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Bad Kitty! (Litter)


My local waste management men, good people who come to take the bags of leftovers and unwanted things from my house on a weekly basis, arrived earlier than expected this Tuesday, causing me to run out with a kitchen bag in one hand and box of half-eaten pie in the other. They love this kind of interaction, and so do I. I get to throw my trash into the massive truck, pretending, if just for a moment, to be one of their number. Meanwhile, they get to pull out a bag of spent cat litter from my garbage barrel in dramatic fashion and inform me that “we can’t take this.”

Huh? This is Boston, where they toss your neighbor’s threadbare sofa into the truck right along with the 1950s fridge you set out by the street. Need to trash an old washing machine? Put it by the curb. Oh, sure, some things require special pickup, but unless it’s an unexploded WWII munition, the city will eventually come and get it.

But not cat poo-poo and the little pellets into which the turdlets are laid to rest. “The chemicals set off the alarms at the dump.”

I see. Needless to say, I felt compelled to check with the city on this little-known ordinance, given that several hundred thousand other residents of Boston were likely putting their kitty pee-pee clumps in the trash as I was.

A quick call confirmed my suspicion that my friendly waste managers didn’t have all the facts: “Put it back out there. The inspector says they’ll come back to collect it.”

Of course they will. And while they’re at it, I have an oven I’ll like them to take.

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Dark Brown Wednesday


Is it too early to discuss what I’d like for Christmas? Seems unlikely, given that Black Friday now falls right smack in the middle of Holy Thursday, a day that marks the anniversary of cowboys from Dallas eating turkey with Indians from Cleveland.

Casting my thoughts well into the future, as I like to do, I have to imagine that in something like 130 years, when I’m on my third lab-grown heart, my second right kidney (the left one being somewhat famous internationally for being an original 1964 model that simply won’t quit), and my—well I won’t say which liver I’m on—the emotional “first shopping day of the Christmas season” will have inexorably crept so far backward in time that it will actually fall eight days before Thanksgiving – i.e. on a Wednesday.

So in that sense I’m actually late with this list. However, since having received a King’s Ransom of heather tips from Thanh, the only thing I really need is one of these contraptions.

Giving a lighter fluid-fueld hand warmer to a friend this holiday season will not only provide real warmth to someone you love, but will also help rid our nation of the excess butane we've accumulated in recent relatively smoke-free years (an unintended consequence of smoking-cessation programs).  

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Holey Bikepath Batman!


You must have been wondering what happened to me. Don’t I post every Sunday and Wednesday? Or Monday and Thursday? Or Tuesday and Friday?

Maybe I’ve been on vacation, or at some convention in Rio for obscure bloggers. Or maybe I was swallowed up by banks of Chinese computers that have decided to stop hacking into American retail outlet databases and have moved onto eating humans whole.

Or maybe I was in a bicycling accident.

Don’t worry, I’m OK. Despite the fact that you didn’t call. Check to make sure I’m OK. Still alive. Able to sit up and take nourishment.

Did I get hurt? Yes I did. But mostly, it was emotional pain. You might as well know: my life has been foreshortened by several (emotional) years. Here’s how it happened:

My dark and leaf-strewn bike route home, normally entirely safe, had been booby-trapped by natural forces. Arriving at the crest of a hill (at Perkins and Chestnut streets in Jamaica Plain, if you must know), I bore left (I want to say “beared left” but my computer and several other sources claim that’s incorrect) along the bike path and came upon a pair of joggers, running two-abreast (gosh it makes me blush to say that!). I moved the right to give them a bit of room, and they moved to the left for me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t far enough. As we crossed paths, my wheels slid off the edge of the leaf-covered bike path, which had narrowed where a hydrant was installed, sabotaging me. In an instant, I was on the ground, groping stupidly for my senses.

The joggers stopped to help. There wasn’t much for them to do but note that I had driven my bike into an unseeable hole.

This is all-too reminiscent of the injury my wife sustained as she rode off a bike path and fell to the ground heading up to the Mass Horticultural Society headquarters in Wellesley, MA fracturing a finger in the process and causing her ultimately to have her rings resized.

(But what, you wonder, was the extent of her emotional toll?)

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The Tale Of The Golden Key


The year 2014 may be remembered as the year in which I lost one of the two keys to my Mazda hatchback. In the driving days of my parents, when cars rusted out after a few short years or were otherwise planned for obsolescence, a lost key meant a trip to the hardware store, where another would be cut for a couple bucks. But now we are in a much improved era. The dealership tells me that a new key will run me $150. You laugh, nervously, as I did, not realizing that $150 is rather inexpensive; if you happen to own a Saab, a new key actually requires you to trade in a child (or, at minimum, a beloved pet).

It turns out that car keys are now made entirely by hand in northern Europe, where worker’s wages are indexed to the cost of private dachas in the Russian countryside, into which these highly valued employees are expected to disappear for their 25 weeks or so of vacation. The keys are encrusted with diamonds, then sent by private jet to the Vatican where the Pope blesses them. Oh, and there’s “a chip inside that communicates with the engine,” says my dealership. This, I’m told, is so no one can steal the car. (I’m willing to bet that thieves have figured out a work-around).

Of course, everything that I’ve heard from the IT community is that chips are getting tinier and cheaper. Unfortunately, they still only support Internet Explorer version 8. (That there is a little inside IT joke for you!).

I declined to buy a new key. Instead, I plan to lobby the Pope to have a sliding scale when it comes to blessing car keys. (Must come up with a pricing matrix for key-blessing. Needless to say, the Vatican will bleed those Tesla key owners dry!).

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