I have a theory.  Go with me on this. . . . .

Statistically, something like 90% of all people are using smart phones and not actual cameras to take photographs. The same is true as to videos.  Most people are taking videos – with their smart phones.  I have not found statistical corroboration but I do believe that the videos taken with smart phones are of shorter duration than those that were taken with the old video cameras.   And I believe that such videos are geared more toward visual activity rather than audio input. 

I remember in years past, we’d turn on the video camera on Christmas morning and record the “ooohs” “ahhhs” and running commentary.  The oldest and youngest would talk to the camera about their present.  We’d share with the camera our first memories of Christmas.   And thoughts of days past.  I’m not sure that’s done much anymore.      

Based on my own premises, my conclusion is that we are recording less and less audio than we used to.  I have many videos of my granddaughters dancing, swimming and singing.  But I don’t have much in the way of their dialogue.  Or conversation.  While smart phones provide a great convenience, I’d like to renew the recording of voices, discussion and conversation . . . . .    


My Workbench

I have a workbench in the basement.   I never use it but I’ve got one.  Complete with a vice, two drawers full of tools and two toolboxes sitting on top.  Then there’s a little drawer thingee full of nails and screws.  If I am called on to change a light bulb or hang a picture, I even have a tool belt and a hardhat to wear (you can never be too careful).   We handymen are semper paratis (see post of June 1, 2012).

However tools don’t do much good sitting in the basement gathering dust on my workbench. Soooooo, I keep a lot of stuff in the trunk of my car.  My car is a “rolling workbench.”  You never know when tools might come in handy.   I have a fire axe, an E.T. (“entrenching tool“), a crowbar, an air pump (I mean what good does that do sitting in the garage?) and a Heinz 57 assortment of hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches. And I have the obligatory jumper cables and a couple of road flares.  I could probably build a house with the stuff in my trunk.  Over the years, these things have been selectively (and once urgently) useful (“gosh Scott, I’m sure glad you have that quarter inch hex wrench with the double bend . . .” ).  For the most part, my rolling workbench rarely sees the light of day.    But the tools are there.  If I need them in the house.  Or on the road . . . . .

Lost My Pacifier

Forty years ago, I had some golf lessons from a local PGA teaching pro – Gene Worthington. Gene had been born in San Francisco in 1903 and came to the Chicago area in 1906 — after the earthquake.  He was inspired to become a golf pro while caddying for the famed amateur Chick Evans — founder of the Evans Scholars Foundation.

One Saturday, I popped for a 9 hole golf lesson from Gene.  We got a cart (Gene was in his mid 70’s) and we teed off.  For each shot, Gene gave me a bit of guidance and post-shot commentary.  As we rode down one fairway, Gene began talking about what he remembered of San Francisco.  Little snippets of cognizance.  “But” he said “there is one thing that really stands out in my mind about the train trip to Chicago.”  I looked at him as he steered the cart.  “I remember that I lost my pacifier.”  This wonderful septuagenarian went on to describe in glorious detail how – as a three year old – he felt great trauma when he lost his pacifier.  His countenance darkened “My parents told me that the train conductor had taken it.  But I knew better.” 

When our daughter Lauren was born, I always kept that “lost my pacie” story in the back of my mind.  Little people still have great memories. . . . .    

Burning Leaves

(An Autumn repeat – from September 11, 2016)

For millennia, folks have been burning garbage and “stuff” with relative impunity.  The smoke was often choking.  And sometimes toxic.  

But. . . . as a kid, I remember my father – and other men in the neighborhood – raking leaves in the fall.  And ushering them out to the street – at the curb – and lighting them up.  Saturdays and Sundays in October were the optimal days for raking, gathering and burning leaves.  And the distinct smell of burning leaves was overpowering.  And – from my recollection – not so unpleasant.  Everyone burned their leaves.  I mean what were families supposed to do with them?  My dad would stand – smoking his pipe – and talking with the other men.  As the leaves burned. . . . .   

I tend to think it would be nice if for one day in the fall, everyone could spoon some dead leaves out to the street.  And burn them.  Like the “good old days” (did I really say that?).    I don’t need a “bad for the environment” speech.  Or “think of what it does to your lungs.”  Or “aren’t there regulations?”  Just think about sharing an indelible olfactory moment of those autumn afternoons long ago . . . . .   

Little Feet

When I was about 10 years old, I pestered my father to let me drive the family car.  Sooooo. . . . one Sunday, my father let me drive home from Church.  Not all the way – but the last mile or so — on a road that was pretty vacant and ran in part along a corn field. I’d sit there peering over the steering wheel – my father with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the ignition and one hand on the gear shift.  From then on, I was the “Chuber” driver (“CHurch UBER”) on Sundays.  

Sometimes, my dad would take me to an empty parking lot and let me drive.  Round and round.  So I “learned” to drive at a pretty early age. When Lauren was about 12, I let her “drive” on occasional Saturday afternoons in our Church parking lot.  

My father had a lot of wisdom to impart to me in my formative years (which – Donna tells me – are ongoing).  He always told me when driving to keep my “eyes moving.”  Watching.  Left.  Right.  Check the mirror.  And he always told me to watch for “little feet.”  As I drive along a street, I was told to glance forward — under the cars parked along the street.  Why?  Because you can see if there are little feet — on the other side — below the car.  And you can slow down.  It’s easy to see an adult standing by a car.  But there’s no way to see a child unless you see the “little feet” under the car you are approaching.  I’m always watching for “little feet.”  Try it next time you’re driving.  Keep an eye out for little feet. . . . .

Game. Set. Match. . . . .

I predict that in the next 25 years, football in America will be no more. And good riddance. There are two reasons. Most compelling is that according numerous studies — including one by the San Francisco Spine Institute (Seton Medical Center) — there are 1.2 million football injuries annually (from sprains and bruises to dislocations, concussions and even death).  Extensive research has been done on the effects of traumatic brain injury from concussions.  In the NFL, the onset – and diagnosis – of chronic traumatic encephalopathy is becoming commonplace in retired players.  Do you want your son/grandson to play football?  Hmmmm?    

The second reason is the aggravating one of recent vintage.  Taking a knee.  In the last few weeks, we have observed NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem.  To show their displeasure with (contempt of?) America.  And it ain’t goin’ over very well with most folks.  In a matter of weeks, NFL ratings have declined dramatically.  As well they should.   The characters who take a knee during the National Anthem will reap what they sow.

Mark Twain once said “patriotism is supporting your country all of the time and your government when it deserves it.”  Our government may be deserving of criticism.  But our flag, the National Anthem, our service men and women and our grand country are not.  In my opinion, every American should “take a knee” when it comes to watching, supporting and attending NFL games (and any other game where players “take a knee“).  Football?  It’s done.  Game.  Set.  Match.  

Charlie Russell

If anyone has received a greeting card or letter from me – it may have included a hand-drawn cartoon.   You can thank Charlie Russell for the artistic addition . . . . .  

Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) was an American artist who painted iconic scenes of the Old West.  Charlie was born in St. Louis and moved to Montana when he was 16 years old where he got a job working on a sheep ranch.  Charlie chronicled the bitter winter of 1886-7 in a series of watercolor paintings.  While working on the O-H Ranch in the Judith Basin of Montana, the foreman received a letter from the ranch owner — asking how his cattle had fared during the winter.  Instead of writing back, the foreman sent the owner a postcard-sized watercolor painted by Charlie.  The image was that of a gaunt steer surrounded by wolves – on a gray winter day.  The owner showed the drawing to friends and displayed it in a shop window in Helena.  And Charlie began to get work — as an artist.

In 1897, Charlie and his new bride moved to Great Falls, MT where he remained for the duration.  Charlie was a prolific painter – with over 4,000 works (oil, watercolor, drawings and occasional sculptures) to his credit.  Today, the works of Charlie Russell go for big bucks — like “The Hold Up” which sold for $5.2 million in 2008.

Four decades ago, while visiting Charlie’s studio in Great Falls, I learned that he had adorned many of his letters with drawings.  And I got a bright idea. . . . .

If you want to see some of Charlie’s artistic letters, check out