Why Alaskan Moose Don’t Attend Kindergarten

Every word of this story is true.  Well, almost every word of this story is true.  Okay, part of this story is true.  Okay, okay, this story was inspired by a true story (that someone told me about).  Let’s call it, “Hollywood true.”

It involves a man being abducted by aliens who conducted a series of disturbing experiments involving his….  Wait.  No. That’s not the story I was going to tell you about.  The story I was going to tell you about involves a moose.  Actually, several moose.

Dan Joling, a writer for the Associated Press, recently penned an article warning Alaskans about “grumpy moose.” One moose kicked a woman in the head while she was out feeding her chickens.  (If you’re keeping track, this is reason 185 why you should never own a chicken).  Another moose charged at some folks at an Alaskan ski resort – twice.  (Say what you will about moose – they’re persistent.)  The “take-away,” if you will, from Joling’s article is that if Alaskan moose attended kindergarten, they would come home every day with notes saying that they didn’t “work and play well with others.”

On a related note, my wife’s family has a cabin in Montana.  Here is how you get there:

Step 1.  Drive to the state of Montana.

Step 2.  Continue driving into the state at Montana’s legal speed limit of 500 miles an hour.

Step 3.  When you  reach The Middle of Nowhere, make a sharp right turn at a sign that says Fish Creek Road.

Step 4.  Continue driving for several more hours, and after bouncing along on a gravel road for three full eternities, you finally arrive – at a location where you need to continue driving for several more hours.

Step 5.  When your kidneys finally unionize and demand humane working conditions, you reach the cabin.

The cabin sits in a valley where no electronic communications exist, nor will they ever exist.  People in the darkest, most remote corners of the jungles of Borneo will have four full bars of wifi before any electronic communication penetrates this valley.  What do exist in this valley, however, are moose.  Now, I would love to tell you that these Montana moose are not grumpy like those rude Alaskan moose who keep kicking women in the head as they feed their chickens.  However, I am not in a position to do so.  This is because WE STAY AWAY FROM THE MOOSE.  My wife’s family is very large (to be precise, after the last baby was born, including cousins – the number stands at 1,383,052).  All of us, at one point or another, visit the cabin, AND THIS KEY, none of us is clinically insane (Well, there is…  No!  I’m joking!  Not a single one of us is clinically insane).  So we stay away from the moose.  We exercise a Zero Tolerance Moose Policy as it pertains to moose and all moose-related creatures.  The nuances of their personalities, therefore, remain a mystery to us, unlike, may I point out, the Chicken Lady of Homer, Alaska.  So that’s the point of my very true story.

However, now that I’ve told my moose story, on second thought, maybe I should have told you about the alien abduction instead.

I Hit a Pothole on My Rosetta Stone Road

I began studying Korean four weeks ago by optimistically learning the sentence: “Please speak Korean very slowly.”  After putting in this time, one thing has become abundantly clear.  As a result, I have learned a new sentence.  This new sentence will be instrumental during my trip to Korea this fall.  Here is my new sentence: “I am very sorry; I do not speak Korean.”  After saying this, any Korean words I manage to cough up will  be impressive.

True story-

Last week, I told someone at work that I was studying Korean.  Now, keep in mind that for the prior three weeks I had been devoting a minimum of 30 minutes each night, often longer, studying Korean.  She said to me, “Say something in Korean.”  I paused for a moment and reached back deep into the recesses of my mind, trying to find the perfect word or phrase.  Then I said, “I can’t think of anything.”  And this was true.  I drew a blank.  I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

Through the magic of Rosetta Stone, I have learned to say the following:

Apple

Doctor

Bad (Actually my wife taught me that one.  And, no, don’t ask.)

I am sure there’s a method to the madness of Rosetta Stone, and I’m in it to the end.  However, so far I’ve learned a lot about cats and dogs.  I’ve learned how to say the basic colors, including the word for black.  However, when I told my wife the word for black, she told me, yeah, that’s one word for it, but everybody uses a different word.  So that was a little irritating.  I told her that I was going to be loyal to Rosetta Stone and use their word.  She shrugged.  I’ve also learned a lot about, for some reason, eggs.

In the meantime, I have decided that I will have a sentence ready for the next person who asks me to say something in Korean.  It will be on the tip of my tongue.  I’ll have it in the chamber ready to fire.  I will tell them:   “I am very sorry; I do not speak Korean.”

Extreme Vetting: Family Pet Edition

I am OFFICIALLY calling on the United States Commerce Department to launch an “all out investigation” into the devious and patently unfair marketing strategy (i.e. “scheme”) of one of our nation’s preeminent industries.  I think you know what industry I’m talking about.  I also think you agree with me that this industry has been “coddled” by Washington Insiders far too long.  I am, of course, referring to the “Dog Industry Cartel Kerfuffle.” (No, I will not use this group’s acronym.  This is a family friendly column.  Get your minds out of the gutter).

This industry is using a blatantly unfair marketing advantage in promoting its brand, to wit: Puppies.  By unfairly exploiting puppies, pictures of puppies, and stories about puppies, et cetera, the average American is placed at a gross disadvantage.  This outfit even stoops to marketing to children.  Walk into the children’s section of any library and what do you see?  Picture books about puppies.  And not a balanced view of puppies.  No.  It’s all one-sided.  It’s all Pro-Puppy.

This all leads me to a friend of mine.  For the purposes of this column, I’ll refer to her as, “Janene,” because her name happens to be Janene.  Janene is an “industry insider.”  She has two dogs.  The first dog her family got was Peanut, a Chihuahua-King Cavalier designer dog.  (The whole industry is becoming high-tech – Another unfair advantage).  We all thought Peanut was a small dog until Janene got her second dog, Paparazzi.  Now, compared to Paparazzi, Peanut looks like an aircraft carrier.  Paparazzi is a Yorkshire terrier.  He weighs slightly less than your average cotton ball.

As his name suggests, Paparazzi has a certain flair.  He has caught the attention of the owner of a female Yorkie who is interested in him breeding (or in today’s dog parlance, “hooking-up”) with her dog.  Janene would get the pick of the litter, and she asked me if my family might be interested in a Paparazzi Junior.

Here’s the rub.

I’m married to someone whom you might not characterize as a “dog lover.”  Her list of concerns include: 1. They are dogs, 2. They tend to shed hair, and finally, 3. They are dogs.  If my wife were Superwoman (which in many ways she is), then dog hair is Kryptonite.  Well, guess what?  Yorkie’s don’t shed.  So that takes care of her number 2 concern.

Now, I just need to solve problems 1 and 3.

Ken Kesey Owes Me $5.20

Yesterday, I accidentally ate a hamburger the size of a Greyhound Bus.  Only it didn’t go down so smooth.  This was all Ken Kesey’s fault.  Yeah, I know he’s dead, but that doesn’t make it right.

I live in Eugene, Oregon, where author and Grateful Dead groupie Ken Kesey is revered.  He’s like a white Buddha.  In fact, the city dropped a bronze statue of him reading to kids smack down in the middle of town.  The “disenfranchised” use it hang their clothes to dry and/or display their valuable home-crafted trinkets for sale.  Drop by to visit it sometime.  Go in a group.  Take a can of mace.

But I digress.

Kesey wrote a book called, Sometimes a Great Notion.  It’s supposed to be really good.  I haven’t read it, of course, but I saw the movie starring Paul Newman, which was filmed in Oregon.  It was really good, and I cried when Paul Newman’s character drowned.  Anyway, I’m certain that’s where the tragedy of this hamburger nightmare started.

The McDonald’s Worldwide Conglomeration of Death (because there’s something seriously wrong with that outfit), recently came up with their own “Great Notion.”  They named it the “Gran Mac.”  It’s like the classic Big Mac, only several stories taller, and the diameter of a sewage drain lid.

The saying goes that it’s not how many times you fall down that matters, it’s how many times you stand back up.  Well, I fell down yesterday.  I tripped and fell face first into a Gran Mac.  I didn’t want to do it.  But this beast was an artery-clogging siren calling me to her rocky shores.  Polishing off that monstrosity of a burger (if you can call this aircraft carrier-sized block of carbohydrates and fat a burger) was backbreaking, or I should say, jaw-breaking.  My mandibular muscles are still aching.  And the carcass of that thing is still rolling around down in my lower intestines.  It’s churning away like a muskrat caught in a whitewater river sinkhole.

The entire experience is my shame.  And before you ask, “no,” I haven’t gotten back up yet.

So, Mr. CEO of McDonald’s Worldwide Conglomeration of Death, I only have one comment for you: “Sometimes it’s NOT a Great Notion.”

The Secret to Hiking with Grizzlies

By Jack Edwards

I take deep pleasure in hiking through the great outdoors.  At the mere suggestion from my wife that we go for a hike, usually at gun point, I hop right off the couch.  So I guess you can call me an “outdoor enthusiast.” This is why I was riveted by news that the National Park Service is considering restoring grizzlies to the “North Cascades Ecosystem.”  I read this in an article in the Seattle Times, by Phuong Le, titled, “Grizzly bears in the North Cascades? Feds release plan to restore population.”

Because I’m working on being a more “positive thinking” person, I decided to make a list of how this might enhance my life, and the lives of others – both adults and children (or as grizzlies refer to them, snack-size people).  (Sorry!  “Positive, Jack, stay positive!”)

The first thing you have to remember is that while these majestic creatures may seem “scary” or “intimidating,” Le’s article notes that, “grizzly bears tend to avoid areas of human activity.”  So it seems that we are unlikely to see a grizzly slipping into to a Seattle Starbucks for a half-caf vanilla latte after a long hibernation.  On the other hand, they enjoy a well-groomed hiking trail as much as the rest of us.  My brother-in-law, Tucker, and his wife, Jan, ran into a grizzly years ago while hiking in Montana.  They’re still trying to scrub the undies they were wearing that day back to their original white.  (“Okay, STOP with the negative, Jack!”)

Here are three benefits of hiking with grizzlies:

  1. Le reports that the grizzlies will “be radio-collared and monitored.” Talk about a silver lining. This means that whatever particular body part (or if he’s really hungry, “parts”) of your hiking buddy are missing, rangers can quickly locate and recover them.  (Presupposing the grizzly is willing to give it back.)  A funeral director can sew it back on in no time – probably at no extra charge (who are we kidding, he’s a funeral director.)
  2. According to Wikipedia, grizzly bears weigh no more than 900 pounds. So if you hike in groups of five to ten people, you’ll match his weight, and have at least a fighting chance. In the alternative, you can walk toward the back of the group, if you get my drift.  What’s the old saying? “You don’t have to outrun a grizzly, you only have to out run your friends.”

And,

  1. I don’t want to get all religious, or “controversial,” but life in heaven is supposed to be significantly more enjoyable than life on earth.

In conclusion, I look forward in great anticipation, to the return of these magnificent creatures to Northwest hiking trails.  I want to continue to enjoy the great outdoors, and now that I think about it, I want to help my friends and relatives, my elderly friends and relatives, enjoy the great outdoors with me.  #NeverHikeWithoutGrandma

My Rosetta Stone Road to Korea

By Jack Edwards

I’m traveling to South Korea this fall, so I’ve decided to be fluent in the native tongue when I arrive.  You may be thinking, does he already have a basic proficiency?  The answer would be, yes.  I mastered how to say, “Where is the bathroom?” in Korean, quite some time ago.  I also know how to say, “That’s too expensive.”  So, with this solid foundation, I figure I should need no more than three and a half weeks to “come up to speed” to complete fluency.

I went online to Rosetta Stone.  My wife suggested that I order the first level and pace myself.  This made perfect sense; so after due consideration, I ordered everything Rosetta Stone had.  The whole shebang.  Every “level,” including one, that upon completion, should allow me to obtain a position as a professor of Korean linguistics at Seoul University – teaching post-graduate students.

I hit my first roadblock when I openned the Rosetta Stone box.  It contained several DVDs and a “Quick Start” booklet.  To truly “master” the language, I figured that I’d need to devote at least 20 or 30 minutes several times a week.  Unfortunately, after an hour, I was still trying to figure out how to download the program using the “Quick Start” guide.  I had a heck of a time deciphering the instructions, but what most concerned me was  that the instructions were in ENGLISH.  I’ll admit it; this caused me to begin to doubt my ability to master the Korean language by October.

I have tried to learn Korean before.  My wife is Korean, and not just Korean, but the Real McCoy.  She grew up in South Korea, and as you might suspect, a very popular pastime in Korea is speaking the Korean language.  Sadly, each time I have started studying Korean, I have ultimately abandoned my pursuit.  But as they say, “The 253rd time’s the charm.”

This time, I have a special weapon.  His name is Caleb.  Caleb is my nephew who is learning Japanese.  We have decided to become “accountability buddies.”  I only have one concern about Caleb as an accountability buddy – Caleb is nice.  He’s a really nice well-mannered young man, and I don’t think he has it in him to, for example, call me up and threaten me with severe bodily death if I don’t get my butt “back with the program.”   I may need more of an Arnold Schwarzenegger type accountability buddy, or maybe even Hannibal Lector.

Well, I better get back to my Korean studies.  Remind me again, what is Korean for, “Where is the bathroom?”

Donald Trump: An Unauthorized Biography

By Jack Edwards

My wife and I went on a free vacation to Las Vegas last year.  I’m still not sure who paid for it.  It was either Donald Trump, the Hilton Corporation, or (and this is my best guess) the Las Vegas Mafia.  Anyway, in exchange for suffering through a two hour timeshare pitch, we got a voucher that covered several nights at the Trump International Hotel.  We felt very fancy and entitled walking through its sumptuous lobby.  Here it is-

Trump was still running for the Republican nomination at the time, so we asked everyone who worked there about him.  They said Trump stayed there whenever he was in town, and they really liked him.  Of course, there were a few who didn’t like him.  Those people LOVED him.  I’m not kidding.  But, as I’m sure you would expect, there were exceptions.  There was the occasional employee who neither liked nor loved Trump.  These few people WORSHIPED him.  This made me conclude that:

  1. They really did like him, or
  2. Trump had contracted with the Las Vegas Mafia to hold all their relatives hostage to keep them in line.

And if you doubt my claim that there is a Las Vegas Mafia, I present this photograph as Exhibit #1 –

The only group of people sinister enough to drop a four story M&M store smack in the middle of the Vegas Strip is organized crime.  It’s not enough that they suck your wallet dry on the casino floor, they clean out your kid’s piggy bank too.  At least the kids whose parents are stupid enough to take them to Las Vegas.

My two criticisms of the Trump International, which you may or may not choose to attribute to Donald Trump (although I blame him personally), are:

1.  The elevators weren’t equipped with those key card inserts to ensure that only guests can travel up their floor. (I kid you not, in the evening, they assigned a stocky guy to stand in front of the elevator bank who made us show him our key cards before he’d let us pass.)

And,

2.  More than once, while taking a shower, the water went cold.  That’s a deal breaker.  If the Mafia weren’t paying for my room, I would have lodged a very sternly worded complaint.

Side note: As you know, Las Vegas visitors are required by law to attend a Cirque du Soleil show.  We went to see “O.”  Here’s my review:  Watching people do one amazing high dive after another was incredible… for the first 30 minutes.  Then it’s time to wrap it up and let us get back to the bar, uh, … I mean the casino.

When we got back to the hotel on our final evening, we decide to hit the lounge.  This is where the The Donald, in no uncertain terms, convinced me that he can get Mexico to pay for his wall.  He got me, the biggest cheapskate in the Northern Hemisphere, to pay $500 for this drink-

Okay, not quite $500, but WAY too much.  Embarrassingly too much.  Although it did go down quite smoothly.

So, if you want to get all technical about it, I didn’t actually meet Donald Trump, but I got a pretty good sense of the guy.  And in the end, yes, I have decided that I completely agree with your assessment of him.  You are right.  You are ABSOLUTELY right.

 

A three minute vacation for your brain.