Reading list (some easy some hard, some short, some long, in no particular order.)

1. Dune by Frank Herbert. Science fiction

2. Lord of the Rings, Tollkein

3. Lord of the flies, Golding

4. Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville

5. The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison, and others

6. Wealth of nations, Adam Smith (hard read)

7. Freakonomics, Steven Levitt (easy)

8. 1776, David McCullough (history easy)

9. The world is flat, Friedman

 10. Catch 22, Joseph Heller

11. The Prince, Machiavelli

12. The art of war, Sun Tzu (must be read multiple times).

to be continued. 




Prose (a little morose)

Sam  my ex-dog

I Killed My Best Friend

It was too easy. I paid the girl  $35 (in  advance of course) and it was all over before I could change my mind. They say it is painless, but Sam did utter a feeble whimper on his way out. I can however confirm that it is quick. I was still cradling his head in my arm as I'd done so many  times before for his annual blood letting or booster shots when the Vet said "He's gone". I let out a little whimper of my own. He didn't feel dead, he was still warm and I was used to the full weight of his head in my arms, he trusted me. There was no arguing with the stethoscope as the Vet left me alone with my friend.  I absently started to remove his collar before realizing I had about as much use for it as he did. The balky hasp on his custom made (aircraft cable) leash cast itís preference to also remain with the real owner. I opened the door to signal the Vet I was done and quietly left, alone.

If the popular equation is to be believed Sam was more than 112 (human) years old. He was in pretty good shape for a 112 year old dog who had lived through 9 moves with 3 owners in and out of 5 states, was shot twice and poisoned once, not to mention numerous bouts with the doggy version of junk food...  garbage can picnics. Ask a dog sometime how it feels to pass tin foil?

Of late he would show occasional flashes of the "old" Sam. Pouncing on his tennis ball for a few vigorous chews before losing interest. Tennis balls used to have a half-life of 20 minutes in his presence, this last one was two years old and retired undefeated.

I don't think he had any premonition that his end would be preceded by a short car ride, but for the last 6 months he was notably less comfortable during trips. Where open road used to be a signal for him to catch 40 winks, recent trips were punctuated by an insistent snout pressing up under my arm to pet him. (Let me take this opportunity to apologize to any drivers who encountered  a white  Pinto negotiating  somewhat  erratically.) While he wouldn't relax,  he would at least sit still with my shifting arm draped around his neck. After the last few visits to the folks down in Southbury, he showed a certain reluctance to get back into the car for the return home. This contrasts with less than a year earlier when he was afraid I would leave him there as I had done on several business trips. Perhaps it was the food, mother's was certainly better than mine, and there was more of it. Or could it have been the recollection of better times?

Sam was "their" dog for 8 of his first 9 years. His first year will have to go unreported other than to note he was not too well adjusted when he joined our group. A massive injection of love turned him around and he was ready to begin raising hell in earnest.

I think he got into the most trouble when he was living down south with the folks. As Dalmatians were bred to clear livestock from a coach's path he was only practicing what comes naturally when the first farmer nailed him. The second time he was shot he had the bad luck to be In the vicinity of an overturned garbage can (who him?) and an angry gun owner simultaneously.  I don't know much about the poisoning but I expect he rubbed somebody the wrong  way.  It  was during this period my parents had  him neutered to slow him down. It didn't work, but: at least he had an ironclad defense against paternity claims.

By now, convinced that he was invincible, he wasn't prepared for the deadly threat that presented itself upon his move back to Connecticut. Sam just wasn't ready for a lady dogcatcher, I guess he must have liked her. What he couldn't have understood was that each ride home with his new friend was putting him $25 closer to early retirement.

So at the tender age of 9 years Sam became "my" dog. We had been special friends since I first met him 8 years earlier, but after one day in tandem it was like we'd never been apart. I was as much his as he was mine.

I never did cure him of his wanderlust, but I was able to keep it acceptably under control.  He was never caught by another dog catcher (wrong perfume?) and for a few years I was even able to walk him without a leash.  I did carry a small switch but the whistle of it snapping through the air was usually enough to get his rapt attention.

This was a reasonably peaceful period for him. He was content to keep the yard free of stray cats (one bloodied his nose), and the occasional stray dog was dutifully chased to the next county. A few years later when I settled into a condo (try renting with a dog),  the already sedentary Sam adjusted well. Although he did have a little difficulty with the concept of common property.

First there was the lady with the little brown dog, to top it off she had named her little fluff-ball Sam also.  When she yelled "here Sam", my dog though he was being offered a hairy tennis ball and proceeded to work on his 15 minute record. Don't worry, I broke it up but Sam was on a leash from there on out. Even the leash didn't help the two times he forced the screen door. While he was just being curious the Japanese family that barricaded themselves into their (American) car were not amused.

The second time he breached the door was worse. I was on a short trip to the dumpster when I heard him go for something in the shrubs. My first thought was about how I was going to explain to my neighbor about her recently departed kitten when through the twilight I noticed the distinctive black and white coloring of a different kind of kitty. Right about then Sam let out a pained yowl and dropped his prize. My other neighbor opened his door to see what the commotion was and to this day, wishes he had looked out the window instead.

I tried the full course tomato Juice bath, but about the only thing that could have cleaned Sam up would be to have him skinned and tanned. Unfortunately I had to leave on a business trip to England the next day and didn't have time to arrange a tanning. So I left him with my parents, the official Sam sitters, instead.

Upon my return I didn't think it wise to ask them just how bad that week was, but for a good year after that incident just petting Sam would release the now familiar fragrance. I later learned that he had tangled with a skunk during his southern exposure, so much for teaching an old dog anything.

His last move with me to another house gave him some more yard to patrol but he was definitely slowing down. His primary occupation was trying to sleep in whatever room I would happen to be working in. We would occasionally encounter gridlock in the hallway.  If I was busily moving from room to room, he would Just stop in the middle of the hall and wait.

By now he was having trouble with stairs (among other things). I kept him on a leash as much because he didn't hear my commands as to keep him out of trouble. He still thought he was the bad-ass that chased horses and shed buckshot like rain off a ducks backside, but the flesh was no longer willing. He had bested all but one adversary, time. At 11 AM Friday he lost his first fight, the one we all lose. Good-bye buddy.

John Roberts   24-Mar-85



Iím no poet,

and I know it.

But read these poems...

Theyíre not long fellows.

Steal This Poem


Steal this poem

If you dare

Take it home

I donít care.


Poems are free

Well... some are

I got paid

You read this far.


Donít stop now

Iím almost done.

or...   (un-finished)

  • Phoenix -77 (I named an early business Phoenix systems)


Don't stand too close to a burning bird,

He'll melt you shorts for sure,

Don't try to pet & burning bird,

For cats heís got a cure.


It's never dark round a burning bird,

His song is clear and bright.

It's never dull by a burning bird,

Heís always got a light.


3OO years is long to wait,

Slow sift the sands of time.

Don't block his way,

This is his day,

Sparks note his Joyous gait.


Young, and strong, and pretty too,

A fate not hard to take,

Such joy he wants to share with you,

Sweet songs all, he can make,


Don't stand too close to a burning bird,

But bask in his good cheer.

Iím sad to say,

He's had his day,

It's all downhill from here.