Blaine for County Executive

BY COLUMNISTS

| Patrick W. Allen | Steven R. Berryman | Chris Cavey | Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Patricia A. Kelly | Farrell Keough | Jill King | Earl 'Rocky' Mackintosh | Tom McLaughlin | Roy Meachum | Zachary Peters | Cindy A. Rose | Derek Shackelford | John W. Ashbury | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Blaine R. Young |

DOCUMENTS


 Re-Elect David Brinkley for Senate


Tom McLaughlin

April 23, 2014
Kampong Panglima Seman
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The history of Borneo is entwined in legend and fact. The story of Panglima Seman is one such story where the mythology and the reality become entangled in a web. The mythology is believed and, therefore, it must be part of the history.


April 16, 2014
The Kampongs Across the River
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Across the river from my condo are several kampungs. A kampung can be divided with a surau, which is a small mosque that cannot hold Friday prayers, the most important day of the week.


April 9, 2014
Writing about the Environment
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The one thing that I have to do, well not really have to do, is to write a column for the Malaysian Nature Society. I sort of got roped into it by volunteering, and now I am stuck with it. I do like it though as it keeps me up with the local happenings in nature.


April 2, 2014
Keep The Bumiputra Policy
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Forty years ago, when I was here in Malaysia, the government had announced the implementation of the Bumiputra Policy. This is where the Malays were given special treatment by the rulers of the country.


March 26, 2014
Following The Missing Plane
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – It has been about two and a half weeks since the plane – Malaysian Flight MH 370 – has disappeared into nothingness. They are now searching in the southeast Indian Ocean for any trace.


March 12, 2014
Everybody needs a god
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Sprinkled about 70 miles off the coast of Borneo are many small inhabited islands. Most of the people are fisher folk of Malay stock with a smattering of Chinese. The young people are moving off the islands to seek their fortunes in the larger cities of Indonesia, foregoing the isolation and way of life of their forefathers.


March 5, 2014
"Borneo Boys" a Year Later"
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – A year ago (February 6, 2013) I posted a column about writing and producing a comic book. I said the saga would be continued. A year later, here is the continuation.


February 26, 2014
What Time Is It?
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I have always been horrible in math. Still am. To add 7 + 5, I place my hand by my side and count on my fingers. Subtraction is the same way. The multiplication tables had been memorized years ago, so I have no problem with them.


February 19, 2014
A Family Adventuresome Outing
Tom McLaughlin

Krabi, Thailand – I had made reservations for my daughter, my 10-month old granddaughter, my wife, my three-year old son and myself to fly here for a four-day visit. My daughter’s husband would meet us in Kuala Lumpur, and we would connect for our sojourn of beaching and sunshine.


February 12, 2014
Treacherous But Worth The Effort
Tom McLaughlin

Niah Caves, Malaysian Borneo – Niah caves are a complex located near the oil town of Miri, just about an hour flight north of Kuching, where I live. It is one of those places where I had always wanted to visit but never quite made it.


February 5, 2014
It Just Doesn’t Matter....
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I have a night time routine. I go to bed around nine with my iPad and read the online version of The New York Times. The reason I retire so early is because my three year old son has found my device a source of entertainment when I accidently left it where he had access.


January 29, 2014
Edgar Allen Poe Started It All...
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The "American" channel here broadcasts many old detective crime sagas like CSI, Law and Order, Bones and The Mentalist. They usually begin with a murder, followed by the hero and his/her staff solving the crime and then order is restored.


January 22, 2014
A Feline Adventure
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Facebook is about cats. Every other post seems to have a feline in some sort of pose. This morning I saw one that was so adorable and cute that I wanted to reach through the computer screen and cuddle it.


January 15, 2014
The Great Sarawak Cat Drop
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Probably one of the most bizarre and unbelievable stories ever to come out of Sarawak was the report that the Royal Air Force parachuted cats into Bario in 1960.


January 8, 2014
Bead Collecting
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I had never given beads much thought. They were the round orbs I strung and wore and gave to lovers during my hippie days. I also remember somebody bought Manhattan Island from the Native Americans (they were Indians back then) for a hand full. Do they still teach that?


December 18, 2013
Shipwrecked Wine
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Usually when you read about the monetary exploration of an ancient shipwreck, thousands of dollars, if not millions, are involved. Investors are secured in hopes of finding a Midas quantity of gold.


December 11, 2013
A Different Kind of Man
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Who was Alfred Wallace? He was a business man who came to Borneo to collect beetles and other insects in the late 1850s. They were then shipped back to England where they were sold to collectors.


December 4, 2013
An Islamic Journey – Part 4
Tom McLaughlin

Madura Island, Indonesia – We crossed from the mainland over to Madura Island on a cable stayed bridge where the cables formed the shape of a sail. Opened in June 2009, the 5.4 kilometer bridge is the longest in Indonesia, spanning the Straits of Madura and connecting the island to the mainland.


November 27, 2013
An Islamic Journey – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin

Surabaya, North Java Island – We visited the third grave of an Islamic missionary, Sunan Ampel, located in the Arab quarter of this northeast Java coastal town. The tomb was covered in white cloth when we visited at 8 P.M.


November 20, 2013
An Islamic Journey – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Gresik, North Java Island – About three kilometers from the high hill tomb of Sunan Giri (see last weeks’ column) lies the grave of Sunan Malik Ibrahim. One enters a large square and in the upper left hand corner is the marble grave of the Sunan.


November 13, 2013
An Islamic Journey – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Gresik, North Java Island – The very beginnings of the spread of Islam throughout the Malay world began here. I wanted to know how it started and why it spread so rapidly among thousands of faithful Buddhists. My journey took me back to the late 1300’s to the mid 1400’s, both mentally and physically.


November 6, 2013
The Komodo Dragons
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – I had always wanted to see the infamous Komodo dragons. These were huge lizards, a time warp back to the dinosaur era that had evolved on two Indonesian Islands. They are very deadly as their saliva contains hundreds of different lethal bacteria. They would bite a deer or wild boar and wait for it to weaken from the infection and then attack. Humans have also been their victims.


October 30, 2013
Off to the Races
Tom McLaughlin

I felt the low rumble in my digestive system my last day in Chaing Mai. From experience, I knew a couple of Imodium would quickly wipe out the pain and suffering. While packing with son Dzul helping, I had forgotten them; but I knew that every tourist center was always well stocked.


October 23, 2013
Dirt, Grime and Traffic
Tom McLaughlin

Surabaya, North Java Island – I had often sat on my balcony overlooking the Sarawak River in Kuching wondering about the origins of the two kampungs on the other bank. My wife was from one of them, Gersik; and, because of a quirk of airline time tables and my illness, we were about to find out.


October 16, 2013
Traveling with Dzul
Tom McLaughlin

Our last three-week trip was our first major travel with our two year old son Dzul. I must admit he was good 85% of the time.


October 9, 2013
The Ride of a Lifetime
Tom McLaughlin

Lampang, Thailand – Many of you who read my tirade last week about the animal cruelty in Thailand and who also follow me on Facebook know Suriani, Dzul and I went on an elephant ride. I realize this is a contradiction, but let me explain.


October 2, 2013
Many Cities Rolled Into One
Tom McLaughlin

Chiang Mai, Thailand – The old city of Chiang Mai, founded in 1296, is in the shape of a box. The founding fathers, or I guess emperor, fortified each side with moat and large brick wall for defense.


September 25, 2013
Brutal massages and gap girls and boys
Tom McLaughlin

Chaing Mai, Thailand – Imagine downtown Frederick, or any older section of any town where the buildings are all connected, having a massage parlor at every other door. Out front would be slim, young Thai women appropriately dressed and smiling at you.


August 21, 2013
A Loving Ritual at End of Fast
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The end of the fasting month was celebrated with great joy in Suriani’s (my Borneo wife) family this year. Preparations were under way weeks before the big day arrived.


August 7, 2013
The Search for Ancient Apes
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – One of the many fantastic things about living here in Borneo are the many scientists and scholars who come here to visit and research the wonders of this tropical island.


July 31, 2013
Research Hobby Costly…But Wonderful
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – One of my fun hobbies, other than swimming, trekking the jungle, traveling, snorkeling and growing tropical plants is research. I love delving into primary sources, preferring to make up my own mind about topical issues.


July 24, 2013
Darkening Skin and Tourist Expenses
Tom McLaughlin

Damai Beach, Malaysian Borneo – I am so proud of my Malaysian wife, Suriani. She certainly has had to put up with a lot from me.


July 17, 2013
Traveling With a 2 Year Old
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – Before Dzul, my wife and I loved to travel. We had backpacks at the ready and whenever a sale was announced on an airline to a destination, we didn’t care where, we were off.


July 10, 2013
If It Works, Repeat It
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I recalled raising my daughters 25 years ago in Salisbury, MD. As a school teacher, I was so fortunate to have school holidays and summers off to spend with them.


July 3, 2013
Coping With a 2-Year-Old Son
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – They said he would keep me young. He will be the death of me yet. Dementia plus a two year old. What a combination!


May 29, 2013
Back Home Again in Borneo
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The plane landed in Kuala Lumpur and the first thing to hit me was the heat and humidity after a month in cold, dry Montana. I immediately broke out into a sweat with my two-day-old beard starting to itch.


May 22, 2013
The American Prairie Reserve and Montana
Tom McLaughlin

The Salsbury Ranch, Malta, MT – The area can barely be called grasslands. Biologically the cut off between that and desert is ten inches. They receive eleven. If they are lucky. The temperatures are extreme. Many days in summer can be in the lower 100’s day after day while highs of ten below are not uncommon in the winter time.


May 15, 2013
A Way to the Cross
Tom McLaughlin

Malta Colony, Montana – “When shall we three meet again,/in thunder lightening or in rain. When the hurlyburlys done /when the battle’s lost and won.”


May 1, 2013
The Cowboy Way
Tom McLaughlin

The Salsbury Ranch, Malta, MT – I flew to Montana from Frederick to visit my new granddaughter Leeila, my daughter Mary and her husband Cody. They took me to one of the spring highlights known as branding.


April 24, 2013
Goodbye, Frederick! It’s Been Good to Know Ya!
Tom McLaughlin

Middletown, Maryland – I landed at Dulles and took the taxi to my dear friend’s house on Braddock Heights determined to close out my life in Frederick County. Five years ago, when I left, I had planned only to live in Malaysian Borneo for one year. However, life happens.


April 17, 2013
Daunting – But Pleasant Trip
Tom McLaughlin

Searching for a way home from Kuching, Malaysian Borneo is a daunting task every time I try to make plane reservations. I usually start about three months before departure trying to find the best deal.


April 3, 2013
Mixing Christianity With Ancient Lore
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – An old joke tells of a Franciscan, a Dominican and a Jesuit who are arrested during the Russian revolution for spreading the Christian, capitalist gospel, and thrown into a dark prison cell. In a bid to restore the light, each man reflects on the traditions of his own order.


March 27, 2013
A Sad Ending to the Invasion
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – They really don’t know where they came from. Or why. The villagers came ashore and moved into a kampung in Sabah, on the northeast coast of Malaysian Borneo Island.


March 6, 2013
The Mouse that Roared and the Sultan of Sulu – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian, Borneo – The soldiers from the Malaysian Army were “securing the perimeter” around a kampung where about 80-100 villagers from the Philippines had decided to reside after coming ashore on February 12. Somebody said they called themselves the “Army of the Sultan of Sulu.”


February 27, 2013
The Mouse that Roared and the Sultan of Sulu
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian, Borneo – In probably the most bizarre invasion of a country ever to occur, a group between 100 and 300 people, depending on who you ask, invaded Malaysia last week. They were either heavily armed or a rag tag group of old men, nobody here seems to be sure.


February 20, 2013
Orchids: An Adventure in Caring
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Borneo has between 2,500 and 3,000 species of orchids on the island. I have eight on my balcony overlooking the Sarawak River. I had only three and was wishing and hoping they die so I wouldn’t have to be bothered with them anymore. No such luck.


February 13, 2013
Dear Readers: Greetings from Kuching, Malaysian Borneo!
Tom McLaughlin

It has been a mild monsoon season. The rains that usually last three or four months around the clock have waited until the night or early morning hours. Most days are cloudy with peaks of sun; and we can usually walk along the river, or into town without an umbrella.


February 6, 2013
Creating a Modern Comic Book
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Write a comic book? A local publisher, after seeing my book Borneo Tom, asked me to write a comic book based on some of the stories of the history and peoples of Borneo Island. My problem was, I had never done it before, but that wasn’t going to stop me.


January 30, 2013
Sticks and Stones
Tom McLaughlin

For those of us who wander around the Internet and especially Facebook, one can’t help but wonder about the deterioration of the language. Words that were forbidden through my lifetime seem to have moved into common usage.


January 23, 2013
Jungle Trekking with Dzul
Tom McLaughlin

Gunung Gading, Malaysian Borneo – The rafflesia* is in bloom! The small poster informed on one of our walks through Kuching Town. My wife Suriani had never seen the world’s largest flower and I immediately made reservations for a car and driver to take us to the forest.


January 16, 2013
LBJ for the USA
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – My first presidential campaign was in 1964 with Lyndon Johnson. I was 12. I passed out literature in my neighborhood, stuffing rural mailboxes with cards that said “LBJ for the USA.”


January 9, 2013
Alcohol and Japan’s Business World
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – For the past month, I have been immersed in conversations I have been having with Japanese businessmen in my building. This experience has opened a new world for me into corporate structure and the problems of that nation’s economy.


January 2, 2013
A Little Time Waster
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I knew I wouldn’t like Facebook. I had joined the social network to sell my book “Borneo Tom” a few years ago. In the beginning, I accepted “friends” from everywhere. Each morning and evening I “liked” everything without reading the post. It took maybe 45 seconds.


December 12, 2012
Reviewing A Nobel Laureate’s Work
Tom McLaughlin

When the Nobel Prize in Literature was earned by Chinese national Mo Yan, I decided to tackle one of his books. The major reason was to help me comprehend the Oriental mind through literature. I teach and live among the Chinese here in Malaysian Borneo, and I thought this would help me understand their history and culture.


December 5, 2012
Planting Bananas and Panic
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Demak Baru, Malaysian Borneo – I learned how to plant bananas. I had always thought it would be difficult because of the tiny seeds in the fruit. In my imagination, one had to take the bitsy spores and scatter them on soil.


November 28, 2012
Gramps’ Special Christmas Gifts
Tom McLaughlin

It has been a few years since Mom and Dad passed away but I remember the torture I went through to try and figure out what to get them for Christmas. Even now, the thought makes me shudder.


November 21, 2012
A Borneo Saturday Morning
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – As many can attest, sleeping in on a Saturday morning with a two year old becomes a distant past. Dzul’s (my son) energy level far exceeds that contained in several cups of coffee.


November 14, 2012
Hear This from an Angry, Old, White Democrat
Tom McLaughlin

I should say: “Now let us put our divisiveness behind us and move forward together. We are all Americans and need to cross the aisle with love and friendship, to compromise on the great challenges and move our beloved nation forward.


November 7, 2012
A Dubious Algorithm and Nobel Prize
Tom McLaughlin

I have always said weather forecasters and economists are the only two professions where individuals can make mistake after mistake without getting fired. The same people continue to be employed as if nothing had happened after a fiasco of a prediction.


October 31, 2012
Romney’s Vision for America: A Prophecy
Tom McLaughlin

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney firmly believes he can change the economy. He knows his methods will bring a turn around and launch America onto a course of prosperity and growth. He is convinced that by putting into place his knowledge and experience from his business practices America will emerge stronger.


October 24, 2012
Growing Up Together All Over Again
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “An angel and a little devil,” I exclaim as both my wife, Suriani and my son, Dzul, walk out of the bedroom each morning. I usually arise an hour or so before them, checking my e-mails, wandering through Facebook and sipping a huge mug of coffee.


October 17, 2012
The Farm Bill
Tom McLaughlin

American farmers are the back bone of our country. They toil to bring forth the harvest for people around the world consume. Up at sunrise, they mount their trusty tractor and till the soil, nurturing each seedling to bring forth the fruits of their labors.


October 10, 2012
Saving Jungle People – A Different Perspective
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Throughout the popular press, and with some well-meaning environmental groups, a movement has arisen where hunters and gatherers should be allowed to continue their nomadic lifestyle. They portray these individuals in an idyllic manner, living in a Garden of Eden, wandering half-naked in the jungles.


October 3, 2012
Middle East Realities – A Primer
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Middle East nations are composed of families that I will rightfully or wrongly, call tribes. These tribes are composed of several hundred or thousand of family members united together because of relationships.


September 26, 2012
A Religious Quandary
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Living in a Muslim country and being a science person, one is often confronted with the dilemma of the eternal question of who created man, God or evolution. Many of my young kampung friends ask me the question; I usually squirm and sputter, not wanting to give an answer.


September 19, 2012
“Odd” American Ways
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Demak Baru, Borneo – My wife’s parents have become very elderly. Taking care of their quarter acre plot has become a challenge and I elected to help them out. After five or more years of seaside and condo living, I was anxious to get back to gardening.


September 12, 2012
Why I Live Where I Do
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I suppose it has crossed your mind when visiting TheTentacle.com. Why in the world would anyone who spent most of his life in the Middletown Valley of Maryland choose to travel halfway ‘round the world to live? The answer is quite simple. It’s the food.


September 5, 2012
Into The Fray! Mistake or Brilliance?
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The Republican Convention was broadcast live here over the satellite cable company Astro. It aired from 8 A.M. until noon on CNN International, headquartered in London.


August 29, 2012
Fasting Ends! Let the Feasting Begin
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The preparations for the celebration of Hari Raya or Eid usually begins during the fasting month of Ramadan. The paint store in town displays cans of colorful products that spill out the front door onto the sidewalk. The most sought after colors are green, the color of Islam, or yellow, the royal colors of Malaysia.


August 22, 2012
The Pride of Sarawak
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – On Friday morning last, Malaysia awoke to the news that happened while most were asleep because of the time difference. Nobody expected a young woman from rural Borneo to earn a Bronze Medal in 10-meter platform diving because, in the past, Malaysia had only placed in badmitten, never any other sport.


August 15, 2012
Gigantopithicus, Yeti and Big Foot
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I have a good friend who is really into orangutans. He runs a rehab center near here where he takes care of each of them as if they were his children. Truth be told, they are.


August 1, 2012
Romney: A Picture of Contradictions
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Piers Morgan’s interview with Mitt Romney was broadcast here via cable on CNN London. It was the first in depth dialog I have watched with the Republican contender.


July 25, 2012
No! I’m haven’t lost my mind!!!
Tom McLaughlin

Bako National Park, Malaysian Borneo – My daughters had only six days here. Six days! Actually, they had 10 days, but four of those were spent traveling back and forth to visit us in Borneo.

 


July 18, 2012
Gifts Beyond Compare
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – William Wordsworth’s thoughts, written more than 200 years ago in his narrative poem “Michael, came to mind the other day when exciting news penetrated by addling brain.


July 11, 2012
A Profile in Courage and Justice Roberts
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I expected a wave of Republican jubilation that would even rock my island home here on Borneo. Reluctantly, I turned on CNN just as they switched to the U.S. broadcast from the London feed we receive here.


June 27, 2012
Legendary Stones of Kuching
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The stone grows and gets larger and larger, therefore it has mystical and magical properties. That is one of the legends I had heard about a sand stone outcropping located, appropriately, on Rock Road here in Kuching.


June 20, 2012
The Tree Curse and Village Ghosts
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Once upon on a time there was a kampung that had a huge tree that shaded the houses into almost total darkness. The twilight would not allow a garden to grow the vegetables needed to prepare food. The people had to go into town to purchase the items.


June 13, 2012
Genealogy, Borneo Style
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I have always been interested in roots. I tried o track down my family origins but got stuck in the 1860 census.


June 6, 2012
Trading Beads and JP Morgan
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Manhattan Island was traded for a handful of beads? When I was growing up, this is one of the stories about how English colonists duped the American Indians. However, from their perception, nobody could ever own the land as it was as free as the air.


May 30, 2012
Baffling Chinese Pottery
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “That many dynasties,” I asked as I started my lessons about identifying ancient Chinese pottery. As with most beginning collectors, I began my research after I had purchased about eight pieces.


May 23, 2012
Another Fading Tradition
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I never thought I would get interested in cannons, let alone own four of them. I had always thought of these guns as sitting on courthouse lawns, exhibits on civil war battlefields or thrusting shells toward Japanese held islands in the Pacific.


May 16, 2012
Ghosts and Masks
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia Borneo – Spirits and ghost and other things that go bump in the night! My latest acquisitions have been Borneo masks that represent the other world. My collection of more than 20 is from the Iban people.


May 9, 2012
Dinner Across the River
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia Borneo – Sometimes, Suriani, Dzul and I cross the river for dinner. There is nothing Biblical in this; and it has become second nature, like getting in your car and going to a diner in the states.


May 2, 2012
Sold Down The River – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Bako, Malaysian Borneo – I have always thought of salt water as a cleansing remedy for all that ails you. When my children, niece and nephew were in Ocean City, MD, I always told them to go in the water when they had a health problem.

 


April 25, 2012
Sold Down The River – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Bako, Malaysian Borneo – “Mr. Allnut, says Rosie, played by Katherine Hepburn to her boat mate. “Yes, Miss,” replies Charlie acted by Humphrey Bogart in the classic film “African Queen.”


April 18, 2012
Borneo’s Jumping Spiders
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I really don’t like spiders and I never have. But I realize there are those on this planet who find them fascinating.


April 11, 2012
Chinese Ceramics
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “Yea, that’s nice,” I said to my wife while glancing at a piece of pottery. My mind always avoided anything Chinese because I didn’t understand, nor did I want to understand Chinese writing.


April 4, 2012
The Kris
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia Borneo – Since I quit teaching I can now get back to one of my hobbies, my Kris collection. A Kris is a weapon unique to the Malay world and akin to a dagger. There are pictures of these on my Facebook page, Borneo Tom.


March 28, 2012
The Not-So-Lucky Totem
Tom McLaughlin

“I have to have it,” I said to my wife. She rolled her eyes at me. The object of my desire was a 12-foot totem pole carved into a log of Iron wood. It was exquisite. Two figures crudely hacked into the strongest wood on the planet.


March 21, 2012
Walking The Walk…
Tom McLaughlin

I am against abortion. I believe it is the most despicable event that could happen to a life that has been given and to the mother. I believe it is a sin against God and nature.


March 7, 2012
Flying Backward for 21 Hours
Tom McLaughlin

I had made arrangements for the return of my illness but did not expect it so soon after my two-month tour of the states. It started on Friday with the buzzing in my body increasing, and by Saturday I felt I had gripped a running lawn mower.


February 22, 2012
Here’s One Primary Analysis
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – I was asked to try to explain to a local Malaysian the Republican primary process in the states. Here is an excerpt.


February 15, 2012
Adventures in Language and Television
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching Malaysian Borneo – “Sayang, Sayang!* Porn Stars are on! Come quick, you will miss porn stars,” my bride exclaimed.


February 8, 2012
Sliced Bread
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – There are no “amber waves of grain” here in tropical Borneo, hence, no bread. The white air sold as “bread” in the very few stores that carry it does not even stand up to a knife spreading melted butter. It usually tears becoming an orb of gob.


February 1, 2012
Traveling and Wishing
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The first stop on our weekend jaunt was to the Indonesian-Malaysian border town of Serikan. I had been told about this shopping bazaar with its cut-rate prices since I arrived a few years back and most people made it seem they were giving away merchandise.  It has been touted as the “Mall of America” of Borneo.


January 25, 2012
Happy Year of the Dragon!
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I am really not that concerned about these reptilian serpents or any of the other 12 animals that glide by every Chinese New Year. However, living here, one cannot help but join in the festivities.


January 18, 2012
Through the Darkness – Again
Tom McLaughlin

I am not exactly the poster child for vasectomy. Two years ago, I went to see a doctor who must have sterilized most of the men, who wanted the procedure, in Frederick County.


January 11, 2012
Unfortunate Tour, But What Memories!
Tom McLaughlin

Los Angeles CA – Later in life I became a fan of old movies. I can watch them over and over again. I think I have seen Casablanca at least 30 times and always see something new. I still stand at attention when they play the Marseilles.


January 4, 2012
Recreation for the Eyes and Mind
Tom McLaughlin

Venice Beach, CA – Two leggy, busty, 20-something girls clad scantily in green were standing next to a sign with a huge green cross smiling at passersby. With that kind of advertising, I could not help but stop and ask what they were selling. Behind them, a narrow walk up climbed to an upper floor.


December 28, 2011
San Francisco – Then and Now
Tom McLaughlin

San Francisco – It was place of love, sex and drugs. And I was lucky enough to have been there. Haight Ashbury, filled with wonderful long haired, guys and girls, was the center of the action, crowded with the spirit of anti-war and pro- everything.


December 21, 2011
A Tale of a Few Cities
Tom McLaughlin

Middletown, MD – We traveled to the place I call home in the states. Even in stark winter, the Middletown Valley holds an incredible natural beauty, a sense of peace and calm as one descends from Braddock Mountain to the floor.


December 7, 2011
Tribulations of a Montana Wedding
Tom McLaughlin

Malta, MT – My daughter’s wedding! This was my Borneo wife’s first participation in a life passage of my family and she longed to make a good impression. She wanted to look good. I mean real good!


November 30, 2011
Prelude To A Wedding
Tom McLaughlin

Malta, Montana – Island Airways? In Montana? In Montana? This was the airline we were supposed to take from Billings to Glasgow for my daughter’s wedding. Montana just does not conjure in my mind palm trees, sandy beaches and azure seas. In fact, I don’t think there is an island anywhere in Big Sky country.


November 23, 2011
Gramps’ Special Black Friday Gifts
Tom McLaughlin

It has been a few years since Mom and Dad passed away but I remember the torture I went through to try and figure out what to get them for Christmas. Even now, the thought makes me shudder.


November 16, 2011
The Joys of Teething – NOT!
Tom McLaughlin

In route to Frederick from Kuching – I swore my child would not be the one to keep the entire airplane awake with howling as so many others have done in my travels. I had all the medicines; cold remedies, knock out drops and stomach powders from the village.


November 9, 2011
The Mysterious Skulls of Kuching
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “Where did those skulls come from,” I asked myself. I was standing on a walkway peering into a turret where a basket containing several skulls hung from the ceiling. There was no explanation, just a basket of skulls.


November 2, 2011
Headhunting: A Tradition Long Gone – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “What happens when they bring the skulls home from a raid,” was the question I had been seeking an answer. A couple of days ago, I came across a volume published in 1963 that held several early accounts of head hunting.


October 26, 2011
Headhunting: A Tradition Long Gone – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo and Sambas, Indonesian Borneo – Headhunting in Borneo is often portrayed as an act of warfare between two groups living in the forests. The idea that the victors surveyed the battlefield and took heads as a trophy is often recounted to western anthropologists and historians.


October 19, 2011
Headhunting: A Tradition Long Gone
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Borneo was known for its headhunters. Its legacy can still be found in longhouses and museums where skulls usually in a rattan basket, hung from the ceiling.


October 12, 2011
A Goat for Dzul
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “What do we need a goat for?” I asked my wife after she informed me we needed to get one. I had visions of the four legged creature living on the balcony overlooking the Sarawak River eating my carefully tended orchids.


October 5, 2011
Deadly Acts of Stupidity
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – In my many experiences with the orangutan, reading the literature and speaking to the experts, one does not shoo it away. Similarly, when one encounters a grizzly bear in Montana, one does not try to get close enough to ensure a digital image that shows the human and Ursus arctos horribilis are best of friends.


September 28, 2011
Dear Republicans and Rich People:
Tom McLaughlin

I would like to write to you to complain about the current money problems here in America. I am tired of you blaming us.


September 21, 2011
A Challenging Classroom
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – When I came to Malaysia, I had promised myself I would read the classics. For many years, I had been immersed in science and political theory, so I jumped at the chance to teach a course known as Literature in English.


September 14, 2011
Visas and Outback Steaks
Tom McLaughlin

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – I always hate leaving my island paradise in Kuching for the country’s capital. The American Embassy was calling me to secure a visa for my wife and a birth registration for my eight month old son, Dzul.


September 7, 2011
Homesick Relief on the Way
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I have to go to the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and I detest going there. I have to visit the United States Embassy to get a passport for my son and a visa for my wife for our yearly visit to the states. I am married to a local Malaysian.


August 31, 2011
Raya – The End of Ramadan
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – We begin with anticipation. Raya does not officially start until the new moon of the Islamic month of Syawal and has been sighted by the Islamic Rulers.


August 24, 2011
Studying Stromatolites in Deer Cave
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – One of the joys of living in Borneo is one gets to meet some of the top scientist from around the world. Being a biologist, I was eager to attend a talk about Deer Cave, the second largest cave in the world.


July 13, 2011
Luck be a Lady
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The elections in Thailand were peaceful despite the exaggerated fears of trouble. Yingluck Shinawatra defeated Abhisit Wethchiwa, the current prime minister.


July 6, 2011
From Frederick to Athens, it’s same-oh, same-oh
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – “Nattering nabobs of negativism,” the infamous quote by tragic-comic Vice President Spiro Agnew, seems to be the emotional mind set of the planet.


June 29, 2011
For Grandfather’s sake…
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Demak Baru, Malaysian Borneo – “Another dinner,” I said salivating at the thought of my mother-in-law’s cooking. My wife had asked me to attend a prayer memorial on the anniversary of her grandfather’s death, a tradition here in Malaysian Borneo.


June 22, 2011
Fear and Trepidation – Alas
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – My daughter Christine arrived after a grueling 32-hour Dulles to Kuching flight, including two missed connections and enough airport time to register and vote in the country of transit. Our eyes met and we waved through the glass where I was standing, observing the arriving passengers retrieve their luggage.


June 15, 2011
Foul Odors and Sweet Sights
Tom McLaughlin

Mulu, Borneo – After a refreshing drink and rest at the jungle station, we walked a further kilometer to the first cave. Lang Cave, a small non-descript cavern which snaked back into the mountain.


June 8, 2011
The World’s Largest Cavern
Tom McLaughlin

Mulu, Borneo – The 40-seat plane had about eight of us aboard as it banked toward the runway in the middle of the jungle. We slowly taxied to the terminal which was as large as my home in Middletown. The men unloaded the few bags from the craft onto a gurney and pulled it to the open luggage receiving counter.


June 1, 2011
Expat or not, I’m loving life
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Not too many other westerners live here in Kuching. Mostly they are Australians or British who work for companies manufacturing or assembling various components for computers. They are the managers who ensure whatever they are making proceeds smoothly.


May 25, 2011
A Memorial Day Memory
Tom McLaughlin

Even when he was deep into his Alzheimer’s state, Dad always seemed to know when it was Memorial Day – Decoration Day, as he called it. I guess it might have been the war movies that showed constantly on the television that clued him in, or maybe he just knew.


May 18, 2011
Poetry and Electricity
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I am sure there have been millions, no billions, of words written about how technology has frustrated the people who reside on this planet. And here are a few more.


May 11, 2011
Time to Come Home
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – First he was a politician. He wanted to create an empire that began with Pakistan and Afghanistan, and then spread worldwide. He tried in Saudi Arabia and Sudan but was asked to leave both of those countries. His own family, the bin Ladens, disowned him. Maybe.


May 4, 2011
A Trump from the Donald
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Donald Trump, the current front runner for the Republican nomination according to this morning’s Borneo Post via the Associated Press, has blasted Barack Obama for not doing enough to have China adjust its currency. According to him and many others, the president should continue to apply pressure on Beijing to make the Renminbi more expensive.


April 27, 2011
The Road to Peaceful Victory
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – It is incomprehensible to understand why someone would strap a bomb to their body and blow themselves to bits in the name of a religion and a god. It is also incomprehensible why someone would burn a religious book in Florida knowing it could endanger the lives of their countrymen overseas. They are the same people, just different places.


April 20, 2011
The Vagaries of Getting Older
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I guess age is a state of mind. One can be old at 25 and young at 60. I hope I am the later. But, I try and tell my body that I am 25 and it just does not want to cooperate.


April 6, 2011
Why the outrage?
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I just read about that nut case who has a following of so-called “Christians” in Florida, who burned the Qu’ran two weeks ago. I believe it was below the 16th story under “latest headlines” on America On Line.


March 30, 2011
Still Thinking
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I work with a British lady who teaches in the same school. To say she’s not opinioned is like saying a Tea Party person does not want to balance the budget.


March 23, 2011
History’s Balancing Act
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I really can’t understand why the United States needs a balanced budget. It has happened so rarely in our history.

 


March 16, 2011
America and China
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The militarization of China, one of the many passing comments usually buried as an aside in the international commentaries, brings forth the possibility of territorial acquisitions through conquest. There are several parallels now in play with the Japanese tsunami in the early 1940’s.


March 9, 2011
Pay Attention to Your Body
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. My classrooms are located on the fourth floor and the climb up on the cement steps has been a bit rough. I know I am fit enough to wander the jungle. but cement and my feet just don’t mesh.


February 23, 2011
The Name Dzulkifli
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – When my son was born, we elected to choose a name reflecting his mixed heritage. By tradition, if the child was a girl, my wife would name him; and if a boy, I had the honors.


February 16, 2011
Reacting from Afar
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I read with great concern the statements by Frederick County Commissioners Kirby Delauter and C. Paul Smith about their views on the role of mothers in society. They seem to feel that by cutting Head Start funds, mothers will be forced to stay home with their children and society will be better.


February 9, 2011
On Being an Ancient Father
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I guess being a father at age 60 is like having a grandson except the child never leaves. Dzul, sleeps, eats and poops around here all the time, morning, noon and night. I really don’t mind because my wife has the equipment to feed him so I am relived of sterilizing bottles.


February 2, 2011
Happy Year of the Rabbit?
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Decorated with rabbits as the New Year draws near, Kuching stores and coffee shops have all taken on a festive mood. Red lanterns, paper streams and Chinese characters painted in gold on red paper brighten up even the most dismal décor.


January 26, 2011
Murder by Ape
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Santubong and Matang Wildlife Center – “Daddy, you tried to kill us” was the refrain from the cell phone as I checked on her and her boyfriend at the hotel. Located at the base of Mount Santubong, they had just finished their six-hour trek up and down the 800- meter hill to some, a mountain to others.


January 19, 2011
Teaching in Borneo
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – As most of you know I have taken a teaching position here. I instruct at the Lodge International School. This institution matriculates children from the overseas community.


January 12, 2011
Another River Adventure
Tom McLaughlin

Seri Aman, Malaysian Borneo – I am just getting around to writing about one of the towns we visited before the birth of my son Dzul. We were on our way to Brunei on the only road north in Borneo when he suddenly decided to greet the world a month early a few towns later. See previous columns about that adventure (http://www.thetentacle.com/author.cfm?MyAuthor=34).


December 29, 2010
Blessing One’s Son
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The celebration of the birth of my son, a tradition here, got off to a slow start. We were supposed to be there at 10 A.M., according to my wife’s father; but my son Dzul was being uncooperative releasing his bowels several times as we attempted to leave the condo.


December 22, 2010
After Birth Confinement in Borneo
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian, Borneo – In the Sarawak Malay world, the mother is usually confined to the kampung house for about 40 days. (interesting how that number keeps coming up).


December 15, 2010
Ancient Kampung Ways
Tom McLaughlin

Sibu and Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Following the delivery of my third child and first son via C-section, a sterile clothed masked person handed me a package wrapped in plastic. She informed it was the placenta.


December 8, 2010
“And Baby Makes Three” – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin

They pushed my wife into the operating room minus the cats, mosquitoes and the Iban boys. I was delegated to a small room outside the theater to wait. A young Chinese lady waited with me and I tried to strike up a conversation. She wanted nothing to do with me, preferring the critters in the corridor instead.


December 1, 2010
“And Baby Makes Three” – Part Two
Tom McLaughlin

Sibu, Malaysian Borneo – We arrived at the government hospital emergency room and automatic events began to unfold. Suriani was placed in a wheel chair and raced to the maternity world with me and the Food and Beverage manager along with the maid racing behind. Sometimes, we lost sight of her in the maze we had to navigate.


November 24, 2010
“And Baby Makes Three” – Part One
Tom McLaughlin

“Ambulance!” I yelled in the phone to the lady at the front desk from our hotel room in Sibu, Malaysian Borneo.


November 17, 2010
Tantalizing Search
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – My wife, now heavy with child, precludes any airline travel, our wandering lifestyle vastly curtailed. We decided to explore the local attractions we had missed.


November 10, 2010
Adjusting to “new” fangled ways…
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – As part of the preparation of the birth of my son, I am trying to understand some of the local Borneo customs. One of them needed modification for my American sensibilities.


November 3, 2010
It’s over!
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I am just glad that none of the reported horrible television and radio ads, flyers, signs and other rhetoric ever made it here to Borneo. Although I think it came close. Maybe I carried some of that baggage back here with me from my recent visit.


October 27, 2010
A Incineration Skeptic Decides
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – When my wife and I visited Frederick last month, I ran into a candidate for county commissioner. “Okay, Kai, what do you have against incinerators?” I asked. “Too expensive”, he replied” standard answer for everything I thought.


October 20, 2010
Do or Die, Stay with Kai
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Why haven’t I sold my house in Middletown since I now live on Malaysian Borneo? The answer lies in the fact that I want to return to Frederick County at some point with my wife and son.


October 13, 2010
Around the World from Home
Tom McLaughlin

On my long flight to and from the United States, I usually end up in the galley following the dictates of healthy flying on our long Malaysia Airline journey from our home in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo to Los Angeles, a 26 hour journey from door to door.


October 6, 2010
Things I like about North America
Tom McLaughlin

[Editor’s Note: Suriani, Tom McLaughlin's wife, has completed her first trip to America. They are flying home today. Here is a list of some of her favorite things, most of which are not found in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia, where she is from, and where she and Tom live.]


September 29, 2010
Once a Jolly Hang Man – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – In Part One last week, I described Singapore’s repressive politics, the publication of a book critical of the judiciary and the subsequent arrest of the book’s author, Alan Shadrake. I then asked him via email what he thought the outcome of his trial may be:


September 22, 2010
Once A Jolly Hangman
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Probably most people in the western world don’t think about Singapore. When they do, it’s probably about some dot some place that has something to do with business. If that.


September 15, 2010
Writing a Book – Now Comes the Hard Part
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo –I wrote a book and published myself. They delivered them here recently. And they are beautiful.


September 8, 2010
Endangered Species
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Borneo Island, Malaysia – I don’t have much hope for the species of the world which are connected with Chinese medicine. In fact, we could probably wipe off those critically endangered except for ones in well-guarded wildlife preserves and those in zoos.


September 1, 2010
Americans are not stupid
Tom McLaughlin

The forecasts by many pundits of the upcoming debacle for the Democratic Party in the November elections are wrong, very wrong. They are an insult to the American people.


August 25, 2010
August in Kuching
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The tourist crowds have thinned markedly this month. The best time to visit Kuching, I think. Euro languages can still be heard but they come from the few backpackers and retirees, who, unfortunately, don’t mix. Hilton and Hostel visitors are on opposite sides of the Borneo experience.


August 18, 2010
The Mosque and New York City
Tom McLaughlin

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


August 11, 2010
Old Timers, Quit Complaining!
Tom McLaughlin

While following the unfolding of the contentious Frederick Board of County Commissioners debates, issues seem to center around taxes, jobs and development.


August 4, 2010
Our Rights – The Few v. The Many
Tom McLaughlin

Do I have the right to build a pig farm in my back yard in the Fountaindale subdivision in Middletown? Why not? Living here in Borneo, I could hire someone else to raise the pigs, have large trucks to move them to slaughter and others to rake and muck the soil for the next batch.


July 21, 2010
Stuck on Porcupines
Tom McLaughlin

Matang Wildlife Center, Kuching, Malaysia – Porcupines? Wandering the jungle? I had never heard of such a thing until my occasional visit with my friends at the wildlife center. Two caged animals, quills bristling and snouts to the ground, had been brought to the center by an individual who became aware of Malaysia’s tough laws for keeping threatened species.


July 14, 2010
A Reason to Cheer – It’s Over
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – The World Cup united everyone here in Kuching. Australians, Germans, Dutch, Malaysians, English, Chinese and many others knew every player, the weaknesses and strengths of each country’s team and can replay every game down to the nano-second. A hearty camaraderie replaced any nationalistic animosities.


July 7, 2010
A Mad Hash
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – “Good on yer mate” I yelled at the Hashers crossing the roundabout. “Darling, meet me at my condo tonight at eight” was hurled to all the pretty girls and elderly ladies walking or dashing by. “My god, my ex-wife shows up in my Borneo dream!” I shouted at a particularly ugly man dressed in lipstick, a red dress and a hairy chest.


June 30, 2010
Presumed Innocent
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – One of the implied guarantees of our U. S. Constitution, and whose concept has been upheld by the Supreme Court in numerous rulings, is the presumption of innocence. A government must presume a person has not committed any crime unless the evidence, which usually must be overwhelming, proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual is guilty. Then, and only then, can the government deprive an individual of life or liberty.


June 23, 2010
Pandas, Pandas and More Pandas – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Ya’an Bifeng Xia, China – The introduction of the panda into wild was the topic of my conversation with Dr. Tang Chunxiang, director and professor of the Ya’an Bifeng Xia (Green Mountain Valley) of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, about 150 km from Chengdu, China. Dr. Tang was gracious enough to grant me time from of a very busy schedule.


June 21, 2010
The World Cup and the Redskins
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – It’s Saturday morning following the opening games of the World Cup. They started here at 10 P.M. and ran through the night because of the time difference. Both matches, South Africa vs. Mexico and Uruguay vs. France, played to a draw.


June 16, 2010
Pandas, Pandas and More Pandas – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Chengdu, China – My wife Suriani and I smiled excitedly as we alighted from the taxi at the Panda Research center just a few kilometers from the edge of the town limits of Chengdu. Pandas! Those cute cuddly bears were the reason for our trip and we were finally going to see them.


June 9, 2010
Surprising China – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Chengdu, China – I have always been an antique seeker, and to my delight, my wife also enjoys the challenge of finding treasures. We are always aware that fakes are often sold both here and in America and follow the age old adage of “buyer beware,” one of the many sayings of Confucius.


June 2, 2010
Surprising China
Tom McLaughlin

Chengdu, China – Many of our overseas Chinese friends had warned us. The people in China were rude, crude and totally unlikable, they said. They will cheat and rob. Crime is high. Bargaining is a nightmare and they are a dirty people. They were wrong.


May 26, 2010
Flying the Colors – Remembering the Heroes
Tom McLaughlin

Even when he was deep into his Alzheimer’s state, Dad always seemed to know when it was Memorial Day – Decoration Day, as he called it. I guess it might have been the war movies that showed constantly on the television that clued him in, or maybe he just knew.


May 19, 2010
A Horrible Inner Debate
Tom McLaughlin

The doctor had told us Suriani was with child and we sat there in a state of shock and protested it was impossible. A vasectomy earlier, plus a diagnosis that she could not have children, had all but negated the possibility; but the facts could not be denied. The doctor made an appointment with an ob-gyn for 9 A.M. the next morning to make sure all was well.


May 12, 2010
The Best Laid Plans…
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – I have never before had to consider abortion in my personal life. I never, ever thought I would have to as I practiced birth control in all my sexual relationships. Even in college.


May 5, 2010
Drama in the Jungle
Tom McLaughlin

Matang Orangutan Rehab Center, Malaysia – The following account is true. The plot was not stolen from the American television program “Glee’ or any daytime drama. Written by long-term wildlife biologist volunteer Leo reviewed and approved by the Sarawak (Malaysia) Forestry Department and directed by an amazing staff of Sarawakian wildlife orang experts.

 


April 28, 2010
Travel Snafus – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – While there, we wandered around the semi-live volcano which I remembered was the reason why I wanted to go there in the first place. Later, while strolling the streets, I stopped at a travel agency and asked about the possibility of flying from Bandung to Banda Ache. The agent said since I was already in Indonesia, my visa was good for that city. She booked us on a flight from Jakarta to the town on Lion Air.


April 21, 2010
Travel Snafus
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – I did it again. I misread the airplane ticket and we missed the flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur. We had a connection to Banda Aceh and there was another flight in a few minutes, but I knew we have to run to make it.


April 14, 2010
A Volcanic Adventure…
Tom McLaughlin

Bandung, Java Island, Indonesia – “A sidewalk!” I cried. “A real sidewalk!” We were usually walking in the road next to roaring motorcycles and trucks, often able to kiss the driver or his partner on a bike with just a lean over and pucker. Getting excited over this red brick pathway may seem ridiculous until one has spent time dodging vehicles in most Indonesian cities.


April 7, 2010
Rising from the Dead
Tom McLaughlin

Banda Aceh, Indonesia – The first wave was about three meters high, more like a tidal surge. Survivors remember it being boiling hot. The second wave climbed 100 meters pushing over five kilometers inland, carrying a 2,600-metric-ton ship on its back. The third was just as high but with cold water, very cold, traveling almost as far the second. It shifted the ship to another location.


March 31, 2010
Orangutans on the Market
Tom McLaughlin

Traveling the Little Sambas River, Borneo, Indonesia – We had hoped to view orangutans. We did. But, it wasn’t what we expected.


March 24, 2010
The Seven Cannons of Sambas
Tom McLaughlin

Royal Palace, Sambas, Indonesia – Startled, Putri, the Sultan’s mother and caretaker, wondered how I knew about the seven cannons of Sambas. I told her my wife, of royal lineage, had heard stories handed down through her family.


March 17, 2010
A Royal Home?
Tom McLaughlin

Sambas, Borneo Island, Indonesia – Sambas is a magical place where my wife’s family originated. The prospect of finding sultans, rajahs, palace intrigues and family connections sent us on a journey of a butt-numbing, 15-hour bus ride.


March 10, 2010
Bargaining for an old al Koran
Tom McLaughlin

Pontianak, Borneo Island, Indonesia – Pontianak translates to vampire or ghost in Indonesian. According to local lore, the Sultan of Sambas was riding a horse through his kingdom and saw a lady with a hole in her back. This was at the time the area was a snake infested lowland swamp, like Washington is today. He then named the area for vampires.


March 3, 2010
Diamond Panning In Borneo
Tom McLaughlin

Ngabang, Landank, Indonesia – Panning for diamonds? I had heard of panning for gold but never for diamonds. This I had to try!


February 24, 2010
Of The Past and Present….
Tom McLaughlin

Lake Toba, Sumatra Island, Indonesia – The largest volcanic crater lake in the world did not make much of an impression. Comparing it to the huge, crystal clear bodies of water in Canada, I realized, later, (don’t we always realize things later?) there can be no comparison between bodies of water on one side of the world in the very northern hemisphere to one on the opposite just along the equator.


February 17, 2010
Elephant Tales
Tom McLaughlin

Tangkahan, Sumatra, Indonesia – The road from Bukit Lawang, where we were staying, to this village was moon cratered, flood gullied and suitable only for motorcycles or four wheel drive.


February 10, 2010
A Sumatran Adventure – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Bukit Lawang, Sumatra Island, Indonesia – Disaster struck Bukit Lawang in 2003. The logging of the rain forest further up stream coupled with days of torrential downpours sent log laden flood waters into the area. Massive cut trees rammed into the lodges causing death and wiping the slate clean except for the Eco Lodge, which was sensibly built on higher ground. The area has never fully recovered.


February 3, 2010
A Sumatran Adventure – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia – The river that divides this tropical village can be jumped with a flying leap by a high school track star. Water rushes through the small valley frothing clear and pure. A swinging bridge connects the two sides with a warning that only a few people can cross at the same time.


January 27, 2010
Another Adventure Among The Apes
Tom McLaughlin

Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia – The orangutan ambled just ahead of us, we were repeatedly told. The guide and tracker, in constant communication by yelling into a hand phones, kept assuring us the ape lingered very near but when we arrived at the spots, mom and son had just left.


January 20, 2010
Almost in a sewer….
Tom McLaughlin

Medan, Indonesia (Sumatra Island) – The guide books all said I should avoid this place. They were right. What a dump! The city stretches from the Straits to the mountains in one long unending blur of low rise buildings, smog and horrific traffic.


January 13, 2010
The Best Laid Plans….
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – "Dad you really need to snap out of it!" Mary admonished as I had screwed up the departure day for Chengdu, China. I had lost all track of time and was, to put it mildly, blindly in love.


January 6, 2010
Into Wedded Bliss…
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – A 6 A.M. wake up the day after your wedding? Yup! That's what time Suriani and I had to arise following our engagement and legal formalities in the kampung. My daughters stayed across the street in my condo while we retired to the Hilton for an exhausted sleep after a playful couple of hours.


December 23, 2009
Tom Takes a Wife – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – A beautiful woman sleeping next to me! I had to pinch myself to make sure this was real. Yes, this incredible sensitive being was my wife in a slumber reminiscent of an angel minus the wings. Or maybe she had them stored some place in a closet.


December 16, 2009
Tom Takes a Wife – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Having asked the question and receiving a positive answer, I never dreamed of the intricacies of the marriage ceremonies. I did not believe they would last a month.


December 9, 2009
In the Footsteps of Charles Darwin
Tom McLaughlin

Cambridge, England – My mouth dropped open when I visited Charles Darwin’s dorm room at Christ College at Cambridge University. The area was about 25 feet wide and 40 feet long. A huge fire place occupied one side of the end of the room with arms holding implements to boil coffee, tea and cook foods, much like the colonial fireplaces we have seen in pictures. There was no way that room would get cold in the mild English winters.


December 2, 2009
Accepting One’s Inadequacies
Tom McLaughlin

London – I had the pleasure of visiting many scientists in the Museum of Natural History in this fabled town. My good friends, Jan and George, scientists in their own right who work there, introduced me to these scholars and they patiently explained their research.


November 25, 2009
Gramps’ Special Black Friday Gifts
Tom McLaughlin

It has been a few years since Mom and Dad passed away but I remember the torture I went through to try and figure out what to get them for Christmas. Even now, the thought makes me shudder.


November 18, 2009
Different Country, Same Elections
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – He who can stuff the most ballot boxes wins the election. I really can’t understand why the Western world cannot accept this obvious concept of democracy.


November 11, 2009
Tom Goes Spark’in – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – I decided that I was tired of living, sleeping and traveling alone. I am ready to find a wife and begin a new marriage after five years of bachelorhood. I have met many ladies here in Malaysia and have been courting a 42-year-old Malay girl. (see last weeks column).


November 4, 2009
Tom Goes Spark’in
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – Being a relatively healthy male, I enjoy the company of women and learning the dating customs has been a challenge. Wandering around in my mid 50’s, yet thinking I am in my 20’s, I have met and carefully enjoyed many platonic associations.


October 28, 2009
Surprises of a 26-Hour Trip
Tom McLaughlin

Doha, Qatar – What happens if you are a small country and have billions and billions of dollars located on top of the largest gas field in the world? Building the largest most modern commercial airline on the planet is one goal.


October 14, 2009
To Liposuction – or Not!
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – “I like my tummy soft and round, not flat and hard like the cold hard ground” I sang to myself. These were remnants of a song I had heard on one of those PBS radio shows featuring local artists from around the country. I don’t remember the tune except it was country, but the words have stuck with me ever since.


October 7, 2009
“…And Yesterday’s Done….”
Tom McLaughlin

Middletown, MD – “It’s a grand old flag, it’s a free flying flag, forever may it wave!” This tune ran through my head as I walked up the hill to the parking lot in Middletown for the annual celebration of Middletown Days. I stopped and watched a fife and bugle ensemble, dressed in 1776 uniforms, playing a patriotic song whose melody I recognized but could not pinpoint. A tear came to my eye.


September 30, 2009
Hungry Ghosts
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – “Where did the restaurant go?” I asked. The open air facility seated about 100 people and lined along the sides, small carts sold a large variety of foods. One peddled fried rice with many manifestations: fried rice with vegetables, pork, beef or seafood or a combo of one or all.


September 23, 2009
Go Back Home
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – Illegal logging and poor forest practices are two separate things” and “if there is one thing I hope could be improved over time it would be the quality of data that everyone could share” are the words of wisdom spouted by one Alberto Goetzl. Mr. Goetzl, a policy bureaucrat wonk from Poolesville, Maryland has been sharing these brilliant insights to the people of Malaysia through a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.


September 16, 2009
Monks, Monkeys and a Mad Englishman
Tom McLaughlin

Krabi, Thailand – This beach resort has the atmosphere of a quiet upscale scene as opposed to the honky tonk of Phuket Island or Ocean City, Maryland. The beaches, hotels and restaurants are filled with sexy Swedes. I can't seem to get away from those blue eyes and blonde hair, nor do I want to. They have taken over South Thailand.


September 9, 2009
Vignettes of West Sumatra
Tom McLaughlin

 

Padang, Sumatra Indonesia – They reminded me of Dad. I could see him in their eyes and faces. Soldiers who had fought the Japanese in World War II and then the Dutch for independence had gathered for ceremonies and stayed at my hotel.


September 2, 2009
The Revolution in Burma
Tom McLaughlin

The revolution will come, the question is when. Many believed there would be a problem after the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi on July 31 and August 11.


September 1, 2009
Dissention and the Seeds of Rebellion
Tom McLaughlin

Preface: – The following opinions are from my travels in Burma, talking to dozens of people in quiet whispers, over quick cups of tea or in back alleys. I did not seek these people, they found me. They knew I was an American. I did not advertise it. I just told the truth when asked. I refuse to hide behind the flag of another country. I listened and offered the support of a nod or an arm squeeze. I will not name locations, professions or anything else that could give a hint of identification.


August 31, 2009
The Tourist Boycott of Burma
Tom McLaughlin

Imagine the generals who run Burma as the head of a spoiled, meat-red octopus with vomit green eyes. Imagine tentacles with huge white suckers strangling any form of democracy as its army. Imagine silk black threads running off the tentacles forming a web, hiding, listening and reporting back, the secret police. All three parts of this hideous hydra need money, lots of money, to stay alive.


August 28, 2009
The People of Burma and Me
Tom McLaughlin

Mandalay, Burma (Yangoon) – The joys of visiting a new country and the experiences with local people assemble a wealth of knowledge about a nation. Even though I spoke nary a word of Burmese, I managed to communicate.


August 27, 2009
The Road to Burma –Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

I had many preconceptions about Rangoon before arrival. After reading Internet sites, travelers tales and newspaper reports, I expected an impoverished, starving nation devoid of western goods.


August 26, 2009
The Road to Burma – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

[Editor’s Note: Tom McLaughlin recently spent several days in Burma, officially the Union of Myanmar, a nation controlled by its military. Over the next six publication days, Tom will relate his experiences in a style all his own.]


August 25, 2009
Shaking in One’s Boots
Tom McLaughlin

 

[Editor’s Note: An earthquake struck West Sumatra, Indonesia, on August 16. Our intrepid correspondent, Tom McLaughlin, was on a travel foray there at the time. This is his account of his personal experience.]


August 19, 2009
Saving The Rainforests
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Indonesia – Lions and tigers, oh my! Save the rainforest! We must have the biodiversity! The jungle absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. We need it or we will die!


August 5, 2009
Rainforest World Music Festival
Tom McLaughlin

Santubong, Sarawak, Malaysia – Shhhhhh! It’s a secret! Don’t tell anybody! I want to hoard this event for just my friends! I don’t want anymore people to come. As far as I am concerned, there were just enough people here a weekend or two ago.


July 29, 2009
Stranger No More
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Boyan, Sarawak, Malaysia – The sampans ply the Sarawak River between two docks. On one side, where I live, is the city with tall buildings like the Hilton, Grand Margurita (formerly the Holiday Inn), Harbor View Hotel and my 16 story edifice housing my modern condo. These are all at least 10 stories high.


July 22, 2009
To Retire in Paradise…
Tom McLaughlin

Phuket Island, Thailand – Tourism and retirees are the major sources of income for those living in the Phuket area. A very impoverished region, thousands are underemployed along the coast serving the needs of westerners.


July 15, 2009
Travel Tales
Tom McLaughlin

Phuket Island Thailand – Every week I play a game I call “Air Asia” roulette. The local price buster airline offers weekly sales well below any advertised price. When I say “well below,” I mean deep ocean discounts where sometimes one can fly paying only the airport tax.


July 8, 2009
English Lessons
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – “Sir! Sir!” the voice pealed behind me. I turned around and there was a very pretty young Malay girl trying to hail me. I was on a busy shopping street that had been closed to traffic and reverted into a pedestrian walk way in downtown Kuching.


July 1, 2009
A Reunion
Tom McLaughlin

Kuala Pilah, Malaysia – My friend Dzul urged me to return to Kuala Pilah, a two-hour flight, for a reunion with his class. I had started teaching in 1974, just after his group had left; but some had returned for the next level of education (form six). The best and the brightest, they scored the highest on their exams. These were the former students who remembered me after 35 years.


June 24, 2009
The Plane Ride
Tom McLaughlin

Aboard a Malaysian Airlines Flight – “How do you spend 22 plus hours on an airplane and still stay sane” is the question I am often asked when I travel back and forth from Malaysia to the States. My reply: “I have never been sane in my life, so why would this make any difference?”


June 17, 2009
Jungle Adventures
Tom McLaughlin

Matang, Sarawak, Malaysia – “Froggy went a courting he did ride, uh hum, froggy went a courting he did ride, sword and pistol by his side, uh hum”


June 3, 2009
Telling Time
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Indonesia – “A watch beginning at US$10,000!” I exclaimed. “The time piece,” I was corrected, “is an heirloom to be passed down through the generations.”


May 27, 2009
The Bride of Frankenstein’s Corsage
Tom McLaughlin

Gunung Gading National Park, Borneo Island – I could tell you a lie and say I hacked my way through the jungle to see the largest flower on the planet. I could write that I slept in a hammock fighting off vipers, leeches and hordes of mosquitoes just to witness the flower before it faded into a rumpled mass.


May 22, 2009
Decoration Day
Tom McLaughlin

Even when he was deep into his Alzheimer’s state, Dad always seemed to know when it was Memorial Day – Decoration Day, as he called it. I guess it might have been the war movies that showed constantly on the television that clued him in, or maybe he just knew.


May 20, 2009
Alfred Wallace and Me – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin

Kampung Santubong, Sarawak, Malaysia – Alfred Wallace’s second and most famous Law of Natural Selection “suddenly flashed upon him” (his words) in February, 1858. With the monsoon season beginning to taper off, he suffered from malaria induced fevers.


May 13, 2009
Alfred Wallace and Me – Part Two
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – The London scientific community viewed Alfred Wallace as a redneck, or, in their lingo of the day, a collector. These were people who went out to the tropics with a butterfly net or gun and brought back animals that were sold to the public.


May 6, 2009
Alfred Wallace and Me – Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia – The monsoon season had settled in and my exploring the nearby rain forest had come to a halt. Blinding 24-four hour rains and muddy, slippery paths drove me indoors searching for activities. It was time to pursue my interest in Alfred Russell Wallace.


April 29, 2009
Malaysian Wedding – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin

Seremban, Malaysia – I returned to the groom’s home after a refreshing sleep. To my surprise, a ceremony was in progress. I thought I had it down about Malay weddings, but this part was not in my file.


April 22, 2009
A Malay Wedding – Part Two
Tom McLaughlin

Seremban, Malaysia – It’s the day before the celebration. Nazir’s son picked me up at the airport and I feigned I knew him, faking it most of the way. The marble finally dropped into the correct location in the brain and I realized who he was and could participate in the conversation instead of stupidly nodding my head.


April 15, 2009
A Malay Wedding – Part One
Tom McLaughlin

Seremban, Malaysia – Three months before the wedding-I had returned to Malaysia after a 35-year absence, a former Peace Corps Volunteer. A couple of phone calls put me in touch with my kampung folks and a joyful reunion ensued.


April 8, 2009
Tom of the Apes
Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Indonesia – Twenty-five orangutans inhabit the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, about 45 minutes from my condo here. I only got to know three of them.


April 1, 2009
Paradise and Claustrophobia
Tom McLaughlin

Bintan Island, Indonesia – To understand Bintan Island one must gain a perspective of Singapore because Bintan is a resort to this small island nation.


March 25, 2009
Prostitutes and Algebra
Tom McLaughlin

Batam Island, Indonesia. – The Queens, a bar, restaurant and prostitute hangout along the waterfront of Water City, Batam Island, services the western male community. All have seen better days.


March 18, 2009
A $40 Million Ruse
Tom McLaughlin

Batam Island, Indonesia – The islands were calling me and with rhythms of music from South Pacific flowing in my mind, I elected to visit a couple of them about an hour boat ride off the coast of Singapore.


March 11, 2009
The Weavers and the Money
Tom McLaughlin

Lombok, Indonesia – We had finished our visit with the stump tailed Macaques and the use of my teaching techniques on the troop. Our next stop, a small enterprise, located only through a side road, winding through a housing estate filled with homes (we would call them shacks) constructed of wood.


March 4, 2009
The Adventure Continues
Tom McLaughlin

Sengigi, Lomock Island, Indonesia – Our trip to Lombok was an example where the Internet, advance planning and advice from fellow trekkers exploded into a rusty hulk. Air Asia from Kuching to Singapore and Bali and then by ferry to Lombok, sounds simple.


February 25, 2009
The Longhouse – Up The River – Part 4
Tom McLaughlin

Kapit, Sarawak – We disembarked from our long, green low boat with a 60hp out board motor. Climbing up the crumbling concrete steps, (we’re always climbing here) and reaching the top, we noticed six fighting cocks staked to sticks. They were far enough apart so they didn’t seem to notice each other. I guess they were waiting for their next battle.


February 18, 2009
Up The River – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin

Kapit, Sarawak – Located atop a bluff on the Rajang River, and just above the first set of rapids and below a major bend in the river, the eco-lodge backs into the beginnings of a tropical rain forest protected area. Dwarfed by high jungle covered hills, it is constructed of deep and darkly stained rain forest timber with an open, airy décor. The dining area, on a veranda, overlooks the river.


February 11, 2009
Up The River – Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

Kapit, Sarawak – During our overnight in Sibu, the desk clerk recommended a Chinese restaurant for Foo Chow cooking. We were surprised at the strange, fresh, clean taste of the meal. Absent the oily flavor associated with Chinese food in the states.


February 4, 2009
Up The River…Part 1
Tom McLaughlin

Sibu, Sarawak, East Malaysia – Christine and I left Kuching via the Sarawak River in the continuing monsoon for our trip up the Rajang River. Rains have poured from the clouds since early December and would follow us into the interior.


January 28, 2009
Indonesia and the Inauguration
Tom McLaughlin

Bali, Indonesia – Four factors influenced my desire to forego watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama with fellow Americans here in Kuta Beach. I did not seek out places that Americans congregate, nor the American Consulate.


January 7, 2009
Land Below The Wind
Tom McLaughlin

Santubong, Borneo – The Israeli incursion into Gaza has been met with indifference here in this Moslem land. The news has been buried in the second sections or on pages 14-15 in The Borneo Post, the local English language daily.


December 31, 2008
Fun A World Away
Tom McLaughlin

Santubong, Borneo – Getting used to some things here in Borneo takes time. I need to be careful with the traffic, a life threatening situation.


December 24, 2008
A Different Place…
Tom McLaughlin

Santubong, Borneo – I watched television and read about the Indonesian troops preparing for possible terrorist attacks. Soldiers repelled down hotels, getting ready for a possible Mumbai incident.


December 17, 2008
Mountain Climbing and Orchid Hunting
Tom McLaughlin

Santubong, Sarawak – The condo is like most in Ocean City. Thirty floors contained two sections. I am on the 13th. There are no others like them in this area nor can others be built because of the rainforest which is now a national park.


December 10, 2008
Maryland in the Borneo Newspaper?
Tom McLaughlin

KUCHING, Borneo – Still sleepy and in the early dawn hours, I sat in a Chinese coffee shop in downtown Kuching. The thick black Sumatra liquid, with a finger of white condensed milk on the bottom in the clear cup, had yet to be stirred.


December 3, 2008
Moving East for a Spell
Tom McLaughlin

“Warm and tropical with pouring rains after 3 P.M.” describes Borneo in this northeast monsoon season. The city of Kuching combines old and new, with the modern Hilton overshadowing Chinese shop houses built in 1900's.


November 26, 2008
What to get the elderly for Christmas
Tom McLaughlin

Black Friday arrives the day after tomorrow and throngs of shoppers will line up for those “deals’ in a panic frenzy. Credit, debit and anything else that still has value will be maxed out during this holiday season because of the economy. Often left in the riot are your parents.


November 19, 2008
Fulfilling A Dream
Tom McLaughlin

“What has possessed you, Tom,” many have asked. “Leaving the country for Borneo Island for a year,” they wonder. “And what about your health?”


November 12, 2008
Just Bustin’ Out All Over
Tom McLaughlin

It was as if a massive salt water wave swept over the country and washed away all of the hate and intolerance. I felt cleansed, jubilant and am still high from the November 4 election results. No more African-Americans, or Chinese-Americans, or Native Americans. We are all Americans.


November 5, 2008
A Tale of Two Campaigns
Tom McLaughlin

This election, I was proud to be a part of two Democratic congressional campaigns. The First District in Maryland, mostly on the Eastern Shore, was where I lived while in Ocean City. I moved to the Sixth District when I relocated to Middletown.


October 29, 2008
To Thine Own Self Be True
Tom McLaughlin

I am a Democrat and support Jennifer Dougherty and Barack Obama. I would support the Democratic ticket if the devil himself were on it. I am sure there are Republicans who feel the same way.


October 22, 2008
Nobel Prize, The Economy & McCain
Tom McLaughlin

Once again it is time for my yearly commentary on the Nobel Prize in Economics. Here, I try to make some sense of this award.


October 15, 2008
“Oddball” Roscoe Bartlett
Tom McLaughlin

In a secret snap poll conducted by the Maryland Democratic Party, Jennifer Dougherty is within six points of overtaking Roscoe Bartlett. This does not include a fair number of people who are undecided, or the 18-24 year old vote.


October 8, 2008
Colorado: Land of Paradox
Tom McLaughlin

The election seems to hinge on battleground states and I visited one of them recently. A trip to Colorado Springs, called “The Springs” by locals, proved to be an enlightening experience.

 


October 1, 2008
Two Faces
Tom McLaughlin

I was really surprised how much Sen. John McCain reminded me of Dad. I watched him in the first debate and his mannerisms, coupled with his speech patterns, had Dad written all over him.

 


September 24, 2008
Bush’s Crowd to Blame
Tom McLaughlin

For the past year the nation has been embroiled in a roller coaster ride of the economy brought about by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their cronies.

 


September 17, 2008
A Miserable Mistake
Tom McLaughlin

Other than he is a Republican, anti choice, pro war, a trickle down economist, drill here, there and everywhere fanatic, and a DNA clone of the mind (or lack thereof) of George Bush, there are few other things about Arizona Senator John McCain that bother me.

 


August 27, 2008
English First
Tom McLaughlin

I have returned to Frederick County and noticed a movement to get everyone to speak English. I agree whole-heartedly with this endeavor. A law needs to be passed that no language except English can be spoken in public.

 


August 20, 2008
Emergency Room Retrofit
Tom McLaughlin

Throughout the past few years, there has been a blasting of the Canadian healthcare system. Many conservatives point to the “awful” conditions up north as an example of what can happen if the government gets involved.

 


August 13, 2008
Beer Olympics
Tom McLaughlin

They’re back! After watching the March Past during the opening of the games in Peking (old spelling), I settled in to watch some of the sports. And wonders of wonders who did I see? Those two great representatives of American dirty old men, Misty May and Kerri Walsh. They were playing the great American sport – beach volleyball.

 


August 6, 2008
Voting White
Tom McLaughlin

Race is – and will continue to be – a very big factor in the presidential election. Sen. Barack Obama has called for change; however, his skin color will be too much of a change for many. White, not John McCain, will win the election.

 


July 30, 2008
Oh, Canada!
Tom McLaughlin

There are a many similarities between North Ontario, Canada and Western Maryland. One of the most obvious is the bears. Both areas must bow to what the residents consider regulations promulgated by a foreign government.

 


July 16, 2008
The Good Reverends
Tom McLaughlin

Sen. Barack Obama sure is having problems with preachers. First it was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and now the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Both have added a sense of amusement to the campaign.

 


July 9, 2008
Writing a Book
Tom McLaughlin

Everybody wants to write a book, including me. A recent survey revealed that 87% of all Americans want to take pen in hand or fingers to keyboard. There are three reasons experts have cited; and they include a person having a message to share, ego and money.

 


July 2, 2008
Speculation on Tar and Feathers
Tom McLaughlin

The main focus of the oil crisis has now shifted to people called speculators and fund managers. As a liberal Democrat, who reads the Wall Street Journal (now there’s an oxymoron), I have endeavored to learn how they fit into the equation.

 


June 25, 2008
Greasing the Wheels
Tom McLaughlin

We purchase billions upon billions of dollars of goods from the Chinese. They, in turn, take those dollars and invest in conservative and safe instruments like American T-Bills. This circular path has caused alarm among some that they have the power to wreck our economy and bring America to its knees. However, to destroy our economy would also mean wrecking theirs.

 


June 18, 2008
Quantity vs. Quality
Tom McLaughlin

For the first time, it was announced recently, the life expectancy in the United States reached above 78 years old. Some may rejoice at this news, but one must be very careful because the quantity of life may have increased but the quality of life has decreased. This quality not only affects the individual who has reached the golden age mark, but the many people who care for him or her.

 


June 11, 2008
All Kinds of Sharks…..
Tom McLaughlin

These are some direct quotes about the Great White Shark: “Unlike most fish, white sharks are intelligent, highly inquisitive creatures.”… “No one has seen white sharks mate” (that’s understandable)…. “When I am on the boat, they’ll pop their heads out and look me directly in the eye and once when there were several people in the boat, the Great White looked each person in the eye one by one, checking us out.”

 


June 4, 2008
A Primary Food Primer
Tom McLaughlin

Why are world food prices so high? How is this connected with illegal immigration? Why do we have a $91 billion Farm Bill? How are these related?


May 28, 2008
Beach Ladies
Tom McLaughlin

I love women and now that the Memorial Day weekend has just passed, they are parading on the beach in as little clothing as possible. And I am sitting in my sand chair watching.

 


May 21, 2008
Decoration Day
Tom McLaughlin

Even when he was deep into his Alzheimer’s state, Dad always seemed to know when it was Memorial Day – Decoration Day, as he called it. I guess it might have been the war movies that showed constantly on the television that clued him in, or maybe he just knew.


May 14, 2008
A Failure to Communicate
Tom McLaughlin

In my last column, I said I would contact Black leaders to try to answer my questions about the perceived new relationship between Blacks and Whites. I didn’t. The reason is lack of courage.


May 7, 2008
Blacks on The Precipice
Tom McLaughlin

I am confused about Black America. What is the message Barack Obama and his supporters are sending?


April 30, 2008
Las Vegas Finale
Tom McLaughlin

Las Vegas was built and runs on tips” was the advice given to the bus load of passengers as we returned from the Grand Canyon in a not so subtle hint. To make sure we got the point, on the “menu” at the National Geographic Center where we were served the most god- awful lunch probably prepared from the remains of animals on failed expeditions, was advice on how much to tip him, which was between $5-$10 depending on the service.


April 23, 2008
Days in The Desert
Tom McLaughlin

"Good luck to you" is the farewell greeting stated to people when used instead of "bye" or "have a nice day" here at Sam’s Town Casino and R.V. Park.


April 16, 2008
Las Vegas Bound
Tom McLaughlin

Viva Las Vegas! Viva Las Vegas! The Elvis Presley tune has not left my brain since I decided to visit that city in the desert.

 


April 9, 2008
Fallen from Grace
Tom McLaughlin

I have trouble equating human life with money. It’s like combining an apple and an orange to make a new fruit. Shakespeare and algebra simply will not go together in a publishable book.


April 2, 2008
Farmers and the Bays
Tom McLaughlin

Where in the world are we going to put the chicken poop? That is the question most people on the Eastern Sore are asking. “Not in my back yard!” said the towns. “Not in my backyard” said the counties. Not on the fields said the wacko environmentalists.


March 26, 2008
Piner Whiners
Tom McLaughlin

The people in Ocean Pines are so old! That’s what I discovered when I returned to Middletown after a month’s absence. It is so nice to see young people and families. Strong vibrant individuals walking purposefully onward in their lives.


March 19, 2008
Have a Happy Recession
Tom McLaughlin

Hanging around a redneck bar gives one a certain window on the economy. I have spoken to painters, dry wallers, contractors, roofers and others. I discovered that the ones who have done quality work in the past and have a good reputation have more business than they can handle.

 


March 12, 2008
Gilgamesh and such…
Tom McLaughlin

I have tried many different and unique ways to meet ladies of quality and one of them is to join poetry groups. My logic is that warm, sensitive and intelligent women would be attracted to these gatherings and I would woo them with my rhymes.


March 5, 2008
Booze News
Tom McLaughlin

I have started to go back to bars. In my drinking days, I loved them, but with all the medication I take now, it puts a damper on that exercise.


February 27, 2008
News from Ocean City….
Tom McLaughlin

The Town of Ocean City has come up with a brilliant idea to lower their taxes by $14 mil or so, and to raise the taxes of the good people of Worcester County by the same amount.


February 20, 2008
Two Good Men Were Defeated
Tom McLaughlin
Wayne T. Gilchrest, of the 1st Congressional District on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was just tired. I think George Bush and his cronies wore him down to the point that he didn’t care whether he was re-elected or not.

January 9, 2008
“The Worst of Times”
Tom McLaughlin
Let’s start the New Year again. Roll back the clock to December 31 and kiss one another at the stroke of midnight.

January 2, 2008
How to Fix Your Life in 2008
Tom McLaughlin
The Wall Street Journal recently had a question and answer session on “How to Fix Your Life in 2008.” The problems are theirs; the answers mine.

December 26, 2007
The Joy and Sadness of Christmas
Tom McLaughlin
It’s almost over. I have just about cleaned out the four-story townhouse and have over 100 boxes of stuff. I say stuff because I was not sure what to throw out and what to keep. Most of the stuff was Mom’s and Dad’s.

December 19, 2007
The Chesapeake Bay
Tom McLaughlin
It absolutely can’t be that dirty. No way. The Chesapeake Bay that is. All the information flowing in says the waterway is a cesspool complete with garbage floating on top of its entire length and breath. There are no fish. Anyone catching any are having hallucinations and eating imaginary meals. The water quality sucks with a capital “S.”

December 13, 2007
Slots, again, with apologies to Will
Tom McLaughlin
Joy filled the streets of Ocean City as the hotel owners sang “We’re in the Money, We’re in the Money” as everyone thought slots parlors would open in Frederick County. Everything would return to normal. Condo and hotel owners would charge the same high prices and the boardwalk shops would not have to compete with the vacationers’ last penny after being gouged by rents.

December 5, 2007
Just Watching and Waiting
Tom McLaughlin
Things here in Ocean City are quieting down and there is very little traffic along beach highway. The hardware stores are empty compared to a year ago as the vacation housing boom has been reduced to a fizzle.

November 28, 2007
Hannah Montana
Humor by Tom McLaughlin

Tom McLaughlin
There is a dire warning in a past issue of The Wall Street Journal. Does it foretell a major stock crash? Will the dollar sink below the Indonesian Rupiah, now trading at about 10,000 per?

November 21, 2007
Christmas Difficulties
Tom McLaughlin
One of the hardest things during the Christmas season is deciding what to get the parents. I have just finished an article for the local Ocean City fish wrapper about infections in the elderly and I have some suggestions.

November 14, 2007
The Nobel Economics Prize
Tom McLaughlin
Setting my brain from its usual position of reverse to forward, I elected to try to unravel the Nobel Prize in Economics. This was awarded to three Americans “for having laid the foundation of mechanism design theory.”

November 12, 2007
Worcester County and Slots
Tom McLaughlin
When it was announced that Ocean Downs raceway had been selected as a location for a slots parlor, local rich hotel-condo and real estate owners had an angina attack.

October 29, 2007
The OC Hotel-Motel Tax Increase
Tom McLaughlin
The Worcester County Commissioners are receiving public opinion about a bill to increase the room tax in Ocean City to attract more tourists. The money would be spent to advertise the town in the Western Shore markets.

October 22, 2007
Wishful Thinking v. Reality
Tom McLaughlin
Now that Dad has passed away and I am free from my caregiver duties, I must elect where I am going to live. I have already decided to purchase a house in Middletown. (Down, Realtors, it's a private sale.)

October 18, 2007
It Was, Indeed, Worthwhile!
Tom McLaughlin
"You are taking your daughter with you"? I heard this everywhere. Even across cultures.

October 1, 2007
Singapore
Tom McLaughlin
The place is like walking into a hospital. It is soooooooo clean. There is a hefty fine for depositing a piece of paper or cigarette remains. One cannot buy chewing gum. Drug runners receive the mandatory death sentence.

September 14, 2007
Phuket Island, Thailand
Tom McLaughlin
The tsunami should come again and wipe Patong Beach off the face of the earth and be done with it. Everybody remembers the surge of water because it was played over and over again on the news with people clinging to trees, rafts and each other. Well, a repeat certainly is in order minus the loss of life.

September 5, 2007
The Great Barrier Reef
Tom McLaughlin
Cairns, Australia (pronounced cans), is located at the very top of the eastern coast also known as the Gold Coast. A resort town, it is the jumping off point for explorations on the Great Barrier Reef or "the reef" as known there.

September 3, 2007
The Barber of Seville
Tom McLaughlin
It's like the Grand Canyon, the Sistine Chapel, or the Madonna. You just have to see it. You can't describe it, put it on postcards or watch it on television.

August 28, 2007
The Proboscis Monkeys - Sarawak Part 2
Tom McLaughlin

I have a big nose and have always been teased about it. I once considered a nose job, but one teacher told me it was a good strong Roman nose and I should be proud of it. During the summer months it often becomes bright red, refusing to tan with the rest of me. I guess this is the reason I became enamored with the Proboscis Monkey's of Borneo.

August 27, 2007
Orang Hutan - Sarawak Part 1
Tom McLaughlin
Okay, let's get this straight. It's Orang Hutan, not orangutan. Orang means man and hutan means forest in the Malay language. Orang Hutan. Impress your friends by saying I read an article about the Orang Hutan on The Tentacle and then politely correct them when they say orangutan.

August 21, 2007
Vietnam Today - Part Two
Tom McLaughlin
When we arrived in Hanoi, the first thing I did was book both my daughter Christine and myself on tours. Everyday was a different one, most lasting a full day. Little did I realize all of them had something to do with a Buddhist Shrine.

August 20, 2007
Vietnam Today - Part One
Tom McLaughlin
The man in the crisp white uniform gave me a hard nudge. I looked around quizzically. A person behind me whispered, "You were talking too loud!" I nodded and lowered my voice. The line moved agonizingly slow in the 99-100 degree heat of Hanoi, Vietnam.

May 20, 2007
A Summer Off
Tom McLaughlin
My best-laid plans for the summer crashed and burned the other day. The person I had relied upon to take care of my Alzheimer's patient father became unavailable. I won't go into the details. Suffice it to say she was a lover. It was because, well, there was violation, not of the sexual kind, but of trust. I had to ask her to leave.

May 13, 2007
The Woes of Jamestown
Tom McLaughlin
The royal hat lady (Queen Elizabeth) was in the United States celebrating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. She said the history of Jamestown had undergone revisions and would continue to evolve. I have read everything about the new theories of the settlements' founding and am relating the following account.

May 6, 2007
New Experiences, Old Needs
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Have you ever been at one of those functions where you absolutely did not belong? I was invited to a fundraiser where the minimum donation was $5,000 and the pay back included a dinner with someone famous.

May 3, 2007
The 1933 Ocean City Storm(s)
Tom McLaughlin
Crisscrossing the Atlantic, 1933 was a busy storm season. One after the other, these behemoths from the tropics appeared and slowly traveled the Atlantic to the United States, the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico.

April 29, 2007
Striking Similarities
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I have a great affinity for monkeys. While in the south of France, there was a brochure at the front desk saying Ecole de Chimpanzee. Obviously, we did not stay at the best establishments. In fact, I think ours got a half a star.

April 22, 2007
Earthquakes
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Earthquakes? In Ocean City? This is the hypothesis I am proposing for the cutting of the Ocean City Inlet in 1933. It is a unique one proposed only by me and will probably lead to the "funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time."

April 15, 2007
Looking To Retirement?
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Baby boomers are rapidly coming to retirement. I am glad I am at the tail end of this group because they will pave the way once they discover what their golden years are really like.

April 8, 2007
Once Upon a Time...
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin
With apologies to the Brothers Grimm
To-day I bake, To-morrow I brew
And then the child away I take
For little deems my royal dame
Rumpelstiltzkin is my name.

April 1, 2007
Sub Prime Mortgages
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Roooooooooofus! Rooooooooooooooooofus! The long O's reached deep into the swamp where Rufus was just capping another jug of shine. He remembered the meeting when the last "fus" penetrated his eardrums. Using his foot, he stomped out the fire and slowly released the pressure from the kettle.

March 25, 2007
March Madness
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - "Our freaks playing your freaks" is the description my Uncle Buddy used to describe a basketball game. During my university days, I used to attend these events and watch as the teams ran back and forth on the court, jumping and booing with the crowd without a clue what was going on.

March 18, 2007
Windy
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Omigod, it was windy! Having spent my first winter on the beach in Ocean City, the wind was relentless for what seemed like all the whole season. Small craft and gale warnings were posted for an eternity.

March 11, 2007
The Road to Success - or Not
Tom McLaughlin
Ahmed was born in Saudi Arabia, the son of a prince and a Bangkok whore. His mother had been imported from the Thai capital in a group for the pleasure of His Royal Highness. When he got bored with them, she purposefully missed the plane returning to Thailand, hiding in the black female costume.

March 4, 2007
a2 + b2 = c2
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was a wrinkled rubber sheet with a cup of coffee floating up and down and through the sheet.

February 25, 2007
Another Hat in the Ring
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I am the father of Anna Nicole Smith's child. I first met Annie strolling down the beach in Ocean City. I had worked out in the "I didn't bribe enough" health spa for two years. My body had become irresistible to the ladies. My pecks were pectoral, my abs admirable, and my butt a magnet for any female

February 22, 2007
Atlantic Warming Thrice
Tom McLaughlin
The first part of this series showed conclusively Atlantic warming is occurring off the coast of Ocean City. The second section demonstrated that brown pelicans, a species normal in the south, have migrated north over the past 10 years and is directly affected by temperature variations. This section explores other biological indicators including fish and birds.

February 18, 2007
Saving On Electricity
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Oh, beware! You people of Western Maryland, be so aware! The electric company and rate increases are spreading your way; and a major surprise in your power bill will shock you like a bolt of lightening. When the first envelope arrives after deregulation, your hair will stand on end in anticipation of the great fear that will jolt you past your normal senses.

February 15, 2007
Atlantic Warming Again
Tom McLaughlin
Nobody counted the pelicans in the mid-1800’s in the back bays from Rehoboth Beach to Chincoteague. People were too busy hunting and fishing to supplement farm meals than to bother with bird watching.

February 11, 2007
For The Menu and the Wardrobe
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Cownose stingrays are the scourge of both the back (behind Ocean City) and Chesapeake bays. They love to eat oysters. Any size, any where, raw, stewed with hot sauce, Rockefeller, pan fried, stuffed with baked red snapper, in an omelet, and on and on like shrimp in the movie Forest Gump.

February 4, 2007
Not An Exact Science
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I decided to find out for myself about global warming. Not that I didn't believe Al Gore, mind you. As a raving liberal, I feel every word he says is the gospel truth according to some book in the Bible. (Good one, Tom, the gospel truth does come from the Bible).

February 1, 2007
Atlantic Warming - Part One
Tom McLaughlin
Buoy 44009 bobs 129 miles from the Ocean City Inlet along an imaginary eastward extension of the Delaware state line. A metal chain secures the 3,740 pound, three foot structure to an 8,500 pound concrete sinker. A tripod under the buoy connects the chain and within this tripod sensors measuring water conditions are attached.

January 28, 2007
Sorry, Honey. I Wasn't Paying Attention!
Tom McLaughlin
I like preachers, especially when they're not in church. I enjoy meeting them at functions away from their congregations when they can be themselves.

January 21, 2007
Isn't it tax season, already?
Tom McLaughlin
I won another raffle. As regular readers will recall, last winter my ticket was drawn for a chain saw, the perfect tool for a guy living in an ocean front townhouse. There isn't a tree in sight except for the meager struggling pines forced to the ground by the ocean "breezes."

January 14, 2007
"The Best and Worst of Times"
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - In the eternal debate over teacher's salaries, the idea of "they have the summer off" always seems to rear its ugly head. However, here in Worcester County, they cannot use that moniker because almost everyone has the late fall, winter and early spring to lounge around, awaiting the return of the tourists.

January 7, 2007
A Solution to the Pony Problem
Tom McLaughlin
They have become a real pain in the Assateague. The ponies that have roamed the island since colonial times have eaten themselves out of stable and manager and are threatening other endangered species.

December 31, 2006
Look Out! Tom's gonna write a novel
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin Here we go again. New Year Resolutions. The promises I usually give up for Lent. I take an inventory of myself and decide what improvements I should pursue. The first, and always the first, has been and will be forevermore: weight loss.

December 24, 2006
Christmas Eve 2006
Tom McLaughlin
My first Christmas away from home was in Malacca during my stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer. We prayed in St. Paul’s Church, built in 1566, and held the remains of St. Francis Xavier.

December 17, 2006
Christmas and Gloating
Tom McLaughlin
I think I am going to be a little conservative. [Tom, you will never be conservative.] Well let's try this one. Instead of wishing everyone a Happy Holiday, I am going to say Merry Christmas [My, you are being conservative! Won't that start race or cultural wars?]

December 10, 2006
Surfers, Hispanics and Bulldozers
Tom McLaughlin
With apologies to surfers and those Hispanics who enjoy the area under the pier; but not to the aged surfer girl.

December 3, 2006
Christmas Difficulties
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin One of the hardest things during the Christmas season is deciding what to get the parents. I have just finished an article for the local Ocean City fish wrapper about infections in the elderly and I have some suggestions.

November 26, 2006
The Passing of a Stranger
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin What better place to read the obituary of Milton Friedman than in the Wall Street Journal? I sat down and tried to understand this giant who had the greatest influence on economic policy in the 20th century.

November 22, 2006
Nursing Homes and the Vote
Tom McLaughlin
Nobody disagrees with allowing disabled persons who reside in nursing homes to vote. Every effort should be made to accommodate and help these individuals to cast their ballots. However, the potential of abuse, whether intentional or not, must be realized.

November 19, 2006
Explaining The Obvious
Tom McLaughlin
The last we talked Joel Todd, my candidate for state's attorney, was down by two votes. They counted the provisional and now he is up by 16. Tomorrow they will count the overseas ballots.

November 12, 2006
Election Day Miseries
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Election Day turned out to be as bizarre and surreal as the Ocean City contests a few weeks earlier. My assignment: pass out literature for the Democrats and try to bring the resort in for O'Malley, Cardin et. al., which was as Mission Impossible as doing the same for Frederick County.

November 5, 2006
Singing On The Campaign Trail
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I am glad this campaign is almost over. It has been a rough road with all the negative advertising. If the candidates would only sing!

October 29, 2006
A Silver Lining Possibility
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - According to most opinion polls - and gleeful Democrats, Congress will be defoliated of a Republican majority on November 7. The legislative body likely will be back as a lame duck or cooked goose session to pass bills lingering from the last session.

October 22, 2006
The Woes and Pleasures of Campaigning
Tom McLaughlin
These voters are golden, I kept telling myself as I rolled out of bed on grey dreary day. Ocean City had its municipal elections Tuesday (Mayor and Council), and I decided to hand out Democrat literature for the November 7 election to those leaving the polls. These citizens actually vote and I felt a responsibility to connect with them.

October 8, 2006
A Venture Into The Unknown
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - What goes up must come down and that train with the whistle blowing as it comes toward you and then changes as it passes is the extent of my knowledge of physics.

October 1, 2006
A Walk Through The Shadows
Tom McLaughlin
I set out every morning to walk my dog My-Ya (however you spell it). This excursion lasts about 45 minutes while I stroll a path along the back bays of Ocean City.

September 24, 2006
The Death Knell
Tom McLaughlin
While here at the beach and living in the townhouse, I reached back to my youth and decided to have an aquarium. As a person who has had a business in old books, many people want things from the past including copies of Old Golden Books, pristine copies of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew series.

September 17, 2006
My Turn at Exasperation
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - "What do you mean he's not there?" I said in alarm to the elder abuse police. "He was there 15 minutes ago."

September 10, 2006
Campaigning Eastern Shore Style
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I am glad summer is over because I won't have to pass out literature for the Democrats in the insufferable heat and humidity of the Eastern Shore. Believing campaign literature does no good sitting on tables, I stand among the crowds and distribute for whatever candidate I grab first or for those who are visiting our booth.

September 3, 2006
Kerry/Edwards Shirt Did The Trick
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I must have been the only one on the planet that didn't know who he was. My editor sent me an e-mail to interview Dr. Bob Arnot and I immediately replied "Who the hell is he?

August 27, 2006
Exercising The Benefits
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - "Am I sexy yet," I inquired of the lady at the health spa. When I joined a year ago they promised I would be sexy in a year. I worked out on every machine they told me to except the butt blaster.

August 20, 2006
A Fruitless Search
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Ton McLaughlin - They swept across America and then around the world like a band of Apaches chasing the cavalry. Nothing could stop them as every home in America, then England, then Australia was purchased at asking - and then inflated prices causing other homes to skyrocket in value.

August 13, 2006
What's In A Name?
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin How in the world could I have confused Warren Buffet with Jimmy Buffet? But I did. The news media was filled with stories on how Warren plans to give away $40 billion dollars or so to charity.

August 6, 2006
It's not the heat, it's the humidity
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin I have noticed the way the heat affects people. Fire blows from the mouth as well as the sun. Down on the beach, they rush down at about 6 A.M. during high tide and plant the umbrellas and chairs.

July 30, 2006
Another Theory Proved
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin I like to surround myself with smart people. Well, not smart but rather the brilliant types. I have two friends who can and have lined up 30 or more people at chess and beaten every one of them at the same time.

July 30, 2006
Another Theory Proved
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin I like to surround myself with smart people. Well, not smart but rather the brilliant types. I have two friends who can and have lined up 30 or more people at chess and beaten every one of them at the same time.

July 30, 2006
Another Theory Proved
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin I like to surround myself with smart people. Well, not smart but rather the brilliant types. I have two friends who can and have lined up 30 or more people at chess and beaten every one of them at the same time.

July 23, 2006
Surprise At Hooters
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I was on a roll. Collecting t-shirts which advertising various bars and restaurants in the resort for distribution at a Democratic Party fundraiser, I had secured about 25 and needed only a few more. Then came Hooters.

July 16, 2006
Another Fish Story Shot Down
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Lion's and tigers and bears, Oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

July 9, 2006
Beware of Greeks Bearing..
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - According to a local weekly newspaper, the sales of condos and vacation homes have slowed down considerably since last year. This revelation goes along with the recent discovery that the sky is blue and grass is green.

July 2, 2006
Hoist The Flag!!!!
Tom McLaughlin
I’m a Yankee Doodle liberal! Yankee liberal do or die! A real live nephew of my Democrat Party! Born on the Fourth of July! I’ve got a liberal doodle sweet heart! Hillary Clinton do or die! Hillary came to Washington just to run the country! I am a Hillary Clinton guy!

June 25, 2006
Clash of Sharks and My Hobby
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I thought I knew the English language. I was of the opinion that I could speak, read and write the vernacular of my birth. I was wrong.

June 18, 2006
"One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy..."
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I have had my cell phone for two months now and I think I have gotten the hang of it. Well, barely.

June 11, 2006
The Final Chapter - Goodbye, Mom!
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I have only been a participant in the scattering of ashes four times. The first one happened about two or three decades ago.

May 21, 2006
Jesus Laughed. But Why?
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Jesus laughed! That is the statement that brought me to read the Gospel of Judas. This parchment was dug out of a safety deposit box and then printed in a huge media blitz just before Easter by the National Geographic Society.

May 14, 2006
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Tom McLaughlin
NORTH TO ALASKA! Not the wimpy cruise ship puttering along the inside passage: but manly, tobacco spewing, hard drinking, three fingers of red eye in a dirty glass, gut busting kill a lawyer work!

May 7, 2006
Meanderings on the Road to Valhalla
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - "Over the Chesapeake and through Route 70 to Mid-dletown I go, the Rave knows the way to carry the day la, la la!"

April 30, 2006
You'll Need an Abacus for This One
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - As part of my self-education to become a business reporter, I picked up a recent copy of Fortune Magazine that contains the top 500 company list for 2006. To familiarize myself, I have created a puzzle to help me remember. The companies are in order within each subset. Answers below.

April 23, 2006
Ups and Downs
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - As a reporter for a local newspaper here on the good ole Eastern Shore, one of my jobs is to write happy real estate articles. This is because most of the paper contains ads for houses and condos for the second home market. There is a lot of truth in the old adage “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

April 16, 2006
In The Eye of The Beholder.
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - From a distance - and even close up - she portrayed the essence of virginity. I was sitting in a large whirlpool bath when I noticed the young lady covered with an assortment of tattoos.

April 9, 2006
Aspirin and Ashes
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Sponsored by Saint Joseph Aspirin for children, the reality golf challenge being filmed in Bishopville, near Ocean City, will be aired on CBS May 14 and May 20. For further details, see my March 19 column. I really don't why this pharmaceutical company is trying to educate hoofers about their product; but I can imagine some of the ads.

April 2, 2006
I Never Expected To Win This..
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I only go for the free stuff. The pads, pens, cold drink jackets, key chains and other advertising paraphernalia distributed by the individual merchants at the industry trade shows held during the winter in Ocean City. I have become adept at snaking my hand through the crowd, clamping onto a treasure and withdrawing before the poor representative can give me their sales pitch.

March 26, 2006
Par For The Course
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - While watching television, the closest thing I ever come to a reality show is a glimpse of someone eating something disgusting while channel surfing. I also was curious about the exotic lands traveled but saw they were polluted by obscene American television. My aversion to the hideous broadcasts was so complete that I was stunned and surprised when I accidentally stumbled into the middle of one.

March 19, 2006
Researching the Market - Everywhere
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Real Estate? Will the bubble burst? Is it bursting? Is Realtors heaven descending into trailer parks? Will they soon be on welfare sitting on Market Street with a sign "Will Work for Leads?" I decided to find out.

March 5, 2006
The Renovation
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - There are some thing's in life in which you plan to do the least little bit but ends up to be a major project. I thought I was in control but bit-by-bit this was taken from me and turned into a project worthy of the Pyramids in Egypt. The pharaohs had it easy compared to the battle between the interior decorator and me.

February 19, 2006
The Heat Pump
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - It went whirr when it went, bop when stopped and laughed when it stood still. I never knew just what it was; and I guess I never will. It is called a heat pump and is the cause of a major drain in my electric bills.

February 12, 2006
The Tale of Braaa Dock Mountain
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Two guys, one a graduate of Frederick High School, the other from Middletown, meet atop Braaa dock Mountain looking for work. They are unsure of their future, in more ways than one.

January 29, 2006
Moving Day Down The Ocean
Tom McLaughlin
In most neighborhoods, at the end of the month, rental trucks appear at houses to be loaded with the belongings by friends and relatives. A person has a new job, or retired and decided to move, or got caught with boss's wife. Usually the next morning, the gang appears and loads up the truck. By noon all is finished, the truck pulls away as neighbor's wave goodbye.

January 22, 2006
It's Almost Over! So What's Next?
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - We had hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii hopes! We had hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii hopes! High in the sky, apple pie hopes!

January 20, 2006
The Veto Override: Right as Rain
Tom McLaughlin
The first few days of the Maryland General Assembly caused the entire nation to watch in amazement as the courageous Democrats overrode Governor Robert L. Ehrlich's veto and told Wal-Mart to provide health care benefits to all its employees.

January 15, 2006
Hotels, Hot Tubs and Cleanliness
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - The Hyatt Resort and Spa at Cambridge, MD, offered a special $99 nightly deal for residents of Delmarva. We decided to stay for two days. For those of you on the Western Shore, just pick a street number in Ocean City and tell them you live there. Most will anyway as it is a perfect place for a secret rendezvous.

January 8, 2006
Buzzards and Little Dogs
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - She is a real babe magnet. The puppy I purchased a few months ago attracts women of all ages. They come out of the houses just to look, hold and cuddle her. She obliges by fiercely wagging her tail and joyfully licking faces.

January 5, 2006
Mom’s Gone – Part Five
Tom McLaughlin
The van drove up from the crematorium and a gentleman carried Mom home in a shopping bag – the paper ones with the round white handles. Inside was a white box. I could barely look at its contents.

January 1, 2006
New Year's Resolutions and Dating
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - The weight loss resolutions are being sworn to on a dozen Bibles. People all across America have vowed to lose millions and millions of pounds to make themselves look buff, sleek and sexy.

December 30, 2005
Mom's Gone - Part Four
Tom McLaughlin
I woke Dad up and told him Mom had died. He was an Air Force officer and they met in Tokyo 55 years ago. He came in dressed in dark blue pajamas. I don't think he comprehended Mom's condition during the whole three months. He said he took Mom from Tokyo to Ocean City and wanted to be left alone with her.

December 29, 2005
Mom's Gone - Part Three
Tom McLaughlin
I have asked myself 100 times why I am doing this. After all, I could have shoved my two parents in an assisted living facility or nursing home about few miles down the road.

December 28, 2005
Mom's Gone - Part Two
Tom McLaughlin
The lady came out from Hospice to take down all the information. She was a personable individual and we all interacted well. She told us we would be assigned a nurse and we would become very close.

December 27, 2005
Mom's Gone - Part One
Tom McLaughlin
The last group dipping into the Medicare pot before death is a group known as Hospice. In my opinion, they are a bunch of vultures waiting for the last breath to exhale from the dying. They portray themselves as a non-profit caring organization but in reality they get their money from Medicare and the millions of dollars raised in their behalf.

December 19, 2005
Withdraw! Then Peace
Tom McLaughlin
Peace this Christmas. I am against the war. I always have been. I spent four years in Jiddah teaching the Saudi's English and there is no way that bunch will ever get it together. Never have. Never will.

December 11, 2005
Christmas Blessings
Tom McLaughlin
Dad came home from the rehab center a few days ago. I picked him up after a month's stay. The doctors and rehab people said if I hadn't acted so quickly by calling the paramedics and then getting him to rehab, the consequences would have been much worse. I give all glory to HIM, as I get kind of soppy around Christmas time.

December 4, 2005
Prepare Thyself for the Season
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - I was sitting on my exercise bike reading the Wall Street Journal about their perception of Black Friday, the great shopping day after Thanksgiving. They said the merchants were all trying to get money before the customers (you and me) get their first heating bills.

November 26, 2005
The Woes of the Season
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Now its time to figure out what they want. It's a game being played around the country as gift givers try to remember sizes, music, colors and other very important information lost from memory in last year's frenzy.

November 22, 2005
Thanksgiving
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - It's time to sit back and reflect on what we are all grateful for this Thursday, a day where we meditate, pray and reflect on the great gifts bestowed on us throughout the year.

November 17, 2005
Be Prepared for ''Thy Will Be Done''
Tom McLaughlin
There is no such thing as a mild stroke. It's like saying a mild tsunami or a mild fatal gunshot wound or a mild suicide bomber. When someone calls you and mentions the word stroke, be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

November 6, 2005
Mom and the Bozo
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - "Who is the head clown in this circus" I yelled after banging on the glass separator between the receptionist and the patients in mom's heart doctor's office.

October 30, 2005
Up To His Ears.
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry" is a bumper sticker I am having printed up as the Holy Bush continues to burn in Washington. Let's see if I can get these scandals straight.

October 23, 2005
The Presidents & Camp David
Tom McLaughlin
As some of you know, I have written a series of articles on the history of Camp David for Frederick Magazine. The first one appeared in the October issue, while the second and third will appear in December and February. Here are some quick and interesting items that changed my perceptions of the presidents.

October 16, 2005
What To Expect
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - Every day is a new day! Every day is wonderful! That’s because nothing happened yesterday, or in some cases, an hour ago. That’s the world my 90-year-old father has slipped into. It’s not a bad place to be.

October 11, 2005
Problem Solver
Tom McLaughlin
They should learn to speak English. The" they", of course, are the newly arrived people who speak a different language and are from a different culture. They live in certain sections of Frederick where the smell of spice adds a delicious aroma to the night air.

October 9, 2005
Meat Loaf, Cookies, Cake, Cooking and Ocean City
Tom McLaughlin
I wanted some comfort food and decided to make a meat loaf. The thing could have caused a major concussion if thrown at someone or several stitches if the corner hit above the eye. It was that awful.

September 29, 2005
Beyond The Hurricane
Tom McLaughlin
They were black. They were poor. They had no other place to go but the Superdome in New Orleans. But, the city is between 64-67 per cent poor and black. Who else was going to show up?

September 25, 2005
Bikers, Babes and Gays
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - On the ride to Ocean City, I noticed the signs at various establishments stating "Bikers Welcome." In front of me was a car with several bicycles mounted on the back and immediately thought there was a convention of Schwinn type products at the seaside resort. It turned out to be Harley Davidson.

September 18, 2005
How and Why Gas Prices Soared
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - They gathered together on an oil derrick off the Louisiana coast. Darth Vader represented Exxon, Dracula had a Sunoco emblem on his cape, Vlad the Impaler carried a Chevron banner on his spear, while Jack the Ripper had Sinclair engraved on his ivory handled knife. The grim reaper kept notes.

September 11, 2005
Goofy or Paris Is My Choice
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- Alan Greenspan has more power than the president, The Supreme Court, Congress and Paris Hilton combined. His sneezes cause financial markets to tremble, even affecting the price of clams on the Island of Tonga.

September 4, 2005
The Woes of Car Shopping
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by To McLaughlin -- I am shopping to replace my 10-year-old Rav 4 with 126,000 miles for a new vehicle. Everyone told me the best deals were at the tail end of the 2005 car buying year before the 2006’s arrive which is like trying to figure out when next Easter Sunday falls.

August 28, 2005
Fodder for the Mind
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- The feature section of the newspaper has many items to take your cares and woes away from the hard news on the front page, CNN, WFMD, NPR, The Weather Channel, The Tentacle, the opening desktop page and others. Here is my take on some of them.

August 23, 2005
The Democratic Debate
Tom McLaughlin
At last week’s debate I was wondering where he hid the mud. Ron Young had to have it somewhere on his impeccable suit and coffered hair, as he wandered the Democratic audience still seeking somebody’s hand to shake.

August 21, 2005
Sex on the Beach
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- A can of Raid would have done it. Sprayed liberally over the 50-foot cliffs facing the Chesapeake Bay in Cecil County, the bug holding up development would have been hurried toward extinction, where, except for its sex life, deserves to go anyway.

August 14, 2005
The Blizzard of 2005
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- I became obsessed with the big January snowstorm. The Weather Channel had little snowflakes floating down from a high billowy cloud for Saturday and Sunday, 10 days before, and I was determined to track the rise and fall of the imminent demise of Frederick County.

August 7, 2005
Hot Weather, Horoscopes and Lottery Tickets
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- Next to an ice storm, the three most dreaded words in weather are hazy, hot and humid. This has been the mantra for the past couple of weeks and will lead us through the rest of August and possibly into September. There will be a few brief cools spells, those days that fall below 90 degrees, but entering a car will still be the same as walking into the portals of Hell.

July 31, 2005
Honey Wagons and Peat Moss
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin - One of the yearly highlights of my youth was the arrival of the sewage truck to pump out the septic tank. The gentleman would gently dig away the grass and open the sealed tank. All of us neighborhood kids would gather 'round to check out the worst possible sight imaginable.

July 27, 2005
Uncrown The King!
Tom McLaughlin
The United Democratic Club recently held its annual picnic with fried chicken and the delights of home made salads and deserts prepared by the wonderful men and women of the club. I threw what was left of my diet out the window and enjoyed several thighs and legs with great gobs of potato and macaroni salads.

July 24, 2005
Tougher Than You Think
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- The winds of the Sahara desert, the breezes that waffle Death Valley, the Santa Anna's that blow and bake Southern California together cannot compare to the dryness of reading any publication having to do with planning, zoning or appeals.

July 17, 2005
All of One Mind..
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- I am lucky to travel and am accepted in many different circles of society in Frederick County. They range from the hard working Americans whose pickup truck is a necessity, down to the lawyers and politicians. I asked each group what they thought about the resignation of Sandra Day O'Connor from the Supreme Court.

July 10, 2005
Nectar of the gods...
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- I love fruit: the fresher the better. I await the beginning of the season with strawberries plucked from the plant. The first ones begin on the Eastern Shore as the growing season is about three weeks earlier than here in Western Maryland.

July 3, 2005
Stupid Is as Stupid..
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- Weed whack the dune? You want to weed whack the dune? I thought my neighbor was kidding when he told me. But he was very serious. There must be something about an unkempt un-mown area of nature that drives some people to irrational thoughts and behaviors.

June 26, 2005
A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- I am in divorce court this week (more about that later), so I will not be able to write my usual column. Here are some lawyer jokes gleaned from the internet to keep you amused.

June 19, 2005
Birds, a Cane, the Beach and Lifeguards
Tom McLaughlin
They started gathering like the birds in the Alfred Hitchcock movie. First there was one; then two; and then one rode up on tri-bike. A fourth wandered in from the street. These were Ocean City lifeguards.

June 12, 2005
Sticking To What You Know
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin “Wal-Mart Looking for Polish,” declared a headline in The Washington Post. I had problems trying to understand why Wal-Mart was suddenly looking for people of central European descent until I read further.

June 9, 2005
From The Sublime to The Ridiculous
Tom McLaughlin
One begins to wonder how much more bizarre the race for mayor of The City of Frederick can get. A highly respected alderman goes to a bar at 10 in the morning and bounds out in red, white and blue boxing gloves like a maniacal kangaroo to the tune of Rocky. I guess his intent is to knock out our lady mayor – Jennifer Dougherty.

June 5, 2005
Ocean City's Memorial Day Weekend 2005
Tom McLaughlin
It was a typical problem known through the ages. He did. She didn't. In order to cool his ardor, he went down in the elevator to retrieve some ice. On the way up and back he let himself slip out. The father of the witnesses held him hostage until the police arrived.

May 29, 2005
An Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- For all of you who live and work in Frederick City, or whose lives are spent on 270 running the government into the ground, it is now time for spring weed control in the pastures and fields of the farmlands we are so eager to protect.

May 27, 2005
The Old Grey Lady….Part Four
Tom McLaughlin
I used to work for a Congressman in a rural area. Many, many people thought he could do things that he couldn’t.

May 26, 2005
The Old Grey Lady – Part Three
Tom McLaughlin
My experience with the News Post began when I sent a series of columns I had written for the Middletown Citizen, a vibrant and well written and constructed newspaper for the Valley. Every town should have a Citizen.

May 25, 2005
The Old Grey Lady – Part Two
Tom McLaughlin
In yesterday’s piece I pointed to one of the major problem areas I see with The Frederick News-Post. Despite enormous growth in population in Frederick County over the past 20 years, the circulation of this venerable “Old Lady” has decreased by 5,000 since October 2002 according to the press run figures. Things must change before that trend can be reversed.

May 24, 2005
The Old Grey Lady – Part One
Tom McLaughlin
I love newspaper and always have. I founded and was editor of my own newspaper in college, worked on the paper in graduate school and contributed to The Salisbury Times. I now write for this very reputable web site.

May 22, 2005
“Stupid Is As Stupid Does”
Tom McLaughlin
I have problems with directions. Telling my left from my right is difficult and I wear a bangle on my right hand – or is it my left? – and that’s the only way I can keep the two straight.

May 15, 2005
You Can't Really Mean That?
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- These are two headlines which appeared in The Washington Post on May 6, 2005: "In Kansas, Debate on Evolution Turns Tart" and "Educators Consider Intelligent Design"

May 8, 2005
More Than The Wicked Witch Is Scary
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin   My experiences at Brewers Alley have been limited to watching the sleek young ladies maneuver their way through the cadres of handsome professional males in the ritual Friday night pick-up game.

May 1, 2005
Different Times, Different Folks, Same Scene
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- Abilene Kansas 1870: Two cowboys fresh from the cattle drive up from Texas. A red scarf around their necks, hats covered in dust from the trail. Their boots are scuffed while their rough cotton checkered shirts hold a tint of smoke from the campfires. (Gunsmoke, April 15 episode, T.V. Land)

April 24, 2005
The Disease
Tom McLaughlin
Humor by Tom McLaughlin I blame it on the disease! Any of my faults and mistakes, I say there goes the disease again!

April 17, 2005
Lots of Slots, But No Dancing Girls
Tom McLaughlin
I had been ambivalent about slots. I had no opinion after having read all the literature from both sides of the controversy. It was time to travel to Charles Town and see what the raging fuss was all about.

April 10, 2005
The Spa
Tom McLaughlin
After eating loaves of brown bread, fields of brown rice and stacks of brown English muffins, my weight was not disappearing as planned. My goal, to appear buff and meet 20 somethings on the beach at Ocean City by Memorial Day, seemed very distant.

April 3, 2005
Batter Up!
Tom McLaughlin
(Humor!) Take me out to the ball game! Take me out to the crowds! Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks! I don't care if my weight comes back! Will root, root, root for the home team, be it Baltimore or D.C! It's one, two three strikes your out at the old ball game!

March 27, 2005
High In A Mountain Meadow
Tom McLaughlin
The Hagerstown Herald Mail advertised a job as a goat tender in the Dry Run area. The position offered a part time income and a share of the profits.

March 24, 2005
Oysters on The Half Shell and Other Investments
Tom McLaughlin
The Asian oyster, hailed as the savior of the Chesapeake by some, shows promise as a major component in the revitalization of the seafood industry, preliminary scientific investigations indicate. The industry, ravaged by the major decline in crab and oyster harvests, hopes Governor Robert Ehrlich (R., MD) will speed the research and approval process.

March 20, 2005
A Fate Worse Than Death and Slots
Tom McLaughlin
A huge glass of cold milk with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is my idea of a gourmet lunch. The thicker the goobers are spread, the better. Desert or snacks consist of warm chocolate chip cookies with the morsels barely melted with an almost ice temperature serving of cow juice. No after dinner treat can beat this concoction and I don't care if it does come out of a five star French restaurant.

March 13, 2005
In Business, Who Do You Trust?
Tom McLaughlin
I love reading the business sections of newspapers. They give me a feeling of safety and security much like a spewing volcano. Having lost a chunk of change in the dot com debacle a few years ago, I read the pages with amusement. I only want investments where I give them $10 and get $10 back.

March 6, 2005
Through The Looking Glass Darkly.
Tom McLaughlin
I recently dragged out the crystal ball from the attic to take a look at the future. What a time awaits us!

February 27, 2005
Hope Springs Eternal! Or Is That Spring Hopes Eternal?
Tom McLaughlin
It's tax time! Let's start gathering together, and not by the river, all those pieces of paper and W-2 forms and make a concerted effort to finish early. I would rather make scrapple or ponhaus you declare!

February 20, 2005
The Timothy Leary Medical Plan
Tom McLaughlin
Alarming headline in The Herald Mail of Hagerstown. “Pa. hunters say deer are disappearing.” Biologists from the University of Maryland say a great suicidal migration must be in progress. Severely depressed deer are moving into Maryland to end their lives on the states’ highways. Collisions between the animals and motor vehicles are up an alarming rate as Bambi and friends decide to end it all by jumping in front of cars.

February 13, 2005
Thar's Profit In Them Thar' Baskets
Tom McLaughlin
I hate Longaberger Baskets. You may wonder how anyone can dislike a woven concoction of reeds and glue. But to this day I can't stand the sight of them. Well, maybe I don't hate them as much as I used to.

February 6, 2005
"Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth die" - John Milton
Tom McLaughlin
I can almost touch my toes! I have a few more inches to go, okay a foot, but at least I am making some progress. My tummy has become flatter and I no longer look eight months with child.

January 30, 2005
In Search of Riches With A Witcher
Tom McLaughlin
A Middletown resident, while poking around his back yard, discovered water. The municipality purchased the rights to the flow.

January 23, 2005
Unintended Consequences of Experiments
Tom McLaughlin
The ultra conservative Washington Post has reported that NASA will blow a comet apart in July. The space agency will jettison an 820 pound copper projectile, composed of worthless pennies, in the path of comet Tempel 1.

January 16, 2005
Driving Up The Wall
Tom McLaughlin
This is the second time around for driver training. My youngest daughter started her classroom instruction and we are now awaiting her behind the wheel experiences.

January 9, 2005
The Ups and Downs of the New Year
Tom McLaughlin
I have started my new diet and exercise program. This New Year's resolution I intend to keep. Most of them are given up for Lent which is around six weeks before Easter or when "the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars." Whichever comes first.


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