo-types sitting there at her neatly organized desk. You vill obey! As she typed into her computer, I paid attention to that one sign…


    I think it meant no Doppler ultrasound studies on the carotid arteries. Suddenly, out of the blue, I piped in, purposely bypassing Frau Ratched. Pronouncing carotids like the vegetable, I pointed at the sign and asked, “No CARROTids? Do you have TOMATIDS?”

    All of the other nurses paused for a split second, then burst into laughter. But not mine. She had to correct me. Like I was an idiot. Fortunately, one of the other nurses let her know it was an obvious joke. Can’t you tell? Unfortunately, she didn’t get it at all. Without a doubt, she wasn’t right for that job and, fortunately, I never saw her again.



    A Ghost Story?

    I had a conversation with a dyed-in-the-wool atheist recently. He said there is no Heaven or Hell. When you die, you’re gone. That’s it. Journey over. It made me think a little, so I wrote a response…

    In the late 1970s, I lived on the corner of Bonnell Street and Park Avenue in Flemington, NJ. It was two doors down from the 1756 Samuel Fleming House on Bonnell and I had some rather interesting experiences in my house. You might call them downright strange.

    Late one evening, while lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I abruptly heard the front door open and close. At that time, I lived alone and my bedroom was the first one up the stairs. After the door shut, I heard light footsteps walk across the room and start up the stairs. Most certainly, I had locked the door. This totally startled me. I wasn’t sure what to do, except to patiently wait for those footsteps to almost reach the top step. There was no way I was going to let an intruder near me. Within seconds, I jumped out of bed and flipped on the hallway light switch just outside my door. At the same time, I kicked my left leg into the air at the target. What the..? No one was there. (OK, I won’t rule out that it was nothing more than a dream, but I’ve never hallucinated in my life. Well, maybe in my late teens, but that’s another story.) On that particular night, I was as sober as a judge and still quite awake. Without a doubt, I heard that door open and close. I heard footsteps walk across the solid wood floor and head up the stairs. No doubt about it.

    Prior to that experience, I occasionally heard conversations emanate from the kitchen. There was a gap under the door between the kitchen and living room. My house was also built in the 1700s. It stopped whenever I opened the door to get closer to the sound. No one was ever there and no one was standing outside chatting. What was it? Eh, I simply ignored it, until…

    When I first started dating Maryen, she lived on Main Street. We were going somewhere for the night and needed a fresh change of clothes. First, we stopped at her place and then mine. My friend, Ken, and his girlfriend, Nancy, were living with me at the time, but they had left hours earlier. His band was playing in Easton that weekend.

    While I was in the bedroom looking through my dresser, Maryen went down the hall to the bathroom. She left the door open. Once again, the downstairs door opened and up the stairs walked light footsteps. I assumed Nancy had come back for something because she walked right past me and into their bedroom. The hallway had wooden floors, too. When Maryen came to my room, she said that Nancy was home. I said, yes, I know, I heard her and kind of, sort of, saw her. I had glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw a shadow walk by. Maren saw the same thing; just a shadow out of the corner of her eye.

    “Hi, Nancy,” I loudly said as I walked down the hall toward their room. There was no answer, so we walked through their door. No one was there. I looked under the bed and in the closet. Nothing. Maryen was spooked.

    I would have shrugged it off again, except for the fact that Maryen heard and saw the same thing. That’s two people, not one. I never brought up the notion of spirits in the house to her before. I mean, we hadn’t been together all that long and I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. Eventually, Ken and Nancy moved out and Maryen moved in with her 7-year-old daughter. We never experienced anything again.

    One day, I spoke to an author and locally renowned historion about my/our “so called” incidents. This piqued her interest, so she researched the address. A month or so later, she told me a 7-year-old girl had drowned in a well out back hundreds of years ago. The well was long gone. At one time, the house was part of the original Samuel Fleming estate, most likely a barn, and erected after the Fleming house was built. In the 1800s, a larger addition was added.

    Up until those quirky experiences, I had always been skeptical of ghosts. To this day, I can’t say for sure that I actually believe in them, but I refuse to say I don’t. I think what I’m trying to say is that if there is even a remote possibility of the existence of apparitions, then there is surely a chance of an afterlife. To all naysayers who might not believe in ghosts, think about it. This is a true story.





    I know, I always get into trouble when writing anything about politics. Why? Because liberals (oh, excuse me, progressives) attack me and so do conservatives. That’s because I go after stuff that is, quite literally, dumb. It’s not a political bend in the classic sense, it’s much more like taking a look at things that make no sense. In this case, it’s like standing in your own reeky cesspool while claiming that the opposition smells much worse.

    During a senate confirmation hearing regarding Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., and addressed to then-senator Strom Thurmond. The year was 1986 and Thurmond was chairman of the powerful Committee on the Judiciary (US Senate.) In part, King wrote that Jefferson B. Sessions “… used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens [and] should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”

    King urged the Senate to reject Sessions’ nomination as a federal judge and he did, in fact, fail.

    My point has nothing to do with how you or I feel about Warren now because Sessions was sworn in as US Attorney General. That part is history and I’m not going to argue with anyone. Period. What disturbs me is something else.

    While Warren and Bernie and every other Democrat (save one) screamed bloody murder over “the letter” that was not allowed to be read by her, they failed to look at one thing that stands out like a giant hemorrhoid. (Aside from the fact that Bernie did read it while castigating the majority party.)

    What is it? It’s Strom Thurmond and the inconvenient truth that reeks of hypocrisy. Total hypocrisy, and it’s what always gets my dander up. You can take sides, but you’d better be able to back yourself up with a concrete foundation. In this case, you cannot. Sessions was accused of racism and the media only skimmed the surface. You never saw or heard or read anything but that, and the 1986 letter became the star attraction. Why the right said nothing is beyond me, too, but I guess they had no desire to stir the racial pot when it comes to dead politicians. Opening cans of worms come from all directions and they point at many living politicians.

    Democrat Senator Strom Thurmond was a racist, pure and simple. So was late Senator Robert Byrd, also a Democrat, and a one-time Exalted Cyclops of the KKK. However, the Democratic Party rehabilitated both and turned them into legends. Byrd filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights act and supported the Vietnam War, but later renounced racism and segregation. Poof! That’s all it took. All because he was a Democrat. A Republican who even hinted at something similar? Look out, because that’s precisely what was just attempted.

    In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran a presidential campaign. The King family was aware of it, too. Here’s part of his platform:

    “I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and accept the Negro into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

    In 1957, he ran the longest filibuster in Senate history, 24 hours and 18 minutes, against school desegregation. When President Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall as the first African American justice of the Supreme Court, Thurmond tormented him at the conference hearing by asking 60 broadly obscure legal questions. Thurmond v. Thurgood. Guess who won.

    Thurmond was at one time such a racist that he never truly loved or accepted the bi-racial daughter he fathered with his parents’ underage maid. She was 16-years-old at the time and he was 22. In her autobiography, Essie Washington-Williams wrote: “As much as I wanted to ‘belong’ to him, I never felt like a daughter, only an accident.”

    Do you understand why reading that particular letter only perplexes me? Granted, the letter was intended to be read to the entire senate and Thurmond was the judiciary head, but it made absolutely no sense to castigate someone you claim to be a racist by reading a letter addressed to a racist, albeit, a “self-rehabilitated” one. There must have been better examples to choose from.

    I hope you understand that I would do the same thing to any Republican taking the same kind of stand. I will never stop pointing fingers at hypocrites. When George Zimmerman (indeed, no Democrat!) claimed he was not a racist, I pointed fingers his way. And they haven’t budged.


    The Saturday Night Massacre

    That’s what it was called by political commentaters after Richard Nixon fired Independent Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the middle of the Watergate Scandal. The dismissal took place on October 20, 1973. After he was fired, actually by Robert Bork at Nixon’s behest, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest. The whole thing was a big stink and somewhat complicated to write about here and now. Instead, I’ll mention something else…

    This whole Trump/Yates mess reminds me of an old friend of mine, radio personality and local famous guy, Wayne Trout. Wayne was a very talented and funny man and I could write a book about his antics. That’s a fact. Unfortunately, he left us in 2005. Way back when, soon after the Saturday Night Massacre, he came up with a bumper sticker idea and took it around to area printers. One-by-one, they turned him down. He ended up at a printer in Union Park, a suburb east of Orlando. The owner recognized Wayne’s unique humor and was only happy to oblige. What he had printed was a classic…




    I cannot attest to the accuracy of this article. Yes, you can call it an “alternative factual story” if you wish, but it does reflect to the best of my knowledge what transpired one day, sometime in the early aughts.

     Once upon a time, an “alleged perp” stole a can of soda from a 7 Eleven. A patrol car was nearby and as the car fled the convenience store parking lot, an officer took chase. (I don’t recall if it was OPD or OCSO.) The vehicles headed west on State Route 50, a four lane highway with a median lane for turning. On the west side of town, where it goes through Ocoee toward Lake County, there are a few rolling hills that completely obscure traffic from either direction. At over 100 mph, the perp’s car swerved into oncoming traffic at the crest of a hill and hit a lone vehicle head on. An innocent woman minding her own business was killed instantly. I don’t recall if the perp survived or not. This occurred in the wee hours of the morning. Ironically, the woman was on her way to work as a police dispatcher and the tragedy became big news in the Orlando area, where people formulated strong opinions over it – to give chase or not. She was a young mother with several children.

     A couple of days later, I was hanging around my favorite watering hole, Spatz, in Winter Park, when an old buddy came in. Mike’s a great guy and after a few minutes of banter among friends, he asked me a question. “Dave? What do you think about that accident on west 50?”

    I had a feeling he was going to prod. “Personally, I feel terrible about it. There’s no way I would agree with a chase like that over 12-ounces of carbonated liquid containing 10 teaspoons of sugar. A young mother died! Is a life worth a can of soda?”

    He responded, “I knew you were going to say that.”

    You see, Mike’s perception of me was that I was a bleeding heart liberal. I’m not. I’m more of a middle-of-the-road kind of guy, and I have a right to my opinions that range from one end of the gamut to the other depending on many complex factors. In the accident case, what’s liberal or conservative about it? Why label it as such? I value a human life over a $1.00 theft. What’s the big deal? This had nothing to do with religion. This had nothing to do with philosophy. This had nothing to do with politics. It was where my moral compass pointed on this particular issue and how I believed policy was in need of an instant overhaul.

    What makes people brand others as friend or foe, right or wrong, and black or white on the issues with no shades of color in between? No, I don’t mean skin color.

    Just so you know, I am a law & order kind of guy, but I don’t agree with everything. In this case, the victim’s death changed the way police were allowed to pursue. No longer would they be able to over simple thefts. Common sense prevailed, not politics.

    “Damn liberals.”


    Fishin' with Frank

    When I moved to the Orlando area from New Jersey, my long-time best friend, Stew Bacheler, who’s since moved to Florida, came up with the notion that we should have an annual beach party, kind of like the movie, The Big Chill. It was a great idea and a new tradition was born that lasted a long time.

    Many of our good friends and, sometimes, a handful of relatives, would meet every summer at Stew’s parent’s house in Beach Haven on beautiful Long Beach Island, NJ. Because his parents owned it, we never had to worry about finding a place to accommodate us.

    This was back in the days of big hair and large, shoulder-held, VHS camcorders. Each year, the crowd would take turns shooting footage that I would ultimately snip to pieces at the end of our week. I’d sift through the tape and edit it into something that captured the essence of our vacation. The following Saturday, we’d have a “world premiere showing” of the completed video where, generally, our good friend, Frank Foran, would host and cook a big dinner. I always did my best to turn it into something entertaining and worthwhile.

    Speaking of Frank, during one of those vacations, I chose to tape a segment about my good old chum. He’s always been quite the fisherman. Why not shoot something that would revolve around his skills? I did, and I titled it “Fishin’ with Frank.” It had a nice alliteration to it, don’t you think? At the time, I worked for an ad agency, so creating art presented no problem. As a matter of fact, I had already designed a title page that depicted a Frank look-alike fishing off the bow of a boat, casting out to sea. For the opening scene, I did a voiceover…

    “Yes, it’s time for Fishin’ with Frank,” while the camera focused on a pool of water. Suddenly, there was a splash and a clunk as the lead lure was cast into a toilet bowl that was promptly flushed. The camera slowly panned upward to the open lid, which had the picture of Frank carefully and inconspicuously taped to it. The video then shifted to the opening scene – the boat – where Frank was shown fishing off the port-side of the bow.

    “Frank! Frank! You’re on!” He turned around and introduced himself. Frank knows his stuff because he proceeded to give us a lesson in, what else? Fishing. Tying a knot on a hook. Choosing the right lures. How to cast off. That sort of thing.

    We had the requisite bikini babes, too, who were all wives and girlfriends. We were a lot younger then and they sure did look good, so I took a lot of shots of the girls. Which was a whole lot more interesting and exciting to watch than Frank. Ahhh, and speaking of shots, the margaritas flowed. Rock ‘n’ Roll music wafted in the background. We all took our turns fishing. Of course, the best scenes were when Frank tried to teach some of the girls how to fish. The camera kept moving toward the women’s bodies. It was as if it had a mind of its own.

    “Dave! Move that camera here, %#$T#$!*@!” I learned one important %#$T#$!*@! lesson out in the Atlantic Ocean that day, like, how to talk like a sailor when the camera’s not where it’s supposed to be. On Frank. Just like his uncle, Dick Foran, a one-time Hollywood movie star.

    Anyway, this was how it went down – the taping of the world premier video of the almost famous program, Fishin’ with Frank on Cable 68, out of Vineland, New Jersey. Of course, there was no such thing as Cable 68 in those days.

    You’d think that was it, right? End of story? Wrong!

    After we returned from our fishing expedition, we cleaned up and went to Buckalew’s Restaurant ~ Tavern for dinner and drinks. In those days, it wasn’t anything fancy like it is today. And they sure did know how to make a great pizza. We sat in the tavern part. Barstools and booths. One side had a long booth and chairs with tables in between. That made it easy to accommodate our ensemble crew of over a dozen people.

    One waitress had the misfortune of asking me who we were. Oh no. Wrong question. “Have you ever heard of the Fishin’ with Frank show on Cable 68?” There was no Cable 68 back then.

    “Yeah,” she thought for a moment. “I’m pretty sure I have.”

    “Fantastic! We just taped a show up here to be broadcast sometime in the near future. That’s Frank, over there,” and I pointed him out. Frank was a pretty tall and good looking guy, so he had a commanding presence. Imagine that. Our waitress started the bobbing ball rolling as news inside the bar spread. Suddenly, waves of people, beers in hand, asked Frank to sign paper placemats and napkins. He was a big star and he lapped it right up.

    Another waitress came up to me and asked, “Are you the producer?”

    Without thinking, I simply responded, “Yes, I am,” as she thrust one of those seafood-themed placemats and a ballpoint pen toward me to sign.

    “I thought so,” she replied. It seemed that everyone had heard of the show. Some were convinced they’d seen it. Oh, the amazing power of suggestion and a whole entourage of production people. (It’s important to point out that we never took advantage of anyone, nor accepted one free drink.) As our pizzas came out of the restaurant’s galley, things settled down and everyone went back to their business of imbibing in refreshing cocktail beverages. We toasted Frank.

    As for our time on the boat? I don’t remember if we caught any fish that day but, I’d be willing to bet you, as Frank always did, that he would have caught the first, the biggest, and the most on the maiden – and only – voyage of Fishin’ with Frank.  


    Roger Kaputnik

    When I was young, probably around 10 or 12 years old, a funny man by the name of Roger Kaputnik would come to visit. Once a month, he came into my home and told me funny stories. That went on for a number of years until I eventually outgrew him. It was probably when my interest in young boy’s fantasies waned and I moved on to more mundane things, like girls. I can tell you with complete honesty that there’s no doubt Roger helped make me who I am today. Sometimes, he really made me think. Oh, he was quite a character, alright, and he taught me a lot about the lighter side of… well, you name it. It was something new each month. He died of cancer in 2002 at 81 years of age, but he left me with a lot of fond memories. Unfortunately, when I drifted away from my childhood, I never saw him again. I don’t know when that day came.

    I remember when he told me tales about the police. He was a very vivid storyteller and could do it in minutes flat. There was the time a lady in a fancy car got pulled over for some reason and the officer asked to see her license. Of course, this was before there were picture IDs and holograms. She rummaged around in her purse, pulled it out, and nervously passed it over to him as he stood by her door.

    While carefully examining the license, he said, “Ma’am, it says right here that you are supposed to be wearing glasses.”

    “But I am, Officer.”

    “I don’t see them.”

    “You don’t understand, Officer, I have contacts.”

    “What do you mean you have contacts?”

    “Yes, I have new contacts.”


    And so went the humor of Roger Kaputnik. Of course, when he told that story, contact lenses were relatively new and, back then, it was pretty much only the rich who could afford them.

    There was another time he told me stories about neighbors. Maybe it was families or just ordinary people and their peculiarities, but he always got me laughing and some of his tales still ring true to this day. In suburbs, especially in small cities, blocks of houses were built close together, with narrow alleys that separated them. A lot of those houses had side doors. I remember when I was young, we lived in such a neighborhood for a couple of years and I can still envision that scene and the story he told…

    Two children were playing with their toys in the alley, right near the side doors that accessed raised porches with steps that faced the front of the house. It was a safe place for children to play because mothers could keep a watchful eye on them from the kitchen window. Now, remember, this was a time when most married women were stay-at-home moms. Anyway, the kids were outside playing. Suddenly, an argument broke out over whose toys were whose.

    “Hey! That’s my truck!”

    “No. it’s not, it’s mine!”

    “Give it to me!”

    “Gimme that!”





    As most caring and loving mothers would do in a situation like this, they raced to the side porch in their finest kitchen attire and sped out those doors to make sure their babies were not under attack.

    “Hey, what’s going on?” They asked in unison.

    “Mom, Jimmy stole my truck!”

    “Mom, Tommy stole my truck!”

    And before you could count to two, each mother firmly stated that they bought the truck for their son and, from there, it went downhill rather quickly.

    “Yeah, well my husband says your house is a pig sty…”

    “Yeah? My husband says you don’t know how to cook…”

    “I can cook a lot better than you!”

    “And, you’re a real slob.”

    “You can just tell your bald-headed moron of a husband to forget about that brunch on Sunday.”

    “I wouldn’t want to eat your garbage, anyway!”

    “Tommy, pick up all your toys and come inside the house this minute!!!”

    “Jimmy! Collect all your toys and get inside right now!”

    Meanwhile, throughout this adult commotion, with both mothers throwing every insult imaginable at each other, Tommy and Jimmy calmed down, made peace, and continued to quietly play as if nothing happened. Unfortunately, their world fell apart in a New York second as they were ordered inside.

    How sad. Those innocent children went back to being good friends, something their parents will probably never be again. And because of it, Jimmy and Tommy will not be allowed to play together for a long, long time. Sometimes, I think adults can learn from their children. Certainly, it would be my fervent wish that things get patched up because, in real life, it’s never too late.

    Oh yes, back to good old Roger Kaputnik. Just like a lot of people who comment on blogs, forums, and social media, that’s not his real name. It was his alter-ego in the world of comics. His real name was Dave Berg. Dave Berg was a mainstay at Mad Magazine and I looked forward to reading his quirky stories about life every single month in his column titled, The Lighter Side of… He taught me a lot about human nature over the years. Here it is 50 years later and it’s still the same. Why don’t we put away our war of words and learn to act like kids again.




    I went to Dollar Tree last week. I purchase things like bar soap, body washes, and household cleaning stuff. Greeting cards are great buys, too. Everything’s a buck! Sometimes, I take my mother because she always finds deals on things whether she needs them or not, and it’s those little pleasures that make life more fun, even when she buys glittery pre-teen nail polish she ends up detesting.

    This is a relatively new store located in Longwood, FL. It’s a little bigger than the one I usually go to, so it’s better stocked. The manager described it as a showcase store. Usually, I saunter down each aisle, basket in hand, just to make sure I don’t miss out on anything new. On one of those aisles, I found a couple of shelves stocked with spices. When it comes to dollar store spices, I pretty much treat them the same way I treat dollar store vitamins and supplements, like B-12 and fish oil. Quite simply, I don’t buy them. Why not? Because I don’t trust the source – and I don’t know how fresh and pure any of it is.

    While perusing those “exotic” spices, I stumbled upon a container of kosher salt. I don’t know what prompted me to pick it up because I never put salt on anything. Nope, no sprinkling for me. Never. Perhaps, it was the large and impressive Star of David emblazened on the front label. Whatever the reason, I simply picked it up out of curiosity and probably because of one small detail that caught my eye, somewhere around the far left corner of my peripheral vision.

    Upon careful examination of the container and label, I saw that it contained one simple ingredient: Salt. That’s reassuring. It means the salt, of the common rock salt variety, is just what the label proclaims it to be. Sodium chloride. Halite. NaCl. I don’t know if I have to write a short history of where salt comes from, but it’s safe to say that salt mines (where most of it originates) are in abundance throughout the world, and many of the deposits are millions of years old. Maybe older.

    That leads me to a very simple question. Please take a look at the image I provided because it’s this one little detail that caught my eye. What you see is the exact container I picked up to examine. Note what its only ingredient is. Nothing more. Ancient salt extracted from a plentiful source beneath the ground. Pure and white. For something that’s millions of years old, why is there an expiration date stamped on the bottle? Best by 03/10/20. Are you kidding me???


    My Life's In Jeopardy!

    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2005. There’s no telling how long I had it prior to finding out. It could easily be eight years or so, one of my doctors once told me. During that time, I smoked and drank and ate whatever I wanted, with no knowledge of the damage it could easily have been doing to my organs, particularly the kidneys. That’s because of the tiny blood vessels that feed them. Sugar makes the vessels very brittle. If they’re brittle, they snap. Kidney disease is the one thing that frightens diabetics the most. With five stages of chronic kidney disease, one being normal and five being complete failure, I am holding steady at stage three. Age itself diminishes function, but diabetes is the silent killer if you’re not careful.

    Fortunately, I was sensible enough to quit smoking in 2007. Cold turkey. Just like that! After nearly forty years, I did it and never looked back. A few years later, I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t remember the year because I slowly weaned myself away from it until I simply lost the desire. I wouldn’t say I’d never have another drink; I just don’t have an appetite for it and it’s been like this for many years.

    When I reflect on all that’s happened in my life since the diagnosis, I sometimes ponder how boring my life has become. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not boring and I’m never bored with myself, but it’s a far cry from my days of youth. After all…

    It doesn’t seem like so many years ago that, in my 20s, I could stay up partying until 4:00 AM, sleep a couple of hours and go to work like it was nothing. Heck, I could do this for the rest of my life, right? Well, not every night.

    In my 30s, I could party with the best of them until 2:00 AM.

    In my 40s, it was more like midnight.

    In my 50s, I might be able to handle 11:00 PM on a good night, but…

    In my 60s? Heck, I’m 64-years-old now, and I start thinking about going to bed soon after watching Jeopardy!



    Nadie es profeta en su propia tierra


    For eleven years, I worked as an artist for an ad agency in Orlando. I moved to the area in April of 1981 and was hired that August. There were three (and sometimes four) artists in one room, each of us having our own artboards and niche styles reflected in our work. We were old style artists compared to today’s. Alicia was our premier fashion artist. Extremely talented, she was from Cuba and left the island nation soon after Fidel Castro took control.


    Before Castro, Alicia’s family was successful. They were rather upper-middle class. Poof! It was gone. Their loss, our gain. To work with her was a real delight and I deeply appreciated her insight, especially when we discussed her homeland. It was her pure passion that resonated inside my heart. This wasn’t hearsay, it was a first-hand account of what took place in her beloved country; what happened to her and her loved ones.


    After the 1959 overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista, Castro set up shop and proceeded to expropriate land, bank accounts, and personal possessions; everything the new government deemed to be an asset. Many people, including her family, fled the country. Everything of theirs - everything of value and every personal possession they accrued over the years - was taken away. Businesses were nationalized and socialism took hold. Communism immediately followed. All of her father’s hard work went down the drain, where a thirsty regime hungrily lapped it all up. She and her family came to the United States with nothing but a strong desire to rebuild their lives in the land of opportunity.


    Alicia was married when she left Cuba with her family. Her husband soon followed. She brought one suitcase filled with clothes. That was it. Even her perfumes were confiscated. While going through a security checkpoint at the airport’s departure gate, a guard stopped her.


    “Give me your ring,” he demanded. 


    “But this is my wedding band.”


    “Give it to me or we will take it from you and you will go to prison.” Reluctantly, she turned it over. 


    Today, millions of Cuban Americans in the US are celebrating the death of Fidel Castro. I haven’t seen Alicia in 26 years, but I can certainly understand why she would feel no remorse at all. How many of her compadres lost their lives or rotted in prisons?


    Lo que bien se aprende, nunca se pierde.


    C stands for Confusion

    I know about AEIOU and sometimes Y. In the English language, that’s our vowels. Y isn’t always a vowel, though, and it’s why there’s that little “sometimes” clause. Take the word YES. It’s a consonant. In the word GYM, it’s a vowel. That’s how it works.

    Only a year or so ago, I was comfortable with LGBT because it was used almost exclusively by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual community (or is it communities?) I kinda got used to it and accepted it. I’m open-minded. Suddenly out of nowhere, the Q popped up. Huh? What the..? Oh, I see, the Q stands for Questioning or Queer. But it’s not always used. Is it LGBT and sometimes Q? I don’t know what’s right and I don’t want to offend anyone. Some use the Q and some don’t. OK, fine, but I’m not interested in looking up the differences between Q, L, and G.

    Now, there’s the LGBTQIA community, which includes Intersex and Asexual people. According to the Urban Dictionary Website, “LGBTQIA is a more inclusive term than LGBT for people with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity.” Oops! They didn’t include the Q. Is that considered politically incorrect?

    As an H male, how am I supposed to keep up with these designations that change out of the blue, at a moment’s notice? There’s still Pansexual, Omnisexual, and Nonmonosexual to go, and I guess we can run the gamut from Ambisexual to Zensexual and everything in between, but with only 26 letters in the English language… what happens when the alphabet runs dry?

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make myself a BLT, light on the M.  


    Gimme A Brake!

    This is something I wrote and published on October 13, 2006. I did make minor edits, but it pretty much remains intact:

    My father was always a very good auto mechanic. He used to help fix seemingly unfixable problems on stock cars that would run the modified NASCAR circuit. Back in the seventies, he owned a front-end alignment shop in Flemington, New Jersey. It didn’t take long for him to gain the reputation as having the best one in the area. People from all over would bring their cars to him. There was another guy in town who had been in the same business years longer; however, there were plenty of potholes around to keep them both busy. As a matter of fact, the two liked each other. One day, the other guy suffered a terrible accident on the job and went to the biggest and best alignment shop in the sky. That really bothered my father. 


    I remember when I was 18, way back in 1970, I bought a 1965 Mustang. With air conditioning and an 8-Track cassette. AM-FM stereo, to boot. I was the man! FM had come into vogue by then, but most cars from 1965 and earlier era only had AM. With a loaded Mustang, it gave me enough confidence to go after a genuine girlfriend; one I had been eyeballing. Oh yes, she was a real knockout, I mean to tell ya! Unfortunately, Mustangs were not known for having big back seats. Oh, TMI.

    The following summer, the car needed new front shocks. I had never technically worked on a car up to that point and never planned to, not with a father who knew pretty much everything about cars. And after riding bikes most of my life, cars were still relatively new to me. Oh, he used to let me “help” him when I was a young boy, just to make me feel good, I suppose, but I never really did anything because I really didn’t help much at all.

    One day, I called him and asked if he would put new front shocks in for me. Sure, go over to Carver’s Auto Parts, get what you need and come by Saturday morning. OK, great! I was tired of getting seasick every time I went over a bump in the road. So was my girlfriend. That Saturday morning, I stopped by, parts in hand…

    “See those tools over there? They are all you’re going to need to replace those bad shocks.” 

    “What do you mean?” I protested. “I thought you were going to put them in for me!” 

    “No, you’re going to have to learn how to work on a car and this is a good place to start.”

    When he told me that, I began to dislike him for thinking I was ready to work on my own vehicle. I wasn’t, and I’m certain he sensed it when I called. Had he told me beforehand that I was going to do the work, I’d simply continue to drive on bad shocks.

    “I’m going to be right here to give you all the advice you need, so don’t panic.” 

    One thing about my father’s tools was that you could eat off them. They were neatly arranged, too. AND YOU’D BETTER RETURN THEM THAT WAY! Oh, he didn’t expect me to remember where they all went, but they’d better be clean.

    “No one wants to reach into a toolbox and grab a dirty, greasy wrench.” He was right. He was right about something else, too. I learned how to work on my own cars and I must have saved tens of thousands of dollars over the years because of it. 


    Sometime in the mid-seventies, my very close and personal friend, Frank Foran, had a little Japanese import. I think it was a Subaru. Frank sold industrial coatings for Dupont back then and needed a small, fuel-efficient car that was very dependable. Because of all the driving he did, the rear brakes finally needed to be replaced. Front brakes wear out three times as quickly and those he kept in good working order. After tens of thousands of miles, it was time.

    I called my father and asked if I could use his shop on Saturday to work on Frank’s car. He normally didn’t work weekends so that wasn’t an issue. These were drum type brakes and the shoes were what needed to be replaced. Frank wasn’t as mechanically inclined as me when it came to working on cars, so I took him to the parts store with me, to show him how to shop talk automobile language. (He did know what a turbo encabulator was, but never worked on one.)

    When we left the store, he followed me to my father’s alignment shop. Inside the bay was a rack you’d drive up onto. In other words, it wasn’t a hydraulic lift. It was high enough, though, that you could stand under it.

    “OK, Frank. Slowly drive up the ramp and I’ll tell you when to stop.”

    He got out and climbed down. After removing the tires, I unbolted the wheel drums. After they’ve been on a car for a long time and subjected to the elements, they can be really tough to remove. They were. After finally getting them off, I started to disassemble the brakes, beginning with the driver’s side. I compared the old parts with the new, to make sure everything matched up. Everything was going well. I installed all of the new parts. I checked and checked again to make sure everything was correct. Check! Everything looked perfect. except…

    I tried to slide the brake drum back onto the first wheel cylinder to finish the driver’s side. No way. It wouldn’t fit. The brake padding was too thick. I thought of everything. I looked again to make sure my work was correct. It was. I compared the old parts with the new. Everything was on right, yet, those drums would not go back on. No way, no how. I even thought about sanding them down. I must have spent what seemed like hours trying to figure the mess out. Of course, Frank didn’t have a clue. Finally, I was officially stumped, so I phoned my father and explained the dilemma.

    “Are you sure everything is right?” he asked me. I told him yes. Absolutely positive.

    “Could you PLEASE come down and take a look? I mean, I’ve tried everything.” Reluctantly, he said yes. Frank and I waited impatiently, but we had no other choice. When good ol’ Dad pulled up and got out of his car, he looked over the exposed wheel assembly. Then, he walked up to us and looked into our eyes. Clearly, he could see our frustration. Then, we saw his. Turning away, he opened the driver’s door, reached in, and disengaged the emergency brake. Huh? What the..? Frank, you yanked on the emergency brake handle?

    “You think you two dodos can finish the job by yourselves?”

    I told you Frank didn’t know much about cars. Apparently, I didn’t either.



    I originally wrote this article in college, back in the early 70s (with tweaks throughout the years to reflect contemporary thought.) It still applies today…

    With the Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton presidential election dominating the headlines every day, how could we not possibly notice that opinions run strong in both camps; those who support Trump and those who support Clinton. This is not an ordinary election any way you look at it. This one has blood boiling — with gun rights, racism, the police, climate control, and… well, I could go on and on, because we are bombarded by the media every single day. Each one leans one way or the other, and many times we don’t even know it unless we are acutely aware. Very rarely do we read, see, or hear any type of news that isn’t slanted.

    Without a doubt, each one of us has an opinion on just about everything, and sometimes we run into people who are so animated over how the news is reported, they seem to lose track of exactly what they heard, saw or read, and, by inflection, they subconsciously (on purpose) inject their own personal views that create a slant on top of the slanted news. They misconstrue what was actually said in the first place. A lot of it has to do with wishful thinking. As is the case now with the presidential election, people either support a candidate or they despise him/her with a vengeance. Consequently, out of their mouths come some pretty nasty, hateful words. And Tweets. It’s very black and white with no room for shades of grey. Or gray. You see, people even argue over spelling! 

    A lot of times, someone believes deeply in a cause. SAVE THE WHALES, for instance, can be twisted into a political agenda because contemporary conservatives interpret conservation and animal rights organizations and issues differently than liberal progressives. Neither side is ever 100% right, yet they’ll never admit it. It’s all quite convoluted since issues are usually distorted and twisted into opinion. Take Teddy Roosevelt, for example, who was a Republican president. He’s regarded as the founder of environmental conservation in America; a true protector of flora, fauna, and land. Was he a liberal Democrat in disguise despite “conservation” and “conservative” going hand-in-hand? Perhaps he was a conservative progressive, if something like this even exists. Perhaps, it’s what we all should strive for. (My own opinion, of course.)

    For some odd reason, we seem to get confused and downright mean over issues that impact us. Just yell “NO SYRIAN REFUGEES!” in a room full of Democrats. Then, scream “MORE SYRIAN REFUGEES!” in a room filled with Republicans. You’ll never hear so much passion, along with heavy doses of bias and self-serving interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. Speaking of which, in criminal court, we have an adversarial system, where, during hearings and trials, prosecutors and defense attorneys are justified in arguing their causes. Both sides think they’re right. Believe me, I saw it in action, live from the courthouse, during the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman trials. Nearly four solid years of courtroom action. To this very day, the public still fights over them.

    Obviously, slants take on many forms, not always political. They can delve into the philosophical or religious views of the presenter. They can be based on one’s own experiences. How many movie and restaurant critics have written bad reviews? Clearly, there’s nothing political about them. Maybe you saw that movie and ate at that restaurant and enjoyed both experiences. Who is right here? You or the critic? Below are three different takes on the same fictitious event. One is a straightforward report and the other two are slants. Each slant will infer something different. Please read between the lines.

    (1) A two vehicle accident occurred on Saturday, at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue, in downtown Podunk around 10 PM. One person did not survive. Dennis Walker, 15, of Ruralville was pronounced dead at the scene. His father Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was transported to Podunk Medical Center, where he was treated and released. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Police said an investigation into the cause of the accident is continuing.

     (2) A 15-year-old boy died in a two car accident on Wednesday night in Podunk. The accident occurred around 10:00 PM at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue.  Dennis Walker, of Ruralville, was pronounced dead at the scene. His father, Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was flown by helicopter to the trauma center at Podunk Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Mr. Walker had just pulled out of the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Podunk, where he had picked his son up from a Boy Scout meeting. An officer at the scene was quoted as saying, “I can’t say for sure what happened, but empty beer cans and bottles were found in the other vehicle.”

    A witness said that Wilson’s car was seen speeding out of Frank’s Tavern, less than two blocks away, and was exceeding the posted speed limit of 35MPH. Blood alcohol levels of the driver have not been released. He was taken into custody and an official report will not be disclosed until the investigation is completed.

     (3) An accident which caused the death of one person occurred at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Avenue in Podunk last night around 10:00 PM. Dennis Walker, 15, of Ruralville, died at the scene. His father, Michael Walker, also of Ruralville, was transported to Podunk Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle, Scott Wilson, 22, of Podunk, and his passengers, were treated for minor injuries. There have been many accidents at this intersection over the past 10 years, according to state statistics. A witness at the scene said, “This is ridiculous. We’ve protested to state, county and city officials about this problem for years. We’ve signed petitions. We need a traffic light here now! No one heeds the 4 way stop signs. At least two others have died in the past three years.” An investigation is pending and weather did not seem to be a factor.

    Do you see how easy it is to write a slant? You can slant a story any way you want to suit your own opinion in order to get your somewhat subliminal message across. We see, read and hear it every day. It’s not just news outlets, either. Today, the Internet is a bastion of unlimited free speech and there are millions of bloggers and Facebook members around the world who exercise that right in stories and memes. Clearly, most of them are far from being straightforward and true. There are unlimited Web sites dying to etch their keystrokes into our brains. Even governments get into the game as they attempt to indoctrinate citizens through political correctness and other means. You, the reader, watcher and listener, must learn to distinguish between what is real and what is a twist and even if you agree, it still doesn’t make it true. Or right. Remember that.

    Of course, this is my humble and unbiased opinion.





    I have to tell you that I did not have a nice weekend, most certainly, the loss of my Uncle Dave, but that’s not what this is about.

    Friday evening, starting around 6:00 PM, the right side of my back began to hurt. The subsequent medical report identified the area as a right flank. It was a pain I never felt before, and all I knew was that I was in agony and the only thing I could do was suffer. I was unable to get comfortable in any position; sitting, standing, or lying down. Before bed, I took two Tylenol Extra Strength tablets. They did absolutely nothing to ease the discomfort. I slept sporadically during the night and in the morning, the pain went away after an hour or so. I seemed fine. Great! Whatever it was, it was gone! I had my suspicions, but several people thought I had hurt a muscle. Nope, the pain was more internal than that.

    Saturday evening, the terrible pain returned. This time, I took two Tylenols and two 50 mg tramadol pills. Unfortunately, that combination didn’t help and, once again, I suffered for hours in bed - dozing, wide awake, tossing and turning. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

    Sunday morning, the pain subsided after an hour or so, so I began looking up what might cause the symptom. That night, like clockwork, the pain came back and I chose not to take anything for it because, if 1,000 mg of Tylenol and 100 mg of tramadol wouldn’t do the trick, what’s the point? The only way I could describe it would be to say that, on a 1-10 scale, this was a solid 7. It wasn’t a sharp pain like a knife stabbing me, it was more like a heavy thud, as if someone took a big rubber mallet and swung very hard, aiming straight at my right kidney. Extremely uncomfortable. Interestingly, the pain expanded to include my lower right back.

    Monday morning, the pain subsided, just like the other two days. It was time to call the doctor to make an appointment. He wrote out two referrals (which I went and picked up) to get a urine test and an ultrasound on both kidneys. Quest did the first one and Boston Diagnostics, the ultrasound. Meanwhile, I prepared myself for the impending evening pain. Surprisingly, it didn’t come.

    Yesterday afternoon, I saw the NP (Nurse Practitioner) and explained my situation (and I was very detailed.) She diagnosed me with what I thought it was: a kidney stone. While there, one of the nurses got the results of the tests and they both came back negative. No stone(s) present. That was a relief and I’m hoping it stays this way. Here it is, two nights in a row pain free. Wee! Wee! (And guys don’t handle pain like women.) The stone must have been agitating my right kidney as it inched toward the ureter, the duct through which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder. It wraps around the front as it enters the bladder. Usually, the pain through the ureter is extra-excruciating, yet I felt nothing.

    The NP believes it passed on its own. I sure hope so. She gave me important instructions, though… Drink as much water throughout the day as possible! Good advice! But she had no explanation for why I felt the pain at night and not during the day. Oh well, it doesn’t matter as long as the experience is behind me for good.

    Because I have to drink all this water, by the time I get to my reunion, I will probably look like a bloated whale. At least, I will try to use it as my excuse for not weighing 150 pounds like I did in high school.




    Too Chicken to Grow a Beard


    I have a Sam’s Club membership. It belonged to my father and I simply transferred it after he passed away. There are good deals to be had if you know what you’re doing. Personally, I don’t buy much in bulk like he did because, in the end, he left cases and cases and cases of canned goods in every closet in the house, and some had expired years ago. I think it had to do with Obama’s election. The end was near.

    Anyway, I went into Sam’s to buy one of their huge and delicious rotisserie chickens. At only $4.98 each, it’s a real bargain. One of the guys behind the counter (I guess you could call them chicken tenders) told me that if I wanted to wait a few minutes, he’d be taking fresh ones out of the oven. Of course, I waited. We talked a little. That particular store sells around 200 chickens a day. Sometimes, 300 on Saturdays. Amazing!


    My class reunion is coming up very soon. No, I’m not taking any chickens with me. A week or so ago, I thought about growing a beard just because I wanted to, so I stopped shaving. ‘Yeah, I look a little scruffy, but it should grow in nicely,’ I thought. Eventually. By the time I fly up to New Jersey, it should be fully grown. It’s not a fashion statement of any kind. I just decided to complement my already existing mustache and goatee that I’ve had for, like, forever. However…

    I was hungry when I got to Sam’s, so I sidled up to the restaurant counter to order something to eat. They sell pizza and hot dogs and other assorted sandwiches at great prices. I decided on a sausage sub with peppers and onions. The lady who took my order and rang it up was probably around 70-years-old. I’m 64. I think she was Hispanic (or Latino) because she spoke in extremely broken English, but I’m used to it after living in Florida for such a long time.

    “Oh, you very handsome man,” she said, but not nearly as clear.

    Oh, how nice, I thought, but I didn’t really believe her. “Thank you very much.”

    What happened next was rather interesting. She took one of her hands and stroked her cheeks in a downward motion, as if to be pressing on a beard. “No, that not look good on you.”


    “No, it make you look old. Much older.”

    “Oh… Hmmm. Thank you.” And I meant it. This was something to think about. I had a full beard back in the mid-80s and I’ve always thought about growing another one. My reunion, I thought, would be the perfect time. Except for that one statement. I mean, I can understand a 30 or 40-year-old telling me that it makes me look older than I am, but a 70-year-old? That’s a whole different perspective and honest critique, so I will shave it before I go. There’s absolutely no way I want to attend my class reunion looking older than the rest of the old people who will be there.




    Who is Rick Rescorla?


    Originally published in 2006, this is my account of but one man. I want to post this every September, on or near the 11th, in honor of Rick and all who perished that day. I will do this until I can do it no more.

    Rick Rescorla was born in England. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1963 and retired as a colonel in 1990. Rick was a bonafide hero of the Vietnam war. In 1965, at the la Drang Valley battles, Lt. Gen. Hal Moore described him as “the best platoon leader I ever saw.” Rescorla’s men nicknamed him “Hard Core” for his bravery in battle. His heroism was documented and highlighted in the 2002 movie “We Were Soldiers” from the book “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young” co-written by Gen. Moore.

    Since 1985, he worked in corporate security, subsequently becoming Vice President of Security for Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter, the largest tenant in the World Trade Center. After the 1993 attack, he trained all employees to evacuate the building. He maintained a structured, quarterly drill carried out by all staff to orderly get out. He is the man who predicted 9/11. Please see The Richard C. Rescorla Memorial Foundation.

    On that fateful day, he safely evacuated all 2,800 Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter employees but himself and a few of his security staff. After doing his job, he returned to rescue others still inside. These were not even his people, yet, they were all his people. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains have not been recovered. He left a wife and two children. This man is widely recognized as being solely responsible for saving over 3,000 lives. Is it of any importance that he became an American citizen after Vietnam? He is a citizen of all mankind.

    Rick Rescorla is but one hero who perished that fateful day, but what a man he was and what a soul he has that will and should live forever in the hearts and minds of everyone who cherishes freedom. All over the world.



    September 11 | A Memorial


    Working Days and Sleeping Nights

    In the mid-70s, I worked for a peritoneal kidney dialysis company. It was a much needed break from the Weiner King (although I did return.) I traveled throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey delivering care packages to patients. While away, I stayed in motels; just simple motels in any old honky-tonk town I descended upon. Late one afternoon, I wheeled into one in Maryland, location unknown, and got a bed for the night. When I parked and got out of my vehicle, I noticed a large man standing outside his room, door wide open. Big, black hair and matching mustache. I knew immediately who it was even though his name was painted on the van parked right in front of him. FREDDY FENDER! He was smoking a cigarette. I nodded. He nodded back. That was it, but it was a very good experience. No fancy hotel. No entourage. Just him. A regular guy taking a break from where life was sending him.


    The Wart Tree

    In the late seventies, early eighties, I was in the Weiner King business in New Jersey. It was at the tail end of my restaurant career. At one of the locations, there was a large window along the side of the building, next to the front counter. (Actually, the restaurant was mostly glass around the sides and front.) When customers entered the place, the dining room was to the left and the ordering area was to the right. Very easy to navigate. This particular window and sill was all the way to the right, at the far end of the counter. The sill was just above waist-high and sitting on it was a very handsome ming aralia, about 18-inches tall, that looked like a small, leafy tree. No, it wasn’t a bonsai.

    The Weiner King had an extremely loyal following, no matter which of the six stores you visited. At this one, one of the customers was a very nice lady who came in at least twice a week during the lunch and/or dinner rush. Quite the regular, it came as a surprise when she walked through the front door around 4:00, not her usual time. (You get to know your customers’ schedules after a while.) Between 2:00 and 5:00, it’s called ‘slump time’ and it could take forever to get through if you don’t keep yourself busy. I must have been bored that day and let my mind wander — which was nothing new. I was working with a girl named Lauri, who was a college student on summer break. The lunch crew was gone and the evening crew hadn’t yet arrived. Just us. And one customer.

    She walked over to the counter to order but, instead, kept going toward the plant with her arms extended. Her hands got within inches of it, as if to fluff up the leaves, when she said, “I’ve really admired your plant. Every time I come in, I stare at it. It’s beautiful! What is it?”

    “It’s a wart tree.” I have no idea why the idea popped into my head, but it did. I said it, it was too late, and, in a flash, she retracted those arms faster than a toad can stick its tongue back in its mouth.

    “A WART TREE?” she exclaimed with an almost look of puzzled disgust on her face.

    I had to think fast. “Yes, a wart tree. You’ve seen Lauri working here before? She’s studying biochemistry at Rutgers University. You know how some warts have seeds?”


    “Well, someone she knew had a wart. She removed the seeds in a lab and cultivated them into what you’re looking at here.”

    “You’re joking, right?”

    “No,” I insisted. “Ask her.”

    I hated to put Lauri on the spot but, despite her abundance of intellectual prowess, she was one heck of a good sport with a great sense of humor. After collaborating my story with some kind of details pertaining to the structure, functions, and interactions of macromolecules between animals and plants, the woman seemed to buy the story. 

    “It was, after all, a plantar wart,” I added, just to ice the cake. “You know, plantar… plant?”

    “Oh. Huh. A wart tree. I’ll be darned. I never knew that.” She composed herself but was still perplexed. “Well, I’d better order dinner for my husband and me.”  

    I went back to man the grills and Lauri stayed up front working on the rest of the order while making small talk. The woman, meanwhile, stood far away from the little tree. After she left, the two of us laughed pretty hard. It was dumb, but it was done.

    I’m convinced that when she got home, she told her husband all about it, and I’ll bet you he told her how there is no such thing, while rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically. In the end, though, she was either afraid of the tree, warts and all, very embarrassed, or too angry, because I never saw her again.

    Was I silly for doing it? Yes, but working 80 to 100 hours a week will do that to you. And my old boss, Jack, who worked at least 100 hours, used to do it all the time. Just not to customers.




    Every day, horror pays another visit. Murder, mayhem, war and dirty politicians. Liars, killers everywhere! How can anyone possibly expect a world of peace when our own citizens fight over fear and loathing from memes with made up truths and BREAKING NEWS on the TV screen? In the end, there’s no emotional difference between Republicans and Democrats. Both are crammed full of selfish, self-centered hate and rage. And blame no one’s willing to take. It’s times like this that push us closer to the edge…

    Please take a moment to listen to kindness and love. Soothe your aching heart. This is a Chuck Wild (Liquid Mind) song called Awakening. I guarantee it will comfort you…