Campfire Stories


Campfire Stories to Offset the Dad Jokes that Masquerade as Scary Campfire Stories

My younger son is a Cub Scout and we go on campouts. Inevitably, there is a camp fire and the tradition is to tell stories, usually spooky. When I was a kid, the stories had some creepiness to them, but they have all been banned -too scary. Now, the camp fire tales are just funny jokes -dad jokes, involving puns and worse. As the Halloween campout for our pack arrives, I’ve thought up some good ones:

1. This part of Ohio was on a trail where pioneers camped out on their way further west. The legend has it that as a family of settlers slept, the two boys disappeared into these forests, and the mother refused to go any further. The local farmers say that at night, a pale woman shows up at the door and asks for her boys and if there are any young boys, she grabs them to take them into the woods. They say you can tell it’s her because her eyes are sunken empty holes that cry bloody tears.

2. The local native Americans warned people never to pee in the woods at dark. A black hole forms from which demons reach out to grab you and pull you in.

3. Thirty years ago, a boy went missing around these parts and there was a long search for him, but they never found him. They say that you can hear him crying at night asking you to take him home, and you know it’s him by the dead butterfly in his mouth.

4. The bababoo is a angry spirit that will take your body and make you say and do terrible things against your will. Terrible things happen. You invite it in by saying bababoo thirteen times.Mayhem ensues that cause permanent harm.

5. UFO’s are very common here. They say that aliens take you into their ship and replace your mind with one of theirs, and put you back where they find you. They activate you when you fall asleep while camping.

6. The goat beast comes when people are unhappy or worried. It has creepy yellow eyes that glow in the dark and it waits to grab you when you walk in the dark to slowly eat you over days.

7. The grumpkin looks like a short bearded man, but you know it is him by the fact that his feet are on backwards. He’ll ask you a riddle and if you can’t answer in three tries, he will make you do a terrible thing or take your soul.

8. There are house ghosts that were people who died alone, angry, and outside in the dark. You hear them walking around cabins in the dark, and they stare at you while you sleep. You can only see them when the cabins are their darkest. You can hear them breathe. They are crying softly, and they want to come into your warm bed.

9. On a cold fall night, the fairies come together for their feast. They roast a young boy that they lure out into the woods with sweet fairy music, usually at night, starting with a sweet smell and shimmery lights.

10. Window monsters will try to get your attention by freezing you in your tracks with terror, and try to get invited in with false promises. They get stronger when you close your eyes or try to ignore them. Only by looking into the dark faces and eyes do you weaken them, but if you blink, they have you in their control, and make you open the door. 

New Yorker Articles….



New Yorker articles have the unusual feature of never ending like a walk through an ornately designed MC Escher house. As you read, five days in, you glance at the web browser progress bar and see it only a quarter of the way down. That is because you ended and restarted the article three days before without noticing. That is why most subscriptions to the iPad version lapse -people get stuck on the first issue. I have been reading Atul Gawande’s excellent piece on his noble suffering for about a year now.

Peak Jibbrysch



Thinking that the list of recognizable but misspelled words that aren’t IKEA furniture is running out for tech start ups. Here are some: 

H3X -pronounced hex, maker of programmable gum that extrudes out of an Altoid sized tin, flavors include cinnamon, cannabis, cardamon, Cinnabon, and Cincinnati

Glif -an app that creates a unique symbol for names, concepts, sentences and maintains a database for other Glif users to scan and translate -for semiotic pleasure, price tags, beast markings

Laff5 -a text based service that 3D prints selfies as marble busts, bas reliefs, bowling balls, and bobble heads 

Gyg -a job finding app for personal assistants to crazy, short attention span, hyper-demanding billionaires. You are asked a series of questions and get placed onto teams like: Human Siri, Hot Velma, Deeters, Friday, Alfred, Threepio, and Mom.

Splurj -A chain of spas for uptight stay at home moms who gave up professional careers in law, medicine, finance, or high tech featuring Xanax saunas, yoga dungeons, and the crowd surfing tank. Child rearing services available on premises.

Pizza By The Slice Is My Proustian Madeleine

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I had been rerouted from Laguardia to Newark, and in danger of missing an important meeting, as I rushed through Penn Station when the smell of cheap pizza stopped me in my tracks. The pizza joint was a hole in the wall, designed for commuters eating fast and cheap. There were beers and beverages lying in ice, triple priced, but for a fountain drink and a slice of cheese pizza, it was 3 bucks which was unusually cheap. I ordered a slice and a Coke and rolled my bags to a greasy table and sat with this marvel of New York City.
The tangy, warm, saltiness of the minimal sauce, the crisp of the crust with the chewiness of the steamed dough a microlayer above the crust and under the cheese transported me to 1978 when I was a fourth grader, released from school for lunch in a dingy pizza joint in Bay Ridge, a slice and a small Dixie cup of Coke for a dollar. I used to fold my pizza, Brooklyn style back then, but now no more because I was an out of towner, a mook. You could get a slice of Sicilian for the same price, but it was never as good as regular slice. The smell of cigarettes and loud conversations bordering on violence in the back, the top forty disco and rock coming from the radio. The pride of buying your own food. The other kids crowded to the closer pizza places and the White Castle only a block away, but I always made the long walk for this pizza, so I usually ate alone, like I did in that Penn Station way station. A lonely transient was my only other company and he stared into his plastic cup of free water as if divining the future, or was it the past.

How to learn a new language: 7 secrets from TED Translators

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Nice tips for when you decide to tackle a new language

TED Blog

Learning_a_languageBy Krystian Aparta

They say that children learn languages the best. But that doesn’t mean that adults should give up. We asked some of the polyglots in TED’s Open Translation Project to share their secrets to mastering a foreign language. Their best strategies distill into seven basic principles:

  1. Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. German translator Judith Matz suggests: “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.”
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  2. Make language-learning a lifestyle change. Elisabeth Buffard, who in her 27 years of teaching English has always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love.
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  3. Play house with the language. The more you invite…

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The iPhone 5S is Clearly The Best Smartphone For One Thing

I dropped my iPhone 5 and cracked the screen. Even though I was waiting for an iOS phablet, I decided to order the 5S. Having used it for three days, I have to say that it is the finest smartphone I have ever used and I have used almost every one. The screen is great and the camera takes gorgeous pictures but it is the battery life.The battery life is so good compared to my iPhone 5 that I have ditched my Mophie case for emergency use only. Having a small phone is great. Having a small phone that can let you create a talk on keynote in the middle of the night and have enough juice to last the day is phenomenal.

I don’t know why it works so much better but I suspect it has to do with the 4G radio and how the iPhone alloys juice to it. The phone clearly can get through my 12 hour day now with juice to spare.

Turkey Notes

I look forward to carving the turkey because at its core, it is an operation. The incisions to disarticulate the limbs are planned to preserve as much skin on the carved meat as possible because the skin has about 80% of the flavor. The cuts are designed to allow the soft long muscles of the thighs to maintain their texture while the four drums sticks –the femurs and the humeruses bilaterally, are set aside for those relishing the birdly wands. The flats of the wings, the radius and ulna, are kept with the one remnant digit. I like to think that the original therapods from which this turkey descended were not much different or less delicious. The breasts are always difficult to remove with enough of the core –the meat tight to the sternum and rib cage, that is the juiciest meat because it was the last to cook. I feel bad for those who must have white meat, because the breast is all about texture and juices and not at all about the essence of the turkey which lives in the thighs, especially the small muscles of the pelvis. From the breast, I carve broad steaks. I divide the dark meat from the white to make the choice easier.

Our turkey this year was “catered” in the sense that we picked up an organic, free range, Amish turkey –it probably even had a name. At first, I balked at “catering” something, then cooking it myself, being used to the amazing holiday catering at the Wakonda Club. The fixings were done and were great. The turkey was the cleanest, freshest smelling turkey I have ever worked with. There is a rule about fish that I extrapolate to all meat which is if it smells bad, it is bad. While I apply this rule to fish, it is not infrequent that I hold meat to a lower standard and that is something that I will reconsider.

Packaged chicken and pork typically smells horrible. Chickens reek of a smell which I interpret as boiled feathers. Freshly butchered chickens are usually hand plucked, but industrial processing requires expediency and this means dipping the chicken in boiling water to make the feathers easier to pull off. I think this is the smell that’s on industrial chicken. Pork has other odors, even less pleasant. Both will often smell like a unclean toilet –the kind you run into at concerts and football games. And on top of all of this, there is ammonia. I detect ammonia at a subconscious level because I have spent most of my life working in hospitals. This is all over many packaged chicken and pork products.

I will cut down the amount of meat we eat and the meat that we choose will have to pass the fish test. The turkey was sublime, full of natural flavors and textures that I hadn’t appreciated in a long time.

Gomtang Instant Noodle Soup -it’s all in the soup

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The food alchemists in Korea have many years and lots of resources to tweak products towards a kind of perfection that the Korean market demands with the byproduct that Asia as a whole likes South Korea as much as it dislikes Japan and distrusts China and especially its food. It creates a perfect storm for instant foods that recreate the sensation and feeling of the real thing. In this case, Gomtang, is a dish that takes days to make, involving the boiling of oxtail and bones for days resulting in a rich and hearty stock that is seasoned only with a dash of salt and chopped green onions. The boiling over days leaves your house smelling like a glue factory and it’s largely outsourced to restaurants that specialize in gomtang or sulungtang (alt word, basically same thing) like Gam Mi Ok in midtown Manhattan, where the soup is kept going round the clock for decades in giant cauldrons, served with simple flour noodles of vermicelli gauge. The Gomtang package noodle pictured above claims to give you the same taste. And it does. I made a batch for lunch for my family using these packs, and I did add sliced round cuts that I dipped in the soup to brown and quickly put aside for adding to the final dish. The soup, which is a bit salty like every package ramen dish, looks and tastes just like a decent gomtang. The beef that I added gives it a few added globules of beef fat which only adds to the authenticity. Add chopped green onions and for a moment, you are sitting on 32nd Street in Manhattan on a cold day savoring your gomtang. 

I do have to add that while it tastes good up front, there are missing flavor notes that give it away as not completely authentic. There is a flavor and soup texture added by the solubilized connective tissues of oxtail that leaves a sticky residue on your palate and makes the beef flavor linger -this is missing. Also, I would avoid drinking up the soup as it is a lot of unnecessary sodium to add to your diet. As a carrier and sauce for the noodles and added beef, it is perfect on a cold fall day, and I recommend it in moderation. 

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