A Really Bitchin’ Kitchen.

Posted by admin on January 22, 2018 in Growing Up

I was trying to help my son with life this past week. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of stuff, so I thought I would give him some pearls of wisdom to help him take a few shortcuts.

This never works out, of course. I had mentioned that he had better bone up on the company he was interviewing for as they will ask him “What do you know about our company?” But he poo-pooed it, saying he’s never been asked that in all three interviews he’s had.

With some satisfaction, I received a text from him shortly after his interview last Friday. It said: “It was the first question the guy asked me.”

As I said, I’ve learned a few things over the years. I imagine my father learned a few things along the way too, but I wouldn’t have listened to him at 19 either. Such is the circle of life.

I do hope, however, that he takes the one thing I said to heart. We were talking about our first apartments – real sh**holes compared to where we live today. But Kat and I still remember them fondly as if it were yesterday.

It was then that I shared a pearl. I said, “Always have a nicely stocked kitchen, even if you don’t use any of it.”

He laughed and said all he needed was a toaster oven, a plate, a bowl, a couple of glasses and some silverware lifted from Dennys.

Kat and I both laughed out loud, as we knew from experience that this assortment would get him nowhere in the romance department.

“Whether you know it or not, when you leave the room for even a second, your date will check out your kitchen cabinets and drawers.”

“Why would she do such a thing?” he asked.

Kat chimed in. “Because she will learn everything about you by what’s there.”

Me? I always had a nice kitchen and I always tried to keep it clean and orderly, especially when there was any possibility of a guest stopping by.

That meant I always cleaned the kitchen before a date. Rarely did someone ever come home for a nightcap or to make out, but the few times they did I was glad I had a clean kitchen. And food in the fridge.

Kat is right, after all. While a date may not check everything out, a kitchen says a lot about a guy. It’s a generally accepted standard that a woman’s kitchen will always look well appointed. I’m not being sexist here. In my experience, the women I have known like to have plates that match, glasses that aren’t shot glasses from Vegas, decent pans and flatware that doesn’t include plastic sporks or chopsticks.

Even when I was piss-poor, I tried to have a nice set of dishes and flatware. Nothing says “I don’t care what you think of me” more than paper plates and forks with wandering tines. You might as well have skipped the shower and clean underwear as your date is guaranteed to move her food around the plate for a bit and then hightail it out of there as quickly as possible. You won’t even get to the ballpark, let alone first base.

I admit that over the years, I have kept my kitchen basics in a box, even after I have moved in with someone. It’s like having one of those emergency ladders installed outside your third-floor apartment. You may never need it, but it’s always there, waiting, just in case you need to evacuate on a moment’s notice.

It helped, of course, that I know how to cook. I enjoy the process, so I always have decent pots and pans, even when they came from Goodwill. A good coffeemaker was also a necessity and in a nod to Parker, a toaster oven, but never a toaster.

I do hope he takes my advice on this eventually. I think a kitchen says a lot about who you are and even your state of mind. A place for everything and everything in its place. Hey, wasn’t that Mary Poppins?

Well, it’s true. If a guy’s eating utensils aren’t resting in a flatware organizer, run for the hills. Just imagine what his underwear drawer looks like. Glasses not sorted by type or at least size? He’ll never retrieve the hair out of the shower drain. No cookware? Guess who he thinks will be doing the cooking for him. And paper towels instead of napkins (even paper ones)? Well, that ring he plans to give you one day was probably from his last failed marriage.

I didn’t make all this stuff up. I think we all know that your kitchen, just like your bedroom closet, says a lot about you. You can drive the fanciest car on the planet, but if there are dirty dishes in your sink or the stovetop has yesterday’s takeout strewn about, you are not a guy worth spending time with.

It reminds me of a friend I once knew. He didn’t own a vacuum (which we all know, needs to be kept visible, if never used), so he improvised. He sawed a two-by-four to the length of the vacuum head and stuck a broomstick on the end. Then he pushed it around the room so the carpet had that lovely “just vacuumed” look to it.

I have to say, he was a bit of an artist with the thing. If it weren’t for the shards of stale Doritos lodged in the pile, I would have probably fallen for it. It’s probably a good thing that he only had one working lamp in the room. It was not only romantic but hid the crap still stuck in his carpet.

I suppose Parker will learn this all on his own someday, just as I did. Maybe it’s just a process we all have to go through as we leave the nest and go out on our own. Or maybe I’m just more of a girly-guy than I think I am and the women who only dated me once thought I was probably gay.

In the Emerald City, cabinets filled with lovely things, all Kat’s!

  • Robb


Rats In The Belfry.

Posted by admin on January 15, 2018 in Family

The noises are still going on in my house, but I have given up the idea that Willard 2 is being filmed secretly in my walls.

It all started when winter set upon us. I had read somewhere that almost a third of all American homes experience a rodent problem at some point. Given that my house is bordered by a creek, I knew that it had had a history of river rats.

I even think I might have seen one outside once, sitting in a tree. Kat told me that it was just a rare hairless squirrel. Though I had never heard of hairless squirrels, Kat seems to know a lot of stuff, so who was I to question her on this particular issue.

The creek was only part of the problem, however. We knew when we bought the house that it had been abandoned for several years after the owner died. My neighbor told me that it had been just left open at one point and some critters had made it their temporary home.

I’m sure the sellers didn’t find much pleasure in sealing the house up when we made our offer, which required them to redo the entire crawl space and clean everything up. It was not a cheap request, about five grand total.

It wasn’t until I heard the noise in my bedroom wall that thoughts returned to the river rats. O.K., technically they are Norwegian Rats. I only know this because Kat told me they were. As I said, she knows stuff.

The weather had turned rainy and cold. I was awoken in the night by a sound in the wall. It was around 2 a.m. Another, almost identical sound at 3 a.m.

“Damn!” I thought, as I tried to go back to sleep. “There’s something in the wall.”

This had happened to me before. When living in the haunted house in Port Orchard, there was a similar noise. It went on for days, or should I say, days and nights. It was a horrible sound, something that I came to assume was a bird who had found its way through that small hole under the eaves and lodged itself in the wall. It made a flapping sound, one that I can still hear to this day. Eventually, the flapping stopped and we went on with our nights of sleepful bliss, knowing that something dead was now lodged forever in that wall.

There was no luxury in this house. For several days this went on. Different sounds at different times, all in the same wall.

It was then that my obsessive-compulsive nature took over. I began to research the problem. I had read that they didn’t like noises, so I took to rapping on the wall every time I went up and down the stairs. Then I yelled a strand of curse words into the wall. I listened to the wall like someone would listen to their the next door neighbors making out – even going so far as to use a glass.

This went on for a couple weeks. Eventually, my rational self returned to normal (well, as close as it can be being normal). I inspected the exterior of the home and found it well sealed. I didn’t see any new evidence of the hairless squirrels around the house. The rat traps by the creek had done their job; there were some takers since I refreshed the poison.

There was only one place left to look. I had put off the idea of opening the access panel to the space under the stairwell. I had watched The People Under the Stairs. I knew what could lurk there.

But the panel was a weak spot in the home. It had been since we moved in. The house flippers were content with a piece of broken wallboard as a panel. I really wanted something a little sturdier.

So off I go to Lowe’s. I know my way around wood and I have a saber saw, so all sorts of wonderful things can happen when I am properly armed. I measured thrice, not twice and made a beautiful panel for the access point. Now all I had to do was remove the old one and install the new one.

That’s when my hands started shaking. I was sweating by the time I had removed the last screw as the thoughts of rats pouring out of the opening and attacking me ran rampant in my head. I fought the panic, finally pulling the old panel off.

No rats. No people under the stairs. All I found was the main shutoff valve to the house’s water supply, a handy piece of information, I thought.

As an added precaution, I threw a rat trap into the space.

Weeks later, Kat wanted to clean out the pantry and reorganize it so we used that time to clean up some of the scary space under the stairs.

I wasn’t shaking this time. Kat was there. She is the Brave Little Toaster and did all the dirty work this time, vacuuming and sweeping.

The rat trap? Not a single nibble.

It turns out that we don’t have a rat in the walls. Oh sure, I still hear the noises and have learned to separate the ones where the house is breathing in and out to the rhythms of the furnace in the garage.

And there is a rat. A six-foot-long one with hair to be exact. It’s my son, who is a nocturnal little beast. It turns out that the wall big box of space above the stairwell that connects to our wall is like a big boom box in the still of the night. As my son games away in the night, some of the sounds from his room make their way into the box, mix with street sounds and voila! – that damned rat I was obsessing about.

Someday I’ll get back at Rat Boy for these days and weeks of little to no sleep. As they say, paybacks are hell, especially when I have a French Horn in the garage. I hear they don’t like loud noises. And the way I play these days, it’s definitely a sound no one wants to hear.

In the Emerald City, rats in my belfry, plotting revenge,

  • Robb


Feeling A Bit Disconnected.

Posted by admin on January 8, 2018 in Life Lessons

I was watching The Circle a couple of nights ago. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should. Even though it is clearly fiction – a movie about data mining companies becoming Big Brother, all seeing, all knowing – it has many grains of truth.

I should know. I have been online for the last 25 years. My days go back to a 1200 baud modem and a dial-up account with AOL. I can still hear the modem chirping, squealing and shrilling as it negotiated a connection between my house and AOL’s fledgling data centers.

Slowly, I began to live my entire life online. Almost overnight my company went from designing print to designing websites. I did ecommerce long before there was an Amazon, pioneered livecasts from Alaska when there was no such thing as a cellphone, and challenged what was known with what was possible at every turn. Hell, my then wife and I are the reasons why Port Orchard got broadband down its main street, long before other parts of town (including, famously my house), had it.

For an entire two years, I blogged about my life five days a week right here on RobZerrvations. Roughly a thousand words churned out every day, 5,000 words a week, more than a quarter million each year.

I worked out of my 8th-floor condo, running my creative services company from the beaches of Florida and none of my clients even knew where I was. They didn’t really care either. Through the magic of the Internet and time zones, I was able to turn a job I received at 4 p.m. on Wednesday back to the client at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, letting some guy in India do all the dirty work for pennies while I charged the client hundreds of dollars.

I was a beta tester of Twitter. Was early on MySpace and dumped it to go with Facebook a year into its public facing. I routinely tested the corners of the edge of technology, trying out new ideas in phones and Internet appliances for the home and car (remember Audrey and Apple’s eMate 300?).

Now for the good part. The point here is not to brag or position me as some kind of Internet savant. The point is that I’ve been doing this since virtually the beginning, back when people used BBS to “chat.” I have lived life online and have even shared my life, often extremely painful and private things, with the World Wide Web.

And here’s what I found. There’s really not much to see here. I famously like to share the web page that tells people that they found the end of the Internet, that they’ve seen everything and now it’s time to move on, like it’s the end of a movie.

But on the Net, we seem to like to not only sit through the end credits, then the darkness, but we wait for the next movie and the next and the next. We’ve become content junkies.

This would all be well and good if the Internet had reached its full potential. We seem to forget in this meme crazed world that the Internet was originally created so researchers could share their research with one another. It had a lofty goal in the beginning, only to be taken down to the mat by AOL, which turned it into consumer-oriented fodder for the masses.

I still remember signing into one of the chatrooms. It was for Jimmy Buffett fans, a place to talk about being a Parrothead. Cool, I thought! I could have a meeting of minds. What I got instead was raspy sounds of a guy cannonballing into a pool and the clink of margarita glasses, all through a 1200 baud pipeline where every sound came across in slooooow motioooon.

There went the promise of the Internet. Within a couple years we had totally shelved the idea of creating true democracy with a communication tool for the masses, one where we could share ideas and move the sticks in making this country better. Instead, we sank slowly and contentedly into banalities, from memes to looping gifs of a guy lighting his farts to cats following a laser pointer.

I guess I’ve seen it all by now. Maybe I have really reached the end of the Internet, or at least of the Internet as something useful in my life. Yes, I still look up information on the Net; I really do like have an instant library at my fingertips because I am still horribly curious and always learning more about the world I live in.

But it’s become painful for me to look at Facebook, where people post about their ailments, about some missing child that was actually missing 10 years ago but they only found out about it now, stolen packages and stolen cars, fake news posted by both parties and more damned cat videos.

It’s not that I am so high and mighty. I have no feelings of superiority here. In fact, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to learn that the older I get, the less I know. I have become a child in the world of knowledge, courageous enough to admit that I know very little, even after nearly six decades of learning.

I admit though, that more and more I am disconnecting from the immediacy that seems to be the Internet. Everyone seems to be in such a panic these days, or angry about one thing or another, or sharing moments at their worst (if anyone shoots a photo of me laid out in a hospital bed, I will kill them).

It’s like being addicted to “reality TV,” which as we know, is all carefully edited and staged. It’s not real at all. Neither is Twitter, Facebook, Snap, Instagram or any other number of sites. They are simply reflections of how we want to be seen by others, like we are still trying to be the popular kids in high school when we’re still just a dweeb.

I happily admit that I am a full-on dweeb. My only addiction is to be the best version of myself, to learn as much as I can until the day I die, and perhaps leave the world a little better off than when I arrived. And that leaves very little room for more cat videos and mindless memes.

In the Emerald City, going rogue, going back to the real world more and more,

  • Robb



Posted by admin on December 18, 2017 in Religion

I grew up Catholic. I was never a very good soldier of Christ. Most kids brought up in a religious family aren’t. We are born sinners, prone to going so far as to lie to our priest as we search in vain for a sin significant enough to warrant a Hail Mary or Our Father.

As I grew older, I started to figure out that the whole Catholic thing really didn’t work for me. It started when I got divorced. The only way I could stay a Catholic was to get an annulment, which would have made my daughter illegitimate. I didn’t think that was quite right. I mean, she didn’t do anything, so why punish her with the label of illegitimacy?

This is also about the time that all the magic wore off. I had learned that sacramental wine came from big jugs with the name Gallo spread across the front and witnessed first hand, the pouring of Eucharists from large plastic bags. I guess God didn’t make them after all. Some factory in Dubuque did.

I also figured out that the Pope was hardly infallible, which is a convenient way to control the masses since you can never be wrong. Plus, I figured out that I could actually talk to God on a direct line. I didn’t need a middleman priest to do the talking for me.

As I’ve continued on my journey in this life, I have become less religious and far more spiritual. In fact, I am more spiritual now than I was in my best God-fearing, going-to-church-on-Sundays years.

Unfortunately, this journey in spirituality has left a huge chasm in my heart, mind and soul, for I cannot for the life of me reconcile Christianity as it is practiced today. Now, I’m not saying that every Christian is false or is inherently evil. Rather, these RobZerrvations are based on the news reports I see daily. So bear with me, and if you’re a Christian, please keep an open mind and know that I am not calling you out specifically.

First, there have been reports of late that some Christians believe that Muslims worship a different God than they do. I understand all that Commandments stuff about not having false gods before thee. But Christians by nature are supposed to believe in one God, and if you introduce the idea that other religions have other supreme beings that are not this one God, then you are entertaining the idea that there are other gods and that yours is somehow better than the other guy’s god. As the right reverend Johnny Depp once said, “All the doors of religion open to the same god.” Get over it, move on, quit judging others against your own ethnocentristic, white Protestant beliefs at that.

Then there’s the whole “What would Jesus do?” issue. I see this a lot. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Jesus had a better quality of poor or sick that he ministered to in his day compared to our sick and poor. Yet, I see supposedly stout Christians turn their backs on others, particularly when it comes to federal or state programs that help the poor, the mentally ill, the elderly and those other populations that can’t fend for themselves.

This is particularly true with those who have what Christians would say were alternate or even deviant lifestyles. I really don’t think Jesus would have cared if someone was gay. He would still minister to them in their time of need. He certainly wouldn’t have tried to reprogram them so they liked women again. I mean, hey, the guy wore a long gown and hung around with a dozen or so guys every day. I mean, who would he be to judge?

I have long thought that fundamental Christianity was a lot like training wheels on a bicycle. It’s a safe way to learn to have faith. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in fundamental Christianity. It’s safe and simple for a reason.

Now, before any fundamental Christians jump on me here, I am not criticizing this path to spirituality. Everyone has their own journey. I am married to a former fundamentalist Christian woman. It served a very important role in her life and it helped bring her to where she is today. I am not about to cast any stones for my own path has been pretty, um, ziggy-zaggy.

But I do have to question some of the paths some preachers take these days. They are using their own pulpit to sway their flock. They are preaching fire and brimstone for those who don’t walk in their shadow, saying that they have the only true path to salvation and righteousness.

Spare me. I still remember my years as a parishioner at St. Madeleine Sophie in Bellevue. We would all attend mass together, shake hands and say “Peace be with you” before we excited. Then we would get in our cars and lose every bit of virtue we had as some idiot (re: fellow parishioner)  backed his car out of his spot in front of us, causing us to potentially miss the Seahawks kickoff. We’d hit the horn in our anger, even though we were all “peace be with you” just moments before.

I have never been able to reconcile this duality of organized religion. On the one hand, we listen to the preachings of Jesus and his Apostles and read from the word of God, but then we draw all these artificial lines in the sand, gravitating from the forgiving New Testament God to the wrathful Old Testament God whenever it suits our purposes.

I just don’t get it. I like to think that if Jesus was still around he would head bump us for our judgmental attitude toward those who are taking a different path in their journey in this world. While we may have been made in the image of God, we weren’t all cranked out with a cookie cutter. We each have our own demons to fight, our own faith to find and our own lives to lead.

I for one will continue to shake my head in disbelief. It’s not that I am superior to anyone else. It’s just that I can’t figure out why those who hold sway in the churches of our land are selling such snake oil as to make us believe that we are the only ones with the right answer.

I think God is up there shaking his head too. Thankfully, he’s in a forgiving mood these days. If he was his Old Testament self, he’d be smiting a lot of us right now for our so-called Christian beliefs.

In the Emerald City, looking for devine guidance and some good sacramental wine,

  • Robb


Those Pigs.

Posted by admin on December 11, 2017 in The Soapbox

You can’t open up a newspaper or watch the 6 o’clock news these days without some guy being outed as a lech, pervert, scumbag or abuser. From politicians to the Hollywood elite, everyone seems to have used and sadly, abused women.

Even sadder, we have this strange sliding scale about when it comes to this piggish behavior. While we’re hanging Harvey Weinstein out to dry in Hollywood, we’re pretending the guy in the White House never said all those heinous things about women in a tape recording.

Locker room talk, my ass! Long ago, I learned there was no such thing. It came about around the time my daughter became a teenager and I realized that if someone talked about her in these terms in my presence, they’d be laid out flat on the floor.

But this isn’t about the guy who’s in the White House at the moment. That’s hardly worth my time.

It’s also not really about my own transgressions for I am hardly without sin here. Afterall, I was part of the Seattle Seafair Pirates, a group of chauvinistic pigs who preyed on women and treated them like whores. Sounds a lot like today’s Congress, but without the diversity. For six years I watched the wholesale bedding and belittling of women. I went through a brief period of sluttiness myself (I told you I was not without sin). I fell for the whole thing, hook, line and sinker for about a year.

And then it all came to an end. I realized that this wasn’t who I was. That these women – groupies or not – were someone’s daughter, sister, aunt or even mother. They weren’t chattel. They had dreams and hopes and feelings, that should not be trifled with, especially at such a debasing level.

I left not long after this revelation, realizing that this macho culture was not for me.

Why does this happen in general? And how did this happen to me specifically? Well, I can tell you, after years of soul searching and some therapy, that part of it was cultural. The fraternal organization I was in celebrated this behavior. To fit in, it was important to put a few notches on the ol’ cane, if you get my drift. I told you. Congress.

It didn’t help that this was a period in my life when I hated myself. I guess it’s easy to think little of others when you’re heading for rock bottom yourself. It took a long time to come to realize that this was not who I wanted to be in life.

Thankfully, I was only in my 20s when I started to figure this whole thing out.

Times change. So must we. But looking back, I’m pretty sure none of this behavior was ever O.K. It was certainly never welcomed. I have heard a lot of horror stories from my female friends in the intervening years that certainly opened my eyes. So when the #metoo movement took hold, I was hardly surprised that nearly every woman on earth has a story to tell.

And yet men continue to be shocked at the outfall. Worse, some of these men have tried to skate around the subject, pointing at others with a “they did it too” finger or outright denying that the episode ever happened. In their eyes, maybe it never did. Maybe those in Congress or Hollywood live in that same strange culture the Seafair Pirates do. It’s a man’s world to them. The feminist and women’s movements never came along. They are there for my pleasure…, blah, blah, blah!

Spare me, please. None of this is O.K. If a woman you work with, dated or encountered anywhere thinks you crossed the line, you did. Their private space and their private parts are the final arbiters here. Live with it. Own up to it. Apologize for it. And most important, change who you are right now because it was never O.K. to begin with.

Geez, if for no other reason, remember that these are someone else’s daughter, wife, girlfriend, sister or mother. If you have girls of your own, think how you would feel if someone took a photo with them, touching their privates. That should anger you, just as you should be angry at yourself for not evolving above the level of a primordial ooze (sorry ooze, I didn’t mean to insult you here).

Yes, I wasn’t always on my best behavior and if my mother had heard about my behavior, even in her advanced age, she would have slapped me stupid. She didn’t raise a pervert or a degenerate.

I offer no excuses for my own past. I don’t justify any of it. I should have figured it all out sooner, but I was an immature piece of sh** back then who had no regard for himself or others.

But those days are long gone. They need to be long gone for all of us. I know that somewhere in those locker rooms I keep hearing about, there are men speaking in hushed tones about how this is all blown out of proportion and it will eventually blow over.

Go ahead and lull yourself into a false sense of security and revel in your own stupid self-righteousness. It’s no longer a man’s world. And if you hadn’t managed to somehow suppress women to the point that they were once treated as legal property, I doubt it would have ever been a man’s world.

To all the women I know and all the women out there in the world who still have a story to tell, I applaud you for your courage. I know it’s not easy. But I know there are guys out there, guys like me, who will listen, who will understand your anger and most important, believe you because we know it happens – a lot.

In the Emerald City, coming to terms with the past in order to move an inch or two out of the primal ooze,

  • Robb


The Lazy Life.

Posted by admin on November 27, 2017 in Randomalities

They say that there’s nothing good on television today, but I have to say that a news article this morning and the movie WALL-E shed a lot of light on our world and how we’re gleefully heading off into oblivion as a society.

We’ll start with the news article. ‘Tis the season as we all know and the segment on the morning news was on technology gift giving. There’s a fervor these days about creating the connected home, where we run everything on our smartphones, from starting the dishwasher to turning off the bedroom light that is right next to us on our nightstand, just an arm’s length away.

The show this morning showed just how inane and dangerous this can all be. First, they were showing us how we could see our kitchen from our bedroom on our television with Google’s technology. Ignore the fact that in the time it took to load the camera feed, I could have bounded downstairs and been back into my bed before the cursor stopped spinning.  Once it loaded, we got to see mom drinking coffee. Wow, can’t live without that piece of tech.

Yes, I get that it could be a security feature. I mean, when people break into my home, the refrigerator is the first place they would stop and I’m sure they would never even notice the camera in the room.

But it gets better, my friends. Next, we turned to the living room. It’s the holidays, so it was very festive. There was mom, her son and her pet rabbit sitting on the couch. Across the way was the Christmas tree. There on live TV she said, “Google, turn on the Christmas tree.” Long, long, long pause, and the tree comes on.

I have a tree up in my living room right now. As the coffee perked a good morning to me today, I turned the tree on. I didn’t talk to any device. I simply bent down and pushed the damned button. No pause. No technology. No need.

And the coup degrâce of the news segment? The so-called technology expert on the segment asked Google to sing Happy Birthday to the lady’s son.

Now, when I think 15th birthdays, I think Google. Why should I sing an off-key rendition of the song when Google can sing my son a disembodied, machine-ish version because I am obviously too lazy to do it myself.

Which brings me to WALL-E. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. This Pixar gem takes place in the distant future, long after we’ve polluted the earth to the point that we need to leave it. WALL-E is stuck cleaning all of it up. Thankfully, he has a videotape of Hello Dolly to keep him company. And a cricket, or a cockroach. Maybe it was a cocket or a crickroach. I don’t know.

Fast forward through the movie and we’re on a spaceship. It’s filled with everyone who used to live on earth. They’re flying around the solar system, waiting for the earth to be habitable again.

And here’s where the movie WALL-E, which was made almost a decade ago, really shines. It shows the future inhabitants of our earth as rolly-polly fatsos. We’re all obese, so much so that we have to live life in a Starship Lounge Chair that does everything for us. Right in front of us is the Apple iPhone-35 monitoring all of our needs on the screen. We don’t have to lift a damned finger.

Sound familiar? This is where this connected home crap is taking us. Now, I readily admit that I am a technophile. I like my technology. I like my toys, especially the bleeding-edge stuff.

As such, I can readily understand the importance of having a doorbell at the front door that shows me on my phone who is standing there. True, I have the luxury of having a window on my door, so I can always creep up on it to take a peek. But if I weren’t here, it would be nice to have the video feed so Kat feels safe.

I also used to have a video camera in my house that connected to my phone. I had it so I could make sure my step-daughter wasn’t sneaking boys into our house while I was at work. Once she moved out, the camera went away. I don’t even know where it is right now.

As you can see, I have drawn some lines in the sand. I like to be connected, but not too connected. I don’t ever see a time when I will need an app and a smart-socket to turn my tree on and off with my phone. Or my lights. I kind of like doing it the old-fashioned way, if for no other reason than it makes me get up off my fat ass and do what little exercise I do in a day.

I worry that we’re all going to end up making WALL-E look like a documentary some day. We barely need to lift a finger now.

My lovely wife is the proud owner of a Fitbit. She regularly reports how many steps she takes in a day, which is far more than those cows in the Organic Valley commercials are taking. I told her that I would be unlikely to wear one, if only because it would show I only take about 500 steps in an entire day. It would track and alternately mock my connected life where I sit at a computer and make stuff up for a living, rather than having an honest job that requires me to move.

Just what I need, more technology to show me that I am on the fast-track to getting the first WALL-E Starship Lounger on Amazon. Hmm, I wonder what they are selling for today, since it’s CyberMonday?

“Alexa, what is the price on the…?”

I am freakin’ doomed.

In the Emerald City, wishing I had a drinkevator in my house so I didn’t have to go downstairs to refill my coffee cup.

  • Robb



Practis, Practise, Practice.

Posted by admin on November 20, 2017 in Storytime

I admit that I am a bit out of shape right now. I have not been working out as much as I should. Part of it has been the nature of my work lately, which is more strategic than it is literary. I have also been a bit under the weather for the last week, which has muddled my brain more than usual and disrupted my workout routine.

There was a time when I worked out every day. I churned through 1,000 reps like it was nothing at all. I could almost do it in my sleep. And rather than be exhausted at the end, I felt energetic and liberated.

These days, I probably get 2,000 reps in over the course of a week instead of the routine I once had. Still, I probably get more of a workout than 95% of Americans. I know this because Grammarly sends me a weekly report telling me as much.

Yes, I’m talking about a writing workout. My friends often ask me why writing seems so easy for me, why I can whip out thousands of words and they not only largely make sense, but often are a bit lyrical and even informative. Of course, they can also be lighthearted or persuasive, sometimes thoughtful, other times provocative.

Such is the magic of the language. In skilled hands, the keyboard is still mightier than the sword. And like swordsmanship, the craft requires continually exercise, exploration and refinement.

Writing isn’t an easy task. Some of my friends think it is easy for me. It is easier for me than others, but only because I work at it constantly. I have since I was young, I guess. I have come to learn that the voracious pursuit of knowledge in my youth contributed greatly to my writing today. You have to read the writing of others to write your own. There’s no shortcut for this. You can’t take a writing class and suddenly think you’re Twain or Hemingway. Hell, you can’t even become a Dave Barry.

As the headline says, it takes practis, practise, practice.

There was a time, not so long ago, that I churned out a thousand words every morning. I had heard Jimmy Buffett wrote this way. He said that if you write a thousand words every morning, you end up with a 52,000-word book by the end of the year.

That’s a bit of an oversimplification, of course. You’ll end up with 52,000 words indeed, but it may include 24,000 words that are complete crap. Few people on earth can write a book without the inevitable rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. Writing is not so much the discipline of putting words to paper, but refining these words so that they are the Goldilocks – not too many, not too few, all just right.

That takes a lifetime of practice. Even a best-selling writer will tell you so. There is little perfection in this line of work. Given time and money, every writer will tell you that they would rewrite everything they have done previously because writing is an exploration of the soul. Everything you learn in life informs your work, and as you go through this journey we call life, the view through the looking glass changes continually, so what was once good or even great, is now schlock, even to the point of embarrassment.

Can you become a good writer? Sure, you can. If you paid attention in language arts to the basic rules, you can master the rest through continual practice and refinement of the craft. Writing is like playing the piano. It’s difficult at first to create any melody at all. Your hands don’t want to follow along to what your mind them telling it to do. Eventually, though, the simple scale that is the basis of all music exposes its masterful simplicity in an endless variety of notes, phrases, passages and opuses.

Funny how both pursuits of the arts – music and writing – today rely on a keyboard. I will readily admit that a piano has way too many keys for me to make anything masterful. I mean, I only have eight fingers and two thumbs and a piano has 88 places where I need to place them. It is simply overwhelming to me.

Yet, as I write this, I realize that I can play my computer keyboard with the same relative ease, not once having to look down at the keys to see where my fingers are going. Long ago my fingers learned to stop tying letters and type words instead. That single skill has allowed my fingers to almost keep up with my mind, the words spilling from the latter to the former in close to real time.

It is practice to make perfect, even though perfection is never achievable by a writer. That’s part of the fun. It’s also part of the great torment that all artists experience at one point or another. They fear the blank canvas or piece of paper, or in this day and age, the blank screen.

Without practice, filling that page becomes far more difficult. I think most artists understand this. Certainly, painters or sculptors do. They continually practice their strokes and motions. A masterpiece just doesn’t fall from the sky. Like a classic novel, every stroke, every chisel chip, reveals the masterpiece that is awaiting discovery.

So it is with writing. Thankfully, I am back to working out. This page is proof of that. I’ve been writing for about 20 minutes now, this stream of consciousness. Such are RobZerrvations. They are more of an early morning workout before the real work begins, a way to limber up the muscles and memory so that as the day goes on, writing is not a chore, but a pleasure, a mere extension of my being and my soul, which yearns to express itself as much as the ideas that are put to page.

I consider myself to be the luckiest guy on earth. I get to write for a living. I get to share my unique human experience and perspective with others. If just one person on this earth learned something from a piece I’ve written, then I have succeeded, for it shows that I was here and I had something to say. I’m sure you do too.

In the Emerald City, about to get my cup of coffee so I can read back through this and think, “What the hell was I even thinking?”,

  • Robb



Posted by admin on November 13, 2017 in Randomalities

I was watching George Carlin last night. Yes, I know he’s dead. A real shame, too, as he seems to be one of the few that can bring tremendous clarity to any subject while tickling your ribs at the same time.

Such was the case with this particular concert he did for HBO. If you want to find it out there on Netflix, Amazon Prime or the Internet, this appearance was titled, “Jammin’ in New York.” This was 1992, mind you, and some of the stuff he said is still so true today, such as the attempts by the upper class to create division in the middle and lower class so the rich can steal all the money while we’re fighting among ourselves.

In one particular bit, George touched on the world’s attempts to save endangered species. It was pretty funny, but also quite poignant. He noted that over the last few billion years, some 90% of all species that ever existed are now extinct. While mankind has perhaps sped this extinction process up with the Industrial Revolution, a lot of extinction would happen naturally. And he made the point that interfering with it was not only irresponsible, but downright dangerous.

Now, I’m not going to weigh in on the whole global warming issue or the fact that we have indeed contributed to the extinction of specific species, either by clearcutting their delicate habitat, overfishing, overhunting and polluting this great land of ours.

But what stuck with me more than anything was his statement that the earth could really care less that we (i.e. humans) are here. While we think we’re pretty special, we also have the balls to think that we and we alone will decide the fate of the planet.

The earth has been around a long time. Billions of years. It will be here long after we are gone, too. The earth has a funny way of cleansing itself of the parasites that live on it. The dinosaurs went extinct, even in a time when they were the masters of the planet.

The point is, we shouldn’t be worried about the planet’s future, but our own. The whole global warming issue isn’t going to wipe out the planet, it will wipe us out as a species. We aren’t very resilient creatures. I mean, the dinosaurs somehow went extinct, and they didn’t have all the creature comforts we have like smartphones and forks.

It’s somewhat poetic that we actually benefited from their extinction, since oil comes from their rotting bodies. Someday, we will be the rotting bodies too, because the earth will get rid of us one way or another so it can return to its natural state.

We’re already seeing this happen. Historic hurricanes and tornadoes. Hell, a hurricane even hit Ireland. Earthquakes, volcanoes, wildfires… the list goes on. We cower in fear as Mother Nature reminds us who’s really in charge. One thing’s for sure, it’s not us, we pitiful little humans. It’s the earth and come hell or high water, and often both at the same time, the planet is going to protect itself against the parasites.

Yes, I’m talking about us. In Carlin’s monologue, he touched on the single reason he could think of as to why we’re still here at all – plastic. According to him, the earth has let us survive and even thrive so that we could give it plastic. From here on out, future creatures will refer to the Pre-Plasticene Era and the Post-Plasticene Era of the earth.

Wow. Even though we are at the top of the food chain, we are still disposable. No creature is indispensable. We see that in the extinction of once thriving species. They failed to adapt to change. Even our own ancestors fell by the wayside, though I would argue that there are still plenty of Neanderthals around because I’ve seen them at some Walmarts in Florida.

And there lies the danger. Dinosaurs perished and they didn’t even need a Walmart. We probably couldn’t last two weeks without Walmart, Target or two-day delivery from Amazon. We are terribly dependent creatures, prisoners on our own reliance on “civilization” at the expense of staying connected to nature, as our forefathers had done. We’re fat and lazy, largely because we think we are Masters of the Universe when indeed, we are just lowly parasites sucking on the host.

Eventually, the host is going to tire of this relationship and it will self-correct. We will become the next extinct species while the land returns to its natural beauty. If you’ve ever watched one of those cool shows about what a city would look like 20 years from now if we were gone, you know that Mother Nature has a good plan for all this. Hell, I can barely keep the grass from growing through the cracks in my asphalt. Imagine if I weren’t here at all. Everything would be ashes to ashes and dust to dust in a couple of decades.

Next time you want to argue about global warming with a denier, skip the science lesson. Skip ahead to the part where the earth will be just fine without us. Ignore all the nonsense about going into and coming out of ice ages for tens of thousands of years. Ignore the fact that the overall temperature has risen a few degrees.

Instead, go right to the heart of it all and talk about how the earth is going to fanny whack us for being bad guests. That Mother Nature is going to fix the earth by getting rid of us one at a time. That as natural resources dry up, we’ll inevitably return to our primitive, warring ways and lob bombs at one another. Eventually, we will be the next oil boom for a future generation as we march on to oblivion, just like the dinosaurs.

Fear not earthlings, the earth will be just fine without us. It was fine before we were here and it will be just fine after we are wiped from its face.

At least future inhabitants will know we were here. And archeologists will have a big laugh about all the stupid things we left behind, our strange remnants of this so-called civilization.

In the Emerald City, wondering what, if anything, it all means,

  • Robb


“The Man.”

Posted by admin on October 23, 2017 in Life Lessons

For almost all of my adult life, I have been under a serious delusion. It’s a delusion that I created myself, I suppose. After all, I made the decisions about who I dated, who I had long-term relationships with, and who I eventually married.

But something has changed this time around. And I’m only beginning to understand the significance and gravitas of it.

You see, I’m finally the man. Not a man, mind you. I kind of figured that out some time ago. I mean, the man.

No, not the man as in “I’m da man!,” that odd declarative statement men make when they think they’ve mastered one universe or another, bested their friends in a game of upchuck, or avoided killing themselves doing something asinine.

If that was the case, then I’m pretty sure almost all of my past lusts and loves have, at one time or another, secretly fist-pumped and uttered “I’m da man!” under their breath when they were with me. Most were somewhat manly. Not in a having a dick kind of way – though I still question the ex in Florida. But they all seemed to like to be the man of the family.

I admit. I like strong women. I get to blame my now deceased mom for that. She was by far for the strongest woman I’ve ever known. I guess you have to be when you’re the mother of four rambunctious boys.

She also had to be both father and mother most of the time, since my own father was in and out of the hospital and in and out of work all the time. She even had to master signing his name, since women back then couldn’t own anything or get their own credit card or checking account. She was so good at it that the one time my dad actually signed his name, the bank called, thinking it was a forgery.

When I married for the last time, I just naturally figured that history would repeat itself. Kat is, without a doubt, a strong woman with an iron will. I mean, she raised her kids all by herself for 13 years, putting them ahead of any of her own happiness. How she did it, I still can’t figure out. If I was asked to do the same, DSHS would have had to break in the door, only to find me alone in a corner, rocking and sobbing uncontrollably.

But something strange happened after we said our “I do’s.” Kat let me keep my dick. I still remember the time she explained how she wanted to conduct our new relationship. While she wanted to be a true partner, she would ultimately defer to me as the man of the family and head of the household.

Wait! What? I waited for the other shoe to drop. It didn’t. There was no addendum such as “…except when it’s important,” or “…except when it comes to money.” Nothing, not a single except.

I am still a bit dumbstruck about this. Over these many years, I’ve gotten quite used to not being the decision maker. Oh sure, I’ve been consulted regularly, but most of the time it wasn’t really my decision.

Case in point. In Florida, I always wanted to live on the gulf side. When it came time to buy a home, I found the perfectly affordable new home. It could be delivered to either side of the state. Where do I end up? Catty-corner to her parents. In Melbourne no less.

It wasn’t an option really. Her parents dangled a free acre that she could have title to. I wasn’t on the deed for the land. I only owned the house so if things went south, as they did, well, you know that left me.

But with Kat, there’s no fine print in the contract. If we don’t agree about something, even if it’s something important, I am the tiebreaker. No flip of the coin. No, “I’ll get this one, you get the next” answer. I make the decision.

Wow! Talk about pressure. Now I know men have been in this role for centuries. My father originally had this role until he drank himself to death and my mom had to take over by default. Then women’s liberation came around and everyone seemed to want to be in charge and that was fine with me, because hey, that’s how I grew up. Since my mom did a pretty good job, I figured all these strong women would too.

So here I am. The decision maker. I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is a pretty scary world to be in. I mean, I have no one else to blame if the decision turns out to be a total turd. Only myself. I can’t get into a fight over it, I can’t wish it all away because I made the bloody decision and my wife deferred to me to make it.

I’m sure that some guys would just run roughshod all over this and go on a huge  “I’m the man!” power trip, buying season tickets to the Seahawks in lieu of food for the family, picking up the tab at the bar for all his buddies and turning the living room into a man cave with a 300″ big screen over the mantle.

Me? I’m taking baby steps. It’s still very new to me. Sometimes I feel like I’m in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, trying to decide which is the right cup was the Holy Grail. I’d better get it right or I’m going to melt down in front of everyone, and Kat hates it when people do that on her wood flooring.

I suppose I will get used to it over time. I’m already making some headway. I no longer stare blankly at Kat when she looks at me and says, “It’s your decision baby.”

Deep down, I know she’s there right with me, going over all the options and supporting me in whatever decision I finally make. That alone makes it all right, even when I’m wrong. I think…

In the Emerald City, trying to decide what’s for dinner,


  • Robb


Well Bully For You!

Posted by admin on October 16, 2017 in The Soapbox

We live in a very funny society. I’m not talking about the “ha! ha!” kind of funny. But rather the funny that is unsettling, almost pathetic.

On the one hand, we go on and on about the poor elementary or high school kid who was bullied at school and finally does something about it, whether he shoots the place up with his father’s AR-15 or simply kills himself. We wonder why bullying is allowed and why no one will stand up for these kids.

We’re indignant and angry that in this world today, bullying still goes on. Even with anti-bullying laws, there are still school bullies and kids are smart enough to know that if they tell on the bully, there will be retaliation, retaliation that is often worse than the actual act of bullying.

Bullies simply take their bullying to the streets instead of the playground. They continue to beat up on those who can’t defend themselves off campus. They don’t even have to use their fists these days; they can do all their dirty work on social media. Facebook posts and Tweets have now become the uppercut and left hook of the bullying world.

I know a thing or two about bullying. I was bullied in school almost constantly as I grew up. I can still remember the time Marvin Hill punched me in the mouth in front of the portables at McKnight Middle School. And the time I was surrounded by senior football players at Hazen High School and unceremoniously dumped in a garbage can, a strange welcoming ritual that helped establish the school’s caste system.

Of course, there was the name calling. I was called a “fag” and a kaleidoscope of words that were far worse. I became withdrawn and sullen to the point that I wouldn’t even ride the bus to school because the bullying there was so bad.

I was even turned on by one of my supposedly good friends. John Rhode was a jock, but our families were all friends. Don Rhode was Jeff’s friend so it was natural that John and I became friends. That was until he gave me a box of candy at school one day. I unwrapped it and in my innocence, didn’t know that road apples were horse turds.

I was heartbroken by his betrayal. He would call me “Zerrber Baby Foods” in high school; a rather banal tease by today’s standards.

It wasn’t until the day that I came to school and told everyone I was rich, that I was an apparent heir to a baby food fortune, that the bullying stopped. I learned to make fun of those who made fun of me through my razor-sharp wit.

I was bullied in my personal life too as an adult. Famously, my Florida ex tried to claim I was emotionally abusive to her; a charge so hurtful that I contacted some of my other former relationships to ask if I had been that way with them.

What I didn’t understand at the time was that I was once again being bullied and worse, bullies are very good at convincing you that everything is wrong with you, not them. I never thought women could be bullies, but over time and through therapy I came to realize that I was in an abusive relationship and that I was being bullied through emotional control that was both mean and calculating. The almost constant berating and remonstrations – privately and publicly– took a tremendous toll on me, turning my hair temporarily gray and temporarily taking away my manhood, if you get my drift.

So I can see how bullying can affect you. I have bullied and been bullied. And I have had to learn the hard way how to stand up to it.

What mystifies me still, however, is why we as a society can feel such empathy for the little kid who’s bullied why we allow ourselves to be bullied on a level that is unparalleled in modern times.

Perhaps we are just all shell-shocked as the constant barrage of Tweets flow from the Bully in Chief. We can’t imagine anyone in that position being so callous and mean to others, from members of Congress and the parents of a Gold Star veteran to the onslaught of anger at Puerto Ricans for not fending for themselves. He spends days tweeting about football players and ignores the ongoing plight of California fire victims.

All the while he smiles and says he’s helping us. He promises better healthcare but guts the core of what we have. He returns women to the dark ages, while he reminds us that he’s going to make America great again. He throws paper towels in Puerto Rico for the cameras like he is in the Super Bowl, but denies them aid, telling us that it’s really their problem, not ours.

And like all great bullies, he tells us that its everyone else’s fault and makes us believe that something must be wrong with us instead of him.

Small wonder why Congress is in shock, as is most of the country. Our leaders aren’t supposed to be bullies. Yes, they should be strong. But they should also be the poster child of compassion, understanding, and empathy. True leaders lift others up; not tear them down.

Still, we all stand still while this crazy loon tears the country apart using tactics befitting Marvin Hill’s sucker punch or John Rhode’s road apples. What’s worse, we allow him to do it.

Regardless of our political leanings, bullying is not acceptable under any circumstance. If we are truly going to walk the talk, how can we look our children in the eye and tell them bullying is bad when we stand silent when the Bully in Chief lashes out like he’s still on some New York schoolyard.

At least in school, the bully might have to visit the principal or even get expelled. But what’s the penalty to the Bully in Chief? The only weapon that seems to work is the public’s disapproval of these behaviors, and yet, we are loathed to take a stand against presidential bullying. Through our silence, we are condoning bullying of the sick, the poor, the needy and the weak in this country by the very guy who is supposed to support us and protect us.

Regardless of our own political persuasions, we all need to be anti-bully. This should really be a no-brainer. I’m not telling you to like or dislike the guy or his politics. What I am telling you is that we as Americans and as parents, need to stand up to the biggest bully of them all. If we don’t call him out on his behavior, how in the hell are we going to tell our children not to do something that we ourselves are obviously condoning by our own silence and inaction?

In the Emerald City, seeing all bullies for what they really are, or more important, what they aren’t,

  • Robb

Copyright © 2009-2018 RobZerrvations All rights reserved.
Desk Mess Mirrored v1.8.1 theme from BuyNowShop.com.