Tag Archives: time passing

We Need Money!

Largest private university donations (2009): 
Stanford $640.1 million
Harvard $601.6 million   — LA Times February 4, 2010

 Kennedy Center receives $22.5 million in single gift.
— Jim Handly, NBS News May 4, 2010

U.S. Treasury Department operating balance: $73.76 billion
Apple Corporation operating balance: $76.156 billion
–Matt Hartley, The Financial Post July 28, 2011

Health club membership: $1,238.56; Hair care: $333.87; Gift shop allowance: $1,666.73; Use of Foreign Currency: $44,164; Miscellaneous costs: $135,249.22.  A few of the perks for each U.S. Senator which, coupled with salary, benefits, retirement, total $8,162,000 per Senator each year!
–Joshua M. Brown, The Christian Science Monitor July 29. 2011

Since The Hill and Lake Press is a monthly newspaper, pressing issues of the day may resolve themselves, which is why I tend to write about garage sales and dogs.  At the risk of belaboring old news, as I write, the debt ceiling has been grudgingly and sloppily raised with the result being Standard and Poor’s downgrading the U.S. economy from a AAA rating to AA+.  S&P warns that we may lose our + and possibly an A if we do not figure out a way to increase our revenue.  In the meantime Americans have been ordered to tighten their belts, stop talking smack about Uruguay, and put away their giant foam fingers that proclaim “We’re # 1.”

In spite of evidence to the contrary I have always believed that a nation capable of producing Abraham Lincoln, Silly Putty, and baseball cards will prevail.  Lately I am having serious doubts.  We seem hopelessly paralyzed politically and philosophically between militant, uncompromising forces that decry as treasonous even the mention of shifting the tax burden toward the wealthy, and more moderate Americans who spend much of their time seeking deductions, underreporting income, and searching for loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

We need money, and unless the government can quickly create a better iPad it appears our economy is in for very difficult times.  Searching for ways to cut spending, we against all logic turn to the people who have the least to sacrifice.  We blithely raise the public transportation fees for those who cannot afford cars, cut back on free and reduced lunch programs (ketchup as a vegetable is ready for a revival), reduce aid to dependent children, and trim Medicare for seniors.  There are relative pennies to be saved.

As first-hand survivors of The Great Depression dwindle, there are too many public officials who seem to have no sense of history.  Their simplistic ideas are at best naive and more likely mean-spirited.  They seem inured to the number of lives their rhetoric could effect.  Aside for money for foreign wars, they believe in a small “g” government in providing aid to our citizens.  Their take on A Christmas Carol is that if Jacob Marley had only lived, he and Ebenezer Scrooge could have taken the company public, moved it to Belize, inflated stock prices and sold short before Tiny Tim died of consumption.  For a final touch, they have persuaded contemporary Bob Cratchit to refuse government medical aid as socialism, even as Tim’s leg is deemed a preexisting condition and therefore not covered by insurance.

How can we raise revenue and get back on par with Finland when we have so little trust in the politicians that allowed this to happen? Who can blame us?  Our hard earned money seems to go for unpopular wars, even less popular defense contractors, bank bailouts, and Senate haircuts.

If Apple won’t lend us the money, we can only cut expenditures so far.  The poor and the middle class have done more than their share.  On the whole we are a generous people.  Some of the most fervent opponents of raising taxes privately spend more than their progressive tax share would be in funding organizations and candidates to beat back the dreaded tax man.   A further irony is that many hardline tax opponents give very generously (and tax deductably) to their alma mater, the arts, hospitals, disease research, the disadvantaged, and religious organizations.

Many of us believe in helping others but resent paying taxes to the weasels in Washington.

If we are unable to get the Bush tax cuts eliminated, can we at least find appealing ways to interest the super wealthy in helping to support their government?  Hospital wings, art museums, opera houses, and college buildings are named for their benefactors.  The local Kiwanis club sponsors a mile of highway clean up. We need a few philanthropists to step forward and adopt an underfunded federal government Department in exchange for naming rights.  Imagine The Warren Buffet Department of Commerce. The Mark Zuckerberg Department of Education or, my favorite, The Steve Jobs Department of Labor.

Tom H. Cook is a formerly local writer who remains in exile.  He will be returning home and reading stuff like this with the poet Tom Cassidy on September 17th at Black Forest Inn (26th and Nicollet).








Fall Reflections

An amazing invention, but who would ever use one?

                                                                 –President Rutherford B. Hayes

The smell of Fourth of July fireworks is still wafting in the air, and the last black chunk of ice gunk in a Fridley parking lot has been vaporized by the heat.  Bring on summer, the season of rampant hedonism, too loud music, coconut sunscreen, and burnt burgers.  Winter is a time for introspection.  In July if there is navel gazing to be done, it is other peoples’.  Fall, around Thanksgiving, is a time for reflection.   Sitting around a campfire with a bunch of wholesome, toothy, jocular people, that is when you count your blessings.  Nestled in a woodsy cabin trying to figure out who these people in expensive sweaters are, and what they have done with my friends is the more typical time to be thankful.  

My seasonal clock is off kilter.  Despite the blur of fast cars, painful sunburn, and a record heat index, I feel grateful.  I want to thank those of you who wade through my column regularly, and friends and family who put up with my tortured logic in person.  If you know me in print, you may notice a certain circuitous line of reasoning that does not always find its way to the point.  Even after skillful editing (thank you JoAnne) I can begin a column with the perils of skiing and end up on Rutherford B. Hayes, the first president to make a phone call.   

In real life I begin too many conversations with obscure references and fractions of sentences posing as questions.  I am likely to begin out of context with a question. “Who’s the guy?  You know, the one in the film about the woman.  She’s in love with her doctor, or her landlord.  He may not be in that one, but you’ve seen him.  He always plays a corporate type.  He was in cahoots with a counterfeiter.  You said you thought he was real scary…  Come on you know it!”

Thank goodness for family and old friends who understand the thin connection I often have between disparate ideas.  Someone (sane) not schooled (subjected) to my way of processing the world is likely to back away from my stream of (un)consciousness.  Citing a forgotten heart surgery appointment they must run off to, an untied shoelace that may require considerable attention, or a sudden need to convey something to a passing squirrel, many strangers become very busy just when I am getting to the good part of an anecdote.

Ideas, information, and media (social and otherwise) are swirling around.  We all continually have more to take in, and later attempt to recall.  I remember fragments of things and my links are often tenuous.  Thank you for continuing to make the effort.

Tom H. Cook is a law abiding citizen who still practices making up fake names for when he is stopped by the police.  His latest is Hal Lester, a conveyor belt salesman from Ripple Creek, Illinois. 

Ben and Erin’s Mexican Wedding

If you don’t like Mexicans, why did you move here?
  — Bumper sticker, San Pancho, Mexico

Ben is like Tom, only mature.
 — Comment from a long time family friend

We all want our children to exceed us; I just thought it would take a little longer.           –My toast at Ben’s wedding

San Francisco, nicknamed San Pancho, is a little town of about a thousand, on the Pacific Ocean an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  It is a beautiful place to get married.  Our son Ben and his sweetheart Erin invited fifty lucky folks to witness and participate in their wedding this past Thanksgiving.  Instead of a holiday of tepid turkey, dry stuffing, surly relatives, and endless football games, we enjoyed a moving, joyful ceremony on the beach at sunset.

The “kids” (each 28) met during their first year of college and have been together ever since.  Organizationally I would have difficulty getting three couples together for a pot luck.  Erin and Ben planned, coordinated and hosted a stupendous week in a foreign country 2,000 miles away.  Their younger friends went snorkeling, horseback riding on the beach, and exploring the local night life.  They also lined up enough adventure and challenge to delight the crew of potentially grumpy old people.  There were welcome parties, swimming in an infinity pool a hundred feet above the ocean, a rehearsal dinner, lunches, and free time (read naps) for those so inclined. There was a wild bachelor party that through a comedy of errors my invitation was lost.  Except for that, the flow of events was seamless.

I hesitate to draw attention to San Pancho.  While some ex-pats blend right in, there are the gauche, like the gringo who had a private 9 hole golf course built for his own very occasional use.  The economic slowdown has derailed a number of planned developments.  In one case there is a wrought iron gate supported by impressive stone arches.  Alas it is not protecting anything, but one day it will be very exclusive.

The local Mexican community seems to take the boom and bust in stride.  The only bridge into town was washed out in the last rains.  Fortunately the river is dry now and cars (but not trucks) can make it through the gully.  It seems that the twenty founding families have intermarried and make up most of the one thousand residents.  The next generation simply finds an unoccupied portion of family land and without benefit of building codes or inspection, builds a small home.

The pace is slow.  Everybody knows everybody.  The pool man’s sister is a nurse. She can send her husband, who works at the restaurant you ate at last night, on an errand to get you the medicine you need.  The tailor is married to the house keeper whose brother is a mechanic who can fix the flat tire you got attempting to navigate the cobblestone road.  The informal network of goods and services puts Craig’s List to shame.

It was Erin’s parents, Linda and Julian, who first introduced the kids to the village of San Pancho.  Linda, JoAnne and I were at the same university together (although we did not know each other then) and Julian’s New Jersey high school was a rival of mine.  It took our children falling in love to bring us together.  Their generosity made so much of the wedding possible, and they are a rollicking good time.

We were able to invite Jay and Cheryl, our oldest and closest Minnesota friends, who have known Ben all his life.  Whether the four of us were sitting poolside overlooking the ocean, shopping at a local market, bumping over the rutted streets, or watching the dance moves of the younger wedding guests, our eyes would meet, and the unstated message would be, “I cannot believe we are here. I sure didn’t see this coming when we met 33 years ago.”

At this point I might get mawkishly sentimental and metaphoric about the bumps on the road of life, but I am still too happy looking at wedding photos and awaiting the honeymooners’ return.

Tom H. Cook is just a dad. Ben is a Barton and South High grad, and his wife Erin (that’s the first time I have written that) loves Minneapolis; wise woman.

Making Friends

Me:  “Wow, Brick, three goals in one period!  That must be some kind of WESAC scoring record.  Your son Caesar is some soccer player.”

Brick:  “Your boy out there?”

Me:  “Yup, old number 87, he’s a sparkplug.  He’s left safety defense rover back…”

Brick:  “He’s eating grass.”

Me:  “At first glance, yes, it appears that way, but he’s just decoying them down to his sideline, and he’ll get up and steal the ball and boom it up to Caesar, you’ll see.  Say Brick, since our kids are teammates and we’re neighbors…”

Brick:  “You live on Mount Curve?”

Me:  “Not exactly, we’re more down the hill and the other side of the park and closer to Hennepin.  We looked to buy on the hill but we needed the access to the busy streets… Besides we’re up here all the time, sledding in the winter…”

Brick:  “You’re the guy with that rusty old Datsun that parks in front of my house.”

Me:  Actually it’s a Nissan, Brick.  Anyway, my wife and I were thinking since the boys play on the same team that you and your wife may want to come to a little dinner party we’re throwing, nothing fancy mind you, local caterer…it’s on the 17th …”

Brick:  “Pick it up, Caesar…shoot…”

Me:  “I know a month is kind of short notice. I’m gonna go check the Gatorade supply now, it must be almost halftime. You can get back with me on that dinner thing… It’s kind of a hectic time for all of us…”

Maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but I will spare you my high school stories that are worse.  My point is that making new friends can be tricky.  Dr. Phil would probably call it a leap of intimacy, or a step of trust building, but getting to know another person requires an element of risk.  Whether during high school (“I thought you just wanted help you’re your algebra.”), or inviting a work colleague out for a beer and finding out they have more than a passing interest in Scientology, you are taking a chance.

How to make friends is the fodder for self help books, Sunday supplement articles, and really boring masters level theses.  For JoAnne and me, many of our close friendships evolved through activities of our children. The babysitting co-op, play group, skating lessons at Parade, or Barton School.  Our kids led us to events where we had something in common with other parents.  Granted, with some the only other things we shared were opposable thumbs, bilateral symmetry, and living on land.  Nonetheless, sports and school gave us a base to work from.  In hindsight I realize that having a boy and a girl provided us with many opportunities to get to know some wonderful people.

Even when they were very young, our kids were unerringly accurate at forecasting the parents JoAnne and I would like.  The dad might have been almost bald and the mom a corporate lawyer, we often discovered that we were kindred spirits.   When the subject of college years came up, we could begin to tell if they had been in SDS or sang tenor in Up With People, whether they had followed the Grateful Dead or had been a “Goldwater Girl”.  Still, inviting our children’s classmates’ parents to a no kids dinner party or an R- rated movie can feel like a bait and switch.  On occasion I felt more like a stammering teenager than a confident, worldly, erudite, stammering thirty-five year old getting to know the cooler parents at Barton.

As the kids grew and became more independent, JoAnne and I were launched.  Fortunately we had gathered enough left-leaning, tree hugging, acoustic music playing, New York Times reading, Chomsky quoting, film loving, Guthrie going, and letter to the editor writing types to last us a Minnesota lifetime.  These dear people are still our friends, as loyalty– even to sunshine patriots such as ourselves who flee to California after twenty-five years– is perhaps their paramount virtue.

Making friends without our children as entrée took an unexpected turn when JoAnne’s mother moved to a nearby, medium-sized (140 apartment) senior residence.  Since then we have met many of her neighbors and their families. Their children are about our age, and I see budding friendships. Thanks, Mom.


Tom H. Cook is a local writer on a long leash.  The scariest trick or treaters he saw last month were dressed as Karl Rove and Dick Cheney





Elderly Divorce

An elderly couple shuffles into a marriage counselor’s office.  The therapist can barely contain her astonishment but asks, “How can I help you?”  “We want to get a divorce,” they reply.  The therapist apologizes for being so forward but feels compelled to ask their ages.  “I’m 88 and Stella here is 86” replies the man.  “And you are just now considering a divorce?”  Stella replies sweetly, “We were waiting for the children to die.”                              —Old joke

“Divorce is hardest on the children.”  Coupled with a reassuring pat on the back, these are the calming words I impart to JoAnne when she is struggling.  While I do hope she feels better, the intent of my seemingly patronizing advice is to make her laugh and at least momentarily step out of the quagmire of this unusual situation.  She is wallowing not so much in grief as in financial records, real estate questions, and the thankless task of dividing household tchotchkes.  After sixty-three years of marriage her parents are slogging toward a divorce.  Unlike in most circumstances the three daughters, (all in their fifties) have been saddled with the task of undoing their parents’ nuptials.

The end of a long marriage is not funny.  There is humor only because the pain has mostly been replaced by absurdity.  JoAnne’s only ground rule about me writing about this deeply personal event is that I not take sides.  This is easy to do since both parties seem happier and more alive than they have been for at least the last decade.  If life is a feast, they have both cavorted off and stuck the children with the dishes (and the furniture, and the accounting).

JoAnne’s father does not trust the stock market.  Consequently he has divided his savings into smallish lots and moves portions of it from bank to bank every time the interest rate goes up a fraction of a percentage point, or a toaster is offered for opening a new account.  What he lacks in capital he makes up for in sheer chaos.  He has opened and closed twenty-six accounts in just the last four years.  Normally this would be his business and from what I hear interest rate shopping is a recognized sport and hobby of retirees in Naples, Florida.

When JoAnne drew the short straw in the family and got power of attorney for her mother she inherited the task of making sense of the labyrinth that is her father’s accounting.  He is a Michael Milken of numbers, an Enron of efficiency except that the decimal points are four or five places to the right.  Hundreds of hours and many spreadsheets later I found JoAnne slumped over clutching a calculator, muttering something about Silas Marner.  I am glad that she is renewing her interest in classic literature.

She has also been spending an inordinate amount of time talking with her mother’s attorney, and the realtor who is supposedly helping them sell their Florida home between hurricanes.  (“Beneath the plywood those are leaded glass windows…”)

JoAnne and I were able to remain blissfully unaware of most of the personal aspects of her parents’ lives until her mother came to visit us and stayed for five months.  At our wedding a friend pulled me aside and in amazement said, “Your mother-in-law is Edith Bunker!”  If we become caricatures of ourselves as we age, begin with Edith and 1972 and connect the dots.   She is delightful, well meaning and warm, but indirect to the point of teeth gnashing when you need a direct answer.

JoAnne:  “Mom, do you want to ask for the crystal goblet set?

Mom:  “That set came from Gina’s house on Wynnewood Road.  We were over for Sunday dinner and I was in the kitchen with Josephine and Tootsie and we were talking about the set and how nice it looked next to the breakfront.  Well Gina came in and I guess she was steamed at Frederica and Uncle Vince because they had said that her manicotti was more stiff and not like the way Vince’s mother made it.  So I thought I would cheer her up and so I started talking about how much I liked the goblets although they were really not my taste because they were a little top heavy…although they did look nice; I was telling the truth about that part…

JoAnne:   I am trying to finish this e-mail to your attorney.  Should we be asking for the goblets?

Mom:   She started opening and shutting drawers real hard like she was looking for something and Tootsie and I were getting embarrassed so I asked her how Frank was doing.  You never met Uncle Frank; he died when you were little.  He was more like a cousin. We used to call him Uncle Frank because he looked so much older than Joe or Albert…

JoAnne:  ##@$%^** (sob, growl, whimper).

Mom:  (stroking, JoAnne’s head) “You seem upset.  Why don’t you take a rest?”

So JoAnne spends most of her time making sense of financial records, talking to lawyers, estate appraisers, realtors, moving companies, her siblings, and parents.  Out of angst and frustration she is wont to bellow through clenched teeth, “This is not my divorce!”  If she is irritable and distracted, I try to be understanding.  After all, it is hard to be the child of a broken home.

Tom H. Cook is a not so local writer and orphan.  The best bumper sticker he has seen in southern California is “I love cats and I vote.”  He urges you to hug your cat and vote.




Tom with the paper

Great Writing

Great writing allows us to suspend disbelief and be spirited away to a world of larger than life characters more compelling than our own friends and neighbors. These complex, driven souls (who frequently have fabulous figures, chiseled features, raven hair, piercing eyes or some combination thereof) face staggering challenges. Their dialogue is witty, sardonic, immediate, and intense.  Their decisions are high stakes and life altering.  We rejoice and suffer with them.  Simultaneously admiring their convictions and resourcefulness, yet fearing where their misplaced idealism and naiveté may lead.

A novelist’s artfully chosen words evoke the full range of the human condition.  Their prose is like the dance of the seven veils.  We are left to ponder what part of their tale is autobiographical. Staring at the dust jacket photo of a bespectacled 25year old upper West Side writer from Keokuk, Iowa it seems unfathomable that they are so able to capture the plight of an enfeebled Etruscan shepherd and the poignant longings of his comely daughter.  Yet for 418 pages of laughter and tears we are absorbed: smelling the camel dung, searching for Shekabah, and shivering under the pitch-black desert sky.   Clearly there are didactic truths about the human condition that transcend time, culture, and social standing.

It is just as evident that I have no clue into this world.  I am as unlikely to hold a reader spellbound as I am at gunpoint.  I have examined my work for hidden meaning, prophetic insight, and even Talmudic wisdom.  Sadly none of these elements are present.  I am only able to bump along sharing what it is like to be middle-aged, frugal, rumpled, and reside within walking distance of Lake of the Isles.   The only event that passes for drama in my very pedestrian life is a sudden (if you call three years sudden) move to Southern California.

Six months later numerous friends and e-mailers have asked what life is like in L.A. when JoAnne and I are not hanging out with Kevin Spacey and Bill Clinton (see HLP 10/02).  The best description is the baseball strategy of playing “small ball”.  In baseball terms, it is to be scrappy, execute fundamentals, win close games with defence and hustle, sacrifice for the good of the team, play base to base, take advantage of small opportunities, and play hard.  This is admittedly difficult to translate to a financial planner without them believing you are preparing to live in a bus shelter.  In non-sports terms, “small ball” is making due with less, enjoying the little things in life, devoting fewer hours to work and more time to activities that gratify the soul.

Not the final draft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was never a big buck, free agent, homerun, and big inning, get by on raw talent over training, swing for the fences type.  This is more a function of a lack of opportunity and initiative rather than a philosophical aversion to money and power.    Nonetheless when someone with my meager assets decides to downscale it is an event that is barely perceptible to some.  Still this is what JoAnne and I are doing.

It is going well.  Stella the insane boxer is actually enjoying living out doors and having a small yard.  The cats, both given away and subsequently returned have adjusted nicely to the California adventure.  Our new place in Redondo Beach at 1,400 square feet is less than half the size of our East Isles home. Rather than drive on freeways, we are able to walk or bike to most anything we need including the ocean.

I miss running into people I know at the local supermarket.  Without young children or steady work we are somewhat isolated, but still well connected to our Minnesota friends.  There is less sense of community living here with the other rootless drifters.  Garage sales are pathetic, but year round.  We find more interesting stuff on our Sunday night trash eve dog walks around the neighborhood.  The local libraries are very good and we are card-carrying members at six of them.

Our modest living room is happily taken up with JoAnne’s very large (48 harness) loom and assorted weaving projects.  She has an amazing capacity for self amusement and her days fly by.  I am ensconced at the lowest rung of the education food chain.  With a bachelor’s degree, a passing grade on the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST), and a clear criminal record, I am qualified to substitute teach.

I have joined the less than elite pool of bored housewives, aspiring actors, downsized aerospace engineers, recent college graduates, and faded old duffers willing to trade a day in the sun for $100.00.  The work is challenging, ever changing, and fulfilling.  I live a teacher’s life for a day.  A  5:30 AM call may summon me to five classes of Calculus and Physics in Palos Verdes, or a Special Education setting in Manhattan Beach.  On mornings the phone does not ring I enjoy a day of California vacation.  Lurking below this calm façade there are crucial life decisions, but for now it is as JoAnne says, “A simple life for a simple man”.

Tom H. Cook lacks the power to enthrall.  His goal as a writer is to make the squiggly lines the computer uses to critique his writing disappears.  




Time on a Leash

“Time is a jet plane; it moves too fast.”          -Bob Dylan

Beat the Clock was not the best of the 1950s television game shows, just the most prophetic.  Bud Collier, the gangly, affable host, had been the radio voice of Superman before he found his true calling – convincing “everyday people from all walks of life” to bury their spouse in a vat of ping pong balls or lime Jello on national television.  Bud, with his bobbing Adam’s apple and trademark bow tie, was so unintimidating that contestants soon found themselves crawling through a maze of hula hoops with a bucket of goldfish in their mouths.  Bud’s low key approach to the activities made you think that he may just put on a marshmallow sport jacket and leap through the hoop of fire after the show, before going home to Scarsdale.

The most memorable element of the show was the clock on the wall.  Not only were you expected to somersault 30 feet with a raw egg in your mouth, but after a look at the clock on the wall – you have 90 seconds!  Nowadays when I am running errands (like searching for a plastic replacement widget sprocket release for a Dino-juicer I could live without), the show comes back to me.  Much of what I do is absurd and time-consuming.  Leaving the absurd part to French existentialists and college sophomores, I think about how the giant clock on the wall dominates my life.

I am not a busy person doing important things like addressing the United Nations or convincing the Walker Art Center to take the stack of large iron landmines that grace the east wall back to where they found them.  I am more a plodder and a grazer, continually baffled by things like how to access the PIN number on my credit card from a touch tone phone.  Yet there is the constant press of time in my life.

Even sidewalk conversations with neighbors need to be timed because someone has karate lessons and the business call has to be returned before five.  Then eat quickly and drop off the library books (that are on the grace period) on the way to more kid pickup.  Granted this is not the stuff that would rival Roots, it is merely ironic that with answering machines, faxes and VCRs, we have only managed to rearrange our inconveniences.  After years of life experience and technology, I still have 20 minutes to rest before a meeting, ten minutes until guests arrive…

A friend calls the unclaimed time between two scheduled activities her leash, as in “I was on a 20-minute leash between the dentist and Girl Scouts.”  Twenty minutes is a pretty impressive bit of free time.  My friend chose to spend hers attempting to get out of a gridlocked parking ramp downtown.  It was cunning old crewcut Bud (he looked blond on our snowy old black and white Philco) that began to prepare us for a world of short, disjointed, seemingly random experiences that would be further robbed of meaning by a strict time clock.  “There is no gestalt,” Bud would snicker off-camera.

Bud would never tie together people who were not married.  It was the 50s, after all.  But he loved joining newlyweds and very heavy couples with rope or tape.  Then he would announce the task.

“Walk the balance beam with an apple under your chin, trade apples, skip back and ring the bell.”  The couple would smile, mentally spending the $200 prize money while those of us at home squawked that Bud had gone soft and sold us out.  Then the best part, Bud would grin and in a nonchalant manner add, “You will be blindfolded, and you have 90 seconds – GO!”

To this day as I receive a difficult but doable assignment, I hear Bud’s voice saying, “Oh and you will be blindfolded.”  The blindfold is meant to pay respect to those who function courageously without sight, and remind me how fortunate I am to be sighted.  It is also a metaphor for the kicker, the ‘oh by the way’ part that people and machines tend to throw in as an afterthought, to thwart the successful completion of the job.  (“Normally we fix these, but yours was made in Occupied China when pure steel was rare, hence the oxidation level forces covalent bonding when we increase the amperage…”)

So Bud even taught us to expect serendipity in life.  I miss the old rascal.

Here’s wishing you an enjoyable summer on a very long leash.


Tom H. Cook is not a candidate for mayor of Minneapolis.  He would, however, accept a sincere draft.