Sunday, May 25, 2008


Yes folks, the Phoenix lander has finally arrived, touching down on the surface of Mars, primed to start it's mission to find some signal, some small evidence of life on the red planet.

After the dust cleared, the first snapshot showed a mangled arm extending from beneath the lander, it's six-fingered hand holding a sign that read simply "Welcome."

Shit, hope he wasn't alone.


ps- I wonder how you say "Our bad" in Martian?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gotta Love Tucson!!

Let me tell you about Tucson.

Two days ago, I got back from a run and checked the thermometer (as I felt like I was about to die). It was literally 105 in the shade (the thermometer is under the car port area).

This morning, I finally decided to stop waiting around and take a drive. After about 30 minutes of driving, I stopped the car, stepped to the side of the road, and made a snowball. No, I made two snowballs.

This afternoon, I went to the Home Depot to look for some stuff. I was sweatin it at over 80 degrees again.

My morning trip was to Mount Lemmon. It stands at over 9000 feet above sea level. The temperatures there can be up to 30 degrees lower than in Tucson less than 30 miles away! Freaking snow at the end of May! In ARIZONA!! The views are amazing. It seems as if you can see all of Arizona. Like a jackass I forgot to take my camera so no cool pix. I'll go again when the cuz comes down to visit from Phoenix.

Oh yeah. On the way to a place called Summerhaven (shocker) near the summit of Mt. Lemmon, I drove through a cloud.

Yeah, gotta love Tucson.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quick Hit #4: "Child Care tips part 1"

There seems to be a lot of controversy over parents using a good old fashioned spanking to discipline their children. This used to be common (I can remember a few my Mom laid on me). Today however, if a child goes to school and shows any signs of this punishment, a nosey teacher calls Child Services and the kid is whisked away to foster care and the parent goes to J-A-I-L. Everyone loses. Is the only alternative to spare the rod and spoil the child? I think not! Just follow these simple steps and you will preserve the tradition of corporal punishment, avoiding any unwanted attention or consequences.

1- Yard Sales. Yes, yard sales. Head out to a few yard sales and buy yourself a used tricycle. Any color will do.

2- Remove the handlebars from the tricycle.

3- For those times when Jr. gets out of hand and an "attitude adjustment" is required, crack him a few times with the handlebars.

4-Send your freshly disciplined progeny to school worry free. If Junior's nosey teachers see any bruises it will look like he fell off his bike.

Voila! Happy family!


Quick Hit #3: "Robin...You smell something burning?"

Did you ever stop to think that if the Bat cave catches on fire the Dark Knight is screwed.

I mean, how the hell is the Fire department supposed to find it?

Your bats, your bats, your bats are on fire...


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick Hit #2 "One for the Ages"

When I think of my potential soul mate, I don't have any conditions regarding how old she has to be. I think the cliche of an older man seeking out a young nubile woman is ridiculous. Age is nothing but a number and I feel it' s foolhardy to set such parameters when it comes to the woman I will be with for the rest of my life. She will be as old or as young as she is. Our chemistry, our romance and how we enrich each other's lives is what counts.

I do however feel it's important that I be at least one year older than my father-in-law.


Soldiers on a Plane, Monsters are a Pain and Snakes on a Plain

Hello true believers!!

If I look a little frazzled, it's because I endured a marathon cross country voyage to get to my temporary west coast hacienda. I guess I didn't realize when I got on the plane in TN that I'd spend the next 13 hours heading west. Crap man... I could have taken a covered wagon and saved the folks at NOLS some money.

It took me three airplanes, two layovers of more than two hours (one of nearly four) to get me to my destination. During my time on the planes and the layovers, I made some observations:

1- Many of the soldiers we are sending to Iraq do not speak English. Joining me on my flight from Charlotte to Las Vegas (the middle leg of this idiot's triathlon) where a platoon (or more) of soldiers, all in U.S. Army BDUs. They were universally polite to everyone, and didn't make much of a fuss at all (especially if they were returning from overseas and heading to Vegas for some R and R). During the entire flight, I didn't hear a single one of them utter one word of English. This leads me to believe that our government has decided to employ one of my ideas from a former post. (to recap, the idea was to put a sign on the Mexico side of the border that reads in English "If you would like to volunteer for service in the U.S. Army, please climb over this fence to the other side" thus solving the problem of illegal immigration while bolstering our levies of fighting men and women. (Blogger's Note: For those reading this that might not know me very well, please be assured that these comments are in the vein of satire meant to expose the dangers of ignorance and have a little fun. I have learned a lot from those of other cultures and hope to continue my explorations for some time to come!)

2- Some Bees, called "Africanized" are aggressive and have been known to follow you and continue to make nuisances of themselves even as you attempt to disengage and remove to a safe distance (the staff of the SW branch had a run in with such a gang winged bad asses the day before my arrival. Many "ouches" and "dammits" were had by all. Maybe even a "friggin' bastard.")

3- Some redneck, loud, obnoxious and of course... fat... travelers are apparently "Africanized" as well. I ran into such a pair while a prisoner at the Las Vegas airport. While resting in the terminal, passing the time with some truly world class people watching, the husband and wife began their coordinated assault. Despite there being an entire row of empty seats to my left, they elected to sit directly adjacent to me. The mass of the wife easily defied the boundaries of her seat and I retreated to the farthest edge of mine to no avail. Her hip (I think) or dorsal fin (possibly) ...touched me (the horror!). Fearing further flesh-battery, I moved to another vantage point which I felt was a safe distance away. With one eye on the circling menace and the other on the clock, I lapsed into semi-consciousness, waiting for my flight to begin boarding.

Upon entering the plane, I learned to my relief that the flight was only half booked and there would be plenty of room to spread out. I was also encouraged to learn that my seat was in the back of the plane, nearly the last row. Ah...solitude.

Right. Not this trip.

Slowly, inexorably, they marched down the aisle, with John Williams' Jaws theme playing behind them, passing one empty row after another, crashing down into the two seats directly in front of me. At this point I looked out the window to make sure a wing wasn't missing. "What's next?" I thought. A Gremlin ripping up an engine? Would our pilot turn out to be JFK Jr... with John Denver as the co-pilot? Were there rugby players on board? I resigned myself to my fate and amidst loud guffaws, guttural noises and seat adjustments, I leaned back, shutting everything out, attaining a Zen state of relaxed calm and tranquility.

And then she farted.

I don't remember anything after that. When next I became aware, the plane was on the ground in Arizona. They continued on to terrorize Tokyo and I escaped into the balmy pre-dawn darkness of Tucson.

Before I show you some photos of the NOLS Southwest Headquarters, I'll share with you a brief anecdote that sums up living in the desert. I was preparing to leave for a run last night and asked one of the staff that's still here whether it was safe to run on the road at night or if I should wait until morning. He responded "do you mean safe from cars or from snakes?" "Tomorrow it is" I said.

The front gate of the Southwest branch

A wide angle view of the campus.

The climbing wall

The main house

The pool area

The "bunk house" area where I'm sleeping

The patio area with grill and fireplace

And so... as the sun sets in Tucson sky, I bid you a fond farewell! Until the next post amigos!!

- Mitch

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Heading to Tucson

Still in Bristol...
(a shining no-prize to anyone who knows this film reference)

You know there's not much going on when you are moving bricks for fun...and looking forward to it. Sadly, there's only a few more wagon loads to go...and I've already built a lattice work screen on the porch... and washed my car... and rearranged the lawn furniture...

Can insanity be far behind? Many of you out there would argue that insanity is already well entrenched above my shoulders but that is beside my point.

Just as desperate thoughts were setting in (just how much weight will that shower curtain rod hold?) I received a blessed bail out from my good friends at NOLS!! After a flurry of emails and a couple of phone calls I was confirmed as the caretaker of the NOLS Southwest HQ in Tucson for a portion of the summer! That's right! A five week suspended sentence just in the nick of time!

Breathing easier, I got down off the chair, loosened the belt from around my neck and started thinking about sunny days in the desert, chilling by the pool and getting to know Tucson.

Whew! That was close!

Now... what to do about June 20 thru July 20? Nothing like Bristol to make you look forward to Cambodia!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Is it May already? Dang...

Well, so far so good with the Khmer language training. Actually, I've been slacking a bit on the studying for the past week or so while I decide what the next two months will hold for me. More specifically, WHERE I'll be spending the next two months. It's a good problem to have, in some ways.

There is a chance I could be care-taking the NOLS South West HQ in Tucson. Not a bad place to hole up and learn a few things. I'm still waiting to hear the final decision on that one.

Last night was my last class teaching English at Gaither High School. I took some pictures of some of my students.

I like this picture. In one shot you have students from Peru, Iran, Vietnam, Korea, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil and Haiti. It was really cool to spend time with these students learning about their cultures. I'm going to miss these guys. I really enjoyed teaching them. Working with the teachers at Gaither gave me some great experience and excellent ideas that I'm going to put to good use in Cambodia. I know I'm going to have a great time!

The second picture are the "Charlie's Angels" of the Hillsborough county adult education ESL classes!

Well, in two days I'm outta Tampa for the next few years.

...and I still never made it to Key West. Damn.

I'll chat at ya soon!