Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Gay New Year!

December 31, 1994

New Year’s Eve! I was single and would be ringing in the New Year with a friend of mine and a roommate. The party plans were vague, but looked strong on paper. We were to go to Santa Barbara, 70 miles up the coast, and party on State Street. Hop from bar to bar before finally settling into one to our liking for the midnight culmination. What our planning failed to take into consideration was the overabundant crowds and inability even to gain entrance to many bars and clubs.

We tried to get in to a few clubs but were unable due to overstuffing beyond allowable fire capacity. In addition to reservation-only arrangements, under which some clubs were operating on this very busy night, we were on the cusp of dejection. It was under this dark cloud we heard a large partying congregation down a side street. With our prospects already dim, we approached. Sure enough, New Year’s Eve revelers spilling out of a club! The place sounded great inside, like a great raging party. We paid our entrance fee and entered.

We were very pleased that our New Year’s rambunctious intent was not to be a lost cause. We victoriously walked to the bar and ordered up a round of drinks. The club was pretty cool, and also very large. The dance floor was off near the back of the club, the music was loud, and good. With hooch in hand we headed for the dance floor. It was here we realized the unexpected.

We’ve all been to a club where the only folks dancing might be a few ladies. Perhaps a group of three or so dancing with each other. This was not only the reverse, but to a whole new extreme. It was predominantly guys, by a generous ratio, and they were dancing with each other. This seemed odd to me. But it didn’t yet dawn on me until I was mentally able to wrap my brains around the way they were dancing with each other. Provacatively. The men were dancing close enough clearly disregarding the publicly acceptable bounds for one’s courtesy space. This was a club that catered to gay men! This was shocking for me to see. How frail I was.

My two teammates and I decided our options were few. If we left we’d be celebrating the New Year on the streets toasting with cups of hot chocolate or coffee. We stayed. They, my heterosexual male chum and female roommate, then decided to spend the bulk of the evening dancing closely amongst themselves. I was an awkward little boy in my mid 20s trying to lose myself in a crowd of gay men.

Later that evening there was the topless gentleman smoking a cigar who took a liking to me. I made polite responses to his advances, but he wouldn’t take a hint. I finally had to tell him I was straight. He was surprised and asked a few times to make certain. It later dawned on me his level of surprise. What was it about me that generated surprise that I might be heterosexual?

As the evening wound down toward midnight things got more daring including the fellow dancing on the bar in his underpants with another patron trying to pull them off.

That New Year’s Eve brought more excitement than I had hoped. We gayly entered 1995. It was with much relief I exited from the club.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Year-End Thoughts

NFL’s sudden death overtime > Major League Baseball’s extra innings.

Video games inspired by movies? No thank you.

I’m amidst Team Klem’s year-end investment review. Reallocate investment dollars and change funds as needed. Start the new year fresh and properly calibrated.

Gratuitous nudity. I take no offense.

Libraries. They're under appreciated.

YouTube. I can't remember how I got along without this thing.

The control panel on an airplane’s cockpit. Can a pilot really know what every knob, lever, switch, and gauge are for? Come on, really? Every one of them?

The television series, The Office, is a delight. I just completed streaming season 3 (I think there are 7 seasons now) off Netflix the other day. Good times, that program. Someday I’ll be current.

Never say . . .
a) “It goes without saying . . .” and then proceed to say it.
b) “Not to mention . . .” and then proceed to mention it.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. What’s he still doing with that nut?

This is a very busy time of year when it comes to eating sweets, cakes, cookies, and related holiday treats. There is sometimes a bountiful volume of such treats that is far more than can be safely consumed. This very topic has been discussed with several siblings. Despite valiant team efforts there have been some casualties as the gluttony peaks out and a few expiration dates set in. Too many fronts, not enough gullets, attrition takes it toll. I’ve been reduced to employing the freezer. I’m not ready to concede defeat, but I’ve gone to the freezer for several items to be reengaged in January. My hope is that a few weeks in the hole will help to balance the odds to a more manageable feat.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year-End Thoughts, politics

I can understand how people are unhappy with the inefficiency of the Health Care system, but how can people honestly think that government intervention will improve it? If you don’t like the level of inefficiency now, just wait until government ‘fixes’ it.

I can understand how people are unhappy with the price of Health Care services, but how can people honestly think that government intervention will improve it? As the saying goes, ‘If you think health care is expensive now, wait ‘til it’s free.’

The atomic weights of the elements on the Periodic Table are very precise. They were scientifically and mathematically determined with only a handful of atoms too volatile to get an exact weight. While estimated weights have been attained, consensus at no point came into play.

Consensus is not altogether a bad thing. Heck, I think it’s great. Especially for deciding whether the office holiday lunch should be at TGI Fridays or Chilis. Not a good method, however, at deciding whether or not global warming is upon us and caused by mankind.

I’ve made it clear that I don’t subscribe to the global warming clap trap. My two main gripes with it? (1) It’s consensus, we are told, that makes this silly talk ‘true’. That doesn’t sound very scientific. (2) The dangerous misallocation of resources it manipulates.
Example: A household has money set aside to put into their home. They’d like to do a home improvement project, plus the home needs a new roof as there were a few roof leaks during the last rainy season. There’s money enough for only one of the two, however. The household decides on the home improvement project instead of the needed new roof. Global warming is that luxury choice of the home improvement project at willful neglect of something else that is a dire need that could have been remedied, but will continue deteriorating.

How stubborn and silly are they, politicians? If the city / state / country are in such desperate financial problems, as many are at present, can the politicians really not see that ‘No new expenses’ and ‘No new social programs’ is a necessary start until cash flow gets heading in the correct direction?

Smoking. I don’t, although I’ve knocked back a number of stogies in my earlier years. My gripe with smoking? The litterbugging. Next time you’re stopped at a left turn signal going onto the freeway, look down at the curb of the island. A shameful mess of cigarette butts sit there in the street looking back.

I don’t subscribe to Sarah Palin’s spooky death panel talk in Obama’s health care scheme. But I’m perfectly OK setting up a death panel for litter bugs.

Insurance fraud and health care fraud add an estimated 25% to the cost of insurance. People found guilty of fraud should be assigned a date to face the death panels.

Frivolous law suits add significant expense to medical malpractice insurance costs. These costs are passed down to health care customers. My proposed solution? A plaintiff that is deemed by the judge to have brought a frivolous lawsuit to court be assigned a date to face the death panels.

Politics is dirty. It’s a shame that politicians so frequently revel in the filth.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

The School Christmas Program

Elementary school programs are a healthy source of amusement. It’s fun to see your child perform in conjunction with all their classmates, plus, naturally, you want your kid to do well. Can they remember what they’re supposed to do? And what they’re supposed to say or sing?

If it’s a big program, getting a good line of sight on your child can be a major frustration, unless they’re amongst the tiniest students in class at which point they’d be placed in the front. Then there is also the jostling and vying for position as parents try to video record or photo their kid.

My boy’s 3rd grade class recently had their Christmas program. Between him getting buried in the back row and my contesting with the heads in front of me, the view was OK, but not video worthy. I asked my boy afterward if he’d be willing to let me record him going solo . . . and ‘a capella’. He graciously consented.

Click here for Part I of the program.

Click here for Part II.

He did a good job. He’s a good boy. And many years into the future I’ll seek to embarrass him with this recording.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Boat Parade

Christmas parades. Once a person’s attained a certain age we’ve probably all had enough of parades, unless you change it up. How about a Christmas parade of decorated boats? This past weekend Team Klem saw just such a parade. Kind of fun.

We were novices at such an event and so had little idea as to the heavy draw a boat parade could bring. We allotted a single hour of drive time when two would have been more appropriate. But we won’t dwell on the unpleasantness of a long slow drive with two restless squabbling kids in the back seat. We were late, so available parking spaces were long ago extinguished by the time we arrived.

I dropped off Team Klem at the party destination and got back in the car to complete the quest for parking. I parked the car a mile away, wrote down the address and cross street where I parked, took off my shirt, and started jogging. Enjoy that amusing visual. Guy wearing jeans and belt with shirt and sweater in hand jogging down the street. What’s life if you can’t make a spectacle of yourself once in a while and laugh about it?

‘You stripped down why,’ you rightfully query. The event was nearly underway and I wanted not to miss it having endured already a rugged drive, so I decided to jog. I also hoped this shirtless precaution would minimize my outwardly sweaty cool-down upon arrival and before socializing would be engaged. Result: It helped but did not negate.

Once at the destination, good times. A small gathering of good friends, delicious grub, and cups of hot cocoa. We walked to the beach and watched the Christmas boats float by.

I’m no sailor, but it looked like chaos out on the water. Some boaters were clearly moving too fast while some boaters had no decorations at all and were trying to float in the middle of the waterway for a ‘front row’ viewing. This created a significant and dangerous logjam. For a while we stood at attention expecting to hear the cracking fiberglass of collision. To our surprise, only close calls.

[video removed by klem on 12/12/2012]

A peaceful and safe Christmas week to you.

Friday, December 18, 2009


What happens to the Klem household when the stabilizing influence of Wife Klem is absent on a lazy Saturday? I recently reviewed a few old video clips and came across visuals documenting this very circumstance. Maybe I should be embarrassed to share this, but I’m not. My Amusement-drive easily overpowers my Pride-drive.

‘So what happens,’ you prod. First, grooming of the kids and myself is quickly waived. My daughter’s hair, as seen here, irrefutably establishes that fact. Also, pajamas go the distance.

Last year our daughter took an amusing obsession toward Wall-E, the good-hearted robot in Disney’s animated Wall-E movie (2008). This particular Saturday morning in November 2008 the Boogie and I decided to do something about it, this obsession. She wanted to be like Wall-E. She then outlined an action plan how this could come to be.

[You can see that this video was recorded with the built-in camera. My daughter was very amused at seeing herself on the monitor as it recorded. Also, please pardon the image reversal, right-to-left. I know not how to amend it.]

[video removed by klem on 12/12/2012]

Having the outline neatly laid out we went to work taking scissors and yellow crayons to a large cardboard box.

[video removed by klem on 12/12/2012]

That secured me a brief 15 minutes of peace and quiet while she walked around being Wall-E and the boy finished the Mt. Rushmore art project on which he’d been working.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things They Say

Parenting duties are occasionally a strain for any parental team. Balancing work, family responsibilities, school drop-offs and pick-ups, extra curricula activities and trying to find brief episodes of down time to rejuvenate a healthy disposition can be difficult to orchestrate. But it’s not all trials and tribulations. There are little bonuses that are mixed throughout these parenting calisthenics.

I’ve made mention of my boy’s early penchant for dinosaurs. His interest in the field of paleontology has seriously waned in recent years as Hot Wheels gained ground. But back in the day he’d like to play dinosaur. I’d be assigned the role of the meat eater and he explained that I’d have to chase him, the meat.

October 2004

“Catch me, Dad. Be a T-Rex,” requested my boy.

“What do I do when I catch you? Do I get to eat you,” I asked. This was followed by the adorable pause of a three year old thinking of how to safely navigate his dad’s dangerous misunderstanding.

“Chase Koobi,” he then suggested directing me to his dog, Kira. “Eat Koobi. She’s tasty,” encouraged the boy with an eye towards self-preservation.

Much laughter ensued on the strength of his witty remark and he was clearly pleased with himself. Then I chased him and ate him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt x

Sign observed outside a church: ‘Serve Jesus. It’s hell without him.’

Sign observed in Chicago: ‘Italian Ice, a Chicago original’. If that was so would it not be called ‘Chicago Ice’?

If I could have anything? A weed-free back yard.

Hearsay sucks.

Underrated: Extra thick milk shakes, though not so thick that a spoon is required thus rendering it a malt.


Friday, December 11, 2009


I’ve got this friend of mine, likes lemons, he does. We’ll call him Adornato. There is a specific variety of lemon he holds in high regard, the Meyer lemon. All others are simply lemons, descriptors are not required, nor deserved, as is the venerable Meyer.

It is the taste of the Meyer that outpaces its lesser behaved brethren. It’s sweeter, believed to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. One can tell the difference by the shape as Meyer lemons are more round.

The guy’s lemon consumption easily outdistances the per capita consumption for the typical U.S. resident. It is the beers, largely, that has caused his spike in lemon volume. Not that he has an imbibing problem, just that each imbibing incident requires a Meyer. It’s as if the lack of one made the other obsolete.

Realizing that his citrus related needs could cause a painful indentation on his family’s household expenditure he sought a long term solution. He bought and planted a Meyer lemon tree, then researched how best to trim and mold it to maximize the tree’s productivity. In the meantime, though, sufficient product would trail by a year or more while the thing took root and grows. This is where his initiative percolated up. When he told me of his next step, I found the telling very amusing. But to him, crucial. His implementation of the action plan would be the difference between success and continued retail grocery prices for the yellow fruit.

He had observed a Meyer lemon tree two blocks from his domicile, but it was inconveniently rooted in a fenced yard. The premises was occupied by a real estate office tenant, a small operation of five or so folks. He paid the office a visit one afternoon and requested an audience with the business owner. Audience was granted and Adornato explained the reason for his visit.

‘It’s not just a lemon tree you’ve got here, it’s a Meyer lemon tree,’ he confidently explained. ‘If you don’t mind, I’d like and appreciate very much the opportunity to pull some lemons off that tree (pointing to the tree out the window) as they ripen up.’

The business owner, having patiently heard him out, granted authorization. Was he just a nice guy, the business owner, for saying yes? Or maybe intimidated by a possible imbalance in a person who’d approach a business for access to their rented lemon tree. Either way, lack of initiative would have left those lemons as a distant coveted object. Instead, the tree was harvested multiple times. He’d enter through the rear gate, wave to the real estate personnel looking on from the safe confines of the office, pick the fruit, and place it in the sack. He even dropped by once to fertilize it.

I never did ask him how committed was his harvesting, but I can only hope he was going whole hog. I want the imagery of him hauling a ladder two blocks from home and climbing up in the tree rather than just casually pulling off what low-bearing fruit he could reach.

The real estate office has since moved. A new tenant exists. But another sales pitch for the Meyer lemon tree access is no longer needed. His on-site tree is now grown and bearing it’s favored fruit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Word For the United Nations. Useless.

The United Nations is a bloated carcass of undulating rubbish not worthy of the high level of press coverage, pomp, and elitist sentiment that it and its members enjoy. But that’s just this guy’s opinion.

The United Nations is hosting a climate change forum in Copenhagen, Denmark. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change began Monday and is in progress through next week.

There’s been much embarrassment on the global warming/climate change front lately. There was the damning documents that were ‘leaked’ showing that data had been manipulated to support the global warming claims while stifling ‘troublesome’ data that countered its desired position. The correspondence shows that many of these scientists were fighting for a cause, rather than science and truth-seeking [click here for the story].

The U.N. is deep into supporting global warming / climate change. My gripe with this movement is that the focus is not in handling the sources and causes of the problem, such as China and India, because these developing countries have no interest in playing along. The target, instead, is the U.S. and western countries that have already taken measures over the years to clean and improve their society’s earth-friendly behavior. So the climate changers peddle their wares to those willing to drink deeply. This creates a major misallocation of resources away from actual problems into these unsubstantiated claims.

But my point in this missive is not to discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of climate change. It is how to revise the appropriate level of perceived worth unto the U.N. from its current undeserved elevation.

Certainly there are larger issues with which to fault the U.N.; its existence, the corruption, and the vaguely worded statements that make its every movement a farcical motion. But this is the issue at hand.

How to amend the U.N.’s undeserved stature? Punish the U.N. by having the U.S. drop out? No. My proposed fix is two-fold:

(1) Treat the United Nations as what it really is. Treat it like an elaborate Rotary Club. Everyone gets together periodically, socializes, slaps each other on the back, pretends to exchange some very important patter, and then adjourn with no expectation of follow through. You go there to mingle, not to get anything done. It’s a giant cocktail party. By realizing this and acknowledging this one can go about properly allaying one’s expectations.

(2) Much of the U.N.’s enhanced visibility is made possible by its New York address. New York is one of the most enormous media hubs in the world. Temper the headlines and photo ops by moving its U.S. locale to a Dakota; North or South, doesn’t matter. The U.N. is certainly not deserving of the headlines or press coverage it receives. Move it to one of the above noted and the future press sessions will likely be reduced to little more than newswire stories or 10-second sound bites collected by static-laden phone interviews. That would seem to be more fitting for an organization such as this that is rife with ethics related conflicts of interest, get-rich siphoning schemes, and a lack of putting any teeth into meaningful causes.

Thanks for hearing me out.

[The above noted essay intends no ill-sentiment or insult to Rotary Clubs or either Dakota.]

Friday, December 4, 2009

Den Jaevla Naboen

He’s of Norwegian descent, this friend of mine, Mr. At A Slower Pace. A viking heritage I have teased him over the years and he has proudly, chucklingly so, accepted it. Flaunted it, even.

A number of years ago he made a visit to the homeland of his people. He returned bearing a gift for his chum, me. A tee-shirt with foreign words, foreign words to me, not Norwegians, scrawled across the front, ‘Den Jaevla Naboen’. Neither of us knew the meaning of the words but much enjoyed saying the words aloud. I wore the shirt with much satisfaction and delight.

June 1994

I was en route to vacation with friends at a Mediterranean coastal destination and was aboard an international flight. The language capabilities of an international flight, one could assume, would be robust. It was amongst such a diverse crowd that I walked down the aisle in the airplane wearing the shirt emblazoned with ‘den jaevla naboen.’ Two folks, very possibly grandparenting sorts, flagged me down to chuckle at the verbiage.

“I’m busted, right,” I asked. By their effusive laughing and gesticulating I suspected that something was unintentionally amiss.

“Yeah, right,” said the old guy laughing, “Busted.”

His spouse spoke Swedish which has many similarities to Norwegian. If you’ll please pardon the vulgarities, it was explained to me that the shirt said, ‘f___ your neighbor.’

I was embarrassed. Following that trip I wore the foul language shirt only amongst my non-Norwegian speaking citizens.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Klem’s Corollaries on Life, excerpt iv

(31) Globes that spin are irresistible. Own one. And occasionally look at the data it holds.

(32) When the batteries of your smoke detector go out, don’t just take them out and forget it. Replace the batteries.

(33) Going on vacation? Turn off your house water lest you tempt a water loss from a leaking pipe or a burst laundry hose.

(34) Don’t use your teeth to open things (i.e., bag of chips or candy). Retain your dignity.

(35) It’s good to know your boundaries or limits. But it’s not OK to be content simply knowing them. Overcome and expand. [Note: please disregard if you are a jailbird currently holed up in the big house. Do not apply this corollary until post-release date.]

(36) ‘Be grateful for our good moods and graceful in our low moods.’ Richard Carlson in 'Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff'

(37) Do not breathe deeply when in close proximity to a dumpster.

(38) Less complaining and more doing.

(39) Don’t eat out of boredom.

(40) A person’s perspective of the world reveals more about that person than about the world.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Compiled Quotes, xii

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King, civil rights leader [1929 - 1968]

“The temptation resisted is a true measure of character.”
Henri Charrière, convicted murderer and author [1906 - 1973] in his book Papillon. (note: incidentally, an awesome read)

“Cause for celebration is less significant than the quality of one’s indulgence.” forgotten