Archive | August, 2011

Cuomo in the Environmental Vanguard

31 Aug

Governor Cuomo’s first year in office has been marked by pragmatic success and (except for same-sex marriage legalization) low-drama victories: an on-time budget that left taxes unraised, slashed government workforce, slow balanced approach to hydrofracking and generally competent governance that has left Republicans and Democrats mostly satisfied. The aftermath of Hurricane Irene will test his emergency operation chops, but the flood waters in the North Country and Hudson Valley will eventually recede and he’ll be stronger for it.

Such a steady hand on the tiller belies an area of policy in which Cuomo is quietly making a big splash: water quality and invasive species management. The environmentalists that are howling that he is too lenient on natural gas extraction can’t complain that he is taking a mushy middle approach in picking a fight with the international shipping industry. Here, New York is acting more as California has with marijuana and clean air laws – setting a bold regulatory standard at the state level, and expecting the federal government and foreign countries to catch up to the program. Let me explain.


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is promulgating regulations that would require international shipping vessels to retrofit their freighters with miniature wastewater treatment plants in their ballast tanks. In the last twenty years those ballast tanks have been responsible for carting invasive species around the planet, as a Maersk ship takes on water to fill its tanks in the Crimea and dumps it in Lake Ontario while off-loading Chinese televisions in Hamilton. These invasive species – some well known like the Zebra Mussel, others less so – have remade the ecology of the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence Seaway and Hudson River.

Cuomo and the DEC want it to stop. Whether they will be able to, or even can, is a matter of debate. The shipping industry correctly notes that the technology New York is calling for is not simply prohibitively expensive, but also currently doesn’t exist. The DEC says they are seeking to spur innovation and technology research with these regulations, and as long as the shipping industry is showing a good faith effort to develop such ship-based wastewater systems, they will be patient. Perhaps not unexpectedly, there is no crash Manhattan Project-like effort currently underway to comply. 

In this effort Cuomo has few political allies either. Most analysts agree that New York adopting these measures would effectively halt water-borne trade upstream of New York’s portion of the Saint Lawrence. In President Obama’s administration, only the regional EPA official has gotten on board with the plan, and the agency itself is developing shipping regulations that are far less stringent. Canada is howling as well, as a far greater percentage of their GDP floats in container ships down the Seaway. Even fellow Great Lakes states have not shown support. In Ohio, where the state legislature recently floated a water diversion bill that was vetoed by Republican Governor John Kasich, there is a plan to punish New York if it implements this regulation. Republican Congressman Steven LaTourette has introduced an amendment to the EPA’s Appropriation bill that would strip any state (read: New York) of all EPA funds if it implements regulations that would force freighters to clean their ballast water. All involved, including Rep. LaTourette, agree this is a simple gimmick to force the DEC to flinch. The EPA currently spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year in New York doing a myriad of clean up projects.  

Whether the change in the ecology of north-eastern rivers and lakes is good or bad is a matter of debate. That it is radically different is indisputable by all. In the Hudson River estuary, where fresh and salt water mix, zebra mussels now make up half the biomass of the entire ecosystem. Quagga mussels now number 900 trillion in Lake Michigan alone – their filtering of the plankton in the water has reduced fish stocks to the point where the last commercial fishing boat just left the port of Milwaukee, ending an industry dating from the 19th century. Closer to home, cloudy Lake Ontario is now crystal clear, swept clean by zebra mussels. Sport fish charter boat captains that I have spoken to say that the mussels have been a mixed blessing – zebra mussels provide some food and habitat for wildlife and the desirable fish are still there, but they can see the monofilament lines in the newly sparkling water and they are harder to catch. More frustrating on a hourly basis is the spiny waterflea, another newly introduced species, that clings to lines in off-yellow clumps, tangling rigging systems and requiring constant cleaning. 

What comes next?  As the DEC originally recommended these regulations during the Paterson administration, Cuomo has the political cover to back down. But should he?

Karla Thomas and the Truth

29 Aug

Karla Thomas is just the most vocal.

She’s just one of a number of people who have taken a bullet for the maliciously inept, political dysfuncitionocracy of Mayor Steve Casey and his willing, charming puppet, Byron Brown.

All of Buffalo’s many problems have a common denominator – politics. Karla Thomas? She was happy to be a well-connected Grassroots associate of Brown’s, content to take a cush patronage job for which she was arguably unqualified. She was happy to follow Brown’s and Casey’s orders, but up to a point. When she refused to play ball, she took a fall. It’s part of the quid pro quo.

Pay to play? Racist question, she says.

“Let me tell you something about that pay-to-play crap. Why did it not become an issue until a black man was mayor?” Thomas asked. “We all know what happens. And I don’t know why people are trying to act like they’re stupid now.”

So, it shouldn’t be brought up now because all the white Mayors did it too? It makes it ok?  Brown told us in 2005 that he’d be different. He was going to use CitiStat to set up a meritocracy and lurch Buffalo into modern times. In reality, Buffalo’s government remains firmly mired in the 1940s, and CitiStat is merely a pretext  – a basis for Casey and Brown to produce and disseminate televised show trials of the disfavored and disloyal.

Thomas repeatedly insisted that her public disclosures are not meant to embarrass the administration or get even with the man who fired her. She said her decision to remain silent during the height of the controversy proved that she was trying to remain “loyal” to a man who was her friend for decades.

Byron Brown and Steve Casey reign over a failed city, and a miniscule, shrinking political empire. They have brought little progress and made fewer friends. They have alienated the well-intentioned and insulted potential city benefactors. They have neither a vision nor a plan for the city – they lurch from political crisis to political embarrassment, and the concept of a “big picture” is unknown.

As it stands now, only the Green Code represents a fundamental, positive change that the administration has brought about, but it doesn’t excuse or justify the almost Stalinist style of governance.

Escape the Urban Book Review: Adirondack Paddler’s Guide

28 Aug

Author’s Note: As you know from my last column, I just spent four days canoeing in the Adirondacks. I did not have the time in this shortened week to do that story justice, so here is another tease that’ll help your own planning.

In the outdoor writing biz, the easiest, hardest, and most frequently asked question are all the same: “where should I go _______?” That blank is filled by all modes of natural immersements: hiking, canoeing, backpacking, camping, whitewater rafting, etc. One could argue that the entire industry of travel and outdoor writing is based on answering that question. I’m honored when someone asks me – not only are they trusting me with their scant time and resources, but they are implying (at least) that I have an authoritative answer. I take the recommendation business seriously.

So if you asked me where you should go on a long distance canoe or kayak trip, I’m likely to refer you to the Adirondacks. Its a safe and popular answer. The ‘Dacks do contain some of the best flatwater in the world, and they are closer to Buffalo than you think. But the truth is that I haven’t provided much practical information you couldn’t get off the simplest Google search. The Adirondacks are a big place. So are the other likely answers to that question: the Minnesota Boundary Waters, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Algonquin Provincial Park, the North Forest Canoe Trail. When you ask where to go, you are looking for some specifics. A guide to the choicest spots. A clue to keep you from fumbling around in the (metaphorical and literal) dark.

I seek my own recommendations from own circle of experts: my fellow river guides at Adventure Calls, Tim Reed with local tour provider Adventures in Fitness. But at the end of the day, when its time to make solid plans, I pull out a map and guide book and “talk” to the expert of Adirondack water: Dave Cilley.

Dave did yeoman’s work and a great service to the outdoor community when he recently penned the definitive guide to pond and river hopping in the ‘Dacks. I love pouring over maps and guides anyway, especially in the offseason. But this set is special. Dave’s paddler’s map is the epitome of definitive, and his accompanying guidebook not only provides the play by play of each lake, stream, historical oddity and ecological wonder, but it also recommends trips of various lengths for each section of the park, gives ground truth practical logistical information, and lays out tips and tricks for all levels of paddling experience. The book and map combined provide sufficient resolution to plan nearly every inch of your trip: camping sites, portages, terrain features, currents and wildlife. I am a stickler for detail, and the map granulates every bay, inlet, side creek, lock, dam (man-made and beaver), elevation change and contour line. Dave is a river Yoda, and decades of dipping his oar in every inch of the Adirondacks led to this book.

If it sounds like I’m a bit familiar with Dave, its because he helped me muscle a 19 foot Old Town Penobscot 186 on and off my van this week, bookending my excursion at hopeful start and smelly finish. His company, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake, rented me my canoe for my recent four day trip. They’ll also sell you all manner of paddling gear, provide lessons, lead tours, pick you up or drop your off at either end of a one-way journey, and fully equip your multi-day adventure (including tent, sleeping bags, food and everything else) if you have none of your own kit. I only needed the canoe and a couple paddles for the boys, but our story of s’mores and thunderstorms will have to wait for another day.

The Tiny Temblor of ’11

24 Aug

Right at 1:51, Washingtonians I follow on Twitter announced that there had been an earthquake there:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/buffalopundit/status/106061360194002944″%5D

Interesting, I thought.

Even more interesting was two minutes later when the old, historic brick building in which I work began to shake and rumble, its bricks and windows creaking from the strain of infrequent and unexpected movement. For about 5 – 10 seconds, everything shook and thanks to the Tweets from Washington, I was instantly able to rule out a passing truck or explosion.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/buffalopundit/status/106061635336146944″%5D

The 5.8 magnitude quake centered in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Quebec, all of which are situated on the same tectonic plate.  Almost instantly, Twitter lit up with jokes about how the quake was Obama’s fault (parody quickly became reality on that one), that people should text “DONATE” to a number to donate a $1 to buy East coasters another latte to replace the one they spilled, and this picture began appearing, showing the “devastation” from the quake:

It wasn’t a big deal and no one got hurt, which is good. It was one of those shared experiences that helps people flex their humor muscles and try to get a superswarm badge on Foursquare (no dice).

Did you feel it? Did you know what it was right away? Where were you at the time?

I Have No Idea What Is Going On

24 Aug

If everything went according to plan, I am just now getting back from four days of near complete isolation from the outside world. I’m writing this the week before, and posting it for today’s edition for my weekly local/political column. Looking forward six days into the future, I probably smell bad, desparately need to change my underwear, am unshaven, have a thrown out back from sleeping on the ground, and am exhausted from paddling and camping with my sons.

I love stepping out of the hurly burly for brief periods. Anything could have happened. Did Obama start a new war? Did the Chinese make a surprise landing on the moon? Which hurricane formed and hit? Did Lloyd win the Food Network contest? Who did Alan fight with on Twitter? You know, the important stuff.

Being so out of it, what’s a writer to do?

Easy. First, slap up a classic meme.

Second, lay out a “deep thought.” Assuming the “campaign” is going as it had been, consider this: every day no one talks about the Collins/Poloncarz race, the closer Collins is to victory. Discuss.

(Author’s note: if the race blew up while I was gone, this will seem silly. But let’s see what happens.)

Poloncarz to Collins: Y U No Want a Debate?

24 Aug

Yesterday, the Poloncarz campaign (full disclosure: I never get/got a dime from them for writing about this) released this press release:

Poloncarz Once Again Calls for Series of Debates with Collins

ERIE COUNTY, NY — “Three weeks ago, I sent Chris Collins a letter challenging him to a series of debates so that we can begin to discuss the issues that are important to Erie County’s families. As of today, I have received no response. 

“The taxpayers want to hear about the issues that affect their daily lives. I have challenged Chris Collins to a series of three debates with an unbiased moderator, but he is too preoccupied with sending out his campaign spokesman to attack me with petty insults to even acknowledge my offer.

“Chris Collins has clearly decided to hide behind his misleading campaign commercials rather than talking about the real issues of our county, including the unsightly condition of our parks, which was highlighted yesterday in a WIVB story*. I’d like to know what parks are ‘in the best shape ever,’ as Collins’ commercial claims. Not Ellicott Creek Park, not Como Park, not many county parks and beaches, unfortunately. 

“As County Executive, I will be available to the people of Erie County. I want to hear their questions and concerns directly, and that begins here on the campaign trail with this series of debates. I am looking forward to an honest discourse with my opponent instead of cheap political shots.”

* “Shabby park shelter leaves renter irate,” WIVB, August 22, 2011,

Good question.  There was a televised Collins/Keane debate and another on WBEN, but that was about it. Keane was an epically horrible and disappointing candidate who never stood a chance (neither, by the way, did Paul Clark). Collins came across in 2007 as earnest, apolitical, and interested in making a difference. His tenure as county executive has been, unfortunately, hyperpolitical, transactional, and replete with patronage, payback, and politically calculated decisions that “got the county out of” some service or another, while creating new six-figure positions out of whole cloth. Collins has a visceral hatred of Poloncarz, and the latter can (and does) exploit that to his advantage.

Having them debate facts and policy for the benefit of the electorate is important and inevitable. There’s no primary, so we already know that these two are their respective parties’ nominees. Let’s start talking about their records, their vision, and their plans for Erie County and her people.

When There are No Laws, It’s the Wild West

22 Aug

This past weekend, the battle between food trucks and a small handful of restaurants in Buffalo grew more acute, and more ridiculous.

Two local restaurants – Taki’s on Court Street, and the Waterline at the Waterfront Village have gone out of their way to affirmatively call city government and thwart the food trucks’ ability to set up in locations where they’ve been invited to set up.

The Roaming Buffalo truck sets up at the corner of Court and Pearl at the invitation of the Convention Center on occasional weekdays. A few picnic tables have been set up at that corner. R ‘ n R BBQ Truck and Where’s Lloyd set up occasionally in the parking lot of the Waterfront Village, at the invitation of the employees of Synacor, a tenant in that complex.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/RnRBBQTruck/status/105405546710052864″%5D

[blackbirdpie url=”!/RnRBBQTruck/status/105464625105092608″%5D

[blackbirdpie url=”!/RoamingBuffalo1/status/104930418792476673″%5D

[blackbirdpie url=”!/RoamingBuffalo1/status/104930666017329152″%5D

So, the Waterline is worried that it loses its monopoly on food service for 2 hours a day, a couple of days a week, and Taki’s for some reason has it in its head that “food” competes with “food”, rather than the notion that sit-down diner fare isn’t the same as food truck burgers, dogs, and beef on weck.

All of this is a follow-up to this story, with a counter-story written by local business advisor Tony Maggiotto, Jr.

The brick and mortar restaurants had complained that a proposed law, which would have required food trucks to set up outside a 100′ radius of existing, operating kitchens would lead to a “wild west” mentality. Now that that law has been tabled until the Common Council returns to work, we have a wild west mentality being practiced by anti-competitive brick & mortar restaurants. Taki’s, the Waterline, ETS, Jim’s Steakout, and Just Pizza have gone out of their way to tightly restrict how the food trucks can operate.

The tenants at the Waterfront Village complex didn’t sign an exclusivity agreement with the Waterline, which would prohibit them from inviting outside food onto the premises. If the Roaming Buffalo’s mounting of the sidewalk to reach its corner at Court Street Plaza is deemed illegal, then every setup at Buffalo Place (for instance, the farmer’s market on Main Street) is illegal, as well.

The wild west mentality comes when established brick and mortar restaurants flex political muscle to ensure that the food trucks can’t do business in the city – whether that be through thwarting proposed legislation, or demanding that the city prohibit them from competing with them because of, for instance, months’ worth of safe sidewalk-mounting.

Ain’t room enough for the two of y’all?

The food trucks have an advantage? Which advantage?

  • The advantage they have at only being able to set up for a couple of hours at a time?
  • The advantage they have regarding no set rules, regulations, or laws, which leave their businesses subject to the whims of anti-competitive councilmembers and restaurants?
  • The advantage they have of not being in the same place each day?
  • The advantage they have in which people have to take affirmative steps to find out where the trucks will be set up?
  • The advantage they have of not having to lock and secure a $80,000 truck every night?
  • The advantage they have of having to rent an inspected food prep kitchen, in addition to a secure truck parking location?
  • The advantage they have of serving food to people unprotected by the elements?
  • The advantage they have of not having a seating area for customers to use while eating?

The food trucks and the complaining restaurants aren’t the same thing. They are similar only in that they serve food to paying customers.

I have gone out of my way to hunt down Lloyd’s at the Waterfront Village because I enjoy my $5.50 taco lunch. The Waterline’s salads and sandwiches are expensive and haven’t merited a special trip. I’ll now go out of my way to avoid Taki’s because, seriously – how many Greek diners does one region need? But I’ll especially avoid them because they have found that their product is not competitive when faced with burgers or tacos served out of a Grumman truck, and instead of stepping it up or dropping their prices, they’re whining to mommy and shutting down the wheeled interlopers.

Support your local food truck.

Where’s Lloyd (tacos)

The Whole Hog (BBQ)

R ‘n R BBQ

Roaming Buffalo (Buffalo favorites)

Coming soon is Fork on the Road (Vietnamese street food)

GOP Demands Tax Hike for Wage Earners

22 Aug

The Republican Party has shown its true colors. Even as it advocates strenuously against a modest rate hike on the richest Americans, it seeks to roll back a payroll tax cut that puts an extra $1,000 per year in the pocket of workers earning $50,000 (as an example).

I don’t know how it’s going to play out for them to self-identify with the wealthy and the ignorant, but it should make for a real barn-burner of a lowest common denominator, 18 month-long Presidential campaign.

The Morning Grumpy – August 22nd

22 Aug

1. Last week, Former Utah Governor and current GOP Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman went rogue. How so? He said some exceedingly sane things, which says a lot about the current sad state of GOP politics. Huntsman knows that the tea party controls this election for the Republicans and he doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning, so he is working to set himself up for 2016 as the sensible “I told you so” candidate. As you might imagine, the right wing nutjobs are a little upset. To wit, incredible asshole and Republican spin-meister Frank Luntz had this to say on the Sunday Morning ABC show, “This Week”.

Remember — and I say this to Governor Huntsman — he is mainstream America in what he says, but he’s not mainstream Republican. And this, after all, is a Republican primary.

And that, my friends, is everything that is wrong with American politics in two sentences.

2. Song for Monday, “Vulkan Alarm” by ZZT – Love the visual


3. Why the mainstream media are clueless about the religious right.

From the attitudes shown by media toward the religious right, you’d never know that more than one-quarter of the U.S. population identify as evangelicals, according to a 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and among white self-identified evangelicals, 62 percent told Pew in 2006 that they believe the Bible to be the literal word of God.

These, by and large, are the people who determine the outcome of the Republican presidential primary, thanks to the early stacking of states heavily populated by evangelicals, and the propensity of most evangelicals to align with the Republican Party. And yet, we who cover these races often know very little about the voters whose person-on-the-street interviews they’re recording, except to know that these people are very different from us in their view of the world. So as everyday doctrines come to light in one or another campaign incident, the media either find themselves aghast at the implications, or simply choose to ignore them.

I honestly don’t believe that the media, progressive activists, Democratic politicians or regular blue state residents understand this portion of the populace. Evangelical Christians aren’t just a group of people who disagree with our current societal structures, they fundamentally seek to replace those structures with their own literal christianism. Which, as you know by now, is batshit insane. There are those of us who operate in a knowledge-based and world and 75 million people who don’t.

4. Want to learn a little something about each GOP Presidential candidate? Take the time to read through’s guide to the field of candidates.

Perry’s in. Bachmann’s everywhere. Herman Cain is … still running. With the GOP primary race finally in full swing, it’s time to get to know the candidates a little better. Here are our all-time favorite profiles of the contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination. Oh, and one on Chris Christie, too.

5. Looking forward to the day when America pulls its troops from Afghanistan? Don’t hold your breath.

America and Afghanistan are close to signing a strategic pact which would allow thousands of United States troops to remain in the country until at least 2024, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Empire never sleeps.

6. How do we sober up Washington, D.C.? Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig has an idea

Washington is hopelessly addicted to money and thus to the status quo; drunk with power and incapable of getting sober and fixing itself. It’s time for an intervention—by the states.

Politically, we two disagree on just about everything. But the one thing we do agree on is that the institutions of government in Washington have become corrupt, held hostage by well-funded special interests. It’s no wonder that only 17 percent of the American public in a recent Gallup survey said they had a favorable opinion of Congress.

Voters are disillusioned and discouraged because they don’t believe Washington represents the will of the people. And the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C.—which permits unlimited independent corporate campaign expenditures—will only make this worse.

We, the People, can take back the power we gave to Congress. We can take it back through the states.The framers left open a path to amendment that doesn’t require the approval of Congress: a convention.

Have a day!

As an addendum to this column, I’d like to let you know that this will most likely be my last post on WNYMedia. I figured if you made it all the way to the end of this article, you’re the person I wanted to tell. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it with a separate column or some big to-do, but I think I owe a goodbye to those who read my columns every day.

It has been a lot of fun writing here for the past six years, but the time has come to move on. I wish nothing but the best for those who remain, especially for Marc Odien who has been a great friend and partner while we tried to create an online alternative media outlet that mattered. And fucking hell, we pulled it off.

We’ve gone through a lot of changes, but it was always fun and always interesting. I’m proud of everything that I’ve ever written here and I’m proud to have been associated with my fellow writers. The platform this website offered and the ability to bring thousands of people out to support causes and efforts I believed in was incredible.

Mostly, I wanted to thank you, the reader. I’ve always been astonished that tens of thousands of people are interested in what I write and I am grateful for your time and support.

I may write somewhere else in the future, I really don’t know. I just know that it’s time for me to explore new options and take on new challenges.

Again, thank you very much for being advocates for new media.

Comments are closed, but feel free to send me an email/tweet if you’d like to stay in touch. chris [at] wnymedia dot net or @buffalogeek on Twitter

Escape the Urban: Perilous Packing

21 Aug

I woke up this morning on Lower Saranac Lake, one of many jewels in that blue and green Adirondack sea so vibrant with midsummer color and smell that the senses balk at breathing in the whole ‘scape in one gulp. This section of rivers, lakes and ponds, just west of the High Peaks and an hour drive into the park, contains some of the best flatwater circuitous canoeing and kayaking in the world. There are many ways to trip from pearl to pearl on the string, connecting clear mountain lakes via streams and portages in a nearly endless number of back country combinations. For my first multi-day trip with two boys (aged 8 and 5), I chose a loop with no long-haul carries and an easy abort-mission ejection point if weather or bugs or time away from Mom brought too much misery. I’ll provide the definitive trip report in a future column (though if you are curious and the cell phone towers cooperate, follow me on Twitter (@WNYMediaRepat) to get real time pictures and updates), but our topic today is that less romantic portion of excursion making: packing.

Everyone has their own system, checklists and must haves. My personality type and military training have bestowed upon me a deep and abiding love of the packing list. I have one for each occasion: rafting, consulting, cold weather, etc. But I have never taken a 4 four day canoe trip with two boys. I have no checklist for that. I am lost.

So for this trip I went to my backup plan: go in the basement where I store the camping gear and pull everything off the shelves that appears useful. Sleeping bags and tent and Big Agnes inflatable mattresses. Stove and gas and cooking gear. Paddles and life vests. Backpack and dry bags to store everything in. The basic stuff comes easy.

Then the less obvious. Bear canister to store our food. Is it big enough for three people for four days? I’ll make it work. Mosquito head nets – nothing ruins a trip faster than merciless bugs. Maps and description of the route. Rain gear and collapsible Platypus bottles.

That’s everything that I can think of from my basement, so its time for the highlight of every new expedition: the shopping trip for new gear. This time I splurged on stuff-sack pillows that collapse into a tiny ball (EMS’s “Dreamy Pillow” – I’ll do a gear review of a number of items after this trip). I can deal with heat, cold, hunger, wet and exhaustion, but if I get a bad night’s sleep, I’m miserable all the next day. I learned a long time ago that a “real” pillow, instead of a balled up outer shell or sweatshirt, makes all the difference.

I also let the kid’s pick out their dinners for the trip: dehydrated lasagna, kfajita filling and pad thai. They begged for, and I acquiesced to let them try, the freeze dried ice cream bar. I can only imagine how good that scary cardboard will taste by day three. After finding new rain gear for the kids, a replacement filter for my water purifier and new tarp to go under the tent, I was satisfied I had spent all the money I could justify on one trip. Back home to pack.


I laid out all the gear on my office floor. Now the hard part: figuring out what I forgot. Like most trekkers, I always forget something. The truly organized, the obsessed and the childless spend days, weeks, or months crafting packing lists. I would too if I was hiking the AT. But after running to soccer games, the county fair, the library for last minute summer reading list completion and the thousand other tasks required of a father, I had put off the final pack job to the last minute. What I came up with now would have to do.

I have a mental list of things I normally forget: flashlight, bug spray, sunscreen, toothbrush. What I really need is a definite written list of what I normally forget. I don’t have that. I scrambled upstairs and found the usual suspects and stared again at my pile. Something was missing. I asked the Oracle (read: Twitter). It wasn’t much help either. I asked my sons.

“Let’s bring Uno!”

Good catch – something to do around the campfire.

“Marshmallows for S’mores!”

Oh, yeah. Forgot that. Better ask Mom to get those on the way home from work. 

But there was something else. Something more fundamental. Something we could not do without. Something it would be a disaster to forget. Something I should write down for next time.

Have you figured it out yet, from the picture above?

Toilet paper. I threw a roll in the top of my bag. Now it would be a good trip.