The Joy of a North Korean Pen-pal, Even One You Occasionally Threaten with Annihilation

I recently received a 6” x 9” envelope in the mail  that took six days to arrive.  But, of course, it was sent from a very distance city.  On another continent, you ask?  Not quite.  It was mailed from Salem, Oregon, about 60 miles away.  Sixty miles!  SIX DAYS!  That’s one day for every ten miles.  It would have arrived sooner by mule train.

A few days ago, President Donald Trump wrote a letter to North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un.  Here is how he addressed it-

It’s going to take all the internal fortitude I can muster, but I must do one thing.  I must ignore, for the sake and integrity of this week’s topic, Kim Jong Un’s title, “His Excellency.”  Like an AA member staring down the barrel of a shot glass filled with bourbon, I must walk away from it.

This column is about how President Trump addressed this letter.  Every letter, of course, needs an address.  Otherwise, how can the mail carrier deliver it?  As you can see, this address provides the level of specificity which, say, King David, of Old Testament fame, used when he looked up in the general direction of the heavens and called out to God, “Hey, God?!  Do you hear me?!”  (This may not be a completely correct translation of the original Hebrew.)  Trump addressed his letter to, “Pyongyang.”  That’s it.  Just, “Pyongyang.”  No street.  No office address.  (By the way, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Kim at his office in North Korea.  Couldn’t The Donald just have called Mike?  Mike probably still has the address in his iPhone Maps app.

I know you’re thinking, “Well, Jack, Trump’s probably going to have someone hand deliver it.”  Uh… “No.”  Have you read this letter?  It starts out quite rosy, but it does include the slightly less than warm and fuzzy sentence – “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”  Gulp.  Kim killed a college kid who tried to swipe a poster for a souvenir.  Imagine what happens to the person who hands him this little charmer.  Most people like their more sensitive body parts in their current locations.

One piece of advice, Mr. President, Pyongyang is about 7,000 miles from the White House.  So, based on my recent experience, give it at least 700 days to arrive.   Better yet, use a mule train.


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Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Out Here Helping Make America Great Again

My wife and I decided to spend a week in Washington D.C. helping to Make America Great Again.  So far I’ve only managed to make myself fat again (or, I should say, fatter again).  However, between bites, I’m doing my best to help the MAGA effort.  I don’t tour the White House until tomorrow morning, so I haven’t had a chance to share my thoughts with The Donald.  In the meantime, I’ve been getting the “lay of the land.”  Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

First, I’ve learned that most of the museums make you hold your backpacks in your hands or wear them in front of you like you’re carrying a baby.  Yeah, I know – really obnoxious.  Of course, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, so I asked the security guard why she was making me suffer this indignity.  She said that people swing around and accidently strike artifacts with their packs.  I started to tell her that while this might be true for stupid people, this should not apply to me.  But she didn’t seem “flexible” on the issue.

The next day I went to a museum that didn’t have this rule, so I was able to wear my backpack like a normal person.  Except the first thing I did was turn around and hit something with my pack.  The worst part was that I was in the Museum of the Bible!  THE BIBLE!  I was knocking around precious artifacts in God’s Museum!  I immediately thought, who’s in charge of this place?  Why aren’t they making people wear their backpacks in front of them?!

Second, we visited the National Portrait Museum.  (Yes, I had to wear my backpack in front of me like an idiot.)  The big deal there was the new portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama.  As you may have heard from whatever flavor of news you enjoy, this portrait is quite controversial.  Here it is –

People were swarming all over it, taking pictures in front of it, and generally having heart attacks over how much they loved it.  I considered this visit a success in that I managed not to knock it over.

Third, we visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  This museum isn’t big, it’s Ginormous!  It’s like walking into an IKEA store, only much larger, and instead of kitchenware and linens, they have bones and rocks.  Before you go in, I recommend saying good bye to your loved ones.  You might never find your way out.  I ran into a guy who walked in during a junior high field trip in 1973, and he’s still wandering around trying to find his way out.

Tomorrow we head to the White House to help make American great again, or at least swipe a souvenir when the Secret Service isn’t looking.  (It’s not stealing if you’re a tax paying citizen.)

Carry on, America.  I’ve got things under control here in the nation’s capital.  At least as long as I wear my backpack in front.


I Completely Agree With You About Donald Trump

An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends:

Let me begin by stating that I have been quietly, but very closely, monitoring your posts about Donald Trump.  I have been reading your heartfelt messages, and I have been clicking on your media links.  Each has served to underscore my belief that we hold the same opinion about Trump.  In particular, I agree with your passionate (yet poignantly insightful) comments about –

  • The “Wall”
  • The Paris Climate Agreement
  • The Iran Nuclear Deal
  • The investigation into Russian Collusion
  • And, of course, who makes the best Taco Bowl

The rational choice on each issue is plain as day.  Unless it was that day last August we had the eclipse, then… well, maybe I should have used the phrase “plain as the nose on your face.”  But I digress.

There will come a day when those who disagree with us will receive a direct and unambiguous message, and that day is November 3, 2020.  On that momentous day, we will sit in our living rooms watching the talking heads announce that justice has indeed prevailed.   Our point will have been made loud and clear.

Thank you for your willingness to, “put yourself out there” and “wear your heart on your sleeve.”  I have admired your fortitude and your courage.  Yours is the backbone and strength our county needs at this critical time in our history.

I look forward to reading your future posts and nodding my head in agreement.  Keep the light of your passion burning.  In fact, I am going to hit “refresh” after I type my final sentence to enjoy your most recent political insights.  I am actually salivating at the thought.  I am almost giddy with anticipation.

Just a Dad Identifying as a Mom for the Weekend

My wife recently asked me to go with her to Mom’s Weekend at our daughter’s university.  I initially declined and pointed out that I was not, technically, a mom.  But after quickly realizing my mistake, I remembered the, “Happy wife, happy life” rule, and reluctantly agreed to go.

The weekend began with an All-University Sing competition.  This competition has been held annually since 1936, and, as you might imagine, the level of competition is fierce.  On a scale of 1 to 10, a solid 23½.  Mother grizzlies react with less aggression after finding someone walking off with one of their cubs than these girls.

This event has routinely been held in Gill Coliseum, but Gill is undergoing remodeling, so the event was moved to the nearby football team’s indoor practice field.  Twenty-eight hundred plastic folding chairs were arranged around a stage which could have used a little more height.  I’m not complaining, I’m just suggesting that those beyond the first row might like to watch the show.  Our seats were on the 50 yard line.  Here I am (I stood for the shot) –

Parents dutifully forked over $20 dollars a ticket to attend the show, except us.  We were luckily enough to fall into a “special” group of parents whose kids screwed up and missed the deadline to prepurchase tickets.  So we got to enjoy paying $25.

After lining up like cattle outside the practice field, the doors finally opened and the herd burst forward.  Someone announced, “No saving seats,” over the loud speaker as moms threw elbows and dove to cover a span of four or five seats yelling, “These are saved.”  SWAT team members kicking down the door of a drug cartel leader behave more politely.

The best part of the evening was getting to experience that scene from the movie Cool Hand Luke where the warden yells, “Put’em in the box,” and the guards shove Paul Newman into that little box to bake in the Florida sun.  This is because soon after sinking into the luxury of those folding chairs, we began to feel like strips of sirloin hanging in a smoker.  The body heat of 2,800 parents trapped under that tin roof turned the place into a terrarium.  I didn’t  check, but I’m pretty sure that moisture was dripping down the walls.

The competition ended in our great disappointment and outright shock.  Our girl’s team didn’t win.  Fortunately, we were able to comport ourselves with a degree of grace and dignity, by immediately declaring the event RIGGED.  We demanded an independent and thorough investigation.  Shortly thereafter, however, all was forgiven, as I, and all the other moms, enjoyed a “spirited” after party.  That’s how we moms roll.

How to Shake the Shame of a Wallet Chain – or not

There are seven billion people on Earth, and not one of them has looked with greater disdain at people who wear wallet chains than me.  I have silently (okay, sometimes not so silently) condemned them as pathetic Neanderthals – insecure with themselves at best and very likely mentally ill.  This is why it was so painful for me to begin wearing one.

Naturally, this all began in Nebraska.  My wife and I and another couple from Oregon flew out to watch Oregon play football against Nebraska.  Friends of ours in Omaha were the quintessential hosts and even rented a minivan to haul us around.  I sat in the very back seat on the way to the game.  After we parked and made our way through approximately (this is a conservative estimate) one million tailgaters to the stadium, I realized my wallet was gone.  The van was too far away to check if it slipped out there.  Worrying about this, of course, allowed me to really relax and enjoy the game.

To my great relief, we found my wallet sitting on the back seat of the van.  I discovered that the angle of the back seat acted like a squeegee to extract wallets.  I’m not making this up.  When we got back to our friends’ house, David, also from Oregon, realized that his wallet had slipped out of his pocket!  (Don’t think for a moment this isn’t a maniacal scheme of the Chrysler Corporation.)

The next week, I went home early to pack for an out-of-town business trip and (and yes, this is beginning a theme) realized my wallet was missing.  Long story short, after neurotically turning my house upside down, and running late for my departure, I raced back to my office and found it perched on a chair where it had slipped out.  (No, Chrysler did not manufacture this chair, but perhaps it was made by a subsidiary.)

This was the fateful moment I first considered the painful indignity of a wallet chain.

As a result of painstaking research (i.e. wandering through a mall waiting for my wife to finish shopping), I stumble into a Harley Davidson shop.  Not the kind that sells the death bikes, the kind that sells t-shirts, jackets and key chains to make you LOOK like you’re the kind of wild and carefree guy who would ride a Harley (if your wife would let you).  And there they were – wallet chains as far as the eye could see.

Yes, I am a Neanderthal, and I am unquestionably insecure, but I am now an insecure Neanderthal who always knows exactly where to find my wallet.

Just How Much Pee Can One Dog Hold?

I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’m pretty sure that my daughter’s dog just set a world’s record in the pee department.  I’m contacting the Guinness Book of World Records to verify it.  I don’t know if Guinness has a category dedicated to dog urination, but if they don’t, they need to set one up – PRONTO!

I’ve been dog sitting my “grand-dog” Milo, so I decided to take him on a hike to the top of Spencer Butte.  When I get Milo out of the car at the trail head, two things happened.  First, Milo makes a b-line for the nearest tree.  And second, I notice a new warning sign –

My daughter hasn’t had Milo very long, but breaking the news that he died saying “howdy” to a rattlesnake wouldn’t have gone over too smoothly.  My concern about rattlesnake danger, however, quickly disappeared.  Here’s why.

Three feet up the trail, Milo began peeing on trees.  Yeah, I know, he’s a dog.  They pee on trees.  But that’s not what I mean.  Milo was peeing on every tree.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  ONE.  This is western Oregon, friends.  We have trees.  If I had one of those little clickers that the lady at the Costco entrance uses to count shoppers, I would have counted.  My conservative estimate?  One thousand.  There have got to be one thousand trees between the trail head and the summit.  Here’s what it looks like –

It’s mostly Douglas Firs.  Milo hit every one like a World War II combat veteran taking the hill at Iwo Jima.  (In fact, if Milo were there, I am certain we would have taken the island much faster.  I doubt the Japanese soldiers could have sustained Milo’s unrelenting pee attack.)  But I digress…

It’s possible Milo missed a sapling or two, but let’s call it a 97% “P-rate.”  I grew up with dogs.  I know dogs.  They pee – A LOT.  But Milo is the Lebron James of canine urinaters.

I know he doesn’t look capable of holding the record.  He’s not a lab, or some other aircraft carrier sized dog with a bladder the size of a municipal water tank.  So I’m expected the team that comes out from Guinness to verify my claim to be suspicious.  Not to worry.  I’ll tell them to meet me at the trail head of Spencer Butte.





That Time I Accidentally Ate Seattle By Mistake

I’ve put on a pound or two, and by “two,” I mean two dozen.  I achieved this by strictly adhering to the “Fatkins” diet which I explained a couple of weeks ago.  If you remember the “food pyramid” from school, the Fatkins diet is different.  Fatkins is more of a “food circle,” like a pie.  A third of the pie represents sugar, a third is fats and the final third is highly processed starches.  Oh yeah, and another third is preservatives.  It’s an odd shaped pie.

Recently, my family visited Seattle for the weekend.  My accident happened that Saturday night.  We spent that afternoon eating a Russian delicacy called a “piroshky,” at a shop creatively called Piroshky Piroshky.  Piroshkies are a pastry stuffed with tasty fillings (for example, Potato and Cheese), inside a carbohydrate-based pocket.  So, if you like carbs stuffed inside carbs, this is your place.  If Dr. Atkins weren’t already dead, even showing him a piroshky would kill him.  Most of these delicacies have all the light and fluffy composition of your typical boat anchor.

You know how after an alligator swallows an unlucky creature it likes to flop down on a sandy beach for a nap?  That was us, but there weren’t any sandy beaches available, so we went back to the Embassy Suites.  This was a big mistake, because Embassy Suites offers a “Manager’s Reception” every evening – complementary drinks and a bowl of corn chips the size of Cuba.  It’s the “Bay of Pigs” every evening at Embassy Suites, and I mean this literally.

On my way back to the hotel I made a commitment that I wouldn’t touch the chips.  None.  Not a bite.  The emphasis I placed on this commitment made it all the more painful as I cleared all the empty chip containers from my table.  The problem with eating a cubic square foot of corn chips is that once they enter your stomach, they swell up like a sponge.  I had no choice but to head to my room in search of a sandy beach.

An hour later, my hip daughter Zoe suggested we go to a hip Seattle restaurant called Toulouse Petit Kitchen.  I don’t know who named this place, but I can assure you there was nothing petit about it.  I sat staring at the menu like a bloated whale.  I announced to my family that not only was I not hungry, I was absolutely stuffed to maximum capacity.  I couldn’t eat another thing.  As I struggled to polish off the last of my entrée 45 minutes later, I realized that I had officially eaten all recommended food groups of the Fatkins pie.  I had eaten all four thirds.


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