Duhhhh. . . . Zinc!

On August 16, 1999, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” debuted on American television. ABC picked Regis Philbin to host the show. The program featured a quiz competition where each contestant had to correctly answer a series of 15 questions of increasing difficulty. One form of assistance was the “lifeline.” The contestant had a limited number of lifelines available in each round – and they could opt to have help – by calling their lifeline.

In early 2000, yours truly served as a lifeline for the son of friends from our church. The topic for which I was to be a lifeline – if that topic was chosen – was “world currency.” On the given evening, I stayed in my office rather than go home. In anticipation of the possible “call” (there was no guarantee I would be needed) I taped maps, charts, lists, and pictures all over my office. Ever the Boy Scout – I was prepared.

As the show started, I had a call from an ABC representative. I was told that if I got “the call” I would be talking with Regis Philbin first. AND I was instructed (probably four or five times) that “you are NOT to make any small talk with Regis.” I said I understood and the call ended. Minutes passed. What seemed like hours. And then . . . .

RING. . . . RING. . . I answered “Hello Scott – this is Regis Philbin. I’m here with your friend who needs some help with a question.” And my friend came on – “Scott – the question is – what metallic component is dominant in the United States nickel. Is it A) Iron B) Zinc C) Aluminum or D) Copper.None of the maps, charts, lists or pictures addressed this question. And I began to perspire. It couldn’t be iron. It would rust. Aluminum – no. Copper was the penny. And I said “Zinc.”

The answer was D) Copper. If you ever want to get a smile from my family members, just say “duhhhhhh zinc.”

The Slop Bucket

[A timely repeat from April 25, 2019] Years ago, I worked at a Boy Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. We first served as “trainees” for a month. Trainees would rotate through the various camp areas.  Doing grunt work.   Spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen peeling potatoes, doing dishes and cleaning up.

After meals in the Mess Hall, Scouts and trainees would bus the tables. We would throw paper garbage into one garbage can. And we would put food waste into another.  The food barrel was called the “slop bucket.”  We were always careful about putting food scraps (no bones, no paper) in the slop bucket because we would give the slop bucket each day to a local farmer who would use it to feed his “sounder” of pigs. Uneaten food was used. . . . .

I have posted occasionally on environmental issues.  And I have touted my trademark – JUST TURN IT OFF — a motto that applies to cars, lights, water and energy. 

When I read about how the earth is being inundated with waste and air pollution; oceans overflowing with garbage; rivers and lakes turning toxic and how many folks remain heedless of our environment, I get a wee bit steamed.   But then I simmer down — and start thinking about what we can do.  “Just turning off” your water, lights, car, energy – is one thing.  But there is also merit in reusing bags, bottles, containers.  And not polluting.  And then there is recycling. 

And there is composting. Taking food waste and carefully mixing it with soil.  In the garden.  Or backyard.  You don’t need a slop bucket.  

Each one of us needs to get on board with this idea of helping our limping planet along.  Pronto. We live here.  There are generations of souls who yet have no voice – who will have to live here too.  And they will have no choice but to take what we give them. What kind of world do you want to give them?    

The N.R.A.

[A timely repeat – from February 22, 2018] When I was a kid, my father sent me down to the local creek to shoot rats.  Big Norway rats.  I used a BB gun or a single shot .22 loaded with CB shorts.  When I was 14, I was on staff at a Boy Scout camp in Wisconsin.  I got on the school bus for the ride up north with my knapsack and my Stevens Model 416 .22 caliber bolt action target rifle.  Art T. brought pistols to camp since he was on a pistol team back home.  Since we arrived on Sunday, we put our guns under our bunks and on Monday checked them in to the rifle range for the duration of the summer.  No one ever thought of doing something violent or hurtful to another person.  Many of the boys were junior members of the NRA. 

I don’t object to those who want guns for hunting, target shooting or protection.  But I oppose semi-automatic weapons, bump stocks, massive clips or military-style (“assault”) weapons.  They are not necessary.  Nor are they contemplated by the Second Amendment.  The NRA is no more.  It is not the National Rifle Association.  It is now the National Assault Rifle Association.  Maybe the National Bump Stock Association.  The NRA ignores the gun violence that suffocates our nation.  Instead, they preach the same sermon that most weapons should be legal.  With little limitation.  Easy on the background checks.  As we all know, some NRA members crave automatic weapons.  And bazookas.  And RPG’s.  “Pry my cold dead fingers. . . . .”   

I understand that some believe that by confiscating all weapons, violence will come to an end.  And there are some [probably the same folks] who proclaim that even those who are mentally ill and prone to violence (as we have seen in the recent mass shootings) cannot be forced to take meds or have institutional treatment unless the individual agrees.  That’s just ducky.   Toxic attitudes. Toxic agendas.  Toxic results. .

With such extreme positions – competing for legitimacy – it is tough to find common ground.  And common sense.  We need to do something.  But sanity and compromise seem to have gone out the window.  

Shoeshine Senor?

I used to go to Mexico on business. Usually to Monterrey (Nuevo Leon) but sometimes to other places as well. When Donna and I would go on vacation, we would often go to Mexico. We’ve been to pretty much every special place in Mexico – at least once.

One year, we decided to go to Oaxaca – in the far south – with our dear friends Bill and Lorraine. Oaxaca is a wonderful city in the far south of Mexico. It is a poor area – yet known for its varied culture, indigenous people, amazing heritage and biological diversity. We stayed in a beautiful downtown hotel — the Camino Real (now called the “Quinta Real”).

Our hotel was a few blocks from Constitution Square, a grassy center with many shoeshine vendors around the perimete. I was wearing my black slip ons so I began walking – slowly – around the square. Each chap I passed asked if I’d like a shoeshine (“limpiar sus zapatos?”) and I’d smile and walk on. After a trip around the block I selected a gentleman to shine my shoes. And I sat. He scraped, brushed, polished and shined. I paid and gave him a nice gratuity.

He smiled. Thanked me. But I hesitated. I asked him (in Spanish) if he knew why I had selected him to shine my shoes and not one of his competitors. He looked at me and shook his head. I suggested that he walk around the square and look at the shoes of his competitors. Each one wore unpolished shoes. Except for him. I told him I selected him because his shoes were shined as bright as the morning star. He looked down. And it was like I’d punched him. It was an “Aha” moment. For him. And for me. . . .

A Lifebuoy Lesson

(A spring repeat from February 2, 2012)

When I was 12 years old (1959), I spent part of the summer at Camp Napowan — a great Boy Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin.  One hot sunny afternoon, I was loping back to my campsite when I saw a fellow camper named “Wiley.”  I looked at him and called him a “______.”   It was a highly offensive and nasty slur.  What prompted my outburst, I don’t recall but from the moment the words left my lips, things began moving verrrry quickly.  And with great and lasting impression. 

The Senior Patrol Leader, Bill B. – age 14, heard my comment and yelled an order to other Scouts.  They grabbed me and dragged me shouting and struggling to the outdoor wash stand.  Bill took a well-used cake of Lifebuoy’s finest and pushed it into my mouth.   Then – with a word from Bill – I was released.  I ran back to my tent on the verge of tears – spitting soap shards.   When I emerged, the matter was forgotten.

But you know what?  From that time on, I never used an epithet like that.   I learned.  Some might say “the hard way.”   But I disagree.    I wish other young people could learn like this — from their peers.  I look at this lesson (and others I’ve had) as being key to my development (see posts of 8/16/11 and 11/23/11).  I’m glad I learned.         

Oh and Bill B.?  He and I went on to become Eagle Scouts.  We worked together on staff at Camp Napowan for the next 3 years.   He became one of my two closest friends (along with my great pal Col. “Ox” – another Eagle Scout).   Bill was best man at my wedding.  And we talk frequently.  Today, he’s the finest veterinarian in the State of Kentucky.   And to this day, I’ve rarely heard Bill utter anything stronger than a (usually appropriate) “doggonit.”  

[This is an example of why we should be generous – in granting “Mulligans” as mentioned on May 11, 2022]

Juicy Fruit

Some years ago, while driving with my granddaughters – Eve and Elin – I heard them both exclaim “Juicy Fruit!” And they giggled. I thought nothing of it until a few minutes later when I heard “Juicy Fruit” again. I considered pulling into the next gas station to pick up a few packs of chewing gum but I thought — they’re too young to chew gum. So I drove on. I think it was the third “Juicy Fruit” that caused me to smilingly ask – “why do you keep saying ‘Juicy Fruit‘”? To which they responded that whenever they see a yellow car – they say . . . . you know. . . . .

Since then, I’ve become a “Juicy Fruit” guy — even when I’m alone in the car (yeah, I know. . . .). I’ve been known (when at least one granddaughter is in the car) to say “blueberry pie” [all blue car], “strawberry shortcake” [all red car], and my favorite “key lime pie” [all green car].

In April 1891, when William Wrigley began doing business, he sold scouring soap. To entice people to buy the soap, he would attach a small envelope of baking powder. As people seemed to prefer baking powder, in 1892 he added a few sticks of chewing gum to baking powder packages. And people began clamoring for the chewing gum which was even more popular. The original (grayish) label of Juicy Fruit gum was replaced after World War II with a bright yellow label. And the rest is history. Juicy Fruit even has its own Facebook page with over a million followers (see https://www.facebook.com/juicyfruit).

My granddaughters continue to spout “Juicy Fruit” when they see a yellow car — as do I. And that includes other yellow vehicles as well. When we pass the school bus parking lot I’m goin’ “Juicy Fruit, Juicy Fruit, Juicy Fr. . . . . . .

The Albatross

[On this weekend of The Masters – an appropriate repeat of September 9, 2012] I have spoken about my near miss of a hole-in-one. And my not-so-secret passion for par 3’s (“Five Feet from Glory”). I’d love to have a hole-in-one. But what sticks in the back of my mind is the rarest of golf shots — an “Albatross.” A double eagle.

A double eagle is 3 under par on any given hole. It is a hole-in-one on a par 4 and a 2 on a par 5. They are a rarity — even on the PGA Tour. The first double eagle on record was scored by Tom Morris, Jr. (1870 British Open – Prestwick). The longest albatross was scored by Andy Bean on a 663 yard par 5 (no. 18; Kapalua) in 1991. The longest double eagle/ace was by Robert Mitera on a 447 yard par 4 (1965).

Double eagles are not child’s play. Yet the youngest golfer to score one was a 10 year old girl. Line Toft Hansen scored one in 2010 in a Danish juniors’ competition (419 yard; par 5). In tournament play, 602 doubles have been scored since the first in 1870. The last one I watched on t.v. — Louis Oosthuizen on April 8th in 2012 on number 5 at the Masters. The only Tour player to have scored two in Major tournaments was Jeff Maggert (’94 Masters and ’01 British Open).

Only one golfer is known to have scored a hole-in-one and a double eagle in one round. Coach John Wooden of UCLA did it in 1939 (Erskine Park G.C. South Bend) (a good trivia question).  

I’ve read that the odds of a double eagle are one million to one (judging by the score of my last round, I should’ve had one. . . .). A hole-in-one is a mere 40,000 to 1.  If you want to watch a few on the PGA Tour, check out  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKNs2jvmUYA  

I’d love that hole-in-one. But I’d love a double eagle even more. Maybe if I play from the ladies’ tees. . . .

Girl Scouts

[A repeat from February 1, 2018] In my post of July 13, 2017, I referenced an article calling the Eagle Scout rank the “PhD of Boyhood.”  In my post of May 14, 2017, I observed that being an Eagle Scout was likely the sine qua non — that got me to where I am today. It got me into college (it certainly wasn’t my grades or last minute application to Augustana College).  As a result of squeaking into college (on academic probation), I met Donna. Had Lauren. Two granddaughters. Got a great job.  Yadda yadda

In my post of October 6, 2013, I opined that no one should be allowed to become a politician unless they were an Eagle Scout, or the Girl Scout equivalent  — or shared the values thereof.   That eliminates most of today’s Democrats and Republicans.

So how do I feel about having girls becoming Eagle Scouts?  I think it’s great.  It is a wonderful idea.   While I prefer that this achievement be accomplished under the auspices of the Girl Scouts of America, if it’s done through the Boy Scouts, so be it.  What is important – is to develop a universe of young women who achieve the Eagle Scout rank (by meeting all of the challenging requirements and having the character and values required).  It would be a major plus for them.  And for America.   Regardless of party, I would want them to run for office.  And win.      


In 2021, there were 106,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. More than 70,000 attributable to fentanyl. On December 20, 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported that enough fentanyl was confiscated in 2022 to kill every single American. Nearly 400,000 fatal doses. Fentanyl deaths are predicted to rise. Dramatically.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl chemicals are produced in China and often shipped to Mexico for production. Deadly drugs are pouring into America. Customers can buy fentanyl and have it delivered – through the mail – to their doorstep. 20% of Americans over the age of 12 have tried addictive narcotics. 11.7% of Americans over the age of 12 are regular users of illegal drugs. And – 70% of those who try drugs before the age of 13 will develop an addiction within 7 years.

Does America encourage the drug culture? Addiction? We have open borders. We are woke. Permissive. Police are criticized for police work. Our children consume a relentless diet of cinematic carnage. Notions of right and wrong are verboten in public schools. Drug use is casually legalized by some states and criminal usage goes unpunished. Homeless encampments see unbridled drug use. Felons are released to transgress again and again. Mental illness is rampant (53% of drug abusers) and not allowed to be treated. And contrary thoughts on these topics are demonized.

And we continue to do nothing. About addiction, dealers or cartels. According to the NCDAS, overall drug deaths are up 30% this year. So – you tell me. What’s the answer?