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You are now leaving Montgomery County Maryland

June 6th, 2012 No comments

This sign has always tickled me.  It stands trailside on the Cap Crescent, and presumably marks the boundary between Maryland and DC.



I never thought through precisely why the sign always amused me.  Until today, that is.

The reason is the word now.

If it read, “You are leaving Montgomery County,” it would be nonplussing.

What a huge difference a simple word makes!

You just know the person who designed that sign put the “now” in there on purpose!  Maybe not for all the reasons that make it funny, but at least for some of them.

“Now” takes a passive occurrence (“by the way, you happen to be crossing into DC now…have a nice day!..”) and transforms it into a deliberate, self-destructive choice:

“You really want to trade the safe, warm shelter of Montgomery County for a creepy, uncertain future in DC?.  You may want to rethiiink that…”

It’s like a legal disclaimer.

The humor is compounded by the physical surroundings.  To reach the sign, you cross a wide concrete bridge that often soaks in sunlight, surrounded by grassy fields.  Then you begin approaching some thick woods and bam….there’s the sign, sentry to a darker stretch of trail.

The sad thing here is that a warm sign from DC (“WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, DC!”) would gainsay the implied danger, and would also serve as the final word on the matter.

But from DC, nary a peep.

I wonder if the person who created the sign gets to see it often.  And if they laugh a little inside each time.

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O Gatsby! My Gatsby!

March 29th, 2011 5 comments

O Gatsby! My Gatsby!

O GATSBY! my GATSBY! Our sixteen years are done;
Your body weather’d every wrack, except for this last one;
You beat back Cushings, conquered couches- yet squirrels are exulting,
Your stature gone, the back yard teems with critters now cavorting:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the shedding fur of brown,
Where on the tile my Gatsby lies,
Fallen cold and down.

O Gatsby! my Gatsby! rise up and meet the days;
Rise up—for you the milk bone’s flung—for you the beagle bays;
For you steak bits and chicken strips—for you the couches clamor;
For you they call, for your frayed, worn fur; their lonely cushions langour;

Here Gatsby! dear puppy!
Your tongue lolls from your head;
I’ll miss you always underfoot,
Now that you’re cold and dead.

My Gatsby does not answer, his ribs don’t rise and fall;
(So deaf was he, were he alive, he would not hear my call;)
The house is seal’ed, safe and sound, the mailman’s locked without;
Your honored foe – tomorrow here – Of that I have no doubt!

Exult, O fences, and rest easy, carpets!
As I fight back a tear,
And warm the couch my Gatsby wore,
Fallen cold and dear.

_______________________________________________________________
With thanks to Walt Whitman, who wrote O Captain! My Captain! in honor of Abraham Lincoln.

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Write or Die!

November 9th, 2010 No comments

I ran across the site Write or Die the other day, and figured I’d give it a try.  It is pretty amazing what can happen when you light a fire under you own toes.  It’s a simple yet effective “stay focused” tool for writing.

There is a time to write aggressively, to generate quantity.   No, it’s not a substitute for planning, or for deliberate, thoughtful editing, but a flat out writing sprint can generate lots of good stuff that can be pared properly later.

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Farewell, Coach Mike

November 6th, 2010 No comments

I know you can’t take these thoughts with you, but thanks – thanks for building a massive community of running friends, for helping so many of us in so many ways, and helping us make dreams come true.

You left us way, way too soon.

Farewell, Mike.

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Arenal volcano

October 24th, 2010 No comments

Arenal volcanoI have spent the past couple of days with a great view of an active volcano.  Labeled “one of the ten most active volcanos in the world,” Arenal last got really angry in 1968, although a smaller eruption in 2000 put and end to a restaurant and campsite located at the far side of the lake visible at the bottom of the picture.  Apparently, the lava made its way to within 50 meters of the lake.  All the vegetation you see beyond that is regrowth from the past 10 years.

The highlight of the weekend was a 3-hour horseback tour around the volcano.    That’s probably 2 hours 45 minutes more than I’ve ever spent on a horse before, but surprisingly, I’m not paying for it too badly today.  My trusty steed – Tarzan – was smaller, heavier, and older than the other horses, though…plus he was carrying me…as a results, he was huffing pretty hard most of the time – to the point where the other riders kept commenting.  I felt bad for him and asked the guide how hold he was (11) and how long they could work.  I was surprised to find out that horses can carry riders at twice his age – and horses can live into their 30s.  Learn something new every day.

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Julia becomes a hurricane!

September 14th, 2010 No comments

Julia following on Igor's heels...Category 1 as of Sept. 14, 2010

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Zach was telling us a really creative story

September 12th, 2010 No comments

and Amy asked him where he got all his ideas.  He said he had televisions playing in his head.

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The kids’ top 5 lists from our trip to California

September 17th, 2009 No comments

We spent a week in Los Angeles last month, visiting family and attending Amy’s cousin Julie’s daughter Alex’s Bat Mitzvah.   I asked the kids what they their top 5 favorite things from the trip were, and they said…

Evan
Visiting with cousins
Getting to go to everybody’s houses and be in their pool
The Bat Mitzvah
Going to Venice Beach
Getting a handball

Julia
Hollywood
The Bat Mitzvah party
Seeing my cousins
Swimming in the pool
Having Jamba Juice

Zach
(he didn’t limit himself to 5, and would have kept going if I hadn’t stopped him at 12)
Playing capture the flag
Doing “My name’s Graham” (he usually has an alias these days)
Alex’s Bat Mitzvah
Sleeping
Ice cream from the ice cream truck
Griffin [his cousin] was funny
Watching TV
Staying at our hotel
Jumping around a lot
Drawing pictures
Going in the pool with Daddy

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When I asked Evan to put away

April 13th, 2009 No comments

a precariously perched, mostly empty cereal bowl with milk, he moved it onto a desk, but to a spot that was out-of-sight. I said that I hoped not to find that same bowl 4 days later. He responded, “Don’t blame me…blame puberty.”

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Saw a license plate the other day…

February 4th, 2009 No comments

…WLXQZME…

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