Faces of Elf Death

Killed by KitchedAid, 12.05.16

Smoothies, 12.06.16

Bury-Go-Round, 12.07.16

Dragon’s Lair, 12.08.16

Cement Loafers, 12.09.16



Fury Road, 12.10.16

Silence of the Lambs, 12.11.16

Every Rose Has Its Thorn, 12.12.16

Xmas Sniper: Elf Obsession, 12.13.16



Rat Hole, 12.14.16

Dinner Time, 12.15.16

The Bonnie Situation, 12.16.16

Lighting Strikes Twice, 12.17.16

Aliens, 12.18.16


Shelob, 12.19.16

Unicorns and Rainbows, 12.20.16

Slushy, 12.21.16

Ice Age, 12.22.16

Forest in Winter, 12.23.24

Silent Suffocation, 12.24.26

Prison Shower Shanking, 12.25.16

The Revenant, 12.26.16

The Elf – Derrick Zoolander, performing all his own stunts.


I tried a friend’s fancy board this summer, and it opened my mind to my bumpkinism about SUPs. Our first board is an intro POS, heavy board heavy paddle, that I could trade on a good day for a midrange EZ UP or a couple pairs of nice kids-sized cleats. The table-stakes at the sport give you a taste of the stoke, but you quickly tire of losing. Our board rides the water like an earthquake, gradually and inexorably tilting you into a swim. I tracks like a leaf and slogs even down current.

Beckie loves it, and I like it enough to lend her my ability to close. 3 days later, we had a new toy.


Putting the money into it was never in doubt – I’ll keep my shitty truck for a few more years to redirect fundage into toys like this! The best part about outdoor toys (other than road bikes) is that doubling costs have immense, performance-value sweetspot benefits still 10x cheaper than cars. I’m pleased to see I’ve gotten better and better at this meta-transaction, evidence by *ahem* a new board in 3 days!!!

NoSnow is at the Hawes’ trailhead, and we were not aimlessly driving out there. l It was a full morning. Beckie took G on a loop through TRW. Alana and I did the Canal trail and Tour De Backyards, for 4 miles of dirt and almost an hour of spin time!!!!


Sunday, we drove the truck down into Bartlett Flats and pushed off into the lake, first time, and it was so fun! 2015_0927_Bartlett_Lake_01_blog




It is so responsive, stable and fast! I could steer both directions from both sides, even the children were killing it.








DirtBag DadCamp: Skating

“I wound up having to join AA. I don’t even drink. Just needed the stage time.”
–Bob Nickman

Allowing the girls to buy rollerblades made me complicit in their impending fractured ulnas. Despite what Wayne LaPierre would have you believe, most people think giving a gun to your kid without training is foolish.


Way back in March I signed them up for a free series of summer hockey lessons at the Ice Den, knowing they’d thank me when it was 110. Amazing choice for 12:30pm in June, it was almost too cold watching. Said no one in AZ, ever, at 12:30pm in June.


A couple Wednesdays we went to free-admission at Skateland. If you snicker at going into the Mesa ghetto, you need to try it and get godsmacked at how much fun you had in the 80’s.


Finally they were good enough to skate all the way to the high school, around and back! They didn’t exactly have fun, the reality of 1 degree downhill and uphill and brick sidewalks.




Saturday we had a swimmeet in S. Scottsdale.


Then dashed off to the the annual Snow Day at the Phx Zoo. They put exhibits on every 15 min, and we charged every one we could manage.

California Condors, eating dead rabbits


Prairie DogTown set atwitter by cauliflower!


A zookeeper was showing off a Common King Snake that wandered into one of the exhibits. We had actual questions after it crawled in from under our TV, and its similarly-inclined rattlesnake-lookey neighbor that jumped out of our hop seed bushes. He gave us a semester’s worth of herpetology in 5 min! And now we know about jaw sizes, fangs, behavior identification, and how to pick them up.



warty pigs are adorable when they act like dogs


The elephant had the happiest day of her summer thanks to the Phoenix FD!



G was sitting on my shoulders, I had no idea what was being filmed

The monsoon finally hit that night, and we stayed in town instead of camping in the high country. 7:30am was overcast and cool enough for a family ride around Brown’s Ranch. It mandated a 6am wakeup to load bikes, apply sunscreen, stuff calories, placate egos, drive, safety meeting, unload and mount up 5 bikes. G killed it, and Alana…sorta actually killed it, but whined like a cat that’d been petted.

Since we were in the neighborhood, our friend Robin invited us by to see the newest ACDR puppies and help socialize them.


dogs good for people, people good for dogs. The 5 pups hid from us at first, then it turned into an orgy of belly rubs and facelicks all morning. We did the Full Lincoln.



DirtBag DadCamp: Forgery

I have a love-hate relationship with the Aquatic Center. Awesome facilities vs shitty hours and SOOOOO many rules. The high-school lifeguards adhere religiously to the squashing of all possible fun, disciplinarian youth and Godwin’s Law collide in sunburned subburbed space.  Their tepid, bleating enforcement is more grating than the actual persecution, even my kids mock their apathy.

Along with our summer pass, Alana and I developed an understanding: she could get away with whatever she could get away with, as long as she didn’t drag me into it.

Dad! They should let me jump owf the high boawd. I jumped owf a cwiff. 


so true.

What at first seemed rigid monolithic enforcement of the rules upon further glance became huge gaping holes in security. $3.90 on Ebay made 46.75 inches = 48 for the next 3 months.


Le Fluffing
Me: How old are you sweetie?
Alana: 7
Me: How did you get that wristband?
Alana: The people up front measured me
Me: Is that your dad?
Alana: I’ve never seen that man before in my life

And like good pre-Millennials, they go slack jawed and wave them on, lacking the fortitude or commitment to confront the 6yo by cutting off her illicit wristband.

DirtBag DadCamp: The Test

3 weeks ago the kids were in Camp Invention, and I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road, my first adult movie in a theater in 9.4 yrs. And I got to thinkin’ — the girls in an adjacent theater with a phone was just crazy enough to work! I would rather be stabbed repeatedly in my hemorrhoid than pay to see Minions.

Me: Can you guys do this without fighting, spilling your food, freaking out, getting me arrested?
Monsters: *nods_all_around*
Me: really? you lying little shits? cause if you pull this off i might let your drive?
Monsters: *nods_all_around*

Logistics and supplies are all in order, they both peed twice.

Terminator: Genisys – I hated the acting, the inhabitation of the actors. Every other movie has been filled with desperation, anxiety, hurt, Kyle Reese running like a trapped rat not a carnivore at CrosSFiit. These characters were pin-ups, physically and actingly. Christian Bale as John Connor vs ….that guy? puhlease. frown emoticon That said, some of it was funny and Arnold was very funny. I just went with it, I snuck a camelback full of beer in, its the dirtbag in DadCamp.

I enjoyed the attempts to interweave the earlier scenes and timelines. Dull and hokey at times, especially since i watched the original 2 days ago, but fun for a geek fan.

Some of the action scenes were cool, but I hate action scenes where there are no rules. Even in SciFi, there need to be rules and limits. I don’t like Terminators, Gladiators, or Decepticons with unlimited hit-points. Neither does Milton Friedman.

I LURVED that they brought back the old cop.

Would not spend to see it in theater, but a good Netflix.

English –> Cattledog Translator

Sleeping = aggressively herding lethargic cows

Resting = aggressively herding lazy cows

Nibbling on hands = ensuring you are still fresh

Chasing the cat = warding off predators

Stealing food from the table = leftover donuts in the conference room

Jumping over the couch = attentiveness to your every move

Wigglebutt = I luuuuuuuurrrrrrrvvvvveeeee you this much!

Peeing constantly = properly hydrated

Spooning in bed = spooning in bed

Farting in bed = it was —->Beckie *dognod**dogstare*

Farting in bed = whatever, i tooted, dgaf

Dashing off down the street = pre-emptive surveillance

Laying under the AC vent = protecting my family, as my right as a ‘murican

The Stare = the depths of my soul are laid out before you, do you have any bacon?

Doesn’t Like Water = I choose not to run, Jerry



Dog Rides, Dog Souls

I forgot much of what I barely ever learned of the coyote underbelly of N. Snottsdale, with Kila an already old-dog who mostly wanted to nose around for 2-3 miles max. Long gentle miles coasting, thinking, smiling and pondering, not on the trainer not in a room, same calories while absorbing every inch of my realm with much better company than Netflix. Dog rides are not about hammering or vertical or gnar, though we approve of all these things. Dog rides are seeing shadows, silences, sniffs and snoops, the affects and affectations of suburban whether and wild illusions. There are many dark corners and natural corridors, its been a while since drifting through them was an almost-nightly ritual.

Dog rides are not hard, but they don’t need to be easy. Dîa doesn’t want them that way. Tequila Tree, 98th St. Wash, the golf course, Horizon Park. We like our choices. A lot. They are extremely child-compatible or as heart-pounding as I want. Running with my pack again, to the library, the school, this cat in a littledog’s body, this brilliant beast, lithe and learns like she does everything else: fast!

I am thinking about a new tattoo:


We were out for an hour, more than our 10th but less than our 20th ride, a noncomittal range like the girls you slept with or how many times you tried coke. The still-novelty proved prescient, the last 2 miles 500 feet down, where she lingered just in front of my wheel, so either could wreck the other, and didn’t let me pass. I loved the intimacy, but was frustrated by the confinement. I wanted to rip it, small dh as it was, take a sip of thrill out of another perfunctory commitment commuting my children. She resisted a bit when i leashed her 25 yards before we came out of the desert onto the sidewalk. How just like a dog, transitioning from off-leash to leashed. Selfish damn dog. We rolled onto the sidewalk, she was still elsewhere, still selfish, still a puppy, still so vulnerable. She darted in front of my wheel, flashed across and under it, i sensed impending carnage and for a beat hesitated thinking “you’re gonna get a lesson now, Dia“.

We both did. I went over the bars, she was screaming. Not a yelp getting smacked by a wheel and tumbled in the dirt, but the insuppressible shrill of a dog who must have broken her leg. Oh fuck oh fuck, as i pulled up from my digger, oh fuck she’s screaming I’m gonna see her broken leg, I’m gonna see her twisted back. I saw her twisted tail in the wheel and lacerated by the rotor, cleaved almost all the way through, with three fractures. Tendons rolled up like pink rubberbands, bones glowing pale. This is what i am seeing. I am seeing this, wrapped in the wheel, i am seeing this and need to do something, now, my dog is knotted into my bike and her tail is severed.

I reached for her, she attacked me, grinding my hands when i drew for the wheel. I shrieked back at her stop biting me STOP BITING ME, she gnashed me again. I went for the release on the thru- axel, which spun and spun but did not grab its threads. I went back to the other side of the wheel, Dia snapped and snarled and ripped at me more, while i struggled at the wheel and ripped at her more, rotor stuck in her, tail wrenched and broken, dog weighs less than my bike getting wrenched around from behind.

I flailed with the axel again, braced for the attack on my hands, someone appeared and I yelled at her to not get mauled. She yelled at me, I yelled at her, more shredding to my hands, Beckie, someone had a pliers. I finally got the axel out, the woman grabbed the handlebars while I screeched “PULL HARD!!!!”

The dog stood up, frozen, shocked still. I collapsed on her and cried. I’m so sorry Dia, I’m so sorry. For just one fraction of one second i was selfish at you, I could have stopped this, and I am so so so sorry.  Then there was a long awkward awkwardness. The bystanders were creeped out. Beckie had gone home, looking for a toolbox, unaware one of the good samaritans was the Notre Dame HS maintenance man. No one quite wanted to load the bloody dog into their car. My phone wouldn’t work with gristle and gore all over my fingers, i numbly apologized for the belated arrival of my wife, and some of my random f-bombs. Much more surreal than this freak accident after 20 yrs of riding with dogs.

Beckie said from when i first called to when we were in the car heading to the Emergency Vet was 14 minutes. Seemed longer. The taking of Normandy Beach took like 20 minutes, as per Saving Private Ryan. She doesn’t seem to hold the 14 minutes against me, just like i didn’t complain about my tenderized hands. But getting the wheel off her was terrible.

Animal urgent care provides amazing facilities for a first-world dog, but didn’t have so much as a cotton ball for my ragged wrists. I slumped in the waiting room and bled, signed forms, wiped off their pen. Kids Club Soccer has made me realize that when coaches say ‘this might happen‘ what they really mean is when the Vet says ‘this is probably going to happen‘. And your dog is definitely going to lose her tail for the cost of a semester of college.

I am just so glad you are home.


I know your ass is so very itchy, and when I feel bad for you or me we will cowdog up. I will stuff your antibiotics in cream cheese and cover your pain-killer in bacon grease, and laugh as you squeeze the e.collar through the dog door and under the bed and crash your bar-ends into the walls as you stumble thru the house. We will cowdog up.

I did some bike work. this is what a rotor looks like when it messes with a dog’s tail.


yeah Dia, you kicked that rotor’s ass! that muthafuggah is NEVER gonna spin again. booyah!!!


this is what a dog’s tail looks like when she messes with a rotor



Everyone keeps saying ‘freak accident‘ and ‘not your fault‘, but my guilt will never go away.  I’m an expert mountain biker and I put her and my kids into positions where I’m the one who keeps them safe. By definition: hubris. I will never be selfish with her, with them, on the bike again. Nunca mas. Wisdom is redemption. Wisdom is redemption.

12 days of lampshade turned into 3 weeks of not riding, wondering how Dia would handle it. The first 30 seconds she was right back in front of my wheel, i was towing a trailer and it might as well have been a freight train vs. Dia’s 25lbs. I panicked, jacked the brakes, wanted to bail. My left arm found my hip and Dia’s 25lbs were off the port bow. And after 200 yards, it seemed like she even wanted to be there. Then it stopped, we skated, and headed back.

The next ride she blasted a mile 6 feet to my left, mostly listened to me, but would not come the moment i let her offleash. I ignored it, there were two owls hooting down at us as we rolled through the golf course.

they look like this to us

we look like this to them


I rose goggled the dysfunction.  Dia ran from me at the trailhead, hid behind the bathroom, peed when i leashed her and pulled as we rode off.

Two nights later we set out for Tequila Tree. Dia peed in the garage, then 100 yars away ditched me and ran for home. She peed in the driveway, then .5 mile later ditched me ran through a neighborhood across Bell Rd. and home. She peed in the driveway and I rode her slowly a mile up the road and down the 104th St. trail into the McDs. She seemed happier when i took off her leash, and trailed me for 2 miles until I got off to walk a 20 yard stretch. Then she was gone.

I found her an hour later. 10ft off 200 yards from the 104th St. TH right where i let her offleash. I was there 30 min before, so were the kids when they came looking for her, when I circled back down the lower trails and back up the road, calling. I was calling, unmistakeable in my light, and only saw a glint to double back and find her. Terrified in the dirt, not responding. I’m just so glad you’re home.

And then this happened.


things we did different this ride: fluffed Dia with proclamations of eternal devotion, rode in daytime, licked her face, rode with children with busy hands that like to scratch and praise, rode the Firebird — maybe Dia just hates 29ers? Gave her bites of leftover Pollo Loco every 10 min from the moment we stood in the garage.  She pood, she stayed in her space, she was magnificent. I gave her more chicken, the girls are, sorta, capable of selfless love. So good ride, we needed it.


School decisions, which have 38x more effect on your self-worth than a comparble decision you would just make for yourowndamnself

So hard. So full of doubt and remorse. 38x more guilt-ridden, confidence uninspiring, Here it is, another ride in the school Board chaos:

My Summary from Elementary Master Plan Community Meeting at Cheyenne 1-29
The meeting was presented by the staff of the architectural firm the District hired to assess the usage and condition of its elementary schools. It was not presented by District staff. The architectural firm’s reps went through each school and listed: the year it was built, % utilization of physical space, # of kids currently enrolled, projections for enrollment for 3 and 5 years out. They laid out a plan to rebuild and refurbish each building for $150 million dollars, and asked the crowd to complete a simple survey on if they would like the District to 1) consolidate, 2) rebuild, or 3) do nothing. 

The Arch.Firm’s reps reviewed each school. But, within minutes, one person commented that the numbers used for enrollment were very wrong, and that the District’s own numbers on enrollment from Fall 2014 were lower. Those current numbers are reflected here: 


and also here:


BTW, audio for the whole meeting can be found here.

The Reps from the Architecture firm wavered here, stammered and sweated, and stated that these were the numbers they were given from the District. Their numbers, from the District, were more outdated than those published in the AZ Republic. The presentation went on, and soon I questioned their enrollment projections. I asked if those projections included recent enrollment trends, affects of Charters opening in the areas, and Gov. Ducey’s plan to make public school lease excess space to Charters. The Arch.Firm folks said that the projections were strictly demographic with no consideration for business analysis.

The meeting turned to Q&A, with visible frustration being expressed in the crowd for the inaccurate and 1-dimensional presentation from the Arch.Firm’s reps One woman commented that its embarrassing for the District to not own the presentation, to let it go out with so many blatant errors, and to allow such an important topic to be managed by a contractor with a limited context for the District’s challenges. Meanwhile, Superintendent David Peterson stood in back and did not say a word. It wasn’t a full room, there were about 50 people total… how can you as a leader let an employee take the bullets for you like this? 

I could not help but reflect on the presentation I attended the night before at Cactus&Scottsdale roads, for a new k-4 that the Basis Charters were opening. It was presented by Basis’ CEO, and had several hundred people beating down the doors for 150 spots next year in the unused Sunday School rooms of a Church.

Many more questions and comments, the major themes being: 

1. Why are you even proposing a $150M bond for buildings when you are losing enrollment, and when the overall demographic trend that the Arch.Firm announced was 5-10% fewer children in Scottsdale in the coming years?

2. Many comments from Cheyenne parents about how are other schools losing enrollment when Cheyenne has a waitlist? Why dont they copy that model, or build a magnet school?

3. What are you doing to put money into the classroom, not the buildings, so that our education is as good as the local Charters? So many people who had opportunity and means to attend Charters expressed their belief in public schools. This very morning I attended a tour of Great Hearts Archway. Its a very tight, low-frills facility. It has a lot going for it, but also has its cons. Today I also received an email about the Great Hearts lottery and waitlist. There are 10,000 people in the Valley waiting for 2,000 spots at Great Hearts schools, despite most of us loving our public schools. There was so much expression of anger over the District’s disconnect.

I commented that the entire analysis and rebuild option is premised on a neighborhood school. It was ironic given that the meeting was in Cheyenne, which is an open enrollment school and must be thought of as a regional or ‘mega-neighborhood’ school. While we all want an awesome neighborhood school, its just not the fact anymore. In the last month I visited 4 Charter schools. Education is the most important thing to me, but followed closely by community, continuity, and letting my girls enjoy their childhood. Once you get in the car, 2 miles vs 5 miles is meaningless. If we attend Redfield or Copper Ridge, I will be ok with that as long as the education and options comparable to a Charter are there. I also commented on how the District should not base building projections on changes occurring outside of the District, that the mission is to the families of Scottsdale and not to empire building.

More comments were made about frustrations over this meeting not addressing consolidation and the economic realities of the District. One person commented that for every 6 kids that leave SUSD, they must fire a teacher. Another mentioned the example of Yavapai elementary, which was rebuilt in 2011 and still only has 63% enrollment. ROSS posted number today for the fixed costs (Admin, District staff, facilities upkeep, bussing) of running a school, and how teacher\student ratios only reach acceptable levels as the school approaches 80% enrollment — facts like this were also not addressed at all. People said many times that there is no chance a bond for rebuilding the schools would pass.

I shared these thoughts with Beckie, who is very into her kids’ education but not as up on the District politics like I am. She is a PhD in Economics, and leads the Pricing Department for a large firm in the Valley. You could comfortably call my wife an expert in consumer-side supply and demand. Her immediate comments were: 

2. Peterson is basing his strategy on something his customers don’t want and the business trends don’t support.
3. He is not replicating the model of his one school that is oversubscribed (Cheyenne).
4. He utterly refuses to acknowledge that charter after charter is expanding in his market. Basis, Great Hearts, and Arts Academy of Scottsdale are all increasing their seats next year largely at the expense of SUSD. We have attended all their tours and seen this all first-hand.

Peterson sat in the back of the room and didn’t say a word, while people he hired got thrown to the lions and his customers fumed repeatedly that “The District doesn’t get what we want”. I met with Peterson 1-on-1 in December. He was very gracious in giving me some time and very nice to speak with, but he was a complete uninspiration when he laid out his plans to rebuild the District. He anti-sold me. Loss of faith in the leadership is the reason why my family stepped up its pace to get on waiting lists, as much as we really really really want to stay at SUSD. The teachers, communities and schools have so much strength and potential, but they depend on strong finances which the current central administration will not, can not, deliver.