Thomas, The Resentful Tank Engine

Recently, my wife and I were walking between stores in a shopping center and saw one of those little children’s ride machines you often see outside of stores. Instead of being shaped like a horse, a motorcycle or an airplane, this one appeared to be modeled after the main character of the children’s television series Thomas and Friends –  Thomas, The Tank Engine.

If you’re familiar with Thomas, you’ll note that this train doesn’t look as cheery as the original. In fact, I’d say that this train has some significant attitude problems. There’s no way I’d put my son on this train, and not just because he’s twenty-three years old. 

I stopped to take a picture. Mrs. Omawarisan said “you’re writing about that, aren’t you?”

No, what are YOU lookin' at buddy? I suggest you step off before I derail you (photo by me)

Unibrow. (photo by me)

Yup. I had to write to get the words “Thomas, The Resentful Tank Engine” out of my head. And you’re about to read why I don’t often do fiction…


People say I’m not myself before I get some caffeine. I knew it was a mistake to stop for coffee; I was already running late. But if there was ever a day that I needed to be myself, this was it. I took the chance, grabbed a cup and made it to the train just in time.

Looking back, I wish I’d missed that train. The doors slammed shut just after I stepped aboard and the train darted forward without warning. I wasn’t the only passenger jolted off-balance by the sudden start, but I was the only one who was wearing half of a pumpkin spice latte when he stood back up. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pumpkin Revolution Was Televised

For several years, I have railed against the endless surge of that seasonal decoration, pumpkin, into our food supply. And though some of you have made your support clear, I imagine that you’d understand how I felt I was sort of pissing into the wind.

Let’s pause here and wonder about why “pissing into the wind” is an expression. Sure, it expresses the misery of an effort expended with frustrating results. But I think we can do better than that as a reference. In fact, I think less of someone who would lower himself to saying that phrase. We’ll end the pause here, before either of us consider that last sentence.

My Friend John, Bearer Of Bad News

Thanks, John. I could have lived forever without knowing about this. (photo of my left hand, taken with my right)

Thanks, John. I could have lived forever without knowing about this. (photo of my left hand, taken with my right)

So here I am, tossing my little anti-pumpkin bits up on my small-time humor blog year after year. And year after year pumpkin is appearing in more foods where it doesn’t belong. A great friend told me that pumpkin spaghetti sauce is on the market. I was horrified. My first reaction was “how dare you, sir”. And then I thought “don’t kill this messenger, he’s your friend”. Read the rest of this entry »

Me Versus Pumpkin, A Television Showdown

Over the past few years, I may have expressed the opinion that the over the top reception given the yearly influx of pumpkin flavored food is a little ridiculous. Soon, my thoughts on the matter will reach more people than ever.

Black and white TV, in color (CCbySA2.0 housing works thrift shop)

CBS News contacted me a few days ago and we discussed the pumpkin situation. They were looking for someone who was sick of “the pumpkin thing” to interview. There was some talk about bringing me to New York to do an interview in their studio. I felt like that was pretty silly, but it wasn’t my money, so I was fine with it.

In the end, they asked if I would meet their correspondent in a pumpkin patch. I agreed to do that. Looking back, agreeing to meet strangers on a farm in the middle of nowhere was out-of-the-box for me. You could even call it risky. Is this really a major media outlet wanting to talk to a small-time blogger or is it something worse?

Sure, it could be something worse. But when they asked if I was available on Friday, I decided to chance it. I didn’t have much else to do besides laundry.

And so today, I am off to a farm to be interviewed about pumpkin and its frenzied fans.  Or, perhaps I am meeting strangers at a farm so they can kidnap me. Either way, I’m going to write about it here throughout the day.

I’m going to update this post from my phone to let you know about this silly adventure. Check back periodically to see what’s going on. I’ll post pictures and thoughts as this unfolds. If you’ve got questions, post them in the comment section (you can even sign in with Facebook or Twitter) and I’ll answer you.

If the updates suddenly stop, please contact the authorities. Also, if you could have a bake sale or maybe a dunking booth to raise ransom money, I’d appreciate it.

9:00 – This thing seems pretty silly. With all that’s going on in the world, we’re going to spend time discussing pumpkins on the news.

But what I think will be funny is the comment section when they put this thing online. I’m pretty sure people will lose their minds and rip me up for saying anything bad about pumpkin flavored food. The thing is, what I say doesn’t really matter, does it? I don’t think Starbucks is going to say “that guy thinks this really effective marketing we’re doing is too much, maybe we should stop”. With that in mind, I’m just going to go on and issue my statement on the matter – “Take a breath. It really isn’t a big deal. I’d like to suggest that you take me as seriously as I take me.”

9:45 – I get a call from the producer on the story. “Hey Rob, Michelle is just going to drive herself there. Can you get there early and shoot all the b-roll stuff? I tell him I’m not Rob, but I can be there early. He says “cool, thanks” and hangs up.

A minute later he calls back to ask me if I can get there early, then apparently realizes that I must sound like Rob.

If this is a kidnapping, it isn’t a good one.

So I’m going early. 12, instead of 1:00.

10:00 – Heading out. Getting some gas. OMG, what if they have pumpkin spice gas?! Wouldn’t that be awesome?

I really need a sarcastic font.

When you see this interview, the orange shirt was specifically selected by my wife. Irony is not lost on her. Actually, not much is lost on her.

11:40 – OK, I’m here. Pumpkins grow in the middle of nowhere. How stereotypical. The farmer looks disapproving.

A bunch of pumpkins lounging around in the dirt. Typical.

So I’m here. The camera guys are here. No reporter, no producer.

12:10. Things are happening. The reporter and producer are here. The producer is wearing flip flops. I should have been a producer.

Quiet on the set

12:30 – and we’re done. I’m starving and all they have is pumpkin muffins. I’m going to find food.

Another update to wrap things up when I get home.

3:15 – I’m back. Did you miss me?

So, the interview went well. I had them laughing and had a good time doing this. That said, I reserve the right to freak out and tell you later how things were edited out of context and that I’m pissed off depending on how this thing turns out when they finally show it.

I’m still surprised at the trouble they went to for this interview. This farm is next to nowhere. There were two camera guys wiht a truck load of gear, a producer and a reporter. Most of the time I don’t need that many people to get me talking.

Near the beginning of this post, I referenced how silly it was that we’re going to talk on the news about what I think of pumpkin spice with all the other, mostly awful, stuff going on in the world. As it turns out, I had no idea how right I was.

“Wait”, you say, “you’re right so often, how is this any different?” Well, you’re right, I am correct about things so often that I lose track of the frequency of my correctness. But in this case, it was really weird how close to home I was.

In my phone conversation with the producer this morning, he said the reporter had to do this story and run because she had a story on the evening news tonight. As we were preparing for and wrapping up from the interview, the producer and reporter were talking about this other story that both of them were working on for tonight. It seems that they both were involved in the coverage of the tragic church shooting in Charleston, SC. The producer had actually spoken to the shooter’s friend shortly after the murders…the guy who was arrested by the FBI today. They discussed getting the video from that interview for tonight’s broadcast. So they pulled these people off of the story of a guy who may have saved nine lives by speaking up about what he knew to come talk to me in a pumpkin patch. Very weird.

Anyway, I can see that a lot of you have stopped by to keep up with this today. Thanks much!  If everything stays on schedule, they’ll run my interview on Wednesday during the CBS morning show, between 8 and 9. I imagine that I’ll be able to get a link up here shortly after that. Of course if something big happens, like a volcano erupting, I will probably get moved up to a more prime spot.

But seriously, they took me way out of context.

Bacon Will Drive Pumpkin Out Of Beer

I believe that the mid to late 1970’s was a dreadful time in popular music. The blight of disco music, which someone likened to “a beautiful woman with a great body and no brains” dominated the airwaves.

A remnant of dark days (image by Vintage Fairytalke CCbySa2.0)

Disco’s repetitive, synthesized sound seemed inescapable. And yet, in the vast wasteland that popular music had become in that era, there were beacons of hope. Let’s look at 1978 as an example.

One would have every reason to believe that music would never recover from a year that saw records released by groups like The Village People and KC & The Sunshine Band. But there was really good music percolating up through the disco swamp.  That good music gave me hope that rock music would survive the onslaught of this musical “flavor of the month”.

Have I Mentioned That I Hate Pumpkin?

Sure, that “flavor of the month” left a bad taste in my mouth for a little over a decade. But my point remains that quality music by musicians who dared to play their own instruments eventually pushed the weaker style aside.

Speaking of flavor of the month, pumpkin is back. You don’t need me to tell you that. Pumpkin is in its yearly period where it becomes inescapable and pushes its way into food, where it doesn’t belong. Read the rest of this entry »

Haiku For Haiku

This is my rough draft (image public domain)

I looked at a map of Hawaii last night.

I used to do things like that because I am a geography nerd. But that particular map usually got my attention because I liked dreaming of going there some day.

Some day will be this winter; the dream will be real.

While skimming the map, I learned that there is a part of Maui called Haiku. It just seemed right that someone should write a haiku for Haiku. I wondered if there was anyone more qualified to write Haiku’s haiku than a non-poet who has never been to Hawaii, then decided there wasn’t.

Five minutes after I had the idea, my haiku was complete. I’m proud to present it here for your enjoyment.

Haiku Haiku

Poem and town

Both are called haiku

I unite them

Read the rest of this entry »

Barney The Dinosaur, Dead At 23

Barney, The Purple Dinosaur, beloved by children and despised by parents around the world, died in front of an ice cream shop on Sunday. He was twenty-three years old when he passed away.

Though millions of adults had fantasized about bringing about the demise of this relentlessly positive metro-sexual Tyrannosaurus Rex for each of his twenty-three years, Barney’s passing appeared to be from natural causes. Witnesses on the scene reported that Barney seemed fine, waving at cars in front of the ice cream shop that hired him under the misguided impression that his presence would draw more customers. Barney was heard to remark on the heat just before he fell backward. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Features Your Next GPS Must Have

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system developed and maintained by the United States Department of Defense. While it initially enabled our service members to more accurately blow up unpleasant folks around the world, it is now better known for helping direct you to that hidden gem of a restaurant.

navstar 2-f

Hanging around, telling you where to go. (image public domain)

I spend a lot of time on the road. Using GPS ensures that at the end of that time, I’m where I hoped I’d be when I got started. Sure, I could still plot my course using a paper map, assuming I could find one; I could also make the effort to learn my routes. But I got hooked on using a GPS receiver to plan my travels and now that I can harness the power of those satellites to get me where I’m going using an app on my phone, well why wouldn’t I?

And there are so many options available now to help our GPS receivers guide us in ways that suit us. Don’t want to pay tolls or ride on ferries? Your receiver has settings for that. Prefer staying off the highway? There’s a setting for that too.

But the system is not without its flaws. I can think of at least two options that would make Global Positioning work safer and better for us all. Read the rest of this entry »


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