Monthly Archives: March 2012

Case no. 001 – The Argyle Apparition


Well folks, I have a real treat for you this morning.  A treat for me too.  Last night, I received an email from one of my readers.  We’ll call him Doug.  Doug asked for my help in solving a sock mystery of his own.  He wrote:

when I was leaving work and walking to my car, I noticed something very surprising and amazingly coincidental (see picture below.)  It’s a terrible picture, not unlike a grainy picture of bigfoot.  But what it is, is not the mystery.  The mystery is how it got there.  It is a lone blue argyle sock.  Pretty much the argyle sock of divine providence because I have no idea how it got there.  I was not transporting clothing in my car and I have no recollection of taking my socks off while driving.  I also have no recollection of it being there before today.  The sock does belong to me and it has clearly been worn.  Other than that, I can’t think of any other facts about the case.  I can certainly imagine how a sock might go unnoticed in the recesses of my car for months (possibly years.)  But to be so prominently seen in my rear window seems uncanny.  I feel like I have exhausted any logical explanation of how it got there.  Do what you will with this information.

Doug's sock

First, I would like to say thank you to Doug, for trusting Nathan and I with this mystery.  This morning, we woke early to solve it.  We decided to begin where the sock began.  In Doug’s sock drawer.  Next, the sock moved to Doug’s foot.  Theories 1 & 2 (seen below) assume that the sock was removed willing from the foot, and then transported, either by divine grace, or inanimate intelligence to the vehicle.   I don’t give these theories much credence.

Theory 3 assumes that Doug’s car is capable of extreme acceleration, which I think we can all agree, is not realistic, given the photograph provided.

Theory 4 is therefore the only theory, at this point, that I am willing to investigate further.

I will list our theories in order of ascending likelihood :

1.  Divine Providence.  I find it very doubtful that God would try to prove anything with a dirty argyle sock.  No one can know His ways, but I think I’m justified in putting this theory at the bottom of the list.

2.  Intelligent Sock.  Nathan pointed out that the argyle is not like other socks.  In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I had figured out where socks go when they disappear.  I still can’t tell you, but what I can tell you, is that I never found any argyle socks hiding with the others. Argyle are the smartest of the socks.  They don’t hang out with jock socks when they disappear.  This leads me to believe that argyles might actually leave the house when they take off for a few months.

3.  Acceleration.  Doug accelerated so fast that he knocked one of his own socks off.

4.  Passenger Irritation.  Doug’s girlfriend, we’ll call her Bernice, found the dirty sock while rooting around for something behind her seat.  No one likes to accidentally stumble upon someone else’s dirty sock.  She threw the sock with all of her might, lodging it in the back corner of the rear window.

The missing link in theory 4 is how the argyle sock got from Doug’s foot to Bernice’s irritated fingers.  When you read what I’m about to write, you might think to yourself, “No way.  This would never happen.”  But, you would be wrong.  I have SEEN it happen.  I think that while Doug or Bernice (probably Doug) was getting dressed one morning, the dirty argyle sock was either statically clinging to his back, or tucked into his belt.  He didn’t notice it. When he walked to his car, the sock hung limp, just out of his view.  When he left his vehicle, the sock was released from its position on his back, and fell to the floor, where it waited, for an indeterminate period of time.

I’m not kidding.  I know someone who has experienced something just like this.  His name is Nathan.  Several years ago Nathan showed up to an 8 o’clock meeting at work with a tube sock hanging from the back of his belt like a tail. It happens.

As for why the sock was not seen until yesterday morning, well, we believe it is a case of expanded awareness.  Doug read the singleton sock post, and then became aware of all the singletons lurking around him.   This said, it is within the realm of possibility that Doug’s awareness is always expanded, and that he noticed the sock yesterday because yesterday was the first day that it was there.

In summary:

Doug puts on sock.  Doug takes sock off.  Sock sticks to Doug.  Doug goes to car.  Sock lets go of Doug.  Bernice finds sock.  Bernice grossed out by sock.  Bernice throws sock to back window.  Doug confounded by sock.  Mystery solved.

I would like to remind readers that I am always available to solve your mysteries.  Please feel free to email me anonymously at


The Mystery of The Singleton Sock


Sometimes, before bed, Nathan and I like to solve a mystery, or at least…try to solve one.

A couple of weeks after we moved into our house, I was doing laundry.  The load was mostly Nathan’s work clothing, so imagine my surprise when a dainty women’s sock appeared, statically clinging to the arm of his button up shirt.  It wasn’t my sock.  I don’t own any socks that dainty.  I thought about it for a long time.  Where had it come from?  I had done almost twenty loads of laundry before that load, so it couldn’t have been left over from a previous tenant.  How had Nathan picked up a women’s sock?  Had he put it in his pocket?  That would be weird, but I wouldn’t put it past him.  It was the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with him.

That evening, when his car pulled into our driveway, I grabbed the sock and stood in front of the door.  He walked in to find me pinching a strange woman’s sock in an outstretched hand.  I gave him just long enough to recognize it as a sock, then I demanded, “Who is she?”  The look on his face was priceless.  Big eyes, innocent shock, then panic.  Panic because he had no idea whether I was crazy enough to be serious.  I couldn’t hold a straight face for long.

We both had a good laugh.  That night, before bed, we got down to the business of solving the mystery of the singleton sock.  We figured it out, but I can’t tell you.  I would ruin the exhilaration of discovery for everyone else.  There is a place that singletons go.  When you lose socks, and can’t figure out how the members of your family could possibly have twelve singles..well, they go somewhere.  And we figured out where.  The amazing thing…is that sometimes they come back.  They wait for like..four to a hundred months.  Then, when you least expect it, they show up.

Last night, we attacked another question before bed.  I had heard that if you listen to a cricket for fifteen seconds and count its chirps, then add that number to 37, you get the approximate temperature.  Nathan thought that adding the number 37 didn’t’ sound approximate at all, but I assured him that my internet source was sound.  (some guy writing ‘fun facts’ about crickets)

To test the validity of this claim, Nathan made me count to fifteen very slowly while he chirped as fast as he could.  It was fast.  But in fifteen seconds, he could only chirp forty three times.  I’ll do the math.  That means, any temperature over 80 degrees is impossible for a cricket to predict.  I’m not an entomologist, so I don’t know if crickets even hang around outside if it’s that warm.  That could be part of the problem.

Anyway, the cricket mystery, we couldn’t’ crack.  There were no cricket chirps to count.  So, if one of you has time, and has crickets, please get back to me.

Also, if you need help solving a mystery, let us know.  We’re pretty good at it.  Ever meet anyone else who knew where socks go?

I didn’t think so.


She Only Murders on the Weekend


This weekend I went to my nephew’s birthday party.  He turned nine.

If you want to have fun at a party, I highly recommend going to one for a nine year old.  Although, it’s probably best if you don’t show up at one of these parties uninvited.  That might be inappropriate.

At my nephew’s party, there were four kids present.  Two nine year olds, a six year old, and an eleven year old.  Our dinner conversation was both stimulating and confusing.  The kids decided to tell scary stories.  I tried very hard to concentrate, but there were entire plot lines that bordered on nonsensical.  My favorite story went like this:

There was a boy, and he um, was upstairs sleeping.  His friends told him about a booger monster, but he didn’t believe them, and he was um, um, upstairs, but he wasn’t really sleeping, he was just laying in bed, and then his parents went out for a party.  He heard the door open and thought that his parents were home, so he yelled, “Mom?  Dad?” but they didn’t answer and then he um, the stairs were creaky, um, then the door closed, and he heard someone coming down the hall, and then, and his parents weren’t really home yet, but there was someone coming, and he thought, oh, it must be my parents, and then, um, a booger monster yelled up the stairs, “Billy, I’m a booger monster, and I’m on your first step.”

Um, then billy knew it wasn’t his parents.  Then the monster went to the second step.  He yelled, “Billy, I’m a booger monster, and I’m on your second step.”  And Billy had twenty five steps, so this took a long time, and the monster kept coming, and then it reached the door, and came into Billy’s room, and um, Billy was under the covers, and then it came up to the bed, and then Billy threw off his covers.  And then…and then..Oh no!  I forget the end of the story!

I could barely contain myself.  Most adults can’t tell a story that keeps me on the edge of my seat like this one did.

After dinner we made ice cream sundays.  I was sitting nearest to the cake cutting knife, so I kept a hand on it.  I didn’t want one of the kids to get a wild hair and try to grab it to cut their own cake.  My nephew’s nine year old girlfriend screamed when she saw me gripping the knife.  “Ah!  Jenny is going to kill us!  She has a weapon!”

I stared back into her little round eyes and whispered, “The last kid who tattled on me was never seen again.”   At this, my nephew started cracking up.  He assured his friend that Aunt Jenny wouldn’t hurt anyone.  The little girl realized it was a game, so became bolder, “You’re a murderer aren’t you??”

Nathan leaned in, “Don’t worry, she only murders on the weekends.”

The girl relaxed, then her eyes shot to mine as she screeched, “It’s Saturday!!!”

Kids are fun.

I’m Reading an Article


Just a quick one today…Then I’m off to work.

Yesterday Nathan helped me edit my book for almost eight hours.  At one point, I peeked over at his screen and saw that he was watching some kind of slide show.

Me:  What are you up to over there?

Nathan:  Oh, I’m just reading an article.

I was fairly certain that the slide show he was watching was of women, dressed in fancy clothes.

Me: An article?

Nathan:  Yes, a Huffington Post article with a slide show that goes along with it.

Me:  What is the article’s title?

Nathan:  (silence for several seconds)..Celebrity Boobs.

Me:  Seriously?  Are there any words in the article?

Nathan:  Uncomfortable laughter.

No Time To Troll…


Backpack Like You Mean It

Well folks, I just don’t have time to troll for inspiration today.  I’m on a mission.  In the next three days I will be finishing my book.  Done.  No more editing.  Send it to the printer, have a couple of celebratory drinks, done.  I have a meeting with the printer on Monday morning, at which time I will hand over my final manuscript.  A very talented artist named Sarah-Lee Terrat did the illustrations for my cover and text.  I thought I would share the cover today…

I am hoping to have Backpack Like You Mean It in Kindle and Nook format by the middle of April, and a soft cover version of the book by May first.  I will, of course, keep you all posted.

Enjoy the weekend!


Woodpecker Eyes, The Haw-ful Truth


I had a good friend tell me over a game of bingo last night, that if woodpeckers don’t close their eyes when they crack their beaks against a tree, their eyeballs pop out, from the force of the impact.  Yes, I went to a bar and played bingo.  To be clear, ‘good friend’ is not a euphemism for the ninety year old man sitting next to me, nor is ‘bar’ a euphemism for retirement home.  Back to the birds-I don’t know about you, but I thought the image was reminiscent of a Woody the Woodpecker reel.  I had to investigate.

I learned of the nictitating membrane, aka the haw.  A quick visit revealed that the word nictitate means to wink.  Maybe some of you knew this already.  If so, why haven’t you mentioned it?

Woodpeckers, like many other creatures (beavers, manatees, sharks, polar bears, lemurs, name a few) have a nictitating membrane-a third eyelid that moves horizontally across the eye, to protect it.  The claim that this membrane prevents woodpecker eyes from popping out of their heads…well, that I found no evidence to support.  Granted, I don’t have more than a google toolbar at my disposal, so my research isn’t top notch work.

What I did discover, was that the woodpecker is a hot topic in the evolution vs. creationism argument.  I can’t tell you how many forums exist out there-where totally uninformed individuals (on both sides) call each other names, insult each other’s mothers, and insinuate each other’s reproductive habits with other members of the animal kingdom, while arguing whether the woodpecker could have ever evolved.  Creationists think they’re too complicated.  I haven’t yet mentioned the woodpecker tongue, which is pretty amazing.  Instead of being a muscular organ, like it is in humans, it is supported by a bone and cartilage structure, that has its anchors deep within the skull.  Cool!  Also, the woodpecker’s brain is small, and very carefully situated, to minimize damage from the jarring of the peckity peck peck.

But-back to the eyeball issue.  The woodpecker’s nictitating membrane does protect its eyes. It protects them from flying debris, and from the potential for retinal damage from the jarring of the peckity peck peck.  Have you noticed that I like the sound of “jarring of the peckity peck peck”?  I really do.

The haw protects polar bears from snow blindness.  In sea lions, it helps remove sand and other beach debris.  In hawks, it protects the parents’ eyes from the beaks of their young while they feed them.  In humans, the vestigial haw can be found in the corner of your eyeball, (that little red triangle of flesh).

I’d like to make clear, this post is not meant to argue one way or the other..evolution or creation.  I personally don’t see why both can’t be true.  Natural selection and creation.  We’re all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions.  I’m not going to insult anyone’s mother to prove a point.

If you have a research paper, written by an actual scientist, from an accredited organization or university, that gives evidence of woodpecker eyes popping out, I would love to read it.  Who knows, maybe it exists.  Nictitate, Nictitate.

Bologna Incites Irrational Anger


First, we should get my love of bologna out of the way.  I’m not kidding around.  I love it.  I know its probably made of pig hooves and intestines, chicken beaks and the weird skin on chicken feet, but I love the stuff.  It’s salty, and it fits on top of a bagel slathered with cream cheese perfectly.  I have always loved it.  As a kid, my mother made fried bologna sandwiches for my father, who obviously had highly developed taste buds.  My exposure to the smell of bologna, crisping it its own fatty juices, cultivated in me a deeply rooted affection for what I like to call, highly sophisticated spam.   Spam is the dregs.  I’m not referring to internet junk mail, people.  I’m referring to that canned, pink, gelatinous, fake-meat cube.  I just visited their website, and their homepage says ‘The Glorious Spam Tower’.  I don’t even know what that means.

Bologna doesn’t need a website.  It’s internationally famous already.

I’m getting off track here.  The real purpose of this post was to recount a very strange, and slightly disturbing incident that occurred at my local supermarket about a week ago.  It began at the deli counter.  The woman who offered to help me had the personality of tree bark.  She very clearly hated cutting meat and cheese for strangers.  I imagine the silly hairnet she was wearing added insult to injury.  I tried being very nice.  I smiled.  I said my pleases and thank yous, and I didn’t make direct eye contact with the hairnet.  Nothing improved her mood.

I ordered bologna.  In addition to loving bologna, I am also very conscious of how bad it is for me.  I only order very thin slices of it.  My bologna has to be paper-thin.  Otherwise, two slices would fill my entire daily caloric needs.  I ordered very thinly sliced bologna.  The woman came back to me after she had cut a sample piece, to show me, and ask if it was thin enough.  Courtesy meat check.  I appreciated it, and took a close look.  It was perfectly sliced, and I said so.  In hind sight, she may have taken my careful examination as an affront-like I didn’t trust her to do it right, so had to come in like a bologna overlord and verify her work.

She filled my order, (half a pound), and handed me the bag.  Her face contorted into a weird grimace-pucker as I took it from her.  It gave me the willies, so I walked away quickly to find Nathan.  While I stood behind him, waiting for him to choose which six pack of beer he wanted, I looked down at my prized bologna.  Something was wrong.

I accidentally screamed, “What!?”

Nathan turned, a look of alarm on his face.  “What’s the matter?”

“That crone cut my bologna into slabs.  I can’t eat these.  They’re practically as thick as bagels themselves.  This was sabotage!  She did it on purpose!”

Nathan went back to choosing his beer.

What happened next is what I feel must be discussed.   I became irrationally angry.  I hated the crazy witch who  had tricked me with her courtesy meat check.  I wanted to throw my slices of bologna all over the window of her stupid meat display case.  I wanted to run through the aisles screaming, tossing slabs of bologna like frisbees at the faces of supermarket employees.*  I was irate.  I had a bag full of useless bologna.  This state of barely controlled fury lasted for about two minutes.  I couldn’t talk about it, I couldn’t think about anything else.

Finally, as Nathan and I stood in the check-out line, I collected myself.  I took stock of the situation.  I had dreadfully thick slices of bologna.  I love bologna.  The situation wasn’t really that bad.  But…what had happened to me?  Why had I gone off the handle?  Who really cares about the thickness of their lunch meat?  (Well..I do, but maybe I shouldn’t)

Not six months ago, I sat in a Cambodian restaurant and ordered from a menu I couldn’t read.  An entire chicken carcass arrived on a plate twenty five minutes later.  Really.  The glazed bluish chicken eyes stared up at me.  The beak had been chopped off and stuck into the thigh meat.  The feet were a bumpy yellowish brown, with dirty claws attached.  I ate that meal.  Happily.  The difference was expectation.  I didn’t have any when I ordered from the Cambodian menu.  I was thankful for what I got.

So-the lesson here, which I am slightly embarrassed to have demonstrated-is that sometimes we forget a very important fact.  Many of our choices are luxuries.  The next time you find yourself frustrated about something not going your way-in the deli, or elsewhere, try to remember that.  Don’t pretend you don’t get irrationally angry either.  I know you do.  It’s human to have expectations, and be disappointed when things don’t play out.  However, too many expectations can make us forget how lucky we are to have anything at all.

*The author does not condone chucking slabs of processed meat at people.