Category: Living

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Where Do They Go?

Every few nights I come down into my basement office—oh, about a half our after the lights go out—and kill crickets. Those pesky varmints are a real pain.

Occasionally, though, I’ll catch one about before the lights have gone out and kill it. Last night, like other times when I squashed one, I was too lazy to clean it up. Like other times, the cricket carcass disappeared overnight. 

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The Right Choice

My wife hauls me off to church every Sunday (and that’s not a bad thing). I teach Sunday school, which gets me out of the service. But last week, older kids organized a scavenger hunt for fourth through sixth graders (I teach the middleschoolers), so I had opportunity to sit in the service. Lucky, too.

The pastor announced she would step down at the end of December. After two-and-a-half years, she felt it was time to make room for new blood and a new way of doing things. I thought: “This is how it’s supposed to be”. 

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Why Be a Statistic?

For no particular reason, I looked at the Weddings page in today’s New York Times and all the happy faces there. Then I wondered how many of these marriages, sadly, would eventually end in bitter divorce. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the divorce rate is about half the marriage rate per 1,000 people.

As a teen, I read the humorous, sci-fi parody, Where Were You Last Pluterday?, by Paul Van Herck. For the main character, marriage was easy. But divorce was a complicated and expensive affair—and he had good reason! 

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Little Bun Runs

Unseasonably warm weather ended today, but not before the thermometer reached 23 degrees Celsius. On Sunday, with temperature about as high, my daughter took Little Bun (not the rabbit’s real name) out into the backyard.

Bun Bun (also a rabbit pseudonym) shares my basement office and gets frequent runs `round the backyard. She can hop—supervised, of course—out the open sliding glass door. Little Bun lives in my daughter’s bedroom, without access to the outside. 

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The Geography Lesson

I spent a good chunk of my twenties traveling, for reasons better explained some other time. One day—oh, winter 1985—I walked into a west Texas fast food place looking for cheap Mexican eats.

I’ve got to digress and talk about Texas towns and food, or what they were then. Pretty much any Texas town big enough to have a gas station has a Diary Queen. Rule goes: Every town in the Longhorn state has a Dairy Queen (It’s not true, I found one in southern Texas near the New Mexico border without a DQ. Of course, my last visit was years ago, and there might be one now). Restaurants are a good measure of just how many people live in a Texas town. First there’s the DQ (about 25 to 3,000-4,000 people) and next up is the Sonic (4,000-5,000 range or so). Pizza place means more people, etc. etc. 

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Army of the Stuffed

Today’s New York Times story, “They’re Soft and Cuddly, So Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck“, is a delightful sociological study of why stuffed animals adorn some trucks. Reporter Andy Newman asks, “Why do a small percentage of trucks and vans have filthy plush toys lashed to their fronts, like prisoners at the mast?”

He describes the bunnies and other stuffed critters as “soldiers in the tattered, scattered army of the stuffed: mostly discarded toys plucked from the trash and given new if punishing lives on the prows of large motor vehicles, their fluffy white guts flapping from burst seams and going gray in the soot-stream of a thousand exhaust pipes”. 

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Mittens and Shoes

This afternoon, on what turned out to be an uncharacteristically summer-like day, I walked toward the veterinarian’s office to see if Mittens the stray survived her fender bender. Turns out the real bender—chug-alug-lug—was the man who first came to our door about the car-struck cat. He walked back from the direction of the vet’s, in socks. No shoes! Sure the day was warm, but not for going down the street in socks.

Turns out he drank up overnight and someone stole his shoes and jacket, or so he claimed, during a blackout. “Could you help me out?” he pleaded. I felt somewhat entangled because of yesterday’s goodwill with the cat. The guy said he couldn’t go back to his “woman” without shoes. I decided to be generous, and gave him a good pair that I don’t wear anymore. He took the shoes and disappeared. I had my misgivings, because sometimes some people take advantage of generosity. 

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Mittens

Some days, people give me hope. About an hour ago, my wife rapped on my office door—sliding glass that goes from the basement into the backyard—and said, “Come here. There’s something I’ve got to show you”. Her body language suggested more, so I responded to the urgency.

A car had hit one of several feral cats that maraud the neighborhood. I had chased this animal, grey with white paws (mittens), out of the backyard whenever it stalked the wild squirrels. Now, the animal lay prone in the street, panting and meowing. 

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The Chair

In the winter of 1996, the World Wide Web had drawn big attention, but few businesses opened online shops. I placed an order that thoroughly amazed me, and later disappointed, because this one outfit did so well and I’ve rarely seen such good service since.

My family lived in northern Maine, returned home for what would prove only to be an 18-month adventure. I needed a new chair for my office, and the local stores sold selection that, well, failed to impress. Catalog ordering meant three weeks to delivery, according to the local office supply store, and I was too impatient. 

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The Housing Bubble Pops

Serious are the signs that the housing bubble has started rapid deflation here in the Washington, D.C., area. Summer 2004, my family chose not to purchase a house in Bowie, Md., because, even then, I was convinced that housing prices were way over-inflated. Since, I’ve warned plenty of people the end would rapidly come.

Earlier, I expected the housing bubble to stay inflated into 2006, but Hurricane Katrina’s widespread economic rumblings appear to have put on the squeeze. As recently as October, New York-market deflation forebode coming trouble.