Feb 262018

Here in the Mid Atlantic, the heart of a good winter fire is oak. It should constitute at least sixty percent of the fuel and be well seasoned wood, stacked at least two years in a woodpile, neither too tightly or too loose, having air passages “big enough for a mouse to run through, but a cat can’t follow.” Ideally, the remaining forty percent ought to consist of equally well dry seasoned cuts of hickory, maple, poplar, walnut, cherry, birch, beech, sycamore and elm. In order to properly appreciate having such transcendental object in one’s fireplace, of course, it helps considerably if Nature delivers some suitably abominable conditions outside in order to provide an appropriate context. No problem there on […]

Jan 142018

Since Christmas, global warming has caused the Jet Stream to push the Polar Vortex south over the US East Coast, and the extremely cold, and definitely unseasonable weather has given climate change deniers here in Washington DC plenty of talking points to use on the ignorant and stupid, who, if the latest presidential popularity polls are any indication, constitute approximately thirty-five percent of the American population. I certainly have no problem believing that – Jesus said that we shall always have the poor among us, and I have often wondered why He didn’t also mention the ignorant and stupid, too. I doubt that the population of our special friend, Great Britain, nor the population of our long-time ally, France, nor […]

Dec 072017

Today, as I returned from a private holiday lunch at Métier, Gretchen called out to me from her seat at the reception desk. “Mr. Collins,” she beseeched, “I told my new boyfriend, Mark, what you do and he asked me if he could call you for some advice.” “Is there an opening any time soon?” I asked. “There’s half an hour between 3:30 and 4:00,” she told me. “But you should know, he can’t afford to pay you – he’s only a congressional staffer, and not too high on the totem poll.” “No problem,” I assured her with a smile. “Any friend of yours rates a free telephone consultation whenever they want it.” “Oh, thank you,” she sighed. “He’ll be […]

Oct 292017

Quite early yesterday morning, so early, in fact, that I had to arrive at the office before Gretchen, a consultation began with a gentleman who insisted I call him “Randy Harry Merkin,” although that obviously could not be his real name. He paid cash, and told me that he is a policy advisor to a member of the current presidential Cabinet. When I inquired as to which department or agency in the Cabinet, Mr. Merkin was similarly cagey, refusing to reveal its name. All par for the course in my line of work, where about one in ten clients don’t want the specifics of their identities revealed. Those hundred dollar bills he handed me were genuine – I always check […]

Sep 252017

Between consultations this afternoon, Gretchen left her desk in the reception area and popped into my office for a moment. “Tom,” she quietly informed me as she closed a heavy oak door behind her, “there’s this… Ebonic gentleman who’s been calling since about nine this morning asking for a consultation. He says he’s a professional basketball player.” “Did he give you his name?” I inquired. “Tyrone…” she replied with an uncertain grimace, “Tyrone Shoelace.” “Hold on a minute,” I requested as I consulted an online database. “Nope,” I told her, “there’s nobody named that playing in the NBA. Must be an alias.” “Should I tell him you’re not available?” she asked. “Did he say what he wants to talk about?” […]