Walking on Seashells

Shell-covered beach on Mackworth Island, Portland, Maine.

Destination Moon

IMG_2509I used to shoot photos of the moon with my iPhone. I used a mail order bracket and my lousy old Sears refracting telescope. The quality wasn’t the best, but I like how it evokes the old Chesley Bonestell artwork from the 1950s. Years before the Apollo missions, we figured that the lunar maria were smooth, ringed with jagged peaks, based on how they looked through earthbound telescopes.

We found out later that the moon looks completely different when you actually visit. The maria  are strewn with boulders and pocked with smaller craters, while meteorites have worn the mountains into rolling hills. I like Bonestell’s version better.



We have arrived. Temporary quarters at Mirror Lake outside of Whitefield, N.H., until we find a permanent place in Gorham.

Final tally: seven days, 14 states, 3,400 miles. That trip kinda kept goin’. Big country we got here.

Flyover States


Now the fun begins. And by fun, I mean driving nine hundred miles a day. The landscape is stark, beautiful, and empty. I have no idea where I took this. Idaho, maybe.

I can say that no one lives in Wyoming.

California Filter


Somehow my iPhone’s camera began defaulting to Instagram-style filtering during my Bay Area trip. I don’t think I like it, but it’s realistic, at least. Something about the light in California. The entire state from north to south looks like it was shot on a Polaroid.

Nothing Says Spring


… in Western Oregon like thick clouds sailing over streetcar wires at a hundred miles an hour. It might be jumping the gun to call that “spring,” but around here that’s what the season basically looks like, and I’ll take it.

The bad news: “Spring” in Portland lasts until July 15.

School Shootings, by the Numbers

 What I learned at today’s school shootings training (with apologies to Harper’s Index):

Occurrence of U.S. mass shootings, times the world average: 270
Percentage of mass shootings that take place in schools: 25
Percentage of shooters now wearing body armor: 24
Percentage carrying more than one weapon: 36
Percentage who had no prior police record: 42
Number of mock assault rifle attacks I helped disarm today: 7 or 8
Number where I sustained a real-life bruise, ding, or scrape: 7 or 8
Number of disarmings I performed correctly: 1
Number of times I would have been gut-shot by an AR-15: 6 or 7
Ratio of cops and ex-military to educators at today’s training: 2 to 1
Educators who were required to be there: 0
Percentage of mass shootings that are committed by one person: 98
Percentage of mass shooters that are male: 97
Length of the average school shooting, in minutes: 12
Percentage that last 5 minutes or less: 37
Percentage of shootings where police arrive after the show’s over: 47
Average number of dead: 3
Average number of wounded: 4
Since 1980, the number of kids who have died in school fires: 0
Since 1980, the number of kids who have died in school shootings: 300
The number of teachers: 45
The number of fire drills in which I’ve participated since becoming a teacher in 1996: 150+
The number of school shooting drills: 0

Noir at the Bar PDX


I attended Johnny Shaw’s Noir at the Bar event tonight at Beulahland on Northeast 28th. Johnny and five other crime writers read short stories and other excerpts of their work. Featured were Greg Rucka, Barry Graham, Lisa Alber, Chris La Tray, and Roger Hobbs.

I especially enjoyed Alber’s reading from her upcoming Irish murder mystery Kilmoon, which will be out in April.

Graham, who never has anything nice to say about his native Glasgow, recited his selection from memory. His story was the finest I’ve heard involving one man eating another man’s eyeball.

I’m on the slate for the next event. After hearing Graham’s eyeball thing, I need to read from “Clutch.”