Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bag, bag, box, car, garage.

My parents were going camping with a bunch of my dad’s colleagues, and they were getting their stuff together.  They were bringing a handful of plastic bags and wanted to make sure they stayed dry, so they put the plastic bags in a plastic bag.  I wasn’t there for the conversation, but from what I was told, it went something like this:

What do you call a plastic bag that is made to hold plastic bags?


A plastic-plastic bag-bag

What about the box you just put the plastic bag full of plastic bags into?

Well, that would be a cardboard-plastic-plastic bag-bag-box.

My parents told this story at the dinner table and, when you add in a bunch of teenage Rossis, we had to take it to the level of absurdity.

Plastic bags, in a plastic bag, in a box, in a car sitting in the garage would be (dun-duh-dun)

A wood-metal-cardboard-plastic-plastic bag-bag-box-car-garage.

For the next 20 years, when a discussion got to the point of absurdity, someone would just say “bag-bag-box-car-garage” and we’d all burst out laughing.  Sometimes, we’d just blurt it out for no reason at all.

I thought of this because of something I stumbled upon while roaming the internet.  It’s an island in a lake, in an island in a lake, in an island in the ocean.  I looked on Google maps to make sure it wasn’t just a photoshopped joke, and it does exist.  Just search for Tanauan City in the Philippines, it’s just west of there.

Monday, July 30, 2012

If it’s raining, there’s a cloud somewhere.

This week’s theme is “cloudy”.

I was going through my files to find good cloud pictures when I came across these.  You won’t see any clouds in them, but they were there.

Long enough ago that all these kids are out of high school, and some probably graduated college, we went on a team activity to a park just up the street from the school.  The day was perfect as five teachers and 200 students walked through the neighborhood to get there.

We assembled the students under the pavilion to give directions on the activity when the clouds let loose and it started pouring.

But that didn’t stop the kids from enjoying the playground.  We couldn’t have them to start on the activity, that would require them to be out in the rain and we didn’t want to do that.  But at the same time, it they wanted to play in it, we couldn’t stop them.

Some of them discovered that the boxes we brought their lunches in made pretty good umbrellas.

At least until they got completely soaked.

While others had the fashion sense not to walk around with cardboard on their heads, and found a different way to stay dry.

As usual in Utah, the rain lasted about 20 minutes, then the skies cleared up and we still had time to finish the activity.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Broken Car

It was the winter of ‘77-‘78, early morning on a snowy day and I was headed to school.  I came to the hill on 8th South, right before 13th East and noticed a car struggling to get through the intersection, right in front of me.  I hit the brakes and started to slide, pumping them didn’t help at all.  I turned into the curb, rubbing my front wheel against it until I came to a stop several yards (meters) before hitting the car in the intersection.

Whew!  So close, but safe.

Until one of our congressman’s wife tried to do the same thing, except I was in the way.  Her back bumper hooked under my front wheel well and literally ripped the front quarter panel in half.  It was dangling by the wire to the front marker light, I had to cut it before I left so it wouldn’t drag along the ground.

We exchanged information (I have never driven without insurance.)  and called the police.  Remember, this was 1977, no cell phones.  We had to walk across the street to the 7-Eleven pay phone to call it in.

When we got back to the cars, and one of my peers had his big AMC wagon parked in the back end of my car.

Two cars slammed into me and now I was going to be late for class.  Like being late mattered, especially why my wheels were wrecked.

But that’s Ok.  Fortunately I had a couple of witnesses, and I collected almost $1,000 in insurance money. 

For a high school student in the late 70’s, that was a lot of money.  I replaced the front quarter panel myself, banged out the back hatch and it was good as new.  Ok, not new, but good enough for a 17 year old high school student.

That left me about $600, and I refuse to go into how I invested that for the next six months, until I turned 18.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Broken Rules

I wouldn’t say I was a hellion in high school, I actually only had one run-in with the administration.  But I have to admit this has more to do with knowing how to fly under their radar rather than me following all the rules.  Because I spent a lot of my time there breaking the rules and, since getting kicked out or not graduating was not an option at my house, skirting the line between anonymity and catching the eye of the administration.

I took this picture out in front of the Seminary* building.  The plan was to get pictures of my friends and myself sitting in front of the Seminary with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

I was just about to set the timer so I could run into the picture, when one of the Seminary teachers came out and kicked us off his front stairs.  I, or course, took a bunch of pictures as the whole thing unfolded.  I didn’t get the one I had been planning on, but this one has been a hit at every class reunion.

*Every high school and junior high school (with 9th grade) in Utah has an LDS Seminary building adjacent to it.  LDS students are given release time in their school schedule to go off campus for their religious training.

( Note: this option is given to all religions, it’s just that the LDS population is the only one large enough to sustain this type of network of buildings and personnel.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thematic Photographic: Broken

At some point this year my house is going to be 100 years old.  I’ve made a lot of changes in the 19 years I’ve lived here, I can only imagine what it looked like when it was built in 1912.

What I do know is that it was way out on the outskirts of Salt Lake City.  So far out that it was just 2 blocks north of the Utah State Penitentiary.   My guess is that it, and several others in the neighborhood of the same age, were built for workers at the penitentiary.

When I bought the house it had an old detached garage behind it.  Again, I’m guessing that it was built in the 40’s.  No plywood, just 2x4s with wood slats on the side and wood shingles on the roof.

I knew I was going to have to replace it soon, about a third of the roof shingles were missing or rotted through, you could see sky while standing inside.


After a couple of years, I wouldn’t even park the cars inside of it, especially in the winter.   I was afraid it would collapse in on itself, right onto the cars.

Until the winter of 1995-1996, when it finally collapsed.  Forward.  Right on to the hood of my car.

Broken.  I know it kind of looks like there was a fire, but that wood was so old and dry that if it had burned there would have been nothing left.

Fortunately, my homeowner’s insurance paid me enough to fix the car and rebuild the garage.  They really didn’t cover the damage on the car, but, with the help of friends and family, we built it ourselves, saving me the money to fix the car.

See more “broken” pictures by clicking on the banner below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ambulance Chasing in the new Millennium.

Ain’t technology great?

I saw an ad on T.V. today that was encouraging parents to make sure their teen drivers were prepared in case of an accident. 

Buckle up?


Good insurance?


Emergency pack with First-Aid kit?


What your teen REALLY needs is this:

Why call mom and dad first, when you can immediately contact a Personal Injury Lawyer with the push of a button.

I got in my first accident the day after I got my driver’s license.  I borrowed my parent’s 1974 Dodge Van, the huge, pre-minivan type, and went to K-Mart.  While trying to park the behemoth, I creamed a Volkswagen Rabbit in the next stall.  Put a crease in the front quarter-panel that was a foot long and almost an inch deep at it’s worst.

My first reaction was “Oh crap*, mom’s gonna kill me.”, not “Better call a lawyer.”

*Ok, I didn’t really say “crap”.  It was a much longer conglomeration of words which I see no reason to repeat here, and can’t remember the exact order and repetitive pattern anyway.

I was pretty shaken up, I’d had my license for less than 24 hours and already killed a Rabbit.  I left a note on the windshield with my name and phone number and promptly went home to let my parents know.

My parents were understanding about stuff like that.  Wreck a car and they say “That’s why we have insurance!” after asking if everyone is ok.  (Misplace a screw driver and they’d call the FBI, but even when I wrecked my mom’s brand new car all I got was “Go call the insurance agent.”)

The guy who owned the Rabbit called a little later and when I told him I was 16, just got my license and that my mom would talk to him, he let out a quiet “Oh, crap.” too.  (His actually was real close to “crap”, he refrained from using any colorful expletives).

My mom got on the phone, gave him all the information he needed and that was the last I ever heard of it.

Except for my siblings, who, for the next few years, liked to remind me that I killed a Rabbit on my second day with a license.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Look Up

If you look up when walking around my house, what will you see?

Brought to you by: