Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Couldn't FAKE A Better Writing Prompt...

During our family vacation to Corolla, North Carolina on that state's Outer Banks several weeks ago, I was chilling in my beach chair next to my wife, on the beach, about midday in the middle of vacation week, when a gentleman who looked to be in his early to mid 50s appeared at the top of the staircase that traverses the beach dune, carrying a beach chair and a duffel bag.

He descended the staircase and crossed the beach to set up his chair a few dozen feet from where we were sitting, setting his gaze on the surf. He set the bag -- filled, as it turned out, with a several longneck bottles of beer and a couple packs of smokes -- next to the chair, popped open a beer, then settled into his chair to watch high tide roll in. And that was pretty much his drill for the next two hours, as he slowly drained his few beers, occasionally chasing those sips with repeated drags on the cigarettes he kept chain-smoking.

I noticed him arrive on the beach like I noticed anyone else who did -- making a mental note, but only casually, adding him to that informal roster of beachgoers set up nearby that I referred back to when I grew bored with crosswords or reading and resorted to people-watching. But I gradually noticed that this guy was just different -- he simply sat and stared at the ocean, slowly drank his beer, and smoked heavily. He didn't talk to, or interact with anyone, nor anyone with him. He didn't seem upset, or sad, or happy, or anything -- he simply stared at the water.

Finally, he put all of his empty beer bottles in his duffel bag, dumped his small tin ashtray into a sealed plastic bag and stowed that, and then from the bottom of his duffel, he pulled a single rose with a small ribbon tied to it, along with an envelope, and set it on the sand on the other side of his chair. He stood, folded up his chair, zipped his duffel bag, and with one quick glance back at the ocean and down again to the envelope, he arose and grabbed his belongings, then turned and ascended the staircase over the dune and left.

My wife and I exchanged glances after he disappeared over the dune. Needless to say, we were intensely curious about who that rose was for, and what the envelope accompanying it contained. But not so curious that we felt the need to invade the privacy of the poor guy who just left those items (or that of the intended recipient) to find out. So we went back to our people-watching, and reading, and crosswords and watched beachgoers around us also closely observing the status of that left-behind envelope and rose throughout the afternoon.

Around 4 p.m., when folks around us began departing the beach, a particularly obnoxious woman from New Jersey (we knew this, because she loudly announced it several times earlier in the week) stopped at the spot where the card and rose lay on the sand near our spot, stooped down and blatantly opened the envelope (containing a card), read the card with raised eyebrows, stuffed the card back in the envelope while looking furtively around her, then shoved it back under the rose, and went lumbering on her way. "Wonder what it said?" I asked my wife.

My assumption was that the card and rose were for someone who would soon be by to pick up the items, but nobody ever showed up. Soon after Ms. New Jersey tore open the envelope to satisfy her own curiosity, my wife and I also packed up to leave the beach for the day. Doing a last-minute search around our site for items to take back to the beach house, I thought to myself, "What the hell?" and then walked over to where the rose and card lay on the beach. I followed Ms. New Jersey's actions and opened the card inside the envelope, no longer able to stand the suspense.

The card was a very simple and nondescript "Thinking of You" themed affair, with a generic spray of flowers painted on the front. The inside of the card had no pre-printed greeting, but did have this message, written in a surprisingly neat cursive script, included: "Celia, I hope you have found what you've been looking for -- I miss you very much and love you even more." And that was it -- no name for whom it was from, and no indication as to whether or not it was the man who left it, or possibly someone else. I also placed the card back in the envelope and put it back under the rose.

I walked back to where my wife stood (she was giving me a particuarly evil eye for opening the envelope) and told her what it said. We both gathered up our load and walked back to the beach house in utter silence, likely mulling over the same questions in each of our minds -- who was Celia? Did she die or was she still alive and simply moved on from the person who wrote the card to her? Was the gentleman who left the card also the one who wrote it? Should we be on the lookout for Celia on the beach? Or was that just wishful thinking?

That's pretty much where this REAL version of the story ends -- the card and flower were missing from the beach when we went back the next day, perhaps victims of theft, or the changing tides, or even Celia herself. The man who left the card and rose never returned to that spot on the beach, at least not during that week that we visited. What is the real story between Celia and, presumably, the mystery man who left her the card and rose?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Godspeed and Good Health, Steve Jobs...

Steve Jobs resigned as Apple's CEO yesterday, although he will remain as the company's Chairman of the Board. My thinking is that Mr. Jobs had to make some critical choices regarding the quality of his remaining days, given that he's struggled with pancreatic cancer for the past several years -- cancer that has very likely taken a turn for the worse. My thoughts and prayers go out to Jobs and his family -- he is truly one of the most gifted technological visionaries of this or any century.

Remembering You'll Soon Be Dead Is the Most Important Tool
to Help Make the Big Choices in Life [Video]

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." ~Steve Jobs

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

WP Comes 'Round to Profile The Farm!

Where We Live: Hayfield Farm, tucked between the fort and the woods

A nice, light and fluffy slice of writing from our friends at the Washington Post, who seem to come around every 5-10 years to profile The Farm. Comments on the story are humorous, ranging from original owners complaining that they didn't get interviewed (instead of newer settlers on The Farm), and a couple proofreading suggestions. Ahhh, everybody's an editor these days...

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Love My iPad, But...

Stop! It’s A Really Bad Time To Buy A Kindle | TechCrunch

There are studies out there arguing for and against eye strain on backlit screens -- my own experience on my iPad is that while I love to use the form factor for reading, my eyes do indeed get tired after reading the backlit iPad screen for more than a half hour at night.

I think at times that it would be nice to have a dedicated e-reader. I really like my wife's Amazon's Kindle 3 -- that e-ink Pearl display is SO easy on the eyes. She's actually eyeing up Barnes and Noble's Nook as a replacement for her Kindle 3 because she likes the touch screen and slightly smaller form factor of the Nook. Either way, she should probably wait -- and so should you.

Delicious Irony

I do not suffer two-faced people nor those who demonstrate double-standards very well. Two weeks ago, two somewhat bitter (read that, hard-left) women in our neighborhood were vociferously and publicly exchanging complaints on Facebook that their originally-planned long beach weekends were cut short due to their respective spouses/friends having to be back home in time to report for work at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) early on Monday, July 25, but only long enough to learn that they would be furloughed and sent right back home because Congress failed to enact legislation by July 23 that would keep the agency funded and operating past that date.

Now, this is an inconvenient and frustrating situation -- not just for the piffling reason that long beach weekends get cut short for some, but more to the point, because others who live paycheck to paycheck don't have one coming in because of Congress' ineptitude. And it's especially maddening for the Senate and the House to leave thousands of workers twisting in the wind because they can't put aside partisan bickering to pass an FAA funding bill prior to their recess.

My sympathies for the neighborhood ladies whining on Facebook faded rather quickly, however, when it became increasingly clear that their assumptions held that the FAA shutdown was due primarily to the stubbornness and inaction of Congressional members residing only on a certain side of the political aisle. (A tired meme which Andrew Stiles, of the National Review Online, has shot down by cleanly debunking several of the "It's the GOP's fault!" myths that have been dutifully trotted out by the statist media in recent weeks regarding this FAA shutdown business.)

The most galling part of it all? One of these women had the temerity to lecture me several years ago when, following President Obama's election, I began to openly share on Facebook some of my conservative viewpoints, beliefs and jokes, including observations of extant political and ideological double-standards. She threatened to unfriend me on Facebook, bluntly telling me that she "didn't need all of the hate and negativity in her life," and implied that Facebook wasn't the place for that kind of political discourse.

While I didn't apologize for my beliefs at the time, I did apologize for offending this woman -- and, whether consciously or unconsciously, I have refrained in the years since from talking either politics OR religion on Facebook, opting instead to treat it like one big cocktail party (which is good advice). She has mostly done the same, but has nonetheless been unable to completely refrain from weighing in with the occasional cheap political shot on her other Facebook friends' statuses and pages.

I am well aware that I have a plank in my own eye; heck, there are times when I can't see at all around the multiple planks stuck in my orbs. I suppose I should offer to remove the speck of sawdust from the eye of the neighborhood woman I described above -- except that she and I are no longer friends on Facebook.  Smiling emoticon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Serial Slashing? Seriously?

Video: Serial Slasher Strikes Again in Fair Oaks

This isn't quite as bad as the D.C. area sniper attacks from back in 2002, but incites a similar fear among innocent women wanting only to enjoy an incident-free shopping trip at the local malls here in Northern Virginia. Hopefully this sicko is caught sooner rather than later.

Beware the Enviro-Nazis

Latest shale gas assault: "A new front has been opened in the Obama Administration's war on shale gas and hydraulic fracturing" (from American Thinker blog)

What a shock. For the first time in literally decades, my hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania is experiencing economic growth from the influx of extra jobs and industry associated with the search for natural gas among the Marcellus Shale beds across several states, yet the enviro-Nazis in Washington are seeking ways to shoot down this effort that potentially inches us toward the goal of energy independence in this country. Delightful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Permit Me This...

Hayfield Farm's Ben Lambert Breaks 32-Year Old NVSL Record

With a time of 22.59, Hayfield Farm's Ben Lambert smashed the NVSL record in the boys 13-14 50 yard freestyle, eclipsing the previous mark of 22.90 set by Jon Ballard of Tuckahoe way back in 1979. Ben's swim came on July 9, 2011 during Hayfield Farm's meet at Holmes Run Acres, one of the few remaining 25 yard pools in the NVSL. Congratulations Ben on your historic swim!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Decisions, Decisions: Tumblr or Blogger?

I've stayed away from as a blogging platform after an initial attempt four or five years ago, opting instead during the past year to set up and use a Tumblr blog. (Plus, there's a lot less pressure to post on Tumblr, since the emphasis on posting there is on BREVITY, which I am ALL about!)

I am back to Blogger, primarily because I want to use an excellent app on my iPad called Blogsy -- the best mobile blogging tool I've seen yet. I may bounce back and forth between my Tumblr blog and this new Blogger-based one, with some mirroring of content. Bear with me while I learn all of new Blogger's new features, and perhaps, move my Tumblr blog here for good...