Monthly Archives: March 2016

Rust never sleeps …


Learning is akin to the old adage about rust. It never sleeps.

The knowledge acquisition process sees no rest, either: it never stops, never stalls, never slows. We are perpetually in learning mode. The switch is never flipped to the ‘off’ position. Sure, you can’t ever be quite sure where all this classroom (and school of hard knocks) work will take you – but usually it’s somewhere good.


March 21, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, wow, it sounds like your grad school experience is winding up in a really good way. I think both your mom and I, or at least me, wouldn’t mind attending the graduation so let us know when DePaul schedules the ceremony. Walking onstage to collect your diploma would be a fitting way to wrap up your school work. We need to be there to recognize your success – plus, we can head to one of those nice Chicago steakhouses and maybe catch the Cubs or the White Sox. All this, Ellen, just when you’re cranking up the post-graduate work in St. Paul.

My own students have kind of stepped onto a good thing. A good friend of mine in my golf group, Jack Blackham (she’s a Brit and is the one who got me following the Liverpool Reds), somehow put me in touch with a small suburban newspaper, the Mint Hill Times, that is sorely in need of writers. When I talked to the publisher, I asked if my students would be candidates for writing positions – and she was just thrilled at the prospect of hiring them as freelancers. So my guys are gearing up to submit story ideas and buff up their writing skills. It’s kind of exciting for them to have some solid prospects to earn a few bucks and get some bylines. It should, in theory, all come together sometime in the next 10 days to two weeks.

Went to an incredible series of short outdoors films last night with Kitty and Tom Bohr. The films were winners from the Banff Mountain Film Festival. There must’ve been 8 – 9 films shown, including one about four Texas A&M students who rode wild mustangs from Mexico to the Canadian border as a way to show the plight of these wild horses, some 50,000 of which are being held in government pens pending final disposition for them. It was such a good film. Heartwarming and touching. You can look it up: Continue reading

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A testimony to the inherently boring …


The bar is set pretty low in terms of the interest quotient for letters. Anyone who tells you otherwise is smoking something illegal in most states except Colorado and Washington.

For the most part a letter is inherently boring, perhaps even to Ellen and Reid (and most certainly to you). The long-held conviction here stands that what is written week-in-and-week-out is largely a reflection of grandeur-less daily life. A hodgepodge of bland and vanilla normalcy if you will. The value of a letter is to paint a larger picture of routine events over time. That’s the most I can expect the kids get out of it.

Yeah, it might be snippets and snapshots about fishing failures or riding my bike or trying to be an artist or attempts to teach or anything else. It doesn’t amount to much of real interest. It just makes it another morning in another week in another year of staying in touch.


March 14, 2016

Ellen/Reid: The romaine/arugula seeds are in the ground – if you can call container gardening ‘ground’ – but we’ll have to settle for what dirt we have.

Most of the furniture – the loveseat and one chair – arrives tomorrow with the tables two weeks from now. Wish it would all be here at once. The furnishings will fill a considerable, and embarrassing, void on the first floor. Maybe the room will see some real use for the first time in 10 years.

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New furniture is a start in a seldom used room. But one look at the decor-less walls and shelves show a lot more design TLC is needed in a hurry.

Hard to believe I’ve never sat in the room. It’s almost a three season room since it’s so cold down there in the winter. Heat rises from the first floor to the third. I woke up this morning with a paint scheme for the hoped-for art on the wall.

My 90 day dating site experiment mercifully ends tomorrow. It’s been a complete bust for the most part. I’ve met some nice women but I think the issue lies with me rather than them. In the final analysis I’m just not ready to settle down. That’s a hard thing to admit to. What I do know is it’s hard to hope all the time but you can’t force things. That I golf with my group has been a deal-killer for some who see it as selfish on Saturdays, and maybe they have a valid point. But for the most part golf is my social structure, save some friends from Caldwell, and I’m nowhere ready to give up on trying to be physical or athletic.

Ellen, I’ll ship All the Light We Cannot See to you later this week along with some coffee beans (you’ll get five bags of French roast beans, too, Reid). The book is good and you’ll zip through it in no time. Glad Tim likes the hiking pants. Arc’teryx really makes some good stuff. I’ve not come across anything better. Reid, I’ll walk six miles to the bike store later this week to buy the new three speed, plus the helmet you insist on, and ride it back home.

Bought a lowering kit for the Road King. It works by impacting the rear shocks (and) should take the back end down about two inches. It’ll make me feel better to have a little more knee bend and thus more control by lowering the center of gravity. I don’t know why Harley made the bike so damn tall. The plan is to still ride later this spring to Chicago and St. Paul and then points West.

My Central Piedmont Community College class is over. My students and I wrapped things up over a few beers and fish tacos – and a lecture – at a local cantina. They really were a good crew. Part of our swan song was Continue reading

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Cousin Tom, Pine Needles and apologies to Jackson Pollack …


There was a lot to relate last week to Ellen and Reid; the week was fuller than most. It was hard to confine things to the normal single page and for a few – few – brief moments it occurred to me to stretch the narrative out to a second page. That would have been the first multi-page missive in 15 years of letter writing.

But I stuck to tradition and jammed it all into 709 words – and two envelopes.


March 7, 2016

Ellen/Reid: While you two were no doubt snoozing on Sunday morning, I was out the door at 5:00 a.m. to meet cousin Tom at the Charlotte airport. He was taking the red eye from Portland to Washington, D.C. and we happened to be his layover. After landing at 6:00, he walked out through security and into the concourse and we found a seat to sit down and chat for about half an hour.

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My cousin Tom Andersen from Salem, OR. Great guy who, as a city councilman, has upheld the progressive ideals of the Andersen/Bradley clans.

It was great to catch up on both sides of our extended families. Tom is on the city council in Salem, OR and he was on his way to some sort of municipal government meeting in D.C. His son Eli is in med school, and his other son Ben is about to present Tom a third grandchild.

Later in the day hopped over to Pinehurst with my friends Christie and Doug to golf at Pine Needles, one of the more reputable courses over there. It was fun but my game stunk, as it often does these days. It made for a long day and I hit the sack earlier than normal, if that’s possible.

Miss Emma and I hit the water early tomorrow for another down-and-back excursion. The high will be in the low 70s in Charleston and I just want to get out on the water. No telling what, if anything, will bite since the recent warm spell won’t have been sufficient Continue reading

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Allow me to weigh in at length on the penis-envy process …


Politics have never been my forte. Most things, in reality, are not my forte.

Still, to knowledgeably converse about politics you have to think about such things. And I don’t. The kids know where their old man is coming from as a centrist Democrat in a crimson red state. Show me a smidgen of common sense and that’s plenty. I’m good to go.

Yet as most comedians have found to their glee, there’s such a gluttonous surplus of unending fodder in the ‘debate’ run up to this year’s election (question: why does it take years, rather than a few months, to decide things? Enough already) that this penis-envy horror show makes it inordinately hard to ignore the obvious. The candidates are anti-candidates.

So it’s closer to home for me to yammer on about the wonders of retirement and a TV-less house and hiking pants as gifts and the inconvenience of 24 hour power outages. Hopefully Ellen and Reid appreciate being spared more blather than they already get on our great national conundrum.


February 29, 2016

Ellen/Reid: The thought occurred the other day, again, as to what is in store for my retirement. So far it hasn’t amounted to a helluva lot other than trying to think where the time goes. I wake up and then  – poof – it’s time to go to sleep. What happened to the day? What is known is that too much time is spent on the %$(*&^ computer. That has to stop. It’s the rough equivalent of mindless TV (Ellen, you were prescient: I haven’t missed it for even a single moment). I do find myself reading more which is a good thing. Maybe it’s time to think in earnest about part time work. Something to keep me occupied (pre-occupied?) but in the best of all worlds it should have some creative tinge to it. I hope to keeping teaching as it is great fun.

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I’d like to teach writing more if the chance arises. It would help to fill the nothing-to-really-do retirement void.

It’s very true that to teach is to learn twice. No big surprise there but it is so fun and rewarding. (We’ll see if my students share that sentiment in their post-class evaluations.)

Already this election thing has put a severe beat down on me. An Assoc. Press friend in Australia told me that Aussies, like the rest of the Western world, used to hold America in high esteem as the unquestioned leader in policy and economics and statesmanship but now we’ve been reduced to laughingstock status. Republicans like Presidents Lincoln, Eisenhower – even Nixon – have to be spinning in their graves at the current crop of GOP lunatics who simply show zero tact/statesmanship and clearly aren’t qualified to find a middle ground at any level, let alone lead a troop of Boy Scouts. Even Hillary has my head spinning a bit. What is most objectionable is this penchant Continue reading

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