Commando Shopping


It’s clearly a luxury in our American life to be able to bulk up on foods at COSTCO once or twice a month thereby avoiding multiple weekly visits to the market. Trouble is, I’m an outside person, and if I’m not on my game arriving at COSTCO early enough in sneakers, I can lose a good part of my Saturday getting past the tasting stations or all that Halloween door crap so many seem to obsess over. Therefore, my need for “Commando Shopping.” This is a technique I’ve perfected avoiding popular sections by hitting my destination points with pinpoint precision.  Think airborne troops capturing bagels, turkey burgers, and cabbage instead of a bridge. To do this, one must not allow tempting power washers or giant teddy bears to bulk up your cart. Focus, focus, focus. Once you give in to that cheesy enchilada tasting cup you are doomed . Hit your basic needs and head for the checkout.


Pet Peeve # 9

When we travel, we all are familiar with the small talk required with the random people placed next to us as we sort out our bags and find seat belts; but there is a line. Sure, I’ve met people I’ve shared some amazing conversations with, but we all know that one guy who starts talking as soon as his butt touches the seat and talks through movies and snacks alike. My last flight, this guy (pictured), talked for six hours at the young woman seated next to him choosing to discuss his suit choices and hobbies before serving up the main course: his church. She was treated to the source of his empathy and all the details of the upcoming weekend picnic in blathering detail. Not cool.


Smoking George


In my recent arrival back to my home state of Oregon after nearly a decade of living in the red zone of Kalispell, Montana, I now clearly see the giant rift we’ve created between red and blue America this past decade. I wasn’t fully clear on the corresponding lifestyles in support of those differences until this morning. Hence, my open mouthed amazement while driving near downtown Mac as I spotted a curb sign literally across the street from where friends bought “dime bags” of marijuana when I was in high school (pictured). It was shocking to realize that I now live in a town where police who relished catching unwary teens with even a few scrapings of THC in a forgotten pipe under the seat, now allow sellers to advertise along the main artery of traffic. In many ways it’s like reading in a space capsule for ten years and landing on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. Expected, but oddly unbelievable once you get there. This will take some getting used to, and believe it or not, I have zero plans for making a purchase any time soon.

A Slow Goodbye


I was lucky enough to take a group of folks with disabilities to the Kiwanis Lodge near a beautiful mountain lake yesterday and enjoy burgers, a pontoon boat ride, and the classic 1929 lodge on an incredible sunny day. I think groups like Kiwanis, and the Lions, Elks, and Eagles were such a valuable part of the community as America suffered through two World Wars, a Great Depression, and Vietnam that it really saddens me to see the last backbone members enter their 90’s as young kids have no interest. Sure some of the poetry reading and membership pledges are a bit staid, but these people put in parks, funded college scholarships, and dedicated their lives to making a community livable. As charity is reduced to a yearly check or agreeing to donate a dollar in line at the cash register, I wish I knew how to inspire young people to not let these organizations die the slow death of shrinking boards.

Cultural dot-to-dot


Saw this magazine in line this morning at the market and had to chuckle. We are such an instant gratification culture we even have dot-to-dot mindfulness now. Just waiting on color by numbers enlightenment and I’m all set.

Dinner with Klimt


I attended a painting class / dinner buffet last evening where after three hours some 20 students produced most of a completed piece inspired by 20th century artist Gustav Klimt. I always find such experiences a great use of time because they not only instill appreciation for the original artist but expand and enrich the skills and possibilities of each participant. The only thing that I find a bit confusing is why I am usually the only guy who attends theses kind of events. Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Monet, Pollack, Klimt, all dudes. Have men just become detached from self-expression in the 21st century, or are they too filled with false bravado to risk their precious macho image on canvas? Drop the swag guys and pick up a brush! Life is waiting.

Red, White, and Screwed?


I’ve observed this fellow around town (pictured) over the past few years waving American flags in bitter snow storms, driving rain, and hot, muggy afternoons as cars streamed by causing his flags to flap as he sat smiling.  It was just this past week I finally found myself by his small selling station and took the opportunity to chat.

He was sitting outside my bank fanning himself with his hat as I made a withdrawal and spontaneously decided to walk over and buy a flag. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure he’s a vet, and I think there might be a few additional challenges for him outside of working on the street. It was clear from the start he’s extremely patriotic and very proud to be paying all his daily living expenses in spite of being homeless. The hats he sells are negotiated at a lower rate from local thrift shops, and he orders the flags himself in three sizes to fit his mobile cart he rolls all over town. He’s happy to place a small paperback he’s written about his life into your hands for $12, which to date, has sold some 250 copies. He’s slyly negotiated spots near local cash registers and will give you his pitch right there if you’ll stay long enough to listen. He explained he’s been homeless for several years now, ever since rent increases shot up some 400-500% the last five years making a steady place almost impossible. He also avoids local shelters because meth heads have a knack for stealing while you sleep he explains, and also possess the unnerving habit of behaving erratically during waking hours.

So I asked myself, can we really write Allen off as some sort of loser just because he’s homeless and needs a hand every once in a while to make ends meet? What happened to that sense of human decency we were taught as kids as Congress prepares to cut Meals on Wheels and school lunch programs for tax cuts?


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