Monthly Archives: November 2009

Flight Lessons

A few years ago, we were feeling sort of goofy at the office so we decided to have a paper airplane flying contest around Thanksgiving.  Our office is on the top floor of our building so we have a lot of potential to fly a plane quite a distance.  At the time, we decided that the contest would be an annual tradition.  Three years later, we decided to have the 2nd annual paper airplane flying contest…

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In the first contest, I had a superior design but was adversely affected by wind currents and unexpected air inversions.  My plane landed in a tree that grows right beside the building.  Another fella with a primitive design fly his plane nearly to the river…the Mississippi River that is.  Anyhow, a week or so ago, we decided to have a pre-contest practice run where I once again flew my superior design directly into the same dang tree.  The pre-contest drove me nuts…first place was won by the new girl in the office…again with a primitive design.  Second place was taken by another guy who threw a box lid off the roof.  You see, the only rule was that the plane had to contain some paper product.

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Since my superior design didn’t even really show for the fight…I mean flight, I declared the contest to be void.  We had the “real” contest on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  This time, I decided I was absolutely going to win…I brought a special plane:

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Guess what…we had the trim on the control wrong and this plane flew right into the same dang tree…how can I lose with a powered plane?  Soon, that tree will meet its end!

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Anyhow, the box-lid thrower this time threw a roll of toilet paper off the roof…and it did very well.  I think next year I will go simple rather than superior!


After minutes and minutes browsing the World Wide Web coupled with my experience playing doctor as a child, I have determined that I have gynencephaherpalitis.  That’s right…it’s full blown and apparently not getting better on its own.  Don’t cry for me though friends.  My affairs are in order and if the worst should happen, I have entrusted my son with my prize booger collection and all of my cigar rings.  It’s my poor wife I worry about…how could she possibly go on with out me?!  I am that amazing.  No doubt, the pain would be too great…oh, please watch out for her dear friends…


Ok…hold on…not ready for that yet (I hope).  I went to the doc last Friday and was fully stocked up with medicines and salves and elixirs.  I tried incantatory chants and even sang a little Barry Manilow hoping to get this junk to go away.  It was all to no avail.  I called the doc again and she said if I wasn’t on the upswing by today that she would get me in for a chest x-ray and a high colonic (for good measure).

Don’t worry…I’ll take pictures

My Dad is another year older

I honor of my Dad, half the reason I am alive today (it’s all about me after all), I thought I would show you a few pictures and tell you a few facts about this day in history.



On Dad’s birthday across various years, the following interesting things happened:

  • 1992 10,000,000 cellular telephone sold
  • 1960 Tinseltown dedicated its Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd
  • 1945 Most U.S. wartime rationing of foods, including meat and butter, ends
  • 1942 Japan bombs Port Darwin, Australia
  • 1942 A German U-boat sinks the S.S. Ben Lomond off the coast of Brazil. One crewman, Chinese second steward Poon Lim, is separated from the others and spends 130 days adrift until he is rescued on April 3, 1943
  • 1936 Life magazine hit newsstands

Sometime in the middle of all of that, my Dad was born.  I won’t give you all the details since he wouldn’t want all of the phone calls wishing him a happy birthday…well, he might like the calls but he wouldn’t like the number of spanks on his butt that he’d be owed.

Fred Patterson et al - choir boys of Christ Episcopal Church Coudersport PA ca 1953

(see if you can find my Dad…he looked then like he does in the first pic…only young).
 Happy birthday Dad!  Do you even remember what you looked like back then?

My wife has CDO

I know that mental health issues are no laughing matter, but I have to tell you about Emily’s OCD, or, as she likes to describe it, her CDO (that’s OCD in alphabetical order).  She has all sorts of quirks, but one in particular is especially funny and evident throughout our house.

We’ve been doing some home repairs and replacing stuff that just plain needs replaced.  One of those things is the switch and receptacle covers.  It’s really a trivial matter unscrewing one or two screws, pulling off the old cover, adding the new, and replacing the screws, right?

Well, it’s a different story in our household with Emily around.  I can do the first 3 steps of the process, but Emily insists on putting the screws in place.  You see, in our house, the screws can’t simply be replaced….oh, no…they must be installed such that the slot of the screw is perfectly vertical.  People are pretty good at determining whether  something is vertical.  By no means are we perfect, but one would think that “eyeball vertical” would be vertical enough to satisfy Emily’s screw-vertical-slot-OCD.  You’d be wrong…

We have outfitted a flathead screwdriver with a small torpedo level so she can be certain that the screws are vertical, “as God intended them to be.”  I understand when folks are particular about things.  I really do get it.  But I also like to have a little fun now and then as well.

So, here’s my experiment.  I am about to loosen one of the screws in the switch cover in our bedroom.  I’ll time how long it takes her to find and fix the “problem”.
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Let’s see, it’s 9:52pm…
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HA!  10:19 and the “problem” is fixed!  The best part is that she spent 20 minutes going through the rest of the house seeing if I had messed with any other screws!

Is egg nog supposed to grow hair on your chest?

I haven’t always loved egg nog, but I love it now.  I am not sure when it started…I suppose it just grew in time (sound any like Elizabeth on Pride and Prejudice?).  When I was a kid, my parents (mostly my Dad) ate sardines and buttermilk and scrapple and egg nog.  It all just seemed like stuff that wasn’t supposed to be ingested.  But in time, the lure of the egg nog alone won me over.

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I am not much of a drinker regardless of what some of my posts may suggest.  My entire family has been sick for the last hundred years or so…or maybe it’s just been the last 3 weeks.  Anyhow, I was in Rite Aid the other day picking up motrin (which is absolutely magic on fevers) when I spied with my eye, a bottle of Evan Williams egg nog.  I got a little giddy when I saw it because I figured I would be a better connoisseur of egg nog having tried every variety I can find.  And yes, before you ask, I do have high hopes of being a world famous egg nog master…more on that later.

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So, I hauled my bottle of spiked nog to the counter where the cashier lady quadruple wrapped my bottle in bags so no one on the outside world would know they sell whiskey and such there (I guess).  I gently cradled my new baby in my arms and buckled him into the car for the trip home.  Once home, I cleared the top shelf of the refrigerator and carefully placed the bottle to let him chill.

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Later on  in the evening, the moment of truth arrived.  I prepared my finest dixie cup and attempted to open the bottle of nog.  Mr Williams must have had a much stronger grip than I have because I could not open that bottle for the life of me.  I can’t imagine the terror that must cause someone who…uh…really needs egg nog.  Anyhow, I finally found the proper tool to disengage the lid and I poured out my portion and took a sip.

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In my opinion, Mr Williams produces one of the absolute nastiest things I have ever tasted (and remember, I have licked a lot of bells!)  As you know, a dixie cup is not very large, but I could not bear to finish my sample.  Down the drain it went.  And by the way, I happen to have a good deal on a partially used bottle of nasty…any takers?

Ok…sorry, I thought not.  If you want to read something more useful, take a look at a post I wrote over at Not Dabbling in Normal

I got the fever

I don’t know what sort of funk I have (as I haven’t been to see a doctor), but I can tell you that all of my homemade remedies have done nothing to abate this rotten virus I have.  I mean, I went above and beyond the call with my 1st remedy and though I slept pretty well, I didn’t feel the least bit better in the morning.

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Anyhow, if anyone has any other suggestions on how to exorcise this junk from my body, please leave a suggestion.  I am not opposed to leaches and/or sacrificing a chicken….

The rodent war of NW PA

My Grandpa is a pretty amazing man.  He never cured any mysterious diseases or won a Nobel prize, but he is just clever and patient and a lot of fun…and he ended the Rodent War of NW PA.


I grew up in northwest PA where the chipmunk is the region’s mascot.  You see, it is woodsy where my people are.  There are miles and miles of trees and not a stoplight or fast food restaurant to be found.  Critters sort of run the show there.  When I was growing up, we had a bit of a problem with squirrels in the house.  My parents used extreme prejudice in the removal of over 30 in one year…inside the house…in their bed, in the bathroom, the living room…everywhere in the house.


So folks in the area live a sort of uneasy coexistence with rodents.  Everyone has squirrel problems and war is declared regularly.  Actually, they are more like regional outbreaks and minor skirmishes, but tell that to the people on the front lines.  Anyhow, most rational people know that they should be cautious as they go to sleep at night.  The squirrels are relentless and merciless.


Anyhow, my Grandpa, the pacifist, sought to end the chaos of war in the area so he extended the olive branch to a local chipmunk, a local tribal leader and the spokes-rodent in the area.  Slowly and patiently, he enticed the chipmunk closer and closer with sunflower seeds.  In time, he was able to feed Edgar Snyder, the chipmunk out of his hand.  He named the chipmunk Edgar Snyder after the locally-famous ambulance chaser who had really annoying ads on tv.


Anyhow, Edgar and Grandpa struck up quite a friendship and a relationship based on respect and trust.  Edgar would eat from friendly people’s hands.  Once in your hand, Edgar could be moved around by gently lifting his tail and shifting his backside.  As long as the sunflower seeds lasted, he was happy to stick around.



I was fortunate enough to witness this beautiful thing they had together first hand…literally.  I fed Edgar and asked him to send my best regards to his rodent friends.  In time, it was apparent that my Grandpa had broken the rodent wars of NW PA.  The truce lasted for some time and prosperity returned to the land!

The End of the Innocence


I am really struggling with something and, honestly, it has been a long time coming and probably should have happened awhile ago. Isaac is in fourth grade and still very innocent and naive. That is changing as the kids in his class are getting older, but he remains a very sweet boy and so absolutely and wonderfully innocent. I would keep him that way forever, I often think, but I know that neither he nor I really want that. But there is something so pure looking into his eyes and hearing him talk. I truly want to cry when I think of the end of his innocence.

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I am not sure when I learned the truth about Old Saint Nick. I am pretty sure I knew in second grade. Isaac truly still plans to ask Santa for things this Christmas. In many ways, I would love to allow him to believe one more year (or ten more), but I feel like we need to bring him in on the secret. I know that fourth grade is when kids start to pick on each other relentlessly. I struggle between wanting to preserve a bit of his innocence a little while longer versus not wanting him to lose some of his innocence through teasing and bullying. And this, dear friends, is what makes me want to cry.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

OH. MY. WORD!  This weekend we saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert in Charleston.  I have seen some pretty cool concerts but nothing compares to the concert these folks put on.  Their concert was full of light and lasers and fire and sound and fire and more fire!  It was the most visually overwhelming thing  I have ever seen!

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Ok…back up…what is Trans-Siberian Orchestra for those of you who are uninitiated?  They term their musical style as Rock Opera…with Fire!  I really liked the fire!  We had pretty great seats close to the main stage but the performance really takes place all across the floor of the arena.  Snow fell from the sky and smoke rose from the floor (which had me concerned once I saw fire also come from the floor).

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There are lasers and light EVERYWHERE and the sound was just right…loud but not so loud that the audience lost the lyrics and music.  My ears were ringing for 24 hours afterwards which was also just right.  There are no bad seats for a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert!

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Before the performance started, a few members of the group came on stage and presented a check to Mountain Mission for their food drive.  It was a pretty great gesture and was received well by the crowd.  The concert started as a narrator began telling a story of a man he met who had a story of a child far from home on Christmas.  The narrator’s voice was deep and booming and gave me chills as he told his story.  The orchestra (which, by the way, had  WV strings players) played along with the electric guitars and an absolutely fantastic drummer.  The story was told in narration and song and was absolutely fantastic.



I can’t really say enough about this concert and my pictures surely don’t do it justice…it was amazing!  If you ever get a chance to see them, you MUST go!