Cool or Scary or Gross or … ?

•July 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment
large white moth in hand

Found this ginormous thing on the ground in a parking lot Sunday morning. Awesome or skeevy? Have you ever seen anything this interesting?

Got Gear? Packing For Summer Camp 2014

•June 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Packing for summer camp is different than a weekend Troop trip, and its way different than what’s needed for a week with Grandma and Grandpa.  Assuming that meals — and the supplies needed to prep them — are supplied, the tried-and-true Summer Camp packing list, built for a one-week Boys Scout encampment, outlines all that your little man might need.

Bonus tips:

– This year, include extra bug spray, 40% DEET.  The ticks are bad.  while you’re at it, pick up a Tick Tool.

– Pack 1-2 extra days worth of clothes.  Kids fall into lakes.  Kids fall into mud.  Kids clothes get lost and forgotten.

– Pack 3-4 pairs of shoes and socks.  Blisters will ruin his week.

– Put clothes in gallon zipper bags, one set of clothes per day.  Helps him find what to wear fast — and get it to the shower house safely — and keeps it clean and dry in an otherwise unclean setting.

Other packing suggestions?  Other must-have items to send along?


Copyright 2014

My Top 10 Real-World Frights

•June 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My top 10 real-world frights, in no particular order. What are yours? We need at least three more to get to 13!


1) This woman, who’s trying to take over the world. She’s Jack’s wife.  She’s a bouncer. She’s Mrs. Dracula. She’s a bodysnatcher who’s taken over Flo. And now, she’s taking over the world. One commercial at a time.

2) Bee colony collapse disorder. No bees, no food, no life. Game over.



3) Incredible shrinking products. Less product is fine. Raising prices is fine. But a big concave scoop on the bottom of the peanut butter jar, or a half-empty box of crackers for less product and higher prices. Do you really think you’re tricking us into thinking it’s the same amount of product? Not fine. #NabiscoFail

4) Texting drivers. Dee Stracted, Lane Lever and Al Thoms. They scare the mess out of me.


5). The dark. Scaring mankind for millennia. Still so very good at it. Don’t believe me? Just try this experiment in your basement. Walk down in the light. Turn off the light. Walk up the stairs. You’ll be running by the top step. Guaranteed.

6). Ebola. It’s back. Want to understand the terror of Ebola? Just read “The Hot Zone.” More frightening than any of Stpehen King’s writings. Don’t believe me? Ask him yourself: when he reviewed the book, he described it as, “one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read.”

7) Opossums. Most would say sloths, but you’ll never meet a sloth on a dark night in your back yard. I did as a boy, and I will never forget it. Picture a giant-rabid-mutant-zombie-ghost-rat. That’s a possum.


8) Bug, snake or spider. Every person on the planet’s scared of at least one of these. I’m cool with snakes and even spiders, unless they sneak up on me. And most bugs are ok, although cockroaches kinda skeeve me out. But the monster amongst them? Ticks. Shudder!


9) Slender Man. My son downloaded a Slender Man game, based on the meme, and before I knew it, I was stumbling in the same dark woods that the Blair Witch wasnt filmed in. Creeped me out, and it was a sunny spring afternoon when we did it. We ended up exorcising the computer to fully get rid of that demon. I wish the two 12-year-old girls had, too.

10) Sleep deprivation.  Makes you a whole ‘nother, scary person!

What doesn’t scare me? The Devil. Imagine that pathetic, blustering kid on the playground, insisting he’s still playing a ball game – to win – long after the other team has already won – and gone home in celebration! Sorry dude – just go home. Game’s over – and you lost!


Copyright 2014

‘How to’ Make This Ham Dog / Hot Burger Monstrosity!

•June 4, 2014 • 1 Comment

Ham dog or hot burger


So is it a ham dog?  A hot burger?  Or just a monstrosity?  How ’bout all of the above?

The how to?  Slice a grilled hot dog in half lengthwise and lay it across a grilled hamburger, resting on a bun.  Dress to taste.  Done.

Redeeming value?  Umm, well … it’s low carb!  And it’s delicious — kinda resembles a bacon burger.

But don’t take my word for it — tell us how you liked it, or how you changed up the “recipe!”


Copyright 2014

‘How to’ Annoy Your Scout Master … and Maybe Save Your Life!

•May 31, 2014 • 1 Comment

Hard to believe I got to the ripe old age of AHEM without learning this, but a belated thanks to a fellow Scout leader who taught me how to make a field whistle out of the detritus of the forest.  I’d guess it’s so apocryphal because, if widely known, a patrol of boys on a hike would drive their Scout leaders bonkers scavenging the trail for materials and blasting flora and fauna with a symphony of ear-splitting tweets.

I share the how-to with some hesitation, but do so in the belief that the trade off is that a boy lost in the woods might be able to alert a distant passer-by of his presence with a loud blast — or if he’s really good, with a Morse code message.

STEP 1: GATHER MATERIALS: ACORN CAPS (OR A SODA BOTTLE CAP): Acorn and soda caps useful for a whistle

STEP 2:  PUSH THUMBS TOGETHER AND PINCH THE CAP INTO THE GAP BETWEEN THEM AS SHOWN: Modeling how to hold the acorn cap to make it into a whistle

The key is alignment; the part of the acorn cap showing behind the thumbs should look like a slice of pie.  You can adjust up or down, and with a wide slice or a narrow slice, for effect.


Lips should be part-way open, with top lip over the knuckle and bottom lip under the knuckle.  Adjust how hard you blow for tone and volume.

Will you teach your Scouts this skill that could possibly save their lives (if you don’t strangle them first)?  What other found objects can be used to make a “field” whistle?  Does the “instrument” have any musical qualities, or is it just useful for making noise?


Copyright 2014

The World Needs More Good Men

•May 2, 2014 • 2 Comments

My father-in-law Jack G. Shannon passed away Friday, March 14 after 84 great years on Earth.  I was privileged to be asked to give him the following tribute at the service held in his honor.  

The world just lost a great man in Jack Shannon.

Jack was a great man because he was good man. I’d contend that the world needs good men a good deal more than it needs great men. And because they are so rare and necessary, good men like Jack are thus regarded as great.

  • A good man will serve his country. He’ll leave his family and friends and personal comforts and he’ll go around the globe, to the darkest corners of the world, to ensure that freedom and democracy and other noble values are protected.

Jack served in North Korea — as a 187th Infantry Regiment Air Assault “Rakassan” — in the 1950s. He experienced things that sound like great adventures; they tell like a campaign in Call of Duty. Around his dining room table over a cup of coffee. Or two. Or three – you might know that Jack could talk! – I heard his stories. Jack was a paratrooper, and I heard about all of his jumps, including the time that he was at 20,000 feet, working to slide a Jeep out of the back of a transport plane. Finally the Jeep’s skid went, and with it, so too did Jack! He was able to barely climb through thin air into the vehicle and hold on tight. The parachutes on the skid opened up, and Jack had a hard – but safe – landing.

There were dozens of stories like that. But there also were plenty of stories that we didn’t hear about: about being shot at and – more difficult to bear for him, I think – about returning fire. He did what his country called him to do and in doing so, kept himself and his brothers in arms alive. These experiences haunted him for the rest of his life. That he found no glory in his heroism makes Jack great.

  • A good man will sacrifice himself – all that he has, and all comforts for others. Everyone in this room, I’m certain, knows of something Jack did to help a brother or a sister in need.
    • More than once, he crawled under a neighbor’s car in the cold and the snow to get it running, so that she could get her children to school and get herself to work.
    • One of Tina’s favorite memories was of waking up – every day for all the years of her childhood – to find an entire loaf of bread or Tony’s pizza crust, toasted, buttered and coated with cinnamon and sugar and set on the table, with a cup of hot chocolate and Flintstone vitamin for each, to ensure each of his kids – and sometimes one or two neighbor kids – got a good start to the day.Three birdhouses on a fence
    • Indeed, it was only a week ago, that Jack continued to go out to his shop, despite the weather and his declining health, to make what must have been his 10,000th birdhouse. He enjoyed building birdhouses and he had dozens of styles of them, but after 542 of them – and at the age of 84 – it might have become a tad tedious; for me it certainly would have. But Jack continued to build them for anyone who wanted one, and if it wasn’t a birdhouse, it was a hope chest or a jewelry box or a cross or anything else that he could build or give or do to bring joy into the lives of others.

We’ve been sharing stories like these with one another over the past few days, and as we continue to do so in the coming months and years, they will be bittersweet moments of remembrance. Jack truly was his brother’s keeper, and in that, he was great.

  • A good man is a father and brother to all. Jack raised a beautiful family – 5 daughters and 2 sons, 15 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Love, nurturing and care for his immediate family could be expected. What’s uncommon – and what made Jack great – is how he extended this love to so many others outside of the obligations of family.

I’ve been around Jack and the Shannons for more than 20 years; some of you a lot longer than that. Rick. Terry. Gary. In fact, I think Rick’s been around the Shannon family longer than I’ve been alive. But we can all share the same account: That Jack treated each of his inlaws as family – and family of the best sort. He never criticized or judged or put conditions on his love for any of us. He certainly never meddled in our marriages, though a time or two I wished he would have! We joke about it amongst ourselves, but made a point to tell every one of us – son or daughter, or in-law – that we were his No. 1. And I truly believe that we each were. Only someone with a heart as big as Jack’s could have dozens of “No. 1s.” He had room in his heart to truly love his neighbor as himself – and that made him great.

  • A good man gets up when he’s knocked down. Every time. Many of Jack’s battles were physical, and would have ruined a lesser man. When Jack’s back was broken, he endured operations and was told that he wouldn’t walk again. But he did. Maybe the former Airborne Ranger didn’t lead men to take any more hills, and maybe he no longer hefted the heavy end of a pool table. But he got around enough to help care for his family and to continue to help others.

Most importantly, Jack proved that 10 years of medical school doesn’t mean you know it all – and it certainly doesn’t give you insights into what a good man is capable of. Jack faced down heart bypass surgeries, aneurisms, lung cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, strokes and more. And don’t forget the bullets and mortars of Korea. In a fallen world, a man as good as Jack walks around with a target on his back, and maybe that explains all of the hardships his body endured. But it’s evident that a Greater Force of Good wanted him around a good long time – so he was.

  • A good man loves his Lord and Maker. That was Jack Shannon. Raised in the Salvation Army, Jack never lost his way. The Holy Spirit was in him always, and he bore His rich fruits: of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and for the most part, self-control.

I’d say that of those fruits of the spirit, Jack was most full of Joy. A lot of times, this came out melodically. With a deep baritone and a broad catalog of tunes and spirituals, sometimes he hummed hymns, sometimes he sang hymns, sometimes he prayed hymns, and he passed into sleep every night comforted by the same hymns – all of the favorite hymns that he was raised on.

Grandpa Shannon and Mitchell and ChristopherJack Shannon just left this world and is now with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He’s perfectly at rest after a long and fruitful life. March already has an Irish saint, but by virtue of his unwavering, simple and humble goodness, and in a Heaven full of only good people, Jack surely stands out as a saint amongst saints, and as a great amongst the great.

God bless you Jack Shannon, and may peace and understanding be with his family and with all of us who loved him and miss him.


Copyright 2014

2013 in review

•January 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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