The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘alaska’

Slight Improvements

When I was going to start first grade my family moved from Korea to Alaska. The school was close enough to my home that I would walk to school every day (including when it reached -60 degrees out, I was just bundled up to a point that I could hardly move).

The first winter there we also happened to have record snowfall. It was crazy. People had to come shovel your ROOF for fear that the weight of the snow might cause damage. That’s a lot of snow.

Every school day I followed the same path. I’d go out our front door, cut across a field and then be on a sidewalk until I had to cross the street directly across from the school.

After the initial big snowfall I walked to school happy and charmed by the snow. Stomping along happily through the snow and taking it all in. This was a mistake. Because then more snow came along, and more snow, and more snow. The snow was deep enough that trying to walk through it would lead to thighs of steel, and/or a boot lost when your leg sinks into the deep snow and you wiggle your leg around until it finally pops out but whoops … no boot. This meant every day that winter was a reminder – I took some awfully big, goofy steps that first snowy day! By tracing the same steps every day I was able to keep cutting across the field, and avoid sinking into the snow. But unfortunately, my steps were hard to follow.

The next winter I had learned my lesson. After the first big snowfall I didn’t lift my feet at all, shuffling through the snow all the way to school. I created a nice, easily walkable path across that field.

This winter, confronted by snow again, I have also made some slight improvements.IMG_20180202_073547663

I shovel the front porch because otherwise ice is liable to form there, and it’s no fun to walk on snow or ice in your slippers. With a clear porch I can let the dog out in slippers no problem.

And I shovel a bit of the grass because our dog is a dope, and she will wander aimlessly for a while if she sees no grass to pee on. Eventually she gives up and picks a random spot. But it’s easier if I have what I affectionately refer to as the ‘pee patch.’ If this spring that grass is dead, I’ll know the dog is overdue for a visit to the vet.


Attn: Ellen (8/17/16)



Back (apologies for my handwriting!)


The text of the postcard is

Do you love beauty?
Do you like seeing your breath?
Come to Alaska!!

Sincerely, OR @DumbFunnery

Why am I doing this?

Innocent, Evil Little Boys

It’s been raining quite a bit here in Houston, Texas since New Year’s. I saw a tree that had a nice puddle formed around it and it suddenly took me back to Alaska.

In Alaska you have the summer, fall, winter, and breakup season. Breakup season is when all of the snow melts. It’s a magical time of year for weird little kids. The playgrounds would be flooded, water trapped in the concrete walkway surrounding the playground equipment. This, I soon learned, was a haven for water beetles. Glorious.

The other great part of breakup season was this field by the house where my family lived. It was a great neighborhood. We had a nice, big, rectangular field with houses on three sides and a road on the fourth side (and just a quarter to half mile walking along that road took you to my school). The four sides surrounding the field all had little inclines, so the field was a rectangular bowl of sorts. It didn’t really add anything, but somehow this seemed fitting. It separated this area as an area of play. Nerf fights, snowball fights, soccer games, tossing a football (not so much for me – I was terrible at it), forts, failed attempts at skiing, you name it – the field was good for everything.

Like any multi-purpose athletic field, the grass was especially torn up in the middle. During breakup season that became a decent sized puddle. When the puddle was bigger, it was used as a bug fishing ground. When the puddle was smaller, it was perfect for my toy dinosaurs. Magical, I tell ya.

Here’s where I may lose some of you.

In my kindergarten to second grade logic, this made sense. Beetles … gross, slimy, water beetles … loved grasshopper legs. Not just any ones – the big ones in the back of a grasshopper. And the best time of year to catch water beetles was breakup season (water, water, everywhere!).

Off my best friend Chris and I would go, merrily catching grasshoppers then ripping off their back legs. We were delicate, too. Because according to our knowledge (we really believed this to be true, but it may have been made up by me) – grasshoppers could re-grow their back legs. Naturally, then, you handled them with care. You would pick up the little grasshopper and DANG IT he pooped on me … gross … and anyway, then, see, you grab the back leg at the base (if you grab at the bottom it’ll rip at the knee and that’s no good), so you grab at the base and a gentle but fast tear and off the back leg goes. Switch to the other side and boom, two little pieces of bait.

You’d think the grasshopper would be a little upset by this, but we would set them down and off they’d walk. (In retrospect, I am evil, but at the time, the grasshoppers seemed to be walking away just fine so I thought this whole tearing off the legs business was just a temporary inconvenience for them.)

Anywho, it didn’t stop there. That wasn’t even the tough part. The tough part was tying that leg to a piece of string. A tiny little knot around that leg (I was in cub scouts for about 2 months, I never learned knots). Then you tie that string to a stick – and whala!, you’re ready to fish for beetles.

You’d think, based on the fact that no beetle every actually bit on one of our lures, that we would’ve figured out one of the many holes in our logic … but nope. Instead we’d fish with the grasshopper leg lure, eventually spot a beetle in the water, and then just try to catch him with our hands. (What was the COOLEST was when there was still a thin sheet of ice over the water, and you could see bugs swimming under it! Then you could do a sort of ice fishing – but usually the ice would just break into chunks and you’d scare the beetle off.)

If you’re out, and you see a little kid out with their little kid logic doing evil things, maybe point them in the right direction (you know, don’t torture stuff) but be sure to encourage them to be weird. (Tell them you don’t want to torture the bugs because they’ll eventually start to recognize you and form plans against you – a thought I had after I started to fear that bees were following me home. Seriously. I knew it seemed crazy so I didn’t tell anyone. But I DID stop catching bees to prove, in case there was a message, that I’d gotten the message.)

Don’t Eat the Green Trees

When I lived in Alaska (kindergarten through 2nd grade) my best friend Chris and I hung out all the time. Little kid friendships are the best because it’s so easy to satisfy all your needs.

Chris liked toys. I liked toys. Chris liked video games. I liked video games! And, oh my GOD!!, Chris liked playing outside … you’ll never guess who else liked playing outside.

One day I was over at Chris’s when dinner time hit. His mom asked if I’d like to stay over. I’m sure I called my mom, and we had the brilliant/obvious/manipulative little kid talk – ‘which dinner is better.’

(My mom answers)
“Hey mom.”
“Hey! How’s it going!?”
“Good … what’s for dinner?”
“Oh we’re going to have a casserole.”
“Oh … Is it all right if I stay over at Chris’s for dinner? His mom invited me.”
“Sure that’s fine. Come home after dinner. Be sure to say please and thank you.”
“Ok. Bye mom.”

Yes, my mom probably would’ve reminded me of the manners.

Finally, it was dinner time. The food was laid out on the table and we began to dish up. I’ll take a little of this, thank you, could you please pass that, thank you, what’s that in the middle? Don’t know. Don’t want it.

“Brad, do you want a green tree?”
A green tree? The dish in the middle contained the ‘green trees.’
“Um, sure.”
I’d never had a green tree before.
I grab one, pop it in my mouth, and I try to pull on my best poker face as I go from excited anticipation about a new food to disgust.

Green tree! GREEN TREE! Those fiends fed me broccoli!

Which just goes to show that broccoli, by any other name, is still gross.

(Unlike another food which my mom called something else, had me try, found out I liked it, and then laughed as she told me it was something I hitherto ‘hated.’ Everyone’s a trickster.)

(Update: I’ve since come around some on broccoli … but I still favor doughnuts over broccoli any day of the week.)

Weekly Wacko (60)

Talk to Myself, Sing to Myself, Go Crazy All By Myself

I wrote before about my brilliant camping strategy – who needs a tent when you have a mini-van and a short body?

One morning, I’m not sure if my sister had also slept in the mini-van or not, but we were both in there. I took the middle section (fit for two people sitting – prior to the popularity of the ‘quad bucket seats’), and she took the far back (fit for three people sitting).

We woke up and saw that our dad was the only tent-sleeping person awake. He was getting the camping stove ready for a breakfast.

Since my dad was in the Army, M.R.E.’s were a staple food on our camping trips. An MRE is a “Military Readiness Meal” and it is a powerful punch of calories. High on calories, low on satisfied customers. Though I’m pretty sure I thought they were awesome (I even got some one time, thinking my then-girlfriend and I would have a picnic lunch of MRE’s … What can I say, I’m a romantic). For breakfast that day he was fixing up something different. It was a special day not for that reason though.

E$, my sister, and I noticed – who’s dad talking to? He’s definitely talking. Oh yeah, his mouth is moving and he’s jabbering like crazy.

But no one was there.

My dad, if the wheels are really turning, can’t help but mouth the words. He doesn’t say them out loud (not yet?, eh Mom?), but you can tell when he’s really thinking. I’m allowed to make fun of him for many reasons – but one of them is that I’m already starting to do this.

E$ and I had a blast sitting in the car, watching our dad talk his head off. To himself.

A special day, for a special man. ZING!

(Again, it’s only a matter of time before this is me.)

Weekly Wacko (58)

When we lived in Alaska every year a kid was selected from the school and had a story in the local newspaper written about him or her. When I was in 2nd grade I was chosen.

I love this article because it makes me seem totally insane, and like a miser. The quotes from me are amazing. You’d think I was 100% crazy. Also a miser.

Hope you enjoy it.

Two things –

1) The t-shirt I’m wearing is a bunch of bugs scattering, but while scattering they are also coincidentally spelling the phrase, “Bug Off.”

2) I still want to own a house boat and a camper. Riches, where are ye?!

Smell the Memories

Alaska, December, 1990

Two fun things about this picture:

1) My grandma, who has been living in Phoenix, Arizona for a long while came and visited us our first winter in Alaska. The desert to the tundra. Gutsy!

2) My sister and I are the two orange puff-balls. My mom loved those jackets. Do you know how easy it is to spot a giant orange poof in a field of white snow? Clever lady that mom is.


Awww, what a little psychopath! Adorable!

I do find this kind of weird though (no, not the white sweatsuit) – we had a pinata at a Christmas party. That’s not normal, right? I guess any excuse to give kids a bat? Sure, that works.

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