July 2003 Archives

Off-Orrs-Island.jpgThis summer we went on vacation to Maine. It was lots of fun. We stayed near a town called Boothbay Harbor. It had lots of t-shirt shops and fat tourists. It had lots of seafood restaurants with names like McSeagulls. There was a lot there to amuse me.

You could buy lobster everything - lobster coasters, lobster slippers, lobster perfume, and lobster paintings. Most of the food was lobster food - lobster rolls, lobster stew, lobster bisque, lobster gazpacho, and lobster puffs. For a change of pace, you could eat crab.

I saw lots of really interesting people.

  • There was a couple who had obviously been eating lobster rolls for quite some time. They were shaped like cannon balls. The guy was carrying a little schnauzer-type dog in a baby sling. The dog was wearing a sailor hat. They fit right in.
  • There was a huge SUV that pulled to the curb in Freeport, ME, just opposite L.L. Beans. It was like a clown car for fat women. One fat lady after another popped out. Each one had to adjust her pants after she hit the sidewalk. They all walked right past the store entrance and went into Ben & Jerrys. It was 10 a.m.
  • I saw a yuppie man in a Banana Republic outlet. He had to go find his wife each time he tried on a shirt. She would tell him if it was okay to buy. When it came time to buy pants, he crumbled. She sent him off to look at fleece in the Patagonia outlet. She bought the pants in this family. He probably makes $150,000 a year but cant buy his own pants.
  • There were lots of people walking around with sweatshirts with lobsters on the front, but most looked like whales from the back. There were boats that charged $30 to go on a whale watch. I saw mine for free.

The weather was fog. Fog rolled in and fog rolled out. There was thick fog and thin fog. Once the sun came out but it was still foggy. The local people would all say, Yup, its foggy.

I saw a house right on the water at Linekin Bay. It had badly weathered shingles. It had a leaky roof. It had no heat. It cost $2,499,000.00

We took a ride 30 miles down the coast to the Harpswell Peninsula. There were no t-shirt shops. There were no giant lobster sculptures outside of the restaurants. The sun came out. Thats where I want to go on vacation next summer.

The Maine Course


lobster.bmp Now that we�ve put all this time, sweat and money into the house and it is done exactly as we dreamed it would be, it is time to leave. Nancy and I will be away on a short vacation next week at the Five Gables Inn in East Boothbay, Maine. I think that it is named after the famous movie actor and his four dwarfs - Clark, Lumpy, Pimples, Fetid, and AnnofGreen, but I'll know better once we arrive. It looks to be a very lovely place.

You are not allowed to vacation in Maine without eating copious amounts of seafood - lobster in particular. I�m told that they pump your stomach at a mandatory stop on I-95 South as you are leaving the state. If partially digested seafood is not located in the sample, you have to suck down a clam in order to pass. Actually, no one has told me any such thing, but I had a nightmare along those lines the other night. The reason for the nightmare is relatively simple - I don�t much like seafood. Give me crab cakes or broiled scallops and I�ve reached my limit. An occasional tuna steak can hit the spot. But bake some haddock, broil some mackerel, or serve me a raw clam and you might as well me feeding me grubs and worms. I�ve tried lobster and can�t understand the attraction. To me, crustaceans are just a teensy evolutionary step away from giant insects and that�s too close for comfort.

coelacanth.bmp All of the restaurants and inns we have investigated on the Web display menus chock full of the red monsters. You can slide by with plain old billed/broiled/steamed lobster, but you get added points for the more esoteric menu items. This is my chance to break out of my seafood phobia. I�m going to try the lobster oatmeal for breakfast and I�m drooling over one of those cod smoothies. I didn�t see any whale blubber or coelacanth burgers, but if they have �em, I�ll be game. (Oh wait, we only watch whales now).

When I hit that stop on I-95 next Thursday, they�ll be proud of me.

600 Rounds a Minute of Fun

gatling-gun.jpg Invented around the time of the Civil War, it was the first real machine gun. It's inventor (Dr. Richard Gatling) thought that it would make war so horrible as to end all war. It was used by the U.S. military until 1911. Modern versions are used on attack helicopters and other aircraft. Ask any Afgan or Iraqi soldiers who were foolish enough to resist invasion if they are still effective. Then again, they are probably dead and would not be able to give you much info.

Now you can have one "in your office or den" and "will be the envy of everyone". If you have the $3,750 for the gun and the additional $1,500 for the optional artillary carriage, that is.

Here's how I'd use it in my den or office:
- Popping off a few hundreds rounds to announce to my guests that dinner is served.
- Blowing out (away) those birthday candles.
- Driving home my point at that staff meeting.
- Obliterating that damned annoying phone that bleats, gobbles, and honks.

When Nature Calls

I recently decided to buy a knife sharpening kit so that I could put an edge on our kitchen cutlery that would actually slice a tomato rather than puree it. After a bit of on-line research, I found what I wanted and ordered it thorugh Cabela's, one of the biggest outdoor equipment suppliers in the country. (They were the cheapest.)

Along with my order came a magazine for outdoor enthusiasts full of handy articles on bass fishing, bow hunting, Elk calling, and the like. None of these are in my realm of outdoor activites, as I am not comfortable posing with dead things at the end of a day in the woods. But the ads were just great. Here's one of my favorites.

There are two really important features of this phone that completely floor me.

First is the substitution of wild animal noises for the ringer.
- "Hoot, hoot, hoot" - Honey, will you get that...
- How many gobbles before the answering machine picks up?
- Is that the phone or is dad blowing his nose?

And then there's the camouflage. Are you supposed to be able to hide this thing in the den? Place the charger in the potted plant and have fun watching family members trying to bushwhack their way to the ringing, I mean quacking, handset? Maybe no one's supposed to be able to tell that you are on the phone (as long as you deftly place leaves and tall grasses in your hair).

This is a real phone. It's the Motorola MA357 Cordless Phone. It just might be that you know someone who owns this phone... but I bet you never noticed.

The Wal-Mart Conundrum


This is in no way a scientific observation. In order to be accurate in this assertion, I'd have to travel the length and breadth of America, stopping at Wal-Marts in small towns, big cities, and rural communities. Id have to take meticulous counts and run careful statistical analysis. I have no desire to do that, especially after what I am about to reveal. But there is one glaring thing that always strikes me when I go shopping at Wal-Mart - there is an unusually high percentage of people with few or no teeth and a correspondingly high percentage (with significant overlap) of people who are grossly overweight.

Why is this? (other than the obvious answer about the state of American waistlines in general) Why do a disproportionate number of these folks gravitate toward Wal-Mart? Why not K-Mart? I live near a town with both stores within 3 miles of each other. On occasions where I have had to go to both stores to find a particular item, Ive noted a marked difference in the dental and adipose propensities of the shoppers. I can understand why Target doesnt get this crowd - Michael Graves doesnt design denture cups - but just change the colors from blue to red or red to blue and you cant tell a K-Mart from a Wal-Mart - and yet this is definitely a Wal-Mart phenomenon.

The chart below shows a simple Venn diagram of my observations. Have any social anthropologists done research in this field? Id love to know the answer.

Note the 40/60 tooth-to-fat ratio and the 15% overlap in both categories.

WMD - Part 1 in a series


The current administration, the CIA, and the Pentagon still can't seem to find those pesky weapons of mass destruction that they "knew" were in Iraq just last February. All the hoopla about WMD in Iraq has diverted attention from the fact that hundreds of WMD have been unleashed in this country during the twentieth century. Not that a good republican government would recognize them as such, but it is plain to see that millions of Americans have died or suffered permanent injury as a result of this stuff.

So every once in a while I'm going to point them to some WMD locations that I seem to stumble across every day living in the USA.


Actually, McDonalds is just symbolic of the methods used by a multitude of fast food and chain restaurants to kill thousands of Americans each year. The portion size, fat content, and number of calories in the average fast food meal would feed an Afgan family for a week. Supersize anyone?

One half of all American's are overweight and half of them are obese. In the 1960s, just as fast food began to take off in America, 5% of adolescents were overweight. Today the number is close to 13%. Start ringing up the resulting heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and other results and you've got a pretty convincing WMD. Dick Cheney is a victim and he doesn't even know it.


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