fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Freeze Pop Diet Makes New Year's Resolution List

I've got some big plans in the works for the year 2013. With that being said, there's no time like the present to get started planning out my New Year's resolutions.

My first one will be to branch out and eat more greens. You know, besides M&M's, Skittles and jellybeans. And, no, I'm not just putting that in to appease my Mom, who does happen to read my blog.

I also resolve to bathe all three fuzzy, black dogs more. More regularly. Occasionally. Either that or invest in a doggy-sitter who will wash them for me. One of them gets smelly!

For the big one, I resolve to be an understanding and patient, yet nurturing father who worries more for the safety of his newly driving son than for the vehicle that said newly driving son could potentially destroy.

I also resolve to perfect the freeze pop diet. My weight went in the wrong direction, so back to the drawing board.

I resolve to drink more.

Wait, I resolve to amend my previous resolution by saying that I will drink more healthy stuff. You know, besides fermented barley and hops.

I resolve to amend it further to include fermented grapes. Oh, and anything else that could be fermented, you know, like rice for saki. And...

Okay, I resolve to consume only alcohol that is deemed healthy for me.

I resolve to test, taste and discover which kind of alcohol it is that is good for me. I promise to let my readers know when I find it.

My final resolution? Easy! I resolve to continue publishing enjoyable and fun (and hopefully funny) posts on Fuzzy, Black Dogs throughout the next year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dear Santa, I Tried to be Good...

Dear Santa,

I've been good this year, relatively speaking. In fact, I've been a good husband, father, brother, son-in-law, uncle, brother-in-law, dog owner, teacher, friend, tutor, employee and inspirational role model.

I suppose my dog owner persona could probably use some improvement, but the incident in question, Santa... Well, it was justified.

Regardless, I'm really not asking for too much this year, I don't think, but I'll let you be the judge of that. With that being said, here it is:

I want a grill, Santa. I want a giant two stage, four grill top wide gas grill with all the bells and whistles, including the extra side burners, food prep station and locking wheels.

Also, Santa, I want a car. You know, that 'special' car. Do I really need to describe the "dream scream machine" again for the 40th time?

Just make sure it has that one feature where it is undetectable to police radar and scanners. There's no reason for that, really. I've just always thought it would be a neat feature...

I also want a clue. I never knew I needed one until after I got married and had a child. They sometimes tell me I need one, though I'm not sure why.

I appreciate the job, Santa. I really do. However, I was unaware of the fact that I had to specify that the six figures I requested the job have all come to the LEFT of the decimal point.

No more dogs, please, Santa! I've reached my quota of fuzzy, black dogs (or white, brown, golden or any other color dog for that matter).

Tell you what, Santa. Here's the rest of my list in one big lump. Many of these have been described before in pretty good detail, so I feel certain you know what I'm talking about by now.

A bass boat, a computer, books, a Karmen Ghia (it's a different car!), a dirt bike, five extra hours in a day, books, a beer making machine, a volunteer yard maintenance crew, books, a sailboat, an in deck hot tub and maybe some more books.

This is only the abbreviated version, Santa. Feel free to contact me if you want me to send the extended, full version of my wish list.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Illness Suffering Causes Profound Thoughts

I managed to pick up a pretty decent illness a good week or more before Thanksgiving. It wasn't until Nov. 28 when I actually made it to the doctors office. The doctor and I made an interesting discovery. I had walking pneumonia!

Happily, I've got three days worth of pain reliever and antibiotics in me and am beginning to feel more like my old self again.

However, during the three worse days, I spent many, many hours in my bed coming up with good jokes and deep philosophical ponderings, as well as having many weird, bizarre dreams.

I will spare you the weird, bizarre dreams. I don't want to give my readers nightmares. I've been told by two sources that the jokes aren't that good. So that leaves us with the deep philosophical ponderings. Here are some that came to mind:

How is it that I develop more earwax when I'm sick than when I am well?

How is it that my 14 year old son can find a small piece of hidden candy within seconds, yet be unable to locate the shoes he took off minutes ago?

How is it that my wife is always right and I am always wrong?

How is it that there are no apples in the jar labeled 'apple jelly' in my refrigerator?

How is it that pain experienced increases proportionately the closer it gets to bed time?

How is it that a brainless machine, aka, my car, knows when will be the worst time to break down and does?

How is it that the best tasting things are generally the worst in regards to your health?

How is it that the hole in your pants pocket is always in the pocket in which you keep your loose change?

How is it that the distance it takes to go on vacation is longer than the distance it takes to come back home?

How is it that you can wear a hole in only one sock of a matching pair?

How is it that the holes in your jeans gravitate from the knees to the butt as you get older?

How is it that people seem to think if you have multiple dogs, taking on one more is really no big deal?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fixing America One Problem at a Time

My fellow Americans. It is with a sad, heavy heart that I announce through my blog, Fuzzy, Black Dogs, that I will not be your president for the upcoming term.

I accepted my defeat gracefully and called my fellow presidential hopefuls to offer congratulations and condolences. Though I was unable to reach Obama or Romney personally, the people I spoke with assured me that they would pass along my messages. I just hope they don't call me back when I'm working with my students in the morning. That would be embarrassing!

Despite the results from last night, I'm upbeat and busy readying myself for the 2016 election. My new party, which I created myself, will be called the Priority Party. I will be called a "buffet line candidate." Allow me to explain.

My plan is really quite simple. I'll petition a random sampling of Americans to discover what issues are important to them. I will pull out 20 that I feel should be labeled 'top priority,' hence the name Priority Party.

Then I will place them neatly on a table and randomly choose 10, similar to the way you pick certain foods off of a buffet line, hence the term 'buffet line candidate.'

Really it's an ideal solution and a no-fail strategy. Your issues are my issues, provided they make it through the screening process described above, of course. Once we get those tackled and solved, who knows? Perhaps we'll go back to that issue-laden buffet line and pick some more problems to tackle.

My slogan will be just as simple -- "Fixing America one problem at a time!"

Friday, November 2, 2012

A-maze-ing Learning!

Ever tried to train a wild cat? Ever tried to train an entire pack of wild cats? Now, have you ever let an entire pack of wild cats loose on a farm and told them to behave? I have. It's called a field trip.

The pack of wild cats in question would be our first graders. We decided to set them loose on a local farm under the guise of an educational field trip.

On our way to the same field trip last year, one of our kids commented on the "giant dogs" we saw on on our way there.
"Those are actually goats," I said.
"Oh," he said and sat quietly a moment. "Mr. Haworth? What's a goat?"

My comment winner for this year goes to the student who told me in the corn maze "I'm only allergic to corn when its on the cob, Mr. Haworth."

Thank goodness there were no cobs in the corn bins full of corn he jumped and played in!

He told me a few of the other food items he's allergic to as well. Coincidentally, they were the same healthy foods I was allergic to when I was his age.

During the "school" portion of the trip, they showed us foods they grow like wheat. Wheat straw comes from wheat. So does wheat flour. What can we make with flour, she asked. One hand shot up and the girl attached yelled, "popcorn!"

I don't know that what we've taught the kids has stuck. But I do know what we SHOULD be teaching them.

Saving Children from Spiders

Anyone that really knows me knows that I am not a big fan of spiders. No matter how small or non-life threatening they are, I simply don't care for those spindly, evil-looking little critters.

I usually love this time of year when the weather cools down. However, this time of year also kind of sucks. Allow me to explain that a little.

I generally like it when the temperature drops and the weather cools down. That means cool, crisp air. That means cold, wintry nights. That also means the king and Spanish mackerel are running at the coast and THAT means good fishing and great eating! Ever had a fresh mackerel steak?

Anyway, the cold weather also equates to more spiders inside the house! Apparently they've got some intelligence if they're trying to come in out of the cold, right?

Well, on the morning in question, one large and particularly ugly black spider decided to come in out of the cold. I found him on the ceiling in the entrance to the cafeteria at the elementary school I work at. In other words, right above my head!

After an avid search, I was unable to find anything to reach the offending creature to eradicate him, or her, by the only method I know to deal with such things -- squish!

Regardless, I did find the custodian. The great thing about our custodians is that they know how to handle nearly any situation thrown at them. Before I could blink, that venom dripping, massive black spider was gone, the children were safe once again and I could breathe a little easier.

But that left one other little problem -- explaining myself to the custodian. I would have gotten it, I explained, if I could have reached it. I just didn't have...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's Wrong With This World?

Who took the grapes out of my grape jelly? It has recently come to my attention, albeit through my wife, that grape jelly contains no actual grapes. She went on to tell me that it's really just grape flavored gelatin.

Now that's just crazy talk!

I immediately pulled my sticky jar of jelly from the fridge and glanced at the ingredients. No where on that jar does it list grapes as an ingredient for my jelly. My wife's response? Just a sad "I told you so" was all I got from her.

And, of course, you know what else that means. There are no apples in my apple jelly! Now that simply stinks!

Of course, this caused severe consternation for me. I began to wonder what else is missing out there. I set out on a quest to discover what else has gone AWOL in our daily lives.

I once saw a carpet that was NOT made from any fiber. The tag on the carpet boasted that in an earlier life, it was just a pile of plastic soda bottles. We have clothing made from soda bottles, too. I've seen ladies handbags made from all sorts of strange recycled products.

My Dad's deck looks like wood, but it isn't. It's made of the same synthetic material that was used to make my bird feeder. The deck, like my bird feeder, is supposed to last more than a lifetime. The salesman told me the feeder is guaranteed to never rot.

Now I know that most orange juice goes through a process where they actually take the orange out of the juice and add orange flavoring back to the "juice" later in the process.

We have a candy at the retail store I work at that is called Swedish Fish. Yes, they are quite yummy. No, they are not made in Sweden and, no, they don't contain fish. They are shaped like little fishes, though! And, in case you are wondering, they're produced in Canada.

The "wooden" desks at my school are not made of wood, though they're made to look like they are. My Mom's bacon is not made of real meat. My Ford is not made of all American parts.

Holy bacon splat, Batman! What's wrong with this world?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recalibrating Calendars Pose a Problem

I have to admit, I would be remiss if I didn't share a blog about my "day" job at the local elementary school where I work as a first grade teacher's assistant. While I feel I usually handle 'bumps' and 'hiccups' smoothly, the last few days have been a little less than smooth for me.

We all have 'off' days where we don't seem to get it right and the harder we try, the less we get right. Tuesday, which was really Wednesday, was one of those days for me.

Calendar math is really a straightfoward kind of thing. We go over our calendar together, how many days we've been in school, the monthly and weekly pattern, weather and coins, straws, throw some fun math in there and, presto, calendar math! Unfortunately, the presto wasn't quite there yesterday.

When I do calendar math, I always start out with the current date. The girl I called on told me it was Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. I had to explain to her that it was Tuesday, not Wednesday. Then she contradicted me. I stuck to my guns, so to speak.

"Uh, Mr. Haworth," said another student, coming to her aid. He simply pointed at the calendar.

It seems I may have hit the recalibrate button on the calendar. I suddenly noticed that my pointer was pointing at Wednesday and it was indeed Oct. 10, 2012. How a paper calendar can recalibrate itself is beyond my comprehension. However, one of my other teacher's calendar seemed to be suffering the same malady.

Also, I have finally reached the point where I have learned all my kids names. Sadly, I have also reached the point where I have so many names in my head that I start to get them all  mixed up.

I have one student whose name I've remembered since the first day of school, which is remarkable because remembering names is not my strong point. In one day's time, I know I called that particular student Ethan and Evan, neither of which are his name. And, yes, his name starts with an 'E.' I think I may have called him Edgar and Eddie, too! Luckily, though, he wasn't aware of those little mess ups.

Maybe my name problem is not so bad since another student called me Ms. Hoover today.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Phillip H. Haworth for President

While I usually steer clear of politics, the recent debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has got me thinking. It's got me thinking that, perhaps, I need to run for president.

Believe it or not, I have actually put a considerable amount of thought into this one. While you may not see the name Phillip H. Haworth on the actual ballot come November 6th, trust me, it may not be far from voters minds.

My original VP contender, whose knowledge of politics is considerable and vast, is ineligible since he will only be 15 in the coming year. Also, the American public may frown on my son sharing the White House and Oval Office with me.

My alternate running mate will be John Stewart of The Daily Show. Who better to help me run the country as my second-in-command? It's possible that he may not be aware of this just yet...

I have a few other people picked out for key positions in my cabinet. Stephen Colbert and Ross Perot figure prominently in my plans.

You, the American public, may be wondering what issues I'll tackle. Besides my myriad of personal ones that I handle daily, I have a few pet projects. Take natural gas, for example. I pledge to get rid of all the land and sea oil rigs, pipelines, refineries and companies that produce flatulence prevention medicine. That way we can all produce our own natural gas.

I also have plans to completely eradicate all taxes and reduce the national deficit by three trillion in one fell swoop! But I can't give away all my secrets too soon. That talk will have to wait until my first debate.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Apologies Might Be Necessary

I write today with good news, bad news and down right ugly news. The good news is that my mother has been exonerated. It turns out that she didn't take the bag of peanut M&M's which was carefully hidden in my car prior to our Kiawah trip.

With that being said, I feel I should apologize to her for accusing her of such malfeasance. I will point out, however, that she acted awfully guilty for someone so innocent of any wrong-doing. I suppose that apologies should also go out to the rest of the family (you know who you are) who also acted peculiar, though you had nothing to do with the dissappearance.

The bad news is that the bag has been in my car this whole time. It's been pretty hot this summer. Need I say more? No worries, though. I'm only eating the ones that look normal.

That leaves the down right ugly news. The bag showed up under the driver seat. My hiding place in that car is a cavity in the far back of the car. That means that the strange happenings at the North/South Carolina border did more than shrink my beers down. It also moved my bag of chocolate and candy covered peanuts approximately eight feet within my car.

I may be heading to the library soon for books on strange happenings and paranormal experiences that relate to cars and traveling...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cattle Call at Guilford Courthouse

It's been a while since I have been called for jury duty. I guess my number came up. It happened on a cold, wet and dreary Tuesday. Yesterday, in fact.

It always starts with the cattle lines in the front and in the lobby of the courthouse. Except these cattle wranglers don't have cattle prods. Instead, they are actually armed with guns, handcuffs and the usual fun accoutrements afforded only to police officers.

Well, this large herd of cattle was forced to sit together in a tight pen in the courthouse. I did have a fun conversation with the gentleman beside me. I jokingly told him that 'drugs make the world go round.' It pays to know who you are talking to, since my fellow bovine turned out to be a police officer!

After a bit of waiting, it was time to thin out the herd. Numerous people got up to give reasons why they couldn't serve. Minutes later, most sat back down in the holding pen.

I had high hopes we would get to watch a movie on the big TV inside our corral. No such luck. Instead, they gave me and my cattle brethren a crash course on what I learned previously in a paralegal class I once took.

Then, we waited. And waited. Several times, someone came in and talked at us.

After yet another waiting session, four more wranglers (alias a judge, bailiff and two attorneys) came in with a comedy routine, then informed us that we wouldn't be needed. Mooo! I'm not sure why. The message which followed the comedy routine eluded me.

So, after a quick role call, they opened the pen gates and released us back into the world. This herd was meant to be free!

Though I was nearly trampled to death in the mad stampede to get parking tickets validated and to get to the exits, I managed to survive to write about it.

Mooooooo.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Candy Sizes Prove Inaccurate

My natural scientific curiosity has taken control of my mind and I've started conducting experiments with some of the items that we sell at the little drug store in which I work

It seems there are several different classifications of size when it comes to chocolates and candy. And these classifications vary according to the company and product.

Let's see... We have mini-sized, miniature-sized, trial-sized, fun-sized, fun-pak-sized, share-sized, regular-sized, medium-sized, large-sized, king-sized and party-sized. I'm pretty sure that I haven't covered all the sizes available in candy, but that's okay. I don't know if I have time or space enough to delve into that.

I, personally, have tried many of these so called sizes and have learned a very sad fact. They're not true. We, as a country, may need to come together to form a large class action lawsuit against these chocolate and other candy companies.

The bag of mini-sized chocolates that I ate did NOT make me mini-sized. Likewise, the fun-sized package of chocolatey-peanut bars I ate didn't make me any more fun. In fact, shortly after consuming the entire package, I felt kind of queasy and sickly and mostly un-fun.

I suspect the large and king-sized are a bit more honest in their descriptions. I am questioning the whole party-sized concept. Of the people I know who enjoy chocolate, I know very few willing to share their chocolate. With that having been said, I don't think they'll be having parties to "share" their chocolate with others.

That means the size must refer to the person. So what, exactly, does party-sized mean, anyway? Am I party-sized? I know I have a bit of a gut, but, c'mon! Are we talking block party-sized or just soirée party-sized?

We need better, more definitive descriptions for these candy products. How about bubble butt-sized? Maybe spare tire-sized? Or even bust-a-gut-sized?

Until these companies offer more honesty in their product descriptions, I'm going to have to join the gym to reduce myself from party-sized to king-sized. Maybe I'll even shoot for regular- sized.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Latent Horsemanship Abilities Create Cowboy-Hottie

I'm back from my brief, two day vacation at Clear Creek Ranch in the North Carolina Mountains. All I have to say is that I am back in town as a new and improved kind of guy! You can call me Phillip 2.0, or cowboy-hottie Phillip, for short!

For those enquiring minds, here's what happened...

My wife and I eased into Clear Creek Ranch in the family Ford. The driver was but a nerdy, smart writer dude. (Note, if you will, the cool, but nerdy, smart writer dude in the photo to the left, otherwise known as me!) Somehow, Clear Creek Ranch magically transformed me into an adept, seemingly seasoned horse pro and potential wrangler.
 
During the short time I was there, I took part in three rides. On the first ride, I think the youth director, Wrangler Cassie, rubbed off on me, figuratively speaking, of course. By the end of that first ride, my horsemanship abilities practically doubled. I think she was impressed with me, and not  because I talked for the entire hour and a half that the ride took.

On the second ride, Frog, one of the coolest wranglers at the ranch, who is pictured with me below, must have rubbed off on me as well. (Note the transitioning effect from the first photo.) During our second ride, I had Gambler, my horse, trotting, loping and even cantering! I think Frog must have been impressed with my abilities as well.


He chatted with me after dinner that evening. I suspected that he might ask if I wanted to come back to the ranch to be a wrangler so that he could glean some tips from me. After all, by this time my horsemanship abilities were becoming legendary. He didn't, but he did politely put up with me talking incessantly about my blog, Fuzzy, Black Dogs.

They offered to take us on an extra, third ride on the morning of the day we were all leaving. I jumped at the chance and looked forward to showcasing my skills yet one more time before we made our exit. I was positively oozing cowboy confidence and was certain I had impressed everyone with my mad skills
 
After my third ride on Sunday morning, the transformation was complete. Note, if you will, the cool confidence that exudes from the photo on the right. You can almost see the cowboy swagger in the Han Solo-esque rogue smile on this hottie-cowboy's face. I must have smiled the entire trip home.

According to my son, I managed to push my horse to a slow trot and at no time during the entire trip did get my horse to lope. According to my niece, I managed to break the horse into a canter when all the other horses were loping.

Sadly enough, I did not get any video footage of any of the rides in order to prove my mad skills to the readers of this blog. And just because my niece has her own horse and competes in equestrian events doesn't necessarily mean she knows what she's talking about.

I will leave you with one parting comment, though. Just wait until next time!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Would You Do?

It looks like school has started yet again. My teachers have got me working hard putting their classrooms together so that they'll be ready when the students start to arrive. Of course, they're working just as hard as I am to have everything ready to go.

The funny thing, though, is I'm looking forward to school and the assignments that ensue. I've been known to take on some of the students' assignments on my own time and share my results later with the teachers.

Last school year, one teacher asked the students to write about what they would do if Thing One and Thing Two came to their house. The work I turned in, which follows, was a bit longer than any of the students' work.

Thing One and Thing Two raced into my home.
They messed up the kitchen and dad's shaving foam.

Round and round they raced. They were looking for something.
They tore up each room by running, bumping and jumping.

I stopped those two Things in the hall with my rope.
I stopped so maybe they'd leave... Well, I hoped.

I asked, "Why are you running all around the house like that?"
"The hat's missing!" they both yelled. "The Cat! His hat! The Cat lost his hat!"

I just stood there and blinked. I didn't know what to do.
Should I look for the hat with Thing One and Thing Two?

"We'll find that hat," I said with a start.
"A Cat with no hat is like a Cat with no heart!"

I said, "Let's start low." So we went down the stairs.
Down in the cellar we found mom's old broken chairs.

We looked in the bathroom, the den and the kitchen.
We looked in my sister's pink colored bedroom. And then...

That's when I saw it. It fluttered in the breeze.
It was outside her window on a branch in the trees.

I said the hat was too high. We needed a ladder.
Those Things said, "Too high? Ha! That doesn't matter!"

Thing One jumped upon me. Thing Two did as well.
Could our tower be high enough? I just couldn't tell.

Those Things reached. They stretched. They went higher and higher.
I reached and I stretched until I started to tire.

Then Thing Two yelled, "Aha! I got it! Let's go!"
Then they jumped off of me and they ran. Go! Go! Go!

I watched as they went. They ran out of sight.
They'll give that hat to the Cat and make everything right.

You know, I finished the assignment. Funny, I never did receive a grade. I just hope I passed...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Augustinia!

I have returned from my Olympics-induced  coma. I am back and ready for more. But, before we go any further, I'd like to wish everyone a very happy Augustinia!

What exactly, you may very well be wondering, is Augustinia? It is, in fact, a brand new holiday (taa-daa!!) that falls in the great month of August. The premise behind Augustinia is very simple. There are a few things that I need, sort of, and just don't want to spend my money on them.

So, voila, my brand new holiday I created will take care of that. I'm already thinking of the gifts that may come my way.

While this may seem shallow, it's really not. It's all a part of my new savings plan. Couple Augustinia with the coupons I always keep in my wallet for shopping and I could save a considerable sum of money.

On top of that is my retirement fund. My retirement fund consists of an antique glass milk container and the coins in my pocket. See, I try not to spend any loose change when I make purchases so I'll always have a handful of coins to go into the jar.

It seems I need to work on my follow-through where that's concerned. The last full jar went towards a matinee viewing of "The Avengers" in 3D, along with a large popcorn and all the usual accoutrements. The previous full jar went towards an evening viewing of "Captain America," along with the large popcorn and, again, all the usual accoutrements.

Regardless, I even have other back up plans that are much too numerous to mention here. Some I have yet to put into motion. And some I have. Until the first pan out and the latter commence, and should Augustinia not work out properly, I have one thing to say to everyone...

Happy Septembras!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Gold Medal Goes to Local Word Nerd!"

I generally don't consider myself a big sports nut. However, when the Olympics roll around, whether summer or winter, I am glued to the television set catching every sport the network is willing to air for the general public's viewing pleasure.

Believe it or not, I once considered myself Olympic athlete material.

I swam competitively for the better part of my younger years, or something like that. My best event? The mile. I loved long distance swimming. According to my coach, I even came really close to an Olympic qualifying time in practice one day.

It seems I had the strength and endurance to be the best, as well as the stubbornness and persistance. You know, it takes a special person to swim 66 lengths (30 in a 50 meter pool) as fast and as hard as they can. No matter how fast you are, it takes a good bit of time!

To be the best, though, requires something else -- you also have to WANT to be the best! I was just out there having fun, much to the consternation of both my coach and my father.

Regardless, I still have dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete. I'm creating a petition as we speak to send in to the International Olympic Committee suggesting some new sports events. In fact, these are sporting events which I would very likely be a gold medal contender.

The first would be fishing, or really, post-fishing stories. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I lie about the number of fish that I catch or even their sizes, but I will admit to being a writer. As my mother is fond of saying, I have been known to take some creative liberties. While my father seems to like the term 'exaggerate,' I personally prefer the term 'embellishment' or simply 'creativity.'

Terminology aside, the next event would simply be called Sentence Diagramming. I can diagram some pretty difficult sentences and I've discovered that a large majority of the population has never even heard of a sentence tree, let alone a predicate. I can just see the headline now in my local paper, "Gold Medal Goes to Local Word Nerd!"

According to my family, though, I stand the best chance to win a gold medal in Talking. My son likes to tell me that he knows of no one that could possibly out-talk me. My wife claims that I sometimes babble like a brook. Ludicrous, I say. Sure sometimes I may get on a roll about something, but very seldom do I just rant and rave nonstop. I mean, I really think...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vacation Turns Into Survival of the Fittest

Today marks the third full day of our family vacation at Kiawah Island. Today may also mark my last day -- period! Allow me to explain this a bit.

We were up this morning at approximately 7 am. With my family, if you're not up with the rest of the family, then you have basically missed out on breakfast and the morning committee which maps out the days itinerary. While I avoid trying to affect said itinerary, it's good to know what it is ahead of time.

The itinerary went something like this. The morning would be dedicated to the beach. Noon is always lunchtime. Lunchtime is always transition time. After lunch we would all bike to the end of the island to see the dolphins and have fun if Phillip remembers to bring his cast net. Following that, we would have to have a quick dinner in order to bike to the park so we can partake in a most rousing game of Bingo. After biking back from that, the evening is every man for himself.

Beach time turned into feed the fish time. My father and I both fed the fish for approximately 45 minutes. We both gave up. He fell asleep in his chair and I went in the water with my poor son. I say my poor son because he keeps stepping on sharp shells and cutting his toes. We managed to get back and lunchtime went smoothly.

Then came the bike ride to the end of the island. I became alarmed about the biking when I found out that my older sister trains her kids for these Kiawah trips weeks ahead of time. Her strict exercise regimen explains why her kids were ready for fun while I had to take a nap at the end of the island upon my arrival.

We saw dolphins. We caught all sorts of fun and interesting stuff with my cast net. We did actually have fun at the end of the island until the tide came in.

I'm sure you've heard someone warn, "careful, the tide comes in quick!" It seems like such a harmless statement until you look up and can actually SEE the tide really coming in. My son and I ran like mad for our nearly submerged bikes. We mounted up and rode through almost of foot of water, taking the long way simply because it was the shallowest route to safety.

Compared to our harrowing escape from the end of the island, dinner was a calm, pleasant affair.

Now, I'm no slob. But I'm no exercise nut, either. So far during the last three point five days I've logged what seems like 50 miles on bike. And now they're telling me to mount up again for Bingo?

I'm happy to tell you that I made it to Bingo. I also made it the the ice cream place. At the moment, I've made it to my bed. My only hope right now is that I make it through the night!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Strange Happenings at the North/South Carolina Border

You know how sometimes a strange feeling just comes over you? Just an odd sense of dread or impending doom? I had one of those moments just shortly after dinner this evening. Prior to that, though, my day was marked with strange occurrences and incidents.

My day had started early, as I was heading out on vacation with my family. Most of my family are an odd species that like to wake in the wee hours of the morning in order to get an "early start."

I have one thing to say to that -- 14 year olds. Have you ever tried to wake one? Unh-huh... Good luck.

Anyway, I had purchased a 24 bottle case of Coronas to last me the trip. As the car crossed the state line from North Carolina in to South Carolina (with Kiawah Island being our posse's ultimate destination), the case shrank. Instead of pulling Coronas out of my car, I pulled a case of Coronitas out. Each of those bottles shrank to seven ounce beers! How is that for bizarre?

And then there was the peanut butter and salsa I purchased for the trip. I'm fairly certain I remember putting that bag into the car. It wasn't long after we passed into South Carolina that my wife texted, "U 4 got the pnut butter and the salsa on the counter."

Most bizarre was my secret stash of peanut M&M's. I purchased a large bag for myself that I had NOT intended to share. When I went to retrieve it... Nothing.

I've since interrogated every member of my family over the age of 10. While my mother remains under a cloud of suspicion, no one has reported seeing anything. That bag of peanut M&M's seems to have magically vanished. I strongly suspect that North/South Carolina border...

And then, following dinner, we went out behind the restaurant to look for alligators. I was enjoying my rocking chair when a piece of ice hit me from no where. I determined the source and sent one flying back at my son. That way we were even Steven. Several more flew at me at once. I sent one hurtling back fast and hard, once again, evening the score.

The next series of events as I see them (which may be debatable) are as follows: the remainder of his cup of ice was hurled at my general anatomy. This was done willfully and purposely. Uncoincidentally, my cup of water and ice spilled down the back of his shirt -- inside his shirt, no less! -- accidentally when I tripped. Karma, I think, directed that and made us even.

That's when it hit me. A feeling of impending doom sent a shiver throughout my entire body.

The next thing I know, I spied my 14 year old coming at me with malice in his eyes and an ice water in each hand. I reasoned. I threatened. Then I panicked, turned and ran. As I jumped on my bike to make my speedy getaway, he made his move. He was quicker, and the bike ride home was a cold and wet one.

No worries. This matter remains unresolved and there will be consequences. And when those consequences arrive, they will be silent, swift and stealthy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hot Tub Assembly Made Easy

Ah, summertime! I love these hot summer days with the sun shining brightly, beckoning me outdoors. Summertime means food, fishing, swimming, food, freeze pops, camping, hiking, food, biking, picnics, beach trips, canoeing, grilling and projects. In fact, I feel a summertime project coming on...

One thing I should mention here is that as a young boy, I generally had a project lined every year for summertime.

One summer I built a live, working, Burmese tiger pit in the back yard, complete with the pointed spikes lining the bottom. I also seem to remember a summer that I laid out and began construction on  an in-ground swim pool in my Dad's side yard. There was also a summer when I lived outdoors in my blue, two-man tent. I think I was training for my career as an outdoorsman. And then there was the summer I planned my circumnavigation around the globe in my Dad's beautiful, grand sailboat he kept at the side of the house. Oh, the memories that 14 foot fiberglass boat evoke.

It's been quite a while since I've embarked upon a big, summertime project. But I've been thinking long and hard about it. I have come up with a new one. As a kid, I always shrouded my projects in mystery, planning to unveil them upon completion. After years of experience, I may consult my wife before starting my new one.

My plan is a simple one -- I will be installing a hot tub in my back deck.

I've already drawn out my plans and I know exactly where the hot tub will go. The first challenge will be cutting a hole in my deck. Whether with scissors or saw, I've never been known for cutting straight, even holes. That will be an easy fix. I'll tether the circular saw to an eyehook sunk in the middle of the deck where my hole will go. Problem solved!

The next challenge will be the piping. I already know where the water pipes are under the deck. Prior to installing the pipes, I may have to fix the spigot that I managed to break last year (or was it the year before?). I promised my wife it would be done. Maybe I'd best follow through on that one first.

Then I'll hire my awesome brother-in-law to come help me sink it into the deck since it might be too large for me to handle alone. He usually loves to be a part of my fun plans. Perhaps he'll even crawl under the deck and clear the spiders for me so I can help him assemble the piping.

After that, it's just a simple matter of connecting the piping, setting up the pump, bracing the bottom, filling it with water, treating the water and turning it on. Voila! In no time at all I'll be enjoying my hot tub. I can't help but imagining relaxing in it while my 14 year old son waits on me, replenishing my beer.

Wish me luck! I'm off to the store so my wife and I can discuss my potential summer project over a nice bottle of wine. Perhaps I should get two.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Like Snowflakes, No Two Bourbons Are Just Alike

First, the good news -- I've decided I need to make my very own barbecue sauce. I've got several recipes to choose from and adapt to my taste and style. And the bad news? It seems I've picked a sauce that lists bourbon as one of its main ingredients.

I suppose to any normal guy, this wouldn't be a setback. He would simply waltz into the local ABC Store, pick his favorite bourbon, purchase it at the counter and head back home to make his sauce. This, in fact, was my plan as I drove the short distance to the store. Never mind that this was only the third time I had ever even set foot inside the store.

I walked in and looked around. No bourbon. I looked straight ahead. No bourbon. I looked left. No bourbon. I then looked right, and, you guessed it, no bourbon. It wasn't until I turned around to leave that I saw it.

I figured there would be a few different types of bourbon from which to choose. As I turned around, I discovered the mother lode. Bourbons covered the entire wall. They seemed to stretch from the floor to the ceiling and from the door I walked through to the next wall, about five miles away! I started walking, hoping one would "jump out" at me. After 10 minutes of walking, I decided help would be needed.

In hindsight, asking for "help with the bourbon" may have been a little vague. The employee was super nice and super-uber knowledgable about his bourbons. Perhaps a little too knowledgable.

You got high octane and low octane (my terminology, not his, with 'octane' referring to the proof) bourbons. You got all the ones in between, too. You got true bourbons and southern bourbons, which are better known as whiskey bourborns, or just whiskey. You got... He went on like this for a while, blissfully unaware that my fight or flight reflex was about to kick in.

"Now if you'll just step over here with me," he said. I followed. "These are what we call bourbon mixes..."

"I just want to make barbecue sauce with it," I said quickly, holding a hand up. I was ready to make a mad run for the door and my car.

From that point on, things progressed much more smoothly. He asked me questions about my recipe and whether anyone would be drinking the bourbon. I answered his questions and let him know that nobody, especially me, would be drinking it, as my last experience with consuming licquor flashed through my mind.

Within five more minutes, we actually settled on one and I made it out of the store, bourbon in hand, in one piece! And I managed to keep it under an hour, too!

Needless to say, I've since made my barbecue sauce. The sauce failed to receive the 14 year-old's seal of approval. It certainly didn't get the wife's seal of approval or even the brother-in-law's seal of approval. Let's just say it had a strong flavor.

I'll just have to continue experimenting with the other ingredients. I still have nearly a full bottle of bourbon left in the cabinet and I won't be purchasing another soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Phillip's Freeze Pop Diet

I've discovered a wonderful, new diet. It's affordable and easy and there are no specialty meals that you have to buy. You don't have to count calories. You don't even have to set foot on the scales. In fact, I suggest that you don't. I call it Phillip's Freeze Pop Diet.

That's right. Move over South Beach Diet and Atkins. Watch out SugarBusters! This will be the biggest new fad in eating and dieting.

(Insert gorgeous spokesmodels here.)
"Wow," says hot celebrity number one to number two. "You look so... Unbelievable!"
"I know," says hot celebrity number two. "And to think that I owe it all to Phillip's Freeze Pop Diet. It's the newest thing, you know."

The advantages to the freeze pop diet are too numerous to fully list in a single blog post. However, I can tell you that they're cheap. You get a whole bunch in a mesh bag for only a few dollars! Compare that to a South Beach frozen meal you get in the grocery store.

They come in a variety of colors and flavors. There's orange, red, yellow, green and blue. Those aren't just colors, they're flavors, too! They even come in orangey-yellow, light and darker green, pink, reddish-orange and an off-white which tastes remarkably similar to Pina Colada.
The freeze pops are incredibly versatile. They're good before, during and after meals. Hungry? Hmm... Grab a freeze pop from the freezer and you're good to go!

Some freeze pops are even healthy for you. Once, I found a package of specialty freeze pops that, according the packaging, are from real fruit juice. They even claimed on the packaging that they contained vitamin C!

The thing I personally like most about freeze pops is that they're practical. Run out of ice? Break up a freeze pop and drop it into your drink. Flavored ice. Bee sting? Keep it in its plastic sleeve and apply it directly to the swollen area. Run out of drink? Melt it down and, voila, you have a fruity drink in a plastic sleeve!

I personally find that a freeze pop with breakfast, in lieu of my morning coffee, wakes me up pretty well. I mean, face it, nothing says summer like a freeze pop for breakfast. Or you could even add alcohol for your summer fun. You know, a little rum and your Pina Colada flavor freeze pop... Not too shabby.

However, getting back to the diet plan, here's what you. Eat one freeze pop after breakfast, one after lunch and one, maybe two, after dinner. Not able to eat one of those meals? Don't worry about the meal itself, just grab a freeze pop and you're good to go. You're on your way to a happier you!

On an unrelated note, I suspect my fuzzy, black dogs have gotten hold of my scales. It's not displaying my weight correctly and the number seems to change on a daily basis. My next post may be all about my search for a new dog-proof, accurate scale. After all, the numbers should be going down, not up, on the freeze pop diet.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nothing Good Came Out of the 80's?

According to the infallible wisdom of my 14 year-old son, "nothing good came out of the 80's." We've had numerous discussions of some of the great things that came from that decade, but he's sticking to his guns and insists that the 80's was, in general, a stagnant period in the world.

First and foremost, Wang Chung came out of that time period. In fact, there was a lot of cool music that came out of the 80's. Men Without Hats, Men at Work, Duran Duran and The Thompson Twins all became popular about that time. His eyes just glazed over.

After coercing him out of his self-induced coma with the promise of a chocolate milk, I continued on.

MTV debuted in the early 80's. You know, music videos? You simply weren't a cool band unless you had a really awesome video to go along with the songs! Take Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher," for example. Wow! Now that was some video. A work of art! And...
"Wait," my son said. "Were you a teenager, Dad?"
Well, yes, of course I was.
"And did it have girls in it, Dad?"
Well, duh! This is Van Halen we're talking about. Of course it did!
"I rest my case," he said, then muttered something something derogatory about 'works of art.'

The movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" came out in the 80's, as a matter of fact. This one caused him to hesitate because he is a big fan of that particular movie.

"One good movie does not redeem an entire decade of sub-standard quality and values, Dad," he said. Ouch!

I went so far as to point out that HIV/Aids was recognized during that decade. I also made note of the internet, which was 'invented' during that time frame. Heck, the Cold War ended in the 80's. Nintendos and Apple IIe's, high technology indeed, came out of that decade.

"Oh, Dad," he responded, worrying me. He is a history buff. "HIV/Aids? I mean, really?! You're going to go there? And the internet... Well, let's just say nobody could really use it until the 90's. It was kind of an exclusive thing, in the beginning.

"And check your history Dad. I think the Cold War officially ended in the early 90's. Nintendo has since expanded on that simple technology to make bigger and better things. And isn't the Apple IIe the computer you said you programmed a rocket image with big green squares? Lame, Dad."

All this conjecturing led to one very important question. I asked him if this meant that all the people born in the 80's are all lame or, at best, "stagnant."

"The 80's has no bearing on those people unfortunate enough to be born during that period," he replied matter-of-factly. "It only means that those poor people had nothing decent to look forward to for at least another decade."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Phillip's Practical Guide for Fathers

Being a father probably means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. One thing I can tell you for certain, though, is that, as a father, you'd better have some pretty tough feet.

I'm all about giving some solid, practical advice. Being a husband of 17 years and a father of 14 years, I have experience in this particular area of knowledge, as well as some darn tough feet!

Allow me to break it down for you, so to speak. Items come in four main categories which are immobile/breakable, immobile/unbreakable, mobile/underfoot and mobile/collision. Many sub-categories exist, of course, but these are the main ones any good father should be acutely aware of, especially when walking through a quiet, dark house.

The first category consists of any non-round object that falls to pieces when stepped upon. The danger in these items is that they can and often splinter. This creates small shards of wood or plastic which will then imbed themselves deep into those hard-to-reach areas of your foot. These often hurt, but not like the next one.

The second category, immobile/unbreakable, do not roll or move in any way, shape or form. They simply don't break, either. Instead, it's your foot that gives first and causes excruciating pain which gets proportionately worse after midnight. Lego products are a great example of this category. My son is 14 years old and I still curse Lego for making such a quality product on a regular basis.

The third category, mobile/underfoot, consists of balls, toy cars, skateboards, water puddles or any other wet, slippery surface. Fuzzy, black dogs also fall under this category. Mobile refers to the item moving underfoot and causing you to lose your balance. I've found that a category two often lies in wait nearby for you to fall upon, thus imbedding itself into your foot or other unmentionable parts of your anatomy. This, of course, depends on whether you catch your footing or just simply fall.

And now we come to our final category of mobile/collision. By nature and by themselves, they are not particularly harmful or dangerous. They are more a nuisance than anything else. Large balls, vehicles and robots don't really hurt when they roll into your ankles or legs.

Watch out, though. These often work in tandem with the others. Don't believe me? Let me give you an example.

Some years back, my five year-old's shriek of "DA-DEE!!" from the bathroom pierced the darkness and my sleep. While on my way to the bathroom, a firetruck bumped my left foot, distracted me, and caused my right foot to land in an unknown, slippery substance. My body then sailed swiftly past the bathroom and my 'ailing' son. My left foot, trying desperately to save me, came down squarely on a Lego, sending spasms of pain shooting to my brain.

While that story has a less-than-happy ending, and I won't say what I stepped in, it exemplifies how category four items often team up with the others for maximum effect.

Keep an eye on http://www.fuzzyblackdogs.blogspot.com/. Sometime soon, I may post a follow up and teach you how to deal with and prevent this problem for yourself. In the meantime, I will be figuring out how to deal with and prevent this problem for myself. Then, rest assured, I will share it with you.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Haven't Always Been This Way

Stress and trauma seem to be defining my life. I'm being forced to deal with some serious inner turmoil these days. You may be thinking, "Why?" Well, it seems that school is about to come to an end and I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it.

While it's kind of nice having a job that gives me summers off, I've already picked up a part time job for the summer months. I'm looking for a second one as well because I simply don't enjoy relaxing. It's too hard! It's too stressful!

One of the ladies I work with at the school asked me a few weeks back, "What don't you do, Mr. Haworth?"

Relax. I simply don't relax well, even when I'm trying to! Much to my family's chagrin, I don't relax well even when we're on vacation.

Having said that, I'm actually a little sad that school will be over very soon. Summer means a break in routine. Summer also means change. These two concepts and I don't mix well under the best of circumstances. In fact, these two concepts have been known to send shivers down my spine and sometimes shatter my rock, solid psyche.

I haven't always been this way, though. I used to relish summertime and all it entailed. Food, swimming, fishing, outdoors, food, vacation, beach trips, food, sleep, quality family time, fishing and food. And  it seems there was nothing quite like a good grilling or an awesome picnic!

So how am I going to deal the the stress and trauma I've managed to create for myself?

That's easy. First, I plan to put as many meals as possible on the grill on my back deck. Toast? Grill it. Cereal? Grill it. Baked beans? Grill 'em. Yes, I will be firing up the grill for this summer.

Second, I think I've got another part time job lined up, other than the fireworks stand. Originally, I was going to run the stand with my brother-in-law. Unfortunately, there was a geographical problem, so that didn't pan out like I thought it would. That's a shame since it might have been fun.

Third, I may have to plan a few picnics. The first one will probably be near the Wautauga River. Caught a few nice brook trout in there with my fly rod. There might be one by Badin Lake, where I've caught a few good sized bass. There might even be...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tattoos Are Taking Over the World

I'm back on car rider duty at school. That was one of my original duties earlier in the year. I have made two very interesting observations while on morning car rider duty.

First is that no one, and I mean NO ONE, drives a manual transmission vehicle any more. Out of all the cars that come through dropping kids off at our school, I have seen three straight drives among them. The second is that it seems as though everyone has a tattoo these days.

The first observation is simply shameful. There are very few things that exist in this world that can compare with the thrill of maneuvering a straight drive (anything) through the twists, turns, stops and starts of city driving. Even better is when you get that same vehicle out on the highway, shift into fifth (or sixth) and just simply go, go, go.

And furthermore... Nevermind. We'll save that neurosis for later.

As for the second observation, it amazes me how many moms and dads sport tattoos upon their bodies. I've seen them on shoulders, arms, wrists, necks, legs, ankles and feet. Any other tattoos in any other places are none of my business. And they're all different, too! Like snowflakes, I've never seen two just alike.

As for the actual tattoos, I question the ones that are oriental characters. I'm convinced that somewhere out there is a tattoo artist laughing his you-know-what off because the guy who thinks he's sporting a tattoo that says "stud muffin" is really walking around with a tattoo that says, "butter muffin."

Now with my new part time job, I see even more people on a regular basis with all sorts of tattoos. I still haven't seen the same tattoo twice. Some of them seem to be in Spanish, as well as the occasional oriental character. Some seem quite simple and small, and yet others are quite ornate and, I dare say, borderline on sheer artistry.

Naturally I've decided that I'm going to have to join the ranks of the star-belly sneetches and have my own metaphorical star upon my belly. However, it's not going to be a tiger, snake, barbed wire, oriental character, butterfly or initials. It's not even going to be on my belly! It certainly won't be a star, though that might be kinda cool in a Seuss-ish sort of way. Instead, I'm going to have "Red hot smoldering volcano of manliness" emblazoned upon my shoulder.

There are only two small obstacles, which I think I can overcome, standing in my way. The first is that my idea is a lot of words. I'll either have to go with a really small font size, or start lifting weights to bulk up my shoulder to fit all those words. The second? That would be my wife and my son. Being my voices of reason, I usually bounce ideas off of them before I do anything that they would consider foolhardy, or just plain stupid.

While I think I got this one in the bag, wish me luck anyway.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Psst... I See Groundhogs

I should probably warn you that this may sound a little bizarre, but I seem to have developed a new gift kind of late in life. Come close so you can hear my dramatic whisper, "I see groundhogs."

I had a conversation recently with my brother-in-law about this strange phenomenon. It seems like no matter where I go, I see groundhogs somewhere close to the roadside rooting around, or just simply sitting and eating. I've seen close to 10 just in the last four weeks. That's nine more than I've seen my entire life up until 44 years of age. Oddly enough, though, I only see them when I'm driving.

So anyway, there we were chugging down the road chatting about my newfound talent. When I first told him that I see groundhogs, he said nothing at first. I glanced to make sure he hadn't jumped out of a moving vehicle.

"Where do you see groundhogs," he asked carefully, emphasizing the 'where.' He watched me like one watches a dangerous person.

I see them all over the place. I told him. Well, not all over the place, literally. They are always by the side of the road, obviously, as I'm driving to and fro from work, running errands or going places.

"You mean dead ones," he asked. "As in... Roadkill."
"No," I said. "Thes ones I see all are very much alive."
"What do they look like?"
"I know what a groundhog looks like," I nearly yelled. "I've seen 'Groundhog Day! They look like Punxatawny Phil!"

Coincidentally, there just happened to be a groundhog by the side of the road at that very moment.

"Look," I nearly yelled, pointing wildly at the side of the road. "There's one now!"

He didn't look in the direction I pointed until we were nearly past it.

"Dude," he said flatly. "That was totally a stump."
"No," I yelled. "No, it wasn't! Stumps don't have fur! Stumps don't eat! Stumps don't move!"

My new plan of attack is to slow down and try to get a picture of the next one with my cell phone. That way, I'll have irrefutable evidence to back up my claim of seeing small, furry woodland quadrupeds rooting around and eating by the road sides.

I made the mistake of telling his sister, alias my wife, and my son about my newfound talent for spotting groundhogs.

To date, my wife has yet to comment on the situation. And my son? Well, this is all he had to say on the matter.

"How convenient, Dad. You seem to be developing a neurological disorder. And Papaw (my father) just happens to be a neurologist. I think we can fix this."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Test in the Works for American Children

It's that time of year for schools and students alike. That dreaded "T" word that makes kids tremble in their shoes and feign all sorts of illnesses. Testing. No matter what you call them, or what initials they go by, a test is a test is a test!

While I am not allowed to talk about my school's testing that we are currently undergoing, I can certainly tell you about mine! It's a special test. I created it myself. It's a non-specialized, specialized test whose sole purpose is to rate students' skills in real life situations.

Here's a brief sampling of my little exam:
1. You purchase a combo meal at a fast food restaurant drive-thru. You pay for it with a $10 bill and you:
a)get $5.37 change.
b)get a cold soda/hot coffee spilled in your lap within five minutes.
c)get a $5 bill and some change which will end up dropping somewhere onto the floorboard where you will never be able to reach without turning off the car, getting out, sitting on the ground and reaching in through the open door.

2. Three fuzzy, black dogs are:
a)two dogs too many!
b)three times the love!
c)fine, as long as they have been trained to NOT jump on you and lick your face the minute you sit/lay down to relax.

3. Your 4 year-old child dumps your fishing bait into the lake, then proceeds to tell you that he "liberated" the minnows you purchased to fish with. You:
a)tell him through a forced smile how incredibly proud you are that he used such a big word correctly.
b)punish him severely. Those itty-bitty minnows cost good money!
c)realize that it's hopeless due to other family members cheering and congratulating him and simply try to move forward.

4. Your car breaks down by the side of the road in a torrential downpour seemingly in the middle of nowhere. After you pull your vehicle safely to the roadside, you then:
a)begin cursing immediately, then call your brother/significant other (or insert any other car-knowledgable person of your acquaintance here) to come and save you.
b)calmly assess the situation, then proceed to fix the flat that has placed you in this nasty, wet predicament.
c)call AAA, then wear the battery down listening to your favorite cd to the accompaniment of a lovely rainfall while waiting for the tow truck.

As I said, this is only a small sampling of what will be known as the PEIAT (think car company Fiat, only with a hard P), aka Phillip's Everyday Important Answers Test. While, technically speaking, there are no wrong answers to my test, there are some answers that are simply 'more correct' than others.

I feel supremely confident that you will see more of this test in the future. THIS, in fact, is sure to be the test of choice for all educators across this great nation of ours. Look for it soon!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Good Slogan Makes a Business Great!

I have made a decision. I decided that I need to start my own business again.

While everyone knows that a good product and service are important, few seem to realize that it's the slogan that makes a business great! A good business has to have a catchy slogan. Here are a few ideas I've come up with for what will surely be wildly successful businesses, judging by the slogans, of course.

One idea I have is Phil's Water Delivery Service. The slogan? Want better, wetter water? Try Phil's Water! It's the better, wetter choice of a better, wetter water!

Why split wood? We could and would split wood for you! Or...  We'll split and spit the wood to bits for you! This would be ideal for Phillip's Wood Splitting and Mulching Company.

Perhaps I should go into the general repair field. The slogan for Phillip's Fix-it Service and Shop? Why, that would be -- If we can't fix it with duct tape, you probably need a new one.

Phillip's Mirror Sales and Service will simply have a one word slogan -- Demure.

One business I could take on with my eyes closed and with no extra training would be Phillip's Creative Writing and Resume Services. Words & Witticisms That Work might be a good slogan. However, I like my alternative which would be as follows: English and Experience Both Begin with 'E.'

I've been in the food delivery business before. I'm simply not too enthusiastic to jump back into any kind of food service. If I do, though, Phil's Personal Food Delivery Service cannot not be successful with the slogan -- Fee Fi Fo Food!

Should none of these work, I do have one fail-safe plan. The business will be called Philbud's Daycare and Taser Manufacturing Company. I have three slogans for this one: What's the worst that could happen?; So much fun it's shocking!; or Shockingly fun, and now with complimentary espresso machines!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Six Year-Olds Notice Everything!

The children at the school I work at continue to amaze and surprise me, as well as make me laugh. And the best part? They're usually not afraid to ask questions that don't pertain to school work. Nor are they afraid to say what they think.

"I like you skunk, Mr. Haworth," one of my students said recently.
"What skunk," I asked him, puzzled. "What are you talking about?"
"Your skunk," he continued, pointing above my head. "In your picture!"

Way back at the beginning of the school year, I painted a ceiling tile to go up in the hallway by the office. The new hires are encouraged to paint a ceiling tile with something personal, inspirational or both. I'm not sure which mine is, but it seems to garner some attention with the kids. It depicts several people with watering cans watering plants under the sun. In the middle is one guy laying back against a tree, daydreaming, with his watering can on the ground at his side.

"That's not a skunk," I told him, noticing the amazing resemblance to a skunk. "It's actually a watering can."

In hindsight, I wish I had just smiled and thanked him. He seemed so excited to have figured out what the ink blob in the middle of the scene was.

Later that same day, one of the girls made a startling observation about me..

"You're white, Mr. Haworth," she said. It was a statement. I heard something close to amazement in her voice as she said it.
"Well...  Umm..  Yeah," I replied, at a loss for words. "I guess I am."

We've got about 30 days of school left. I was amazed that it took her so long to realize this fact and then bring it up to me.

"Why are you white, Mr. Haworth," she asked.

I looked into her eyes, hoping to detect some humor in the comment. I found none. My brain raced with numerous comments and ways to approach the question that would be tactful, caring and informative.

"Umm," I stammered. "Well... I... Umm."
"I mean, it's all over your face," she added.
"It's what," I replied.
"Right around here," she said, tracing her finger over the right side of my face.

It looks as though I'm going to have to be more careful with my spray paint as I help build props. It seems to have a way of coming back and adhering to me!

Most recently, another girl was analyzing my ID badge with my photo on it. She looked up at me and back and the picture. She spent a good 60 seconds with this little exercise before relaying her discovery.

"This my be an old picture of you, Mr. Haworth," she announced. "You look GOOD in this picture."

Perhaps I've let myself go a bit since last August, when the picture was taken. Perhaps I need to give myself more time in the morning to clean up and get ready for school. Whichever, my son said not to worry since she probably forgot her glasses that day.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lawn Maintenance Equals Character Building?

Ahhh... Spring time! With it comes the flowers, fishing and swimming. Also, along with it comes grass growing and lawn maintenance, and I don't mention that fondly.

When I was growing up, I had to mow the vertical drop that was my father's back yard. I simply didn't feel safe mowing it without three belay lines safely anchoring me, the lawn mower and the tank of spare gas. There were moments when my equipment and I would dangle over empty space, just hoping to touch a tuft of grass with a wildly spinning mower blade.

While mowing that back yard, I lived in fear of my sisters. They liked to pull pranks on me. I was afraid one of their pranks would cause my life line to be accidentally cut, thus send me plummeting to my death in the creek far below.

It took everything I had to haul myself and my equipment up the vertical drop. My muscles trembled and spasmed from the strain, fatigue and fear involved. I would have the mower nearly docked safely in the garage when my father's voice finally reached my young ears.

"Phillip," my father said in a questioning tone I knew so well. "You missed a couple of spots back there. You know, I can't pay you until the job has been satisfactorily completed. Now, if you would simply mow in straight lines, you could line up the mower wheels with..."

I heard the beginning of that speech many times. The fresh surge of fear it created sent my muscles trembling and spasming afresh, and I don't think I ever heard it in its entirety.

But now I'm the father. Now I get to dispense my years of wisdom upon my son.

Sadly enough, I don't have a vertical drop for a back yard in which to build my son's physical strength or strength of character. My back yard also lacks the mutant spiders that are able to weave webs that span between trees more than 20 feet apart. Nor do I have the underground bee nest which had to be carefully observed and mowed around. I also don't require my son to empty the grass bag at a site no less than a half mile away. Shoot! I have a bagless mower!

Luckily for my son, I promised myself that I would be a cool dad. I would be the kind of dad that would not nag, but give him practical advice in such a way that he could associate with and appreciate. My motto would be: as long as the job gets done, that's all that matters.

I got my chance to practice my hip, youthful approach to mowing as I observed him with the lawnmower today.

"Hey buddy," I said in a careful, youthful tone. "You missed a couple of spots back there. You know, I can't pay you until the job has been satisfactorily completed. Now, if you would simply mow in straight lines, you could line up the mower wheels with..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fuzzy Monsters with Phil Harper

Good news and bad news. The bad news? I may have to change venues, which means less blog posts on Fuzzy, Black Dogs. The good news? My new venue will be television, where I'll host my new show, Fuzzy Monsters.

I'll have to make a few changes to make it successful, of course. The first change will be my name. I'll simply shorten my first name and use my middle name instead of my last. The second change will be my diction. I'll be working on perfecting my English accent over the weeks to come. The third will be my appearance. Having worked briefly in television news, I know the camera adds approximately 10 pounds. That means I'll have to exercise like mad to lose approximately 100 pounds before the pilot episode.

Other minor changes include not shaving and dying my hair a distinguished gray or white. Maybe some time in a tanning booth. Perhaps a little tooth whitening. Also some weightlifting to bulk and shape up properly.

[Imagine English accent here:]The first episode will take place in my own home, a location where three fuzzy monsters are known to lurk. I've spoken with the natives on the best ways to find them and scouted out their location. It seems we are looking at three different methods for catching the three monsters. We'll start with the first, smallest and potentially most dangerous.

It's been said if you sit relatively still, the first will seek you out. The youngest native, however, claims she can't resist pajamas and beds. I went all out and donned gray flannel pajamas and a t-shirt and headed straight to bed. Within minutes the little monster appeared, jumping up the side of the bed. I tried to move her away from my head to protect myself, but she began growling immediately, proving to be a dangerous adversary.

After surviving the night with the littlest monster, I had to change my approach for the second target. The next one, it's been fabled, has hearing so keen, it can hear the click of a leash from 12 miles away. This proved untrue.

I simply touched the leash as quietly as possible when I heard a tremendous rumbling sound. He was upon me before I had time to react. He jumped and lunged, but didn't seem intent on hurting me. This fuzzy monster was indeed a strong one. Once the leash was firmly attached, he lunged for the door, nearly dislocating my shoulder, spine and hip. Outside, he proceeded to run relatively free, my body only touching the ground twice behind him. Had I not forgotten my knife, I would have gladly cut myself free.

The third fuzzy monster, and the largest, was reportedly the least dangerous. My plan to capture this one was to simply walk around with food in my hand. I chose a bit of cheese and sat on the sofa.

Though large, this one was stealthy. I didn't see or hear him coming. He was simply there, in the air, hurtling toward me like a missile. He rammed me in the chest, causing me to drop the cheese into my lap. The monster dove quickly after it, teeth and jaws working furiously. Miraculously, he got the food and I came out of the incident relatively unhurt.

Once the brute had ascertained that I didn't have any more food, he jumped into my lap and began rubbing his large ears on my chest and hands. If I stopped scratching the ears, he became agitated and would place my hands upon his ears again. He seemed relatively docile, except for the burp that nearly caused me to pass out.

For my second episode, the natives suggested I simply venture around the corner. There, they said, I'll find the location of a small, but ferocious monster, known simply as Roxie, that lurks at that home. And that, viewers, will be my next challenge.

Until next week, good hunting.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spam Emails Hold the Secret to Life

Have you ever stopped and read through some of the junk email you get? You know what I'm talking about, the ones that that never see the light of day, so to speak. The spam. Or the ones that are immediately relegated to the spam folder. Yeah, those.
Being the curiously inquisitive person that I am, I have stopped to analyze some of those interesting tidbits that we all get on a daily basis. I'm simply doing this as a service to my readers who may have been tantalized into wanting to open one.

You may be amazed to know this, but the special assistant to sheik Moussa Koussa in some unknown country has treasures and a large amount of cash he wants me to keep safe for him. Perhaps I can send some of it to the other emails from Ellen, who suffers from "some cancerous ailment," or Sgt. Adam of the US Army, both of whom need my help in the form of large quantities of dollar bills.

My schedule is about to get a lot crazier. Through my emails, I can start classes to become a social worker, computer technician, addiction counselor, medical billing specialist, ultrasound technician and an elementary school teacher. Best of all, I can do all these online as my schedule permits!

As soon as the money starts rolling in from my multi-degree career, I can afford the "cheap" BMW, Ford and Audi that are currently in my area just waiting for me to pick them up. After the car purchase, I'll get a quick and easy bathroom remodel from the professionals dying to come and do it at the lowest possible price.

Should none of that work, I have a back up plan. I received an email inviting me to join a millionaire dating website. Maybe I can find my own millionaire. I'll have to get my wife's permission, of course.

Money really shouldn't be a problem, though. Also through the spam emails, I have access to cheap airline tickets and all sorts of free drugs, as well as excellent coupons to Walmart and all sorts of local businesses.

In the meantime, I have to go. Apparently Ahmed, whose country of origin has changed yet again, has five million US dollars he's accrued that he doesn't know what to do with. I need to go so I can send him my checking account number so he'll have a safe place to put a large quantity that money.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Computers, Ice Scrapers & Underwear, Oh My!

My Dell Insipid has been given a new lease on life. No offense to Dell, of course, but in my household, when a computer dies for any reaon, it gets renamed. With that being said, just trust me when I say there have been some foul-named computers that have come through my home.

Thank goodness for my personal computer fix-it technician/guru, alias my brother-in-law! I'm nominating him for sainthood, and not just because he breathed life into another one of my plastic boxes filled with wires and chips and is supposed to have electrical pulses race through it to make it operate properly. He has also been installing light fixtures and ceiling fans around my home since I've started working 40 hour days.

Regardless of my suicide work schedule or computer status, I am plugging on and moving forward, sometimes one letter at a time on the trusty iPod. And speaking of status, here is an update post on some of my previous posts about which I have been questioned.

First, I want to apologize to my readers and everyone else. After writing about my problem with ice scrapers, as well as my general lack of scrapers, I received quite an influx of the little devices. This, and the fact that I was looking forward to a cold, frosty winter so I could use the scrapers, seems to have prevented us from having a cold winter. You know, kind of the same way you forget to pack a rain coat and it rains for an entire weekend vacation...

Anyway, regardless of what I've said or written about Bob, our spaniel, he has really grown on me. I won't be giving him away, getting rid of him, sending him down the stream, etc. To everyone I have promised a free dog, forget it!

For those of you who know me and have been in my white car, it's not really going to blow up! All I'll say is, it's amazing what a difference a tire can make.

And a big thank you to all of you who honk and wake me up now in the morning. My new school morning duty has me standing alone out front. Whether friendly or not, the honking and waving has helped keep me awake and paying attention.

And on one last note, thank you to my family. While my missing underwear remains just that, my family came through for me for my recent birthday (happy 44th, crazy man!) and gave me underwear. I'm glad to report that as of this post, I am not doing the wash nearly as frequently.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Please, Don't Make Me Angry...

I started this week off with a bang... I decided I needed an up close and personal view of High Point Regional Hospital's emergency room.

I actually started the morning off with my usual routine of shave, shower, dress and drive. What I didn't count on for my Monday morning, however, were the bonus chest pains I would feel on my way in to work. And, of course, my subsequent visit to the ER.

My wife told me they would probably rush me in quickly. I didn't believe her and figured I would end up waiting for a while to get in and get seen. After all, I had waited nearly an hour to have them surgically re-attach the left hand index finger that my food processor tried to eat off more than a year ago!

Like she said, they got me in quickly, laid me down and hooked me up to some machine. Thoughts of the old Hulk series (you know, with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno!) flashed through my mind. Then they asked me a barrage of questions and pulled out a silver, metal spike. Virtual medicine, Matrix-style! Sadly, no. It was just the thermometer.

They got me into a room and hooked me up to more machines. Someone came and shot my chest with a portable x-ray device. Wires were attached to my finger and chest and the start of an IV hung out of my left arm. On top of all that, my hospital gown kept falling off and I couldn't bend either arm to pull it back up.

Throughout the entire ordeal, my awesome wife remained by my side. She patiently waited, listening to everything the nurses, technicians and doctors had to say. I feel certain that she, like myself, was waiting intently to find out if I was suffering from stress, anxiety, psychosis or heart-related illness.

Oddly, the ER doctor never indicated which was the problem. Instead, she deffered me to my regular doctor, who I will be seeing first thing in the morning.

One last interesting note is that since I got out, no one has yet made me mad enough to cause my shirt to rip, my muscles to bulge and my skin to turn green. Needless to say, I have no definitive answer on that count. I may have to ask about that one...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another Laptop Shot to &*## !

Today's post has been created and brought to you through my iPod. But please don't be misled. I am NOT embracing the fleeting concept that is known as technology. In essence, I'm utilizing what I can in place of technology that no longer exists for me.

Why did I peck out this post one letter at a time on something so small that it borderlines on the tortuous and ridiculous? The answer lies upon my desk. Literally.

It's my door stop. A door stop sits upon my desk. It's a silver door stop. Nothing fancy. It has a standard QWERTY layout with a flip up 15 inch screen (I'm guessing). It has top mounted speakers and several other features which have all been rendered moot by the death of the screen, or hard drive or both!

My personal computer tech, alias my really awesome brother-in-law, originally told me that it might be the auxiliary battery from which the date and time stamp run off. Now that my Insipid, as I've renamed it, is in computer camp at his house, he said the hard drive crashed. Since I haven't been in any car accidents lately and I haven't dropped my computer, I'll just assume my son crashed the device into the wall or something.

Whatever! Regardless of the reason, my laptop has been rendered a lump of metal, plastic and wires. Like I said, a door stop.

Needless to say, I'm up that proverbial creek without a paddle. If I am lucky, my personal computer tech will be able to fix my "hand me down" laptop. Otherwise, I'll hope someone else will be getting a new computer and will throw their castoff in my direction.

Until then, the posts may be excruciatingly slow in coming since I'll be pecking them out one letter at a time on the iPod. Then I will have to retype them into my blog on a borrowed computer.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cigarettes Kill

I've started yet another job. I think I'm up to four on the job count. Let's see... I'm an author, a blog post writer, a teacher's assistant and now an employee at a retail store. (Sadly, two are voluntary at this time.) As far as the new job goes, so far so good. Working with the public is the easiest part since I'm never at a loss for what to say. However, I'm finding out that there are some tough aspects to my new job as well.

Since it's a retail store, it's kinda like a giant game of concentration. I'm certain I stocked the shampoo on aisle six and the medicine on aisle 13 about a week ago. Sometime between a week ago and last night, someone obviously broke into our store and moved the shampoo to 13 and the medicine to six. I haven't yet broken the news to my boss. I don't want to upset her.

Also, I still haven't figured out what all we carry within the confines of our little store.

"Excuse me," said a customer Monday night. "Where would I find the Velcro?"

Velcro? Did he say Velcro? As in hook and loop material? Do we even carry that product? Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh! Because it's not very professional to just scream "help," I calmly pressed the page button on the phone and said, "assistance needed at the front counter."

I should probably ease up on the "assistance" pages before my coworkers and boss decide to tie me up with the phone cord.

The toughest aspect by far would be the cigarettes. My first cigarette sale was disastrous. A gentleman came in for a pack of "reds." I turned around. My heart began racing. Behind me is an entire wall dedicated to tobacco products and a large majority of them are cigarettes. An entire third of them are red. A third of them are silver and a third are green. The rest were variations and combinations of red, silver and green, and a few other colors thrown in for good measure.

Math not withstanding, I knew I had to think of something quick. I turned back to the customer.
"Which red ones," I asked politely.
"The ones behind you," he said. No good...
"Which brand would that be sir," I asked. He gave me a hard stare.
"Obviously that'd be the Marlboros," he replied.
I turned and grabbed a pack and handed them to him. He gave me another hard stare. Then he handed them back to me.
"I'd really like some Marlboro Reds," he said. "Not these. And not in a soft pack this time."
"They're all kind of soft and squishy," I said, hoping to alleviate the moment with a little humor.
"You ain't never smoked, have you, son" he asked me.

That's when I came up with a great idea. I bravely suggested it to him. He unhappily agreed and watched as I placed my finger on one pack. I then proceeded to walk the wall, sliding my finger down the infinite row of cigarettes until he finally said "stop." And, voila, problem solved.

I don't think my boss will allow me to refuse cigarette sales on the grounds that they are unhealthy. And most smokers take their cigarette brands seriously. So if I don't learn which is which, those cigarettes will be the death of me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fuzzy Black Dogs on Ice

It seems that the newest fuzzy, black dog, otherwise known as Bob, hasn't noticed that the ground has changed colors. I put the three of them out the back door and into the yard to do their business. As I opened the door, Bob barreled out just like I'd expect a spaniel to do. Generally, the only thing he notices is when there is a gale force wind driving torrents of rain sideways. He doesn't care for that.

On the other hand, Ace and Lilly, were just a bit more reserved about the cold, ice-slushie bathroom break. Ace generally does what I ask him to do. Generally. He slowed down considerably on the deck and looked around before going down the steps to the yard. Lilly, however, stopped half-way out the door.

One paw touched the cold, slippery stuff and the almighty princess, as my son sometimes calls her, stopped dead in her tracks. Now she's standing in the doorway with two paws inside, one paw in the vile, inhospitable ice-slush and one paw held in the air. She held this position and looked up at me with an expression that could only be translated as follows: "You pulled me off the comfy sofa to do this to me?! Wait'll you see what I've got planned when you go to sleep..."

Meanwhile, Ace has learned a new trick. While Bob is out running around the yard like it's a fine spring day, Ace is sitting nearly out of sight at the bottom step, waiting. After a certain amount of time, he runs back up the steps and to the door like he's done his business. Then I have to walk out into the elements and point out into the yard telling him to "go." Sometimes I even have to walk to the bottom step and "catch" him sitting there, as if he thinks I don't know.

In the meantime, Bob, having done his business came barreling back up to the back door. While incredibly cute, Bob is not the most intelligent or coordinated dog of the bunch. He hit the top step at top speed. He gave the appearance of trying to stop, but managed to slide completely across the deck and in through the back door. One down, two to go.

Lilly followed with her head and tail down, slowly and carefully placing each foot in the mess. She flashed an indignant look at me as she passed. Then came Ace, who had finally ventured out into the yard. I know I saw him do number one, but I didn't remember seeing number two.

As I finally made my way inside, I heard my son's voice just inside the door...

"Oooohhh...  Da poor doggies! He's so mean to da poor doggies! Forcing da poor innocent doggies to poop and pee out in da howwible howwible weather..."

Perhaps I can train him. Then I can stay toasty and warm inside while he takes them out in the howwible, howwible weather!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wetsuits, Snorkels and Dead Bodies! Oh My!

(Travel Date: February 5, 2012. Blog Post Number... Okay, nevermind!)

Okay, we really have to start from the evening of Saturday, February 4th. That would be the evening with the midnight party and buffet on the main deck. That was the night of the drunk people on the dance floor. Honestly, there are few things in life quite as entertaining as a really drunk person stumbling to the dance floor to show off his or her "moves."

Well, that evening there was a his and a hers! She climbed atop of the stone statue at the head of the pool. That's where she showed off her "moves." Not surprisingly, the rhythm of her "moves" did NOT seem to follow the rhythm of the music being blasted across the deck. He was wearing a suit up top and nothing on the bottom but his skivvies. Really. And he showed off his "moves" to any woman brave enough to come within a three foot radius of his gyrations and seizures. From my vantage point, it looked as though he scared a lot of women off.

Want to know what an evening of wild revelry and debauchery is good for? It makes breakfast the next day a quiet, more enjoyable ordeal for those of us who didn't get stinking drunk from Bahama Mamas or Coco Locos.

Some time after our pleasant breakfast, we were shuttled to the cruise line's private island called Coco Cay. I decided that if we were going to spend time in the water, my son and I would need wetsuits. We donned our rented wetsuits. It was amazing the number of heads that turned. Women up and down the beach could only gaze and wonder. That tight wetsuit accentuated all my manly curves.

After breaking away from all the attention, my son and I decided it was time to get wet. Decked out in our manly wetsuits and snorkeling gear, we hit the water. And we snorkeled. And snorkeled. And then snorkeled around some more. We had quite a blast out in the water, only to find our group spot deserted upon resigning from our water activities.

He and I spent maybe 30 to 45 minutes just trying to locate one of our herd that came out to the island with us. During that time, we got hungry. Naturally, we found some food and sat to eat. That's when this wild looking couple came upon us.

"You'd better tell your wife where you are," my parents said. "She told the officials you went snorkeling and never came back. I think they're dragging the lagoon looking for your dead bodies now."

Unbeknownst to me, my nephew wimping out halfway through the snorkeling adventure was merely the beginning of the end. That's when the trip took a turn for the worst. And that, my friends, is another blog post...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

True Grace and Style Never Go Unrecognized

(Travel Date: February 4, 2012. Blog Post Num. 34.4932.78)

The first full day of vacation on the Royal Caribbean cruise line Monarch of the Seas started off poorly. A word to the wise -- don't put off until tomorrow that which needs to be done today!

Normally, one of the first things that my wife and I do upon reaching our travel destination is to organize and put our clothes away. Had we stuck with that plan, then Friday would have ended badly and Saturday would have started better. Somehow, it seems like it would be better to end a day on a bad note than to start a day on a bad note.

As we began organizing and putting our clothes away, I noticed that we had forgotten to pack a few items. Most of the missing items, as it turns out, were minor inconveniences that were easily handled. However, I discovered an essential piece of clothing missing from my wardrobe. I've been home now for approximately two days and I still can't find the missing items! I'm down to only four!

In order to prevent any scarring upon the minds of my readers, I will not mention what it was that was forgotten. Suffice it to say that I had to go "al fresco" (as my sisters and I used to call it ages ago) throughout the remainder of our vacation. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, I believe it is more commonly called going "commando."

A little bit later in the morning, the day got rougher, literally. My wife and I sat and watched the whitecaps and the waves for a short while. The spray coming off the tops of the whitecaps began wetting us down and making us just a little chilly. Once we moved away from the pool, everything got a little better. Or at least until I ordered the bucket o' beer.

A good bit later in the day, my wife and I found ourselves by the pool again. The bucket seemed like a good idea. Through sheer coincidence, as the waiter handed me the bucket, one of the straps on the deck chair gave away underneath me.
"That was not smooth, man," he said in what sounded like a smooth, Jamaican accent.
"That's why I got lite beer," I laughed, handling the situation with true style and panache.
Apparently it was a good joke. He laughed. He was probably thinking what a witty, stylish guy I was as he walked away, leaving me to extricate myself from the chair. I pulled myself out of the hole and inspected the straps. Aha! It was just as I suspected. I discovered some dry rot on the broken strap.

He probably knew about that. If he did, it would explain why he gave me respectful fist-bumps each time he saw me throughout the remainder of the cruise.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Look... We Can See the World from Here!"

(Travel Date: February 3, 2012. Blog Post Num. 32.4587.29)

The Haworth Herd (since there's too many of us to be called the Haworth Party) made it to the airport successfully and without incident. We arrived at the US Airways counter, en masse. An intimidating sight for any agent, I'm sure, but the US Airways representative behind the counter seemed to take it in stride.

After an interminable amount of time and conversation elapsed, I distinctly heard the agent say that it seemed our flight tickets had been cancelled. Well, he said in his friendliest, no-nonsense way, it seems that they were cancelled back in November. Strangely enough, that was also the same time that my parents booked this cruise ship vacation.

Naturally, several in our herd whipped out cell phones and began making phone calls. The phone calls yielded nothing, of course, since the travel agency we used to book this vacation was NOT open at six o'clock in the morning! The nice airline rep also said it looked as though our travel agent was the one who cancelled the flight.

It occurred to someone that if the travel agent cancelled our flight, did they cancel our trip as well? Would we be able to board the cruise ship? I immediately called "dibs" on the front position of the new boat we might be taking. You know the spot -- the person in the front with the megaphone calling out "Row! Row! Row!"

We managed to clear that mess up with our super nice US Airways rep. Everything seemed to be in order. We were finally ready to go. All we had to do was make a mad dash to the idling-and-nearly-ready-to-take-off  plane waiting on the tarmac. The counter rep read off the list of names for whom he had create a flight ticket. However, one name was missing... Mine!

Some time later, as I sat comfortably -- or as comfortably one can get on a plane -- I heard my seven year-old nephew sum up the situation well to his brother. Shortly after take-off, he said, "Look Dave! We can see the whole world from here!"