Tag Archives: Adventure

Now there are THREE!! All William J. Plummer books now available as ebooks.

Friends, students, and colleagues who have known me for many years might know I grew up in Las Vegas, they might know I raced dirt bikes, hitchhiked up and down the West Coast, and teach T’ai Chi. But very few are aware of my upbringing with a pet Gambel’s quail and “an unusual household of pets”, described in some detail in books that my father wrote and that were published with moderate success and fame, in the early 1970’s. Curious? Well, here’s your chance!

ALL THREE of my dad’s books, previously published by Henry Regnery Company, and out of print for about thirty years, are available in ebook editions from Crossroad Press at select online publishing locations (see links below) for a very reasonable $3.99 each. IMAGINE owning all three of the complete and enhanced electronic editions for less than $15.00!

Enlivened with newly updated photographs — In addition to all the functionality of ebooks (searching, syncing bookmarks across devices, touch access to definitions, and so on), all three books have been updated with a new “Meet the Author” biography, a preface to the ebook edition, and improved photographs (in some cases never before seen.)


In A Quail in the Family, the pen illustrations of the Regnery paper edition have been replaced with beautifully scanned and cleaned versions of the original photographs from which they were derived.

Friends_of_the_Family_thumbFriends of the Family features similarly replaced photographs. And because the quality of some of the photographs was so bad—I mean the ones I took with my Kodak Instamatic when I was…twelve—I have added public domain photos of several of the animals from the stories. (Thank you Wikipedia and all contributors of public domain photos!)


Five of a Kind in the book edition contained ample photographs of the “Five Ladies”, but some were grainy, and all in black and white. Now, all have been replaced with improved scanned versions, many in color!!

Links to the ebooks:

Amazon Link to Kindle Books by William J. Plummer

Apple link to Audiobook by William J. Plummer

Here’s my promotional blurb for “Friends”, which should give you a pretty good idea of what all three books are about…

Friends of the Family by William J. Plummer—Re-join the Plummers, who adopted and raised “Peep-sight” the Gambel’s quail rooster of A Quail in the Family. In this second book, William Plummer describes the family’s adventures with birds, rodents, snakes, lizards, and other animals–the visiting and resident members of the Plummer menagerie in Las Vegas. We learn of the rescue of “Beverly” the Desert Tortoise from the Nevada Nuclear Test Site; playing “dogfish” with “Georgia” the beagle; “Squeaky”, a kangaroo rat who occasionally left his open cage to make nocturnal household explorations, and “Ellery” the caiman–who resided for a time in his own backyard pool. And we first meet “Carrie”, “Rose”, “Red-Leg”, “Pearl”, and “Brownie”, the five charming female quail whose complete tale is told in the book Five of a Kind.

UPDATE: Thursday, December 15, 2022 – My father, William J. Plummer, passed peacefully on December 5, 2022. He was, as he might say, “Going on ninety-six.” I’ve updated the links to his Amazon Author page and the Audiobook of “Quail” on this page. There’s also a “Quail and Friends” web site where I hope to add some of Bill’s unpublished stories—and maybe a few of my own—in 2023.



The Air We Breathe

Twenty years ago, maybe, the ozone layer was a big issue, and most anyone with eyes and a brain was at  least starting to think about “global warming*”.

It was summer, and coincidentally, I was at a picnic with family friends, one of whom was a government-employed environmentalist. The topic came up, we talked about automobile pollution and coal-fired power plants. It was a warm, pleasant afternoon in beautiful, Western Central New Jersey, and for the most part the sky was blue, with long white whisps high above, the man-made clouds that scar the sky, especially along those “skyways” from East to West that originate on the East Coast and point to California and beyond.

Mike, our hero, a bearded and unabashed ex-counterculture person (those of you too young to understand, would likely—and incorrectly—label him a “hippie”), paused from the discussion and gazed upward. “I wonder,” he said, without taking his eyes off the sky, “How long before we realize that is the real culprit…”

“Jets?” I asked.

“Jet exhaust, airline fuel.”

“They’ve done a great job cleaning up jet exhaust.” I said. Adding, “When I was a kid it was brown smoke spewing out like a diesel truck!”


“Unfortunately,” he said, “It’s a global world now, and everyone, everything, businesses, and governments are hooked on the ability to move people and goods quickly over vast distances-through the air. They’ve only made the pollution invisible. The truth is we’re spewing tons of hot, microscopic exhaust particles and vapor into the upper atmosphere, non-stop, every day, in massive and increasing amounts.”

“Is there science about that?”

“Not enough. And even if there is, nobody wants to know about it. Internal combustion for cars, energy for homes, powerplants. They can all be replaced and supplanted by solar, wind, all kinds of renewable alternatives. But have you ever heard of a solar powered 747? When statistics are published about “contributors to air pollution” jet exhaust is never mentioned. It’s not on the map. It’s like there’s a secret agreement to ignore it. Nobody is going to stop this. The answer is right there, in our faces, so obvious, and we are blind to it. We want to be blind to it.”

Ironically there was even an episode of “Star Trek the Next Generation” that metaphorically addressed this topic: It becomes clear to one species that all that warping around from planet-to-planet at faster-than-light speeds is tearing the fabric of the universe. Gosh darn it. Captain Picard and his whacky crew investigate and find that this is in fact true! Star Fleet is duly informed, and except for the most dire of planet-threatening emergencies, a moratorium is placed on traveling at faster than light speed – or is it faster than warp four or five? Anyway, this restriction is mentioned in one or two later episodes, and then without warning, it’s gone! Back to the ol’ routine. Make it so!! And there you have it. A Gene Roddenberry history of the human race.

That’s all. That’s the story. Not much has changed. That New Jersey summer conversation nested in the back of my brain for all these years like some obscure conspiracy theory. I thought about it after 9/11, when the skies got a short break and were eerily free of planes. And time moves on, and my gosh, humans move on. I’d heard about, and known people who had jobs requiring them to travel the world. You usually just think about the glamour and the glory. Not the impact. Hey, Tokyo, Seoul, Paris. I’ve been there. Once in a very rare while you hear about a business, or person like Al Gore, who supposedly has an awareness of what has come to be called his “carbon footprint”, and actually tries to mitigate it. “I flew to Singapore, so I’m paying to preserve some rain forest.” But more and more I hear about global commuters. Not the silver-haired CEOs in First Class, not people who have occasional “business travel”, but people who actually commute via jet every day to Boston from Philadelphia. Or every week or two to Europe…It’s kind of crazy. What does it mean? For anyone? For the planet? And now I’m one of them. What am I supposed to do? Stop? Just say no? I need to work. I want to see the world too. Maybe it’s really not a problem. Right? Right?

*Global Warming – I’m not a scientist, but I’ll talk about it. It means the planet is getting warmer. And that’s what it feels like to me. There’s enough science (if you read) to understand that man has had a significant causal influence on this. And there’s also enough science to call it “global climate change” if you prefer, (since some people have their pants scared off, by the “w” word). It’s happening, warming, warming causing “change”, whatever.

To the Guy in the Pinto Wagon

Dude! It was just a merge!

To the guy in the Pinto wagon who followed me twenty miles across New Jersey. Oh sure, when I first realized that you really were angry, and you were honking and shouting at me (with your window up), I thought I should pull off the road and kick your ass. My second reaction? This guy is obviously nuts, and might have a gun or other weapon, or at least, be someone who would get some weird satisfaction from smashing my window with a brick. Yea, that would be fair retribution for pulling ahead of somebody when the two lanes merge.

But most of my male defensive rage disappeared not long after you stopped honking your horn – which I remind you, you must have had going for a mile or two at least, from one backed up stop light to the next, down 206. So how could you work so hard to hang onto your anger? I started to become rational—even compassionate—very quickly. You must have had a pretty bad morning, or a pretty bad life, up to that point, to be so angry with a total stranger who just pulled in front of you at a merge. And then to follow me? And glare at every intersection? You had plenty of opportunity to pull ahead and get where you were going faster, if that was really what was important. But you stayed angry, and kept shouting obscene threats to your closed window, and kept following me. I got to experience a fear. What if this guy is more than a little nuts? What if he’s a Psycho-killer??

Then my survival instinct kicked in. If you were going to follow and attack me, sucker, I was gonna make damn sure you’d pay for your insane craziness. Oh yea. You stay behind me? I’ll pull into a Starbucks parking lot and see how committed you are. I’ll wait until you pull in behind me, then I…do something. Drive away, run you over, call the cops, or the baristas. But you know, once you start thinking about this, letting your imagination run, you can just go to incredible extremes with it. What if this guy gets my license number? Manages to find out where I live? And so on.

At that point I figured it out. Take the iPhone, take good picture. Get a record of the guy’s face, of his car. And I did. And make sure he sees me taking the picture. For extra measure, I might tweet it. Internet to the rescue. Sort of.

Because really, he was in the slow lane. I was in the fast lane. The lanes merged. He pulled forward, I pulled forward. He backed off his accelerator, I didn’t. It was just a merge. Dude! It was just a merge!!

Waterfalls and Pitfalls in Profiles – more on Online Dating

Waterfalls and Pitfalls in Profiles
Once you start shopping around on a dating site and reading profiles, you start to draw conclusions. Such as: they all sound the same. I don’t shop the male profiles, so I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty confident it’s an equivalent scenario for you gals. Women, they like long walks on a beach, candlelit dinners at a fine restaurant, snuggling by firelight, and a man who is a complete gentleman. Well of course. But no guy is going to get excited about a woman who writes that. Especially when there are so many profiles that say exactly the same thing. So the guy is going to look at the pictures (which I’ve already discussed), or look for profiles that are different.

The next step up—the “my friends tell me I’m interesting” profile. These are all the same too, the adjectives change but the story’s the same. “People tell me I’m interesting, fun, easygoing, lighthearted, and energetic.” Okay. That’s what they tell you, so you are like a million other women, but what do you think you are?

Move up to the ones who tell you. This level has potential. These ladies make no qualms about other people. They tell us who they are. “I’m fun, exciting, love a good meal and interesting conversation. I like to play sports, but hate watching football. Breakfast is my favorite meal, especially with someone I’m just getting to know. (Wink.)” I vote for these ladies. A cliche is a cliche is a cliche. But who can resist a pornographic cliche? Still, we’re not done. We still have to talk about the profiles that go over the top. Way over.

Usually these are women around my age. They’ve been married; they’ve loved and lost; they’ve had kids, they’ve raised families; and they’ve had time to find themselves. Yes, and in profiles, they’ve decided for some reason, they want to talk about all the great risk-taking adventures they’ve had. Cliff-jumping in Aruba, white-water rafting in South America, scuba diving in the shark infested waters of the Australian Great Barrier reef, underground cave tubing in Iran, riding a barrel over Victoria Falls, and of course the old standby, not just sky-diving but for the really risk-taking, BASE jumping, preferably off some enormous cliff in Montana or Idaho in a flying wingsuit, or into a huge open-mouthed cavern in Central America through an enormous cloud of giant fruit bats, like an episode of Nature. I even had one “match” with a photo of herself standing on the wing of a small plane in a flightsuit a-la-Amelia Earhart, with the statement that she really wanted a guy with a pilot’s license, so they could fly off together-because life on earth with gravity-bound mortals is so droll sometimes. I had a -vision of a couple of big sea birds, winging out over the ocean with no land visible on the horizon. Have fun kids.


What’s wrong with this picture? I’m sorry. I don’t find the idea of dating a female Indiana Jones particularly romantic or attractive. What are these women saying? To me it sounds like, “Hey! I’m different. I’m no home body. You’re not gonna tie me down! I’m wild and free! I risk my life and do exciting things and I don’t need a man to do them with!!” Which is great if you’re not a man. The trouble here is that men generally take serious risk-taking adventures either alone, or with other men. There’s the whole manly tradition of the man bringing home the mastodon meat after a long dangerous hunt, of returning from war or some other fantastic journey (think Odysseus). We want to go do stuff, and then come home to the hearth and hero’s welcome. I know Penelope had a helluva time without that lunkhead around for twenty years, but I’m just sayin’. How many men want to play a good game of tackle football with their wives? How many guys think, “Shit, I’m gonna see if I can climb Everest without killing myself or getting any limbs amputated from frostbite, and I’d like you to come along and risk your youth and beauty with me!!”

This idea that your potential spouse/mate/partner is going to not only find your adventures attractive, but is going to want to share them with you, ignores or overlooks the truth that much of life, and many of its great moments, are solo excursions. As a man, I know it is true for me. I propose naively that this is also true for women. I LOVE to share new things with someone I care about, but I also know there is an unfathomable and exquisite pleasure from risk-taking adventures that derives from the unique sense of accomplishment that is NEVER a team accomplishment. Whether it’s rappelling down a cliff face you have climbed, racing a dirt bike up the sandy loam of a desert arroyo, or jumping into a glacier fed pool from the top of a waterfall, this is something you do alone, because even if you are with friends or lovers, even if you are holding hands when you jump, when you get to the bottom you don’t say, “Hey, I could never have done it without you!!” It is YOU that does it. And that’s at the heart of these adventures, probably because they remind us of the ultimate and irrevocably solo adventure, death.

I can see having a relationship, being close to someone, and having common interests and sharing new and exciting experiences. But like great sex, these adventures would be the product of the relationship, not the reason for it. I love Paris; who wouldn’t? I love nature. Let’s explore together when we know we actually like each other, have some chemistry, a common understanding, enjoy being with each other, and can carry a conversation. If we can have those things together, the remaining catalog of life’s adventures could be endless.