A Question of Odds

My son is studying for his Ohio 3rd Grade Achievement Assessment test. He brought home this practice test and I'm confused. Take a look:
Basically, the test is asking which number will most likely come up next and gives three choices. My kid chose the sucker's bet, the one Vegas hopes you choose. The number with the least amount of roll HAS to come up next... right?

The correct answer is that the die is weighted and that the number six is more likely to come up. Either way, this is wrong.

I think perhaps this is actually testing the parents to see who brings it up to the teacher's attention.

The Mountain

There are three ways to climb The Mountain at night: The Baby Bear Path, The Momma Bear Path and the Papa Bear Path. 

The Baby Bear Path is a sucker’s bet.  It is the main path up the mountain. It’s wide. You can see it in the moon light. There isn’t much to trip you up besides the gullies that form from erosion. Problem is you have to park in the lot or down near the front of the park and cops tend to radio in your license plate when they drive through the park.  Don’t take The Baby Bear Path.

The Papa Bear Path is not recommended.  It’s barely a rabbit trail. It goes close to the edge of the mountain. I assume there is poison ivy.  Avoid.

The Mama Bear Path is our path.  Park your car on Mt. Pleasant Avenue.  Not close to the mountain, but maybe a block back. Sometime two or three cars have to park.  It’s best not to wait for everyone on the street.  Once you park, head towards the mountain and look for the reflection of headlights.  Make sure you know where you are going to attack the side of the hill.  There are several spot to scramble up this hill. Shit, there’s even a set of concrete stairs that are older than you and I put together. Find your spot. Commit. Wait for the silence and darkness.  Run. Scramble.

You made it.  If there are others, wait.  It’s best to walk in a line together. Watch as they wait to cross the street.  See if they picked a bad place to climb where a tree has fallen and they have to climb over.

I assume the Mama Bear Path is pretty straightforward in the daylight. In the dark you have to make assumptions and guesses.  That path has been there for years and the trees have decided to give the path a wide berth so you aim away from trees.  The weeds grow up to the path, but not over it.  There are many roots, walk by lifting your feet up high.  Listen for the leader to give instructions.  “Watch the roots.” “Fallen tree.” “Where’s Russ?”

The Mama Bear Path used to pass by a rotting tree.  The tree succumb to time and wet and gravity. But for a while, the rotting tree was host to a glowing fungus. We stop and look for the fungus. Sometimes it was hard to see and other nights… other nights it almost cast shadows it was so bright. We would touch it, but no one thought to damage it.
The Mama Bear Path intersected the Baby Bear Path about half way up The Mountain where it took at 90 degree turn.  At this point, anyone at the bottom of the path looking up would not be able to see you.

From this vantage point, you can look up the rest of the path and see a clear space through the trees and into the night.  Lancaster puts out a good bit of light at night, but not enough to block out the stars. Keep climbing.

At the top of The Mountain there is another 90 degree turn and some concrete steps. There are metal handrails buried in the stone.  Erosion has made most of them worthless. Keep climbing, you are almost there.
The last few steps are covered by trees so it is a bit like coming out of a tunnel.  The warmer air from the city below loses a battle with the sandstone face and is pushed up and over the edge. It’s refreshing and cooling evaporating the sweat from the climb. The air smells like Lancaster.  During Fairfield County Fair time it smells of Italian sausage, cotton candy and horse.

At the top,  the dudes usually do The Ceremonial. Face away from the cliff edge, find a tree and pee.  Try not to pee where someone else has recently performed The Ceremonial.

There’s an iron rail that helps to keep people that follow rules back from the edge.  Duck under the rail and find a spot to sit. If there are beers, thank the person that carried them up. Now is also a good time to have a cigarette if you are into such things.

Conversation.  Observations about blinking lights in the distance or cops pulling cars over. Pretty soon, an hour or two will have passed.  The beer will be gone and Kit will want something to eat.
Make your way back down. Careful, it’s steep. Make sure you look for cars before you go sprinting down the hill and into the road.

Go to your car. Get something to eat and share more conversation. Head home and go to bed.
Even though you’ve changed clothes and brushed your teeth, you can still smell The Mountain.

The Mountain (Coming Soon)

My friend Terry reminded me today that there was a time in my life when a close group of friends would climb Mt. Pleasant (Standing Stone to some) in Lancaster, OH almost on a nightly basis during the summer. When we were young, we’d climb because it was something to do after work.  When we got older, we drag a 12 pack of beer up with us.  Now we climb only once a year. But we still climb.

The Mountain holds a very dear place in my heart and for years I thought that I would have the opportunity to write a book or a movie about it. And so I’ve kept it from you. But I’ve had a change of heart.

Some Mountain stories are too personal to tell. Fortunately for you, many are not.

I’ll start tonight.

Churches Running Out of Clever Sign Slogans

COLUMBUS, OH - The National League of Churches convened an emergency meeting this past Monday to discuss the scarcity of new, clever church sign messages. Head Writer and Deacon Paul Sims scratched at a sheet of paper attempting to resurrect some of his earlier gems, but to no avail.

“Ever since Pastor Virgil came up with ‘Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church,’ we haven’t come up with squat.”

Unbeknownst to local church goers, most of those clever signs aren’t original. “We have a network of sign writers and we rotate the clever messages on a weekly basis so that a parishioner is unlikely to see the same message twice. Your “Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives” sign this week was the clever slogan last week in Glen’s Falls, NY.”

At the emergency meeting, writers from various churches and multiple denominations brainstormed to come up with a few slogans to get them through the next few weeks. Father Mike shared with me the sayings that floated to the top:

  • Put on your “O” face… your hOly face.
  • Don't wait for Jesus to touch your life. Touch Him first.
  • Not everyone gets a burning bush.
  • Jesus could kick Chuck Norris’ ass (but please don’t say anything to Mr. Norris.)
  • Come for the wine, stay for the guilt.
Sadly, the internet has brought the secret networking of the creative church-speak to a halt. Dispatcher Ron Creet of The First Methodist Church in Denver Colorado was quick to reveal the problem, “You can’t open the internet without seeing one of our clever church signs. Mrs. Roberta Samuels said she logged on to the AOL and saw her Lutheran Church sign from last week in a photo of a Baptist Church sign and almost had a conniption fit.”

The NLC has reached out to Hollywood in an attempt to rejuvenate their creative pool. Deacon Paul Sims laughed, “Those Godless bastards are funny as hell! We got Leno’s people to do a three week, limited, front end crawl with an option for Lent. But we had to fire them when we found out they were all Jewish. And of course, that's not the only fire they'll have to worry about at the end of the day. Oh! That's a good one... I'm going to write that down!”