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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Handbag-Fu: Grandma Gets Militant

It's pretty tough to make me laugh on a day like today has been, but this sweet little old lady put me on the floor.  Watch for the air bag deployment.  Boo-ya!

Can you imagine the guy in the car below trying to sue her, especially with a video of the incident available.  A Texas Jury would have put his Yuppie butt in the klink for honking at her and decided he'd got his just deserts with an airbag to the face.

No kidding, we have no sense of humor about tormenting elderly women around here.  A Cleburne, Texas judge once put a high school star football player in jail for that kind of thing. The kid was out jogging and flipped off a little old English teacher at a stop sign and said something ugly. She called the cops, half of whom had been in her English class back when they were in high school and they still call her Mrs. Baker - respectfully. The dispatcher rolled two cars and they picked this kid up before he got home. He spent the next 3 days lying around a jail cell in sweatpants waiting for the Judge to get around to arraigning him. Frightening little old ladies is one of those thing's that is just beyond the pale in Texas.  

In the video below, however, the guy gets what he deserves! 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Racist Computer

Political Correctness Steps into the Twilight Zone

I knew political correctness had gotten out of hand, but I didn't know just how bad it was.  I got a note last night from an editor. I had to read it a couple of times before I was able to comprehend the instructions I'd been given.

The article I was writing was about how to enable a CD burner in Windows XP.  I described the process of installing and setting up a new CD burner in a PC.  One type of CD burner is an IDE drive.  And IDE drive works on the same sort of connector that and IDE hard drive uses.  In fact, to save space, instead of hooking up an extra cable, you can chain the new CD drive to the same IDE ribbon cable that you have your primary hard drive connected to.

But to do so, you have to set jumpers on the CD burner to the "slave" setting, so that the the hard drive is the "master" drive.  I described how to set up the master/slave relationship between the hard drive and CD burner.  Easy peasy - no problem.  Then I got a rewrite request from the editor it said:

  • "Not sure about the technical terms and it may be correctly used, but can you write around the "slave the drive" and the "master/slave" references. That's the only change but I didn't want to make the change myself and mess up the set up process by choosing the wrong words."  -Editor
When it finally struck me that the editor was asking me to remove the "racist" terminology from my article. I've done a couple of articles on hooking up CD's and DVD drives in the past using the same "master/slave" terminology because that's what it's called.  If you've ever installed hard drives, you're familiar with master/slave drive settings. Apparently, the D.S. editor found these terms offensive and wanted me to "write around" the terms - meaning find another way to say the same thing without actually saying "master/slave". 

When I stopped laughing, I revised my article and I sent this explanation to the editor.
  • I tried to clarify the whole Master/slave thing for you. The problem is that these are the correct terms. Computer people do not find them racially insensitive. The slave is a secondary or subordinate drive, but no one calls them that or would understand what your were talking about if you called them that. The installation instructions clearly label where the jumper pins go for the "master" or "slave" positions.

    I really can't eliminate the words without inventing new terminology which would sound a little ridiculous. I tried to clarify the article a little in case the problem was understanding what a "slave" drive was.

    Anyway, until Bill Gates signs an Emancipation Proclamation for CD burners, we'll just have to make do with the terms as they are.........   ;-)
 I put the little winking smiley face in there to let her know I was joking. I doubt it will help.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Charity Sex: The IRS Says It’s Not Deductible

Okay, it’s not exactly charity sex, though Spokane, Washington engineer William C. Naylor did try to have the IRS declare the delivery of his sperm to deserving women, a nonprofit, charitable activity.

Apparently Mr. Naylor has set up an organization called the “Free Fertility Foundation" as a "nonprofit" organization.  Well, you can set up a charitable organization to do almost any worthy activity, but apparently the IRS felt that impregnating women probably didn’t fall under the spirit of the 501(c)(3) designation.

Naylor, a wealthy inventor and his father operate the “charity” as a way to provide deserving women with high quality Naylor sperm.  The screening process is rigorous. Out of 800 some odd applicants so far, father and son have only selected 24 women as deserving of the Naylor chromosome set.

When the IRS said, “No!”,  the Naylor’s took his case to tax court. 

On July 7, the court ruled in favor of the IRS.  The court did not rule out providing free sperm as a charitable activity (leaving hope springing eternal in the breasts of male narcissists everywhere).  It only sided with the IRS in saying that the pool of beneficiaries wasn’t large enough to be considered of benefit to the community as a whole.

Naylor claimed in his petition that providing sperm to deserving women would ‘make more of a positive difference to the world than all of the inventions and scientific discoveries that I could ever create.’

The court disagreed, claiming that the activities of Naylor’s foundation “benefit” so few women that it was clear that the foundation “…is not operated exclusively for exempt purposes and therefore does not qualify for tax exemption pursuant to section 501(c)(3).”

Well, duh!

What was your first clue?  Naylor’s defeat is a serious blow to narcissists everywhere. The only question the case leaves unanswered is the obvious one.

How exactly does Naylor deliver his charitable offering to those women he and his old man have chosen as worthy to receive the sacred Naylor semen?  Do they present themselves in his backyard ceremonial temple wearing white robes with little gold tiaras?

Somehow, I’d be disappointed to find out that he uses dry ice, an Igloo cooler and Fed-Ex overnight delivery.

Just One Man’s Opinion.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Post-Modernism, Banjos and Metaphysical Literature

I was trying to explain post-modernism to someone the other day, so I looked it up.  One definition was this: "Post-modernism is a tendency in contemporary culture characterized by the rejection of objective truth and global cultural narrative".
Another place says that post-modernism is a reaction against the rationality of modernism and the expectation that progress is inevitable or even possible.  
The best definition of post-modernism I ever saw was a bumper sticker that said, "S.......t  happens!"  You'll have to fill in the first word as it's uncouth and is not allowed by my own pre-modernistic belief system.

Post-modernism, as nearly as I can tell is the trend in literature and the arts, philosophy and music that, where the modernist says things make sense if you puzzle them out and that we can actually improve things, the postmodernist artist says, "Uhn Uh!"

Postmodernism has crept into the American culture in insidious ways giving us trendy movies in which nothing happens, no lesson is learned and there is really no reason for watching the movie other than a morbid curiousity about pointless lives depicted in the movie.

So what has this got to do with the banjo - an instrument associated with the most moralizing body of musical works in history.  I mean wretched people do tend to die in banjo tunes or, at least, if good people die, somebody usually sticks on a moral in the last verse to rationalize it all.

Post-modernism is relentlessly miserable and why not? The post-modernist sees no point in anything anyway, so what's he got to be cheerful about?

Banjo music, however, sounds relentlessly cheerful even when the lyrics are the most mournful words ever laid down on paper. Your girl may have left you, you may be broke and your dog may have died, but the banjo plunks along all the while reminding you that somewhere in the world there's a little bit of fun to be had and that the song is driving relentlessly to its end anyway, so buck up!

Actually, nobody else has written anything else about postmodern banjo, so I figured this would get me my own first page on Google Search (if you happen to be searching for "postmodern banjo").  Wait till the search engines get a load of this title! Note I've deliberately used both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated spelling of postmodernism so that either way you Google search it, the web crawler robots will have this post catalogued.  Also, I'll stick it on my Banjo Hangout website so it gets maximum exposure too and I'll add a link back to this site for no other reason than to get even more Search Engine Optimization (SEO) points.

Truth is, this post has no other purpose other than to get people to look at it and go "Huh?" 

My first foray into post-modernist literature!  Maybe next time I'll write one about "Peanut Butter and the Bedpan Ukelele".  Who knows, maybe that one will wind up a reference in someone's doctoral thesis on postmodern literature.  I can see the title now, "The Impact of Postmodernist Thought on the Metaphysicality of Banjo Hangout Forum Posts During the Late Mike Gregory Era".  

Hey, I can dream can't I? 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fool Me Once, You Might As Well Fool Me Again!

I hate being recruited by fanatics. They always start out by telling me how persecuted they are for their (quite rational and correct) beliefs. Me, I'm a sucker for a hard luck case. I've been on the unfair end of the stick so many times, I don't like to think about it. I suppose the "true believers" see me as a kindred spirit or something.

Then, about 3 or 4 steps along in the conversation or relationship or a couple of months after I've signed the check, I find out about the special underwear you have to buy or the mystical nipple ring of power they want you to wear and I'm left frantically digging an escape tunnel.

Remind me to do a Google search on anybody who tells me people are picking on him and that he only cares that things are done right or "authentically".  I'd like to see if there's not a reason everybody's picking on my new-found friend. Meanwhile, I'm collecting materials to build one of Mike Gregory's Cookie Tin Banjos (or maybe the cigar box one). I figure if you're going to play the banjo, you might as well be obnoxious about it.

Apparently, I'm not alone in that belief.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Game of Life - What's Really Going On (Part 3)

C.S. Lewis in the final book in his brilliant book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, describes the Narnian heaven as "The Real Narnia".  Lewis called Earth as it is (what we think of as the 'Real World'), the Shadowlands.  Lewis, from his Christian perspective, believed that Earth is a kind of crucible in which we are all tested, tried and perfected for eternity.  Rather like a video game.

And like a video game, the ending for Christians is assured.  No matter whether we succeed or fail in our efforts to accomplish the goals set before us as we traverse the Shadowlands, we are assured eternal life in the Real Earth or what the Bible calls the New Earth.  Like a video game, we try to follow the rules of the game and figure out how things work.  But we must not forget we are playing in the shadows. God has promised to take us to the real thing when the game of life is over.  Whatever happens, that is assured if you want it.

If you choose to stay with the game, to challenge the rules, give yourself over to the dark side, you get to do that too. The only difference is when the game is over, the game is over.  Scripture is pretty clear on that point. We aren't by nature immortal. An eternal ever-burning hell (borrowed from the Greeks by the way) is one of those add-on ideas like reincarnation; interesting, but not really a good way to organize a universe if you are a merciful God.  Ultimately the eternal wiener roast is a lie about the character of God. The idea that He would condone that makes him a torturer, not a father.  Just my opinion from my own study.

God evidently decided the universe needed creatures with free will.  What this says about angels, I am not sure, but people are created in the image of God. That's clear. We are like God in that we may choose in all things. That ability to choose makes us creative and energetic and purpose driven. It also makes us dangerous. I think God made the Earth as a kind of game, if you will. We are born into it, we try out our choice-making ability and we die. We meet challenges, solve puzzles, build things and face enemies all leading up to what Ms. McGonagal calls the "Epic Event" in gaming and what I think of as the fork in the road.  It's at that moment I think we all experience the decision that led Joshua to say, "As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord."  I think no matter what culture, religion or society we come from, we all meet that epic moment where we choose to serve ourselves or something greater than ourselves.  Like McGonagal's 4 elements you get from gaming, the Christian gets the same effect.

1.  Urgent optimism:  The Christian believes his choices can effect the world for good, no matter it appears while it's happening. He believes that what he is doing, he is doing with God and that God will make it turn out right - hence the optimism.

2. Ability to weave a tight social fabric:  Christians collectively believe the same things and gather together around that shared belief. A Christian, the real variety anyway, are trustworthy, reliable and they have your back.  You may have misunderstandings with your fellow travelers, but in the end, none of it matters but the great goal of reaching the New Earth.

3. Blissful productivity: A Christian on a mission experiences this bliss throughout his work.  He knows he is doing a good thing at the peak of his skills. He is content doing good in partnership with God. Christians are busy people because we are commanded by the rules of the game to do good where our hand finds good work to do.

4. Epic Meaning:  A Christian has purpose and meaning to his life. He is connected to the eternal. Everything he does is part of God's plan.  The moment he leaves the Shadowlands, it is an epic event.

It is little wonder that the practice of Christianity has such a powerful ability to change our lives.  My own experience is that you change from the old self-centered person to a Christ-like person inevitably.  It is not by your own efforts.  We are built to respond to the Christian life as we do.  After all, it was God who designed both us and the game of life that we play.

It explains also why gaming is such a powerful experience.  Gaming is a shadow of living in the Real World as living in the "Real World" is a shadow of living in the eternal "super real" world.

The thing to watch for is that there is someone else out there using the shadows for his own purposes. He is not God. He has claimed the Shadowlands as his own kingdom and sets himself up as the prince. All games are not benign as all things in our so-called Real World are not.  There are lies in lies and layers of deception. Games have traps built into them that lead you astray and kill you.  So does the Real World.  Be careful what games you choose to play and be very careful that you know who designed them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Game of Life - What's Really Going On (Part 2)

Jane McGonagal has announced that she is devoting her life to creating games that build upon the skills gamers develop in on-line games such as World of Warcraft to solve real world problems.  She's taken a run at it with such games as "World Without Oil" in which gamers try to figure out how to survive in a worldwide oil crisis and another games designed to enlist gamers to help solve problems in Africa. Her goal is to translate the energy, brains, social organizing power and productivity of computer games into real world solutions.

But who says the "real" world is the ultimate level in McGonagal's game system.  McGonagal sees gaming as 10,000 hours of time we spend, just as we spend 10,000 hours of time in school learning skills that can translate to the "real world".  She sees gaming as a parallel to formal education, both contributing skills that we can use at the next level - the three-dimensional world we all inhabit.

Real Life!

It's an interesting model, but what if it doesn't end there?  What if "Real Life" isn't the ultimate reality either?

Okay before you decide I've watched the "Matrix" one too many times, hear me out.  What is it about games that make for such an effective teaching tool?  There are a couple of things:

1.  If you die in the game or lose, you don't die or lose in the real world.  You've learned your lesson and next time you can get it right.  This characteristic of games led to the idea of Eastern mystics (great game players themselves) that life is an endless cycle of do-overs till you get it right and achieve something called nirvana. Nice idea, but I think they missed the point.  This characteristic of games (that no matter how the game works out, you'll be okay in the real world) makes game players very brave and willing to take risks. Games then become a place where we can practice risk-taking.

2.  Multi-player games encourage building alliances and partnership to win the game. It's interesting how some people will choose a noble, trustworthy persona and others will choose to give their dark side free reign.  In Monopoly, for instance, I've seen people lose time and again because they were being "nice" to their fellow players instead of being the cutthroat the game calls for.  Games allow you to experiment with social interaction so you can see the consequences of what you do.  This is a powerful teaching tool.  Even single player games are not always about winning entirely. Players often go easy on less experienced players or throw games because they want their opponent to feel good about themselves.

In sports we learn teamwork and physical skills, planning and execution. These are all things that translate to the real world or they were supposed to until school sports programs gave themselves over to a winning at all costs philosophy.  Then, sports began to teach players that it was all about the money, that unless your shoes cost $200 a pair, you were less worthy than others and that personal fame and glory for your personal exploits was more important than the good of the team.  That's why you see so many teams with expensive marquee players that are perennial losers.

So what if real life is a teaching experience. What if real life is teaching us lessons that, like games and sports lessons, are for use at another level - something beyond "Real Life".

More tomorrow.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Game of Life - What's Really Going On

I watched an interesting speech by game designer Jane McGonigal on the TED website this morning over breakfast.  McGonigal believes that games are more than just an amusement, but are actually a powerful tool for teaching.  Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers-The Story of Success"  makes the case that anyone can become a superstar if he or she devotes 10,000 hours of intensive study to a single skill or subject.  Anyone!

A couple of interesting facts here.  From fifth grade to high school graduation you spend about 10,000 hours in class.  At the current rate, in countries with a well-developed technological infrastructure and above average standard of living, the average child will spends 10,000 hours playing on-line games by the time he or she reaches the age of 21.  According to Gladwell this will make them superstars.

The question is, at what are they learning to be superstars.

McGonagal cites 4 traits that on-line games develop. 

1. A sense of urgent optimism:  In games you are always on the verge of succeeding at something, perhaps of winning big. At the very least, the solution to whatever problem is presented to you in the game is right around the corner.  You know the problem can be solved, so the game encourages you to be optimistic.

2. The ability to weave a tight social fabric:  Gamers choose their companions in the gaming world who share their goals and values and who are trustworthy, reliable and who have a skill to contribute to the task at hand. The gamer learns to find friends who are a philosophical match and to provide them with positive reinforcement to remain part of the group.

3. A sense of "blissful productivity":  Psychologist  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (me high, cheek sent muh high eee) called this experience flow.  It's the feeling you get when you are doing something that you know how to do well that you also enjoy doing.  Very often persons experiencing "flow" or "blissful productivity", as McGonagal calls it, lose track of time or awareness of what's going on around them.  Athletes get this when playing whatever sport they play. Runners experience it as a "high".  Practitioners of forms of meditation experience it as part of their rituals. Sportsmen and gamers get into the rhythm of the contest and lose all sense of the world around them. This is a very addictive experience and people go back to it looking to reproduce that transcendental experience with almost the fervor of an addict looking for the next drug hit or alcoholic for a booze binge.

4. Epic meaning:  In the game there is a sense of some connection to a wider world or a greater meaning.  Athletes get it by setting "world records". On-line gamers get it by completing a level, saving a planet or rescuing the princess. My son once set a district record in the 100 meter sprint. Yesterday he described that one race in vivid detail down to the reaction of his coach and teammates on the sidelines. He set a record that goes into the books forever.  However small such a thing might seems to a disinterested observer, it is a big thing to those participating in the game. As humans we have a powerful need to tell our story in such a way that we are the hero of our own story and that our actions have meaning beyond our immediate mundane lives.

I believe that McGonagal's observations about gaming point to an even larger truth about what Douglass Adams called "Life, the Universe and Everything Else".  There's more going on here than you might think. Turns out the reason games are so good at honing these particular skills, may explain why Christianity is so successful at improving the quality of human beings. 

More on that tomorrow.....

Monday, July 05, 2010

Banjo Snobs

July 5, 2010 -

Snobs make me tired.

A gentleman I know on another banjo forum, recently complained that he had been 'schooled' by old-timey and bluegrass players about his unusual playing style his granddaddy used that a relation of his taught him recently.  He's getting older now and would like to teach someone else how to play this way so the style is not lost.  It's apparently the opinion of some banjo wags that the style has no value since it's not "authentic".  It uses an up pluck followed by a frail and thumb pluck variant similar to clawhammer, but with a different feel to it.

I told him he needs to find someone to teach the style to - preferably kinfolk, but at least leave someone behind who knows how to play it. There are lots of folks out there who would love to pick up a little known authentic style.  Even if it's a style that belongs to just one family, it's a valid and authentic way to play banjo.

Heck, if there's a group out in the hills of West Virginia that play the banjo with their noses while swinging naked from a tree, who's to say the style is not authentic?   If that's your style, find some kinfolk you can teach it to and tell 'em you'll leave them your banjo when you're gone - all they have to do is pick up the playing style and pass it on.

The folk purists make me tired.  They take an art form (folk music) and try to add rules as to what is correct and what is not when, in fact, any style of playing that produces interesting music is "authentic".  Bluegrass grew from a lot of traditions, plucking (if you will), the sounds from several old-time styles, adding some innovations by "folk" like Earl Scruggs and passing it along to a new generation. Really good musicians often learn a variety of styles. 

I encouraged Alex, to at least record some of his music on video and post it to Youtube so that it doesn't get lost.  He should record some "how-to" teaching videos so that anyone who wants to learn the style can look at his videos and learn to play the style.  Look how many great songs would have been lost if the Lomax brothers hadn't run around all over the countryside with a tape recorder.  "Home on the Range" for instance would never have survived to this day without them.  How many other songs and musical styles have been lost because they were never recorded.

Who cares if some tin-pot banjo tyrant says your style isn't authentic. I don't care if he is a musicologist.  There isn't a musicologist worth his salt that can know every type of music that's out there, much less tell you what style is right and what is "wrong".

If you've got a unique style or your family has their own songs or traditions, do what you can to preserve it. Get it all down on tape or video and post it in the great eternal Internet archives.  Save the videos on DVD too and get copies into the hands of as many sympathetic banjo players as possible. Make preserving your family's style of banjo playing (if they have one) your legacy to your family and to traditional banjo music.

Some of the anger that odd duck banjo players get, whether from bluegrass, clawhammer or old-time people is because some players get pretty snooty about their own "authenticity" and somehow come to regard themselves as the guardians of banjo purity.  They try to "school" bluegrass banjo players of clawhammer or old-time or independent backwoods plucky-frailers because their style is "wrong", "not authentic" (you're wearing the wrong hat while you play) or "too commercial".

When are people going to stop practicing this sad form of banjo socialism.  A Greek dictator (they called them tyrants back in those days) went to visit another dictator to find out how to keep his people in line.  The second tyrant took him into a field of corn and sent his slaves into the field with knives. The slaves cut off the heads of any stalk of corn that stuck above the others till they had mown the field to a flat uniformity.  The beauty of this method, the dictator explained, was that once the people became used to the uniformity, the "regular" stalks would start cutting the heads off the tall stalks for you - you'd no longer have to do it yourself.

When are we going to realize that the more different styles there are out there, the more banjo players there will be and the more new and innovative music you're going to hear. If we open it up to every old tradition and new-fangled innovation, we keep banjo playing from becoming an ossified, stuck in mud "art" form, hemmed in by pseudo-traditions about what we can and cannot do. Doesn't anyone hear how stupid we sound when we try to argue about what's right and wrong in banjo playing.

This is the banjo for heaven sakes. The thing started out as a string a stick and a gourd for crying out loud. The banjo's music has from the beginning been all about making it up as you go. It's the height of arrogance to get caught up in an argument over what's "right" and what's "wrong" about the way anybody plays the banjo.  It is enough that they play it and it's even more cool that they bring their own artistic sense to the playing.

Nothing kills a musical style or instrument faster than to hem it about with rigid rules about what is acceptable playing and what is not. I get just as excited about some grizzled old farmer flailing away on a ratty old fretless using a stile his granddaddy invented as I do about some so-called "authentic" old-timey band with the proper hats and shoes, or about Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck or Roy Clark.  I even enjoy Rocky Top, Dueling Banjos and Cripple Creek. I've heard them done so many different ways I can't count and I never get tired of hearing what the next guy is going to do to them.

It's all cool.  What I say about it is simply, "Let them banjos ring!  (or plunk, twang, hammer on or roll like machine gun fire for that matter). 

I'm just sayin'.

Tom King

* We called this style "Hairgrass" - a variant of 70's hair bands only played while barefoot and wearing a tie with washtub bass, guitar, banjo and flute and gospel music.  It was early in the summer, so my hair hadn't grown out much yet, though I had a good start on my beard (I'm the banjo player).  I went to a Christian academy and we had to shave and trim during the school year.  So summers we all got hairy mostly because we could and also because it made our elders nervous.  

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Old Dogs and Children and Unemployment Lines

*(c) 2010 - Joel Pett: Lexington Herald-Leader

The new economy has taught us that finding work is not so easy in a down economy. In some ways experience, a college degree and advanced training is probably working against you when you're looking for a job (any job) these days. I've interviewed for dozens and inevitably they select someone who is younger than me. HR people prefer someone for whom the job is a step up, not a step down; someone satisfied to work for less; someone less likely to take a better offer and hit the trail next week; someone who's not going to actually use the health insurance. I'm having trouble getting a job as a bagger at the grocery store.  Seems I'm not old enough.

Especially when there are anywhere from 20 to 100 applications for every job.  I find myself in the same position as the folks with disabilities I used to do vocational counseling with. Being gray-headed, in this job market is a definite disability.

When you are my age, about the only way to land a stable job is to create one yourself.

I'm working on that.

Tom King

Friday, July 02, 2010

Rooting for the Fish

I will say up front that I am by no stretch of the imagination a fisherman.  I have 4 or 5 nice fishing rods and reels in the garage and two boxes of fishing lures and other tackle.  I have all of these BECAUSE I am by no means a fisherman.  I just like to fool around with fishing tackle.  If I really wanted to catch some fish, I'd get me a line, a cane pole, a bobber, a weight and a hook.  I'd go dig up some worms in the backyard and go down by the bridge with all the other cane pole fishermen and catch me some serious fish.

Of course, then I'd have to clean them.

No, my idea of an ideal day fishing is sitting out on a dock in the shade and tossing a sampling of every kind of lure in the box to see if any fish is fool enough to bite one.  I'm more of an experimental fisherman - a fishing researcher if you will.  I try a steady pull, a jerky pull, deep divers and surface poppers.  If the afternoon goes by without a single fish being caught, I really don't mind much because by the time I'm done I've gone through a six pack of cold Diet Dr. Pepper, a couple of pimento cheese sandwiches, a box of Oreos and a medium bag of Doritos.  Life is that danged good!

I have, on a couple of rare occasions accidentally caught something.  The last time was 4 years ago.  I had wandered down to the beach with my fishing rod and tackle box.  For some reason people don't question why you're going down to the lake by yourself if you have a tackle box and fishing pole with you. Solo fishing is, apparently an acceptable thing to do by yourself.  Without these accouterments, people ask you where you are going and volunteer to keep you company.  The fishing gear gives you an unquestioned excuse to be anti-social for some reason. My father and my father-in-law were accomplished fishermen, fish cleaners and fryers. I never really caught the bug, though.  I suppose that my wife encourages my fishing behaviors in hopes that I'll develop some of the more manly hobbies of that sort and give up collecting toy soldiers and practicing the banjo!  I'm not sure. Maybe she just likes fresh caught fish.

Anyway, arriving on the beach, I wade out to my knees, draw back and fling my shiny silver bass assassin lure into the lake. To my utter astonishment, I hooked a mid-sized bass on my first cast.  He gave me a bit of a struggle before he finally quit struggling and gave me back my fishing lure. After that minor annoyance, the fish left me peacefully alone for the rest of the hour while I stood barefoot in the sand up to my ankles in tangy smelling lake water, throwing a bewildering array of colorful fishing lures out into the lake and dragging them back; throwing them out and dragging them back.

When I came home, Sheila asked if I had fun.  I told her I had.  "Catch anything?" she asked.

"I hooked a mid-sized bass," I told her.

"Why didn't you bring it home?" my wife the fried fish enthusiast demanded.

"Well, I really didn't mean to catch him."

My Sweet Baboo doesn't really understand my fishing style at all.