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Indiana Jones The Ghost and a Halloween Fright 300x225 In Praise of Halloween

I love Halloween — always have. It’s one of the few holidays we still have left that hasn’t been screwed up by commercialism, family in-fighting or magical bunnies.

But it’s not like people haven’t tried.

It blows my mind that my kids can’t wear costumes to school. It was one of the greatest days of the school year back in the early 80’s. The public schools continue and try to make everyone the same and kill any personality — let them live! When I told my kids I went to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade as the Phantom Football Player complete with fangs, blood, and shoulder pads and a helmet they looked at me with envy.

The “I gotta full bar!” envy.

I guess it’s hard to expect them to be able to wear costumes to school when they can’t even trade at lunch. My God, the lunch table is where half the Fortune 500 CEO’s learned to negotiate.
This day is all about fun, and my neighborhood is a total throwback. 400 pieces of candy doesn’t get the job done. We have routinely run out of candy around 8 PM and have to shut the house down so it looks like we’ve abandoned it to the aggressive trick or treaters.

My normal duty was leading the kids around with a flashlight pointing our curbs and bushes so they don’t do a header on the concrete (which happened one year to “The Beast”). I would nod at all the other dads as they hold a flashlight in one hand and a “mug of fun” in the other. I’m running out of kids that trick-or-treat.

Another great thing about our neighborhood is that the parents really get into it. Some houses really go all out with decorations for the kids, others get really creepy (complete with severed heads), and one even serves adult beverages when you stroll by (the real heroes). The cocktail I had last year was the strongest drink I’ve had since I was in the Phi Delt house the fall of 1991 at Washington State.

A couple of years ago I made a wise-ass crack about a few tick or treaters being taller than me. A friend jumped all over me arguing that if they are stretching out their childhood by getting into the spirit of Halloween, then that was a great thing. She was absolutely right. I was thinking like an ass.

The number of years that our kids actually get to be kids is shrinking. Quickly. I keep pushing Lego on boy #2 hoping to hold off his inevitable accelerated leap into adolescence and leaving childhood behind, but the interest is fading.

So when that 14-year-old comes dressed up as Richard Sherman, tell him you love the costume and just thank God he isn’t egging your car.

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I wrote a new piece over at my writing blog today that has literally been kicking around in my head for 13 years and thought you guys would appreciate it. It’s a 9/11 tribute about the smartest person I’ve ever met. As a guy who’s worked in tech since the late 90’s, that’s sayin’ something because I’ve worked for some of the most powerful companies in the world with some insanely smart people. But none of them as smart as this guy

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molehole The Showdown in My Front Yard

It’s either them or me.

While working in the yard the other day, I overheard my 9 year old telling his friend that his dad used to have a mole killing business. WHAT???? If he would have told his buddy I was an astronaut, it would have been closer to the truth. I had no idea what he was talking about so I went over to investigate.

“You killed that mole, dad. Doncha remember?”

Oh, so that’s what he was talking about. This happened a while ago, but I wanted to get the facts straight, so I told him this story.

(harken back a couple years ago …)

It was one of those days.

The second I walked through the front door from a long day at work, it was one piece of bad news after another. I was home a grand total of 3 minutes before it started; Girl #1 went to the orthodontist that afternoon and a fight broke out between boy #1 and #2 in the waiting room. In the scuffle things went flying, and now girl #1’s glasses are missing. There’s $300. The doctor must need a new beach house because the “first phase” of orthodontia is going to set us back $3400. More good news. Add that to a fun economy, a couple of misbehaving boys, a nice ticket I received in the mail from the city of Lynnwood complete with a picture of our minivan blowing through a red light on two wheels and you have the Monday from hell.

Then I went out to the front yard.

I shuffled out to clear my head and water the lawn when I saw it. A brand new mole hole right smack dab in the middle of my perfectly green lawn. There are only two things in this life that I can control right now: my hair and my lawn. And given the fact that I’ve been working so hard on my lawn, I would have been less pissed if the mole sprouted from my head.

The good thing was that it was fresh … at least that’s what I told myself. We have trouble with moles every year but generally not this early. They are #1 on my “Axis of Evil” when it comes to my yard. And this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The son of a bitch was mine.

I grabbed my shovel and started clearing away the dirt. I got to grass level and started banging on the hole like I was trying to open the hatch from “Lost.” After a few good, therapeutic whacks, I just stared at the hole … and then something moved. I think it was a paw, or a hand or whatever the hell they have. I jumped in the air like a 12 year-old-girl. Wasn’t expecting that. I frantically ran off — full throttle in my flip flops and grabbed the hose like my house was on fire.

It was on.

I yanked the hose across the front yard like a man possessed and my wife (at the time) came out to see what was going on. I filled her in with a voice that probably sounded more like Bill Murray in Caddyshack than any normal human being, but given our mole problems in the past and what I’ve paid to have them removed — she got it.

I cleared more dirt away from the hole and jammed the hose as far in as it would go and turned the water on full blast. I wasn’t going down without a fight this time. Of course, I had no idea what would happen when all that water gushed in, I just figured the mole wouldn’t come down that tunnel again — like in Caddyshack when the gopher just took off running the other way when he saw the water running in. Yeah, I really thought that. We waited while water gushed under our lot just like it did at Bushwood Country Club … then the dirt moved again. Out popped a pink nose … and then it was gone.

“Oh my God, did you see that?” She said.
“Oh, I saw … ”

And before I could get the rest of the sentence out of my mouth the entire mole came flying out of the hole and waddled across my lawn like he was late for a dinner reservation. My wife freaked out and I grabbed my shovel.

“There it goes!! Get it! Get it!!”

I gotta be honest, I’m not one of these guys who would trap moles for fun. I don’t hunt and I love animals. But this was different — he was an intruder on my property. Also, an article I recently read flashed through my mind about how moles can cause thousands of dollars of damage. By that time, it had scurried to find the dirt on the edge of my lawn and was starting to burrow. So I swung the shovel as hard as I could and …


I regrouped and took an even bigger swing this time and hit it dead-on. Any hope that creature had of escaping into the friendly confines beneath my lawn was gone. Bullseye. I gave it a couple more whacks just for good measure, a little theater and because the adrenaline was pumpin.’ Yep, it was dead. With no dignity either — its head was in the ground and body on the grass. The mole equivalent to dying on the toilet.

I had successfully defended my turf.

We both just stood there, amazed at what had transpired in the past 120 seconds. In my wildest dreams I never thought that thing would come shooting out of the hole. I gotta be honest though, it felt manly. I looked at my wife proudly, thinking she thought it was pretty manly too.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have killed it,” she said. “It’s kinda cute, like a hamster.”

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How to Raise an Entrepreneur

When the structure around you starts to crumble, the more you can take care of yourself, the better off you’ll be. My boys and their buddy sold lemonade and snow cones yesterday as it hit a blistering 82 here in the Pacific Northwest. Boy #1 has been doing this for years and his focus has […]

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