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How I Got Crabs

crabbing - crab potNot long ago, my wife and I moved to Camano Island, a tranquil, semi-rural community with lots of retirees. People here love four things: God, country, family and crabbing – but if they could only pick one, for sure it would have to be crabbing. People here are seriously into this activity. Just how serious? As you arrive on Camano Island, you’re greeted by a giant metal crab sculpture. The local newspaper is called The Crab Cracker. And if you confide in someone, “I’ve got crabs”, they won’t recoil in disgust. They’ll reply with, “Fantastic! Mind giving me some?” 

Having lived here for two years, I’d never bothered to find out what all the fuss was about. But after relentless pressure from neighbors whose constant nagging included questioning my patriotism, in the end I caved. Last week I finally went crabbing.

Most “crabbers” own their own crab boat and equipment. To get started you need the following essentials:

  • A motorboat – or if you’re cheap, then a rowboat
  • At least one, and ideally two or three crab pots
  • A buoy marker and approximately 100 feet of rope for each crab pot
  • Bait – typically chicken or turkey legs, or if you’re in a pinch, Lifesavers candies – the crabs grab onto the little hole in the middle and get stuck. Let me know how that works, dude. (This last bait option should only be used if you’re a complete idiot.)
  • A case of beer, to dull your senses and help you forget about what in the hell possessed you to take a rowboat instead of a motorboat with 25 mph headwinds out there
  • A sharp knife to kill your small crustacean victims in cold blood – or to take your own life if you have rowed out too far and you suddenly realize you’ll never make it back to shore before nightfall

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  • Tim, you have awakened the memory of a truly emotional day - from the anticipation of doing something "out-of-my-comfort-zone", learning…
    Eleanor Rushworh
  • Published On Aug. 08, 2016 by TEJ
  • An American Tourist’s Guide to Vacationing in Italy

    Italy - coastal townPeople often ask me, “Tim, how do you know so much about other countries?” It’s true. I consider myself an authority on world geography. For example, did you know that Africa is not actually a country? Don’t worry. Donald Trump didn’t know either – and soon he’ll be our overlord, er, I mean, president.

    I don’t like to brag, but I know many important things about the world’s nations, primarily from consistently losing in the board game RISK during college. (I always went for Australia. Bad strategy.) So this week, let’s discuss what you need to know about what is arguably the most popular vacation destination for Americans – that is, if you don’t count the country of North America. I am, of course, talking about Italy.

    Let’s face it. You’re way too busy binge-watching Game of Thrones to read Rick Steves’ 874-page guide book on Italy that your wife asked you to read. So, I have done the work for you by highlighting everything you need to know. Follow my advice to the letter and you’ll have a wonderful time – and probably won’t get arrested. On a completely unrelated topic, Italian policemen have no sense of humor. This I discovered when I offered one 5,000 liras to try out his riot gear and Taser. [Travel Tip: When attempting to bribe a “poliziotto” do NOT offer liras. Seems they’re not appreciated ever since Italy transitioned over to the euro.]

    History: Italy is an extremely old country. I mean seriously old. It’s amazing it can still stand after all these centuries. If Italy were a pet, it would have been put down decades ago. But it has an amazing history that dates back to well before the American Civil War. Its history can be divided into four periods:

    The Roman Empire: The country was ruled by emperors called Caesars, who loved salad (in fact, a staple of every household was the Caesar salad). They wore amusing wreaths on their heads and long, flowing togas – just like the ones worn in the acclaimed film Animal House. They built elaborate marble temples to a bunch of pagan gods they stole from Greece without paying for them. And if you did not believe in these gods, you’d be executed. Read More…


    • Bon giorno Timicus. Nos appreciato voci visitat e Vaticano. Per cortesia retourni di corpus petrifica da Papa Clementus V, i…
      Marcus
  • Published On Aug. 02, 2016 by TEJ
  • I’ve Survived Hell – Or as My Kids Call It, Disney World

    disney world - familyRemember way back when, before you had kids, how you and your spouse would go on romantic getaways to exotic destinations like Cancun or Paris or maybe Santorini? Ah, such relaxing vacations. But then you screwed up everything by deciding to start a family. Oh sure, having young kids doesn’t mean you can no longer go on vacations. It just means you can’t enjoy them.

    By the time your kids turn seven, as summer vacation season approaches, they’ll begin the longstanding family ritual: complaining that every other child in the free world has been to Disney World – twice – “except for us! It’s no fair!” This is an excellent time to invite your kids to ask the Millers down the street if they might consider adopting them, since apparently “the Millers are way more fun parents than your mom and me.” I never particularly liked the Millers. I suspect the husband may be a metrosexual. But that’s a story for another post.

    As surely as my Seattle Mariners will never win the World Series in my lifetime, it’s an equal certainty that sooner or later, you will buckle under the pressure of the relentless nagging and offer to take your kids to Disney World. And for that you have my deepest sympathy.

    A trip to Disney World is the perfect vacation – if you like standing in line for hours at a time in sweltering 96-degree heat with 97% humidity, listening to your young children whining endlessly about how long all the waits for rides are. Usually by about 1pm on Day One you’re starting to seriously regret your decision to spend thousands of dollars that could have been much better spent on a brand new red Camaro instead. If this sounds like your idea of fun, then pack your bags and head to the airport for your very own Disney adventure. Then turn around and go back home. You forgot your four-year old, Ashley. Then strap Ashley and her adorable Disney-branded Lilo and Stitch backpack into her car seat and get ready for a not-so-memorable trip to visit Mickey and his pals.

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    • Here are some alternative lyrics to the "Song that Shall Not Be Named" It's a world of…
      Ellen Webber
  • Published On Jul. 26, 2016 by TEJ
  • Flying Coach vs. First Class

    first class vs coach - seatingI have flown all over the world – to Europe, to China, and against my better judgment, once to Scranton, PA. But I’ve never flown first class. I had a boss who flew first class all the time. Recently we exchanged notes about our passenger experiences on a flight to Dallas – hers in first class versus mine in cargo, er, I mean coach (same difference). Here is a side-by-side comparison, as documented by the flight attendant announcements.

    FIRST CLASS FLIGHT ATTENDANT PASSENGER ANNOUNCEMENT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard Delta Airlines Flight #427 for Dallas. It will be our pleasure to serve you this morning. You will all receive a case of Omaha Steaks simply for listening to this announcement.

    COACH CLASS FLIGHT ATTENDANT PASSENGER ANNOUNCEMENT: This is Delta Flight #427 for Dallas. Everybody, listen up. If you weren’t planning to fly to Dallas today, then you’re on the wrong plane. You’ve got sixty seconds to get the heck off. Hey, bald guy in the third row, listen to me when I’m talking to you!

    First Class: As you take your seat, if you have any difficulty stowing your carry-on luggage, we’ll be more than happy to assist. Ma’am, let me help you with your ostrich. No trouble at all.

    Coach:  As you take your seat, put your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you that your knees are currently pressed up against. Anything larger than a child’s backpack will be confiscated and tossed into a pile of luggage bound for Saskatchewan.

    first class vs coach - diningFirst Class: Now that you’re comfortably seated, please note that your seat can recline a full 180 degrees. If you do not prefer a cotton eye pillow, we’re happy to provide a silk one. Can I interest you in a free Apple Watch? Read More…


    • Here's an option, Tim: I'm working my way up to First Class. The first time I got married,…
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Jun. 20, 2016 by TEJ
  • Swingin’ in the Rain

    swingin in the rain - tee shotRecently, I played a round of golf with my longtime golfing buddy Kevin. Kevin hates it when I refer to him by his actual name in my posts, so that’s how I will refer to him – because I just like to piss Kevin off. We were scheduled to play a round, but I called him an hour before our tee time to report that it was raining cats and dogs at my house. “Really? Well, it’s sunny and clear here,” he said. So against my better judgment – which judgment is shaky at the best of times – I decided to go ahead and play.

    We were met at the course by the rest of our foursome, Ron and John. And just like Kevin had predicted, it was clear and dry – conditions that were going to change dramatically about fifteen minutes after we teed off.

    Kevin and I have been playing golf together for 17 years. It has evolved into something of a rivalry. It often comes down to the final hole before Kevin knows for sure whether he beat me by double digits or just single. You see, Kevin is a really good golfer and, with rare exceptions, I allow him to beat me – mostly to placate his fragile male ego, which shatters like broken glass if he loses to me in anything. And also because he is the far superior golfer.

    Ron, John, Kevin and I teed off at the first tee. Kevin hit a gorgeous drive 270 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Then it was my turn. I smiled as my ball landed eerily close to Kevin’s – by which I mean 100 yards closer to the tee box and banana-sliced 40 yards into the right-side woods. Oh yeah. The game was officially on.

    As we reached the second hole, I noticed a few gentle droplets of rain. Kevin shook it off. He was sure it would pass. His smart phone’s weather app said it was going to be mostly sunny by afternoon. But at 8:15am, the sky was looking foreboding, like the skies over Mordor. As Kevin headed up the second fairway and I headed due east into the right-side forest, I noticed the raindrops were coming down harder. Wisely, I had decided to bring a jacket. Unwisely, I’d soon discover it repelled water about as effectively as toilet paper. And I forgot my golf cap.

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  • Published On May. 02, 2016 by TEJ
  • I Have Discovered the Fountain of Youth

    Fountain of Youth - bottleI’m 61 years old. You can’t fool me with platitudes like “60 is the new 45.”  Let’s face it. The man in the mirror is looking very rough around the edges – and frankly, he’s looking pretty rough everywhere inside the edges, too.

    In recent years, I’ve become increasingly aware that my body is starting to falter. Nowadays my knees creak melodiously. When I get out of a chair, I have to think about how much thrust will be needed to propel me to a vertical posture. I’m losing my hair where I want it and gaining it in places I don’t. And my eyebrows grow in every direction but straight. When did that start happening?

    In a series of futile efforts to stave off getting old, I’ve employed a variety of desperate measures. I can’t recall how many times I’ve tried dieting – mainly because my memory isn’t that good anymore. Every diet I try seems to end at the bottom of a guilt-ridden bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream at 11 o’clock at night, with me swearing I’ll start my diet tomorrow. I’ve tried working out on the treadmill, swimming and cycling, but these all suffer from a major drawback: they all require effort. I’ve tried herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba to improve my memory, but I always forget whether I took the pills that day or not. I’ve even tried self-proclaimed miracle drugs like Dyzastra. You name it. I’ve tried it. None of them have worked. I still feel like I am aging by the minute.

    I have searched for the Fountain of Youth for years with no success – until now. I’m excited to share that I’ve finally found the secret to feeling instantly 20 years younger. And it did not require any expensive cosmetic surgery, painful ab crunches, uncomfortable fat-burning, vibrating belt, or Australian-method Pilates classes. I didn’t have to drink Kale smoothies, which, no matter how many blueberries you add, still taste like, well, Kale smoothies. No hair transplants. No hip replacement. Nothing that my doctor has been nagging me to change about my daily fitness habits for the past fifteen years. No, my solution was far simpler and pain-free.

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  • Published On Feb. 22, 2016 by TEJ
  • I Recently Joined a Health Club. Eventually, I Might Even Try Using It.

    health club - buff guyI’m a little discouraged. You see, about six months ago, I joined a health club with all the latest fitness equipment. But in all that time, I have hardly lost any weight. And by “hardly” more specifically I mean I’ve gained five pounds. I have seen no improvement in my strength, flexibility or endurance since joining the club.

    There are several possible explanations for these disappointing results… most notably perhaps the fact that I’ve only gone to the club five times – and three of those visits were to catch the game on their large screen TV in the juice bar.

    But in my defense, there are many perfectly valid reasons for my slow start. First, I had to re-organize the Christmas decorations in the garage in alphabetical order. Then there was that project to restore several dozen art projects our kids made in elementary school, some of which were missing buttons and sparkles in critical places. And most recently, Downton Abbey started Season 6. It’s a serious time commitment, keeping abreast of whether the Earl of Grantham is going to lay off the under butler or the senior lady’s maid. I would not want to have to make that difficult decision.

    My point is, I’ve been extremely busy lately.

    Make no mistake. I’m not lazy. I love the idea of getting in shape. I’m just not particularly fond of the “working out” part. I love my health club’s many amenities, like the hot tub, sauna, and juice bar, which they call the “Barbell Bar.” Catchy name, eh? I’m just not crazy about the club’s complex fitness machines, some of which were clearly inspired by medieval torture instruments.

    Oh, sure, we all may like the results of doing 50 chin-ups or skipping rope for 30 minutes. But no honest person can look you in the eye and truthfully claim they have fun doing it. If they say that, they are lying – either that or they may be having a brain aneurism, in which case call 911 immediately.

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    • I'm very pleased to find this website. I wanted to thank you for your time for this fantastic…
      thin hoodies
  • Published On Feb. 08, 2016 by TEJ
  • I love you daddy, but not enough to give you my Snickers bar

    Halloween - me and my girlsIt was a dark and stormy Halloween night. My two young daughters, Rachel and Emmy, could not wait to get started. Earlier that week I’d spent an evening helping them come up with their costumes. Emmy could not decide between a fairy princess or Barney the dinosaur or Hello Kitty. So naturally, the only solution was Barney the Hello Kitty dinosaur princess. Whatever makes you happy, my little angel, I mean, dinosaur kitty princess.

    Rachel’s outfit was easier. She insisted on being Harry Potter wearing an invisibility cloak. So I drew a lightning bolt on her forehead, put a sliver of duct tape on a pair of my black-framed glasses and found a blanket to which I affixed a big sign that read: INVISIBILITY CLOAK.  YOU CAN’T SEE ME!

    The girls kept asking, “Daddy, when can we go trick or treating?” To which I would respond, “It’s only Wednesday. Halloween is not for another three days. Be patient.” This went on every few hours until the big day, at which point, the incessant questioning accelerated to every 5 minutes.

    Finally it was time for the main event. They looked so cute – Emmy in her princess tiara, sparkly gloves and Cinderella flowing gown, with the matching kitty ears, whiskers and a long purple dinosaur tail. Meanwhile Rachel was almost completely hidden underneath her Mighty Morphin Power Rangers invisibility blanket. Of course, once we ventured out into the 42-degree drizzling weather, it was actually hard to make out their costumes beneath their winter coats and Thomas the Tank Engine galoshes.

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    • What a nice dad! When our girls would come back from trick or treating, I had them sort through…
      Pam N
  • Published On Oct. 27, 2015 by TEJ
  • My Weekly Business Report – Retirement Edition

    weekly report - retirement - on the beachUntil this past July, for the previous four decades, I had always worked in business. I was routinely required to submit reports on my progress: Sales forecasts, pipeline analyses, business plans – you name the report, I made it up, er, I mean…. um …

    My point is this: Just because I’ve recently retired and moved to an island home near an idyllic beach doesn’t mean I plan to stop submitting regular progress reports. Quite the contrary. I’m happy to report that I’ve continued this practice into retirement. The focus of those reports, however, has shifted slightly.

    Here is my business report for the past week.

    Sea Shell Inventory Forecast:

    My collection of sea shells grew by an impressive 11% this past month, due in part to two unscheduled beach-combing field inspections. While sightings of scallop shells were up 14% year-over-year, unfortunately, the projected production of intact sand dollars is expected to be down 18 to 20% compared to the previous quarter, in part due to increased foreign competition (tourists from Japan) which is anticipated to grab significant market share. I plan to diversify my portfolio of shells by investing (my time) in conch shells, tibias and spiny oyster shells. I’m optimistic we will experience a net gain next quarter if beach market conditions continue on their downward tidal trend.

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    • I am glad you are taking retirement seriously! Keep up the hard work! Lynn
      Lynn
  • Published On Sep. 14, 2015 by TEJ
  • Sears’ customer guarantee: Delivery between 1:45 – 3:45pm – No matter what!

    [Author’s note: I recently purchased a mattress from Sears. They were supposed to deliver it this past Thursday. But things did not quite go as planned. They sent me a customer feedback survey the following day. Below is the exact, unaltered response I sent back in my evaluation.] 

    Sears - delivery truckDear Sears Customer Service Team,

    Thank you for your very prompt email survey asking about my recent purchase experience. I am pleased to report my online ordering experience went off without a hitch. No wait, there was actually one very minor hitch which I probably shouldn’t even bother mentioning, but since you were kind enough to ask, would you mind if I share it with you?

    My fantastic customer experience started to go just slightly off track when it came to the DELIVERY of the mattress I purchased online. And for that, I take full responsibility. It was completely my fault to place my mattress order with Sears. Why I didn’t order it through Sleep Country USA is something I can’t explain.

    You see, my delivery was scheduled for this past Thursday. The evening before, I received an automated call from Sears Customer Service informing me that my mattress would be delivered between 1:45 pm and 3:45 pm. And that presented a problem, as I had an important appointment which required me to leave by 2:00.

    I immediately called your toll-free customer support number (1-800-PLZ-HOLD), and after waiting ten minutes, I reached a live person named Roger – at least I presume Roger was a live person. In retrospect, given that he kept spouting the same answer over and over, I’m wondering whether perhaps he was an automated phone bot with a highly developed user interface.

    I told Roger / your phone bot that a delivery window of 1:45 pm to 3:45 pm would not work for me and asked if Sears could change the delivery to 7am to 10am, to which he kindly responded, “Please hold.” No more than eight minutes later, he came back on the line helpfully to inform me that a delivery window of 7 to 10 am was not available. “However, we can deliver your mattress tomorrow between 1:45 and 3:45”, he shared. That time sounded eerily familiar, in part because that was the precise time window I had called about to inform your team would not work for me.

    I then asked whether it could be delivered between 10am and noon. This is when I suspected that Roger might be a highly advanced computer algorithm. Because after my second eight-minute wait on hold, he / it returned on the phone and repeated almost the identical message as before, informing me that a delivery window of 10 am to noon was not available, “However, we can deliver your mattress tomorrow between 1:45 and 3:45.”

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    • Oh no Tim! You have made me very edgy now! My friend has asked me to be available…
      Sue Thees
  • Published On Sep. 01, 2015 by TEJ