Category Archives: Essays

You Can’t Control Blue

It’s that time of year when we teach our youth the critical lessons needed for success in life:

1) adults make the rules

2) adults are nuts

Yes, it’s a new season of little league baseball! And it’s not the game we played as kids.

After a long winter practicing team chants, inventing new insults, reliving last summer’s great plays, and playing pitch and catch at the neighbors, the adults return to their own houses to prepare 10 year-olds for the hard life of baseball and the hardball of life.

Teams are assembled, uniforms are purchased, and beer and sunflower seeds are stockpiled. Treat-Mom schedules are emailed and immediately lost. Team names are chosen to convey the power, the influence, and the ruthless nature of the sport and to intimidate opponents and entertain the fans. Common monikers are Yankees, Cardinals, Swamp People, Dynasty Ducks, Magic Mikes, Congressional Oversighters, Middleclass Income Gappers, Mortgage Derivative Regulators, and Common Monikers.

A great metaphor for life, baseball has many pertinent lessons expressed as pithy sayings like “GOOD EYE!” This one is used when a pitcher throws a fastball which careens off the batter’s ankle resulting in shouts at the pitcher from angry Dads, the third base coach sarcastically yelling “GOOD EYE!”, and many tears shed when the umpire detects that the ricocheting ball somehow got past his own crotch guard. A parent then yells, “WALK IT OFF, BLUE!” and everyone laughs at the apt, yet oddly ironic, conventional nickname for the home plate umpire.

Today’s season-opener is between the Dirtbags and the visiting Turdbuckets. After the first throw, chants begin immediately:

You can’t CATCH

You can’t PITCH

Yo’ Mamma is a lousy…COOK!

This irritates a team mother who complains to the local league officer who admonishes Blue to quit taunting the batter.

Every little league game is a ruthless and fun battle between umpires, opposing teams, parents, coaches, fans, and frequently the concession stand attendee. These battles are often fraught with innings, idiots, and idioms:

  • GOOD SWING! Encouragement for a batter with no chance of hitting a ball. Ever.
  • BIG STICK. A successful team Dad who is very popular.
  • PLAY DEEP. Team Dad expanding his horizons and anticipating opportunity.
  • FIRST BASE. Opposing-teams parents exchanging greetings.
  • SECOND BASE. Opposing-teams parents exchanging phone numbers.
  • THIRD BASE. Opposing-teams parents sharing Fierce Grape Gatorade, unconcerned about cross-contaminating fluids.
  • OK, YOU’VE SEEN IT; NOW GIVE IT A RIDE! Player encouraged to hit the ball hard. (Also used by some team parents during off-season “strategy sessions”. (See HOME RUN and SCREWBALL).
  • SWITCH-HITTER. Mom who alternates coaching girls and boys teams.
  • PLAYING FOR OTHER TEAM. Curious Dad wanders onto adjacent ballfield to see if that game is more fun.

At many games you can hear those expressions used in polite adult conversation near the restrooms:



“Good swing!”


“Big stick!”


Wanna play deep sometime?”

“Sorry. I play for the other team.”

Back at the game, four innings elapse with these stats: three Dirtbags homeruns, seven Turdbuckets RBIs, and one black eye when the left fielder is hit in the ear by a wild pitch, and a team Dad punches the first base coach who neglects to contest Blue’s strike call.

In the game’s best play, the Dirtbags’ shortstop, “Long” O. Verdue, fields a “skupper”, which takes a nasty “philben” near second base. Meanwhile, the Turdbuckets player on first base starts running but neglects to tag-up on First first. This results in a technical “infield fly” ruling by Blue who was still adjusting his own infield fly from the earlier incident. The third base coach, way off base himself due to untreated bi-polar disorder, sadistically “waves-on” the hitter who rounds second base. A massive collision happens between Third and Home involving Blue, the runner, and two Dirtbags parents who were “playing the field” near the foul line. A brief timeout is called to sort-out the carnage, five runs are awarded to the Turdbuckets, and the offending parents are ejected from the game for “taking one for the team” behind the bleachers.

When the infield dust clears, the treats are distributed, the post-game critiques are delivered, and the Ump has iced his groin, everyone looks forward to the next matchup. A Turdbuckets Mom taunts a team Dad, “You can’t control Blue; you can only control YOU!”, and in true game spirit fists fly while the kids amusedly watch the enfolding “sportsmanship lesson”, munch Ding Dongs, and discuss the alarming increase in Major League steroid use.

It’s a whole new ballgame, folks!

Blue Moon

I enjoy the sky at twilight, about an hour after sunset. Tonight Venus shines brightly, the early Evening Star, the Planet of Love. On such a summer night exactly 28 years ago—when I was 28—my daughter was born.

The hospital was in chaos, and the nurses scampered hurriedly between rooms. During one brief visit to check our progress and administer an epidural anesthetic, the nurse said, “Damn these full moon nights! I don’t care what anyone says; more babies are delivered during full moons. I know it’s a fact. Your doctor will be in later because he’s got two other mothers here ready to pop. It’s going to be helluva night. Just relax. You’re not ready yet.” The mother-to-be was not amused.

I’ve learned that people are born who they are. You don’t realize it until later, but you piece it together: a smile, a look, a demeanor, a turn-of-phrase. They say people don’t change.

A half hour later the nurse came. “Nope, you’re only 8 centimeters, but you’re getting close. Doc is elbows-deep delivering Mrs. B. I’ll be back.” Down the hallway we could hear the other pregnant ones screaming. My wife’s eyes got as big as the moon. People scurried past our door, and we realized that babies keep their own schedules.

Forty-five minutes later a different nurse and a doctor arrived. Not our doctor. “Sorry, Doc is delivering Mrs. C now. He should be in soon, but, hell, another mother just checked-in. I hate this.” The stand-in doctor, a new Resident, looked bewildered and a bit frightened. The nurse said, “Damn, you’re at 10 centimeters and you’re going to deliver!” Then, to the child-Resident, “Take over here! I’ll go get Doc.” My wife loudly hollered many profanities.

Suddenly, Doc came in and said, “STOP YELLING! You’re scaring my other patients!” Then he quickly left. I never even realized I had been yelling. After five minutes, Doc came back and studied the situation. “What is going on here! This place is crazy! But don’t worry, you’re ready now. PUSH! PUSH! This baby doesn’t want to come out! Give me the forceps!” My wife PUSHED as the metal device clamped around something’s unseen skull. After 10 minutes of pulling, twisting and twisting-while-pulling, there was still no baby. The pregnant one was now resigned to deliver something hideous that was part man, part machine with a wrung neck.

Then Doc said to the Resident, “Get the scissors and cut the perineum here. HURRY!” With shaky hands, the newborn doctor approached, realizing he was being called upon to do surgery on his first time out of the chute. “Don’t worry, we need to make a small cut to enlarge the birth canal. DO IT NOW! HERE!” Doc yanked on the forceps. Then he said, “This baby is stressed. I’m going to pull like hell one more time, and if that doesn’t work we’ll have to do a Cesarean.” Resident turned green. With one mighty last pull, and in a flood of blood and guts, out came my reluctant daughter into the world. My wife’s head spun around. I puked into my own mouth. Resident changed careers.

In my wife’s room an hour later, our daughter was brought amidst a flurry of chattering nurses. She had long black hair with the family birthmark patch of white on her forehead. “We would have brought her sooner, but the nurses downstairs had to come see her. We’ve never seen a baby with so much unusual hair in two colors!” The nurse gave her to her mother. My daughter calmly opened her eyes and looked around as if deciding whether she wanted to stay and eat or to immediately start investigating her new world. We are who we are.

That night I left the hospital before the sun arrived. I looked at the sky. The second full moon of that month, a “blue moon”, glowed in the west, outshining the stars and illuminating a new, proud father.

Today, 28 years later, I still see in my daughter the person she was that night: an independent, observant, smart, lovely woman with lots of hair. Unique and rare, like a Blue Moon.

May that beautiful little girl continue to shine on brightly in you, wonderful daughter.

Happy birthday!

Collecting Astronauts

Since I was five years old, I’ve collected astronauts.  I never intended to do that; I just find them without really trying.

My collection isn’t large, but it has some interesting coincidences.  Here are the statistics:

  • I’ve collected five astronauts.
  • I’ve had a few “near misses” as we say in the rocket business.
  • I’ve had a few Kevin Bacon-like connections to astronauts.
  • Three of the rocketeers are among the 12 humans who have walked on the Moon
  • One is known for barfing a lot on the Space Shuttle.

I thought my daughter might one day be in my collection.  For 20 years I’ve been suggesting she attend astronaut school.  When she was about 10, I’d frequently tell her, “If you start now, study your math and science, and become a pilot, you could be the first woman commander on a Mars mission when you’re about 40.”   She never liked that idea.

John Glenn is not in my collection yet either.  As I write this, we note the 50th anniversary of America’s first orbital flight made by Glenn on February 20, 1962.  If my math is correct, he’s now 90 and I’m 54, so there’s not much time left for me to run into him.

A “Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon” type incident:  Alan Shepard took America’s first space flight—a sub-orbital flight in April, 1961.  In the early 1990’s I was in a line at a pizza joint in Phoenix, where I started a conversation with two elderly twin sisters.  I learned that one sister had been Alan Shepherd’s secretary in his test flight days at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, probably back in the late 1950’s.  About fifteen years later Shepard walked on the Moon as the Apollo 14 mission commander.

Remember Buzz Aldrin?  We’ve all seen him on TV literally dancing with figurative stars, but who remembers that he figuratively danced with literal stars back in 1969 as the second man to walk on the moon?  I never got him in my collection either.  But I did meet his Apollo 11 colleague, Michael Collins.

I followed Collin’s Apollo 11 flight carefully in July, 1969 when I was 12.  At the time, I was flying my own cross-country mission with my father in his Navion airplane.  At every evening stop I’d find a black and white TV to get Apollo updates.  I saw the moon walk on a grainy black and white TV picture in a Boise, Idaho hotel room.  Collins was in his room on Moon orbit, but he didn’t have any video of the landing.

In 1974, when I was 17 and working at a Delaware beach condo community as the resident property manager, a friend there told me he had heard that astronaut Michael Collins was vacationing there with his family.  Collins had invited me to dinner.  My friend said that I was to not bug the astronaut with a lot of questions because he was relaxing with his family.  I had dinner at his vacation beach house with his wife and son.  I knew much about Apollo 11, but there were still of lot of questions I would have asked.  But I followed protocol.  This bugged me for the next 30 years, and after I read Collin’s 1974 book “Carrying the Fire”, I found a first edition copy and decided to track him down and ask for a book autograph.  I found him and sent him a letter with the request.  He graciously answered my letter, in which he remembered the beach incident and he instructed me where to send the book, which he then autographed for me.

Who knows astronaut John Young?  I bet not one in 100,000 Americans do, but we all should.  For a time, my work for a NASA contractor regularly took me to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where I watched on closed-circuit TV the first flight of the Space Shuttle in 1981.  That flight was piloted by John Young.  Later he also commanded Shuttle flight 9.  He was also on the first manned flight after Project Mercury ended–the Gemini 3 flight in the 1960’s.  He rode Gemini 10 with Michael Collins, he was the first person to orbit the Moon alone courtesy of Apollo 10, and then he even walked on the Moon later via Apollo 16.   He also walked in space 3 times.  And let’s not forget that before becoming an astronaut, he was a Naval Aviator and jet test pilot.  Young was the only person to ever fly four different types of spacecraft—the Gemini two-man craft, the Apollo Command Module, the Apollo Lunar Module and the Space Shuttle.  He’s still around too; he’s in his 80’s and was still flying jets a few years ago (and maybe still is).  One time my friend and former NASA colleague, who also collects astronauts, spotted Young at Johnston Space Flight Center in Houston.  He said to his wife, “Hey, that’s John Young!  He walked on the moon!”  How often do you recognize somebody out walking around on Earth who’s also walked on the Moon?

In about 1990 I was staying at a Bed and Breakfast in Cedar City, Utah and attending the  Utah Shakespearean Festival.  One morning I heard a commotion downstairs at the first breakfast shift.  When I showed up, I learned I had just missed having breakfast with Harrison Schmitt, who was regaling everyone with tales of his Apollo 17 geology moon walk and handing out autographed photos.

My last and most recent discovery is Jake Garn.  A former Navy pilot and US Senator from Utah, he also rode Space Shuttle mission STS-51D in April, 1985 as a “guest payload specialist”.  Although he had some duties on the Shuttle, he is best remembered as being the sickest-ever space flyer.  Garn blew so many vacuous space chunks in space vacuum that NASA even created the informal “Garn Scale”, which assigns a number from 1 to 10 indicating the level of space sickness incapacity.  Reportedly, Senator Jake puked-in at a “Garn 13”, having been so sick that he was even off his own scale.

In about 1983, I spotted a 1940’s vintage Navion airplane at Utah airport.  I discovered the owner was Jake Garn.  Years later when I decided to buy a Navion, I sent a letter asking him if his plane was for sale.  It was not, but he offered me a flight, which we took together in 2008.  He had changed the registration number of his plane to N51D in memory of his Space Shuttle flight STS-51D.

Jake Garn’s Navion N51D

Shuttle STS-51D Mission Patch on Navion

That’s my astronaut collection.  So what’s next in space flight?

China purportedly intends to build a space station, and China and Russia talk about sending people back to the moon. NASA announced that it is looking for the next batch of astronauts to perhaps go to the Moon and Mars.  More likely, these people will be the US custodians of the International Space Station who will hitch rides on old Soviet-era hardware.  Previous orbital scientific research tells us that we can expect about 10% of them to throw-up in space sometime during their careers. Meanwhile, US companies continue to develop and test new hardware and technologies.  We are entering a new era of commercialized space flight, with a new batch of crazy people riding rockets and with new technologies advanced by companies with names like Space Exploration Technologies, Stratolaunch Systems, Virgin Galactic and even Armadillo Aerospace.  The purpose of manned space flight is transitioning from research and exploration to tourism.  I guess it had to happen, but Armadillo?  Seriously?  Instead, I’d suggest a name like Garn Virgin Road-Kill Stratolaunch Enterprises.

It may be a long time before another American carries the fire like Michael Collins did. I’ll maintain my vigilance.  You never know what former or future astronaut is out there walking around. And NASA, if you still want to go to Mars, call my daughter.  She’s available.


A kid’s first baseball game is a magical memory.  My son and I were prepared.  Last summer’s hours of pitching and catching in the front yard made for a strong arm and accurate throws.  He had improved too.

“Let’s go to a Buzz game, and I’ll show you a trick,” I explained.  “If you secretly wave to the batter so that no one else sees, he’ll try to hit a foul ball to you.”  My boy grinned, already imagining his souvenir catch.  “Hmm,  perhaps that wasn’t a great idea,” I admitted to myself.

We sat midway down the third base line in prime foul territory.  My analysis had told me that many of the Buzz batters are lefties, and that most foul balls result from late swings.  We were perfectly positioned.

Halfway through our foot-long hot dogs, we heard thwack!  A batter fouled one right toward us.  The ball veered and came to rest in the hands of a guy a few seats to our right and two rows in front of us.  My son looked at me, astonished.  “Dad, can I go sit behind that guy?”

I smiled at youthful innocence.  “Sure, boy,”  I said.  We moved over and sat behind that lucky fan. “Remember to keep your eye on the ball at all times and keep your mitt up,” I reminded him.  After awhile, a different leftie batter walked up and took a few practice swings.  My boy caught his eye and secretly waved to him.  The ball was pitched, and the batter got a piece of it.  The foul ball whizzed right at us!  It bonked off an empty seat five rows in front of us, then zagged left, still flying.  The boy kept his eye on it.  The ball binked off a handrail and popped up in the air, came down and took a few bounces off the concrete, then began rolling down our row past at least six shoes, including mine, and right smack into the waiting mitt of my son, who had tracked that ball the entire way.

Now I was astonished. The batter took a few more practice swings and looked over in our direction.  I looked at my son, who was still admiring his catch. “What the hell,” I thought.  I caught the batter’s eye, raised my mitt and gave him a little wave.

The Sunday Paper

Now I read the Sunday paper like my father did, lazily, while sipping coffee.  As it was for me, my kids must now endure the agonizing hour until I finish reading before we have breakfast or embark on some family activity.

In my parents’ home on many summer weekends, the routine began early Saturday.  My father left at seven for a half day of drilling and filling teeth.  “I’ll meet you at the airport at one o’clock,” he’d say.  My siblings and I hurried through our chores, packed our overnight suitcases with swimsuits, clean underwear and little else and rushed Mom out of the house.  An hour later we piled into the family airplane and endured the routine hour flight to the Delaware coast.

Once on the ground at the grassy airport, it took another hour to gas up the junker car we kept there, stop at Safeway for groceries, and drive to the beach house.  We immediately clambered into our swim suits, and the rest of Saturday afternoon dissolved into timeless fun.  We swam in the waves until the smell of grilled hamburgers overcame the sea’s grip on us.  After dinner, as the ocean slowly turned dark, we followed-the-leader in the cooling air.  The sand squeaked under our feet, and we stretched our legs into Dad’s footprints.

Sunday mornings before breakfast dragged-on like the occasional foul weather day at the beach.  We got up early and drove a few miles to a boardwalk shop to buy a Washington Post.  After wolfing-down pancakes and sausages back at the house, my father sat on the ocean-side screened porch to drink his coffee and read the paper for another interminable hour of waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting, for we were forbidden to swim for what seemed like a year’s worth of boring headlines and stories of a complicated inland adult world.

Meanwhile, my brothers and I had already staked our claim on the beach with an umbrella and chair.  Finally, in his baggy swim trunks, a Playboy magazine in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, Dad appeared on the sand at nine, the day already half over.  We stayed in the waves until Dad raised an arm, his signal for us to advance back up-tide into starting position, with the house front door, the magazine and the beach umbrella all lined-up before us. The sun raced towards five o’clock when we were called back to slow time by the porch bell.  We showered, packed our clothes and cleaned the house.  An hour later we flew inland, away from ocean time.

Years later, suburban lawns overtook the runway pasture.  The beach house was sold, for after 20 years of flying to the beach my father wouldn’t tolerate four hours in a car.  That old plane is gone too, broken into so many aluminum scraps on a cold mountaintop where my parents finished their last hour, slowed to forever, so far from the warm and happy coast.

I think about those idyllic summer weekends.  I marvel how the years now seem as flickering minutes, traded places with those few, unbearably long hours of my youth.  I see that time passes, sometimes like the unnoticed background whisper of waves, sometimes with the immediate presence of an offshore gale.

In a dream I stand on our beach, up on a dune behind a rickety sand fence.  I’m an adult, fully clothed, and my feet are buried in the sand.  I cannot turn around to see the house, and I cannot get out of the sand to cross the fence.  I can only look out towards the mocking surf.  In the dream I realize I cannot go back in time, that sometimes it’s even difficult to look back, that I can only stare ahead at the passing rhythmic waves, the unreachable pulse of my past.  I look down.  There is a thick Sunday newspaper, sun-yellowed, half-covered in sand.  The pages snap irritably, and the headlines fade away on the hot summer breeze.

Osculating Orbits

I head for the patio and my monthly Cigar-Playboy-Tea ritual.  On the way to August’s “Biker-Babes” spread, I spot an article featuring the redheaded planet.  It describes a cult-like band of scientists who’ve been championing a Mars mission for two decades.  My boy pulls up a chair.

“See this?”  I show him a picture.  “Mars is pretty close to Earth this year, so we sent a spacecraft to land on it.  And these guys want to go too.”  I light the Don Diego and blow some smoke.

He looks at the magazine and flips a few pages.  “How long would it take them to get to Mars?”  He’s hip on Mars because we’ve been enjoying the new Pathfinder Mars Rover images on the internet.

“Well, it can take nine months or more to get to Mars.  So that’s a year and a half just in travel time for a round trip.  Figure you want to spend some time there doing experiments and exploring, you could be gone two years easy.”  I sip the hot Oolong, which nicely complements the Don.

“How do they get the spacecraft to Mars?”  He holds out his hand, palm up, flat and still like I taught him, like my father taught me.  I touch his palm with the tip of the cigar.  I partly break the ash at its base, which is still red-hot inside like a small planet, but cooled on the outer crust.  I balance the ash for only a second until its heat is just bearable, then let it drop.  Like an astronaut confidently riding a hot rocket, he grimaces, but bravely holds his hand steady until the ash cools.  He crushes it to Earth dust.

“It’s not easy getting there.  They have to use their engine to make the path of the spacecraft exactly match the path of Mars.”  When the two paths just touch, the spacecraft has arrived and can land on Mars.  I remember the term: osculating orbits, a periodic cosmic coincidence in space and time.

The boy holds out his hand for the last hot, expended ash-rocket.  We flip a few pages and look at the bikes and the babes, and contemplate the wonders of the universe.  Next month, like two planets on some orbital schedule, we’ll meet again on the patio.

The Theory of Everything

I was just starting to get my mind around the so-called “Theory of Everything” when I found a book written by a physicist on a second Theory of Everything.

Physicists have been working on the first Theory of Everything for much of the last century.  It seeks to explain the four fundamental forces of nature in one neat package.  These well-known forces produce all of the known effects in the Universe.  They are: the force that holds atomic nuclei together, the force responsible for radioactivity, the force governing the affects of electricity and magnetism, and the force of gravity.  There are individual theories that explain these forces, like Einstein’s General Relativity, which is a theory of Gravity, but there is not yet a whole theory that can account for both gravity and radioactivity, for example.

These theories are thought up by people called Theoretical Physicists.  It’s difficult to imagine what these people do everyday.  “Honey, I won’t be home for dinner tonight.  We can’t get this damn thing with Uranium and Jupiter to work out.”

And why is it important to have a Theory of Everything?  Don’t we have enough real-life problems to solve?  As Woody Allen put it, “I’m astounded by people who want to “know” the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.”

In his book, “The Fabric of Reality”, Oxford physicist David Deutsch explains why it’s important to have a good Theory of Everything.  He says a proper theory should explain things so that we get a better understanding of the world, in addition to correctly predicting the behavior of poorly understood phenomena.  His new Theory of Everything postulates the existence of multiple universes and predicts the possibility of time travel into the past.  If you were to travel into your past, you would end up in a parallel universe so that you could not inadvertently alter your future in your hometown universe.  Travel into your past could be problematic, however, if the parallel universe uses different street names and ZIP codes.

Deutsch believes that one day it will be possible to link together all the many theories of Physics – “to understand all that is understood” as he puts it– without cluttering our minds with all the facts.  Personally, I hope we will eventually have a Theory of Everything, and I’m content to let the theoretical physicists figure out how we should understand the Universe.  Then maybe the rest of us can devote more attention to finding a good Chinese restaurant.

Goldie and the Three Fishes

One Halloween I witnessed a conversation between two young teenage girls–my daughter Hailey and her friend Allison. I had just picked them up from another friend’s house, whose school orchestra concert they had attended, and we were driving through our neighborhood on our way home.

“Hi girls. How was the concert?”

“It was really fun,” said Hailey.

“Everyone dressed up in costumes,” said Allison.

“Cool,” I said.

“That’s Lonnie’s house,” said Hailey accusingly as we drove by.

“Oh, he’s so weird. They don’t even have TV!” said Allison.

“Did they play Halloween music?” I asked, trying to steer us back to the concert topic.

“You mean cable?” Hailey said, now multitasking between me and Allison.

No, they don’t even have a TV!” said Allison. “Nobody watches TV in that house!”

Hailey said, “Yeah, they played a lot of cool stuff, Dad” Then, to Allison, “My GOD, how do they LIVE?!”

Allison said, “I don’t know.  Hailey, I have threeeee fishes.”

At this point the conversation began to get more complicated, and it was hard for me to keep up. The girls continued to speak to me briefly when I tried to interact, as if I were a dog begging for attention, then they would quickly go back to their own conversation. The “three fishes” thing was some sort of inside joke.

“And he wears those strange pants,” said Hailey.

“Yeah, Gerbo’s, I think. Hailey, I have threeeee fishes.”

“Oh, don’t start that again, Allison!”

Allison said, “Their names are Goldie, Golda, and…I can’t think of another ‘gold something’ name.”

“Who was that other actress who played in that witch movie with Goldie?” Hailey said.

“Brett somebody,” said Allison.

I thought I’d be hip and show the girls I knew who “Goldie” was and tell them something interesting about her.  “I remember Goldie Hawn got her start on a show in the 60’s called Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In“, I said. “She’d say funny things like, ‘You bet your bippy’ and ‘Now that tickled my fancy!’”

Ignoring me, Hailey said to Allison, “No, it wasn’t Bette Midler.”

I continued, “I think the movie was called Death Becomes Her. Goldie’s been in a lot of movies.”

“No, Dad, that’s not the one. I’ve never even seen that movie.”

Allison giggled. “I have threeeee fishes.”

“Allison, STOP THAT!” Hailey yelled.

Practically talking to myself now, lost in fond blonde memories, I said, “Goldie was only 23 at the time. She’s still a babe now at 55, though.”


Throwing me a bone, Allison said, “I’ve never even heard of Laughing In”.

I felt smug as we pulled up to Allison’s house and she got out of the car.

Hailey said, “Call me in a few minutes when I get home.”

I said, “Why? I’ll be at home with you.”


When I was 11 years old, watching Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin and Goldie, I came to appreciate comic dialog. Now I hear a lot of funny teenager conversations as I drive the girls around town. Sometimes I try to participate, but often my mind just wanders off to Goldie. Now that tickles my fancy.

Time and Money

I have a free hour now so I will share my thoughts about time and money. They say, “It’s not how much money you make that matters; it’s how much you keep”. They also say, “We all have about the same amount of time; what’s important is how you use it”. We adults always think we don’t have enough time or money.

A kid doesn’t worry about time or money. Kids live in the moment, and they use the resources they have. Kids’ time is frequently unstructured, and they spend it freely on things that delight them, nourish them, teach them, all without worrying where the next batch is coming from or how much of it there will be.

Years ago it was springtime in my second-grader son’s classroom. In typical adult fashion, we had all recently moved our clocks ahead one hour. (Time Lost!)  My son’s teacher thought she would use this adult-contrived event to teach a lesson. I imagine she tried to convey why we adults perform this crazy ritual every spring and then reverse it every fall. (Think of the collective time we’ve all wasted over the years setting and resetting all our clocks). I imagine she asked, “Children, what happens to the hour that we lose every year in the spring?” I’m sure the kids must have thought, “What is this woman talking about? We barely even know how to tell time by the clock. We prefer to measure time by how many frogs we can catch before dinner.” (Of course, they think these thoughts using smaller words and substitute “lighting bottle rockets” for “catching frogs”).

Eventually the teacher’s blathering translates to an assignment (Work, Yuck!) and the students must write a story about the lesson learned. My son’s essay became my all-time favorite poem. He brought home his story in eight-year old scrawl. I read it, shocked. I then typed it, recasting it as a poem with some sensible line breaks, while exactly preserving his words. I added a title and mailed it to a local newspaper, where it was published and earned him two free movie tickets. Here’s the poem:

Daylight Savings Space-Time

Where does daylight savings time go in the spring?
Does it go into space,
Where a space creature finds it,
And asks its mother
To go swimming for an hour
With its friends?
And she says “yes”
In alien talk.

I think that’s a great poem, full of simple truth, philosophy and fun–and no worries. I often think of it and recite it out loud when I think I have neither enough time nor money.

Okay, it didn’t take me an entire hour to write this, but I’m not counting. What will you do with that next “free” hour that pops into your life? You could schedule it on some work activity. You could use it to fret about not having enough hours, or you could frivolously spend it by spending money that you should maybe keep instead.

I believe I’d go swimming.