The Sluice Box

Little nuggets of fool’s gold

  • Role Pontificator
  • For My Own Amusement
  • Date Ongoing at semi-irregular intervals
  • Type Irregular Blog Posts

Musings about the ho and hum of daily life.
Deep thoughts, shallow thoughts,
and a little bit of everything unexpected.
Not much reason, definitely no rhyming
(ok, maybe a little rhyming),
this is a project purely for my own
selfish amusement.

Enjoy » » »


Nothing quite like the sensation of a cool breeze on your cheeks during -20F temps in Canada!

I have perfect confidence in knowing I was not the only child CONVINCED that using an outhouse pit toilet meant certain death after falling deep into the stinking pit of mire below. This provides inspiration to reflect on irrational fears…

I don’t think my terror of falling into a pit toilet actually qualifies as an irrational fear. To illustrate how tiny I was, I held the dubious honor of being the smallest person in the 3rd grade. Without much difficulty, I easily could have slipped and fallen into the depths of a fetid sewage pile below.

I’ve since graduated to more sophisticated irrational fears, like: Wet Paper. The sight and texture of wet paper is enough to make me dry heave. My version of HELL: eternal banishment to a water park restroom facility.

I have a friend who is completely incapable of dumping a cup with liquid into a garbage can. (I bussed her dishes all throughout college.) Another friend is convinced he will meet his end with decapitation by a ceiling fan.

“What is your irrational fear?” is the question I most commonly ask strangers I’m acquainting myself with. You can learn some astonishing things about people when they reveal this information. The only issue here is my total abhorrence of wet paper prevents me from rationally evaluating how odd strangers must find me…

What is your irrational fear?


“Hey Craig, I’m going to put snails in your mailbox—how do you like them snail mails?!”

I’m all about life advice. A friend (who will remain nameless…oh wait, no, it was Craig) told me that if I stopped using puns for 33 days, I would get a lot more dates.

I’m not certain what the significance of 33 days was, but that was the advice he bequeathed upon me. Now, Craig admittedly is NOT a fan of puns, but I wonder if his judgement about my punnery is tinted by the lens of overexposure. See, I sat next to Craig for 8 hours a day for approximately 397.5 days when we worked together at Pause, no, I’m incorrect…make that 10 hours a day because we also rode the same vanpool.

I estimate that I probably told between 4 and 6 puns at work each day – so let’s call this an average of 5. Additionally, I most likely spewed between 1 and 3 puns during our time riding the vanpool, so we’ll settle on a daily average of 7 puns. That means Craig listened to 2,782.5 puns (at a bare minimum) in our time as coworkers and carpoolers. It is entirely possible that not all 2,782.5 puns were brilliant in nature.

As Valentine’s Day rapidly approached, I spent a few days thinking about Craig’s sage advice, and I’ve decided to ignore it and begin calling him by his new name…

The Punisher.

To see more silly carps, check out my CARP DIEM photo gallery:


I’ve been trying to say ‘YES’ to more things.

So ‘yes’ was the answer when I was invited as a friend’s +1 to a schmoozy corporate dinner situation in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. This would encompass an all-expenses paid trip to fly, eat, drink, and generally make merry in one of my favorite places in Idaho for approximately 20 hours. Why not?

I dined on a seafood tower, drank fine wines, ate a $46 steak, paraded around the hotel grounds to look at shimmering Christmas lights; it was a grand eve. The best part of the trip, however, was the aquarium filled with giant koi fish in the hotel lobby. I cannot describe the absurdity of these clumsy carp slurping through the gravel as refined hotel guests breezed past. I was mesmerized by them. I mean, it could have been all that wine getting to my head, but I found this hysterical. I actually packed my stuff in a hurry the following morning so I could spend more time in the lobby watching the carp writhing around their watery palace. It occurred to me that maybe I should feel embarrassed to be so completely enamored by something so mundane. But then, I remembered: “Carp Diem!”
It’s my day, and if carp can provide me with joy, then I’m going to revel in that. I hope you too can find pleasure in seemingly innocuous hotel decor.


Slipping into the steamy waters of a remote mountain hot spring is generally a satisfying way to spend a Sunday. However, this particular spring failed to deliver a relaxing visit. The first faux paux involved a stern warning about a deranged, adolescent moose in the area. The second involved paying admission. The problem with paying admission means you’re most likely dealing with a crowd, which was certainly the case on this fateful Sunday when I heard the most sage piece of advice ever uttered.

It seemed that a family reunion was in full swing, and they’d commandeered the entire area with a raucous game of aquatic volleyball sans net. Attempting to relax amid the melee, I heard the screech of a child and I looked up to see her Grandma flying through the air. “SPLATTTTTTTT” went the water as Grandma completed her surprise cannonball attack. As another grandchild recovered from the tidal wave, spluttering and coughing, he shouted to his multitude of siblings and/or cousins:


Simply put: great advice. Thanks, kiddo.


Once upon a Labor Day my family traveled to San Francisco to meet my cousin’s new offspring. Being unfashionable Utahans, we showed up to Sunday Brunch at the obscene hour of 9:30am and were the only patrons at “Dirty Water."

My mother was greeted by the hostess and was quick to mention that we’d be joined by 3 more diners plus one adorable baby.

A stricken look immediately crossed the hostess' face and she began to splutter, searching for words. My mom politely interjected with reassurances that “He’s very well behaved, he won’t make a single peep. He isn’t noisy.” The hostess still looked alarmed and tactfully suggested we seat ourselves on the patio.

After my cousin arrived with his infant in tow, the hostess tripped out to our table, laughing. In a miscommunication of epic proportions my mom had said “adorable” but the hostess had heard the word “gerbil.” She thought we wanted additional seating for a very quiet, well-behaved gerbil. No wonder her stunned expression…

We had a great laugh and a lovely meal at Dirty Water, but do take into consideration that gerbils will only be permitted to dine on the patio.


I’m waxing nostalgic about the end of ski season and the departure of temperatures that don’t crush my soul. I recall enjoying a beverage at my favorite après watering hole, The P-Dog, after a slushy day of skiing. If you haven’t been, the bar is tastefully decorated with a diverse collection of stuffed wildlife that showcases the handiwork of both skilled and unskilled taxidermists. It’s simply lovely.

I always enjoy reveling in the mountain vistas framed by a bank of glass windows along the south wall. On this particularly sunny Sunday however, I couldn’t ignore the alarming number of dudes seething around the lodge’s lavish pool and 2 oversize hot tubs. I was confronted with the cold and unsettling reality of the enormous gender gap in winter sports. Thirty-six males were soaking in the sultry waters in the company of three very brave females. Never has the gender disparity in my favorite sport been more upsetting.


What squad could possibly be complete without a token redhead? Scientifically speaking, the genes responsible for fiery locks are recessive, which makes the occurrence of gingerity rare and also special. Gingers ARE special! The thing I appreciate most about my ginger friends is their cosmopolitan preferences in sunscreen.

Contrary to popular belief, I do think gingers probably have souls and I highly recommend taking a moment to appreciate the gingers in your life. I’ll give you one of the most effective tactics I’ve discovered to celebrate your fav ginge:

  1. Dramatically proffer a delicious gingerbread cookie (man or woman) at a point in time when your ginger is particularly ravenous.
  2. Watch your ginger delight in this sweet, surprising treat.
  3. Once the ginger has wolfed your generous offering, kindly remind them to brush their teeth soon to prevent GINGivitis.
  4. Finally, tell your lucky ginger 3 things you adore about them!


I relish being on the open road; the sense of possibility and adventure mesmerizes me. I seldom resist the urge to go tripping. I’ll take any opportunity to cram unnecessary amounts of gear into my car and start logging miles. But there is one road trip memory that continues to haunt me.

I don’t like semi-trucks, which is unfortunately something a road tripper will encounter with relentless frequency. One time in rural Idaho…(all good stories start this way) I spied the grill of a menacing semi barreling down on my overloaded Subaru. The driver of this macabre rig had strapped a life-size Chucky doll to his grill. I screamed in horror and surprise as the maniacal expression of a bloodied Chucky flashed past. OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. Fortunately the truck sped by in the left lane without incident, but it was hours before I regained my composure.


Last summer I was enjoying some lift-serviced mountain biking at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Wyoming. At the top of the lift you can take about 100 steps to a viewing platform to behold the dazzling majesty of the Grand Tetons. As any self-respecting tourist would do I snapped about a billion pictures and then happily rejoined my friends on the singletrack for an adrenaline-fueled decent among bobbing wildflowers and rugged alpine terrain. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I’d taken approximately 42 photos of the Grand Tetons with my friend Mike taking a scenic piss in the foreground. I’m not sure I’ll hang any of those above my fireplace, but I think one will go nicely above Mike’s.


Having moved north to an area positively crawling with bears, (I call it a BEAREA), I’m suddenly confronted with a new threat on the trails. I’ve been advised not to venture into any wilds sans bear spray. Of course I’ve already done that, but I’ve since bought a canister to avoid further negligence.

I yearn for the fresh scent of the wilderness, the frantic scramble to find a glorious campsite before nightfall and of course, the stars. There is very little I do not enjoy about camping. I do, however, abhor noises outside the tent; things that go bump in the night. Being bite-sized, I’m absolutely convinced I’m about to be a scrumptious appetizer for a ravenous grizzly bear. I think my nightmares might come true now that I’m actually in bear country. Imagine, for a moment, the bear’s perspective:

Delicious morsels individually wrapped to preserve flavor and freshness, sealed inside several layers of colorful packaging! Yum!


The idea of camping alone has always inspired a faint sensation of terror and panic. So naturally, it’s something I’ve always wanted to attempt. I fully confronted this fear when I drove south to the alien landscape of Goblin Valley in central Utah. The plan was to meet friends for a rousing game of flashlight tag among the queer sandstone formations that speckle Goblin Valley State Park. Fun fact: there’s no cell service and I never located my friends. I had no choice but to camp alongside a cliff near the park boundary after dusk.

I was sleeping outside on the ground when around midnight a weird light along the road kept wavering and slowly approaching me. I ignored the gripping, irrational terror for an excruciating 20 minutes before scuttling into my car and locking the doors. I awoke that morning to find a withered and shrunken cow carcass not 15 feet from where I had lain awake for several hours attempting to sleep outside. I’m not going camping alone again. Ever.