Thursday, August 31, 2006


A beautiful lady named Sandy
Says reading our blog is just dandy.
If we could entrance her
To write us an answer,
We'd call her "La Auteur-a Grande!"

[We like to read comments posted by our readers. It makes us feel loved --- or hated.
You choose.]

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A few leaves drop in the ARBORETUM

I have a religious icon for sale. See the picture of Jesus on the top? Asking price, $300.00.

I heard the Resident of the White House tell Brian Williams today that he has recently read three books about George Washington, and also Camus. He says he has "ec-a-lectic" tastes. Now that I'm retired from teaching I think I'll read some books about education. And, being a retired parent, I believe I'll read Dr. Spock.

This picture, which has been labeled Man of the Year, is presented courtesy of a dare from someone near and dear to me. Well, she said, "Post it? Don't you dare!" It's behavior like this which has always gotten me into trouble.

"HEY, You! --- Get off-a my cloud!"

Noted: Lingerie wrestling video causes queen to resign

I don't even know where to begin on this one, but I just had to share it. The comment I like best definitely comes from the jilted beauty queen's father. Read on...

The Grand Rapids Press
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lingerie wrestling video causes queen to resign
By Ted Roelofs

GREENVILLE -- Posing with her court Aug. 12, the newly crowned Danish Festival queen looked the part: beaming, proud, holding a flower bouquet.

The reign of Carissa Akkerhuis ended less than two weeks later as word leaked she had appeared in videos clad in lingerie and fighting or wrestling with men or other women.

The 19-year-old's resignation Thursday is the first time in anyone's memory a festival queen has quit under such circumstances...

The loss of the crown also means Akkerhuis relinquishes more than $2,000 in scholarships.

Greenville resident Kim Akkerhuis said he stands by his daughter "100 percent."

"She did absolutely nothing wrong," said Akkerhuis, who considers the videos a legitimate way to teach self-defense techniques. "If it's immoral to protect ourselves in martial arts, then where are we going with this?"

The videos are produced by a Grand Rapids company and distributed through various Web sites.

Oh, the humanity! The injustice!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Couric, the Cowboy and Real News

Ya, I know there are people who care which pompous celebrity reads the news on which network. In my opinion, no one has done a really ample job since Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live many years ago. If CBS would announce that Katie Kouric, was actually planning to elevate the quality of the news broadcasting to Jane's standards, that would be something notable. Something to tune in for.

She has decided, instead, to actually lower the level of journalistic discourse by presenting us the Resident of the US on her first show. Live! Well, sort of; it's an exerpt from a live interview she plans to do. Now won't that be ground-breaking and creative? It's not like we haven't had plenty of chance to be exposed to him. Frankly I've developed an allergy. I have Bush rash.

Why does she not have Neil Bush on to discuss the evils of venereal disease [family values], or have a true investigative effort looking into that guy Laura Bush killed in Texas when she was young -- you know, her boyfriend. Or perhaps she might look into Marvin Bush's financial empire in the Middle East, or if she would investigate the bibulous Bush girls and the fact that they have not been sacrificed in Iraq [staying the course], or if she would look into that Savings and Loan bail-out some years ago from which a certain Bush family member seems to have profited [entrepreneurialism]. Or how the property on which the Texas Rangers constructed a stadium was taken by eminent domain....well, that might be something to wanna watch.

Or Jeb Bush's family! Now there's a "family circus!"

Oh, there are so many possibilities.

But, I understand. We don't want to turn our news broadcasts into scandal sheets and gossip columns, do we? Instead, just give us ol' George. Just what we wanted. Maybe he'll sing us a song. I saw online a cool rendition of "Stop That Shit" based on his wit 'n' wisdom. Maybe he could sing that to us. Or whistle it.

Here's an idea! Couric could interview him on his ranch. He could show us how he ropes the broncs and rounds up the dogies and brands them with his special brand. We could see him as he rides along the fenceline with his fluffy little black yap-yap ranch dog. We could watch him gather with his hands, you know, Ol' Gabby, Alamo Joe, and the tenderfoot, Billy Boy. They could brew coffee around the fire and swap trail stories, just like the movies. Seeing our President rough-and-ready and hard at it "gittin' 'er done" hacking on the brush, and so on, would be a great chance to bring us back to the things that really matter in life.

Oh, I know, it's not a real ranch, and there's only one horse, and there aren't actually any cattle, but still, what form of reality do you want on your TV news? Real reality or reality show reality?

Monday, August 28, 2006


ITEM: "Wikiality," derived from the user-compiled Wikipedia information Web site, was defined as "reality as determined by majority vote," as when astronomers voted Pluto off their list of planets last week.------ [Global Language Monitor, in its annual survey of words from television, via REUTERS 8/28/06]

Bearing this in mind, I suggest we gather together a team of geographers to declare Iraq an uninhabited wasteland, and then we can remove the troops to the safety of our shores.

While we're at it., I want to get together a team of anatomists to have me voted "Mr. Universe."
Brief Sport Note: U.S. Women's Soccer Team defeated China 4 - 1, yesterday, Aug 27. Reloaded, this great team rolls on, and they are wonderful to watch.

Someone who agrees

Coincidentally, I ran across this letter to the editor of the Hartford Courant this morning -- I have to read the paper for work -- which covers a lot of the same ground I did. I think the writer sums up my point of view almost exactly.

Hartford Courant -- letter to the editor

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A citizen's sincere inquiry

My thoughts this evening turned to the "Global War on Terror", or GWOT as I've heard it called. It's hard to put a finger on what triggered these thoughts, but I think it was just a lyric in a song. And I got to thinking, perhaps, about the simple joy of enjoying a really great song, and thinking what a swell day it has been, and how well things are going.

But then I realized that there's also a dark cloud there -- a sense of having to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy such simple pleasures. You really have to make an effort to forget just how poorly things have been managed to bring us to this place. The costs of this war go well beyond soldiers lost and injured, dollars spent, and international goodwill cast away. There's the constant anxiety, the foreboding, the sense of gloom that is afflicting all of us. I've never really been all that worried about being a victim of terrorism -- I AM worried about watching the world spin out of control. I have the sense of being caught in a completely avoidable sequence of events I'm fairly powerless to halt or deflect. You really have to try to put that out of mind to enjoy a good song.

So that brings me to the war on terror. And I guess my question or thought is, so, what's the plan? I mean, in a war, you have a plan, and that plan is generally shared with "the team." This is/was a democracy, where citizens are supposed to participate in their nation's civic affairs. So, nearly 5 years in, I want to know how it is proposed that we win. In WWII (aka "the deuce"), with everyone on the same team, we had whipped the Japs and Nazis by now, reshaped Western Europe, freed dozens of former colonies, and settled in for a 50-year Cold War. This are doesn't seem to be much direction in this war, which is odd, since the Republican leadership likes to liken 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, and GWB to Churchill. I want to know: How do we measure progress in this war? What are the objectives? What is our strategy?

Some people seem to think that there is some sort of strategy. They think, well, we hand over some of our little liberties, like taking Coke or hand cream or nail clippers on an airplane. They even think that forfeiting our rights to privacy, due process and the right to a fair election are perfectly reasonable "sacrifices" to make in order to be more secure. And then there are all these bureaucrats we've hired, who like to change threat levels and occasionally issue ominous warnings about duct tape or dirty bombs. And we're supporting wars in the Levant, apparently with the express purpose of convincing the Islamic world that we hate them and are planning their demise (which, of course, is entirely counter-productive if you're trying to dissuade Muslims from becoming radicalized). But these measures are the (dumb) compensatory tactics of a new "normal"; this is NOT a strategy.

The closest thing the Bush Administration has struck upon to a strategy is the idea that if we bring democracy to the Middle East, Tehran will look like London in no time at all, and Americans will be shopping the bazaars looking for Persian rugs before Jeb makes his run at the White House in '12. While I'm perfectly prepared to believe that democracy in the Middle East would be a profitable development in the interest of world peace, any thinking person must realize by now that you can't export democracy via the 101st Airborne and the U.S. Marines. They can smash things (and there are things in the world that need smashing), but you don't bring in the demolition guys to build a building. You need architects and gardners to build things and make them grow. There's a distinct shortage of such people at the top. The Bush Administration's antagonism toward democracy at home is a strong indication that they haven't the first idea how to foster it abroad.

Democracy in strange places does not always bring the changes one hopes for. France and Venezuela are two good examples of countries whose democracies provide vexing problems for this Administration. It's amazing to think that they expected more amenable results from Shiites; so you wonder if perhaps this isn't exactly what they expected. Before you think I'm giving the Bushies too much credit here, keep in mind that the people in the Administration who actually understand such things aren't necessarily the same people who are making the decisions -- it's all very hard to penetrate.

So, while we're told there's a "war on terror" going on, our soldiers are caught in the middle of a simmering conflict which looks a lot more like civil war than den of terrorism. I hear the President say that our troops are fighting terrorism, but it seems to me that they're fighting Iraqi shopkeepers, dentists and the sons of date farmers -- and those Iraqis are killing each other in much greater numbers than they're killing Americans. When all the country's armed, it's silly to call everyone a terrorist -- unless your purpose is propaganda rather than reality.

This "war on terror" smells a lot more like the "War on Drugs" or "War on Poverty." And the fighting in Iraq smells a whole lot more like a good ol' Southeast Asian quagmire than the "central front in the war on terror." We've run into nationalism and a healthy appetite for self-determination there. Hell -- we didn't want the English here 230 years ago, and it's no surprise to me that they don't want us there today. Who would? Do you remember the movie "Red Dawn"? Where a bunch of patriotic American kids hid in the hills and smashed Russki tanks and helicopters with RPG and such? The escapade in Iraq is a lot like that. Our troops over there are getting "Swayzed".

I don't claim to have all the answers. But the Bush Administration clearly doesn't have the answers, either, and those are the guys who wanted to run the world, not me.

Again: What is the plan?

I Turned It Off Again Last Night

According to the "Beloit College Mindset List" this country's entering freshpersons have never seen an episode of Saturday Night Live (or is that Saturday Light Jive?) --- that is funny!

As we are forced to note, too often: Thus passes the glory of the world.


Friday, August 25, 2006


Let us ever-and-ever be impressed by the behavior of our Leader. You may want to read about his love of farting. Here is an introduction and a link:
Oilman Bush Has Gas in Background
By Margery Eagan
Boston Herald Columnist

Thursday, August 24, 2006 - Updated: 02:19 AM EST

Maybe if Iraq were going better, I’d chalk this up to some cowboy thing.“Blazing Saddles Does D.C.”

As it is, I worry that the supposed leader of the free world is trapped in the body of a 7-year-old and hiding a Whoopie Cushion under his bed.

Has Dubya lost it?

Anyway, here’s the news, such as it is. U.S. New & World Reports’ Paul Bedard says our commander in chief “loves flatulence jokes . . . can’t get enough of fart jokes. He’s also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides.”



1.Since parenthood is more and more common among this readership, let's ask this question:
Is it environmentally better to use cloth diapers or disposable?

ACCORDING to Jim Motavelli, editor of E/ The Environmental Magazine , you should use what works best for you, unless you live in an area where water is scarce. Then, it's best to use disposables. However, it is really not OK to wad them up and throw them into the parking lot at Walgreens as so many slobs do, and if we catch you at it, you will need a cloth to clean yourself up.

2. Is it better to use paper or plastic grocery bags?

ACCORDING to Motavelli, there doesn't seem to be any advantage to the environment from using one or the other, although if you take cloth bags to the store and pack your own groceries, you're a hero. And you won't find peoples' cloth bags hanging from bushes and fences all over the landscape.

Alas, Pluto, we hardly knew ye

Spinning through the far reaches of our solar system, the twins Pluto and Charon shadowbox their way through the heavens as they have for untold millennia: circling and spinning, never touching, locked in a gravitational embrace. They are mysterious and cold, and virtually invisible to us, even with all our new telescope technology. And until yesterday, Pluto had the honor of being called a "planet" by most of an odd race of bipedal primates who happen to live on one of the other orbs circling the same star.

My take on this not-very-important-yet-very-interesting bit of news is that if "planet" is going to receive some sort of scientific definition, that definition ought not be arbitrary, but instead rest on some innate physical property of planets. I liked the proposed, but rejected idea that a planet was an object with enough gravity to form a sphere, and which orbited a star (rather than another planet). It was universal, and didn't rely on one's opinion. This was rejected, apparently on the grounds that we'd have too many planets (a silly argument given the number of, say, asteroids or stars in the heavens). So instead, a new definition of "planet" was reverse-engineered based on a list of preferred orbs. Nevermind that Mercury (still a planet) has more in common with Pluto than Saturn or Jupiter.

I wonder what the inhabitants of Pluto call our little piece of real estate, here between Mars and Mercury?

In any case, Pluto is now a dwarf planet, not quite a real planet. News of this demotion won't reach icy Pluto for some time, and when it does, I don't know what reaction we are expecting. But somehow, I don't think Pluto itself will care. It will continue spinning and circling in its eccentric elliptical orbit, shadowboxing with Charon, just as it did before the dinosaurs walked, before Newton's theories, and before we clever chimps even knew it was there.


We must expect posterity
to view with some asperity
the marvels and the wonders
we're passing on to it;
but it should change its attitude
to one of heartfelt gratitude
when thinking of the blunders
we didn't quite commit.

--Piet Hein

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More About That Headline Below

I invited this conversation because it seems to me that no one has misunderstood the threat to this country more completely than the rootin'-tootin', side-saddle sittin', gunslingin' asshole currently residing in our White House. And his sidekick has been the Democratic Party. Together they've gone off to clear the prairie of coyotes and badmen. So, now they've failed! It's time to blame each other! It's like Cheney has blamed his dog for shooting that guy in the face.

In the elections, we can choose to take sides with the Ya-hoo on the palomino or the Ya-hoo who shares his tent at night. Because, after all, if we ain't on the side of the good guys, we must be on the side of the coyotes. And no matter how ridiculous the good guys have become, the debate is never over "what could we do better?" or "what could we do different?" It's still about "us" and "them"-- only.

Shouldn't there be a third side? You know, like the RIGHT! side? It just doesn't seem to me that either political party is the right side, or that either of them deserves our votes. And I sure as hell don't want to go with the coyotes.

I keep getting requests from the Democrats for contributions. All of the various left/progressive candidates and Democratic campaign committees have decided I'm a sympathizer. They couldn't be more wrong.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I invite our readers to comment on this headline from the New York Times:

"Bush Argues Democrats Don’t Understand Threat to U.S."

Comments now unmoderated

Let's try this unmoderated, so comments can appear immediately. You'll still have to use the word verification. If we have any spammer problems, then we'll reconsider using moderation.

Fire away a will -- but not at Will.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Here are two organizations that lovers of the natural environment, the remaining wilderness, the last great places, should join.If you aren't familiar with their work, check them out .

In a recent mailer to its members, the Wilderness Society made this statement: "...The Bush Administration wants to use our irreplaceable lands like a piggy bank to pay our nation's debts, proposing to sell off nearly 800,000 acres of public lands and National Forests to developers, Big Oil, the timber industry -- whomever is willing to pay the most.



She strikes from the grave

The War on Terror is officially over. The saturation coverage given this week to the extradition of one allegedly guilty but certifiably creepy recluse proves that the media, at least, has moved on.

Listen up, because I'm unlikely to mention the name Jon Benet Ramsey again in this blog. Ever. I have nothing but sympathy for the girl, whose story is certainly a tragedy of near-Shakespearean proportions. Beginning with her life as a toy poodle, and right through to the desecration of her life by the profit-hungry media hordes, she's been thorougly mistreated. I can hardly contain my disgust at the whore-iffic treatment the media -- including the supposedly "serious" news outlets -- give to this story, which just won't die. I suppose that the capture of the supposed murderer is worthy of note in the respectable press, but the saturation frenzy coverage is more in the tradition of P.T. Barnum or the Roman Forum than of Edward R. Murrow. (See the brilliant Daily Show from Aug. 21 for proper perspective on this).

I say near-Shakespearean because a real Shakespearean tragedy requires the involvement of a person of consequence at some point in the plot, and thus far the characters in this B-movie are all people who owe their fame entirely to the circus. If the Kennedy Assasination had recieved this level of coverage and media scrutiny, we'd have the whole cabal of spooks responsible for that behind bars by now. Heads of state, struggles for power, a beautiful wife, communists -- now THERE is a Shakespearean tragedy. The "serious" media utterly abandoned that tale decades ago. Nobody believes the official explanation at all, but it's a fig leaf covering an embarrassing episode, and the big media outlets seem to have agreed to just leave it alone. They treat UFOs with more credibility than any new investigation into the murder of a U.S. president.

But I digress. My main point is that the Return of Ramsey is a major signpost. It may signal a sort of emergence from the mass mania which has gripped this country since 9/11, and perhaps in that light it should be welcomed. Remember the 90s, when America was great and things seemed to be going our way? Palestinians and Israelis were talking to each other, jobs were booming, the government turned surpluses, doomsday seemed farther and farther away. The government was in competent hands, and important people were actually doing something about welfare, the environment, AIDS, etc. We had time for little diversions like O.J., Elian Gonzalez, etc.

We're a long way from that sort of happy prosperity, I know, but is this at least a sign that America is at last awakening from its half-decade-long fear-induced stupor? Can I hope?

Monday, August 21, 2006


(Many Thanks to Mike Lafferty for this alert.) A new expression has crept into the sports conversation. "The Devos Curse" resulted when a certain candidate for Governor of Michigan came to the Detroit Tigers broadcast booth. Since then, the poor Tigers have been on a terrible losing streak. As one commentator said: "Now he's outsourcing our victories."

If you Google* this expression, you'll get an earful (eyeful?)
Whatever you do, Mr. DeVos, don't go anywhere near the Red Wings! Or the Chippewas, or the SVSU Cardinals, or the Bronchos, or the Wolverines or the Spartans. Go cheer for the White Sox.



Possibly the best movie review. Ever.

Dana Stevens at reviews "Snakes on a Plane" with pitch-perfect aplomb. It's a movie that doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not.

"Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane
I am pleased to report that Snakes on a Plane (New Line) is everything you could want from a movie with its glorious title. When it comes to airborne serpents, there's no possibility it leaves unexplored. Snakes in a cockpit dashboard, snakes in a barf bag, in a runaway drink cart hurtling down the center aisle—and that's saving the best reptile-in-an-unexpected-spot gags for your viewing pleasure."

Full story


Well, I never believed that it was a brand new species, but to have people say it's evidently just some kind of dog doesn't change the fact that it is unlike anything anyone has seen before, or that it was running wild, or that it was attacking people's pets. It's still freaky. If it was in your neighborhood, chewing on your gerbils, you'd say "ugh" and "what the heck is that thing?" Then you'd call animal control and probably the newspaper.
Whatever it is, I blame George W.

Sunday, August 20, 2006



Bill Ayers, who was a leading anti-war activist of the Vietnam War era, has recently said that the lesson of the 60's is not that everyone was easily protesting everywhere and ended the war. Instead, it was a very hard effort over a long period of time. One point that might be drawn from this is that we cannot expect the leadership of this country, and especially not the Democratic Party, of its own accord, to lead this country against -- much less out of -- the Iraq War. And where is the hard working resistance from large groups that would be necessary to push them to it?

Those of us who "went along with" the Iraq War back in 2002 bought into a fiction peddled by the government. I have therefore come to accept that this war is my fault. As members of this democracy, we should take responsibility for our individual culpability. Long ago, I reached the conclusion that the war should be ended, but I have no hope that an end is near. There is little will in either political party to find a way out, and there is presently no effective anti-war movement that can force the decision makers to end it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Psychological Ramifications of Garage Sales

The often gullible, sentimental, and idealist side of me thought that I was doing something for the greater good. Recycle, reduce, reuse, right?

Yet, unless you are an antique dealer, or someone looking for some one-of-a-kind item... I hate the idea of perusing over peoples' unwanted items. It took some real time and thought when going room by room, looking for items for this sale. The only consolation I had was the thought that the items were going to be put to use... and that I would be able to make a little money too... which is always good :)
Yet to see people get out of their cars, pick through belongings, and often WALK AWAY to their cars without a second thought... let's just say it's very humbling... and eye-opening of how crappy some of my stuff really is and was.
For that very reason----- I don't go to garage sales... It's hard for me to walk up to someone's home, look through their hand-me-downs and then walk away, thus letting them also feel like their stuff is nothing but crap.

Ever since my mother sold my most favorite dress (velvety red with a big ribbon and white lace) when I was six to the meanest girl in the neighborhood, I have hated the idea of garage sales. And while many don't really care to read about about the psychological ramifications, (which are plenty in number!), just picture me as a little girl offering my mother 50 cents for the dress (which was ALREADY MINE) just before she sold it to EVIL, AWFUL, TRAMPY Tara Travis, the neighborhood bully, for 25 cents. It didn't even fit her- so she put it on her stupid doll.

So--- there is my warped take on garage sales. I have learned much in the last day...
The biggest lesson is that I put too much value on personal material items. Secondly- I'm too sentimental.
Thirdly- I've learned that I still hate Tara Travis.
Fourth- I'll probably do a garage sale again because it's a necessary evil. Fifth- Blogs are much cheaper that a shrink's couch when working out childhood troubles.

I feel better already.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Recycling, capitalist style

Well, the haul for Day 1 of the Woods Family Garage Sale was somewhat less than I'd hoped for, but it proved interesting, and we managed to off-load at least some of our unwanted material. Business was much better early in the day, so my advice to others is to open early -- an hour in the a.m. is worth two in the p.m.

It's always amazing to see what sells and what doesn't. We still have a huge but cheap desk which would be great for a college student who needed a computer-holder, and we couldn't unload the big ol' TV despite several people who expressed interest. We've got a pretty nice set of dishes, and the missing pieces just make it the perfect size for a single 20-something. No takers on that. I don't think we sold any of our ourdoor furniture. It's mostly crap, but it's all priced to move.

On the other hand, an ancient blue pinstriped Lay-Z-Boy chair --which my mother thoroughly loathed and had pronounced unsaleable -- was the first item to be snatched up this morning. I priced it at $12 but really wanted $10, and that's what I got. The fact that the base and the back came apart for easy transport proved to be the feature which sealed the deal. The new owner seemed thoroughly pleased, and didn't even seem to mind the six-inch burn mark on the left armrest (long story there, right Steve?). I have vowed to remind mom about this event for decades. We also sold quite a few bags of marbles -- you know, the kind people of a certain age played with at recess as grade-schoolers.

Garage sales provide a sort of street entertainment in the form of characters who stop by. Lots of retired white women patrol garage sales, but you also get a smattering of young couples. We had a 14-year-old boy (described to me as "adorable"), who stopped in with his grandparents and snatched up everything available with a University of Michigan logo on it. At each item, he'd ask if he could have it, and Grandpa would shake his head no. Then, like a catcher appealing to the first-base ump for a more favorable call, the kid would plead with Grandma, who couldn't deny her precious grandson. The kid got all sorts of cool UofM swag for pennies on the dollar.

You have your serious shoppers and your hagglers. Serious shoppers grab half a dozen items and pay full price, no questions asked. Hagglers want to know if they can get two glasses for a quarter, instead of paying a quarter each. You end up saying no on principle, because while it's true that you don't care about a damned quarter, you know they don't either, and you can't abide such cheapness. We had an almost-new set of scrubs ($35 retail) priced for $3, and one woman wanted to pay $2. We lowered a bunch of prices today, but not that one.

At the end of the day I made an off-hand comment to my family about the thrift of some buyers, and wondered aloud who the biggest haggler was. In an instant, Old Chip quipped that it was probably Marvin. (Think about it a second -- you'll get it)

We also still have a huge number of coffee mugs. I think we sold one with a snowman on it. So probably the lesson here is that everyone else has all the same unwanted crap you do. I doubt anyone has a shortage of coffee mugs, so don't bother giving them as gifts anymore, OK?

We'll open a little earlier tomorrow and hope for brisk business. I think the serious shoppers come out early.

feedback from fine friend Felix

I got an e-mail from my swell friend, Felix.
He says: "...and, your first words have to be your anti-establishment, auntie Bush drivel? And, why the bad-mouthing of kudzu?"

I do not resent the word "drivel" --- truly I don't. I'm sending you a toy doll. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Woodchip of Wisdom:

This is a quality of life alert: “george bush” is an invasive species, akin to kudzu. It will infiltrate any environment and is destructive of them all. It pollutes the watershed with its noxious drippings. Its roots choke out better species. It is a master of camouflage that disguises its nefarious creepings behind an appearance of congeniality. It belches lily-white fumes that poison the civic atmosphere. It throws off exploding pods that shock and awe, and slowly kill, adjacent plants. It wraps its viney tendrils around unwilling hosts and squeezes them of their substance. The umbra of darkness it casts over other plants denies sustenance to the struggling. If you see this vile weed, don’t let it into your yard or garden.

GREETINGS FROM “OLD CHIP”. Welcome to our blog.

Garage sale

While I industriously arm-wrestle the Internets to get my work done this morning, my fine new wife is collecting up the items we have set aside for this weekend's garage sale. Due to our remote location in the rural edges of Washtenaw County, we're dragging our unwanted items a few hours north to my parents' suburban home, where we hope business will be much better.

We have her father's Big Blue Van, a monstrous cavern on wheels powered by a muscular V8, and we're loading it up. This junk has got to go. Some of it has been made redundant by shiny replacements in the form of wedding and shower gifts; some of it was just gathering junk. It's good to air this stuff out and see if it can find a grateful new owner. Maybe make a few bucks... but then, we're not selling many big-ticket items, so I'm not holding out much hope for profits.

The cost of driving the Big Blue Van around may make the whole enterprise a wash, financially.

Still, out with the old...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ahem... Is this thing on?

beginning a new blog calls for some sort of introduction, but i'm hesitant to offer up any grand visions of what this is or shall be. I think I know who will this blog will be: my family members and I will all be authors. I predict that my father will be the most active of these, but my wife Teresa and brother Steven are likely to contribute from time to time. Generally, we're all environmentalist liberals.

Other than that, it would be foolish to try to define what this will be. My old blog, "The Mighty Pen," suffered from a certain amount of neglect. When I did publish, I found eventually that the content strayed away from my original concept, which was to augument my own screeds with thought-provoking opinion pieces from other publications. So I don't want to begin this new blog by constraining it with a definition. I'm sure each of us will do their own thing with it.

The title, "Arboretum", appeals because it connotes life, variety and growth. It suggests a peaceful place, where growth and new life happen. It's also, of course, a reference to both the town of Ann Arbor and my family's surname. Works on a lot of levels, see?

Anyhow, this is our new blog and we hope to see y'all here often.

It's Alive

The Arboretum was planted on Wednesday, August 16, 2006.

Long may it grow.