Some Skits I’d Write

Lately, as I’m going to bed, I’m starting to have viable ideas for writing. Last week, an almost finished poem burst forth from my tired cranium like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Last night, it was a series of skits based on what would happen if horror movie serial killers became examples in OSHA safety films.


  • A chainsaw killer goes after a co-ed, but he does not hold the chainsaw so it is not to the side of his body, so when he encounters kickback, it kills him.
  • An axe-wielding murderer, again, swings so that the follow through is in line with his body, so he strikes himself.
  • A poor oversexed teenager rests against a door or a wall to catch his or her breath, feeling momentarily safe, when the killer punches through and grabs the teen. When the killer punches through a door’s window, the killer is cut by the glass and bleeds out. When the killer punches through the wall beside the door, the killer hits the electrical lines leading to the light switch. Et cetera.
  • A killer has the body of his latest victim and takes it to bury it, but he did not call for a survey before he digs, and he hits a gas line and self-immolates.
  • A puzzle killer has chained a victim to a railing or piping, but the victim is able to pull the railing/piping free because the contractor cut corners. Actually, this was inspired by our experience at our Old Trees church yesterday when we were coming down some steep stairs in the rain, and my wife fell because the railing she was holding broke free. It looks as though the contractor who put it in had not actually bolted it down at all points, instead using adhesive, maybe. She is alright, but she made sure to completely break the railing down so that someone else, perhaps someone older, would not grab the unstable stabilizer.
    • You know, when I was younger, I might write these skits for fun knowing they would never be made. Although when I was younger, I was more optimistic and believed maybe they could. But now I am just pleased with the ideation.

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Book Report: John Donnelly’s Gold by Brian J. Noggle (2011)

Book coverWell, there you go again, you might say, but in my defense this is only the second time I’ve read my novel since I published it in 2011 (the first book report on it appeared in 2016, eight years ago.)

So, unless you’re new here, you know the plot: Four laid off tech workers decide to stage a heist and steal the gold bar that their vainglorious CEO bought and put into his house with a live video feed. The tech is slightly dated, but not too bad, and the zeitgeist might just be circling around as tech company layoffs are on the rise again.

It’s got funny moments–after eight years, some of them still catch me by surprise and I chuckle–but about three quarters through I just trudged to the ending and the humor kind of leaks out of the book. Still, I like reading it more than many of the other books I read.

But what gets me, eleven years after I published it and almost twenty years after I wrote it: How easily the writing came to me then. Even more so when I was in my 20s. I could, with confidence that arose out of, I dunno, youthful ignorance, I wrote piles of prose and poems effortlessly. These days, when I sit down to write a short story, it’s excruciating, the second guessing and the wondering if it’s worth it and whether anyone will read it anyway. As John Donnelly’s Gold and the light traffic to this blog indicate, the answer is probably no.

I remember when I was in my Existenialism class, and the discussion came around to careers, and the S.J. running the class said that our vocation would be to serve others, and I, hopped up on the Ayn Rand, demurred. He asked what I wanted to do, and when I said, “Write,” he asked if I would be happy sitting somewhere and writing without others. I said no, because you need an audience. And I still think that’s true.

I think perhaps I would have been more successful as a writer if I were compelled to write, and I would be happy to have written even suspecting that I would burn all my writings before death. Or maybe I just think that because I’m not, and I’ve not had a lot of success otherwise. But, hey, I wrote a poem the other night that is okay, not that anyone will ever see it.

At any rate, I did get this book off of my desk and onto the shelf with the collection of proofs of this and other books I’ve published to no fanfare.

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And Then, Again, There Were Five

On Monday, two weeks after I buried Athena, I heard a meow from my open office window. I stood up and looked out to see if it was Peirce, the black cat that hung around and helped himself to some of Athena’s food. And I looked down, and it was a black kitten. Who hopped up onto the sill of my window and meowed at me.

I went out the back door to look to see the kitten, and I heard her meowing from the wind break, which would have meant a pretty quick flight for a small kitten while I walked thirty feet out the back door.
Continue reading “And Then, Again, There Were Five”

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Who Didn’t Know That?


C’mon, man, we all knew that already. Or maybe just those of us who were in the Jeopardy! contestant pool at one time.

Spoiler alert: They make you pay your own way and for your own lodgings for the auditions, which are generally regional in nature, as well. I had to go to Kansas City for mine. Other times I picked places like Boston because making a Jeopardy! audition would make a good excuse to visit those locations.

I mean, c’mon, man, even if you’re a returning champion for a couple of days, you’re not winning life-changing money. It’s not about the money.

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Spotted in the Obits

I kinda sorta scan the obits in my hometown newspapers. Not because I will know anyone–I mean, my “hometowns” where I take the newspapers are all adopted home towns, and I didn’t go to high school there. But rather because I want to make sure that the people who have passed away are older than I am. And they are, for the most part, but that’s probably just as much because only old people and their families put obits in the paper any more.

At any rate, in the Stone County Republican and Crane Chronicle last week, I did spot a familiar name.

As you might remember, gentle reader, I read his book Traces of Silver about the mythical Yocum Silver Dollar not long after I moved to the area. Well, two years after I moved to the area, but in the perspective of the time that has passed, not long at all.

The book made an impression on me–I mean, I know the origin of Silver Dollar City’s name, and I know enough of the story that I can tell of it. And at the coin show this weekend, I thought about asking at the booths whether they had any Yocum dollars today, but I did not.

So rest in peace, Mr. Ayres. While the world mourns another actor, I’ll give thanks for your life and its slight impact on me.

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Book Report: Star Trek 11 by James Blish (1975, 1977)

Book coverWell, having just finished the Doubleday children’s books I own with 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, I might as well move onto polishing the books in this series I have on my to-read shelves. So I read this, the penultimate volume I have of James Blish’s series of books that present the original Star Trek episodes as short stories. As I have mentioned, I also have several of the Star Trek Log books where Alan Dean Foster does the same with Star Trek: The Animated Series, but I’m not sure if I will jump right into that series after I finish Star Trek 13 someday in the near future.

At any rate, when I started this book, I noted that it was in exceptional shape. The spine is not cracked, the cover is cherry, and this despite the fact that previous owners(?) have written their names in the front and back cover. The front cover has Richard S. Musterman (?) Dec 2 1979, and the back cover has Steve Laube (?). How they wrote their names without cracking the spines… a mystery for the ages.

This book collects the following episodes as stories:

  • “What Are Little Girls Made Of”, the one where the Enterprise beams down to an inhospitable planet to find Nurse Chapel’s former flame has discovered technologies of an ancient civilization to build androids–and the Enterprise team learns that Korby, the aforementioned flame, is an android himself with the consciousness of the human transferred to it.
  • “The Squire of Gothos”, wherein the Enterprise encounters a rogue planet and investigates. Kirk and Sulu disappear from the Enterprise, and when an Enterprise away team beams down to the planet, they find an old castle with a seemingly omnipotent figure there. So it’s a bit of “Catspaw” and “For the World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky” from Star Trek 8 blended with Under the Dome, but that came later.
  • “Wink of an Eye”, the one where the crew beams down to a planet that had an advanced civilization, but the people are gone, and the crew hears an insect like buzzing. When they beam up, they hear the buzzing on the Enterprise, and something seems to be taking over the ship. Kirk learns, as he is accellerated by the former residents of the planet, they have been “sped up” so that they move faster than humans–and the queen of the planet has sped-up Kirk to make him her mate. But an ordinary injury will kill him, as all the time he has spent sped-up will cause him to rapidly age with any wound. I actually remembered this episode.
  • “Bread and Circuses”, wherein the Enterprise finds the wreckage of a merchant ship and are kidnapped by residents of the planet where they found it. A planet where the Roman Empire did not fall, and the Enterprise landing party will fight the gladiators. Kirk discovers a friend of his, a crewman on the merchant ship, has been elevated to leadership by the real powers in the Empire, and that a small group of Christians have arisen later that will change the planet forever.
  • “Day of the Dove”, wherein the Enterprise responds to a distress call but finds no sender–and then a damaged Klingon battle cruiser appears, believing the Enterprise responsible for the damage. Everyone, Klingons and all, end up on the Enterprise, and they eventually discover an alien form that feeds on hostility–not unlike the alien that feeds on terror in “The Wolf in the Fold” which I read, again, in Star Trek 8.
  • “Plato’s Stepchildren”, wherein the Enterprise finds a seemingly omnipotent group of humans whose leader has developed a simple infection that they cannot treat because they’ve spent their lives improving their mental powers, but they’ve lost their understanding of the physical world–so they compel the Enterprise people to tend them and to entertain them. Which includes Nurse Chapel’s declaring her love for Spock and That Interracial Kiss between Uhura and Kirk.

So I remembered clearly one of the episodes, but by this time and through repeated viewings in my youth, it’s easy to understand why so many were immemorable: they shared so many tropes and shuffled similar concepts and conceits.

Well, as I might have mentioned, I have but one to clear from my to-read shelves that I know of, the last, Star Trek 13. Blish died in the middle 1970s, so this series proved to be his most lasting contribution to science fiction. I’m not knocking it–as you might know, gentle reader, I have published a couple of books and have sold maybe 150 total. So I cannot cast aspersions upon any writer, especially writers with big house contracts who sold piles of books.

This book, unlike Star Trek 8, had a table of contents and a preface by the author. I must wonder if these features come from later printings and not the originals.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Sherry Jackson.
Continue reading “Book Report: Star Trek 11 by James Blish (1975, 1977)”

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The Key Question The Men Amongst Us Wanted To Know

Man clocked at 163 miles an hour on U.S. 60; arrested on Friday:

A Georgia man was clocked Friday by a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper traveling on U.S. 60 in Howell County at 163 miles per hour, the agency said.

Troop G of the patrol said it is believed to be a record speeding violation within the nine-county area.

What we’re all wondering: What was he driving? A BMW M3.

Also, note that they did not pursue him and catch him. They conducted a search for him, which means that he was not just passing through on his way to Poplar Bluff or Springfield. Or was he? Hopefully, the print edition this week will have more. Considering that I have picked up numerous papers along US 60 in my trips to my brother’s and back (and to De Soto and back), I shall probably read about this in various places.

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Today in Bear-Punching News

Woman saved by punching bear on the nose after beast pushed her to ground:

A woman has fended off a terrifying bear attack by punching the grizzly beast on the nose after it pushed her to the ground.

The adult female black bear attacked the Washington, United States-based woman from behind as she let her dog outside for some fresh air in the early hours of Saturday morning (October 22).

The Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains is no stranger to bears, but a charged attack from a bear at 7am is not the best way to start the day.

Note the article calls the bear a grizzly beast but then identifies the bear as a black bear, which is far smaller than a grizzly bear. But it’s a British tabloid, so we should not expect clarity and concision at the expense of sensationalism.

Jeez, I am conflicted about awarding a Kittinger Award here because the last two have gone to bear fighters, and people who fought bears to save others and not themselves. But I’m going to do it to show, maybe once again, that women can win the Kittinger Award.

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And Now I Am A Coin Collector

So my youngest son has decided he is a numismatician. Apparently, this hobby has fallen to the point where spellchecking does not recognize it. But he has been watching YouTube videos on different errata coins and their value. He has gone to the bank to buy rolls of coins to look through and see if he can find a rare coin amongst them. So to encourage him in something that is mostly off the phone or video game system, I took him to a coin and stamp show at Relics this weekend.

They had a special program for the youth, where not only did they get a little sack with a couple of low value coins in them and a five dollar voucher to use at the booths, but they also gave him a quiz worksheet where he could stop at certain flagged booths for the answer, and when he filled the worksheet out, he got another three dollar voucher for a total of eight bucks in free coins, essentially.

I was a proud poppa, impressed that he knew most of the answers on the worksheet without having to ask the people in the flagged booths. And he could talk to the collectors about the different patterns in paper currency that made them valuable for collectors.

But among the various things I accumulate, I have never felt called to gather coins. I mean, as a kid, I had some folders that I think started out at my mother’s with pennies from the wheat back era. I might still have those, as a matter of fact, nestled amongst photo albums. And although I have some foreign notes (and, as I mentioned, previously owned a collection of foreign coins which I sold a long time ago). I considered getting a couple of collectible folders so the boy and I could do them together, but I have not acted on them.

And then we came to a booth with foreign currency. The man behind the table told us that he used to collect American money, but when he turned fifty, he started to collect foreign coins instead. And I looked into one of his cabinets and saw Japanese coins from 1868, and I thought, “That’s the Meiji restoration period.”

So they got me. Not just foreign money, but historical coins. So I bought a couple.

I bought three Japanese coins from the Meiji Restoration era (1868, 1881, and 1883) and a well-worn Roman coin. I looked through the Roman coins–the ones at this table had later emperors on them. I did see a nice coin with Marcus Aurelius on it at another booth, but it was $95, and I am neither far enough into the hobby to warrant it. In times when I am feeling flush with cash, I might have bought it, but we’re not in that period now. So I forebore.

So they saw me coming. Well, probably not, but I am definitely interested in historical coins. I mean, Tom Cruise’s character from The Last Samurai might have handled these coins! Well, no, but when I’m reviewing the history of Japan or ancient Rome, I will have bits of the history to touch.

Now, let’s see how much of a collector I actually become. Most likely, not much, as I don’t think I’ll go to coin shows on my own. But one never knows.

Also, I have learned that people collect smashed penny souvenirs that my son has collected from an early age, and I saw numerous video game and other tokens on tables, so there’s some market for those. Which is good, as I have a box full of tokens from various arcades that closed before I used the tokens (or changed over to electric card readers). Maybe I can realize some value in them. But not much.

WAIT A MINUTE. Clearly, I am not a keen-eyed coin collector, as I see in previewing this post, where the photo of the coins is larger than actual size, that one of the Japanese coins is from 1668 and not 1868. So from the Tokugawa Shogunate period, not the Meiji restoration. Ah, well. Still cool.

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Hidden in Plain Sight

Some Facebook entity wants me to click through to a quiz of some sort:

Obscure 80s lyrics, these?

She was a fast machine
She kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman
That I’ve ever seen

AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”, obscure?

The song is still on heavy rotation on the radio, both on “80s, 90s, and Today!” stations and the classic rock stations.

Oh. On the radio. Where the kids today don’t hear it because they don’t listen to the radio.

When I wanted actually obscure, I could listen to the replays of American Top 40 from the 80s, with Casey Kasem. The top hits still pop up on the radio when they’re part of a cheap rights package for radio stations, but when you get down to the 20-something hottest song from July 1985, you’ll hear songs you haven’t heard since then.

But AC/DC’s biggest song? Not obscure.

Also, why is 80s music “World History”? Oh, because we’re a shallow and foolish populace in the 21st century. Never mind, I did not ask.

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We’ll Call It A Draw, Then

College wrestler injured saving teammate from bear attack:

A Wyoming college wrestler didn’t hesitate to help when a grizzly bear attacked his teammate, even though it meant he got attacked himself.

Brady Lowry and three of his wresting teammates from Northwest College were antler hunting Saturday near Cody, Wyoming, when two of them were suddenly attacked by a grizzly bear.

“It was a big bear. Looked scary, mean, teeth, drooling, breath stank,” Brady Lowry said. “Broke my arm. That was the first thing it got. It bit me on the arm and shook me around, threw me.”

He says teammate Kendell Cummings began yelling at the bear, trying to get its attention. He then kicked it and pulled at its fur. The bear eventually chased after Cummings.

“It tackled me and chewed me up a little bit. And then when it was done, it wandered off, and I started calling out for Brady to make sure he was all right,” Cummings said.

The bear circled back and attacked Cummings a second time, injuring his head and cheek, but it eventually took off.

I don’t care if the bear got bored and went back to its PlayStation. They fought the bear to a standstill, will recover, and will have a lifetime of stories.

It’s been a while, but this kid gets the Joseph Kittinger, Jr., Award.

Looking back to the last award in 2009 (!), I see it was also a man who fought a bear.

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On Friday (1995)

Book coverI must have seen this film right after it came out, maybe twenty-five years ago. On one of my trips to Milwaukee in my post-collegiate life, my friend Brian rented it from a video store when I was staying with him, and we watched it along with…. Well, I forget what. The first time I watched it, I was, what, 23 years old, working a retail job probably, and probably having bounced around a couple of times. A couple years out of the house down the gravel road, a couple years out of the trailer park, and a decade out of the projects there in Milwaukee, watching it with a friend in his small apartment just out of downtown Milwaukee, I related better to the main characters played by Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. Of course, I would have been the Ice Cube character and my friend would have been a smoke-free version of Chris Tucker, although I guess he was more of the straight man to my antics at the time.

At any rate, the film depicts life in South Central LA without a whole lot of gangsta, although there is some of that. Ice Cube plays Craig, who is fired from a job on his day off, and his friend Smokey, a pot dealer who has consumed the pot he was supposed to sell. They spend the day with Craig chasing a local girl, being broken up with by his current too-good girlfriend, and interacting with local characters and their family members. When the drug dealer, Big Worm, makes an ultimatum that they repay his $200 by tonight, they have to try to come up with that money, which leads to a burglary and other things more akin to hikinks than true crime.

I guess I had a hankering to see this film again because Severian often uses a photo of Big Worm on his posts and because “Bye, Felisha” kind of rattles around the Internet, or at least blogs I read, as a general dismissal.

But those intervening years have changed me. I’m no longer that young man, nor close to him, so I identify more with the parents in the film, especially the father–who has a job and supports his family and tries to give advice to his son who does not appreciate it.

So an interesting cultural artifact, and not a bad story. No boobies, but lots of doobies, so I’m not sure whether it would be appropriate for my teenagers, but this is the 21st century, and Missouri will be voting in November whether to basically legalize marijuana. So perhaps this movie was prescient as to where our society was going.

At any rate, it would not be a movie report if I did not feature one of the actresses, so let’s look at Nia Long, who played Debbie.
Continue reading “On Friday (1995)”

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Book Report: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne (1869, 1961)

Book coverWow, has it been five years already since I read The Best of Jules Verne (Around the World in 80 Days, Robur the Conqueror aka The Clipper in the Clouds, and Journey to the Center of the Earth). I guess it has been that long. Man, time passes.

At any rate, the book starts out a little like The Clipper in the Clouds, wherein the news contains stories of various sightings of a great crusteacan in the sea causing damage among other ships. WHen an American schooner goes a-hunting for it, the crew brings along a French undersea biology naturalist, his servant, and a Canadian harpooner join them. When they find the beast, they–the trio last mentioned–go to attack it, only to find themselves cut off from the schooner–and they discover that the beast is actually a submarine piloted by Captain Nemo, a man who has quit the world above the sea along with his crew of similarly minded men. The trio are taken prisoner, basically, and travel 20,000 leagues around the oceans–to be honest, I thought up until reading this book that they went 20,000 leagues deep–but they went 20,000 leagues east to west and north to south, mostly not that deep.

They have a series of adventures, which are mostly visits to exotic and often underseas locations. They visit Atlantis, are attacked by giant squid, visit the wrecks from various sea calamaties, and make their way to the South Pole. After the attack of the giant squid, though, Nemo goes a little mad and the submarine wanders until it is caught in a whirlpool off of Norway just as the dry landers escape–which is convenient and a bit abrupt as Verne was meeting his word count or number of episodes to serialize account.

It’s an okay book. It understood submarine travel, although the dimensions of the Nautilus do not represent the dimensions of any actual submarine–too spacious. And the book relies an awful lot on the main character going into catalogues of undersea life that add nothing but word count to the story–this book appeared after Moby Dick, so I wondered if it had some sort of deeper meaning to the verbosity like Melville tried with his work, but I suspect Verne was only trying to make word count.

This book is the last of these Doubleday editions that I’ve read this year–Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty, and Heidi being the other four). I bought these at some point, perhaps thinking I would read them to my children, but I did not. Ah, well, at least I have read them before my children have left me. Which is some small consolation.

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News From My Favorite Minor League Baseball Team


Saturday’s college football game between North Alabama and Jacksonville State will be played in only one direction. Both schools, when on offense, will be trying to score on the same end zone.

The game will be held in Madison, Alabama, just west of Huntsville at a minor league baseball stadium. Toyota Field, which is home to Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas, will host the FCS matchup on Saturday.

Yes, I still have and wear on occasion my sweatshirt. Funny, though, it’s a sweatshirt, which means I wear it the opposite of baseball season, like now.

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Five Things On My Desk Today

I’m really mining this category and my messy desk this autumn, as I did one of these posts in August. But here are five things on my desk (and, likely, were also on my desk in August and might even be on my desk the next time I write up one of these):

  • An inscribed copy of John Donnelly’s Gold.

    I sent this to a long-time (coming up on 10 years) client five years ago after my beautiful wife consulted with him about owning a startup. I mailed it to New York, but I found this used copy listed in LA. And I did order it.

  • Part of an IPad case.

    Shortly after starting my new job, I grabbed one of my wife’s extra gaming IPads for testing a mobile app. After a little while, it stopped charging, and I took it out of its case to troubleshoot it. The case has the rubber outer wrapper and a hard plastic shell that fits inside the rubber. I have the rubber part on my desk as well as the revived after a hard restart IPad, but not the plastic parts. I wonder where those are.

  • A laptop hard drive.

    When I decommission laptops (and desktops), I strip out the hard drives and chips to destroy and to make magnets. However, I have not decommissioned a laptop in years. So how is it that this hard drive remains on my desk. Well, either it’s so small that it slips under other things or I had it in some cubby and took it out to take it to the garage for destruction. But it’s still here.

    Brian J., is that the hard drive from the laptop you made into a mirror? I cannot rule it out.

  • A platter made into a clock.

    A number of years ago, my go-to craft was buying individual plates and platters at garage sales, drilling/punching a hole in the center, and putting clock movements into them. I created a number of them; this one actually has numbers on it. One of my best. We had it on the wall downstairs by the bar for a number of years, but when my mother-in-law downsized this year, one of her wall clocks displaced the living room wall clock, which in turn displaced this one. So it’s been on my desk for a couple of months, only drawing notice when something gets stacked on it and its movement makes loud, frustrated ticks without tocks.

  • A couple of stray spoons.

    In my previous accounting post, I mentioned in passing having a bag of spoons on my desk (although this was in an update to a previous FTomD post). I have moved the spoons back into storage, but these two were under some filing and did not make it into the new Ziploc bag.

    Now that they’re uncovered, perhaps I’ll get around to having them rejoin their brethren.

So, how about the things mentioned in August? Of the five things in the bulleted list, only the Time magazine has moved to the closet. The Holly Hobbie cup, the face paint, the pillow cover, and the water fowl calls are still here. The spoons, as I mentioned, have been put into the storeroom again for another decade or so. And I mentioned in passing a necklace that needed repair–which I fixed once I thought maybe the two strands ending in jump rings maybe should be connected.

So I’d like to think I’m making some slow progress in cleaning my desk, but mostly I’m making blog posts about it.

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These Days, I Am Safe From Deer Attacks

Ohio woman almost loses ear in deer attack during 5K race

Gee whiz, the last 5K I ran would have been…. a year and a half ago? No, the Ruck’n’Run was just last November.

Our autumn schedules have been pretty full of cross country, marching band, and whatnot in the interim. But I understand we are going to do the Turkey Trot this year as well as perhaps the Ruck’n’Run.

Still, they will be during the daytime. So I am more likely to be struck by a car or to be attacked by someone wearing a Thanksgiving-themed costume than be attacked by a deer.

Still, I should probably take it easy.

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