George Washington

Soon, my newspaper will launch a daily parody of local news. It will be bad, judging by the protype. It's not even good enough for YouTube.

And speaking of YouTube, here's my favorite video of the moment (and it is well done, and funny):

Pooty-poot

There are certain times – and they don’t come around all that often – when a guy can show off his more disgusting – yet amazing – "talents."
My wife was on the couch – breathlessly awaiting the debut of Grey’s Anatomy and a new season of “Dr. McDreamy” – when I came in and rested my head on her hip. We started talking, then we started kidding each other.
“Better watch it, or I’m going to fart on you,” she said.
My head was still resting on her hip, as she laid on her side.
“Go ahead,” I said.
She made like she was going to let one go, and laughed. She couldn’t do it.
“Can you fart on command?” she asked.
“Sure.”
“OK, do it.”
And I let one go. Two, actually; one tiny poot and a pretty good squeakier.
“You just didn’t do that!” she said, laughing, as my daughter roller her eyes (she knows of my gaseous abilities). “How can guys fart on command?”
“You don’t know,” I said. “And I’m not telling.”
“Can you do it again?”
“Sure, but I don’t want to. I have no need, and I have tired of this conversation.”
And I walked out to get a bottle of water.
Honestly, I don’t know if I could have squeezed another one out or not. But I wasn’t about to tell her that.
When being disgustingly brilliant, it’s best not to flaunt it – or fail trying to show off.

Faith

The power of prayer, whoosh, that’s a tricky one.
Religion, in general, is an interesting topic. Especially in these red-state, blues-state, polarized times.
I’m kinda under the impression that talking about religion is on the same level as talking about hemorrhoids – best to be left alone.
It is a matter of personal preference. And, quite frankly, nobody’s business but your own.
Am I religious? I’m spiritual. I believe in something, even though I can’t often put it into words. I’m Catholic – I was raised that way, and I remain, because it is familiar – and I find comfort in the traditions and rituals. I went back to the church after my mother died – it was a big, big part of her life – and found renewed spirituality while travelling to Catholic Central – Rome.
I find, however, that my spiritualism tends to run toward an appreciation of the natural world, and how everything seems to be inter-connected. I used to say that God was OK with me not kneeling in a pew in some church, since I was kneeling in the cathedral that is the wilderness, overlooking a high-mountain lake as an osprey plucks a trout from the still water.
My dad’s accident has put a lot of things into sharp focus, and that includes religion.
He should not be here, plain and simple. A 3,400-pound car had him pinned to the asphalt for something like five minutes. I’ve seen the pictures, he has a tire track that runs across the back of his favorite blue shirt. The doctors, nurses, emergency staff all told him he should be dead.
He has a broken ankle, bruises, burns and a lot of road rash.
There is no explanation for this, except his Faith (and I put that is cap letters, because he has deep, unshakable Faith).
“It was like I was being drawn into a picture,” he said of the accident. “There were yellow flowers and birds. Then your mother appeared and told God, ‘You’re not talking another parent away from my children.’ And then the picture went away.”
He said he thinks he knows where the yellow came in, the yellow stripes of the firefighters who struggled to figure out how to get the car off of him.
But I believe his other explanation. The Faith-based one. I really do. While backpacking, I was awoken at 3 a.m. by someone who shouted my name, just once.
“It’s OK,” came and went in a whisper.
I slept soundly in the knowledge until 8:30 a.m.
Who was it? My mom? I hope so. My siblings have had moments of clarity with her, and I was beginning to think she was angry with me. Turns out, I was closed up to receiving the signal. I was angry and pissed-off. And I have moved past that, into a really good place (it’s funny how a few $150 sessions with a psychologist will help).
Still, it’s hard for me to have Faith – again capital F – because I am an “intellectual.” I think, therefore I have trouble gripping concepts I cannot explain with reason.
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to try to grasp what so many people find as a warm blanket on a cold evening. The Hand of God, I guess.
I am open to explore. My mind is open. My soul is open.
On Friday, I was at the Sundial Bridge, waiting for parents to pick up their kids after my daughter’s birthday party. A couple of guys strolled up and introduced themselves.
“We’re on a scavenger hunt,” the older gentleman said. “And funny, when we started, it was my mission to find a guy in a cowboy hat.
“And we’re here to pray for folks. Is there anything you’d like us to pray for?”
“My dad,” I said. “He was run over by a car last week.”
“Well, let’s pray for you, and we’ll send these prayers out to him.”
They put their hands on my shoulders and prayed for dad’s bones to knit, his bruises to go away.
It lasted for a couple of minutes. And it wasn’t hokey. It was OK.
I am open, Lord, yes, I am open.

The rundown

I’m lousy at hypotheticals.
You know, having to ponder questions like “What would you do if you had a million dollars?”
I’m unlikely to ever have a cool million and thus cannot fathom what it would be like to be flush with so much disposable income. Hypothetical situations have just too many variables.
Real-life situations are, I don’t know, tangible. You are forced to deal with things, whether you like it or not.
We had just pulled into Etna on Sept. 6, when my buddy’s cell phone came to life. It was my wife, Sharon, frantic that I get in touch with my sister, Diane, in Ames, Iowa.
My 77-year-old father, Ed, had been in a serious accident.
He’d been run over by a car.
Notice I didn’t say hit by a car. From what dad’s been able to tell us — he’s doing great, is in good spirits and took his first spin around his bed in a walker on Wednesday — he was out grocery shopping, and as he walked back to his car, he was allegedly struck by an older gentleman who was pulling into the open parking space dad was occupying.
Dad said the man then backed the car over him, pinning him to the asphalt.
“They admitted him in critical condition,” Diane said over the static on the cell. “From what I can tell, that’s just a precaution because of his age. They also put a breathing tube in, to help him breathe. They think he may have a punctured lung, a broken ankle and a broken wrist.
“I’m on my way to Omaha (where dad was transported from his hometown of Fremont in eastern Nebraska) and I’ll know more later.”
I was a few hours away from entering the Russian Wilderness Area for an annual backpacking trip with the boys. Out of contact. In the middle of nowhere.
So, what did I do?
I strapped my pack to my back, and walked into the woods.
After careful consideration — and another telephone call with my sister — I sought relief in granite, pine and trout.
Dad had a broken ankle, a bruised lung and was basically one big, human contusion (a bruise in the form of a tire track has appeared on his backside). But he was alive — and continues to show remarkable recovery skills.
“There’s really nothing you can do here,” she said. “Go have a good time, and try not to worry.”
So, how do you find joy in a situation that’s fraught with sorrow? The outdoors, for me, is that perfect outlet. Not a place of escape, but one of renewal. It was in a conversation with a buddy, while fishing, that gave clarity to the moment.
“Not everyone can fathom this, just being out here,” he said. “I’m so happy that you understand it.”
When I got home last Sunday, I gave dad a call.
“I’m doing OK, considering,” he said, recounting the accident for me. “I kept telling them, ‘Get this (expletive) car off me, it’s heavy.’ That damn car was on me for five minutes.”
“What kind of car was it?” I asked.
“How the hell should I know?” he said. “It was on top of me.”
Good point. Stupid question. And dad, thankfully, remains feisty as ever.
The car was a 2001 Buick Century, according to the police report. The 2001 Century weighs 3,371 pounds, I looked it up. It also has a ground clearance of 5.7 inches — roughly the length of a Bic Round Stick ballpoint pen.
Dad is a considerably thicker man than that. It is by the grace of God that he’s still here. But he is a man of considerable, unshakable faith (and one tough hombre).
And real life does what the hypothetical just cannot do — point out the obvious richness and color of our daily lives. What it means to be human, to care, to create. To love.
Soon, it’ll be my pleasure to fly home to Nebraska and do what I can for the man who taught me how to fish, how to embrace the natural world and to never let it go. He’s also the one who has steadfastly reminded me that life isn’t fair — and was good enough to smack me in the head hard enough 10 years ago to get back into journalism. A move that led to the Record Searchlight, the outdoors and the current richness of my life.
Real life is gritty. It isn’t fair. But it is an amazingly interesting journey.

Failure to launch

Our first attempts at a Mentos soda rocket were dismal – at best.
We tried a two-liter Diet Coke with five mint Mentos, which got us about 20 feet of distance – but no lift.
Dejected, and a little sticky, we went in, regrouped and watched a video.
And tried Diet Pepsi with one Mentos.
The cap didn’t come off, then it did, and the bottle just spun _ covering me with soda.
We even tried a hand-held mortar version with a 18-ounce sparkling water, but the cap held fast.
OK, it’s a little like being at the Goddard Space Flight Center. We will test again.
We will get it right.
A soda bottle will fly.