Monday, December 24, 2018

Becoming a child again a Christmas-time

 A few images to share

First, I've traded out the albums that usually adorn our "playroom" -- usually with some of my favorite albums from my teens -- with Christmas albums.  Mostly children's albums, but one is a promotional album from Grants Department Store.  The album includes such rockin' stars as Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere & the Raiders), Gary Puckett (Union Gap), Aretha Franklin, and Steve Lawrence and Eddie Gourmet (Steve Lawrence and Eddie Gourmet?). 

That album is right under the Partridge Family Christmas Card.

The next few images go back to the 50s and 60s:  Downtown Evansville.
It was a time when just about every business window was decorated with some sort of magical Christmas display -- many animated.  In the mid-60s, after retailers started moving out to the east side mall and strip center, all the displays were packed up in a warehouse and forgotten about for decades.

Thanks to some dedicated folks who still have that childlike wonder (and skill for mechanical renovation) several of these displays are set up to enjoy at Santa's Workshop. 

So, from our family to yours:
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
 Laura Ingalls Wilder

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Another "Leave it better than I found it" story

Moutoux Park (off St. Joe on the north side) is one of the more unknown Evansville parks. Mostly known for soccer fields, it does offer a few other amenities -- including a large lake with a hiking trail around it.

"I see litter as part of a long continuum of anti-social behavior."
-- Bill Bryson

Yes, being a secluded lake where people fish, drink, and god knows what else, litter is a problem. 

So, today was another "adopt a spot" trash pick up.  It's a shame that I made it only 1/8th around the lake before I filled a large trash bag full of discarded beer cans, styrofoam drink cups, and plastic live bait containers. 

I don't know if anyone will appreciate it, but the fox that I saw down at the creek looked up at me and we seemed to have a moment.

Speaking of having a moment.   From the "and god knows what else department":  They say every object tells a story.  But, latex gloves and a condom?  Really?  Sorry, there are just some things I won't pick up.   

Carpe diem Life (and try to leave it better than you find it),
David Kuhn

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

And now for something completely different:

 Sometimes you just have to post from the original source:

Headline:  Parents disturbed by elf 'murder' class assignment
By Ben Hooper

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Some parents of students at a British elementary school are complaining after an assignment that involved the "murder" of a Christmas elf.

Parents said 8- and 9-year-old students at Flowery Field Elementary School in Hyde, England, arrived for class to find a crime scene had been set up in a classroom, complete with the outline of the "murder scene" involving an Elf on the Shelf.

"There was a crime scene in one of the classrooms," a mother of a fourth-grade student told the Manchester Evening News.

"There was police tape and a table had been knocked over, and there were blood smeared on one of the tables," she said. "The idea was Elf had been murdered by another Elf. My daughter came home and she was absolutely traumatized."

"I'm not the only parent who felt like that. A lot of the kids in Year 4 were unsettled by it," she said.

Headteacher Ian Fell said the elf murder scene was part of a writing assignment, which came to a close Wednesday.

"I have been a teacher for 30 years and this is, in my judgment, an appropriate, engaging and exciting thing that children aged eight and nine have done. They have been so up for it," he said.
# # #

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, December 17, 2018


Some management guru once wrote, "When you're on the right track, you'll know it, but until you get there, you have to believe you're on the right track."  Interesting little conundrum.

I've witnessed this a lot over my career -- especially in tracking down equipment problems.   Both of my current jobs involve equipment that is networked together by miles and miles of cables and connections.  When something isn't operating correctly, where do you start?

The other day I watched three guys scratching their heads and asking themselves the same question.  If it heard it once, I heard it 5,280 times, "I bet it's... !"

Then one would say, "No, if it were (that), then (this) would be occurring."

"I bet it's . . . "  Repeat!


To complicate the problem, the voice from the ivory tower was yelling, "I don't care what it costs, but fix it now!  Just don't spend too much money!" 

So, they were faced with two avenues to the solution.
1.  All the easy, quick fixes -- even those were the least likely.
2.  A couple of hard, time-consuming fixes -- even though they were the most probable.

Time - Quality - $

Seems to be a conundrum right there.   If you want it done fast, chances are you're going to have to pay an "urgency" fee and possible sacrifice quality.  If you want it high-quality, then you might have to spend more money and more time on it.  If you want it cheap, it might end up taking more time.

It's rare that you can have it all.  

By the way, when left after the second day, the problem had been temporarily fixed.  Leaving another conundrum:  "Do we take the time and money to fix it right so it doesn't happen again or do we save the money and gamble that it doesn't break down again?"


Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wendsday [sic]

If I had to guess, I'm pretty sure the person who came up with the spelling of 'Wednesday' also had something to do with 'February'.

Anyway,  Happy Wednesday.  

Hump Day. 

Which is exactly which day if you're a two-humped, even-toed ungulate?

Oh, by the way, there are three surviving species of camels. The one-humped dromedary makes up 94% of the world's camel population, and the two-humped Bactrian camel makes up the remainder. The Wild Bactrian camel is a separate species and is now critically endangered.

I bring all this up because I came across the following not too long ago while researching my Grandfather's unit in WWI:

Did you know that The United States Army established the U.S. Camel Corps, stationed in Benicia, California, in the late 19th century?   The experimental use of camels was seen as a success.  In fact, John B. Floyd, Secretary of War in 1858, recommended that funds be allocated towards obtaining a thousand more camels. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 saw the end of the Camel Corps: Texas became part of the Confederacy, and most of the camels were left to wander away into the desert.

Why am I writing about this?  Because it clears off one of the hundreds of scraps of notes I have stacked on my desk.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Never lose an opportunity . . .

They say that you should listen to what your body is telling you.  Mine just looks at me and laughs.

So, one of my "goals" this year and for 2019 is to diet and be more active.  Believe it or not, I've been doing pretty well on the diet part, it's the active part that I've been a little sluggish.  Not to the point of leaving a silver slime trail or anything, but certainly not active enough.

Yesterday was an exception that also ticked a few other boxes on my personal goals.

I started at my younger daughters:  a final cut of the yard, raked leaves, shredded and bagged everything.  That was a three-plus hour workout.  Next, to our "cabin" at Lake Lynnville for some pre-winter work.

While working there, I came across a map of a DNR property just a couple of miles away.  So, I was off to Interlake SRA.

With the exception of the DNR employee, the place was deserted.  Overcast sky, temps in the low 30s, spitting some sort of precip . . . Perfect!   Left a note saying which trails I was planning on hiking and when I was planning on being back to base. Then I was off!

"Never lose an opportunity for seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting -- a wayside sacrament.  Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm putting in close to 30 hours of work -- indoors -- the next three days; good to get out and check off a few boxes:

Explore new places
Get lost (okay, I did have a map with me, but still, I'd never been there)

Have a great weekend.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Today's Haiku

A Red Tailed Hawk
Squirrels frolicking about
You guess the ending

Carpe diem Life, 
David Kuhn 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Self-Activated Service Project

I looked out the window yesterday and saw that it was starting to snow.  To the woods!

I reached out to an old buddy of mine who enjoys hiking.  He had some free time, so we headed off to the woods, not to, as Thoreau said, "because I wish to live deliberately, to form only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." 

No. We went to pick up trash.
Jim C.

A few years ago I sort of adopted the North Woods off First Avenue and go there from time to time to get out and hike, to live deliberately -- if only for a brief time, and pick up trash.  It's a disgusting job, but I feel that somebody ought to do it.

Good to have company on this adventure.  And a 30-gallon trash bag later, we left the woods ready for her to receive the blanket of snow that fell last night. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Well Grounded

Came home the other night to strobe lights -- from our kitchen lights!
What the?  Flickering like a 70's disco! 

I quickly assessed the situation as, "Not working correctly!"
(and I'm not even a trained electrician).

I have learned a few other electrical terms over the years:
"It's got to be a 'short' somewhere!" and "Got to be a ground problem!" and "Dirty power!"
To be honest, I really have no idea what they mean, I just throw them out there and hope the other guy doesn't know either.

So, I did the only thing that I knew how to do.  No, not call an electrician.  I replaced the switches and tightened up those little wire thingies that come out of the ceiling. 

Let there be light!  Fixed -- for now.  A little research after the fact shows that it could be, in fact, a symptom of some other issues.  But, most likely I did miraculously manage to fix the problem.   And with no extra parts.

Sometimes it's the small victories that keep me grounded.

But, I still have a problem figuring these symbols apart.

Oh, I get it, "O" is for "On"  -- or it that "Off" -- damn it!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, December 3, 2018

Explorer of Lynnville Lake

Yesterday was the last day on the lake at Lynnville.  Time to winterize the ol' pontoon and tuck her in for the season.  Before running her out of gas, unhooking her battery, and wrapping her up, I took the opportunity to explore a couple of areas.

The waterfall runs most of the time with the exception of very dry conditions; the other two photos are from an area where fields 20-30 feet above the lake drains down.  An area I've always wanted to explore.

 A view from the bottom looking up.
And out to the lake.

I'm grateful for having the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful, hidden diamond in the tri-state.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Why did the boy drop his ice cream?

Because he was hit by a bus!

A line from my "Manifesto in Progress" says, "Help me laugh at myself, lighten up, and not take life too seriously."

In that vein, vane, vain (sometimes autocorrect can be your worst enema) . . .

I present a few lines I read this morning that made me, for whatever reason, smile:

If procrastination was an Olympic sport, I'd compete in it later.

If someone asks you about a musical you haven't seen, fake it by saying, "I love that part at the end when they all sing together."

I think I speak for everyone when I say people who think they speak for everyone are idiots.

One day, a little boy wrote Santa Claus, "Please send me a sister."  Santa wrote back, "OK, send me your mother!"

Eight out of ten experts agree that the other two are idiots who should stop being thought of as experts.

Why people say I'm ignorant, I'll never know.

I accidentally swallowed some Scrabble tiles.  My next dump could spell disaster.

I wanted to be a blogger badly, and I've achieved my ambition -- I'm a bad blogger!

Carpe diem Life -- and don't take life too seriously,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Dinner Choices: 1. Take it 2. Leave it"

I discovered a long time ago that the more yellowed-from-grease stained signs that a restaurant has, the better the food.   Even better if the restaurant is a "diner."

Ate at one the other day in Oakland City, Indiana:  Double D Diner, "Where Good People Meet" --   An honest-to-goodness roadside diner on State Road 64 East

Here are just a few of the signs around to make you feel that you are, in fact, in greasy-spoon paradise.

A throwback to when diners were, well, diners.

 Gotta love it.  And I did!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Literary Ambulance Drivers

I mentioned last week in my blog about another "The Greatest Author I've Never Heard Of" story about William Somerset Maugham, that he served in France during WWI as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers."

Just to follow up.

At least 23 well known literary figures drove ambulances in the First World War.  Among them were Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, E.E. Cummings, and Maugham. Robert Service, the writer of Yukon poetry, including The Shooting of Dan McGrew, and Charles Nordhoff, co-author of Mutiny On the Bounty, drove ambulances in the Great War.

Why Join?

According to Steve Ruediger in an article on the topic

Many young men had a strong desire to be in the middle of the action but were not physically fit for acceptance in an army.  Hemingway, who had defective vision in his left eye, expressed these viewpoints when, prior to joining, he wrote to his sister, Marcelline, "But I'll make it to Europe some way in spite of this optic.  I can't let a show like this go on without getting into it."

Dos Passos was so myopic he couldn't see the top letter on an eye chart.  War was more dangerous than many thought.  After getting wounded, a soldier might be sped off to the hospital by a half blind ambulance driver.

Somerset Maugham at 40 and 5'6" was both too old and too short to enlist at the beginning of the war.  So he joined a British Red Cross ambulance unit attached to the French Army.  One of his co-drivers, Desmond MacCarthy, later became the literary critic for The Sunday Times.

It's possible that my Grandfather Kuhn may have had an encounter with one of these guys.  He served in the famous 107th Engineers, credited with road, bridge, and trench works.  Also, constructing not less than five complete hospitals.

The infantry motto may well be 'Follow Me', but in the mud-static war of WWI, the infantry was powerless without the engineers first going ahead to blow wire entanglements, construct roads and then bridges over barriers, and recon enemy positions. In this case, it was really 'follow the engineers,' for they lead the way!

The 107th motto:  Good as done!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

It's the day before Thanksgiving.  I hate watching television on this night because this is when the After-Christmas Sales advertising starts!

Yes, Thanksgiving used to be, as George Will wrote, "the official handmaiden of commerce and turned into the starting gun for the sprint of Christmas shopping."  Now the entire month of November is "Black Friday."

But, to me -- and most Americans -- Thanksgiving is about the meal.  (okay, the meal and football.)  It's creative.  It's sharing.  It's serving. It is Communion! (apologies to those who believe that "communion" is an exclusively Christian sacrament.)

Since the first caveman or woman who didn't entirely eat what he or she found and, instead, brought it back to the cave to share with others, there has been communion.  And since that time, people who care for one another and are deeply connected by blood or an invisible web of friendships have shared food as a sign of, and a reaffirmation of, their relationship.  Communion.

So, this Thanksgiving, as you gather around the table, think about this prayer offered by Robert Fulghum:

"In this house, we believe the finest blessing is fine companionship during a meal.  With such company as we have now, we are blessed, indeed.  May God bless us all.  Amen."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Another "The Greatest Author I've Never Heard Of" story.

So, if someone asked you who was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930s, who would you say?

You're correct: William Somerset Maugham, better known as W. Somerset Maugham.

Okay, truth be told, I've never heard of him until today. 

Evidently did a lot of great stuff I've never read.  His last novel, The Razor's Edge (1944) was his most "well-known."   The book was twice adapted into two films, first in 1946 starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, and Herbert Marshall, and Anne Baxter as Sophie, and then a 1984 adaptation starring Bill Murray (sounds familiar). 

And this fact sort of interests me:   Too old to enlist when the First World War broke out, he served in France as a member of the British Red Cross's so-called "Literary Ambulance Drivers", a group of some 24 well-known writers, including the Americans John Dos Passos, E. E. Cummings, and Ernest Hemingway (perhaps a future blog).

Back to today.  I was introduced to Mr. Maugham in a roundabout way. 
My blog, in many ways, is an autobiography.  If a blog critic were to actually review my work, he or she might quip, "I found nothing really wrong with his autobiography except the poor choice of subject."

Maugham once wrote of his writing -- again, this is a guy reputed to be among the most popular and highest paid authors of his era:

I knew I had no lyrical quality, a small vocabulary, little gift of metaphor.  The original and striking simile never occurred to me.  Poetic flight . . . were beyond my powers.  On the other hand, I had an acute power of observation . . .  I knew that I should never write as well as I could wish, but I thought, with pains, that I could arrive at writing as well as my natural defects allowed.

Thank you, Mr. Maugham, for teaching us that whether it's writing a blog post, an attempt at prose or poem, song or chord progression, or even a doodle. . . to be thankful for abilities and talents.   I know I will never be popular or paid highly, but at least I'm unique -- defects be damned!

Carpe diem Life,
D. Alan Kuhn   

Monday, November 19, 2018

Become a Certified Graphic Recorder

Signed up for the first of a collection of six online courses.  It's the first step to becoming a "Certified Graphic Recorder."  

Soon, I'll be able to sign my name:  David A. Kuhn, CGR

Before you get too green with envy, let me explain what a "Certified Graphic Recorder" is:  A Doodler!

According to Diane Bleck, founder of The Doodle Institute, it is incredibly important to pick up a pen and paper and draw something every single day.  "When you doodle," Bleck writes, "you open your heart channel to ideas, insights, and inspirations to listen to the magic language of the universe where ideas, insights, and inspirations are waiting to whisper direction, meaning and purpose into your soul."

Check out the site at

You, too, can become a CGR!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Zen and the Art of Squirrel Hunting

Heard a news story on the radio the other day: A man is dead after a hunting accident.  Authorities say a hunter thought the victim was a squirrel and shot him.

Thought he was a squirrel?  I don't hunt -- not that I'm morally against it -- but, how do you mistake a man for squirrel?  (After a little research -- fancy word for Google -- I discover that it evidently happens more than one would think.)

Anyway, the man is being charged with, if nothing else, "reckless discharge of a firearm."

I had a reckless discharge once and, as a result, I really got in touch with my inner self.  Damn single-ply toilet paper!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

P.S.  Sorry, this is what happens when you have notes for two different post ideas and neither have the weight to go anywhere.  Frank Deford would be so disappointed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Found something the other day . . .

Found something the other day that I had almost completely forgotten about.  Been around in one form or another since 1866.  Its diameter is .835 inches and its thickness is .077 inches.  It's composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. 

Yes, I found a U.S. nickel on the ground the other day.  I can't remember the last time I found a nickel on the ground -- or used one, for that matter.  Pennies, yes.  People intentionally leave those for good luck:  "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck."  (another topic for another day). 

Finding a nickel reminded me of several things:

1.  I almost always have to look up the word to see how to spell it.  Nickel? Nickle?  Damn, why can't I remember that?

2.  For a brief time during college days, I remember always starting the day with $39.44 in my pocket (one twenty-dollar bill, one ten, one five, four ones, one quarter, one dime, one nickel (or is that nickle?) and four pennies.  As I remember, my thought process was to either have exact change -- which somehow always made clerks excited, or have a variety of change to receive back "non-penny" change -- which often confused clerks to no end:  "That will be $12.87"
Handing him/her $13.02 and waiting for the LONG pause.  

A Nickel!  When was the last time you even thought about a nickel?

On one of my jobs, I have to count the change drawer each shift.  There could be $18 in quarters, several dollars in dimes, but only a few nickels. 

3.  Frank Deford.  Who? And why?

"Frank Deford was to sports writing," wrote Roy Peter Clark, "what Secretariat was to horseracing, what Babe Ruth was to baseball, what Michael Jordan was to basketball, what Ali was to boxing, what Pele was to soccer: the undisputed master of his craft."

Deford was a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated for more than fifty years.  He's perhaps best known for his weekly commentaries on NPR's Morning Edition

I recently found Deford when I found the nickel.  Finding that nickel, for some reason, opened a filing cabinet in my brain and directed me to pull out this file.  It's a single paragraph from the book "The Old Ball Game" and it stretches to just 207 words:

Uneeda knew pricing. The nickel was king in America at this time. It was so common a currency that the dime was, often as not, called a “double nickel.” You didn’t want to get stuck with a wooden nickel. The ultimate depth of worthlessness was a plugged nickel. What this country needed was a good five-cent cigar. At a time when laborers in New York made twenty cents an hour and a good meal would set you back fifteen cents, you could go into a saloon and, for a nickel, get a stein of beer and free bread, salami, pickled herring, and hard-boiled eggs for the asking. “Barkeep, I’ll have another beer.” When the subway opened up, naturally a ride was pegged at a nickel. This was the same as for streetcars, which particularly crisscrossed Brooklyn, so the players had to be nimble to negotiate streets to reach the ballpark: hence, the borough’s team of Trolly Dodgers. The new movies not only charged a nickel, but were not called what they were, but what they cost: nickelodeons. A cuppa coffee cost a nickel. So did a soft drink. “A Moxie, please.” “Sure thing, mister, that’ll be a nickel.” Ice cream was a nickel. Likewise a Tootsie Roll.

There you have it.  Thank you, Frank Deford, for inspiring a blog post by a fan -- even though my readers may think it's not worth a plugged nickel. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

P.S.  A long time ago, Franklin P. Adams quipped, "There are plenty of good five-cent cigars in the country. The trouble is they cost a quarter. What this country needs is a good five-cent nickel." by

Friday, November 9, 2018

"A Spirit of Daedal"

A random line in the middle of one of Robert Frost's journal pages.  Surrounded by bits and pieces of thoughts about the teaching of successful speech to children:  "A Spirit of Daedal."

Daedal?  According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of daedal dates back to 1590.

It seems to have various meanings, including skillful and artistic.

 Etymology: Latin daedalus, from Greek daidalos).

Aah, those Greeks.

Daedalus:  The mythological prisoner who fashioned wings of feathers and wax to escape from the island of Crete with his son Icarus (remember that kid who flew too close to the sun?). But it was as an architect and sculptor, one said to have designed a labyrinth for King Minos on Crete, that he earned his name. Daedalus (from Greek daidalos) is Latin for "skillfully wrought."
Examples of daedal in a sentence:  The daedal workings of the chiming clock are a marvel to behold.

Frost later adds on the same journal page that, "Evidence that the spirit is there in the first place is in the bubbling of children."

I might add that evidence of the spirit is also in we adults who have the bubbling spirit of children.

Admittedly, Greek Mythology is beyond my scope of knowledge, but I do like the idea of having the "Spirit of Daedal" bubbling inside of me.

Have a great weekend.  Go out and skillfully wrought something with the Spirit of Daedal.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"When did our country . . ."

"When did our country become so divided?"

That's a question that has been thrown around a lot before, during, and after this mid-term election.


Anyone remember the Sons of Liberty and The Boston Tea Party?

How about that little skirmish called The Civil War?  (Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation's wars--620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts).

Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Watergate, Vietnam . . .  Hell, Wikipedia has a page titled "List of Social Movements" that includes well over 100 movements that divide people. 

Including, but not limited to:
    Animal rights movement
    Anti-Apartheid Movement
    Anti-bullying movement
    Anti-corporate activism
    Anti-nuclear movement
    Anti-war movement
    Anti-globalization movement
    Anti-vaccination movement
    Black Lives Matter
    Cultural movement
    Counterculture movement
    Disability rights movement
    Environmental movement
    Fair trade movement
    Feminist movement
    Gay rights movement
    Ku Klux Klan
    Labor movement
    Me Too movement
    Occupy Wall Street
    Organic movement
    Pro-choice movement
    Pro-life movement
Even a Slow movement
Though, admittedly, it's hard to argue with this one!
Needless to say, the U.S. has NEVER been united.  And maybe that's a good thing.  No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change.  Natural events balance themselves out by seeking their opposites and thus healing.  Actually, without these imbalances, there would be no movement in life.  Without flow, our pool of life would just be a . . .

"Happiness consists in activity. It is a running stream, not a stagnant pool."
John Mason Good  

As history has shown, it takes time.  It may take days, years, even lifetimes.  But, change it will:  destruction and healing, over and over again.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson told me today, "Each generation has to write its own book for the succeeding  The books of an older period will not fit this one." 

Maybe it's time to start the "Turn Off the TV and Internet and Be Present and Patient" Movement. 

Carpe diem Life
David Kuhn

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It will be over . . .

Okay, it won't really be over tonight.  It's an endless, vicious cycle.  All we can hope for is a respite.  Please!  Or, here's an idea you can take to the bank:  Take the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars each campaign spends and divide it equally among voters.  Along with a check, you receive a fact-checked proposal from each candidate for you to study and make your decision. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

Just a few fun facts about one of my favorite holidays (from

Because the movie Halloween (1978) was on such a tight budget, they had to use the cheapest mask they could find for the character Michael Meyers, which turned out to be a William Shatner Star Trek mask. Shatner initially didn’t know the mask was in his likeness, but when he found out years later, he said he was honored.

The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips.

Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.

The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

Fifty percent of kids prefer to receive chocolate candy for Halloween, compared with 24% who prefer non-chocolate candy and 10% who preferred gum.

The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl's call meant someone was about to die.

According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven, who broke the world record in 1993 with a 836 lb. pumpkin.

Stephen Clarke holds the record for the world’s fastest pumpkin carving time: 24.03 seconds, smashing his previous record of 54.72 seconds. The rules of the competition state that the pumpkin must weigh less than 24 pounds and be carved in a traditional way, which requires at least eyes, nose, ears, and a mouth.

Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

“Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.

The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.

Cats have a prominent place in Halloween folklore and decor.  With their link to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (a precursor to Halloween) and later to witches, cats have a permanent place in Halloween folklore. During the ancient celebration of Samhain, Druids were said to throw cats into a fire, often in wicker cages, as part of divination proceedings.

“Halloween” is short for “Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallows’ Evening,” which was the evening before All Hallows’ (sanctified or holy) Day or Hallowmas on November 1. In an effort to convert pagans, the Christian church decided that Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) should assimilate sacred pagan holidays that fell on or around October 31.

Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

Ireland is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween.

Halloween has variously been called All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Samhaim, and Summer’s End.

Halloween was influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name. Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time. In fact, in the past, Halloween has been called San-Apple Night and Nutcrack Night.

Because Protestant England did not believe in Catholic saints, the rituals traditionally associated with Hallowmas (or Halloween) became associated with Guy Fawkes Night. England declared November 5th Guy Fawkes Night to commemorate the capture and execution of Guy Fawkes, who co-conspired to blow up the Parliament in 1605 in order to restore a Catholic king.

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was one of the most famous and mysterious magicians who ever lived. Strangely enough, he died in 1926 on Halloween night as a result of appendicitis brought on by three stomach punches.

Looking in a mirror at midnight on Halloween was thought to reveal a boyfriend's face
Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween.

According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

Mexico celebrates the Days of the Dead (Días de los Muertos) on the Christian holidays All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) instead of Halloween. The townspeople dress up like ghouls and parade down the street.

During the pre-Halloween celebration of Samhain, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Often Druid priests would throw the bones of cattle into the flames and, hence, “bone fire” became “bonfire.”

Dressing up as ghouls and other spooks originated from the ancient Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits. The Celts believed that disguising themselves this way would allow them to escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets during Samhain.

The National Retail Federation expects consumers in 2010 to spend $66.28 per person—which would be a total of approximately $5.8 billion—on Halloween costumes, cards, and candy. That’s up from $56.31 in 2009 and brings spending back to 2008 levels.[3]

In 1970, a five-year-old boy Kevin Toston allegedly ate Halloween candy laced with heroin. Investigators later discovered the heroin belonged to the boy’s uncle and was not intended for a Halloween candy.

In 1974, eight-year-old Timothy O’Bryan died of cyanide poisoning after eating Halloween candy. Investigators later learned that his father had taken out a $20,000 life insurance policy on each of his children and that he had poisoned his own son and also attempted to poison his daughter.

According to the National Retail Federation, 40.1% of those surveyed plan to wear a Halloween costume in 2010. In 2009, it was 33.4%. Thirty-three percent will throw or attend a party.

In 2010, 72.2% of those surveyed by the National Retail Federation will hand out candy, 46.3% will carve a pumpkin, 20.8% will visit a haunted house, and 11.5% will dress up their pets.

Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.

Teng Chieh or the Lantern Festival is one Halloween festival in China. Lanterns shaped like dragons and other animals are hung around houses and streets to help guide the spirits back to their earthly homes. To honor their deceased loved ones, family members leave food and water by the portraits of their ancestors.

Halloween celebrations in Hong Kong are known as Yue Lan or the “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts” during which fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.

Both Salem, Massachusetts, and Anoka, Minnesota, are the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.

Comedian John Evans once quipped: “What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o’-lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin π.”

The Village Halloween parade in New York City is the largest Halloween parade in the United States. The parade includes 50,000 participants and draws over 2 million spectators.
 And finally, here is this year’s jack-o-snake-gourd from the Kuhn garden.

Carpe Halloween,
David Kuhn

Monday, October 29, 2018


  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life . . ." 

Henry David Thoreau

 What he said.  And, to participate in our blackpowder  club's Fall Rendezvous.

 Here's the old man (me) loading his muzzleloader.
And, just for fun, a shot of Andrew D. making fire with flint and steel.

Have a great week (We're waiting for a team of plumbers to come out and, hopefully, finally fix our backup problem).

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Friday, October 26, 2018

Problems Welcome; Bring Solutions!

 A vice-president of a large corporation I worked at years ago had a sign on his door that read, "Problems welcome; Bring solutions!"  He was basically in charge of solving problems, but he wanted you to have carefully vet out the problem and offer possible solutions -- not just complain about it.

In that spirit, here's my solution to the "caravan" that's peacefully approaching our border and asking politely if they can come in (or storming the castle walls -- depending on which news channel your watch):

Step 1) Hold a special election with a simple, one-question ballot: "Do you believe that the individuals in the caravan should be allowed into the United States?"  Vote Yes or No.

Step 2) All those who voted "NO" will be given a bold red, white, and blue "I voted today" sticker. 

Step 3) Congratulations to all those who voted "YES"!  All those who voted "YES" will be visited by a U.S. Government Agency and their home(s) assessed.  That agency will determine how many rooms you have in your home that are not being occupied.  Obviously, you get to keep your bedroom and any bedrooms the rest of your family is using, but the rest of the rooms will be set up for your new friends that you voted to come to stay with you -- say, four friends per room. 

Step 4)  Churches will also be assessed and new friends dropped off for you to host (if you choose not to participate, you will lose your tax-exempt status).  TV networks, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, etc.  that editorialize about how unfair it is for keeping these folks out will also be receiving a few busloads. 

Step 5)  You will pay for shelter, clothing, food, and health.  You'll also be responsible for finding them work, and working with them to legally become U.S. Citizens.  For these service you will receive no tax write-offs, no aid, no anything.  Just a good feeling that you're making the U.S. and the world a better place.

Step 6) If one of your friends commits a crime, YOU are an accessory to that crime.  You may have to serve some jail time, but the good news is that it frees up a room in your home for more from the caravan.

Step 7)  Each time you successfully release one of your friends into the U.S. as legal U.S. Citizens, you will be assigned new friends until there just aren't anymore. 

- - -

So, there you have it.  My solution to the "caravan" problem. 

Ready to vote?

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

P.S.  The vice-president I spoke of earlier was fired after everyone realized that he himself never offered any solutions of his own.  Sort of sounds like a lot of talking heads on TV these days.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

We have not inherited the earth . . .

 Suzanne and I stepped back in time Saturday to Perry County, Indiana.
 The Shubael Little Pioneer Village is dedicated to the preservation of Perry County History through the collection of 3-Dimensional Artifacts, cabins, and documents. The site is being developed and maintained so that present and future generations may appreciate, understand, and learn from the past.
So true.

The village is located in the rolling hills of Southern Perry County, near the Ohio River, at 7590 East State Road 66, Cannelton, Indiana, 47520. The village is 1/4th mile north of Rocky Point.  Check out their website or Facebook page for special events.  Well worth the drive.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Woke up alive today


Here's a quick "poem" I culled from bits and parts of other works that were swimming in my brain:

Woke up alive today
Damn fine way to start the day
Rinsed my dreams away
Cleansed away yesterday
Woke up alive today

Woke up alive today
Washed delusions from my eyes
On the lookout for blessings
Both overt and in disguise

Woke up alive today
Each moment a new event
There is no wealth, but life
A holy present

The path may be crooked
Wretched mysteries around each curve
It’s true that I may not have all I want
I’m just thankful . . .
I don’t get all that I deserve

Woke up alive today

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Sometimes, you can tell a lot by how a story is going to progress and end by the opening line.  For example, stories that begin, “Once upon a time . . . “ usually have a fairy book ending.  On the other hand, stories that being, “We thought it would be a good idea to . . .” end, well, read on.

It was a gorgeous Autumn day, so we thought it would be a good idea to wash curtains and clean windows.  To knock the chill off the house we kicked up the heat a little.  That’s when the smoke alarm went off.  The perfume of burning plastic hit us.  We quickly shut down the heater and quickly assessed the situation.  After a thorough search, we found no flames or smoke.  We figured that it might just be the first time the heater was on for the season.  We hope.

Next, curtains.  Took them down and loaded the washing mashing.  Those of you who actually read this blog might remember that this is a NEW machine because of a fiasco early this year (spoiler alert, the machine performed perfectly — this time).

Windows.  These are those tilt-in, easy to clean replacement windows.  And they are tilt-in. And they are easy to clean.  And they will shatter if, while closing one, the one next to it tilts wide open and crashes against the wall.  The sound of a shattering glass explosion is unmistakable.  Suzanne rushed in to witness the carnage.  Thankfully, no injuries.

 So, while Suzanne went upstairs to find the paperwork on the replacement windows, I went to the closet to get a broom.  That’s when I walked past the downstairs bathroom and noticed the toilet overflowing — really overflowing.  I mean really, really overflowing.  Seems that the gallons and gallons of water exiting the washing machine was backing up and out the toilet.  TOWELS! (A problem that we’ve had multiple times through the years — usually on a holiday when family is in and someone is in the shower.)
Have you ever had to call a plumber on Sunday overtime?  I’m not going to say that it’s expensive, but when people try to tell you how expensive something is they use the metaphor, “As expensive as a plumber on Sundays.”

Anyway, Chuck — a very nice guy and seemed to really know his shit — pulled the toilet, brought in some heavy equipment and cleaned out the drain.  At least for now.  “You really need to get someone back to dig that pipe up and see what’s going on!” says Chuck and he drives off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Suzanne finished the curtains at the laundry mat.  I finished washer a few more windows without incident and spent an extra amount of time cleaning the bathroom floor because, well, you know.
So, no.  This is not one of those, “Once upon a time . . .” stories.  At least not yet.  Window company is on the way out to take a look and the plumber has a ticket in and I need to set up an appointment to have some major work down to fix this crappy plumbing problem once and for all.

This blog started with, “It seemed like a good idea . . . “  In the future when I write about our home maintenance issues, I may use author Lemony Snicket’s line from A Series of Unfortunate Events:
“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”

So, how was your weekend?

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

I good exercise in Care Diem, ADPIE, Serenity-Courage-Wisdom . . .

Monday, October 15, 2018


Years ago I took an emergency responder course and am certified by the county and local fire department to be an asset in case of an emergency --  tornado, earthquake, flood, etc.  I suppose I just wanted to know that I was, in some small way, an asset to the community.  (No, a pat-on-the-back tool was not included in the kit.) 

Though I've never been activated into the field, events such as hurricane Michael remind me that I am at least somewhat prepared to help. 

There are a lot of acronyms in the emergency response and medical fields, including ADPIE. 

The process has 5 steps: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. These steps are detailed phases with their own set of actions designed to streamline victim/patient care. As the process is always ongoing, there is no set amount of time for any step to begin or be completed.

It actually fits nicely into the Carpe diem Life acronym because it can be a pretty good tool for ANY problem you're facing. 

So, trying to tie together a few ideas I've written about lately, here's one way the whole process could flow:

Serenity to accept the things you cannot change.  )If you recognize this right off the bat it will save a lot of grief.)
Courage to change what you can.
Wisdom to know the difference. 


Choose to change.       
                        Assess the situation.
                        Diagnose the root causes of the problem
                        Plan Solution
Action List               
Persistent Action
                        Evaluate Progress
Evaluate and
Direction Change if needed and seek continually to
Enjoy the process because ultimately it's
My Responsibility and my


So, there you have it, the "Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, ADPIE, Carpe diem LIFE Problem Solving Flow Chart" (presented in the most convoluted way possible). 

Just a word of advice:  If you're standing in the middle of the road and see an on-coming truck about to run you over and you think to yourself, "I seem to have a problem!" don't stop and go through each step.  RUN LIKE HELL!

Just a few thoughts to chew on this week. 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I came across an interesting word yesterday:  Vanitas. 

First, it reminded me of Sydney Harris.  Harris was a journalist for the Chicago Daily News and, later, the Chicago Sun-Times. He wrote 11 books and his weekday column, “Strictly Personal,” was syndicated in approximately 200 newspapers.  Every once in a while he'd write a column called "Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things."   Just a purging of random facts he had discovered while researching other articles (and probably a fall-back when he had occasional writer's block.

Anyway, back to today's "has nothing to do with Carpe diem -- or does it?" blog.

Definition of Vanitas, (Latin: “vanity”) in art, a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. A vanitas painting contains collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent.

The vanitas evolved from simple pictures of skulls and other symbols of death and transience.  Curiously to me, they were frequently painted on the reverse sides of portraits during the late Renaissance. 

Later, It had acquired an independent status and become its own popular genre that included certain standard elements:

Symbols of arts and sciences (books, maps, and musical instruments) Wealth and power (purses, jewelry, gold objects)
Earthly pleasures (goblets, pipes, and playing cards)
Death or transience (skulls, clocks, burning candles, soap bubbles, and flowers)
Sometimes, symbols of resurrection and eternal life (ears of corn or sprigs of ivy or laurel

 How cool is that?

And, a quick image search on the web-thing shows that the genre continues today.  

I'll leave you with this for the next week; I'm off to ponder the meaning of life and Vanitas.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fairy Rings

 They’ve been spotted — at least evidence of them.  Them?  Fairies, elves, pixies.  They’re real and they’ve been dancing and playing around our neighborhood.  Of course, I haven’t seen them in person as I don’t want to disturb them and risk getting caught up in their magic.

Here is the proof:

Top photo borrowed off the internet; bottom photo borrowed from Ann Taylor's Facebook page (who lives in the next neighborhood). 

These fairy rings, which scientist say occur naturally (but I know better), usually pop up in fields, lawns, or forests this time of wet year.  They live off decaying organic matter in the soil.
Disclaimer:  Many poisonous mushrooms can look very similar to edible ones. Don’t take a chance and eat one (Of course, consuming the “right ones” will increase your chance of seeing fairies, elves, pixies . . .  and god knows what else). 

Cool weather is finally going to arrive this week.  Take the time to get out and explore.  Perhaps you’ll discover your own fairy ring — just don’t get caught up in their magic.  Or, if you do, report back and share your story.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn