August 2014

13 articles in August 2014

Ii never assumed that marketing a car with an exploding fuel tank would cause so many problems! As a CEO I felt it would benefit the American consumer, given the adventurous nature of our culture.

When we first introduced the Nova, it instantly became the hottest sports car in its class. Our market share grew so rapidly that the major automakers trembled. In fact, they even considered filing an anti-trust suit with the Justice Department. Our success centered on the brilliant advertising campaign by my lawyer and vice-president of consumer research/propaganda, William Goebbels: no relation to the Nazi, (at least I hope not).

Together we created a series of commercials, that appealed to the thrill-seeking nature of our 16-40 target audience. We showed the Nova driving through rain-forests, baseball stadiums, and county-fairs, with loud irrational music in the background.

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Ii felt it snap as it left my hand. A little tingle as the horseshoe flew away, and I knew that for the next few hours I would be popping Advil like a six-year-old with a bag of M&M’s. That little jolt of pain also showed me that the summer of my discontent was about to begin.

To the best of my knowledge the game of horseshoes has rarely been associated with any major kind of sports injury. That is, unless you observe the many backyard and beach competitions that take place during the summer months. These are usually associated with a lot of yelling and horseplay and unflattering speculation about where this horseshoe landed, or why a certain relative or friend has never experienced a “ringer”.

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Jjeremy hit the ball today,
over the fence and far away.
So very, very far away
a neighbor had to toss it back.
(She thought it was an air attack!)
Jeremy hit the ball so hard
it flew across his neighbor’s yard.
So very hard across her yard
the bat that boomed a mighty ‘THWACK!’
now shows an eensy-teensy crack.

A True Story by Mike Burch.
More poems plus by Mike Burch at
© Copyrights reserved Mike Burch

Ii love the months of September through November. The humidity that hangs over the summer months disappears, to be replaced by the refreshing breezes of fall. The temperature range of cool nights and warm days must mimic the weather found in heaven.

My favorite activity at this time of year has always concerned my garden. After months of planting, weeding, watering, and just basic pampering my little backyard farm the fruits and vegetables of my efforts are ready to be harvested. My peppers and tomatoes are now juicy, full sized and red. My eggplants are too heavy to be held up by their stems and my squash plants are the perfect size and ready to become delicious headline servings on my dinner table. The other day my wife and I walked out to our garden with wicker basket in hand.

Because the growing season was long and wet I purchased a larger basket in which to carry the mother-load of my efforts into our kitchen. The first part of my garden to be harvested was the squash plants. The leaves were enormous, big enough to be used as umbrellas over my picnic table. The bright yellow flowers promised future crops of summer squash and zucchini. Looking down into the massive flora of the plant I noticed a giant summer squash just waiting for me to harvest it.

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Iimust be getting good at looking pathetic. I was sitting at a very old variety store in Exeter, New Hampshire waiting for the “Downeaster” to arrive to take me into Boston. You see this was the first time I had ever been on a train.

I mean a real train. I have been on subways but never on a train. A train to me was something out of “The Orient Express” where spies and trade merchants came and left without anyone wanting to know why they were there or where they were going. A train to me was filled with people carting chickens or geese to market. In other words, I was a bit scared.

I guess I should explain how I got here. In my real life as a teacher I am asked to go to various places to meet with various people about various topics that I am supposed to be an expert in. On this particular occasion I was asked to go to Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island in New York for a biotechnology seminar series. Normally I would take a plane but on this particular trip I was asked by my colleagues to take the train.

In other words, I was the guinea pig to see if this means of transportation was feasible. So there I sat, sipping on one of the best cups of coffee I have had in a long time, listening to a friendly waitress explain to me how and where to board on the train to take me to North Station in Boston. I, of course, waited at the wrong part of the station but a young lady of, I assume, ten helped me out and I made it on the train.

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Aautumn is one of those magical times of the year when everything seems to be changing for the better. Our gardens are yielding up their delicious bounty, the heavy summer air has been replaced by an invigorating freshness and kids everywhere have been dragged kicking and screaming back to school.

As a schoolteacher I approach each new school year with fresh hope and enthusiasm until something happens to remind me that this wasn’t always the case. This happened to me the other day as I was welcoming a new batch of young students to my class. I noticed a particular young man, sitting in the front row, who looked absolutely terrified. A small, clean cut young fellow in a crisp white shirt and neatly pressed black pants I guessed he was the apple of his mother’s eye.

Hoping to put him at his ease I asked him if there was any particular problem that was bothering him on his first day in my class.
“Yes”, he said, nervously.
“And what would that be?” I asked in my most sympathetic tone.
He hesitated a moment then answered: “You.”
Somewhat perplexed I asked him: “Why?”

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Tthe preparations are finally over. The kids are out of school and the long trip to get away from the reality of life is behind all that have arrived on the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

The beaches quickly fill with white unhealthy bodies yearning to become the tanned aloed souls of summer. This influx of summer tourists also heralds in the now traditional season of summer games. Hampton Beach has a tradition of beach games, some of which have evolved their own characters. Beach Bocce’ is one of those games. Teachers, who had patiently survived tenure, developed the game. They can now support themselves without the help of menial summer jobs.

Other municipal employed vacationing people then joined these teachers. These are the policemen, the firemen, and the more affluent sanitation workers. Bocce’ is a traditional Italian game that, I am told, has been played since the original Roman Empire. In Hampton, the father of the sport is a mountain of a man sporting a white, reversed sailor cap. He has been called everything from the mayor to the commissioner. This man’s tan has increased along with his width. Beyond his brawny body, his trademark is the always-protruding Blackstone King cigar that hangs from his perpetually clenched teeth.

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Iit is that time of year again when the whole family gets together to enjoy a feast of love, celebration and good food that destroys an entire year of diet and exercise – and am I ready for it! I especially love Thanksgiving because it is the one holiday I don’t have to go out and buy anything for anybody. All I have to do is show up and eat.

I like Thanksgiving dinner so much that in the weeks leading up to it I find myself day-dreaming about favorite foods from Thanksgiving Days past. I belong to a large extended family and one of the benefits is the multitude of different specialty dishes we get to enjoy only once a year. Some of them are so good I spend much of the rest of the year thinking about them. Hell! I remember them every time I look down and can’t see my feet past the bulk of my stomach.

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Aa scrap of bread fell onto the red pavement where Enodin sat hugging his knees, beneath the steel shadows of the towering high rises. The passerby who had dropped the crumbs wore an ankle-length black coat and his face was shrouded beneath a broad-rimmed hat.

Gold flashed in the hazy morning sun. “The ring!” Enodin gasped. “He’s got my ring.”
Tired beyond words, hungry beyond notice, the youth pushed himself to his feet and followed. Hover cars rushed past the surging crowd. Enodin reached into his pocket as he maneuvered through the throng.”

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Tthere are certain rules in life one has to follow. Some are obvious while others are not. For example; the color red always means stop and the color green means it is okay to go.

Yellow was supposed to mean caution but now means accelerate. All holidays are marked by either a gift or a card. (Ignoring this rule will put you behind the eight ball for the rest of your life). Garbage is taken out at least once a week and, in the days of recycle, one never puts Styrofoam in the recycle bin. These are rules that are generally accepted and obeyed.

However, there are some that are not so obvious and I came across one of these the other day after I cleared some brush from the corner of my lot. I had also picked up a bunch of dead plants and bagged all my lawn clippings so I had built a mountain of yard debris that could have been called Mount Fabiano. I also had to throw out an old and beat-up lawnmower. I did not break any intrinsic law by doing any of these things, in fact, I followed the regulations of Society to a tee by taking all of my refuse to the dump. The rule I overlooked was the rule that states one should never take one’s wife to the dump.

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