Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Turning 21, Alcohol Eligible

I consider myself a beer snob, but it was not always so.

In my early college years, when drinking related recreation was on hand, I would typically drink whatever alcoholic beverage was present. This ‘settling’ for any alcohol was due to the fact that I was not yet of legal drinking age, but details can be a bother. This left me with the choice of either ‘Drink it or not’, rather than, ‘Would you like this or that’. I quickly realized that the hard alcohol affected my tender young body more harshly than beer, pushing my preference to the carbonated barley drink.

Drinking and driving was not a problem at U. C. Santa Barbara. The community of Isla Vista was immediately adjacent to the university campus and was jammed packed with students. This made ample local party roving conducive to bicycle, skateboard, or feet. My mode of transport consisted of a skateboard and, intermittently, a bicycle.

June 1988

I turned 21. My alcohol intake took on a surprisingly steadying change. Now that I was 21 I could drink whatever I wanted. No longer was I subject to the inhospitabilities of a ‘take it or leave it’ drinking prospect. My drink of choice became beer. I typically knew the affect beer was going to render unto me. I knew how many beers I could consume in a night without involuntarily discarding my motor skills.

When I graduated from college, socializing was no longer foot traffic friendly. It now involved driving. My friends and I might meet at a rendezvous point and then drive to the designated entertainment area.

With driving as the primary mode of transport, my beer consumption was limited to one or two in an evening. Naturally, I wanted to retain my senses so as to be able to drive. With the decrease in my beer quantity, quality of said hooch became the emphasis. I now began to take some preference in what I wanted to drink. [A friendly note, here: Drinking and driving is dangerous and should not be done.]

This was the early stage of me becoming the beer snob that I am today. I have traversed much land in my beer studies. I have enjoyed my findings.

Thank you Wife Klem for the lovely birthday beers; Paulaner Original Munich, the Belgian Peche Lambic, Franziskaner weissbier, Warsteiner, and the two fancy soda pops. I’m lucky to have such a temptress as you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Dinner at The Safehouse

Every family has their traditions. A family favorite of mine is Sunday night family dinner.

When I was a kid my grandparents lived only a few miles away. For as long back as I remember we went to my grandparents’ house every Sunday. Yes, every. As a wee tyke this entailed breakfast. I still remember grandma’s huge pile of pancakes on a platter and her complaining to my mom that the kids (me and four siblings) weren’t eating enough and that my mom should make us eat more. At some point this changed from breakfast to lunch. In the late 1970s the final incarnation became Sunday Night Dinner. When my maternal grandparents passed away Sunday dinner tradition moved to my parents’ house.

We live 30 miles from my parents’ house, code name The Safehouse. On account of the mileage Sunday dinner tradition has been modified to every other Sunday. Sunday dinner entails my parents, my team with two kids, and my older brother’s team and their two kids. It’s always a nice bonus when out of town siblings or aunts and uncles join in. A few weeks ago my younger brother was visiting from Alaska with his two kids. Good times getting all the little cousins together to cause a jovial ruckus.

I look back on my youth going to grandma and grandpa’s every Sunday. I didn’t appreciate it at that time fully as time with the grandparents and family. When I was in college, and occasionally still attending Sunday dinner, grandma regularly issued me extra homemade sauce and boxes of noodles to take back and share with my roommates and friends.

As I got older I became aware of a grander sense of what I had gained from this weekly get-together and knowing who my grandparents were and what their experiences were at different stages of their life.

The memories I have as a kid horsing around on Sunday at the grandparents’ have taken on a new perspective. The younger generation of my kids and niece and nephew now occupy the former role of myself and siblings, while my siblings and I have bumped up to my parent’s former role, and so forth.

Importance of family has been thickly and delightfully entrenched. I like that the kids have so much interaction with their cousins. Over the years seeing each other with such regularity will carry on into the future in a significant way.

Tonight’s dinner was a pre-July 4th barbecuing of burgers and hot dogs with beans. The nightcap included cake and ice cream, on top of the Drumstick ice cream bar I snaked out of the freezer before dinner when nobody was looking. My belly is flush with good times.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Child Development

It’s a sad occasion when your child is sick. The runny noses, coughing, the fever, and the helplessness experienced as a parent being unable to take the illness yourself and having to watch the kids suffer on. Of course, as the child gets older they’re able to tend to themselves to some extent. While that may help to ease the parental burden of providing care as the child becomes more self-sufficient, the mental burden remains with the inability to remove the child’s pain. But even in illness there are occasional thresholds worthy to note.


Our boy was five years old and had been feeling punk, as Pop Klem is apt to say. We were having supper and the boy came to a momentary pause. As a parent you know your child’s expressions and body language.

“Do you want to throw up,” I asked him.

“Yes,” he replied calmly.

“Can you make it to the sink in the bathroom?”

He hopped off his chair and sprinted down the hall into the bathroom. Emission completed and sink rinsed.

Sure, it’s a bummer about the sickness, but hey, no clean up! Let’s hope future vomit episodes meet a similarly tidy fate.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Los Angeles Zoo, a trespassing

July 1979

Two sets of brothers hopped on their bicycles and rode. One set of siblings was me and my younger brother, the other brothers we’ll call the Stewarts.

“What do you guys want to do,” asked one.

“Let’s ride to the park,” suggested a second.

The park was fine and crowded on this sunny Saturday afternoon. Crowded, but not overextended. We bicycled to a walking trail overlooking the Los Angeles River. Seeing a compromised section of fence we discarded the bicycles in a thick batch of vegetation in a sub par effort to hide our vehicles. We stepped through the fence and onto the gentle concrete perimeter downslope toward the water. The water was curiously high and rapid for the summer.

The first set of brothers entered the water with their jeans pulled up over their kneecaps and shoes tied together and hanging over their shoulders with stockings stuffed within. Like fearless pioneers they traversed the 50-foot expanse of water and progressed up the gentle concrete upslope on the other side of the river. My team now set in motion. We crossed helping each other for strength to defeat the current and equaled the performance. Socking up and shoeing forth we inclined the embankment to find another opening in the perimeter fence and removed ourselves.

Proceeding on foot we traveled briskly to the foot of a hill and blazed straight up until we reached a well worn dirt path. Impossible to resist, the path was engaged. Talking, joking, and throwing rocks we walked. Then we came to a 10-foot tall metal chain link fence. The condition of the fence was impeccable with the exception of the fact that the bottom of the fence was a full three-feet above the ground! The intention of the fence was now no more than a farce. We went down onto hands and feet, keeping our pants tidy, and awkwardly crab-walked underneath. With not so much as a dirt stain, we stood up to reevaluate our doings.

We each had an adrenaline rush brought on by the thrill of trespassing and were incapable of retreat. With a heightened sense of awareness the sound of dirt under our shoes was occasionally interrupted by a flurry of unique bird and animal noises. But most curious was the ambient noise as would be dispersed by a large gathering of people. The path intersected with an asphalt paved maintenance road. Craning our necks around the corner and peaking down this same path revealed an aviary, nicely maintained lawn, and a sign. The sign indicated the ELEPHANTS were down a path to the left and JUNGLE CATS to the right. We had entered the Los Angeles Zoo! And at no charge!

We scrounged up a map and perused the wild caged beasts. With a mild feeling of remorse at the unlawful transgression, I thought to pump a dollar into the zoo as a way of dissipating a degree of guilt. One dollar was slipped into the machine and it produced a wax tiger souvenir. It was pastel blue and ill shaped as exhibited by a coarse unformed wax ball in the hind vicinity where two legs and a tail were expected. The machine had performed inadequately; fitting given the means by which access to the premises had been gained. I shoved the figurine into my pocket and we exited the zoo through the main gate.

Crossing the LA River, via a bridge this time, we came to the sloppily hidden bikes and exchanged good byes.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt v

Insatiable? My capacity for cheese puffs.

Elephants. Now there’s an example of no arch support.

Silly? Furniture with manufactured stress marks.

People don’t eat enough beets.

In regard to domesticated beasts, I’m glad that homosapiens ended up with such likable beasts as the dog rather than domesticated kangaroos or giraffes.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Klem’s Corporate Corollaries, an excerpt

21) A goal without an action plan or road map is a mere dream. Don’t settle for being a dreamer.

22) Stop complaining. If you want to be heard, you need only speak constructively.

23) In regard to rumors and gossip, practice avoidance. You’ve got better things to do than to get intertwined with them or accidentally connected as a source. Don’t foster the denigration of your own good name by becoming attached to such stuff. (i.e., ‘ . . . so and so said . . .’)

24) Afraid to speak in public? So is everyone else. Prevail over this fear and speak up, lest you relegate yourself to the ranks of everyone else.

25) Have a comment, pertinent remark, or idea when asked for one.

[Corollaries #1-10 can be viewed here]
[Corollaries #11-20 can be viewed here]


[The enumeration of these 25 Corporate Corollaries completes a 2009 Goal.]

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Austrian Night

September 1995

On a late Sunday night in the sleepy little town of Salzburg, Austria six friends and I slowly chewed back dinner and enjoyed a leisurely conversational recounting of the trips’ highlights.

Exiting the restaurant after the meal we found the town dark, quiet, and no shops of any sort still open. On the saunter to our accommodations one fella offered up a round of cigars which he had purchased earlier that afternoon. Four blocks to the rented loft and not a soul on the streets. With a stogie alight and a failed attempt at blowing a smoke ring, "Wouldn’t it be great if we had a beer in our hand right now," said one aloud just to say what we had all been thinking.

Turning the corner the streets were empty but for one person. A beer vendor of all people! What’re the odds?! One man with a large push cart of merchandise and an ice chest of cold beers. In the spirit of the moment we pondered the following: The beer vendor was certainly thinking that one of two possibilities was about to take place as he saw seven men walk toward him. The vendor was thinking that he was either (1) going to sell many beers to the seven that approached or (2) he was soon to be manhandled and mugged with no chance of police intervention or even a single eyewitness. With concealed relief he was pleased to be dealt option one.

The beers were not your very average 12 oz. cans or bottles one could expect to encounter stateside, they were the larger bottles of the local good stuff. Stiegls. Having already been enjoying ourselves the evening had received an unexpected, though welcome, upgrade. Stogies and chilled bottles of beer we trudged forth.

Returned home I reflected back on the beer vendor transaction in terms of a riddle of who was happier to see whom? The vendor happier to see the seven guys approach to purchase his wares and not get mugged? Or us who had eagerly purchased his wares?


Thursday, June 18, 2009


The breeze was cool, almost cold, and constant. But he had stopped being bothered by this more than a week ago.

He lay uncomfortably on his back. He was barefoot, shirtless, unkempt, and his trousers were torn and soiled. His shirt had been long ago removed and arranged to block the sun from his face. His lips were badly swollen and cracked. They hurt. He was long beyond the thoughts of applying a layer of soothing lip balm in hopes of relief.

He thought only of water and food. A glass of water, he wanted. A gallon, really. He had been without drink for five days, maybe six. Food was ample, but frustratingly inaccessible. Numerous tins of meat, fish, and soups lay at his feet. The labels has been torn from several cans and severely dented from violent smashings together in a bootless attempt to defeat the canning process. The can opener lay on the floor of the vessel in two parts. Broken! Maddening beyond belief.

He didn’t know how far, or near, he was from the nearest landfall. It had been two days since he last had the strength to raise his head and look over the edge of his small vessel. A wooden boat, a row boat, twelve feet in length. He saw nothing but water at his last peak, an endless sea.

Several nights ago a fish jumped out of the sea and landed in the boat. Dumb luck. He ate it hungrily. Raw, squirming in his hands until he discarded the head and fins. Last night two fish landed in the boat. He was too weak and clumsy to handle either of them. They tumbled through his fumbling hands and safely back into the sea.

Despite the circumstances, the nights were actually beautiful. With not a light shining for miles around, the stars appeared as bright as street lamps. The shirt was removed nightly from sunscreen duty and, instead, employed as a pillow as he let his mind wander amongst the stars. This was his escape from the cageless captivity. He was an astronaut floating weightless in space. He was an ancient Phoenician sailor traveling from one land to the next looking to the stars to confirm his way. A 25th century B.C. laborer building pyramids in the desert of Cairo enjoying the night’s break from labor and heat as he stared at the stars and lost himself in his imagination.

An island with fresh water and fruit trees was on the starboard side. It was less than a mile away, but he didn’t know. He hadn’t looked over the side since the island had broken the horizon. The vessel was drifting parallel to the coastline and was getting no closer. Even if he saw it he probably wouldn’t have the strength to swim to it. He had only one oar, the other was lost fighting off the other passengers of the sinking ship. He had been concerned the food would not be enough for everyone.

It was a calm gentle rolling sea that kept him afloat.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Klem’s Top 25 Books

I've made prior mention of my strong standing as a bibliophile. In my younger days I would read a book and keep it, like a trophy, I guess. I couldn’t bear to give it away, retaining every book I read and, ultimately, stuffing them in boxes where they might go years without seeing daylight.

I later came to understand that’s a sad existence for any tome. It was 2002 when Wife Klem and I moved to our current abode. I realized my folly on moving day. There were several heavy boxes of books to lug forward. It was at that moment I began to formulate my new book purge program. Read it, then find it a new home. No more heavy boxes than I need. Besides, a book deserves to be read, not locked away like a criminal. [With the exception, of course, any book written by James Joyce.]

The books were slowly given away to friends or donated to the library. I still have two shoe boxes full of books in the garage that I have retained over the years. I also have a bookcase in the garage loaded with books that I intend to read. Of course, we’ll actively seek another home for them after they’re done with me.

The bookcase is divided into three shelves: (1) Books on the List of Top 150 novels of the 20th century, (2) Novels not on the List, but have piqued my interest, and (3) war and history books. The bulk of these books have been purchased used (predominately from library book sales - I’m not much for new books) or gifted from friends after they’ve read them.

I’ve voiced my disappointment with the List of the Top 150 novels of the 20th century. Once I recognized and acknowledged that disappointment, I started compiling my own list. A therapeutic activity, it was, to help me overcome some of the tripe listed in the 150. I offer you this list of verifiably good books.

Klem’s list of 25 Favorite novels:

1. Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
2. Dry Guillotine – Rene Belbenoit
3. Papillon – Henri Charriere
4. No One Here Gets Out Alive – Jerry Hopkins
5. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
6. Soldier of the Great War – Mark Helprin
7. Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut
8. The World According to Garp – John Irving
9. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
10. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller


Interview With the Vampire – Ann Rice
All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Call of the wild – Jack London
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkken
Shogun - James Clavell
Watership Down – Richard Adams
The Good Earth – Pearl Buck
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
Curious Case of Sidd Finch – George Plimpton


Roots – Alex Haley
Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Fountainhead – Ayn RandTime Machine - H.G. Wells
Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
Tai-Pan - James Clavell

The list is a work in progress. Please advise if you've a book worthy of consideration.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Compiled Quotes, vi

“To explain his feelings to people would mean he needs their good opinion.” forgotten

“It is best to be concerned with the quality of one’s goals than the quantity of one’s goods.” Lyndon Baines Johnson, U.S. President from 1963-1969 [1908 - 1973]

“A writer’s function is not to write what he must, but rather, to write what he would write if his life depended on his taking responsibility for it.” J.D. Salinger [1919] in his book Seymour

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Las Vegas Alley, alternate ending

A reader of this blog requested an alternate ending to Saturday’s ‘A Las Vegas Alley’ post. It is my pleasure to comply.

A Las Vegas Alley, alternate ending

I was in Vegas with a friend of mine. We’ll call him Jones. It was late Sunday afternoon and we were en route to the freeway to drive home. We were at a traffic signal waiting for a left turn arrow. There had already been several greens, but only a few cars were trickling through per signal.

Across the street to the left was an alley, and in this alley were five or so guys. One of the alley dwellers crossed the street and approached me.

"If you pull in over there (pointing to the alley), I can fix that dent," pointing to the dent over my front left fender.

Eager to have the unsightly blemish repaired, I swing a U-turn at the green arrow.

After pulling into the alley I exited the vehicle and extended a hand to greet the artisan. A knuckle sandwich was awaiting me making direct and solid contact with my nose. I collapsed like a heap of wet towels. Jones bolted out of the car and put forth a scrappy effort, so he told me later, but also succumbed to the violence of several aggressors.

Five minutes passed.

"You can stop playing dead. They’re gone," said a bludgeoned Jones tapping me with his shoe.

The vehicle had miraculously not been vandalized nor tires slashed. The keys were still in the ignition, car door ajar, with a beeping emanating from the vehicle warning not to lock the keys in the cab.

Swollen nose and various other wounded parts and blood stained clothes, we got back in the car and drove away in silence. Would have been nice to get a cool drink for the drive, but our wallets were long gone. So also were our adversaries.

The fender dent remained sorely visible as if now mocking my naiveté.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Las Vegas Alley


I was in Vegas with a friend of mine. We’ll call him Jones. It was late Sunday afternoon and we were en route to the freeway to drive home. We were at a traffic signal waiting for a left turn arrow. There had already been several greens, but only a few cars were trickling through per signal.

Across the street to the left was an alley, and in this alley were five or so guys. One of the alley dwellers crossed the street and approached me.

“If you pull in over there (pointing to the alley), I can fix that dent,” pointing to the dent over my front left fender.

I politely declined the offer.

I don’t know if I actually thought he had a Bondo application ready to go, but in reflecting back, I’m confident it wasn’t really for reasons of dent repair I was being encouraged into the alley. I probably avoided getting rolled. It was not my street smarts that saved me, but because it was late and we had to hit the highway. The street signal finally turned green.

Maybe getting beaten down and mugged in an alley in Vegas would’ve made for a better blog post.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Parenting Milestone - The Toilet Masters

There are certain moments a parent tends to remember. Milestones in a child’s development, their special achievements, and happy events. While we can agree that these special moments may vary from parent to parent, all can agree that the day a child no longer needs diapers is memorable.

November 2004

Our boy was three years old. In an effort to entice him out of diapers Wife Klem and I had established a reward. Guano in the toilet instead of diaper yields a viewing of Jurassic Park (1993) and two handfuls of m&ms. (The guy loved dinosaurs and he had asked many times if he could watch that film.)

Late one afternoon after considerable coaxing, the guy delivered! He triumphantly took his position on the couch and stuck an eager hand in the full Tupperware container of m&ms. As per the agreement, he was prompted to take a second handful. He gave a double take pondering his good fortune before sending a second hand swimming amongst the candy delights.

He sat mostly in silence with eyes fixed to the tv watching for his dinosaurs taking down m&ms until he could gag down not one more. It wasn’t until then that he then offered to share with mommy and daddy.

In retrospect, Jurassic Park is not appropriate for three year olds. The guy had a nightmare that night. Oh well, sorry fella, but thanks for not regressing from being a toilet master.

Q1 2006

Our daughter was not yet two and her diaper typically needed a change shortly after dinner. We had come to the amusing practice of asking our boy to smell his baby’s diaper to see if she needed a change.

“Will you smell your baby's bottom, please. Does she have go-go," I asked the boy one evening after dinner. Overhearing the conversation she ran away as he approached. She knew the routine.

"There's your answer," said Wife Klem.

He caught her, put his nose to her bottom, and confirmed, "She has go-go." I carried the crying little girl off toward that clean diaper.

She wasn’t going to suffer that indignity for long. Her toilet master status was attained prior to three years.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

If I Could Stop Time . . .

Imagine yourself with the ability to stop and start time at your whim. Snap your fingers and everything stops around you, yet you alone retain freedom of motion. Finger snap again and movement commences. What would you do if you could stop time and then start it back up at your convenience?

Maybe I’m an oddball, but I get this very strong desire to stop time when I am in a snack food establishment such as an ice cream store, yogurt shop, or bakery. If I could stop time I would gorge on the yogurt and assorted toppings, the wonderful olfactory peaking baked goods behind the bakery’s glass counter, and milk shakes and multiple ice cream scoops with chocolate coated waffle cones.

Silly thing is, I have little hankering to freely consume the prepackaged goods, those encumbered with the UPC tracking codes, under these same imagined time-stoppage intervals. Soda pops and fancy bottled teas in the beverage refrigerator I say ‘No thanks’. Ice cream sandwiches and It’s-It ice cream treat in the stand-alone ice cream cooler, ‘Thank you, no,’ again I say.

Delicious, all, undeniably so, but little desire to abscond with these. Maybe its the idea that the missing prepackaged items with UPC codes could mess up a business owner’s inventory tracking. Possibly even cause an employee to falsely get nailed for alleged employee dishonesty on account of my weakness. The loose merchandise such as the frozen yogurt that is dispensed at the flip of a lever seems almost a temptress. Scoops of ice cream from the five gallon tubs, ‘Who’ll miss two scoops,’ says I. I might even employ a courtesy hand washing before engaging the tubs.

The idea of stopping time to take a nap or get in some bonus reading is also appealing, but curiously not as strong as the pull of the free desserts.

I guess I would need to rotate the merchants, should I be able to cultivate this ‘time-stoppage’ ability, so as not to decimate the supplies of any single store. I mean, I’d be in it for an occasional treat, not to crush someone’s bottom line . . . or my appetite for supper.

Feel free to chime in on when you’d implement your time stoppage.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Annual Clothes Shopping Trip

I am not a manufacturer’s dream. Retail stores do not know me by name. I’m a stubborn consumer who frowns upon the accumulation of stuff.

As recent as only a few years ago I had difficulty accepting that an article of clothing had run its course and needed to be chucked. When is an item deemed worthy of one last wear before it is taken off at the end of the day and thrown into the garbage bin instead of the hamper? A pair of favored trousers with a frayed cuff. Must they be thrown out with as little consideration as a spent watermelon rind? A loyal shirt is faded rendering it a shadow of its former self. Must it be duly cast out like a glass of juice unfortunately bejeweled with a fly?

With some exceptions, I have come to accept the truth that articles of clothing do eventually achieve their expiration date. And to replace the discards I must be willing on occasion to play the part of consumer, reluctant though I be. Rather than throwing a tantrum at the prospect of clothes shopping, I decided to embrace the idea of one annual clothes shopping trip per year. This past weekend was my big trip! The task is done until 2010!

A man of such decadent taste as myself deserves the best. For that reason the bulk of my clothing purchases, since the inception of this doctrine, has transpired at Kohl's. This 2009 shopping venture was fairly modest and was carried out satisfactorily quick; two trousers and three pull over polo shirts. I tried on four pants, selected two, was processed through the cashier, and was out the door in under 30 minutes!

I give full credit for this impressive efficiency rating to Wife Klem. We discussed in advance my goals, she mixed in smart prompting queries to help hone my needs, and even checked online for availability and pricing. With coupons in hand to double team an in-store sale, we emerged unscathed for the experience.

Onward to 2010!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Hour


I had graduated from college, gotten a job, an apartment, and bought a new car. The professional stage of my life had been engaged. The evenings of Sunday through Thursday, for over two decades known to me as school nights, were now relatively free and not laden with the burden of homework. Was this to be the fruits of my years of study? Evenings of leisure?

I had the good fortune of stumbling across a few local friends who hailed from the college years. We convened weekly for a happy hour, and it was good. We’ll call several of these locals Wolfe, Picarelli, and Storer. Happy hour was about the camaraderie, though the inelegance of cheap dining was a definite mood enhancer. For the price of a beer one was granted free reign of the taco bar. Not so much tacos as ‘bowel burners’, so dubbed not because of the zesty zing at the point of entry. This gregarious meal became a highlight of the week.

The happy hour schedule was maintained for well over a year. Eventually people moved and jobs changed until happy hour was no longer a mainstay. The weekly gatherings dwindled to intermittent and finally disbanded. Over the years I lost touch with several cohorts.

After a gap of many years I came across a friend from this era of young adulthood at LinkedIn.com. Turns out he’s a freelance journalist, among other things. Last week he generously endured a battery of questions I posed regarding freelance protocol. I have enjoyed writing for several years and a foray in the area of freelance writing has been a recent curiosity of mine. Wonder if I learned anything from our conversation?

Oh, you can read his blog here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Science Experiment

Our boy is closing out second grade this week. He has done well with his schooling, Wife Klem and I are proud parents. A high note was when he attained the Star Reader Award! That entailed the reading of books and taking tests to show his level of reading comprehension.

Wife Klem had dangled an incentive where if he earned the Star Reader Award we would furnish him with a $50 Borders gift card. Last weekend we went to the book store to use up the card.

The boy maximized his $50 credit by adding in a 20% discount that Wife Klem found online! He bought seven books including a few graphic novels and The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science - 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connolly.

The Experiments book is pretty cool. Most of the experiments are not very time consuming and typically only require common household items. We liked the Overcoming Gravity experiment on page 188.

Things needed:
drinking glass
towel (in case experiment’s results are flawed)

1) Fill glass 3/4 with water
2) Place card, glossy side, completely over mouth of glass (make sure there’s no gap)
3) Press the card to the rim, turn over the glass
4) Once the glass is upside down, remove the hand from the card
5) The card should remain attached and no water leaks out! [Note: Don’t wait too long. If the postcard gets soggy, the experiment will come to an abrupt end.]

[Video removed by Klem on 7/26/2010.]


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Birth of Bongo

June 7, 2001

Our first baby was born. Wife Klem had been anticipating the projected June 7 date and made up her mind that she was done lugging the guy around in her belly. She took it upon herself to get this thing underway.

We engaged a lengthy and vigorous walk after dinner the evening of June 6. I was somewhat alarmed at her tenacious pace and was mentally making emergency preparations in my head in case we didn’t get home before the birthing commenced; ‘If it happens right now, I will run home, get the car, come back to retrieve the laboring Wife Klem, rush to the hospital . . .’ Luckily the contractions didn’t begin until after we returned from the walk.

At 10:00 pm we arrived at the hospital and had the whole place to ourselves. We were early by several hours, as it was explained to us, and other than the appearance of a few medical professionals, there wasn’t any real commotion until the morning.

The boy was born at 10:30 am ranking in at 7 lbs. 13 oz., 21” tall, roughly a 2-Regular in suit size, we’ll say.

He came out looking like an ape what with his purplish wrinkled skin. Luckily, he quickly morphed into a lovely little guy. This was the first grandchild on both sides, so you can imagine the fawning reception as he was being passed around the horn to family members.

Those first 24 hours after birth were very hectic. At one point while Wife Klem and the baby were still in the hospital, I made a return visit home. Retrieve some gear for another overnighter at the hospital, feed the dog (Kira), take her out for her toileteering, and refresh her water bowl. We were advised by the dog trainer, a few months prior, to bring a blanket home that had wrapped the baby to let the dog get familiar with the scent. By doing this, when the baby comes home the dog will have had some introduction to this new animal in the home.

So on this trip I let Kira smell the baby blanket. I was very busy so I put the little blanket on the floor for her to smell while I completed my checklist of things to do. When I finished my chores I found Kira lying on the floor with her nose on the baby blanket. I took this for a good omen as to how she would be with the baby. A good dog.

When the boy arrived home from the hospital the dog’s tail was wagging vigorously like I’d never seen before. This was the first time they met, she and the baby boy, and she wanted to see what kind of little beast we had brought home in mommy’s arms. She got in many good snufflings of him. The next day the dog slept on the floor at the foot of the boy’s crib during his nap, just as Wife Klem had hoped.

The baby’s first Friday Night Movie Night was Castaway with Tom Hanks. The boy was one week old. We didn’t want to break completely from household protocol just because of a baby, so we continued our FNMN tradition, but slimmed the viewings down from two videos to one.

Those first few days we occasionally thought it odd to be handed the kid and sent home in fairly quick succession. ‘What? No manual for this thing?’

Eight years later and he’s still alive! Thankfully he’s shown more resilience than pet guinea pigs and hamsters I’ve had as a kid.

Considering all the time and work that babies require, good thing they are cute so that parents would fall in love with them,’ observation from Wife Klem.

Happy Birthday, Bing! We love you, man.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Night Pig Ear

I’ve made no secrets here of my eager anticipation of each and every Friday night. Every Friday brings Friday Night Movie Night at the Klem homestead. It denotes a break from the drudgery of gainful employment to bask in the glories of a well earned leisure.

The Friday night pleasantries date back to when I was just a little rascal of four years, at least that’s my earliest recollection. Mom and Dad Klem would put out a bed sheet in front of the tv and allow me and my brothers, I don’t think my baby sister was yet tossed into this Friday night melee, to heartily ply ourselves with Cheetos, potato chips, popcorn, and soda. It was an hour of magic.

Wife Klem and I have enjoyed our own Friday Night Movie Night routine for over a decade now. As Friday winds down at work a smile crosses my face as I realize I’m closing in on movie time.

We also implemented a Friday night treat for our dog. After the kids are in bed on Friday she gets a pig ear. Pig ears! Actual ears of pigs that’ve been baked up to a crunchy goodness. Some ears are even visibly equipped with the numerical ID tattoo from the commercial pigging operation. Good times! She, Kira the dog, takes her pig ear and lies down on her rug and eats it down with the elegance of a child placed in front of a plate of donuts.

Today is a special day, I lift a pig ear prerequisite. I had been requiring that our noble beast eat all her dog food to qualify for the pig ear. If she didn’t eat it all, she didn’t qualify for the ear. She dines daily on 1/2 can of wet food and almost two cups, or a pint as we prefer in the grog shops, of dry food mixed together in one bowl. She likes the wet, tolerates the dry. She’s a good dog, that Koob. Even if she sometimes leaves a few dry food kernels in her bowl.

[Proudly showing that she’d zeroed out her dinner.]

[Waiting for the ‘pig ear’ cabinet to open and yield its reward.]

After putting the kids to bed she eagerly greets me at the bottom of the stairs and prances into the kitchen. The dog prances, I just walk, where she’ll stare at the ‘pig ear’ cabinet waiting for it to open, wagging her tail in anticipation.

Tonight’s Friday Night Movie Night is The Wrestler (2008) starring Mickey Rourke.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Tumble From a Moving Vehicle

Vehicles today have numerous safety features that were absent a few decades ago. Present day, the vehicle tells you if a passenger’s seat belt is not fastened. If a door is not securely closed a light will indicate this compromised condition to the driver. Good thing that these safety upgrades, amongst numerous others, are in place. After all, wouldn’t want someone to tumble out of a moving vehicle.


It was Sunday morning and the Klem family had visited an aunt and uncle en route to our weekly visit to grandma and grandpa’s. As us five kids exited the residence we piled into the station wagon, the ‘Steaming Pile’ was this vehicle dubbed for reasons not to be elaborated here. I was second to last, and thinking that the final sibling would simply enter the vehicle after me, I didn’t latch the door.

As things would have it, the sibling entered through a different door. I quickly forgot that my door was ajar, plus I was not belted, and the automobile pulled away from the curb of this peaceful residential neighborhood. These were different times the 1970s, the ‘Click-It or Ticket’ slogan was decades away.

As the vehicle gained speed the door swung open, I had been leaning on the door and I slipped out of the car. Moving my legs as fast as I could, I took a few steps running alongside holding the car door. I looked at my older brother who had been sitting next to me. He looked at me and he got a visual of the terror that was certainly on my face. I was ten years old and my little legs couldn’t keep up, too fast, slipped, tripped, I tumbled to the pavement in the middle of the street. Asphalt. I had been sitting on the driver’s side in the middle row. Luckily, no vehicles were heading in the opposite direction. My left arm was scraped up and bloody, but no major injuries, stitches, breaks, or hospital visit needed.

I recall lying on the couch at grandma and grandpa’s and being offered a 7-Up. I declined because I had this silly notion that the carbonation of the beverage would somehow translate to an uncomfortable bubbling of my open wound. I know, that’s crazy talk.

On the drive home I did not sit adjacent to the door.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Daring Gambit


I was a bachelor, it was a Saturday night, and I was out for the evening with several bachelor pals at a club. A night club or dance club, if you will. Not an exotic dance club, just to make perfectly clear in case Mom Klem is listening in.

It was crowded and the line to get inside was several people deep. There was mild jostling at the entrance with people vying for position, plus the doormen appeared to be experiencing confusion amongst themselves. One doorman checked ID, a second guy collected money, and a third stamped one’s hand signifying they had paid and then allowed entrance.

Visibility at the front door was limited on account of the crowded tightly packed confines and poor illumination. In the melee of limbs and bodies, mixed with the distraction of the glut of doormen, I sought to take advantage.

While my ID was being checked by guy #1 I saw that the money collector, guy #2, was occupied with another patron. I reached my arm ahead to the hand stamper, guy #3, whose attention was momentarily directed elsewhere. Without even looking, he stamped the hand that found its way to him. Mine. As everyone advanced one slot I proceeded to the money collector and confidently showed my hand stamp. He waived me through with no money collected!

I beat the system. Net gain from this daring gambit? Five bucks. Sweet victory.

Monday, June 1, 2009



It was Saturday morning and my oldest brother was playing in a soccer game at a local school. The established routine during the games was that the siblings, however many of us were lugged forth, would roam the school grounds while mom watched my oldest broheim in his soccer match. On this day it was my younger brother and I who tagged along with Mom Klem. Furthermore, it was I who got into some trouble.

We were eight and ten years old. We were walking around the classroom buildings just wasting time hoping the game would be over quickly. I don’t recall the specifics of our unsupervised mischief, but at one point I was lying on my belly on the walkway leaning over a storm drain adjacent to a building, and I fell. My hands and arms were occupied somehow so they were not free to stop my fall. I landed on my head. It was only a three foot drop, but the landing surface was concrete.

“I can’t move my arms,” I said to my brother. I was a scared little guy, but not yet frantic.

I awkwardly got back to my feet without the use of my hands and arms on account of the paralysis. (Really awkward without the benefit of these two nifty limbs. Try it.) I then had to get back up to the walkway. There were handrails that I could previously have used to pull myself back up to grade level, but they were useless to me given my state of paralysis. The walkway to which I was trying to reestablish myself was at belly button height. I bent forward lying on my belly and chest then rolled over to get back up there. I again awkwardly got to my feet.

The plan, I guess, was to tell mom that I had an accident and half my limbs were now nonfunctional. Luckily, after taking a few steps my arms and hands tingled back to life and their use was restored!

A scary two minutes quickly faded away and was never discussed again.