You Touch, You Die

It wasn’t that many years ago I found myself at my youngest daughter’s open house at school.

This was a different sort of open house: Student-made flags of various countries and relief maps and toothpick/popsicle stick creations. Papier-mâché masks. Lots of detail work. Each class had a different theme.

Interestingly, the order of the open house was that groups of students were allowed to walk freely about the classrooms and gaze at all the creations, this being done so in 12 minute blocks. At the end of a block of time, a bell would ring and the classes of students would exit and head to a neighboring room. The kids had two minutes to get to a class when another bell would ring indicating the beginning of another time slot. Teachers and parent volunteers were posted outside classrooms to direct kids along. Also, parent volunteers were posted inside the rooms (no teachers were allowed as a grand experiment) to make certain the kids behaved themselves. It was made abundantly clear in a pre-open house meeting the students were to keep their hands to themselves so they didn’t break, ruin or otherwise mess with any of the wares on display.

A few of the rooms were missing “volunteer police.” A teacher asked me if I would oversee the goings on of one room — there was already one parent but it they wanted two per room. I gladly accepted the challenge. I was instructed to make certain no one touched anything. Each and every project was to remain exactly as it was: Complete and pristine. I was told the students worked diligently at each of their creations and it would be a shame if, at the end of the open house, someone didn’t have the wherewithal to look and not touch and thus exact some sort of damage to one or all the projects laid out around the place. I assured the (somewhat uptight) teacher that wouldn’t happen in the class I was assigned. My partner in crime — someone I’d never met — came up to me and introduced herself. “Ms. Fisk” relayed that since I was the last one to “volunteer” (and that I struck the more authoritative figure as a deep-voiced man) the class was mine when the kids came flocking in … but she would be there to assist. She grinned at me rather evilly. I smiled back at her and told her “No problem.”

When the first bell rang indicating the kids had 2 minutes to get to their first assigned class, I was ready. I had a plan. As they shuffled in I asked everyone to gather in a corner of the room, one that not only housed the teacher’s desk but which was furthest from all the projects. I asked everyone to please pay attention as I wanted to relay a quick bit of information prior to them viewing anything.

“Good evening, students. My name is Mr. Noble. And this is Ms. Fisk beside me. Before we let you wander around to see all the neat things your fellow students have made, I have just one thing I want to say. Is everyone listening?” I scanned the group and made certain I had everyone’s attention. Including Ms. Fisk. “Good. I have one rule I want you to follow. I’d like you to repeat it after me, then we can get started. And that rule is this: ‘You touch … you die.’ Everyone needs to be clear on that point. So … repeat after me: ‘You touch … you die.'”

The kids just looked at me. Some giggled. Some were wide-eyed I would even suggest such a thing. Ms. Fisk fidgeted beside me, obviously uncomfortable with this tactic.

“Come on, everyone. Say it out loud so I know you’ve heard it: ‘You touch, you die.'”

I heard a few timid mumbles. “Really? Let’s go! ‘You touch, you die!’ Everyone!”

I detected a few bold voices but not nearly enough to satisfy me.

“Oh, you guys. You can do better than that! I want to hear you shout it out: ‘You touch, you die!’ Everyone, let’s go!”

“You touch, you die.” They were beginning to come to life.

“Again!” I said enthusiastically.

“You touch, you die!” they repeated.

“I can’t hear you!” I responded.

“You touch, you die!” they yelled back to me.

“One more time! Everyone put there hands in the air and yell it like you mean it: What’s the rule?”

You touch, you die … !!!

“Very good. You guys can wander around and see everything now. But … if, all of a sudden, I ask you what the rule is, what are you going to say?”


I had the kids just where I wanted them. They broke up and began looking at the projects around the room.

I looked at Ms. Fisk. She was aghast and horrified. “You can’t do that!” she whispered at me incredulously.

“Why not? Look at how well behaved they are. They’re being perfect little angels … and they won’t dare touch anything.” I smiled at her.

She shook her head, put her hand to her temple and walked away. I took the opportunity to further advance any headache I thought she might be forming.

I called out. “Hey, guys: What’s the rule? Let me hear it.”


“Very good.”

Not long afterward, the bell rang. The students shuffled out on to their next room assignment. A new crop of recruits meandered in. I corralled this new group in the corner and went through my spiel once again. I did it with each successive class. In the end all of them yelled my rule back at me, loud and proud. I had successfully put the idea in the kids’ heads they were getting away with something and they had a blast with it. There was nary a problem in any class.

At one point about an hour into the session, the principal and a couple teachers from other classrooms wandered into my room. The principal paused just inside the door observed the perfect manners of the kids. I noted she was impressed at what she saw. She came over to me.

“Wow. The kids are so well behaved! How in the world did you get them to do that? Every other class I’ve been in has some parent either reprimanding someone or reminding everyone to behave. This room is incredible!”

“I just gave them one simple rule to follow and they’re good.” I informed the principal.

“And what’s that?” she asked.

“Guys! What’s the rule?” I called out to the room with a grin.

YOU TOUCH, YOU DIE … !!!” they responded with gusto.

The principal was slack-jawed and gaped at me. She looked over at Ms. Fisk who was making “Don’t look at me!” gestures. I felt a tongue lashing might possibly be in the running but nothing I couldn’t handle. Ever-so-slightly, however, I saw the corners of the principal’s mouth begin to rise. She brought her hand up to help stifle a guffaw forming there. “Who are you?” she asked.

“I’m Mr. Noble. I have a daughter in the 5th grade,” I told her. She reached out and shook my hand.

The handshake she gave me was a very telling one. It was one that said in no uncertain terms “We really appreciate you helping us out Mr. Noble but we don’t think we’ll be asking you to do so anytime in the near future.”

Yeah … that kind of handshake.

Of course, when the school carnival came up at the end of the year, the school staff (who were well aware of who I was by that time) didn’t balk at me assisting in the running of the event. Boom.


It Wasn’t A Super Moon — It Was A Double Super Moon


Did you see that moon last night?

The astronomers weren’t kidding. Last night’s Super Moon didn’t disappoint. It was spectacular and awe-inspiring.

But …

What they didn’t tell you was there would be a Double Super Moon out for everyone’s dining and dancing pleasure, an event even more rare than a Super Moon.

With the Super Moon 16% larger and 30% brighter, well … the Double Super Moon effectively up’d that ante. By the light of the Super Moon, the Double Super Moon was just … just … WOW.

What an event …


I Should Be Tossed In Jail

Dear County of El Dorado:

Know what I did today?

I thumbed my nose at you. Twice. And I enjoyed it.

It wasn’t literally two individual thumbs that got thumbed at you. No … it was two cars.

Two hand washed cars. Hand washed by yours truly.

Yes, I realize the county is in a drought situation currently. But it’s not like I was actively disobeying the law or being negligent of my water usage.

I know you’ve stated we need to conserve water, but I conserve already … and have been for years and years, even when weren’t in the throes of a water shortage.

Besides, my total water usage accounted for the equivalent of a 10 minute shower to wash both vehicles.

Who else can you say does that? That’s what I thought … no one.

I ever-so-briefly spritzed the vehicles wet and then hosed them off quickly after soaping them down. << Voila! >> I not only made quick work of washing the transports but – in so doing by hand – was more efficient than taking them to a car wash. And! I got plenty of exercise to boot.

I know, I know … you’ll be watching me now. I fully expected that. Given my “flagrant” use of precious water, I expected nothing less.

But the way I see it, when the county’s facilities cease and desist watering in 90 degree temperatures in the middle of the afternoon … when your sprinkler systems are looked over with a fine toothed comb to prevent the criminal leaks I see day in and day out … when I see runoff at various county buildings doing nothing but moving along the main street’s gutters on a useless journey to the sewers … when I see demonstrative, ethical and intelligent usage of water from you, El Dorado County, then and only then I might consider backing off my once-every-other-month vehicle washing.


In the mean time? Suck it, El Dorado County.

Because I am cognizant of the water I use. You are not


I was at an Arco station getting gas and coffee to go. I had my trusty mobile coffee mug in tow ready to be filled up. I ventured toward the building.

Beating me to the door was a police officer, a big and tall drink of water. He had to have topped 6’4″ easily. He didn’t scare me.

policebadgeI zipped past him as he eyed the donut rack (Really!) and I creamed and coffeed (yeah, that’s right … you put the cream in first so you don’t have to stir the coffee — doesn’t everyone do this?) and made my way to the registers. The officer got in line directly behind me.

As my turn came, I turned slightly and thumbed at the officer behind me. “Ring up his stuff, too, if you please,” I told the cashier.

“No. Don’t do that. Thanks … I appreciate it but that’s okay.” He stumbled over his words in an attempt to get them out before the cashier had the chance to ring up his items.

“No, you don’t appreciate it,” I countered as I turned toward him full face and looked him in the eye. “If you appreciated it you would let me get your stuff,” I told him, a little smirk forming at my lips. I turned back to the cashier and shrugged in concession.

The officer did catch my look but he was firm on the point: “I have a job,” he explained.

“Of course you do. Are you implying I do not?” I asked him accusatorily.

I looked at him once more and we both smiled at each other.

I made my way through the store and out the door. Hopping off the sidewalk, I heard a booming call: “Have a good day!” came at me from the back of my front. Of course it was the officer.

“You do same,” I replied.

How Did We Ever Survive Our Youth?

Amazingly, I survived my front yard water hose.

And the dangerous, teeth-chipping metal and porcelain school water fountains.

Handfuls of water cupped out of the free-flowing streams in the backwoods of the suburbs where we got lost for long summer days in our youth? Yeah … I survived those, too.

Today? Well … thank the Powers That Be antimicrobial faucets are looking out for us. Else … what would we do?

P.S. That thing looks so clean I could eat off it.

Someone Needs A Refresher Course

I had to go to the grocery store. (Corn on the cob! 16¢ each! Woot … !!!) Exiting the place and pulling out of my space in the parking lot, I came upon a blue pick-up truck right in the middle of the road.

I was under the impression the vehicle was pulling out of a space so I came to a halt and waited a few moments.

But the vehicle wasn’t moving. Then I noticed there didn’t appear to be a driver.

I inched forward and veered around the front of the truck. Nope … no driver. Someone had actually parked just like that, right in the middle of the driving lane.

I shook my head back and forth and moved along. Then, I decided I needed a photo of the incident, just because. I flipped around the truck, came at it the other way and snapped the shot you see here:


Parking 2


This isn’t exactly a rare occurrence here in Placerville. It isn’t necessarily the norm, either. But the fact I’m not surprised by it in the least gives me pause …