Sunday, December 26, 2010


One of my great pleasures is reading comics, cartoons, and other graphics. I have a whole bookcase devoted to this genre: everything from the Fantagraphics set of the complete Peanuts (the series is now up to 1978) to Doonesbury, from the graphic novels of Lynd Ward and Milt Gross to a graphic treatment of World War I by Jacques Tardi. I love political cartoons.

Here's a picture of part of my graphics bookcase.

Chuckbert introduced me to Liō. We carry the Liō books in the store and can't keep them in stock. They've become a great favorite of kids and adults alike.

When I opened Chuckbert's Christmas gift, a framed Liō print, I did a little happy dance around the living room. Thanks, Chuckbert!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our old neighbor David Jones passed away

David Jones, who lived across the street from us next to the Black Path, died recently. I used to babysit him, and he was a little scamp. Later he was on my team at LANL, and he was a little scamp then, too. Here is the article from the Los Alamos Monitor.
David Lance Jones of Pipersville, Pennsylvania, died peacefully at his residence on Sunday, November 7, 2010 following a two year battle with Melanoma. He was born October 10, 1956, in Los Alamos, N.M. where he was raised.

He is survived by two children, Mary-Carol Jones and Cody Jones, both of Denver, C.O. He is also survived by his two sisters Sandra Worth and Phyllis Mcloed and brother Clifford Craig Jones.

David, a dedicated security professional who has devoted his life towards the protection and preservation of National Security interests, most recently worked for URS Washington Division in Princeton, N.J. where he was employed as the Deputy Director of Corporate Security. Throughout his life and career, Dave had held numerous positions in security and intelligence where his talents and expertise had proven most beneficial in securing both domestic and international interests in the private and governmental sectors. Prior to joining URS, Dave had also worked with the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he was instrumental in safeguarding nuclear materials and projects of concern for a number of years. He was also an honorably discharged U.S. Veteran from the United States Army and National Guard, having served as a security specialist and as a Russian linguist and translator. He was a member in good standing of numerous professional security and intelligence societies and organizations and will truly be missed amongst the league of specialists. Dave’s devotion towards his profession was second only to his commitment as a father, however, as his true adoration was for his loving children.

He enjoyed many outdoor sports as hobbies, including hunting, fishing, and sport shooting. He also enjoyed motorcycles, cars, billiards, and reading.

Memorial services will be held at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos, NM on Saturday, December 18th, 2010 starting at 2:00 PM with food and drinks following.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deck the halls with vials of Prozac

We're in the home stretch of the holiday seizure season and at peak season for the odd requests and comments.

". . . with E. Power Biggs at the Hammond Organ."

Perry, one of our staffers, is most excellent at and delights in pulling customers' legs by taking their requests literally. Unfortunately he wasn't there when a customer asked whether we carried organs. I'm sure Perry would have said yes, we all carry organs, including heart, liver, lungs, and pancreas, right there inside us. Then, after the dust had settled, he would have led the customer over to the display of the 3-D anatomic models to show them the little hearts, livers, lungs, and pancreata.

I, however, was less creative. The customer asked me whether we carried organs. I said, "No. This is a bookstore." She said, "Well, I thought that since you carry science toys, you'd also carry musical instruments." She sighed with obvious disappointment. "Well, do you think the Hallmark store carries organs?"

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."—Randy Pausch

A customer told me that she had read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and loved it. I said that the book is very popular with our customers and has changed a lot of lives. She asked, "Did he write anything after that? I'd love to read the sequel!" I told her that Dr. Pausch died of pancreatic cancer in 2008 and the book was published shortly after his death. She said, "Oh. I didn't know that."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to play teh banjo


Oh, hai. Today I tell u how to play teh banjo. First, u must find a comfy place to play teh banjo. Mommie Michele haz left a banjo on teh table. Are u comfy? I am!

Tehn u must get someone to ask, "Iz u in voice, Winstead?" Tehn u say, "I believe Im in voice." LOL!

Tehn u can scrape ur teeth across teh stringz or pat tehm with ur pawz. Oh, how pretteh iz teh banjo music!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lien to the left! Lien to the right! Stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!

I've shared on Facebook some of the odd questions we've been asked at the store.
Phone customer: "Do you sell covers for the Kindle?"
Me: "Um . . . no. Kindle and its corporate masters are our competition and working actively to put us out of business."
Customer: "Oh. Yeah. Well, do you know where I can get one?"

Customer: "Do you carry fingerprint ink?"
Me: "Um . . . no. This is a bookstore."
Customer: "Well do you know where I can get it?"
Me: "How about the cop shop or a forensic supply dealer?"
Customer: "I don't want to go to the police. Are you sure you don't have fingerprint ink?"

Customer: "Do you carry baby clothes?"
Me: "No, this is a bookstore."
Customer (looking around): "Ohhhhh."
Today I got another query. A woman came in and was searching vigorously through the calendar display. I asked, "May I help you find something?"

She said, "I'm the treasurer of our neighborhood homeowners' association." She didn't say anything more, and I really didn't know how to respond. My first impulse was to say, "We don't carry homeowners' association calendars, but let me check my inventory to be sure." Then I thought I could have said, "Oh, you poor dear," but maybe she liked the job. Saying, "So what?" would have been rude. Should I have said, "Atta girl!"? Everything seemed inadequate.

So I just waited. She looked at me. I looked at her. Finally she said, "We're putting a lien on two properties." Again she didn't say anything more, and again I didn't know how to respond. We just looked at each other. After several awkward seconds, she said, "Where's your stationery?"

I said, "We don't carry stationery. We do have some nice holiday cards, though."

She said, "No, I need property lien forms."

"I'm sorry," I said, "but we don't carry legal forms."

"I was told you carry them."

"We don't have any legal forms. We're a bookstore."

"But I was told you have them. I need property lien forms. Don't you have any in the back?"

"No, ma'am. As I said before, we don't carry legal forms."

"Well," she said, "how are we going to place a lien on the properties without the forms?"

She had me there.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to stay warm at teh concert


Oh, hai. Im FLICKER! I haz told u how to stay warm in teh winter and how to go to teh concert. Now I will tell u how to stay warm at teh concert.

First, u must make sure teh coast is clear.

Good. No Frankey. Go to teh concert room. In teh winter, teh balcony is too cold. U must sit in teh orchestra to stay warm when u haz a concert of Mommie Michele's guitar music. Teh Frankey cooties from teh previous concert haz died, so it is safe to sit in teh orchestra seat. Be sure ur tummeh is warm.

Oh, how pretty is teh music!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plot there was none, and laughter less

At the recent trade show of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, we attended an education session called "Independent Publishers and Independent Booksellers: Can We Talk?" From my posts about interactions with Minty and Ina, particularly Ina, you know that I attended in the session.

It was volatile. Booksellers were lunging over the tables toward the moderator, an independent author who called independent booksellers "you people" in the way a patriotic Frenchman might have said "Nazi" during the Occupation. Authors were lunging at booksellers, who, they said, couldn't sell a personal memoir priced to move at $39.95 if our lives depended on it. Independent publishers lunged at authors and booksellers, because have you ever tried to make a living in publishing in this economy? With authors and booksellers acting like thugs? Well, trying to work with you guys is pointless, just pointless.

By the time we were ready to talk productively, the session ended and we were all spent and panting.


It's been a great season for interactions with independent authors at the store.

A customer came in and recommended a self-published memoir that she was going to give members of her book group. The author would be in town for a talk with the book group, and the customer asked whether we'd be interested in hosting a signing before the talk. I told her I'd get in touch with the author and perhaps arrange a brief event before the afternoon's book discussion.

The author was amenable to a little lunch before a signing, and then an hour of meet-and-greet-and-sign before the event. I told her that we'd sell her books on consignment.

"How many books should I bring?" she asked.

I told her that 20 would probably be enough.

"Yes, but I've been selling only about five or ten at other events. If I don't sell all the books, I'll have to ship them back, and the cost will be more than that of the books."

"Well, then," I replied, "bring ten."

"But I get a bigger discount if I buy 20," she said. "Why don't I bring 20?"

"That's fine. Bring 20," I said.

She said, "But if I don't sell them all, I'll have to ship them back and the cost . . . . " I figured we could have gone on all day that way. We finally settled on ten.

We sold two.


An independent author I met at Mountains and Plains gave me an inscribed copy of his first book and assured me that it would rival Gone with the Wind as The Great American Historical Novel. I told him I'd read it and get back to him. Meh. It's not to my taste, but as Lincoln once said, people who like that sort of thing will find that it is the sort of thing they'll like. (See also the title of this post.)

But I digress. The author launched the book on last month and said that the demand for it was so great that the amazon server crashed for nine hours. (Now I begrudge no man his fantasies. We are all poets at heart. But if amazon had crashed for nine hours, it would have made national news.) I sent him a note saying that folks could easily get the book from their local independent bookseller instead of the Great Satan. He responded with the following note explaining why using amazon ultimately helps independent booksellers.
You and I concur on Amazon, Amazon is an impersonal, incompetent behemoth. On the other hand, Independent Booksellers are warm, personable and eyeball-to-eyeball. And that's my style too! Because I am much different than most authors, my eye is always to making the huge bulk of my sales through book stores. Unlike most authors, I do my ebook first, work out the kinks, begin to get my reviews, reader comments and set up a platform for the printed book. This leads to greatly increased media exposure of all types.

Let's face it, your job is alot easier with a book that is known, has great reviews and comments, which has some media exposure, and has some sales laurels. The only way to get that on the very first printing of the book is with Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Ipad or a combination. All that sets up the platform for the 90% part of the program, the bookstores.

For instance, with [title of book], you the Independent Booksellers now have the benefit of all of the above, not to mention six or seven thousand who are now reading the book and another 700,000 who are familiar with it through our marketing including emails, Facebook and points of influence. Another 500,000 know of our books through our web advertising on special targeted sites and the book being named book of the month on three large women's sites.

So now your bookstore and staff have a product that you can say is widely known, being read by many, is getting good press, has received truly exceptional reviews, comments and endorsements from big names and can be counted as the top selling "paper only" [genre] - not to mention #1 Mover and Shaker and #82 Hottest New Release on Amazon.
I'm glad we could clear that up.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Peacherine Rag

Presenting the St. Luke's Bottle Band, St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, Illinois, and "The Peacherine Rag" by Scott Joplin.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Frankey's big adventures

Frankey has had some big adventures this weekend.

On Friday, I wanted to go down to get a pamphlet from the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) at the old Little Valley School behind LAHS. As we were crossing Diamond Drive at around 3:30, the latch on Frankey's leash failed, and she was loose with all the high school kids leaving the parking lot. My heart was in my throat. If I run after her, she thinks we're playing and runs faster. So she trotted off into the Denver Steels, with me trotting on her heels, and after about 30 minutes, she heard a motorcycle--motorcycles freak her out--and she finally came to me.

Frankey's path through the Denver Steels

Then as we were just standing in PEEC, the leash failed again. Needless to say I got her a new leash that just cinches.

Frankey's pretty new leash with reflective strands as an added safety feature.

Using the new leash, I took her for a walk Saturday morning, and she staggered along and made strangling sounds with her tongue out, mostly for the benefit of the neighbors, but she quickly became used to it and walked nicely.

On Saturday we went over to Las Vegas for a nice long walk. We started at Carnegie Park, then went down to 911 3rd Street, which has an elliptical trainer in the glassed-in porch. We continued to Baca Avenue, then turned west to the campus of New Mexico Highlands University. The Cowboys were playing football, and one of the banks had free food. I got Frankey a bottle of water, and I snagged a cookie. We had our treats in Melody Park.

We strolled around campus, most of which is covered with Astroturf. The high-rise dorm, Ford Hall, and the lecture hall next to the former SUB have been demolished. There's a lot of construction going on. I tried to feel sentimental about the demolitions and nothing being the same as it was when I was there, but without success.

We drove over to West Las Vegas to Tome on the Range Bookstore. Frankey got many pets and smooches from the patrons, and I got a calendar, a magnet, and a bumper sticker. Then we drove up and down 8th Street and saw three houses where I used to live. The MacFarlands' restored Victorian is for sale.

Frankey's walk

We had a nice time. Frankey sacked out on the front seat and snoozed all the way home.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Heard and overheard

A long-time local customer came in and asked for a specific issue of a New Mexico art magazine that she really, really wanted. We have never carried magazines. I said, "I'm sure the issue you want is available at the Downtown Subscription in Santa Fe." She said, "Well, I don't go down to Santa Fe very often, and I wondered if you would go down and pick up the magazine for me." I said, "Sure. Will you pay me mileage down and back and $30.00 an hour for my time?" She said, "I don't want it that bad."


Staffer, after checking our inventory for a book the customer requested: "I'm sorry, but we don't have that book in stock. May I order it for you? It will be here in about three business days."

Customer: "Would it be more convenient for you if I ordered it from Amazon?"


"I'm looking for a book about Los Alamos. We have it at home, but I don't know what it's about."

Mei, to her friend at the Fun"d" Run: "This is my aunt. She owns Otowi Station. Have you been there? We have all kinds of great stuff. We have books. We have Pokemon cards. We have stuffed animals. We have manga books. You'll probably have to get permission from your mom to read manga, because sometimes they're kind of bloody. We have all kinds of toys."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Thanks, BobBIE, for posting the Dickey Lee tune.

When I was little, I thought the singers on the radio were singing live down at KRSN. Normally as tranquil as a September morn, I remember going to pieces one day when I heard Peggy Lee singing, because if we didn't get downtown really fast, she'd be gone.

Years later, P and I went to Opryland and saw Brenda Lee. I remember seeing her on TV and being enchanted by her voice and the fact that she was only a few years older than I. Her show in Opryland was fabulous.

And who can forget Eugene "Porky" Lee of the Little Rascals?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"On the roof, it's peaceful as can be / And there the world below can't bother me"

The title of this post is fraught with irony.

The sounds from the roof include
  • metallic scraping,
  • drilling,
  • pneumatic hammering,
  • raucous singing,
  • pounding, and
  • a radio favoring most of Western Area with hits from Mexico.
They're the sounds of progress.

The tongue and groove ceiling is also the decking for the roof in the living room and dining room. You could see daylight yesterday. Pumice sifting through and landing on everything sounds like a very gentle rain when it's falling, and when you walk on the grit, it sounds like you're crunching along in spilled sugar.

Here are the guys. Yesterday when it rained, they covered everything and, instead of calling it a day, hung out in the carport and ate Pringles and candy until it cleared up. Then they started working again and didn't quit until about 7:30 that evening.

I forgot to mention the sound of motorized equipment.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A new roof

Last summer's epic hailstorm injured Sophie the Honda and damaged the roof. My insurance company reminded me that I have a deadline by which to start repairs on the roof, so earlier this summer I got estimates.

My neighbor recommended a buddy of his who was not licensed but worked cheap. The guy gave me his estimate written in a barbed and illiterate hand on a piece of scribble paper: "Fix roof," with a total that would keep him in beer for months.

The neighbor's ex-wife recommended a guy who is indeed a licensed roofer and maintains office hours at the bar at the VFW.

A friend recommended the guy who fixed her roof. He showed up six hours later than his appointed time, got up on the roof and walked around for a minute in a vague, desultory, poetic manner, promised an estimate by the end of the week, and disappeared. That was mid May.

Finally, I called my neighbor, who is a licensed contractor, and said, "Stan, I need a roofer. I need a reliable roofer. Don't argue with me." So he gave me the name and number of the guy he uses.

Ian showed up at the appointed second, gave me a sample of the material he proposed to use, gave me a detailed description of the structure and a potential problems with Original Western Area roofs, gave me a list of references, drew a diagram of what he proposed to do, got up on the roof and measured and took a core sample (I have two roofs, one of which contains pumice, which absorbs water), and gave me an estimate a couple days later.

Today I came home for lunch to see workers swarming all over the yard and roof and the materials staged in the driveway. And now, after work, they have already removed part of the roof over the bedroom. It sounds as if they're coming right into the house because the sound carries so well down the chimney.

The odor of 20-year-old waterlogged pumice is very sour, like vomit.

Here is the roofing material staged on the lawn. You can see a corner of the roof in the upper right.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Even when she's not here, she's here

We're planning the sequel to last year's very successful AuthorFest. I sent out invitations to all the local authors for this year's event, which we'll have in early November, and gladsome acceptances have been coming in. Except for Ina.

She can't make it on the date we've set. She came in yesterday and gave me a list of alternate dates that the 30+ other folks could work around. I told her that the date was firm, and we can't try to reschedule everyone else just for her. She was undeterred. "How about if I send someone with a suitcase full of my books? That person could sell them for me. I'd sign them beforehand, of course," she reassured me. I said that would be fine. But she wasn't finished.

"Now did I tell you about that woman from Magdalena who wrote a memoir about her life in the convent? Maybe you should invite her, too." (I'm not sure how that would go over with Minty, who defines "local author" as someone who lives within a five-mile radius of the store.) "I know that she'd love to sell my books for me, because I bought one of hers and she signed it. Here, you can read it." She thrust it into my hands.

Barreling on, she said, "You're probably thinking that people would be confused about who's selling my books if the Magdalena author were here. Well, I thought it all out. I have a manikin of myself about this tall that can sit in the chair, and people will know it's me."

Ina and her doppelgänger: it's just too much to contemplate.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Indian Market 2010

Today we left at 6:00 a.m. to go to Santa Fe for Indian Market. It's not that we're passionate collectors who camp out in front of our favorite vendor's booth to get the piece that won Best in Show. It's that we want to get to Tia Sophia's when it opens for breakfast at 7:00.

After we finished our breakfast, the line to get in wasn't too long. Waiting isn't a pain if you have the newspaper with the lists of winners.

We visited some of our favorite vendors, including Tony Padilla, a Santa Clara sculptor with whom I used to work, and Randall Chitto, whose work Chuckbert collects (image taken with my cell phone).

The merchants on the Plaza said that the crowds were a little smaller this year. Looking south along Lincoln Avenue, I thought the crowds were pretty big.

We rested on the curb on West Palace Avenue and watched the passing scene.

The west side of the Palace of the Governors was a popular place to rest in the shade.

Of course, the big draw for us is finding the visitor dressed most excessively but without a shred of irony. Thus we can eliminate such get-ups as the T-shirts once sported by the staff at the Ore House: "Ya-tah-hey, ya-tah-ho! Eat that fry bread! Go, go, go!"

This woman was dressed festively.

Nothing says Indian Market better than hot pants, a massive belt, and "f--k me" shoes.

Does camera gear count as Indian Market raiment?

How about this breastplate bolo tie?

No special clothing, but her hair is big. The higher the hair, the closer to God.

Hat? Check. Jewelry? Check. Fringed bag? Check. Fiesta skirt? Check. Boots? Check!

A beribboned shirt and a concho belt that cost more than my car are always worth a look.

A cool and breezy look for an August morning.

Clamdiggers draw this ensemble together.

We didn't buy anything, but a barbecued-rib appetizer and a Margarita at Maria's completed a perfect day at Indian Market.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How to listen to teh concert


Oh, hai. Im FLICKER! Today I show u how to listen to teh concert. First u must find a concert. Mommie Michele plays her guitar, so u haz found a concert.

For teh best view and acoustics, u must sit in teh balcony.

Oh, how pretty is teh music!

If u do not laik teh balcony, tehn u can sit in teh orchestra, right up front.

Do not sit in teh guitar case, even if u are clean from a bath. When teh audience sits in teh guitar case, my tummeh is rigid with disgust.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I'm not a peasant, but I play one on TV

The Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Life Is a Dream by Lewis Spratlan, and we're seeing it this Friday. To prepare myself and to revisit a play that I read as an undergraduate (but which I have absolutely no memory of), I bought a copy of Life Is a Dream (La vida es sueño) by Pedro Calderón de la Barca and translated by Gregary Racz.

Gregary Racz's translation of La vida es sueño is, as Racz explains in a note on his translation, "the first attempt to render the drama entirely in analogous meter and rhyme since 1853, when both Denis Florence MacCarthy and Edward FitzGerald, with varying degrees of success, contemporaneously produced full-length English language versions of the play." A reviewer of Racz's translation wrote, "With Calderón utilizing 'a variety of metrical and rhyming patterns,' Racz's attempt to mirror that in the English is particularly noteworthy. Obviously, a bilingual edition, with the Spanish text facing the English one, would be the ideal solution, but fortunately the Spanish text of the play can readily be found on the Internet, and Racz's version does effectively give a sense of the sound and feel of the original for those who want to focus solely on an English text."

Well, that's pretty cool! As I read, I noticed that most of the verse was iambic tetrameter.
What's life? A frenzied, blurry haze.
What's life? Not anything it seems.
A shadow. Fiction filling reams.
All we possess on earth means nil,
For life's a dream, think what you will,
And even all our dreams are dreams.
And as I kept reading, I thought, "Why is this making me nuts? The translation is acclaimed, and Racz seems to have captured the sound and feel of Spanish. Is it me?"

Then I answered my own question: "Yes, you peasant, it is indeed you. You keep thinking about a certain poem by Longfellow, which is also written in iambic tetrameter, and at the end of every speech in Life Is a Dream, you want to say, 'Excelsior!'"
The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I've written a lot about why booksellers drink--crazed or clueless customers, local authors, odd requests for information, strange phone calls, etc., etc. Earlier this week we had an interaction of a different sort.

One of our good customers, JJ, is a crusty old fart with a brusque manner, but for months I've been greeting her warmly, giving her lots of personal attention and the occasional hug (which always seems to catch her off-guard), taking her special orders. And now when she comes into the store, she smiles and seems at ease.

Monday I returned from an errand to find her at the counter with Alan. I asked how she was, and she said, "I have a big problem here." I thought, "Uh-oh. What did we do?" Practically in tears, she told us that an old friend of hers had moved to Trinidad, Colorado, several years ago, and JJ hadn't heard from her in a long time. She had tried calling her friend, but the voicemail on her cell phone was full and the friend didn't have a landline. Letters to her had gone unanswered. JJ was afraid that the friend had died, and had no way of finding out.

Alan had been using Google to find the name but without success. I asked JJ whether she knew the friend's address, so that perhaps we could use an address finder to locate a neighbor, who might be able to tell her about her friend. She had the address, and I found the names and phone numbers of some neighbors. JJ said she'd call them.

The touching thing for me is that when JJ was at a loss about how to proceed, she came to us.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"The best things in life are free." "No, they're not. You forgot about shipping, handling, and tax."

Back in May, a father came into the store and said that he had a win-win proposition for me. If we would hire his daughter full-time for the summer, he would reimburse us 100%. He wanted to do this because having a job would show the kid the value of money earned by the sweat of one's brow. He assured me that the kid had initiative and was a self-starter. Lost on him was the irony of the kid's not having the initiative to come to the store to apply for a summer job and that Dad was surreptitiously paying her salary to teach her the value of a dollar.

I sent a note to our bookkeeper explaining the proposal, and she wrote back that it was indeed legit, except, "You need to make sure and add up all the cost to you. Your state unemployment tax rate is .03%, your federal unemployment tax rate is .8%, and the employer’s part of FICA is .765%. You will also need to add in the workers' comp insurance cost." Simple!

Michele, Alan, and I discussed the matter for about three minutes and confirmed that we wouldn't accept the offer. We were fully staffed for the summer with three self-starting students who had come in person to pick up applications and applied in January.


Today a customer came in to pick up a playscript that he had special-ordered. He was sore because it was cheaper online from the source he gave us and because he had to pay the County gross receipts tax on it. He did not want to hear about the playscript company's not discounting to the trade, shipping charges, or the capitalist system.


Today a woman presented her unsigned credit card for a purchase. "May I see your ID please?" I asked automatically. She said, "Absolutely not! I don't need to go through a background check just to buy these books from you. I don't sign my credit cards, because if I did, somebody could forge my signature. [Not to mention the possibility that a crook who gets his hands on her signature-free card could just sign it in front of a clerk, thereby making the card appear valid, while also ensuring that the signature on the card will now match the crook's own signature on the receipt.] Here! Here's cash. I resent giving you cash, because I know you make more money from cash transactions." I thanked her warmly and gave her her change. "Do you take local checks without a background check?" she asked. Before I could answer, she turned on her heel and stomped out.

It's been One of Those Days. Fortunately I have a song in my heart to chase them naughty blues away!

I will give you the cash that would otherwise go to support my aged parents back on the farm. Satisfied?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Skate park!

Before Izzy, Kevin, and Erin left to go back to California, we visited the skate park.

Kevin shows off his moves.

Mei can really scoot on her scooter.

Xian wears her protective gear--for drinking Vitamin Water?

Bobbie takes pictures of the action.

Kevin catches some air.

Um, Mei? You're supposed to use a scooter on that feature.

Xin roars by.

Using her best Miss America wave--elbow elbow wrist wrist--Erin greets the crowd.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy birthday! Now call the fire department.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: putting sparklers on Mom's birthday cheesecake. The only problem is that you can't blow out sparklers. And you have pyrotechnic residue on the cake. And if you try to catch the residue by covering the surface of the cake with waxed paper, you'll have a waxed-paper fire right there on the birthday table.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dinner at Gabriel's

For Mom's birthday dinner, we all went to Gabriel's Restaurant between Los Alamos and Santa Fe.

Here's the Birthday Mom.

To commemorate the event, Chuckbert took a picture of Mom's dinner.

And then Chuckbert took a picture of P-doobie taking a picture of Chuckbert while Mombert and Bobbert cracked up.

Bobbie and Izzy posed nicely with some bunny ears.

Bobbie picked up the check. Seeing her distress, I snapped my fingers to summon a waiter and said, "¡Garçon! El desfibrilador, por favor!" He brought us a parachute and some dried apricots.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A birthday present!

This weekend we celebrated our mother's big 9-0 with family, friends, and relatives. The first order of business on any birthday is, of course, presents!

The present was wrapped in fabric that was pinned together. Something this big and cool deserved more than the Sunday comics pages that our dad favored.
L to R. Mei, P, Bobbie (back to camera), Chuckbert, Mom, Xian.

As Erin used to say, "I'm so exciting!"

We decided to replace Mom's boat anchor old computer with an Averatec all-in-one PC with a 25.5-inch screen and wireless keyboard and mouse.

It took only a minute to set up.
L to R. Chuckbert, Mei, P, Xin, Mom.

It looked great!
L to R. Izzy, Mei (back to camera), Chuckbert, Mom, Xin (back to camera).

Mom took it out for a spin.

And she wins her first game of Spider Solitaire!
L to R. Xin, Erin, Xian, Bobbie, Mei, Mom's head, Chuckbert, Izzy.