Monday, August 31, 2009

The Water Park. Defeat.

We’re on the cusp of admitting defeat, is Team Klem. The goal of 20 is a distant thought well beyond the horizon from where we stand at present.

In May we bought season passes to the local water park and were excited at the prospect of pushing toward our personal record for number of visits in one summer! Sadly, we’ve visited the amusement locale only seven times since the acquisition of said passes. I’m embarrassed about how I let ourselves fall so far behind pace. The park closes in two weeks. We’ll have until May 2010 when it reopens next year to ponder how we’ve underperformed this summer.

I could blather on, offer explanations, reasons, and excuses as to our rather pedestrian number of visits. But it’s best if I just provide the facts and let them speak for our lack of gumption in this regard. Seven.

I suspect we’ll try again next year with another batch of season passes. The goal may have to be set at a more lackluster, though attainable, elevation. Or do we abstain next summer breaking the streak that links back to 2003?

Disappointed but not entirely dejected. Tomorrow we’ll seek something different on which to claim victory.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Gift of Ears

“Who mailed us corn,” asked a surprised Wife Klem the other day staring down at the contents of an unsolicited package that arrived with the mail and had just been opened. After barely a moment’s pause I knew from whence it came. I also knew without any further inspection that it was of the sweet corn variety.

I’ve got this friend of mine, quite a chum, really. We’ll call him Dan At A Slower Pace. We met at work nearly two decades ago, a friendship that transcended the work confines. This friend and his family have ample property at their home and have employed a portion of it as a generously dimensioned personal “garden”. How generous? And why is “garden” in quotes? 15 acres dedicated to a noncommercial farm operation is tough to call a garden, but qualifies easily as generous. He, too, blogs and recently posted about his crops and this season’s haul.

Growing up in southern California, as I did, a farm, or 15 acres of personal garden, holds a certain mystique for me. Upon reading his post I couldn’t contain my unsophisticated agricultural curiosity. To read his post, peruse the photos, and mock my city boy comments [click here] and fast forward to his August 9 post. Dan graciously volunteered to feed my curiosity with the aforementioned unsolicited gifted ears of corn.

Thanks for the sweet corn, Mr. At A Slower Pace. The ears were delicious and consumed enthusiastically.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt vii

People who dress their dogs in outfits or a sweater. That’s too bad.

Pumpkins are deserving of better standing than the secondary thought attributed to a seasonal fruit.

Based on it’s pronunciation, I’m not comfortable with the spelling of ‘colonel’.

Cardigan sweaters do not exude a spirit of aggressive intent.

Cats bury their guano. Sissies. But then, you gotta respect their tidiness when compared to poo-throwing monkeys.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Canine Insectivore

[Warning: A graphic carnage-filled video follows.]

It happened this summer during a slumber party. The entire Team Klem was being hosted by the entire Team Adornato. It started with the cats, of which there were two.

One feline had caught a moth, a large one, while playing outside and brought it indoors where it was released. The cats jumped and chased the thing as it skittered along near the ceiling. The dog got worked up by the frenzy and joined in the rumpus. Perhaps it was due to the confusion of the melee, the moth made a strategic error by recklessly diving down to a more attainable altitude for it’s landlubber assailants for which it paid dearly. Snatched!

Emerging from the room victorious was the dog, Lucy Chew. She plopped on the ground holding her prize, the moth, deftly between her paws and ‘playfully’ pulling at the moth’s wings with her teeth. An entertaining scene for the callous of heart. The carnage was caught on video.

Thanks again to Team Adornato for hosting the slumber party this summer. Good times, unless you were the moth.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Little Treat

‘What happened to my car,’ I thought to myself walking past it in the parking lot at work the other day. It looked so . . . clean.

I have a field job. I drive to the office Monday morning, retrieve the company car, and drive it around all week in the name of work. My personal car domiciles overnight in the parking lot three or four nights each week.

A vendor is contracted to periodically visit the lot and wash the company cars. You know, it puts up a good clean positive image when employees meet customers looking tidy. It makes sense.

The company cars are parked in two aisles and don a company sticker on the rear bumper. My personal car is a former company car. The company sticker, though cracking and far from pristine due to age, remains affixed on my rear bumper. On Monday morning I parked it in a spot adjacent to the two aisles, but not in one of the aisles.

The car cleaning vendor washed cars this week. I saw my personal car the other day as I walked to the office after parking my company car. It had an unfamiliar shine to it. They had cleaned my car by accident! I smiled at the treat of an unexpected washing, then left it in the lot two more nights.

I drove home from the office this afternoon into the weekend looking through a squeaky clean windshield. Well, at least squeaky clean on the outside. I wonder if they’da vacuumed the interior if I left it unlocked?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health Care Reform

Health Care reform has gotten plenty of attention the last few months, and for good reason. The cost of providing health care and the level of care that best befits one’s family are important issues. Anyone would be hard pressed to successfully argue that improvements are not needed.

The ongoing health care reform discussion presented by the President and Congress are based on two major points:

1) Our current health care system is too expensive.
2) Health care should be provided to everyone, mainly the uninsured.

I’d like to air out my concerns by addressing both.

(1) Health care is expensive. Most people will agree with that. Estimates place health care costs in the United States at about 15% of Gross Domestic Product. That’s a significant amount of jack. The Federal government is looking to interject itself as the solution by actually providing health care. Does anybody really expect that health care will become less expensive if the Federal government takes over?

From an expenses standpoint, this health care reform has absolutely no merit. The private sector is, and will continue to be, a less expensive option than any version of Government health care. As the saying goes, ‘If you think it’s expensive now, wait until it’s free!’

(2) So you want the uninsured not just to be insured, but to be provided health care at no charge. That sounds like an expensive proposition. This in itself seems to defeat the first point.

There’s some disagreement as to the actual number of Americans without health insurance, but let’s go with the high estimate of 15%, 45 million. Are we really going to change the entire health care system to accommodate 15%? Does that not sound extreme? In the least it sounds like a reckless thing to do.

A few additional issues to discuss in the face of the proposed legislation:

(a) We are told that people will be able to retain their employer-provided plans if they prefer them to the public option, the Government plan. That’s baloney! Once the government offers a free plan, employers will more than likely drop the employer-health care benefit feature. ‘Why continue with this expense if government provides it at no cost,’ employers will ponder. This employer-option will cease to exist.

(b) Health care options would decrease. As the other health insurance options disappear in the wake of the Government’s plan, options for health care will actually become fewer, not more as is being boasted with this reform. That’s too bad, this result of fewer options. People need options because we all place different priorities and values on health insurance and the level of care people want depending on what stage in life they’re in. Whether a person is single, married with young kids, or elderly drives this sliding scale of need.

A one-size-fits-all plan is inappropriate for health care. In fact, one-size-fits-all does not work outside the realm of tube socks and spandex.

Think of houses, for example. People place value on different features. Some folks may want a fancy house, ranch style for others, a two story home versus a one story, and beach front preference to mountain areas. Our current health care system does offer different choices. A government plan ultimately stifles choice as explained above.

The same level of health care for all is a bad idea. This is especially so when this ‘same level’ relegates everyone to a sub par standard. People want different things and strive to complete their own dreams, desires, and goals. If some desire, have planned for, and have secured the level of care they want for themselves they should be able to have it. These freedoms of choice are motivation for people to improve themselves and their circumstances to meet their goals and provide for their family.

Health care is in need of reform. Perhaps these reform ideas are worthy of consideration:

1) Amend the way medical services are charged. How about paying for medical and health care based on results rather than services performed and medication dispensed? That pair of $50 aspirins maybe won’t be prescribed unnecessarily if there’s no 1,000% mark up.

2) Malpractice law suits. If a suit is deemed to have no merit, then the claimant and their law firm should be subject to absorb the entire cost of all legal expenses or a significant penalty. The desired effect is to discourage frivolous lawsuits. This will bring down the cost of medical malpractice insurance which will result in a lower cost of practicing medicine.

Health care is an important topic that is worthy of more detail than these abbreviated offerings. But if I don’t cut this down to a more digestible size nobody would bother to read this but Mom Klem. With that, I close.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bitten By a Goose

The petting zoo never disappoints. All those baby goats, sheep, and pigs available for the petting. Cool stuff. Except for the time a goose gave me a bloody lip.


The family went to the Los Angeles Zoo. I was just a little guy of six years entering the petting zoo quadrant. After looking at the caged beasts for over an hour my siblings and I were pretty lathered up at the idea of actually touching some.

Petting zoos are commonly equipped with feed dispensers. Toss a coin into the slot, turn the knob, get the feed from the dispenser, and commence enticing the animals to come close for a touching. If one hasn’t coins to load into the machine, guile must be employed to get within arm’s reach of the more elusive creatures. My older brother, I saw, had seemed to prove hearty in this area.

With nothing in his hand, he would cup it, as if it were loaded with oats and whatever, and extend it toward the desired animal. This proved effective in getting the animal’s attention and they would approach, unwitting prey. The downside, though, was that the animals would scamper off once they were close enough to observe the cupped hand was merely nude. So close, but lacking success. Try again.

I liked the sense of sport in this. Optimistic that I’d work this technique to fruition, I spied the object of my desire. A big goose. I wanted to pet that goose. Empty hand was cupped and extended. Goose’s attention gained, he approached, observed the deceit in my hand, honked, and walked away.

‘Oh no you don’t,’ I thought to myself. I pursued. Goose quickened its pace, I equaled it. He went under an unskirted building that had been raised on pillars. With almost three feet of clearance, I followed. At this point the goose turned. ‘I’m gonna touch him!’ I thought. And I was right. But not as I had hoped.

He ran at me, too fast for the clumsy unhoned motor skills of my six years. He bit me on the lip!

I emerged from under the building a crying little guy and a bloody lip. Pop Klem bought me a snow cone in hopes to minimize the swelling. Once he saw that I was fine, more scared than harmed, I can imagine the effort he had to summon to suppress the laughter that this lip biting goose must have inspired.

I have since forgiven the goose and bear it no ill will.


A second incident at the same petting zoo involved my sister and a baby goat. The goat head-butted my sister. ‘A baby goat. How cute,’ one might think initially. Except for the small set of horns starting to protrude from the goat’s head. My sister, a tough five years, remained afoot despite blood flowing from her forehead. With a handful of napkins Pop Klem was present to staunch the bleeding.

My two kids have remained unscathed in their petting zoo visits. Though Wife Klem and I will continue to tempt fate.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Football Haiku

It’s nearly football season! The pageantry of the game, the highlights, the statistics, the emotional highs and lows of the football games enriching each game day. The anticipation of the NFL puts a little extra spring in my step. Really I can’t wait. With that, I offer a football haiku.

Hundred yards of green
Pigskin hash marks pads and ball
Football I’ve missed you


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Klem’s Corollaries on Life, excerpt ii

(11) Don’t be rude.

(12) Don’t use foul language. It depreciates your own character rather than that of the person to whom your foul language is directed.

(13) It’s not always what you’re obligated to do that’s most important. Oftentimes, it’s what you don’t have to do but care enough to do it anyway.

(14) Change the filters in your furnace and air conditioning intake.

(15) Don’t be a one-upper. Let someone else have their moment.

(16) Complaining is for those who have given up. Remain above that self-degradation. Just think of a solution and move on.

(17) Sun block. Use it. Your kids too. This’ll make more sense once you’re 40+ years old.

(18) Eat vegetables.

(19) Read to your kids. And once they’re able to read, take the time to listen to them read.

(20) Train your dog.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Heroes. Not Dorks.

We recently visited a college buddy of mine and his family for a weekend. We’ll call them Team Adornato. They’ve got a pair of kids, same ages as ours, and they all played well together with only a few minor flare-ups.

At one point Adornato and I slipped away to get in some video gaming. Yes, my weakness for video gaming raises its head yet again. The gaming system for the weekend was the Xbox. The game was Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock.

“You guys are dorks,” said his daughter, a smart eight years old, as she came across the two of us discussing our gaming. There is certainly a healthy dose of validity to her comment. Although I am humbly inclined to suggest that ‘Heroes’ might be more accurate, ‘Guitar Heroes’ to be precise.

For those not familiar with the Guitar Hero game series, please allow me to briefly explain. You have the option of one or two players. Team Adornato being equipped with two guitar gaming controllers, we rocked out simultaneously alternating duty between lead and bass guitars. We proved to be a commendable force in this capacity.

In the game, the players select a song and the game delivers a color coded sequence denoting the guitar riffs. The players are to duplicate the color coded sequence of notes with their guitar controllers. If performed inadequately, players miss too many notes for example, the players are ‘booed off stage’ and the game abruptly ends the song. You may then try again, choose a different song, or try an easier setting. More songs are gradually unlocked, made available, as the players proficiently complete the easier songs. I don’t mind admitting, it’s fun stuff.

Sunday night when the kids went to sleep, we unleashed a fury unto the game that unlocked the 35 songs plus 15 bonus tracks in just over two hours! There remained a number of songs available on the Guitar Hero virtual store, but those remain for purchase rather than earned on merit as we had become accustomed.

Upon this recounting, I feel compelled to reconsider my earlier rebuke. Perhaps Dorks is more appropriate.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wingtip Repair

My first week of work at a full time post-college job concluded 19 years ago today.

August 1990

I reported to work, my first day on the job, in the pinstripe suit, a striking blue tie, my favorite, and new black leather wingtip shoes. By the end of the first day my feet were blistered and sore. So recent from college was I that the footwear to which I remained best accustomed were sandals and high-top basketball shoes. But being one who enjoyed personal milestones I cheerfully noted, at the end of day one, that this had been the longest I’d ever worn the wingtips, nearly ten hours including drive time to and from the office. Hopefully, the shoes would become more comfortable with each successive day, I thought to myself.

By noon on the fifth day my tender toes had had enough. Blisters were several, one had popped, and walking had become painful. At lunch I walked 200 yards to the neighboring enclosed shopping mall where I located a retail Florsheim shoe store. Having pleaded my case of too tightly bound feet, the shoe merchant gladly took the lightly worn dogs and placed them on the shoe stretching machine in the stock area. This machine, in those few minutes, became my favorite mechanical innovation.

While the wingtips were being racked, I perused the shoe shelves from the comfort of my stockinged feet. Eating a honey roasted turkey breast sandwich with American cheese, which I had packed myself, I felt somehow gleeful in the setting what with my suit and tie, but no shoes as I strolled the aisles with sandwich in mid-consumption.

In due time, the shoes were returned, sandwich taken down, stockinged feet neatly enveloped by the complimentary stretched leathers, and 200 yards were counted off as I returned to the 11-story office building.

My first professional conundrum had been swiftly tackled. A mounting sense of invincibility began to develop.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Compiled Quotes, viii

“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don’t know.” Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, author [1835 - 1910]

“I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions, the curtain was up.” Groucho Marx, comedian [1890 - 1977]

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President from 1801-1809 [1743 - 1826]

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Professional Wardrobe

July 1990

It was the first suit I ever owned. I recall trying it on, liking it very much, but thinking it was too powerful, if that sounds odd. Black pinstripes. I tried to express that sentiment to the salesman.

“No old man’s going to be offended by this,” he reassured. He knew this was the suit for my first real job interview.

I bought it. A week later I was offered the job! I had successfully maneuvered the transition from carefree college student to contributing member of the workforce. I was pleased with myself.

There were two weeks until I was to report for work. The clock was now running and there was much to do. Other than one suit, my wardrobe consisted of generous servings of sweat pants, t-shirts, white socks, and athletic footwear. An upgrade was needed to suits, leather shoes, sports coats, collared shirts, ties, black socks, and slacks.

This clothing upgrade was a very difficult issue for me. I did like the cut professional attire would furnish a fella. The purchase of the correct pieces and donning them in a combination to be considered an acceptable ensemble in the workplace, however, seemed a stretch for someone of my casual stylings.

August 1990

I was a young scribe freshly emerged from the coastal University of California at Santa Barbara. It was Monday. I commenced my professional infancy looking both awkward and adorable in my black pinstripe business suit.

Work. This is how it began 19 years ago this week.