In memory of Maximillian.


As Hurricane Irma raged through Palm Beach County, I was with my family at my mother-in-law’s house, monitoring the progress of the storm and witnessing the nasty weather unfolding outside. Then I was faced with the unspeakable task of taking her dog Maximillian for his afternoon walk. I borrowed a raincoat and braced myself for one soggy walk. The weather outside was horrific with the rain and very strong winds leaving leaves and small branches all over the street. Needless to say, I was quite miserable, but Maximillian on the other hand loved it. He had always enjoyed the water and this time was no different. He didn’t seem to mind the nasty weather in the least. I think there’s a lesson here somewhere, something about your attitude defining the experience. You can either be miserable because of the weather or you can exalt in it.

Maximillian passed away earlier this week, leaving behind a treasure trove of memories of good times and a life lived to the fullest. That walk during Hurricane Irma is my favorite memory of our time together. I will miss him.

My digital diary.

Back in the 1990’s when floppy disks were the norm, I had one set aside that served as a digital diary of sorts. It contained text files containing my innermost thoughts and fears (such as getting drafted for the looming Gulf War) along with programs I wrote in various programming languages, including TI-BASIC.

Here’s an unabridged entry I wrote that describes an incident that took place while walking the dog at Tequesta Park in Tequesta, Florida. It also contains advice on how not to impress the ladies.

7-16-93 10:01:31 pm
Today I took Max for a walk at Tequesta Park. I walked over to the swings to play. I saw two women who were also at the playground with their kids. In the mood to impress them, I got on one of the swings and began to swing. Higher and higher I went. I soon was swinging high enough to almost fly off the seat, but I still continued going higher. Then, the swing went so high that I floated above the seat and began to fall, all while I held on. I landed back on the swing so hard that the seat broke and I slammed on the ground with my butt. My glasses flew off from the impact. There I was, lying on the ground, wondering why I wasn’t in pain. I rose to my feet.

Then one of the women asked me, “Are you okay?”

I said, “Yes, I’m okay, but I am a bit shaken.” I then began blowing sand off my glasses before putting them back on. I then walked away from the swing, never feeling better in my life.

My ruined Christmas.

I answered the door in response to some rather frenzied knocking. There stood a short man with greenish skin, oh wait, that was from the green light outside my front door. Anyway, this man seemed rather upset.

“Ah, celebrating Christmas, I see,” he said after observing my holiday themed set up. “You may not remember me, but several months ago you cut me off and took my parking spot at the DOLLAR STORE WHERE YOU DID YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!”

Instantly there were audible gasps from the other houses surrounding mine. Great. Now everyone knows where I did my holiday shopping. I know I wasn’t not the only one seeking to save a little money this time of year.

Then my attention returned to the angry man at the door. “Wait a minute,” I said, “This was several months ago?”

“Yes, and I’ve waited this long just so I can ruin your Christmas!”

“And how do you plan on doing that?”

“You see, I am a THORCERER!”

“Don’t you mean sorcerer?”

“NO, I SAID THORCERER!”

Whatever.

Assuming that infamous stork karate pose, he chanted in a voice so deep it sounded like a long belch, “May everything associated with your holiday go BOOM!” With that, he turned around and disappeared into the night.

I was chuckling at what I just witnessed, but after I closed the door and began walking towards my living room I stopped chuckling because there was no longer anything to chuckle at, but if there was something to chuckle at, I would have been chuckling except I wasn’t chuckling, because there really wasn’t anything to chuckle at.

Anyway, my Christmas tree was growing abnormally large and stood 7 feet tall, which was really abnormal considering that the tree was only 1 foot tall when I bought it. Not only was the tree growing larger but also the ornaments appeared to inflate like balloons.

Boom.

Instantly the tree exploded, ornaments and all, leaving nothing behind, not even those pesky pine needles. All that was left were the presents on the floor, except they were now inflating like balloons.

Boom.

The presents exploded, showering the floor with shredded wrapping paper and unidentifiable fragments of plastic and metal. As usual nothing resembling batteries.

Boom.

I heard a loud explosion coming from behind and when I spun around I saw the showering fragments of what used to be the holiday garland strung along the wall. Next to explode were the Christmas cards on my dining room table soon covered with their dust. Finally I heard popping sounds coming from outside the window. Sure enough, I could see my holiday lights popping like firecrackers on a string. Then all was quiet.

I surveyed the remains of my Christmas decorations and realized there was one thing left that the thorcerer can never destroy.

My Christmas spirit.

Christmas trees dry up and die, holiday lights burn out and a majority of gifts fall apart, but the Christmas spirit is what remains intact, year in and year out. Impressed by this sudden insight, I began to feel something well up from deep inside, except it wasn’t my pride. It was my Christmas spirit, growing larger and larger, soon becoming so large that my head began to swell. Seconds later…

Boom.

This thorcerer really got me good.

Ian’s secret legacy, Part 2.

“Nice job, Steve,” Ron sighed. “You just demolished the bedroom and there’s no box in sight. What is this, some kind of joke?”

“I swear, there is a box hidden here somewhere,” Steve countered before he was consumed by a sudden, illuminating thought. After a lengthy pause, he announced, “I think I know where it is.”

“Where?” Ron asked.

Steve pointed at the closet. “In there.”

“Oh great, here we go with more demolition,” Karen complained as Steve opened the closet door in preparation for tearing down the walls inside. Once again the crowbar flew into action, tearing out large chunks of wall before piling them on the already large pile of drywall on the floor. After a few minutes of vicious hammering and ripping, the noise suddenly stopped.

“I found it.”

Steve emerged from the closet holding a small jewelry box held shut by a snap hinge. He handed it to Ron, who eyed it skeptically.

“I’d like you to do the honors,” Steve said, “I think it’s fitting for you, Ian’s parents, to unseal his legacy.”

“Very well.”

Ron gripped the jewelry box and struggled to unsnap the rusty hinge that held it shut. Suddenly the lid flew open as a giant spring loaded snake jumped out, filling Ian’s parents with terror. As they stood in place screaming, Steve fled the room, not out of fear but in satisfaction that he had at last fulfilled Ian’s secret legacy – to prank parents and mess up his old bedroom one last time.

The End

The world’s most relaxing song.

If you’re looking for something that will really, really relax you, look no farther than the Mindfulness Pack on the archive.org website. It has four tasty tracks that mix soothing synthesizer music and binaural beats to create a truly unique meditative experience. There are tracks for quick meditation, endorphin release and lucid healing, but the real find here is the fourth and final track entitled “The World’s Most Relaxing Song”, a 9-minute track that will truly immerse you into the deepest relaxation you’ll ever feel. I’ve yet to try out the other tracks, but if it can relax me to the point of pure calm, then I’d expect the other tracks to work wonders as well. This album is a real find.

Ziplining at Icy Strait Point.

Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska.

The single most memorable excursion on my vacation to Alaska was going ziplining at Icy Strait Point. This was my first time on such a ride and I was a little nervous but at the same time was excited about it.

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Should I or shouldn’t I?

The excursion began with a bus ride through the neighboring city of Hoonah, a seaside community small enough where everyone knows each other. It has its own post office, school and a general store whose motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Then the bus began its bumpy climb up the mountain on one dirt road after another. At least the driver had enough of a sense of humor to announce that everyone was about to receive a complimentary back massage. Finally, the bus reached the top of the mountain, and from there it was a short walk down a steep trail before I arrived at the zipline. The mountain was high enough for me not to see the ground without the clouds in the way.

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Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

The ride has 6 cables to accommodate 6 riders at a time. After the riders are strapped into the specialized chairs and given safety instructions, they are sent plummeting along the side of the mountain, descending 1,330 feet with speeds up to 60 miles per hour before the ride ends less than two minutes later.

But what was it like? Not scary in the least, not by my standards. Although the ride is fast, the descent is smooth and the view spectacular. At once you can feel what it’s like to be a bird in flight high above the trees. I could use my arms to adjust my view of the surrounding area but it felt wonderful to be alive and so free as I have never felt before. Never mind that it was cold and rainy, never mind that I got rain on my goggles, never mind that I got wet, this was truly a thrill of a lifetime. I’d do it all over again, rain or shine.

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Woot.

Incident at the border.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now arriving at the Candanian border. Please have your passports and paperwork ready.”

All the passengers aboard the tour bus retrieved the requested items from their purses and wallets, myself included. I gazed out the window and saw the customs and immigration building underneath the Candanian flag flying in the breeze. I was hoping this part of my vacation would go smoothly.

The bus coasted to a stop as the driver announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please gather your belongings and meet the customs officers inside the building. This shouldn’t take long.”

Everyone unboarded the bus and made their way inside the building where they formed a line to present their passports to the customs officers. The line moved swiftly as the officers glanced at the passports and paperwork and welcomed the tourists to Candana. Maybe this won’t go so badly after all.

Then it was my turn to go to an available customs officer. He greeted me warmly as he examined my passport. Suddenly the smile on his face vanished as his eyes widened with shock. “Come with me, sir,” the officer ordered as he led me to a back room where five officers surrounded me and immediately began shoving me around.

“Wait, wait!” I yelled.”Why are you shoving me around?”

“You are from Loridfa, correct?”

“Yes, that’s where I live.”

“And that’s where tourists from Candana go for the winter, correct?”

“Yeah, so?”

“On the morning of November 15th of last year, you were driving on the interstate when you swerved and cut off a driver who happened to be a tourist from Candana. An attack on one is an attack on all! It’s payback time, beeyotch!”

And so the shoving continued, much to the chagrin of the other tourists who seemed to know the reason for the delay.

Dryekoff.

I glanced at the clock and groaned.

9:30.

Time for bed.

I don’t want to go to bed.

The usual arguing with my inner self.

I slowly strolled to my bedroom, continuing this silent arguing as I turned off the lights in the hallway before entering my bedroom. To get to my bed I had to squeeze past the large speakers, the amplifiers, drum kit and four guys that stood in my way near the middle of the bedroom.

Yes, there was a rock band in my bedroom.

“Going to sleep, dude?” asked the drummer.

“Yes,” I replied, “and I would very much appreciate a quiet night for once so I can sleep.”

“But we gotta practice!” complained the guitarist.

“Look, you guys had all day to practice!” I shot back. “Why do it now when I have to sleep? I gotta be up early!”

The four guys stood silently as if my words finally got to them. Then slowly, one by one, the four guys left my bedroom, grumbling.

Finally.

I turned off the lights and rested my head on the pillow. Just when I felt myself drift away to sleep, the four guys dashed back into my bedroom, turned on the amps and let loose with a deafening jam that shook me awake.

“Waugh!” I screamed as I sat up. Abruptly the band stopped playing and stared at me with mischievous grins.

“So, what do you think?” asked the bassist.

“I think it’s too late!” I yelled. “Can’t you guys wait until morning when I’m not here?”

“But we’re busy in the morning!” the singer yelled back.

“DOING WHAT?”

“SLEEPING!” the four guys yelled.

“GET OUT!” I screamed. “ALL OF YOU!”

“But-”

“NO BUTS! OUT!” I screamed. Abruptly the band quickly left my bedroom and I closed the door behind them. For good measure I locked it, too.

Finally.

I collapsed on my bed and a few minutes later felt myself beginning to drift away to sleep. Suddenly the door was kicked open as the band rushed back into my bedroom and began jamming with the volume on full blast. Once again I sat up and screamed at them to stop and they did, only to resume playing when I was nearly asleep.

And this went on all night.

Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep, no thanks to these guys who call themselves Dryekoff.

The band name is a play on the words “dry cough”, the most annoying part of getting sick. Long after the other symptoms have cleared, the dry cough lingers, staying quiet during the day but getting worse at night, especially when you’re trying to sleep.

And now you know the rest of the story.