Category Archives: Stories


Traffic going to and from work has been pretty bad this week. I expect it’ll be much better the next two weeks as everyone does the usual year-end “use it or lose it” vacation, but that’s next week. Today, I was sitting in four lanes of pretty much bumper-to-bumper traffic. That’s when I heard the sirens.
Sitting in traffic like that, sirens are rarely a good thing. I figured this must mean it was a fairly recent accident, and I was going to be sitting there for a while until they got things sorted out enough to direct traffic around it.
I glanced over at the passenger-side rear-view mirror and saw a group of police motorcycles and squad cars driving down the shoulder of the road. They don’t typically put motorcycles out on the highway during rush hour, and you hardly ever see them at all this time of year.
I then realized, this wasn’t an accident response, this was a motorcade! Motorcades are a dime-a-dozen in this area, but they’re far more common downtown or going between downtown and one of the airports. You never see them in my part of “Sprawlsville.” And who would put a motorcade on a major highway during rush hour?
So I watched the first officer zip by on his motorcycle, followed by another and another. The guy riding on the last motorcycle in the group stood out from the rest. It was a police motorcycle like the others, but this guy was huge and unlike the officers on the other motorcycles, he had a beard flapping in the wind and was dressed in a bright red outfit with white trim….
I had a huge grin on my face once I realized what was going on. The motorcade was for Santa!!
As I watched the motorcade continue down the highway, a bit of Christmas magic happened and traffic got a whole lot better.
It was a terrific start to the day.


A piece of my stir-fry didn’t go down quite the right way with the result that I had a minor coughing fit.

Throughout the incident, Wylie looked at me with a look of grave concern, clearly worried. From the way he held himself, it was clear that there was only one thing on his mind:

If you choke to death, can I have your dinner?

Watch This!

I bought a new watch a year or two back and it’s mostly run well. A few months ago, I started having problems where it would periodically lose several hours, but it wasn’t a constant thing. Last Wednesday though, the digital date display stopped working and by Friday morning, the entire thing was dead.

Taking the back off took about 20 minutes work a couple small screwdrivers, finding a replacement battery wasn’t overly complex either and swapping the new battery for the old was 10-15 minutes work.

I’ve spent the last two or three days trying unsuccessfully to put the cover back in place. Finally today I took two pairs of pliers, put tape on the ends to prevent scratching, and tried squeezing the pieces back together that way. The only thing I achieved was to chip the crystal.

Going online, I discovered that I’m not the first to encounter this difficulty. The current crop of Timex watches are apparently notorious for this problem. It turns out that the preferred method of replacing the cover is to clamp the entire thing in a vise!!!

I don’t own a vise, but I do have a C-clamp. After a bit of digging, I managed to locate it (Now if I could only find my electric blanket!). I put the watch between two paint stirrers and tightened it up in the clamp.
That did the trick! Now there’s a much bigger crack in the crystal*.

But at least the back is staying on.

*I’ve had worse. The previous watch was scratched across the entire left side by the time it was replaced. But next time I won’t tighten the clamp so much.

Update: November 9, 2022 Looking back over the intervening years, I’ve moved away from battery-powered watches altogether. My preferred watch these days is self-winding or “automatic” (a strange adjective to be sure). By removing the need to replace a battery, I have also greatly increased the lifespan of my watches.

Dog Park

In order to shake up the routine a bit (and Lord knows, the routine needs shaking), I’m planning to take Wylie to the dog park this weekend. In order to avoid any scheduling conflicts, I asked Wylie what he thought of the plan.

Wylie’s response was, “‘Dog Park’? I was thinking ‘toga party’, but sure, the Dog Park would be fun too.”

I have to admit, Wylie’s idea would definitely shake things up, but with Talk Like a Pirate Day coming up the following weekend, I’m not sure throwing a party this weekend is practical.

It does go to show however that some things never change.


Before going to bed on Sunday night, I set the alarm clock for 6:40. (On the weekends, I tend to set it for a little later, so on Sunday I have to set it back to my weekday schedule.)

I woke up this morning and after a few moments started wondering if I’d somehow awoken before the alarm. It’s been known to happen, but given how late it was by the time I actually fell asleep (around 3:30 or 4:00), that didn’t seem too likely.

So I pried myself out of bed and looked at the clock.


Oh crap.

(Actually, the phrase that went through my mind was not “oh crap”, but it did contain the same number of letters .)

The indicator showed that the alarm was definitely set. Had I slept through it? (This has also been known to happen, particularly when I’ve had trouble falling asleep the night before.)

For whatever reason, I pushed the button to check what time the alarm was set to go off.

It was set for 6:40 alright. But here’s the interesting part: it turns out there are two 6:40s in the day, and they’re not equivalent.

Who knew?

Mr. Right.

I had a doctor’s appointment this past Thursday. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a routine checkup. During the course of things, the doctor asked me when I’d last had a tetanus shot.

I don’t like getting shots. They hurt, and things that hurt become things you avoid. This is why I didn’t play with the cigarette lighter in my parents’ car a second time.

So I briefly considered answering with a vagary about knowing I’d had a tetanus shot, but not being certain of the exact date. And since even if it has been a while, a doctor can’t compel you to take an injection, I also momentarily considered declining.

Tetanus is a infection of the central nervous system caused by bacteria entering through an open wound. The mechanism of infection which people most commonly talk about seems to be “stepping on a rusty nail,” but really, any injury resulting in an open wound will suffice.

Tetanus can lead to lockjaw, a condition which just sounds nasty. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never run across a formal definition of the condition, but I’ve always imagined it to mean that you can’t open your mouth to eat, drink, or speak. And although my friends might appreciate a respite from my wisecracks, being unable to communicate always leaves me frustrated.

Of course I consented to the tetanus shot.

If you were to ask me what the most likely injection site would be for a given treatment, I’d almost certainly get it wrong.

About 16 years ago, I spent six months dating a girl who owned a cat. I’m allergic to cats. Or rather, I’m very allergic to cats. But I liked this girl, so I went to the doctor to see about getting my allergies treated. After a short consultation, the doctor said he would send a nurse in to give me an allergy shot and that would take care of the problem.

A few minutes later, the nurse came in. As I’ve said before, I’m not wild about shots, but I liked that girl. Plus, the nurse was a woman about my age, and not at all unattractive. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? So I rolled up my sleeve.

That’s when she explained that allergy shots don’t go in your arm. They go elsewhere and yes, I would have to lower my pants in the back.
I looked the nurse right in the eye and asked, “Does your mother know you do this?” Turns out her mother was also a nurse.

The girl with the cat broke up with me a month later.

I was a bit apprehensive about the tetanus shot. I was pretty sure the discomfort of the injection would be short-lived, but what I’ve failed to mention until now is that the doctor in question was not just a doctor, she was also a woman.

Luckily, before I could learn whether her mother was also a doctor, much less begin to lower anything, she explained that the tetanus shot would be injected into my upper arm (Whew!) and then asked if I had a preference which one.

I’m right-handed. I write with my right hand, pick up the phone with my right hand (and move it to the left in case I need to write something), and just generally use my right hand for quite a number of tasks. I’ve been known to go through an entire meal holding the fork with my left hand, but I mainly do that just to see who notices. (Did you know that most Americans repeatedly switch the fork between their two hands during a meal? This is an almost uniquely American trait.)

So the decision was to get the injection in the upper part of my left arm. The doctor warned me that it would be sore the next day, but the injection itself was about as painless as it could be.

When I woke on Friday morning, my upper left arm was a little sore. It wasn’t too bad though and really only bothered me when I reached for things. Getting ready to take Wylie out for his morning walk, I quickly realized I should use my right hand to get the leash out of the closet and that would be the end of my discomfort for the day.


Taking a shower before leaving for work, I reflexively reached for the shampoo using my left hand. Getting in the car, I used my left hand to put my lunch bag in the passenger seat. And over the course of the workday, I was frankly astonished by how often I was reaching up to get things out of the desk’s overhead compartment. A compartment which, as you’ve doubtless guessed, was to my left.

Z. and I were planning to go kayaking this morning, or as I call it, “Falling out of boats.” Z. says it’s pretty hard to fall out of a kayak and promised that if I did somehow manage to fall out, she wouldn’t laugh. Not much anyhow. (With all the styrofoam they pack into the bow and stern, it’s also supposed to be pretty hard to sink a canoe. But I’ve done it.)

We ended up canceling those plans because the weather forecast was calling for rain due to Hurricane Bill spinning Northward. If we hadn’t, the authorities would have needed to evacuate the area due to record rains causing even the high grounds to flood. Instead, it’s quite bright out.

It’s just as well though, my left arm is still sore and anytime I use it to reach for anything, I’m promptly reminded about the tetanus shot.
As a consequence of the tetanus shot, now more than ever, I don’t qualify to use “Lefty” as a nickname. So gather up your unattached female friends and let know: I’m Mr. Right.

Waving Goodbye!

Whether I’m heading out for the office, or just a few errands, I usually give Wylie some sort of treat before leaving the house.

Wylie’s reaction to this ritual is mostly bored disinterest with the occasional wistful “when will you be back so I can get my ears skritched?” sort of look. He does get excited about the treats though and makes them disappear before I finish putting the gate up.

When I left to run some errands this afternoon though, Wylie’s reaction was something I’d never seen before — He waved goodbye! He immediately started sniffing at the treats, but then he waved a second time. And again! Just a short flapping of his left paw, the sort of “goodbye” wave that children give.

Genuinely surprised by this new behavior, I went to give Wylie a quick skritch on the head to let him know the gesture was appreciated and that I’d see him again soon. Wylie waved goodbye yet again, and now I was able to see what was going on.

That little clown had somehow got his dewclaw hooked on his collar and now he couldn’t get it loose! What I’d been seeing as a series of “waves” were actually repeated attempts to get himself untangled.

I got him unhooked in short order and knowing what happening does take something away from it. But I’m sure Wylie would have waved anyhow if he knew what it meant.

Email from work

Back when I used to work at the “Shakespeare at Sand Harbor” festival, we used to do a few quick announcements before the show started. Welcoming VIP sponsors, reminding people about the no photography rule, and the one guaranteed to bring in a laugh: “And what festival would be complete without an announcement such as this? ‘Will the owner of the white Toyota Corrolla, Nevada license HOT4U please come to the parking lot? Your headlights are on.'” (The alternative, “Your car is in a no-parking area and is about to be towed” would also get a few chuckles, particularly when it was a BMW or – once – a Rolls.)

Checking in with the office to let them know I’m still alive and they’re gonna have to pay the sick leave after all, I found this beauty which had been sent to the entire office:

Beige Toyota Sienna your windows are down. and its going to rain

The classics never get old.