THANK YOU FISH FOR ALL THAT YOU DO!

August 21, 2014

bigfish

I live about nine miles inland from the Fort Lauderdale coast of Florida.  This is one of the primo sport fishing areas in the world.  That’s one of my neighbors pictured above.  If you are into fishing, living here would be the same high as being a golfer whose home backs up on the back nine—got plenty of those too in Florida.

The problem is, I don’t particularly care for fishing.  My son and my wife love to fish.  I find it a smelly, boring endeavor that shows no mercy to one of God’s little creatures.  Think about it.  Fish are caught because they fail to notice a practically invisible nylon line with a sharp non-reversal hook tied to its end.  And if the hooks don’t get them, there are the large football-field nets to deal with.   They have no chance…no sporting chance.

Fish have no arms and hands to reach up and yank the hook out of their mouths or help them escape some net they’ve become entangled in.  They can’t even get a little revenge by scratching the heck out of you while you dangle it and smile for the usual bragging photo op.  Nope, the poor fish can do nothing but flap and flop around on the deck as it desperately tries to find deep water.  This is sport?

My son was watching a television show on Alaskan salmon fishing the other night.  He was wowed by the number of fish being caught.  They were in abundant supply as they were hauled onto the boats tangled in long inescapable nets.  I, on the other hand, felt sorry for the fish. They had no chance.  One moment they were swimming around enjoying life; the next they’re flopping about on the deck of some boat soon to be beheaded, cut open, cleaned of their innards and tossed into a huge bin to be sold when the boat gets back to port…and for a nice sum I might add.

My son says fish can’t feel anything—they have no nervous system like we do, not to mention much thinking power to figure out all the horrible stuff that’s being done to them.  Me, I think it makes no nevermind.  The fish still get caught, can’t escape, will be cut into filets and baked or sliced and grilled and that’s the end of it.  They must have some negative outlook on all this, even if miniscule.  Oh, did I mention that I get horribly seasick too?  True.  The minute the captain turns off the engine to drift fish and the boat begins that rhythmic wallowing up and down, to and fro, up and down and to and fro and up….okay, you get the picture.

I suppose there is not much difference in the treatment of other animals we kill for food, although fish are a little different in that they are either farmed or made sport of.  I don’t know anyone who hunts cow or chicken though I suppose you could make the case it would be good sport chasing the chickens around the barnyard and seeing how many you could catch.

I had some Alaskan salmon for dinner last night.  That’s what sort of got me thinking about all these random fishing thoughts.  We’ve done a good job, us humans, of cleansing the whole killing aspect of the food supply we consume.  My piece of salmon was perfectly cut into a nice rectangle.  It came in an air-tight plastic pouch that was inside a plastic bag with nice graphics and text on the outside.  It was such that I didn’t have to think about the fish—or any fish for that matter—who sacrificed its life for my dinner.  It could have been a rectangular piece of some salmon-like substance for all I knew.  It was just a lot easier to eat not having to witness the real process the fish went through to get from the bottom of the ocean to my mouth.

*****


PARENTING & THE HAIR FACTOR

August 17, 2014

Hair5As some of you may know, my wife and I have the distinct privilege of having one of our teenage granddaughters living with us.  Revisiting parenthood, especially after experiencing, albeit brief, the phase known as “empty nesting” is indeed a unique…a unique…okay, I am at a loss of words—let’s just say it’s unique.  In the spirit of helpfulness I share with you today one mere element of the experience this opportunity has provided us just in the event you should find yourself in a similar circumstance.

The issue is hair!  It is the predominant element in the life of the typical teenage girl living in America today.  Hair is an issue for both the head from which it extends, to the other heads living within the same household, namely the overseers of subject teenage young lady.  Should your environment be susceptible to invasion by a female teen, here are the more volatile hair issues you can anticipate having to deal with:

  • Color – The degree of weird is proportionate to the ratio between the diastolic and systolic blood pressure measurements of the adult overseers. Blue is the current trendy shade, either streaked in with another color, or omnipresent.
  • Cut –  Hair length is the issue most debated.  The exact “Cut” is a subject matter capable of dominating all other concerns of the teenage female.  While the Mohawk is not common among young female heads, it is a threat always lurking.    The longer the hair is, the more prevalent the discussion about getting it cut, although the debate can be never-ending, going on unresolved for long periods of time.
  • Loss – This is the key hair issue in the mind of the male overseer and the one most affecting the household infrastructure, namely, tub drains. The latter are especially susceptible to large accumulation of teen hair, subsequently resulting in the consumption of large accumulation of Liquid Plumber or Draino.
  • Consumer Products – Another ratio issue: the ratio of the number of monthly bottles of conditioner consumed vs. the dollar overage amounts directly affecting the monthly budget.  A related issue is the degree of hazard to the overseers who are subject to slippage in the tub because of failure on the part of the teenage daughter to properly rinse away the conditioner from the surface of the bathtub or shower stall, hence rendering it more lethal than wet ice.

In sum, if you can achieve any reasonable amount of control over at least one of the hair issues, you are a remarkable individual.  However, do not be surprised to learn that the odds are stacked against you and epic fail (a current teenage phrase) is inevitable.  The challenge is, yes, I will say it….hair raising!

*****


NO LOVE FOR BABY…OMG!

August 16, 2014

cartoon

Right here on this very stage, I have recently twice featured postings about my new children’s book that is launching this month—actually this week…actually yesterday if you consider the “official” birth date to be the day the author approves the proof and orders a few copies to cuddle with until the novelty wears off.  Yeah, that was yesterday and it is quite odd that I feel ambivalent about the whole endeavor. 

“Ambivalent” …unsure; having mixed, uncertain or conflicting feelings about something.  Yeah, I looked it up to make sure that was the right word to describe how I feel.  It is.  Why is that?  In the past, the launch of a book has been quite a thrill, a benchmark day, a Kodak moment when the first book arrives in the mail and I get to do the up close and personal touchy-feely thing with it.  Am I anticipating the same thing for this latest baby?  Nope.  Why is that?

This is my fifth book.  Maybe the thrill is gone.  Nope.  It’s still a little cool to see one’s word-puke printed all up fancy and looking respectable. That’s not it.

Maybe I’m not as satisfied with this book as I was with the others.  Yeah, that’s plausible.  I’m not as confident I did as good a job on this book as I did on ones previous.  Maybe I’m becoming a complacent robotic writer.  Y’know, just spit ‘em out one a year and laugh all the way to the bank. Well, that’s certainly not happening so that can’t be it.

Maybe I have too many distractions right now.  True dat.  I’ve got some issues going on right now—who doesn’t?  They’re all old issues though; the type that are ongoing and just never seem to go away.  You probably have some of them too—they keep your mind active and your nerves jostled all about.  Nothing new there I suppose.  So, that’s not it either.

I guess I will just have to settle for plain old vanilla ambivalence as the cause of my malaise over my new book.  I am sure it is temporary and I will be euphoric in no time…maybe even sometime today.  It’s a shame, however, that I am feeling this way because I know there are one or two good things goin’ for this book.  In fact, it contains one of the best chapters I’ve ever written…in my humble opinion, of course.  No, no kidding, when I finished writing that section I reread it and could not believe how good it was and that I actually wrote it….much better than this posting…just say’n…yeah, better….okay, a lot lot better!

lateraltitle copy

*****


SURVIVAL OF THE DUCKEST!

August 12, 2014

Canal (2)

I have talked many times about the canal that runs outside the back of our house.  That’s it in the picture above.  It never ceases to amaze me seeing all the different kinds of animals that come crawling out of it.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of the filming of one of those old episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Yes, it’s Florida and, yes, we have alligators.  But in 18 years I have seen only two alligators in our canal, though reports of a third one are currently circulating.  Based on the saga of a small family of ducks we’ve been seeing lately, I would say the reports are accurate.  Here is a classic illustration of the survival of the fittest…at least in our backyard!


FranklinThe variety of ducks that call South Florida home are dominated by the Muscovy. You see them everywhere; in residential areas, wandering around shopping center parking lots, attending church on Sunday.  They are not at all an attractive bird.  They have an inconsistent greasy coloring of black, green, brown and white.  Most have a grotesque growth of red fleshy nodules called “carunkles” that run from around the eyes then down around the beak.  They are clumsy looking, even more ridiculous when they run and they’re very obnoxious when mating.  The males don’t care whom they force themselves on top of (literally), whether it’s a close relative or a female barely old enough to fly.  The act is usually done in the water with the male insisting his mate remain totally submerged until he is through with her.  It’s a wonder how she survives.  Afterwards, if things went right, she lays a dozen or more eggs and then has to sit on them for 32 days.  Then, by all observation, she becomes a single mom.

Every spring we have the replenishing of the population as just about every female waddles around the neighborhood with a new brood of little ones dutifully lined up single-file behind them.  As each day goes by, the number of followers decreases as Ma Nature diminished them to an appropriate level.  One tactic she uses is to have great white egrets (those magnificent large, tropical birds you often see in Florida wildlife paintings) swoop down and snatch a baby duckling in its beak then flying off with it as we folks down on the ground anxiously wait for the panicky chirping to fade away.  Bye bye baby duckling.

Duck2 (2)

We currently have a family of teens hanging around the house (above).  There is the mother and what are now young, near-adult ducklings.  About the last transition they have to go through is growing their wings and learning how to fly.  BTW, as clumsy as the Muscovies are on the ground, they are surprisingly fast and fluid once airborne.

A few weeks ago Ma Duck had five teenagers she was taking care of.  Oh wait, make that four.  “Taking care of” means she waddles around all day and they follow wherever she goes.  If they come upon some food, especially from some caring humans who are willing to dispense a few slices of bread (I wonder who that might be?) Ma Duck will aggressively fight for her share, the kids be damned.  Sort of reminds me of my mother when a box of chocolate butter creams was in the house.

But alas, our four teenage ducks are not immune from the challenges of nature’s balance–oh wait, make that three.  Usually once they’ve grown to Duck1a youthful size they are past the more serious threats to survival.  We do not have any idea where the two missing teens have gone, though it is possible they became lunch for the “reported” creature currently submarining within the depths of the canal.  As further evidence of this reptilian visitor, I present Exhibit A to the right, a picture of Ma Duck’s new butt-doo…or what’s left of the old one.  Something has obviously grabbed hold of it and she managed to pull away, but not before sacrificing a good bit of feathers. Hmmm, wonder what could have come up from behind her and attempted such a feisty bite?

And so it goes along the mighty canal that runs out back of our house. Scenic as it is, there is no question that some of nature’s more sinister sights are lurking just below the surface.  Quack Quack!

 *****


AMAZING TO BE

August 9, 2014

Untitled-1

As previously disclosed in an earlier posting, I have a new children’s book about to be published.  This will be my third effort at corrupting our younger generation.  I am doing the final layout and proofing.  In a few days I hope to be sending it off to the magical place that turns my silly thoughts into actual hand-held paperback wads of wit and wisdom.

This particular book is aimed at a little older reader than my previous ventures.  It’s about an 11-year-old boy who is confronted by one predicament after another and, consequently, spends a lot of time grounded in his room.  No, it is not necessarily an autobiography.

The challenge of writing this book was making sure that I, at a childish age of 69, could speak “good 11-year-old” that is natural and spot-on relevant.  If I do not accomplish this, the book will be—as the kids say—an epic fail.  The dreaded “epic fail” is the equivalent of the book bombing!

As a preventative measure, I had several children read the manuscript and then provide feedback.  I begged them not to feel obligated to say only good things about the book.  They had to look for mistakes and tell me when they did not like something.  It was an international panel of kids; some live across the gulf in Texas and one who lives across the pond in England!

The results were quite exciting.  My young British editor was last to read but first to find two really stink-o mistakes that previously went unnoticed.

But the fun part of their reports were some of the comments.  They sure beat the esoteric gibberish that some grownup reviewers conjure up in those fancy book magazines.  Here are a few examples of what the kids wrote:

CAMoverLogo copy
“…It was an amazing book.  I loved it!  It made me laugh so many times.  If you listen to what everybody has told you this could be an amazing 5-star and best selling book!”

“You said the name of the school too much.”

“I really like this book and I can’t wait to get a copy.”

“Some very exciting parts, scary parts, jumpy parts and funny parts—that is what an amazing book needs so I think your book is amazing X amazing = extra amazing.”

See, just do the math!  You can’t get any plainer and to-the-point than those comments.  What is amazing, is that “amazing” is the new “excellent” or whatever adjective is relevant to expressing strong admiration.  My grownup friend Ronna has been saying “That’s Amazing!” for years…I wonder if she realizes how well she speaks 11-ese?

The book is titled “The 11th Year of Christopher Arthur McDaniels” and, if interested, you can read more about it at the book’s website which I am still working on:    http://christopherarthurmcdaniels.com.  One thing we already know about the book even before it’s published… it’s amazing!

*****


TOP SHELF, CAT-EGORIZED KITTY

August 6, 2014

ToniFiledsm

Yes, there are more comfortable places where the cat could sleep.

She could meander most anywhere, find hidden spaces in which to creep.

There are soft cushions in several rooms and certainly beds are plentiful.

Anyone of them she selected would have a mattress perfectly wonderful.

Or how about a pile of freshly laundered clothes hot from the dryer.

Or overhead shelves in the closets should she prefer something higher.

But no, regardless of any list of all the places I may compile,

Toni the cat prefers to be nearby, crammed inside my desktop file.

*****


WANT FRIES WITH THOSE BLUE EYES?

August 2, 2014

DNAChart

The older I get–meaning the more years I have to look back on–it amazes me how certain characteristics of individuals in my family continue on through succeeding generations.  I know very little about genetics, but it seems to me that every family has a specific gene pool from which each member is formulated at birth.  I picture the process similar to having dinner at a cafeteria.  I see each baby lining up just as the x and y thingies begin to mingle.  They slide their trays down the family kitchen counter and select various mental and physical traits that appeal to them and–voila!–a person is made.  You’ve seen how it works:  sister Sally got the rocket scientist gene; brother Jake got the philosophical gene and so on.  I must have passed on the algebra gene, probably because I was distracted by the ice cream compulsion gene.  It’s my guess that if you have a basic knowledge of your family’s individual physical and mental characteristics it may not be too difficult to determine what the family’s cafeteria menu has to offer, as random as it often is.  It adds a whole new meaning to the question, “What’s for dinner?”

reaganMy one granddaughter (I’ve got five varieties of these) is an incredibly talented artist.  That’s her sketch of Ronald Reagan.  She drew that last year when she was 16.  She has never had any formal training. Her great great grandfather, my paternal grandfather, sketched and painted.  He was pretty good too, but was not a professional.  So the family “art” gene has surfaced twice within the past 105 years.  We have as many left-handers.

Personally, I got an interesting mix of physical and mental attributes and they are pretty much split very specifically between those of my parents.  My mother was the writer in the family.  She pursued her gift all her life but commercial success eluded her.  That’s definitely the gene I picked up.  The only advantage I have that she didn’t, is that the current technology of independent publishing allows best-seller wannabes like me to be able to produce a book—a physical, hold-in-your-hands stack of bound pages that anyone can buy on the internet.  She did manage to eek out a professionally published children’s biography of Jo Davidson.  He was a 20th century sculptor who committed to clay or stone most every person of note during the 1930-40s.  He did the Roosevelts so my mother subsequently sent Eleanor a copy of the book and I now have the First Lady’s thank you letter framed and sitting just off to my left.

Meanwhile, the physical side of me is attributed to most of my father’s characteristics.  We have both been skinny most of our lives, famous for our “bird legs,” large noses and somewhat bowlegged gait.  Despite our tendency for thin limbs, my father nurtured a pretty good-sized girth once he hit 60.  He was an enthusiastic beer drinker, a prevalent family gene that I did not inherit.  Consequently, I always incorrectly attributed his gut to the beer.  Once I crossed the 60th parallel I found my waistline mirrors my father’s…and I do not drink.  It’s a gene thing and there’s no stopping it.  What I would have preferred over a fat gut was some of my father’s brain power.  He was a mechanical engineer most of his career.  That’s a fancy name for a “draftsman” who mainly produced blueprints of highly technical equipment.  Regretfully, I got the infrastructure from him, but not the power plant.  Those genes have sat idle for a generation and just may be resurfacing in my young grandson….don’t know for sure yet, but he does seem to be heading that way.  I’ll know for sure as soon as I see a pocket protector in his shirt.

*****


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 509 other followers

%d bloggers like this: